Snippets from my Novel

Passages from The Last Asbestos Town

It surprised Isaac that May was not prepared to appreciate the extent of this phenomenon. He laughed continually, clapping and jumping down from the stage. He bent down, opening the little doorway to the stage’s cavity. Was it a wormhole? It seemed perverse, yet the main thing in all the memorabilia that he had saved were two old photograph albums, one in nineteen-thirties sepia, the other belonging to a different era. They were the girls of the Farmbridge Girl Guides. Now he was convinced one of those girls was Cheryl. ‘She’s in here,’ he said, opening a flyleaf on one of the albums, ‘and she’s still in the hall.’
He sat on the stage turning each delicate page, then soon realised he didn’t know what she looked like. He had reached a curious point in the night, wanting May to talk about their unexpected visitor, but she had packed up, showered and quickly gone to bed. He knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep. She had left him hanging with his mind infused with surreal beings, wanting to understand why a dead girl guide would play games. But there were other duties needing his attention.
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May pushed the K2 away from the bank. It was easy to navigate the river at any time, a tranquil, peaceful river with no rocks, snags or rapids. And even though she hadn’t journeyed down its amazing length, it would always wait for her, be there when she needed it most. She needed it today. Her worries began to float to the surface again. It was obscene to think that the government could take their home, not give them any sympathy or understanding, least of all the real cost of the building. They would have to rent somewhere. Take out a mortgage and build in brick.
=================== o ===================
He sat on the toilet and began to sob. In his mind, he caught a small thread of what had just occurred. There was a duty he had to perform and it appeared to be an impossible task to think about. Sherlock Holmes. What was he thinking? He had a vague notion that Cheryl was pointing to the killer, something about skin under her, or someone’s fingernails. How on earth would he be able to find that kind of evidence? Or did she want hers matched with all the suspects?
There was no one he could share his experience with. It was 2.00 am. He didn’t want to call and wake May.
He washed the muck from his face, the water from the shower sliding over his skin. He liked the feeling and stayed for what seemed like ten minutes. What would he tell May? The night didn’t appear to be successful and now he knew he was suffering from nervous anxiety. What did Steve give him? It certainly wasn’t pure, something was added. He knew that. He tried to cobble together his thoughts. What was it he had to do? Oh, that’s right something about fingernails. And, and… she would kill them, she said.

Blood, Sweat n’ Tears of Joy

There’s often some great posts on FB about writing, publications, new authors and what a book really is. One such author on FB is Lynn Miclea and often with her book pics instills in us a reminder about the beauty of literature, and why authors work so hard at this art. It is art, it is. At one time they touted that the physical book, ie the one made out of paper would disappear, that digital books would take over, but that didn’t eventuate solely. They now sit side by side. A reader has the choice to sit in front of a screen or laze on the sofa and sink deep down into an author’s quiet world of words. As Lynn Miclea posts: when buying a book you are buying something they delight in sharing, a piece of their heart, a piece of their soul…a small piece of someone’s life. Yet, books come from hours of working the imagination. And yes, it is often blood, sweat and tears because we dredge up events, loved ones, family, anecdotes, humour and strange memories of the past. We are like magpies collecting titbits, rehashing them into a four-dimensional world, writing a person that was once real and giving them all the attributes of fiction. It’s word art! And then joy comes towards the end of finishing 60,000-80,000 words or so. At this apex of time, a strange thing happens, you miss your characters. Charles Dickens was said to talk to his characters as they swirled above him at his desk. It happens!  They never leave you, and when you go back down into the novel, memoir, novella or suite of stories, you re-enter that world. Often it’s a nice place to be, until the phone rings…

Acknowledgement:   Lyn Miclea, Author @*F

3-P Rule of Writing

This weekend I conducted a creative writing workshop. The writers who attended were mainly poets, so there was a lot of poetry writing, discussion about poetry, about Pablo Picasso’s poetry as well as Gertrude Stein’s. After an interesting afternoon, I discovered that all the writers wrote well, they stuck to the brief working on subverting language and to my surprise they wrote in present tense thus avoiding the personal pronouns of conditional, linear writing. I was very pleased how they deconstructed language.

My class consisted of published poets, prize-winning poets, a  PhD student and also short story winners. It’s amazing when you get a group of keen, interested and motivated writers. There is often a consensus in our society that if you’re not young, good-looking, blonde, brunette and have years ahead of you to write twenty or so books, and that you’ve now past 25 years-old that you are too old, over the hill and if you’ve missed the boat at that age, then you’re finished.

I remember thinking on the way home, that I should have discussed the 3-P Rule with everyone, and also how I totally admired them as writers, their aspirations, their commitment and endurance.  With the 3-P Rule (persistence, persistence, persistence) you get there eventually. It’s never too late. Your writing will only get better as you get older and wiser. If you write something beautiful and important, well-written and researched, and the right person somehow discovers it, room will be made for you on the bookshelves of the world – at any age. It has happened to me. A friend recently and jokingly said, “You are an overnight success that took twenty years in the making!”

My thanks to the OOTA committee (Out of the Asylum Writers Inc) for giving me the opportunity to present this workshop and to the FAWWA for offering Mattie Furphy House as a wonderful space for teaching. The house is pictured above. Thanks also to the Fellowship for sharing this post.

Storyfire – an Anthology by FAWWA


Looking forward to the launch of Storyfire – the magic of the short. An anthology of prize winning stories from the Hadow Stuart Short Story Competition 2008-2018.  While the stories in the collection are prize winners, included in the book are short stories by Lucas North (1973-2013). I was asked approximately two years ago to send three of Lucas’s stories to the FAWWA for inclusion in the anthology. During that time I hadn’t heard whether or not the book would go ahead. I was told that the Fellowship didn’t receive any funding and left it at that. A visit to the Perth Writers Festival this year, to the Fellowship’s tent and a chat with Pat Johnson revealed the anthology was a viable thing. It will be launched on Thursday, 16th May, 6pm at the State Library, Perth in the Great Southern Room.

I am thrilled that this has been achieved. Lucas North was close to getting his novel The Population of Loss published with Penguin. He had met Robert Drewe who liked his writing. He wrote to Ben Ball (CEO),  “I’m currently doing a month’s writing residence in Perth for the Fellowship of Australian Writers, during which this West Australian manuscript by a fellow called Lucas North crossed my path. I think it has really got something different going for it: Outback Gothic, or Rural Noir, I reckon.”

Lucas North’s Completed (unpublished) Novels

The Unusables (Book of the Pandemic 1)1993 sci-fi, 100k
Eleven Minute Shareholders(Book of the Pandemic 2)1994 sci-fi, 100k
Lavatory Wall Discourses 1995 thriller, 80k
Flatchest 1996 magic realism, 50k
The Suicide Pact: Broken 1997 sci-fi, 70k
Translucide (novella)1997 urban fantasy, 20k
Asphalt Meniscus 2000 J series, 70k
Themepark Of Id 2001 horror, 80k
Ambidextrous/Existence 2004 thriller, 60k
The Asphalt Apprentice 2004 J series, 70k
The Population of Loss 2006 period thriller, 60k


Book Research

I’m in Collie for a few days doing some final research for The Last Asbestos Town. Once again I’m reminded how beautiful this town is: the river, the lush flora & fauna (blue wrens), the weather, quiet friendly people, and a quaint town centre divided by railway lines. I’m staying at Whispering Pines which is a B & B out of town, run by Wanda and John Bird. John is also a writer and has written a very extensive non-fiction book on Collie titled A Rich and Diverse Heritage – A Snapshot of Collie 1898-2010 – a fortuitous read brought me to page 200 where I discovered two indigenous artists, Phillip Hansen and James Khan, as well as Joseph Northover whom I hope to have a conversation with on this trip. Because I have depicted indigenous minor characters (positively) it’s very important for me to get things right. And since Collie has been at the forefront with reconciliation, I’d like to understand the current protocols, be respectful of Nyungar customs and language and more importantly acknowledge the original custodians of the land. I have written fiction with most of the setting and names fictionalized, Collie as a fictional place, and some general things are borrowed like the cemetery and the Girl Guide Hall. Peter Carey once said “write your setting as fiction, otherwise you get all the know-it-alls.” John Bird wrote non-fiction and yet someone pointed out a mistake. No it wasn’t. Even the know-it-alls can get it wrong!

Working on 2 Novels at Once!

Does luck or plain hard work play a part in publishing? I have now renewed impetus to continue working on my second novel The Ozone Cafe (written before the Asbestos one). So, the Ozone Cafe which is approx.60,000 words is worth time and effort! I’m now editing this novel set in my hometown (fictionalized) alongside The Last Asbestos Town. I have until 1st November for any re-writes for my 2020 publication with Adelaide Books, so putting my heart, soul and best effort forward. The good news is – fellow writer Judyth Emanuel from Sydney (Yeh. Hell. Ow) has just secured a “SECOND BOOK DEAL” with Adelaide Books. I am friends (writer-associate) with Judyth on Facebook and Instagram and call her my guiding light. You just never know, sometimes you can follow an author, be inspired by them, admire their temerity of reaching out beyond Australia to opportunities overseas, who gain the recognition they deserve and voila! – it happens to you!

Note: Pics are from the archives at Gosford Library and in Creative Commons. They are of Ettalong in the early days. The beach pic is in the seventies before the foreshore was ruined by the ugly Mantra. You can just make out the Ozone Cafe in two of the pictures. It was a hideaway for Phil (the Jew) Jeffs when the heat was on in Sydney. The TV series “Underbelly, Razor” includes an episode with the gangster Phil and the old Ozone Cafe.