What happened to Aloïs Delcon, my great-grandfather, on 10 September 1914, when German troops overran the Belgian village of Haacht?
As I grew up, my grandfather’s wartime stories became darker and more complex. One day he told me a story he had never even told his wife.
Little did I know at the time that his tale would continue to dog me with surprising insistence, and that moving to the other side of the world would bring me closer to my family’s history in an unforeseen way…
At the start of this year I decided to look into publishing some of my short stories. I signed up for Euan Mitchell’s Digital Makeover course provided by Writers Victoria at Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre and started reading up on how to produce an e-book.
Now, half a year later, I am about to self-publish my second short story and I intend to go down the e-book path again when Resilience, my debut novel, is ready for publication.
The hardest parts about self-publishing are the writing and the marketing. The bit in the middle, creating and uploading an e-book, is quite enjoyable and relatively stress-free.
There is so much advice out there for anyone planning to create an e-book and I would like to share with you the books that I found particularly helpful.
Running a pub can be tricky. You need to be the sociable type, good at defusing conflict. But what can you do when an entire army turns up on your doorstep, half drunk and looking for more? That is what … Continue reading →
I had just started working in the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet in 1988 when a former colleague rang to let me know that Harry Mulisch would be visiting the University of Melbourne on 19 September. Harry Mulisch (1927–2010) was one of the towering figures in postwar Dutch literature and my colleague, knowing how highly I thought of Mulisch’s oeuvre, was kind enough to invite me to join the party for lunch at University House. I was blown away by the invitation and immediately went to see my supervisor to beg for a day’s leave. So far so good… Continue reading →
At 1,160 words it is a very slight short story. It evokes a special morning in the life of a schoolboy in Belgium in the 1960s. And yet its publication feels like a milestone to me. This is the first time I have published fiction since I was peddling stencilled poetry, way back in the 1970s. The years in between have been filled with writing annual reports, policy papers and guidelines. The world of stakeholder management, deliverables and competitive tendering. Benevolent in its vision but orwellian in its language. At the start of this year I decided to become a full-time writer. The great ‘tendering’ of looking back in, reconnecting with people, emotions and the past. An indie author – break out the quinoa, I am coming home! Continue reading →
It’s not zen at all to brag. It’s poor form. It’s borderline impolite. Self–centered and narcissistic. All of that, absolutely.
Okay, so here I go: I have just completed the first draft of my novel. It has taken me four years of planning and plot development and six months of intensive writing.
Have you ever noticed how the pilot episode of a sitcom is weaker than the first series? The acting is wooden and the dialogue shrill. Themes and conflicts are introduced so emphatically that the characters seem like caricatures. Series get better as the writers and actors find their groove.
All of this came to mind as I reread the opening scenes of my novel. They were my pilot episodes and they suffer from all the vices listed above. It is clear I will have to edit those scenes quite heavily. The good news is that I also notice that my craft has improved in the course of the writing process. Continue reading →