One of the tricks I have learned from Leo Babauta of zen habits fame is the power of making a public commitment. Your project may still be in its infancy and you may doubt your ability to finish it, let alone deliver something astonishing, but you come out and say I am going to do this. It is a scary move, one which places you on the opposite end of the scale from politicians, who seem to be always looking for wiggle room. But giving a public undertaking formally ‘outs’ the project as one of your important goals and can act as a powerful reminder to yourself and a catalyst to spur you into action on those doldrum days.
With that in mind I hereby announce that I have started planning my second novel. Its working title is Perdition; and it will be set in Flanders and France in the fourteenth century. Yes, I know, fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
So wish me luck please, and keep checking back here for updates.
As for my first novel, I am still editing the second draft of Resilience. And I have a first reader working her way through the text. I had hoped that things would have progressed further, but that thought stems from impatience really. From a broader perspective, quality matters more than timing, and I am keen to hone the manuscript as much as I can.
This is a novel I dreaded reading. The story of a young woman imprisoned in a single room, told from the perspective of Jack, her five-year-old son, who was born into captivity and has never seen the outside world.
The person who recommended it to our book group had introduced the novel in terms of its philosophical implications, but I could only think of the depravity underpinning the plot. So, was I able to overcome my bias and finish the book? Continue reading →
Photo: Wolf Soul (2007) by Romel, under Creative Commons licence.
In the opening scene of The Husband’s Secret, Liane Moriarty introduces Cecilia Fitzpatrick as “a school mum and part–time Tupperware consultant.” Happily married, mother of three, memories of her younger self stored in the attic in neatly labeled plastic containers, checking off tasks as she moves through the day. As readers we know that so much control and organisation constitutes hubris; it is rattling the cages of the gods of narration. Continue reading →
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 →