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

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.