Monday, April 14, 2014

Family stories, more than gossip...

I thought I'd share a little piece of my research so far with you.

I'm looking at Flash Fiction, but specifically the ability of Flash Fiction to investigate and illuminate deep issues, such as identity and ambiguity. At the moment I'm researching identity. Today I came across this in one of my references.

‘We identify three properties of stories that broaden our understanding of their role in family development. First, story telling is an act, through the process of which children learn to become competent narrators. Second, stories also have a message, such that children and adults may receive valuable lessons from them, often ones consistent with cultural mores. Finally, stories aid in the creation of a personal identity that evolves over time and integrates lived experiences with meaning-making processes.’ (Pratt & Fiese, 2004, p.1)

So, have a think about your family stories, the ones you heard when you were little, the ones you've heard over and over, maybe because they're funny, maybe because they say something about that family members involved, or about your family culture. Maybe they were told to teach you something about an aspect of life? What did you learn from how stories where told to you as a child, has this influenced how you tell stories?

My own experience is highly influenced by my mothers Icelandic heritage and by the folklore she heard as a child and passed onto me. I know how I write is different to many of my peers because people have told me I have a very distinct style. Until I started researching family story telling I didn't realise I might tell stories in a distinct way, but now I see that is true. 

A lot of flash fiction has a particular voice. This voice is often gritty, hard, dirty, inense. My own voice picks up elements of that, but at the same time I know I blend with that the ethereal voice of Icelandic folklore and adventure tales. Icelandic stories are often ambiguous - they describe fantastical events in an everyday tone and you can not be sure if the narrator is pulling your leg or telling the truth as she or he knows it. Flash fiction is also ambiguous, and so using flash as the mode of narration for my families stories seemed like a perfect compliment.

By writing an anthology of family stories I hope to build an overview of my family's culture and shared themes. Some of these themes are national these, others are particular to my family, and some I have integrated into my personal identity - as we all do according to narrative identity theory.

Cool, huh? I think so!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Why Hello!

So, I noticed on StatCounter, I have had a lot of interest in this blog this week. I'm not entirely sure what that would be, seeing as I haven't posted here in eight months or more, but I'm very happy to see people stopping by!

I thought I'd give a little up date on what I have been up to over the past eight months, creative writing wise.

I'm working on my PhD in Creative Writing and so obviously I've been doing a lot of writing. I've written 20 flash fiction for the PhD itself. I've had at least one published in this year's issue of Tales from the Upper Room which is published by Tabor Adelaide. I submitted several stories to this anthology and received confirmation that I would be published, but not whether it was one story, or more than one. The book is being launched tomorrow night, so I guess I'll find out then!

I have also had a story published in Deakin Universities Mature Age Student Club magazine, which is simply titled 'A' and which you can read here.

I am still waiting to hear back about my novel 'Hidden' being published. It is currently with a publisher who is interested in publishing it. Last I heard, in January, it was being given to a couple of readers to have a look at it. Patience is an interesting game, isn't it?

I'm doing a lot of research into families stories - on which my creative piece for the PhD is based, specifically on the formation of identity through the hearing and retelling of family stories. I am also looking at the ambiguity of flash fiction, which is my medium for relaying family stories - because I feel flash fiction is a great format for family stories and teasing out the themes of family identity.

I find this all fascinating.

So, now we're caught up! Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 29, 2013


Noise, fluorescent light, screaming children, heavy grocery trolley. Stella hated grocery shopping.

At the twelve item counter, she loaded her fifteen items with squared shoulders almost willing the young couple behind her to say something about it. They didn't.

Finally the check out guy got to her eggs, 'Hey, how are you today?'

'Yeah, good.' Stella said in an anything-but-good tone.

'Busy day?' The check out guy asked. He actually sounded as if he cared.

Stella looked at him now. Sandy blonde hair with just a hint of premature thinning, solid square jaw, blue eyes. His shirt fit him well, and - for his relatively young age - he carried of the pleated suit pants nicely. Stella liked a pert bum in tailored pants.

'Hmmm,' She answered, somewhere between realising she had to say something, and knowing she couldn't say what she was thinking.

He had big hands with neat, clean nails. She liked clean nails. Big hands, she thought, you know what they said about big hands on a man...

'Do you have a rewards card?' He asked.

'Uh, no.'



'Here's your change, have a nice day.' He smiled as she glanced up before returning her gaze to his hands.

'You know, they're not that big.' He half whispered.

Stella's neck and face flushed. She hurriedly gathered her groceries and headed for the door.

Damned grocery shops were always too hot.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

FSF - Midnight...

Lillie McFerrin

What it’s all about: Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist. Each week I will post a one word inspiration, then anyone wishing to participate will write a five sentence story based on the prompt word. The word does not have to appear in your five sentences, just use it for direction.
This week: MIDNIGHT


The fan beats a rhythmic tattoo in discord with her husband's snoring and Priya counts the beats until the droplet of sweat reaches the small of her back from its point of original at her waist. She needs to turn over and give her lower hip some relief but the toddler has only been breathing deeply and regularly for the past ten minutes - his damp head is perched on the small valley created by her tiny waist as it slopes down toward her ribcage from her hipbone. The boy doesn't tolerate the heat well, perhaps his parents came from the south where the humidity is lower, he can't tell her, he doesn't speak. During the day, she fears they might come looking for him, might want to keep him after all. In the darkness of the midnight hour she feels safe; he is hers, his sweat mingles with her sweat and she is his mother.

In lieu of yesterday's absent post.. A Haiku!

Beautiful artwork
Scarifying skin
Immortal tattoo

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pink or Blue...

The two couples sat opposite one another at the kitchen table. The four year old played on the floor with a matchbox car, weaving it in and out of the chair legs of the highchair which contained the youngest of the Hacknell brood - five boys in all, each cheekier than the other.

  'We've got something to tell you.' Joel Hacknell started.
  'We know it's always hard to hear,' Jessie Hacknell said, reaching for her sister, Alma's, hand.
  'It's okay.' Alma said, tears already forming on her lower lids.
  'It's different this time, though, Alma.' Jessie said, a tear slowly drifting down one of her own cheeks.
  'Well, I can't see how it can be different,' Teddy Clegg said and folded his arms against his chest.
  'Ted, hush now, I'll be alright, this is their good news.' Alma put her hand on Ted's arm.
  'Well, it's always their good news, but I know how it breaks your heart every time, and there is such a thing as abstinence.' Ted pushed his chair back and stalked out of the room, slamming the kitchen door behind him.
  'Go after him, Joel.' Jessie said, even as Joel was at the kitchen door.

  'There something else, Alma, as I said, this time is different. Joel and I have discussed it and decided if this baby is a girl, we'll keep her because we have no girls, but if it is a boy, well, then we want you to have him.'
The women sat in silence for a moment, before Alma pulled her hand away and leaned back in her chair, 'You can't be serious.'
  'We've thought about it a lot, and we're absolutely sure.' Jessie said reaching for Alma's hand.
  'Give up your baby?' Alma folded her hands in her lap under the table.
  'We wouldn't really be giving him up, you only live three houses away, he'd grow up real close to the others, like cousin brothers.'
  'I don't know.'
  'Think about it, Jessie, how long can you wait? You've been trying for years - and so many lost babies. Why put yourself through that when we have more than enough and offer you ours.'
  'Teddy might not like it, it wouldn't be his child.'
  'Well, it's wouldn't be your child with anyone else either, it would be like adopting, only better, because he would be blood.'
Alma sat upright, 'And you wouldn't want him back, then? You're heart wouldn't break handing him over to us?'
  'He would be loved and treasured, and that is all I want for any of my children, Alma, you know that. If anything happened to Joel and me, you'd have your hands full with all these boys, anyway.'

Joel and Teddy came through the kitchen door.
  'So, I told him.' Joel said.
The women looked at Teddy.
  'You both really want this?' Teddy asked Jessie.
  'Yes.' Jessie looked Teddy straight in the eye, holding his gaze until he looked away.
  'Okay then.'
  'Really? We can really do this?' Alma said with a touch of excitement in her voice.
  'Yes, we can really do this.' Jessie said reaching for Alma's hand again and this time finding it.

A year later the two women sat in the lounge room, each cradling an infant.

  'Oh but he's keeping me awake at night this week, Jessie, I had no idea.; Alma said with a wry smile on her lips.
  'You'll get used to it.' Jessie was quite laughing at her sister.
  'And how about Daisy then, does she sleep?' Alma reached over and stroked the infants cheek.
  'She sleeps like a baby.' Jessie said and laughed.
  'So, you kept the good one for yourself then?' Alma said with a raised brow.
  'I kept to our deal, exactly, sister dear, a girl for me, and a boy for you. Too bad for you he's the one who doesn't sleep.'

The sisters chuckled and the babies slept in arms, side by side, twin cousins.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Just keep running, Pete...

Peter clawed at the ground in front of him. Where the hell was his torch? The voices of the men were getting closer and they didn't sound friendly.

'Yeah, mate, you shoulda seen him run, that bastard, he wasn't a big man when I showed him my Suzy.'

'That's a bloody nice knife. Where'd you get her anyway?'


'When'd you ever go to Thailand?'

'I didn't, me mate bought her back for me on account of his shop, he told 'em it she was for display purposes only.'

'Ha! Yeah, you display her all the time.'

'Too right, ain't no bastard gonna mess with me an' Suzy.'

Peter lay stock still as the men swaggered just meters from his head. The air was filled with alcohol heavy breath. He shouldn't have come here. He should have listened to Jack and left the whole business alone, but what if there was a family in those shipping crates, what if the little girl Jack had seen really was starving and scared in the dark. Maybe he could help, and maybe if he helped her, no one would care that he burned down McGregors storehouse on accident. Maybe he wouldn't get nicked by the cops and Mary wouldn't have to raise Penny and Rose on her own.

'Oi, what's this?' one of the men stooped down, 'Hey, it's a torch. Looks expensive, maybe I could flog it.' He examined the heavy metal casing.

'Oh, that's a nice 'un. Give it here, let's have a look at it.'

'Nuh, it's mine, find your own.'

'Ah, you're a 'spicious bastard, aint ya?'

'Yeah, that's why I'm still alive, mate.' The second man flicked the switch on the torch and the stream of blinding light poured right onto Peter as he huddled on the ground a few steps away only partially hidden by some old tyres.

'What's this, then.' said the man with the knife. 'Who are you and what are you doing skulking around here the dark?'

'I-I-I-' Peter's throat shut tight.

'The kid's about to piss his pants, mate, let him go.'

Peter looked quickly from one hulking man to the other. He scrambled to his feet and ran off faster than he ever knew he could. All thoughts of the mystery girl and her family wiped from his mind, all he could think now was that he'd lost his prized possession; his dad's torch. How would he tell Mary, and what would she do when the police came to cart him off to jail for McGregor's storehouse? Maybe he could just keep running and leave it all behind. That might be a plan, 'Just keep running, Pete' he told him.