Book Review: Slightly Spooky Stories.

photo 3 (1)

There was a knock at the front door and the dogs went nuts.

They really hate that ‘delivery bloke’.

We had been spending time with a friend the night before. Dinner at an Indian restaurant in Olinda [a beautiful part of the Dandenong Ranges, not far from our home]. A couple of glasses of wine, and unseasonably warm evening, and a couple of ‘slightly spooky stories’ supplied by the owner of the restaurant. When you hang out with Mediums interesting things happen. He told us a few stories about being aware of Spirits and my friends tried to connect him with his grandmother, but the staff were getting restless — it was late and they wanted to go home — fair enough, a conversation for another day.

We went back to our friends house and the conversation flowed well into the morning. Fortunately, I’d stopped imbibing somewhat earlier so my head was in reasonable shape when we heard the knock at the door.

You would think that I would be very pleased to see my latest book in print, and I was, but this moment [six books so far] is always a bit of a letdown.

So much goes into the publishing of a book you probably wouldn’t believe it if you hadn’t been through it. Then the final part of a very long process arrives at your door, and the project is finally complete [well almost, there is always the constant marketing….. like this article].

The idea for this book [anthology] came about while I was writing TRUST: What it feels like to be a medium. I wanted to add a couple of stories that came into being because of the influence of a reading I had given or seen given by others. I then realised that I have written a lot of stories that are vaguely ‘spooky’ [I don’t do horror, it’s not my thing]. I bundled them all together and sure enough, there was more than enough for an anthology. [book two in this series is well under way]

As many of you will know, I often use an illustration or photograph to kickstart a story. Many of these stories happened the other way around and I had to find a suitable illustration to go with each story. This is where my talented son Matthew comes into the story. Matt lets me use lots of his photographs to headline my stories. Naturally, a lot of my inspiration comes from other people’s illustrations and it would not be right to use them in a book without asking permission. This would be a huge task and not viable for a writer who aims to break even and possibly make a bit more to convince his wife that people really do want to read what he writes.

I’ve been a photographer since the early 1970s, but all my early work went missing when we moved house in ’86, and a lot of my early digital work disappeared when I experienced my first hard drive crash, so I’m very happy that I can choose some of Matt’s excellent photos to enhance my stories. Slightly Spooky Stories has several of his photos, but the really important one is the cover shot. I told him about the project I was working on and he sent me this shot and I was blown away. It was taken in the main street of Belgrave which is the next town further up the mountain from mine. Walking distance in fact. It’s a time capsule shot of sorts as the street artwork has deteriorated quite a bit since this shot was taken.

The first story in the collection is a particular favourite of mine and was honoured, a little while ago, by being chosen for inclusion in one of Australia’s premier literary magazines, Southerly [The Long Paddock, their on-line edition]. Naturally, I was very proud and more than a little bit surprised considering the stack of rejection letters I had been collecting up to that point. I don’t submit my stories to Lit’ Mag’s anymore so this might be my last and biggest success [several of my stories have found homes in magazines all over the world and a full list is in the back of SSS]

The stories in the book vary in length with ‘Emily’ being the longest, but ‘An AK47 and a banana’ comes in a close second.

In this modern busy world, this is the perfect book to read on the tram or the train on the way to work.

The longest story takes about 20 minutes to read, but most are much shorter.

If you chose to read the book in bed you will not have nightmares but each story will make you wonder what came before and what happened after.

Naturally, you can purchase this book as an eBook as well as a paperback. It is available from Amazon, Apple, Smashwords [all formats] as well as Kobo and Barnes and Noble.

The paperback is available from me, and if you are in North America you can purchase it from my printers, Blurb [postage makes it a bit more expensive if you are outside of North America].

photo 2 (1)

This book has traveled a long way and so have I.

photo 4

If there is such a thing as a ‘book selfie’ then this is it.

What Came First?

old-timey-wtf-12

It’s hard to say.

I’m pretty sure that the chicken was there when we arrived.

I’m not sure if I was the prop, or the chicken was there to make me look good.

Either way it didn’t work; for either of us.

Obviously someone thought it was funny.

I didn’t; I was fed up and I don’t think the chicken was any too pleased either.

I’d been in what was laughingly called ‘show business’ for a bit over eighteen months.

It was my mum’s idea.

She entered me into one of those baby contests that were all the rage back then and I aced it.

You probably think that the cigarette was a prop; part of the gag, but it wasn’t.

I was a two pack a day kid by then.

Everyone thought it was so cute.

They didn’t have to put up with the cough.

Frankly, I preferred cigars, but my mum said I looked ridiculous.

This shot is an ‘out-take’ of sorts, and also the only shot that survives from the session that seemed to take forever.

I still don’t know how they got the chicken to stay in frame for so long. Personally, I think it was pissed.

I remember that Hitchcock had a lot of the birds drugged with grain soaked in alcohol.

I’ll bet that this chicken was on single malt whisky.

Her fee was more than I was getting for making silent movies and I was a star.

A very small star, mind you, but a star none-the-less.

I guess cute little kids were easier to find than a chicken who would stand still for hours and take direction.

She didn’t even need a dressing room and there was a bloke employed just to clean up after her.

What a life.

Permanently off her face on expensive whisky; she must have enjoyed being a chicken.

I, on the other hand, was fed up with show business.

I’d made twenty-eight movies that year alone and it was only August. My dead-beat-dad would run off with a script girl in a few months and take with him, all the money I had earned.

A few years later they found him naked and passed out next to a dead starlet in an expensive house in the Hollywood hills. The starlet was wearing only a smile and the studio paid a fortune to hush it all up.

My dead-beat-dad took the rap and died in prison when a very large convict fell on him during a particularly rowdy bout of Yoga.

I made a couple of hundred movies the next year but my career went down hill when sound came in.

Apparently my voice sounded strange, and mix that together with my growth spurt and I was out of a job.

I limped along for a couple of years doing cigarette commercials but it wasn’t the same.

I missed the big-time.

Within ten years I’d been forgotten and most of my movies went up in flames when the studio used them for special effects in ‘The Burning Of Rome’.

The photo you see here is pretty much all that is left of my early career. There are still a few old posters floating around but none of my films survived.

I heard that the chicken’s owner invested wisely and ended up running the largest chicken ranch in the south-east.

I’m gonna look him up and see if I can get a job.

I like chickens and it seems that they like me.

Black and White.

IMG_0689

~oOo~

IMG_0683

Sometimes you find yourself in the right place at the right time.

We have been married for a LONG time, and on this particular weekend we were enjoying a fabulous weekend celebrating our wedding anniversary. It’s a Saturday and, as people do, there was a wedding {actually there were a few]. The old cars made it for me. We took a few photos and the combination of the awesome old church, the wedding party and the cars made for some interesting shots.

One of the great arts of conversation.

Image

“A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet.” Truman Capote

It was a very warm day, and the entertainment flowed.

No one was the least bit concerned about the bloke with the camera.

Any other day and these shots would have been very hard to get.

Image

This was one of the first shots that I got that day. A longish lens helped. They were aware of me, but they did not seem to care. I guess it helped that I was far enough away to not be able to hear.

“Conversation should be pleasant without scurrility, witty without affectation, free without indecency, learned without conceitedness, novel without falsehood.” William Shakespeare

Image

“Silence is one of the great arts of conversation.” Marcus Tullius Cicero

This lady was listening intently which gave me the opportunity to get in close enough to capture the detail.

Image

Photo Credit: http://www.jimoneill.net/project_template.php?p=convposter

Image

Awesome movie.

There are times when, as a photographer, you feel a bit like the Gene Hackman character. You have captured a moment in a person’s life and frozen it for inspection.

I Just Cannot Keep My Eyes Open………..

Image

A few moments before………..

Image

As it is with most dogs, Zed will sleep most of the day unless something is happening. This behaviour makes sense in the wild as the pack must rest when it can and then be ready to hunt or defend the pack. I envy his ability to just curl up and drift off and then to be awake in an instant. I’ve had to wake up suddenly a few times in my life and I’m sure it would make an excellent YouTube video as I stumble around trying to make my eyes focus and avoid bumping into furniture.

As I write this Zed is on my lap making it difficult to type. It’s raining outside for the first time in many weeks. Honey is asleep in a chair nearby and The Visitor is asleep in the kitchen. She is waiting patiently for her pack leaders to come home. What she does not know is that they have gone ‘up country’ to collect stored furniture for their newly rented home. The Visitor is moving out today (and so is my son. The nest is now empty). I shall miss her and my amazing son and his excellent girlfriend. They found each other and they are very lucky.