Saturday, December 31, 2005

Goodbye, 2005

This was the year of Things That Didn't Happen.

I didn't get retrenched. I didn't get published. I didn't move house, finish my PI course, win any competition I entered, finish my novel, learn to drive, buy a car, clear my debts, fix my speakers, pay off my laptop, or throw out my old clothes.

All this is not depressing to me at all, because this has been the year that I worked towards goals. I'm not there yet, but I'm well along the path. So some things did happen.

  • Finished the first draft of my first novel. Sent it off to the Debut Daggers and although it wasn't shortlisted, it made it to the unofficial top 25. That's a vote of confidence in my writing.
  • Wrote a review of a Diamanda Galas concert and she emailed me to ask permission to put it on her website. Another vote for my writing.
  • Finished the first Danny Hawaii short story. We'll see what happens with that.
  • Spent a few months in the course that all PIs in NSW have to complete, and ended up with tons of notes and textbooks that should provide me with plenty of details for writing.
  • Created which of course includes this here blog.
2006 will be the year that Things Happen.
  • It will be the year I get published, one way or another, even if it's a short story in a reputable online zine.
  • I'll get my driver's license and a car too.
  • The laptop will be paid off and I'll make a significant dent in my debts.
  • And of course I'll finish The Damn Novel, as well as keeping on the path of The Five Year Plan.
Most importantly, I'll keep at it. I'll keep writing till my eyes bleed and my fingers excrete a warm, yellow fluid. My back will curve in on itself and I'll become a perpetual digestion machine of hideous design. Might need a plastic keyboard protector for all that.

For the final send off to the year, I'm going to make damn sure I don't do what I did last New Year's Eve. Recovery time will be measured in hours, not days.

*waves drink at 2005*

Friday, December 30, 2005

Book Meme

Every now and then, we must fall prey to these viral internet concoctions.

Stolen from Tribe.

Book Meme: 123.5 is supposed to work as follows:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
5. Don't search around and look for the "coolest" book you can find. Do what's actually next to you.

And my sentence is from THE EMPTY BEACH by Peter Corris.

"I thought very seriously about the packet of cigarettes on the table next to the flagon, but decided on more wine instead."

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Police Photos

Xmas is over and what have I done? Ate and drank, rested, ate and drank and ... shopped.

The eating and drinking involved going over to The Not Wife's parents' turkey farm. No, they don't plant turkey seeds and water them until they turn into turkeys. Instead, like normal turkey farmers, they have three huge sheds with gas heaters and feeding equipment. Can you guess what we ate?


Slices of turkey meat, turkey stew, turkey pie, turkey and potatoes, turkey ice cream, turkey cordial, the list goes on.

After recovering from all that heavy resting, with Xmas cashola in hand, we powered our way into the city. This was extremely masochistic of us, but much like a Wendy's hot dog, we thought it would all turn out fine. Of course, we ended up feeling sick. The city was chockers, which means filled with people, not chocolates. Stocktake sales had begun and the escalators in stores were so full that security guards had become makeshift escalator traffic cops.

One happy outcome from our misadventure was the purchase of books. After looking in every other bookstore in the city, Abbey's came through for me again.

Got hold of Kaminsky & Roberts' Behind The Mystery, an excellent collection of interviews and photos of everyone's favourite mystery writers. The other purchase was a huge book of Sydney police photos from 1912-1948.

The photos have an other-worldy quality that crawls over your skin, creating a feeling of dread which only increases as you turn the pages. I'm planning on checking out the related exhibition at the Justice & Police Museum in Circular Quay.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Xmas Spirit, New York Style

I don't usually do this, but I have an intense need to share a short video with everyone. It's a 2Mb WMV, which should play fine on most computers.

Of course, I can't take credit for making it, and even though Alfred E. Langley is in the credits, I don't know where it's from. Could be a MAD Magazine reference ...

But hey, it's all in the spirit of Xmas.

Santa & The Cops
Santa & The Cops

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What Happened to Kerouac?

If you've ever read Jack Kerouac's On The Road, then you should already have a burning desire to see the DVD I bought on the weekend, What Happened to Kerouac?

Keroauc was, along with Allan Ginsberg and William Burroughs, the creator of the Beats. Not because of a conscious desire to do so, they were just interested in writing and experimentation. With drugs, with sex, with life.

With his writing, Keroauc espoused a new form of spontaneity, where the first draft is the final draft. In reality, there was editing involved with his work, but because he wrote for long stretches at a time, his work has a flowing rhythm to it that I think is more like music than poetry.

In his own time, Keroauc was equally adored and abhored, popular for reasons that he did not agree with. People wanted a piece of him all to themselves: more for the wild-man image that was created by the media, rather than the obvious love he had for everyone, a love that came through like crystal in his writing.

If you're a fan, watching the video is a sit-in-your-chair-bolt-upright experience. The man himself recites some of his prose and poetry, sometimes to live musical accompaniment. I think his writing worked best this way, because that was how it was conceived to begin with.

Don't know anything about Keroauc? Rush off and borrow, buy or five-finger-discount anything and everything by the great man.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Drunk and Feeling Like Kicking Out The Jams

Just the jams?

Not sure about that: I'm thinking more about wielding the hammer of the gods right about now.

Yes, I'm drunk.

To set the mood before I go on, have a read of the lyrics from the song I'm listening to, another Tom Waits toon called 'Shore Leave'. If you can listen to the song, even better. If not, imagine a man who's been drinking shoe polish strained through bread for most of his adult life, howling out an ode to his wife, a woman at home while he's at war.

Mood set? Good.

I've just been to an end-of-year work function, although 'function' is probably the wrong word to use, as it was never an official event. Just the boys getting together with the aim of eating our entire body weight in curry.

And I think I did.

We went to a not plush, but excellent little Indian restaurant in Annandale called 'Surjits', right on Parramatta Road. The place was cramped, and the decor was only impressive in that there was a Shrine To The Gods Of Cricket in the corner; the centrepiece of which was a sculpture of a cricket bat combined with someone like Imran Khan. But I don't really know cricket, so don't count on that being right.

The chairs with small and dull brass bells hanging from the back, decked out to look like the Taj Mahal, those chairs were tight. Tight so you couldn't spread your arms to get the curry or rice into your bowl, tight so you couldn't gesticulate about the topic of choice when you'd had too much Indian beer and Black Label Johnnie Walker.

But that didn't stop us yelling and screaming our way through the meal, also known as the Maharaja's Banquet. All you can eat, and I mean it.

After this barbaric feast, a few pitiful stragglers--including yours truly--wandered down to the only place I knew nearby, The Empire. Usually it's a blues joint, but tonight it was host to 'The Dolly Rockers'.

We didn't end up staying for the headline act, but the support was plunking out suitably cheesy Ramones-style riffs on their passably distorted guitars. We drank Heinekens from tap, which tasted more like Toohey's New. The clientele was mostly of the biker variety with the odd university feral thrown in.

I bummed a lift off one of the guys whose pregnant wife with a new license came by to pick us up. We didn't finish the beer. It just plain couldn't fit.

Damn finite stomachs.

Now I'm home, listening to the same song on repeat because it's setting a drunken and pitiful and glorious mood that I want to hang on to, but can't. I'm getting sober as I type, and as I edit, and as I drink this damn green cordial.

I think it's time I row down on Cuban heels to the blood bank and shoot billiards with a midget until the rain stops.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Peter Temple: Bad Debts

I talked about reading Peter Temple's 'Bad Debts' the other day and I wasn't exactly sure if I liked it. I've changed my mind. The book is bloody good. I say 'bloody' because I'm not sure if I should say 'fucking'.

Not being a fan of horse racing, woodwork, or footy held me back from enjoying it because these are the interests of the main character, Jack Irish. But now that I've finished the whole book--which included not being able to tear my eyes away from the last fifty pages--I can say that even those parts of it held my interest. After I acclimatised to Jack Irish's world I found myself caring about everything that happened to him.

The Australian flavour of the book, in this case Melbournian, was completely convincing. No, it was real. The feeling of each street, suburb, and location was perfectly rendered by a few choice descriptions at each point. I never felt like I didn't know where I was in Irish's world. And none of the Australianisms made me cringe. They were all spot-on. Even the romance in the book worked for me, and it often doesn't in crime novels. I found myself rooting for Jack and his female interest.

Rooting. That's funny.

I'm looking forward to reading more of Temple's work. His writing is something that is worth aspiring to.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Down In The Hole

You may be wondering about the recent title changes to this blog.

I decided that Daniel Hatadi - Crime Writer was just plain boring, and Crime Writer Down Under was too self-consciously Australian and generic.

So I thought about picking a song title from my favourite artist of all time, Tom Waits.

I remember turning the telly to SBS one lonely Saturday night, only to be confronted by a madman preacher, shouting what could have been obscenities into a megaphone. The song, I found out weeks later, was called Way Down In The Hole. From that moment on, I was hooked.

Removing 'Way' makes the title catchier, and saves me from legal issues. Down In The Hole also has the added benefit of a subliminal link to Australia, the Land Down Under.

To mark the naming of the blog, I wrote a short ode to Tom Waits, called (you guessed it), Down In The Hole. It's over in the fiction section.

Give it a read and tell me what you think.

EDIT: I've changed the names and some of the lines in the story to make it my own. I seriously respect copyright, and I realised I was basically stealing someone else's characters. Not good. So, it's fixed.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Computer Game Heaven: Darwinia

When I was a wee-wee laddie, I was even younger than when I wanted to be a musician. My plan at that stage of my life was to be a computer games programmer. I even had some limited success with a near-finished puzzle game. Limited in that it never got published, but I did get interest from a major company at the time.

That was about ten years ago.

Fast forward to ten hours ago when I just finished playing one of the most amazing computer games I've had the chance to hurl my mouse at. It's called Darwinia.

It's a strange combination of strategy, action, and psychedelia. The story that drives it works in tandem with the musical soundtrack to create an experience that is unlike any other game I've come across before. The sounds are also excellent, and in the credits it says that the voices of the Darwinians (the little green men) are done by Maddie The Cat.

I won't even try to describe it in any more detail. If you're into this kind of thing, you'll check out the site and probably buy it. The game is that good.

See ... sniff ... I'm gettin all emotional now, rememberin the times when I was a lad. Scuse me, I have to go find some tissues.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The True Nature Of Love

I go downstairs for a drink and see that The Not-Wife is about to watch a romantic comedy with J-Lo in it. Not her usual taste in movies by a long shot. But it's Sunday, and with a week of work ahead of both of us, I consider watching the movie with her.

Sitting on the couch next to her, I notice a new candle of her's burning away with a decent sized flame. The candle is big and green and on a tasteful wooden stand. What's out of place is that it's early in the afternoon and there is plenty of sun streaming into the lounge room.

I decide against watching the movie--even though Jane Fonda is in it--and I tell The Not-Wife I'm going upstairs to write. Before I go, I ask her why she lit the candle.

She says: "To symbolise your death."

And that is the true nature of love.

Friday, December 09, 2005


I'm reading Peter Temple's 'Bad Debts' and mostly enjoying it. Mostly. The characters sing, the prose is clipped tight, and I like the way there are no chapters: just scene breaks or page breaks. It feels very real.

The problem is that I'm not sure I like it.

It's set in Australia, Melbourne to be exact; in racetracks, pubs, and poor housing areas. These are all places I don't really want to be spending time in. They are the parts of Australia that I don't like.

If it was set in America or England I would probably find it more interesting. I could get caught up in the local flavour of grime without getting too close to reality. Which is the main problem, really. I read to escape. I don't want reality, I already have that. I want some element of fantasy, whether that is through location, style, or just plain imagination.

Still, it is a ripping yarn, and I'm powering through it. At the very least, I can learn about the writing, if not the locale.


I think the last few posts have been too long. This one's shorter.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Bone Up On History

There are two opposing schools of thought in art that I've always struggled with. I'll call them Isolation and Immersion. And I'll put capitals in front of them to make them Sound Really Important.

Being an artist in Isolation is just that. You avoid exposure to any art that could taint your work. The idea is that to be truly original you have to remain untouched, virginal. Immersion is just as obvious. Expose yourself to everything you can get your grubby hands on. Lose your virginity. Bone up on history. Absorb as much new work as you do old.

I used to be a firm believer in the School Of Isolation, but it was Kurt Vonnegut that changed my mind. His first book, Player Piano, was a straightforward sci-fi with hints of satire. It wasn't until Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five that Vonnegut started messing around with form and structure, finding his unique voice.

When I started my first novel I thought about trying to revolutionise writing as we know it, but it was Vonnegut's career that inspired me to be less ambitious the first time out. When I'm good enough, I can try my hand at playing with the form.

But I don't think that's possible without knowing what came before. So I decided to immerse myself in my chosen genre.

Authors I've read over the last year include Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Janet Evanovich, Peter Corris, Michael Connelly, Barry Eisler, Eric Garcia, Ken Bruen, Jonathan Lethem, Dennis Lehane, Robert Crais, and James Ellroy. Mostly one from each and a few from some.

It's not just novels that influence crime writing. Film and comics, or graphic novels, are all intersecting like different cultures trading goods. Artists in all of these formats are borrowing techniques from each other and it's pretty exciting. It's been a long time since comics have made me feel this way, but I'm a babe in these new dark woods. I'm doing my best to catch up on the classics before I delve in further. I'll yap some more on my graphic adventures later.

I really want to end this post with another reference to bones and virgins, but I'll leave that to my readers.

Because they really know what they're talking about.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Compression In Writing

Being a programmer, I have a fair understanding of what compression is when it comes to computers. I'm only going to bore you with a few techy-type paragraphs before I get onto how this relates to writing.

A computer image is a grid of coloured dots. The dots are so small you don't see them, you just see the picture. All these dots have to be stored in the computer and that takes space.

Now, if this image has a large area that's a single colour--let's say black--that area takes up a lot of space for no good reason.

Compression is a way of making information take up less space.

A simple way of doing this is to use an instruction. Instead of storing all those black dots separately, we have an instruction that says something like 'this many black dots'. The instruction is small, taking up much less space than thousands of black dots would.

Back to writing.

A sentence or a paragraph can take up more space than it needs to. Here's an example:

Winifred raised her eyebrows, looking perplexed. "This is most perplexing!" she exclaimed as she walked across the black and white spotted rug that was covered in light grey cat hair. She bent down slowly with her knees and reached her hand up to pat the one year old Blue Russian cat on its head, and as she did so, she thought about the problem on the rug. Below, next to her left foot, a red pool of blood was slowly spreading out into a circle around her brown leather shoes. Looking down at the blood, shaking her head, then raising it again to look at her cat, she also raised her voice, and exclaimed, "I will not have a dead body on my favourite rug, which was given to me by my long dead grandmother when I was too young to remember, only to be told this years later by the very same man who is lying here on the rug, dead, and in a pool of his own blood, my father!" she complained, exasperated.

This is an extreme example of overwriting. Notice how a lot of information is repeated. Winifred raises her eyebrows, looks perplexed, then tells us she is perplexed by exclaiming it. There is also a lot of unnecessary detail about the scene in front of her. Do we need to know so much about the rug or the cat? No. What is important is that her father is dead.

Winifred walked across the room and stepped over the body. Her shoe splashed into a pool of blood, which her cat was lapping up. She backhanded the cat across the room and said, "Who the fuck killed my dad?"

It amounts to the same information. There's a dead body on the rug and a pool of blood. Winifred walks across the room and is obviously distressed about the situation. But here she says one line which tells us she is feeling both upset and confused. I took some character liberties with the revised version and even included some action on the part of the cat, allowing Winifred to vent her frustration. I'm also not repeating information by telling you how Winifred feels, then letting her tell you, then showing you.

It's all compressed into a few actions and a line of dialogue.

Compression. Fascinating stuff.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Details

The Lord of The Rings occupied an entire school holiday when I was but a wee lad. Friends would visit and want to go to the beach, but I turned them down because I wanted to finish those bloody books.

I'm pretty fast, but I'm not a speed reader. I like to hear the sound of the words and sentences unfold, and that's probably because I've played guitar for half my life.

Tolkien uses so much detail that you know the colour of the shadow that falls on that particular worn part of the leaf in question, where a tiny insect flutters its even tinier wings. You then learn the shape of the patterns on those wings, and that goes on for almost another whole volume.

During that fateful school holiday, I devised a tactic for getting through.

Skip the boring bits.

Just like at a party when someone switches into a tone of voice that makes you feel trapped, it's easy to sense when Tolkien switches into his descriptive voice. Unlike being at a party, escape is easy. Just turn the page.

That's what I did. And I don't think I missed the essence of the story at all. I loved those books to death. Years later I read them again and had the same level of enjoyment.

If you haven't already skipped this post, if you've made the journey all the way to the end, like Frodo did, I will now reward you with the point.

I like those boring bits.

Even if I don't read them, I get a feeling that what is happening is real, that the author knows what they're talking about, and it helps me get caught up in the rest of the story.

Now will you just throw that bloody ring in the mountain and go home, Frodo?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


I'm bored, so here's a couple of paragraphs from a random page of my novel:

"My brain was knocking on the side of my skull and whatever was in my stomach was trying to do the same. I'd woken up with a hangover that stopped just short of having to pray at the great white altar. My tolerance for booze was at an all time low.

It was only an interview for a fake job, but I was already thinking about taking time off. A quick shower, shave, a strong coffee, some pills, and the mirror told me lies about how I felt."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To ...

"... a waitress slapped the back of my hand."

I'm rewriting a very early scene in the novel. The characters are clearer to me now that I've spent so much time with them, so I need to make sure the first half of the novel rings true for each of them.

The words above are the ones I meant to type, but after re-reading the last page or two, they came out a bit different in the word processor:

"... a waitress slapped the back of my mind."

I would love to see that happen, out in the real world, or better still, I'd like to feel it myself.

Would it hurt? Would my thoughts become all messed up? Would I forget my PIN number? Or worse, would I accidentally transfer all of my money to someone else?


Crime And Comedy

I've been thinking about this for a couple of weeks now. Ever since I got an email from a lady that takes her art seriously.

Can I really joke about crime?

I wonder if I'm being true to my characters if I do. They've taken on a shape of their own, a life beyond the page and the words I have laid before them. They have feelings, desires, and reasons for both. When they commit a crime, there is a dark force inside them, driving them to an extreme version of themselves, a version capable of murder.

How did they end up there? Did they think about who they were becoming along the way, did they question themselves as they walked along the road to damnation?

Would they be pissed off if I made a joke at their expense, just to get a laugh out of my readers?

My life has been unblemished by such dire circumstances. I've been in a protective bubble for most of my upbringing. It wasn't until I moved out on my own that I went out to see what those mean streets are for myself. And I certainly didn't get involved in anything approaching violent crime. But the more research I do, the worse I feel about writing crime comedy. I feel like I'm taking advantage of a situation for my own personal gain.

There is another side to all of this. There's the Mel Brooks version of comedy.

If I cut my finger, that's a tragedy, but if someone else falls into an open manhole and dies, that's comedy.

Comedy brings happiness to people's lives and laughter is scientifically proven to be good for your health. If I meditate on that, I can do something good for other people. Maybe make them feel a bit better about themselves and their life. Maybe even stop them from committing a crime.

So I'm back at the start now. Didn't take long. I don't think I've been particularly rigorous about my exploration of the question, but I do have an answer.

Yes. I can do whatever the hell I please. Hopefully no one will beat me up for it.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

How Do I Do It? How Do I Keep Writing?

Someone recently asked me these questions and I thought it was worth putting my answer here.

How do I do it?

I just do it. I make sure I write something every day, and an hour a day is far better than cramming in a weekend of writing once a month.

Do what you can to minimise distractions: attach the keys permanently to your husband (you can choose where), tell the kids to leave you alone during your special 'writing time', set up a desk in a room where you won't be disturbed, or maybe even get hold of a laptop and sit out in the backyard. Get the rest of your family to walk the dog every night for an hour.

That's the practical side. I'd say the other side was emotional.

What is stopping you from getting past chapter 2?

It's not time, because you can make time if you truly want to. So I'd say it's something like your 'inner critic'. Tell that voice that keeps telling you the writing isn't good enough to shut up. Ignore it. Write silly, stupid things just for the fun of it. As Hemingway said, the first draft of anything is shit. The real sweat is the revision process. But before you can get to that you need to let your inspiration flow uninhibited. Have a glass of wine if it helps. Even if all you do is write a sentence every day, you'll find that your writing muscles start getting stronger. Keep at it.

When you're not writing, think about writing. Watch people and look for the little details that make them who they are. Notice everything around you and start thinking how you could turn everything into a story. Do that for a couple of weeks and your brain will be overflowing with ideas. Write them down in a special notebook.

I can also recommend to you all the books I have on my website. I've read them all and they've all helped. I'm almost addicted to reading books on writing.

What else can I say? I love bookshops, but you don't have to. Just love books. Read them and try to figure out why they made you stay up all night even though you have to get up early in the morning so you can get the kids ready for school.

Writing groups? I'm too chicken to go myself. I've been meaning to join a Thursday night group but haven't. All I've done is paid for a year's membership with the NSW Writer's Centre. That way I can say I'm a member. And I get a newsletter, and 10% off books at various stores.

I may not be a member of a writing group, but I have found something that's just as good. The Mystery Writer's Forum. It's specialised of course, but the feedback I've had from other writers has been invaluable. Maybe you can find something on the net that suits whatever writing you find the most interesting. There's lots out there.

Now, start writing. And keep writing!

Me, I'm going back to bed. I'm sick. Sniffle.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Not Just A Fiction Writer

Writing is not so much something you do as something you are.

When I came home from a Diamanda Galas concert recently, I absolutely had to write about my experience. I sweated in front of my laptop until I had written what turned out to be a review of the concert. I put it up on this site and left it at that. It was just something I had to do.

A month later, I received an email from the woman herself, asking for permission to use my review on her site. I paced around the room, leaving trails in the carpet, wondering whether I should let her. I had to weigh up the pros and cons of the situation before I went ahead with it.

Can you tell I'm lying?

You can read all about it in the recent press section of the Diamanda Galas website, and here's the direct link.

It's a very satisfying feeling to find out that a piece of writing you had to do also had the ability to touch someone else.

Especially when that person is the one you wrote about.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Debut Dagger Delights

Can't hold out. Any. Longer. Must. Blog about. Unofficial encouragement.

I entered the Debut Dagger awards a number of months ago, didn't make the short list, and stopped thinking about it. Last week, I received this email:

Dear Daniel,

First of all, thank-you for entering this year's Debut Dagger. As you've probably seen from the mailing list or the website by now, I'm afraid you didn't make the shortlist. One of the difficulties of entering a competion like this is that if you don't reach the shortlist, it's hard to get a sense of where you stand, so I wanted to write and let you know that you were a whole lot closer to the top than to the bottom. In the process of compiling the shortlist, we ended up with an informal longlist of about 25 entries from which the final 13 were chosen: Loving the Law was one of the 25.

I appreciate that it's a mixed blessing to know you came so close, but I hope the positives outweigh the negatives and you take this as a big vote of confidence in your writing. Just reaching the final 25 is no small accomplishment. At that stage, the differences between entries can be wafer thin, and the judgements we have to make are very finely balanced. I hope you take encouragement from the achievement, and wish you the very best of luck with your future writing. If you're still eligible for next year's competition and have some new or improved material, I for one would be very keen to read it.

It's not official, but it is the first feedback I've had from the world of writing. Printed out on extra bright white paper, this is now stuck on the wall behind my writing desk. It's there for whenever I start losing hope.

But I'm stupid, so that hasn't happened yet.

Friday, November 18, 2005

New Danny Hawaii Website

Just to tease the hell out of all of you (and myself), I've cobbled together a new Danny Hawaii website.

Danny Hawaii

Don't get your knickers in a knot about it though. It's pretty bare. I just want it to be a placeholder for when the novel does come out. The previous version of the Danny Hawaii website was a mixed up, confused mess of all my creative interests. Now I'm focussing in on the writing.

There's an email list, which happens to be the same as the one I've put in the contacts section. The idea is that if you don't want to be a regular visitor to my blog, but you do want to read the novel, sign up to the email list and I'll keep you informed.

Daniel Hatadi OUT

Windup Laptop

"Free wind-up laptops for world's poor" from


Let's save those poor heathens from their technology-free Hell. They must be so depressed, not being able to afford a laptop of their own. Soon their lives will be free of disease and health problems. Is there anything a windup laptop can't do?

I dunno. How about windup FOOD?

The Stars Tell All

Stolen from The Onion:

Taurus April 20 - May 20

Your long-held belief that the pen is mightier than the sword will be put to the test this week when you sign up for a combination fencing/calligraphy class co-taught by an angry Spaniard and a weary sensei.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Danny Hawaii Toons

Music has been on my mind lately.

I've had my first brush with fame with an artist I truly respect. And it got me thinking about my own music career. The one I decided to leave behind.

If you've read my previous blog, you may know that before I used Danny Hawaii as a character in my novel, I was doing music under the name. My idea was to combine blues and beats, in a future retro style.

I was getting somewhere, but I came to the realisation that I didn't think I was a good enough singer. And I wanted to be, because damn it if I was going to write music for someone else again.

So I left it all behind, replacing my music with writing. And the writing bug has hit me hard. I seem to get the same satisfaction out of it, without the downside. With writing, I don't have to carry around heavy amps and guitars, or worry about endless metres of cabling, sound levels, tuning, or the lack of dedication and ability of the other members in the band.

Because there is no band. It's just me.

In a fit of nostalgic goodness, I now present to you a link to four of the better tracks I did under the Danny Hawaii name.

Danny Hawaii Toons

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Care For Your Characters

I've put this here because I think it may be one of the most important issues in a crime novel. And I don't want to forget it.


From Ms Snark, literary agent:

I think the thing that's missing in most of the novels I reject is that the characters don't seem to grow or change enough. I read a lot of mystery and thriller submissions and it's like dead bodies are leaves on the ground: no impact. Even in cozies, there has to be some sense that this isn't quite normal and will mean something to the characters.


I know I'm already guilty of this mistake with some of my flatter characters. So this one goes (puts on harsh Aussie accent) ... straight to the trophy room.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

What Kind Of Writer Are You?

You're a Dialogue/Character Writer!

What kind of writer are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

This is probably the only online quiz I've ever taken that revealed something about me that I didn't already know.

Now, back to the plotting ...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Little Words

My brain hurts.

My eyes have assaulted it with a pair of garden shears, and on top of that, they inserted a lobster directly into my cerebral cortex.

Translation: I spent a good few hours rushing through my ms to get together an overview. The point of this exercise, aside from turning my brains into soft noodles, was to give me the chance to step back and think about the purpose of each scene in terms of the whole story.

I didn't mean for the writing to look so small, or to have the word 'Danny' appear so often, but here it is in techicolour glory:

In other news: while writing the novel, whenever I thought of a catchphrase I snuck it away into a secret file, with the hope of using it ... someday.

* Peter Corris goes clubbing with Janet Evanovich.

* Danny Hawaii wants to be a PI. Only his lack of ability is stopping him.

* Toilet training can be fun. So can training to become a PI.

Try making up your own and send them to me. If I like them, I'll remember you, and I'll send you a copy of the novel when it comes out. I promise.

Danny Hawaii. Loving The Law. Read it. When it's finished.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Manuscript Megalomania

It's all about me. The me, me, me talk just dang well never stops around these here parts.

Today's talk on Me is all about errors. Errors that creep into writing, so's you don't even notice them. Little errors, like 'them' instead of 'the', or 'bard' instead of 'bad'.

Then bigger errors like, 'pacing too fast' or 'this part sucks dead dog's b***z'.

Four days of intense shoulder hunching and red pen wielding have given me this masterpiece of errors, shown below for your viewing pleasure.

Note to self: Read it and weep.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Things Mean Things To Me

Years ago, I said this to someone and it sounded so silly it stuck. It's been trapped in my skull ever since, and whenever I find myself getting too Deep & Meaningful, I use this sentence to take a step back.

Things mean things to me.

Which leads me right into yapping about these pictures. I took advantage of my day job to print out the whole damn novel, and then I got all emotional and took some snaps of it.

Of the manuscript, the MS.

As a computer professional, I'm used to dealing with words on the screen. I wrote the whole novel on computers. The images don't convey how weighty the thing feels when my hands are wrapped around it, but there's something very tangible and awe inspiring about a printed tome. At 283 pages, tome isn't the right word, but being my first novel, it feels that way to me.

I'm going to buy a special red marker, one that sings in my hand like a magical weapon, and then I'm going to take a couple of days to attack my manuscript.

That's when the work truly begins.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Study Time

I took a break from working on the novel to get some perspective, so that my head is clear for the second draft. For the last six weeks, I've been working up to printing that thick wad of manuscript and going at it with a red marker. Now I'm raring to go.

So what do I do instead? I procrastinate. Just like any good writer should(n't). Just like I knew I would.

(cue James Brown dance moves)

Two books on writing are winging their way across the globe, courtesy of Amazon. I've ploughed through two other books already. On top of that, I'm reading Neil Gaiman's latest and I've enrolled in a one day course on publishing.

It's a full day on Saturday and I'm pretty sure my mind will be successfully blown away. Eight hours of intensive study in anything is a great way to burn brain calories.

Here's a link to the course: Demystifying Book Publishing

And now back to work (yeah, sure, Dan).

Friday, October 28, 2005

Eat My Shorts

My last month was spent in a frantic and ill-advised attempt at spitting out two short stories. One was to be 3000 words for a local competition called the 'Queen Of Crime', the other would have been 4000 words for a Writer's Digest short story comp.

One is a Danny Hawaii story, set a couple of months before the novel. He's still finding his feet, but he does his best to help a shop owner track down a vandal--by making the vandal come to her.

The other story is a more ambitious piece. I've been reading a book called Destructive Emotions. It's an account of a series of talks held in the year 2000 involving the Dalai Lama, neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers. One of the speakers mentions how prisons have been experimenting with Buddhist meditation classes for the inmates. He talks a bit about the successes ... and the failures.

Obviously the story I was trying to write is about one of the failures. How else could I call it a crime story?

I had two deadlines to work to, both days apart, both at the end of the month. 7000 quality words encompassing two stories in that short a time was something I found impossible.

So I gave up.

What I did do was concentrate on the story that was more important to me. The Danny Hawaii one. To get it up to speed, I did a lot of back and forth with various 'critters', one who I'm sure will comment here.

Hi, M!

I'm pretty happy with the story I sent. It's the first decent sized short story I've written and it's been a hell of an education. I've heard short stories compared to small sports cars, whereas novels are more like trucks.

Fingers crossed, I hope to become the Queen of Crime for 2005.

I'm sure I'll never live it down.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Viral Tagging

Mary tagged me.


1. Go into your archives
2. Find your 23rd post
3. Find the fifth sentence (or the closest one to it)
4. Post the text of your sentence in your blog along with these rules
5. Tag five other people

Because my blogging is becoming more convoluted than fettucini mixed with spaghetti, I chose to use my old Danny Hawaii blog as the source, and this blog as the destination.

Here's my sentence:

"Eat food."

Which of course is a reference to my other blog: Food What I Ate.

And because I'm a rebel, I refuse to tag anyone else.

The virus stops here.

If you're a rebel too, that means you can go against my word and pretend that I've tagged you. If you do, and I strongly suggest you don't, tell me about it.

But if you do, think on this: who are you rebelling against?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Guilty, Guilty, Guilty

Diamanda Galas at the Sydney State Theatre, October 21st, 2005


The lights went down and Diamanda walked out, taking her seat in front of the piano under cover of darkness. I could see this because I was in the second row, almost dead centre.

Small sounds of her adjusting the seat and microphone, then the first low notes from the piano. Powerful and percussive, hidden somewhere inside them were the blues.

Then came the voice.

From the pits of her soul, she started as low as a woman can go. A single light faded in. She moved, she writhed, her feet worked at the pedals, her face was part of the song. Anger, sadness, frustration, pain. It all showed, and it all could be heard--in her voice, in her playing, in the stamping of her foot.

No banter, no patter, nothing to appease the audience or give us a reprieve from the intensity of her art. After every song, the light would fade and she would turn away to drink water. And Diamanda needed to. Her four octave vocal range was used to full effect, tearing from the furnace of her lungs, shifting to sweet, angelic tones, then back to a chattering, scratched soundscape.

Her voice startled me at times. She would lull us into security, then rip into a screeching, banshee wail. A strobe light came on to pierce the eyes as well as the ears. Just as quickly, back to a soft touch on the keys. Back to a single red light.

There was humour among the darkness. A song she wrote with John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, entitled 'Baby's Insane', started off as a ragtime tune. With choruses of 'hide all the knives, cause baby's insane', there were a few chuckles from the audience, who otherwise were simply too scared to utter a word.

Themes of guilt, death, and isolation were constant. The old bluesman, Skip James, played piano in a similarly disjointed fashion. He would tell the audience that his music existed solely to inspire dread. It was not for dancing.

After her hour long set, there was begging, chanting, and whistling for two encores. I couldn't decide whether the audience's stamping of feet on the floor was something to be pleased or embarrassed about.

Encores over, Diamanda walked to the front of the stage and bowed slightly three times, centre, left, and right. We cheered and clapped, and then she smiled and walked off stage with music in her moves, waving good-bye.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Not So Mean Streets Of Sydney

For those of you that read this blog and don't know Sydney too well, or even for those that never venture far outside their suburb, here's a website for you.

Take a bite out of the apple (secret code for 'click on the picture').

Walk Sydney Streets
Alan, 91, walks every street in 182 suburbs of Sydney Australia - 401 photos
"Streets ahead of us, and he's 90" - The Sydney Morning Herald
"Australia's Forrest Gump" - 7 TV network's Today Tonight

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Go Aussie Go!


It may be too early to call this a bona fide trend, but then again, so often we get a trend of one these days. But considering Kathryn Fox's debut MALICIOUS INTENT will be out next month in the UK (from Hodder Headline) with US publication to follow soon, and now this new deal just announced, it may be safe to say that the next group of rising stars is female, and from Australia ...

Read more: Crime Writers Down Under

Now, if only I can figure out a cheap and easy way to become female.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Abbeys: Crime Fiction Capital of Sydney

I simply cannot believe that I haven't checked this bookstore out before. Living in Sydney for most of my life made me aware of it, but I only went in once to get a language book, many moons ago.

Saturday changed everything. I now have a new favourite haunt.

Abbeys Bookshop.

It has the best collection of crime and true crime novels in Sydney I've found so far. Authors that I previously would have had to order through Amazon are right there on the shelves in front of me. They even put out a monthly 'Crime Chronicle', a newsletter with blurbs on the latest and greatest.

I stumbled around, eyes glazed over, on a bookish high. When I saw the NEW CRIME section, I felt like I'd come home.

While systematically checking each section nearby, I got a big old smile on my face at this:

Then, my fantasies started playing out. Where would my book be on the shelf? Between which two authors does my name reside?

So if you're ever in the City Of Sydney, pop on over to York Street, just behind the Queen Victoria Building, and look out for the guy with the beanie.

Just don't punch me, okay? Just because I write crime doesn't mean I'm tough.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Guitar Shred Show

In my spare time, and before the days of The Novel, I've always played guitar. So you can imagine my joy, my wonder, my ecstasy, when I stumbled across this site.

It's a strange combination of flash animation, interactive music and Zen guitar method, all passed on to you by a Zen Guitar Monk Guru, hidden in an exotic location.

And you definitely have to explore the whole site. Do the Lesson & Jam and enter into a diabolical competition with a Demon Accordian Player.

Click on him, YOU MUST.

I think it's one of the funniest things I've seen this year.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Stolen from Inkslinger:

Decide exactly where you want to go professionally, then act as if you're already there.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Five Year Plan

I've always heard of people having five year plans. It's a question that gets asked in most job interviews and it's one that I don't usually have an answer for. It's the nature of us creative types, always looking for the next Big Idea.

Rather than flounder around for the next few years, I thought I'd try coming up with a Five Year Plan myself. I'm pretty sure that if I use lots of Capital Letters, I should be able to make all of this A Reality.

The plan took about five seconds to come up with. It's pretty straightforward. Every year, write a novel, submit the previous year's novel, and make sure the novel before that gets published. I can't predict sales figures, but three novels out in the bookstores should allow me turn a living.

I hope.

And that is my goal. The goal of my Five Year Plan.

Earn a living as a writer.


Year 1 (2005):
Finish first novel.

Year 2 (2006):
Finish second novel.
Get first novel on the way to publishing.

Year 3 (2007):
Finish third novel.
Publish first novel.
Get second novel on the way to publishing.

Year 4 (2008):
Finish fourth novel.
Publish second novel.
Get third novel on the way to publishing.

Year 5 (2009):
Finish fifth novel.
Publish third novel.
Get fourth novel on the way to publishing.
Become a full time writer.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Books On Writing What I Read In The Last Year

The last of my series on shameless Amazon links to books I've read and didn't buy on Amazon.

I'll plug a local bookstore instead, because this is where I bought this book: Better Read Than Dead.

Just one little book here. Look at it, isn't it cute?

* pats book on head *

The Writer's Mentor - Ian Jackman
I like this book. Good to keep nearby for those times when you need motivation to keep going. It's a great list of quotes from writers of all walks of life. Makes you feel like you're not the only one going through the torture that is writing.

Monday, October 10, 2005


I finished my first draft a few weeks ago, and since then I've spent every lunch hour, evening, and weekend on doing a first pass revision of the whole damn thing.

A few minutes ago, I finished.

It's a temporary satisfaction at best, but I still feel somewhat sad. I've lived with my characters and the story for just over the last year, and now I'm telling them I'm going to leave them alone for a month. They're sad too. I will be back though, soon, and there will be lots more work to do.

It would be much easier to take a memory forgetfulness pill and get right back into it, but hey, those things aren't without side effects, so I'll do it the natural way.

By just waiting.



Books On Writing What I Read In The Last Year

I honestly read each and every one of the books I link to. Which is a shame, because I could have spent time reading better books than these:

Private Eyes: a writer's guide to private investigators - Hal Blythe, Charlie Sweet & John Landreth
I should have listened to the reviews on Amazon. The book tries to make the PI life seem more glamorous than it is, and doesn't offer much in the way of hard facts or details. How do I know this? I'm in the middle of a PI course myself, and the two textbooks I have for it are excellent (and not available to anyone but the students).

Christopher Vogler - The Writer's Journey
Joseph Campbell did a legendary amount of research into mythology in all cultures, finding striking similarities. At one point in the history of Disney, this author wrote a one page summary of mythological structure in film. Since then, it has become the boilerplate for most Hollywood films. Worth staying away from for that reason alone.

Robert McKee - Story
Robert McKee is passionate, opinionated, and some would say visionary. I would agree with the first two, and I would also like to add that his verbosity is out of control.

William Noble - Conflict, Action & Suspense
This book was a chore to get through, but I forced myself to do it. Why? The subject is an important one for mystery and crime novels. Some day I'd like to rewrite William Noble's book from scratch myself.

And look out for the next entry: PART III - THE FRIENDLY

Friday, October 07, 2005

Books On Writing What I Read In The Last Year

I've read quite a few books on writing over the last year, while working on the novel. So I thought I'd share, starting off with the books that were good.

If you're not an aspiring writer, you may want to skip to the Steven King book--it's probably the only one you'll read.

Patricia T. O'Conner - Woe Is I
I searched for this book for months in physical bookstores, finally giving up and ordering it from Amazon. After a month had passed and the other items in my order had all been shipped, I still hadn't received this book. I contacted Amazon and they sent me a new copy, free of charge, with faster air freight. It came to me within a week. A great refresher course in grammar.

Orson Scott Card - Characters & Viewpoint
Even though I'm writing crime, Orson Scott Card is my favourite author. I've been reading and re-reading his books since early high school. His writing is the definition of clarity. Which means that he has a pretty good idea on characters, viewpoint, and every other ingredient of a good story.

Orson Scott Card - How To Write Science Fiction & Fantasy
Has a great section on what Orson calls the MICE quotient. Milieu, Idea, Character, Events. The idea is that every story can only contain so much of each of these, and you have to decided which ones are the most important to your story.

Monica Wood - Description
I like to refresh myself on this every now and then. This book taught me to search for the telling detail - it can describe much more than what is told.

Nancy Kress - Beginnings, Middles & Ends
So far the best book I've read on structure and plot.

Steven King - On Writing
An interesting insight into one of the most successful authors' writing process, this one is more of a memoir, and that is where it is at its most compelling.

Gillian Roberts - You Can Write A Mystery
An amazingly concise and clear handbook for writing a mystery, this book gave me direction where I only had some idea of where to go.

Deadly Doses: a writer's guide to poisons - Serita Deborah Stevens with Anne Klarner
A good reference for deciding what poison a villain will use, it can be skimpy on the details. Worth it for the cross reference section, where poisons are listed by toxicity, duration, and symptoms.

Look out for the next post on THE BAD.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Covet Not Thy Cover

I'm right in the thick of my first-pass revision of the novel. The idea is to clean up the current prose so that when I come back to it after a month's break, it'll be a bearable read. Then I can look at the Big Picture and see how to improve the novel.

This can get pretty boring.

As a distraction, I've spent time dreaming of fame and fortune. One way of playing out my fantasies is to imagine what my book covers will look like. Today, instead of imagining, I tried my hand at book cover design. Here are a couple of the results:

If you want to see some examples of book covers done right, complete with critiques, have a look-see over at Most Coveted Covers.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Australians Buy 80 Million Books

No, not each of us. Even if they were a cent each, that couldn't be done. Why did you even think that? What are you, crazy?

Here are the stats (skip 'em if you hate 'em) in more detail, and for even more detail than that, you can click on the link that I ripped it all from, down the bottom of the post.

Australians bought more than 80 million new books worth almost $1.5 billion in the 2003/04 financial year. 67 per cent were through 561 bookshops, department stores - 19 per cent, supermarkets and other businesses sold 8 per cent. 98 per cent were printed books. That probably makes the 2 per cent as eBooks.

What does this mean to me?

Aussies like reading. These are new books mind you, so that doesn't count second hand sales and borrowing. That means a lot of reading. If someone happens to like one of those borrowed books, chances are they'll buy the author's next book for themselves (or their librarian-friend).

Considering how much crime tv is on the telly, I'd say a sizeable proportion of those books are crime related, whether fiction or true crime.

I reckon there's a living to be made in amongst all that.

That's what I aim to do.

Data from "Australians buy 80 million books" - AAP

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Welcome to the brand spankin' new blog, and a very special welcome to those of you who are making the transition from the Danny Hawaii blog.

Have a trawl around the website, add it to your bookmarks or favourites, go all out and make it your home page.

I won't stop you.

In these dark alleys you will find:

  • Smatterings of short fiction
  • News on the progress of the first novel and the trials and tribulations involved with getting it published
  • The biography of me, myself, and I.
And much, much more. Well, maybe a little bit more.

Alright, there's nothing else! Get out of here, you young whippersnappers! Stay out of my rose bushes!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The First Draft

About two hours ago, after a year and six weeks, I typed in the final sentence of the first draft of my first novel.

It's called LOVING THE LAW, and its main character is Danny Hawaii, PI-in-training, on the case that will make or break his license.

Like any good writer of detective fiction, I toasted the entire universe with a big fat glass of Wild Turkey, straight. My lady friend is on shift work, so she didn't have the energy to celebrate with me. That will have to wait until Saturday.

As a present to myself I decided to walk up to King Street and have a look around for ... a present to myself from ... myself.

Walked in to Better Read Than Dead and looked around for a bookish gift. First thing I stumbled across was a trade paperback of Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys. Flipped it over, read the blurb. Sounded good. Hmmm. Maybe something crime related is more appropriate.

Sashayed over to the blackest section in the bookstore and perused the latest and greatest. Ran my eyes over all the now-familiar authors and imagined my book up there with them. Right between Harris and Hoag.


I didn't feel like celebrating my achievement by reading someone else who's already made it. Tonight was about me.

Then I wandered over to the reference section. Found a big fat Oxford Australian Dictionary with lots of words and a hard cover. Ooh, don't have one of those. Oh wait, there's a Collins one too. And a Macquarie. Which one to get? Shrug.

I stepped back out onto King Street and breathed in the perfumed air, designed by Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Holden.

A couple of doors down I spied a music store. I cast my eye over all the sales and new releases at the front, then headed for the back. Flicked through the music DVD section and stumbled across the DVD I'm about to watch. The Best Of The Blues Brothers. It's a collection of clips from Saturday Night Live appearances and is presented by Aykroyd himself. The Blues Brothers is a movie I grew up with, and it seemed fitting to celebrate the completion of a Danny Hawaii novel with something related.

I mean, where do you think the hat comes from?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Longer Than I Thought

The more experience I have with writing, the more I realise that it all takes longer than you expect. And ends up being longer.

I started the novel on August 2nd, 2004. That means I've been at it for just over a year now. I originally meant to finish it by April 1st, 2005.

I thought that would be funny.

Every month or so I reshuffled my rough word count targets and spread the finish date further out. My original estimate of a 65,000 word novel is panning out to be closer to 70,000, or maybe even 75,000.

Last night I unfroze Danny Hawaii and his 'friends', Piper and Bernadette. One of them was verbally cutting loose on the others. They drove off, leaving the verbal abuser at home, alone.

My next scene involves something upsetting happening to Mr. Hawaii, involving a large material possession.

Alright, that's enough teasing.

The point of this ramble is to re-iterate how excited I am. I have an outline document that I use as a reference while I'm writing, and I'm very close to the end of the outline. This means I'm close to finishing. I can't wait to find out what happens. There are still details that are somewhat up in the air, details that I can only discover through revision.


Word count: 65,221 (over 65K!)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Romance And Detectives

I can't help cringing when this happens.

A detective is waiting in his office, drinking the hair of the dog. A tall blonde/brunette/redhead walks in. She's tough, but vulnerable.

Legs you could climb like a mountain. A figure to use as a benchmark for fractal geometry. A nose you could pinch without feeling silly. Genitalia that's built for ...

He takes the case, she pays in small, unmarked bills. There's chemistry between her and the detective, but he keeps his distance. Later on, after some heavy, dramatic conflict, they take comfort in each others arms and legs. Ashtrays and bottles are knocked over in the frenzy on the bed. Or maybe the couch in the office.

If she's real tough, on the concrete in the back alley.

In the end, it turns out that she was playing everyone all along, especially P.I. Dick Randomski. She goes to gaol, but he still gives her one last kiss.

Get my drift?

When Bogey and Bacall did it, it was classy. When Chandler wrote about it, the same. Now it's expected and overdone. Time to move on.

My preference (after very little research) is a detective novel that doesn't have romance in it. It always feels tacky and cliched. Sheesh. It's even cliched to call it that.

Have I just revealed a clue? Yes, probably. You never know.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Another Milestone

Phew. Phee-you. My fingers hurt.

I started this novel almost a year ago and I'm finally in the final stretch. I'm finding myself getting excited - almost as much as my future readers - about how the thing will end.

Of course, I do actually know this already. It's planned, but not to the point of organising the layout of the pieces of uncooked pasta themselves.


Word Count: 60,134

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Truth - Part II

To recap: I am Danny Hawaii. Danny Hawaii is not me. Both of these are true.

After I came up with the name (I won't type it again just yet), I spent about a year and a half doing music under it. You can listen to some of the better tracks here:

While this was in progress, Tropfest 2004 came along. For those that don't know, Tropfest is a yearly short film festival held in Sydney once a year on an annual basis. I came up with an idea for a short film, but I didn't have any characters. I thought, why bother inventing something new? After months of negotiations, this brought Danny Hawaii to the silver screen. Here's a sample:

Suffice it to say the movie was nothing special, but the soundtrack and the editing were pretty good.

What made the movie mediocre? The story. Being a private investigator (in a fictional sense), it made sense for me to find out why the story was so crap. The book I read to find out why, or at least the first book I read to find out why, was Story by Robert McKee.

One book led to another, and six books on writing later, I had been bitten badly by the spidery mistress that is writing.

I'm lazy, just like anyone else, so why bother reinventing another character? I mean, I had a great name that had already been road-tested.

Thus the novel began.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Truth - Part I

I am Danny Hawaii. Danny Hawaii is not me. Both of these are true.

Danny Hawaii was a name that came to me when I was looking for it. I was writing music under the name 'Braincancel' and decided that it didn't suit the direction I was heading in. And it was a crap name. Really crap.

If you know anything about coming up with names, you'll know that there's no sure-fire system. I tried random name generators, words I saw on bus stops, eavesdropping on conversations, you name it (couldn't help that one). Nothing clicked.

My real name is Daniel Hatadi. I've always hated being called Danny. So I thought it would be a lark if I made Danny the first name of my musical persona. A few days later I was thinking along the lines of a Danny-ised version of Johnny Hero or Johnny Plastic or Johnny Doohicky. You know, the good old generic American military superhero.

And somehow, my last name fell and bumped itself on my tongue as it flew out of my mouth.

Danny Hawaii was born.

There's more to the story. Why did I make a short film? Why did I write a novel?

I'm going to make you wait for that. Tee hee.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Great Revision Begins

No, I haven't finished the first draft yet. A couple of months away I'd say. So it's not a hack and slash revision that I'm talking about, more a prune and trim.

Every now and then, when I can't bring about enough enthusiasm to plod through the next scene, I go back and revise. This time I went back about a hundred pages. There's still twenty to go before I return to the end, but I've actually enjoyed it.

Yes. Revision. Enjoyed.

This is because all I've done is taken a coarse brush and removed all the dead bits from the text. Words like 'just', 'a bit', and maybe even 'and' and 'the', depending on the context. I rewrite particularly unwieldy sentences and in a few places I'll chop them out altogether. The added bonus is that I get to know the characters and situations 'just a bit' better.

But the novel's structure, even though it is lacking in maturity, stands. I want to get the novel down. It's the only way.

Then I'll go back with the heavy machinery and see what limbs need to get chopped before I think about putting clothes on it.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Crime Show Syndrome

Danny Hawaii's feeling a tad miffed today, and that is a very mild way of expressing it.

You see, his bike got stolen. My bike.

Instead of going into the details and getting all worked up about it, the plan is to vent elsewhere.

I've chosen as my target what I affectionately like to think of as The Goran Show.

I used to love this show. I used to love the way Goran would roll his head and insert interesting pauses into his speech, like a modern day Captain Kirk. I used to love the writing, the way they would paint a character with a single telling detail, so you would know this guy or gal. I used to love the dry humour of the redheaded coroner.

But now it all looks like a formula. Or a recipe.

* 3 minute teaser - get to know the few new characters, and find out who dies
* 20 minutes of red herrings - Goran and Eames track down a few possible suspects, who turn out to be dead ends, and we usually meet the villain at this point
* 15 minute investigation - now we know the right direction to head in, we narrow in on the perpetrator and prepare the setup - the moment he/she breaks
* 5 minute breakdown - as the soundtrack intensifies, Goran wiggles his head and gesticulates at the criminal until they break down and confess
* 5 second summary - one of the Detectives spits out a moralistic one liner, such as, "Well, I guess he won't be wearing that t-shirt again"

Add commercials to taste, and stir.

The Goran Show is still one of my favourite shows on television, and it certainly craps all over the many other Law & Order/CSI spinoffs, at least for me.

It's just a shame that the most fun I get out of it nowadays is making up my own 'end sentences'.

Danny Hawaii OUT

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Danny Hawaii Dead?

Danny Hawaii Dead?
Originally uploaded by dannyhawaii.
Is this really Danny Hawaii?

Was he shot dead on that fateful morning?

Does this mean the novel has ended?

Or is this all just an act, played out by some rabid fan?


Monday, June 06, 2005

Bicentennial Achievements

Frank hasn't had a mention here before, so perhaps the time has come to show his face to the world.

Some of you out there may not know that Danny Hawaii, before his life of fighting crime, had a much less glamorous job.



Not having the necessary medical experience, he was unable to perform autopsies, but there's always work at a morgue for anyone with a strong stomach.

And that's where he met Frank Wilder.

With a blood-stained black lab coat built for 6 feet of hulking man, long balding hair held in check by a black mesh wrap, and weighing in at 120 kgs, Frank isn't exactly a lady killer. Which is a shame, because his wit and enthusiasm for all things dead are some of the most tragically under-appreciated attributes in the modern day non-metrosexual male.

Frank has been there for Danny the whole way, through tragedy and success. And today he is getting a mention because he has helped bring about an enumerated achievement of epic proportions.

The novel has hit page 200.

Danny Hawaii OUT

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Magic of Pumpernickel

He's at it again, and this time, HE'S HUNGRY. Danny's recent investigations into the land of digestive catalysts have caused his taste buds to go wild.

The culprit?


How is it possible that thin rectangles of compressed rye bread, with a bit of sweetening, can taste so damn good?

Pumpernickel comes in small, heavy loaves, with about two dozen thin slices. They are dark, and on closer inspection you can see the nodules that make up this most heavenly of dark and savoury treats.

Put all kinds of spreads on the bread if you prefer: cream cheese, cottage cheese, plastic cheese, or Nutella Cheese (TM) (for extra hazelnutty goodness). Just remember that there's nothing like having it plain.

Preferred accompanying drinks?


Pumpernickel Rye

INGREDIENTS: Destarched Wheat Flour, Soy Protein Isolate, Soy Filter, Rye Flavour, Wheat Protein Isolate, Salt, Lecithin, Sugar, Caramel Col, Enzymes, Ascorbic Acid, Raisin Flavour, Pumpernickel Flavour (that's just to see if you're still reading)

This one goes out to all the WW Girls. Peace.

Danny Hawaii OUT

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Word Count Update

There's a very human need to watch things like progress meters. Sure, we could leave the computer alone while it's downloading, but as far as many of us are concerned, those meters must be watched.


Progress. Yes. At least this kind of progress is meaningful. Nothing like the cycles of mobile phone sizes, where we fluctuate betwen thumbnails and bricks. From Zoolander to The Secret of My Success and now back again. These days we have the privilege of looking at low quality videos of each other on portable lunchboxes.


Monday, May 30, 2005

Blogging About Blogging

This one's gonna be short and sweet, seeing as I'm sure it's been covered elsewhere again and again.

Danny Hawaii, in the middle of an early morning newspaper investigation uncovered this gem:

"For now, web surfers are in two camps as far as blogs are concerned ... There are the committed bloggers on one hand, and a large number of people who don't know or care about blogs on the other. It's a split universe ... "

Which pretty much amounts to saying this:

There are two kinds of people in the world. Those that divide everyone into two kinds of people, and those that don't.

Danny Hawaii OUT

Monday, May 23, 2005

Back On Track

After much cajoling and canoodling, Danny Hawaii is once again in motion.

Two months ago he was left standing at the bar of a long dead fictional nightclub with one of the other main characters, George Evanescu. After running into a bouncer he was expecting to avoid, Danny Hawaii was a tad shaken AND stirred. So George and him chittered and chattered and drank and stared.

Unfortunately, that's where Danny was frozen in time, two months ago.

The novel decided to take a short hiatus to Tahiti or some other island with no threat of tsunamis. Picture two hundred pages of manuscript kicking back in a hammock, being fed grapes by a couple of Polynesian girls, and you can see why the novel's been away for so long.

The word count at this point had already been pushed past the fateful mark of 50,000, but this doesn't mean there's cause for celebration. It's just another milestone along the way.

Now, today, two months and an infite number of worlds away, the word count has been pushed forth by a glorious sum total of five hundred.

That's FIVE HUNDRED words more.

In that short space of time, Danny has made it from the bar to the men's room, and into a well-lit cubicle within.

What's in the cubicle? Why is Danny in the cubicle? Who else is in the club?

Will we ever find out?


Danny Hawaii OUT

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Numerology, Characters & Age

It's not often you hit the word count button and end up with a nice round number.

44,000 is today's word count. Woo hoo. It sounds big to me but it's only a couple of thousand more than it was a couple of weeks ago.

Sometime she go fast, sometime she don't.

The speed hump was caused by the buildup to an important scene. One of the characters had to ramble on and on and let out some clues in the process. But I couldn't get him to do this until I'd fleshed out the background details some more. This included the almost accidental introduction of a new character. The universe does the work of creation and then the character pops into existence at just the right point for just the right reason.

Mysteries work differently to other stories. I see these kind of characters as tools that are used to develop clues and plot points along the way, and a mystery - at least for me - needs a lot of these.

Sometime she do the same old thang, sometime she need some new vibration.

The new character is an old woman, somewhere past seventy. She's mentally unstable, but no doddering fool. This inherent contradiction gives her plenty of energy for a woman of her age.

I've always had a fascination with old people and I've often said that I can't wait to be sitting at a bus stop, complaining about the youth of today and spitting on the ground at random intervals. Add in a beige cardigan, some slippers, and a walking stick with a silver handle and I'm there. Count on it. It will happen.

But don't go thinking I'll be without a Hawaiian shirt and a hat, okay?

Danny Hawaii OUT

Monday, January 31, 2005

Fact & Fiction

Drum roll ... WORD COUNT UPDATE ... 41,303.

I recently introduced myself over at The Mystery Writer's Forum and asked a few questions relating to the location of my novel. Nice bunch of folks over there. Welcoming and helpful. A real community of like-minded souls. I'm sure I'll be visiting more often.

Back to the biz.

Originally I had planned to set the novel in the not-too-distant future, in a fictional town/city/suburb based on Newtown, a suburb in Sydney. My home town.

After working with a mixed bunch of fictional and real names I felt it was time to settle the subject once and for all.

There's still a few details to flesh out, but I've moved to - roughly - the present time and my present location: Newtown, Sydney, Australia (actually, I live in Erskineville, which is the next suburb south).

I only had to change the one character, plus a few street names.

So, exit stage left for Detective Sergeant Roger Thornberg of Newtown Police and enter ...

Roger Thornberg, Licensed Detective (yes, they are often referred to as 'inquiry agents' in Australia, but not always). He's lost his uniform and a few years, gained a belly and sideburns, and changed his speech habits. He runs an agency up the road from Danny's called Thorns & Roses and he's supervising Danny for the 12 months needed to approve his application to become a licensed detective. Danny's already done the government-approved course so that's all that's holding him back now.

I think he's much a more interesting character to work with and I find it far easier to 'write' him. I can see him clearly in his brown and pale blue recycled suits and shirts with oversized collars and oversized sideburns. He's a throwback to an Australia of the 70s and represents the old guard.

Who's the new guard then?

Danny Hawaii of course.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Who Is Danny Hawaii?

Perhaps it's impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be.
- Valentine, "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card

Friday, January 07, 2005

The Nature Of Intelligence

It doesn't matter how smart you are, you'll still point the spoon the wrong way when you turn the tap on.


Danny Hawaii OUT