Illira’s escape – a writing exercise

2009-05-17 On top of the worldThis is a piece I wrote when I attended Fiona McIntosh’s writing Masterclass two years ago. It gave me a good dose of confidence, a sort of epiphany that I could actually write.

Illira blew out a breath as she trotted towards the escarpment, trying to ease the heaviness in her belly. The field parted like a curtain before her horse, into yet another never ending row of wheat. A glance over her shoulder confirmed her suspicion; the trampled crop left a stark betrayal of the path she’d taken.

She pressed the horse into a canter, reassuring the beast with a hand on its damp neck. The gelding’s breath rasped over the whisper of passing wheatsheafs. Just a little further now to the cliff track, where their trail of hoofprints would disappear into the shale.

As the field ebbed away, a eucalyptus tang stung Illira’s nose, drifting from the forest spilt over the clifftop above her. The horse’s hooves crunched onto the stone path, a mere goat track, really, but at least it led to safety.

She bit her lip, having to let the horse slow to pick its way along, knowing at every step they were as exposed as a blowfly on a fresh shorn sheep.


What inspires you? Part 1 – a post on Providence, by an amazing friend

This has been ‘one of those weeks’, lots going on in life with a pretty depressing bombardment of bad news from the media on top. I even noticed the news page I follow started a ‘good news’ section, but I can’t quite decide if this is a good thing or not: one very small chunk of good news, which has been the same all week, while a whirlwind of atrocities continues around the world.

So when I saw my friend Jenny’s post this morning, I was so glad to read about kind people doing good things. My bad news fatigue lifted immediately. To read Jenny’s inspiring story, please click the link below.

I’ve been going to a brain injury support group since I realised I had a brain injury back in 2009. The group is basically just a bunch of friends who get together to chat over coffee. Not everyone who goes along has had something go awry with their brains. Some are carers, some have lost people to stroke, […]

via Providence — gbmsurvivor


Worldbuilding for fantasy fiction

Having plunged about 30,000 words into writing a new fantasy story, I am starting to build the foundations of my fictional world. My fascination with the diverse Australian landscape strongly influences my settings, and it’s a lot of fun cherry-picking bits and pieces to colour my stories.

One of the subplots in this particular story inverts the ‘mail-order bride’ scenario. Women from a wealthy, matriarchal nation buy themselves husbands from a neighbouring wartorn continent. Their interracial marriages cause resentment and hostility in both nations, fuelled by conflict caused by the differences in culture and beliefs.

The wealthy nation strictly defends its borders, so needed a landscape that would naturally repel anyone trying to come ashore without authorisation. Yesterday, I read a newspaper article about the amazing dolerite stacks on Tasmania’s Three Capes Track, and my imagination began to fire.

I’ve lived in Tasmania, and have strong family ties and ancestry there, so it’s already one of my favourite sources of inspiration for plotlines and settings. The photos below were taken at the Devil’s Kitchen on the Tasman Peninsula. These siltstone rock formations are estimated to have formed 270 million years ago. It’s assumed that the Devil’s Kitchen itself (centre) is what now remains after the roof of a sea cave collapsed and fell into the water 60 metres below.

So, the sheer, tall cliffs shearing into deep oceans were perfect for my story. Now, with the south-eastern border of my fictional nation clearer in my mind and on the page, my protagonist and her newly purchased husband travel north, to her family estate. A horse and cattle stud with pastures extending to pristine white beaches, where the cattle eat bull kelp that’s washed up on the sand. That plotline, incidentally, is based on cattle from the north-west of Tasmania, but that’s perhaps a story for another day.

Where do you find inspiration for your fictional settings? Which parts of the world would you like to see or write about in fiction, particularly fantasy fiction?

Please feel free to share your comments below.