I feel as though I enjoyed a mini-con in Western Australia over the weekend!
Lee Battersby met me at the airport when I arrived on Friday. He wasn’t carrying a sign saying “Rockingham Rocks” or anything, but I concealed my disappointment and we headed out of town for Rockingham. Not sure if we stopped talking the whole way (Lego, writing, writers, movies, Dr Who, food, food again, family, writing). Lee provided a travelogue along the way, and I arrived at my B&B, The Anchorage, very well informed.
The Anchorage would prove to be a wonderful place to stay. A large old house, recently taken over by a new couple, it was close to the beach, close to cafes and restaurants and my room was comfy and quiet. The couple were so friendly and delighted to have an author to stay! I gave them a copy of Through Splintered Walls, hoping they wouldn’t read it before I left, because we all know my writing is a lot darker than my character may represent!
I had a quick shower and momentarily thought the place was haunted, because of the tiny, distant knocking sounds I heard. I realised, of course, that it was Lee and his son, come to collect me for dinner. Was I disappointed he wasn’t a ghost? Perhaps, again, momentarily.
Is Western Australia famous for mussels? Because I ate a bowl of the best mussels I have ever eaten, at Betty Blue Bistro. I think there were a hundred but I might be exaggerating. Lee and Lyn Battersby and I dissected stories, ideas, and future projects and I arrived back at the Anchorage feeling invigorated. Instead of writing, however, I watched crap on Foxtel.
On Saturday, I headed into the brand new Rockingham Arts Centre. My workshop was the very first event to be held there! We talked about using the landscape, and the landscape of memory, in writing. There were about 35 writers attending, and I was so thrilled when they started to read their pieces out. It was good stuff! Really, some wonderful stuff. Afterwards, a few of us ate lunch, where we shared ideas and I heard some amazing histories and some fascinating stories. I caught up with Arran Morton, journo for the local paper Sound Telegraph, and she took some snaps of the attendees.
Next, the launch of the Through Splintered Walls art exhibition! What an incredible thing. It is true, as I said in my little speech, that in 20 years of publishing, this is an absolute highlight. Alisa Krasnostein has pictures here. Amazing work, amazing people. It was so cool to talk to the artists and hear about their motivations and thoughts. I loved the irony that most of the pieces were positive; flowers, fruit, beauty, love, joy, using my book which is full of some of the darkest stories I’ve written.
A delicious pasta dinner with Alisa in Perth came after. Yum. Crab ravioli with a perfect napolitana sauce. I wish I had the leftovers, I’d eat them for breakfast.
Sunday, it was back to the Betty Blue Bistro. Sad to say I ordered the chilli mussels again, knowing that this might be the last chance ever to eat them! A wonderful array of Western Australian writers joined me for lunch, which went for six hours. The longest lunch I’ve had since I worked in Advertising! Actually, I lie. I love a good long lunch, and quite often, if you’re invited to lunch at my house, I’ll be feeding you dinner, too!
Monday I ventured into the Rockingham library to work, because my plane wasn’t until the afternoon. A very different area of Rockingham than the beach front. Lots of industrials, and the food was of the truck stop variety. I do like to try to local speciality, so when I heard two people in a row order the cheese sausage, I knew that was it.
Deep fried sausage. Stuffed with the kind of cheese that goes transcluent when you heat it.
I draw a veil over that.
Lee collected me to take me to the airport. He did such an amazing job pulling together the workshop and the incredible exhibition. And he’s a bloody good writer, too and quite amusing.
I had the whole row to myself going home, Skyfall was on the TV, and cheese and bikkies just when I was feeling peckish.
An inspiring, laughter-filled, delightful weekend.