So, I wanted a space where I could deposit my thoughts, feelings and rants about books, writing and writers. Blogilicious is it. From time to time I will review new books, and sometimes I'll review old books, but mostly I'll be musing over the writing that has most influenced me and discussing the ins and outs of the thankless and torturous art that is writing. I'll also share quotes from writers and other notables that inspire me. I might also do a bit of whining about the sorry state of publishing, literature (what is that anyway?), society, culture, politics, the arts and my cats' litter tray. I might even share the odd piccy-wicky (photograph) taken as I careen through my day. I'm pretty lazy, so I'm not likely to post anything more often than once a month.

First things first, here's a bit about me (snitched from the "About Me" page) that will either make you interested or make you ill:

I am a writer. It's a bold statement but one that I feel confident to make. I write in the shorter forms mainly - short stories, essays, short travelogues, poetry and academic papers - but I have also just finished a memoir and a novel (to come out soon). I have studied writing at university, something that has taught me much about the practice, appreciation and teaching of writing. I have a Masters in Writing and am just finishing a PhD in writing at Griffith University. According to Wikipedia, which we all know is terribly reliable, I have been "described as Truman Capote's literary heir and as reminiscent of Carson McCullers, the much lauded Southern Gothic writer." Of course, I would like to see myself as highly unique, as unlike any other writer, but my debt to Capote and McCullers is both substantial and obvious. They are the writers that I truly love and who have deeply influenced me. But I have been influenced by other writers as well, notably David Malouf and Allen Ginsberg. I have also truly loved the fiction of Anne Rice, J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling. A mixed bag, but all of them exceptional wordsmiths.

I was born and raised in Toowoomba, Queensland. Usually when I tell people this they say something like "Oh, how awful for you!" or "I'm so sorry" or "My God! How did you survive?" In case you don't know, Toowoomba has a reputation for beautiful parks and gardens; and for extreme racism, sexism and homophobia. It stands apart as one of the few Australian towns with a Ku Klux Klan presence. Indeed, there has even been a recent KKK linked homicide. Thus, I am an exile from my hometown. Although Toowoomba is not exactly Disneyland for people like me, it still occupies a significant place in my heart and mind. I have both affection and dislike for the place and it often features in my writing, particularly in my book Dare.

Growing up in Toowoomba - known for its hauntings and its over-abundance of psychics, tarot card readers and spiritual healers - it was probably inevitable that my first career was as a playground shaman, telling fortunes over spilt milk, holding séances in the attic, getting spirits to levitate Coca-cola bottles. This career ended abruptly when a growing superstitious fear surpassed my childhood curiosity. In other words, I turned yellow. I then turned to the visual arts and produced a multitude of works in crayon that have since been lost. An ongoing investigation continues as to my mother's likely involvement in their destruction. At the age of eighteen, under the influence of a dark herb, I turned my hand to poetry and that, as they say, was that. I have now been writing - poetry, short stories, screenplays and the like - for some time. It remains difficult and, for the most part, socially unacceptable.

My mystical bent did not just go away however, I have always had a fascination for Eastern religions (mainly Buddhism), and that has stuck. My fascination for all things Eastern culminated in my taking vows in the Buddhist monastic tradition. I remained in this guise for five years until I realized that it was making me more repressed and rule-bound rather than less. Buddhism is still core to my life but I now practice it as a lived philosophy, a heart practice, rather than a 'religion'.

I often say that I swim in a shallow gene pool, a bit like the creature from the black lagoon, because I live with a few inherited illnesses. The opposite is, in fact, true. My gene pool is pretty wide and deep. My mother's ancestry is English, Welsh, German and Chinese. My father's family are of English and Scottish descent. Of all of these, I feel a stronger connection to the Scottish side of things. I am strongly drawn to the ancestral stomping grounds of my father's Scottish progenitors and feel a "spiritual" connection to Celtic culture.

Although I live in Australia, I consider the USA one of my other "spiritual" homes. I'm not sure why, I just do. I have a particular love of the South - perhaps because Toowoomba is not unlike a younger, antipodean version of Savannah Georgia - but also because I first experienced the South through the writing of authors I love: Truman Capote, Carson McCullers, Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty et al. I have visited the South a number of times and have written about these visits in my book America Divine.

Well. that's enough to be getting along with. Catch you later. Ciao etcetera.