“This has been a journey of discovery, a love letter to my part of the world. It’s the story of an ocean as much as a story of people. It’s as much about the present as it is about history.” Sam Neill
“Written with sparkle by Anastasios… Neill comes across as the ideal travelling companion with whom to follow in the footsteps of Captain Cook.” The Australian.
So, what now feels like a lifetime ago, but was actually only 2018 (thanks for that, 2020—the year that seemed to stretch on forever), a TV series I worked on as scriptwriter was released. Oh, and there was the book I wrote for Harper Collins to accompany the series as well. Working on it was—and I really don’t say things like this very often—a truly transformative experience.
Anyway, aforementioned series aired in various places internationally, but in Australia it appeared on Foxtel. Which is all very well if you subscribe to cable TV. But for most of my friends—who do not—The Pacific: In the Wake of Captain Cook with Sam Neill was the proverbial falling tree in a forest. If a TV series airs and nobody sees it, did it ever really exist?
But now, it’s being released on Free-To-Air TV… on good ol’ ABC Australia. So now, Australian friends, you’re out of excuses. It’s a rollicking good series helmed by the incomparable Sam Neill that tells the story of the people who had been living in The Pacific for thousands—and in the case of Australia’s Aboriginal people, tens of thousands—of years when Cook’s ships arrived in Antipodean waters. Sam speaks with First Nations people from one corner of the Pacific to the other, and hears from them what Cook’s arrival meant for their way of life. It’s a new way of looking at a story that, for those of us who are descended from new-ish arrivals in the region, is unfamiliar, but all the more important for it.
I don’t always plug the shows I work on. But I’m actually quite proud of this one.
So, I’ve been pretty quiet on the socials lately. Because I live in Melbourne.
Yeah. Nuff said.
Last lockdown, we were all grappling with uncertainty. Switch to me documenting all the everyday things I was grateful for… and the posts to remind myself. But as anyone who is going through it can attest, lockdown mk II has been a very different beast – am I right, fellow Melburnians? The focus this time round has been trying to help my two small humans through what has been an abysmally disappointing and unsettling time for them, while also fighting to get work.
As the brilliant wordsmith and ultimate pragmatist, Jacquie Byron, once said to me – it’s all about the hustle, lady. So that’s what I’ve been doing. Massive upside being I’ve finally achieved a personal milestone – to see one of my articles published today under The Guardian’s masthead. The depth of its Arts (caps used advisedly) coverage is absolutely stellar and gives the sector the voice it so desperately needs. I couldn’t be more proud of the association with them.
So – “Can Hollywood on the Gold Coast help save Australia’s floundering film and TV industry?” You’ll have to read it to find out.
To say that our country is in the grip of an apocalyptic m
oment in its history is not an exaggeration. The feeling of impotence, grief and desperation I’ve been feeling from the safety and comfort of my safe house (literally… my house is safe) in the heart of a smoke-clogged Melbourne is overwhelming. Yeah, @scottmorrisonmp I’m not qualified to hold a hose either. I‘d only be in the way.
So what to do? Well, thanks to the fine souls at #AuthorsForFireys , otherwise useless creative types like me now have an outlet to make a practical contribution in some way. If you head over to Twitter, @MWAnastasios , I’ve put a collection of literary things up for auction – for your consideration:
1) signed copies of my books incl The Water Diviner, The Pacific in the Wake of Captain Cook with Sam Neill, The Honourable Thief, and The Emerald Tablet
2) a rare ltd biscuit tin issued for the release of The Water Diviner – it’s unopened so still contains a pkt of antediluvian Anzac biscuits you’d be wise not to eat if you value your health and well-being
3) a character name in my next novel. You could pick your name, or the name of a loved one… or your nemesis! The choice is yours.
You just have to post a bid on my Twitter thread, then if you’re the highest bidder when the auction ends, make a donation to the CFA for that amount, send me a pic of the receipt, and I’ll send the goodies to you. Easy! Meantime, #FireysForPm. Auction ends 11pm Sat. Thank you in advance. Helping each other – it’s what we do. 💕
When I say I’ve always wanted to be an author, I’m not exaggerating. Witness: my first self-published piece of fiction: “the elvse and the showmaker”. Yes, I clearly needed the guiding hand of a good editor. And I was yet to grasp the concept of plagiarism. But, still – I was barely 5. Cut me some slack. If I was a visual artist, I’d be calling it ‘appropriation’. And I segued to another ‘appropriated’ tale to end my novel – “firoshus the puppy dragan” (aka: Ferocious the Puppy Dragon). ‘the dragan got the bisket and the little boy came a fabilus coke. the end.’ Transl: ‘The dragon got the biscuit and the little boy became a fabulous cook.’ Now, that’s what I call a twist – ending a story about elves and a shoemaker with a dragon and an ambitious young man. And, no – the association between cooks and coke is not something young Meaghan knew anything about.
Know what makes me smile? Seeing world-class, kick-arse Australian TV.
And that’s what I was privileged to be involved with last night. Channel 7 screened a preview of the first two episodes of Secret Bridesmaids’ Business and I was lucky enough to be in the audience.
The production is lush and stunning to look at, the soundtrack absolute perfection, the story gripping, the characters compelling, and the cast magnificent. Highlights – the gorgeous Georgina Haig as a bride-to-be being dragged backwards through the emotional wringer, Katie McGrath as a very conflicted bridesmaid, Abbie Cornish diving headfirst into trouble, and a charismatic Alexander England taking us to some surprising, and very disturbing, places. Berets dipped to the whole team.
Only quibble? That I have to wait to see the next four episodes. Nails bitten to the quick in nervous anticipation till then 😬.
Seriously, don’t miss this one.
And, yes, it is my husband Andrew also-of-the-ridiculously-long-surname you’ll see in the credits as writer. But that doesn’t sway me in the show’s favour. If anything, it makes me an even harsher critic.
Know when you’re getting old? When this becomes the perfect way to spend a Saturday evening. Hello, bubbles. Alcoholic, and L’Occitane Lavender bath foam, natch. See you in a couple of hours. What’s your go-to spot for a goodtime Saturday night?
Whether or not I’m ‘special’ is open for debate. But I certainly will be a guest, and I am an author. Most importantly, I can’t wait to spend time with the book-loving devotees of Dymocks Camberwell next Tuesday 3 September at their First Tuesday Book Club, to speak about all things Emerald Tablet. 6.30 at Barolo Trattoria. Come along and sharpen up your heckling skills. I can take it! Hope to see you there.
Yes, I’ve been on a social media sabbatical. Because puppy 🐶. Could there be any greater distraction than this? Milo is a little rescue baby, the result of a romantic interlude between a Mastiff and a handsome stranger. Money’s on a German Shepherd. She’s eleven weeks old, absolutely divine, and promises to be the size of a Shetland pony when she’s done growing. Smitten 🥰😍.
A review that starts like that? Daggers to the heart.
Why? Well, imagine you’re a restaurant specializing in satay and a review comes out that starts with the line: “I don’t usually eat peanuts… because I’m likely to go into anaphylactic shock.” Or you’re a producer on Survivor and a critic announces they’ve: “never been into reality TV. Last one I watched was ‘Sylvania Waters.” (Yes, Gen X. That was a thing. Before you were born. Google it.)
But my concerns were misplaced. The review of The Emerald Tablet on ANZ LitLovers is an absolute corker. Apparently, my book is “a thriller for a thinking person”, featuring a “complex character in Ben”, a “…well-crafted plot”, and is “…infinitely better than anything by Dan Brown.”