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??

Hot Key Books Young Writers Prize Shortlist

Another bit of cool news–my manuscript for young adults, The Button Makers, has been shortlisted for the Hot Key Books Young Writers Prize 2013.

This is something I’ve been working on since 2009, so if you’ve talked to me about writing in any capacity over the last four years, you’ve probably heard me mutter a little about it. It’s the only manuscript I’ve ever completed and that initially scared me–what was I meant to do with this thing I had now made? I had an obligation to somehow send it stumbling off into the world, right?

Awesome competitions like the Hot Key Books Young Writers Prize give people like me an answer to that daunting question. They give young writers a chance and, if we happen to make it this far, that lovely feeling of validation that people who know what they’re talking about have read your work and liked it. The prize itself, of course, is even more awesome–a potential worldwide publishing contract and full editorial support from the Hot Key team.

Regardless of who takes out the prize, I’m super grateful for the opportunity. It feels like every week I’m discovering new platforms giving emerging writers a shot, and that makes me really excited for the future of publishing.

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Cheeeeeeeers, xo

SLQ Young Writers Award

Cool news – My short story Lingerie has won this year’s State Library of QLD Young Writers Award.

I have to thank the State Library for running the competition. They believe young people should be rewarded for writing stories! What an awesome thing. The runner-up and highly commended stories are fantastic, and I think we’ve all received the encouragement we need now to just keep doing it. You never know when you send a story off into the world how it’s going to be received – if it’s going to get a hug, a pat on the head, or a punch in the face. Mine have received all of the above. This time, I also got a framed certificate, a bit of money, and the opportunity to hang out with a bunch of great writers/people and drink champagne and talk about high school. It’s been wonderful.

I would love to discuss the story with anyone who chooses to read it. I have lots to say about it and what it addresses. If I had to highlight the point of it through one line, it would be this one:

‘It’s okay,’ she tells you. ‘We’ve all been there.’

Similarly, I really love the chorus of Lorde’s new single Team – “We’re on each other’s team”. Yeah, we should be.

Love Kahli

Because It’s The Season…

I just finished watching this panel-style interview by The Hollywood Reporter with screenwriters Judd Apatow, Mark Boal, David Magee, Chris Terrio, Michael Haneke, and John Krasinski. Most of these writers are either nominated for Academy Awards themselves or wrote the screenplays for award-nominated films. All of them have some terrific insight to give into the writing process, researching, ethical boundaries when adapting real-life people or events for the screen, and creative influences.

It’s a bit of an awkward interview, given the diversity of the writers and their subject matter, and the abrupt attitude of the moderator, but I found it interesting all the same. I have very minimal formal screenwriting training, but it’s something I’ve been considering lately, seeing as I’m one of those dime-a-dozen people who loves writing and film.

Something I found super interesting was that when the writers are asked, towards the end of the interview, what profession they’d like to have outside of the arts, most of them agreed they’d love to have a rhythmic practical job–like washing dishes, building things, captaining a small ferry–that had a tangible process and result.  I completely agree with this.  I walk past builders working on half-constructed houses almost every morning and feel a weird pang of envy sometimes.  In essence, it’s all creative, really.  Just in very different ways.

As a footnote, Judd Apatow is so great and knows how to completely slice through pretensions, and I’ve decided I love David Magee–he wrote the screenplays for Life of Pi (incredible) and Finding Neverland and has a very jolly face.

If you’re interested in writing, film, creativity, listening to articulate people talk about their passions, or just want to sound really knowledgeable and informed around your friends when the Oscars finally air etc., dedicate 58 minutes of your life to this!

And just in case you were wondering, my favourites for Best Picture so far are Life of Pi and Django Unchained, but I’ve loved all of the nominated films I’ve seen (except for Amour, which I love-hated because it was so stunningly sad and true).

The Real Oz

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m writing something at the moment that deals with Australian mythology and folklore. But what, you may ask, exactly is that?

Last week, we celebrated Australia Day–a national holiday much contested for its choice of date (sometimes referred to as ‘Invasion Day’, etc.). Debates aside, it’s become a day for the lucky majority in our country to celebrate being Australian. Now, I’ll be honest. Growing up, I never felt a vast amount of pride about being Australian. It wasn’t that I was ashamed, or disliked being Australian…it’s just that I didn’t connect with what I understood our national identity to be. Beaches, beers, barbecues, and the bush. Thongs and stubbies, akubra hats and flannelette shirts. Kangaroos and Vegemite, surfboards and football. It was a motley and abrasive collection of attributes that I didn’t really feel was me, or my idea of my country.

Despite growing up in Australia, I was actually born in Canada, and moved over here, to beautiful British Columbia, as soon as I graduated from university. I thought that maybe I could identify with being Canadian more than being Australian. But what I’ve realised, after two years of living in Vancouver, is that it isn’t so much your country that shapes your identity, as it’s your identity that shapes your idea of your country.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder and I’ve realised now that I do adore Australia, my sunburnt land. But it’s not quite for the reasons a lot of people celebrate on Australia Day (though drinking Little Creatures beer, eating pavlova, and dancing to Crowded House and Jimmy Barnes in a little Australian pub in Vancouver on January 26 was certainly heaps of fun). As I wrote about the other day, I’m a lover of folklore and legend, of mystical beauty, of the magic in nature, and of the fantastic. And even though Australia isn’t commonly seen as a place where these things are abundant, if you’re looking for, it, you’ll find it.

So, we come to the main point of this post (I’m a wandering writer; I apologise). Researching for the project I’m currently working on has made me realise that, although there is information available, there are few extensive archives dedicated to the myth, lore and legend of Australia. So I’ve decided to create a Tumblr of my findings, which you can explore here:

Beneath The Ghostly Gums

I will, of course, be paying tribute to the wonderful Dreamtime stories of Australia’s Indigenous people, as well as the many other fantastic aspects of our country, of which there are, surprisingly, many. I hope it will provide inspiration for some, including myself.

Fiction in The Entroper

I recently found out about The Entroper from one of my writing calls & contests sources. Still in its genesis, The Entroper is a new online literary journal looking to publish ‘fresh’ and ‘surreal’ works of fiction, poetry, art and photography. I know there are a lot of quality online literary journals and zines out there, so it can be hard to choose what ones might be the best fit for your work, and vice versa, when you’re looking to submit. The thing that intrigued me about The Entroper was its interest in ‘works that play in the in-betweens’. The concept of ‘the in-betweens’ is something I’ve always been fascinated by, and eager to explore, so I’m looking forward to seeing what works The Entroper will showcase in the future.

For now, I’m pleased that they’re featuring my short prose piece ‘Broken Teeth‘, a brief contemplation of dreams, on the website now. I’m among good company over there; go check it out!

‘Job’s Evil Dreams’ – photographic reproduction of a William Blake engraving