Author Archives: Tania Chandler

About Tania Chandler

Writer and editor. Author of PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME HERE.

Writer and Storyteller are fighting again

Storyteller: The writing workshop was good.

Writer: Yes. A great group of writers.

Storyteller: And we got some terrific feedback: Shiveringly good imagery; love the intrigue and impending danger; can’t wait for more of this very mysterious psychological thriller.

Writer: Mmm.

Storyteller: What’s wrong? They liked it.

Writer: Psychological thriller, S.T. A thriller.

Storyteller: *widens eyes* *blinks*

Writer: I told you I didn’t want to write a thriller.

Storyteller: Thrillers sell.

Writer: I wouldn’t know, I don’t read them.

Storyteller: I’ve seen you reading them.

Writer: No, S.T, those are ‘literary thrillers’.

Storyteller: *scoffs*

Writer: This is your fault.

Storyteller: My fault! If it wasn’t for me what would you have?

Writer: I’d be writing happily — just seeing what my characters do.

Storyteller: A pile of unconnected words you’d just keep polishing forever and ever.

Writer: Very shiny words.

Storyteller: If anybody is to blame, it’s Stephen King.

Writer: Stephen King?

Storyteller: I know you weren’t really reading Jane Austen back in high school.

Writer: Shut up!

Storyteller: You shut up.

Writer: Oh my God, S.T, how about the trailer for the new It movie?

Storyteller: Yaaasss!

Writer: Not that I really want to see it.

Storyteller: Sure. *rolls eyes* So about this book we’re writing?

Writer: I have doubts.

Storyteller: Surprise, surprise. Let’s just forget about genres and labels and try to write the best book we can.

Writer: You’re going to make it a thriller, aren’t you?

Storyteller: I have some great plot ideas.

Writer: Too much plot will ruin my character-driven exploration of the human condition from a flawed perspective. I think of it as like A Bar at Folies-Bergere — the angles of the mirror are skewed; in the reflection the barmaid leans forward to the customer in the top hat, but in reality she is standing straight, ambivalent to his attention. In the grand balcony, reflected impossibly behind the barmaid, a woman looks through opera glasses at something beyond the frame.

Storyteller: You know we’ll have to delete that chapter about the Manet painting before any editor sees it?

Writer: No we won’t.

Storyteller: We’ll see.

Writer: What’s beyond the frame is important, S.T.

Storyteller: Like in It?

Writer: No, not like in It.

Storyteller: Let’s just sit back at the computer. Want your boat, Georgie?

Writer: Te he.

Storyteller: And a balloon? Come on then. How about a ‘literary thriller’?

Writer: I hate you.

Storyteller: Everything down here floats.

Davitt Awards shortlist

Sisters in Crime has announced the shortlists for the 2017 Davitt Awards for the best crime books by Australian women.

Looky at Dead in the Water there — right at the top! [OK, I know it’s in alphabetical order, but still …]

Here are all the shortlisted books in each category:

Adult novels

Young Adult novels

Children’s novels

Non-fiction books

Debut

The 2017 winners will be announced on Saturday 26 August. You can book a ticket for the Davitt Awards Gala Dinner here

A second life for ‘Please Don’t Leave Me Here’

Zwei Leben’ (‘Two Lives’) is published in Germany today by Suhrkamp.

Geh kleines buch!

zwei leben

This is the farewell and good luck note I wrote to my book (originally titled
Please Don’t Leave Me Here) the first time around:

I don’t know where you came from, why you chose me, or if you existed inside me for some time before I gave you life.

You were never easy to live with, but every day I nurtured you.

As you grew, I grew. I learnt so much about myself from writing you.

Some mornings I couldn’t wait to see you at 5.00am and some times I felt like deleting you, but I never gave up on you.

Leonardo da Vinci said: ‘Art is never finished, only abandoned’.

I will miss you and I’m scared of what could happen to you out there in the world, but it’s time to ‘abandon’ you, to let you go.

And here’s the playlist of music that inspired the book:

Writing place

 

I’m thrilled to be one of ten writers invited to participate in an exciting new
Darebin City Council initiative called Writing this Place. The project aims to uncover ‘hidden gems’ in the architectural, natural and social spaces in Darebin, and to celebrate local writers.

In a night of fun and mayhem involving bingo and raffles at the very original retro Thornbury Bowls Club, the writers were matched randomly (although I suspect some cheating may have gone on with the wheel spinning for location) with ten iconic places in Darebin. I was the lucky one to spin the wildcard, allowing me to choose my own location. The Westgarth Cinema.

We now have one month to research, explore and immerse ourselves in our matched location. And, of course, write about it — contributing to a new narrative for the city, investigating notions of place and form. Quite a challenge!

Quite terrifying, actually.

I find the short-story form daunting, and stand by whoever said it’s easier to write a novel than a short story [Or was it a long letter is easier than a short letter?].

I think I achieved a strong sense of place in both my novels. But it’s not something I sat at my computer and planned. It just kind of happened. I think it evolved after, or at least alongside, character development. Character usually comes first for me. But it’s hard to remember. I call it ‘novel amnesia’ — the thing that happens after you’ve written a book and have no idea how you did it. It’s like childbirth — a defence mechanism kicks in, making you forget the pain so you’ll go back and do it again.

I’ve tried to document my process while Writing this Place so I could share it here.

So, how to ‘write place’?

1. Researching online
For starters, I searched for information online. I found a lot of details about my place, especially the architecture. Post WWI eclectic Free Classical style; articulated engaged piers; cantilevered awning; smooth banded rustication; deep, dentillated cornice. That all sounds clever, but would make most people’s eyes glaze over, except for architects.

You need to let go of most of the technical terms and think about what the place looks like to you. Put it into your own words; give it your unique perspective.

While researching, I stumbled across war stories from the city of Darebin, which gave me the germ of an idea for a historical piece.

2. Visiting location
I know some authors have written wonderful, believable books about places they’ve never visited, but I don’t think I could ever do that. I spent time hanging around — immersing myself in my place, asking the staff questions. I even caught a movie while I was at it (research!). [Lucky I didn’t get a pub as my location.]

I took copious notes at my place. I also took photos. [Sometimes I record sounds when researching locations.]

My notes weren’t just about visuals. Sensory details drawing on all the senses bring stories to life.

When writing, think about:
Sight
Sound
Smell
Touch
Taste

3. Finding character and story
As well as WW2, I was interested in the Greek-language films that brought Northcote’s large Greek population together in the 60s and 70s. But I also wanted to incorporate present day into my narrative.

Hmm … Maybe three short story-vignettes?

Two of the three vignettes spoke louder to me, and I started weaving them into a single connected story. Finding characters and story was important for me — without them, place is just exposition.

4. Framing
I liked the idea of using frames to write about a place that showed pictures. Framing devices as well as literal door and window frames.

I try to capture subjects visually in my writing the same way a camera would. This seemed even more pertinent for this project.

Start with a close-up frame on an object or person in your story and then ‘pan’ out to a mid and/or wide shot. For example: go from a feature of a face, a brooch on a dress, and then out to the surroundings. Or start with a wide frame and then zoom in. The façade of a building, to the window, to a smaller detail on the signage. [I don’t think about this in the first draft, but when rewriting I check that I haven’t jumped around too much with the ‘framing’.]

5. Metaphor, simile and symbol
These literary devices can make your place more interesting.

Think about the green light in The Great Gatsby and the moors in Wuthering Heights.

I was interested in exploring contrasts like the dark and light spaces in a cinema. Past and present, love and loss, war and peace, life and death.

Memory is like a camera, recording the bright flashbulb moments. But what about the dark or blank spaces in between? This idea kept popping up in my thoughts.

6. Finding historical details
To get the historical details right, I visited my local library (Northcote), and the State Library Victoria for advice and information. Old newspapers and maps help build up a snapshot of a time. I was also in the wars a lot (sorry!) — searching the National Archives and War Memorial websites.

The Darebin Heritage website was another useful resource.

7. Seeking Feedback
Feedback is a very important part of the process. I can’t say I’m a big fan of it. All is happy and perfect in story land — until you ask for it. I have learnt / am still learning that seeking feedback too early on can fill you with doubt and derail your idea. Given enough time (and rewrites) you will come to a deep understanding of your story — and that’s when it’s time to ask for feedback. However, I didn’t have the luxury of time on this project. And, yes, conflicting feedback (from a few trusted readers) on my first draft did throw me off track for a while.

One point I took on board was that I had tried to include too much in my piece. I left in my [short, OK, short!] reference to the Greek films, but took out the stuff about Walter Burley Griffin and the lost building plans.

 [Also not included in my piece, but just so you know: INXS filmed the music video for ‘Listen Like Thieves’ at the Westgarth, and in 1940 double-decker buses replaced the cable trams on High Street.]

8. Other stuff
I like to use the light in my writing, and how it can alter the appearance of things. In fact I found the word ‘light’ ten times in my first (1000 word) draft! Light (harsh or soft?) can be a way of signalling to your reader that something needs to be examined.

Music inspires me. I listened to music from WW2 time while writing this piece. I wanted to include a song from the 40s in the past section, and ‘Unchained Melody’ in the present, but I restrained myself from going overboard on the sentimentality.

9. Above all
When writing about place, ask yourself:
What is the feeling here?
What is the universal truth that embodies this place?

For my place — a purpose-built picture theatre from the 1920s — it was nostalgia.

What to expect when you’re expecting a book: #1 Blurbs

Jane Rawson and Annabel Smith have launched a new blog series for debut authors. This is their first issue — it’s about getting a blurb.

Jane Bryony Rawson

So your first book has been accepted for publication: congratulations! You’ve been through edits, the cover is chosen, and it’s about to go off to the printers. In the next few months your face will be all over television and you’ll be getting daily bank deposits of thousands of dollars. Right?

Maybe not.

All authors’ experiences are different, but we (Jane Rawson and Annabel Smith) thought you might like to know what we’ve learned about the period just before and after your book hits the shelves.

Jane: Recently my fourth book – a novel – was published. I’m with a small independent publisher, and they’ve previously published another novel of mine, and a non-fiction book about climate change that I co-authored with an environment journalist. My other book, a novella, was published by a different, even smaller independent publisher. None of my books has been published outside Australia, and…

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Summer reading

Best book ever

29601654The Summer That Melted Everything by debut author Tiffany McDaniel is my new Best book ever (for January anyway).

Some ‘Antarctic noir’ might have been a better choice while melting in Melbourne’s hot summer, but I couldn’t peel myself off the couch until I’d read the final page of this dark, gothic novel.

This book requires some willing suspension of disbelief, and I saw most of what was coming, but from a few pages in I was completely captivated by McDaniel’s stunning prose.

It’s a hell of a story (sorry, I couldn’t resist 🙂 )! It’s about what happens when prosecutor Autopsy Bliss (don’t be put off by the name like I was — that’s why it took me a while to get around to reading) invites the devil to the backwater town of Breathed, Ohio in the summer of 1984.

The Summer That Melted Everything is about family, redemption, love and evil. It made me cry, and at times I didn’t think I could bear the suffocating claustrophobia and aching sorrow — there’s not much bliss for the Bliss family that the story centres on. I’m not sure about the ending, and the book left me feeling shattered for sometime afterwards. Its images are still infiltrating my dreams.

Compelling, beautiful, brutal. If you’re looking for a cheery holiday read — this is not it.

Something old

xjane-eyre-popular-penguins-jpg-pagespeed-ic-lunfyo9spvJane Eyre | Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre is my current ‘bed book’. Unfortunately I often fall asleep and lose my page in my bed books. This one is so long — it’s going to take forever.

I avoided this classic when I was a teenager but felt compelled to give it a go after recently re-reading Wuthering Heights — which I adore — and was reluctant afterwards to leave the Bronte’s gothic 1800s world. Jane Eyre is quite different — obviously, I know; it’s not Emily — but I’m enjoying it. Slowly.

Something new

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Postnatal Depression Sucks | Robin Elizabeth33152096

Confessions of a Mad Mooer was released at the end of last year. It’s a memoir about the author’s battle with PND and admission to a psychiatric hospital’s Mother and Baby Unit.

Confessions of a Mad Mooer is told with honesty and humour. The writing’s great, and it’s a compelling read about a widely misunderstood topic. Oh, and it also contains some hilarious parenting and cleaning tips!  

More info about Confessions of a Mad Mooer here

Something borrowed

1471987Tell Me I’m Here | Anne Deveson

Tell me I’m Here is Anne Deveson’s beautifully written, heartbreaking memoir about her son, Jonathan, who had schizophrenia. I borrowed it from my local library, and read up to the penultimate chapter. Jonathan’s death occurs in the next chapter — I read ahead to prepare myself, but still couldn’t continue.

While avoiding the last chapters, Anne Deveson and Georgia Blain (who I hadn’t realised was Anne’s daughter mentioned in the book) both passed away.

Tell Me I’m Here is still sitting on top of my TBR pile, with a book mark sticking out of the final pages. Now the library wants it back — I’ve already renewed it twice, so I can’t keep it any longer. Sadly, I don’t think I can finish.

Something blue

Mayan Mendacity by L.J.M Owen and The Light on the Water by Olga Lorenzo are on my TBR pile, but I haven’t started either yet. They both have beautiful blue covers.

31117244

Mayan Mendacity | L.J.M Owen

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The Light on the Water | Olga Lorenzo

 

 

 

 

 

 

More of What I’m Reading can be found over on Meanjin’s blog.

What have you been reading this summer?

Tania Chandler: #Robinpedia

I’m very excited to have made it into #Robinpedia

Write or Wrong

Dreams can come true.

Who is Tania Chandler? She’s a crime writer, an Australian, and an all round rad shiela (is that how you spell it?). Like all cool writers she lives in Melbourne… I live in Sydney. Graeme Simsion, famous for the world wide smash The Rosie Project, has described her lead character as “flawed and troubled as any hard-bitten dick.

Tania’s novels are known for taking the archetypes from crime fiction and shuffling them around. Her character Brigitte has all the hallmarks of the femme fatale yet is the lead character. Aidan has the typical traits of the strong and silent police officer who drinks too much yet is relegated to the love interest category. Tania’s playing around with tropes gives her novels a fresh and light feel despite them dealing with distinctly dark subject matter.

Why does this cover scare me so?

Her…

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