An Empty Coast

An Empty Coast
My latest novel

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Literati.. very GC

It’s just as well my good mate and fellow Pan Macmillan author Peter Watt was trapped in his home by rising floodwaters and couldn’t make it to this years Gold Coast council Literati writers’ event.

If he had, I might be dead.

Hung over, Legion of Fans (LOF) is what I am right now, as I type this from the grandly named but still fairly unglitzy Gold Coast International Airport (the airport formerly known as Coolangatta).

The last time Peter Watt and I caught up for a drink we pulled stumps at four in the morning and by that time Peter had convinced me that it would be a good idea to start my next book (IVORY, the one due out August 1) with a scene where modern day pirates hijack a huge car carrying ship.

When I eventually sobered up I thought to myself that no one would believe a car carrier being hijacked (in order to steal its load of factory-fresh automobiles), but real-life Somali pirates later seized a ship carrying tanks for the Kenyan Army, so I figured my pirates could, after all, get away with making off with a few Hummer H3s.

Even with Peter’s absence (which I really was very disappointed about), I still managed to end up talking Swahili by the end of the Literati Dinner. I had an absolutely sensational time and have decided that Literati is the best writers’ festival I’ve ever been to (in fact, it’s the only one, but from what I know of the others, this one is still the best).

At the dinner forty authors (all much more famous than me) and about 150 guests all chowed down in the Gold Coast Arts Centre and us people what can write moved from table to table in between courses.

I met many very nice people, including readers Bruce and Mark who came to the event as a result of being spammed by me when I put out my first e-newsletter recently. I thank you and your significant others for coming along and I wish I could have spent more time with you (especially as you two knew who I was).

However, I was able to sell a couple of books to complete strangers and meet some new and interesting people, such as the lady who told me how her husband reads “romance” scenes to her in the privacy of their boudoir.

I think it should be compulsory for all literary events to include an all-you-can-drink bar (or at least I did before waking this morning).

I like the Gold Coast, or, as it is called these days, the GC.

A Sydney friend of mine was pooh-poohing Surfer’s Paradise when I told him I was heading for the Coast for this event. “Too much concrete blah blah blah; fake tans, fake boobs blah blah blah,” he went on at me. He was wrong, of course - all the tans are real on the GC.

Sure, there may be a higher-than-national-average amount of concrete high rises and silicone on the GC but, hey, they do make for stunning views.

This morning (Saturday, actually, as I'm posting all this a day late), I went for a 10-kilometre run to attempt to sober up before my midday talk at Southport Library, and to punish myself for my excessive drinking and non-sensical dinner table talk.

And guess what, one-eyed Sydney fans… never before on a run have I encountered so many g’days and smiles and so much all-round friendliness while pounding the waterfront. The people of the GC seem very comfortable in their tanned wrinkly skins. They’re happy to be alive and no longer working (either temporarily or permanently) and very friendly to strangers.

It’s the sort of place where if you’re not on holiday or on the run from a crime committed elsewhere, then you’re probably retired. In short, everyone is happy to be there, rather than in Sydney or Melbourne or Auckland.

It was a good run, and an easy one, thanks to the total lack of hills. Who says reclaiming swamp land is bad? Even the footpaths are friendlier in Surfers.

I spoke to a very nice and very responsive audience at the library today (yesterday) and did my best to appear lucid and sober. I also met some more very nice people who knew who I was (thank you, Moira and Karen for coming along) and did my best to push Peter Watt’s books as well as mine (Peter was also supposed to be at the talk with me).

Getting back to the dinner, the other good thing (apart from the unlimited booze) was being able to meet other book writers. It is, as we say in cliché-land, a lonely business writing books, so it was good to me to get together with other people who suffer as I do for my Legion of Fans.

On that note, LOF, the word is that my shipboard book club engagement on board the MV Pacific Dawn is still going ahead. (For the non-Australians, the Pacific Dawn has recently been quarantined due to an outbreak of Swine Flu and scurvy among its passengers and crew).

GC one weekend, Tonga the next… The things I do for you, LOF. Spare a thought me and those of your fellow readers in peril on the sea next week.

(PS: I’ll be past a couple of deadlines next week, so expect many trivial tales from the South Pacific).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Moaning! Parkcast number 2.

Sex!

Oops, I mean romance. Do I have your attention Legion of Fans (LOF), and assorted perverts who have found their way here through some naughty googling?

Parkcast (that's my big-headed name for a Podcast) number two is, um, up, and it's available at the top left hand corner of this blog via something called an RSS feed, or some such thing.

My IT fundi (that's African for guru, which is Indian for expert), The Barman, has been working his magic behind the scenes on the blog and you can now access both pod.. I mean Parkcasts at your leisure and, if you believe the little widget thing to the left, you can have them delivered to your email, or something like this.

Jimbob has gone to great effort again in Parkcast number 2, sourcing all manner of sound effects and 1970s porn music to help you, ahem, get in the mood as he interviews about writing literary romance scenes.

This is not, I should add, pornographic, although there is an excerpt from the SILENT PREDATOR audio book that mentions the word "shaft". And no, we're not talking about a 1970s African American detective. Some listener discretion is advised and if you are under 18 you should be off doing your homework, and not hanging around here.

You have been warned.

Gulp.

Why did I ever agree to this?

Listen away, and please post some encouraging comments for Jimbob, for he has an ego nearly as big as mine.

(OOH-ah, nearly forgot... our fellow Legionnaire Muriel gets a special mention near the end of the Parkcast, as does her contribution to OPEN, an anthology of literary erotica by some of South Africa's most erudite and grubby-minded female writers).

Enjoying the Parkcasts, LOF? Please say yes, as Jimbob and I have such fun getting drunk and recording them.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Groaning...

Yes, Legion of Fans (LOF), groaning... and not in a good way.

I am buried in work. All for you, LOF, all for you (and the mortgage and the Land Rover, of course).

Update:

1. About to commence absolute last and final read-through of IVORY

2. Doing last minute edits on Book 7 (due for submision to my beautiful, brainy, witty, Grace-Kelly-lookalike (when Grace was alive) publisher, C, next week)

3. Finishing off second non fiction book. You know, the one about...

Phew.

I'm cramping up just writing the update.

You get the picture. Sorry for the lack of blogging. Normal mundane transmission of frippery and trivia will resume soon.

The other reason for my stress is that I have a ship to catch. No, not a pirate ship, a cruise ship - the MV Pacific Dawn. Yours truly has been invited to be the first ever author to cruise the high seas and speak to Pacific Dawn's inaugural on-board book club. Yes, the book club-afloat will be reading SILENT PREDATOR during their voyage to Tahiti, departing Sydney Jun 4.

Stick that in your Mr Juicy bottle and smoke it, Sydney Writers' Festival organisers!

I, salty sea dog that I am (after writing a pirate book), will be on board until the ship berths in Tonga on June 11.

See what I do for you LOF? See how I suffer for you in the name of my art, and the art of shameless self-promotion?

(PS: Don't forget, I'll be at the Literati Dinner at the Gold Coast Arts Centre this Friday night, May 29, and talking at Southport Library the next day with my good mate and fellow drinker Peter Watt).

What about you, LOF? Keeping busy?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

You vil ask zee qwestions!

Come on, Legion of Fans (LOF), if you've listened to the podcast then you know that Jimbob needs you to ask me questions so that we have something to talk about for the next Parkcast.

Ask away. Surely there's something on your mind...

What is the meaning of life?

Did Paul Bryant live or die?

Why didn't Mike Williams have sex with the single mum's (legally-aged) daughter?

What happened to Tom Furey's Jag when he moved to South Africa?

Is it safe to drive from Johannesburg Airport to Kruger?

Do I need a yellow fever shot to go to Cape Town?

Come on... you know you want to!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Trin's turn (Wilbur, brace yourself)

And here, hot on the heels of SA Les is our home-grown Aussie reviewer; the tough, the fearless, the forthright.... Trin.


Assegai opens in the early 1900's, just before the outbreak of WW1, with Leon Courtney, a very young 19 year old in His Majesty the King’s African Rifles hunting Nandi rebels and being seduced by an older woman – willingly I might add, but not simultaneously – both to the detriment of his military career.

Leon turns African hunter, although retaining interest in the military, courtesy of his high ranking uncle. With his trusted Masai warriors at his side and as the apprentice of an ageing white hunter of note, he very quickly is transformed into a great white hunter himself, with a maturity I have yet to come across in a 19 year old. Leon becomes part of a spy network, with the help of his Masai friends and a German customer’s beautiful mistress, with whom he falls in love.

We are given an insight into the sheer extravagance of the likes of Teddy Roosevelt whilst on expedition, as well as the European aristocracy (or just plain rich) of the times, complete with their extravagance, arrogance and, in some cases, downright cruelty to anything living.

Imagery was easy, but I found the rapid progress of a couple of the relationships to be slightly forced – perhaps due to editing. Not riveting reading, but a good read none the less.

Take it away, Les!


In line with my current policy of doing a minimal amount of work on the blog (while I slave away writing more books for y'all), it gives me great pleasure to introduce my very first guest blogger, our very own Les, of South Africa.

Les has risen to my challenge and submits, for our mutual edification, the following review of Ass-guy, oops, I mean Assegai, by Mr W. Smith of Cape Town, Switzerland and Botswana (I read recently he's sold the island in the Seychelles).

Give it up, for Les!


Assegai is another Courtney novel, and this one takes place in Kenya in the early 1800's.

Leon Courtney is a British soldier forced out of the army. He then joins a big game hunter and after proving himself becomes a full partner and guide.

His client is a rich German arms manufacturer who wants to test his newly designed planes. Leon falls in love with the German's mistress and the two become lovers.

They discover a plot against the British at the outbreak of WW1. With the help of his two loyal masai tribesmen, Leon must foil the plot and save his lover.

This book is the old style Wilbur smith with adventure, action, romance and intrigue that we expect.
Well worth a read.

Well, there you have it. Good work, Les. I think I may have to start working out so I can pick up my hardcover copy and start reading it.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Listen up, y'all... the Parkcasts have begun

EYEEEEEESSSSSS left!

Click on the pic of me in the bathtub at the top left of the blog, Legion of Fans (LOF), and you will be transported to the website wherein resides the first ever "Parkcast".

The Parkcast is my first Podcast. Jimbob, my smart-mouthed PR buddy thought up the term Parkcast. Catchy, eh? Jimbob interviews me in the Pod/Parkcast, which goes for about half an hour and includes the odd African sound effect and pirated piece of music.

So, as Jimbob says in his Guy Smiley radio voice at the start of the recording, sit back, relax, grab the beverage of your choice and listen to me talking about writing fiction and non fiction.

At the end of the interview Jimbob and I exhort you, dear listener, to bombard me with all the questions you've ever wanted to ask, and I'll answer them in the next podcast. Please post your questions (and your extensive praise for Jimbob's radio voice) below

I think Jimbob's done an excellent job on the interview and the podcast, and the Barman has done a good job getting it on to the web for us. As I come to grips with this new fangled technology I also hope to have the podcasts in a down-loadable format so you can play them on your ipod, or save them for posterity.

Just think, you could be listening to me on your way to work some day in the near future. If you do, make sure you turn the volume up really loud on your ipod so you can annoy fellow travellers and show them how nerdy you are, listening to an author instead of Matt Monro.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Guest reviews

All this talk about Ass-guy, oops, I mean Assegai, by Mr W. Smith of Cape Town, has me intrigued.

I have a copy sitting by my bed, but have not had time to read it because I am too busy writing my own books (and, if truth be told, reading my good mate Peter Watt's book, Frozen Circle).

I'm wavering over Assegai, whether to tackle this ginormous volume next or read something else.

I need your help, Trin and Les. I'd like to invite you each to write a review of Assegai, and I'll post them on the blog. No pressure... but let's egg them on, Legion of Fans.

Reviews should be no more than 200 words, submitted to me at mail (at) tonypark (dot) net.

(And, yes, if you think this is a way for me to get out of posting on the blog while I'm busy working you're 100 per cent correct).

Anyone else feel like reviewing a book? Why, we could even have our own little book club here, couldn't we...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Take it away, Matt

Has anyone else here in Australia been as brainwashed as I have been by the current free-to-air-TV campaign, featuring a certain song from a certain cheezy African lion movie?

I can't get this damned song out of my mind! Welcome to my nightmare! (and, PS, the first of the podcasts will be online soon, so you won't have to listen to...)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Radio Ga Ga

Ai, ai, ai, ai, ai, ai, Legion of Fans (LOF)! Or, should I say, "aye aye".

I feel sorry for writers who know nothing about Army life (something I've had some experience with) and have to include military scenes in their books.

I know nothing at all about the navy or life at sea (well, I know a little bit more, I think, than I did before I started researching and writing my new pirate book, IVORY) and am now a bit brain dead after my umpteenth read through of the proofs of IVORY, trying to make sure I've included all the correct jargon and nauticalisms that go with a life on the ocean waves.

I've been helped in my research by no fewer than three master mariners, a retired South African Navy Captain and, as of today, an Australian Navy Captain and... wait for it, an ADMIRAL.

I really can't thank all these people enough for giving me their time. One of the great things about writing is that I've never had someone tell me to go jump or "walk the plank" (more appropriate in these circles) whenever I've asked for help with a book. I find people are incredibly generous with their time, and very patient with my many stupid questions and ridiculous scenarios.

I must add that sometimes a writer has to walk a narrow plank (sorry, had to use it again) between striving for technical accuracy and stretching the bounds of credibility. I've tried to do both in Ivory - ie be accurate and stretch credibility.

So I'll issue a blanket thank-you, now, to all the salts who have helped me with this book (as it sails dangerously close to the printing presses, into harm's way etc etc etc) and a blanket apology for all the dodgy bits that have to remain (in order for the book to be made into an even more improbable Hollywood blockbuster).

Anyway... back to the title of this post. What does that mean? I'm so brain dead I can't remember.

Oh, wait... that's it. I meant to say, at the start of this post, I'm too busy writing non-fiction book number two to even blog.

Instead, with the help of my techno-savvy and smart-mouthed PR mate, Jimbob, I will very soon by uploading my first ever home-grown PODCAST.

Stay tuned, as it were, for some ramblings (aided by the several beers Jimbob and I consumed to lubricate our golden tonsils while recording our first podcast) of the verbal kind in the very near future.


What about you, LOF? Ever been put into a positon where you've had to write or talk about a subject you know nothing about and sweated over it? I have. Every bloody day of my life.