Small acts

One of my regulars had clearly come off her bicycle.  She was covered in dust and had a huge spike shaped red gash on her arm. With the train 2 minutes away she didn’t want me to do anything for her, but I insisted on getting her some damp paper towel to clean the still bleeding gash.  Then as the train rolled in a complete stranger stepped up and offered the lady one of those big band-aids in plastic for her gash!

Thank you, stranger. Another person who understands if you think someone should help someone, perhaps you’d better be the one to do it.

I’m a firm believer in taking responsibility for making the world a better place through small daily acts.  I’m getting more and more involved in Climate Change activism through a group called Climate for Change. http://www.climateforchange.org.au/ They encourage people to have everyday conversations about Climate Change concerns in order to encourage a ground swell of support for government action. The more of us pestering companies and M.P.’s the better. So now at when someone at the station says we’re having strange weather, I take my opportunity and say “This is what 1% climate change looks like.” I get some strange looks but also a lot of nods.  Scarey to think what 2% will look like.

The things you read

Those who know me, know I will read anything. Even the back of plastic water bottles found while tidying up the platform. This particular one assured me it didn’t just look good, it “had ancient wisdom” as well. That made me stop and take a closer look.

Apparently this is because it is “infused with native flower essences”. “Handpicked native flower essences” no less. Apparently Northern Australian indigenous people are involved in this process. I couldn’t resist taking a quick sniff of the remaining water, but I can’t smell anything floral. Perhaps that is because it is “refreshingly non-flavoured”

But I can smell something.

Ahh! The scent of male bovine manure.
P.S. School’s back and I had my first train surfers yesterday. They even wore balaclavas as they rode on the rear coupling. Guess the summer holidays are over.

The Man-kini

 

D is studiedly bogan. He shakes my hand with an iron grip, tells me he’s from Gippsland and that in his depressed country town every third street has an ice-lab. Shades of “Winters Bone”. He describes getting drunk and driving down the main drag yelling at the shards (ice addicts.) Then he tells me he’s joined the local medieval re-enactment society and how much he likes fighting with the rattan canes. (thus exploding the whole bogan persona in my eyes.)

A pleasant young man. I’m not sure why he’s in Melbourne, but I haven’t pressed him in case he’s here with the Mental Health Service or the Juvenile Detention Service both of which have flats in the area. He may just be here to go to University. What I’d really like to know is his relationship with the two different young women he took the zoo the week before Christmas both of whom he seemed to be on arms-around-waist relations with. (Watch out for your station staff. They notice things.)
Today he looks a bit rough. Apparently, he drank too much on New Year’s Eve.
“I don’t remember much but my mates say I was wandering round Elizabeth Street in a man-kini singing and playing the guitar.

“Did people tuck money into your man-kini?” I ask.
“No,” he says, “But I do remember getting smacked on the arse a lot.”

Train Surfers

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The 3.04 stopped and the driver got out and took a walk down the platform.“I think there’s kids riding on the rear coupling,” he said as he went past. Sure enough as he got further down the train, three youths jumped off the end of the train. Giggling they leapt off the furthest end of the platform and ran into the bushes beyond.

The driver came back and the train left.

A couple of minutes later I heard yelling from the nearby tram stop. Two youths were hanging onto the back of a departing tram while a third ran alongside trying to get onto the running board. How on earth did these guys survive? But they must have because no ambulance came. They also showed an impressive turn of speed in running that kilometer between the far end of our platform and the tram stop.
I’ve started checking the back of all the trains more assiduously because kids ride on the couplings regularly (a couple of times a month I see them) I recently caught one trying to get on a coupling on the opposite platform and was able to drive him off with a shout and a glare. (he was clearly too young to ignore me, about 15)
Once a group of them inside the rear carriage saw me checking and started waving and blowing me kisses. Hard not to be softened by their cheekiness.
I understand the appeal of riding on the rear coupling, I really do, but if you fall off it’s a long way down and fast and the trains have to stop while some poor para-medic scrapes you off the tracks.

Tattooed Love

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Back at work after a holiday. Blah!
But we amuse ourselves as best we can. Yesterday I got talking to one of the regulars, a highly tattooed man with a false leg who attends the nearby physio classes.
He wears tattoo sleeves on his artificial leg so that it matches his real one and I must say it’s a good way of disguising it. Also I find people with only one leg tattooed always look as if they are limping.
While he was telling me you had to be tough to get tatts, a woman on the other side of the waiting room pipped up and said it didn’t hurt all that much. Soon she was telling us how she drew a tatt in texta on her ankle back in the 70’s (“when women didn’t get tatts”) for two weeks just to try it out and see if she could handle the attention. Apparently she could, because she had lots now. The two of them got talking and when the train came they got on together still talking. Have I created a relationship here? Maybe started a true love? Probably not. But it’s nice to dream.

What I did on my holidays!

Sorry for the sudden silence.  I’ve been up north in Townsville, Queensland, chasing the sun.  While there, I went on the best whale watching trip. Really enjoyed zooming around the place in a little rubber boat (150hp RIB) and the guide Chris knew all about the reef and other Marine type things and was happy to answer lots of questions.  Lunch at Yanks Jetty was subway sandwiches and a chance to float around the coral gardens teaming with fish. So many colourful fish it was like swimming in a jewel box. But the whales! The waters between Dungeness and Orpheus were full of humpbacks.  We sighted at least 14 and one breached (leapt up into the air).  I was so excited I took a picture of my thumb, but fortunately Chris took a successful one and was happy to share.  We were late home because we got caught up watching about eight whales taking part in a jostling head butting rumble.  You couldn’t see much of the action, but every now and again groups of three or four would surface in an exciting flurry of fins, tails and spouts or you could see a couple swimming in close formation.  A fantastic sight and well worth missing my homeward icecream for.

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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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