What is the best Charles Dickens novel? The one you are reading right now! He never put out a bad book. In that sense he’s the Buddy Holly of English prose; in a greater sense he’s the Dylan or Mozart. Anyhow, happy just-belated birthday (7 February) to him!

Here he is in 1842 during his first US tour, painted by Boston artist Francis Alexander. He’s just turned 30, he’s had five novels published – all big hits – and he’s only a year or so away from writing A Christmas Carol.

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Port Macquarie Koala Hospital in northern NSW is a wonderful refuge and treatment centre for our precious koalas. This Christmas I had the best present ever – the adoption/sponsorship of Lismore Rose, a charming koala with a bright white bib. She’s also a permanent hospital resident, as she’ll never be fit for release into the wild.

Here she is!

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I visited the Koala Hospital a few years ago in my capacity as a journalist and wrote a feature story about the amazing work of the dedicated staff, almost all volunteers, who work tirelessly to rescue and rehabilitate injured koalas.

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The Koala Hospital needs a lot more support and I urge anyone who can to adopt a koala. You’ll feel great helping out and the money goes exactly where it’s needed – into the welfare of this very special and seriously threatened Australian species.

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Dimension 6 Annual Collection 2019 (now available from Couer de Lion publishing) features my story The Sirens’ Secret and other tales of wonder and imagination – science-fiction, the fantastique, etc. And sirens! Listen, can you hear them? You can’t resist…

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My one-act ghost play A Bush Haunting premieres on October 3 as part of the Blackheath Theatre Company’s New Voices program, which haunts Blackheath Community Hall atop the Blue Mountains for five shows until October 6.

The Blue Mountains Gazette published a story about the New Voices Season this week based on interviews with the five playwrights.

Tickets are available via the Blackheath Theatre Company website

New Voices Group

READER’S DIGEST‘s September issue includes my feature on Lord Howe Island – eight pages in print and now, in paperless cyberspace, a wondrous podcast entitled AN ISLAND OF WONDERS. Just click that there link!

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IMG_2110 September’s READER’S DIGEST has already sprung into action, sporting the journalistic fruits of my recent jaunt to Lord Howe Island in an eye-catching eight-page spread.

From the heights of Mount Gower’s mystic mist forest to the diamond depths of its coral reef dive sites, Lord Howe is an unforgettable get-away-from-it-all experience. Read all about it!

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Issue 17 of online spec fic magazine Dimension6 has cyber-materialised to be read freely over at Coeur de Lion Publishing

I’ve a tale in this one called The Sirens’ Secret, revisiting the famous myth.

To introduce it, here’s an edited extract from my author bio in the issue…

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The Roman emperor Tiberius, whose vital interest was Greek mythology, enjoyed pestering scholars with obscure questions such as ‘What song did the sirens sing?’ His biographer Suetonius called this ‘foolish and ridiculous’.

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I disagree, partly because I share some of the emperor’s fascination for these old tales, but also because the nature of siren song must rank among music’s greatest mysteries. Unlike fairy music, of which brief examples have occasionally been written down, it has been entirely lost to posterity.

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The Sirens’ Secret grew not just from immersion in mythology, but also from a throwaway comment by a famous musician who said he never listens to his old albums because he makes them for other people, not himself. I hope that doesn’t give away too much plot…

PS: The Siren Vase (475 BC), Ancient Greek and in the British Museum, shows Sirens as bird-nymphs. The paintings are The Sirens & Ulysses (1837) by William Etty and below it, Gustav Wertheimer’s The Kiss Of The Siren (1882).

IMGP1402 Bai SaoThe elegant new issue of INTERNATIONAL TRAVELLER magazine (June-July-Aug 19) has my feature on Phu Quoc Island, the rapidly developing holiday destination slated to become the Bali or Phuket of Vietnam. It’s a fascinating place – read all about it!

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This October my ghost play A BUSH HAUNTING will be staged by the Blackheath Theatre Company as a part of a special program of short plays. Set in a lonely bush hut night one “dark and stormy night” in 1833, it’s a tangled gothic web of dastardly doings and eerie outcomes. Here’s a glimpse of the action from a reading performance and rehearsal during the workshopping phase.

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Five Reasons To Love Lord Howe Island travel article in this week’s Woman’s Day (Royal baby special, cover date May 20).

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