Friday, January 29, 2010

Songs That Inspired the "Dream"

During the Christmas break, I spent a week on Kangaroo Island at the bottom of South Australia. And during that time, I was able to put the finishing touches on the manuscript and ensure that it was ready for submission to iReadiWrite Publishing. I spent a few quiet days at the house we were staying at on my own while the girls and my son were out at the beach and I would relish having open slather over the stereo system.

Invariably I had an unconscious play list of songs I like to listen to whilst writing and editing. They helped to put me in that frame of mind that would get the best out of me. One song - well one band actually - assisted me more than any other to get into the headspace. British group Zero 7 have long been a favorite of mine. I discovered them a few years ago when I saw that fantastic Zack Braff directed indie "Garden State". Since then, they've had me hooked and not the least because a fellow South Australian, Sia Furler, appears regularly in their line up.

As I was retooling the final scenes of "The Hambledown Dream" the song "Home" happened to time itself on the random play on my smartphone. The effect was instant. Home became the song in which I said goodbye to the characters and situations I had created in my story. And it's influence lingered long after.

Imagine it then as say the closing theme to "The Hambledown Dream" and enjoy this video.


First Media Engagement!!

I am pleased to announce that I will be conducting my first media interview in support of "The Hambledown Dream" next Wednesday the 3rd of Febuary at 1115AM Australian Eastern Daylight Time with Dina Winterburn and Marie Ryan of Melbourne's Inner FM 96.5.

And the great news about this is that it will be streamed live on the web, so anyone in the world can tune in and listen to the interview. So to give you an idea of timing - for those of you in the States you can tune in live at 6:15PM Central Time on Tuesday the 2nd Febuary (because - I am in the FUTURE!!).

Dina, Marie and I will be chatting about the book, the inspiration for writing it and the nature of romance writing - particularly from a guy's point of view.

I do hope you can tune in to the show next week and have a listen to my first media engagement as a published author.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Dream" People - Inspirations For The Characters In The Hambledown Dream (Part 2).

Of all the characters that I created for my novel The Hambledown Dream, the one I had the earliest bead on was the character of Bruce DeVries, Andy's father.

When I first began entertaining the thought of writing this particular story, I had a clear idea that there was to be a father/son dynamic - a strained relationship where the father has little understanding of the son and vice versa. And again the visual part of my imagination kicked in and I saw clearly who it was that could best (physically) represent Bruce DeVries.

One of my most favorite films of all time has to be the 1981 Walter Hill film "Southern Comfort". Set in the Louisianna Everglades, Southern Comfort tells the story of a platoon of National Guardsmen out on a weekend recon exercise in the swampy marshes of "Cajun Country". Through the actions of these brash "cut-lunch commandoes" they unwittingly agitate an unseen band of cajun poachers. One of the Guardsmen is shot and killed which sets off a chain of events that sees these part time soldiers fighting for their lives as they are picked off one by one.

Starring Keith Carradine, Peter Coyote, Fred Ward, TK Carter, Brion James (a perennial favorite of mine), Southern Comfort is regarded as a classic, though perhaps not as much of a classic as others of it's era and or genre.

Southern Comfort also stars
Powers Boothe.

(Powers Boothe, center, as Cpl Charles Hardin in Southern Comfort, 1981).

Cast as the new-comer to the platoon of Guardsmen, Boothe plays Hardin - a quietly spoken but intensely 'present' man - who sort of becomes the reluctant leader of the platoon when everything goes to hell. He starts out in the film as a loner, hesitant about his presence in the platoon and thus he doesn't endear himself to the group initially. However, Hardin strikes up a tentative friendship with Spencer (Carradine) and this relationship becomes key to both men's survival as they struggle to escape the swamps and the poachers.

It was this quiet intensity that drew me to crafting the character of Andy's father in the story and, of all the characters in The Hambledown Dream, Bruce DeVries story arc remained pretty much unchanged from the time that I conceived him. Powers Boothe has been a mainstay character actor in film and television since the early 70's and though he has played a diversity of roles, this singular characteristic of quiet intensity has flowed through them all.

(Powers Boothe as Markham in The Emerald Forest, 1985).

Bruce is a distant figure when we first meet him in The Hambledown Dream. A long distance trucker for many years, Bruce and Andy are alienated from one another, they rarely talk to one another and given the destructive trajectory that Andy is on at the beginning of the story, it is not surprising that Bruce and Andy don't get along. However there is a hidden tragedy in Bruce's past that is only revealed when Andy comes to a critical junction in his own life. All is not what it seems.

Bruce DeVries is quiet but his presence is powerful and whenever Andy is in his father's presence, he feels inadequate. Andy has spent much of his life seeking his father's approval but he is constantly falling short. This only adds to the inner turmoil Andy experiences as the events of The Hambledown Dream unfold.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The First Week

The Hambledown Dream has been "on the shelves" for a week now. And it seems to be going well. It has sold copies - not in block buster numbers, but I guess I wasn't expecting that it would.

I have spent every spare moment of the past week emailing just about every conceivable media outlet I can think to garner interest in it, hopefully secure and interview for it or a review of it. It's tough going. Never have I scoured the internet more in my life in the quest for these three things. And in the process I have learnt something...

I have no idea about marketing.

At the moment I don't have any strategy. I am just emailing anybody and everybody. But in the past few days I have started to categorize "blocks" of people to contact. Those in the mainstream media - including print, radio and TV. Those in the online media - podcasters and bloggers and those outside of both these spheres - real people. Potential readers. I guess I've sent out over 200 emails - I've lost count. I'll give it a week or so and then I'll resend those emails if I haven't heard back from those contacts. There have been a few nibbles from a couple of quarters but nothing concrete as yet.

I started a Facebook Fan Page. It wasn't something I really wanted to do initially. I have always been a little suspicious of those fan pages because I get so many requests to join fan pages. For instance - I got a request the other day to join a fan page for people who "hate it how people don't indicate in traffic"??? But I took the suggestion of starting a fan page and ran with it and I've been surprised by the response to it. I actually have fans now. Whether those fans will actually purchase the novel is another story but...I have fans!


My publisher and I are in regular contact and she has been fabulous in her suggestions and advice and it has really helped me. The dialogue is great.

The ironic moment of the week came on Saturday when I purchased The Weekend Australian from the newsagent. In the "Review" magazine there was an article all about the rise of the eBook and how it is fast becoming the new way. Australians are relatively in the dark about eBooks even though we have one of the fastest growing populations of iPhone owners in the Western World. The common refrain I hear from people with regards to eBooks are "but I really like the idea of holding a proper book in my hand". There is certainly something tangible about a paper and cardboard (??) book so I'll admit, they've got a point. But the potential that lies within the digital world for budding authors to get their work out there is limitless. So much more so than in the traditional publishing sphere.

Australian publishing is a little backward.

To those of you who have purchased the Dream thus far, thanks so much. I hope you are enjoying it.


Friday, January 22, 2010

"Dream" People - Inspirations for the Characters in The Hambledown Dream (Part 1 - Beck).

The characters in "The Hambledown Dream" were in the main, inspired by real people. I'm not sure that there is one single character in the novel that did not have some sort of real world influence when it came to creating them.

The character of Beck is just one example. Described in the novel as a tall, solidly built guy with a rugged visage and an almost perfectly shaved head, Beck is the room mate of Andy DeVries - the central protagonist in "The Hambledown Dream". He's a quietly spoken builder's laborer on a Chicago building site, who shares an apartment with Andy in Chicago's inner northern district. Though he is quietly critical of Andy's destructive lifestyle, Beck doesn't voice his concerns to Andy immediately. However it is Beck who first notices the seeds of Andy's doubts and encourages him to re-think his path before it destroys him. And when something within Andy begins to drive him towards seeking redemption, only Beck stands in support of him when everyone else regards Andy with suspicion.

Beck's physical presence and character was partially based upon Chicago stand-up comic Mike Stanley who is himself a rugged presence and a really decent guy who I've had the pleasure of speaking to many times. He is a working Comedian and writer who originates from the Metro Detroit area. His high energy and cut throat delivery has made him a crowd favorite in comedy clubs and college campuses all over the country. In 2005 he won the "Last Comic Still Standing" Comedy competition in Rochester New York, The Joey's Comedy Club Challenge, And Placed in the top three of Michigan's Up and Comers . In 2006 he was Crowned the "Canadian Mist Whiskey Comedian of 2006".

Mike breaks down day to day subjects with a keen wit and drives his points home fearlessly. Mike Stanley can be heard regularly on Chicago's
Red Bar Radio. I was pleased to be able to have such a good physical representation for the character of Beck.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Song That Inspired "The Dream"

"Walking On A Dream" is the unofficial theme song to "The Hambledown Dream" which is OUT NOW at iReadiWrite Publishing, Omnilit Books, and Amazon's Kindle Store.

Written and performed by Australian group Empire of the Sun, "Walking On A Dream" helped inspire me during the latter stages of writing and I have quoted the opening lyrics at the beginning of the story (crediting their authors appropriately). It is these lyrics in particular that say something to me about the journey of the central characters in "The Hambledown Dream", Denny Banister and Andy DeVries, two young men who are both both searching for redemption in very different ways.

You can watch the official music video of Empire of the Sun's "Walking On A Dream"

Empire of the Sun's critically acclaimed debut album can be purchased from all great music stores including the band's own here. It's a brilliant album, quite unlike anything I've heard before. I can best describe it is sumptuous - but it's much much more than that. I encourage you to give it a listen.


Where "The Hambledown Dream" Works...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Official iReadiWrite Press Release - For Immediate Release.

Edgy, Romantic, Timeless - All Signs Point to a Bestseller for The Hambledown Dream

The Hambledown Dream is an enchanting and moving first novel by Dean Mayes about a young man whose spirit refuses to die. For a brilliant young man with the world at his feet, his untimely death is not end of his journey, it is just the beginning...

The Hambledown Dream


PR Log (Press Release) Jan 21, 2010 – ireadiwrite Publishing is extremely pleased to present the premiere novel by break out author Dean Mayes. This Pediatric Intensive Care Nurse has long held the dream to be a published author and after years of blogging and several attempts at producing that one great novel, Dean has delivered a lyrical and deeply moving fable about two young men - one whose spirit is determined to live on beyond his untimely death and the other who is lost and deeply troubled but who finds the means to lift himself from his destructive existence. Together, they become the chance for one another's salvation.

Denny Banister had it all – a successful university degree, a passion for the guitar and a deep love for Sonya - his soul mate whom he wishes to marry. Tragically, Denny is struck down with inoperable cancer and he is destined to die. At the moment of his death, however, Denny's spirit passes from his destroyed body and into the body of a drug addicted young man - who lies, clinging to life in a trauma room, on the other side of the world.

Andy DeVries stands on a precipice. He lives life on a razor's edge, dealing in drugs and moving through a dangerous underworld of criminals and con artists. He is alienated from his father and he stands to lose the only thing that matters to him - a place at a prestigious Conservatory for classical guitar in Chicago. For Andy has a love of the guitar as fierce as Denny's once was. Having been snatched from a near fatal overdose Andy is suddenly plagued by dreams of another life - a life he has never known but one that is as familiar to him as if it were his own. He dreams of a love he has never experienced yet he knows this love intuitively and deeply.

Having been given a chance at redemption Andy begins to change. Something has been awakened in him - a spirit of a once proud man. As Sonya grieves for her lost love Andy begins a quest to find her - knowing her only by the dreams of a place called Hambledown...and the memories of a stranger.

With a street date of January 20, 2010 - the novel is only available in a few stores, yet all signs point to a bestseller for this small digital press and this first time author. As the novel rolls out to other retailers, great reviews and sales are expected.

The Hambledown Dream can be purchased directly from the publisher at or from most major and independent ebook stores.

# # #

ireadiwrite Publishing is a digital small press featuring new writers of literary fiction and poetry across a wide variety of genres. Our books are available in eBook sellers worldwide and in our own online store in multiple, non-DRM formats.

The "Dream" Is Realized!


First time author, Dean Mayes is pleased to announce that his first novel "The Hambledown Dream" has been released today (January 21, 2010) at iReadiWrite Publishing.

A lyrical and deeply moving fable, "The Hambledown Dream" tells the story of two young men whose lives become inextricably entwined.

Denny Banister had the world at his feet; a successful career, a passion for the guitar and Sonya – the love of his life. Tragically, Denny is struck down with inoperable cancer & he is destined to die. Andy DeVries has almost nothing; he is alienated from his family, he moves through a dangerous Chicago underworld dealing in drugs, battling addiction & now he’s gone and overdosed - jeopardizing the only thing that matters to him; a place at a prestigious Conservatory for classical guitar.

Having been snatched from the abyss Andy recovers, and is plagued by dreams - memories of a love he has never felt, and a life he's never lived. Driven by the need for redemption and by the love for a woman he's never met, he begins a quest to find her, knowing her only by the memories of a stranger and the dreams of a place called Hambledown...

The Hambledown Dream" is available in PDF, Mobi and ePub formats from the iReadiWrite Store at a price of $7.99USD.


The 25th Hour

I've found it really hard to sleep these past few days. And that's a bad thing because I work nights at the hospital so sleep is a premium I can't do without - nor should I. My mind is working at a million miles an hour - or so it seems and I have been in this surreal place ever since last week, since I got the news about the book and the publishing deal. I was like this when my daughter, Lucy was born back in November '09 and my partner and I were abuzz with the blessing of this new little soul - this life that had been gifted to us.

Anyway...Michelle Halket and I have been in almost constant email contact, readying "The Hambledown Dream" for release on the iReadiWrite Store. I cannot fault her care and attention. Michelle has communicated even the most minor things to me so I can consider them in turn. She is readily available and nothing is too much trouble. Last weekend, Michelle did a review of the manuscript and found some minor grammatical errors (yes - still some errors after all the work I've done!!) and I have since found some more (ARRRGGGGHHH!!!). They are not at all major ones - but part of the success of this novel has to be fostered in the knowledge that it is 100% percent tight, flawless grammatically - otherwise critics will drive a truck through it. I have to temper my excitement with the technical focus of getting this thing perfect. I sent the revisions back to Michelle tonight (Australian time) so that she can review and fix them up.

I have developed some interesting trivialities in the past week. At 3:30AM Adelaide time, it hits 9:00AM in Vancouver - where iReadiWrite is located. I know this implicitly now so I kinda work on Vancouver time during the week. Which works fine since, through the week I am working nights so my body clock is all screwy anyway. It's a passing thought...just indulge me okay?

The Hambledown Dream is now officially listed on the iReadiWrite Store as "Coming Soon" (January 2010). I can't quite get my head around the fact that this...all really happening.

Will talk soon,


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Official Sneak Peak - Cover Art

The Official Cover Art for Dean's forth coming novel "The Hambledown Dream".

Well, here it is - the official cover art for my upcoming novel. Photography by Melissa Alexander and design by Michelle Halket. The interesting thing about this image is that we almost didn't get it. By about 7AM we were walking off the beach, thinking we had gotten enough shots. Then the sun peeked up over the houses that line Henley Beach's fore shore and Mel squeaked "Dean, quick! Get me the posy again!!" I literally fished it out of the small cooler (Esky) I had and tossed down onto the sand where it came to rest exactly as you see it here.

I am so happy with this cover.

As I was tweeting on these developments overnight I got a message which totally blew my mind, which I have to share. Kyle Newman, director of the 2009 feature film "Fanboys" sent me a message of congratulations via my twitter feed and indicated that he "can't wait to read it". I spent much of 2009 (when I wasn't writing and living and breathing) killing myself with anticipation for "Fanboys" and only got the DVD version of the film in late November...pretty much after the entire world had seen it - EXCEPT ME.

I had the opportunity to chat directly with Kyle about the film and about the inspirations that brought about "Fanboys" on an episode of The ForceCast last year and for me, it was a real treat.

My mind blows every day lately...


Kyle Newman - Director of 2009's "Fanboys" (with friend).

Friday, January 15, 2010

Gonna Fly Now.

You know when, during the Rocky movies, Rocky Balboa begins that ubiquitous training montage of his to composer Bill Conti's rousing theme "Gonna Fly Now"?

Right from the very first refrains of those brassy trumpets that herald it's beginning, you just know that Rocky is going to prevail. That, from all the effort, the self doubt, the trials and tribulations that have peppered his journey up until that point - you just know things are going to be alright - okay good!

On Thursday afternoon I had to run a couple of errands and I took my son with me for the drive. Do you know, I can't even remember, what the errand was that I was supposed to be running, my mind has been so preoccupied this week. Anyway, as we're driving along, my son Xavier begs me to put on his favorite song of the moment - which just happens to be Bill Conti's "Gonna Fly Now". After a little protestation from myself - I was happy just to listen to the cricket - I relented and I thumbed my smart-phone's screen until I brought up the Media Player. In a few seconds that familiar and rousing trumpet refrain burst through the car and Xavier was cheering in his seat, punching the air with his fists as we got into the song for the umpteenth time.

And within that treasured little moment between father and son, I got this sense that things were going to be alright...good even...

And so, fast forwards to Friday morning - to when I first wake up and, as I have religiously these past few days, I launch into the ritual of checking my phone (email) hoping that, that one message that I have been waiting nervously for since last week had arrived.

I blinked as they downloaded onto my device...and then...

there it was...

I am thrilled to officially announce today that I have signed with iReadiWrite Publishing of Vancouver, Canada and that my first novel "The Hambledown Dream" will be published as an eBook - to be sold in the iReadiWrite store and it's partner stores.

iReadiWrite Publishing is a small but growing digital press that has been a fervent supporter of new and emerging writers looking to get their works published in the growing market place of electronic books. With a focus on literary fiction across a number of genre's, iReadiWrite Publishing has a growing catalogue of exceptional works in it's store and they are all reasonably priced to make them affordable and attractive.

You can thank the emergence of the iPhone and more recently Amazon's Kindle for driving an increasing interest in the eBook. In fact it has been reported that eBook sales are fast over taking sales of traditional books, such are their appeal to the modern reading public.

Words cannot describe how thrilled I am to be achieving what I consider to be one of the most significant dreams of my life. Since I was in my senior year at high school I have held onto the dream of becoming a published author. I have had many attempts at crafting that one great story, that novel that I always believed was in me. And now here I am.

An official release date for the book has not yet been pinned down but I am hopeful that the book will go live on the store within the next month or so. There is still a lot of work to do prior to it becoming available but rest assured that I will keep the updates flowing here.

I would like to invite you to spread the word about my book. I believe in it, I poured my heart into it and I would like as many people around the world as possible to read it and hopefully enjoy a tender and emotional love story that is quite a lot different to what you might expect.

Will talk soon,


Tuesday, January 12, 2010


(the following is a piece I wrote back in 2008. I have reduxed it here because I liked it).

Vignette 1.

The new phone directory arrived on the doorstep the other day. It was all fresh and new, no dog eared pages, the cover fresh and vibrant, it smelled great. The arrival of the new phone directory is always cool, if for no other reason than I get a chance to ditch the crappy old and bask in the glory of a brand new one before it gets thoroughly trashed.

The phone directory is society.

It's more than just names on a page or a means to find a business or service. In it are hundreds, thousands of stories. Individual stories, family stories, success stories and stories of failure...of heart ache. It is a microcosm of the world in which we live and it more than any other piece of literature has the ability to connect people.

Do you ever scan through the pages of peoples name on your search for that one person you are looking for and wonder just who these people are? I do, but I'm kinda screwy in that way...

So the phone directory came the other day and, like previous years, I brought it in and set it down on the kitchen table. Each year when it arrives I do the same thing, bring it into the house, set it down on the table then I go about my business. I try to go about my business...but there is always a question, a ghost if you will, that returns each to foment in my mind and persist in tugging at my conscience no matter how much I try to ignore it.

Is she still there?

I'll go outside, mow the lawn, tinker in the shed, weed the garden, wash the car. But the question lingers. It won't leave me alone. Each time I go in the house and walk by the table, there it is...and the question lingers.

I put the directory away in the cupboard, to get it out of my sight...yet the question still lingers.

Is she still there?

The past for me holds failed love and loss. Though time has moved on and I have moved with it, sometimes, ghosts from the past pull me back to remind me of those failures. It is not fair to my family now that I continue to be haunted by the past. It seems, to me, to be a sort of betrayal - yet I love my now serioso and I love my son and I would never give up on them. But the ghost of my failings still haunt me.

Though I tried so hard to fix those things that were broken, I was cut off at the knees. Things happened, decisions were made that I had no control over, no choice but to accept. I was forced to give up everything and to move on. Then...when I did move on, when I tried to rebuild a shattered life there were changes of heart, she changed her mind.

I can't live without you...We could keep it a secret...I was wrong about us.!!...please don't leave me!!!

There are still so many things that I don't understand about that time and, as a result, there is still a residual grief. There are, still, so many questions - questions that I will, probably, never know the answers to. That is one part of my story, though it's one that will never be hinted at through the phone directory because I chose along time ago not to have my name listed in there.

Every year, when the new directory arrives I do the same thing. I dance around it for a while, try to ignore it while the question taunts me, then I give in. I sit down and I look. And, there she the same place she was last year. In a bizarre way I take comfort in that. What is that? Is it some sort of holding on to the past?

Just by seeing her name on the page, I feel a sense of comfort. But it's wrong...way wrong...Isn't it?This year it was different. When I finally relented and hurriedly flipped through to where the entry should have been...

She was gone...

No longer there...

I was at once stunned and then sad. Why would that make me feel this way? So empty? That it was a last connection to an old life perhaps? A reminder that I had lived before? A reminder of my failings?

We tend to seek solace in grief sometimes. It is a curious notion that I have increasingly found truth in. I have found a sense of solace in grief, a sense of comfort. I have no idea why that is so but seeing her name there, knowing she was still there in her own consequence, was a comfort. Her name is gone from the phone directory now and, for a moment, I felt awful. And I feel stupid because I felt awful. Now - I just feel empty...

What does that mean?

Vignette 2.

This week, I shall say goodbye to an old friend. A friend I have known for three short years, a friend who is one of the important souls I have ever met. Together we have shared the most wonderful and enriching conversations......yet we have never spoken to one another.

Together we have been on the longest walks...

...but my friend has never moved from the one place. This friend greets me every morning as I leave for work and again when I return home in the evening...

...yet my friend has never stepped inside my home.

My friend lives on a tranquil hillside that overlooks the township, in a meadow where cows graze and kangaroos sometimes pass through. I'm rather envious because the vista up there is beautiful and peaceful. There is an uninterrupted view across the valley. I shouldn't complain though, because I have an uninterrupted view of the hillside from my loungeroom window and my friend is always the centerpiece of it.

I guess my friend has lived there for maybe 60 or 70 years? I don't really know because he looks as youthful as ever. Always healthy, always straight and tall, limbs strong.

Our best conversations are usually on a Saturday morning when I sit out on the porch with a cup of coffee and the paper. It's ironic actually that one of our first conversations/debates was about a hurricane in North America and the government's response to it and, this week, our last will be about another hurricane threatening the exact same peace of coast line. How the government responds to it this time is yet to become clear but, no doubt, he'll have little to say on the subject...again.

There were a few other significant events we shared. The day I brought home my newborn son there was a sunrise over the hill unlike no other that I can remember that I could have sworn he'd had a hand in. When the was more than a few significant domestic rows within the house it was his counsel that I sought out more than anyone else's. I'm sure he recommended more than a few of the apologies I went back to offer. The day one of my heroes, the journalist Matt Price, died he consoled me for a time as I shed a quiet tear for a man whose articles I had religiously though I had never met him.

This week I will farewell the tree that's sits alone, on the hillside above my house. And I will shed a tear again because I don't think I will ever meet someone quite like him again. The friendship we shared healed me, it sustained me and it enriched me. Saying goodbye to that tree will be harder than saying goodbye to my house, for while I love my little country cottage it is still youthful and new. It has yet to sit for the years that tree has sat and experience the comings and goings of people.

Where will I turn to now?

Whose counsel will ever be as qualitative as that of the tree above my house in the Hills?

The roots of that tree hold onto the soil of a place, the only place where I feel I have truly belonged.

Vignette 3.

This morning, as I was emptying out a wardrobe I happened across an old newspaper my grandfather gave me a long time ago. God, it was something like 23 years ago! My grandparents were moving house at the time and I found this old newspaper in a shed outside their house that was full of all sorts of odds and ends. My grandfather was a bower bird - he collected everything!

Including a complete issue on the Melbourne Sun newspaper dated July, 1948.

I took it home and kept it. I took it out every so often and had a look through it, I'd show friends, I'd marvel at how times have changed.

I was a weird kid.

The crossword had been done. Pa was a crossword fanatic. He had a tattered old thesaurus which used to sit on the table with him every morning and I'd sneak a look through it sometimes and wonder how a thesaurus used to function as opposed to a dictionary. It took a few years before the penny dropped...

Like I said, I was a weird kid...

I can't quite believe that I still have that old newspaper. And I find that it usually comes out when I'm preparing to move - it's like a bloody talisman for moving. Russia was creating a bit of trouble for the Allies in post war Berlin - the first seeds of the Cold War. The Australian cricketer Donald Bradman was playing a golf tournament somewhere. That was the year he retired from International Cricket. Joe Lewis beat the crap out of someone whose name escapes me right now. I don't have the paper in front of me right now, so forgive my lax recollection. It's been carefully boxed away for the move. It is a time capsule of a time I had no part in - hell my parents weren't even born yet. But it is a tangible link to my grandfather who I was fortunate enough to have known for twenty years of my life.

It is yellowing now, it's pages are increasingly flimsy and tattered at the edges but I won't ever part with it...well I won't as long as I can help it. Maybe I could get it to it's one hundredth year and present it to the Melbourne offices of the Herald Sun. I'll be an old man by then, if I'm still around at all.

I was numb the day my grandfather died though I did not weep then. In fact, it was a good three or four months before his death hit me. And it came late one night when I was driving home from university. I was tired, so tired. And it just hit me that he was no longer around. I sobbed so hard that I had to pull over and just sit and let it out.

It seems that there are ghosts everywhere lately. I can't work out if that is a good thing or not...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Submission Of "The Dream"

I did not think I would be blogging twice in one day...

This evening I sent my manuscript, cover-art and profile pic of myself, my bio and my details via the submission form at iReadiWrite Publishing.


After nearly 9 months of work, the sleepless nights writing and rewriting, the honing of characters and situations, crafting environments from real places and imagined ones, researching every little piece of minutiae of music and musical history that went into the story. From the completing the primary draft to entering the editing phase which I undertook with the help of my editor J, to the conception of the idea for my cover art to the execution of some beautiful photography just this morning, to the last minute fretting and fawning over the manuscript (have I taken care of every single grammatical error or loose plot thread or weak line of dialogue...).

I have done as much as I can do. Now it is for others to judge it's relative worth as a piece of literary fiction. I think it's a beautiful little story, it's well crafted, has a soul. I'm still - even now - unsure about certain parts of it but that being unsure is only minor as I have tidied it up as much as I can. I guess I will know in about a week whether it will be accepted.

A couple of last minute things I did was to finalize the acknowledgments, include a little blurb about myself and a synopsis of the story. I also included a dedication. On the sidebar here you can see a photograph of a guy named Matt Price. Matt Price was a journalist for the News Limited stable here in Australia. For years he wrote a regular column which featured in The Australian newspaper called "The Sketch". The Sketch took an alternate view to the theater of politics in this country and Matt Price deconstructed the pomp and pansiness of Australian parliament and parliamentarians. He saw through the bullshit and the ballsiness of politics and found something rather more human about it all. Of course, his articles were invariably bang on the money and they were so bloody funny. He was universally loved by both sides of politics here in Australia. His regular appearences on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's "Insiders" program on Sunday mornings were compulsive viewing for a political junkie like myself. When he wasn't writing about politics, Matt was ruminating about life, his love affair with the Fremantle Dockers AFL football team and his idol Bob Dylan - who he had the rare privilege of meeting.

In September 2007, I found out - like many others that Matt Price had been diagnosed with a brain tumour. He sent an email to all of his colleagues telling them of his news and ended it with the most poignant of words "Life is fragile - hug your loved ones". Two months later, on November 25th 2007, at the age of just forty six - Matt Price died, leaving behind a loving wife and two beautiful children...and a nation who wept openly for his passing.

Matt Price had a love of words and a love of a story...he was my hero.

The Hambledown Dream is dedicated to his memory.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed...


Shooting The Dream - Take Two.

I'm really energized this morning - despite the numerous bottles of wine I shared with my neighbors last night over a salubrious fish curry and several rounds of gin-rumy - which I suck at by the way.

The second attempt at the cover shoot took place at Henley Beach this morning at 6AM. And while Adelaide has been sweltering in plus 100 degree weather in the past few days, the climate on the beach this morning was nothing short of perfection. A calm 81 degrees (at 6AM - I kid you not), absolutely no wind whatsoever and a color palette to absolutely die for. What ensued therefore was a photo-shoot for which we couldn't have asked any more of mother nature. She was, in a word, serene.

"How's the serenity"

Again there was a curious audience on the beach - morning walkers with their dogs, marvelling (??) at this little team taking shots of your every day kitchen herbs tied in a much nicer lavender bow on the sand. As there was no wind this time, Mel was able to go wild and get tonnes more shots than she was able to last time. And the early results from reviewing the images their and then was really exciting. Much more organic - we were able to manipulate the posy pretty much any way we wanted and the results, as you can see from my smartphone shots, look pretty nice. Mel also got some pretty specky shots of my noggin' which I am going to use as my profile shots when I submit the project to the publisher. We had some fun with those and I may (as long as I don't get sued by the makers of "Bruno") post some of them here.

A master at work.

These images represent the idea, but the final result, I am hoping will be a stunning cover image that will really amplify this lovely motif of the rosemary and mint that I have used in the story as a connector between two lives which have been irrevocably altered through tragedy, redemption and love.

Motif on the Sand.

I am - fingers crossed - hoping to have some exciting news in the coming days, so I encourage you to keep checking back here and hey, while you're at it - tell your friends, about this little project of mine.

The final word?

Talk soon,


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Music That Inspired The "Dream"

Indulgence time:

"The Hambledown Dream" is a story that has has a rich musical influence flowing through it. Music is particularly important in a number of key scenes within "The Dream" where the central character plays his guitar to a crowd - not necessarily used to his style of playing. But music is also important in laying down a "feel" to the story. Like a painter who gradually builds a piece of art up through layering, I used music during the writing process to help me tap into a particular emotional texture. It allowed me to imbue certain scenes with a soul that I think carries really nicely. In the initial drafts of the manuscript I even included the lyrics to certain songs that I thought would complement scenes but I quickly learned that the copyright considerations surrounding the use of certain lyrics was a mine field that I just didn't end up wanting to traverse so I gave up on their inclusion. Which, in the final analysis is probably a good thing because it keeps the story my own - the borrowing of lyrics can actually work against you because it takes away a little of your writings authenticity.

However, tapping into the emotional heart of certain songs in order to translate what a character might be thinking and feeling at a particular moment is a different proposition entirely. By interpreting a song and marrying that with the character's state of mind and what you get is something that remains true to your own writing style but it allows you to add a little texturing and layering to a scene. You have allowed a piece of music to add to that tableaux in a subtle way.

Can you see what I am getting at?

I wrote "The Hambledown Dream" across a period of about 8 months during 2009. I wrote it during rainy afternoons when it was cold out and I was sitting at the dining room table watching the rain fall against the window panes - the sound of quiet jazz playing in the background, a glass of wine nearby. I wrote it on a warm day on the patio of my house with classical guitar music on the radio, a cold beer sitting beside me and my dog laying beside my chair. I wrote it in the early hours of the morning - I mean like at 3 or 4 AM when I had a quiet moment at work and could steal a moment to pen some lines on my smartphone. Often I would have some quiet music as an accompaniment, maybe Zero 7 or Dido, or even Vince Jones - one of my favorite artists. A cup of good old caterer's blend sugared to the nines completes this particular occasion. Music helped me create, it helped me to see things clearer, it helped me to tap into an emotional heart in my story.

So here is what can be loosely regarded as the unofficial soundtrack to "The Hambledown Dream" - Music that inspired the story. I'll refer to it as unofficial so as not to piss off anyone in the recording industry who may deem it worthy to slap me with some sort of infringement notice.

1. Walking On A Dream - Empire of the Sun.
2. Cursed Diamond - The Black Crowes.

3. Deciso - Astor Piazolla (as performed by Slava & Leonard Grigoryan).
4. The Sounds Of Rain Part 3 - Slava Grigoryan.
5. Throw Your Arms Around Me (Acoustic Version) - Hunter's and Collector's.
6. Landslide - The Dixie Chicks.
7. Come Alive - Foo Fighters.
8. Here With Me - Dido.
9. But Beautiful - Vince Jones.
10. Sonata Prima - Fernando Sor (as performed by Slava Grigoryan).
11. Concierto de Aranjuez 2 - Joaquin Rodrigo (as performed by Slava & Leonard Grigoryan).
12. Home - Zero 7.

They are a fairly eclectic and personal collection of songs that reflect the overall 'feel' of "The Hambledown Dream". Most of the pieces - particularly the classical ones - are depicted in the story and described in detail, because both Andy and Denny play them, while others serve as the background to particular scenes and are mentioned in such a way as to paint a picture. Most of these songs can be found readily across the breadth of the internet. I encourage you to seek them out - by legitimate means - and have a listen to them. They will give you an impression of the mood and the texture that I was trying to achieve whilst writing "The Hambledown Dream".


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Who Am I?

So now I come to address the question that forms the title of this post.

I need to come up with a profile of myself to submit to iReadiWrite publishing along with my manuscript and I have been wracking my brain asking myself that very question. I never thought how hard it would be to write a short profile of myself but I have sat at my computer many times in the past couple of weeks trying to focus on this one task. And I end up deleting whatever dribble I end up coming up with.

I am mid 30's, a Registered Nurse by profession, working mainly in Pediatric ICU and ER. I love sailing, reading, writing (duh!!), bad music, the internet, good music and collecting Star Wars figurines (geek alert!!!!). I am also a father, a husband (almost) and at times my life resembles Ray Romano's. So shouldn't that be easy enough to put into a short bio about myself.


I end up writing something pithy (read: pissy!) and I end up hitting the backspace button...and then I swear...a lot!! I just sent the past eight months writing 81000 words about several other people, so how come I can't come up with just a few words about myself??

What do I do? How do I crack this particular nut?

Who Am I?


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Final Preparations

I have been wrestling with one last significant thing with respect to the novel.

For the past eight months I have been writing the novel with the working title "Dreams Of A Love Indestructible". However I have grown increasingly concerned that this title is too "Mills and Boon" and not nearly as classy as say a "Notebook" or a "PS I Love You" (okay so maybe the latter of these two can be cast as gushy/lovey-dovey romance chic). Dreams Of A Love Indestructible does not readily roll off the tongue and, to me - as well as a few others I have run it by - it does sound a little questionable. I named it so because it is the dreams of two people that form a central motif in the story. They are more or less sharing something but they don't know it.

So in the past few days I have reconsidered the title whilst finalizing the remaining edits of the manuscript. I have written down a few ideas on the page, moved things around a bit to see how they fit. And in the process of doing so I kept hearing or seeing the word "Hambledown" in my mind. I don't know how it came to be there but I wrote it down regardless - and then an idea fomented.

During the early part of the writing process , in the copious amounts of notes I had written, I had brainstormed an idea where I would name a particular location in the novel Hambledown Road. I had no idea where this location was, only that it was going to be there somewhere. Then, further along in the writing process Hambledown Road become the location of the beach house where my two star crossed lovers first live together. For a time I worked to include it somewhere in the piece but for some reason it kept getting moved back or put to the side. But I really liked the name Hambledown.

While I was away on holiday on Kangaroo Island, I revisited the whole title issue and decided that "Dreams Of A Love Indestructible" was definitely too much and I could no longer move forward with it. So I gave Hambledown one last look in. I named the town where Denny and Sonya lived Stafford - and this was another aspect of the story that I was never fully happy with. I named it so because of a street I found in the seaside township of Tathra on NSW's south coast and from that I created the fictional village of Stafford on the south coast. I thought at the time "That'll do" but I was kinda "meh" at the same time.

So last week I asked myself the question "What if I renamed Stafford, Hambledown instead?"


Sometimes, in life things just fit in my mind. And this is just one of those. To me the title is a lot more succinct. It is wistful without being overly gushy and to me it sparks interest rather than hits you in the face with a potentially misleading gush fest. With the dream still very much a favored word for the title I have decided and by extension announce here for the first time that my novel will be hence forth known as

"The Hambledown Dream"

Now let me just hope that the same superstition convention that applies to the re-naming of boats doesn't apply here and this decision doesn't damn me to bad, bad luck...