Thursday, October 19, 2017


God's a psycho. The Bible is the greatest fictional work ever to feature an unreliable narrator. And Jesus is a member of the cartooning Death Panda fraternity: always funny. Always.


Experiment 1. Experiment 2: 2016-2049. Experiment 3: Late 3100s?
"Dad, can I borrow...... what the hell?"

Friday, October 13, 2017


Way back when I first started out to be a writer-- no, not back in 2001. Before that. Nope, before that. before that-- yep, back in the late 80s, when I began University and first set out to myself the idea that I might do this writing lark for actual monies, I was a simple boy from a working class background with a very mainstream and staid set of cultural influences.

Except in two regards: one was music, because I had my own boombox and could absorb the late night programs on the FM channels that were still fighting for ascendancy with my parents' easy listening AM mainstays, and using progressive programming and an aggressively contemporary-- still mainstream and radio friendly, but at least up-to-date-- playlist aimed at attracting a younger audience.

The other was reading. My mother was a keen reader, and although we didn't have many books in the house, she was an avid user of the local libraries, and our house had pretty much an 'if you can reach it, you can read it' system in place. Consequently, I was exposed to a wide range of what passed for literature in Rockingham libraries in the 80s (lots of Zane Grey and Jackie Collins, maybe not quite so much Don De Lillo and Jorge Luis Borges...) So I read Lord of the Rings at ten, was openly reading Erica Jong before I finished primary school, became a lifelong fan of Dick Francis and Robert Ludlum at a time when my peers were still reading Roald Dahl and John Marsden, and generally had the run of the local libraries. At a time when you could get a maximum of 2 books out if you were under 15, and 4 if you were over, I had a "how many this week?" relationship with the staff at the little library in Safety Bay that worked wonders for both my imagination and my biceps.

And then there was science fiction. SF was the genre that gave me the hunger, the one that opened my mind to not only what was being done in literature, but just what could be done. When I first started to write, seriously, with intent, in those early years of University, when all my horizons were limitless and my ambitions stretched light years beyond my abilities, I wrote science fiction. And when it came to influences, these were the gods I carried in my back pocket, whose words shaped the style of writer I wanted to be. Earlier on, I discussed 5 writers whose work I love and who influence my current ambitions. Now it's time to look backwards, and talk about those who influenced my early steps.

Five for Friday: Earliest Influences

1. Isaac Asimov

For readers of my vintage, it seems that Isaac Asimov was a nearly ubiquitous gateway drug. It's hardly surprising: he wrote umpty billion books, and his straightforward prose, liner plotting and classic structuring make his short stories particularly easy to assimilate for a reader still learning the dictates of the genre. By the time I reached University I was an avid collector-- the second-hand bookstores were thick with well-thumbed, cheap copies of his work. I soon moved on to more sophisticated exponents, but for a while his industry, work ethic, and ability to mine seams of thought were a template for what I wanted to achieve.

2. Ray Bradbury

I first read Bradbury in primary school. The Golden Apples of the Sun was the book that captured me, A Sound of Thunder and The Golden Apples of the Sun the stories that sank their hooks into me and refused to let go. Bradbury was SF's first great poet, with a style and lyrical simplicity that has rarely been equalled. No other writer of my youth could entrance, frighten, seduce and horrify me simultaneously the way he did. Even now, very few writers can. There was something special about him, something I could not define but that I wanted to capture. Several of my published stories (Murderworld-- about a man trapped in a murderous reality show who chooses instead to walk naked amongst the heavily-armed combatants and persuade them to help him plant a garden-- is the one that springs most immediately to mind) have tried.

3. Harry Harrison

I've blogged before about the SF collection I received for my 8th birthday, and which changed my life. One of the stories in that collection was an excerpt from The Stainless Steel Rat. Once I understood what an excerpt was, I sought out the book. And the next. And the next. Because, dammit, while they were simply told stories, and never pretended they were nothing more than good old-fashioned pulp fun, they were fun. Those stories were the first time I understood the power of voice, of having a distinct and understandable style that could provide a context greater than the simple progression of words on the page. I've dabbled in humour all my life. This was one of the earliest of my influences in that direction.

4. Roger Zelazny

I read Eye of Cat when I was thirteen, and I was never the same again. Zelazny was one of those rare writers whose works never seemed to duplicate what came before. Isle of the Dead and Lord of Light are masterpieces. His collaboration with Philip K Dick, Deus Irae, is delightfully insane. And his short stories, particularly A Rose for Ecclesiastes and The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth blew the lid of my mind. To my unformed reader's mind he was a fucking wizard, and he remains a seminal influence-- looking back, my Father Muerte stories, in particular, owe a lot to his ability to meld different influences into a narrative. When my story, The Glow of His Eyes, the Depths of his Gaze was published, a friend sent me a text that simply said "Zelazny wannabe :)". It was the nicest compliment I received that day......

5. Brian Aldiss

Very early in my University days, I discovered the extensive collection of New Wave SF works in the Uni's library. I fell in love with the works of Harlan Ellison, in particular, as well as Spinrad, Lafferty, Rucker, and Sladek, amongst others. But it was Brian Aldiss who inspired me as a writer: Ellison's looping, hyperactive anger was such a singular voice that I could never hope to recreate it. The others had shades of what I was looking for (particularly Sladek, who could easily have made this list). Aldiss-- more reserved, more analytical-- produced works as equally outrageous, but there was meat on the bones that I could study. Hothouse and Barefoot in the Head were particular favourites-- I still, in fact, occasionally use the latter title as a way of describing someone I think a bit off-kilter. His peak is shorter and less flamboyant than Ellison's, less intensely personal than Sladek's, less outright loopy than Lafferty's. But for giving me a framework in which to start critiquing myself, and tying outrageous flights of imagination to a clear narrative structure, I have Aldiss to thank.

Thursday, October 12, 2017


Not a straight line in the whole thing, not an angle that matches any other, but I have an overwhelming fondness for this cartoon. It's one of the first truly good ideas I ever had, and one that requires more than an appreciation of nob gags to get. I've been writing these sort of righteously-deluded characters ever since.


Time was quantum, as Professor Smedley well knew. It didn't matter if he got dressed now or later, he would still be dressed...

Friday, October 06, 2017


The International Youth Library is the world’s largest library for international children’s and youth literature. Founded in 1949 by Jella Lepman, it has grown to become the internationally recognized centre for children’s and youth literature.

Each year, the Library awards the White Ravens – an annual book catalogue of book recommendations in the field of international children’s and youth literature. This year’s White Ravens catalogue contains 200 titles in 38 languages from 56 countries.

The print catalogue will be launched at the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair, and all 200 White Ravens books will be on display at the International Youth Library’s stand at the 2018 Bologna Children’s Book Fair.


So, if you read my post earlier in the week, you'll know that big changes are afoot in the New Year. You'll also know why my writing world has been so moribund lately, and how my career has slowly diminished to the point that its sliding off the rails looked pretty much exactly like the train set fight in Ant-Man, with about as much impact on the surrounding landscape.

This is also a partial explanation as to why Five for Friday posts have been on hiatus for the last 3 months: Real Life (tm) has pretty much eaten everything away.

Still, here we are. With the revelation that, all being well, I'll be full-time Batthaim admin staff come February next year, it seems only fitting that the first Five for Friday post since that particular discussion be on the subject of just what I'll be aiming to achieve in my two-year tour of duty amongst the housebound of outback Western Australia.

Five for Friday: Full Time Writing Projects

1. More Children's Books

A bit of a no-brainer, this one. With Magrit doing well, and Ghost Tracks on the way to being submitted by the end of this year (all the issues I've had in the last 18 months having dented, but not destroyed, progress on this project), it makes sense to dust off some ideas I've had kicking around since my first post-Magrit-sale flush of enthusiasm and see them through to completion. In particular, I'm looking towards the following two:

The Boy From G.O.B.L.I.N.-- a runaway and perpetual troublemaker is forcibly inducted into the Guild Of Beings the Lurk In the Night, a society of monsters tasked with ensuring the supernatural and the ordinary remain separate; and

Antimony Lavage: All Antimony wants to do is drive the train that clatters past the back of her house every day; the one that takes the newly dead and their grieving families from the Necropolis to the magnificent garden cemetery at the edge of the City. But the job is hereditary, and the family who owns it isn't sharing.

2. Bear Hunts

A crime novel. Edward 'Bear' Burrage got out of the game when his mother fell ill. He moved them away from the city, settled in a nice, harmless, seaside town, and dedicated himself to keeping his nose clean and looking after her as the dementia slowly claimed her. When he loses his licence after foolishly celebrating a lottery win, he's blackmailed into helping with a heist on a local Council. And when it goes wrong, and the pieces of his carefully constructed safety start shattering, Bear starts hunting down those responsible.

3. Tales of Nireym

Many years ago, I sold a fantasy story about a young scribe in a strongly patriarchal society, who stumbles across the story of a girl called Nireym, and how she escaped her role and started an underground movement of resistance among the women she met. It's an okay story, and it makes a few points along the way, but I always felt there was more to it than the 4 or 5000 words I committed: the world-building had greater depth than the narrative, and I always felt it deserved more-- there are stories and themes to be explored, cultures to be compared, a deeper and wider narrative to be unearthed. It would take a novel, and now it might just be time to write it.

4. The Canals of Anguilar

Similarly a story I wrote a couple of years ago for the Review of Australian Fiction, featuring a city entirely inhabited by cowards, which could only be reached when all other bolt holes had been dug out. Part dark fantasy; part crime story; part examination what exactly counts as cowardice and bravery, and how the two can be confused, the original story ran a shade over 8000 words, but never really explored the themes and setting to my satisfaction. Like Tales of Nireym before it, I came away feeling that I could have done so much more, given a longer framework. The difference is, I made a start on this one, before everything when splooey-- there are nearly 12,000 words waiting for me to return to them.

5. The Claws of Native Ghosts and Other Stories

I've been chipping away at this one for a few years now: a linked collection of short stories, connecting events throughout the history of Western Australia by revealing a hidden, supernatural  history running alongside, and affecting, European occupation. To date, 3 stories have seen print in magazine format: the titular tale, which concerns itself with the Pinjarra Massacre; Comfort Ghost, which intersects the current Fremantle Arts centre with its past as an asylum; and Disciple of the Torrent, about the Batavia Mutiny. A further story, centred on CY O'Connor's suicide, is in the editing stage. Two years of uninterrupted research and writing should be enough to put together the 8 other events I have listed to work with, as well as any others my research might lead me towards.

Thursday, October 05, 2017


Not funny, but there's a louche attitude I like in this one. If I were Luc Besson, I'd make this panel last 14 hours and it would lose $300 million at the box office. Aren't you glad I didn't?


Wednesday, October 04, 2017


It's July 2016. Every morning I park my car in the car park at work, and give myself five minutes to cry before I get out and face the day.

Today is no different. what was a dream job when I started has become a nightmare I can't bring myself to face, but can see no way of escaping. 2 years under a manager who was psychotically work-obsessed to the point where the three co-ordinators who worked under her (I am one) would take turns in being the first to talk to her, so we could report back which personality we were dealing with that day, have taken a toll. She left some months ago, but has been replaced with someone even worse-- a career money, utterly disinterested in the welfare of her staff and of the projects being worked upon in the name of her section. She ignores vital paperwork, distributes blame in buckets, throws her co-ordinators under buses on a daily basis, is untrustworthy, cowardly, and is ruining everyone around her. Already, of the two co-ordinators with whom I've worked for the last 4 years, one has left to take up a job with another City. The other will soon fall pregnant and take a year's maternity leave. Me? I've cracked under the stress. I'm seeing a work-appointed therapist, and I'm on a work-management program. I can't sleep. I'm eating every piece of badforme in sight. I'm drinking. I've used up all my sick leave. Writing is out of the question. There's no hope.

Today is a therapy day. My therapist asks me a simple question: What would you be doing, if you had the choice?

I'd be at home. Writing. But it's impossible.


I have a mortgage. I have a wife who studies. I have children who have to attend school. I need to feed everybody, clothe them, give them a better life than I had. It's this new thing called 'the real world'.

Yes, he says. I've heard of it. But why you?

It has to be me. My wife studies. She needs that support.

Have you talked to her about that?

What's there to talk about. This is just the way it is.

Why don't you find out?

So I go home, and tell Luscious that I can't take it anymore. She knows what's happening at work, but this time, I unload the full deal. everything that's been happening. All of it. I can't take it anymore, I tell her. I've been at this game for almost 25 years. I'm depressed. I'm burned out.

I don't know what I'm expecting: sympathy, reinforcement, a bit of 'screw your courage to the sticking-place'. After all, this is just the way it is. I'm the income earner. Everybody else has their own things they're trying to achieve. What I'm not expecting is for her to point to the house around us and reply, "Well, I've been doing this for 25 years, and I'm burned out, too."

I hate my job. But Luscious hates hers, too. Yes, she's studying, and she loves it. But she wants it to lead to something. She doesn't just want to be a housewife with a degree. She wants to be out in the workforce, making a difference to the world at large.

She wants to work. I want to be at home.

I look at her. She looks at me.

And that's when we sit down and start to put together The 18-Month Plan.

Put simply, it's this: if I can hang on for 18 months-- through to January 2018-- Luscious will graduate her Bachelor of Arts and enrol into a post-graduate teaching qualification. She'd love to be a teacher. It's something she's thought about doing on several occasions. She's had to fight for a long time just to get to the point where she can contemplate completing a degree, and now that she's about to, she'd love to keep going for another year. Give her that year, and when she graduates, she'll take a job in the country. She'll do the standard two-year tour of duty, re-enter the workforce, and be the primary income winner for the family.

As to me, I'll stay at home. I'll cook the meals, do the cleaning, run the household, and write.

And that's what we set out to do.

We've had some good fortune. Luscious' graduated her degree with marks so high that she was invited to undertake an internship at a school, giving her invaluable 'live' experience that will place her at the head of the graduate queue when she graduates. The hated manager fell pregnant, and her maternity leave replacement is a brilliant, experienced manager who understands what my team and the department we belong to is about. The atmosphere in the office has improved immeasurably. Work is enjoyable again. But I'm over it: I feel no loyalty, anymore. I'm counting down the days. And there aren't that many left.

Luscious has one more term left. After that, assuming she isn't successful in the job applications she's already making, she'll be appointed from the graduate pool in the time-honoured fashion. I'll hand in my notice. We'll leave. By the end of February, we'll be in a town somewhere in the Western Australian countryside. Luscious will be a teacher. And I'll be at home. Writing. Looking after the house. Putting my twenty-five years experience in the arts industry towards setting up a consultancy and curation business. I have a completed novel that I couldn't bring to edit because of the depression. I'm 2/3 of the way through a children's novel that's taken far too long to complete. I've got a list of incomplete projects running to nearly 60,000 words in total. Over the next 2 years I'll get the chance to resurrect my career, and watch my beloved wife achieve the recognition and respect she has long deserved. We're one phone call away.

We're 15 months into the 18th month plan, and I've gotta wear shades.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017


Sad news today with the death from a heart attack of Tom Petty. Petty first came to my attention in the late 70s, just before punk hit the mainstream radio stations I was about to listen to in my bedroom when I could escape my parents' AM tastes. Rock and Roll had been over-produced into a bland melange of easy listening tripe in which the likes of Chicago, Boston, and Steely Dan brought the elevator into your living room.

Petty represented a form of American rock and roll where voice was still important, where an individual sound could be identified, where an artist could have a look that stood him or her out from the beige, bearded multitude. He was at the crest of an awareness in my pre-teen self, a coterie that included the likes of Bob Seger, Suzi Quatro, Joan Jett as part of my musical awakening.

I would never have said that I was, outright, a Tom Petty fan. Yet every playlist I've ever created has used his music as a cornerstone. He's one of those artists who has always just been there. His music has been a consistent part of the tapestry of my life. It's not until you isolate him from the rest of the iPod and play him, one song after another, that you realise just how many great songs he recorded, how they've always been with you, and how, somehow, without ever really concentrating, you know every single word of every single damn song. And you sing along. You always sing along. 

 So here, by way of saying thank you for the music, for being part of my tapestry, and for giving me so many joyous riffs and rock and roll moments, are 5 of my favourite Tom Petty songs. They may not be the most famous, or the acknowledged classics, but they're 5 of the many that loosen my vocal chords. I bet you sing along.

1. Don't Come Around Here No More. 

My absolute favourite Petty track, and one of my favourite songs by any artist. A swirling, defiant track, it's the perfect combination of Petty's unique vocal delivery, guitar style, and quirky arrangements. The accompanying video is, without a doubt, one of the greatest music videos ever filmed.


2. Billy the Kid
This is a broken song. Petty's voice has diminished to a croak. The guitar layovers are discordant, and loose. Nothing fits. Where Petty's arrangements were always as tight as William Shatner's corset, here they're all over the place, rambling and mistimed. And that's why it works. It's a portrait of a beaten fighter, rising for the last time, whispering "You never knocked me down, Ray" as he's carried from the ring, defiant to the last. It's wonderful stuff.

3. Last Dance With Mary Jane

Petty's stock in trade was a dark Americana that played like a shadowed counterpoint to Bruce Springsteen's more obvious work-- filled with hopeless characters that accepted their fate and rolled the taste of failure around their mouths, savouring it. Springsteen's characters went down to the river. Petty's smoked dope and had desperate, doomed sex. This is a slow, despairing love song to a girl that escaped his dreams, but we all know that where she escaped to was just another version of where she had escaped from. It's darkly delicious stuff.

4. You Don't Know How it Feels
The later you go into Petty's career, the more his slides from pure rock and roll into an electrified country sound that was the perfect primer for my discoveries of Steve Earle and Todd Snider. This is a great example, full of fuck-you false humility and a love of poking at the pain centres in the artist's own psyche.

5. Two Gunslingers

Two gunslingers meet in the middle of a deserted street. The ultimate symbol of Americana. Then Petty does what Petty does: twists the image into a story of loneliness, and despair, and ultimately, the rejection of a story that was written by others with the hero as unwilling and un-consulted victim. There's hope at the end: battered and damaged hope, flickering only because the characters reject their assigned roles in favour of a sort of despairing unknown.

Tom Petty was a unique voice, a dark jester who picked apart the false nostalgia of the Bruce Springsteens and John Cougar Mellencamps and laughed at its pretensions. He coloured my sense of what a rock and roll song could do, without me ever really noticing or valuing it as I should. He will be missed.

Thursday, September 28, 2017


No other bear would have made this work. None. Pandas are the Death of cartooning. Funny every damn time.


Adoption Agency.

"We want a sun bear."

Thursday, September 21, 2017


I loved Time Team. It tickled every archaeological pipe dream I ever had (I should have listed it higher on my Uni options, I know I should.) But just once, wouldn't it have been nice for them to dig up something really cool? Like an unknown Roman Legion, or a Harrier jump jet?


"Now get out there and give us a battle Time Team will be proud to dig up!"

Sunday, September 17, 2017


And while we're at it, the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre has posted the interview I conducted with members of their youth holiday program Press Club on Youtube.

So now you can hear more of my fatuous, deluded self-idiocy, but with added vision!

The whole thing is h'year.


I've been interviewed over at Horror Tree about many things, including why.... uh... I'm not really... you know... a horror author...


Well, here we are. The 29th, and final, Precious Things post. And I can't think of anyone better to round off the whole thing than the woman I call 'Luscious', Lyn Battersby.

Lyn is a talented author and editor, with a writing voice I think is utterly unique. Her writing has taken a back seat over the last couple of years while she finishes a University degree. She's currently in the final stages of a post-graduate teaching internship, and as one of the top two or three students in the state, she'll have her pick of assignments when the adverts are answered towards the end of this year. Once she's settled in her new job, she'll be back amongst the pages where she has made her home over the last 15+ years.

For now, however, with thanks to the 28 friends, colleagues, peers, and artists I like and admire who have created this series, it's time for the artist I love to speak.


Dedicated to Lee and Connor.

And Rebekah Holyoake.


This is my prized literary possession. It’s not a book, or a poem, or a letter from an author. It is a piece of jewellery created for me by fellow Perth author Stephanie Gunn in honour of a story I wrote in the early 2000s. Called “The Memory of Breathing necklace”, it has pride of place in my jewellery collection and is one of the few pieces I own that is mentioned by name in my will.

So, what did I do to deserve such a beautiful gift?

In early 2004, I began work on a story called The Memory of Breathing. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, it centred on the execution of a child, brought back to life after being put to death for murder.
The story was a hard one for me to write. I was in the midst of a fierce custody battle for my first three children and facing the loss of my pregnancy. The day the story was bought (by Sally Beasley for Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine), I had lost the battle with my ex-husband (he used my ill-health and threat of miscarriage against me) and started to bleed heavily.

No, I didn’t lose the baby and now I have Connor, a highly spirited child who is the life and joy of our entire family. I have a close and loving relationship with all my children and I feel I actually won the war with my ex.

And yet.

And yet.

And yet.

I still struggle with the memory of that loss. The ramifications of the custody battle have taken a battering ram to my psyche and I don’t think I will ever heal from the wounds. Connor is a beautiful child, but his health is never great and I still live in fear of losing him. I don’t take his existence for granted because I know it doesn’t matter how wonderful you are as a parent, fate can easily rip your children from you.

This is why the necklace is so important to me.  The twisted stand of beads represents the double-helix of human DNA and it is this which ties me to each of my five children. At the centre of the strand is a large stone, which I see as the relationship that Lee and I have forged. It is my strength when I feel I can’t go on.

I’ve had many moments in my life when I’ve found it hard to breathe. I feel so overwhelmed by life and how quickly it all changes. And yet, there is Lee and with us are our children, the most precious things I have in my life. I wear this necklace quite often, because it grounds me and reminds me what really matters in my life.

Today I don’t write as often as I used to. I have many other things going on in my life and I barely find the time to create fiction. The Memory of Breathing remains my best-known story and even now it sits with a production company awaiting development into a movie. I love that story and I’m proud of it. It reminds me that loss is always with us, but that we go on because of the love we receive from our friends and family.

Thank you, Stephanie, for the gift of my Precious Thing.

Thursday, September 14, 2017


An example of my gag writing being infinitely better than my drawing skills: this looks like I tried to get it to completion but gave up when I couldn't get what was in my head onto the page.

Damn good gag, though.


"It looks like some sort of ransom note."

Sunday, September 10, 2017


Cat Sparks has done pretty much everything there is to do in Australian speculative fiction. She's been a publisher, illustrator, and editor. These days, she's expanding her long-standing writing repertoire: she's just released her debut novel, Lotus Blue, and is putting the finishing touches to a PhD in climate fiction.

Here, she takes us back into the depths of her childhood, and goes some way to answering what so many of those of us who call ourselves her friends have wondered: how did she get like that?

Ghosts cover

I had thought this particular gem lost to the mists of time – or the travails of practical adulthood at least, but when Rob and I moved house last August, a process by which so many peculiar things went missing (including our Optus set top box and half my winter smalls), at the other end when we unpacked, there it was, a book I swear I had not seen for decades, the book that freaked out my living ghoulies back in the day when I was a 70s preteen.

The introduction to Aidan Chambers’ Book of Ghosts and Hauntings explains that such things fall into four distinct groups: experimental ghosts, crisis ghosts, post-mortem ghosts and ghosts who persistently haunt the same place. The book contains everything my nine-year-old mind could possibly have wanted to know about ghosts, mediums, séances, haunted houses and things that went bump in the night.

The pages were peppered liberally with fanciful black and white illustrations of things people really might have seen: The ethereal ghost of Lady Hoby; a redcap brownie jigging on the tiles; young men tumbled from their bed by a poltergeist; witches cavorting around headstones; a lubin bewitching a ploughman; evil spirits lifting cows by their tails.

The book also featured stern photographs of old stone buildings in which supernatural incidents reportedly took place. Other more interesting photographs of spiritualism in motion included: psychic energy table turning, the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall, an infra-red light séance room photograph in which a medium levitates a table. A section on fake spirit photography: the (paper cut out) witch on a broomstick, the loving (cotton wool) ghosts, a ghostly figure on the stairs -- the product of photo-montage and transparent tissue.

And there, nestled in innocently amongst all the rest of it, sat chapter four, page 27, The Hideous Face with Flaming Eyes. No photographs were offered as accompaniment, instead a rather fetching ink illustration.

Ghosts sketch

The story was excerpted from In My Solitary Life by Augustus Hare, set at Croglin Grange in Cumberland. No date was offered, only the fact that the Grange had been owned by the Fisher family for hundreds of years. The Fishers, so we were told, moved out, renting the house to two brothers and a sister. And then one fateful night…

… the sister still felt the heat too great for sleep, and sat up in her bed, still watching the moonlight through her window, for she had not closed her shutters…

She became aware of two lights flickering in a nearby belt of trees… The lights belonged to something moving closer…

Suddenly, she could never explain why, the terrible object seemed to turn aside, and to be going round the house, instead of straight towards her. She sprang from her bed to unlock the door, but at that instant she heard scratch, scratch, scratch at her window, and saw a hideous brown face with flaming eyes glaring at her. She took comfort in the thought that the window was securely locked on the inside, but all of a sudden the scratching ceased, and a kind of pecking sound took its place. The creature was unpicking the lead! A diamond shaped pain fell onto the floor, and a long bony finger came inside, and found the latch of the window, and turned it.

Cutting to the chase -- eventually one of the brothers shot the window-scratching creature, which limped off into a vault in the nearby churchyard. Next day, they found the thing, wounded leg and all, inside a coffin!

 My spongy, susceptible nine-year-old mind believed every word of this account. Every. Fucking. Word. And the knowledge that such a creature had been discovered in the everyday world slid beneath the surface of my comprehension, forming an impermeable layer. That thing was out there somewhere, which meant it might come after me some day.


A couple of years later my parents decide to take me & my younger sister on a trip through Europe by way of the Panama Canal and Italy. We eventually wound up in the UK to visit a bunch of relatives.

 One of the aunts we met had been making Wombles to sell at a local fete. You remember Wombles? They were everywhere at the time. For no good reason that I can recall, I decided to make myself a doll out of leftover scraps of Womble fur. First I made a skeleton out of pipe cleaners, then sewed on the fur and gave the thing big round sewn-on eyes. I named this doll Miss Fuzzy Wuzzy and my mum made her a little outfit out of denim scrap. Mum was good at making clothing for our dolls.

 But Miss Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn't like other dolls. She was an absolute hairy-scary fright. So frightening, in fact, that I then went on to make a magic talisman to hang around her neck to stop her coming alive in the middle of the night and murdering me. Miss Fuzzy Wuzzy was so much like that scratching thing with the hideous brown face and flaming eyes at Croglin Grange. The talisman was a bright pink plastic bead with multifaceted sides, like a dewdrop crystal. I guess it worked because I'm still alive to tell this tale…

Thursday, September 07, 2017


Given the lined note-paper, and the care I took sketching out, I'm going to say it was one hell of a boring team meeting I was stuck in at the time. I clearly was too bored to come up with something funny.


"Hello? Base camp? I haven't found the elephant's graveyard yet, but I think I know someone who has..."

Sunday, September 03, 2017


If you enjoyed Magrit, then Sue Whiting is the person to thank. Sue is, to put it simply, the best editor I've ever worked with: I learned more from working with her on this one manuscript than I've learned from the rest of my career combined. Her ability to pull threads together, to identify logic gaps and tighten sentences I thought screwed to their maximum torque, was astonishing. She did such an amazing job that she's indirectly responsible for the difficulties I've had with my next work-- now that she's left Walker Books and gone back to her first love, writing, I'm no longer certain how much of my greatest success is mine and how much is hers, and for a long time I was paralysed by the fear that it was all down to her.

An accomplished author in her own right, here she lets us into both the beginnings and underpinnings of her literary career.


This is harder to answer than one might think. At first my mind went to my musty and age-spotted edition of Famous Five Go Down to the Sea by Enid Blyton. It was printed in 1953, but found its way to me as a hand-me-down from an older cousin probably in about 1968. I credit it as the book that turned me into a reader, which eventually led me to being a writer.

Open Book

But there is actually another tome that I hold most dear. And that is A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. I have three copies: two hardbacks (one signed by Patrick) and a paperback, plus the audiobook narrated by Jason Isaacs. When I left Walker Books my gift from the company was a signed print of the cover art. I couldn’t have asked for a better or more apt parting gift. (I am yet to see the movie – but I will!)


This book is incredibly sad and deeply affecting. But it is one of the most beautifully written and crafted books I have ever read. It was “required” reading for my editors when I was Publishing Manager at Walker and I always recommend it when mentoring emerging authors. There are so many lessons about what constitutes good writing within its pages. Quite simply, I adore it.

In fact, I think it is high time I read it again.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Sunday, August 27, 2017


There's no denying it: Kaaron Warren is an awards hoover. Over three novels and umpty-million short stories, she's won everything from the Aurealis, Ditmar, and Australian Shadows Awards to everything Canberra critics can give her to the Shirley Jackson Award. She's one of our very few world class authors-- she'll be a Guest of Honour at the 2018 World Fantasy Convention-- and if that wasn't enough to make you hate her through sheer envy, she's also one of the loveliest people I've ever met. Her latest novel, The Grief Hole, is, like most of her other work, an utter tour de force.
She's one of my favourite SF people, and as always, it's an utter pleasure to be in her company. And as always, no surprise to find that what Kaaron writes about isn't what is seen in the surface but what lies just below, easily missed until she brings it into the light for examination.


A visit to my grandmother’s house was always full of words. From the moment we arrived there was chatter about school and friends and what the mean kid did. About what was for lunch and how well the bread dough was rising, and whether or not it was helped along by my uncle saying, “Arise, Sir Bread” every time.

After lunch was quiet time, but even more filled with words. There were piles of Family Circle and Women’s Weekly to read, and of Australasian Post (courtesy of my jokester uncle). I would nestle myself in a corner with a packet of lifesavers and read my way through the piles. Then I’d go to Nana’s bookshelf. She loved historical novels the best, so there was Georgette Heyer and Catherine Cookson, books I read in a sitting or would borrow to take home and finish that night. I was already keener on ghost stories than these historical romances, but I loved Heyer and Cookson for the way they told the story and for their descriptions. I learnt a lot about dialogue and setting from these books.

My most prized literary treasure, though, is this book.

Nana's book

When my Nana died, I inherited some of her books. Not the Georgette Heyer’s for some reason; they went elsewhere. But I did inherit this book. I’ve never read it. The Garfield bookmark shows where my Nana was up to.

Tears prickle my eyes as I type this. Looking at this book, and the bookmark there, makes me miss her so much. I’m not sure I’m sad she never finished this book, or if it gives me a sense of eternity, as if there is no ‘ending’, there is simply a bookmark keeping a record of where you’re up to for when you come back.

Thursday, August 24, 2017


It's not often that I come across a forgotten thumbnail that makes me cackle and kind of wish I'd gone down the other creative path with my career.

The 4th Doctor getting ripped a new one by an angry Lollipop Guild is one of them.


"Honestly, you people. It's like you all get a dog and a flying house and think it give you a licence to start squashing witches..."

Sunday, August 20, 2017


It's been too long since we've visited fellow artists' precious things: the KSP Residency kept me away from all but the most basic blogging, and since I returned to the day job, the weight of work has been ramping up so that I've had very little time to myself for such things. Thankfully, the skies have cleared (I can't wait to tell you about The 18 Month Plan tm) and we have a chance to get back to business with one of Australian Speculative Fiction's most divine lunatics, the brilliantly unique Adam Browne.

For a start, Adam's more than a writer: he illustrates his own works, and they have titles like Pyrotechnicon: Being a True Account of the Further Adventures of Cyrano de Bergerac Among the States and Empires of the Stars, by Himself (dec'd) (a wonderful confectionery of a book I was proud to read pre-publishing), "Other Stories," and Other Stories, and his latest, The Tame Animals of Saturn. He has a tendency not to appear in major presses: such is often the fate of truly original voices, and Adam is truly original-- if you'd like further proof, my favourite of his short stories involves the soul of Michael Jackson being implanted into an immortal spaceship, and grooming a street urchin to travel the stars with him forever. And that's the easy version of the synopsis.

Spend five minutes at Adam's blog, luxuriate in the writing and drawings, then come back here to enjoy an insight into one of the most intriguing and fascinating writers Australian speculative fiction has ever produced.


I was trying to think of the right book -- I liked this idea and wanted to do it justice - but I was floundering around, looking at my bookshelves, considering this and that - The Dictionary of Angels by Gustave Davidson was one - others by Borges - and so on.

Then I chanced on this -  this Puffin edition of Arthur C Clarke's Islands in the Sky. The illustration on the cover was what did it - my Madeline cake; bringing back all the sense impressions of that period of my childhood - the years of absorbing every bit of Clarke's pro space propaganda ... space, where it's clean, where there's none of the mufflement and mess of a suburban family life - where, for Clarke, he would be valued for his intelligence, and not scorned for his sexuality...


I was going to be an astronaut when I grew up... It took me too long to grow out of that.

Growing up should be a feeling of increased power and freedom but often it's the opposite. 

Now I still love SF, but I tend to favor the eastern European style, which is all 'wherever you go, there you are' in its themes - the real Frontier is us - that sort of thing- see Solaris, or Upon The Silver Globe - also, from the West, Kim Stanley Robinson's Aurora - a masterpiece.

I'm still grateful to Clarke for his heartfelt and lucid writing - he was using SF as a means to an end, in which he sincerely believed - even if I don't believe in the same thing any more, I'm still fond of the man. It was only recently that I realised I used to think of him as a friend. And really, thinking about it, I realise that feeling hasn't gone away.

Thursday, August 17, 2017


I'd watch the movie. That's all I'm saying. Unless it had Adam Sandler in it. That shit's worse than death. But other than that...


"No, actually. I don't think it would be cool if we all lived in the same house like The Beatles did in that movie, okay?"

Monday, August 14, 2017


As part of my recent Residency, I was asked to provide a list of 10 writing tips, to be reproduced in the Centre's newsletter.

What the hey: here they are, for you to argue over.

  1. Know what you want to achieve from each session: it’s easier to get words down if you know where you want your story to go.
  2. Set reasonable targets: don’t try to achieve something that puts you under pressure before you start. Better to set a moderate target and exceed it, than otherwise.
  3. Be disciplined: writing time can be minimal. When you have it, don’t get distracted by other things. When it’s time to write, write and only write.
  4. Be regular: you don’t have to write every day, but try to set aside time on a regular basis. 500 words, once a week is better than zero words every day.
  5. Embrace your weird: nobody thinks like you do. If your narrative starts to deviate, take a chance on your instincts and follow it. You might be tapping into that voice that is uniquely yours.
  6. Tell your story first: turn off your internal editor until the first draft is done. Only edit once you have the narrative written. Never start editing until the story is told.
  7. Forget the marketplace: don’t worry about where the story could be sold until it is complete. There will always be a market, but there’s never been one for unfinished stories.
  8. Ignore your surroundings: if you want to complete stories, train yourself to ignore everything around you while you are working. Whether it is the laundry, your spouse, or a cocktail by the beach, they can all wait until you’re finished your session.
  9. There is no perfect environment: the world is too busy, noisy, and fast-paced to wait until you have the perfect combination of circumstances in which to create. Learn to work while surrounded by noise; while on public transport; on a variety of recording media… whatever it takes to get words down wherever you are, whenever you’re there.
  10. Ignore your muse: the world does not care if you are a precious, fragile creative soul. The world cares only for your completed stories. Be a professional, working artist: fly if you can, grind them out if you have to, but accept that your words are the only currency that counts.


On a whim, I entered a competition for 50-word short stories last week. I didn't win, so I thought you might like a little bonus reading material for your day: here are my entries, for your reading pleasure.

The fences were electrified. Designed to keep us from the world. Topped by razors. Patrolled by wolves. Governed by black eyes. Grass stopped at their edges. Water refused to flow. Inside, damnation. Outside, gun barrels. I closed my eyes. I gripped the wires. I burned. I climbed. I flew.

Mother calls. We answer, our voices muffled. We strayed from sight, and it is late. Home promises warmth, and rest, and love. We have strayed, and cannot find our way. Mother calls. We answer. The earth is cold. It fills our mouths and eyes. Mother calls, and calls, and calls.

The bullet changes everything. You hear it before you feel it: a whistle that nature has never produced. Then a punch that turns the world upside down. And she’s gone. Your love. Exorcised. Nothing is ever the same. Your life is a ghost. That is my gift to you. Knowledge.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


I have no excuse.


"Don't be embarrassed, darling. We know there are some things a man just can't ask his wife for."
Laughing at farts. Cooking like Mum used to. Understanding the offside rule. 

Thursday, August 03, 2017


I'm just going to leave this here without comment, other than to say this is probably my favourite one so far: I haven't seen it since I scanned it a few years ago, and it still made me cackle. 
Also, it's a perfect example of how comedy turns on the choice of a single word: in this case, it's 'rarely'.
"This is a small town, Father Michael. The bitches in the house rarely go 'Ho'..."

Thursday, July 27, 2017


I spent a long time working for the Tax Office. A long time. 
Possibly a day too long.
"He says it actually did buy him happiness, but now he just leases happiness back to himself through a wholly-owned subsidiary at a net loss and negative gears it to maximise the tax benefits."

Friday, July 21, 2017


Last week, I touched upon five people who have had a direct impact upon turning points in my career. This week, I thought it would be interesting to consider another five people who have had an impact: not on specific turning points, this time, but in a more general sense.

Here, then, are five people who are in my writing karass not because they intruded at a specific time or place, but because they diverted the course of my river gently, or persistently, or in ways that cannot be singularly identified.

Five for Friday: A Karass of Career Twists

Thursday, July 20, 2017


This one's more whimsical than funny, but I quite like it. After inheriting three teenagers, and growing one naturally (with one more to come), this thumbnail, done during my child-free years, feels rather prescient. 
Honestly, if I never have to remind another human being that they have to brush their teeth ever again......
Dr Jones-- Psychiatrist
"Crosses, garlic, running water... although we can't tell if the last one
is because he's a vampire or just because he's a teenager...

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Just a quick reminder that the KSP Christmas in July Literary Dinner, featuring readings by me, is on tonight. More details, including booking information, at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre webpage.

Also, don't forget tomorrow night when, just like Billy Connolly or Ronnie Corbett, I have an Evening With!
An Evening with Lee Battersby takes place at Mundaring Library, and will feature me talking about writing as abstract art, the fearlessness of children readers, and possibly dishing out a little of Magrit or Ghost Tracks to prove my point. You can see more details on the Mundaring Library website or book through Eventbrite.

No stranger to a stage, me.

Monday, July 17, 2017


Well, I missed posting last night, because I was out gorging myself on a brilliant Indian dinner at a restaurant with the 2017 KSP Fellows and Residents Group-- the life of a writer is a hard and dismal one, no?-- so I missed posting an update.


They let me out in public, in the company of nice people. It's like they don't even know me.

Needless to say, I'm pushing on, and rediscovering some long-unused writing muscles into the bargain.

I've mentioned before that my day job has a habit of eating my life: it's high-stress, can require me to work extended hours and extended weeks (I have, in the past, worked 21-day weeks), and generally dominates so much of my time and thinking that personal tasks, hobbies, and sometimes the simply act of being just me (as opposed to the team leader, the City representative, the community punching bag...) gets discarded and forgotten.

This goes doubly for writing. By the time I've worked a long day, de-stressed, spent time with my family, and contributed my share to the domestic tasks required just to keep a family of four on the go, I'm in no shape to write. Or if I am, it is simply a damn sight easier to put it down when I reach a problem point than it is to subject myself to working at the task-- if writing isn't a joy, why am I doing it when I have such a short window for joy each day in the first place? As a result, I've slowly become a flabby writer, a lazy writer, a writer who would much rather be doing anything else than working out my skills and maintaining my authorial muscle tone.

Here, I don't have that luxury. I'm here solely for the purpose of writing, and rediscovering a sense of graft and discipline has been a priority.

These last couple of days, I've reached the end of my plot vision-- that small section of narrative that I can see beyond where I stand each morning-- where Ghost Tracks is concerned. The words have not flowed as easily, because I haven't had a clear vision of where they are heading, and I've lost trust in my ability to wing my forward and make everything work. I've had to sharpen my critical faculties, so that I could provide a mentoring session to an aspiring author and give meaningful and useful advice and critique.  And I've finished the one short story I had set up, and am having to rediscover how to crash research into a short period of time so that I can get back to the desk and get a word count down.

These are skills I'd let slip, and have had to push myself to rediscover. I've managed to maintain my self-appointed target of 2000 Ghost Tracks words, taking the overall total past 28,000, but it's been hard, and rewarding for that hardness.

I have a tendency to view myself, as a writer, the same way I viewed working as an improvisational comedian: spontaneously drawing upon my creativity and instinctively dipping into a well of material and references quickly enough to skate across any surface. What I had forgotten is that such an approach requires the most stringent, through, and extended preparation: what you see when I fling words out effortlessly is the quick flash of the moment, but it's the two decades of discipline and training that you don't see that enables me to do it.

It's the discipline and training I've let slip.

So this past week has been good for me. I've been forced to work, and then work beyond where lazy habit has taken me. And I have no excuses, no reason to turn away when things get difficult. I am serving an obligation, one I gave to the Centre, and to Luscious, and to myself: to be a writer, in the most professional, productive sense of the word. I'm in fight camp, and it's fantastic.

The next trick, of course, will be to maintain this discipline when I get back to the World, and that self-same stressful job that lurks just beyond next weekend with its smile full of sharp teeth. But for now the writing is the right type of work, the kind where you know the pain in your muscles is because you're building muscle mass, and you're going to come out of it the other side lean, and hard, and buff as fuck.


Id vuzz a dahk und stormeh nahht....


I could just watch this over, and over. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017


Anybody who thinks numbers aren't beautiful has never been a writer. As much as I have a love of mathematics (much like I have a love of boxing: I'm not much cop at anything beyond the basics, but by God, I love what the form can do), it's the rise in pure numbers that gets my authorial mind smiling.

Let me show you. As of the close of business today:
  • 6700 words on Ghost Tracks, taking the text from 17,500 to a shade over 24,100.
  • 3000 words on Song of the Water, equalling 1 complete short story, taking the proposed collection to, in a beautiful piece of symmetry, a shade over 24,100.
  • 300 words on The Ballad of Arthur Williams.
Equalling 10,000 words since I arrived here.

See? Isn't lovely? Doesn't that make you smile? Because it make me grin like a freaking loon.

The other thing that made me smile like a loon today was my family deciding I needed to be taken out for dinner, and driving all the way here to pick me up and take me out. I'm loving this small taste of the life I want to live-- writing full-time; advancing projects on a daily basis; drinking up the solitary, reflective life of an artist-- but it means nothing without the love and support of those I love, and I've been missing them terribly. Everything I do, everything I sacrifice, everything I undertake: without them, it's ashes.

It's a small thing: a meal together, some laughs and togetherness. But it gives me the motivation to keep going and do them proud.


They followed me home. Can I keep them?

Friday, July 14, 2017


A simple day, today. After the social butterflying and story completion of yesterday, it was time for a return to the word mines, and an attempt to get some serious traction on Ghost Tracks.

Having spent the last 4 days staring out at the same view, I decided to pack up my computer and head into the nearby town of Midland to write, just for the change of scenery. It worked: I managed 2500 words, and shaped up the next part of the narrative, so that the next day or two of writing should come as easily as today's.

That represents an important turning point for me: I'm not a plotter, which means that I rarely have more than a general sense of where I'm going in the short term. I usually know where I want to end up-- I have the ending of this novel all sewn up, for example-- but the details of the journey are often only discovered very shortly before the characters find out. In loose terms, my writing comes to me in three stages:
  1. The big picture: I've got a story to tell. I know how it begins ( A boy derails a ghost train, and has to travel to the ghost world to make amends). I know how it ends (Oh, it's so good. It's so great. You didn't think I'd actually tell you here, did you? ;)  ). I know the overarching reason behind the narrative (There's this [REDACTED] named [REDACTED] , and s/he wants to [REDACTED] by[REDACTED] a  [REDACTED]). And that's pretty much it.                                                                    
  2. The lilypads: like a frog trying to cross the Great Lakes, I know where I'm sitting. I can see maybe one, maybe two actions ahead. I know the lake is freaking enormous. I'm trusting that there are enough lilypads to get me across. before this morning, I'd written roughly a third of the novel. Paul, my protagonist, and Aoife, his sidekick, had escaped the first major set piece of the story, and had reached a surprise location. I know I want them to reach a completely different location by the time the novel turns towards the climax. How they get there, not so much.                                                                                                                                                 
  3. The details: all the fun bits to write, like dialogue, and new characters, and the bricks that make the wall that make the tower. Two days ago, did I know there would be a monster? And a family of abandoned children who lived in a cubby house they'd built from their memories? And that the monster would prove to be not a monster at all, but possibly the biggest victim in the whole book? Nope, nope, and uh-uh. But this is the fun thing, for me: the discoveries I make along the way. the surprises and magical moments where my subconscious tape me on the shoulder, and says "Hey, Rocky..." 

And as we all know, the fun lies in the fact that it's never a rabbit. 

Yesterday, one of my junior interrogators asked me whether I wrote books so that I could read exactly the kinds of books I wanted to read. And the answer is yes, because I experience the excitement and wonder that a reader does, at pretty much exactly the same time. If I planned everything out, I'd already know, and what would be the point of writing it out?

Today was a good day, with excitement, and danger, and really cool things. Tomorrow? Who knows? But half the fun is getting there.


As much as I'm a died-in-blood-on-the-wool-of-the-lamb-that-lay-down-with-the-lion atheist, I've always had a bit of a leaning towards the fictional cult of Bokononism that Kurt Vonnegut espoused in my favourite of his novels, Cat's Cradle. It's a harmless creed of self-gratification, based around the tenet that you should believe the lies that make you happiest, and discard those fabricated, societal lies-- say, for example, family, government, or honour-- that cause you misery or harm.

My birth family imploded badly during the 1980s -- and my own growth has shown me what a flawed, deeply unhappy accidental grouping it was -- so the novel struck a cord when I first read it. Of particular attraction, and something I've held to ever since, was the notion of the karass-- a group of people linked by common affect or circumstance, for good or ill, even if they do not know it. The girl to whom I lost my virginity: part of my karass. The doctor who killed my first wife: likewise. The teacher who first noted my talent for writing and helped turn me away from the military and towards a life in the arts: you get the idea.

It is not the link forged by societal expectation that counts. It is the link forged by the effect upon my journey that is the strongest.

So what does all this post-pop-psychology-posturing have to do with anything?

One of the main tasks associated with my current KSP writing residency is to provide a mentoring session to an aspiring artist. I don't mentor as often as I used to. As I get older and my career gets more complicated, I find myself less and less sure about what I have to offer others, outside of straight writing advice. I'm less of an example, and more of an example of mistakes to avoid......
However, it does strike me as a timely opportunity to acknowledge five people who have provided important turning points in my career. Whether they know it or not, and whether they want it or not, they are-- inextricably-- members of my writing karass

Five for Friday: Members of my Writing Karass.

Thursday, July 13, 2017


It was a day of achievement today: after kissing Luscious goodbye (there are advantages to undertaking a residency within driving distance of home- a visit from your wonderful wife is one of them), I embarked upon my first engagement of the fortnight-- a forty-five minute interview by the participants of the KSP Press Club, led by my old pal and fellow author Melinda Tognini.

Press Club table.jpg
My press desk. How cool is that?

For an hour I was grilled by a merciless team of flint-eyed investigate reporters about my literary influences, whether ideas drawn from real life or fiction are more worthy, and exactly which iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy was my favourite (What can I say? Two comic book geeks in a room: we bonded...)

Press Club.jpg

Don't let those adorable smiles fool you. Gimlet-eyed journalistic assassins, one and all!

One of my greatest joys as a writer is working with kids-- with so many other, easier forms of entertainment available to them, you know that any kids who takes the time and effort to become involved in literature is there because s/he absolutely loves the stuff. That passion is palpable, and the questions and interests they reveal are usually fearless, and incredibly insightful. This was no different, and in the end, I had to be gently reminded that everybody had other things to get on with today, or I'd still be there, now.  And still comparing Yondu Udonta to Charlie 27, and explaining how chicken's eyes work. It was that kind of session...

Once I'd reluctantly retreated to my cabin, I turned my attention to Song of the Water. There's a point in every story where you can feel that the narrative has reached the final turn, and is beginning to sniff out the end. I hit that point with this story late yesterday, and was able to bring it in to a conclusion at a slice over 3000 words. It was my only writing of the day, so to be able to conclude something was reward for not moving on to more Ghost Tracks words. Tomorrow. In the meantime, there was just enough time to get the first words down on the next story, and a character I've been fascinated with for years.


From pages recovered from a fire in the office of Colonel Bull, Governor, Melbourne Gaol, 24 May 1892.

They called me mad, and I called me mad, and damn us, we were all correct.

The Ballad of Albert Williams will focus on the compelling Frederick Bailey Deeming. One day I will write a biography of the man, but for now, tomorrow will involve furthering the action of Ghost Tracks, and diving into my research materials to thread out the narrative of this alluring lunatic.
Until then, a completed story means beery reward and boxing videos: time for me to explore the career of The Prince, Naseem Hamed.