The music war

Spring is sprung and youths are riding on the back of trains again.  Two of them went by on the 1.04 on Thursday, bandannas round their faces and long blond hair flapping in the wind.  “I’m going to report you,” I yelled after them. You go inside and report them on the two way radio and by the time they reach the next station the driver knows they are there.  Very satisfactorily, these two jumped off and ran away at the next station.  These days I report them as coupling riders. If I report them as train surfers that really panics the control desk.  Train surfers are those who ride on the top of trains and since they are up there with a whole lot of high voltage electrical wiring they are really dicing with death.

It was a pleasure to stand outside in the warm spring sunshine watching the birds squabble over the sprinkling of chips left by a team of teenage footballers.  A man with a stylish haircut, wearing leather trousers and gold and black cats eye glasses (you’ll have to look them up- I couldn’t download a picture) jumped off the train, handed me a lost backpack containing a Nepalese passport and jumped back on.

Another man was singing along loudly and reasonably tunefully to some folksy album on his iphone.  Some thuggy looking 14 year olds arrived, full of attitude, carrying blaring loud rap music. For a while the two kinds of music warred in the waiting room.  The man’s singing was completely out of step with the kid’s music, but he was in his own little world and completely unaware of them. Interestingly enough he won the war and they turned their music down. Their leader, a solid looking girl with red dyed hair, shot me an anxious look.  She clearly thought he was mad.  I guess madness trumps attitude.

If you enjoy Station Stories and want to support me writing more and maybe one day publishing a book, please subscribe to my blog at http://www.janeroutley.com  It would be a great help.

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In the cutting

Feeling rather small and ashamed today.  A member of the track cleaning crew dropped by and told me that while the trains were stopped for maintenance last night they’d taken the opportunity to clear up the couches in the cutting.  Ever since I saw those young men carrying couches up the cutting back in May I’ve been agitating to have them cleared away.  That’s because I was assuming this was a cubby house for young thugs or what we in the railways call a “shag garden”.  So I was horrified to discover that when the track crew went down there at 1.00 in the morning they found instead people sleeping in a homeless camp.  Now I hate myself for being just another authority figure persecuting the homeless who have enough problems as it is.

The Track Man told me that the homeless would probably come back.  It’s a really good place to camp if you want to be out of the wind and away from casual intruders.  I promised him I would never report those couches again at which he looked very relieved. They hate doing that kind of job and seem to have as much pity for the homeless as I do.  They’ve obviously seen way too much of it as has everyone in this time of rocketing rents.

If you enjoy Station Stories and want to support me writing more and maybe one day publishing a book, please subscribe to my blog at http://www.janeroutley.com.au.  It would be a great help.

The girl with no pants on

On a freezing day of sheeting rain, a dark-haired young woman without shoes gets off the 1.44 train.  Not only are her feet bare but so are her legs.  I can’t tell if she’s wearing anything on her bottom half. The shirt and hoodies she’s wearing covers her down to the top of her thighs.

I greet her thinking she might be one of the clients of the youth mental health service nearby and in need of directions.

“I’m hungry,” is all she says.

Figuring she needs it more than me, I give her the chocolate bar I have squirrelled away for my afternoon treat.  I can think of a number of reasons why a young woman would be out in cold rain with no pants or shoes on and none of them are good. She eats it and proceeds to wander around outside the station. After a while she comes back with a cigarette butt she’s picked up outside and asks me for a light which I can’t give her.  She tells me she is off to another youth health service in the city at which I am much relieved.  Hopefully she can get the care she clearly needs there.

If she gets there ok.

The train is late and for a long time she stands on the edge of the platform staring grimly into the pit. She’s calm – not agitated. Stoned?  In shock? The Boss is visiting and she starts to get worried. So do a number of the other people on the platform, many of whom have children in tow. Everyone is watching as the Boss approaches the girl asks her to come away from the edge and is told, “Don’t treat me like a Fucking Child!”

At this the Boss goes inside and rings Control.  The driver is told to come in slow and on the lookout.

As the train creeps in the young woman leaves the coping and walks away down the platform.  I shadow her.

But the train stops without incident and she gets calmly into it.  To go where?  I wish I knew.

Later that day I ring the place she said she was going, but I only get answering machines.  I hope she’s alright. I wish there was more I could have done.

An Art Installation?

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For some reason 🙂 St Patrick’s Day last week made me remember some photos I took back in January.

Why were these bras hanging outside Brunswick Station? Could this be an Art work?  Somehow they didn’t look like it. The fact that there was a backpackers hostel and pub nearby could have been relevant.

I ride past the station on my bike every day and after they’d been there 48 hours, I undid them and put them in the local charity bin. (I noticed they were all the same size.  Relevant?)

I asked the cleaner who is a devout Iraqi Christian (from Mosul, poor man), “Did you see the women’s underwear outside Brunswick.”  He said he had but he didn’t like to remove them. “I thought they might be part of your Australian culture,” he added.

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Inquiring minds want to know!

So on the last day of the year a little old man potters into the waiting room  – carrying a pick.  I’m so curious and just a tiny bit concerned. What sort of person carries a pick on the train? Is he a miner? A madman? An assassin?  .

The old guy looks rather sweet.   He seems to know me – we must have spoken before.

“They making you work even now,” he says sympathetically.

“I see you are too,” I say, hoping for more information.

“Oh I’m still working on that primary school. But I’m a volunteer and can stop whenever I like,” he says and potters off down the platform.

WITHOUT GIVING ANY EXPLANATION OF THE PICK! ARGGHH!

I hope the primary school is still there when the children get back from holidays.

Happy New Year to you All.

 

Alison Goodman -Interview

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Alison Goodman first hit the New York Times Best Seller list with the Eon books. Now she’s back with Lady Helen and The Dark Days Club.

From the blurb –  London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?”

If you like the sound of this, read on …

Tell us about The Dark Days Club.

The Dark Days Club (the Australian title is Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club) is the first book in a supernatural adventure trilogy set in the Regency. I think of it as Georgette Heyer meets the paranormal girl power of Buffy. Each book is set in one of the society seasons during 1812: Book 1 is set in London for The Season; Book 2 is in Brighton during the summer Season; and book 3 is in Bath for the winter Season. The trilogy is also historically accurate with some cameos from historical figures such as Lord Byron and Beau Brummell.  However, I have to admit that the demons I have created, called Deceivers, may not be so historically accurate.

What initially inspired you to write it?

The idea for the book came to me while I was on a tram coming home from a writers’ conference. I had been to a session about researching the Regency era, and as I sat looking out of the tram window, I idly asked myself what kind of Regency novel would I like to read now? The answer came in a rush: a mix of everything I loved about Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer together with the excitement and delight of a supernatural adventure. I scrabbled for a pen and paper and by the time I got to my tram stop, I had the outline of The Dark Days Club.

What are you currently working on?

At the moment, I’m waiting for the copy edit of The Dark Days Pact, Book 2 in the series, which is due for release this coming Christmas/New Year. I’m also working on Book 3, and I’ve just completed a novelette from Lord Carlston’s point of view (the main male character in the series), which will be available soon.

How do you start out with your stories?  In the middle, beginning or end?

I write from beginning to end, and don’t jump ahead. My books always have an element of suspense to them and I find that I can build that more effectively if I write the book chronologically.

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What’s your writing process for your solo books? Do you throw a lot away?  Do you write every day?  Are you a planner or do you fly by the seat of the pants?

Before I actually start writing, I spend a lot of time working on structure and building a strong through-line of cause and effect. Alongside that, I also spend quite a while researching. In fact, for the Lady Helen series, I researched the Regency era full-time for over eight months before I began writing the first book. So, while I am working out structure and doing my research, I also write the first chapter to develop voice and build a solid launching point for the novel. Once all of these three elements are in place then I am ready to roll. Generally, I write every day, even if life gets in the way and I only have time to fiddle with a few sentences. That way I keep the momentum. Of course, when a deadline is approaching, then I can be at the computer for ten hours!

I remember hearing your talk about your interest in gender relations in the Regency Romance.  Did you manage to explore it in The Dark Days club?

Yes, female empowerment and gender relations are two of my passions, and the Regency is a great setting in which to explore these themes. Women were, legally, chattels and were thought to have little intellectual capacity although there were many women at that time whose writings, art and social endeavours countered these misogynistic beliefs. In The Dark Days Club, the character of Helen’s uncle is a man who holds these beliefs, and I have based his attitudes on the writings about women that appeared in major newspapers and journals of the time. They are at once hilarious and absolutely awful.

 How do you go with social media?  What do you do to increase interest in your work and how much time do you spend on it? Any tips?

I have a website, a Twitter account, an Instagram account and Facebook author page. I’m not constantly on any of these platforms, but I do offer a writing tip of the day on Twitter, and post photos regularly on Instagram. I also post a journal of what’s been happening, book wise, on my website as well as maintaining a calendar of upcoming appearances. I don’t like to post minutiae about my life (I don’t want to bore everyone senseless) so I generally post when I have some news or I have an interesting picture to share. My focus is on writing the books. My tip would be to choose which of the platforms suit you best and post on those rather than try do them all. Also, if possible link the accounts so that posting on one will post on the others as well.

For anyone interested, here are my platforms:

Website: http://www.darkdaysclub.com

Twitter: @Alison Goodman

Instagram: @alisongoodmanauthor

Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/AlisonGoodmanAuthorPage

 

What 3 artworks (books, music, visual arts, films) have most inspired you?

Only three? Okay, let me try and narrow it down.

Anything by Joss Whedon, but in particular the Buffy TV series and Firefly. Genre blending at its best.

Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels. So much fun.

The art of Francis Bacon, which is seriously disturbing, and the beautiful Regency portraits of Lawrence.

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What is Cli Fi?

What is CLI-Fi?

 

 

This week I asked Cat Sparks about to define (Climate Change fiction) in an interview in SFFWorld.

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http://www.sffworld.com/2016/06/interview-with-cli-fi-author-cat-sparks/

Cat Sparks is a multi-award-winning author, editor and artist whose former employment has included: media monitor, political and archaeological photographer, graphic designer, Fiction Editor of Cosmos Magazine and Manager of Agog! Press. In 2012 an Australia Council emerging writers grant enabled her to participate in Margaret Atwood’s The Time Machine Doorway workshop in the U.S. She’s in the final throes of a PhD in climate change fiction. Her short story collection The Bride Price was published in 2013. Her debut novel, Lotus Blue, will be published by Talos Press in February.

Cat Sparks