How Much of Our Characters Are Really Ourselves?


When I was ten years old, I was in a car accident. My mother, stepfather, siblings and I were on a freeway driving out of the city after visiting my grandparents when a drunk driver side swiped us.

Considering it happened over three decades ago, I still have a pretty clear memory of it. The car was a green and creamy white van, possibly ex-army, with lots of khaki double bench seats and an aisle down the right side. Big families need big cars. Because there was so much room, we kids tended to move around a lot, even while we were in transit. Because of that, we weren’t always wearing our seatbelts when we should have been. Continue reading

How Far Should We Go to Support Writers We Know?


I’m a writer so it probably won’t come as any great shock that I know other writers. People I’ve studied with, people I’ve worked with, people I’ve been published with, people I’ve been shortlisted for awards with. Some of these people I know better than others. Some I know only a little. But at some point in the past, our paths crossed.

Whenever these writers I know release a new book, I’m the first in line at a bricks-and-mortar book store to buy a paperback if they’re being physically published or online if they’re only being released as an ebook. Sometimes I’ll buy more than one copy and give them to other people I know. I always read them and I always review them honestly (I’m probably very lucky that none of the writers I know have ever written a terrible book so I haven’t been faced with a difficult decision in that respect.) Continue reading

A Few Numbers on the Occasion of My 500th Blog Post


This piece of writing represents the 500th time I’ve posted on my blog since I began it in February 2015. Coincidentally, I recently realised there was a bunch of statistical information that I’d never really looked at before. I mean, whenever I logged in, I would see the daily numbers of how many people were looking, at what and from where. But I’d never thought about the bigger picture.

These numbers are by no means impressive. I’m a very small fish in a very large pond. But considering before I had this blog that almost nobody was reading anything I wrote, they seem massive to me. Continue reading

When Creativity Isn’t Appreciated: Literary Hoaxes


One thing I would really love to do is perpetrate a literary hoax. I see it as the ultimate in creativity, pulling the wool over the eyes of the gullible and, for a while, even those with a little more sense. The conundrum of a literary hoax is that you must be discovered in order to become famous for perpetrating it. That seems to be the less fun part though. But for those watching from a little distance, the people involved and the lengths they go to are fascinating.

Here are a few great literary hoaxes. Continue reading

Project June


“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” John Steinbeck, interview with Robert van Gelder in April 1947 as quoted in John Steinbeck: A Biography (1994) by Jay Parini

This is the fifth piece in my Project… series (and the title chapter in my next book about writing). For anyone who hasn’t read the first two books in this series or the relevant posts on my blog, here’s a refresher for you:

*Project October is all about intensive writing.
*Project November is all about rewriting, polishing and finalising.
*Project December is all about publishing.
*Project January is all about starting all over again.

So what is Project June? For the purposes of this series, there had to be another Project… piece. I toyed with the idea of Project February, mostly because February comes after January. But I didn’t know what Project February was. I still don’t.

Eventually, I realised that the advice that I wanted to give and the month that went with it was all about the middle. I’d addressed the start, the sprint to the faux finish and the actual finish; the only thing left was the part in between.

Continue reading

Have You Ever Heard of Zane Grey?


I was recently reading an article about the biggest fiction sellers going back over the last one hundred years and how so few of the biggest sellers at the time are still read all these years later. One name kept jumping out at me. Zane Grey. I’d never heard of him. But he wrote the bestselling book of 1918. He wrote the third bestselling book of 1919. He wrote the bestselling book of 1920. He wrote the third bestselling book of 1921. He wrote the ninth bestselling book of 1922. He wrote the eighth bestselling book of 1923. He wrote the sixth bestselling book of 1924. From 1917 to 1926, he was in the top ten of the list of bestselling books nine times. According to Wikipedia, he was one of the first millionaire authors.

Continue reading

How to Write a Serial Killer Crime Thriller


To me, there is nothing scarier than a fictional serial killer. Yes, real serial killers are terrifying but most people are very unlikely to ever come across one and know this. Fictional serial killers, however, are everywhere: there are more book, film and TV show serial killers than there will ever be real ones (thank God).

I’ve come to realise that there seems to be a bit of a formula for writing a serial killer story. It’s not compulsory, of course, just a set of common steps that run through quite a few of them. The steps don’t always occur in exactly the same order. The steps don’t always occur in isolation; sometimes multiple steps are happening at the same time. And the steps are abstract enough that despite appearing in almost all serial killer movies, the stories are still distinct because of the details of each different serial killer, their methods, their victims and the people trying to track them down. Continue reading

Tell Me If You’ve Heard This One Also…


I was still reading my dictionary this week. Here are a few more charming but seldom seen words.


asseverate – to declare earnestly or solemnly, to affirm positively

brisance – the shattering power of high explosives

cavil – a trivial and irritating objection, to raise such as objection or to find fault unnecessarily

daubery – unskilful painting or work

Continue reading

Spoken Word Night at Bunjil Place


Last week, I attended the monthly Spoken Word Night at Bunjil Place in the south-east of Melbourne. My sister had attended the previous month and thought I would enjoy it as well.

“Wow,” she said, as we entered the free event. “There are so many more people here tonight. Last time, there were about ten.” It had increased to around fifty on this night. Word was clearly getting around (pun intended).

Anyone could sign up to speak, before the event or on the night, and a feature performer was also scheduled. My sister was considering it until the organisers announced that they were overwhelmed with people wanting to speak and weren’t going to be able to accommodate everyone. Continue reading

Tell Me If You’ve Heard This One Before…


I was reading my dictionary as I sometimes do and came across some lovely underused (possibly widely unknown) words. I’m always a bit iffy about actually including these sorts of words in my writing because most people will just go, “Huh?” and have to look up their meaning (and that’s in the very unlikely event that they can be bothered).

So instead I will just leave them here to be admired in isolation. Enjoy. Continue reading