Rambles, Sage and Fairies

Hello from the hopeful side of winter!

A quick little update on my latest writing endeavours:

15ec9b_4cf5015e875c4549a5108ba9eb8e4ca7~mv2_d_2480_3508_s_4_2I recently published a short article about the Capital Ring walking trail in the February issue of New Nature Magazine.

This is a wonderful online publication that showcases young nature/wildlife writers and photographers. I thought it would make a great home for my thoughts on the Capital Ring, which is a 78-mile long walking circuit around the outskirts on London. This trail is split into fifteen sections, and over my two years in London, I’ve now managed to walk nine of them. I’ve been amazed at the convergence of urban and wild along these trails, which was what I wrote about. You can read it on page 18 of the magazine here.

CaptureI’m still blogging regularly for Dragonspace, a magical little shop on Granville Island in Vancouver that I used to work at. Their online store has really taken off, attracting visitors from all over the globe. I’m writing fortnightly about subjects like fairies, Pagan rituals, the power of burning sage, dragons in pop culture, and a few other mythical and metaphysical subjects. You can keep up with them here.

I’ve also been commissioned to write some children’s short stories for educational resources, and I’m really enjoying it. I forgot how fun and challenging writing for kids can be, but it definitely puts me in my element.

Nature and magic are fast becoming my writing specialities.

I’ll be on the hunt for more commissioned writing opportunities over the next few months, so please feel free to drop me a line if you have a project you think would be a good fit! (It doesn’t have to be about nature or magic – I’m also interested in culture, entertainment, history, travel and more!)

Until next time,

Kahli xoxo

 

 

 

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Books about trees, chimpanzees & National Parks

Hello…I’m here again…dropping in to talk about books and nature, my two favourite things.

I often go through reading phases – a memoir binge here, a YA-fantasy roll there – and my recent inclination has been towards books related to nature and animals. Since moving to England I’ve become a certified rambler; someone who takes walks through green spaces and the countryside for no reason other than to walk and enjoy the scenery. I’m not walking a dog (sadly), I’m not going anywhere, I’m not looking for anything. It’s literally just walking. Be it in one of my favourite London green spaces, like Hampstead Heath or Epping Forest, or a day trip to a countryside walking trail like the Chilterns or the Coast, hanging out in nature has become one of my favourite English pasttimes.

Second only to reading of course. So it makes sense that lately I’ve been reading a lot about nature.

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It started with a trip to Daunt Books in Hampstead before a late summer picnic on the Heath. I normally have a long to-read list that I try to stick to in book shops, but every so often an unknown title just jumps out at you. Fredrik Sjoberg’s The Art of Flight‘ was one of them. I wouldn’t even call this delightful tome strictly a nature book – it’s undefinable really, a tangential mash-up of memories and stories ranging from the author obsessively researching the life of a US National Parks artist and a forgotten Swedish entomologist, to his thoughts on hoverflies and earthworms. Sjoberg is self-deprecating yet thoughtful, with hints of a Scandinavian Bill Bryson about him. And this book reminded me how lovely it is to read someone writing passionately about the eccentricities of nature.

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Then there was Jane Goodall. I’d recently learnt about the wonderful Masterclass programme, a series of online courses taught by industry legends, e.g. Film Making with Martin Scorcese and Writing with Judy Blume. When it was announced that Dr Jane Goodall herself would be teaching a Masterclass on Conservation, I signed up straight away. To fill my time before the class started in September, I bought Jane’s ‘Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey‘ memoir on audiobook to listen to. I love audio memoirs narrated by the writers themselves, and this one didn’t disappoint. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I connected with Jane’s story as if it were spiritual scripture. Not only is her journey incredible (she had minimal academic or scientific training before being sent to lead the first ever study into chimpanzee behaviour), but her attitude and philosophies on life are so inspiring. A staunch nature and animal lover, Jane is a passionate, kind and determined woman who’s also gentle and balanced – she gives critics time, she strives to understand, she’s forgiving. Her musings are the perfect blend of science and spirituality. Jane Goodall is my new idol.

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After I finished, I needed to find something even slightly comparable to replace Jane’s soothing voice speaking to me as I walked my morning commute from Hampstead to Paddington. Listening to an audiobook about nature was so appropriate for that walk, which takes me through gorgeous Primrose Hill and along leafy Regent’s Canal (sorry tube commuters). I’d heard rave reviews about Helen Macdonald’s ‘H is for Hawk‘ for a while, but to be honest, I didn’t quite get them. Surely a book about falconcry was a bit…niche? I decided to give it a go anyway, buoyed by the fact that Helen herself narrates the audiobook.

I was wrong. ‘H is for Hawk’ is so much more than a book about falconry. In essence, it follows three interwoven narratives – Helen’s journey through grief following the death of her father; her attempt to train a goshawk named Mabel; and her fascination with British writer T.H. White’s book on the subject, The Goshawk. The latter element seems a bit jarring, especially the parts where you jump back to the 1950s into White’s life as a writer, academic and man struggling with his identity. But somehow – I don’t quite know why – it works. This book is fascinating. The sections in which Helen finally comes to terms with her grief were most hard-hitting to me, having lost my own father. And ultimately, she rejects her desire to become wild like the goshawks. She grows to appreciate that community and civilisation are a thing of beauty too, and that nature shouldn’t be the ideal. This was also a good lesson for me to learn. Thank you, Helen.

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Now, I’ve got two books on the go. One is a physical copy of ‘The Long Long Life of Trees‘, which I picked up (from Daunt Books again) after reading a recommendation in my favourite Facebook group ‘The Ancient and Sacred Trees of Sacred Britain’ (honestly, I don’t know how I have a boyfriend). Each chapter of this book is an absolute delight, delving into the folklore, history and science of Britain’s favourite trees, like the yew, the cherry, the holly, the oak, the cypress…you get it. It also inspired me to download this wonderful app from the Wildlife Trust that will help me identify the trees I come across in my walks.

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And my new audiobook listen is ‘Autumn‘ by Ali Smith. Despite the title and cover, this isn’t really a book about nature, but it’s still an appropriate companion to my morning walks, as the orange-gold leaves fall around me and my time in England draws slowly to a close. It’s been called the first post-Brexit novel, and certainly has some sadly relatable scenes. Others are a bit of a mess for me to wrap my morning-fogged brain around at 8am, but still, something about it just ‘works’. And I’m looking forward to ‘Winter‘.

 

There’s just something so comforting in retreating to the natural world, given the tangle of times we live in these days. Ancient trees have seen many-a political parties rise and fall, rolling hills have bore the footprints of cultures from all over, and animals like chimpanzees show us the dark and light parts of humanity in a more basic form. Thanks to Helen Macdonald, I’ll be careful not to idolise the idea of becoming truly wild too much, but I will continue to enjoy a tale or two that bring me closer to Mother Earth.

Any titles I should add to my ‘to-read’ pile? Let me know!

Kahli xoxo

 

 

The Arcade

For the past few years I’ve been working on the first book in a young-adult trilogy, inspired by my favourite place in the world – The Southern Gulf Islands in Canada .

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These islands – “strung like a shimmering necklace between the mainland and Vancouver Island”, if I can steal the Lonely Planet description – have such a unique vibe and special place in my heart (my family have a house on Galiano Island). Not only do they offer stunning landscapes of beaches, bluffs, lakes, and forests, the islands attract communities of artists, free-spirits, nature-lovers and independent thinkers. On Galiano for example, you won’t find a commercial supermarket, but you will find a bookshop and artisan galleries. The island culture therefore feels concurrently caught in the past (rustic and pastoral) and a step ahead (free of the constraints and boxes of the modern world).

My book ‘The Arcade‘ uses the spirit and beauty of the islands as inspiration, but it’s still very much fictional. It’s an environmental-fantasy story that follows a group of island teens as they reach adulthood, grow curious of the world outside their small peaceful realities, and take on the external forces that threaten to endanger their utopian home.

I think it’s time we started talking more about environmental issues in young-adult fiction, given the uncertainty of our future on this planet (there are many things I could reference here, but the latest on the Arctic seed bank is particularly pertinent).

The first book is finished now and I’m currently seeking an agent, but thought I should start getting this idea out into the world, to see if anyone’s interested in knowing more or beta-reading for me. I’ve also just made the Pinterest board that I’ve been using as inspiration for the past year public.

The Arcade on Pinterest

Please get in touch if you’d like to chat about The Arcade!

Kahli xoxo

 

 

 

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

I’m Still Here

I may have fallen off the blogging wagon since moving to London, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been active! Since arriving here back in March, I’ve been trying to take advantage of this crazy creative kingdom, and its equally intriguing neighbours across the sea.

I spent the last five months working for an events company that brings together executives from the broadcasting and digital entertainment industries all across the globe. It was an enlightening work experience for many reasons, but I particularly enjoyed learning about the rising importance of social influencer marketing, broadcasting from space and digital imaging via NASA (!!), and the future of technology in cinematic storytelling. I’m understanding more and more how “creativity-technology-business” is an interwoven triquetra. I used to only focus on the creative side, but that’s changing.

I’m also volunteering for the Book Bus, a literacy charity that I’ve loved and followed for years (I even blogged about it back here!). I met some of the team at the London Book Fair back in March, and that led to me helping out with their communications. I’m currently writing stories for the monthly newsletter and blog. I love hearing the tales from Zambia, Malawi and Ecuador about books and storytelling bringing communities together and inspiring change.

Writing-wise, I’ve been writing web copy for a few London-based start-up companies. I was not prepared for how huge the start-up community is here, as we don’t really have one in Brisbane. But it’s a fun community to be a part of, and as a writer, I get to help develop the tone and style for a growing web presence, which is exciting.

I’m also getting close to finishing the first draft of a novel. It involves utopian islands and an environmental evil, and that’s all I’ll say for now.

Over the last seven months, I’ve managed a bit of traveling. We road-tripped from London to Stonehenge-Bristol-Bath-Forest of Dean-Brecon Beacons National Park (in Wales). I loved Wales so much that I went back to Cardiff for a long weekend and cycled the amazing Taff Trail, which took me to THREE CASTLES, through forests and countryside, and essentially into another world. I’ve also hopped over to France a few times – around Normandy, Alsace, and Savoie, plus Paris and Bordeaux. Worked in Amsterdam, and played tourist in Copenhagen and Barcelona. This is why we Aussies flock to London, right?

I’ve been inspired to blog again as this is the first week of my life that I’ve been able to dedicate full-time to writing and editing. I’m not sure what the future holds, but I really hope it’s this! I’m always looking to chat about opportunities – writing, editing, events – so drop a line if you’re interested in collaborating.

Until next time (which hopefully won’t be another seven months away…oops…),

Kahli x

Calling from a red phone box…

Hello! I’ve done that thing that most Australian twenty-somethings do, and I’ve moved to London.

I’ve only been here for three weeks, but just like when I paid my too-brief visit to Portugal and the Netherlands last year, I’ve found myself gravitating towards literary places around the city. Which, in London, is kind of like using a metal detector in a bank vault. This place is so full of literary history and promise, it’s overwhelming (truly, it’s overwhelming…I’ve been bowled over by a horrible cold, but maybe that’s due to the persistent silver skies). I’ve only just scratched the surface, but here’s a quick photo journal of the places I’ve seen so far (click images for captions). More to come! So much more to come…

 

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.