All That I Remember About Dean Cola

My new book!

The boys from back home stand beside the bed, watching her bleed onto the white sheet. ‘He only said to scare her,’ one of them says.

Sidney is happily married to her firefighter husband and thinking about having a child, but her life has been marred by psychotic breakdowns. Haunted by memories of Dean Cola — the teenage crush who is an essential piece of the puzzle that is her past — she returns to the town where she grew up. Something unthinkable happened there, but is she strong enough to face it?

A compelling portrait of mental illness, memory, and the ways that the years when we ‘come of age’ can be twisted into trauma.

Pre-order from Scribe, Booktopia, Amazon or your favourite local bookshop.

Easter 2020

Easter years ago

We all went to Mum’s old house up the bush. Autumn was hot during the day and cold and frosty at night. The smell of eucalyptus, and wood smoke from the pot belly stove. We ate fish and chips and drank too much on Good Friday.

My kids — happy shiny faces, rosy cheeks — played in piles of crispy crunchy leaves.

Easter now

Low–mid 20s days in Melbourne, cold mornings. The smell of burning dust from the heater not used since last winter. Police crackdown on non-essential travel. In Tasmania they have warned ‘There will be choppers in the sky’ to ensure residents are not leaving their homes. No holidays. No camping. People walking the neighbourhood aimlessly with dogs and kids, crossing the street to avoid each other. And posting on Instagram pics of campfires and tents pitched in backyards. Or images from years ago.

My kids sleep till afternoon.

I tried to cook fish on Good Friday, but it fell apart in the pan.

Term 2 writing courses online

Business as usual. Sort of.

I’ll be running the following writing courses online (with no kids, dogs or cats running across the background of my soon-to-be-very-tidy office, which is not really in my kitchen …)

Monday 1.30–3.30 Writers Workshop (for Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre)
Tuesday 9.30–11.30 Creative Writing (for Span Community House)
Wednesday 9.30–11.30 Thornbury Writers Workshop (for Span Community House)

Dog sitting on office chair at desk

There will be lots of writing, inspiration, an online guest author, a virtual excursion, and perhaps the occasional Mad Hatter’s tea party or Great Gatsby cocktail hour.

If you would like to join us, please contact the centre you are interested in for more info and enrolment details, or Tania at
Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre E: P: 9347 2739
Span Community House E: P: (03) 9480 1364

2020 course dates for Term 1

How to Start Your Story — Writers Victoria
Time: Sunday 10 – 4
Date: 16 February

Writers Workshop — Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre
Times: Mondays 1.30 – 3.30pm
Term 1 dates: 3 February – 23 March

Creative Writing — Span Community House
Times: Tuesday 9.30 – 11.30am
Term 1 dates: 4 February – 24 March

Thornbury Writers Workshop — Span Community House
Times: Wednesday 9.30 – 11.30am
Term 1 dates: 29 January – 25 March

Creative Writing — Princes Hill Community Centre
Times: Wednesday 5.30 – 7.30pm
Term 3 dates: 12 February – 25 March

Writing a novel is like rock climbing

“” by smile_kerry is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Writing a novel is like rock climbing (and not the indoor kind with those pretty-coloured bumps and grooves to hold onto). Everyday. For years. And years. At the start it’s a new and fun adventure. About halfway up the cliff you might realise that you’ve gone the wrong way or are climbing the wrong mountain altogether, but you’ve come too far to go back. There will be sacrifices, there will tears, there will be pain, there will be days when you can’t face the climb at all; you might even fall off the mountain a few times. You will feel jealous of climbers who are climbing faster, the ones who have the right equipment and seem to know what they’re doing, the ones who get all the help and support. Keep going. Don’t compare yourself to others — everybody’s climb is different.

When you’re just about to finally reach the top, you will be pushed back to the bottom — by self-doubt, early reader feedback, rejection, or some other obstacle. You’ll have to start the climb over again. And again. And again. You must want this so badly, more than anything. If you do, you’ll get there — in the end you’ll claw yourself, by your bleeding fingernails (and pig-headedness), over the precipice. And then you can start working on the second draft!

At night the headlights of the trucks out on the highway cast moving shadows on the wall

One of my favourite musicians, Melbourne Blues legend Chris Wilson, has lost his battle with cancer.

A handful of my memories of Chris:

‘Live at the Continental’ was one of the albums that changed my life — played to me for the first time in a grungy share house in Fitzroy by the man would become my partner, the father of my children.

We saw Chris perform at Apollo Bay Music Festival the night before rushing to hospital for the emergency caesarean birth of our first baby.

‘Spiderman’ was the soundtrack to my long lonely days at home caring for a sick, premature baby.

Some of the best afternoons/evenings of music I can recall were Fridays at Yah Yah’s in Smith Street Fitzroy, when Chris had a residency there. I remember the night he announced to the audience the upcoming publication of my first novel!

I think I kind of, maybe, stole a little bit of a line from ‘Money Go Round’ for my second novel — about the streets looking silver, but it was just the rain.

Thank you, Chris Wilson, for the music.

Yah Yah’s 2015

*The post title is a line from ‘Wolves’ by Chris Wilson

Ep: 97 Tania Chandler – Please Don’t Leave Me Here

The Book Podcast

Is Brigitte a loving wife and mother, or a cold-blooded killer?

Nobody knows why she was in the east of the city so early on the morning she was left for dead by a hit-and-run driver.  It was the Friday before Christmas 1994 – the same day police discovered the body of a man beaten to death in her apartment.

Fourteen years later, Brigitte is married to the detective who investigated the murder, which she claims to have lost her memory of in the car accident.  They have young twins, and seem to be a happy family.  Until the reopening of the cold case.

Please Don’t Leave Me Here is about loss, love, and lies.  It is about pain, fear and memory and above all it is about letting go.

Read more about Tania here

Six word synopsis:  Murder, memory loss, truth or lies

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