Today we can reveal the cover for Adam’s forthcoming release, Mount Pleasant.
Mount Pleasant is a concept chapbook of 10 short stories based on the music of Solkyri, from Sydney, Australia. Solkyri are a post-rock band, and this is their fourth album, released in February 2020.
Mount Pleasant is inhabited by individuals who experience joy and laughter, doubt and confusion, fear and uncertainty, revelation and resurrection. These stories invite us to reflect on who we are now and ask us to investigate ourselves in relation to the pasts that may or may not have shaped us and the futures we wish to shape for ourselves.
“I am conscious of where I come from and the sadness that grows inside of me. I am curious to know what it means and what it makes me.”
In a Western Sydney suburb that no longer exists, its name erased and replaced with another, a façade is created to mask the truth of its existence.
Behind it is…
a girl who runs
a young woman dreaming beyond her uniform
a boy cycling through his family line
a girl who yearns for metamorphosis
a young man playing with polarities
a father who has lost himself
a young man decaying under the summer sun a man’s apology
a woman who longs to be seen
When the viciousness of hope is a powerful drug,
the inescapability of hopelessness is even more devasting.
What is Post-rock?
Post-rock is a form of experimental rock music characterised by an exploration of textures and timbres, structures and forms, soundscapes and riffs, rather than a verse/chorus, verse/chorus structure typically found in rock music. The music has its own narrative through the rise and fall of sounds, textures, tempos, crescendos and decrescendos, aural assaults and minimalist orchestration.
Who Are Solkyri?
Formed in 2006, Solkyri deliver moments that blend intense vulnerability with pure power built around the interplay of guitars and driving rhythms, with nods to math-rock, shoegaze and ambient music.
‘Mount Pleasant’ strives to push the boundaries of both sides of its personality, its unyielding energy and its tender moments of intimacy. It is the culmination of years of personal reflection and the rediscovery of passion. Prominent radio station Triple J described it as “Beautiful yet precisely chaotic post-rock.”
I encourage you to have a listen to the record (link below) via Bandcamp: Mount Pleasant. I have been to many of their gigs in the past and they are always a great live band.
And check out other great bands on Birds Robe Records.
A huge thanks to Jodi Cleghorn for the design work and layout.
Another thank you goes to Ben Hobson, author of To Become A Whale and Snake Island, who said, “Profound slices of human truth. There is such a clarity in character, and a precision in a lived experience of Australia within these stories. Adam’s skill is in making us remember those small moments in our lives that mean so much to us. Read this to engage your heart.”
In the next post Adam will explain the inspiration behind each track from the band’s perspective and how it inspired his take on each track.
Links for preorder will be available very soon.
As we approach each year, we reflect on what we have achieved, and forecast what we’d like to achieve.
Over here in the JAR Laboratory we’ve been thinking about how we can get the most out of creating in the Year of Hindsight: 2020.
Every creative person will have a different plan or path, reason or excuse, direction or wandering about how and what they are going to create.
We’ve put together our lists of 9 Ways To Get the Most Out Of Creating in 2020.
1. Commit to explore something you love.
In the same way you might commit to someone you love: get excited, make time, turn up, engage your curiosity, open your heart, and keep turning up. This doesn’t have to be massive investment of time. The smaller the time investment, the more powerful this becomes over time, because ultimately consistency matters. Aim to want to spend time doing this and the excitement will flow over into other aspects of your life.
2. Know WHY you create.
Then remain true to that regardless of what shiny things cross your path. Knowing your core values in regards to your creative expression and practise is an essential tool. This is good for the soul but it is also good business sense. Doing an inventory of your beliefs and personal narratives at the beginning of the year can be a way to know how aligned you are with where you want to go (because it may be different to last year!).
3. Create/schedule downtime.
Guard it with all your might and all your heart. This is time and space to check in with yourself and check out of reality; to slow down, dream, mentally meander; it is time to remember how to breathe and to remind yourself of what’s important. To get grounded and centered.
4. Care for yourself as the precious individual you are.
It is not selfish to put yourself first, especially when prioritising good health and wellness as a 360-degree experience. If something doesn’t feel right, treat it as something not right. Believe me, being sub-par physically makes creating more difficult than it needs to be.
5. Have something you want to achieve by the end of the year.
…and start now. Work out what you need to do to move yourself from here to there. Break it down into the smallest possible actionable pieces. Decide what resources you need. What support you require. Set it up–now! Test drive it for a few weeks before you begin, to allow space and time to trouble shoot and refine your process. Schedule with plenty of padding (add 3x the amount of time you think you will need–it is human nature to underestimate the time required). Find ways to stay accountable that inspire rather than shame. Find ways to stay excited.
6. Engage with inspirational people.
Those souls who expand your mind, your heart, your world view and bring sanity, stability or a deeper understanding to your experience. Ask questions. Make space for discussions. This doesn’t have to be other creatives. Inspiring people come from all walks of life, professional disciplines, backgrounds, traditions and experiences.
7. Build bridges.
Between different different parts of your creative life; between different parts of your overall life; with people you’d love to collaborate with. Introduce people you know who would love to get to know each other. Be willing to reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time. Initiate something especially when it would be easier to do nothing.
8. Tend your flame.
This is different for everyone but the essentials are similar. Tending requires focus, time, patience, persistence, maintenance, love, care and attention. Passionate people are the best antidote to apathy. Being passionate invites more of the same energy and people into your life. Sometimes they will come along to help tend the flame, when you’re struggling to do it.
9. Sync with natural cycles.
Why battle the tides? I can think of better ways to invest my energy than doing something the hard way. Jack Dann once told me: Give the best part of the day to your writing. Know what’s the best part of your day. Know how you can flow with the wax and wane of the moon. Know what moon signs are best for doing specific jobs. Find the dates of Mercury Retrograde (the best time for editing). Get to know the prevailing astrological forecast and use it (like you use the weather forecast to plan your day/week).
1. Limit your projects. Ideas are like seeds; some will grow and some will not. You need to tend and nurture the ideas you care about the most. Others are dandelions you can blow away on the breeze.
2. Measure your time.
It’s finite. It involves sacrifice. It involves commitment. Waste it when you want to and have planned to do so. Don’t waste time when you have planned to make it productive.
3. Listen to new music.
Or read new books. Buy a new comic book. (or make use of second hand stores and thrift shops – if it’s new to you, enjoy it).
4. Finish the fucker.
I’m not usually a swearing person but I liked the alliterative burst it gave because it’s also a kick in bum for me to make sure I keep forging ahead. Make it happen. If it takes a year, it takes a year. Plan your time to make sure you finish.
5. Walk around the house naked.
Be happy in your own skin literally and metaphorically. If you want to be a creative person, become a creative person. Don’t doubt it; own it.
6. Know your body’s cycles.
Rest if you need to. I know the times of the year when my work load makes creativity difficult to achieve. I can therefore plan around it. Those times of busyness may be times you allow yourself to be fallow and let the ground regenerate.
7. Support other artists.
Respond to their Instagram posts or blog feeds. Tell them why you like their work. Give them shout outs.
8. Blow words up.
Interrogate them. Exploit them. Cuddle next to them and spoon them. Be intimate. Very intimate. Draw your thoughts. Write explicit stories and destroy them. Aim to be included in the Bad Sex in Literature Awards.
9. Discuss your process with other creatives.
Find out how other creative people outside of your creative field operate. Learn new techniques. Work out how your process operates. Read about others’ experiences. It may not be compatible to yours but understand how to learn.
1. Write uninhibitedly.
Unless you are on deadline for some urgent piece that an editor’s nudging you to finish, write uninhibitedly for an audience of none. Discard worries about spelling, punctuation, grammar, tense, and anything else that nags at you. Just write whatever draft or entry that thrives undiscovered within you. No real rules, no real expectations; just write uninhibitedly.
2. Be one with your Daybook.
It doesn’t really matter if it is a 59-cent spiral notebook or a 30-dollar Moleskine journal; find a daybook that is the perfect fit. If you’re wondering what that feels like, you’ll get that feeling like Harry Potter had when he was paired with the wand that was made for him. You might like blank or lined pages; a spiral or flex binding; 5 x 8 or 9 x 12; or thin or thick paper. Perhaps you like to write with fountain pens and require a thicker paper; maybe you want to feel the ballpoint roll over the parchment sleek like silk.
Once you discover your one-of-a-kind daybook, keep it with you always, and chronicle your life in it, in all ways.
3. Create playlists.
I have a unique playlist for every story I write. I even have playlists just for daybooking. They unfailingly put me in the zone to write (uninhibitedly) that particular story, essay, or entry. Playlists can be as short as one song (“Eleanor Rigby” on repeat got me through the final edits on my MFA thesis) or 137 songs (as were my playlists for my last novel). Creating a playlist that insulates you as you write will put you in the zone instantly, making you more productive, as well as a better writer,
4. Find your Querencia.
This – Querencia – is your wanting-place, where you feel invincible. For some, this might mean a very physical, geographical location, like the beach, or even the outdoors; for others, it might mean wherever you are with your Daybook. As writers and creatives, we need to find that place where we can do the work stay focused. Nothing can touch you here. Find it. Preserve it. Believe in it.
5. Trust the process.
How can we ever fully understand what we have not yet created or written? As much as we might want to control the process, to map out our every word, we must trust the process to lead us from the undiscovered to the end product. We might believe that we have the whole story prewritten in our minds, but the process might lead us down a very different path. Trust the process. As Jodi reminds me all the time, the day you are writing is the day you were meant to write that story. So just trust the process.
6. Find your tribe.
I learned the hard way that there are some people who will actually sabotage you and your writing for selfish reasons. You need to find your small tribe of creatives that will support you, give you the advice you need, and encourage you to take risks to grow in your craft.
7. Make (and keep) little deadlines.
The best way to reach the Deadline of all Deadlines: the final, polished product, is to make hundreds of tiny, little deadlines to keep your project moving forward. Write one page a day, or 1,000 words. Finish a chapter in three days, or three weeks. Whatever you are working on, break it up into little, do-able chunks, and make the little deadlines that lead you to slaying that Deadline of all Deadlines, and probably with a few days to spare.
8. Find, and then never surrender, your voice.
One of the greatest moments in a writer’s life is when s/he discovers their voice within, that distinct style in writing that distinguishes them from every other individual who has ever picked up the pen. We discover our voice through writing daily and uninhibitedly, as well as trusting the process fully. And once you do find it, never EVER surrender it for brevity or under the (really bad) advice from an editor. Your voice is your DNA.
9. Just write the damned thing.
Probably the best advice ever given to me. When I had the chance to talk about writing with author Tom Clancy, I babbled on about this and that and why and why not. He sat there and listened patiently, then said, “Just write the damned thing.” And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. Don’t tell me or others about why you can’t write; instead, just write the damned thing.
In the course of writing Post Marked Pipers’ Reach, Jodi and I wrote a series of unrelated stories for a Form and Genre Challenge. Unbeknownst to me, the titular character, Charlotte McKay, was in fact Ella-Louise. Charlotte McKay was the name Ella-Louise used when working undercover.
The short stories “What I Left to Forget” and “The Photographer’s Concerto” explored the relationship between Charlotte and Jakob, the guitarist for an up-an-coming grunge band, Soul Monkey Momento, who were set to explode in Australia and overseas. I had no idea I was writing stories that were connected to the wider world of Piper’s Reach at the time.
There is a mention of Jakob and the band in the letters between Ella-Louise and Jude, but the focal point for me in creating a new story was when Ella-Louise returned to Melbourne with the hope of catching up with members of Soul Monkey Momento. I had the two short stories, and the connection between Charlotte and Jakob, yet I was interested in what had happened to the rest of the band since the death of Jakob, and Charlotte’s sudden reappearance, particularly as it affected the drummer, Mitch.
Charlotte McKay was a separate entity to Ella-Louise, another incarnation of who she was, and I wanted to explore the impact of her life on another person. Who are we in the gaps and silences of life? Is there redemption in asking for forgiveness? Or condemnation? Can you make amends for a past that was of your making, and not of your own making? Can you be forgiven for what you did? Do you want forgiveness?
I’ve written the novella and am now in the process of rereading, editing and rewriting for submission.
WE ARE BUT GHOSTS ON FILM
Mitch sits behind the kit and plays the song Jakob wrote for Charlotte. She sings it with fragile tenacity and the years peel back. There is the sound of heartbreak in her voice, not the passionate declaration of adoring lust. This was a song wrought out of intense passion and sung with desperate longing. And it was beautiful. It is still beautiful.
Flip the record and the B-side is another single; a cover song or an alternate take. This is the A-side: Jakob died and Charlotte disappeared. The B-side is a gap of fifteen years, three bands, and one heartbreaking event ago. And yet she is here, on stage, singing the same song.
The crowd erupts, witness to a moment they believed they would never see again.
Josh yells over the adoring crowd. “Ladies and gentlemen, CHARLOTTE MCKAY!”
Eyes focused downward, she waves to the crowd who respond in ecstasy.
Mitch yellS after her. “Charlotte.”
She turns, hand still grasping the microphone.
“Hang around, will you?”
She nods, caught under the gaze of the spotlights, and smiles but Mitch doubts she will stick around to the end of the set. He watches her drop off the stage, pick up her camera and slip in the shadows between the stage and the barrier. During the rest of the set he keeps an eye out for her but does not see her.
The remainder of the set plays out as planned, held together by the moment of remembered bliss, yet even as the house lights come up and the sound guy starts playing Tears For Fears, “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” they begin to forget. Her presence as illusory as shadow; a by-line in a gig review a week later no one will read, as the only proof she ever existed.
She’s there. In the corner of the green room, tucked into a dingy sofa. Camera curled into her lap like a cat.
“Fuck me; Charlotte McKay,” said Mitch. There is a shift in the shadows, wrapping them around her shoulders again as if a spotlight was turned on her, suddenly the focus of attention from Mitch and the other members of the band. Always that shadow covering her heart in layer upon layer.
“Mitch.” From the sofa she stands and slips her arm around his waist, the other over his shoulder.
“Watch it. Bit sweaty.”
The embrace was familiar and awkward, like the distance of time made the pieces of the puzzle not fit correctly; edges mangled or new hollows carved out. There’s an apology in the embrace, and a longing for forgiveness.
Where to from here? Mitch wondered as he felt her embrace loosen and they stepped back from one another, afraid to cross the chasm without the certainty of an anchor point to pull himself up should they fall.
The phantom made real in a pair of dark jeans, boots and black t-shirt. And the camera strap straddling her neck as she cradled the camera like a child in the womb. She looked down, as if she were sizing up this older version of Mitch who was transposed over the younger incarnation.
As she stepped forward again into the gap, Mitch involuntarily moved to step back.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“For just then. Making you step back. Afraid of who I am, what I might be. Sorry for turning up, unannounced. Sorry for disappearing.”
He ran his hand across the stubble on his face and wiped the sweat from the hollow of his neck before wiping it dry on the seat of his jeans. “Apology accepted.”
Across the deepest chasm Mitch took a step to embrace Charlotte. A moment for initiating reconciliation and remembrance. She raised her head from his chest. “You never kept a grudge?”
“No need to. It was never your fault.”
Mitch shifted his weight from one foot to the other and let Charlotte slip out of his arms and went to the table on the other side of the room. “Come on. Let’s get you a beer.”
“What are you not telling me?”
“I doubted you existed. You only existed in my memory because the photos you took are proof. Without the photos you’re a ghost; you’re even a ghost behind the camera.”
“You can’t prove I took them. Therefore, I don’t exist.” A slight smirk played at the edge of her lips as if the comment was both self-effacing and self-defeating. “If you don’t remember who took them, I don’t exist.”
“But I do remember. And I won’t forget. So, you do exist. Even if you’re not around.”
“Will you remember me when I’m gone?
“I never forgot. I will always remember.” Mitch twisted the cap off the bottle, tossed it loosely in his hand. “You’re always welcome here. Where are you staying?”
A shake of the head.
“You got time to come back and catch up tonight?”
“I can arrange something.”
“What’s your number and I’ll text you the address.”
“I’m not operating a phone at the moment.”
“Hang on.” Mitch steps out of the room and back to the stage, ferrets in his stick bag for a pen, grabs the scrunched set list from underneath his hi-hat stand and scribbles his address on the back.
Charlotte was where he had left her, the afterimage of a flash popping in his face. He hands her the set list.
Spark is a monthly collaborative post written from a spark of inspiration that organically finds its way to us. This month we were inspired to write fiction based on this fabulous picture Rus came across.
Coven of One by Stephen Mackey
The table was always set the evening before. The mismatched crockery and forks with tines askew and knives with the tips slightly bent. Communing with the future, she called it. A eucharist for the deceased of the past, of the present, of the soon to be.
She set the kettle set on the hob early first thing in the morning and filled it to capacity for guests who would never wet their lips or ask for sugar or decline milk. Rubbing the air between her fingers she felt it at first thicken like rubbing folds of velvet, then thinned out to the vapour of gauze. At the whistle of the kettle she warmed the tea pot, rinsed it and poured out the clean water as a libation before adding spoons of finely cut leaves.
Seated at the table she rubbed the air between her fingers again and the gauze whispered into singular strands of cotton. Wisps of clouds dancing around the spout of the tea pot. She sliced the fruit cake and served herself. Poured the tea and watched the sugar crystals dissolve.
And he was there. A memory. A framed portrait. As if memory was nothing but cake fragments and breadcrumbs to be fed to the birds at the park. And bone china cups held the structure of trauma and the rigidity of tradition. Around her an exoskeleton, a carapace, as thin as a veil, as thick as love. The thinness of the day giving way to the thickness of night.
I wanted the green hat or the sheet. Wardrobe insisted I wear the red. It’s always the way with these things. Everyone knows better than you.
‘We can see your lovely face,’ they cooed.
I screwed it up and everyone said I was difficult to work with.
‘Can we trade?’ I asked.
‘You want me to be the girl?’
‘No. I want you to wear the red hat.’
‘I prefer the green,’ he said. ‘If I can’t do green hat, I’m doing the sheet.’
‘No one listened to me when I said that.’
‘Can we have a dog?’ I asked. ‘I’m allergic to cats.’
Someone laughed and then they all laughed.
‘We love your sense of humour,’ they said.
But I am not amused. It’s hard to laugh when you’re sneezing.
We are pretend reality, masquerading as common place. We are the things that go bump in the night, tidied up, sweetened up, so you’ll never think we are anything other than what you want us to be.
‘Smile,’ they say.
I grimace and secretly wish they would all go to hell. Or perhaps we are already there.
They waited, with undying patience, for the others to make it through the forest and take their seat at the table.
“Perhaps they have lost their way,” said the ghost, unable to really understand any concept of time.
“Or perhaps they have found it,” whispered the girl, knowing that, sometimes, these things happen.
The cat, though, would have none of it. He was hungry, and he looked beyond the forest for his next meal, staring at us in the distance, as if we would be providing him a tasty rodent for a late-night snack.
On the other side of the wall, where the wild things walked and stalked under the light of an endless moon, three creatures sat under a tree, staring longingly at the wall in front of them.
“Perhaps they have lost their way,” said the goblin, chewing on a recently fallen twig with fresh berries still clinging to the underbellies of bronze leaves.
“Or perhaps they have found it,” replied the boy, proudly wearing a green beanie. “You know how they are, always seemingly finding a different way to where they need to be.”
The dog, though, would have none of it, though. He was longing for the sweet flesh of a floundering rabbit stuck in some hole. It was late, and he was too hungry to think of much else.
Above, the owl sat perched, chin in chest, observing the stale mate of patience as he, himself, preserved his energy with great will.
“Perhaps this is their way,” he hooted. We are never as lost, or found, as we think we might be.”