There was nothing classier than a teenage girl smoking on a hot summer’s day. Oh yeah. Bum-sucking a pack of cigarettes they conned from the local deli, feeling all so sophisticated. Every gesture a pose, waiting for the clatter of some invisible camera to plaster them across a magazine. Ooh la bloody la.
He should march up to them now, thought Bradbury. Demand to know where the cigs came from. Drag the culprit back to the shop and fine the owner.
Somewhere there were fires burning. Black smoke rose lazily to the north over Napa County and then slumped to the east, the breezeless air taking it nowhere.
Titles. It sounds ridiculous, but choosing a title is one of the hardest parts of writing a book, except when the title is perfect. As you might know, Fire in the Sea wasn’t always called Fire in the Sea. When the book won The Text Prize, it was called The Relic. Except it wasn’t. When the book won The Text Prize, it was actually called Summer Devils. Before that — months and months and months before that — it was called The Deep Hereafter.
I wrote the other day about the various processes of inspiration that helped me start and finish Fire in the Sea. I mentioned then that Sadie, my main character, was inspired by a song. Music really deserves its own post, I think, when it comes to inspiration.
As I said on Sunday, this is one of those killer questions writers prefer not to answer. The fact is, we don’t know where ideas come from. They just arrive, whistling a jaunty tune, usually when you’re looking in the other direction.
I find most of my best ideas arrive in the shower, or when I’m walking the dog, having just spent five hours sat at my computer, trying to solve an apparently intractable problem. Why it never occurs to me to get up earlier, I don’t know.
I attend quite a few talks by writers, mainly to steal tips. These talks usually last an hour and, at the end, there's 15 minutes or so of questions from the audience. (Once, I went to an interview with a very famous author where the interviewer managed to get this back-to-front, meaning the author spoke for 15 minutes and the audience quizzed him for 45. Terrible.) Without fail, there are two questions that are always asked. Both are questions that authors don't really like to answer.
Sam Barrett was the fastest kid in the school and everyone knew it. Even kids that weren’t in his class admired his perfect hair and smooth angel chin. Teachers adored and respected him, predicting bright things. He was tidy, pretty and keen.
Most nights the sea came rushing over the hill and punched in Jasper’s window. It was always the ceiling fan that worried him most, slicing down as he bobbed up from his bed.
When it wasn’t a tsunami, it was an asteroid burning across the night sky. Once, he saw a meteor collide with the moon and massive fragments of shattered rock came tumbling in flames to Earth. Running for his life, Jasper looked back to see a fireball engulf his father.
I was lucky enough to grow up feeling very, very bored.
My mother always hates it when I say that, so let me explain myself. As a child, I was obsessed with television and movies. My earliest memories aren’t my memories at all, but exciting snippets of films and programs I was allowed to watch. (Okay, my actual earliest memory is of being teased for dressing up as Batman when I was four… )
I’m writing this first entry from several thousand feet above sea level, onboard a very shaky airbus en route to Melbourne. This is all the glamorous jetsetting you can expect during my stay in the kennel — the rest of these blogs will be written at a far more sensible height from my studio in St Kilda East.