Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Share House Project - Janine Mikosza and Stephanie Jones - interview

The house I grew up in was L-shaped, split-level, surrounded by trees. It had a stone fireplace in the lounge that took up most of the wall. Once, I wrote my name on one of the smooth grey stones – at the time I was writing my name everywhere – and then panicked when I couldn't scrub it off. I tried to put the blame on my sister, an intruder, the supernatural – but I was fooling no one.

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Take Three Girls wins CBCA Book of the Year (Older Readers)

Excited and delighted to report that Take Three Girls has taken out the 2018 CBCA* Book of the Year for Older Readers. Take Three Girls is a collaborative novel by Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell and Fiona Wood. It's about the lives of three teenage girls over a school term. It has themes of friendship, feminism, technology and identity. On a personal note, it was probably the most fun I've ever had writing a book. In this interview with Sue Bursztynski I talk a bit about how the book came to be.

Cath Crowley's website

Fiona Wood's website

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Kindred Spirits

I would have given my right arm, my left leg, all my BMX trophies for a bosom friend, even though the word "bosom" made me feel funny. I was going by Anne Shirley's definition: "an intimate friend … a really kindred spirit who I can tell my utmost secrets to".

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Pretty in Pink

“Love is awful.”
“Love is complicated.”
"Love is a bitch, Duck."
If Pretty in Pink taught me anything in 1986 it was that love was all those things, but it was also a reason to get out of bed in the morning – the hope of it, anyway. Nothing was going to happen at school, but there was always the commute: maybe I'd bump into my dream guy in the food court. We'd share donut holes and talk about the Smiths. At 15 I was so far from romantic love that I practically have a violin soundtrack to my memory stream. That was me on the train with the acne and ankle socks staking out porcelain-skinned private school boys, or shabby punks thumbing Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Big Sur - Little Bohemia

"And as you drive along the coast, up state highway number one, you can see, if you look for them, the shacks, even tents, where literary immigrants have already set up typewriters." - The New Cult of Sex and Anarchy – Mildred Edie Brady, 1947
"Why does a young woman like you live way out there alone on a shack by a deserted beach?" – The Sandpiper
Big Sur is beautiful but I hadn't pictured it through a rainy lens. I pictured it as it was in 1965 in The Sandpiper: all roiling tides and running deer, and a ragtag band of beatniks. In the film Elizabeth Taylor plays Laura, a single mother and artist home-schooling her son in their shack by the sea. When he's forced to go to boarding school, Laura clashes and then falls in love with his married headmaster, Reverend/Dr Edward Hewitt (Richard Burton). Cue clandestine meetings at secluded coves and dramatic declarations under equally dramatic cliffs. Big Sur had long been a little bohemia – its most infamous resident, Henry Miller, arrived in 1944 – but the film brought Big Sur to the masses. It meant the restaurant Nepenthe (where the famous dance scene was filmed) could stay open on the off season, and that decades later, an unworldly teen (ahem, me) could lounge around in the cinematic language of dreams.

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Gleaming World

Still on a San Francisco theme I have a piece published on Dumbo Feather's site. It's about share-houses, fictional families and my enduring love for Tales of the City.

 Secluded one-bedroom apartment on Russian Hill. Apply 28 Barbary Lane. You’ll know if it’s right for you.” —Tales of the City, Armistead Maupin
28 Barbary Lane would have been right for me. I knew as soon as I saw Mary-Ann Singleton climb the wooden stairs, and open the lych-gate to the dreamy three—tiered ‘painted lady’. When Mrs Madrigal summed her new tenant up via Tennyson (“You have that look about you. You can’t wait to bite into the lotus’”) I searched out the poem (The Lotus Eaters) and copied the lush lines into my writing book:
and the clouds are lightly curld
Round their golden houses,
girdled with the gleaming world
In my post-high-school existence, the gleaming world was to be found in TV and books. I liked to read about dreamers and drop outs in unconventional living arrangements, like the characters in Michael Hornburg’s Bongwater and Douglas Coupland’s Generation X. But it’s Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City that most readily whirlpools me back to that time of freedom and possibility.

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