The year didn't really go to plan on here.

It started with an ambition to keep increasing my blog posts and now, as it ends, I'm realising my Bassling blog may overtake this one for output in 2014.

In part it's because I've been focusing more on producing audio and have spent less time documenting passing interests on here.

Another part might be the demise of blogging, a trend I've resisted but can see that other websites have stolen a lot of the audience.

Why have a one-sided conversation on here when I can get a better response on Facebook? (Well, sometimes I want a one-sided conversation, I guess; and other times I use this site as a way to capture stuff.)

Anyway, this year was a good year for my audio productions. A few tracks came out on US-based releases, as well as a couple of self-produced ones.

Another highlight was remixing an apple for the Art Misadventure #3 exhibition at The Roxy.

Western Riverina Arts commissioned me to create a soundtrack for their Reimagining the Murrumbidgee exhibition and then gave me a part-time job, duties for which included designing the catalogue and promoting the show.

I returned to the playgrounds to produce more material for the Centenary of Leeton although I ditched the idea of screening in The Roxy and organised projections on a couple of water towers, like Metropolis in 2011.

The album WHILE brought together some of the better tracks produced for the first 100 Disquiet Juntos.

And I experimented with producing videos for the Junto but found not every project suited this medium.

At the beginning of the year I also experimented with keeping a sketchbook diary and published a few examples. It was fun but time-consuming, though I'm considering returning to the activity next month.

Experimentation continued with reviews of alcoholic drinks in haiku poetry:
The pop and the fizz
illustrate detonating
deeply tanned berries

Moonlighting as a small business called Witch Media led me to make a TVC for Bidgee Binge which put my bass-playing on air, a track that resulted from a Junto.

Yeah, it's been a good year. You can find a bit more about my 2013 here and it will explain these 12 five-second sections of audio:

All the best in 2014 :)

Nils Frahm on toilet brushes

Read a lot of rave reviews about this guy's performances and this video gives some idea why. Thanks to Schemawound for drawing my attention to it. He's good to know if you want atuff put in your ear.

Remixed one of Nils' tunes earlier this year.

And I remixed some of Schemawound's work too

When I broke Twitter

Murrumbidgee view NOT

Just noticed this not-so-local image on the website of my local state-based member

While responding to the Disquiet Junto

The Disquiet Junto is an online group of musicians who respond to weekly directions, sharing their work on Soundcloud. It had its 100th consecutive project this week and it was my 36th track.

I've said the Disquiet Junto is giving me an education and that is a deliberate choice of words because it's a great model for learning. Each week I explore a new creative constraint, learning through my own practise and then comparing and contrasting my experinces with my peers.

It has been a really good activity for me, both for learning and for practice. There are some months in the year where I feel less productive, you can see the pattern in my blog posts. The Junto encourages me to make music and produce audio at times when I need encouragement.

This weekend I made a really good track from the sound of boiling water. It's the sort of thing I might try but not finish, so settting a deadline is another benefit for me. Duke Ellington is attributed with saying "I don't need time, I need a deadline."

This weekend I also finished compiling and remastering 20 tracks for an album of my favourite Junto pieces. I'll post it in the coming week but for now I've created a playlist of the first drafts and listed below are the blog posts about each Junto, including both the Disquiet.com instruction and the discussion at Bassling.com

In a few places there's additional content, including video and one sketchbook diary. Enjoy!

Heading out - Disquiet Junto Project 0089: V’Ger

Accoster (Featuring Jared Brickman's Every Day We Are Dying and Outer Space Does Not Give One Single Fuck)- Disquiet Junto Project 0065: Piano Overlay

No Nofi (Featuring Lee Rosevere) - Disquiet Junto Project 0066: Communing with Nofi

Having a Barney - Disquiet Junto Project 0095: Discuss Amongst
Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gr0be-5c8cI

One totem to another - Disquiet Junto Project 0094: Naturalist Trio

Solitary - Disquiet Junto Project 0053: Ice for 2013
Comic http://showcasejase.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/melting.html

Sundaze - Disquiet Junto Project 0099: In the Key of X

Tanku (Remix of Xesus Valle's Tanku) - Disquiet Junto Project 0028: Netlabel Net

Red beards - Disquiet Junto Project 0061: Textinstagr/am/bient

Borrowed dream - Disquiet Junto Project 0076: Dream Sound Dream

100ÂșC - Disquiet Junto Project 0100: Vapor Wave

Gudyiwagagi - Disquiet Junto Project 0085: 3 Parts

July August September October November - Disquiet Junto Project 0050: -…….–.-..-…-

Enter at own wrist - Disquiet Junto Project 0056: Matter of Time

I had a sense - Disquiet Junto Project 0098: Woven Audiobiography

Ballot to the head - Disquiet Junto Project 0088: 3D

River views

Reimagining the Murrumbidgee website is now online, as is the catalogue, which I designed.

This image from the catalogue shows Sarah McEwan's installation, which is really beautiful to behold.

Via Soundcloud below you can hear excerpts from my soundtrack for the exhibition.

Kinda creepy

Bit of a Bob pic


Good one Jamie Boyd

Been a long time since I've seen theatre and Goodbye Jamie Boyd made me really appreciate live shows. The story is dynamic and the acting faultless.
The production was richly realised and it should go well for the school shows tomorrow. The messages seemed aimed at a teenage audience and they are worthy but not heavy-handed.


Dreams are weird

I've written elsewhere on the weirdness of dreams but this blogpost will take the discussion to a new level of weirdness.

When I was a kid and I had nightmares and I started training myself to wake before it got too scary. I still seem to do it. So on Saturday morning when I awoke from a dream where I was confronted by a burglar, I woke up feeling a bit agitated.

The dream involved spotting through a window a burglar going through my stuff. I have these internal windows in my house, so I'd assumed it was my current home. I went to the phone and dialed for the police and received an answering machine message with a woman's voice. The burglar discovered me and came rushing over, as if to grab or attack me. He sat on the couch next to me as he did this, seemed to to hear the woman's voice and then turned to leave. I awoke at this point but not before he turned his head, revealing a second face. The face was familiar and male and on the back of his head.

This two-faced figure has resonance with me because as I child I went to London, where I saw an advertisement on the wall in an underground train station of a male with eyes in the back of his head. I remember hiding behind my mother to avoid looking at it. Interestingly, the ad was for insurance -- promoting the idea you could watch out for threats where you wouldn't normally be able to see.

Now the really weird part is that on the Saturday morning I awoke from this dream, my partner's brother Ben was staying the night. In hindsight I think the second face on the burglar may have been his face but I'm not sure.

On Saturday night we got a call from Ben, saying he'd returned home to find he'd been burgled. Ben lives with his parents at present, in a part of the house I've often lived in too and had dreams about in the past. It has a lot of windows. A guitar amp I'd lent Ben was stolen. The burglar had been interrupted by a friend who lives next door, who even spoke to him.

I've had dreams that felt like premonitions before but this one seemed to anticipate news of events that had happened but hadn't yet been discovered. Maybe it's a coincidence but it's an eerie one for me.

My great great grandmother (my mother's mother's mother's mother) was a medium and I've often thought it would be an interesting idea to research. I've also thought I should stop some of my behaviours that reduce the likelihood of dreaming but, frankly, it kinda freaks me out to think about having dreams if they're like this one.

This dream features in my Disquiet Junto piece this week. Have a listen and read more on the Bassling blog.

Oscar Wilde snap

Wilde was witty alright. My favourite of his lines is probably "I can resist everything except temptation"

When I broke Google

After breaking YouTube, I've moved on to Google

Alan Moore

Like this sketch of Alan Moore, whose Lost Girls has been banned in New Zealand.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

Had a few laughs today reading Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

Cab Savvy at Toorak Winery

Leeton's Toorak Winery held a very successful workshop on wine blending last weekend as part of the Taste Riverina food festival.

The photograph shown comes from the Toorak Winery Facebook page.

The wine blending workshop succeeded in revealing a lot of the skill in winemaking. As we experimented with identifying tastes and then combining them, there was ample time to ask questions about the process.

I really enjoy wine and have learned a lot from drinking with wine science students while living in Wagga. One lesson was that you learn more from opening a few bottles than you do from opening one bottle because the compare and contrast approach assists in identifying tastes. This was the first time I'd been able to try contrasting approaches using the same grapes. It was a revelation in how combining these flavours can promote or disguise characteristics.

Drinking with wine scientists also taught me the importance of spitting out. It's good to remember when sampling around a dozen wines within a few hours around the middle of the day. Before we started comparing blends, Robert Bruno led a tour around his family winery, identifying the differences in producing white and red wines as well as the mechanical and chemical processes involved in producing 3.4 million litres of wine largely within a few months each year.

A vertical tasting of the premier brand Willandra Shiraz gave a sense how ageing changes wine, as well as the subtle berry bouquet of their double gold medal-winning 2006 release. It was so good I didn't want to spit it out, I wanted it to be part of me. Toorak Wines have won over international wine show judges and overseas suppliers with their European approach. The flavours are more integrated and less like your stereotypical Australian wine. It's not the brash and bold sorta thing I normally drink, so the whole event made me feel incredibly sophisticated.

Winemaker Martin Wozniak poured glasses of the shiraz currently maturing, different batches from the same harvest that illustrated some of the scope of his job.  My tasting notes for these four glasses could describe four different wines and, in a sense, they do. These different flavours have been exaggerated and shaped into a palatte from which they will find complementary and contrasting shades to colour releases for a vintage. The key constraint that wine must be made from grapes ensures no one gets too crazy with the contents of our bottles but it's this sense of working with what you've got that's really appealing about winemaking. The problem-solving required as well as the chemistry to produce a sensuous product like wine makes it an art.

After lunch we began the process of settling on our blends. Using two shiraz batches and a cabernet sauvignon that the winemakers thought they'd most likely be selling unblended, we once again found contrasting flavours.

My initial attempt was to combine the shiraz whose eucalyptus note I liked with the tree fruit-flavour of the cabernet and the result was underwhelming. My second attempt favoured the shiraz again while introducing smaller amounts of the cabernet and the second shiraz. It was another revelation. The flavours seemed to rearrange themselves on my palate. The coppery note that had left a bad taste in my mouth in the second, rougher shiraz now carried a tannin finish after the wine had departed.

Examples of different oak treatments illustrated the knockout vanilla taste of American wood versus the restrained French equivalent. A couple of Hungarian alternatives were subtler and different again. This demonstration lead to discussion of the oak treatment already employed on two of the three wines we were blending.The shiraz I called rough I learned hadn't had this process.

When Robert asked if anyone was ready to blend their bottle I raised my hand. To keep the measurements easy to scale he made more than what was required and I was stoked to hear people sampling my blend making appreciative comments. We each had different approaches and it was fascinating to taste and discuss how small increments in the ratios were noticeable in our mouths.

This wine blending class wasn't something I'd seen promoted before and in the local paper the winery are quoted as saying they're thinking of running it again next June. If you like wine there's a lot to learn about the science and artistry as well as a very satisfactory feeling to be gained blending your own bottle. Highly recommended.

Portrait by Daniel O'Brien

At the Grong Grong Creative House keeping an eye on my brood, when Daniel says "There's a cloud of smoke behind your head. I'm going to take a photo."

Pogo's Muppet Mash

"Music each day is a cupcake"?

Griffith Readers Festival 2013

It was a sunny day in Griffith and the carpark at Pioneer Park suggested a number of people were attending the second annual Readers Festival and the workshops also on offer.

Entry to Pioneer Park featured a sign warning that Sally Rippin was unable to attend and the number of kids in the audience suggested this was sad news but they didn't leave without being informed and entertained.

Information came from local author Caroline Tuohey, who gave an introduction to professional writing. "Who plays sport?" she asked. "Who plays a musical instrument?" These pursuits she explained were similar to writing in requiring lots of practice.

Tuohey compared the sense of disappointment from missing a goal to that of receiving a rejection letter from a publisher. "What do you do?" she asked the crowd and a girl replied "You try again".

"You might go on like this all season," Tuohey continued, "but when you do score a goal you do a silly dance." She explained that she would've done a somersault when she opened the acceptance letter from her publisher, if she'd been able to.

"I was so excited that half of New South Wales would've known I was being published by the end of the day."

Her message to the kids was clear, if you want to succeed as a writer, you keep working at it. She encouraged them to keep a notebook, before asking who had a Nintendo DS. "Use it to write and keep track of your ideas," she advised.

Tuohey asked the crowd if anyone had a story they want to write and a boy named Hamish shared his idea. It involved a guy falling into a shark tank and being saved by his exploding underwear. When asked how many sharks were in this tank, he answered "Five thousand, ten hundred and ninety-six".

"Can you see how chatting about stories leads us to develop ideas? It's called brainstorming," said Tuohey, leading the crowd to brainstorm for stories about moving house.

"We've got a few good stories here," said Tuohey. "Let's take one. I know someone who accidentally packed their pet. It ended up in a box in the removalists' van and you'd think 'please don't vomit'. What if it makes a mess?

"This kind of 'what if?' question is a good question. Writers use it all the time. It's an important question because you come up with all sorts of ideas. What if you were packed in the removalists' van? Would you use your exploding underpants?"

"I already did!" exclaimed Hamish.

Tuohey advised the young writers to keep a notebook handy to develop their work. "It's very important to put ideas onto paper."

Leading into the conclusion she observed "I'm very pleased you're here today because it means you're readers". She explained that the slow bus ride to and from school in Hay had given her time to pursue this activity. "I read 798 books -- in year seven," she declared. "I hope you keep reading for the rest of your lives."

Graphic novelist Pat Grant took to the stage briefly to bring a whiteboard down to the front of the crowd. He introduced himself and explained he uses drawings to tell stories. Drawings in sequence to create comics.

"You might think I came here to talk to readers and writers but I came for ideas," he said.

"A shark with a man-eating head!" exclaimed Hamish, who went on to also suggest a camels body.

"What can we do to make him cooler?" asked Grant.

A girl suggested this camel-shark should eat hot dogs and Grant dutifully sketched these ideas.

"We need a protagonist and an antagonist," he explained. "Which is fancy talk for a good guy and a bad guy."

It was settled the camel-shark would be the good guy.

"Who's the bad guy?" asked Grant.

"You are!" came a reply and so Pat Grant began sketching himself, while explaining the characteristics that would display moral shortcomings such as bad posture, hairy arms and a tattoo.

"What else?" asked Grant and the reply was for one leg.

"That's great," he enthused. "What do we call that? That's motivation."

Through this process of crowd-based brainstorming a story developed involving a glass-bottomed container ship stacked with Ikea furniture, where Bad Pat would attempt to poison the camel-shark with a frankfurter. This bait was to be fed through a hole in the glass until physics intervened, capsizing the ship and putting Bad Pat within striking distance of the camel-shark.

"What else?" asked Grant. "A coda maybe?"

"Lightsabres sticking out of the water!" proposed Hamish and it was suggested this might be material for a sequel.

This session concluded with the children being directed outside for face-painting.

Allen and Unwin publishing representative Deb Stevens took to the stage with the first panel of authors. She acknowledged the Wiradjuri people "because this is a festival of storytelling and they had an oral form of history through storytelling".

Author Peter Rees spoke next outlining his path to writing history from journalism in the Riverina. He'd been introduced to the stories of the Lancaster Men for his recent book of that name and surprised to learn how they'd been marginalised by history despite their contribution and high mortality rate.

"Only the Nazi U-boats had a higher death rate," he said. "You had to be in awe of them for taking their lives in their hands."

Rees gave examples of the larrikin behaviour of some of these men, including clearing the best seats in the British-dominated RAF common room by throwing 303 bullets into the fireplace and flying a Lancaster under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. He described the latter as "an example of the daring they could get away with" while acknowledging it was hard to imagine such an event happening in the present day.

He characterised the letters sent by the Lancaster Men to their families as "the epitome of Australian experience" through their use of metaphors, One described a bombing run like going on a picnic, while another described the sight of shells exploding around the plane as being like the Dimboola Regatta. Another compared the searchlights combing the skies as they flew to standing naked on stage at a theatre.

Of course, the real resonance in the material came from the possibility of death for both the bombers and the bombed, "The thought of it makes me sick but we have to do it for the greater good," Rees recounted one letter writer as reflecting. Another wrote a letter to be delivered in case he died: "Know my heart is at ease… Cheerio, keep smiling though your hearts are breaking."

Through this research Rees "gradually built up a picture of these young men" who were derided on their return after the second world war as "Jap dodgers". One of these was Sir James Rowland, who very nearly didn't get to become the Governor of NSW after being captured by Gestapo and rescued from the firing squad by Luftwaffe airmen who believed in a "brotherhood of airmen".

This was one such story of humanity from the war and, despite having an old-fashioned air, it's emotive material. It seemed clear that, for a former journalist, it is this humanising of the story that is an important element in Rees' work.

Roland Perry was next, speaking to promote his 27th book Bill The Bastard. Perry was the stand-out speaker of the day as he actively sought to engage his audience, constantly scanning the crowd and responding to their body language in a way that made his delivery more like a conversation.

The titular Bastard was one of over 200,000 horses sent from Australia to assist in the first world war, which had included around 1,100,000 such animals. Bill was something of a mongrel with "the legs of a thoroughbred and the body of a draught horse". His cantankerous disposition was due to being handled roughly and branded early in life, leaving a deep mistrust of humans.

"Bill was used almost as a cynical joke to test the city-folk who wanted to join the lighthorsemen," explained Perry. Sent to war, the horse worked on the mail run at Gallipoli. It was such a dangerous task that Australian and British soldiers would cease fighting to place bets on the likelihood of success each day.

Major Michael Shanahan was impressed by Bill and decided to make him a warhorse and spent three months breaking him. Perry noted it wasn't widely known that poet Banjo Patterson oversaw 800 breakers during the war.

Bill's most distinguished service was in the General Sir Henry George Chauvel-led offensive against the Turks in the Sinai desert:
His greatest feat was to save the lives of his master and four other men who clambered on him to escape at the battle of Romani in the Sinai on 4 August 1916. After cantering, under fire, several miles to Australian lines (and using his hooves to cave in the chests of two Turks who tried to shoot him) he took a drink and pawed the ground, indicating he wanted to return to the action. The Turks were massacring prisoners and he undoubtedly saved the five men.
When Shanahan was unconscious with one leg smashed by a bullet, Bill carried him gently and without directions several miles to an aid post.
Around this point Roland Perry stopped to comment. "What I am looking for in all my books is the narrative and the characters." Bill the Bastard brought together both and I often think the best dramas have a backdrop of intense social upheaval, like war.

Perry spoke about his forthcoming book about a dog that served in the second world war, making it clear that he wasn't aiming to be known for writing about animals serving in combat. He indicated toward Peter Rees and said, "we're looking always for the human content in war" and I guess the relationships of humans with animals adds further interest, as well as humanising history in an engaging way.

After some discussion of the authors works outside of war history, Perry made an observation about his motivation to write:

"You've got to have a passion for the subject matter. You're on your own and you have to feel very strongly about the subject" to get through the process of writing a book. "You must not be motivated by what is popular."

It was interesting that Perry shared how happy he was to have written a book that interested female readers. Cynically one could suggest this is because most buyers of books are women and, looking around the audience at the Readers Festival this seemed to be true. But I'd guess that war is not usually an interest for females, so there was a challenge in that anyway. It got me thinking about Michael Lewis' observation “You never know what book you wrote until you know what book people read”.

Next, local authors and writers were invited to present five-minute presentations about their current works, projects and publications.

Barry Walsh hung a poster showing the "sacred geometry" in the designs of Griffith and Canberra, then spoke on connections between disparate events. It was difficult to follow but fascinating to listen to in a 'WTF?' sorta way. His line "copyright misunderstands fiction" caught my ear.

Jo Wilson-Ridley discussed her poetic responses to exhibitions she'd seen in Griffith, which I thought was an excellent approach. One show had been a collection of polaroids taken by a photographer documenting war crimes in Iraq and she asked "what do we do when logging off from depravity?'

Caroline Tuohey returned to the stage to discuss the fiction and non-fiction she'd had published, as well as poetry on coffee mugs and tea towels that she sold at markets. She presented a bush poem about the drought called 'Riverina Rain' that was really good and resonated with an understanding of how this recent event had affected the lives of those who live on the land.

Martin Mortimer introduced his science fiction work under the pen-name M.R. Mortimer. "Each book I make is a little different as I need to challenge myself," he explained before reading from his "space opera" Armada's Disciple.

Susan Toscan spoke on her book La Strada Da Seguire: The Road to Follow, a fiction covering the period before and after the second world war and "the combining of Australian and Italian cultures, which we know so well in Griffith". The book is loosely based on the people she's known and stories collected have been embellished as a way of preserving them for future generations.
(Sorry Susan, I missed getting a pic of you.)

Natalie Hopwood was "excited to be here as a writer and lover of books". She read from her book on growing up in Barellan, "the town with the biggest tennis racket". It was quite poetic and I liked the line about how, if it wasn't for football and netball, no one would go out in winter.

Rozanne Gilbert spoke of writing over 100 poems and plans to write a fiction based on her life experiences. She writes a column for Wagga's Daily Advertiser and recently performed a play in the Leeton Eisteddfod.

Amanda Robins introduced herself as a marketer before a writer, who'd wanted to produce something that was "helpful as well as enjoyable" in her work How to Turn On a Tired Housewife. "It's something simple people can relate to," she said. A lighthearted picturebook that aims to educate men to offer caring rather than grand romantic gestures. As a male who does a significant amount of housework I thought it was sexist.

The next panel had Derek Motion from Western Riverina Arts (where I also work) guiding a conversation with graphic novelist Pat Grant and travel writer Jorge Sotirios on 'a clash of cultures'. Grant thought it was a refreshing topic as he'd previously been put on panels talking about surfing, where he'd gotten a 'dressing down' for describing the culture as being full of jocks and sexists. He said he also got stuck talking on racism, as his book Blue developed from experiencing the so-called race riots in Cronulla late 2005.

Sotirios had also been in the area on 11 December, when much of the action had taken place. He cited a friend from the area who'd thought the riot had been "the icing on the cake of a drug turf war".

Grant recalled he'd ended up at the beach for a swim after selling zines in Wollongong earlier in the day. "What we'd seen was mundane and sorta boring," he said. "I still can't reconcile my experience with what everyone else seems to know".

People had been getting drunk but there was a militant racist element who'd been driven to the area because it had been promoted as a day of action by right-wing commentators. Sotirios thought "a lot of surfers don't want to beat people up. That event was manufactured by people on radio like Alan Jones. It led to an escalation of problems and just went from bad to worse".

Grant observed that surfing culture has changed and I think other commentators have observed Australia has moved further to the right in recent decades. "Your average surf mobile used to be a Kombi with seven longboards on top. Now it's a ute with a racist sticker on the back."

"I tried to work out my feelings in an elaborate book," he said of Blue. "You're looking for answers but there aren't many in my book."

Sotirios replied there's "danger in getting caught up in the imagery of an event," leading Derek to comment on the subterranean creatures in Blue.

"I avoided pointing the finger and used what I knew about the language of comics to create a short-cut to that feeling of otherness," agreed Grant. This was good for avoiding making a reader feel bludgeoned by metaphor. He compared it to a Kafka story about a man waking up as a cockroach, "a visual metaphor for a cultural other".

"Comics have a tradition of creating this sort of visual juxtaposition," said Pat Grant, mentioning Spiegelman's Maus and the representation of Polish people as pigs as one provocative example.

Sotirios spoke on using life material in his writing, saying it requires careful selection of the experience. "You have to laugh at yourself," he said. It's dangerous "to point at other cultures. You've got to be careful using your own life history because you've got to be able to bring it to the reader".

Grant expressed regret at his superb work Toormina Video, which led to Jorge expressing surprise that he regretted it being good and popular but it is a very personal account of his father's alcoholism. "It's awesome because a lot of the love come back," he observed. "It's awesome that people are now on the same page but I'm not looking forward to talking to my aunt about it."

Sotirios reflected that one friend he'd portrayed had been unhappy with being shown as a clown but didn't criticise another writer for revealing his drug use. "You just have to wear it," he concluded.

"Storytelling is a tricky business," agreed Grant. He mentioned a friend who'd written a family member out of a story. "The reading public think he's baring his soul but I know he's crafting it and it's manipulative."

Deb Stevens returned to the stage to host a conversation with Freda Nicholls and Deborah O'Brien on their historical writing, fiction and non-fiction. O'Brien spoke of the contrast in social changes in her work The Jade Widow and that she'd had feedback from younger readers that they related to the setting of the 1920s and '30s.

Freda Nicholls explained that she'd written for R.M. Williams' magazine and the opportunity to write a book had arisen after an Australian Story profile on her sister had led to inundation from viewers, "who took heart from many parts of her story and wanted to talk about it".

The book Love, Sweat & Tears deals with suicide, which had some resistance until the publisher had pitched that it might help someone. Nicholls' sister had made the book conditional on her writing it and the first-person perspective had proven a challenge which was further extenuated by their five-year age difference. She'd been surprised by the opportunities the process presented to get to know each other and said "going into my own past was a very cathartic experience".

Nicholls admitted the book glosses over some details to avoid hurting people and legal staff at the publisher directed changes to avoid libel. One example was the advice given by a doctor who was proven wrong in declaring her sister would never walk again. "If people are still alive you have to be careful," she said before describing her current work on the 1950s shearers strike as 'liberating'.

O'Brien had a different perspective on going into the past through her research for novels. She spoke of experience learnt through cutting historical information. "When readers ask 'do you do much research?' I think uh-oh" because it distracts from the storytelling. Her editor advises on information to remove, a pain that is softened by pasting this material into a folder rather than just deleting it.

Host Deb Stevens raised the topic of how Google is changing audiences as it becomes easier for them to quickly research historical facts. O'Brien replied "The Downtown Abbey syndrome is the new reality" and went on to recount how hearing the phrase 'steep learning curve' on the show jolted her, as it's an expression with origins in the 1980s.

Susan Toscan spoke from the audience to quote Bryce Courtney: "Don't write what people already know". An observation that a better informed readership means an author can avoid covering some historical detail.

O'Brien is a fan of primary sources for her research, including newspapers. "I have a moral obligation to depict historical characters realistically."

Nicholls said she loves using Trove but doesn't trust newspapers, having worked on them. O'Brien then made a comment that picked up on Grant and Sotirios' earlier panel: "Sometimes it's harder writing about recent history because people have a memory of it".

Another comment from O'Brien concerned the process of writing. She spoke of having internalised the structures and frameworks of novel and this allowed her to write about "free-range characters," free from following a rigid outline for a book.

Alison Green from Pantera Press took to the stage with authors Wanda Wiltshire and Rebecca James to discuss their supernatural fiction. The opening question focused on their inspirations and Wiltshire had a fascinating start to writing. She described not knowing what to do with her life and quoted a line from a favourite song on how the some of the most interesting people don't know what they want to do with their life. "That's me, except for the interesting bit," Wiltshire said.

She recalled that after "finding god" she asked what she should be doing with her life and the words 'write a book' came to mind. Wiltshire went to bed seeking inspiration and awoke with the story that will unfold over six or seven novels, beginning with Betrothed.

James had a different introduction to writing. After foregoing studies in Arts/Law to support her family, she needed something to do and began "dabbling". Her sister is also an author and encouraged her to persevere with the process and sending manuscripts to publishers. The day after James and her husband closed their business, a publisher bought her book.

The idea for James' novel Sweet Damage came from experience with agoraphobia. She undertook some research and magnified her own knowledge, as well as reading online forums and texts but "I wasn't presenting a medical view of it".

Wiltshire said there were "definitely elements of me and other people" in her work. She drew on her son, people she went to school with and created a leading man who "is every girl's fantasy -- mine anyway".

James quoted author Anne Fine: "It's not that you write about people you know. You write about what you know about people." She thought relationships are the most interesting thing about all stories.

The day concluded with all the authors being asked what book they wish they had written. (Pic above courtesy Western Riverina Arts.) A variety of titles were suggested but, maybe because it was the end of the day, the discussion seemed a bit flat. Rebecca James was of the view there were none: "I have no books but there are things I wish I could write better".

Wanda Wiltshire said "they're of other people" and this was some comfort for Jorge Sotirios, who said "I'm glad others have written books for the torture they've gone through".

The Griffith Readers Festival was a fascinating day for the stories presented and a sense of the challenges faced in writing them. I was disappointed not to engage Pat Grant in discussion because I read a lot of graphic novels and, living in a small town, don't get much opportunity to talk about them. It was great they had a graphic novelist as part of the day though, hope this continues next year.