Sunday, February 27, 2011

Brisbane Dreaming Research - Day 1:

I arrived in Brisbane today as part of my first week’s research for my next adult novel set in and around the city and suburbs. A story of five women in the 40s dealing with life-changing ‘accidents’, painful divorces, menopausal denials, and the challenges and joys of maintaining life-long friendships. I’ve got my characters and my storylines, but I need some settings... so here I am.

On day one of my research I am grateful for:
1. ARRIVING SAFELY: Let’s face it, it’s a gamble getting on a QANTAS flight these days, so I’m grateful that once getting through the new electronic self-check in at Sydney airport, that the plane made it off the ground into the air, and back down again without any dramas.

2. KANGAROO POINT: I had already chosen the suburbs for each character some months ago – The Gap, Paddington, West End, Brookfield and Barden - but as my storylines weave and change over time, so do my locations. My research assistant found me a great apartment in Kangaroo Point, so now I will set the life of one of my characters here, where she can walk to the city and South Bank, a enjoy view of the river and wake to the sounds of traffic. I’m grateful for the creative process which allows me to move characters around easily, without removalist trucks or losing bond money.

3. THE STORY BRIDGE HOTEL: My apartment is five minutes walk from the Story Bridge and where better to find stories than at the Story Bridge Hotel? So off I went to ‘research’ with Nadine McDonald and Amanda Hayman from the State Library of QLD – two of my local research assistants – and boy did they have some stories to tell, wowee! You’ll have to wait for the novel to hear them, but let’s just say there’s about 1000 words, a free bottle of one and a cos lettuce to be noted! I’m also particularly grateful the hotel restaurant has a table set outside its door to show me how they lay a table. Why do restaurants do that? Do potential patrons honestly make a decision to enter or not based on how the table is set??

4. ANGELA GARDNER: Many of my characters are inspired by the work of close friends. Today I am grateful that I got to spend the afternoon with poet and visual artist Angela Gardner – who coincidentally has an exhibition opening at the 69 Smith Street Gallery on March 5. Angela toured me around Woolloongabba and then showed her printing techniques and studio space. The storylines and character arcs were writing themselves as I watched Angela demonstrate her craft. Ok, so writing books isn’t really that easy, but with inspiration like Angela, it’s not as hard as it could be. Pic below is me trying to be arty by shooting Angela through the window of her studio.

5. MY MUSE – Every writer needs a muse, and I’m no different, although I have a different one for each book. We are both sick of each other by the end of the project. Most writers have female muses, but I don’t see the point in that. I want a male muse and I’m grateful mine flew in this evening from an undisclosed departure point. I can't show you his face because he is a shy muse and I don’t like it when he’s grumpy, so I do what I can to keep him happy, and he does what he can to keep me inspired.

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