Sometimes, no matter what I do, a character will refuse to behave and do what I want them to do. It feels like they have taken on a life of their own. I know it’s because I’m trying to make them do something the character wouldn’t normally do, but the following is a little like what it feels like when characters become so well formed it seems like they have taken over a story.
Character: (folds arms across chest with a stubborn look) No.
Me: Who is the writer here? Now do as you’re told.
Me: Oh come on. Do this little thing for me. What can it matter?
Character: I’d never do anything like that.
Me: This is my story and that’s where I want it to go.
Character: Too bad.
Me: Please. Pretty please with cherries on top and sprinkles and chocolate and… hmm, I’m getting hungry. Are you hungry too?
Character: You won’t distract me that easily. The answer is still no.
Me: If this story doesn’t work it’s your fault.
Character: No it’s not. You need to write the story that suits me. Now stop trying to change me and write my story.
Me: (mutters under breath) Damn characters. Think they own the story. Always trying to tell me what to do.
Character: (with a slight smile) I do own this story. Isn’t it all about me?
During primary school we took a long journey on a train. My mum, two younger siblings and myself. There were so many things about it I found fascinating. We were in a sleeper carriage and the bunk was like a different world. A place to not only curl up with a book, but to catch glimpses through the window of the scenery outside. There were stretches of open land, not a house in sight, towns filled with people, railway sidings that if you had blinked you might have missed them. I thought of ways to describe the places we travelled through, wondered about who might have lived there or what was in the area. I also wondered about where we were headed, but was mostly fascinated by where we currently were.
Of an evening, as I fell asleep, the sound of the train travelling across the track made a unique sound. It was mostly a rhythmic lullaby, reminding me I was going somewhere, even as I slept, my dreams filled with equally fascinating adventures.
There were times when the sleeper felt cramped, especially with my younger siblings cooped up inside the cabin too. The corridor outside the sleeper was also an interesting spot. Large windows to the passing world, strangers on their own journeys and two directions leading to other carriages. I would have loved to explore the entire train, but sadly that wasn’t possible. But there was more than enough to keep me interested in the sections where I was allowed and of course I had books with me. When you love to read there is always something to do.
When we arrived at our destination, there was yet more to see. The station was crowded. There were numerous people, a mixture of noises, bright lights and lots of colour. So much to see, so many things to feed my imagination and fuel more ideas for stories.
It’s memories like this that I draw on when writing. Using them to add a touch of realism to even my fantasy novels. The wonder of going to new places, discovering interesting things and meeting fascinating people. I still enjoy travelling. Going to out of the way places and often taking random directions because they look or sound interesting. Not only do I enjoy travelling myself, but I also love to hear about other people’s journeys too. They can be as fascinating as experiencing my own travels.
I often have people ask if I read. I couldn’t imagine not reading. I’ve read most of my life and before I was able to read, I pestered other people to read to me. Sadly no one wanted to read to me all day, every day. Which is probably part of the reason I learned to read so young.
Other writers ask if I’m worried I might begin to imitate other authors if I read their work. There’s an easy solution to that. Read more books choosing a variety of authors. The perfect excuse to read more. But seriously, as an author you eventually develop your own style. It will change and evolve over the years, but there will always be something distinctly unique about it. Something that makes your style different to that of other authors.
As an author, reading is important, not only for enjoyment, but to continually learn and improve. So much can be gained from reading good books. For anyone who is interested in writing, you can learn many writing techniques by looking at how an author has written a novel. Seeing the different techniques in use. But best of all, it’s a fun pastime.
Often when I’m out, I can’t resist taking photos of things that inspire ideas. After registering the facts, my brain frequently takes a sharp turn into the realms of fantasy and whoever is with me ends up hearing yet one more story idea that I’d love to write.
The hollowed out ground, in the image above, reminded me of the holes a dog I once owned would dig to sleep in. Particularly in summer so he could create a nice cool sleeping place. This hollow was far larger than the holes my dog ever dug and a creature that size would be enormous. Not to mention easily noticed. And if no one had noticed him before, that meant he had to have been asleep for a very long time. Had he willingly gone to sleep or had someone put him to sleep in the hope he never woke. Had they put him to sleep when they learned he was impossible to kill?
Would he be bent on revenge against the one who sent him to sleep and who was likely long dead? Or would he be angry towards all he comes across. What if he came across someone who looked similar to the one who put him to sleep? Would that be enough of a resemblance to have him target them? And what had he been doing in the first place to have someone wanting him dead?
Maybe he wasn’t the evil one. He might have been some sort of protective creature and the one who tried to kill him was the evil one. They might also be alive, as immortal as the one they sent to sleep.
What would have woken the creature? An expiry date on the spell that sent him to sleep or some unsuspecting person, trying to escape the creature who now thought they were the reason he’d been trapped in sleep.
As always there are numerous possibilities and the story could go in so many different directions. Maybe one day I’ll get to write it and figure out exactly why the creature slept for such a long time and what happened to him next.
I’ve always been fascinated by old buildings and often wonder at the many stories that have played out in them. The lives that have been lived within these walls, the ones that have passed through and the secrets they contain.
Looking at this image I see a car broken down on a lonely stretch of highway and a person who knows there is nothing for kilometres. Yet they can see a light in the distance and in desperation head towards it to find an imposing building that shouldn’t be there. When they enter, their footsteps echo in empty rooms, the feeble light from their torch showing very little, the batteries beginning to fail. They search for the staircase leading upwards, wanting to find the lit room, they saw from the highway, before the darkness closes in around them.
When they do find the room, what is waiting for them? Something demonic? Or something from another world that only slips through into this one at certain times of the year, trapping them a long way from home when it returns. Or a curse they are tricked into accepting, needing to pass it along to another innocent if they wish to be rid of it. So many possibilities. So many stories. And never enough time to write them all.
It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. For me they become so many more. I can rarely look at a picture without also seeing a story idea, which is why I have more ideas than I’ll ever be able to write in a lifetime. Most people would only see a bubble. When I look at this picture all kinds of ideas run through my head.
Memories are fragile. Can often be important. They can contain important information, knowledge and skills. What if some had the ability to collect them? Gather them into a sphere that others could use. This could be a quick way to learn new skills. But then that would also mean someone would lose a skill. There would be the desperate ones willing to sell memories to get what they need. Others close to death who want to bequeath memories to their children. And what about those who wanted a particular memory, no matter the cost.
The people those memories were stolen from, would they know something was missing? A memory that was stolen too quickly and without absolute care due to the fear of being caught. What other memories might also be stolen? Or might have been fragmented. And how could someone take back those memories they’d lost and who would help them?
It’s no wonder I have an endless supply of ideas when the simple image of a bubble can trigger yet one more.
Earlier this month we attended Supanova. Like the previous times, it was such a lot of fun. I enjoyed catching up with people from previous events, meeting new people and talking to those who visited my stall.
This time we took a larger crew with us and had people dressed as various characters, from my steampunk series, Rosie’s Rangers. We had a shopkeeper, sky pirates, blood shaman, a human mech and I wore steampunk wings that moved. Our display had also grown and we had a shopfront similar to one from the 1830s. It was nice to have somewhere to display the steampunk critters that are based on the ones from Rosie’s Rangers.
As always I loved seeing the many costumes, people wore to the event, and couldn’t resist taking numerous photos. As did those with me. I put together a compilation of them, with a lot of help, and it can be found on Youtube.
I’m looking forward to the next Supanova and we’re already tossing around ideas for what we plan to do. It’ll be tough outdoing the shopfront, but we’re looking forward to the challenge. Now if only we could make a decision between the many crazy ideas we’ve been coming up with. Or possibly come up with one that is a little more sane.
My love of books includes so many different types, including reference books such as dictionaries. Over the years I’ve added to my collection of dictionaries, unable to resist some of the beautiful editions I’ve found. I’m often asked if I really need that many dictionaries. What can I say? Obviously. I own them, don’t I?
My oldest dictionary doesn’t have a publishing date, but the pages are yellowed and there is a photo of the King and Queen, along with the royal princesses, taken at the time of the Coronation. It was my grandfather’s book and was given to me many years ago. It’s The Modern Standard English Dictionary And World Atlas. In the back of the dictionary is a section titled Austral English. This section contains Australian slang words and colloquial expressions of the time. I’ve found it a useful reference when I’ve wanted to find out more about that era. There’s also a section on prominent Australians, Fauna, trees, how to address persons of rank, countries of the world and an atlas. When trying to narrow the date down as to when it was published I looked through some of the list of prominent Australians and couldn’t find a date after 1939. When checking the dates of some of the people listed who had no date of death, I came across Clement Hill who died in 1945. So the dictionary was likely to have been published some time between those two dates.
Another dictionary I have is Webster’s New World Dictionary. It may not be the oldest dictionary I own, but it’s the one I’ve used for the longest. My father bought it when I was ten years old and it has coloured pages with lists of different things such as trees, rocks, shells and animals. I used to pour over those images for hours. They were great for seeing what different things looked like so I could describe them in my early stories. Things I’d never seen personally, but because of that dictionary I knew what they were called and what they looked like. To me that dictionary was almost magical. It could help me imagine all kinds of things and places and fuelled so many daydreams and stories. Decades ago my father asked me if I wanted it, having remembered how many hours I’d spent looking through it.
I still have the school dictionary we were required to have in late primary school. The Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary was a handy tool I used on an almost daily basis. More for my writing than for schoolwork. I also read that dictionary from start to finish in a bid to learn more words I could use to create my stories.
I also have dictionaries I found in secondhand shops that looked interesting, ones I inherited and beautiful glossy ones that I couldn’t resist buying when wandering around bookshops.
You can never have too many dictionaries. Obviously. Only take a look on my shelves and you’ll see that for yourself. One is never enough.
On Sunday 5th June 2016 we attended Old Petrie Town Steam Fair with other members of Steam Dreams, the Queensland Steampunk group, dressed in our steampunk gear. There were also members from a local pirate group who attended in their outfits. Due to extreme weather conditions the fair was cancelled on the Saturday, but Sunday was a lot of fun and we hope to attend next year. For those who live in south east Queensland, and would love to attend in 2017, it’s usually on the first weekend in June. The Old Petrie Town markets were on during the day, there was a lot to see and the grand parade was at 12:30 p.m. In all, it was a lovely family event and we had a great time. All the photos were taken by Cat Petersen.
We had a wander around the event.
There was an amazingly large fig tree and numerous old buildings.
The steampunk and pirate groups gathered for photos.
We joined the parade.
If you wanted to keep up to date regarding the next Steam Fair or other Queensland steampunk events, you can request to join the following Facebook groups.
Old Petrie Town Steam Fair:
Steam Dreams- Queensland Steampunk:
When I was a child I devoured books. There never seemed to be enough to read. It was a good thing I tended to read favourites over and over again. Not only for the enjoyment, but to also discover how the author had created the story. To learn the techniques they’d used to draw me into their world and keep me turning pages.
I still have quite a few of my childhood books. All the Trixie Belden books, numerous Enid Blyton, books that belonged to my parents when they were children and so many more. Occasionally I revisit old favourites and I’ve shared some with my children. The books all have memories that go with them, reminding me of different moments of my childhood.
I have the full set of Trixie Belden books and so many times my mum had to search for the next one because I absolutely needed and couldn’t live without it. I loved reading that series, following the characters in their adventures and trying to solve the mysteries along with them. And of course there was Nancy Drew. Yet more mysteries to solve.
Some of my other childhood books still sitting in my shelves are ‘The Big Brass Key’ by Ruth Park, ‘The Box In The Attic’ by Barbara Euphan Todd, ‘A Horse Called Butterfly’ by Thurley Fowler, ‘Caddie Woodlawn’ by Carol Ryrie Brink, ‘Anne Of Green Gables’ by Lucy M. Montgomery and ‘The Velvet Room’ by Zilpha Keatly Snyder to name but a few.
I read in so many different genres and tended to pick up nearly any book I saw. It made buying presents for me very easy. I continued to read in various genres through my teenage years and kept many of those books as well. Although I tended to read more fantasy and horror than other genres by that age.
I still read in numerous genres and can’t see a book without wanting to pick it up and check it out, tempted to start reading immediately. And I continue to collect many of the books I read, much to the protests of my groaning bookcases.