Welcome to my blog!

Why Jacaranda you ask? In case you are reading this the other side of the world and are not sure, Jacaranda is the name of a beautiful tree, which blooms around Oct/Nov, mostly in the Eastern states of Australia. Its flowers are the most exquisite shade of blue-purple, the nearest comparison probably being hyacinth blue, so who could not be inspired to write by such a spiritual colour? When the jacarandas start to blossom, you know it's exam time, but you also know that Christmas is just around the corner. It is said that if a jacaranda flower falls on your head as you walk underneath a tree, good fortune is sure to follow, so guess who did a lot of walking under jacaranda trees! Watch this space for changing images of this lovely tree!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

East meets West, or does it?

Having just spent a few days in snowy Berlin Stadt with my goddaughter's family, I took the opportunity to interview a variety of people about how life had changed since the fall of the Wall. Berlin was one of my old stamping grounds, you could even say, as the song does, 'Ich bleib Berlin meine alte Liebe treu' (I remain true to my old love, Berlin.), so I could relate to what these people were saying about their lives, before, during and/or after the Wall. However, what suprised me was that there was still some tension between the Osties and the Westies. I don't want to quote examples here as the whole experience has inspired me with the idea of writing a feature story or maybe just a collection of stories of a reunified Berlin under a capitalist system and a reunified Viet Nam (another of my old stamping grounds) under a Communist system.

If you would like to add your comments and views, I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Six degrees of separation

Well, here I am in cold and snowy London. My flight landed bang on time (actually, there was no bang) on Friday 18 December and despite a delay in delivery of luggage there were no other hang ups due to weather. While waiting for the luggage I took the opportunity to go to the loo and banged straight into a fellow who swims at the same beach as I do in Australia.

While listening to some fabulous, free music by Branco Stoysin in the the foyer of the National Theatre, and waiting for the performance of The Habit of Art, I talked to a local and discovered that not only had we both lived in the same street several years ago but that they are a frequent visitor to Australia and enjoy the same beach as both I and my swimming compatriot above do.

Supposed to go on the Eurostar (I am writing that word in a whisper)tomorrow, but have a feeling all will be well.

Please go to my website for a review of The Habit of Art.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cutting edge genre?

I came across a new genre today - Fictocriticism. Some of you may think "Where has she been?" However, this term struck a real chord with me.

Although challenging to define, in a broad sense Fictocriticism is an experimental genre of writing which, like an essay, tries to make an argument but also tells a story at the same time.It draws attenton to issues which need to be addressed by looking at cultural practices, then using a first person narrator relates how these practices are experienced.

Is this, subsconsciously, what I tried to do when writing the most recent piece for my novel? I used a first person narrator to introduce the male character in my book and to tell his 'story': his experiences growing-up as a Uyghur in China, which naturally touched upon issues of political and religious oppression; his entry to University just before 9/11 and the effects of that incident on him and his people; his goal to study overseas, and not least his perspective on his relationship with a Western girl. Previous to this I had only been writing pieces for the book from the female protagonist's pov. Although this piece still needs a lot of reworking, I have a bubbling of hope that I may be on the right track in choosing to tell his story this way.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Frame breaking

Sometimes I think perhaps I should have dedicated this blog to flower arranging – it does seem to feature a lot - but yesterday’s effort (pictured left) merits a mention.

You may notice that of the three lengths of bamboo, which were sawn off by a particularly lethal implement, one is actually outside the vase. To do this it was necessary to secure the three bamboo pieces together with raffia wire. There was a method in this madness, however, as it not only created a quirky effect but served a valid function, i.e. it stabilised the whole arrangement.

As usual I started to think how this concept could be applied to writing – I mean you can have paintings and digital photos where a part of the picture protrudes outside of the frame for particular effect, such as a golf club in full swing or the head of a cute little puppy. I then came across this article on the net by Lisbeth Rieshøj Pedersen on frame-breaking in the works of the Jewish writer Raymond Federman, whose novels I have read. Experienced writers and critics will be aware of this strategy of frame breaking but I wasn’t or didn’t know it was called that.

Not quite so mental

His slight figure clad in a silver satin suit, long hair topped by a black beanie, Reg Mombassa entertained the eager crowd at my local art gallery with his laconic, larrikin wit, as he flicked through the slide show of his paintings, which are pictured in his newly published biography. Well-loved and remembered as a muso with the rock band ‘Mental as anything’, famous for his designs for the Mambo label and record covers for Johnny Rotten and Crowded House, Reg, who was born as Christopher O’Doherty in New Zealand, is also a renowned artist. His paintings range from:
  • the sublimely ridiculous such as self-portrait with an ice-cream cone on nose – as he said what else would you do with such an item
  • irreverent and often risqué pop art - sometimes mocking the relationship between Australia and New Zealand, the Crown, and making political but very humanist statements, to
  • portraits and fine landscapes.

When he signed his biography for me with his highly unusual signature, he added a quip ‘Stop being naughty!’ which completely floored me.

For a review of his biography, The Mind and Times of Reg Mombassa, written by fellow painter, writer and former literary editor of The Australian, Murray Waldren, please go to my website.