Is it kitsch? Or is it vintage?


“While Jo and her apartment are beautifully styled, inside her kitchen cupboard all is kitsch.  It’s her guilty pleasure and the tackier the item, the better.  Quirky egg-cups, souvenir tea towels, oversized novelty spoons – her kitchen resembles a tourist-trap souvenir shop.”

From Over the Edge, p.57

It’s funny how little things from real life have made their way into my book.  Not that I have a kitchen full of kitsch like Jo, but I’ll admit I do have the odd item stored away.  Only, I prefer to think of them as momentos.

This little string-dispensing pineapple in the picture above has been in my kitchen for years, and my parents’ kitchen before that. Growing up, I thought it was something really special, especially with its inside lining of sparkly gold foil.  Although, as you can see, the gold foil is gone now. Long gone.  And modern-day balls of string don’t seem to fill it out like those of yesteryear.  But it’s still a fabulous piece of 70’s kitsch from my childhood, and it was the inspiration for one of Jo’s character traits in Over The Edge.

Jo’s kitsch obsession started one morning as I sat at the dining room table, drafting out some character profiles.  Jo was chic and modern.  Confident.  A woman of her times with a stylish studio apartment that could have come out of Vogue living.  When I’d finished her profile I went to make a cup of tea (and eat some Tim Tams) and while I waited for the kettle to boil, the little pineapple caught my eye.  Rarely used, it sat on a high shelf; a relic from the past, surrounded by today’s mod cons and a neutral colour scheme.  It seemed so out of place and somehow unexpected, and slowly, I began to see Jo a bit differently.  What if, beneath all the sleek and modern, was a passion for anything kitschy?

I went back to the laptop and began adding to my notes.  The little pineapple string-dispenser morphed into a pair of pineapple-shaped salt and pepper shakers that Zoe gave Jo as a gift.  And then that led me to drag out the shoebox stashed in the bottom drawer of my dresser.  The one with “Souvenirs” marked on the lid.  The one I hadn’t looked in since I moved out of home a couple of decades ago.

It was like stepping back in time.

Jo’s gold-fringed, black velvet cushion from the Kiama Blowhole was inspired by this little object d’art below.  We’ve all seen these, haven’t we?  Souvenir spoons?  This one actually came from a Kiama Blowhole tourist shop on the NSW south coast. The matching mug and egg cup are from Surfer’s Paradise on the Queensland Gold Coast.  The orange Luna Park cup came from, you guessed it, Luna Park.  Lots of childhood holidays.  A bit of kitsch.  Some great  memories.


If I saw the pineapple or the spoon or the egg cup in a shop today, I wouldn’t buy them. But because of the memories these ones hold, I won’t part with them. Call me sentimental.

But maybe my little momentos aren’t kitschy, after all.  When I went on-line to research more stuff for Jo’s kitchen, I discovered, surprisingly, that some of the items in the photo have become ‘vintage’.  Or at the very least, ‘retro’.  Maybe even prized ‘collectables’.  I don’t know when this shift happened, but it has.

See?  I was always just ahead of my time 🙂



Imagine this…

Sue - Book

I saw my book, in the flesh, for the first time yesterday.  And it didn’t happen quite how I’d expected.

Over the past year I’ve sometimes imagined that moment when my book and I make contact for the first time.  The moment when I would finally hold the finished piece, the end result of months of work.  A lifetime goal.

I always saw it happening at my letter box.  Beside the driveway, beneath the magnolia tree that always blossoms at the wrong time of year. I’d tear the brown paper and string from the package that bore my publisher’s logo (yes, I know it’s 2013, not 1913, and the wrapping is more likely to be a plastic padded postbag, but, you know, I like the classics).  The brown paper would flutter to the ground, the string would snag on a shrub, and I’d see my novel for the first time.   Such a big moment.  Then I’d run down the path to the house, waving the book in the air and calling for my family to come and see.

That big moment happened yesterday  🙂

Though it wasn’t quite like that.  It was much more real.  And a lot of fun.

For a start, I was in the office, not at home.  There wasn’t a magnolia tree in sight.  Or a letterbox – unless you count the departmental pigeon holes for internal mail.

It was about ten o’clock, and my friend (and co-worker) Robyn, called me from her office and said she had something for me to sign.  I assumed it was a work thing, though I did wonder why she sounded so excited.  And almost giggly.   The conversation went something like…

“I have something for you to sign.”
“Oh?  What is it?”

“Your book.”

“What book?”

“Your book.

There was a confused pause from me and Robyn had to explain that she’d pre-ordered my book, given the office address for delivery, and received it this morning with her mail.  I’ll add that, at work, only Robyn, and two others know about my writing.

“Oh!  My book!”


“You have it here?”



So I dropped the phone, ran into the corridor and waited, practically hopping from foot to foot, like a kid that needs the loo.  Robyn appeared a moment later, grinning and holding out her copy.  I couldn’t believe it.  Here it was, my book.  That first contact.

It was sooo beautiful.  All glossy and shiny and real. And there were words inside.  My words.  I was speechless.

There were hugs and laughs and Robyn asked me again to sign.  “Write something,” she said.  “I’ll leave it with you if you like and you can bring it down when you’ve finished.”

So then it was just me and my book.  I decided to take a photo (that’s it up above).  I thought I’d text it to my husband.  It was the closest I could get to running down the front path yelling “Look! Look!”  But my hands were shaking and I’m not good at selfies, so that’s why the bottom of the book is cut off in the picture.  I figured he’d get the idea, though.

Once the photo was done and sent, I grabbed a pen and wrote inside the front cover.  But my hands were still shaking so the message looked like a chicken had stepped in ink and then danced the Macarena across the page.  I sat there,staring at the scrawl, grinning and just soaking up the moment.

A big, fabulous moment.  Unexpected and fun and real.  And shared with a good friend.

And when I got home yesterday, my copies were waiting for me in the letterbox  🙂

Just thought I’d share 🙂


On tour!

I’m going on tour!  Well, my book is.

During May, Over the Edge will be featured on various different book blogs and websites.  So the picture above might be a bit misleading really, but you get the idea 🙂

There’ll be reviews and interviews, and some of the questions I’ve been asked have really made me stop and think. Like, who would I want to play Angus in a movie version of the book?  I had no idea because Angus is, well, Angus.  It was kind of fun thinking that one through, though, and I eventually came up with an answer  🙂

I was also asked about Zoe’s bucket list, and do I have a list of my own and if so, what’s on it.  Unlike Zoe, I’m not a list maker.  I wing it when I go to the supermarket (and that’s probably why I always come home without the thing I went for).  There are things I’d like to do, but those things change all the time.  My bucket list this year is probably very different to what it would have been last year, and next years might be different again.  Although, there are a few things, apart from writing a book, that have always been on my mind to do.  Travel across Europe on the Orient Express (without being murdered) is one of them.  And though I didn’t list it in my answer, I’d love to dig on an archaeological site.  Yeah, move over Indianna Jones.

Taking part in the tour has been a lot of fun and the first stop is Beyond The Squee Book Reviews on 4th May.  So, if you’d like to know how I came up with my characters and their names, or my favourite part of the story, or the scene that was the most difficult to write, come and join me on tour 🙂   I’ll be posting more details soon.


Over the edge small button


Something like this…

Does this photo look vaguely familiar?

ShoesOver_the_Edge Cover 2





I’ve never been an artistic person.  With me, a stick figure is about as good as it gets.  I’m a disaster at Draw Something.  And don’t get me started on Pictionary.  I’ve not played that boardgame since my team suffered a harrowing defeat about ten years ago.  Although, in my defense, how can anyone be expected to draw Bogner Regis?  I ask you, seriously, how?

So when the art department at The Writer’s Coffee Shop asked me if I wanted to discuss any thoughts about the cover for Over the Edge, I didn’t know where to start.   I hadn’t thought a lot about what the book would look like.  I’d been too busy writing the words to go inside the cover. But once I did start thinking, the first thing that came to mind was…shoes.

The very talented Jada D’Lee contacted me and I explained that shoes play a subtle but important part in Zoe and Angus’ story.  I tried to describe in an email the image that was so clear now in my mind.  “A man’s hiking boot, and a woman’s evening shoe.  Sort of angled in different directions, but together.  As a drawing.  Cartoonesque.”

I knew my written description was probably on par with my sketch of bloody Bogner Regis (I’m still bitter, yes),  so I went to the cupboard, pulled out my husband’s bushwalking boots and my “good shoes” and arranged them on the dining room table.  Then I took a photo, which you see above, and sent it off to Jada with a note…”maybe something like this?”  I was kind of shocked when she emailed back and said, “Hey, I think we can use this!”  And I love what she did with it.  The colour, the shading and shadow.  Setting the shoes in a frame.  The different fonts.  It definitely surpassed the vision in my head.  And the shoes on my dining table.

I wonder what Jada would’ve done for Bogner Regis??

And now, another visual clue for Over the Edge 🙂