Monday, May 30, 2016

Ground (Snore) Zero.

It's a damp Tuesday morning and I sit here, in the study, my mind swirling - literally. 

When I woke from my otherwise broken sleep at 6.30 this morning, the first thing I did was prepare my morning cocktail of medications. I'm currently on a regimen of pain killers including Celebrex, Tramadol, Panadol, an anti-inflammatory called Dexamethasone, a drug to prevent bleeding called Tranexamic Acid, an antibiotic called Amoxycillin and an antiseptic mouth wash called Difflam. Through out the day, I have to dose these out, interchanging the pain tablets with the others, so I can get a balance of effect that lasts.

Remember that scene in Prascilla - Queen of the Desert when Terrance Stamp's Ralph sat preparing his morning hormone pills by simply tipping them into a breakfast bowl and pouring milk over them? 

Yeah - that.

(I was seeing orange unicorns here.)

The downside of all of this is that it sends me loopy. My head is spinning, my balance is shot and my mind is foggy. Oh - and I'm having some awesome hallucinations. It's either that or endure a constant feeling of razor blades slicing at the back of my throat. I'm also experiencing a neuralgic pain that shoots up into my ears from either side of my jaw. I have to time the taking of these painkillers right so that the analgesic effect kicks in before I even contemplate eating anything. 


Everything I am eating presently is either soft or pureed. Which isn't actually as bad as it sounds. When I was in hospital, they brought me a little tub of pureed apple on my breakfast tray which actually tasted really nice so when I came home and Emily asked me what I would like from the shops, I made sure to write that one down. I've started pairing it with some Greek yoghurt and for the time being, it's a little treat to myself. I look forward to that one. I'm also sharpening my vegetable soup making skills. A soup pack from the shops containing a couple of carrots, celery, an onion, a turnip, a parsnip, a sweet potato costs like a couple of dollars. I add to that half a butternut pumpkin and slow cook the lot in some stock until it's all ready to be zipped into a puree. At the moment, I love this soup but I fear that I may tire of it quickly. I can drink cold tea - a Twinings earl grey. It's a bit pedestrian but, even cold, it's okay. 

My swallowing function, while it's affected by the post operative swelling and inflammation, is serviceable - so long as I don't have anything remotely solid. I tried some banana the yesterday. It sent my throat into a spasm that had my eyes bulging out of my head. 

I can't speak. My voice has been reduced to barely functional whisper and when I have tested it, it bloody hurts. I knew this was going to be the case but it now that the reality has set in, so has my depression. Trying to communicate with my family has proved challenging with me trying some rudimentary signing for obvious things and mouthing words in the hope that they will understand me. It works about fifty percent of the time but it has been bloody frustrating. 

So, I'm here alone in the house. Trying to keep my mind busy with reading and counting down the time to my next lot of pain killers. I have plenty of movies and a PS4 - I watched Deadpool yesterday. What piece of shit that was. 2 hours of my life I won't get back. Gaming is good for short periods but the games send me even more loopy and they make me feel sick. 

(Lucy makes the best Get Well cards.)

In all of this, there may be some light to look forward to. The surgery went well - very well in fact, and while the surgeon had to remove the bone from my voice box as was planned, he was able to preserve the anchor point between that bone and the right hand vocal cord. It's in a precarious state right now so I am forced to rest it completely - at least until the healing process is complete. 

So there's a chance that I can salvage some of my voice. A little one - but I'll take that right now.

Listen to my interview with Alice Fraser, recorded before all of this malarkey.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Snore Of Destiny Part Trois.

As I write this, I'm at a rather low ebb. 

A few weeks ago, as regular readers may recall, I underwent surgery on my throat to address an issue I was having with swallowing and choking - as well as an annoying snore. Throughout the course of investigation, it actually turned out to be a more serious issue than I had anticipated, involving the paralysis of one side of my vocal cords. You can recap on the short history here and here

The objective of the surgery was to create an area of scar tissue that would have the effect splinting my airway open so that it wouldn't flop inwards, particularly when I sleep and thus cause the snore. It was also going to address the problems I've been having with my swallowing which has, in a word, become scarily dysfunctional.

To cut a long story short, that surgery did not have the outcome we were hoping for. 

It didn't work. 

My swallowing remains dysfunctional and the snore wasn't neutralized. In fact, if anything, it's worse. 

I have tried to cajole myself along in the hope that it would all settle down, and once the healing process had run its course, all would be well. But it didn't turn out that way. 

So last week, after visiting my surgeon, I had to make a decision. 

I was presented with the option of returning to hospital and having a dual procedure that involves removing some of the tissue around my palate. This includes the uvula - that dangling, tear drop shaped piece of flesh that hangs down from the roof of the mouth and swings back and forth. The effect of this palatal flap surgery will be that it will open that section of the airway up and reduce amount of negative pressure that can be exerted on it when I sleep. Simply put, it won't vibrate and therefore I won't snore. 

The second part of the procedure is the trickier proposition. It involves going back to the area of my vocal cords that has been affected by the paralysed nerve supplying that region of my throat and removing the bone that anchors my right vocal cord. This is called the arytenoid bone. By removing it and applying the laser to that area of the throat, it will widen the airway as well as strengthen it by deliberately forming scar tissue. It will prevent food and fluid from entering that area of my airway that was sneaking in underneath the epiglottis. That's the flap of tissue that closes over my airway during swallowing and prevents food and fluid from falling into my airway. 

This is happening this week - this Friday.

The trade off?

My voice. 

I have to face the fact that this surgery will have a profound and permanent effect on my voice and my ability to speak. 

It has come to that because of the dysfunctional nerve that supplies my voice box. It won't recover from the viral neuritis that has affected it and so, what is being done now amounts to damage control. And I've chosen this route because - basically - I don't want to choke to death in my sleep because of some small fragments of food and fluid that has snuck into my airway.

I will require therapy afterwards to kinda retrain my throat and the muscles in it to adapt to this more extensive surgery. So I expect my recovery to be a lot more complicated.

But to sacrifice my speech...

Our voice is everything. It is a key part of who we are and without it, how are we to express ourselves?

I've been thinking a lot about this over the past week. Of course, expression and communication in this written or text form is so much a part of who I am & so I don't doubt that I will continue to express myself in this fashion. 

But, expression and communication is much more than simply words on a page. 

It's conversation. It's interaction with others. It's expressing ideas. It's singing shitty pop songs in a moment of abandon - either alone or in the presence of others. It's talking on the phone to loved ones far away.

It's reading stories to my children. 

I've been thinking about that one a lot. I remember a promise I may to my daughter recently that I would re-read to her The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society. I used to read it to her when she was first born as a way of getting her used to my voice. She always loved hearing me recount that.

What am I going to be without my voice?

I'm scared. 



Sunday, May 22, 2016

Spring Comes To Those Immortal - A Look At Immortal's Spring by Molly Ringle.

Immortal's Spring (The Chrysomelia Stories, #3)Immortal's Spring by Molly Ringle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sophie Darrow said yes once to a young man offering a realm of Greek gods and immortality. Now her home has been shattered, and her friends and family pulled along with her as they run from an evil cult and take shelter in the gloomy Underworld. But remembering the life of the original immortals long ago--Persephone, Hades, Hekate, Hermes, and more--may be their key to victory, as well as happiness. 

In ancient times too, the murderous cult Thanatos attacked and destroyed nearly all the Greek immortals who sought to bring good to humankind. But those immortals planted seeds in both their realm and ours to ensure their season would someday bloom again. And spring is finally coming.

I have been on board with Molly Ringle's The Chrysomelia Stories since Book One - Persephone's Orchard and I was given the opportunity to read a draft of the final entry - Immortal's Spring last year. In preparing my review, I returned to it this month when I was given a final copy of the novel.

(image credit: Molly Ringle).

It is no small thing for me to say that Molly Ringle's works rank among my favourite hands down. As a writer myself, I take a sort stylistic inspiration from her - specifically in her construction of characters. Ringle is an astute observationalist, able to imbue her creations with unparalleled realism and presence, such that you find yourself quickly empathizing with their journey and becoming invested with them. Throughout The Chrysomelia Stories, I have come to care a great deal about the likes of Sophie Darrow, her paramour Adrian, her brother Liam and the extended cast of characters who carry the load of dual identities - both here in the modern day world and the parallel world of Ancient Greece - where each of them assume the roles of classic figures from that culture's rich mythology.

Looking at Immortal's Spring in isolation, it is undoubtedly the most compelling in the series, and I say this only because it carries the responsibility that is common to all third acts, it has to address and resolve the cliff hanger Ringle left for us at the conclusion of Book 2 (Underworld's Daughter) whilst maintaining the sense of tension and real urgency as it progresses towards the finale. Ringle's narrative crackles with energy, sensuality and excitement. Her investment in and portrayal of the cast elicits a real emotional response in the reader and that is where the genius of this series lies.

I have such an appreciation for Greek mythology as a result of journeying through the Chrysomelia Stories. Throughout my reading of these books, I have constantly cross referenced Greek mythos with Ringle's storytelling just so I can appreciate the true genius of what she has wrought.

Molly Ringle is an equal to Rowling, to Riordan, to DiTerlizzi and Black. Immortal's Spring specifically and The Chrysomelia Stories more broadly are a modern day epic that everyone should know about.

Immortal's Spring is out everywhere on June 1st 2016.

Molly Ringle has been writing fiction for over twenty years. She grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and lives in Seattle with her husband and children. Her studies include a bachelor of arts in anthropology and a master of arts in linguistics. She also loves folklore and mythology, and this has been the impetus for her epic series of stories couched in Greek myths. When not writing, she can often be found experimenting with fragrances, chocolate, and gardening.

Pre-order Immortal's Spring here, here and here

Visit Molly Ringle here.

Facebook with Molly here.

Tweet with Molly here.

View all my GR reviews


Monday, May 16, 2016

Talking The Recipient With Our Time TV.

A couple of weeks ago, I recorded an interview with Adelaide's Our Time TV, a magazine styled program on Channel 44. Over the course of the 10 minute interview, Sue Cardwell and I explored the inspirations behind the novel, how my background in Intensive Care Nursing helped shape a compelling medical thriller and how I juggle a busy Nursing career, parenthood and being an established author. 

Our Time TV is a Channel 44, Adelaide production airing weekly across Australia. 

Visit Our Time here


Thursday, May 5, 2016

#SpecFicFest Adelaide - I'm Gonna Be There!

Calling all scifi and speculative fiction fans! If you're in Adelaide this coming weekend, consider checking out the annual #SpecFicFest to be hosted by the South Australian Writer's Centre. Over two feature packed days Australian authors from around the spec fiction and sci fi genres will be participating in panel discussions, Q&A sessions, and workshops covering all areas of speculative and science fiction.

It'll be one of the most exciting genre festivals to feature in Adelaide this year! For further details, visit the event registration page now at the South Australian Writer's Centre.

FEATURING: Gillian Rubinstein, Sean Williams, Lisa L Hannett, Ben Chandler, Jason Fischer, DM Cornish,  Tony Shillitoe, Jo Spurrier, Tehani Wessely and Dean Mayes.

Yep - that's me at the end of that fine list. 

And I'm a touch nervous, I'm not gonna lie.

I'll be chairing one of the panel discussions on Saturday May 7th along side New York Times best selling author Sean Williams (Twinmaker, Star Wars - The Force Unleashed) and Aurealis Award Winner Jason Fischer (Everything Is A Graveyard, Quiver). We'll be discussing the genre of Speculative Fiction and how it has evolved over the past 50 years. 

And on Saturday evening, in the company of these amazing authors, I'll be performing an original piece of speculative fiction at the #SpecFicFest's "Quick & Dirty" Event at the Producers Hotel, Grenfell Street in Adelaide. 

This is a free event where you can come along, enjoy some sweet wood oven pizza, some cold beers and listen to some amazing stories in a relaxed atmosphere. 

Exciting times! I'm really looking forward to the event and I'm sure it'll be a grand weekend. 


Monday, May 2, 2016

Will Australia's Book Industry Burn? I'm Not So Sure.

So, I'm going to talk with you about an issue here in Australia that has been brought back into the spotlight this week and it concerns possible changes to parallel import restrictions and copyright as they apply to the Australian publishing industry. Some argue that the changes will destroy the industry here.

It's a little more complicated than that.

A body here in Australia - The Productivity Commission - tabled a report recommending a relaxation of parallel import restrictions and a change to the length of time a copyright can be held by an individual writer. The Federal government noted in its response to the report that 'the removal of PIRs will ‘make local booksellers more competitive with international suppliers, promote lower prices for consumers and ensure the timely availability of titles’.

Also highlighted in the reform proposals was a relaxation of the time frame intellectual property right of an author could be asserted - meaning that, after 15 years, an author loses the intellectual right to their published work. It follows that, a previously published work - without the protection of its authors copyright - could then be taken up by anyone and the author can do nothing about it.

There are two distinct issues here.

I have a problem with the parallel import protections as they stand currently. I am an Australian author, writing Australian stories but I happen to have a Canadian publisher. Now, presently it is not easy (though not impossible) for me to bring my titles into Australia for sale in Australian bookstores. The costs are considerable.

(Comfortable in the club - author Tom Keneally. Image credit: Australian Financial Review/Paul Jones).

The way I see it, the current parallel import restrictions limit new and emerging Australian voices from having their stories published and distributed widely at the expense of more widely known authors and more established publishing houses here in Australia. As it stands now, parallel import restrictions favor the few at the expense of the many - which is why you see the likes of Peter Carey, Tom Keneally, Richard Flanagan and Mem Fox being so vocal in their opposition to these changes. Parallel Import Restrictions amount to a protection racket.

A relaxation of these parallel import restrictions would make it easier for Australian voices to be heard - not only here but overseas. They can pursue publishing agreements with global publishing houses and import their titles for sale here in Australia more economically than they can currently.

(Federal treasure Scott Morrison. Image credit - Sydney Morning Herald. photography: Tim Bauer).

Now, the copyright changes that are being touted are another matter entirely. It is frightening to me that our intellectual property rights are being placed on a chopping block by legislators who have no appreciation of the creative process of writing and the amount of dedication it requires for a writer to will a story into being. In 2012 article for the Sydney Morning Herald, Federal treasurer Scott Morrison remarked “I don’t read international fiction. I just don’t relate to it. I’m interested in our stories.” Scott Morrison has no insight - and therefore no right to contribute to the debate on copyright.

That my intellectual property right on my titles can be deemed null and void after 15 years is nothing short of horrifying. I have bled for my work. Toiled in isolation. Wrought Australian stories about Australian people into being and to be told that, after 15 years, those stories are no longer mine...

Parallel Import Restrictions and Intellectual Property Rights are a vexed issue when thrown in together. They have the potential to pit authors against authors in an industry that is already struggling just to be viable. Already there is a split in the in the industry on the way forward at time when unity and a common position needs to be adopted. A conversation about these issues separately needs to occur.

The Federal government intends to implement changes to these laws in August, 2016.


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Meet The Recipient - Release Day.

The Recipient, the kinetic and pulse pounding new psychological thriller from Australian author and Intensive Care Nurse Dean Mayes is officially available where ever good books are sold. 

Set in Melbourne, Australia, Mayes' immersive novel follows a troubled young heart transplant recipient, Casey Schillinge who, in the aftermath of her life saving surgery, begins to have terrifying nightmares that slowly drive her towards the edge of madness. In a quest to understand the reasons why, Casey makes a shocking discovery about the fate of her donor and is soon drawn into a deadly conspiracy that will threaten her life all over again. 

Featuring Mayes' signature style and engaging characters, The Recipient has already earned significant praise as a gripping thriller, a smart and meticulous mystery and family drama with a lot of heart.

Purchase The Recipient now in print or digital format from the following retailer, or ask for The Recipient by name at your favourite book seller.

The Recipient is Dean Mayes' third full length novel for Central Avenue Publishing and is distributed internationally by Independent Publisher's Group