Day 8 Extract: Introducing Lucas Gardiner

This is the raw and mostly unedited opening scene of Lucas’s story (the third story in my set)… located in South Brisbane. The moment with the men’s choir comes direct from my own experience, hurrying up the road on the way to South Bank Station in late September, on my way to Conflux in Canberra!

Lucas stopped on the corner of Hope Street trying to work out where the voices came from. They cut an unexpected harmonic through the monotonous growl of idling engines punctuated by moments of loud music as a car sped past against the growing snarl of traffic.

The voices weren’t coming from the ugly white block of the TLC building on the other side of Peel Street. The building which temporarily became a church when Father Peter Kennedy’s mob lost their bid to keep him at St Mary’s and they opened space for him to continue to say Mass there. Luke hadn’t been to Mass in years, but Ally insisted they go and he sat there, imaging his bum on the seat as a finger to the Catholic Church. The middle finger. He liked that idea. And now they were outsing Father Bob down in South Melbourne. The local dioceses really were hell bent on emptying out their churches. Even he’d be hard pressed to sell the Catholic church back to its flock these days.

The crunch of steel against concrete reminded him the corner behind him, once a car park, was now a construction site – 25 more storeys of two bedroom apartments,  almost inner city apartments, vapid glass and steel vying for its place in the changing South Brisbane skyline. At least they didn’t knock down the halfway house beside – just the odd block of shops adjoining the car park, where he used to stop in and get flowers for Ally when they first dated.

The corner to his right stood vacant, except for the towering concrete support of bridge which took the train into South Brisbane station, posters in varying stages of decay clinging to the greyness.

He pushed his sunglasses down his nose to look closer at the newish grey building dead ahead, the voices stopping under his scrutiny, as though their song wasn’t intended for anyone, least of all a soulless advertising exec, standing there having a moment on the street corner. Like voices hushing and shutters slamming shut against the plague in a movie. But the shutters weren’t closed, they were all open, an entire wall of louvres, lining the side of the building facing him. A horizontal bank of shelves set up to catch the afternoon breeze. How was it he’d never seen that aspect of the building before?

Luke marvelled at the way the late afternoon sun lavished the wooden louvres with golden hues, caressing them with the care and attention of a lover. A money shot if he’d ever seen one, and he’d seen plenty in his ten years in advertising. He reached around for his camera and remembered he no longer carried it. When was the last time he carried a camera? He couldn’t honestly remember. He wouldn’t defile the beauty it with a dinky shot taken on his iPhone. It deserved better anyway. Better than him and his world framed by advertising hype.

The voices started again and he realised that beyond the wooden shutters, a men’s choir congregated, rows and rows of them, looking like a living jigsaw through the louvres. They all wore odd looking vestments, colours constantly shifting in the filter of the sun. The voices rose and swelled, words woven with harmony; music for the pure joy of it, not because someone paid them to do it.

Goose bumps pricked up beneath his Industrie shirt and down his arm, beyond the rolled up cuff, a million hillock spawning toward his wrist.

He ran his hand through his hair, pushed the sunglasses back up onto the bridge of his nose. Christ he needed a sea change if he was caught on a street corner, in peak hour traffic, having a heightened moment of experience from a men’s choir. Maybe he’d sucked up too many exhaust fumes. Or perhaps he was facing up to his own burn out.

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Day IV Extract: More Amanda

I’ve decided to convert Amanda’s story to 1st person POV so this will be the last post you get with it written in 3rd person.

Today I combined elements of my public transport adventure and wander through the mall on the way to meet up with Tracey O’Hara, with Amanda’s story. I’m still try to pin her down as a character, she’s very changeable, but I’m wondering now if she has a rather mercurial nature?

Here we find her in peak hour bus hell.

– – –

A woman with bad body odour and a lime green dress with black pokadots sat down next to her, the dress clinging to and emphasising all the wrong curves of her body. She wore a long black crocheted vest with it and a pink satin flower in her hair. It was like, she was a day late trying find her way to Eagle Farm for race day. No the woman wasn’t a fashionista with an eating problem – just some wack-job with bad taste in clothing. The whole get up screamed ‘wrong’: go home, go directly home, stay inside the house, do not inflict this on the general public.

Her arms flapped as she dug into a huge handbag, spreading the stink of her B.O. as she trawled through the overstuffed thing, disgorging the conents onto her lap when she couldn’t find what she was looking for. Amanda gagged at the smell and the sight of auburn tufts of hair in her arm pits. She turned back to the look out at the platform again, looking for the English guy, wondering if he lived here or if he was backpacking. She couldn’t see him, the commuter crowd had swallowed him alive. She hoped he found his way and at the same time, got rid of the snail trails of crusted drool around his mouth and chin.

She heard the hiss of a can and turned. The woman moved a can of Impulse around her, disappearing in a fog of body spray, with each protracted spray -as though she’d suddenly become aware of how bad she smelt and was doing an agent-orange styled dousing.

Amanda sneezed. The woman looked at her and kept spraying. Amanda sneezed again.

Could the afternoon get any worse. She sneezed again, wishing she had the guts to tell the woman to put the fucking can down. Her eyes began to sting and burn. She’d never had an allergy or reaction to anything before. Rather than the Impulse (she’s worn plenty of it in her time) she was certain the reaction was telling her to move away from the badly dressed woman.

“I think the young lady next to you might have an allergy to your perfume,” a woman in a business suit, standing next to them said. Amanda pushed the sleeves of her hoodie into her eyes when her travelling companion looked at her, with the same determination on her face, as though she would recommence spraying despite what the other suit had said.

“It’s not perfume.”

Amanda bit her bottom lip. Whatever the fuck she wanted to call it it wasn’t agreeing with her. Someone else close by coughed. She preferred the stink of the woman’s detoxing body, without the Impulse over lay now, simply because it didn’t make her eyes burn or nose itch.

“Perhaps you can wait until you get off,” the business suit continued. “I think we’d all appreciate it.”

The woman held the can, uncapped and Amanda, thought about karma and how karma was going to get this woman if she didn’t put the fucking can away.

Day III Extract: Amanda’s Story

I moved on today to Amanda Pine’s story, the young 18 year old who has inherited her father’s apartment above Robert’s. She never knew her Dad.  Lucinda works at the law firm where Amanda’s father filed his will! She also lives next to Robert and was Ryan’s friend. She’s not some gold-digger. I love her sass.

A reminder again, this is as raw as it gets – straight off the finger tips!

– – –

“Amanda you’re upset, I can see that. Why don’t you come by the office tomorrow and I’ll get Ryan’s will off file and go through it with you. I realise I’ve been remiss in helping you to understand exactly what was included.”

“Ryan this, Ryan that. Why can’t you say ‘your Dad’”.

“Fine. Come in tomorrow and I will walk you through your Dad’s will.”

“It’s not going to bring any of it back though is it. You took it all.”

“It’s gone. It’s the way he wanted it.”

“You fucking took it. You left me with nothing.”

Lucinda cracked. “Nothing. Really. Well let me tell you some home truths sister. I put myself through six years of law school working two part time jobs and four summers clerking in a shitty cubicle in the city. I lived in the worst fucking share house in St Lucia and rode my bike into the city four nights a week for the first two years because I didn’t have enough money for public transport, much less a car. You have just been handed a vintage car, a half a million dollar art deco apartment and a thriving cafe. Don’t you stand there and stomp your princess feet and tell me you have nothing. You think you have a monopoly on feeling cheated because your Dad died, well he was my friend and I miss him too.”

“There’s nothing of him. You took away all the bits that were him.” The tears spilled down her flushed cheeks. “I don’t want the cafe, or the apartment or the car. I just want my Dad.”

Day 1 Extract: A Little Bit of Erotica

In Byron Bay in August we dared each other to write four sex scene during NaNo (because we were talking about how we all shy away from writing such things) and we had to write one on the first day. I’d already been dared earlier on in the year to just write a nice, straight sex scene between two people who dug each other. I have a reputation for writing dark, disturbing and occasionally deadly sex.

I’m really not that into writing about sex, despite the fact the last three stories accepted for submission involve sex scenes of some description (and “Cocaine, My Sweetheart” would have given a longer word count!) and I’ve written a plethora of non-fiction articles about sex. In fiction I  find it excrucitating to side step cliches and setting myself up to open NaNo with a sex scene was pushing the comfort zone way out there, where the comfort zone has been lost sight of.

I didn’t want to just write a sex scene either. I wanted to find a way to use the scene to actually open the book. This is what I came up with – all raw first draft goodness! Now please excuse me while I go hide under a rock…

She leaned down, her lips caressing his earlobe, each short breath hot, moist and urgent, like a late Spring thunderstorm, full of raw energy, building, waiting to be unleashed.

“I. Love. You.” Her wisps of words punctuated by teasing attention to his earlobes, not bites or nibbles, just the slight pressure of her teeth, driving him crazy with the lack of follow through. God he needed her to do something. Not this purgatory of almost something.

Her tongue traced the gristle outline of his ear and he tried to turn his head away from her, and the exquisite torture she lavished on him. Failing to avoid her insistent teasing he grabbed hold of her hips and tried to force her body downward.

“Patience, Robert,” she said, pushing herself up on one arm, the head of his cock losing contact with her, a lazy smile pulling at her plump lips.

He groaned. Sex was the only time she let him touch her and he wanted to devour her with his hands and his mouth, to possess her, to lose himself in the closeness of their bodies, in the intimacy. He didn’t want to be pinned to the bed at her mercy.

“Slow this time,” she said and flashes of their fucking in the club toilet came to him: the two of them squeezed into the filthy cubicle, her short skirt shoved over her hips, g-string shoved into the pocket of his jeans crumpled around his ankles, soaking up the damp filth on the floor. Her fingers digging into this bare arse dragging him into her, faster and deeper, setting her hips moving in tiny circles, creating a counter rhythm… he had to stop thinking of it.

She moved slightly and he felt her fingers around his cock, pulling it up straighter and then the rapture of her sliding slowly down the length of it. He looked up at her and smiled, pushing the hair out of his eyes.

“You’re just as impatient as me,” he said.

He pushed himself up with one elbow and pulled her down with his free arm, until her breasts hung at his face. He flicked her nipple with his tongue, watching it grow erect. Moving slowly, she rocked of her pelvis back and forth, the minute grinding of her hips, taking him deeper inside her. He traced circles around the right nipple, then the left, finally clamping around the nipple and sucking gentle on it. She stiffened, her breath faster and shallower, her muscles tightened around is cock, compelling his to suck harder. She worked her hips in circles and it was like watching her dancing – just as he felt her moving on him when he stood on the side of the dancefloor, her body gyrating and pounding in time with the music.

Knowing he had her captured, she wouldn’t move away while he gave her breasts undivided attention, he let go of her back and rolled one nipple between her fingers while he sucked on the other. She moaned, swung her head side to side, wanting to be released to fuck him like there was no tomorrow, but drowning in the honey melt of mouth around her nipple.

She pushed him away, her eyes liquid and unfocused with ecstasy. “Sit up,”she said.

He pulled himself upright, redistributed his weight on the mattress and pulled her legs around his hips, feeling her heels dig into his arse. This was the way he liked it best. His cock lost inside, her breasts sliding up and down his slick chest, her mouth on his… every part of her close to him. He moved his hand down her back, feeling every bump of her vertabra, the the building of the tremors he knew foreshadowed an epic orgasm. He pushed his hands into her lower back and she moaned, moved faster and all that existed between them was heat, sweat, the primal language of grunts and moaning and the heaving freight train movement on their bodies, hurtling toward the destination where they’d both get off.

“I love you. I love you,” she wailed, her body rigid and then lost in a series of convulsions, as he came, clutching her to him, his face buried in the curve of her neck, his eyes closed feeling nothing but her and the emptying pull of her moving away from him.

Image found at Spilled Ink.

NaNoWriMo 2011: Seeker Lover Keeper

For those who know their Aussie music, they will immediately pick the  misappropriatation of the working title for my NaNo project. Lover Seeker Keeper are the sublime songstresses Holly Throsby, Sally Seltman & Sarah Blasko who released their self titled album earlier in the year. I immediately fell in love with it.

During the last round of school holidays I was driving home from seeing “One Day” and Theme I came on the stereo (off the Lover Seeker Keeper album). I stopped and replayed it and counted off the number of lyrics, as any good founding editor of Literary Mix Tapes would. When I got to twenty I knew the song had legs for an anthology.

In the next breath I decided I was keeping it for me <cue Smeagol voice> All mine.

Given I was suddenly gifted 24 beautiful lyrics, I decided to the idea which launched Chinese Whisperings and eMergent Publishing. A collection of interconnected stories (first spawned in 2007!) I bought a little green book, wrote down the individual lyrics and set out to collect images – starting with a lava lamp and the glow of the BP servo sign.

At the centre of the original stories was a man who has a phobia of crossing the road and had spent a considerable chunk of his life, living on the one block. I almost didn’t return to the original idea of the guy with the phobia, having pulled several characters from other unfinished stories as a motley crew to base some stories on and several of them firing in their new environment. When I told Laura what I had planned for NaNo she convinced me to include my agyrophobic man.

So at the centre of my stories is Robert Willard, aged 38, who has spent the last 15 years living on the block which houses the art deco apartment building he lives in. Next door is Lucinda Allard, a thirty-something lawyer who is more or less his support person. Living above Robert is Amanda,  an 18 year old woman, who has recently inherited the apartment belonging to the father she never knew. There are three other occupants who have yet to reveal themselves to me.

The book opens with Robert dreaming of his lost girlfriend, dreams bought on by the stress of preparing to say good-bye to Lucinda who is leaving on an extended holiday to Malaysia.

My intention is for the stories to all stand alone, but also to criss-cross and illuminate different parts of the larger narrative in the way the Yin & Yang Books do. It’s ambitious and something I wasn’t audacious enough to try five years ago (when I opted instead to write a semi-political  thriller).Even now, with The Red Book and  Yin &Yang Book under my belt as an editor, it’s a frightening brief as a single writer.

I’m supplementing the images from my bag of bones, aka little green book, with a stellar collection of photos from Laura, (which with Laura’s permission) I’ll post up here every day with my own random prompts of one liners and music. I’m also using the tree archetypes “lover”, “seeker” & “keeper” to help flesh out the motivations of my characters. Lucinda is a seeker, Robert a keeper and Amanda a lover… now! But all good characters evolve and grow over the course of a book so I expect when I write my final posts at the end of the month, they will have changed. And then there’s random things, like Adam Byatt giving me tongue-in-cheek grief about writing erotica and offering me a virtual cigarette – which was just perfect for the image for the scene I had just written.

There’s not much else to say other than, welcome to my NaNo project! Most absolutely literary fiction, which is a big leap for me away from spec fiction, but you never know what might happen. Already there is a spectre on a street corner smoking a cigarette?

What is your NaNo project?

Image found at Kukhahnyoga’s Blog.