Sunday, 30 June 2013

excerpt from blog tour

Catalina (Excerpt) by Danny Fahey

It was raining again. Young Prince Peter was sitting on the window ledge in the top-most turret of his family’s castle Caffelthorn. He used the turret room as his haven when he needed to disappear from his family. It was a large, empty room, always cold, even in the height of summer. It suited his mood. Peter would retreat up the long, winding stone stairs when he was tired of his lessons on how to rule, or when he had a chore he wished to avoid, like having to greet guests to the castle—guests who usually scoffed at his father’s gentle nature and good grace. Pity his father couldn’t fight back. Why couldn’t he just once show his anger and stand up to their rude whispers or sneering faces? Peter knew he was being silly. His father could not fight back, not if he wanted his family and friends to remain alive. Not if he wanted Caffelthorn, both the castle and the surrounding township, to continue to exist.
Peter stared out across the edge of the township, where the poorer families and their animals lived in shelters that backed up against the castle’s thick walls. He was idly watching a small gaggle of white geese chase a stray dog from their owner’s doorstep, and did not turn around when he heard the latch being lifted and the door to the room opened. He knew it would be his father.
‘Don’t take it so hard, boy,’ said King Essel.
Peter turned to face his father who stood in the doorway. ‘But I wanted a horse, Father, and you promised when I was six I could have one.’
‘We just cannot afford it, Peter.’
‘But you promised and I’m now eleven, and still no horse, not even a donkey. I think I have been very patient, Father.’
‘I know I promised this year would be different but you know our predicament here at Caffelthorn. The King of Vermgout demanded more taxes and we had to pay more to Lord Drot of the Collessians as well. Patience, Peter, we will get you a horse when we can.’
Peter understood his family’s predicament. As the Prince of Caffelthorn, once the centre of a great empire now reduced to a tiny territory, it had been his duty to listen to the small territory’s woes. Caffelthorn was trapped between the two great powers: The Kingdom of Vermgout to the East, ruled by the pompous King Vissony, and the powerful empire of Collessia to the West, where Lord Drot ruled with an iron fist. Caffelthorn survived because neither power would allow their enemy to seize control of the little territory caught in the middle. It was a precarious existence.
‘Please bear with us, son; the horse will come. We must be practical.’
‘That’s what you always say,’ said Peter sulkily. This year he had been foolish enough to actually believe he would be given a horse. He was eleven, almost a man; he could not continue to walk everywhere.
‘Because you must learn to be practical if this territory is to survive when you become ruler.’
‘Ruler! Lackey is more like it. Robert will be King of Vermgout by then and you know as well as I do how Robert feels about me.’
‘He’s young, son, he will grow out of it when he has a kingdom to rule.’
‘Did his father grow out of it?’
Peter watched his father blush. They had both suffered beatings at the hands of the young rulers-in-waiting of Vermgout and Collessia. It had quickly become a family tradition. Seek out the young Prince of Caffelthorn, goad him into a fight and then beat him up. Peter had no hope of winning, just as his father hadn’t. If, by some chance, Peter started to get on top of his bigger adversary, Robert’s men would step in and deliver several punches to drive him back and then Robert would finish him off.
‘Son, we are what we are. Between the Collessians and the Vermgouthians we survive. We must, or our people will be absorbed and our name lost forever.’
‘Our name, Father… The others laugh at our name.’
‘Yet once it was a great name; one day it will become so again.’
Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Fantasy
Rating – PG
More details about the author & the book
Connect with Danny Fahey on Facebook & Twitter

Thursday, 27 June 2013

An old short story of mine for children

Guy Fawkes Day

Catalina (Excerpt) by Danny Fahey

Hubert, the last free wizard, stood firm as he prepared to confront the greatest threat the land of Arboroth had ever faced. His white robes fluttered in the cold breeze while he remained still, a strong branch before the storm. Hubert had little hope, yet he had to buy the people time. Vivid memories flooded his mind in the moments before he battled the evil witch.
He remembered being a young boy without a care, running along the white sands at the edge of The Seaforthe Ocean, its huge waves crashing against the rocks as wildly as his joyous heart. His first spell—a light for his mother when she wanted to sew but had no more candles to burn. The call of the giant Ospore before it dove for a fish. The early morning smell of baking gombread.
He remembered his warning to King Kovis, but the King had not heeded him. Perhaps it was my fault, Hubert wondered, not for the first time. I should have made him see the consequences of his love for Isabella. But the King had never trusted him. Not from the very start. Things might have been different if he had come to King Kovis’ court an older wizard. He had been so young and inexperienced.
Hubert sighed and steeled himself for the witch’s onslaught, but even as he took a deep breath to prepare, he felt his mind’s defences being shredded as easily as wet paper. She had so much power.
‘More power than you’ll ever know,’ the witch replied, reading his thoughts.
In desperation, Hubert helped her tear through his defences, hoping to keep her unaware of the fact. In a little bubble, hidden in a tiny part of himself, Hubert placed the knowledge of the changes he had wrought upon Rupert, his humble aide. Hidden from sight, Rupert might be able to offer help when it was needed.
Distracting the witch, Hubert asked, ‘Why must you kill the people?’
The witch scowled. ‘They sided with the King. They allowed Him to punish me for something I had not yet done. I want to return the favour and punish them all, just as I have punished His wizards.’
‘I’m a wizard and I’m still here, Witch.’
‘Not for long.’
Hubert, The Master Wizard of Arboroth, felt the last of his resistance evaporate.
The battle decided, the witch stood in the middle of the castle’s grounds, her right foot on Hubert’s chest. The castle lay in ruins around her: wood still smouldering and bodies trapped beneath the rubble. In the distance, a child cried out for a mother lost in the destruction.
‘Any last requests?’ she asked.
‘None you’d be interested in,’ replied Hubert as he lay flat on his back. Her foot pressed down upon his rib cage until he thought his bones would snap.
‘You know, Hubert,’ continued the witch, ‘now that I’ve destroyed my parents I really have no need to destroy you. Tell me how to find the sacred path and I’ll let you live out your life in a cottage in the forest.’
‘The path is not for the likes of you.’
‘Come, come; I merely want to see it.’
‘Given my present circumstances, please forgive me if I struggle to believe you.’
‘I must have the secret of the path.’ She pressed harder with her foot. ‘Tell me what I need to know.’
Hubert thought his bones would break. ‘I cannot help you. The path is denied to you and that’s the end of the matter.’
The witch read his thoughts and saw that he spoke the truth. The path was never something she could control. So the witch put it out of her mind and considered Hubert’s fate instead.
‘Come join my hounds, Wizard,’ said the witch. ‘Join them as they hunt the people of Arboroth.’
The witch removed her foot from the wizard’s chest. She stepped back and said, clearly, while waving her hand across Hubert’s form, ‘Rursus hunc canem.’
Hubert screamed as the magic started to take effect. His body convulsed, his robes shimmered and changed to fur. He screamed again, the agony making him forget everything except the pain. Bones remade themselves, feet changed shape, his jaw elongated and teeth stretched into sharp fangs.
‘Ah,’ said the witch, ‘a much more suitable form. Come hound; come join the others and hunt for me. Hunt for any survivors in this land.’
Hubert rose upon his four legs and barked loudly. Seven other hounds came bounding up, baying, as if already on the hunt. A fierce man appeared with them. He walked up to the witch. He held a knife that he flicked so that it spun twice end over end before he caught it by the handle and then flicked it again.
‘That takes care of the King’s wizards and most of his people,’ he said.
‘Now for The Land itself,’ replied the witch.
‘I want to teach it a lesson. It tried to ignore me, to stop me from becoming what I was destined to become. It can’t ignore me anymore. I want to walk this realm and listen. I want to hear The Land’s screams. I want to hear Her pain, Her anguish. When I hear it I shall be pleased because it will be me that causes that pain and distress, and it will bring me more joy than even the killing of my brother and his wife.’
‘And the child?’ asked the man as he tossed the knife again.
‘Yes… the child,’ replied the witch.
Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Fantasy
Rating – PG
More details about the author & the book
Connect with Danny Fahey on Facebook & Twitter

Poem (an old one - warning language etc)

Front steps of West Street 1975.

Evening, satin hue, soft as feathers
on a Muscovy duck’s back, firm beneath
the fingers; set like the keys of a piano -
their musical intent ready for flight.

The stars fell like crisp leaves into my thoughts,
became words - I told the truth, shattered
the friendship. It had been flickering anyway,
a Passover candle in an old, cold church.

I opened the refrigerator door, let the light show
the cold meat wrapped in teenage fear
waiting for your hand to tear aside the plastic, thump
life into the pause before first time sex..

Sometimes a cigarette desires to be placed next to the skin.
The pain and recognition between substances
that should never meet and do far too often
for anyone’s good - none of us get all that we want

or need.

Cars raced in the distance - the local pizza parlour
did a wonderful business catering to the empty homelands
and muddied waters otherwise known as stomachs. We sat
on concrete steps – I knew my mother was not asleep

her hot feet grown into maternal alarm clock.

She prowled my nighttimes - a panther padding down hallway
and kitchen, switching on lights at the worst possible moment –
her eyes wide as scenes shattered motherly expectation
and a catholic blanket that tried to cover everything.

I leant close and inhaled your dismissal; the mood
clung to the curls of red hair that shimmered like a sheet
in the faint light from the street, covered your neck
except for the exposure of the thin bone of shoulder.

My right hand slipped inside your red shirt
and felt your small breast and nipple. You turned
aside, removed the offender, stood -

the taxi, a  city comet, arrived, blew
the horn to ruin everyone’s night.

Your smile at that moment hurt
worse than a sledgehammer to the big toe.

As the taxi light sailed into the future I leant
all my weight upon the wire gate; hoped
the old hinges would burst to match the profusion
of blood that leaked inside my chest.

Mother turned the outside light on. I heard the crinkle
of the venetian blinds, left the moment lying there
like a car-hit cat. Went to bed to dream, knowing
everything would wait until the morning –

except you.

Listening to Joshua James - From the top of Willamette Mountain

Joshua James

The Book Connoisseur: Author Interview – Danny Fahey

The Book Connoisseur: Author Interview – Danny Fahey: How long have you been writing? I began that day a long time ago as a sixteen year old and then when I began studying Drama my writing real...

The far....


Wednesday, 26 June 2013

A review of Tree Singer from goodreads.

's review
May 26, 12

bookshelves: first-reads, fantasy, summer-2012-read
Read from May 25 to 26, 2012

A goodreads winner.

Clear your schedule. Everything else will come secondary once you pick up this book.

Received the book yesterday and have almost completed it. This is one of those novels that caused me to reminisce back to my childhood days and the first time I read Tolkien. Simply enjoying the journey every step of the way.

Twelve year old, Jacob, meets Simon for the first time in his village. There is something inexplicable about Simon that causes Jacob to be lured into his presence daily. Simon quickly becomes a mentor to young Jacob. There is so much more I could add. Suffice it to say, you will just have to read this for yourself to learn more.

Danny Fahey does base some of his characters and their development loosely from the Bible. However, he does this with such finesse that you have to give him the respect due for seizing you on such a magnificent quest.

Kindle Nook Books: Catalina by Danny Fahey

Kindle Nook Books: Catalina by Danny Fahey: One day the orphan Catalina is taken home by her lone surviving relative, Aunt Griselda. Unfortunately for Catalina, all does not quite go ...

Short story of mine for children


Tuesday, 25 June 2013

one of my pinocchio poems

After a day at school

Geppetto places a china bowl
of tomato soup on the rickety table,
rising steam covers tears threatening
to spill, ‘ridiculous old age weakness,’
the clock’s cuckoo calls the son home.

Beside the steaming bowl, a P
painted in bright red, his fingertips
touch the letter, he positions
a warm roll, plenty of melting butter,
just as his son likes it.

His hears the clicking of feet,
resists, as he does most afternoons,
the eager turn to the window to watch
his wooden son dance down the street –
a wooden creek making its way home.

His heart performs leaps
as he waits for the hand he carved
during lonely nights,
with only the singing crickets
as companions to his desire,

to take hold of the handle,
and turn the nob - the door
opens, the figure washed
into shadow by the streetlights’
blanket of fluorescent light.

‘Good evening papa,’
 that familiar falsetto
filling the empty room
is enough to drag an old heart
into bursting, springtime joy.

City of Book Reviews: Author Interview – Danny Fahey

City of Book Reviews: Author Interview – Danny Fahey: What is your favorite food? Once upon a time roast lamb. Now I am older and need less meat, I’d probably say really, really good goats chees...

Monday, 24 June 2013

Creating Imaginations : Danny Fahey – How to Put Your Best Foot Forward at...

Creating Imaginations : Danny Fahey – How to Put Your Best Foot Forward at...: How to Put Your Best Foot Forward at Conferences by Danny Fahey I am not sure about how to put my best foot forward. I am not even certa...

Brainy Book Reads: Author Interview – Danny Fahey

Brainy Book Reads: Author Interview – Danny Fahey: Who or what influenced your writing once you began? Seamus Heaney, August Strindburg, Patrick White, T.H.White, C.S.Lewis, students I have s...

Children's short story of mine.


An enormous oak tree lives in my uncle's front yard. In spring and summer I climb its branches. I have done so for many years. When I first began, my uncle placed a small stepladder against the tree’s trunk and helped me climb into the tree’s fork. There I stood, hugging the trunk, smelling the oak’s bark and feeling higher than a house.

As I grew older, and able to climb the tree without aid, I discovered that the oak tree was a wonderful place to sit and read. My uncle's hammock is tied between the tree and the fence. He sometimes sleeps in the hammock while I play in or beneath the tree. My uncle insists he is not asleep but only resting his eyes. My mum and I grin when he says this. We have heard his snores.

It was autumn when I first visited my uncle at his new house in the country. My family and I had been overseas for a year. We had been living in New Zealand. My uncle was my mum’s brother. I had missed my uncle.

“Will uncle Danny remember me?” I asked my mum as I sat in the car. We were driving to my uncle’s house. It was a long drive.
“He will remember you.”

My mother and I arrived after lunch. My uncle was sitting at the porch waiting for us. He loves sitting on porches. His black, furry dog, Harry, was lying at his feet, panting. Mum stopped the car and I looked out the window and saw uncle Danny smiling. He stood up and waved.  Then auntie Jenny came out to join him on the porch. They both waved. My uncle walked down the steps and to the car. He opened the car door and helped me out. We chatted.

“Hello Adrian. Long time no see,” said uncle Danny.
“Hello Uncle Danny.” I felt shy. It had been a long time.
“Welcome to my new home,” my uncle said as his hand lightly touched my head. I remembered that. Uncle Danny often touched my head. I wondered if he noticed how tall I had grown.

“Hello Adrian,” called auntie Jenny from the porch. “I hope you like scones,” she added.

I nodded. I loved scones.

“Are you glad to be back home after your time in that faraway country?” Uncle Danny asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“I am glad, too.”

We looked at each other and then uncle Danny smiled. I smiled back. Mum was also smiling. Then I looked around at the front yard. It was full of flowers and bushes. It was a big garden.

“It is a big garden, isn’t it? Perfect for hide and seek,” said uncle Danny.
“It is big,” I said.
“Do you like it?”

I nodded to show him that I did.
“I think it’s beautiful,” said my mum. “I will go chat with auntie Jenny. You okay Adrian?”

I looked at mum and then at uncle Danny. He smiled at me. I liked his smile. I nodded to tell mum I was okay if she went inside with auntie Jenny.

“Come and see my oak tree,” said uncle Danny

Uncle Danny held my hand and together we walked over to the oak tree. We stopped beneath its branches. It was enormous.

“I always wanted an oak tree,” uncle Danny said and he stood beside me and we stared up into its green leaves.

I was a bit scared looking up at its swaying branches and knobbly old trunk. My uncle lifted me up and held me close.

“It is a big tree, isn't it Adrian?”
“Very big.”
“Yes”, said my uncle, laughing, “very big indeed…Adrian,” asked my uncle, “do you know that a lion is the king of the animals?”

I shook my head to tell him I did know that.

‘Well if the lion is the king of the animals, then an oak is the king of the trees. That is why they are so big. The biggest, grandest trees ever. Fairy folk live in oaks trees, did you know that?”
“Do they?”
“They do. Has mum read The Magic Faraway Tree to you, yet?”
“We read it all the time,” I told him. “It is my favourite.”
“It is my favourite too. Did you know your mother used to read those stories to me when I was a child?”
“Did she?”
‘Yep. Topsy-turvy Land, Upside-down Land. Your mother read them all to me. I think the Faraway Tree is an oak tree. Do you agree?”

I looked again at the oak tree. I looked at the way its branches spread across his garden. I looked at the huge trunk that could easily be a house. I thought my uncle was right. I nodded to show him I agreed.

 Uncle Danny pointed at the ground beneath the tree.   “Look at all the leaves that have fallen from it,” he said.

I looked at the ground. Thousands of leaves lay sprawled across the grass. Bright red and orange leaves that lay upon the ground like fallen stars.

“In autumn the leaves fall from the oak tree just as they do from a lot of other trees.”
“Why do they fall, uncle Danny?” I asked.
“The leaves grow tired of hanging onto the branches all summer.  Can you remember holding onto something for so long your hands got tired?”

I thought about the monkey bars I liked to climb. Dad sometimes let me hang free before catching me. I thought about hanging and I remembered how tired my fingers got when I was holding on to the bar.

“My fingers get tired when I hang on to the monkey bars.”
Uncle Danny nodded and smiled. “Exactly,” he said. “When autumn comes the leaves feel their fingers slip from the branches and then the leaves drift free in the breeze until they fall to the ground.”

My Uncle gently placed me down upon the ground. He smiled down at me, his eyes sparkling. 

“Would you like to play with the leaves Adrian?”
“How?” I asked
“We'll figure something out.”

We walked around the back. Harry bounded ahead. I walked beside my Uncle, holding his hand. Harry ran up to us with a tennis ball held in his mouth. He dropped it at our feet.

“Get on with you, Harry,” said my uncle.
Harry barked and wagged his tail. My uncle laughed and kicked the ball Harry had dropped. Harry chased after the ball.

We came to a small shed. The shed was painted bright yellow and had a red roof. It looked funny. I laughed.

“Yes, it is a funny shed,” said my uncle.
“I like it,” I said.
“I'm glad you like it Adrian.”

My uncle opened the door. It was dark in the shed. The shed was full of tools. Harry pushed past and sniffed around the shed.

“Harry hopes he will find a mouse,” said my uncle.
“Will he?” I asked.
“Not likely, he's too noisy. The mice have long gone,” said uncle Danny as he looked inside the shed. “This is what I'm after. Perfect for playing with oak leaves.”

Uncle Danny held a rake in his hand. Together we walked back to the front yard and stood beneath the oak tree. My mother and aunt Jenny were on the porch talking. Aunt Jenny came down the steps and kissed my cheek. She smelled of scones.

I turned back towards the oak tree and saw my uncle raking the fallen leaves. He raked and raked and the mound of leaves grew larger and larger. I ran down the steps and joined him. The mound of leaves came up to my waist. He started on another mound. When it was as large as the first, he joined them with a third mound. Curious, I waited.

“There!” said uncle Danny, “we are ready to begin.”

With a roar, uncle Danny dove into the leaves. Laughing, I joined him. Leaves went everywhere. In my hair. In my mouth. They even tickled my ears. Leaves slid down my shirt and into my socks. Leaves flew in the air and fell like dry snow. Armfuls of leaves, legfuls of leaves. The air was flooded with leaves as my uncle and I laughed and screamed.

When the mounds were gone my uncle raked them back up again. This time we strove through the mounds with our legs. Driving through the leaves like huge tractors. Creating paths while leaves flew everywhere. From the porch I could hear my mother and aunt Jenny laughing and clapping their hands together.

Uncle Danny became a shark and swam in the leaves...
Next he became a bird and nestled in the leaves...
A fire, burning the forest...
A snake slithering through the long grass...
A dragon sleeping on his treasure...

I joined uncle Danny and between us we travelled to marvellous places. The leaves became whatever we wished. Whenever the mounds vanished my uncle would rake them back again.

Sometimes Harry joined us, barking and wagging his tail.

Birds flew passed, chittering at us for making so much noise.

Later mum called and the four of us sat on the porch. We had scones with jam and cream. After the scones, uncle Danny raked the leaves into a huge pile and we both climbed within and hid ourselves beneath the reds and oranges of the oak leaves.

The leaves became a fort…
A mysterious forest…
A home to elves…

The day began to darken.  Mum called to me. It was time to go home. I was sad. I wanted to stay. Mum came over and took hold of my hand. I felt the tears welling up in my eyes.

“Don't worry Adrian,” said uncle Danny,  “the oak tree will always be here.”
“Will the leaves be here too?”
“If it is autumn. Every autumn the leaves fall. Every spring they return. Just like you going away and coming back.”
“I was gone for a long time.”
“Yes you were, but now you are back.”

I kissed my uncle's cheek and he ruffled my hair with his hand. I patted Harry.

“Come on Adrian,” said my mother in a funny voice. I looked up at her and saw her eyes were moist.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Nothing,” said my mother, “I’m just glad to be back.”
“Me too,” I said.

“See you soon,” said Aunt Jenny.
“Very soon,” I said then I went and kissed aunt Jenny’s soft cheek.

I felt my uncle’s hand ruffle my hair.
“I love the oak tree, uncle Danny!” I cried.
“I love you Adrian. I'm glad you are back.”

Mum and I left uncle Danny, aunt Jenny and Harry at the gate. Uncle Danny and aunt Jenny stood waving to us as we drove away. Harry barked and wagged his tail.

Since then I have seen lots of trees and played with lots of leaves but I'll never forget that day. Uncle Danny says he will never forget it either.

Cove at Newhaven - audio poem

Cove at Newhaven

Sunday, 23 June 2013

MUSIC The wooden sky

this poet is a fake

in the mud i was formed,
in the dark, not Apollo's bud,
but Promethean bone - the rock
before the flesh made whole -

exploring events that occurred,
colouring them with the hurt
that was or was not
and thus shared amongst us all

and in the shadows my thoughts
congeal, draw close, fearful;
gain ascendancy through dealing
in sounds and lies

i say nothing factual -
how else to come to truth?-
the path is made with pebbles
of indiscriminate memory merged with falsehood

all prophets, all poets,
all who tell stories about their lives,
find the right way to explain themselves by mixing fact
and fiction and pronouncing them in the light

mother, these words are not from your hand,
not from the truth of our lives, rather, i find them
in the wrinkles, in the history of all the things
we never said or never heard

and i hope if father turns in his grave
it is only the better to listen
to the things
his son has to say

the son who has found
the best way to wipe away clay
is by telling stories
of how it might have been

this heart is on a train ride
to understanding,
it tells of false pain to explain
how it became human

Friday, 21 June 2013

Bookshops and their reluctance to work with independent authors

So whats up with the bookshops - at least the ones near me. My locals, as it were, who have been happily snatching my money these passed fifteen years or so. You would think a bookshop would be on the lookout for a point of difference from other bookshops. You'd think. You would also think a bookshop would support local authors in their area, you'd think.

In my experience you'd be wrong on both accounts. Even though my local bookshop stocked  The Tree Singer (3 whole books, wonderful of them really) and these three books sold within a few months - let's say 6 months (and that is being generous to the bookshop!) yuou would hope they might then get another three books in (to support the lopcal author and as a point of difference).


Or you would think when you went to the other local bookshop with a copies of both The Tree Singer and  Catalina they might be interested in ordering a ferw, you know, support their local author, a point of difference. No.

It seems many bookshops want only to stock the books they are told (by the big publishers) to stock. they do not want to have to think to deeply aboput things. Just nod, order and fall alseep in their shops wondering why sales are falling.

Here's a stab at  a few reasons why sales might be falling.

 All bookshops stock the same books so they all look the same, feel the same. There is no hurry to buy a book then because the next shop or the one after that will also have it. There are no points of difference.

A shop owner could say, "Look at this book, its  new, by a local author, and we stock it but you might not find it at other shops."

Now they might buy this book, they might enjoy this book and they might then become a loyal customer. Instead, they walk in see the same old books buy or not buy and forget all about that shop.

And if they didn't buy the book  the shop keeper could still sell (or not sell) the same books that everyone else stocks!

I can't, for the life of me, see what might be wrong with this approach and if the books don;t sell - return them! Bookshop owners will find that small independent publishers always ALWAYS have better return policies than the big publishers. They have too, to try and compete.

Here's another thing. Big publishers do not give a rat's fig for your small bookshop.  They do not care if you make sales. They run online, they have big stores, they are usually in competition, so here's the thing small, independent bookshop owners - be different! Support you local authors, heck support all independent authors and you'll find those authors (and their friends and relative, yes authors do have friends and relatives) will support your bookshop.

Plus I would have thought maybe, just maybe, finding new authors, encouraging new novels, new markets, new ways to engage buyers of books would be  a clever strategy for your bookshop.

Apparently not. Apparently, sitting on your stool, bored and listless and wondering where all the sales have gone is the way to go!So please bookshop owners, next time an author (especially a local author) comes in and asks for you to consider stocking their books, or the books of a small independent publisher, try to see it as an opportunity, not as a monumental task far too hard for your business.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

A Pit Stop for Firewood

On the way home, winter, dusk, water
clings to leaves; drips disturb the heart.

Old green station wagon’s tailgate
is open; a mouth waiting for the feast.

In a thicket scrounging for fuel, thoughts,
like old twigs, snap under memory’s weight.

The distant groan of cars. Time slips away,
urge to flee held at bay by piling firewood.

Boyhood and primate resonate behind thin
veneer of husband/father/man heading home.

Click of indicator as loaded wagon joins the blur;
the damp, real smell of car’s cargo excites.

Ancient man returns after a successful hunt,
the beast subdued for another diluted evening.

Later there will be a fire, feet on stool, a wine,
perhaps Bach. In the folds of mind, the agitation,
like hidden insects in the wood, crawl out and scuttle across
the attempts to find ease.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Pinocchio Poems


I crossed them proverbial tracks,
walked the bridge, swam the divide,
left the wrong side and sought shelter
in the place of plenty and light.

The cost casts shadows still -
it seems the new home is no home at all;
inside the boy crawls to a corner
and watches shadows play upon the wall,
remembers his beginnings on that side,
hears the screams and feels the hard hand
or the taunts and bullying tricks
of his brothers and school friends – fear makes a terrible bed partner;
works its way into your psyche like urine
trickling across the sheets.

There were the nights when father chased someone
around the entire block, a brother or sister, hitting their ear,
or other nights lying in bed listening to the brewing overspill
of alcohol and far too long working hours.

I crossed over
but the secrets remain and draw patterns
I can never escape
no matter how far I run

but my children
have had no such nights, never felt the belt,
the tongue lash or had to walk a night street
searching for a sister to the sound
of crinkling venetian blinds as neighbours
drank their fill of some other poor sucker’s misery.

My children have no bridge to cross,
no tracks to bother with -
they are the success
despite all my accumulated failures,
they are the proof the climb out of the pit,
despite the scars and injuries, is worth the effort.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Pascoe Vale Baths

The water, blue
as the breathless sky,
a hard towel for wet bodies
prostrate; shivers and wrinkled skin
let the heat
evaporate the blue water
in a swim.

sound off as crackers;
tom thumbs, halfpenny bangers
and sky rockets.

At fifteen
the swell of breasts
remind me
of water lapping the edge -
call me to dive in.

The deep pool,
the diving board,
the high ladder older boys climb
regardless of the fall.

That climb,
their laughter
and cheeky pushes
against the shoulder in front
like intruders
pushing against a locked door.

Will that fifteen year old boy
with catholic cigarette burns
of the soul
ever learn to swim?

Once it did not matter
but bikini shadows
cut through ignorance and fear,
light a small fire
no water can quench.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Orangeberry blog tour

So I thought I'd try this out with Catalina and see what happens.

Below lists the blogs and reviews that will come up over the next couple of weeks.

For those interested I think next week I'll start a giveaway at Goodreads.

Another site

So as well as this site I am putting things up on Scribd to see how things go -  I know very little about Scribd and how it works but it seems that work of mine is getting read there and in the end that's all a writer want...well that and a movie deal!

Thursday, 13 June 2013


Darkness has settled like a contented cat, purring with the help of a thousand open-mouthed husbands. The urban world slumbers as people dream their way forward into tomorrow. In the bedroom, while she sits in the rocking chair bought to feed the newborn, her husband sleeps, a gentle snore escaping as it does some nights and not others. In the cot beside the bed little Thomas sleeps also, his arms flung free from the blankets, his little mouth pursed in a tiny ‘o’. He has his father’s mouth.
It is night. Again. She sits in the rocking chair at the foot of the cot and stares out the window. Because it is night, she sees her reflection in the glass mingled with snatches of the outside. The juxtaposition unsettles her mind, casts it free so that it wanders.
The glass reminds her how frail everything is. How easily things can shatter and never be redeemed. No matter how many King’s horses or King’s men. She reaches out and touches the cold glass, imagines wet dew upon a vast open land where beasts mingle in a display of magnificence. Above the beasts a wide stretch of blue sky and a hot, yellow sun. Birds float across the blue as if seeking rain to ease their thirst. She has been slipping back of late. Time travelling is how she describes it to friends and relatives who looked at her for a moment too long before shaking their heads and ‘tut tutting’.
‘I’m travelling back in time,’ she explains one afternoon over tea shared with Marianne, her neighbour.
‘What do you mean?’ asks Marianne while thinking about a few square metres of dirt in her backyard not yet converted to garden.
She sees the glazed look in her neighbour’s eyes and understands. New Mothers are expected to ramble on. Everyone lets them but few actually listen. Its like adults with children, nodding their heads, muttering their ‘uh huh’s’ but revealing too much in the way their eyes leave the child and watch things happening behind their little, eager heads.
She continues on anyway, it is nice to hear her voice after the silence of the night. Nice to know sound still exists: That her language is English and not some African dialect lost some thousand or so years before a ragged Christ wandered out of the desert to convert the world to a new sensibility.
‘Sometimes I step out of the shower and shock myself when I see that my skin is white, my hair blonde and straight.’
Her neighbour half-listens but understands little. She hasn’t had her two children yet ‘putting it off until the finances are in order and the mortgage is reduced to a sustainable level’ but thinks she will probably rant a bit after the birth of her first. Certainly all my friends have, about all sorts of things.

‘Africa is haunting me,’ she explains at the breakfast table one morning to her husband.
‘What do you mean?’ he asks casually, more concerned with the sports page than her words.
She knows he is not really interested. It’s not his fault. Their lack of physical contact since Tom’s birth has opened a small chasm between them. Besides, he has a finite length of time before he must dash off to work. He likes to read the sports pages before leaving in the morning. It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t his attention. That really isn’t the point. She needs to say things out loud for her own sake. His input is coincidental.
‘I feel Africa in my bones. I hear it in the sounds Tom makes. Maybe I’m going mad.’
‘You,’ he says with a snort. ‘You’re the sanest person I know.’ He says. He stares across the table at her, measuring her, noticing the glow to her cheeks, the way her green eyes shine with life, feels his heart give a little kick then his eyes return to the paper and he reads about his beloved Tigers.
If only you knew, she thinks but doesn’t say anything. How can I explain this irrational fear? This sense of impending doom and yet this joy also, this delight every time I have to pick Tom up? And with the thought her nipples tingle and she feels a leakage of milk. In the background Tom stirs and comes awake, calling for immediate attention.

It is night. Again. Her thoughts, like twisted kelp, drift upon the currents. She is on a voyage of returning. A voyage spanning centuries of footprints leading out of the birthplace to spread across the globe. Tears always seem close to the surface. They hover like thirsty insects around the naked light bulbs, their buzzing irritating my eyes, dangerously. Old heartrending songs tumble in and out of her consciousness like sad tumblers decorated with faded greasepaint, performing tired acrobatics.  Her hand holds an unlit cigarette. Looking down at the cigarette she thinks of Tom. His eyes staring, his tiny hands touching my chin, his ridiculous feet kicking away the soft blankets.
Smoking is confined to the outdoors since her son’s birth. Tonight there is a gentle drizzle falling, besides she cannot bother donning clothes again and she is supposed to be determinedly giving up the habit anyway. Motherhood imposes certain sacrifices. Thinking of the cigarette she has a vision of a small African village, the smoke from its fires gently rolling out across the savannah. Outside the window the streetlights gaze solemnly; judges of late night worriers.
A zebra slowly ambles across the horizon. Its huge buttock muscles quiver as it steps. Its muscles are made for speed, make fine food for the preying beasts, but do not appear fulfilled when engaged in a slow walk. The zebra walks with purpose, unconcerned with the few passing cars. Its feet apparently fail to touch the ground. The zebra pauses mid-stride. It settles itself, spreading its front legs out. Its long neck bows down and its thick, shockingly pink tongue reaches down to lap the night air.
Jonathon lies asleep in the bed behind her. Warm. Oblivious. His long, greying hair lies floating on the pillows. She thinks of seaweed. The ocean stirs within. A traveller’s ocean. The Siren’s call to go beyond. Once I followed her call without pause. Now I pause and marvel where that recklessness has brought me. She takes her eyes away from the window and stares down at her feet. Were they once black? Did they ever travel the sands and grasslands of the ancient land? Sleep seems a long way off.

Early morning. Something startles her and she wakes. Laying in bed she listens but everything sounds normal. She slips out of the bed. For a time she sits in the rocking chair and watches Jonathon’s chest rise and fall. Then her eyes fall down to her own engorged breasts, feels them waiting for Tom’s lips to bring relief. Tom starts to stir and she hears the sound of water being drawn from Africa’s ancient rivers.

Tom is asleep in his cot. She can hear his faint murmurings. Some nights she wakes in terror. Sits bolt upright and listens, her heart racing, until she hears a noise from the cot. No one mentioned this about motherhood. This fear. What dreams call out to little Tom? Does he hear the beating of drums? The roar of the killing lion?  Has the haunting begun within his tiny frame? Does he dream at all? Or is he still in the liquid moment of innocent unknowing? The pause before the fall?
Between the window and the poorly lit street a zebra ceases it grazing at nothing and strolls into the distance. Is it the same zebra or one of many? The appearances of the animals no longer startle her.  Its stripes, like sharp blades of grass, cut across her locality and send her drifting. She stands under a deep blue sky and watches a herd of wildebeest pass her by. Her hand grips what? A spear? A collection of seeds? A woven blanket perhaps? While her eyes remain fixed upon the stripes her ears echo with the calls of other animals. The shadow of a vulture passes as it swoops down towards some unknown carcass.
She stirs, pulls her thoughts away from the echoes. As her eyes leave the window she notices the zebra has moved close. It stares back at her. Is it angry? Does it remember my bloodline? My history? The feasting upon its flesh? Perhaps it too is dreaming. At this time of night everything seems haunted by spectres of the past. Threads dangle backwards so all can catch tiny, shimmering glimpses of what might once have been.

‘Can’t sleep Suzanne?’ Asks Jonathon as he wipes sleep from his eyes.
‘Just thinking,’ she replies with an awkward smile.
‘You okay then?’
‘I’m fine. Go back to sleep.’ Even these words resonate. Everything resonates like bones knocked together to form a primordial rhythm.
‘Has Tom stirred at all?’ he asks.
‘He’s fine Jonathon, now please, go back to sleep. I’ll join you in a moment.’
‘Okay,’ he mumbles as he easily slips away. He, too, is growing accustomed to her nightly window gazing.
She watches him for moment then returns to looking out the window. Sleep seems distant, like a tiny glow at the edge of the horizon where the sun has begun its ascent. The glow sets her thinking about another sun. She wonders how it must have been in that ancient land, the sun rising upon small villages scattered like shells washed up across the land.

Since Tom’s birth six weeks ago she has spent hours adrift. The ocean full of the tears I and others like me have shed since our expulsion from paradise. Oh Africa, my mother, were we so bad? Or did we ignore you so completely that we left without a farewell?  It is not uncomfortable to drift for hours, not totally so. It is more that the sands have been disturbed by the change Tom’s birth has wrought and now she must endure the visions while they resettle into new patterns. At first she was frustrated by this alertness in the still of the night. Now she actively seeks out the strange half world her drifting creates. Like some explorer, her wanders the strange between- hours, not searching for anything concrete, just stretching out and seeing where she might venture.
If Tom should waken she delights in holding him up high a moment and staring into his bright blue eyes before passing him down to her waiting breast. After he has sated himself she holds him against his shoulder, her hand gently patting his soft back while her nostrils swim in the scent of ‘babyness’. She hums unknown tunes, tunes that feel like lullabies from that continent fled centuries before.

While sitting in the twilight created by the streetlights gazing down at Tom suckling, she feels the winds blowing through gnarled trees of Africa’s archaic forests. The trees seem sentient – almost aware that one day they will be replaced by drifting dunes of bitter sand. Like hard gristles of dried up tears. Did you shed them mother? Have we hurt you so much?
She senses Tom’s suckling slowing down and allows herself a gentle exhale. His tiny figure, cradled in her arms, stirs her like no planet possible could. This is a force to be reckoned with, this thing between a child and his mother.
After the burp and the sweet minutes spent drinking in his scent, she puts him back in the cot then returns to the rocking chair. Rocks, to and fro, to and fro, each movement stirring up visions, like picture postcards flicked by unseen hands. Postcards of a continent she has never seen. Never given any thought to except since the birth of her child. As if his creation is a thread that has led her back to the cradle of humanity. Back to her own impossibly distant roots.

Early morning, the light just beginning to damage the night, she sits by the window staring up at the stars. Are these the stars that shone from the hot savannas where once I sat on my haunches and drank, sharing water with elephants and wildebeests? We shared the common foes then, we weaker animals. How swiftly things change, how quickly the toothless gain their first incisors.
She is aware that if she were to lower her eyes the zebra would be there again. She smiles to herself as she shakes her head. Tom shall wake soon, demanding. She can feel his weight in her arms, his lips at her breast. She pushes herself out of the chair and crosses back to the bed, slides in and cuddles close to Jonathon. He mumbles and she moves closer feeling him snuggle his buttocks back into her as acknowledgement of her return.
While she sits drifting in the rocking chair or in traffic jams her flickering eyes capture the zebra’s gaze and her ears thrum with the lion’s hungry song. If she is in the chair it is usually Tom’s developing lungs that break the spell and bring her back to the present. Back to the delicate discovering of this new role. Will I ever grow accustomed to the smell of his skin? May it always remain this marvel.
Sometimes she holds him close and inhales his scalp, catches a glimpse of Africa as it once inhaled our scent, marvelled by her new creation. She runs her hands over the skin of his stomach and feels Africa’s worn-out sand sliding beneath her bare feet, some of it managing to cling as if hoping to hitch a ride to a new begining. How far we have run. How very far. And for what? What was the goal?
If she is in a traffic jam someone’s blaring horn shatters the spell and she returns to her surrounds. Guilt overwhelms her. I must be more careful. I cannot just drift. Tom is in the baby carriage in the back of the car, he relies upon me.
All performed tasks carry an undertow like large sucking fish mouths that threaten to pull her down towards oblivion. Sometimes she feels that it would be an easy matter to let go and fall back into Africa’s cradling arms. While her hands grip cooking utensils or diaper pins Africa’s hot skies whisper stories of times too distant to comprehend. Stories that vibrate deep within; set motions into strange disarray while she succumbs to a hot forgetfulness. The kettle whistles for attention, the refrigerator hums about its miserable loneliness, everything beckons and thrusts her deeper into the waking dream. Only Tom lures her back. Only Tom connects.

Her son rests his head upon her chest. He teeters on the edge of sleep, the fingers of his right hand buried in the tresses of her long hair. She rocks to and fro aware that from the bed Jonathon lies staring at her. She turns to her husband and he smiles.
‘You’re both beautiful,’ he says quietly.
She nods foolishly, feels the tears threaten at the corners of her eyes. Averts them from his gaze by staring out at the zebra grazing between the two lampposts that illuminate the street. Have we travelled long across the grasslands? For water perhaps? Did we drink you dry dear Mother? Is that why we left? Do we sit around the campfires situated at your perilous boundaries and watch the sparks drift into the night sky to become new stars under the world’s expanding consciousness?
Tom’s eyes, heavy with the day’s expense, lose their will, close like silent blinds. She knows the instant he is asleep. So softly, so easily does he slip into a realm she cannot go. Stranded, she waits at the shore while he drifts far, far away. Africa my mother, did you feel like this when we fled (or were abducted)? Did you watch us leave with sadness buried in your breast? Or did you urge us on that journey, pride filling her heart as we spread out like an unravelling blanket?
She lifts her hand and cradles his soft head as she rises up and places him in the cot. She looks down at her sleeping son and wonders at his dreams; how virgin must be their landscape, how unwearied it must be with colours bright and eager and a heart daring and unimpeded. She remembers that heart. Remembers it like an old friend gone walkabout these many years.
Looking down at his small, comfortable head, she thinks of Africa. Young Africa freshly risen from the bones of terrible lizards. Soil exploding with life – not Africa as she is now, tired and too full of experience but as she must have been in that crystallized time when anything seemed possible. Clear faced, vital, her valleys spreading wide to allow for the birth of humanity.
Tom shifts, resettles in the cot. She can still feel the weight of him in her arms. Knows she always will. His weight lifts my weight.
‘Coming to bed? asks Jonathon.
‘Soon,’ she replies, ‘I promise.’
‘Can I switch off the lamp?’ he asks.
‘Please,’ she says quietly as she returns to the chair.
‘Suzanne?’ he asks.
‘Nothing, goodnight, I love you.’
‘I love you too Jonathon, goodnight, I won’t be long, not tonight, I’m tired.’
He reaches across and switches off the lamp and the room shrinks into the dim light of the streetlights. She sits in the chair and thinks about the day. Smiles at Tom’s remembered triumphs. She can feel the ripples his becoming has wrought within. Feels them spreading out. Like a great migration. Again her thoughts turn to Africa. How terrible the pain of that birth, the agony of their ascent into a reason that no longer needed her?

She sits and watches the light dancing into night and rocks to and fro, to and fro, the rocking chair’s wooden legs wearing its space in the thick carpet. She watches her son’s chest rise and fall, rise and fall: A tiny continental plate, moving in dynamic rhythm.
Almost, she reaches out and touches his cheek, touches that childhood left far, far behind in the land before time: Before awareness. Before the sad knowledge of the sands slipping through the gap. The apple had a steep price.
She can smell the smoke from the campfires; can hear the voices murmuring at the encroaching dark while jackals call to each other in savage yips as if death worked in Morse code. Instinctively everyone pulls their children closer, like gold they were, like the living dreams of all possible futures. The village is surrounded by a waterfall of life it is so easy for a young child to drown there, alone, lost, swiftly forgotten.
She lifts her head up and gazes at the ceiling rose. She sees bright skies and tastes rich soil between her cracked lips. Did Jonathon and I once walk together beneath Africa’s clear-eyed skies? My child, asleep in the cot, was he once there also? Are we reverberating? Self-repeating? Has his birth opened up a corridor to my distant beginnings? Africa haunts her being so intrusively that she cannot escape its possessive sweat. Her skin is always flushed, beads always gathering at her temples and top lip. Jonathon has noted her increased temperature while her heat sends Tom into easy sleep.
She looks at the empty double bed. Jonathon has gone out for the evening. She thought she would not miss him. Is glad she does, fiercely. For the first time in months she feels a need, a deep pulse in the marrow of her bones. She realizes that she has not seen the zebra for several days now. The ripples finally resettle; the new pattern grows so familiar it is old.
She yawns, a wide, animal-like stretch accompanied by a loud groan. She pushes herself out of the chair and realises she needs to lie down and sleep. She cannot recall the last time she felt such a desire to lie down and sleep. And for Jonathon to come home and seek contact. She smiles, feeling the love she carries for both her men rise up like a sudden wave. Her eyes fill with tears, such an easy response for her since Tom’s birth.
Later that night she wakes to Tom’s cries. She turns over and discovers Jonathon’s cold space. She reaches out and switches on the lamp. Sits up and sees that his side is unused. She glances at the clock. It is eleven-thirty. Too early for him to be home. Too early to worry though I do anyway. Tom continues to cry and she pushes herself out of bed and hurries to the cot. She lifts her son and sits down on the rocking chair. His head bangs itself against her breast.
‘Hang on little one, hang on.’ She slips her breast free and offers Tom her nipple. He lunges, misses once or twice and then latches on and drinks as if it were his last.
She sits in the chair, dozing as he drinks. Half asleep even as she switches breasts. Finally Tom stops and soon falls asleep. She remains in the rocking chair, waiting for Jonathon to return home, for her son to wake again and call her back into his life once more. Is this how Africa feels? Does she sit under the hot sun, the barren earth sick with grief, waiting for us to return and succour her relief?
In bed that night as her husband and child sleep she lays awake and dreams ardent dreams of Africa’s sad, solitary steps. She senses again the gulf between her and Jonathon. A gulf she wishes to break. She rolls over to Jonathon and ceases to rouse him, succeeds. Even in the joining part of her seems distant, many miles and years distant but returning, like a vessel after a long voyage, she feels the land will soon be reached.