I've got some big plans for my writing.

Think historical, multi-generational, Aussie novel. Think lots of research. Think Amy Tan-style multi-voice stories. Think bigger and way better than anything I've done so far.

I'm looking to research and write a novel based on the life of a Scottish woman who emigrated to Australia in the early 20th century. There's plenty of scope for a big story: nine children who didn't have shoes to wear to school, the Depression, a father with socialist leanings and a love for alcohol. And finally, a love affair, madness and a bird in a cage.

Want to read a bit of it? Scroll right down the page and you'll see the sort of thing I'm hoping to do.

So far I've been a self-starter writer. I've done it all on my own, reading bits and pieces, but mostly just trying to do what I can do. Now I'd like to work with some professionals who can mentor me, push me along and teach me some research skills. Oh, and write the best novel I'm capable of.

To make it happen, I need some money. For research and some professional mentoring. So I'm applying for a NSW Arts Writers Fellowship. But to get that, I have to show that I have other funding as well. Apparently they don't like to fund the *whole* project. Which, obviously, as a starting-out writer with very little income from my art, is problematic. 

So I'm asking you to help.

Will you help crowd-fund me? I'm looking to raise $3000 in the next month to support my grant application. Every little bit will help.

What do you get? Every donor will see their name in the back of the new work when it's published. I'll send you my love and kisses and thanks if you give small. If you give bigger, there are some ebooks and signed paperbacks on offer, and if you give really big, I'll edit your next project for you (an hour and a half of my time is yours). 

Oh, plus this. If I reach my fundraising goal but don't get the grant, I'll donate the money to charity.

Yes, I know there are a million things to give to. Yes, I know that most of them are probably way more urgent than this. And yet I'm going to ask anyway, with gratitude and hope that you can help me be a better storyteller and a more insightful writer. 

You can pledge now using the button below. Scroll down until you see it. Thank you!

Berea Street

I knew almost nothing about them, these crooked, curdled old ones. Their blood was mine; so was Nanna’s nose, apparently, although I shrank back when it was mentioned. We stepped carefully in the dark hallway; rooms were off limits, as was most conversation.

“Nanna,” I asked, before I knew that there were things you must not say. I licked around my mouth and drummed my shoes against the floor. “Why did you have so many babies?”

We all felt the shudder of her spine; my mother winced and looked away. I lowered my eyes, knowing that my words were wrong, that I was wrong, but with no clue as to why.

“Don’t you dare ask such disgusting questions,” she hissed and I was smaller than my size, cowering on the carpet. I could no more understand her meaning than I could comprehend her brogue. Dark, cold Scotland, far away from our reality of sun-sprayed concrete and spindly grass, had birthed and sent strange ones. At the age of five and a half, when the world of books showed me that such things as grandparents existed, that they were a thing, an entity; that small people were hugged and big ones asked questions, I made some awkward attempts to sit myself at the table opposite her usual heavy chair, to move in close, even to slip my smooth hand between her calloused fingers. But I was met with the same faraway stare she carried with her through the house; the same discontent she poured into her cooking; the same tight mouth that clamped shut whenever Pop was in the room.

Was it true they never spoke to each other? I threw it over in my mind as I lowered myself into sleep some nights. I could hardly imagine it; words were like breath for our family. We talked, or at least mother did, constantly and about everything. But I had never seen Nanna even acknowledge her husband of fifty-something years. My parents called each other ‘love’ and ‘dear’. Even ‘Mother’ and ‘Father’. Nanna and Pop had no names for each other, no words, no time.  

I screwed up my eyes and tried to imagine myself one day dry, wrinkled and pillow-shaped like her, sitting in her kitchen with tea in the knitted-cozy covered pot, her mug scrubbed and polished, but still scuff-marked and with a tiny chip on the bottom rim.

She had a view to the back yard. Did she ever glance that way? Or was her stiff back always turned towards the dark, cool of the hallway? I wanted to think she turned sometimes, to see him out there, anchored to his low stool in the doorway of the shed, his cigarette balanced like magic, hardly touching his heavy, red fingers, dropping ash and tiny glowing embers that floated like fairy spells down to the pressed mud floor. I wanted to think she sometimes went outside, probably when he was at the pub, that she stepped the nine pavestones, counting, like I did, to the shed door, holding a tiny, sweet something for Yellow, the bird that Pop brought home from the market a year ago. I wanted to think that, like Pop did every day, she sat on the stool, carefully opened that cage, drew Yellow out gently on her hand and spoke love, low and soft to him.

But I knew she didn’t. She wouldn’t; she couldn’t. Not after so much; so long.

These ones, these old ones; these were my people. And I was filled with dismay.