BAN THIS WEAPON: MY satirical Novel about American Gun Culture

My satirical novel, TARGET 91, about American Gun Culture is being published in the USA by Penmore Press later this year. It is tragic I am writing this just after the news of another school mass shooting in the USA. The theme of the book is BAN THIS WEAPON. The weapon is all assault rifles.

The legal sale of Assault Rifles to the public was only reinstated in 2004. This is not an historical issue. It is very recent. I grew up in rural Australia so I’m not against guns. Basically, I’m against ARMING IDIOTS. 

As an Aussie author of 20 books, I still had to work out how to introduce myself to an American audience. Here is my bio blurb introduction for the new book. More here.

And here are some pics of The Andy Griffith Show (1960 – 1968). It was a sitcom with heart about a widowed sheriff, his small son and a dumb deputy. I grew up in a household that was the The Andy Griffith Show times 5 (there were 5 kids)  on crack cocaine. Not that we took drugs. But my family was crazy enough without chemical intervention. I did write 3 best selling books about growing up on a small police station in rural Australia.

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The Rules of BACKYARD CRICKET? Make Them Up as You Go

Shock! Horror! Outrage!
The NSW Australia Day Council is threatening to publish the Rules of BACKYARD CRICKET on Australia Day, 2018. (Go to: Backyard cricket battle over call for same rules for all, Emily Ritchie, The Australian, 13 JAN, 2018.)

There are no rules. That’s the point.

I wrote a LETTER TO ALLAN BORDER in 1988. This comic story about the crazy make-them-up-as-you-go rules of Backyard Cricket was published in The Age, SMH etc.

Ian (Macca) McNamara read out the letter on Australia All Over, ABC.

LISTEN to Macca read: A LETTER TO ALLAN BORDER (above)

Cricket Explained

Cricket tends to cause great confusion among novice spectators, recovering alcoholics and Americans. It is, after all, a game where grown men stand around for days looking bored with no balls or madly hug and kiss each other following a duck. As a consequence, I have taken it upon myself to explain cricket to those who wouldn’t know a gibbon from a googly.

I wrote this article in 2010. More on FACEBOOK.

Spasming Vaginas, Dark Web News, Erotic IQ. Melbourne, we have to talk!

I nearly overdosed on Melbourne as you will see. But worth every minute. Here is the article  I  wrote  for  Independent  Australia.  You  will  find  all  the links to the various events here. I was a guest at TEDx Melbourne. 

I wanted to be Annie Oakley when I grew up. I think this might be why!!!

One day last week I overdosed on Melbourne: 17 Tedx Melbourne talks and performances at the  conference  centre,  South  Wharf,  and  then 1 0 The Moth Melbourne open mic stories hosted  by  comedian  Cal  Wilson  at  the North Melbourne Town Hall. Throw in some single-origin coffee, boutique tea, smashed ava, mini-chirizo burgers, wine in tumblers and whinging about the weather  and  I  experienced  that  singularity moment,  Melbourne’s unique edgy, bookish, intellectual, artsy vibe condensed into one day.

Spasming  vaginas,  erotic  IQ, buying  drugs  on  the dark web, playing soccer on top of Mt Kilimanjaro. These are parasitic stories that invade your thoughts and colonise your brain. But, of course, I’m getting them all mixed up together when they are quite distinct. The TEDx talks cover the intellectual turf. They promote edgy ideas.

The theme this year was Rebels, Revolutionaries and us and criminologist Dr James Martin put a convincing case that buying drugs on the dark web improves safety. It’s a sort of eBAY for ecstasy with supplier ratings and product returns. Laura Young organsied 60 women from 25 nationalities to play soccer on top of Mt Kilimanjaro. My favourites were architect Mond Qu who  invented  an  island  off  Mexico  and now has it recognised by Wikipedia with maps and pics. That’s Fake Geography, I guess, and Lisa Leong the rapping, ABC DJ corporate lawyer, who wants to make lawyers less robotic. Fake optimism, perhaps.

The Moth open mic sessions, which have been popular in the states for some years, delivers personal – very personal – stories. Participants  tell  true  stories  from their lives in 5 minutes. Could  you  imagine  standing  in  front  of  an audience talking about discovering you had a spasming vagina via awkward moments dating through Tinder? Then there was the girl who dated boys always waiting for her kiss-bliss moment to discover she was, happily, a ‘massive’ Lesbian. Is The Moth a platform for over sharing or authenticity?

I  asked  one  participant  what she gained from the experience. She had suffered a break down, driving for Uber while she recovered. ‘It’s a sort of therapy’ she explained. So telling your story to people who listen is, perhaps, the therapy you need when you are not having therapy.

My fascination with these two events is linked to an interest in starting a deeper conversation. Four  years  ago  I started  a  Salon  with  a psychologist friend, Dr Doris Brett. We called it the Sybils’  Salon  after  the  Sybils  who  had wisdom and insight and predate Plato. We devised some  questions  and  asked  10  strangers  to  share their stories in a non-judgmental, non-competitive space. That’s when the magic happened. Women who hardly knew each other dropped their usual defenses and told stories, wonderful, hilarious, sad, heroic stories about their  lives.  Energy  filled  the  room  and  the  buzz remained with all of us for hours. Indeed, research is now showing that connecting through face-to-face conversation is as good for our physical self as it is for our psyche.

Meanwhile, research by University of Arizona psychologist, Matthias Mehl, found that people who engaged in deep conversations, rather than endless small talk about the weather or TV shows, rated higher for happiness and  life  satisfaction. You  know  how much weather small talk  we  do  in  Melbourne.  If  it’s  not  the  weather,  it’s  football. Melbourne, we need to go deeper. Ditto the rest of Australia.

But how do you start a conversation? The TEDx Melbourne talks will be posted online. The Moth  sessions  are  continuing  in  Brunswick. Or you could try one of the openers from the Sybils’ Salon. These questions get taken home and raised around dinner tables and even ten year olds have chimed in. A sample question, for instance, is: ‘The Fairy Godmother is able to make  it  to  your  birth, has remembered to bring her magic wand and can bestow upon you one gift and one gift only. It can be a talent, a life circumstance or anything you choose. What will it be?’

Ask someone today, even a ten year old, you might be surprised at the answer.

The 7 Deadly Sins of Naming Your Novel

The Porn Lite novel Fifty Shades of Grey unleashed a flood of books parodying the title. My favourite  was  about  men’s  sheds  called,  naturally,  Fifty Sheds of Grey.  Even in those genres considered more worthy – neither Fifty Shades nor Sheds of Grey will appear on the school curriculum – novel titles often follow a trend.

So here are 7 of the most recent and annoying novel title trends along with a few titles to avoid:

1. Curious and Cute

The  Curious  and  Cute  Title  genre  problably  started  way  back  with The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. So ethereal. So ‘don’t know really what it means, do you?’. Now we are over run with incidents, cute or curious or both.

The Curious Tail of the Dog in the Night

The Lost Time Incidentals

The City of Elevators

The Fault in Our Stairs

The Ministry of Utmost Incompetence

2. Incongreuous

This genre takes two nouns that have nothing to do with each other and slams them together to  garner  interest, I guess.  Grapes of Wrath  by  Jonh Steinbeck is  an  early contender. Eventhough the term ‘grapes of wrath’ comes from a line in The Battle Hymn of the Republic it still makes no sense even as a metaphor. Grapes just don’t conjure wrath-like images. Angels, God, emperors or armies might do the trick. But not grapes or gooseberries or cumquats.

The Gladioli and the Squid

Of Mice and Menopause

Milk and Sticky Stuff that Isn’t Honey

3. Three Small Awkward Words

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult  and more recently Big Little Lies by Liane Moriaty all fall into, what is now, a definite title genre. Other names to avoid include:

Small Big Headaches

Damn Long Forks

Joy Lick Boots

4. Things especially Lost Things

We started losing things way back when, according to Milton, we carelessly lost the big one in Paradise Lost. Reading  Marcel  Proust’s In Search of Lost Time lost  a  great deal of time for readers of the seven volumes. Since then we have lost cities (eg. The Lost City of Z by David Gran), lost innocence all over the place (There are many such titles) and lost lots and lots of children. (eg. The Story of the Lost Child  by  Elena  Ferrante).  But  mostly, it seems, we just lose things. eg. The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan or things are structurally unreliable. eg. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

The Irrelevance of Small Things

Where the Wild Things Get Their Haircuts

When bad things happen to people who don’t expect bad things to happen

5. Wives and Daughters

When  Amy  Tan  was  out  of  joy  and  luck, she turned to daughters in The Bonesetter’s Daughter. If the bonesetter stuffed up, then The Gravedigger’s Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates knew her dad had work to do. But it is the wives of  Senators,  Shoemakers,  Soldiers, Saddlemakers,  Railwaymen,  Prisoners,  Poets  and  Lighthouse  Keepers,  who  are  long suffering. Obviously,  women  still  cannot  live i nteresting  lives  of  their own and  are made interesting by their husbands form of employment. Really? Here are some titles to avoid:

The Axegrinder’s Daughter

The Clairvoyant’s Wife (He knew. Why did he marry her?)

The Ex-Husbands New Wife (See bad things happen above)

The Daughter who would not listen to the Preacher’s Wife

6. The Man 

From The Old Man and the Sea  by Ernest Hemingway to  A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt to the  Man with the Golden Gun  by Ian Fleming there have been plenty of reasons  why  a  man should tie up his man-bun, go to his man cave and settle down for a good read of his ‘man’ book. Anytime now we might see the following on the book shelves:

The Man with the Annal Itch

A Man Called Inkblot

The Man with the Golden Gut

A  Man for All Seasonings (It will be a cookbook)

7. The Girl 

The Lost Girl  by  D. H. Lawrence  gave  literary weight to the book with ‘girl’ in the title. The Girl in the Title! That could be a literary book title today, but ‘the girl in the’ title genre has been done to death. eg.Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

The  girl  on  the  train wasn’t even a girl. She  was  an  over  thirty,  misrable,  dysfunctional alcoholic. The book should have been titled ‘Girl on a Train Goes into Rehab’. Nevertheless I bellieve the following titles are still available:

The Girl with the Turkey Tattoo

Girl with the Green Moustache

The Girl with the Glowing Eyes (Really, it was just blue screen reflection)

Other Titles Currently Available:

All That I Could Hum

The Crack in the Big Thing

The Light Below the Other Big Thing

D is for D’Oh!

The Spy who came in for Mother’s Day

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for Someone Who Gave a Sh**

The Budgies of War

On Her Majesty’s Silver Service

Billionairres are for Bonking

The End of the Thing that I Should Never Have Started

The Language of Porn Lite? It’s turgid like nipples!

I wrote the following article for The Canberra Times  (30th May 2012) when Fifty Shades of Grey had reached its zenith. Reading it now, the language seems even more hilarious. 

Gird your loins, maybe not your loins, but gird something. Do I have news for you? Porn is the new black. I’m not talking about nasty, tacky or buffoonishly hammy porn but, rather, porn lite or clit lit. Porn Lite falls somewhere between ‘he thrust his (crude bit) into her (crude bit) like a battering ram’ and the lovers-embrace-cut-to-fireworks climax metaphor of the 1950s romance films.

Porn Lite currently dominates the best sellers lists in Australia or, to be accurate, one book dominates but in different editions. It’s called Fifty Shades of Grey. In this Porn Lite novel a young virgin falls under the dastardly spell of a manipulative, young, handsome, sado-masochistic billionaire, as you do. His name is Mr Grey. Meanwhile, pop philosopher, Alain De Botton, has written a book published last week titled How to think more about Sex. His aim is to look at sex from a more ethical perspective. De Botton has also declared his intention to partner in a business venture with skin flick producers to run an ethical porn website to challenge the exploitation and abuse of the porn industry. It is difficult to know what to call ethical porn especially as it will be conflicted from birth. A major undercurrent of erotica swirls around that which is taboo and taboos define a culture’s ethics. While I hope De Botton succeeds in his quest to titillate our moral fibre and debrutalise the porn industry, I suspect ethical pornography might be called Pop Porn.

In the meantime, there is money to be made cranking out, ethical or unethical, Porn Lite. Perhaps, you could have a go at writing the Great Australian Shagathon Novel yourself. There would be a ready market and I’m happy to assist you in your fleshfest quest. The first thing you must do before you venture into writing porn lite is study the genre. I read the first two chapters of Fifty Shades of Grey free online and, frankly, that was all I could take before screaming for Cleo mag’s sealed sex-supplement, which I now realise was of high literary merit.

Here are some pointers I picked up from reading Fifty Shades. Our hero must ‘cock his head’ frequently. Apparently, innuendo or dodgy word usage cannot be avoided when writing Porn Lite. Mr Grey ‘cocked his head’ three times in the first two chapters but remember the purpose of Porn Lite is not, I guess, to deliver good writing, but to service other needs. Mr Grey also dedicates his life to arching his eyebrows, quirking his lips and stroking random objects with his long fingered hand. Let it be said; there is a lot to recommend a long-fingered hand. This is the world where our hero’s eyes blaze, lips curl and brow furrows. You get the picture. Your porn lite stud must be a one-man theatre of exaggerated facial mime. When Mr Grey is unoccupied by mime school antics, he glowers. In fact, I’d say glowering is his specialty as his gaze is penetrating, steady or steely, which coincidently is the name of our heroine.

Our poor heroine, Ms Steele (OMG! If she married him she’d become Steele-Grey. Anastasia, so much like anesthesia, Steele-Grey.) is just a bundle of unwanted twitches, ticks and quaking nerves. She quivers. She trembles. She flushes; she blushes then, one minute later, the blood drains from her face reconvening, I suspect, to mount a renewed surge with next flush. The poor girl is so overwhelmed by Christian’s (I think we can call him by his first name now) tousled hair, wry smile and breath-taking and athletic good looks – he is the epitome of male beauty – her heart fails on several occasions, metaphorically speaking, of course. One factor in her favour is she’s lithe. If she was lumpen, bloated or boney there might be some question marks over her porn contortionist potential.

The popular theme of Porn Lite is, you must have guessed, domination-submission. Now all you need to write you sizzling sex epic is some basic structural details. Pick an era. In a contemporary shagathon sex can take place in an airplane toilet, in a taxi or elevator, on a beach or up against a wall. In an historical bonkorama sex can be staged in a jungle, in a castle, in ruins, in the Captain’s quarters on a galleon, in the cockpit of a biplane, on a tomb or in M’Lords carriage. In a historical context, our heroic bonkers need to be very athletic indeed.

You must choose some appropriately cheesy character names. You cannot go past Fabbio for him although Buck and Ace work too. Our heroine, sweet girl, will be a Hope, Honour, Faith or Charity. A few other pointers: lips must be silky, moist and warm (anything else would be plain macabre), her skin ivory, alabaster or creamy, breasts ample, swollen or (my favourite) magnificent, nipples turgid, tight or tingling, or plain erect, and sex must unite her portal of womanhood with his iron-hard tumescence until they both explode. Now you are fully equipped to write your ground/back breaking Porn Lite novel.

And if you want to spice up your own sex life make sure your brow furrows, eyes blaze and lips curl and don’t forget to, frequently and enthusiastically, cock your head.