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Hangin' with my hound

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I'm not, like, gonna fail or anything... am I?

She sits in the four-seat group with her friends, all of them self-conscious... newly emerged from their chrysalis. It is the first week of uni. The grey backs of buildings flash past the window as they rummage in their stiff new portfolios or cool messenger bags. She is dressed with a carefully considered whimsy; leggings, a couple of oversize singlet tops, layered in different colours. An enormous fabric rose pinned to her shoulder. She has great hair, funky and distressed. Her eye liner is dark and smudgy, making her worried young eyes look huge and luminous.

“Like...I don’t understand why they have to make it so ridiculously hard...” she is saying in a peculiarly toneless voice – a steady monotone. “We, like, all got good OP’s...” she drifts off, looking out the window. Her face is oddly still, although the eyes are restless and expressive. The face matches the voice – it is as though she is trapped in the flesh of her teenage shell.

The conversation around her putters along, but she launches back in, still on topic. “I mean, what is with the assignment? It’s, like so hard to get 750 words down. I’ve got no idea why they want to make it so hard.” The protest is undermined somewhat by the utterly level tone, the bland face.

She is worried, though... clearly worried. It seems that great hair is not enough.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Every day I walk past it. The wicker quaint...speaking of days when there was sufficient time. Someone sat down and wove that basket, worked in a slight pattern near the top and tucked in all the sharp edges. Once upon a time it may have had a ruffled set of linens.

When we used it, though, we kept it plain; the glossy white finish clean and simple.

Looking at the old bassinet I try to get back to those early days. Is there anything like the time with a newborn baby? Our tiny son... securely wrapped in his bunny rug. Tucked up, full of milk and sleeping at last. It was at once as though he had always been with us – and at the same time as though he were a fantasy.

I used to sit bolt upright in the night. What is that? Silence?

Out of bed to check on the precious bundle, breathing quietly for once. Touch him, his warm, compact body, his dear little mass. The size of heaven. What is the drug of the newborn? Everything feels so particularly right.

We stood over him, willing him to wake so that we could pick him up. He’s a big boy now... but sometimes I long for those days and nights when the tender weight of him in my arms was treasure.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Final Galleys

Phew! What a process!

I am one email exchange away from completing the text block. I really want to see the cover art, though - that's the fresh part for me. What will Nina look like?

While I was writing Crisp Whites I became a bit obsessed by redheads. I would look up from the screen while packed into the train with the daily commuters and my eye would light on a head of long, red hair. Several times I considered approaching these candidates... what would I say, though? "Hi, my name's Noelani. I'm writing a novel and you look like my protagonist..."

I have decided to avoid overt stalking on the train!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Making Way

Have you ever noticed how many nautical turns of phrase are used in everyday life? Full steam ahead; the bitter end; a safe harbour... back on deck. Is it a colonial thing? Born of our history? Does it happen in landlocked nations?

In Crisp Whites, other members of her cohort are drawn to Nina’s warm nature and inner strength, and she becomes a confidante for their amazing stories. She is the discoverer of secrets; the one they turn to when it all goes to hell. Her sympathetic presence and ready shoulder disguise her own secrets and deepening confusion. At sea for six weeks, Nina tries to sort out her complicated feelings. The cohort steps ashore in Tasmania for a weekend of freedom from the ship and, in a series of misadventures, Nina finds herself literally fighting for her life in the back streets of Hobart.

Nina and Adam are drawn closer by this awful experience, but what hope exists for their love? As Initial Training draws to its climactic ending, tough decisions will have to be made. The experiences have changed Nina so much. What does this mean for the life she has left back in Brisbane?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Love Letter

He banged through the screen door and the heat was like being pressed into a pillow. Immediately the moisture dried from his lips and his eyes felt scratchy. The man (runner, ironman...) tilted his water bottle to his lips and tried to offset the baking effect. He could feel the water streaming down his throat, being incorporated into his body and then being whisked off the surface of his skin in a swift arc. He might as well fling the water directly into the air...

Dipping the brim of his cap against the shimmering orb that hung above the horizon, he turned into the street and started to run. He pulled the sulphurous air into his lungs without demure. This was good for him... in six weeks he would be (running... riding...) in Kona and it would be hot there too. This was good for him.

At first the joints and muscles felt a little stiff, a little tight. He talked to his body, kept the head wobbling loosely, asked the spine to feel the balance, the fine engineering between pelvis and shoulders. As he swung into the run, his joints oiled. His stride loosened and he could feel the muscles now, light and springy. He lengthened out and his breathing deepened. The awkward cold stage was nearly gone. He rolled his neck in pleasure and felt the satisfying fly;the almost impossible feeling of skimming the earth, of being a machine of running (man of iron), of being untouchable, unbreakable and uncatchable.

Finally the last fiery crescent of the sun was sucked beneath the horizon. The temperature dropped noticeably and the colours leached out of the landscape. The man (runner, machine) had passed beyond the edge of the neighbourhood and was on a winding road through the bush. The road surface was smooth and as the dusk deepened the cool darkness stroked gentle hands down his hot face. It was so good. He allowed his mind to reach out around him. He had been running steadily for an hour now and full darkness was almost upon the world. It was amazing how much you could see by starlight. The road ahead of him was touched with a silvery magic and he could sense the small and timid creatures in the bush beside him. They stirred and stretched. Night-time was the time to get busy for the possum, the echidna and the small hopping creatures. Day was too brutal... but night was velvet, gentle and sweet.

He drew that sweet night air deep into his lungs. It had a taste now – different from the flat, metallic taste of the baking daytime air. Night air was nectar. He tasted blossom, earth and dew. He turned his face up to the gorgeous night sky and the stars were densely crusted – like a fistful of glitter thrown across black silk. His body (iron, machine) crossed and opened, limbs swung in perfect rhythm with pulse and breath. The strike of his feet on the roadway was a metronome for the music that stirred all around him as the bush came to life. He felt a part of the world. For millennia there had been men running through the darkness, chasing their goal.

The darkness welcomed him. It cooled him and the sweet air fed him. Night running was his favourite time.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Magic Trick

As I polish and consider each paragraph of my second novel, I have the distinct feeling I am being watched. It’s not the commuter with whom I am sitting knee-to-knee... a tanned, silver-bearded dude in a yellow plaid shirt (at this hour!) with the Beach Boys playing so loudly on his ipod that I can hear the lyrics. It is a gaze that beams from the imperfectly closed door somewhere in the hippocampus. Behind this door a small group gathers... three so far, with a fourth gathering colour and depth. Soon this gang will become impatient. “Oi! What about us?” they will call to me.

The calls will get louder and more strident until I must begin their story...or I won’t be able to concentrate on anything else.

The state of my books is a lot like the state of my children. I have one close to launching, another still learning to put his sentences together (he’s pretty good at it, too) and taking afternoon naps. Do I feel another gathering depth and colour in some other room? Maybe...

Crisp Whites (my eldest book-child) follows New Entry Officer Course 25 through many adventures. Whether they are learning to handle weapons, fight fires, march straight or survive at sea, this tightly knit group are there for one another. Real dangers exist in the world of military training and, more than once, Nina finds herself in high risk situations.

The greatest risk, however, may be to her heart. Despite the fraternisation rules, inevitably there are crushes, chemistry and liaisons among the group – some of them wonderful and others disastrous. Despite her long marriage, Nina finds herself drawn into a completely inappropriate fascination with Adam, a nineteen year old trainee pilot. Adam is hiding a tragedy of his own and, despite his better judgement; he cannot stay away from Nina. Striving to hold him at arm’s length, she is forced to examine her own thoughts on love, marriage, obligation and joy.

Monday, March 15, 2010


It has been an oddly wet, dank and dripping kind of Autumn here in south East Queensland... three quarters of the state flooded (and it’s a big state) and it has been a challenge to get to work. It seems to be drying out at last... the nappies are snapping on the line again and a generation of cane toads (shudder) have debuted in the puddle outside the fence.

Like an unblocked drain, pre-production of Crisp Whites has also picked up a bit at last. I think I am being passed to my eighth department... internal layout and cover design are next...

Crisp Whites tells the story of Nina Yusof’s initial training when she joins the Navy – the most life-changing six months imaginable. More than once, Nina feels doubt – what has she gotten herself into? All of her assumptions about herself; her life, her work and the nature of love, are turned upside down. She is challenged, exhausted and far from home, but she is tougher than she realises. Thrown together with a delightfully motley crew of men and women, Nina and the rest of New Entry Officer Course 25 must overcome enormous physical, mental and emotional hurdles... luckily there is plenty of pranking, flirting, and some ill-considered melon liqueur to lighten the load.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Is there anything more fun than trimming and moulding and sleeking a character until it leaps off the page and takes the plot off in an unexpected direction? Sometimes I front up to the keyboard and think to myself ‘where will the story go today?’

This happened regularly while I was writing Crisp Whites. Based (very) loosely on my experiences when I joined the Navy, I found myself needing to create meatier back stories for the characters... things that I may have not had a clue about with regards to some of the real folk I spent time with... Of course, once a character has a detailed back story, they have motivations... and away goes the story! To find that some plot twist eventually wove together other happenings was often a wonderful surprise to me.

Crisp Whites tells the story of Nina Yusof’s initial training – the most life-changing six months imaginable. More than once, Nina feels doubt – what has she gotten herself into? All of her assumptions about herself; her life, her work and the nature of love, are turned upside down. She is challenged, exhausted and far from home, but she is tougher than she realises...

Need a break from the every day? Run away to the Navy with Nina!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My fabulous team at work, and some real characters who are not under my command, are really inspiring me... so much material - what shape shall that next story take?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Crisp Whites Coming Soon!

I am a Brisbane (well… Burpengary) mum, currently working at Energex. I spent six years as an Officer in the RAN and I was a school teacher before that. On my huge work commute I write novels on a carefully balanced netbook...

Crisp Whites, tells the story of Nina Yusof.

Irish Nina and Greek Stavros are living an ordinary Australian love story. They have survived the fallout of their cross-cultural marriage, and have stuck together through highs and lows. Their lives now seem stable and secure.

Nina is a hard worker, a faithful wife and a joyful mother... but she is also restless. She craves something... and it turns out to be adventure.

Making a radical detour from the main road of her life, and in the face of her husband’s doubts, Nina joins the Navy at thirty-three...