Writing process

How I won the possum snore-off. Or maybe the possum did

Road sign in suburban Sydney. Possums in our Melbourne suburb use the ‘high way’ to cross the road. After all, what are electricity wires for, if not to allow possums to cross the road safely? (Admittedly, the occasional one does zap him/herself.) One scientist called the suburbs possum heaven. Where else can they get such plentiful food without having to forage?

I’m not the best person to share a room with on a trip, because I snore.  In fact, the general consensus is that if you share a room with me, you need to be super-tired, so you go to sleep first, because otherwise my snoring will keep you awake all night.

I deny this, of course. People do exaggerate, you know.

It just so happens that I haven’t been sleeping well. No reason, just one of those things. You wake up one night at three o’clock and can’t get back to sleep.  Do the same thing next night, and suddenly you’re doing every night.

By Saturday I’m exhausted.  Saturday afternoon I can’t take any more. So tired I don’t even go to bed. I lie down on the bench seat in the kitchen (squeezy, but I’m short) and take a nap.

When I wake, it’s dark.

But I’m not really awake, only semi-awake.  There’s a possum outside the window, making the ‘cthcth’ screeching sound they do when they’re preparing to fight other possums.

We get a lot of territorial fights around here. This area is possum nirvana.  Trees, gardens, lots of fruit ripe for the taking. So there’s overcrowding, which leads to lots, and lots, of fighting.

This possum is really close, probably on the cable that runs from the house to the power pole, and while he’s making fighting noises, there’s no fighting noises being returned.

I lay there in a hazy, half-awake way, listening, trying to work out what on earth he was doing.

I finally realise.  I’m still snoring.

That wakes me up rather more quickly than I planned.

After a final, loud ‘cthcth’, the possum leaves, convinced he’s vanquished the intruder.

Writing process

Website changes

The website has been super slow recently. Slow as in five minutes to save a page slow, and a full minute to load a page slow.

There’s something wrong, we need to work out what it is. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to trace it yet. Rather than pull the website down altogether, we’re trying to reset everything in the background, and slowly eliminate any issues.

Over the next week we may revert back to the default website for a time. Pages may go temporarily missing, links not work properly, or images in weird places. Bear with us please. It will better when it’s done. (Even if we have to build a brand new website). More importantly, it will be faster.

Meantime, if any links go missing:

The newsletter is due out this week. If you want to subscribe and are having trouble finding the subscribe button, try this link, instead.

If you’re trying to contact us and aren’t sure if the contact box has worked, drop us a line at

Thanks for your patience.

Writing process

Two views of the same city

This isn’t Bourke Street. This is Hosier Lane, which is further toward Flinders Street station. And because there were no building works, Hosier Lane had more pedestrian space, and was far less crowded.

Bourke Street, 4pm. East side

The few completed buildings were tucked in amongst the rubble of the rest.  Flat, uniform, narrow grey shopfronts. Featureless and anonymous, and almost as drab as the building sites.

Melbourne was a building site.  Black-painted or raw pine veneer hoardings took up half the footpaths, with huge industrial scaffolds crowding in from the road, making the walkway so narrow that people had to pass each other in single file.  The pedestrians on the path competed for space with the electric bicycles of the food delivery people.

Bourke Street, 8pm. West side

The bike shops were gone.  Instead, the whole street was a row of tiny restaurants.  Tantalising scents wafted out of each.  Here something sesame, there a spicy chilli that got up her nose, over there a spice she didn’t recognise.  Inside patrons crowded together on stools, so close they were almost touching.

Quick, fast food. In one store she saw huge bowls noodle soup.  In another, dumplings.  In a third a rice dish served with something she couldn’t identify.

There were queues outside every tiny shopfront.  Good-natured couples laughing and talking as they waited to be fed.

Writing process

Going through a stage—thieves in spec fic

Robin hood
Another famous robber, not quite fantasy, but almost. Robin Hood. This one looks a bit like Alan Rickman when he played the Sheriff of Nottingham, don’t you think.

A book, which shall remain unnamed, had come well recommended.  A thief on a job stumbles into trouble and gets caught up in a plot to save the kingdom.  I read the blurb, and wasn’t sure about it, so I read the blurb out to Sherylyn.  “What do you think?”

“No,” she said.  “I’m over thieves in fiction.”

She’d nailed the problem.  No matter how good the reviews were, it sounded like a fantasy we’d read a hundred times before.  Is it just me, or does every second book you pick up in the spec fiction area nowadays have a thief as the hero?

A week after that, we went and saw Aladdin.  Will Smith as the genie was great.  (Certainly one of my favorite Will Smith roles.) 

The movie was okay (especially the genie), but I found it hard to warm to Aladdin, and came out thinking, ho hum, just another movie about a thief.

Which is totally unfair, because that’s what Aladdin is about.