Down and Out in Paradise

Down and Out in Paradise

Luke Williams

Echo Publishing 2019

ISBN:978-1-76068-584-3


Luke Williams’ Down and Out in Paradise is an intriguing memoir exploring the years he spent in Southeast Asia as a recovering and relapsing drug addict and an alternately employed and unemployed journalist. Living cheap, and sometimes even on nothing, Luke explores some of the debatably unsavoury hang-outs in Southeast Asia.

The idea of dropping everything and getting on a flight somewhere else is something that many people find incredibly attractive, more so when life isn’t quite going your way. When Luke Williams hopped on the plane to Kuala Lumpur, he was coming down off crystal meth. It was the cheapest flight he could book. He made his way to Thailand, the land of the free, where he chased drugs, stories, and sex. In Bangkok he became a thief, in Pattaya he became a prostitute, and somewhere along the way he discovered Buddhism. The memoir covers Williams’s travels throughout Southeast Asia and his penchant for fully embracing his journey.

Williams is very open about his sexuality and his time in Pattaya spent frequenting Boyztown and its bars and clubs. He met a number of Westerners there and for a short time, William’s worked as a prostitute himself. Much of the book fluctuates between him being broke in Southeast Asia and the occasional splendour of an expensive hotel and a bender.

During his time in Indonesia, Williams develops a fascination with his grandfather’s suicide.  Williams spent a lot of time considering the prevalence of mental illness in his family. His father’s late onset schizophrenia, his uncle’s comatose state, and his cousin’s suicide. Concerned that this could be the reason for his various issues, Williams is determined to use his skills as a journalist to uncover the truth.

At times within the memoir, Williams is critical of the influence of Westerner tourism throughout Southeast Asia, even as he contemplates that many the local people rely on tourism just to get by. Williams writes about the variety of people on his travels who coloured his world-view; reaffirming his privilege as a white Australian male and putting his problems in perspective compared to people working on the street for twelve or more hours a day just to afford food for their families. Together with perspective, Williams found spirituality as he explored various religions by trying them on for size.

There are sections of the memoir where it is clear that Williams was relieved to be clean and other sections where he embraced the highs of his addiction. Having struggled with addiction his whole life, Williams knew he needed help but had issues admitting it.  While Williams had a number of boyfriends and sexual partners throughout his travels, few of them appeared to help Luke with his recovery from addiction or his trouble with jealousy. However, there is one man who inspired Luke to do better, to keep living, and to eventually return to Australia to get help.

There is so much to unpack in this book and Luke Williams, as the author, presents himself as a highly complex character who might not be mistaken for a good person but also shouldn’t be dismissed for a bad one. He is complicated and real, struggling and adapting to his situation as he goes; sometimes driven by his addiction, his mental health, or by altruistic desire. I would highly recommend this book as it is downright fascinating to read as Williams details the highs and lows of his time in Southeast Asia as a journalist, an addict, and a human being.

4/5 stars


Words and photography by Kayla Gaskell

 

#MeToo: Stories from the Australian movement

#MeToo: Stories from the Australian movement

Edited by Natalie Kon-yu, Christie Nieman, Maggie Scott and Miriam Sved
Picador Australia


In the wake of the #MeToo movement in 2017, editors Natalie Kon-yu, Christie Nieman, Maggie Scott and Miriam Sved have pulled together a collection of poetry, fiction and essays placing issues of sexual violence and harassment in an Australian context. This incredibly timely and hard-hitting collection is a must-read for Australians of every sex and gender. While many of the personal stories in this anthology can be confronting and visceral in their discussions of sexual harassment and abuse, they serve as a vital testament to the importance of opening up nuanced and often hard-to-have conversations about the issues facing women, non-binary and transgender people in Australia.

One of the things this anthology does best is its ability to bring together works from a diverse range of voices, providing a truly intersectional perspective on sexual violence and harassment in Australia. This includes stories from women of colour, immigrant women, LGBTQIA+ people and women with disabilities. This intersectionality is made all the more important when you consider the often over-bearing whiteness of mainstream feminism. For many women of marginalised backgrounds the ability to speak out, to share a #MeToo story must be weighed up against the risks of financial, social and personal repercussions.

With this in mind, some absolute must-read pieces in this collection are: Eugenia Flynn’s discussion of Aboriginal women and gendered violence, Carly Findlay’s piece on sexual harassment and accountability within disability and activist communities, Rebecca Lim’s ‘#MeToo and the Marginalised’ and Kaya Wilson’s piece about the transgender perspective of gendered violence and  harassment.

Something many of these stories have in common is the complexities involved in speaking out when you belong to a marginalised group. As Eugenia Flynn notes, ‘It is the #MeToo movement not hearing all the times that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women did not speak out, for fear of further stereotyping our men’. Multi-layered identities, in which women belong to multiple groups facing unique issues, make navigating the #MeToo movement much harder.

What the stories in this anthology do is remind us all of the voices left out of movements like #MeToo and the need for all of us to listen to, and support, the women and people whose voices cannot be as readily shared without an awareness and understanding of intersectionality. It’s for this reason that this book is so vital, and why I recommend it to all adult readers. We all have a lot to learn about one another and about gendered violence and harassment. This book is an important step forward for these discussions.

 

5/5 stars

#MeToo is available to purchase here and through any good book store.


Words by Lisandra Linde

When Female Footballers Take the Field

In Australia it is difficult to pin-point our national identity. We don’t have a great or resolved history; heck, a lot of us don’t take any pride in our history at all.  Many of us don’t have faith in our politicians. We are without an overarching religion that strongly unites our nation. We have a few successful artists, but I doubt we are defined by them.

As we are about to write off hope for a national identity, we remember our sporting culture. For many, sport is a way of learning the power of compassion, acceptance, and unity. Sport grants us with important life lessons and our most valuable friendships. For some, sport is a way of conceptualising and resolving the dark corners of our history and a way of grasping our political matters; for others, sport serves as both religion and entertainment.

In recent history, we have made every attempt to use sport as a peace-keeper, and on successful occasions it has transcended prejudice and discrimination. We hold our sporting pride close and are fiercely protective of it. From where I am standing, AFL as our national game is the centre of our sports governed moral compass. I must say that the AFL is in no way blemish free: for a long time, the AFL, with all its societal influence, exclusively represented the traditional white male identity, which is the catalyst for a plethora of issues. But now, in our developing society, we have moved past this limited representation. When male footballers speak of illness, mental health, racism or equality our nation listens. And when female footballers take the field, people flock by the thousands to show their support.

On the 31st of March 2019, the AFLW Grand Final saw us redefine our Australian sporting culture, translating to a progression in our national identity.

The 50,000 plus fans elevated these female athletes to a status above a ‘pre-game’ special. There was no lesser version of the game – as critics like to call it – to be seen that day: these women displayed skill, cohesion, ball movement and strength that silenced those who constantly sit back and only compare our game to that of children. As records were broken and tears were shed, this larger than life spectacle brought triumphs by the tonne, if only measured by the sheer amount of people packed into Adelaide Oval.

I would like to make a comment about leadership within our game. There isn’t a more concrete display of masculinity than what is seen in the role of a traditional football captain: leadership in itself is masculine, but in a space dominated by lad culture, where aggression is at its core, masculinity can be heightened to the point of toxicity. We may expect our female captains to lead in the same way, however, recent discussions about a woman’s approach to leadership have questioned if they should endeavour to lead with the same masculine approach or whether it is more effective to bring feminine qualities to the position – looking at Jacinda Ardern as a role-model.

Here our co-captains, Chelsea Randall and Erin Phillips in their guernseys and football shorts, display everything that our game has kept at arm’s length:

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As leaders, Randall and Phillips embodied the femininity society assigned to them as women and gifted it to the world of football: it is a gift the AFL never knew it needed. These captains owned emotion and sensitivity, while simultaneously displaying veracious strength. They took time to celebrate vulnerability and the individual. They offered difference in leadership, a difference that was not deficient, lacking or sub-par, but equally as powerful and equally as impacting.

These leaders brought together the qualities that are traditionally separated into categories of masculine or feminine and generated a new sense of humanity in this sport. They, and the teams that follow their lead, revolutionised our national game, opening doors, building bridges and welcoming in people who have never wanted to be a part of football. They set an example, showing that there is now more than one way to lead a football team, there is more than one way to define strength in the Australian identity.

Simply, these women chose to lead as women.

When we are old and grey, we will tell our grandchildren that we were there on that day. We were there to see a group of individuals love the game in all its authenticity and cherish the opportunity they were given to play it. We were there to see them break records on a stage they so rightfully deserve. We were there to see our nation embrace football – and consequently the women who play it – in its new and equal form.

I hope that every AFLW player knows that they are adored. I hope they know that they are part of something bigger than themselves, that they are inspiring change and triggering movement in a sport and society that has stood steadfast in its ways for most of its history. I hope they know their actions have allowed every female with a connection to the football world, from spectators to grassroots players to team managers, to feel a new sense of safety, respect and belonging in Australian culture.

The greatest part of all this? It’s only the beginning.

 


Words by Michelle Wakim

Photo by Sandro Schuh on Unsplash

Mutating Roots

The main performer of Mutating Roots is Japanese Australian circus artist Mayu Muto. She uses dance and acrobatics to weave her story of cultural loss, gendered assumptions, and becoming cross cultural.

Muto’s physical performances are amazing. Her dance and acrobatic skills were mesmerizing. Watching her spin around and descend I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Muto’s performance was complimented by her incorporation of a wooden cage. This cage helped convey feelings of helpless-ness and being trapped.

Dressing up as a Japanese schoolgirl was another highlight, it offered both a comedic relief while also discussing a wider issue in terms of gender stereotype, particularly with Japanese women.

Although kept to a minimum, the dialogue that was used was powerful. They spoke of fear and anger that the performer had encountered. Those few words conveyed so much feeling and emotion while only being extremely short.

While I did find the show enjoyable, I had a lot of trouble with following the overall story. I found myself lost throughout the performance and wasn’t sure I knew what was happening. Unfortunately, I only grasped the story two-thirds the way through which was disappointing.

Mutating Roots is an intriguing performance. Muto has some heart-stoppingly amazing dances and her spoken word section is well done. However, my confusion as to what was happening did dampen my experience.

 


Mutating Roots is playing at Gluttony’s Empire Theatre until March 3, to find out more follow the link.

3.5 Stars

Words by Cameron Lowe

‘Only Fools Gamble’ By Sasha Pcino

Ricadonna Russo had spent her morning in a state of domesticity. Light reflected off all surfaces like a beacon; and the aroma of caramelised onion blew through the house with the hot zephyr of summer. She sighed as she pulled her gloves off by the fingertips, placing them on the stone counter in the kitchen.

Ricadonna, at thirty-five, had not lost her la bella figura. She was wearing a black A-line dress with lace sleeves and an apron tied over it. Her skin was vibrant, but the faint cobweb of lines round her eyes had become more prominent than a decade ago – as had the laughter lines (though what on earth was there to laugh about?).

Her hands, as rich as cream, reached for the box of birdseed, stored at the bottom of the pantry. She took it outside to feed Banjo, but as soon as she saw the birdcage she gasped. She dropped the box, seed scattering all over the veranda. The cage was empty. Her heartbeat quickened. She looked up at the treetops. The trees swayed from side to side as if they were dancing. Banjo was perched on a branch, close to the clouds, in the eucalyptus tree. The vibrant green-breasted budgerigar tilted his head and looked down at her.

Ricadonna got on her haunches slowly, so she did not startle him, and scooped up a handful of seed off the concrete. She rose to her feet and whistled as she held out her slender arm like a branch, the seed in her cupped hand, in hope the bird would recognise her and fly back. But the bird puffed out its chest, looked at her again and then flew off into the cloudless sky. The uninhabited cage, hanging from the veranda, rattled in the wind.

Ricadonna stood there for a moment, shocked. Banjo, where are you going? Do you know? The telephone rang. She let it finish like a song but it started again. She threw the handful of birdseed on the lawn, wiped the seed shells on her apron, and disappeared inside.

‘Hello,’ she said in a resigned tone; her chirpy ‘telephone’ voice had flown off with the bird.

It was her husband: ‘I’m going to be home late, honey.’

They spoke briefly about how their morning had been and the weather before exchanging goodbyes.

As she hung up the receiver, the computer – set down at the desk in the corner of the living room – pinged not once, but twice. She sat down in the chair, staring at the screen. There was a text message from a woman with the unfamiliar name of Annalise. Her husband had not logged off and the computer was synced to her husband’s smartphone. It read:

Hotel looks gorgeous.’

Then:

‘See you tonight, my darling.’

Suddenly, with the rapidity of a flash of lightning, so many incidents began to make sense: always making phone calls in private; deleting his call history; and the foreign floral fragrance on his shirt a fortnight ago. Ricadonna walked over to the bar, feeling the grit of the seeds, which she had scattered earlier, in her shoes. She poured two fingers of whiskey into a crystal glass, clutching it tightly in her clammy palm. Her father had been a decent man. If he was alive, he would take a gun to her husband’s head. My late husband, she thought. She tested the words: ‘My late husband.’

She tried to think but the heat of the sun coupled with the heat of the moment made a hot murk in her mind. She poured herself two more fingers of whiskey. That would help her think or, at any rate, give her the courage to think. She looked outside at the birdcage and then at the tree where the bird, now flying free, had been perched forty minutes ago. Freedom, she whispered under her breath. Free-dom.

She pulled out her clothes from the wardrobe and scattered them, still on the coat hanger, on the beige bedspread. She didn’t know where she was going. Maybe a hotel, hopefully not the one they were going to, for a couple of nights and then to her mother’s house. Her mother. She would understand. Yes, she would.

On her haunches, she pulled out the old brown suitcase from beneath the bed. It was heavier than she remembered. The last time they had used it was on their anniversary weekend away to Vanuatu. She flicked the latch and opened it. She gasped. There was at least half a million dollars in the case, the wads packed with the efficiency of a well-planned holiday. This changed everything. A lot. She wondered if it was honest money. Probably not. No. Definitely not. People didn’t shove hundreds of thousands of dollars of honesty in an old suitcase beneath a bed. Her husband was a businessman. That breed of man that walks on blurred lines. He had side businesses, hidden in the dark crevices of society, and he conducted most of these businesses from a poker or blackjack table behind the facades of respectable business.

Ricadonna grabbed a holdall and shoved the clothes in it. She untied her apron and flung it on the bed, then heaved the holdall onto her shoulder, picked up the suitcase and walked through the house, looking at everything with the sentimentality that comes with finality, to the dining room.

She set down the luggage on the tiles and tried to pull off her wedding ring, but her fingers had thickened over the last couple of years. She pulled and pulled until the ring flew off and hit the tiles, rolling and then twirling until it lost momentum. She walked over, picked it up and looked at the inscription: R & D. She set it down on the table in the dining room, and scrawled a note, placing it under the ring.

She put the holdall on, picked up the suitcase and opened the front door. The sun’s heat was harsh. She walked to the Flinders Street Railway Station, the suitcase hitting her leg with each step. At the crossing, she wiped her upper lip with her shoulder, then looked left and right before stepping out onto the road. A horn blew. She turned to find a car slamming on the brakes.

She gestured an apology and continued walking, thinking about the three words she had written on the note: ‘Only fools gamble.’


Words by Sasha Pcino

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

Profile photoSasha Pcino is an Australian writer who is working on her first novel The Bastard Brians, a family saga set on the east coast of Australia. She has worked as a journalist and a copywriter (for which her work won the Queensland Multimedia Awards in 2014) for almost a decade. She has a Master of Professional Practice (Creative Writing) from the University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. She has also spent time abroad in Italy, Japan, France, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

National Young Writers Festival 2018

 

The National Young Writer’s Festival (NYWF) has been a go-to for young writers across Australia for over twenty years. Held in Newcastle, NSW, over four days, NYWF is part of the This is Not Art (TiNA) Festival. This year it was held between September 27-30 and it was my first visit to both the festival and Newcastle. My time there has left my mind teeming with new ideas and a better understanding of what it’s like to be a young writer in Australia.

There was something for essentially every writer possible at NYWF. There were panels and workshops on fiction, journalism, and gaming to name just a few. I attended a variety of different topics, from community journalism to getting work as a writer.

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I found there were two particularly memorable panels. The first was ‘Write Off the Page’, where four panellists gathered and discussed games and digital poetry. The panellists included: Andrew Gleeson, Karen Lowry, Chad Toprak, and Cecile Richard. Lowry spoke of her digital poetry and electronic literature, which includes a detective game with poetry (check it out here). Toprak mentioned a game (Cart-Load-of-Fun) he made for the trams in Melbourne to try and bring games into a public sphere. One of his successes of this game was convincing a sceptical stranger and making them smile. Read more about Toprak here. Twine, a game engine, was mentioned and recommended for writers wanting to explore game development.

Another memorable panel was ‘Narrative Prosthesis’, which was panelled by Robin M. Eames and Alistair Baldwin. I went into this panel at random and discovered it was about disability in the arts. Being someone with a disability, I found this panel extremely empowering. It made me feel equal to other issues discussed over the weekend and raised some interesting points about disability in the arts. One fact I discovered is how it’s cheaper to hire a non-disabled person to play a disabled role on television than someone with that disability. I was surprised to hear this and it’s got me asking two questions: why does this happen and how can they get away with it? I wish to explore this further in future.

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As I travelled to NYWF with Empire Times (which I currently edit), I attended and participated in the ‘Student Media Symposium’. Held by the editors from Farrago (Melbourne University student magazine), the Symposium was mainly a discussion about student media, which included topics like what is expected of student media and how we address student politics. We also discussed issues in student media, coming back to common contemporary issues, such as budget, diversity and university politics.

Beyond the panels, discussions and workshops were plenty of other free events to attend across both NYWF and TiNA. Countless readings were on across Newcastle on a variety of different topics. One reading I sat in was called The Best Book I (N)ever Read. It was fascinating to listen to the stories on what other people thought about what are often referred to as the ‘best’ books and why they didn’t read them. Other readings included By the Sea (held at Newcastle Beach), Why I Write, and Late-Night Readings.

Zine Collection

 

Another event that took place was the NYWF Zine Fair. Held on the Sunday at Newcastle Library, the Zine Fair was where attendees could pick up zines from writers from Newcastle and across Australia. It’s here that I picked up copies of The Line (a free Newcastle zine) and a graphic novel called Ghost Beach by Ben Mitchell.

NewsXpress, a newspaper for TiNA, was also present throughout the festival. NewsXpress ran over the four days in different locations of the festival and was created by editor Danni McGrath through screen printing. The newspaper printed a new issue every day of the festival, typically discussing news and what’s happening around Newcastle. I watched McGrath create a copy of the Sunday issue when I picked my copy up (also on Sunday), fascinated by how it was done. It has now left me with the intention to try it out at smaller conventions here in Adelaide in future.

Overall, the 2018 NYWF overall was a lot of fun and full of useful information for every kind of writer. I enjoyed my visit and the addition of panels about gaming and podcasts make it the most contemporary and advanced literary festival I have attended yet. All the panels and workshops were free and the Zine Fair is a fantastic place to pick up a literary souvenir and support local writers and zine-makers. If I have the opportunity, I would love to go back next year, and if you do too, I highly recommend you visit it too.


 

Words and photography by Cameron Lowe

Meet-the-Team-Cameron2

Cameron Lowe is a horror and sci-fi writer, editor and student. He’s had fiction and articles featured in Speakeasy Zine and Empire Times. He loves to read, play video games, and drink green tea. He’s one of the 2018 editors at Empire Times. He tweets at @cloweshadowking.

‘Bob’s Truth’ By Emmica Lore

Bob was a goldfish. He lived in a fancy house with all the fancy trimmings – coloured pebbles, a deep-sea diver blowing bubbles and an ocean view. Bob was happy. Until he was not. Staring into the world beyond had Bob thinking about the meaning of life. Enter existential crisis.

He had always admired pelicans – they were imposing yet graceful (well that might be a stretch) and had the freedom to discover new lands and wistfully watch the creatures below.

It was morning, or maybe afternoon (how the hell would Bob know? He’s a goldfish) when an idea arrived. An epiphany. A light-bulb moment. An irrational thought from inhaling too many oxygen filled bubbles. Are bubbles filled with oxygen? Whatever science, who made you the boss of everything?

It was in that moment that Bob hatched a daring plan.

He was quite a fit-fish and it didn’t take long for him to achieve his goal. Plop! Bob had thrust himself out of the tank and was now lying belly-side on the carpet. He flapped about instinctively.

“Hmmm…well this sucks”.

As his last breath was drawn, the flapping stopped.

Bob’s soul rose from his tiny neon body and floated outside above a sandy shore. He could see a sleeping bird, no, a dead bird. Then, Bob had another epiphany. Wiggling his tail and using all of his fit-fish-soul muscles he drove downwards and into the chest of the stiff creature. Opening his eyes, the world seemed sharper and brighter. The smell of salt filled his nostrils and tickled his tongue.

Bob was now a pelican.

He stretched out his wings, pressed his webbed feet into the sand and savoured his breath as he inhaled real air for the very first time.

Bob flew from the beach to the jetty. From the jetty to the river. He discovered new lands and wistfully watched the creatures below. Bob was happy. Until he was not.

You see Bob was now a pelican and what do pelicans eat? He just couldn’t bring himself to dine on his fishy friends and so eventually Bob died of starvation.

And that is why you should never leave your fish bowl.

Or maybe it’s be happy with who you are?? Yeah, let’s go with that.

 


Words by Emmica Lore.

red skirtEmmica Lore is a creative person. She is a writer, poet and avid op-shopper who also makes art from time to time. Emmica is interested in sustainable style, philosophy, politics, art, feminism, whimsy and nature. You can find her on Instagram @emmicalorecreative

‘Bob’s Truth’ has also appeared on Lore’s website https://www.emmicalore.com/ and was previously featured in an exhibition.

 

Photo by Julieann Ragojo on Unsplash.

‘Parradice Lost’- By Nadia King

River Parradice was the wrong side of forty. Once in a while, his sandy blonde hair flopped over one eye and he pretended to be a very young Robert Redford. Tiff laughed at his impersonation and called him her ‘slice of paradise’. Later though, her laugh was hollow with a few fractious notes.

Such cracks first made an appearance in the Parradice household around Easter. The insidious fissures couldn’t be repaired by a casual swipe of Selleys Spakfilla; they needed professional work. River tentatively raised the question of marriage counselling. Tiff gave him one of her cold, impenetrable stares and her cobalt eyes held his gaze until he dropped his head. He stammered about work stress and could have sworn that Tiff’s shoulders eased at his words.

Chad, River’s best mate, hadn’t been any help. They’d sat in the beer garden of The Queens. Humidity hung over them in swathes of moisture, and sweat pooled between River’s toes. Girls flitted by in bright sundresses, catching Chad’s eye more than once. River wanted to grab hold of Chad’s hand and tell him how important this was, but he didn’t want to come across as needy. Chad downed the last of his Guinness in a swift gulp and slapped his hand on the table. River jumped at the palm-slapping, and upon reflection started to believe his own white lie that ‘work was getting to him’. Chad rolled his eyes and snorted.

You and Tiff? Having troubles? All in ya head, mate, all in ya head.’

River wondered if it was all in his head and if couples counselling was overkill. Maybe he just needed his own weekly therapy. Then he remembered Tiff’s odd new showering habits: the way she hid her nakedness as she stepped into the bedroom and how, a long time ago, she used to give him head once a day.

Sometimes after work, he couldn’t remember what his own wife looked like – like he suffered from marriage amnesia. What had it been like when Tiff had loved him? The memory was like a long-ago holiday that was so good that in hindsight you wondered if it was even real.

Once, River spotted Tiff and Chad in a smart city bar. His meeting in the city had finished late and he was making his way in the direction of the train station when he was compelled to walk along the river boardwalk instead. Chad manfully sucked on a ciggie and Tiff busily applied her signature red lippy. They weren’t touching but there was something in the way their bodies leaned close that made River pull back into the shadows. He was jostled by incoming patrons when his phone pinged. It was Tiff. She was stuck in one of those bloody sales meetings. River stopped, just for a moment. Tiff was lying. She’d always been a good liar. She studied a book about body language and trained herself in front of the mirror; eradicating every tiny tell-tale sign and gesture. It was important, she’d said. In sales, an honest-looking face would be an asset.

Later, River didn’t mention the bar and Tiff banged on about the meeting. She said they would be a regular thing; her boss was a control freak, she’d be home late every Friday. Chad was absent on Fridays, too. He said he stopped in to see his Auntie Fran one Friday, the next week it was a nephew’s birthday, and after a while River stopped asking. Chad couldn’t lie convincingly if his life depended on it, and River didn’t like watching him try.

On Fridays, River picked up fish and chips. He fed Henry (their blue-eyed white Persian cat) half a serve of snapper, and they watched Sanctuary together. They sat on the navy sofa that Tiff had picked out. Henry left his fur all over a dusty pink velvet cushion that Tiff just had to have.

One Friday, Tiff rang to ask River what he was doing. He described Henry purring like an idling lawnmower and declared that the fish and chips had never tasted so good. He said he had to go: Sanctuary was starting.

Weekends were always a blur of activities. Sometimes, there was a faculty dinner. Tiff never accompanied him. River was well-liked by his colleagues so he didn’t mind flying solo. Tiff’s family was large and most weekends there was a family BBQ. The men kept each other company around the Weber, and women scurried in and out of the kitchen with bowls of salad and potatoes. Kids wound their way through people’s legs, and screamed and shouted until someone put on a movie.

On a couple of weekends, Tiff had conferences on the Gold Coast. River stayed home with Henry. He didn’t call Chad for a beer; he thought he’d probably be busy.

River settled into his new routine and Tiff occasionally showed up for their marriage. He stopped meeting Chad. He was quiet at family BBQs and slept in the spare room with Henry. Work became his escape. He thought he could be on to something with his research into ontogenetic changes and variations in the anthropogenic activities of Eudyptes Chrysocome, Rockhopper Penguins.

An opportunity arose within the Australian Antarctic Division of the Department of Environment, and River submitted his application without telling Tiff. He was surprised when he got the job but happily handed in his notice. He had a nice little send-off. His colleagues had chipped in and presented him with a fine china statue of his favourite penguin species.

He came home and made immediate arrangements. He would catch the same flight as Henry. They would leave the comfy sofa and dusty pink velvet cushion. They would leave Tiff, Chad, and the frequent family BBQs. They’d still have fish and chips on a Friday and there were three series of Sanctuary to watch. River knew that sometime in the future, he would miss Tiff, but he also knew he would shrug off the feeling like one does adolescent mistakes. His focus would be his research, Henry, and his new life. Parradice might be lost, but there was always another adventure.


Words by Nadia King

Photo by Mattias Diesel via Unsplash

DSC_7612 copyN.L. King was born in Dublin, Ireland and now calls Australia home. Nadia is an author, blogger, and presenter.

Her debut book, Jenna’s Truth, is a novella for young adults and is published by boutique small press, Serenity Press.

Nadia enjoys writing contemporary young adult fiction and short fiction, and lives in Western Australia with her family.

 

 

 

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Buy Jenna’s Truth from Serenity Press

DECAY Comics (2010-2018): Australia’s Longest-Running Horror Comic Anthology Series Is Coming to an End

After eight years and 24 issues, Dark Oz’s horror comic anthology DECAY will be discontinued. The announcement came when issue 24 went to Kickstarter in early April, stating that it will be the last issue of the Adelaide-produced series.

It’s been a tough decision, really tough and letting go of DECAY is very hard,’ says Darren Koziol, creator of DECAY and Dark Oz Comics. ‘I have decided it’s time to move on to other projects, other comic book series’ that is, I have a wealth of stories to tell.’
Issue #24 of DECAY will be the first Dark Oz publication to be funded by Kickstarter. ‘Many people have said I should try a Kickstarter project,’ says Koziol. ‘Kickstarter allows you to find a wider audience, internationally too, to showcase the comic to more customers than I can reach from conventions alone.’ The Kickstarter campaign ended on April 18th 2018, receiving a total of $AUD 5,420, exceeding its original set goal of $AUD 2,010.

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Darren Koziol (Creator) at Australian Movie and Comic Expo 2015

Koziol started both Dark Oz and DECAY in 2010. He was inspired to create DECAY after his lifelong love for comics, and a particularly keen interest in horror anthologies like Creepy and 2000AD. The series has since become the longest-running Australian made horror comic anthology series, according to Koziol.
One of the focal points of the DECAY series over the years has been on Australian arts/culture. The series features at least one Australian creator/writer each issue as a way of opening up Australian art and storytelling to the world. Many stories and covers in the past have had an Australian setting, with numerous stories being set in especially Adelaide/South Australia. The series has also had its own fair share of original characters, including The Sisters and the Fuck-Ups. The Sisters are three vampire sisters who appear in numerous one-off stories, while the Fuck-Ups are seven psychopaths who think they’re the A-Team, but as their name suggests, always fuck up. These characters were created by Koziol himself and now either have their own or planned comic series.
There have been many highlights of DECAY over the years, but perhaps the largest of them all is its appearance at the 2016 San Deigo Comic-Con (SDCC). As part of this trip, Koziol created a Best of series of DECAY comics to take over to sell to the American audience. These Best of DECAY series were retitled Ozploitation. The same was done for Dark Oz’s other series Retro Sci-Fi, which was retitled 2525. He was the only Australian exhibitor at the 2016 SDCC.

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Darren Koziol at San Deigo Comic-Con 2016

Although the DECAY series is coming to an end, the future looks bright for Dark Oz. The Retro Sci-Fi anthology series will continue, with issue six now in development, and the second issue in the Sisters series will be coming soon. Trade paperbacks of the Best of series are currently in the planning stage for DECAY and Retro Sci-Fi. ‘While DECAY is coming to the end,’ says Koziol, ‘Dark Oz comics will continue for a long time yet and will continue to publish top-quality comics, showcasing Australian creators for comic book readers and collectors everywhere.’


Words by Cameron Lowe
Pledges for DECAY issue #24’s Kickstarter campaign closed on April 18th. For those looking for information on the Kickstarter, follow the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/467328161/decay-24

That Daring Australian Girl

Directed by Nicholas Collett, That Daring Australian Girl certainly sounds daring, if not a little mad. Joanne Hartstone’s performance of Muriel Matters, the South Australian suffragette, was not only captivating but inspiring. Telling the story of a ‘new woman’ and the fight for women’s rights in England, Harstone crams into one hour a breadth of history and knowledge that has taken years to collect.

 

A one-woman-act, Hartstone demonstrated her skills at elocution and, like Muriel Matters, her strong belief and support for women’s rights both then, and now. It was amazing to see the entire audience beholden to this one intense woman as she delivered us into the past and carried us along Muriel Matters’s journey not only from Australia to England, but to joining the Women’s Freedom League, her lecturing tours of Australia, and her bid for office.

 

The versatile costumes of Nikki Fort were well suited to the performance and era, cleverly using a variety of hats and coats to dictate a change of place or situation. The production design of Tom Kitney ensured that Hartstone was not just using her voice and her expression but her surroundings to draw us into her tale as her trunk becomes not just a trunk, but a horse and carriage and a flying dirigible.

 

The story of the suffragettes is not as well known as it should be and it is likely that the names of women such as Muriel Matters will one day be lost. What we do know of her though, is that she certainly is one daring Australian woman.

 

One of the greatest parts of any show at Fringe is the moment when the artist realises their show has been a success. We were not cheated of this moment tonight as Hartstone received a well-earned standing ovation for her endeavours. I am always amazed at how a single person can perform solo and achieve such a level of engagement from their audience as Hartstone did tonight, it is awe-inspiring and a wonderful reminder of the power of the spoken word.

 


Words by Kayla Gaskell

Five stars.

That Daring Australian Girl is playing at Holden Street Theatres from the 7th-11th, 13th-15th, and 17th-18th of March as well as appearing at Stirling Fringe on the 9th and 12th. Tickets are available here.