A relationship with a stranger


I am having a relationship with a fellow Ian Rankin fan, I think? They probably don’t know I exist and I am assuming it’s the same person.

Three years ago as we landed in this new land I had just been put on to Ian Rankin. The suggestion was, as someone very new to the crime genre and someone who had never really read crime, I should read him. I had started with one of his first books, Black Book, but I still wasn’t a convert.

It was only a week after our arrival in Brisbane that it all changed. We went to the local school fair where I picked up The Naming of the Dead and Exit Music. They looked brand new. I wondered if a publisher or book seller had donated them. If they had been read it was only once. I can’t remember the price but it was cheap, maybe $2. I devoured them and realised this is Rankin. Now, after many re reads, both books look a lot more worse for wear.

So, I went back the following year with the hope of finding more but there were none!

This year I saw Dogs in the Wild and a rare early story called The Watchman, this hardcover came with a new introduction by the author.  Now I don’t know if it’s that the story is about spys and watching people or the idea of a fellow Rankin reader out there somewhere that I’m sharing stories with. But I’ve been thinking a lot about who this person might be. They are probably local, definitely a once only reader. The books are in near mint condition. Maybe they aren’t reading them at all, maybe someone thinks they are a Rankin fan and keeps buying the books for my poor reader who isn’t reading them at all, instead saving them up for the next school fair.

Not sure where I’d start but I do feel like there could be a great mystery to unravel here.






Festival fever, Morris Gleitzman and the secret to a good story



Literature Festival fever has taken hold of a leafy suburb in Brisbane. The purple fever has a grip on authors, young readers, writers and thinkers alike.

Day one ended with Morris Gleitzman who spoke to a packed auditorium about writing and that very secret, secret behind writing book after book.

“In our imagination there are no rules. It’s an exciting proposition,” Morris Gleitzman.

But what happens when you sit down with a great story in your head and brilliant characters bursting to share their stories. You sit down, open the computer or find a clean page in your notebook and, nothing. That blank screen or page stares back at you in an awkward silence that forces your gaze out a window, or at the pile of dishes you keep putting off. Instead you’re left wondering just how the successful authors, like Mr Gleitzman, do it.

Well, turns out, these people are just like us. Mr Gleitzman had a similar experience after the arrival of his first book. With that first title in hand he believed his life would be perfect as great ideas and stories flowed. But it wasn’t quite that simple. That first line was proving a bothersome beast to hold down.

It was a quest that took him to public libraries where he studied first line and great story upon first line and great story. He cracked it.

The question I have is what is the secret to the next line and the ones that follow that?

But, for this audience of future writers and readers. It was all about that first line and the secret to getting it right. The buzz of creativity that rose above the crowd and filled the large auditorium proved he really has nailed it.

I could share it with you but I think I might end on a quote from him instead. A quote that may prove more useful than the secret.

“The things in life I have never forgotten are the things I discovered myself,” Morris Gleitzman.

I’ve been remiss


Yes, I’ve let things slide. I haven’t been on this blog for some time.

So, inspired by my fellow writer/blogger-in-crime Say Anything Sare  I opened the blog to find three drafts of posts I had started but never finished. Over the next few weeks I do intend to finish them and post them.

But, in the meantime I’ve also updated the The Reading Pile and  The Work in Progress pages.

Yes, after much consideration and inspired by a recent post by Raven Books and some very tight reviews. I’ve decided to plunge into the world of sharing my thoughts about things I’ve read. It’s currently not an extensive list but with the Brisbane Writer’s Festival just around the corner I’m sure it’s going to grow again soon.

I’ll try to stay on top of things this time.

It’s good to be back.


A quiet finale

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Earlier this month myself and fellow blogger/writer-in-crime, Sarah Todman, took part in a global collaborative project called The Finale Project.

There was a script, we didn’t follow it very well. But the idea of conversations and how they work intrigued us from the get go so we ran with the idea of conversation and how easily it can become white noise.

We set up camp in a local cafe and talked a lot and drank coffees and wrote.

My results …..

It is opaque, translucent but not, like a spiders web, possibly with the tensile strength of a golden orb spider’s web. If you stop and look down, really stare hard, you can see it below your feet. You think you can see through it to what’s below. You can’t.

This is white noise, the every day, the stories you’ve heard and know so well. But below are the missed things. The words and hints from an expression that with hindsight you will come to wish you heard then. The innuendo, the glimpse of more behind the words. But, at the time you didn’t know you had missed.

Until the miners decide it’s time to dig.

Generally a person won’t give much thought to the missed. But there will be moments when someone will turn, look up from a screen or down at the ground and find it before them, the missed. There is pause for thought while a person may reflect on this new information. There may be regret. An action may take place. Generally it doesn’t.

The miners are smaller than the human eye. Little people in black suits with bowler hats and umbrellas hooked over their left arm. Some have pipes. It’s not clear why they choose a person and their missed.

And this is as it was on Tuesday the 16th. Mr Bartholomew Simpkin was filing his 1D4B68’s into grey folders.

At 2.58 the miners started to dig.

By 3.15 they were done.

They rose silent, industriously through the white noise placing the missed amongst files and sheets of paper on Mr Simpkins desk.

It wasn’t until 3.45 when Mr Simpkins saw what he had missed and it should have been sooner, they were right there in front of him. But when he did he was so shocked he knocked his tea cup causing a small wave to lap over the rim and slide into the saucer. That made him sit up. A bubble of tea escaped from between his lips at the surprise of the knocked cup, or maybe at what had just been found.

Mr Simpkins now had to decide if he should ignore the misheards and miss reads again or listen.

He didn’t know what to do




We’re done – thank you

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A touch sunburnt and the crunch of sand now wedged in our back teeth we made the final sprint across the boarder to Queensland.

Not much more to add really.

We planned on seeing a lot more of the country and we did. But at times it felt like we were just passing through, observing but not really a part of anything and at times not sure which way to turn to become a part of the life in front of us.

But the more road we covered, the more familiar we became with the idea of the road and it almost became life as usual. It is almost a rhythm from driving. Different from the day to day you take for granted and it seems you need time to adjust, we did. It was almost as if we were still looking for that same routine we had left without realising. But that didn’t last. We fell into a new rhythm, the one that matched the road and made it easier to take detours when the muse took hold of us. The road from Canberra north along the coast right back to Brisbane is truly beautiful.

And, the final wildlife report. The beautiful Yamba delivered. On our last night we took a stroll down to the beach to say goodbye and a pod of dolphins swam in close to the shore and slowly moved across the bay, it felt like the perfect farewell from Yamba.

p.s: This was written nearly a month ago, but that day to day has well and truly kicked in. So a delayed farewell to the road.

Sydney, surf and submarines

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Inside the sub at Sydney’s Maritime Museum.

Three days in Sydney to soak up the surf, sun, subs and pirates.

Not the typical trip to Sydney with shopping, theatre and art although we did get to the Art Gallery of New South Wales show Scottish Masterpiece’s from the National Galleries of Scotland. A small show but all true treasures with Botticelli, Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Gauguin, Constable and Monet amongst them.

We spent a day at the monumentally massive Maritime museum. There’s a frigate and a submarine with a new and very beautiful building sitting between them. The building has exhibits and films of life on board the two vessels playing inside. Then it was pirates by Horrible Histories. Loud, colourful, gory and funny.

We were based at Coogee Beach but spent the time with locals who showed us the spots for swimming and eating that only the locals know about.

Although I have to ask. What is it with this city and porridges. Not the oaty kind most of us enjoy in winter. This is quinoa porridge and bircher muslie. Okay, that’s not really porridge. But if  you ask me it looks like porridge.

On our last morning, as we were getting ready to head north for the next leg we stopped for breakfast at a cafe that had given us great coffee and good hot chips over the weekend.

We thought we were being virtuous and ordered the black quinoa porridge with honey poached blah de blah. I assumed it would be the oat type with black quinoa speckled through it. Oh, no – it was just the little black grain and it was cooked in water. The result – yep, you guessed it. Sludge with what the youth at the table called tadpoles eyeballs. Didn’t help that it was cold. Hearing ‘I’m glad I’m not eating tadpoles eyeballs for breakfast,’ as I gulped it down from someone enjoying a ham and cheese crossiant didn’t help much either.

Everywhere you turn in this city there’s some new porridge or bircher muslie in many forms and shades of colour. It all looks like porridge to me.


The Moyles are back in Brisbane. We’re not.

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Lunch on the river at Nambucca Heads

The Moyles have done it. They have driven over 10,000 kms as they traversed this continent taking in everything this country has to offer and, after a 10-odd hour sprint up the east coast, crossed the finish line late one evening. That was two days ago.

We’re still a week off crossing the finish line. We’ve only just hit the 4,000 k mark but we marked the moment with a stop at one of the prettiest towns since Bright. A small town called Sawtel. We’ve now downloaded the Allpress app and it tells us where the next town with a cafe selling Allpress is so it did mean a detour but we’ve decided any town selling Allpress is a town worth a vist.

From Canberra we stopped in Sydney did a night in Port MacQuarie and are now in Yamba. I haven’t had internet or wifi since Canberra. I won’t lie – I wasn’t in a hurry to find it. I’ve been here a day and spent it at the beach getting lost in this view.

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Main beach Yamba

After giving up on wild life between Canberra and Sydney my faith in Australia’s fauna has been restored. In the last day or so we’ve seen a fair few pelicans and a disturbing scattering of blue bottle jellyfish.

I also saw a sign warning drivers to watch out for wild cattle. I had no idea cattle could be wild. I thought by definition they were domesticated. Then I saw another sign asking drivers to report wandering stock. So have they simply given up on a particularly naughty herd and declared them wild and washed their hands of them. Or is the sign warning us of cows who are free and easy, wild, cattle who refuse to follow the rules like staying inside the fence?

A thought for the final leg home perhaps. Meanwhile we’re staying put in the glorious Yamba for the rest of the week. Yes, I found the cafe that sells Allpress!