Tasmania Trip: Lighthouse Part 1

I had the wonderful fortune to visit Tasmania over the Christmas/New Year. Living in such a hot, dry environment for most of the year, Tasmania's temperate, maritime environment was such a bracing (and welcome change).

Apart from watching my kids seeing snow for the first time and the incredible diversity of plants and untouched wild-spaces on offer, the highlight for me was getting up close to a Fresnel lens at the top of a lighthouse. 

One of the first images I had for The Kingdom of Plants revolved around the idea of a lighthouse as a portal to another world. I didn't even know what that world would be, but I knew that the lighthouse was the key to getting there.

The Fresnel design has fascinated me for over 20 years, ever since I took a high school workshop on lighting and sound for stage performances. But it is the massive lenses (this is a second order lens) fixed atop of spiral staircases and shining their light over vast oceans that have truly captured my imagination. I feel blessed to have finally been able to tick this experience off my bucket list.

Lighthouse: Table Cape, Tasmania.

Reading: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Listening: Passengers OST by Thomas Newman
Watching: The Crown (Netflix)


Plant Books | The Songs Of Trees

There are heaps of wonderful books about plants and it's hard to keep track of the ones I really, really want to read (amongst all those other books I really, really want to read).

I'm no botanist, nor a scientist but I love reading about plants and particularly their relationship to human culture. Reading books like this inform my understanding of the world, thereby affecting future stories in The Kingdom Of Plants.

The Songs Of Trees is one I am looking forward to and was able to finally place a pre-order the other day. The book, by David Haskell (author of The Forest Unseen) discusses the network of connections joining trees with other trees and also fungi, animals and other plants—

Actually, you know what? I'm doing a very bad job at describing the book...
Here's the extensive blurb:

The author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Forest Unseen visits with nature’s most magnificent networkers — trees

David Haskell’s award-winning The Forest Unseen won acclaim for eloquent writing and deep engagement with the natural world. Now, Haskell brings his powers of observation to the biological networks that surround all species, including humans.

Haskell repeatedly visits a dozen trees around the world, exploring the trees’ connections with webs of fungi, bacterial communities, cooperative and destructive animals, and other plants. An Amazonian ceibo tree reveals the rich ecological turmoil of the tropical forest, along with threats from expanding oil fields. Thousands of miles away, the roots of a balsam fir in Canada survive in poor soil only with the help of fungal partners. These links are nearly two billion years old: the fir’s roots cling to rocks containing fossils of the first networked cells.

By unearthing charcoal left by Ice Age humans and petrified redwoods in the Rocky Mountains, Haskell shows how the Earth’s climate has emerged from exchanges among trees, soil communities, and the atmosphere. Now humans have transformed these networks, powering our societies with wood, tending some forests, but destroying others. Haskell also attends to trees in places where humans seem to have subdued “nature” – a pear tree on a Manhattan sidewalk, an olive tree in Jerusalem, a Japanese bonsai– demonstrating that wildness permeates every location. 

Every living being is not only sustained by biological connections, but is made from these relationships. Haskell shows that this networked view of life enriches our understanding of biology, human nature, and ethics. When we listen to trees, nature’s great connectors, we learn how to inhabit the relationships that give life its source, substance, and beauty.

Pretty impressive huh?

I'm super-excited to read the book and see how it can inform the future Kingdom Of Plants stories. It comes out April 4 2017.

You can pre-order the book at Amazon.

Reading:  The Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
Listening: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them by James Newton Howard
Watching: 'Warcraft' Movie

Editing : Book 1 Part 1

Editing : Book 1 Part 1

I'm counting down the weeks, days and hours until I send the first book off to an editor.

This fills me with a sense of dread and excitement. I've written so much but never sent work off to a (very qualified) stranger to critique. I imagine it's like sending a child off to school  — wondering how your little bundle will fit into the big world. Will they be liked? Will they find a friend or will they end up alone in a corner somewhere crying because I didn't prepare them enough for life outside the home. 

Perhaps I'm over-reacting...