It always seems to surprise people that I write horror stories – particularly my family. I am seen as having a ‘sunny’ personality with little in the way of darkness. This is because I save all my darkness for my horror stories.
As a child, I was haunted by my monster under the bed. (On a tangential note, why do so many people fear the things under their beds.) When I was eight, I convinced myself that the monster had gone to live under my sister’s bed. I never told her about the monster, and she slept in blissful ignorance of its presence. It was a brilliant move on behalf of my imagination, because I was able to sleep without worrying that some paw was going to grab me and drag me under the bed.
By the bye, ‘Poltergeist’ gave me nightmares for years.
Part of my problem is that I have no night vision … a side effect of having excellent colour vision. I can eat carrots until I turn orange, and I will still have very little ability to see my way around in the dark. What you can’t see is scarier when you have a vivid imagination that can fill the shadows with tentacles and teeth.
I’ve found that writing out my night terrors turns them into something I can cope with. It’s hard to be scared of a monster when you can edit out its teeth and slime and stuff. Instead, I can scare other people! Better to be the monster than be the victim…
I read science articles and textbooks for fun. I blame my avid interest in science directly to my avid reading of Science Fiction – I discovered ‘I Robot’ by Isaac Asimov when I was eight. When I had finished reading all the Science Fiction and fantasy books in my high school library – since I went to the same high school for five years, this wasn’t as great an accomplishment as it first sounds – my lovely librarian pointed in the direction of Asimov’s popular science books.
So, I have a large collection of reference books. I’ve read some of these books multiple times, like Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer. Over the years, parasitology has inspired several of my favourite stories to write; I am a big fan of the poem by Augustus De Morgan:
Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ’em, And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum. And the great fleas themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on; While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on…
Recently, I’ve come across the concept of Survivor Bias. The best example of this was a study done of number of injuries cats presented with in veterinary surgeries, after the cats had fallen from the height of multiple storeys. Strangely, after the 9th floor, the number of injuries were less than those animals that had fallen from lower floors. Now, you might think that the added height gave the cats the opportunity to control their descent and increase their survival. What was really happening is that dead cats don’t get taken into the vet.
Now, I am inspired with the fictional possibilities of this concept. The fiddling of statistics always fascinates me … people think statistics is such a ‘hard’ science. And yet it is one of the easiest to skew the results, using things like survivor bias and sample size and where you chose to take your samples from.
We’ve had Tilly Mint for half a year; we took her in after her previous owner passed away. I’ve never had a long haired cat before, and I am AMAZED at how much she sheds. However, it is her two recent personal quirks I want to share with you.
Last night, we called for Tilly to come in, so that we could lock the doors. Tilly is such a good girl and always comes when called (unless she is asleep). No Tilly.
Were we mistaken and was she inside? We searched. No. No Tilly.
I went outside and called her. I can’t see very well in the dark and wondered if she was playing hide-go-seek. So my husband, who had good night vision, went out to look for her. Still no luck.
Then my daughter calls out, “Tilly’s on the window ledge to the study, crying to be let in.” Tilly had got lost in her own backyard, and couldn’t find her way to the back door of the house. She has a very soft voice, and so we didn’t hear her crying over our calling for her.
Our backyard isn’t that big. But apparently it’s still too big for Tilly.
Then, this morning, she’s discovered the fun of chasing toys around the bathtub. She has led everyone in the house into the bathroom to see how much fun it is. Usually, when she is leading you anywhere, it’s to her brushes, because she loves to be brushed.
Tilly has a very sweet and endearing personality. But I’m having doubts about her orientation skills…
I found out where the word ‘shoddy’ come from. Shoddy used to be an industrial term used in the fabric industry. Shoddy cloth was made from recycled materials, where the fibres were shorter than normal, making the material less durable.
I am now going to use this as a pejorative in any of my Steampunk stories.
The history behind words fascinates me. I’m always on the look out for new words, and for a new twist on old words. Sometimes, the ‘new’ twist is using the word with its original meaning.
So, what do you so with those dead darlings? If you’re like me, you tend to put them into ‘edited out of the WiP’ folders. Sometimes they languish and die, unloved, unforgotten. However, as I am a lazy individual at heart, I tend to try and recycle EVERYTHING. Failed ideas. The dozens of rejected stories from DailySF and Furious Fiction and the like.
Sometimes they get completely rewritten until they are unrecognisable; sometimes a bunch of stuff will get mashed together. Sometimes the attempt fails and that story is stuffed into an ‘Edited until I killed it’ folder. Except, sometimes it works. I make something new and shiny. It gets accepted by another market.
If there is one thing I’ve learnt, it is that you should NEVER give up … on an idea, on writing, on a dead darling. I’m a necromancer, making the dead live again! I’m the new Doctor Frankenstein, and my monsters LIVE! Watch me turn a dead darling into a zombie story …
I’ve just finished drafting the second book in the Summer Brook Besties series, part of a series of four. This series is going to be published by Iron Bridge Publishing over the next year. They made the announcement in the past week.
In this year of disasters, with the bushfires and Covid-19 lock downs and the rest, it’s been uplifting to realise that I will have actual books published soon. They are not in the Speculative Fiction genre, but they are full of animal characters, and the zoologist in me is thrilled to rabbit on about animals. They are about friendship and community, both concepts I value highly.
I’ve seen planning sketches for the illustrations for the first book. Wow, was I moved to see the characters and settings I’d created brought to life. It was similar to seeing photos of your new baby; you have to pinch yourself to make sure you’re awake.
There is talk about making the four books a boxed set.Think of it – ME! The author of a boxed set of books! Tick another item off the bucket list!
Doctor Steel, Cogpunk Steamscribe, Professor Von Explaino and the Steampunk Buzz Lightyear.
Before we get to the ‘rules’, a DISCLAIMER: Steampunk cosplay is not to be taken seriously, and is just a bit of fun. These guidelines are to assist newbies to Steampunk cosplay, or to give old hands a chuckle, and – as such – are not cast in steel.
Rule One: Steampunk is not the same thing as historical recreation. If you want, you can get as accurate as you like with the Victorian aspects of your outfit … but it isn’t Steampunk until you add the gadgets, ray-guns and goggles.
Rule Two: No one item is Steampunk by itself. A lovely pair of boots aren’t Steampunk until they are matched up with the rest of the outfit; the trousers, the vest with the watch-chain, the hat and the goggles, the ray-gun and the quizzing glass, none…
In Australia, the 1st of August is when every horse ages officially a year – used mostly for race horses. When I was a small girl, I used to wonder about the foals born in July … did they get two birthday parties?
This got me thinking about other misconceptions I had as a child. I used to think that Rheumatic Fever was called Romantic Fever. When I was seven, I had a mild run-in with Romantic Fever just before the family holiday to the beach, and I was not allowed to go swimming that summer. I never developed proper Romantic Fever, so I guess I should be grateful, but at the time I envied my sister when she was splashing about in the ocean.
My youngest child thought that you pressed the crossing button for the number of people waiting to cross the road. That was my fault, I tend to press the button two or three times.
Children live in an adult-run world that makes little sense to them. They often make guesses as to what is going on. Maybe this is why some of us love to read about strange worlds … we used to live in one!