Ten reasons why, if we must have a Rosie film, Jennifer Lawrence should play Don.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

It seems certain that everyone’s favourite odd-couple, Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman, are set to get a silver screen outing. In case you didn’t know The Rosie Project by Australian writer Graeme Simsion, the story of a genetics professor named Don who uses his scientific expertise to attempt to find a wife, has been one of the most talked about and read books of 2014 and 2015. The book has become so popular that it’s created a sequel, The Rosie Effect, a twitter account for Don, and now also a film is in the works. It’s hardly surprising considering, in infancy, The Rosie Project was a screenplay that Graeme Simsion wrote.

I’m pleased that Graeme Simsion might finally get to see his creation in the way he’d originally intended it. Hopefully, the story in its intended format will avoid some of the deficiencies that the novel form has created for it. For my part, there’s one sure-fire way to improve the chances of a wonderful film and that is: cast Jennifer Lawrence as Don.

In July 2015 it was announced that Jennifer Lawrence had signed on to the Rosie film and the announcement sent the Internet worldwide into a frenzy. I got into a frenzy too because, honestly, it’s Jennifer Lawrence and who wouldn’t? However, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea that Jennifer would play Rosie. Not that Jennifer wouldn’t do it wonderfully but just because, well, I could come up with some better reasons for her to play Don, that’s all. And so, without further ado, here are my ten reasons why Don Tillman should be played by Ms Jennifer Lawrence.

 

Reason Number One. She’s quirky.

The obvious one. The quirk factor. In the novel Don is a little on the quirky side of things. He has a Standardised Meal System with “eight major advantages”, is never early or late but exactly on time because “Habitual earliness is cumulatively a major waste of time” and Don has an amazing capacity for logic and knowledge which, whilst not a quirky attribute in and of itself, leads to quirky happenstance.

Jennifer Lawrence is the epitome of celebrity quirk. She’s the only woman in the Hollywood limelight that admits it’s hard to walk in heels and a long dress. She trips and laughs it off. She ghosts celebrities and has stalked John Stamos. It’s a quirky thing.

Jennifer Lawrence: Queen of Quirk.

Jennifer Lawrence: Queen of Quirk.

 

Reason Number Two. The Rosie Project is predictable, let’s shake it up.

This one will cause some mouth-foaming. It has to be said. The Rosie Project is a little predictable. The story is a love story and it’s got Rosie’s name in the title and is narrated by Don. Anyone reading, no matter with how much suspension of disbelief, has got to pick that Rosie and Don end up together. If you didn’t pick that then, congratulations, you get to experience the unrivalled miracle of the sun coming up each morning.

Let’s swap things up. Let’s shake the predictability. Let’s make Jennifer Lawrence play Don.

If you didn't guess that Don and Rosie ended up together then you probably appreciate this each morning.

If you didn’t guess that Don and Rosie ended up together then you probably appreciate this each morning.

Reason Number Three. Jennifer wanted to be a doctor.

Here’s a fun fact, Jennifer Lawrence wanted to be a doctor when she was a child. And, she had the grades to do it. Jennifer was a straight A student in high-school (and didn’t attend drama classes, in case you might be wondering). She had a Grade Point Average of 3.9. That’s out of 4.0. Yes. That’s 97.5 percent perfect which is almost exactly like the 100 percent perfect she is now.

jennifer-lawrence-facial-espressions20

Jennifer Lawrence would have made a great doctor or professor. Wouldn’t you like to peek into that alternate reality? Let’s start by letting her be Professor Don Tillman.

Reason Number Four. Let’s have a woman as the academic.

In the book, Rosie is studying a science degree but it’s never really expounded on. (You need to read The Rosie Effect if you want that.) However, Don approaches every aspect of his life from a critical, science-based viewpoint. After the Tim Hunt debacle about “girl” scientists making trouble in labs, and the general unease around Richard Dawkins these days, let’s have more female representation in the sciences. And let’s start with Jennifer Lawrence playing Professor Don Tillman. Let’s have a woman as the academic.

Reason Number Five. Jennifer has mad combat skills.

In The Rosie Project Don gets to let loose with some mighty cool aikido skills to subdue a few ruffians. Well guess what? Jennifer’s already worked on several films that involve athletic prowess. The big ones are The Hunger Games franchise but we also have X-Men and Jennifer has been known to study up the physical side of her acting game. It’s kind of gross but she once learned how to skin a squirrel for The Winter Bone.

Who wouldn’t want to see Jennifer Lawrence kicking ass and taking names? Although, in actual fact, aikido is a martial art form designed exclusively for defence. How thoughtful of Don.

Jennifer is capable of far more than an arm wrestle.

Jennifer is capable of far more than an arm wrestle.

Reason Number Six. Australia is… where?

Australia, the Great Down Under. Our beautiful nation, which some people choose to believe is actually at the top of the world, is admittedly a heck of a long way from places. Especially Santa Monica where Jennifer currently lives (you really don’t need to labour how I know this, okay? Thanks!) It’s a sixteen hour flight from California to Melbourne and are we really going to make Jennifer come all this way to play second fiddle? Let me explain. It’s called The Rosie Project but it really should be called The Don Tillman Project because it’s told entirely from Don’s point of view and he gets to do the cool aikido (See reason number five) as well as the cocktail making and the bicycling and the general clumsiness of being highly intelligent but socially ambivalent. It’s Don’s story, and quite rightly, so any film is going to be Don’s film. And whomsoever plays Rosie will also be playing second fiddle. Do we really want Jennifer Lawrence to come all this way to be second? No. Didn’t think so.

World, meet Australia.

World, meet Australia.

Reason Number Seven. Bradley Cooper could co-star.

Okay, I know Bradley Cooper could co-star anyway but, really, let’s think about this. Bradley and Jennifer have worked together in three films already – Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, and Serena – and they’ve quickly become one of Hollywood’s dynamic duos onscreen. So if we can imagine Jennifer as Don Tillman then who else could we get to play Gene, the womanising throwback to 1970’s sexism? The answer: Bradley Cooper.

"This guy!"

“This guy!”

They're so cute they get two photos together.

They’re so cute they get two photos together.

 

Reason Number Eight. To play an iconoclast we need, you got it, another iconoclast.

Don isn’t your typical rom-com male. He’s no Mr Darcy. In fact we could argue that there hasn’t really been a romantic hero like Don ever. He’s an iconoclast in the world of romantic comedy fiction just as Jennifer Lawrence is an iconoclast in our Western conception of Hollywood celebrity. Don creates a questionnaire to screen for a wife, Jennifer does shots before awards ceremonies. See? It’s a natural fit.

Jennifer kindly eschews convention.

Jennifer kindly eschews convention.

Reason Number Nine. The Rosie Effect.

If Jennifer Lawrence played Rosie then she’d probably have to play Rosie in the sequel to The Rosie Project, The Rosie Effect. Imagine it now. Jennifer Lawrence spending an entire film getting bigger round the middle while her part gets smaller and smaller. If The Rosie Project should be called The Don Tillman Project, then the sequel should be called The Don Tillman And Friends Effect. If you haven’t read it, well, Rosie doesn’t really come off looking too great.

The eagerly anticipated sequel showing life for Don and Rosie after the events of The Rosie Project.

The eagerly anticipated sequel showing life for Don and Rosie after the events of The Rosie Project.

Reason Number Ten. Watch and see.

Lastly, and maybe least-ly as well, this. If any other reasons on this list didn’t captivate you and didn’t make you say, “I wonder how Jennifer Lawrence would have played Don” then this last reason should convince you. Because, honest to God, this is the woman that I am talking about. This is who we’re dealing with. This amazing actor and wonderful woman gave the world this. The least we can do in return is give her the part of Professor Don Tillman.

(That burn mark in the kitchen… Thank God for Jennifer Lawrence.)

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Drips and floods

I’ve always been interested in how other people write. I look at books on the subject of writing with a combination of intrigue and skepticism (I mean, really, some people’s writing schedules/idiosyncrasies amaze and astound me). I was the kid at school who asked the school-visit authors what they ate for breakfast to help them write better; I was the adult who wanted to know how Annabel Smith handles tax time (I came very close to asking but decided that was prying). I’m interested in the full range of writer experiences (and general experiences, too, so feel free to comment about how your day’s going). As a writer, though, I’ve always had different habits for different projects and times of my life. My writing habits when I’m working full time contrast with the habits I had when I worked casually for example.

The project that I’m currently working on is a slow-burn project unlike anything else that I’ve ever attempted to write. It’s a departure stylistically from any other work and non-contemporaneous which means the writing itself relies heavily on a bedrock of research. I’ve also accepted that this draft is going to need a lot of shaping and cajoling in the editing stage once the time comes. It’s both daunting and liberating. I realised that the liberation comes through my acceptance that the project is going to take time — a lot of it. Hopefully not as long as Mark Henshaw and The Snow Kimono but, regardless, a while.

I’ve accepted. It’s gonna take time.

This project is being dripped through my keyboard and not only am I okay with that, I’m actually really glad for it. My word count each day is 500 words. That’s it. Just 500 words. Once I’ve reached that point I stop. Even in the middle of a sentence.

The results have been wonderful. I reach my 500 words quota early in the morning before I leave for work and can return home peaceful and content with the knowledge that I’ve done enough for today. I can relax. I don’t disconnect entirely — because writers never quite stop working — and I consider where I might go with my writing the next day; or I switch on my laptop and investigate some submission possibilities and take care of my office work (updating my submissions spreadsheet is the one I click through mostly, thank goodness).

Knocking out my 500 words in the morning before work is, as well, a great launch for the day. It can be not quite seven a.m. and I’ve already had one of my big tasks for the day crossed off (two if you count getting out of bed in the morning).

So that’s it. That’s the big part of how I’m writing this project. There are other parts (my plotting/pantsing and the like) but I’ll save that for another day.

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Roll on the new financial year.

It’s the end of the financial year and that makes me a little sad. The sadness isn’t due to tax time (although I imagine that makes many other people sad) but instead it’s because I had one goal this last financial year and I just didn’t get there. Some of you may remember my goal was to be paid for my writing this financial year; unless something drastic happens within the next nine days, it didn’t work out.

It was a good goal for me, maybe good enough to repeat next financial year, but then possibly there’s another way I should go about getting there.

Another declaration…

Next financial year is going to be my Year of Fifty-Two Submission. I say fifty-two submissions but that will probably translate to fifty-two rejections; it doesn’t worry me. Who was it that said failure is only when you give up? That lady/gent had it right. If my fifty-two submissions turn into fifty-two rejections then at least I’ve tried, at least I’ve committed myself to writing stuff down, sending stuff out, supporting Australia Post by buying stamps and envelopes for my submissions.

These babies are gonna get used.

These babies are gonna get used.

And this last financial year hasn’t been a complete write off (oh, God, the pun!) failure. Going through my records I’ve submitted to twenty-one places (and some of those are pending, so wish us luck). I joined an association, wrote regularly (but not on this blog, my apologies), and kept my writing receipts so at least part of my expenditure is tax deductible. That’s something, right?

Roll on the new financial year.

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Not in Struggle Town

It’s now 5:42 p.m. on my day off.

Before I bought my new laptop I thought I’d get into a writing routine — every Friday I’d write from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Non stop, no excuses. I’m a sensible guy – most times – and I know that the people who stick it out are usually the ones with routines. If practise makes perfect then repetition creates reliability. I want to be a great writer but first I should only be competent. A competent writer sounds easy. Word after word, sentence from sentence. Competent as a baseline is perfect. I’m good with competent; the part I’ve been struggling with lately is the writing part.

I haven’t written. I haven’t written. I haven’t written.

Writers write. If you want to be a writer then you need to write.

So what happens if you don’t write?

You don’t get to call yourself a writer.

So that’s my plot: Jon Scadding hasn’t written anything in a while.

Pretty boring. Let’s turn it into a story. And to turn it into a story we need a cause and effect structure.

Jon Scadding hasn’t written anything in a while because

 

 

There are lots of reasons people don’t write. People are too tired, too bored. They’d rather get sucked into the addiction of watching the Battlestar Galactica reboot. They feel uninspired, they don’t have time, the kids need feeding. The ironing needs doing. Suddenly they need to play a game of solitaire. Suddenly they’re paralysed with fear because their latest novel was big and acclaimed and, God damn, how the hell do you top that sucker?

My reason is maybe a little bit different. It came to me the other week, ironically a short while after I did my latest bit of writing. I was at the Blue Room theatre in the city with my best friend Liz. The Blue Room theatre seems to me, as an outside to the wider world of arts and theatre, as a bit of theatrical hub for Perth theatre makers and artists. Liz is big into the whole scene and the scene loves her – it’d be bloody difficult not to love her, biased but truthful opinion. We were taking in a bit of culture, we saw Venus In Fur at the State Theatre earlier that afternoon, and Liz had another show to go to and she was my ride. I stayed in the Blue Room’s dimly lit bar and wrote on my laptop as Liz saw a second show. It went for almost an hour and afterwards she came out and we exchanged notes: she enjoyed the show and I’d written about 1,200 words. Productive and fun were the orders of the afternoon. I put my laptop away as we talked and it wasn’t for ten minutes that we were joined by Jeffrey Jaw Fowler, Liz’s almost supervisor (as part of the Black Swan Emerging Writers’ Program). Liz and Jeffrey chatted, talking about the shows they were planning to see and the one we’d seen earlier. Jeffrey asked my opinion about Venus and I gave one of those shrinking “Well, I’m no theatre aficionado; my opinion doesn’t really count” replies that pisses people off. As if we all walk around only thinking and passing judgement on what we’re good at. Liz and Jeffrey chatted a bit more before Jeffrey asked, “What was it you were writing on your laptop?”

My laptop is an orange Lenovo Yoga Pro. It’s pretty flashy and eye-catching, especially considering how used to slim, metallic grey MacBooks we all are.

“He’s writing a novel,” said Liz.

“He’s writing a novel,” said Liz. Then we got into some discussion about semantics and what a novel is compared to a manuscript and all that yadda yadda. Then a guy called Alex joined us at our little table. Alex and I went to university together. He knew Jeffrey as well and introduced himself to Liz. Then Jeffrey had to go say hello to someone else leaving the table and the three of us. See what I mean about artistic hub? Alex and Liz got talking like theatre types do and Liz asked what Alex did for work and we all had a little discussion about our jobs. I said that I worked in a library. Liz told Alex I was a writer. I don’t even remember how it happened but Liz eventually said something along the lines of, “Please don’t stay at that library forever.” I know Liz meant it encouragingly. What she was really saying to me and Alex was, “You’re good. You’re going be a success with your writing. You won’t need to stay at the library forever.” At the time though it hurt me a little. My best friend was devaluing my work, the thing that I spent 76 hours a fortnight doing and gladly. The work that kept us in fuel and Jus Burgers. I made light of it, “Please don’t spend the rest of your life in plays,” but it struck me later how much I loved my job and just how happy I was, and lucky I was, to have it. I’m being genuine when I say that I love my work. Not many people can be 23 and say that. A lot of people are doing tough, doing menial jobs for crappy pay week after week. Some of them even convince themselves that it’s for the best; gotta pay your dues and all that. I’m not like that. I get to work happy – although sometimes in need of more sleep – and spend my hours well. I tell people I’m a boring workaholic and my branch librarian knows that I’d work more if I could.

And that’s the reason why I haven’t been writing so much lately. I’m happy. I’m contented. I can see myself working my same job for years on end and not shuddering.

This could be it.

How much of a cliché is that? That I feel to write best I need to be suffering and in misery. It’s happened before though. I used to be in the quote unquote glamorous hospitality profession. I worked nights at a dingy Italian restaurant that was, at best, passable and, at worst, frozen, slimy salads. And I was studying and I wrote. My God, I wrote. I had never been so productive and for good reason. I wanted to get the hell outta there. I was sick of being the face of frozen salads. I hated working nights. I had to wear a flame-retardant company shirt and was looking at a lifetime of only making friends with sixteen year old schoolgirls (no offence to sixteen year old schoolgirls but a boy will eventually age out of that demographic).

The American fantasy writer Holly Lisle might agree. She divorced from her husband and moved into a crappy little apartment with her two young children. She wrote like a fiend and the reason she credits is her ex-husband Barry and his, “You’re nothing without me.” She had “one good enemy”. She was driven. She showed him.

I don’t have that. I am so thankful that I don’t. I’m happy. I have a wonderful job, a happy home life. Liz. Cat and dog. Fuel and Jus Burgers as required. My only struggle is not having anything to struggle against; Ouroboros.

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Q&A with author Annabel Smith

It isn’t easy publishing a book. Traditional publishing if fraught with roadblocks but self-publishing? A whole other strata of leveling-up is required to do it successfully. Annabel Smith the author of Whisky Charlie FoxtrotA New Map Of The Universe, and now The Ark has done both. Her latest effort, The Ark, is a self-published novel with an accompanying website (check it out here) and interactive mobile app. So you can imagine some of the hard yards that have gone into producing what has been described as the next generation of novel. Beyond the printed page, beyond the e-book. The Ark is an innovation. It’s a novel in its purest definition of the word: it’s interestingly new and unusual. Don’t be scared.

Beyond the printed page, beyond the e-book. The Ark is an innovation.

Handling the creation of The Ark has been, you can imagine, very time consuming so it is with immense pleasure that the very lovely Annabel Smith has taken time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions for us here today.

Annabel Smith and her novels’ covers.

JB: Your third novel The Ark has recently been released. Its taken a very imaginative approach to narrative writing and combined digital elements with a more traditional written form. Can you tell me, first off, a little about the story and then a little about why you chose to integrate digital medias into the narrative form?

AS: The Ark tells the story of a group of scientists and their families who retreat into a bunker during a post-peak oil crisis, alongside five billion plant seeds which hold the key to the future of life on earth. It explores human nature in desperate times.

It is told through a series of digital documents including blog posts, emails, text messages and conversation transcripts. The form was so contemporary, it seemed to lend itself to a digital interactive storytelling format. The accompanying web-based app (thearkbook.com) enables readers to dive deeper into the world of the novel by viewing animations of the bunker setting, listening to audio recordings of dialogue from the novel, and accessing deleted scenes and other bonus content. In addition, readers can continue to develop the world of the novel by commenting on blog posts from the novel, and submitting fan fiction in a wide range of formats.

JB: Its very clichéd but no writer Q&A is complete without: where do you find ideas?

AS: I’m always baffled when I see articles about how to find ideas for your writing. I always have ideas boggling around in my brain. When two collide and sparks fly, that’s when I know I’ve got something worth writing about. As to where they come from… all over the place: articles I read, stories people tell me, things I observe, dreams, the dark recesses of my psyche…

JB: How do you know when an idea is worth writing about? Do you have any little tests for them to weed out the ones that wont work?

AS: I tend to believe any idea is worth writing about, if it’s written well enough; it’s how you explore the idea that matters, not the idea itself. Having said that, there might be ideas you have which are too ambitious for your skills at that time. I recently heard an interview with Michael Robotham on the So You Want to Be a Writer podcast, and he said he had a brilliant idea that took him twenty years to have the expertise to write. I doubt I’d have Robotham’s foresight or patience. If an idea grabs me, I just run with it and see what happens. It seems to be working out so far. Put it this way: I don’t have any manuscripts I’ve abandoned because the idea wasn’t working.

JB: In regards to your writing process, are you a plotter (with outlines, character sketches, and blueprints) or a pantser (fly by the seat of your pants, the story runs and you just try to keep up), or a combination of the two?

AS: This has changed over time. I was a total pantser for my first three novels. Then, I applied for a grant to write my fourth novel, Monkey See, and the application required a synopsis. It felt crazy to write a synopsis of a book I had not yet begun writing, but I shook my ideas out onto a page, and then squished them into an eight-point story arc. When it came to writing the novel, I found having that story arc really helped. So I’m now keen to learn more about plotting and to experiment with how it might help me to write, especially if it can improve my output, because I’m currently a very slow writer and I wouldn’t mind putting on some speed.

JB: Some writers like to wait until a first draft has been completed before involving beta readers and others seek comment and feedback throughout the entire process of formulating a draft. How soon in to the writing process do you seek feedback? And who do you allow to read it first?

AS: I have a trusted circle of writers who I don’t mind showing early drafts to. It can be useful to get feedback at an early stage – it helps you to get clarity on what’s working and what isn’t and that can save time. However, I think if you’re writing your first novel, you probably don’t want too much feedback too early. You need time to find your voice and your story without other people’s ideas influencing you.

JB: What kind of research do you do prior to writing? Do you visit the library?

AS: I rarely research before I start writing – I wait until I absolutely have to know something in order to write a scene and do the research that way – as the need arises. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m a terribly lazy researcher and try to do all my research via the internet. I love libraries but not for research – it takes too long and feels inefficient.

JB: Some authors feel that libraries, by ostensibly making their writing available without charge, undercut their work. Whats your opinion on libraries from an authors point of view?

AS: I think libraries are brilliant! I get paid a fee every year for every copy of every one of my titles that is held by a public or educational library. It is not a lot, but there have been some years where this is the only money I have made from writing and I have been so pleased to get those cheques. The library is a great resource for people who can’t afford to buy books – and as long as they’re reading my book, I don’t mind if they bought it from a shop, or borrowed it from a friend or whatever. I’ve also been really well-supported by local and regional libraries in terms of them hosting author events where I can meet readers and talk about my book.

JB: Prior to creating The Ark you wrote your novels in longhand form. With The Ark you switched to writing digitally. What prompted the switch and have you found that this change has affected the drafting process?

AS: When I started writing my first novel, A New Map of the Universe in 1999, I didn’t have a computer. I wrote longhand out of necessity, and because that was the first book I had written, that became my process, so when I sat down to write Whisky Charlie Foxtrot, I automatically did it the same way. I might never have questioned the process, if it weren’t for the fact that The Ark was a novel told through digital documents. It felt counterintuitive to write the text of an email in longhand! So I experimented with drafting straight into a computer, and I guess I got used to it, and found it quicker, as well as discovering the benefits of a program like Scrivener, so I doubt I’ll ever go back to longhand now.

JB: Your second novel Whisky Charlie Foxtrot, published locally by Fremantle Press in 2012, was announced as being picked up by a North American publisher in February of this year. Whats the latest news on that front?

AS: It will be out in April next year. I have just finished the final copy edits, which was really disconcerting, because my characters were saying things like ‘ass’ and ‘trashcan’. I’m planning to visit the states next year so hope to have an opportunity to do some events and meet American audiences. I’m very excited about having a book out there.

JB: Whats the best piece of writing advice anyones ever given to you?

AS: ‘Keep writing’. I know that sounds ridiculously simplistic but that is the heart of the matter. Through self-doubt, and rejection, and all the other things life throws at you, if you really want to be a writer, you just have to keep writing. Putting the words on the page is the way you develop.

JB: If you could leave prospective writers with one piece of advice, what would it be?

AS: I always advise early-career writers to join or form a critique group. I have been part of one for much of my writing career and it has taught me so much, both through what I’ve learnt by paying close attention to the work of other writers, and through their feedback on my own work.

JB: And finally what are your writing plans for the future?

AS: I’m close to finishing the first draft of my fourth novel Monkey See, a contemporary take on a classical epic quest, in which a trio of unlikely heroes must unite to overthrow a sadistic cult before a tsunami destroys their city. It is the first in a rollicking adventure trilogy and has been insanely fun to write. I’ve also just started a brand new book, tentatively titled Self/Help, in which I want to explore the challenges faced by working mothers and the impact of post-natal depression on family life.

“…if you really want to be a writer, you just have to keep writing” — Annabel Smith

 

Thank you so much to Annabel Smith for answering our questions. If you want to know more about Annabel — and who doesn’t, really? — then check her out online. Her website is www.annabelsmith.com and she’s on social media as well. You can contact her on twitter @AnnabelSmithAUS, she’s on Facebook, Pinterest and Goodreads. You can write her an e-mail. You can probably send up smoke signals and she’ll respond because she’s that sort of person, she takes an awful lot of care with her readers and her soon-to-be readers (because if you’re not reading Annabel’s works then something has gone wrong in your life). Buy a copy of The Ark because you won’t regret it. Check out The Ark website (I have some work on there too, just FYI). And make sure to request The Ark through your local public library as well.

And if you see me there then say hello.

Take care and see you all next time.

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The created zone.

I’ve reached that point in the writing where I’m floating. It has to do with writing nearly non-stop for six hours; with the lateness of the hour. It has to do with being in a library and not in a place I am familiar with.

Lorde.

It’s been so long here that the mood of my writing is infecting me. I’m writing something romantic and listening to Lorde on repeat. The combination has led me to see unusual narratives in those around me. Why is that man compulsively standing and walking in circles? Is the work frozen or does it have something to do with the mobile telephone he clutches? He’s taken a call but not spoken. What does that mean? Is it significant?

Round and round.

Circling again.

Again.

Maybe he’s just working up the courage to talk to me.

And all those students that have peeled out. When I sat down this afternoon the library was filled. Those that linger, are they the professional students? Have they the dedication to commit to night after night of study and work? Or are they here as a last-ditch effort? Those that left went home to bed and also to go out for a night of drinking. It’s a mid-sem day tomorrow.

We’re hollow like the bottles that we drink.

There’s one beautiful woman — early twenties, pale pink spectacle frames, beautiful. You know the type, I’m sure. She’s your type. She’s my type. Intellectually. She started the evening with two other collegiate-looking types but is alone now. I wonder if she likes Lorde.

I’m wandering and wondering and my characters are sharing a first kiss underneath the porch light shadows. The world tonight is all rather beautiful and complex.

I need to lay my body down.

And I like you.

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Launching The Ark

The Ark cover image projection

Annabel Smith’s The Ark launch — Fremantle, WA 19th September 2014

I’m a shut-in. I don’t usually go out. I prefer my own space. I work hard at work. I rest at home.

Last night I went out.

It was Friday night, the night to go out if you’re a regular person. You might go to a bar, or a club. Or a friend’s house if you’re one of those people lucky enough to have friends. I went out to a book launch. In my experience, book launches are like little celebratory parties for when a new book is released. It’s like a baby shower except instead of celebrating the upcoming birth of a child you celebrate all the hard work, effort, determination, tenacity, and luck that a writer has experienced in order to create a book. And the only gift you have to bring is optional — purchase of the finished product.

The launch was for The Ark, a book and website and — drum-roll — interactive app written and devised by Perth-based author Annabel Smith. I was quite lucky to receive an invitation to this book launch as the event was something else. I’d received an advanced reader copy of The Ark which I had devoured in only a few sittings — it’s an amazing book. Go out and buy it. Now. — and it was my privilege to have been invited by Annabel to submit some fan fiction for the interactive app and website (you can read my piece and get more information about The Ark at www.thearkbook.com ). So I had a small familiarity with the world of the novel and expected from the book, and Annabel’s invitation, that the launching event would be somewhat immersive.

All my expectations were met.

The Ark was launched at the old Myer building in Fremantle, WA. We congregated outside the old loading dock and, after the heavy metal rollerdoor was wound up, we were led through to be ‘processed’ before entering our ‘Ark’. This involved signing an agreement, submitting some identification, and being made to separate into two processing lines. Annabel had hired a few actors to process us and had joined in the fun herself by donning combat fatigues and brandishing a replica weapon. It was very much a contrast from the lovely, polite woman that Annabel usually is but it was all in fun — in a thrilling, scary bad-ass Sarah Connor kind of way — and afterwards we were led into the main launching space where things began to settle. The space was low lit with warning signs, some OSH for the building and some OSH for the Ark itself. There were twig sculptures made in the same theme as the cover design for the Ark. And stacked neatly on a table by the door were print copies of The Ark and Annabel’s two previous novels as well Whisky Charlie Foxtrot (soon to be published in America as Whisky and Charlie) and Annabel’s WA Premier’s Book Award shortlisted novel A New Map Of The Universe. I love new books and couldn’t help picking up one of the copies of The Ark and having a butchers at it, testing its weight and studying the copy design.

A very well produced book.

A very well produced book.

Our first address was from one of the main characters of The Ark, Aidan. The man spoke and I remembered reading those words from the introductory pages of the novel a few weeks earlier. It was a surreal moment. My belief was suspended and there were moments when I actually believed myself to be in a seed bunker in some far flung area of the country.

Our actor portraying Aidan. Or was he an actor? Hmm... He sure found the light.

Our actor portraying Aidan. Or was he an actor? Hmm…
He sure found the light.

Then the book was launched and Annabel spoke, thanking so many people; no longer dressed in fatigues unfortunately.

Annabel thanked so many people. This project was definitely a combined effort.

Annabel thanked so many people. This project was definitely a combined effort.

It was a wonderful evening. I bought two copies of the novel, one for myself and one for my best friend Liz. Annabel, very kind of her, signed them both.

I had a wonderful evening helping to support a wonderful local talent.

Even statues love the book.  This statue is very proud to hold a copy of The Ark by Annabel Smith.

Even statues love the book.
This statue is very proud to hold a copy of The Ark by Annabel Smith.

 

I’ll be having a Q and A with Annabel about her writing and The Ark very shortly. Keep checking back soon for more information. If you want to know more about Annabel then check out her website at http://www.annabelsmith.com. The website for The Ark, once again, is http://www.thearkbook.com.

Check it out.

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Posted in Life, Writing

CBW14

Today marks the last day of our Children’s Book Week celebrations at the library. Now, it’s Children’s Book Week but we actually managed to stretch it out to two weeks and so it’s been an even more intense few days for us at the library as we finish up our activities. We had some lovely authors and illustrators visit us this last fortnight including James Foley, Meg Caddy, and Gabriel Evans. We even had a stage musical.

I had the immense pleasure of being part of the closing session, our Pyjama Pizza Storytime on Wednesday night. If you’ve never been to a Pyjama Pizza Storytime then that is something you really need to change. As you can probably work out my librarian and I were singing and dancing and reading stories to the kids and parents on Wednesday night, with pizza included. We had about 37 children and a fair few more parents as well. It was great to see so many families make it out for the session and especially wonderful to see so many parents coming along in their bathrobes and getting into the spirit of things. My librarian was very Pippi Longstockings for the evening with pigtails included in her sleepwear. And as for me, well, I wore my TARDIS onesie and was very flattered to receive many positive comments about it.

Yes.

Be jealous.

As for the stories, my librarian read stories about tough girl pirates and a very dirty dinosaur and I got to read the most fun children’s book. It was called ‘Secret Pizza Party’ and was written by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri. Now I love pizza. Love it. And so this story was perfect. I suggest you go out and buy two copies: one for yourself and one for the pizza lover in your life. You won’t regret it.

Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri… Buy a copy, you really won’t regret it!

So, happy CBW14, everyone! Congratulations to all the fantastic writers and illustrators who were nominated and especially those winners this year. You can read all about it here.

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Posted in Library

Upcoming Q&A with Annabel Smith

I’ve got some very exciting news to share.

I’m quite lucky in that I’ve managed to score a Q and A with Perth-based writer Annabel Smith. The lovely Annabel has consented to answer some of my burning questions and the results of the Q and A should be up on JB Muttnik sometime in the coming weeks.

Until then, here’s a photograph of Annabel:

Annabel Smith

 

Annabel’s upcoming book:

Looking good. The Ark.

Looking good. The Ark.

 

Keep smiling.

 

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Posted in Writing

Wrestling the Offices

Readers have always been curious about how authors write. Questions about their habits, their routines, their rituals — for example, Truman Capote is reported to have never begun a draft, nor finished it, on a Friday — are commonplace at writer events at the library. These days instead of asking if an author writes with a pen or a pencil they’re more likely to ask if they use a Mac or a PC.

I can go one level further now.

What software do you use?

My new laptop came with a forty day trial of Microsoft Office that I haven’t touched yet and all because of this funny thing called open source software. I was encouraged to resist the oligopoly and try free, open source software equivalents to the giant Microsoft Office. So I did some light research and quickly came across Open Office and its sister LibreOffice. These two open platforms have the same basic functionality as each other and Microsoft Office.

I’m struggling.

I’m a guy who’s been tap-tap-tapping away with Microsoft Office for years and now I’m confronted with a different product with a new interface. Some of it is good, some of it is bad. Mostly it’s just new. I remember when I was looking around at new laptops and came across island-style chiclet keyboards — not something that was popular when I bought my previous computer — that I wondered how well I would fare with one. They seemed so alien. Spaces between my keys? You’ve gotta be joking. But my new laptop has them and, you know, I’ve adjusted. I hope I can adjust to Open Office. If I can’t then what does that say about me? As a writer I need to have a flexible mind and needing to stick with Microsoft Office for the rest of my writing career suggests a rigidity of mind I’m just not comfortable with at my age.

Microsoft Office comes with a forty day trial. I’m going to give Open Office the benefit of the doubt for forty days at which point I’ll decide whether to continue or whether to go back to Microsoft. After forty days I should be able to work out whether my inclination for Microsoft is based on genuine superior performance — I won’t stick at something out of stubbornness if there’s a legitimately better alternative available — or just plain, casual habit.

Wish me luck.

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Posted in Life, Writing