Narrative Transport. The official Michael Pryor website.
  • November4th

    On Saturday (2nd November) twenty-nine intrepid sightseers gathered in inner Melbourne to explore some of the locations of my books Gap Year in Ghost Town and Graveyard Shift in Ghost Town. I was a little worried about the viability of the occasion, because I woke up that morning to hear heavy rain on the roof – and it didn’t let up all day. I put my trust in the Bureau of Meteorology, though, and it promised that the rain would be clearing by the evening. Even so, I had my trust Bladerunner umbrella with me, just in case.

    I’d done my planning, plotting our course in Google Maps and walking it in rehearsal, but these things are always dicey affairs. How fast would people walk? What questions would they have? How long would they laugh at my jokes?

    Here are the locations:

    • Fitzroy Gardens
    • The Conservatory, Fitzroy Gardens
    • River God Fountain, Fitzroy Gardens
    • Allen and Unwin, Albert Street
    • Victorian Artists Society, Albert Street
    • Eastern Hill Fire Station, Gisborne Street
    • Royal Exhibition Building/Melbourne Museum
    • Royal Society of Victoria, LaTrobe Street

    At each stop, I regaled the crowd with some history (absolutely true) and some ghostiness (totally made up).

    As a bonus, Ellie Marney and Lili Wilkinson had agreed to be part of the night, with Ellie popping up at Allen and Unwin HQ, reading Poe’s ‘The Raven’ and sharing some juicy details about Melbourne’s ghoulish history. Lili appeared at the Hochgurtel Fountain in front of the Royal Exhibition Bulding and treated us to a scary reading from her work in progress. Monsters!

    We finished spot on 9.30, as advertised, a tribute either to my excellent organisation or the gods of good fortune.

    Many thanks to Lili and Ellie, but also to all those who attended. It was an atmospheric, convivial and wondrous night.

  • September30th

    Mmmm …

    I posted the above pic on Twitter and Instagram, and it prompted such enthusiasm I thought I’d share the recipe I use. Don’t be intimidated, it’s very easy – much easier than making jam.

    The only slightly tricky part is sterilising the jars and lids. I just pop my jars in the oven at 100 degrees for fifteen minutes or so, and I boil my lids in a saucepan for about the same time. Because you store this lovely concoction in the fridge, all should be fine. It won’t last long enough to go off, anyway.

    Here’s the lemon butter recipe I use.

    Ingredients

    3 eggs

    1 cup sugar

    1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

    Half a cup lemon juice

    60 g butter, chopped.

    Method

    1. Combine ingredients in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Whisk constantly until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. (It’s obvious when this happens).
    2. Remove from heat and pour into warm, sterilised jars. When cool, label and date. Store in the fridge. Smother on toast, crumpets, scones, whatever takes your fancy.
  • September12th

    For the spooky Halloween season, I’m holding a Ghost Town Ghost Walk, where I’ll take participants to some of the locations featured in Gap Year in Ghost Town and the sequel, Graveyard Shift in Ghost Town. It will be an amiable night time amble over an hour or so and roughly two kilometres in distance. I’ll provide a commentary full of ghostly and historical interest, and quite possibly a few jokes. While ghost sightings aren’t guaranteed, possum sightings are.

    Date and time: Saturday 2nd November, 8 o’clock.

    Depature point: Corner of Treasury Place and Lansdowne Street, Melbourne.

    Bookings here: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/ghost-town-ghost-walk-tickets-72204645037

  • July24th

    Apollo 11 50th got me thinking, so here are Five of my Favourite Science Fiction Moon Novels.
    The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein. The moon is revolting! Or its denizens are, anyway. One of the last good Heinlein novels?
    Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. If the moon explodes in the first line, is it really a moon novel?
    Steel Beach by John Varley. A heavily populated moon, because aliens won’t let us go any further into the universe.
    Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys. An existential moon. Mind bending.
    A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C Clarke. A dusty moon, which is a problem.

  • June30th

    One crafty technique that should be part of every writer’s toolbox is using foibles, quirks and mannerisms in your characterisation. You should do this for two very good reasons:

    1. They individualise your characters. All humans have foibles, quirks and mannerisms. They’re the minor and unconscious ways we do things, from the way we walk to the way we talk to the way we eat our food. Allocate a handful of these to each of your characters in incidental description, and instantly they’re more realistic, more human, more convincing.
    2. They can create a Moment of Recognition™. As a writer, we’re all aiming to engage our readers. One of the most subtle – but most powerful – methods is when a reader recognises something in one of your characters that is like someone they’ve seen, or like someone they know or – best of all – just like themselves. Dropping in well detailed foibles, quirks and mannerisms is a useful way of providing opportunities for those Moments of Recognition™ that help your reader develop a deep and enduring engagement with your story.

    For example, consider someone who cannot finish drinking something without adding a satisfied ‘Ahh!’. We all know, or have seen someone like that. If your character – major or minor – displays this foible/quirk/mannerism, it instantly individualises them (because this character is the only one in your story who displays this FQM) and creates a potential Moment of Recognition™. Achievement unlocked.

    As a writer, you should practise observing people, noticing these tiny aspects of our behaviour, then collect them and roll them out to make your characters more realistic, more individual and, with luck, create that wonderful moment of recognition hook for your readers.

  • June11th

    Graveyard Shift in Ghost Town is due for release on 1st of July. Here’s a book trailer I put together to tempt and tantalise.

  • April16th

    Yes, good stuff gets left out of any final version of a novel – and for many good reasons. Still, that’s no reason they can’t see the light of day, right?

    But do you know how hard it is to ignore ghosts, when you’re supposed to be a dedicated and conscientious ghost hunter? Correct answer is, “very hard” but with the avalanche of ghosts right now, that’s what Rani and I had to do. On our way to jobs, we saw ghosts everywhere. They spilled out of old buildings, blundered around alleys and lanes, wandered across busy streets, and basically made nuisances of themselves. And they weren’t solo manifestations, either. Pairs, trios, bunches of them skulking around together. Mobs and packs of a dozen or more. Crowds, even, drifting around, doing their ghosty thing, enjoying—if that’s the right word—their spooky existence.

    It was as if someone had stuck up a sign saying “Worldwide Ghost Convention Here!” and then forgot to arrange any accommodation. It was really lucky that politicians couldn’t see them otherwise they’d be frothing at the mouth about roaming gangs of ghosts up to no good and using this to justify some sort of law and order crackdown.

    Graveyard Shift in Ghost Town is coming in July, from Allen and Unwin. Pre-order now!

  • April4th

    While revising and editing, some good stuff gets cut and ends up on the cutting room floor. This is another example, where Anton does some musing.

    Because life wasn’t all about hunting ghosts and dealing with murderous cults, I hoped Dad was going to have a bumper bookselling day because, despite grandad’s investments, money was turning out to be an issue. Even in the middle of large scale ghost upsurge, that was a problem. Like, when wasn’t it? Oh, we weren’t going to starve, but a luxury lifestyle? Not really. No solid gold foot warmers for us. And despite our shady family history, we had no ‘there’s money in the banana stand’ fall-backs, worse luck.

    In between working in the shop and dispatching ghosts, I’d kicked around plenty of get rich quick plans, but ghost hunting isn’t actually all that full of possibilities for spinning off a lucrative sideline. I even played around with the idea of franchising, but after thinking it through—something some people like Bec claim I never do with anything—I dumped it for two reasons.

    1. The whole ghost hunting world hates publicity and bajillions of Marin Ghost Hunting franchises popping up all over the place might upset the wrong sort of people.
    2. We’ve already got all these serious ghost hunting leagues, brotherhoods, associations and stuff. We don’t need more getting in the way. Lots of Jim’s Ghost Hunting vans everywhere? No thanks.

    That’s not to say that I’ve got anything against Jim. That bald guy is one impressive hombre. Lawns? Check. TV antennas? Check. Pool cleaning? Check. Home surgery and international peace keeping? Probably coming soon.

    Oh, Anton.

    Graveyard Shift in Ghost Town, coming in July from Allen and Unwin.

     

  • March21st

    Christopher Smart (1722-1771) is most often described as a mystic and a visionary. That’s when it’s not pointed out that he was ‘confined for insanity’ at St Luke’s Hospital in London. While he was there, he produced 1200 lines of verse most often titled Jubilate Agno (‘rejoice in the lamb’). The most famous section is where Smart writes about his cat, thereby anticipating the internet’s obsession by a few hundred years.

    It’s full of remarkable descriptions that any cat owner will recognise, all couched within religious meditations on the divinity of being. Put that aside, though, and it’s such a wondrous evocation of our feline friends that it’s breathtaking. Look at the extended depiction of Jeoffry washing himself. Look at the startling imagery (‘For he is the Tribe of Tiger’). Look at the humour (‘He is a mixture of gravity and waggery’) and the astonishing (‘For by stroking of him I have found out electricity’).

    It’s a wonder and well worth reading. Oh, the pic below is of my cat Winston, not Smart’s cat Jeoffry.

    For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.

    For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.

    For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.

    For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.

    For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.

    For he rolls upon prank to work it in.

    For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.

    For this he performs in ten degrees.

    For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean.

    For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.

    For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.

    For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.

    For fifthly he washes himself.

    For sixthly he rolls upon wash.

    For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.

    For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.

    For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.

    For tenthly he goes in quest of food.

    For having consider’d God and himself he will consider his neighbour.

    For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.

    For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.

    For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.

    For when his day’s work is done his business more properly begins.

    For he keeps the Lord’s watch in the night against the adversary.

    For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.

    For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.

    For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.

    For he is of the tribe of Tiger.

    For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.

    For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.

    For he will not do destruction, if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.

    For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he’s a good Cat.

    For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.

    For every house is incomplete without him and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.

    For the Lord commanded Moses concerning the cats at the departure of the Children of Israel from Egypt.

    For every family had one cat at least in the bag.

    For the English Cats are the best in Europe.

    For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.

    For the dexterity of his defence is an instance of the love of God to him exceedingly.

    For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.

    For he is tenacious of his point.

    For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.

    For he knows that God is his Saviour.

    For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.

    For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.

    For he is of the Lord’s poor and so indeed is he called by benevolence perpetually—Poor Jeoffry! poor Jeoffry! the rat has bit thy throat.

    For I bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Jeoffry is better.

    For the divine spirit comes about his body to sustain it in complete cat.

    For his tongue is exceeding pure so that it has in purity what it wants in music.

    For he is docile and can learn certain things.

    For he can set up with gravity which is patience upon approbation.

    For he can fetch and carry, which is patience in employment.

    For he can jump over a stick which is patience upon proof positive.

    For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.

    For he can jump from an eminence into his master’s bosom.

    For he can catch the cork and toss it again.

    For he is hated by the hypocrite and miser.

    For the former is afraid of detection.

    For the latter refuses the charge.

    For he camels his back to bear the first notion of business.

    For he is good to think on, if a man would express himself neatly.

    For he made a great figure in Egypt for his signal services.

    For he killed the Ichneumon-rat very pernicious by land.

    For his ears are so acute that they sting again.

    For from this proceeds the passing quickness of his attention.

    For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.

    For I perceived God’s light about him both wax and fire.

    For the Electrical fire is the spiritual substance, which God sends from heaven to sustain the bodies both of man and beast.

    For God has blessed him in the variety of his movements.

    For, tho he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.

    For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any other quadruped.

    For he can tread to all the measures upon the music.

    For he can swim for life.

    For he can creep.

  • March12th

    Graveyard Shift in Ghost Town, the eagerly anticipated sequel to Gap Year in Ghost Town, is coming soon. But we have a cover! Many thanks to the phenomenally talented Craig Phillips for his stylish work!

    Look for it in July, from Allen and Unwin!