Story City

I’ve just wrapped up my recent project, working as a writer for Story City– an interactive choose-your-own adventure story app.

Story City was started by the wonderful Emily Craven as a way of celebrating the cities we live and play in through digital locative storytelling. The stories you’ll find on the app are like old school Give Yourself Goosebumps/Choose Your Own Adventure branching narratives. However, instead of simply flipping to a numbered page to make your next move, you physically walk to various locations in metropolitan and suburban areas of Brisbane to unlock the next scene. We incorporated artworks, architecture, landmarks and landscapes into our stories to create an immersive and reader-driven story experience.

I chose to set my story, ‘The Curse of the Bramble Spirit’, in my home suburb of Sandgate. As Sandgate is a coastal suburb with a lot of rich history and heritage architecture, it felt only natural for me to write a ghost story, focusing on a mysterious ghost ship sailing around Bramble Bay.

This project was a huge challenge, but so rewarding. One of my writing weaknesses has always been structuring and planning, but you simply can’t write a branching narrative without a lot of forethought. So I learnt the value in sketching and re-sketching dozens of story maps. The other great thing about working on Story City was collaborating with other creatives. As well as two fellow writers, I also got to work with local artist Clare Neal and musician/sound designer Schae to make these stories multi-sensory.

If you’re looking for something fun to do, or a way to see Brisbane and its suburbs through different eyes, download the Story City app and start adventuring! All the stories are family-friendly, but they’re definitely not just for kids. And if you make it to Sandgate and catch sight of the Bramble Spirit, let me know how your journey goes!

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(Art by Clare Neal)

The Krampus Collection

Thanks so much to everyone who sent through submissions for my ‘Krampus Crackers’ project with Tiny Owl Workshop. I loved reading the varied and fantastic stories Krampus inspired. It was hard to choose the final twelve, but I’m pleased to announce that the following stories will be appearing in Christmas crackers around Brisbane this December:

Christmas Cake – Amanda Niehaus
Mum, I’m In Love With Krampus – Andrei Seleznev
The Story-Stealer – CC Macdonald
The Horns of Christmas – Omar Sakr
Krampus Meets the Original Slashie – Glen Donaldson
The Gift – Ira McGuire
Give a Shit This Christmas – Ryan Sim
How to Survive a Family Christmas with the Norse Gods – Robert G. Cook
Kramme Pass – Stuart Dunstan
The Christmas Wish – Mish Gittens
Reindeer in Admin Roles – Harlan Ambrose
Horns – Nicola Nixon

I endeavoured to get back to everyone who submitted, as I did really appreciate the response. So even if you didn’t make the list, check your inbox for some feedback!

Now the editing begins. Stay tuned for where and how you can read these darkly festive pieces.

Check Out

Things I’ve been up to:

  • Writing a four-part serial story for Steez magazine. Steez is a US-based snow, skate & culture quarterly, and they’re basically too cool for me. But they’re featuring my story ‘Rocky’–about a stolen parrot–over the next four fantastic issues. Check out Part I in Issue 31 here.
  • Reading at June’s ‘Whispers’ literary salon run by the Queensland Writers Centre. If you’ve never been to a Whispers event, GOOOOO. Such a great opportunity to meet and hear from local established and emerging writers. Our theme for June was ‘The Best Thing’ and I read a story about a guy who can talk to birds, which is now seeking a good home. (Side note: all my stories lately are about birds, help).
  • Cooking up an exciting Christmas project with Tiny Owl Workshop. Will be posting more about it in July when submissions open, so keep an eye out. And for God’s sake, become a Tiny Owl Workshop fan if you aren’t already–they’re taking indie publishing to the NEXT LEVEL. They were the masterminds behind the recent napkin stories collections and the Pillow Fight project I was lucky enough to be a part of last year.
  • Trying very very hard to seriously plan a trip with the Book Bus. I won’t even try to explain why this is so important to me. Just check it out for yourself (hint: animals and cool kids).
  • Feeling very glad I didn’t let not loving ‘The Luminaries’ (winner of the 2013 Man Booker prize) deter me from Eleanor Catton altogether. I went out and bought her first novel ‘The Rehearsal’ and wow, that girl can write. Please check it out also.
  • Reading subs for Aurealis magazine. If you’re a fan of quality fantasy, horror & sci-fi, check that out too.

Got enough cool lit stuff to check out now? Tired of me saying ‘check it out?’ Good. I’ll check out.

Love Kahli xo

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SPUN.

If you live in Brisbane and you like stories, you need to know about Yarn.

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NO SILLY, not that kind of yarn. Cats love this Yarn better, seriously. I’m talking about Yarn: stories spun in Brisbane, the bi-monthly storytelling event series held in bars and cafes around our beautiful city. Inspired by the New York-based The Moth series, Yarn features six tellers who get up and tell a true story, live and without notes, to a captive and normally really attractive audience.

This month, I was lucky enough to be one of those six tellers and I enjoyed the whole experience so much I just knew I had to blog about it. This month’s theme was Gods and Monsters and I told a little tale about gargoyles and a man I once met who liked to talk to them. Also featured on the night were stories about evil teachers, monsters who look like gods, gods who look like monsters, rats & emo babes, a cute bat (I think all bats are cute), biblical rains, oh and Hungarian Elvis. The whole thing reminded me that good stories aren’t always make-believe and written on paper, and that there are a lot of people out there who will max out the State Library cafe to hear ordinary people…well, spin a yarn, I guess.

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Look, there I am, Yarnin’ it up. The whole ‘talking in public’ thing was also a little bit nerve-wracking, as 612 ABC Radio Brisbane host Steve Austin decided to highlight when he interviewed Yarn co-producer Ryan Sim, Yarn teller Harlan Ambrose and myself, on the morning of the event. He was totally trying to psych us out–you can have a listen to the segment here.

If you want to stay up to date with Yarn, please follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

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Dogs also love Yarn. WHO DOESN’T LOVE YARN??

Hey Brisbane,

You’re pretty wonderful.

This isn’t really related to books or writing, but I’ll give myself a free pass in order to briefly pay homage to my home city. I’ve been back for two weeks now and perhaps it’s just fickle ‘absence-makes-the-heart-etc.’ sentimentality, but Brisbane is far more beautiful and promising than I remember. It’s like reuniting with an old friend from high school and discovering she’s grown taller, bolder, more beautiful, and has picked up bits and pieces of passion and intellect from her various world travels that make her intriguing but still familiar. Something like that.

Of course, the fact that I’ve been in holiday mode and essentially a tourist in my own city has helped. Regardless, here’s a quick list of things I’ve very much appreciated experiencing in Brisbane and its surrounds since my return:

– Portside Wharf and the river in general
– The view from Mount Glorious Restaurant and Cafe
– Superman Escape at WarnerBros Movieworld (still the best thrill ride I’ve ever been on)
– The entire menu at Verve on/below Edward St, especially the ciders and risotto
– The warm surf and real sand of Caloundra’s beaches
– Diggers Pies at Albany Creek
– The Australian Dinosaurs and Collectomania (featuring an amazing full hobbit hole miniature) exhibits at the Queensland Museum
– Not the fact that the stunning Regent Theatre picture palace in Queen St is gone, but that at least I can still enjoy a long black in the foyer
– The State Library book shop
– The quality merchandising of so many stores at Westfield Chermside (I know this is a strange one, but the displays are so pretty to look at)
– Bunyaville Conservation Park
– Gorgeous ‘Queenslander’ houses, gum trees, a pretty great rail system, kookaburras on wires, alfresco breakfasts, hot car seats, the beautiful 50c coin… and so on and so forth.

It will surely dull, but for now, Brisbane ILY. It’s good to be home.