I Said I’d Chill Out This Year…

…and I have. Kind of. My focus for 2017 was meant to be working hard in my new day job, enjoying London, spending time in nature, and finding an agent for my recently finished YA novel ‘The Arcade’.

I’ve been doing all those things. But I’ve also taken on two small writing projects on the side, because I can’t help it! Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Blogging about magic
Back when I lived in Vancouver in 2011-2013, I worked at a shop on Granville Island called ‘Dragonspace‘. It was, and still is, a dragon shop. That is, it sells dragons and other mythological, esoteric, Celtic and fantasy-related items. I love that place. I still think about it all the time, and it will always be a second home for me. So when my old friends there contacted me and asked if I’d want to write the blog for the recently launched Dragonspace website, I had to say yes! Writing these kinds of features does not feel like work at all, and I can’t wait to do more. You can read what I’ve done so far, and check out our beautiful inventory, here.

Road-tripping, in fiction and real life
I’ve written a ‘social story’ for LongShorts, a digital platform featuring stories told through a social feed by fictional characters (as if you were reading the characters’ Twitter feeds). My story is aptly called ‘Road Tripping’ and is about three unlikely road companions traveling through Western Canada and the troubles they’ve left behind. You can read a preview here, and the whole story via the app. I’m in the process of writing Part II at the moment.

I also went on a real road trip last weekend to the Jurassic Coast and Cornwall. We went fossil hunting along Charmouth Beach, drank until 2am in a campsite bar with Cornish locals, spent Easter Sunday at the famous Roskillys Farm eating as much clotted cream ice-cream as we could fit, admired the turquoise waters of St Ives, visited the breath-taking Tintagel Castle of Arthurian legend, and had lunch at Rick Stein’s bistro in Padstow and then saw Rick Stein himself in the deli! I think when you’re an ex-pat in London, you always feel pressured to see as much of continental Europe as possible, but England has so many treasures itself and I love discovering them. They might not be as exotic, but they’re delightful.

Agent Hunting
I’m still seeking an agent/publisher for ‘The Arcade’. It’s the first book in an intended YA trilogy, and is a low-fantasy story with environmental threads. It’s set amongst a network of utopian islands (modelled off the Canadian Gulf Islands) that come under threat from a sinister outside force. More info readily available to anyone who might be interested!

Meeting New People
Tomorrow, I’m hosting my first attempt at a London Meetup group, focused on Walking + Storytelling, at Hampstead Heath (my favourite place in London) – details here. 

Reading
And finally, I’ve obviously been reading a lot. Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels truly transformed me, and taught me how honest and jagged good writing can be. Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle had me obsessed and reading in coffee shop lines for weeks. Ruth Ozeki’s ‘A Tale for the Time Being‘ and Eden Robinson’s ‘Monkey Beach‘ taught me so much about atmosphere and location as character. And Patti Smith’s ‘Just Kids‘, Joy Harjo’s ‘Crazy Brave‘ and Bill Bryson’s ‘The Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid‘ – all starkly different memoirs – had me absorbed in varying experiences of youth, privilege, and art, and gave me an unsettling realisation of how times have changed, and how they’ve stayed the same.

All in all, I feel at peace, frequently creatively inspired, and more comfortable in London week by week. More to come soon.

Kahli xoxo

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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)

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??