Tears

I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve cried more than I would have liked in the last couple of days.

I’ve lost a dear friend in John Bos, who I’d share a drink and a laugh with. We’d help each other out without question or pause. I had the pleasure of actually getting him to appear on stage, just once. He wouldn’t memorise lines, but he did dance, more than willingly, with the woman he loved.

And I’ve lost a mentor, inspiration and yes, even a friend in Sir Terry Pratchett. The privilege of adapting his books for stage was wonderful – even better was the joy of watching his genuine laugh-out-loud delight when I wrote something new for him and he saw it performed for the first time.

I’m not crying for John or Terry. They’re both out of their pain and suffering, gone on to whatever is next in their journeys. I’ve wept for me. Selfishly, for my loss – for the conversations not had, the laughs not shared.

That’s what grieving is. My life is a richer thing for having been touched by both men. Thank you, guys. Be seeing you.

Renoir, Terry Pratchett, Discworld, fantasy writers
Renoir (L) and Sir Terry Pratchett discussing characters
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Happily Ever After

“There’s no such thing as living happily ever after!”

said a mother to her children.

“You shouldn’t read silly stories that tell you such untruths!”

“Bad things happen to good people!”

“You’ll be disappointed!”

“Promises get broken, and things end!”

All of that is true, of course.

But remember this, my friends:

Living happily is not the same as being happy all the time.

Sometimes you will be hurt.

Sometimes people will upset you, or let you down.

Even your friends and the people you care about.

But there is always someone who loves you.

They may be right beside you.

Or they may live in your memory and your heart.

Or you may not have met them yet.

But they’re there.

There is still beauty in the world.

Beautiful places, beautiful things, beautiful people.

Look out for them.

Find them, and cherish them.

Remember the things that have been good.

Believe that there will always be more.

Live happily.  Ever after.

A TRAP FOR THE UNWARY

Another Dubious Magic story – one which takes place quite early during the events of Book 1: The Wizard of Waramanga.  John B. learns more about being careful what you wish for.

 

It was the definitive lazy afternoon in Waramanga. The leafy Canberra suburb was warm, but not unpleasantly so if you stayed out of the direct sun.

That was precisely what John B. Stewart had chosen to do. He was in the back yard of his cottage, reclining on a deckchair in the shade of a large tree. His housemate Darren was at work. There was no sport of interest on the radio, so he relaxed in comfortable quiet, enjoying the light breeze and the sounds of the garden.

John B. had recently accidentally discovered that he was a wizard. Ever since hitting his head on a poker machine he’d found his wishes coming true. Not always predictably, though, so he was learning to be cautious.

He might, for instance, as he rested there wish for something to eat.

‘Ah, no,’ he thought to himself. ‘At best, Darren might come home early from work bearing leftover pizza. Or at worst a plane flying overhead might explode and leave me showered with in-flight snacks – and other debris.’

Sometimes having a vivid imagination could be disconcerting, although it did, he reasoned, serve as a kind of warning device.

John B. opened one eye and smiled at the sight of his other housemate. Kat was a generously proportioned white Persian cat who was currently lying under a favourite shrub quite nearby. He too was enjoying the shade.

The cat’s posture reminded John B. of the Sphinx, but with the chin resting comfortably on the forelegs.

Kat and John B. were both comfortably relaxed. Neither had moved appreciably for well over an hour. If they weren’t both sound asleep the difference wouldn’t have been obvious to any casual observer.

The lilting chorus of birdsong that John B. had been enjoying took on a new strident note. A noisy mynah had flown into the garden, and as was the way of its type, was aggressively trying to hector other birds away from the territory it wanted to occupy.

“I wish you’d be bloody quiet,” the wizard muttered in mild irritation.

He watched the newcomer for a few moments. It seemed utterly oblivious to him, and unconcerned at his annoyance. John B. sighed and closed his eyes.

After a while the mynah’s voice grew louder as it came closer to the deckchair. John B. opened his eyes again without otherwise moving.

The bird had evidently taken note of the lassitude of the yard’s two occupants. It was hopping about on the ground quite close to them both, foraging for whatever it is that noisy mynahs forage for. Once, twice it hopped right by Kat. The big Persian didn’t so much as twitch his nose or open an eye.

But on the bird’s third pass the left paw shot out and back almost too quickly to be seen, and there was an audible crunch.

John B.’s eyes widened. Most of Kat hadn’t seemed to move at all, but under the left paw was the mynah’s body. Its head was missing.. Eyes still closed, the Persian was contentedly chewing his afternoon snack.

A small drop of blood on the white fur of his chin was the only clue of his culpability. Well, other than the headless corpse still idly held.

The wizard made a silent apology to the mynah’s ghost, shook his head and said to Kat, “I’m glad you’re on my side, mate.”

Kat swallowed, and purred.

My Own Little World

A writer has the luxury of creating their own reality to play in.

If you like mine, check the Market Place page to find how to explore it further.  

 .o0o.

 If I could build my own little world, what would it be like?

The temperature would average around 17 degrees C. Some days would be warmer, but I’d be lying on a beach enjoying a sea breeze so that’d be okay.

Sometimes it would be a whole lot colder, with snow on the ground and the Merry Dancers lighting up the sky. But rugged up inside a good coat and warm lined boots, that would be alright too.

There’d be beaches and mountains and forests. Small towns with just enough shops, bars and restaurants to be interesting, not overwhelming.

Lots of birds and animals. All of them living undisturbed. Allowed to do what they do – live, die, hunt, graze – without anyone saying “Oh that’s awful” or “Not on my land”.

Sparrows, songbirds, and soaring eagles. Rabbits, rhinos and rattlesnakes. All in their place, wherever their place may be.

The sea full of dolphins, whales, turtles and rays. Sharks even. Dazzling coloured fish like living rainbows, swarming around reefs unspoiled by greedy developers and governments.

And people. I’m not so solitary as to live in a world with no other people. Not just people I already know, otherwise how would I ever make new friends and learn new things?

The people living in my little world wouldn’t all be like each other, or even necessarily like each other. But they’d respect each other – their similarities and their differences. Even if they chose not to live alongside one another, peace would reign between them.

People would die because you have to have balance: light and dark, light and death. But that death would be peaceful, and happen in the time and manner of a person’s own choosing.

In my own little world magic works. It just is. I don’t need to have scientists and mathematicians and philosophers account for every detail, every action and reaction.

Stuff happens. I accept it. I believe in the fundamental rightness of it. It doesn’t need my understanding to keep happening – it just needs me to not interfere.

It’s a nice little world.

I think we had one a bit like it, once.

The MAGIC SATCHEL

I don’t have kids, but I recall fondly stories I read and was told as a child.

Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Aesop’s fables resonated for me.  So here I am, attempting to conjure up a little of that magic myself.  If you’re a parent, please let me know – is this something you’d read to your kids?  

For fiction for an older market, check out the Market Place page for a link to buy “The Wizard of Waramanga” from amazon.com

Gavin and Glenys lived in a nice little house in a nice little small town.

It really was quite a small house, and it was a bit old, but it was well looked after and had everything they needed. It felt very safe and comfortable. They both really rather loved their little old house, though neither of them really said so much.

They both had good jobs in the nearby city, and they both worked hard.

One evening after a long day at work they looked at each other and said, “We need a holiday!”

So they booked a flight to Marrakesh, because it sounded far away and exciting and a bit magical.

And so it was – very exciting and just a bit magical.

They visited beautiful gardens right on the edge of the desert. They saw grand old buildings with walls and floors decorated with gorgeous tiles in every colour you can imagine. And they went to the great big marketplace called the souk.

Gavin and Glenys were very excited by the souk. There was so much to see, and to buy! There were clothes, and shoes, and jewellery, and lamps, and carpets and furniture and mirrors and… and… well, lots of things!

The men who owned the market stalls would ask a high price for their goods, and Glenys would laugh and say, “Oh, you funny man!” before offering a much lower price.

And the men who ran the stalls would laugh and suggest a better price, and they would suggest prices to each other until either they agreed or Gavin and Glenys would shrug, smile and walk away.

Continue reading The MAGIC SATCHEL

The influence of others

I wonder: how much to read while I’m writing?

DSCF2751 I posted this comment on the excellent page of WitheringThyme (recommended reading, BTW).  As I wrote it occurred to me to ask this question of my own readership…

I find I’m torn when I’m in the process of writing (and that’s most of the time).  I love to read other writers’ work, especially though not exclusively fantasy.  I’ve gotten past the whole “Oh, I’ll never be as good as this” self-doubt thing, realising that we’re all different with different things to offer.  But I do worry that I’ll find myself channelling or copying their style or content, consciously or otherwise.  I’m curious to hear others thoughts?  Thanks!

(And remember – you’re invited to visit my Market Place page to see what I have ‘out there’ at present!)

My purpose

I would like to share this with you all…

MY PURPOSE AS A WRITER IS TO GIVE EXPRESSION TO ALL OF THE STORIES IN MY HEAD. AS I WRITE THEM, MORE APPEAR.

I WILL ENTERTAIN READERS AND MAKE THEM THINK ABOUT THEIR POTENTIAL, THEIR RELATIONSHIPS AND ATTITUDES.

I WILL RESEARCH BY TRAVELLING, READING AND LISTENING.

I WILL INSPIRE OTHERS TO EMBRACE, EXPLORE AND EXPRESS THEIR OWN IMAGINATIONS.

If you’re a regular follower, I trust this gives you some insight into me.  If you’re new here, please look around, read what appeals to you.  I’d value your feedback – it helps me know how on track I am.  Thanks – Renoir

Breaking Bone

A Dubious Magic story.  This takes place immediately after the events of The Wizard of Waramanga… Check out the Marketplace page to order the book!

They’d made it into Barandilla not long after sunset.

You couldn’t call Barandilla a town.  It didn’t even appear on a lot of maps.  On a lonely stretch of the highway running through the Central Australian desert, it had a pub, two petrol pumps – one of which had an ‘Out Of Order’ sign that had hung on it so long it had almost faded to illegibility – and a stray dog.

‘Bob’s Hotel’ served as a rest stop for passing trucks and the occasional drover, and a social hub for folks from the surrounding cattle stations.

It had been a long day.  Well, that was probably an understatement.  The four of them had been shot at and almost consumed by a gigantic demon from some dark Other Dimension before narrowly escaping the cataclysmic cave-in of an underground military complex.  No wonder Wilko, Darren and Scarlet had just wanted to have a quick meal then go crash in their respective rooms.

John B. Stewart was still too wound up to sleep, though.  Since hitting his head on a Canberra poker machine he’d found he had a strange wizardly power.  His wishes came true, although not necessarily in ways he anticipated.  It had been his unpredictable magic that had gotten them into danger, and admittedly out of it.  Bidding his friends goodnight he went to get as good a Scotch as he could find.

As well as the dining room, there were two bars in Bob’s Hotel.  John B. very deliberately chose to walk into the less well-lit option.

There was only one other customer.  Sitting near the end of the bar was a dusty Aboriginal wearing the checked shirt and jeans that were almost the local uniform.  He looked up at John B. then quickly looked back down at his beer, considerable surprise on his face.

Continue reading Breaking Bone

Lucius Longpockets

 

There’s something about the ‘morality tales’ (or fables) we were told as kids which resonated with me then, and has stayed with me over the subsequent years.  So I’ve crafted a couple of my own.

Here’s one –   I don’t have kids of my own to ‘test’ such stories on, so I’d welcome your feedback.

 

LUCIUS LONGPOCKETS

 

Lucius Lawrence was his name, but people called him Lucius Longpockets because he seemed to have so much trouble reaching for his wallet.

 

The same people called his poor little wife Nodding Nora, because whatever Lucius said, however outrageous or silly or rude, she would just nod. Smile her sweet little smile and nod.

 

Lucius did not believe in paying for anything he could get for free.

 

“Why should I buy a bottle of water from you?” he snapped at the man in the store. “You have a tap – I’ll get my water from that! Cos that’s free!”

 

“Why should I pay to buy a car, or the terrible expense of running one? Why should I pay to ride a bus or a train, full of people I wouldn’t like anyway?” he said. “I’ll ride my pushbike – cos that’s free!”

 

Lucius still had the bicycle his parents had given him many years earlier. He did his own maintenance work on it. He patched the tyres for as long as he could before he’d finally have to buy a new tyre because there wasn’t enough left of the old tyre to patch.

 

He greased the chain and all the joints with the grease from Nora’s kitchen – the grease that was so thick and black and horrible that even he wouldn’t eat food cooked in it. Nora would nod and smile sweetly at him, knowing that this week she would get to buy some new cooking oil.

 

Lucius only had three sets of clothes. He had his ‘everyday’ clothes, which he would wear every day from Monday to Saturday. He had his stripey pyjamas, that he would wear to bed every night. And he had his Sunday clothes, which he would wear once per week while Nora washed the other clothes.

 

She would wash his stripey pyjamas first, so that they would be dry in time for Lucius to wear them on Sunday night. Then she would wash his ‘everyday’ clothes so that they could dry during the day and overnight, ready for him to wear them first thing on Monday.

 

Nora had a few more changes of clothes than Lucius, but she made sure that they looked like each other so he wouldn’t notice and complain about her spending money.

 

They still lived in the little house that Lucius’ parents had owned. There wasn’t a lot of room, but there was only the two of them. The house was old, though, and some of it was rather worn-out.

 

Lucius didn’t like having to pay tradesmen to fix things. He was quite clever, and still quite fit so he did most things around the house himself. He fixed the plumbing when it was needed, and planed the doors when the damp weather warped them and they wouldn’t quite shut properly. He wouldn’t buy new windows – he would put putty around the panes if they started to rattle in the wind, and put tape over any cracks in the glass.

 

He would ride his bicycle to the local rubbish tip, and fill up his carry basket with things other people had thrown away that he could use to fix the house. Once he did four trips in a day to bring back a small stack of roof tiles. They were old and a bit damaged and might not quite fit his roof, but they were in slightly better condition than some of the very old ones that were already on the little house.

 

“And best of all, they’re free,” he explained to Nora as he set up his ladder to repair the roof.

 

Nora smiled sweetly at him and nodded.

 

One very cold winter their fridge broke down. Nora worried that their food would spoil. She called a serviceman and explained what had happened. When she had told him all the details, including how very old the fridge was, the man made sad little “Tsk tsk tsk” noises down the phone.

 

“I don’t think it can be repaired,” he said sadly. “It’s very hard to find parts for a machine that old, and they’re usually expensive. I’m afraid it would be cheaper for you to buy a new fridge.”

 

Later, after dinner, Nora told Lucius what the serviceman had said. He wasn’t pleased, but he had an idea.

 

“Why should I pay to get another one now? That can wait until summer when the sales are on. There’s lots of snow on the ground outside – we can store our food in that to keep it cold, cos that’s free.”

 

Nora paused for a moment. She didn’t nod, and her smile slipped a bit.

 

“Are you sure that’s a good idea, Lucius? It might be a little – inconvenient,” she said.

 

Lucius waved his hand, dismissing her concern.

 

“There’s a nice deep drift of snow under the old tree. That should make it easy for you to find stuff when you need it. I’ll put everything in those plastic bags we get for free from the supermarket and move it all now. You take yourself off to bed,” he said, feeling quite generous in offering to do the job himself.

 

Nora wasn’t too keen on having to dig food and drink out of the snow whenever she wanted something, but she nodded and said, “Very well, dear.”

 

As she went to go to her room Lucius called out from the doorway, “Don’t lie there reading too late, please. You know the electricity bill is expensive enough this time of year.”

 

Nora nodded. She only read two pages of her favourite book before she turned out the light. She didn’t mind – she knew the story well, having read it several times. One day she hoped they might buy some more books, even if it was from a second-hand shop.

 

She rolled over and went to sleep listening to the sound of Lucius’ footsteps as he went back and forth into the snow-covered garden.

 

“Whew! Only two more bags to go!” Lucius said to himself as he pushed snow over a bag of sausages.

 

He went to lean against the old tree and catch his breath, but he slipped slightly on the snow and his hand hit the trunk of the tree quite hard.

 

The old tree shook with the impact, and snow fell from the old branches. Some of it fell on Lucius, and a lot fell on the roof of the house.

 

Several of the tiles that didn’t fit very well came loose, and as they slid free a great big pile of snow also slipped – right off the roof and onto Lucius Longpockets.

 

“Gosh! That’s freez…” was all he managed to say.

 

One of the roof tiles bopped him on the head and knocked him out, but there was so much snow all over and around him he didn’t fall over. He just stood there, beside the stash of grocery bags, wet and coated in snow.

 

More flakes started to fall gently from the sky overnight, covering Lucius like a snowman. He froze to death without even knowing it.

 

Nora was very sad to lose him of course. She would think of Lucius and sigh over a chocolate biscuit and a cup of tea made with milk from her nice new fridge, as she read one of her new books.

 

But she’d smile her sweet little smile and nod sadly when friends would say, “At least now, you’re free.”