New Book coming!! The Melded Child

The new novel of the Archipelago and the Tari.

Coming out April 7

In Print on Demand from Bernarra Press through Amazon and in ebook from Clan Destine Press


An ancient prophecy has come to pass.

The peace negotiated by the Tari has held firm for ten years, but a new Demon Master is rising.

When Yani the Raven is kidnapped, sorceress Marigoth and her companion Ezratah are drawn into a trap set by a brutal necromancer and his insane sister.

Meanwhile Elena Starchild’s daughter Alyx, heir to the throne of the Mori, finds herself wounded and on the run in a forest full of dark magic; and in the company of her bitter enemy.

Can the insular Tari, dreaming in the secret land of Ermora, be awoken before the demon fire consumes them?

And can a Melded Child bring harmony before it is too late?


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.

Alison Goodman


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.



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:


Twitter: @Alison Goodman

Instagram: @alisongoodmanauthor



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.



What is CLI-Fi?



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

Cat Sparks TBP-cover-art

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


Interview with Glenda Larke – winner of the Inaugural Sara Douglass Series Award.

This fortnight’s interviewee, Aurealis Award winner Glenda Larke brings her lifetime experiences of living in exotic places to the creation of wonderful fantasy worlds.



Congratulations on winning the inaugural Sara Douglass Series Award for the best Australian speculative fiction series completed between 2011 and 2014 with your Stormlord trilogy – The Last Stormlord, Stormlord Rising and The Stormlords Exile.

Could you tell us something about the Stormlord Trilogy?

The first book, The Last Stormlord, introduces a world where it never rains, at least not naturally. Stormlords — men or women with power over water — use their magical control to bring water to the desert land. Unfortunately, the Stormlords have been dying off and water allowances are being reduced, prompting unrest and rebellion. As the land is torn apart by war, the unscrupulous attempt to control the only two young people who might one day just have enough power to provide solutions. The story continues in Stormlord Rising and concludes in The Stormlord’s Exile. Along the way, there’s love, battles, bravery, betrayal, tragedy, compromise, and ingenious use of water magic…

Can you pin-point an initial inspiration for the books? Reviewer Jason Nahrung suggested your experience of living in arid climates like WA and Tunisia may have influenced your use of the theme of water in these books.

 As a kid, I remember a West Australian summer on our farm when a rat fell into the rainwater tank. That was our only drinking water. We had to drain the tank and rely on the generosity of neighbours while we waited for rain — so I’ve always known how precious water is.

We lived in Tunis in North Africa for two years. When the wind blew from the south, there would be sand heaped against the outer walls of our house — sand from the Sahara. I visited a town in Algeria where, when it rains, they distribute rainwater from the wadi when it flows according to how many people in each household. We were there on the first wet day they had that year; it was in December. Now we live near Perth W.A., where the waterflow into the dams that serve the city has decreased from an average of about 400 gigalitres a year prior to 1975, to last year’s 12 gigalitres.

We take two minute showers now, and don’t plant a lawn.

All that is what inspired me to write the Watergivers trilogy. It wasn’t difficult to think of a scenario. Control of water has already been a weapon of war; the dictator Sadam Hussein quashed criticism and destroyed the culture and livelihoods of the Marsh Arabs in Iraq by draining their marshes. Control of water is already an economic weapon. Who has the right to water in California: the cities or the farmers? Who can use the water of the Rio Grande: USA or Mexico? Israel controls much of Palestine’s access to the water of the Jordan River basin — imagine how well that works out!

I hope readers immerse themselves in the story and care about the characters. I hope they find the can’t put the books down because of the tale of adventure it tells. But I also hope that some readers think about the issues, issues which are already shaping the world we live in. Unfortunately we don’t have magic to fix things. We only have ourselves.

What are you working on now?

 I’ve just finished another trilogy, The Forsaken Lands, based on the idea that if the Spice Islands of Asia had possessed magic when Europe tried to colonise them to control the spice trade, there may have been a different outcome. The first book is called The Lascar’s Dagger. (“Lascar” is a word given to Asian sailors who worked on European ships…) The trilogy has everything from pirates and sea battles to conniving queens, sorcerers — and a very sneaky dagger.

I’m working on a standalone fantasy now, as yet untitled, which might be the first in a series, if it’s successful. (My only other standalone was my very first published book, Havenstar.)

What’s your writing process for 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?

 I am a very messy writer. I did try meticulous planning once, but by the time I arrived at Chapter 3, I was way off the plan. I kept on thinking of better directions for the plot to go in!

Before I begin a book, there are three things I must have: an understanding of what makes the main characters tick; the ending (although it may change); and a vague theme — i.e. something that keeps the plot from running away in too many directions. I usually have a strong visual impression of some of the early scenes. But apart from that, I’m an explorer without a map, and yes, sometimes I get lost, I have to backtrack, or throw away the useless diversions. I rewrite a lot. (I always smile when neophyte writers ask, “How many times do you re-write? Two? Three?” The real answer to that is: “However many it takes.” Some parts will be perfect as soon as I write them; other parts might have 30 rewrites.)

As for how often I write: that too depends. Most of my books were written in between a day job and family commitments. I worked on a project basis, so when my day job was tough, writing was laid aside, sometimes for weeks. When job and publishing commitments clashed, things could get interesting. I remember reading the proofs of a novel at night in a pup tent in the rainforest during a tropical rainstorm — by candlelight. I wrote part of one of the Stormlord books chugging along on the deck of a slow fishing boat on the Kinabatangan River.

Glenda Larke with friend

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?

Social media devours much more of my time than it should! I have no idea whether it’s terribly helpful with regards to selling books, although I try to keep people informed of what I’m up to. It’s so hard to assess what generates sales, and anyway, nowadays there is so much noise out there on social media that the occasional peep from an individual author just gets lost in the roar.

For me, I think social media is more important as a means of information and help (e.g. from fellow authors) to me. I value my online friendships because I find people can be so supportive and inspiring, even if we’ve never met. This is especially true of the Australian spec fic scene — readers, writers, industry professionals, convention organisers, etc — fabulous folk. Without them, I might have given up years ago.

You worked as a field ornithologist in Malaysia. Did this career have any influence on your writing?

Absolutely. Birds had a big part to play in The Isles of Glory books, and also in The Dagger’s Path. I think those avifaunal story lines succeeded only because I know my wild birds…

As well as that, when I worked in the field on bird conservation, I saw wonderful places — islands, cliffs, swamps, rainforests, mountains, lakes, rivers — scenes that inspired parts of different books.

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

It’s always been books, books, books with me (although I love classical music, especially 18th and 19th century symphonies, which I play while writing. I once lived just beside a path called Beethovengang…)

It’s hard to pinpoint special books out of the thousands. Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising was probably one of the first to set on a path to writing fantasy, although I actually decided I was going to be a writer when I was about eight and still into Enid Blyton’s Famous Five!  Oh, and Lord Juster’s present to the King in “The Fall of the Dagger” was  inspired by the Burghley Nef saltcellar of 1527, which you can see in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

If you want to know more about Glenda try:

Twitter: @glendalarke


 The Burghley Nef saltcellar, 1527 from The Victoria & Albert Museum, London
The Burghley Nef saltcellar, 1527 from The Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Interview with Aurealis Award winner Trent Jamieson



Congratulations on winning the 2015 Aurealis Award for both Best Fantasy and Best Horror novel!

That’s amazing.

Thanks! I was completely surprised, and delighted.

It’s about Mark – a Day Boy who works for a Vampire, running chores, protecting his master during the day. It’s his last year as a Day Boy and he must decide how he is going to enter adulthood as man or monster or something not quite either. And, things don’t go smoothly at all. I kind of pitched it as To Kill a Mockingbird meets Dracula – which is a bit cheeky, but kind of the mood that the book went along. My mum didn’t like it because it was too violent – and she’s read all my stuff. I’ve promised her the next book is very different – but you never know with books.

Can you pin-point an initial inspiration for the book?

A very strong image I had of two boys smoking in a crypt flicking cigarettes at a coffin. I knew at once that they worked for vampires, but I wanted to know what they were like, how they had gotten so comfortable, even brazen, in their job. Everything sprang from that.

What are you working on at the moment?

A novel called the Stone Road. I’m just picking through a messy first draft and trying to work out what it’s about – which I think I know, now, but we’ll see. There are many drafts ahead.

You’re clearly a fan of Lovecraft and also devoted to Brisbane where you now live. Brisbane is nothing like the gloomy windy shores of New England. Is Brisbane a gothic place in your mind? What makes it so?Trent-Photo

Funnily enough I’m not that into Lovecraft other than the cosmic horror, though I tend to play around with it a lot less seriously in my work. But I adore Brisbane. It is not a gothic place in my mind at all, in some ways, like most cities, I guess, it’s a blank slate. But that’s just an invitation to artists. Brisbane is a place that drives some great fantasy writing. You’ll be seeing new fantasy and horror novels set in Brisbane by Angela Slatter and Gary Kemble in the next twelve months or so, and that excites me. I think it’s a city worth writing about, and you know, what makes a city great comes down to the community that lives in it, and the stories they tell. The more stories and art we have the richer the place we live in. Brisbane sings with stories, and I’m proud to be a part of that.

What’s your writing process for 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?

I am slow and non-linear. And I slap scenes together and see how they work. I write thin – my early drafts are whisps – and then too thick, and then have to thin again. I don’t plan, but I do a lot of rewriting, structural and line-by-line – I don’t know if you’ve noticed here, but my punctuation is awful! I try and write every day, even if it’s only a few words. I don’t tend to do marathon sessions until I am editing and deadlines come into play. Otherwise it’s just chip, chip, chip and see what you end up with.

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 gotten worse at this over the years. I’m a bit weary of social media as a platform, or maybe just weary of the sound of my voice. As a place to have fun it’s great, but as a selling tool for me, I’m not so sure. I don’t spend nearly enough time on increasing interest in my work. But I am always open to anything interesting when it comes along, promotion wise. What I do do, I try and have fun with. If you’re going to promote you need to be creative, honest, and have fun. Writing books is the thing that interests me, and reading. Everything else is just waving flags (unless, you’re great at it, and there are some really wonderful self promoters out there) and hoping someone notices.

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

I am terrible at narrowing things down to favourites. They always change, because I keep reading and listening, and you forget your favourites (well, I do, anyway), and then you encounter the work again and you remember that, yes, you listened to that album non-stop for a year. But there is a constant churn of inspiration. Currently it’s Ursula K. Le Guin’s Tombs of Atuan, N.K. Jemisin’s book The Fifth Season (which I am reading at the moment), and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.

All of which are feeding into the new book whether I want them to or not.

Trent can be contacted at teacupthrenody at hotmail dot com

Trent Jamison 2


Jason Franks, Writer and Comic Book Author


Sixsmiths2_cover_880Melbourne writer Jason Franks likes to walk on the dark side . His first novel Bloody Waters, about Clarice Marnier, a young guitar virtuoso who sells her soul to the devil, was short listed for the 2012 Aurealis award.  His McBlack comic series stars a private detective gone bad. But today we’ll be focusing on the Sixsmiths as Franks is about to launch his second comic in the series.  

Tell us about The Sixsmiths

The Sixsmiths are a family of suburban Satanists fallen prey to the global financial crisis. Sort of.

Well, they’re not like modern, Anton Laveyan Satanists (who are often really atheists and/or religious freedom japesters). In this world Satanism is a longstanding religion with a history that’s entwined with the other monotheistic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) with a long history of persecution. The conceit is that they’re just ordinary folks, and their religion could stand in for any one of those religions at different times. Satanism gives us the ability to invert everything and that is a great source of jokes.

The Sixsmiths do practice magic as part of their religion, but there’s no supernatural aspect to the book–it’s a straight-up religious satire.

One thing we really wanted to avoid was becoming a ripoff of the Addams Family, which is to my mind a wholly perfect creation. So instead we decided to rip off the Simpsons and South Park.

What initially inspired you to write about them?
Marc asked me to write a graphic novel for him to draw with the intention of selling it to Slave Labor Graphics, who had published Marc’s two prior books. He came down to Melbourne for a book launch and afterwards we sat down in a cafe to brainstorm over coffee. One of the sketches he did in that session was a depressed-looking teenage boy wearing a pentagram t-shirt–that’s where the original idea came from. That became Cain. Next was the vicar, Melmoth. Ralf was based on a punter sitting at the other end of the cafe and for Lilith, I said “black hair with a white streak.” Annie was more difficult and Marc came up with her on his own. Once we had characters and the setup (“suburban Satanists”) we were most of the way there, we just needed a plot. The subprime crisis in the USA was just rumbling then so I said ‘money problems’. Neither of us guessed that we’d be in GFC by the time the book was ready.

The Sixsmith’s church picnic reminded me of church picnics I went to as a child.  Made me wonder if you’d gone to picnics with religious organizations too.

cover_vol01 sixsmithThere are two picnics, sort of, so I’ll tell you about both of them. The blessing after the mass in Unhallowed is inspired by the Jewish custom of having a ‘kiddush’ (blessing) after the Saturday morning service. It’s often sponsored by a family, especially if their son has had his Bar Mitzvah during the service on that particular day. These usually take place indoors but I put it outside because a) I wanted a Churchier feel, and b) because that made it easier for Dennis to gatecrash.

The other picnic–the Festival of Mammon–is based on the annual Chanukah in the Park. I provided Marc with photos of the St Kilda Festival for reference, though, which is why it doesn’t look like Caufield park. We made up the ceremony for maximum silliness.

What else are you working on at the moment?

A bunch of stuff. One of them is a comic called Gourmand Go, which is basically Cannibal Star Trek. I’m finishing off a novel called XDA Zai, which is about an assassin who takes missions in impossible places (fairy land, Atlantis, a dirigible city, etc etc)–but who’s really in it for the travel opportunities. Also a new urban fantasy novel, a sequel, and some other continuing work. My new novel, Shadowmancy, is all done and should be available real soon now.

How do you start out with your stories? In the middle, beginning or end?
Depends. Usually I know the end before I start, and then I figure out the start and just strike out towards it. But sometimes I write everything out of order and then stitch it back together. Sometimes I find there’s more when I get to the end I planned. Sometimes I get to the end and then figure out exactly what happened, which can be a bit of a weird feeling.

What’s your writing process for comics and for books?
I’m usually a bit more structured in the way that I write comics, because you’re so limited by the format and the available pagecount. Usually I’ll have a good outline of what happens where and I’ll do page-by-page breakdowns before I start writing scripts. There’s a lot more planning with comics.

With prose I prefer to freewheel it more. I usually have a structure in my head but I like to leave myself room to discover more about the characters and the world. That’s the big difference, I guess: there’s a lot more room in prose.

Do you throw a lot away?
Not as much as I used to, but yeah, I do, especially in prose. I usually write more than is necessary in the first draft and then come back through and move stuff around, cut everything back. Usually this amounts to 10% of the wordcount on each draft. Satanist or no, being boring is the biggest sin for a writer.

Do you write every day?
I would if I could, but alas not. I do try to do some writing-related activity every day, but often this is non-creative stuff like updating websites or chasing up editors or artists.

Are you a planner or do you fly by the seat of the pants?
I guess I’m a pantser by nature, but I usually have an informal plan in my head, even if I don’t have one on paper. Every project is different, though.

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’m pretty rubbish at it. I spend probably too much time on facebook and not enough time on twitter–hard to quantify how much time I spend because I check it throughout the day when I get some idle time. I don’t sit down and say “now I’m going to do social media,” which perhaps I should, so that I can meter my time… but I also think it’s a mistake to look at it as a marketing exercise to the exclusion of all else. Nobody wants to engage with you if you spend all day begging you to look at their work. Be a person who talks to other people and occasionally talks about their own work.

What 3 artworks (books, music, visual arts, films) have most inspired you?
Only three? Twenty wouldn’t be enough!

Ok, today my three are:
Roger Zelazny’s Amber cycle. I’ve just reread it for… well, I don’t know how many times I’ve read it, and it’s still fresh and smart. It’s so much a part of my DNA as a writer that I don’t even realize it any more.
Tom Waits’ album Bone Machine is something I keep coming back to. Aside from the brilliant songwriting I just love the sounds of it. It’s like a Disney villain gets drunk on the way to the circus and goes stumbling around a foundry. As dark as the album is, it’s also comical and hugely entertaining.
Being John Malkovich is one of my favourite movies. Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze take a surreal premise and build something that’s completely logical and meaningful out of it. Also, it’s goddamn hilarious.

jf_cThe launch of Sixsmiths Volume 2 will be on March 19 at 6.00 at Eydie’s: 86 Lygon St, Brunswick East VIC 3056


Twitter: @jasefranks



We wuz Robbed – a question of keys

photo 1Now the renovation of my office is finished, I’m allowed to go back to Zoo station.  I was looking forward to enjoying my freshly painted new office. So you can imagine my disappointment when lo and behold, I opened my new meal room door, to be confronted with

Graffiti!!  My God it gets everywhere. And why can’t they paint something interesting.

But inside the office!! Did it slide in under the door?

I assumed that some kids had got in while the workmen were there and that there was nothing to worry about.  I started using the cosy little meal room as my office and leaving my overcoat, my uniform jacket and safety vest there in the evenings.

Until Thursday when I opened up the office door and discovered my clothes and the fire extinguisher were no longer there. I’d been robbed and by someone who’d painted a smiley face on the door. (Make a defiant gesture at me, why don’t you?)

Oddly the microwave and the other electrical appliances where untouched.  At first I couldn’t believe what had happened.  I thought maybe my aged brain had forgotten where I had put the coat or that a work mate was playing a trick on me.  I looked inside the fridge and the microwave and everywhere else.

Why steal my uniform?  When they came, the police told me that Metro uniform is the outfit of choice for graffiti artists loitering around rail yards hoping to tag trains.  I was oddly comforted to think of my clothes leading this outlaw life instead of just being dropped in some dumpster.

The meal room is separate from the office and low security with no alarm.  It can be accessed by a key that’s easy to copy.  All sorts of maintenance crew have these keys so that they can use the toilets next door. Apparently other less savory people have keys too.

The strangest part of the whole story was that my overcoat turned up again.  A kindly passing golfer picked it up on the golf course and brought it back.  It was so wet with rain it took two days to dry out.

I wish the suit jacket had turned up.  The old one was very flattering to my figure.  The new one just makes me look dumpy.  (yes I am that shallow :))

photo 2


Station Stories -Thank God for the Salvos


Metro and the Salvos have a project going on where bands of youth workers rove the trains and stations, talking to young people and heading off potential graffiti etc.  I know this because they’ve started to come to the station when out Flexible Learners come in from their school. They hand out lollipops and chat to kids and try to entice them into their Employment and drug counselling programs.  Things have been pretty toxic with the FL’s these last few months.  There’s been verbal abuse, racial vilification and one incident of breaking into a car and fighting with police that lead to kids being arrested. Individually they seem like nice enough kids, but it’s hard to take the long view that these are troubled kids for who need to be patiently enticed away from behavior that will lead to jail in later life when you’ve had them telling you that you’re a F***ing M*** and I know where you live. But having the Salvos there does seem to help keep a lid on things. And they had out lollipops to the rest of us too.