Sunday, February 26, 2017


One of the settings I love in The Lighthouse Keeper is Peg's shop Serendipity. This shop is a conglomeration of all the small seaside trinket shops I have spent time in.  The name was an easy choice as apart from being my actual nickname and the name in part of my company, the word has always been significant to me.  The first time I saw the word I was a child and I saw Serendipity in a sign in a photograph of Andy Warhol. 

Serendipity means a pleasant surprise of fortunate happenstance.  In 1754 Horace Walpole, an English art historian, man of letters , antiquarian and Whig Politician, used the term in a letter to a friend. He used the term to explain an unexpected discovery he had made and referenced a Persian fairytale called The Three Princes Of Serendip. The fairytale was first published in Venice in 1557 by Michele Tramezzino.  He claimed to have heard the story from a Christopher Armeno, who had translated the Persian fairytale from Book One of Amir Khusrau's Hasht Bihisht ( The Eight Paradises) written in 1302. Amir Khusrau was a Sufi musician, poet, mystic and scholar whose famous poem, Hasht Bihisht incorporates folktales told by seven princesses.  It is in these texts that the tales of the three Princes of Serendip first appear.  It is believed that the tales of the three Princes are based on the adventures and exploits of the Persian King BahramV, ancient folklore and Book One of a Thousand and One Nights.  The Princes of Serendip always made discoveries of things that they were not actually in a quest to find.  

The concept of serendipity has found itself a place in the history of scientific innovation and in fact in the genesis of the modern detective story.  Voltaire, the pen name of Francois Marie Arouet, French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher, used an adaption of the Three Princes of Serendip in his novel of 1747, Zadig.  The detective in Zadig influenced Darwin's theory, the science of paelantology as well as inspired Edgar Allan Poe and his character M.Dupin, who in turn influenced the writer Arthur Conan Doyle in his depictions of Sherlock Holmes.  

In 1954 Stephen Bruce opened a cafe called Serendipity in New York.  This was the sight of the photograph of Andy Warhol that triggered my long time interest in the word Serendipity.  I have been to this cafe and the one in Las Vegas which has now closed down.  The cafe is in the Guinness a book of Records for having the most expensive dessert in the world on its menu.  The Golden Opulence Sundae cost $1000.  

The word has been such an influential part of my life that it seemed the most obvious name for Peg's store of amazing and unexpected wares.  



Saturday, February 18, 2017

King Neptune

When writing a novel one of my favourite things to create is the shops, cafes, restuarants and general meeting places that attract the characters.  In The Lighthouse Keeper, book one in The Peron Cove Mysteries, one of the cafes is called Neptune's.  Its a conglomeration of seaside cafes I have visited all over the world. There is always  something different about the cafes that look out towards the sea. I chose the name Neptune's in honour of the Roman God of freshwater and the sea.

Neptune is the Roman counterpart of Poseidon and was the brother of Jupiter and Pluto.  The brothers were in charge of the realms of Heaven, Earth and the Underworld.  Neptune is often depicted with a white beard and carrying a trident.  Neptune fell deeply in love with a female divinity of the sea called Salacia.  She was so intimidated by the King that she hid in the Atlantic Ocean.  Neptune sent a dolphin to find her and persuade her to return to him.  When Salacia returned to be his wife Neptune rewarded the dolphin by giving him a place in heaven where he forms the constellation Delphinus.  Neptune and his wife Salacia are often shown sitting side by side on thrones or driving in a pearl shell chariot drawn by dolphins and seahorses. 

Neptune's in the Lighthouse Keeper, uses the more gaudy and dramatic aspects of the legend as decoration with treasure chests thrown in for good measure.  It is a place that will feature in all the Peron Cove mysteries.  It's a place for the characters to hang out and eat the thematically named food.   

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Art of Writing

I have always enjoyed all sorts of journalling and note taking when  researching for something I am writing.  I enjoy handwriting and use graphic organisers continually to extend my ideas and explore.  I love using tech and of course employ it for most finished work but it is handwritten work I find the most stimulating when creating a new written piece.  I have tried all forms of books, planners, compendiums however I always go back to a moleskine notebook and my midori travellers notebook.  I am not sure why I enjoy these two journals best but I think it has a lot to do with the quality of the paper that allows me to write and draw, paint and stick whatever I choose on it's surfaces.  The feel of the paper on both these notebooks is amazing  and  I love to collect all sorts of ideas, thoughts and images between their pages. 






Monday, February 6, 2017

Magical Islands

Today I want to tell you about one of my favourite islands in the world.  I live on an island now but  growing up I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time at a beautiful coastal island just north of my current island home.  Penguin Island is a 12.5 hectare island off the Western Australian coast.  It is inhabited by 1200 little penguins, the smallest species of penguins.  

Historically Penguin Island was most likely used by indigenous Australians almost 12000 years ago.  There is a legend near the island about a singing rock thought to be the prison of an indigenous girl who was trapped in the rock for punishment for running away with her lover who was speared to death.  Some say you can still hear the rock singing.

The first person to live on Penguin Island was New Zealander Seaforth McKenzie.  He squatted on the island in 1914 and in 1918 he was given an annual lease by the government.  Limestone caves on the eastern side of the island were further hollowed out by McKenzie and furnished as accomodation, a library and a small store.  A large cave was hollowed out and McKenzie dubbed it the Grand Ballroom and it was here that he was dubbed King of Penguin Island.  McKenzie loved literature and held poetry readings in his library cave.  He left the island in 1926 returning to  New Zealand and his surprised family who had not seen him in forty five years.  The only remnants of McKenzies stay on the island are some nails in the cave walls, some old fig trees and his well. 

When I was growing up I would take the small barge across to the island.  There is a natural sandbank, though despite the fact it looks like an easy way to walk to the island, has resulted in many people drowning.  I loved to play in the large caves or stand on the leeward side of the island and feel the force of the beautiful sea.  

Penguin Island is now a sanctuary for the Little Penguins and other flora and fauna that live there.  You can no longer scurry all over the island as I did as a child however there are beautiful paths and fascinating lookouts to explore.  I love that the island is being preserved now.

The island and the few atolls around it were a big inspiration for The Lighthouse Keeper, especially the boat tour taken by two of the characters. 


Friday, February 3, 2017

Point Peron

Settings are always a fun part of writing a story and I like to use places that I know or whimsical places I imagine using places I have visited as a basis. 

I was so lucky to have grown up by the sea and still live by its side.  For Book One in The Peron Cove Mystery series. The Lighthouse Keeper, the main setting was an amalgamation of several shorelines and small seaside towns I am very familiar with.  

Gorgeous Point Peron was one of the inspirations for The Lighthouse Keeper.  I lived close to this spot for most of my childhood and young adulthood and am still fairly close to it's magnificent natural beauties.  It is effectively a headland in Rockingham, at the southern end of Cockburn Sound, in Western Australia.  It was named in honour of French naturalists and zoologist, Francois Peron, who was on the Nicolas Baudin expedition of 1801. Peron joined the Baudin voyage after a failed love affair.  The voyage, which chartered huge stretches of Australian coastline, saw numerous clashes between Peron and Baudin.  Despite this Peron was largely responsible for  gathering 100000 zoological specimens.  Peron was also a pioneer oceanographer conducting many important sea water experiments during the voyage. 

In 1942 an artillery battery was constructed at Point Peron as part of a coastal defence system erected in response to external threats to Western Australia during WW2. The bunkers still exist and you can explore the area using a network of paths. 

I have always loved Point Peron as a place to swim and explore or just sit and watch the sea while contemplating life.