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There is a power in riding a horse. This is a sentence I have written many times, in several different contexts, but it is an idea I find myself coming back to again and again. The power isn’t just one of mass, or force, or brute strength. I’m not sure I know exactly what it […]
When I was fourteen we spent several weeks chasing summer in France. The majority of my family are readers—apart from my youngest brother who wouldn’t know how to open a book. Towards the end of the trip we camped in Carnac, a place famous for its standing stones and Asterix and Obelix. There was an […]
The sun highlights a large spider web in the bathroom. It doesn’t look like the conventional webs that appear on Instagram with their perfect shape and pretty droplets of dew coating the fine strands. This one resembles a labyrinth with multiple layers, and it is dusty. It reminds me of how a story can unfold. […]
There is an ancient marri in front of the house that leans on a precarious forty-five degree angle. I found it one day when I got lost (again) wandering in the bush. Part of the trunk is darkened from old bush fires and the bark on the northern side is rough and protrudes unevenly, ready […]
Away from the sounds and busyness of the city the senses come alive. Perhaps it is the familiarity of the drive south, from Bunbury to Walpole. I’ve now been doing it for over twenty years. The first trip was as a backpacker late at night in a car full of new friends. I remember the […]
My most sustained attempt to quit writing forever was in the mid-nineties. I’d completed a novel that was greeted with indifference by publishers and was courting self-pity. I’d been writing for two decades, experimenting with scripts, comedy skits and short stories for adults and children, but had met with little success. The sensible course of […]
Writers love to evoke music when eulogising their work. They talk of the “rhythm of language.” They want their prose to “sing”. They crave musical fluidity. Compiling a comprehensive bibliography of fiction influenced by music would be daunting. It would range from the breathless descriptions of jazz in Kerouac to the turgid treatises on classical […]
After deciding my novel, Earworm, would be a tale told by a love song, I set about conceiving the voice of my narrator. I wanted something urgent, funny and non-human. The language needed to be rhythmical and awash with musical allusion and imagery. The vocabulary should reference sounds and musical jargon. My narrator would indulge […]
In 1876, Mark Twain published a short comic piece entitled A Literary Nightmare (also known as Punch, Brothers, Punch!). In this fictionalised memoir, Twain describes reading a jaunty popular poem in a newspaper which then lodges in his head. The predominance of the repetitive rhythms and rhymes shred his concentration, rendering him incapable of writing. […]
Several decades ago, at Adelaide’s Writers Week, I was dragooned into constructing a ramp for Dorothy Hewett. I’d spent the afternoon imbibing with an acquaintance called Joe Public (there are many embellishments in this story, but Joe’s name isn’t one of them). Joe’s fashion sense blended hobo haute couture with dire dentistry while I was […]
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