FETISH FRIDAY: STEVEN SAVILE

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.

It’s the last in the series, and we finish off with a visit from trasplanted Geordie, the Sweden-based author and general frenetic Master of Words, Steven Savile:

I’ll admit I’ve had the hardest time trying to come up with some sort of routine, habit, good luck charm, or indeed something remotely interesting about my working patterns. I mean, what do I do that’s so different from anyone? What little rituals or quirks? Err. Look, here’s the thing: I’m incredibly boring. I get up late because I work into the early hours, though now the new puppy—five months at the time of writing—doesn’t seem to respect the idea that I need to sleep, not when there’s bright sunshine out there to go playing in. So maybe I should say my new-found talent is writing with bleary eyes?

            When I was younger I used to have a lucky sea bean that I took to all of my exams – it was with me through my mocks, my ‘O’ Levels, ‘A’ Levels, my accountancy degree before I dropped out and sold my soul to politics for the BA and then Religion and Philosophy for the MA. It was there on my desk forever. The first girl I’d ever kissed had given it to me. It was what the movie people like to call a meet-cute. I’d been running up the stairs in the hotel, she appeared at the top and flashed this gorgeous smile, which resulted in me slipping and falling down a full flight of stairs. Yeah, you’re just not going to forge that kind of meeting. I had been fourteen, coming up fifteen I guess. That sea bean came with me to Sweden and survived my first marriage, but somewhere along the way with so many moves it got lost. So the one interesting fetish I have to talk about… consigned to the dim and distant dusty archives of the past.

            In the immortal words of the poet of Springfield, “Doh!”

            Which basically left me thinking what the hell am I going to talk about?

            What one thing is ever present in my work ritual?

            What one thing could I not do this without?

            What makes it all right with the world?

            And it hit me, it’s the most honest answer I could give: music.

            I used to be the kind of writer that couldn’t manage a word if there was the slightest noise in the house, I needed absolute silence, needed the wife out at work, not banging around with the vacuum cleaner while I laboured over my ‘Art’ ahem. And then a little coffee shop opened up just down the road from our flat. I used to work for 3-4 hours at home, then hustle down to get my caffeine fix, maybe read or make notes in a good old fashioned notebook (remember these were the days of 40 minute batteries on the laptop) as a reward for a decent day’s writing. Then I started to think, hmm, I’ve got 90 minutes battery on the new laptop, maybe I could try… but it was so noisy with people talking that I was going crazy. Second day, stubbornly, I decided to try again but this time with my iPod (the original one, the white brick with the less than intuitive wheel) and this time I maybe managed a couple of paragraphs in the 90 minutes, because I had to turn the music up so loudly I couldn’t hear the constant blather of people around me. One thing I really ought to admit up front is I’m stubborn. It’s not my most endearing trait, but when it comes to work, it’s pretty useful. I kept at it, for a week, then another, then the strangest thing happened—I noticed that I couldn’t really concentrate without the music in my ears because it had a way of tunnelling the world down to just me and the page, nothing else. The trick, I realised, was to only play tunes I knew the lyrics to so well I wasn’t actively listening to them. So I took what had been something I used to love—listening to music—and turned it into an essential part of the background for my working life.




            The thing is I love music. I will consciously end my working day by turning the lights off in my study (I converted the basement into a proper man cave) and cranking up the volume on some crackly old vinyl and simply sitting in my leather armchair, closing my eyes and just listening—actively listening for the sake of listening—to the music, deliberately making it the sole activity, like it used to be when we were young. So many of my favourite memories involve putting LPs on for the first time, listening to the sequence of songs as the band wanted them to be listened to, the big opening track, the triumphant end to side one, opening to another big opening track on side two, rather than listening the way my iPod is set, which is that wonderful chaos of random shuffle, with around 15,000 tracks to choose between. I’ve even got to the stage where I fetishise my music – I’ve got limited edition picture discs, rare German pressings of the same album I’ve already got on CD, MP3 and vinyl (purely because the cassette I grew up with had a different mix of a single track on it and I was gripped with something akin to horror the first time I heard the vinyl and it was just wrong… yeah thank you Hue and Cry!), I scour Ebay and Tradera, the Swedish version of Ebay and spend hours on Discogs which is basically black crack heaven, looking for songs I used to love and rebuilding the vinyl collection I sold when I emigrated in 1997.

            I’ve divided my listening, too. There’s work listening – like right now, typing this The Lightning Seeds’ Ready or Notjust came on. A couple of minutes ago it was Camelogue from the Single Factor by Camel, 3 mins 44 seconds of Prog Rock awesomeness recorded in 1982 at Abbey Road, and as Ian Brody’s voice fades it’s Neil Peart’s drums that kick in for The Good News First. There’s no rhyme or reason to what shuffle throws up, but they all have one thing in common, I love every single track. And then there’s pleasure listening, where I do nothing but listen. The music is the be all and end all, not the background.

            My routine is pretty much the same every day, order the latte and a coke, which will see me through a 2 hour plus session, headphones on, hit play, find the right opening track, open the laptop, abuse Lee or Brian or Stefan on Facebook over the football, and then write. The acoustic demo of This Land is Your Land by the Counting Crows just replaced Rush by the way.

            I think in part my love of music goes back to my youth. I was a fairly solitary kid, one of the first with divorced parents actually, which had the headmaster telling me they had their eye on me, like they expected me to fly off the rails at any second. It’s Big Dish now, Faith Healer, if you’re playing along at home. Anyway, the first time I had money I had a choice, buy a Sinclair Spectrum or a hifi – I bought an AWIA all-in-one – the best decision I ever made. I spent a small fortune collecting 12” singles and 7” versions of the same songs. Last week I actually bought the hand written lyrics to Love is a Wonderful Colour by The Icicle Works which I had framed with my 7” single and is now on the wall in my office. I’ve got my eye on Hue and Cry’s Labour of Love and Love and Money’s Hallelujah Man to make up the hall of fame above my desk, and if Roddy Frame ever decides to do handwritten lyrics for Oblivious, well that would be my holy grail. So, yeah, music. Oh, Moist, See Touch Feel.

            Nice.



Funny story about Moist, when I was finishing Silver, I mean literally finishing, random shuffle kicked up the last song, Silver, by Moist (spooky eh? The last words were written as David Usher sang the last words of the song) and when I took my headphones off, the café was playing Madonna’s True Blue, which had been one of my girlfriend’s favourite songs back in the day. I checked my email and got the news from Vicky’s sister that she’d committed suicide. Yeah, music. Not so funny, maybe, but the sheer force with which memory binds to music is incredible.

I got to meet one of my favourite musicians of the 80s (and now, his new stuff is excellent), James Grant, and was lucky enough to become friends with him… so we were chatting one day and I said, you know, it’s weird, but you, Roddy, some of the other guys, you’ve been with me at every major life experience, an ever present. He smiled and nodded, said yeah, and I said, which means, I suppose you were there when I lost my virginity. That shut him up.

Well, well, haven’t listened to this one for a while, Howard Jones, Hide and Seek.




            Every now and then when I want to relax I’ll trawl YouTube and make a Top 20 tracks according to my state of mind that day, which is rarely the same as my other Top 20s if you’re paying attention. I’m even part of a group on Facebook where we take photos of our equipment (mind out of the gutter, Battersboy) and whatever album cover we’re listening to. It’s all vinyl lovers and its about showing off the art and, essentially, fetishizing the experience of what we’re listening to. I prefer it to that little notation Spotify used to post that said ‘Steve just listened to Marillion’s Gazpachioon Spotify’. Sometimes all the mod cons just aren’t the same.

            But that’s it.

Nothing that exciting really.

The only ever present when I write is music.

Well, music and coffee, but I figured a 1700 word post about the right coffee bean might have been a bit much… 




Steven Savile has written for Doctor Who, Torchwood, Primeval, Stargate, Warhammer, Slaine, Fireborn, Pathfinder, Arkham Horror, Risen, and other popular game and comic worlds. His novels have been published in eight languages to date, including the Italian bestseller L’eridita.  He won the International Media Association of Tie-In Writers award for his Primeval novel, SHADOW OF THE JAGUAR, published by Titan, in 2010, and The inaugural Lifeboat to the Stars award for TAU CETI (co-authored with Kevin J. Anderson). He                                                                                       has lived in Sweden for the last 17 years.

Well, biddy-biddy-biddy, that’s all folks. At the start of the series I set out to get an insight into those little momentoes, rituals, and all-round fetishes that help define the creative practices of some of my colleagues, peers and friends. It’s been a fun ride: I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

FETISH FRIDAY: MARIANNE DE PIERRES

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.


Today we welcome author and best possible buddy movie companion to the teensiness that is my wife, Marianne de Pierres:

My writing fetish works in reverse. That is, instead of using it to prepare myself for writing, I employ the reward strategy. I tell myself that if I complete a good writing session, I’m allowed to watch my favourite TV shows afterward. That, in turn, feeds my creative needs and stimulates my story-brain.



It’s a little loop that’s been working well for me for a while, though I have to guard against it getting out of balance – i.e. more TV watching that writing! I found that being able to submerge into someone else’s world both calming and energising. Occasionally, I’ll broaden the reward system to include an outside event. For instance, this week I went to a dramatic read through of a steampunk adaptation of The Secret Garden. It was great to hear some oral storytelling for a change: story-brains need to be very well fed on interesting characters and engrossing plots.

Marianne de Pierres is the author of the popular PARRISH PLESSIS trilogy and the award-winning SENTIENTS OF ORION and PEACEMAKER series. The PARRISH PLESSIS series has been translated into many languages and adapted into a role-playing game, while the PEACEMAKER series is being adapted into a novel adventure game.
Marianne has also authored children’s and young adult stories, notably the Night Creatures trilogy a dark fantasy series for teens.
Marianne is an active supporter of genre fiction and has mentored many writers. She lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband and three galahs (and once upon a time three sons–before they grew up). Marianne also writes award-winning crime under the pseudonym Marianne Delacourt.

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: TRENT JAMIESON

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.


Today we welcome Queensland author Trent Jamieson:

I have so many fetishes that they circle me in a confused maelstrom of pay-attention-to-mes and you-must-do-thises. But there is one constant, and it’s been that constant for nearly eighteen years. The city of Brisbane.

I know it’s more a place than a thing. But it fills me with such pleasure. I catch my bus into work, and I’ll write there, or I’ll write in the office before I start work on certain days, or in a cafe (I have my favourites), or I’ll walk around GOMA and then try and sneak a writing session in the Red Box at the State Library. I do most of my writing at home, but so many of my favourite scenes in my books have been written on buses or in those places.

Brisbane is my first city (I grew up in Gunnedah, finished my schooling in Lismore so I’m very much a country child) and it is the ultimate city to me. And it always will be.

When I write here, when I travel through her streets, or look down at the placid Brisbane River (like all rivers given to the occasional rages), or up to the supple rises of Mt Coot-tha I feel better for it. Brisbane is a small city, but it still surprises me, and comforts me, and irritates me – and all those things make stories.

As fetishes go it is a hard one to put in your pocket or on your wall. But Brisbane is generous. She’s given me a piece of her and I keep her in my heart.

 

 
Trent Jamieson’s Death Works Trilogy of novels is available from Orbit books, and a continuation The Memory of Death is available through Momentum Books. Roil, and Night’s Engines are available from Angry Robot. His latest book Day Boy will be published by Text in June. His webpage is www.trentjamieson.com

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: AJ SPEDDING

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.


Today we welcome author, editor and publisher AJ Spedding:

 
 

This has taken a little longer to get to Lee than I initially thought – life and work tend to conspire. I also wasn’t quite sure what to write when it came to rituals or routines to get the creative juices flowing (easy). But it all begins with my desk. It’s my little corner of creative heaven in my house (although my husband calls it ‘hell’s corner’, bless), and I’m sure some would say my stuff is a little macabre, but each has special meaning and represents something to do with my writing and the people who support me in that endeavour.

 

It’s also where, once I sit, I’m surrounded by all that I need to both work (as an editor) and write. I have a pretty strict routine when it comes to the division of editing versus my own writing – I work a standard eight-hour day for editing client work, then once the kids are off doing their own thing after dinner, I sit down to write.

If I had to narrow it down to one specific thing (and that’s damn difficult), it would have to be a good cup of coffee – if I could organise it, I’d drip feed it, but apparently that’s illegal – but without it… no coffee makes AJ something something bitchy something bitch, bitch.

There are also the staples any writer/editor needs – a slew of reference books; pens, pens and more pens; a pile of notebooks, and a whiteboard to keep me on track. But it’s my little pieces of horror that keep me focussed on my writing.

There are times when I’m working on another’s piece that the desire to write seems almost overwhelming, but work always takes precedence. Still, all I have to do is look up at my mini Cerberus or my quill and ink and be reminded that working from home not only gives me the freedom to hang with my kids more than an ‘outside’ job would, but that my work also supports my passion to write.

 

That doesn’t mean the writing comes easy. Sometimes it’s difficult to turn off ‘work’ mode, and other times it’s bouts of writer-imposteritis that hits hard. That’s when particular items of my collection do their job – and these are the ones most associated with my writing, and my most treasured. My Australian Shadows Award trophy – Zombie Hyde, who looks down rather sternly at me and makes me want to be a better writer; the artwork (by the brilliant Andrew J McKiernan) that accompanied one of my stories, Nightmare’s Cradle, in ASIM; and a crow skull gifted me from Geoff Brown when I finished the first draft of my novel. These three pieces let me know that I can do this writing gig, regardless of the little voice in my head that tells me I’m shit.
 
 
 
Artwork also plays a major part in reminding where my passion lies – evocative images that always draw me back to ideas and plots. When I walk in the door I have two pieces from Obsolete World (where the make-believe creatures of our childhood are captured once we discard them); and dark pieces from comic artist Montgomery Borror, Aussie artist Greg Chapman, and the stuff of nightmares from Damon Hellandbrand. So no matter where I am in my house, there’s always something that keeps me grounded in my writing.



Amanda J Spedding is a professional editor, proofreader and award-winning author whose stories have been published in local and international markets earning honourable mentions and recommended reads. She won the 2011 Australian Shadows Award (short fiction) for her steampunk-horror, ‘Shovel-Man Joe’.

 

Amanda is the owner of Phoenix Editing and Proofreading, and also works with Cohesion Press as co-editor of their SNAFU series. Between bouts of editing, she is writing (and rewriting) her first novel. Her horror comic ‘The Road’ will be launched at Oz ComicCon in Melbourne – this doesn’t terrify her at all (and if she keeps telling herself this, it will become truth). She lives in Sydney with her sarcastically-                                                                                   gifted husband and two very cool kids.




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: JULIET MARILLIER

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.


Today we welcome one of the most successful speculative fiction authors to come out of Western Australia, and one of my personal inspirations– the talented, personable, critically acclaimed, and all round brilliant Juliet Marillier:





Somewhere in my cluttered workspace can be found a rather odd pair of figures. If there’s any kind of fetish associated with my writing routine, it’s those two. Yoda and Cow. When my grandchildren visit, Yoda gets to use the Force on Cow, who levitates gently. But most of the time the two buddies just hang out, watching me attempt to write.

When and where did this unusual friendship begin, and why is it important to my creative effort? Well, the story started long, long ago when I wasn’t a full-time writer but a manager in a Commonwealth government department that shall remain nameless. At a certain point the powers that be decided to move the department out of its centrally located building in order to save money. My team was the last one left in the old building, working on for months while other floors and other parts of our floor emptied out around us and other staff left their junk behind.

You can see where this is going, can’t you? At last my team was up for the big move. Not only did we need to sort and pack all our own stuff, we had to dispose of all the left-behind material as well. In a rush. A skip was brought in and a mountain of objects soon filled it – not only rubbish but coffee mugs, stationery items, framed prints, material accumulated by a whole floor of office workers over quite a few years. The waste was horrendous.

As boss, I was frantically busy at this point and stressed out of my mind, but I did notice when Yoda appeared in the skip, discarded when his previous human cleared her desk. Perhaps Yoda used the Force to summon me, recognising me as someone who would know he was no mere plastic figurine. Not long after I rescued Yoda I found Cow in a wastepaper bin. The two have been with me for around 14 years now. Cow is made of some weird kind of rubber and her body has perilous structural cracks. Without Yoda to keep her strong she would have fallen apart long ago. Without Cow’s tranquil presence, Yoda would be profoundly lonely. Together they make a formidable team.

I can’t look up from my writing now without meeting their combined gaze. Jointly, they remind me of the time when I was not yet fortunate enough to write novels for a living. The time when my day job was almost unbearably stressful. I think Yoda and Cow are as happy as I am that we left that workplace for ever.

They keep me writing. Yoda is supportive but always challenging. ‘More focussed you must be,’ he tells me. ‘Write better you can.’ By contrast, there is a sweet innocence in Cow’s expression. ‘What a lovely story!’ she moos. ‘I can’t wait to read the next chapter!’

 
Juliet’s Marillier’s novels combine historical fiction, folkloric fantasy, romance and family drama. The strong elements of history and folklore in her work reflect her lifelong interest in both fields. However, her stories focus strongly on human relationships and the personal journeys of the characters. Juliet is a member of the druid order OBOD (The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids) and her spiritual values are often reflected in her storytelling – the human characters’ relationship with the natural world plays a significant part.
As well as her books for adult readers, Juliet has written three novels for young adults and has contributed short fiction to several anthologies. She is a regular contributor to genre writing blog Writer Unboxed.


 
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: GILLIAN POLACK

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.

Today we welcome author and academic, Doctor Gillian Polack:

When Lee asked me about a post, I was full of ideas. They were practical and sensible ideas, for I am a practical and sensible person. I use butchers’ paper on the backs of doors to plan my fiction, for instance. This is a practical and sensible thing to do. I only do it for some novels, however, for not all of them require protection against demon infestation through the ritual application of arcane writing on portals. Currently, I’m writing something shorter and so all the paper on my doors are polite lists encouraging me to do work. Currently my flat is demon-infested. Not that this is relevant to this post, but it means that objects develop a life of their own.



I surround myself with small bits of paper in the hope that they will turn into fiction, too. They don’t. They turn into shopping lists. They turn into rude notes to myself. They turn into draft incantations against demon manifestations. They even turn into academic papers. My fiction, however, remains sublimely independent of small scraps of paper. Except that, like most things around me, this can change. I used small scraps of paper to move the history side of me to the fiction side of me for Langue[dot]doc 1305. I had a couple of hundred scraps containing key bits of detail (verified, awesome and not related at all to demon infestations, except one, where I’d found evidence that my time travellers may well have been considered as demonic by some upstanding citizens) and I put them in order the way I would for non-fiction and they magically transformed into telling detail in the novel and then equally magically disappeared into the recycling.
I like pens. I have so many pens it isn’t funny. I need at least three for each pile of scrap paper. Even if I don’t use them, I’m happy to have them round. I love their variety and the fact that they create colonies and occasionally mutate.
I use them for note taking and for editing, but not for writing. They’re part of my security blanket. They don’t write my novels, though. A computer is my main tool, and I can write anywhere. Right now, in fact, I’m writing during my evening break, which happens to be Sleepy Hollow. My viewing of choice explains why this post is haunted.
Music doesn’t work at all. Ever. Music makes me get up and dance, which is wonderful and stops my RSI getting worse, but it doesn’t get me writing. Except when it does.The Art of Effective Dreaming is full of folk songs and I’m positive that the text changes tone when I changed tunes. I’m also positive I drove two sets of neighbours to find new places to live simply by listening to my astonishing singing.
I do have systems, I do. I have comfort-objects and routines. The rub is that every novel has its own system. Ms Cellophane was partly influenced by a plague of ants, and also by a mirror I possess that was safely in my storeroom. Both ants and mirror were invoked, rather than being part of what I regularly do, which explains their quality in the novel.
So what do I do that’s not improvisational? What actually grounds me when I write?



I often start with a notebook to get the feel for a given novel into my mind and to keep it there. Because I write over a long period and other things keep intervening, I need a way to regain the mood of each novel. Other methods fail reliably. At one stage I tried collecting antiques, but I’m pretty positive this was just an excuse to collect antiques for a week (I ran out of money before I ran out of the desire for gilt cups), for that novel was never written. So I don’t buy antiques, but I do establish a memory keepsake, in the form of a notebook and I pretend to plan the novel in it. Instead of planning, what I do is mark the space with some words and imprint it on my mind that this is the mental space for that novel and this is the feel of that novel. For the tone and feel of my story, I need something I can pick up and that contains an infused memory. And, let me admit, I love notebooks.
After I’ve written a novel and contracted it, I use something to keep me on the straight and narrow: daruma dolls. My Japanese friends introduced them to me about the same time they introduced me to some of the rhymes and songs I used in The Art of Effective Dreaming, the ones that drove my neighbours away.



For every book contract I sign, I fill in one eye on a doll. For every published book, I fill in the other. Several dolls currently inhabit a shelf near my TV and each time I look they’re in a different position. The pink doll and the small red one are back to back right now, refusing to talk. The pink one thinks it’s superior, because its book is already out.
The most difficult bits of the whole writing process (besides sagging middles, which are something else entirely) are beginning the novel – moving from the props to the keyboard – and getting through the publishing process. I envy the beauty of others’ inspirational objects, but for me, the beginning and end are where I need..something. It’s like setting the table for a dinner party and washing the dishes after: they make the dinner party into a meal. Paper, pens, notebooks and daruma dolls, and the novel has the support it needs.


Gillian Polack is a writer, editor, historian and critic. Her most recent novels are The Art of Effective Dreaming (Satalyte, 2015), Langue[dot]doc 1305 (Satalyte, 2014) and Ms Cellophane (Momentum, 2012). Ms Cellophane (then called Life Through Cellophane) was shortlisted for a Ditmar. Her next book is non-fiction (The Middle Ages Unlocked, co-authored with Katrin Kania, Amberley). She has edited two anthologies and has seventen short stories published. One of her stories won a Victorian Ministry of the Arts award and three more have been listed as recommended reading in the international lists of world’s best fantasy and science fiction 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. 

FETISH FRIDAY: KATIE HOLLAND

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 we finally get away from the writer types as I entice one of my oldest pals to join us. Please make welcome the utter chanteuse that is Katie Holland:



“But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams   
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream   
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied   
so he opens his throat to sing.”
Maya Angelou



     I hate to trot out the tired cliché of feeling trapped but that is precisely how I spent the first three decades of my existence. A perfect storm of poor life choices, unfulfilled dreams and mental illness came to a head in 2012 forcing me to make a decision: leave an unhappy marriage on my own two feet with some shred of sanity left, or leave it in a pine box. To avoid any confusion, the problem with the relationship was not a fundamental failing on behalf of the other party, it was my dawning realization that you can live the truth, or go bat-shit crazy trying to live a lie.

Birdcages may seem an odd choice of inspiration for a mild claustrophobe with a fear of enforced deprivation of liberty and general dislike of being restrained but there you have it. I love birdcages more than I love sequins (and as a half  European showgirl  I really love sequins). The birdcage motif adorned the house I purchased after the marriage, a sanctuary for myself and my children. An empty birdcage with an open door fills me with calm and peace, which when creating on a deadline enables the kind of focus that a working parent can sometimes find hard to muster.

   

There is a beauty and simplicity in the design. In my mind, I can enter the cage and still observe the world around me from relative safety. The open door means I can leave at any time.  Today the symbolism of the birdcage is alive and well in the house that I share with my current partner. Hanging outside, tucked in corners, peeking around door frames. To me they whisper ‘home’. 


The bird still sings, but not for the dream of freedom. She lives the dream already.




Katie Holland is a Perth based vocalist, musician, artist and occasional writer of amusing Facebook updates generally centred around “Who done a poo?” When she isn’t wrestling with the ubiquitous day job she performs with her 8 piece rock/soul/jazz/funk band “Random Act”, records as a session muso for anything from country to jazz to metal, gets her Burlesque on as saucy minx about town “Holly Hooray” and generally takes part in anything that will allow her to wear sequins, red lippy or PVC. Preferably all at the same time.

Katie lives with her partner, 3 mostly adorable though occasionally sociopathic children, and (in her dreams) a pet goat. Her partner won’t let her obtain said goat so this biog may shortly be amended to remove him, and substitute the goat. She isn’t addicted to white wine, Pepsi Max and crackers as she could give them up any time she wants to. She just doesn’t want to.






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: KIM WILKINS

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, we say a hearty hello to Queensland author, academic, golden child and all-round Queen of Pleasantness, Doctor Kim Wilkins:

For me, it’s tea.
I know writers are supposed to love coffee, but I can’t stand the taste of it and it gives me the jitters. But I have never sat down to write without a cup of tea beside me.
I like Assam leaves the best: strong, sweet, and malty. But it’s not just the drink, you understand. It’s the ritual. I prepare the pot, I spoon in the leaves, I boil the water then let it cool for ten seconds (so it doesn’t scorch the leaves), then I brew the tea while I prepare my writing space. Light a candle, put some suitable music on, quickly clean up any dust and cat hair that might distract me while I’m writing.
Then I pour my tea into the appropriate cup (I have several I use in the same order every day; the one in the picture is for my second cup, when I first start work), and I sit down to write. I drink every drop.
Sitting down with my tea next to me, I know the day has started. My brain focuses, and I’m off. Preparing my tea is preparing to write.





Kim Wilkins has published 26 books and is translated into 17 languages. She is a senior lecturer in writing at the University of Queensland. She writes under her own name and under the pseudonym Kimberley Freeman.














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: STEPHEN DEDMAN

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, we present one of my very good friends, author of several fantastic novels, teacher, academic, and short story machine, Doctor Stephen Dedman:

Confession time: I don’t have a fetish. That is, I don’t just have one fetish; I have several. More than a talismonger in a Shadowrun novel. More than the House of Lords. More than a national furry convention… okay, maybe not that many, but you get the idea.
            That said, most of my fetishes aren’t physical objects. I have a rather messy desk, but I like to be able to write when I travel, and to travel light, so the only item on the desktop that is fetish-ish is my current favourite fossil, a beautiful ammonite with streaks of opal or ammolite. Having something millions of years old near my keyboard may not help me write, but it puts the process of dealing with publishers into perspective.
            Music I use to motivate me to write includes Ennio Morricone’s magnificent theme from The Untouchables, which is the closest thing I know to auditory caffeine (the 1812 Overture can serve the same purpose, but I’m usually too busy conducting to keep my hands on the keyboard). Fast-paced film soundtracks and instrumentals help me to write action scenes; song lyrics provide me with working titles. I’ve lost track of how many of my stories started off being called “On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair…”
            I’m not sure whether this counts as one fetish or many, but I have long been fascinated by the outre, the alien, otherness – and I keep lists of monsters, obscure trivia, weird beliefs, other people’s fetishes and phobias, a mental bag from which I can draw story ideas like pretty rocks. Of course, sometimes I have to wash my hands afterwards… and occasionally I feel the need to count my fingers, too.

            And, of course, I have a fetish for books as material objects, not just for their content. Why else would I have spent so much of my life trying to surround myself with them? 


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: GREG CHAPMAN

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, we welcome Australian Horror Writer alumnus, author and illustrator, Greg Chapman:

At the end of a long 7 and a quarter hour stretch at the day job I like to come home, greet the wife and kids, and then go down to my dungeon and paint the walls in blood.
Figuratively speaking.
My dungeon is the literary equivalent of the so called man-cave, but instead of playing pool, tuning an engine or watching sports, I’m tinkering away at my latest horror story or piece of art.
The dungeon is where I find inspiration. On the walls are pieces of my art, alongside a poster of Neil Gaiman’s Nine Rules of Writing, signed by Keith Minnion. In the centre of the room, is my desk atop which sits my i-Mac where I create most of my illustrative work, “Zara”, a half mannequin, I turned into a zombie and about one hundred pens and paintbrushes that I just haven’t had the time to put away yet. I’m a creative person, so of course I’m going to be messy!
To the left of the desk is a small book case containing books I’ve had published or had stories in and more importantly, books written and sometimes signed by my writer friends. These books inspire me greatly; I revel in my friends’ successes and I thoroughly enjoy reading their work. Adjacent to that bookshelf is a much larger one containing the books I’ve collected over the years. There are lots of books by Clive Barker and King, and a hell of a lot of reference books and dictionaries. Dictionaries can especially spark story ideas as I have a bit of a fetish for obscure words. Both these bookshelves are guarded by two skulls I made for Halloween last year.
I guess this is my brain inside four walls. It’s chaotic and covered in words, and charcoal and watercolour paint, but all my friends and favourite writers are here to join me in my madness.

Surely, I’m not the only writer with a dungeon, right?

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: KAARON WARREN

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 we say hello to author, friend, lovely lady and awards hoover, Kaaron Warren:

I’m obsessed with other people’s collections. More particularly, other people’s discarded collections.
I once bought a plastic bag full of recipes torn from magazines dating back to 1963 from the junk stall at a fete. The pile must have sat in someone’s kitchen drawer, being added to day by day, week by week. Then she died (I’m assuming it was a woman. Also assuming she died) and whoever sorted through her stuff lifted the lot out, shoved it in a bag and gave it away.
I wrote a story about the recipes but sadly they didn’t survive. A rat died in the box I kept them in in the shed:
I found this set of old postcards at a school fete. Some of them date back to 1917, but most were written in the 1920s.

On the strength of my research into the cards, I applied for and received a Fellowshipat the Museum for Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House. So very worthy five bucks spent there.
When my mother-in-law died, I asked if I could keep her jar of buttons. Every one tells a story, I think. Rescued from beloved clothing, or ready for the sewing of new items.
I did the same with my father-in-law’s rusty tin of rusty drill bits. Projects completed, projects projected; all in this tin.
I work in a second-hand shop once a week, and we see many, many collections come in. Our stuff is sourced at the tip, so this is stuff that’s been literally thrown away, although where I live, people know that the tip keeps the good stuff and people buy it, so it isn’t considered rubbish.
We’ve had 56 owls. 40 rabbits. 30 sake cups, including one that showed a naked woman at the bottom when you filled it with liquid.
And this is a bag of baby teeth that came in with somebody’s discarded jewellery collection. I’m not taking them out of the bag. You can, if you like.



Shirley Jackson Award Winner Kaaron Warren has sold 200 short stories, three novels including the multi-award-winning Slights, and five short story collections including the multi-award-winning Through Splintered Walls and her most recent, The Gate TheoryKaaron is a Current Fellow at MoAD, researching Menzies, William Ashton, and the Granny Killer.You can find her at http://kaaronwarren.wordpress.com/ and she Tweets @KaaronWarren




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: TEENA RAFFA-MULLIGAN

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.


Please welcome Western Australian children’s author Teena Raffa-Mulligan:

There’s a little butterfly on the wall just inside the door of my office and that’s probably appropriate because the man in my life says that’s what I am. I suppose it’s an apt enough description. I do flit from one interesting life experience to the next and there’s no question I am a bit of a butterfly when it comes to writing, never settling for long on one project.
That’s not a problem when I’m working on a poem, short story or picture book text. Usually those ideas grab my imagination and won’t let go till I’ve sifted and sorted the words into a satisfying shape. They get stuck in my mind and a lot of the writing gets done off the page while I’m going about my everyday life. I scribble random sentences and paragraphs on scrap paper as they take shape and when I finally sit down at the computer, it’s a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle. I simply put the various story or poem fragments in the right order and play around with them until all the pieces feel like they’re slotted into the right place.  Easy!

It’s a different story when it comes to writing anything of substantial length. That’s a real challenge for me. The butterfly approach is not recommended. That’s when I do need help. Walking works…so does riding my bike along the beach path, swimming, weeding the garden, sweeping the floor, ironing my clothes. There’s something about getting physical that triggers my creative brain. I don’t consciously think about the next scene of the novel I’m working on but there it is, waiting to be written down. Yet I could sit at the computer all day and be completely lost for words.

So the novels grow slowly and haphazardly. Often I will leave the document file open on my computer and duck in and out of my office as I get ideas for the next paragraph or block of dialogue. Sometimes I do try to be more productive, setting daily word counts and deadlines. It doesn’t work. That’s when I eat, usually almonds and apples. Sometimes cheese or chocolate.
A glance in the direction of the smiling spirit guide drawing on the easel near my desk reminds me there’s no need to force the story – it will come in its own time if I make the space. 





















Teena Raffa-Mulligan is a writer, reader and day dream believer. Her publications include poems, picture books, short stories, early reader chapter books and a novel. 


http://www.teenaraffamulligan.com/











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; STEVE CAMERON

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 have plenty of ideas. In fact I have notebooks full of them. Bits of conversation, descriptions of places I’ve visited, titles, names, or incomplete jotted paragraphs. Some will be developed into fully formed stories, other will never see the light of day.
All of them inform my writing.
But an idea is not a story. It needs developing, massaging and cajoling. Sometimes an idea needs a violent collision with another idea. And it often takes time.
Sometimes it happens quickly, sometimes it can take months before a story starts to congeal into existence. As I walk my dogs, mow the lawn, or supervise students in exams, I find these ideas invade my thoughts. And I play with them, work with them, evolve them into stories.
But they’re still not written. And they’re not really stories until they’re words on the screen and saved as a completed file.
2014 was a year of change for me. As a writer, I was nowhere near as productive as I would have liked. It frustrated me. I tried different approaches to increase my writing output, but life tended to get in the way. And excuses. Lots of excuses. So I sat down and made a list of all the reasons I wasn’t writing enough, and created a plan.
A ritual, if you like. Or, as Lee puts it, a fetish.
I bought an old computer, dedicated solely to writing. It has no internet access, no games, no other software. I created a comfortable writing space away from the main part of the house. There are no distracting sounds, no TVs, no fridges calling me. I made a spreadsheet to keep track of daily word counts, as well as monthly and yearly totals and averages.
And I write every day.
Tired? Busy? Got home late? Don’t feel like it? Doesn’t matter. I write, and I write every day. Some good words, some average. But words. Every single day. Six months and counting, now. Not one blank cell on my spreadsheet.
Regular, accountable writing in a dedicated, comfortable space. No excuses.

I’m Steve. I’m a writer. And this is my fetish.








Steve Cameron is a Scottish/Australian writer who currently resides in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. When not writing, he teaches English at a local secondary college. Steve maintains a website at www.stevecameron.com.au











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: JAMES FOLEY

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.


Maintaining BOC, or ‘bum-on-chair’, is the hardest thing for many creatives I know. It’s difficult in the morning to get started on your work and keep at it, particularly if you work from home; it’s so easy to say “Oh I’ll just make another cup of tea” or “I’ll just put this load of washing on” or “I’ll just give myself a break and play a level or three of Lego Batman”. I find my mornings are most productive when I’ve spent the evening before cleaning my desk, tying up loose ends and writing a list of tasks for the next day. Then when morning comes I sit down at the desk at an earlyish time (somewhere between 7 and 9am) and do a stretch of 60-90min focusing just on the first task on the list. I don’t check my email, I don’t check Facebook, I just keep BOC-ing. Then when I’ve worked for a stretch I can take a break, get another cup of tea, put some washing on or whatever else I wanted to distract myself with, and I won’t feel so anxious because I know I’ve already gotten started on the task. And it’s much easier to get back to the task when you know you’ve already started.  
Having said all that, those productive days are few and far between. It’s much easier to have a fidgety, unfocused day than it is to have a calm, creative one, particularly if there are several deadlines looming. But if I can keep those simple behaviours in mind – clear my desk in the evening, make a plan of attack for the next day, make an early start at the biggest scariest task the next morning, and refrain from checking email or Facebook until at least morning tea – then I find the day goes smoother and I stay in the flow. 
Music is another big help. From December 2013 – January 2014 I was working full time on the illustrations for The Last Viking Returns; I worked 6 days a week for 6 weeks, from 9am to 5pm and usually later. I had a studio in Northbridge at the time and when arrived in the morning I would start up the computer, open up iTunes and listen to the same playlist. 
I picked songs that had high energy and strong beats; I wanted songs that would keep me BOC-ing and help me focus. And it worked. You can see from the number of plays of each song that I sometimes listened to it several times a day, and I still listen to it regularly. 
These upbeat songs aren’t always appropriate though; often by the time 3:30pm rolls around I’m flagging and I want something softer and more easy on the ears. I’ve got a bunch of albums saved as playlists on the left in my iTunes so I can pull up whatever compliments my mood at the time. 
Having a studio outside of home really helped too. My studio used to be on William St in Northbridge, right up near the intersection with Brisbane St, so it was far enough from the centre of Northbridge to be quiet, but close enough that I could walk down and get lunch. It got me out of the house every day; it’s easy to feel lonely when you work from home. I would park my car on the northern edge of Hyde Park every morning and walk around the lake on my way to the studio, then back again in the afternoon or evening, so I was getting a bit of exercise and a hit of nature too. All those things helped.
Now I work from a home studio, and I miss the morning and evening walks in Hyde Park, but there are good points: I have the dog for company, I can set things up however I want, and I don’t have to pay rent to a landlord for a studio that I don’t always have time to use.  
My desk is covered in figurines and inspirational quotes; I don’t always notice them, but I’ve got them there as a reminder anyway.
I remember exactly where I scored these little ninjas. It was school holidays, I was about 8, and Mum took my brother and sister and I on the train for the first time. I don’t remember what we did at our destination apart from being at the shops, and these little ninja dudes were there on a shelf. I had pocket money to spend, I bought them and I’ve had them ever since. They’ve always been on display somewhere. At one point I was even carrying around the central leader in my pocket everywhere to try and remind myself to be brave … bit daggy but it helped. Now they live on top of my monitor.
The two quotes on the monitor are from two writers – the one on the left is from Michael Wagner (who has it stuck to his monitor too), and the one on the right is from Stephen King. 
This is my favourite Calvin and Hobbes strip ever, because it’s so perfectly me when I’m not working my best. 
Asterix and Obelix are two more warrior totems, reminding me of my favourite comics by Goscinny and Uderzo. 
The viking warrior was a gift from Kris Williams at the launch of The Last Viking in 2011. 
The owl was supposedly made in India, and I bought it in an overpriced Cottesloe gift shop many years ago because I loved it. 
The plasticine figure is a gift from a super-talented boy I taught last year at Mount Hawthorn Primary. 
Another quote, and a perfect cartoon from The Big Issue’s Andrew Weldon – don’t wait for inspiration, just get on with it. 
Prints from Gavin Aung Tan, cartoonist at www.zenpencils.com. If you like these, sign up to his email list and he’ll send you them for free. 
More quotes. I love the Confucius one on the left; whether it was really him or not doesn’t matter, it’s got wit and truth about it.
More quotes. 
I bought the print at a little exhibition about 10 years ago and I don’t know who made it. I keep it there to remind me to try and have fun with my work. 

James Foley is a children’s author and illustrator. His books include In The Lion (Walker Books, 2012), The Amity Kids Adventures (2013), The Last Viking (Fremantle Press, 2011) and The Last Viking Returns (Fremantle Press, 2014).

In The Lion was selected for the International Youth Library’s White Raven list in 2013. The Last Viking won the 2012 Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Crystal Kite Award, the 2012 WA Young Readers’ Hoffman Award, and a 2012 Children’s Book Council of Australia Junior Judges Award. It was shortlisted for a further four awards.

James is an ambassador for Books In Homes and Room To Read Australia, and is the current Illustrator Coordinator for SCBWI Australia West. His interests include comics, film, psychology, science, history (anything nerdy really), as well as yoga and social justice.
He has far too many books in his bedside reading pile.



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: ANDREW J. MCKIERNAN

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.

First up, a big thank you to Lee for inviting me to expose my fetish here on his blog. It’s not everyday you get that opportunity without the threat of being arrested.

Like Lee, and I suspect a large majority of writers, I find a lot of contemplative solace in a good shower. It’s one of those places where the mind becomes free, unencumbered, and some of my best ideas and lines have originated there.

I also have a few other places that have the same effect for me so, unlike Lee, I don’t have to spend all day having half-a-dozen showers to avoid blocks or keep the ideas flowing. Being a home-dad, I also find meditative writing solace in: putting washing on the line; chopping vegetables for dinner; vacuuming the swimming pool; mowing the lawns; and scrubbing the shower; driving the kids to school. They’re all mindless, repetitive tasks that I do on a regular basis. They allow me to switch into auto-pilot mode wherein, somewhere in the background of my mind, my subconscious can solve those pesky plot and character problems without interference from me. These things, they’re all catalysts that prepare me for getting words on the page.

But, once I’m in my chair and working, what is it that keeps me going? What (or who) encourages me, congratulates me, and cheers me on from the sidelines?
Well, let me introduce you…







Hi name is Jeff Lebowski, but he’s more commonly known as The Dude, or, uh, His Dudeness, or, Duder, or El Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing. He sits right beside my monitor, always just in my field of vision, and he’s never less than excited about the work I produce.

Yes, ‘The Big Lebowski’ is one of my favourite films, and friends and family have noticed similarities to my own lifestyle and demeanour on more than one occasion. He was a gift, from my wife, and I know by that she meant it as a kind of in-joke about myself. 

I loved the gift, I really did, but at first I saw only ‘The Dude’, happy with himself for having bowled a strike. He joined my other bobble-heads and collectible figures – Pinhead, Robocop, Gumby, Boba Fett, Ren & Stimpy – on the shelf and sat there a while. It wasn’t until I bought a new desk and reconfigured my writing space that he ended up in his current position. I don’t think I ever intended him to stay there. It was just temporary. A place to put him out of the way until I determined where everything would go.


A year later, and he’s still there.
Why? Because, just look at that face! The smile and the excitement. His arms raised, as if fist-pumping yet another victory. And, as I type, the desk moves just enough that his head wobbles, constantly, in an ever encouraging nod. 

“Those words are crazy,” he’s saying. “Keep going! What you’re writing is the most awesome thing ever… but, you know, that’s just like, my opinion, man.”

So, there you go. The Dude abides…right beside my desk, cheering me on with nods and smiles and triumphant fists.

I don’t know about you but I take comfort in that.






Andrew J McKiernan is an author and illustrator living and working on the Central Coast of New South Wales. First published in 2007, his stories have since been short-listed for multiple Aurealis, Ditmar and Australian Shadows awards and reprinted in a number of Year’s Best anthologies. He was Art Director for Aurealis magazine for 8 years and his illustrations have graced the covers and internals of a number of books and magazines. “Last Year, When We Were Young” a collection of his short stories was released in 2014 by Satalyte Publishing. http://www.andrewmckiernan.com


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: LYN BATTERSBY

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, we welcome author and world’s sexiest wife (in my utterly unbiased opinion) Lyn Battersby:

I’m at the Steel Tree café waiting for my muse. As usual, he’s late, which leaves me hugging a glass of tepid water while staring out the windows. The storms of the previous two days have fled and the café is filled with patrons desperate to escape a humidity that hovers somewhere near 90%.
I’ve chosen this café for a reason. For one thing, they provide a free glass of wine with lunch. Right now my muse claims to like wine, so I hope to entice him to our meeting by offering a generous glass of Shiraz. Sometimes this works. He’ll sit back in his chair, sip at grapes raised in Margaret River, or McLaren Vale or the Barossa, and regale me with tales that feature people he’s met living in places he alone has travelled through. Other times, however, the wine fails. My muse becomes surly, purses his lips, scowls at me through slitted eyes.
I try to talk him out of these funks. I beg, I cajole, I reason. I explain my feelings of abandonment, my need to hold him close. Sometimes, however, I try the passive-aggressive approach. I tell him that I would like to see other muses or tell him that I’ve met someone else. It’s no use. My muse has heard it all before. “They are just dalliances, they mean nothing to you. Go ahead, knit a beanie, crochet a scarf, decoupage a bedspread. It won’t last. It never does”
And then, to rub salt into an already inflamed wound, he’ll stand up, wander around and offer up stories to other writers, stories that were meant to be for me.
And he’s right, I do come back, I do offer up fresh enticements, fresh reasons for him to stay. For my muse is a muse of inconstant fetishes. What pleases him today he disdains tomorrow.
Throughout my writing career I’ve offered my muse different homes within different places. I’ve offered him new computers, new pens, new notebooks. Oh, so many notebooks. To express my love I’ve compiled mixed tapes, CDs and downloads. I’ve dazzled him with various pieces of clothing, jewellery and art.
I’ve written at specially created writing desks, at the table, on the train and in bed. Despite this, despite my constant desire to meet his desires, my muse remains unmoved. No fetish, new or old, had gone unchallenged.
Once, and I hate to admit this, I tried to bind him to my side with a voodoo doll. He took the doll, told me a story about it and then bit its head off.
And now, I’m sick of it. I haven’t called this meeting today because I want to write. I’ve called it because I want out of this destructive quasi-co-dependent relationship. I want to say ‘It’s not me, it’s you and you’re a jerk.” I want to take the hundreds of thousands of words he’s given me over the years and make him eat them, one by one. I want to make him squirm, just as he’s made me squirm via his throwaway love, his surly moods and his neglect. I want to –
Wait.
Shh.
Here he comes.

And he looks freaking awesome today.

Lyn Battersby’s short stories have appeared in various publications such as Borderlands, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine and Electric Velocipede. When not studying for her BA in English and Creative Writing, she can be found concocting new recipes with her slow cooker. She lives in Baldivis with her beloved husband, Lee and two of their five children. She does not like cats. She does like time-travel.


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: JOANNE ANDERTON

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.

These are the usual suspects that inhabit my writing desk at home. There’s always a mug, because there’s always tea of some kind. I’ve no idea how anyone can do anything without easily accessible tea. It’s usually an Aperture Science mug. Those are my favourite. I lost a previous incarnation of this mug in an unfortunate incident involving gravity and a tiled floor, but thankfully my wonderful husband was there to save the day, and ordered me a new one almost immediately. 

Actually, he’s responsible for everything in this picture. He gave me the hungry Garfield some time in primary school and it’s been with me ever since. I have a feeling the typing Snoopy might have come with a MacDonald’s meal years and years ago. He gave me that too, because it’s a beagle writing a book. What’s not to love? 

On the left is Nyanko-sensei, which he found for me in a tiny shop in Tokyo station. I am quite obsessed with Nyanko-sensei, and wanted to take home the entire shop, but it wouldn’t all fit in my luggage. Snoopy, Garfield and Nyanko-sensei all sit under my monitor and cheer me on.






Joanne Anderton lives in Sydney, in the house she grew up in, with the man she fell in love with when they were eight. She writes speculative fiction for anyone who likes their worlds a little different. She sprinkles a pinch of science fiction to spice up her fantasy, and thinks horror adds flavour to just about everything. She’s quite addicted to anime and manga, and these are strong influences in her writing. Her novels – DebrisSuited and Guardian –  have been published by Angry Robot Books and Fablecroft Publishing. Her short story collection, The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories won the Aurealis Award for best collection, and the Australian Shadows Award for best collected work. 

Visit her online http://joanneanderton.com/

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: CAT SPARKS

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.

Today, our visitor is author, editor and illustrator Cat Sparks:
This house is full of doohickeys, whatnots, curios and ornaments but none of them are essential to my creative process. What is essential, aside from the obligatory computer, is the battered old green rocking chair that sits to the left of my desk.
The chair’s not mine. It used to belong to Rob’s former wife and when I first moved in to share his flat at Wombarra I was all for getting rid of the damn thing as it took up space and nobody ever sat in it. But eventually we bought a house and the chair found a niche of its own in the TV room. For reasons too convoluted to explain here and now, the far end of the TV room became my study and its window my private looking glass. Through it lies a pretty view of the rickety wooden moss-covered bridge straddling the creek that cuts through the back corner of our property. A vast array of birds alight on that bridge all day. Checking them out provides welcome screen distraction, as does that old green chair. That chair and I spend a lot of time together.
I refer to it as my ‘reading chair’. Covered in green velvet, it’s a recliner: old, ugly and kind of wonky but extremely comfortable. I read better in that chair than I do anywhere else. Reading progressed to note taking when I started my PhD, then note taking evolved into full-blown slabs of longhand whenever the spirit takes me. I scribble stuff down, then haul arse up to the computer desk, which, by the way, I found abandoned on the street outside Chuck McKenzie’s house way back when he used to live in Sydney. I tweak and polish my scribble as I type, rendering it into a second draft.
Of course, the minute that chair became important to my creative process, Pazuzu, our spoilt and surly big-boned tabby, decided it to be an essential element of his creative lifestyle too. We work that chair on a timeshare basis, with him mostly hogging all the prime morning real estate & me getting a go mid afternoon. I’m pretty sure I’d be a more prolific and potentially more fabulous author if Pazuzu picked some other place to sleep.

As well as the chair, my writing process requires a wadge of A4 white ruled legal pads and black Sharpie pens, size: fine. I have become a tad obsessive about those pens. Several years ago at an American convention a prominent Australian author offered me that exact type of pen in my moment of need, swearing that they were the best pens ever. He was not wrong. The house is subsequently littered with them and I won’t write with anything else if I can help it – not even when jotting shopping lists. The fine point on those Sharpies gets worn down pretty quickly, which means I go through them like other people go through Nespresso pods. Which I also go through a fair few of. So sue me.



Cat Sparks is Fiction editor of Cosmos Magazine. She’s halfway through a PhD on YA climate change fiction and almost finished revisions on a novel she seems to have been writing since the dawn of time.


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: NICK MAMATAS

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, we welcome our first international friend, international man of mystery and all-round bon vivant, Nick Mamatas:


As someone who is known, to the extent that I am known at all, for dark fiction and incendiary blogs and essays, perhaps I should be less forward in my fetish for buttercream, but here it is. To go “out there” I prefer initial fortification via creature comforts–a nice piece of cake, for example. I spent quite a few years in the beginning of my career living hand-to-mouth, learning to “starve better” as my how-to book puts it, and small treats work best to keep me motivated and awake when I am writing. I don’t drink much (and never at home) or like coffee, and don’t have a dedicated office or a nice couch to stretch out on, so snacks do it. They’re inexpensive and provide a cheap sugary high; as I am a night-writer, most productive between 9pm and 4am, I need to stay alert.


I suspect that some Friday Fetish entries will involve an item or object that recalls either writerly success or an instance of horror. I’m not inspired by success stories (clearly!) and, frankly, the horrors of the world  are never far off from the front of my mind. A little piece of cake with buttercream frosting reminds me that small rewards are more likely than large ones, and that there are small pleasures to be had…like, say reading a short story. Without it, I’d probably commit the sin of writing for catharsis–when the writer achieves such a purge, the reader never will. Cake is a reminder of good things, and a link to the ordinary world–a requirement for horror and the fantastic.






Nick Mamatas is the author of several novels, including Love is the Law, The Last Weekend, and the forthcoming I Am Providence. He’s published over one hundred pieces of short fiction in venues as diverse as Best American Mystery Stories, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and New Haven Review. His short Lovecraftian fiction was recently collected in The Nickronomicon, published by Innsmouth Free Press, and his how-to guide to being a failed writer, Starve Better, is still available. Follow him on Twitter at @nmamatas











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: KEITH STEVENSON

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’m a bit of a loser when it comes to fetishes that help me get into a creative state, because early on I cultivated an ascetic stance to writing. I don’t have a favourite pen, or chair, or computer or view out the window simply because – as a working stiff – I have to wedge my ‘writing time’ into whatever spare moments I can muster. 

I write on trains, trams, buses and planes (though never behind the wheel). I write on sofas, in airport terminals between flights, in draughty bus stops, in bed with my eyes shut. I write with a laptop, with a pen in a notebook, on a post-it note. I feel smug that my writing does not depend on some talisman that, if lost, will mean the loss of my writing mojo. I don’t need to sit or stand or be somewhere to ‘get into the creative space’ because if I had to wait for that to happen I’d be a slower writer than I already am (and I’m glacial at present). 

There are, however, two things that I fervently believe in when it comes to my writing. Firstly I believe in the power of my subconscious to mull away at problems in the background and throw up an elegant solution whenever I need it and, related to this, I find that writing in the early morning, when my brain has not yet hard-wired itself into reality lets me follow my instincts as I write. Secondly I believe in always finishing a particular writing session mid-sentence or mid-scene so I have the impetus to get right back into the story when I pick it up again. 










Keith Stevenson’s debut novel, Horizon: an SF thriller, is published by Harper Collins Voyager Impulse. He blogs about the science and ideas behind Horizon at www.horizonbook.com.au 









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: JASON NAHRUNG

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.


There was a time when I carried a little ‘dice idol’ around on writing excursions – a miniature Thoth. Then I realised that the simple act of opening the laptop lid was sign enough it was time to write. At home, I occasionally burn incense in a nod to mood, and Thoth still sits there on a shelf, watching over.
But when it comes to writing, you sit, you write. And try to look after the health of your back, neck and your hands as you do so!
Most of my writing is done on commuter trains these days. There’s no room for fetishes, even if I wanted them.
When it’s time to write, you write.
If there’s one thing that is useful, though, for me – and everyone is different, of course, we all have different processes – is music. Sometimes just to take the edge off the malarkey going on around me; sometimes to set the tone.
For instance, when writing ‘Watermarks’, a story that came out in 2014 set in a flooded Brisbane, I played Crater Vol. 1 by Android Lust a lot. That and Wendy Rule’s The Lotus Eaters. I used Wendy’s album a hell of a lot when working on Salvage, too: the sea theme made it a natural fit.

When writing my vampire novels Blood and Dust and The Big Smoke, the playlist crossed as much territory as those two novels: Midnight Oil and Aussie garage rock such as The Angels for dusty highways; thumping action soundtracks such as Rammstein and AC/DC for kicking arse; dismal albums suitable for grungy urban scenes from the likes of the Sisters of Mercy and John Foxx. (Vampire aficionados: check out the Music from the Succubus Club compilation; the Lost Boys soundtrack; the Forever Knight soundtrack for the quieter moments.)
Nine Inch Nails, Gary Numan’s Jagged, Depeche Mode’s Black Celebration and Attrition are among those that have filled out the sonic backdrop, depending on the mood.
I know some folks find it hard to write with music at all; others find music with lyrics intrusive. But for me, as long as the music is well known, it just fades off into the background, helping me zone out of the real world and into the story world. 

Jason Nahrung grew up on a Queensland cattle property and now lives in Ballarat with his wife, the writer Kirstyn McDermott. He works as an editor and journalist to support his travel addiction. His fiction is invariably darkly themed, perhaps reflecting his passion for classic B-grade horror films and ’80s goth rock. His most recent long fiction title is the Gothic tale Salvage (Twelfth Planet Press), with his outback vampire duology Blood and Dust and The Big Smoke coming soon through Clan Destine Press. He lurks online at www.jasonnahrung.com.

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: 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. 

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. 

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.