I’m waiting to hear back from my editor following my first round of revisions for The Undercurrent, my new book due out in August with Text Publishing. You’d think I’d use this time to breathe out, give the creative side of my brain a chance to rest but, no, it turns out my brain isn’t good with taking a break. Either that or I’m so conditioned to being busy that I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m not.
So while I wait, I’ve been tinkering with an idea for the next project, daydreaming about characters, pulling together the first glimpses of a plot. It’s like solving a mystery, these early explorations, and it’s fun because there’s no pressure for it to be anything in particular. It’s just me and a bunch of ideas – some worth chasing down, some not.
This overlap seems to be part of my process. For the four books of the Rephaim series, I was always alternating between writing one book and editing the previous – the latter always having priority. It meant that when one book went to press, I already had a reasonable chunk of a rough draft of the next. It’s how I could write a book a year for four years while also working a day job. So I’m excited that have the next thing ready to work on when The Undercurrent is closer to going to press. (There’s also another story waiting in the wings, which is more of a longer-term project.)
The Undercurrent – a stand-alone speculative thriller set in a near-future Australia – has come together a little slower than the Rephaim books, partly because of the challenges life has thrown at me, and partly because it’s bigger (as in length) and more ambitious than anything else I’ve written.
Images from my Pinterest board for The Undercurrent:
Meanwhile, I’ve also been binge reading (mostly) Australian fiction:
The Messenger was a rare re-read for me, and I loved it even more second time around (many years after first reading it). I’m a little obsessed with Garry Disher at the moment, and devoured the latest instalments in his two series. New Guinea Moon and Our Chemical Hearts – while vastly different stories – were moving coming-of-age reads, both exploring grief and friendship. Fall Girl was a fun, intelligent romance from the wonderful Toni Jordan, and The Refuge an original middle grade fantasy by Brisbane writer AV Mather.
The three with the biggest emotional punch were:
- A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (the only non-Aussie in this batch): I was crying so hard at the end of this book I couldn’t even tell my husband why. This book brought back the devastation of losing close friends to cancer and I couldn’t talk about it for a good day without my throat closing over and my voice going squeaky. (There may or may not have been hormones involved.)
- The Protected by Claire Zorn: What a beautiful, poignant book of grief, resilience and hope. It’s one of the most powerful novels I’ve read, particularly in the way it deals with the insidiousness of bullying. Claire is such a gifted author. Honestly, Australia has some of the best writers in the word. I realise how biased that sounds, but it doesn’t make it any less true.
- Both of the above books by Nicole Hayes: Nicole does such a brilliant job at characterisation and gritty realism. Reading The Whole of My World was perfectly timed in the lead up to the launch of the AFL Women’s competition (I’ve watched every game so far – go Lions!), and Shelley’s story has stayed with me. A Shadow’s Breath is darker and more intense than her earlier books – dealing with a more complex form of grief – and yet still manages to end on a note of hope.
At the top of my to-read list:
Life continues to be a journey of laughter and tears; great moments of joy and heart-squeezing moments of grief. I miss my dad every day. I miss who my mum was before dementia. But I still have her, she still knows who we are, and she still laughs a lot. That’s no small thing.
I’m still working full-time, but I have a plan in place to make some changes later this year. I actually don’t mind writing at 5am in the morning before work, but it would be great to have other options… Changing jobs two weeks ago was a first step in that direction.
How’s everyone else’s year going so far? What are you reading?