Monday, September 10, 2012

Still Stroky

Sorry, it's been a while since the last post. But i still love you. It's not you. It's me.

We had the madness of The Melbourne Writers Festival, which I loved this year, if only because it was the first time ever that I was actually on stage and a part of it. I was interviewed about The Shiny Guys by Nicole Armstrong, who was kind enough to send me the questions in advance, though I still found them difficult to answer, and it required me to take a second look at the book and ask myself why I wrote it. This is not the sort of soul-searching I normally do, so it was good to get a heads-up from Nicole, who later told me it was her first time as a MWF interviewer, though it didn't show.

The panel session with Scot Gardner, where we talked about why our humour is so dark, was a lark. I feel an affinity with Scot because we both went to the same shithouse schools in The Latrobe Valley (Grey Street Primary and Maryvale High), though we were ten years apart. This shared experience seems to have turned Scot into an affable family man and very strong writer, while I don't think I have managed to gain quite as much benefit.

Then we had Write Along the Murray in Albury, which I agreed to do this year because I dropped out last year at the last minute when I had the stroke. It's horrible to think that I'm still getting over it, and can't make myself heard with a group of teenagers unless I have a microphone. Even then I sound stroky, talking through my nose a lot. The Albury crowd was good, and the highlight for me was doing a stage interview with Fiona O'Loughlin as special guest. She was her usual disarming and fabulously funny self. Years ago, Fiona and I worked on a TV pilot that was based on her life.

 It turned out pretty well and we wrote two more scripts that everyone seemed to like, but the show went nowhere. Network Seven didn't think that the expense of shooting a series in Darwin was worth it. They were probably right, but it was difficult to move the show to another location, since the whole series was based on Fiona's stand-up. (We used Darwin as a stand-in for Alice Springs.) IT was great to work with Fiona on the show, then end up with something I was pretty happy with, so of course it hurt when we were knocked back. Speaking of 'hurt' I got back home from Albury and foolishly dedided to go online and check out the reviews for the Kath and Kim movie, which I script-edited. The reviews were nearly all smartarse and bad, though apparently the show is a commercial success. Jane and Gina worked so hard on that film, I hope they get their just deserts, and the critics can all go screw themselves.
Because I've spent the whole year trying to get over the stroke, I haven't planned much for next year. The priority project at the moment is The Margaret Fulton Musical, mentioned elsewhere on this blog, I've been lucky to work with such young, motivated people, including director Bryce Ives. Our singers are all excellent, especially laura Burzacott who seems to get better and better every time I see her.

I was reminded of the stroke (like I needed to be reminded) when I went to the Blood Bank yesterday to give blood. After drinking all the free milkshakes and wolfing down the free fruitcake I was eventually seen by a nurse who told me they were unable to take my blood because stroke survivors are vetoed. I kept telling the nurse that I felt fine, and even stood on one leg to prove it, but the answer was still no.

Since I last posted, the picture book Heather Fell in the Water has been published by the good people at Allen and Unwin. We had a launch in Bendigo, which my whole family even Dad, (who's about to have a second heart bypass operation) was good enough to attend. Given that the book is basically a steal from my little sister's life, it was nice to get the family on side. I may well use them again! Craig Smith's illustrations are quite beautiful, not that this comes as any surprise to me. He remains my favourite picture book illustrator, and we have another one, The Windy Farm, coming out next year from Working Title. It's a non-too-serious picture book about sustainability, complete with flying pigs, wonderfully realised by Craig.

My sequel to The Life of a Teenage Body-snatcher (The Teamen) has been with Penguin for a few months now, but I haven't heard from them. I personally don't think the second book is as strong as the first book, as it veers dangerously into the fantasy genre, complete with zombies, but of course I'd be happy to rework it with an editor if I knew it was being published.

Thanks for sticking by me, blog readers, sorry the news isn't more sensational. I've stopped being objectionable on Facebook, which I think is a sure sign that I really am recovering from the stroke. For those keen on the Margaret Fulton musical, here's a pic of a rehearsed reading - and singing - held at The Wrong Crowd bar in Geelong. That's Margaret Fulton doing a duet with (I think) Paul Hamlyn.


Dmetri Kakmi said...

Doug, I wish I'd known about your appearance at MWF. I would have loved to hear you talk about The Shiny Guys. It is one of my favourites, though it seems to me everything you write becomes my favourite only to be replaced by the next favourite.

Dmetri Kakmi said...

Doug, I wish I'd known about your appearance at MWF. I would have loved to hear you talk about The Shiny Guys. It is one of my favourites, though it seems to me everything you write becomes my favourite only to be replaced by the next favourite.