FETISH FRIDAY: LAURA E. GOODIN

I’m running a new series of guest posts throughout 2015: Fetish Friday. Don’t get all sweaty in the pants—I’m going back to an older definition of the word, and asking artists to show us something that helps them with the ritual of creation, some part of their surroundings—physical or mental—that eases the path into the creative state, whether it be a location, a piece of music, person, picture, a doohickey, whatnot, curio or ornament without which the creative process would be a whole lot more difficult.

This week, I think it’s fair to say, the bar has been officially raised 🙂

American-born writer Laura E. Goodin has been writing since childhood.  Her stories have appeared in numerous publications, including Michael Moorcock’s New Worlds, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Adbusters, Wet Ink, The Lifted Brow, and Daily Science Fiction, among others, and in several anthologies.  Her plays and libretti have been performed on three continents, and her poetry has been performed internationally, both as spoken word and as texts for new musical compositions.  She attended the 2007 Clarion South workshop, and is currently completing a Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Western Australia.  

Are you a creative artist? Fancy joining in and letting us know about that special item, object, location or cosmic state of being at the heart of your creative process? There’s always room for another lunatic in the asylum: email me and make your most excited Horshack noise. 

FETISH FRIDAY: MEG CADDY

I’m running a new series of guest posts throughout 2015: Fetish Friday. Don’t get all sweaty in the pants—I’m going back to an older definition of the word, and asking artists to show us something that helps them with the ritual of creation, some part of their surroundings—physical or mental—that eases the path into the creative state, whether it be a location, a piece of music, person, picture, a doohickey, whatnot, curio or ornament without which the creative process would be a whole lot more difficult.




Most of my friends, coworkers, and family know I’m obsessed with pirates. Check my internet search history and it comes up with things like ‘frigate breadth’ and ‘carracks vs caravels’, and ‘how to cook salamagundy’.  I’m doing an Honours thesis on pirates in pre-modern England, and I’m working on a pirate novel. My favourite historical figure is the wild and wonderful Grace O’Malley.

I think I am drawn to pirates because I am their complete opposite. I am indoors-y and bookish, and my adventures are mostly confined to the page. In spite of my love of ships, I am most assuredly not a sailor.

A dear friend of mine – an American artist named Kristin Lane – is familiar with my pirate obsession, and she encourages it shamelessly. A few years ago, she asked me what flag is flown by the pirates in my novel. I described a red flag with a black rose, modelled off the Tudor rose. To my delight, some months later Kristin sent me a small canvas panel with the design painted on it. She had also added a little something of her own, saying:

“The red is easy to see from a distance, but the black wouldn’t be so contrasting. The white not only draws the eye and makes the design more readable, but also serves a purpose. White is fresh, new, pure, and unused. The longer the flag flies, the more weathered and discoloured it gets. I took this principle from early martial arts training. Before they started dyeing the belts you only had one which would get dirtier and dirtier the more you trained. This is why we go from white belt to black belt.”

I keep the flag on my desk. It reminds me of the journey my pirate captain must make. When she starts to sail she is untried, uncertain, and unprepared for the responsibility of a ship and crew. By the end of the novel, she must know where she stands on the deck, and she must know what she stands for. The centre of her flag must go from white to black.

Like my captain, I’m new to the business; my debut novel is being released this year. The canvas panel, with white blazing in the centre, reminds me of how far I have to go. I have a lot to learn, and a lot of work still to do. Moreover, the flag helps me to deal with all the things that are so daunting to a newcomer in the world of professional writing. The flag enables me to see the late nights, early mornings, weeks of solitude, rejection letters, deleted drafts, and rewrites not as failures – but as weathering. Evidence that I can sail.


Meg Caddy has a BA in English Literature and History from the University of Western Australia, and is currently writing an Honours dissertation on pirates. In 2013, her YA fantasy novel Waer was shortlisted for the Text Prize, which led to a contract with Text Publishing. Meg was the 2013 Young Writer-in-Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre. Her short story ‘Amphibian Summer’ was shortlisted for the Questions Writing Prize, and her poetry has been shortlisted for the Ethel Webb Bundell Poetry Prize. In 2014, her poem ‘Tiddalik’ was published in the 2015 Poetry d’Amour anthology.
For the past five years, Meg has been working with children of all ages. She is passionate about storytelling, cooking, pirates, and lizards.
Twitter: @MegCaddy1



Are you a creative artist? Fancy joining in and letting us know about that special item, object, location or cosmic state of being at the heart of your creative process? There’s always room for another lunatic in the asylum: email me and make your most excited Horshack noise. 

Review: The Bloody White Baron

The Bloody White Baron
The Bloody White Baron by James Palmer

My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Unreadably bad. Palmer is clearly a writer with a passion forMongolia, and a political point to make, but his long asides and diatribes, coupled with footnotes that vary between simple references and long, unsubstantiated opinion pieces, turn this mess of a book into an utter farrago. Ungern-Sternberg is clearly a compelling character, and there’s bound to be a fascinating biography of the man out there somewhere, but this isn’t anywhere near it. Did not finish.

View all my reviews

Review: The Four Just Men

The Four Just Men
The Four Just Men by Edgar Wallace

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Written in 1905, this remains a gripping and exciting character piece that examines the effect of political terrorism on a passive populace. While the characters of the police who pursue the titular four are never more than loosely drawn, those of the men themselves are the clearest fascination, and the gaps in their characterisation just encourage the reader to fill them in by himself.

The plot whips along, the tension palpably increases as the annointed hour of the act moves ever closer, and while the climax has a whiff of the deus ex machina, it’s allowable in the realms of what is, clearly, a pulp novel that outstrips its boundaries.

It’s exciting, stirring stuff, with the added benefit of — quite unconsciously– being a fascinating glimpse into the bigotry and superciliousness of the Edwardian Englishman.

View all my reviews

FETISH FRIDAY: DAVE LUCKETT

I’m running a new series of guest posts throughout 2015: Fetish Friday. Don’t get all sweaty in the pants—I’m going back to an older definition of the word, and asking artists to show us something that helps them with the ritual of creation, some part of their surroundings—physical or mental—that eases the path into the creative state, whether it be a location, a piece of music, person, picture, a doohickey, whatnot, curio or ornament without which the creative process would be a whole lot more difficult.
I don’t think anything of a material nature gets me writing – no music, no pictures, no objects or artefacts, nothing like that. But I can’t work out what’s going to happen in a story until the character starts talking to me. 

I’ve got a plot kinda sorta stewing at the moment. It’s actually been asked for by Omnibus – a historical set very very early – bronze age. Dyan Blacklock sent me a newspaper article on a burial in Sussex from about 2200 BCE, and thought it might inspire something. The man had died apparently from a sword-cut. He had been buried with a very rare, very beautiful bronze dagger, so he was an aristocrat. But the illustration didn’t say anything much to me. I researched the date – and whaddaya know, 2200 BCE is pretty much on track for the last major building phase at Stonehenge. They raised the five big central trilithons about then. Thing is, those stones weight about 25-30 tonnes apiece, and they moved them mostly overland about 24 miles to the site. Nobody knows exactly how, but it woulld have taken a huge number of bodies, for that time and place.

It was that that got me thinking. I think maybe my character will be the bloke responsible. This would have to be someone who could enforce a peace in a very warlike age, but he couldn’t be simply a warlord. He had to organise a workforce of six to eight thousand, which means about twenty times that number of farmers to feed it. Given crop yields and population density then, we’re looking at most of central and southern England being directed to a single purpose. Huge.

So I think I know what the character will be – a warrior who becomes a builder. But he hasn’t said a word to me yet. I have no idea what he’s like – his voice, his speech patterns, his word choice. That will lead on to posture, gestures, behaviours, thought. But until I can actually hear him speak, I don’t know what these will be. And here’s the thing. Without those, I don’t know what will happen to him, because I don’t know how other people will behave to him.

So it’s that voice that is my fetish, if you want to call it that. I suspect that he might sound upper-class, for those times – for there certainly was a class system. I suspect that causes conflict – but I don’t know how. He isn’t talking to me yet. I can’t write a word until he does – if he ever does.

We’ll see, I suppose.

Sometimes it happens straight away. More often not. Sometimes it’s inconvenient. I’ve actually had the experience of a character walking up behind me, tapping me on the shoulder, and the following conversation ensued:

“I’m not going to do that,” she said.

“It’s in the plot.”

“Don’t be silly. I wouldn’t do that.”

“What? You have to do it. It doesn’t work, otherwise.”

“It doesn’t work, as is.”

“Now, look here. You’re just a figment of my imagination. You do what I tell you to do.”

“Get lost, boofhead. You’d never have made a writer, anyway.”

So I noodled around for another way. It took me a week, but she eventually approved an alternative, and it led to a different plot twist, and it worked better that way, anyway.

So. The character has to talk to me. That’s my fetish.

 

Dave didn’t have an author pic to share, so here are a few novel covers to give you an idea of the range of which the man is capable. Dave was first published in 1994, won two Aurealises in 1997 and 1998, got on the Premier’s Award list three times, and has published twenty-two novels, ephemera and trivia and a couple dozen short stories. 
Are you a creative artist? Fancy joining in and letting us know about that special item, object, location or cosmic state of being at the heart of your creative process? There’s always room for another lunatic in the asylum: email me and make your most excited Horshack noise. 

IF I LIVED IN BALDIVIS, I’D BE HOME NOW

This is it. Everything is packed. Everything is put away. Everything’s been disconnected.  Tomorrow the truck comes, and the Batthaim is no more.

We’ve been here over five and a half years. It’s the longest I’ve been in a single house since I shared a two bedroom duplex with my Mum and younger brother when I was a teenager, 23 years ago.

My bonus son, Aiden, reached adulthood and embarked on his own life from here. Miss 13 graduated Primary School here. Master 10 was home schooled here. We’ve had grandchildren, boarded adult family members and childrens’ friends, struggled with major illness. I sold my first novel here, and my second and third. Luscious became an educator, and fought tooth and nail to advance her tertiary education. Our kids learned to swim in this house, to ride bikes, to read and write. We’ve lived here, when all is said and done, really lived, that sort of life you promise yourself when you move to a seaside town from the city.

It’s a white elephant of a house. The gardens are too big and the weeds have never been under control. The reticulation is a bitch to operate. There’s not a right angle in the fucking place. You can’t reach the ceiling in the foyer to clean it. The taps screech and scream and not one of the washers we’ve fitted over the years has solved it. The patio was designed by a five year old with crayon poisoning, so that the rain pours down onto the seating area instead of away from it. We don’t get terrestrial TV, The mortgage is too high and we’ve struggled to afford it and maintain any sort of standard of living for the kids. I’ve grown to dislike it terribly. I’ll be glad to see the back of it.

And yet, it’s been our home. Really our home. It’s been a significant part of our lives. No matter where I’ve been since, the house I lived in with my parents between the ages of 8 and 13, before it all went to shit and they divorced, is the one I think of as my childhood home, the place where my memories really began. This will be that house for my children, I think: when they look back on their childhoods, this will be the place where their memories really begin. And now we’re leaving it behind.

It’s for a better deal, there’s no two ways about it– the place we’re moving to is closer to my work, close to Miss 13’s secondary college, closer to all the places we choose to spend our time when we’re out and about, deep in the heart of Rockingham– my old town, my home town. It’s more compact, less sprawling and unwieldy. It’s more manageable, more affordable, newer, better built. The gardens are smaller. We’ll have more money, more time, more leisure. There’s no down side to this move.

But still, this is our home. The Batthaim. And now we’re leaving it.

We’re going to need a new name.

THUMBNAIL THURSDAY ADDENDUM: CHARLIE HEBDO

So: two days ago, three murders burst into the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and gunned down two policemen and 10 members of staff. At least another 11 have been injured.

There’s a lot of talk around the content of the magazine, the cartoons it published, the religion of the assailants, the nature of terror and of terrorists. Truth is, right now it’s all hearsay and speculation. The full reasons behind the attack will not be known until the gunmen are apprehended and interviewed, and even then, it’s likely to be veiled by a thundercloud of polemic and grandstanding– on all sides of the argument– for longer than it’ll take to convict and sentence them.

In the meantime, here’s what I know: journalists and artists were gunned down, in their place of work, and it’s likely that they were murdered because somebody didn’t like the nature of their art.

So let’s be clear: If your response to a work of art is to kill the artist, you are not a soldier, you are not a freedom fighter, you are not a terrorist or a religious zealot. You are a murderer, pathetic and tawdry like all murderers. And you should be treated accordingly. No soapbox to stand on, no flag to wave. Who gives a fuck what Martin Bryant wants to say? Or Ivan Milat? That’s you: you’re scum.

Now, here’s a thing, or for me, at least, it’s a thing: way back when, I wanted to be a cartoonist. It was a serious ambition, until I came to realise that I could be an author, or a cartoonist, but not both– I did not have the time to hone my skills in both departments well enough, and writing was a more immediately applicable use of my practice. But there’s always been that desire, and in the meantime, I had accumulated a collection of a couple of hundred scribbles and thumbnails, put aside until I had the skills to translate them to full drawings properly. The skills never arrived, the thumbnails endured, that’s why Thumbnail Thursday began.

The idea that I might be brutally murdered because of a drawing is one that resonates along my bones, and I haven’t quite been able to shake it for the lat couple of days. I know there are acts of brutality and awfulness that occur across the globe, every day of the year. I know that somewhere, someone will be lining them all up and readying a response that says “Oh, this one or that one or this one over there is worse.” I believe you. I’m sure you’re right. But this is the one that’s still shivering for me.

I’ve wanted to do something, and my initial response has been: I want to draw. It seems a stupid, small thing, but I want to make a little note that says: hey, French artists for a magazine I didn’t know existed, and which I had never read! Me too! I’ve held a pencil. I’ve made the image. I have my art.

Art must always win.

For two days, I couldn’t think of a thing: I’m out of practice, and pretty much, I couldn’t think of anything profound enough to pretend that I had a place amongst the myriad of genuine artists who were publishing their responses. Until I realised: that’s not the point. My whole thing has been the thumbnail, the scribbled outline on a post-it note or scrap of notebook paper. So I decided I would post a blank page, torn out of my notebook. That would symbolise my response. And then I came up with this:

 
 
 
So, that’s my response. From me to Charlie Hebdo.  
 
And now, here’s a thing: it’s not enough. Art must always win. Against guns, against threats, against the brutality of human ignorance. Because art, no matter how basic and untrained, no matter how slapdash and mundane, is an expression of beauty, of the desire to translate human thought and personal philosophy into an object that adds to the flow of human progress.
 
Murder removes: art adds.
 
So here’s a post-it note. Draw something on it, please. Post it on your own blog, or Facebook page, or tumbler or whatever social page you use: stick it to your fridge, or a lamp post, if that’s what you have.
 
Add some art, to help cover the loss of the future works that have been taken from us. Draw something for Charlie.
 
 
 
 

FETISH FRIDAY: ALAN BAXTER

I’m running a new series of guest posts throughout 2015: Fetish Friday. Don’t get all sweaty in the pants—I’m going back to an older definition of the word, and asking artists to show us something that helps them with the ritual of creation, some part of their surroundings—physical or mental—that eases the path into the creative state, whether it be a location, a piece of music, person, picture, a doohickey, whatnot, curio or ornament without which the creative process would be a whole lot more difficult.
I don’t believe in writer’s block. 

I believe in procrastination, and writers are Procrastination Masters. And yes, that needs to be capitalised. But we tend to procrastinate when things are proving tricky and often it’s necessary to find headspace to properly ruminate on whatever that particular tricky thing is at that particular time. Trouble is, the kind of rumination necessary is something that can’t be done easily with the forebrain. It needs to percolate away in the hindbrain. At least for me, my subconscious is far better than my active mind at figuring out story nuance or just what the hell it is I’m writing. So I need to distract myself and let the old brainmeats permeate. 

Lots of things work – mowing the lawn, walking the dog, going for a swim – anything that occupies my mind enough, but not so totally that it can’t stay busy in the mental basement. Those tasks that require engagement but not concentration free up the subconscious to work out writerly issues. And for me, by far the greatest of those is riding my motorcycle. It needs my awareness – I have to watch the road and watch the traffic (because the safest way to ride is to assume that every bastard out there is trying to kill you), and I can enjoy the scenery. Meanwhile, the dark and dingy basement brain is busily whipping its captives with barbed wire flails, extracting story juice. Whenever I know that a story or book requires some thought or I feel a bit lost and entangled in plot and characters, I hop on the bike. Or I put the story aside until I get a chance to go out for a ride and let that word baby simmer. And that’s only one reason my bike is a fetish item. It’s also super fast, hella fun and just damn sexy as hell. 

I mean, come on – Look at it! VROOOOM!



Alan Baxter is a British-Australian author who writes dark fantasy, horror and sci-fi, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. He also teaches Kung Fu. 
He lives among dairy paddocks on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia, with his wife, son, dog and cat. His latest work is the dark urban fantasy trilogy, Bound, Obsidian and Abduction(The Alex Caine Series, HarperVoyager). 
Read extracts from his novels, a novella and short stories at his website – www.warriorscribe.com – or find him on Twitter @AlanBaxterand Facebook, and feel free to tell him what you think. About anything.
Are you a creative artist? Fancy joining in and letting us know about that special item, object, location or cosmic state of being at the heart of your creative process? There’s always room for another lunatic in the asylum: email me and make your most excited Horshack noise. 

MY GRANDFATHER’S AXE

This is Spike.

When all’s said and done, he’s just about my oldest friend. I’ve known people longer (waves: Hi, Seanie!), but Spike’s been my constant companion for verging on 22 years. Other friends have moved away, or moved on, but Spike’s been by my side, and in my garden, for literally half my life.
I bought him when I was living in a shared house, just after I’d finished Uni, in early 1993, when I was 22 years old. He sat in a pot, and every time I moved digs, he came with me. Then, when I bought my first house, I planted him properly.
When I moved from that house, I took a cutting, Spike’s a succulent, so basically, he’s as pod person as a plant can get. Hack off a limb, and you grow a whole new Spike: all you need is potting mix and water. He’s my kind of plant: inde-fucking-structible. Spike grew anew. When I moved again, I took another cutting. And again. This time, he’s been in the ground almost 6 years, and he’s doing bloody well for himself.
When Aiden moved out of his shared house recently, and into a new place with his fiance, I took a cutting, and gave it to him so he could have his own Spike. And I took the opportunity to do the same for Blakey and Cassie, so now all three of my bonus kids have Spikes of their own. And now I’m on the move again. 
So, 11 houses later, (including, at one stage, returning to an old house after 6 months, so he was simultaneously in garden and pot!), here’s Spike once more, pod-personned up and ready to go:
The Spike abides.

WELCOME TO FETISH FRIDAY!

I’m a geek for the artistic process, and for artists. I love reading biographies, I devour How-To’s and Behind-The-Scenes volumes. As much as I love the act of creation, I also love the psychological, social and thought processes that go into that act.

So this year I’m going running a new series of blog posts: welcome to Fetish Friday.
Now, before you get all sweaty in the pants area, let’s be clear: I’m going back to an older definition of the word fetish, and asking artists to show us something that helps them with the act of creation, some part of their surroundings– physical or mental– that eases the path into the creative state, whether it be a location, a piece of music, person, picture, a doohickey, whatnot, curio or ornament without the creative process would be a whole lot more difficult.
Let me give you an example:
This, here, is my shower. If you’ve read any of my fiction, anything longer than a flash piece at any rate, that story has driven me to this shower at least once.
The vast majority of my fiction is unplanned. I start with an image, a character, a setting— something minor and singular– and unwind from there, moving from problem point to problem point until everything builds to a giant tangle of problems, and then… resolution, climax, denouement, and fade. Which is fine…… until I write myself to a problem I can’t solve. If I can’t solve it, then neither can my characters.  
Which is when I retreat to the shower. Maybe it’s because I’m to cheap to shell out for a proper isolation tank, but once the screen is between me and the word, and I’m alone with the steady thrum of water battering my head and shoulders, and running down my face in such a wave that I can’t even sense the walls around me, that’s when my mind realises nobody’s watching, slips its leash, and goes for a right old wander. And that’s usually when I hit upon the solution that nobody was looking for. 
Fiction is like football: it’s all about creating angles, and finding gaps that nobody was expecting. When I’m isolated from every possible distraction, when my body temperature is plummeting below the ambient heat (or rising through the frost layer, in the tracky-dacks months), and when I’m alone in my cocoon of calming water, that’s when the angles open up. When I’m in need of a breakthrough, when I’ve written myself into a cul-de-sac and can’t find the gaps in the surrounding walls, I retreat to the shower.
Some stories I can measure by the number of shower I have to take…
So there’s my fetish revealed, and that’s what’s happening across the course of the year. In coming weeks you’ll hear from a range of creative artists as they discuss their own particular creative fetishes. If you’re a creative artist, and you fancy joining in and letting us know about that special item, object, location or cosmic state of being at the heart of your creative process, well, there’s always room for another lunatic in the asylum: email me and make your most excited Horshack noise.