Eighty Nine

Here we go on the next Literary Mix Tapes rollercoaster ride of speculative fiction goodness.

The cover is getting rave reviews and so it should. Blake Byrnes our newest cover artist (incidentally born the year the books revolves around) has done a stellar job under a demanding schedule. If that artwork doesn’t wow a future employer for Blake (who is a little over a month out of completing his uni degree) I don’t know what would.

So what is EIGHTY NINE all about. The blurb goes something like this:

1989: a cusp between decades.

The year the Berlin Wall came down and Voyager went up. Ted Bundy and Emperor Hirohito died. The birth of the first Bush administration and computer virus.

In San Francisco and Newcastle the ground shook, in Chernobyl it melted. Tiananmen Square shocked the world and Tank Man imprinted on the international consciousness. Communism and Thatcherism began their decline, Islamic fundamentalism its rise.

It was the year Batman burst onto the big screen, we went back to the future (again), Indiana Jones made it a trifecta at the box office and Michael Damian told us to rock on.

Based on a play list of 26 songs released in 1989, Eighty Nine re-imagines the social, political, cultural and personal experiences at the end of the decade which gave the world mullets, crimped hair, neon-coloured clothing, acid-wash denim, keytars, the walkman, Live Aid, the first compact disc and MTV.

Included in the author line up are the usual suspects, along with a raft of new authors debuting for LMT (you’ll see them in intalics):  Paul Anderson, Cath Barton, Tanya Bell, Jim Bronyaur, Adam Byatt, Jodi Cleghorn, Jason Coggins, Jonathan Crossfield, Rob Diaz II, Rebecca L Dobbie, J.M. Donellan, Laura Eno, Kaolin Imago Fire, Jo Hart, Susan May James, Maria Kelly, Stacey Larner, Monica Marier, Laura Meyer, Lily Mulholland, Emma Newman, Dale Challener Roe, Devin Watson, Icy Sedgwick, Benjamin Solah & Alison Wells.

You will be able to pre-order paperbacks shortly with a release scheduled for late October/early November. After a very long wait in seeing this anthology make publication, I’m impatient to finally get it in readers’ hands.

B is for “Broken Angel” and “Bondi”

Welcome to my first fiction-retrospective for April.

The two stories I currently have up under my FICTION tab begin with ‘B’. As it turns out – both these stories were written for Christmas and purposely set in Australia.

Bondi appeared on the 12 Days (2009) website and remains the longest piece of short fiction I have penned.  Broken Angel appeared on Literary Mix Tapes website last Christmas and will be published in the combined paperback version of Deck the Halls and 12 Days (2010) later on this year.

Take the time to read both stories and then I’ll share five facts about each of them.


  • The original inspiration for this story came from the Christmas Carol The 12 Days of Christmas: seven swans are swimming.
  • Giving up on twee stories about depressed Christmas ballerinas, I sent a message to some friends with the prompt and asked them the first thing to come to mind. A friend in Melbourne returned my shout out for help with, “How about the Sydney Swans?” Immediately I had the image of  seven Sydney Swans football players at Bondi. This gave me a setting for my story and a way to weave in the prompt.
  • Melbourne author Claire Halliday tweeted about the stupidity of the legal hoops her daughter had to jump through to busk Christmas carols. This gave me the idea for the opening scene of the story. All the legal paperwork  detailed comes from Claire’s tweets. To honour this (and with her blessing) I christened the daughter Claire – the only time I’ve ever purposely named a character after someone active in my life.
  • The closing scene was the first bit I wrote. Louise’s voice came to at 11pm as I fell into bed exhausted. It was written in a frenzy of words in over about 50 minutes. It’s the first time I’ve ever written a story backwards.
  • The story was originally about the guilt and grief of losing a baby, but during the writing, the identiy of who  died changed. In the beta reading phase my friend Diane (who is an avid reader, but doesn’t write) said she thought the story was about the grief around the changing relationship between mother and daughter, and the difficultes this brings up for them (and this spans three generations, not just two) This gave me the creative putty to make the whole thing hang together and tempered the expression of the grief through out the story.

Broken Angel

  • This story was inspired from a line in the Christmas Carol Deck the Halls: While I tell of Yule tide treasure
  • It was originally going to be a Christmas episode of Captain Juan – Christmas treasure and all – but the crew of the La Gongoolza were unusually quiet.
  • I specifically chose to set the story in the 1970s because it allowed me to be politically incorrect and to put the Dad in mission brown short shorts and a camel cigarettes t-shirt (my Dad had a t-shirt exactly the same and if he had similar shorts – I’ve blotted that from my memory!)
  • Chris Chartrand suggested the sound of the cement mixer at the end… I had only ever intended for the treasure box to be bricked into the wall! Once it was written it reminded me of a story I read as a kid about a woman who was bricked alive, inside a wall and was discovered several centuries later when rennovations were done to the stately home. It still gives me a chill – what Marcia’s hand may have touched had she reached in further.
  • The year I turned 18 we celebrated Christmas with my mother’s best friend and it was Boney M and mimosas all morning. I’ve waited years to wind this little bit of history into a story.

(Disclaimer: also written on Sunday.. but now I’m on track!)

Original image from Interior Design