Australian writer

Publishers Weekly like it !

 

Routley (The Melded Child) unravels a complex web of familial politics in this eccentric fantasy. It’s Blessing time in the Empire of Light, an annual tradition in which the Matriarch of each family ensures fruitful crops for the following year. As always, Shine and her Auntie Eff, both mundanes without magic of their own despite their noble lineage, are expected to host a clan of their condescending, magical relations for the duration of the festival. Shine’s usually monotonous life as a mundane is plunged into chaos as she must put out fires at every turn, from curbing her cousins’ inappropriate seductions to stopping a burgeoning plot to overthrow the Matriarch. To further complicate matters, Shine’s exiled cousin, Bright, asks her to hide Shadow, a foreigner caught in a crystal smuggling scheme that somehow involves their wicked and violent cousin, Illuminus. Though readers will struggle to keep track of Shine’s many relations, even with the help of the family tree Routley provides, Routley’s whimsical tone lends a dark comic quality to this intricate fantasy, and the outlandish characters and captivating worldbuilding make up for occasional confusion. This is a bumpy but entertaining ride. Agent: John Jarrold, John Jarrold Literary. (Aug.)

www.publishersweekly.com/pw/reviews/single/9781781088340?fbclid=IwAR39MKqxZeO3d612h-JdxmKj2_YZEnqQawmrqcV65U6r1RVCP3Od1wyDGDc

Back at work

'Funkytown' comes to Richmond Station

We're working hard to keep Melbourne moving right now, but we want to keep you smiling too! 😊This is what happened when 'Funkytown' came to Richmond Station. 🎵🎵🎵#metromovesmelb#richmondstation#tiktok#metrotrains#publictransport#melbourne

Posted by Metro Trains Melbourne on Monday, May 11, 2020

The staff at Richmond cheer strutting their stuff to “Funky Town” during Covid-19

 

Although I work in an “essential service,” I decided to use up some of my holidays at the beginning of lockdown because I knew there’d be nothing to do. The Zoo is closed, there are no tourists and we are 88% down on customers.  But I went back to work this week.  And there are still customers.

An infectious diseases specialist was working on his laptop in the waiting room while waiting for a train and told me that the hospitals were all ready for a second wave of infections with a ward full of prepared beds and plenty of spare ventilators in ICU. “ Keep washing your hands” he said. “And don’t touch your face.” We were interrupted then by another less respectable looking man who told us that the Covid-19 tracing app was compulsory, Big Brother was upon us and that we wouldn’t be able to use hospitals or get into Bunnings unless we had the app on our phones.  He waved his fist and kept crying “Resist! Resist!” until the train fortuitously rolled in and took him away.

One of the Zoo volunteers dropped by to have a walk around the outside of the zoo.  It’s closed tight and she said she was missing the animals terribly.  According to the on-line Zoo keeper chat the animals, especially the monkeys and apes are also missing the entertainment of the visitors.

Those of my regulars who are still working were happy to see me.  Probably my return is a sign of normality.  I missed my Burmese hospital cleaners who apparently are now driving to work because it’s safer from infection, but my Vaccine makers from Sequirus labs were there in force.  They hard at it making more flu vaccines.  The uptake has been tremendous this year and the government has asked for an extra million and a half vaccines for our southern winter, which must be made before they can get their start on the regular flu vaccines they always make for the northern winter.  If you are run down from having the flu it increases you chance of catching Covid-19.  They don’t have any news on a Covid-19 vaccine.

Although the station was very quiet, the Park itself was like a high street.  It was one of those golden autumn afternoons when there is just a tinge of chill in the air and a constant stream of people went past on foot or on bicycle, including the many happy golfers.  Their club house was opened last week.  One of my regulars stopped and told me how happy he was, all was back.  He’d had to make do with a putting machine in his living room for the past 6 weeks and as he lived alone it had been very lonely.

I suspect this is also true of the man with out of control hair who is still using the train to carry all the timber for his new shed bunker/ and still likes to stop and tell me ALL the details of everything.

The person I most wished to speak to did not stop and talk.  Why is a man in high vis, walking through my railway station with a such a huge hole torn in the back of his work pants that I can see half of his blue star spangled boxer shorts underneath?  Alas I will never know.

 

 

 

Shadow in the Empire of Light – Cover Reveal

Woo Hoo!

The lovely people at Solaris Press have sent me a proof of my new book.

Shine’s life is usually dull: an orphan in a family of powerful mages, she’s left to run the family estate with only an eccentric aunt and a telepathic cat for company.

But when the family descend on the house for the annual Fertility Festival, Shine is plunged into intrigue; stolen letters, a fugitive spy and family drama mix with an unexpected murder, and Shine is forced to decide both her loyalties and her future.

Shadow in the Empire of Light is due out in August

 

In your favourite Natural Place

 

The beautiful Mountain Ash forests on the Black Spur outside Healesville are my favorite place in the world. Their spicy peppery earthy smell is the perfect fragrance, the smell of home. After the grief and collective loss of beautiful places and animals in the New Years bushfires, I decided to visit the Black Spur. These are some of the most flammable forests on earth and they haven’t burnt in a while. We have 2 more months of fire season to go. So I went there last weekend.

Just in case.

 

I’d love to see recent pictures of you in your favourite place in nature.

Naked men and the military industrial complex

I’m getting ready for my shift in the backroom of the Junction, when the Station Master calls out, “You ladies might like to stay in there. There’s a guy walking around out there naked.”

Feeling sorry for the passengers outside who must face this spectacle without a place to hide, the other “lady” and I search round in the lost property locker for any old clothes. The only thing we can find is a lost MacDonald’s uniform. Possibly giving that to the kind of person who walks around naked at a railway station will get us into trouble. One would hate to offend a multinational corporation.

Flinders Street Station Wins Cake Prize

 

Here’s my beloved central station resplendent in icing and with a tram circling it on a rotating disc – winner of Batter, Bake, Build – Melbourne University’s Architectural baking competition.

Click through here to learn more about the competition and see the other entries.

https://architectureau.com/articles/sweet-success-winners-crowned-in-architectural-bake-off/#

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/melbourne-architectural-baking-competition

On casual racism

 

Its 22.30 one Sunday evening and we are once again chivying people off trains and onto buses so that men can work on the tracks.  We tend to do a circuit of the quiet station calling out,  “Replacement buses outside the station,” to everyone because no matter how many announcements they make over the PA, someone always misses them and gets angry about there being – “No announcements!”

My Indian workmate is going down the escalators ahead of me and coming up towards us on the opposite escalator are an ordinary-looking elderly couple in their 60’s – probably someone’s Nan and Pop.

“Replacement buses outside the station!” she calls helpfully to them as she goes past on the escalator.

And the man turns and says calmly to her retreating back –“Don’t yell at me, you black c**t!

I’m shocked, appalled and unfortunately speechless.  I glare at them but they don’t meet my eye as they go past. They are as expressionless as if he’d said nothing – bored people on an escalator.  Is saying such an awful thing just every day for them?  Like shopping?

I should have said something.  But perhaps she didn’t hear him and if I’d spoken out – called him the racist bastard he was – she would have known what he said.  And no one needs to hear that.  But if she did hear it and I said nothing, what will she think then? That I agree?  That would be awful!

I say nothing to her and she doesn’t mention it.  She doesn’t seem upset.  Maybe she didn’t hear him.  Or horrifying thought – she’s used to it.  We do get a lot of abuse on these bus nights and it must be even worse if you stand out as different.

But I should have called this guy out as a racist bastard.  Shoulda! Shoulda!  I’m so furious when I think of it.  Why did my words fail me at the time?

The Magpie Dilemma

One of the matriarchs of the tribe of magpies who thrive around my stations, has broken her leg maybe even a hip or rib – a bad break which causes her to huddle on the ground with her wing all askew.  But she’s survived 5 days and, more importantly, nights now.  She sits like a duck among the grasses and the customers throw her bits of food.  She can fly and perhaps she has found a safe place to huddle in a roof or tree at night.

Concerned zoo volunteers encouraged me to ring the zoo vets.  You have to be a true animal lover to be a zoo vet- willing to come out a chase a wounded magpie round a golf course in your own time.  They’ve come out twice with nets and boxes but she’s too smart and quick for them – still fit and vigorous despite the leg.

“Perhaps you could try and throw a coat or something over her and then wrap her up” suggests the vet.  “Then ring us and we’ll come right out and get her.  But be careful.  They have a savage bite.”

As if I need warning.  I’m scared of that huge beak. (so are most of the customers – sometimes feeding the magpies looks more like a mugging) And I’m scared of the rest of the tribe too.  Australian magpies are sophisticated social creatures with long memories who regularly blind school children in territorial disputes.

https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/offtrack/thbe-magpies-among-us/6777832

I’d be willing to be more courageous if I was more certain of the cause.  But the zoo vets say they will probably have to euthanize her if they catch her.  And she’s still alive and full of beans and pecking at her fledglings when they try and move in on her food.

Do I work towards this death for her- she may be in a lot of pain – or shall I let nature take its course?  She may get better.  Although probably not.  She may survive with one leg.  Lots of birds do.  Or she may die a horrible slow painful death or be eaten by an urban fox.  I do wish she could sign one of those voluntary euthanasia forms.

So that is my Magpie Dilemma.

On International relations

 

The little Chinese girl pulls her sleeves over her hands and waves the empty sleeves at me.  I look horrified (Oh no! where are your hands?) She lifts up her arms and her hands pop out of her sleeves.  I respond with appropriate cries of relief and amazement.  We don’t need a common language to enjoy this popular children’s game.