I do find the thought of me being scary strangely appealing, particularly when I’m attempting to strong-arm the 6’3” son into putting the milk back in the fridge when he’s finished with it 🤬.
But my chat with the brilliant Allison Tait from The Australian Writers’ Centre was anything but scary. It ended up being an extended literary therapy session, with her coaxing out of me the rationale and process behind my writing. It’s always hugely rewarding speaking with people who really know their stuff. And Allison is one of the best. If you’re interested is listening in, the podcast can be accessed in the link.
If you’re me, it’s my trusty notepad.
Yes, I do resort to Siri note-taking when I’m driving and have a brainwave I want to record before it dissolves from my often distracted consciousness. Flashes of inspiration disappear so quickly between mundane, day-to-day concerns like making sure the backyard chicken is fed and the fridge contains at least one bottle of milk that resembles something other than sour yoghurt.
But Siri, God love her, has her limitations, thanks to the whole voice-to-text thing. From one of my recent attempts: ‘Mother over daughters dress, pinching at waste as she is eating hors d’oeuvres.’
I have absolutely no idea whatsoever what that was meant to mean. My latest book contains no mention of mothers or dresses, with not an hors d’oeuvres to be seen.
Pen to paper is so much more reliable. What do you think? Do I need to give up my occasionally old fashioned ways? I don’t go so far as writing my manuscript longhand. That’s what the laptop’s for. But for notes and ideas on the go, I just can’t ignore pen and paper.
What do you make of this? A couple of Christmases ago, I’d just packed the manuscript for The Honourable Thief off to @macmillanaus. The day for the giving of gifts arrived, and my husband gave me this box. Not just any box, though. Applied to the front was a picture of Achilles’ shield. And inside was something so beautiful and poignant, it made me weep. You see, Andrew had tracked down an Ancient Greek coin and had it set as a pendant. But it wasn’t just any coin. In The Honourable Thief, Benedict Hitchens is given a pendant by his wife, Karina. The coin in she used was from Kremaste, and was minted in the 4th century BC. As the story progresses, the pendant becomes deeply significant to Benedict. And it was this that Andrew replicated for me. The exact, same coin. Yes, he is the best husband in the world. And, no, you can’t have him. 😁😊❤️
God, I love this. Laying down the bones of my next novel. Next step being the shuffling around of Post-It notes to work out pacing, and plot reveals. The. Best. Fun. And for those of you who’ve asked whether I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants writer, or a nail-the-story-down-before-starting type of writer… well, this probably answers your question.
This little gem could have been written yesterday, right? Nah. Try a thousand years ago.
If more of us listened to the lessons history has to teach us, the world would be a far better place than it is today.
Witness for the prosecution – a fine embodiment right here of why I love my job so danged much. I was fishing around, doing research for my next novel, when I stumbled on the story, and – most importantly – the words, of the poet, warrior, philosopher, and Talmudic scholar, Samuel Ha’Nagid. He rose to the position of Vizier in the court of Sultan Badis ibn Habus, founder of the stunning architectural confection that is the Alhambra in Granada. Yes, The names tell the story – Samuel was Jewish, and a leader of his community. He also led the Sultan’s army. A Muslim army. That’s not a typo. Not to mention, his poems and writing are shatteringly powerful. Yet he’s all but lost to most of us. Have any of you heard of him before now?
So many powerful voices lost through time. We really need to start listening to them.