If your life is burning well

February 28, 2017 at 9:56 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

They say that on a list of fears, public speaking would rate highly for most people.

Here’s the thing: I love it.

Seeing audience seats fill is a beautiful sight. The butterflies generally kick in at this point, watching just off stage. But they’re the joyous, I-can’t-believe-I-get-paid-for-doing-something-I-adore flutters of excitement that make me reach happily for the microphone.

No, my list of fears is markedly different from most. It includes, just so you know, an absolute horror of people who walk on stilts, and a case of trypophobia that renders me mute in the face of crumpets.

But that’s another story entirely.

Noir Exhibition

Performing ‘The Old Man with Birds for Hands’ with Michael Madden on cello

I hit the road again last weekend as part of the wonderful Stereo Stories. I perform regularly with this talented and dedicated troupe of writers, singers and musicians, and love every moment. We tell the tales of why a song resonates for us; whether it reminds us of our first lover or our last birthday, the people who’ve bruised us or the places that have nestled under our skin. On stage we have a full band performing the songs as we read, or sometimes a lone singer/guitarist. This combination elicits heartfelt responses from the audience, with many appreciating the songs with a fresh perspective, or even hearing them for the first time.

And when they approach me after a performance, I often ask them ‘What songs would you write about?’

My own writing pieces on the Stereo Stories website cross genres, ages and moods. I’ve written about wanting to see Babes in Toyland in concert in my feminist punk obsessed 20’s, yet being held prisoner by my agoraphobia. I wrote about sitting in a karaoke bar near my artists’ residency in a tiny rural village 200 km from Helsinki, listening to a poignant Finnish version of Kris Kristofferson’s ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down.’


The Pitkospuupolku through the forest, Joutsa, Finland

There’s a tale of mine about narrowly escaping sexual assault my first night living alone while listening to Ike and Tina Turner, and another about dragging my suitcase along a U-Bahn platform blissfully humming my time honoured return-to-Berlin song by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

I once ended up in Jackson, Mississippi only to realise I was there purely for the Johnny Cash song. And I had the unique experience of watching a character of mine come to life in an ABC recording studio, in the shape of a surly taxidermy flamingo singing a gravelly Tom Waits songs.


Berlin Wall


My latest addition to my flamingo collection

My most personal story on the website, however, is a tribute to both Leonard Cohen and the man who’s changed the course of my life with his gentle yet wolfish ways: my partner and fellow writer, Chris. It was at times daunting in its intimacy, but what are songs if not conveyors of human emotion and experience? Listening to ‘Undertow’ by Leonard Cohen in our first flush of love is a gorgeous memory, even more so now that Cohen has left us.

For all my Stereo Stories, click here.

On this latest road trip for Stereo Stories, Chris and I hit the road with the Rolling Stones on the stereo, bad petrol station coffee, and excited thigh squeezes. Australia is made for jaunts like this with its wide open roads and sun bleached landscape. We passed kangaroo and koala road signs as we drove 250 km north, before hitting Wangaratta and our motel.

Rehearsals gave way to quick pizza and beer refreshment before the stage lights lifted. And it was, as always with Stereo Stories, a joyful experience. The Wangaratta crowd was warm and welcoming, the band and readers hit their stride beautifully, and then there were long and lovely chats back at our motel well into the night, discussing life, love and everything in between, with glasses of shiraz and shared slots on the stereo.

Stereo Stories (Tony Proudfoot Photography)

And there you have it. Be it Williamstown Literary Festival, Newstead Short Story Tattoo, the Emerging Writers Festival, Brimbank Readers and Writers Festival, Newport Folk Festival, Write Around the Murray Festival or any future adventure, it’s always a joy to climb on stage and reach for the microphone.

So in closing, let me ask you…what songs would you write about?

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Solstice stories

June 28, 2015 at 6:33 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

It may be the ever present influence of my time in Iceland, but I’ve never enjoyed winter more. I’ve been striding all over Melbourne in my Red Riding Hood coat and leopard print gloves, watching my breath cloud in front of me. There’s been mulled wine and cloves, open fires, purring kitties and bubble baths, and my birthday.

Yes, I was born on the cusp of the Winter Solstice…no wonder I keep getting drawn to snowy northern lands.

And there have been stories, as always.

I performed with the Stereo Stories crew at the Williamstown Literary Festival recently, and had just about the most fun on stage since my award winning dance troupe’s performance of Duran Duran’s ‘Wild Boys’ in 1984. I love that burst of adrenalin when I stand in front of the microphone, so I’m happy to be doing it all again next week at the Newport Folk Festival.

Tony Proudfoot Photography

Tony Proudfoot Photography

I’m delighted to have a story of mine, ‘Honey Island,’ included in the inaugural issue of The Vignette Review. This makes me particularly happy because it also holds one from the wonderful Lisa Jewell, a beautiful writer whose work I’ve always admired. We met almost a decade ago in an artists’ collective, and have since jumped on planes and gathered stories together in places as far afield as Russia, Sydney and New Orleans. And without realising it, we both submitted a vignette set in lush Louisiana…some places definitely cast a spell.

The Vignette Review

And my final snippet of inky news is one I’m pretty excited about. I’ve been working with a lovely ABC producer in Sydney, Lea Redfern, to develop one of my stories for broadcast on Australia’s Radio National. It’s my tenth story for the ABC, but for this one we were joined by the wonderful Hollywood actor Jacek Koman, of ‘Moulin Rouge’ and Vulgargrad fame. To be sitting in the studio going over our lines together, and listening to him bring my surly taxidermy flamingo alive, was an experience like no other in my writing career so far.

It’ll go live to air tomorrow morning at 11:35am, but has just been put online, so you can have a sneaky little listen by clicking on the feathers below:

Almost Flamboyant RN

If you’re in the mood for a cantankerous bird, a walk through Melbourne’s laneways, and some Tom Waits, sit on down and have a listen.

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Falling under the rabbit

May 4, 2013 at 9:44 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I never made a pillow fort as a child.

Oh, I made things – countless trays of luridly pink coconut ice, lovingly decorated letters to Duran Duran, and fake cocktails with bathwater that I tried to pass off to my sister as brandy, lime and dry.

She never fell for it.

But when my friends reminisced recently about the joys of building a pillow fort out of furniture piled on beds, draped with sheets, I had to shake my head. They very kindly re-enacted it one lazy afternoon, filled it with taxidermy animals and tea stained paperbacks, and with a soundtrack of Elvis and Tom Waits, we all took turns climbing in.

pillow fort

If you can think of a cozier way to spend a Sunday, I’d like to hear about it.

Like many random afternoons with friends, it ended with my head in my notebook, sketching out a story. The result, ‘Falling Under the Rabbit,’ has just come out in lovely literary magazine Crack the Spine. If you can spare some time, take a look at the wonderful stories they’ve put together, and then stop by page 32 for mine. Which is, I have to stress, fiction.

Rich as my life is, I can’t say it’s ever involved an afternoon with Marianne Faithfull, salted caramel pudding, and a talking rabbit.

But you never know…there’s still time.

crack the spine



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