G’day from Hawkesdale,

I’ll keep it brief today because, going forward, this newsletter will be coming out monthly rather than weekly. I want to keep the newsletter valuable and engaging, but I worry that by continuing to publish it every week, things may get a little repetitive. To that end, I’m also rethinking the newsletter in terms of length and content.

I also wanted to single out two readers for thanks: Marilyn, for her interest in my travels, and Fritzi, for an extremely in-depth critique of Empty Casket that must have taken a lot of time. I’m very grateful to both of you.

What I’m working on: Sword & Sandal is finished! It also got a new title: Chariot Caper. I think that more accurately conveys the setting, genre and tone. I’m currently in the editing process and will have it ready for you to read the next time you hear from me. If you want a rougher version to provide feedback on, just email me and I’ll send it through.

Loch Ard Gorge, Victoria

Loch Ard Gorge, Victoria

The manuscript is sitting at just over 50,000 words, which is the shortest novel I’ve ever written, and a good indicator of what I’ll be doing going forward. I’m attracted to shorter novels in the way I am to short stories: they allow me to work through ideas more quickly. Chariot Caper was written in eighteen days and it’s like ten days should see out the first edit. With a few days off here and there, that’s a little over a month for what is technically – technically – a novel. Not bad, I reckon. Anyway, I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.

I’ve also started planning my the next novel, The Carthaginian. It will be focused on the relationship between Hannibal Barca and Scipio Africanus during the Second Punic War (218–201 BC). Much like Chariot Caper, this next book will take quite an unconventional approach to history. I can’t wait to get started!

What I’m listening to: I went on a binge listening to film composers while writing during the last two weeks and added 12+ hours to my “Instrumentals” playlist (currently making my way through Junkie XL’s discography).

In podcast world, Blank Check had their annual awards episode for the films of 2020; I always look forward to this because they cover a ton of movies that go under the usual awards radar. Mark Maron had a great interview with Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah, Get Out, Widows) on WTF, Ryan Holiday interviewed Robert Wright (The Moral Animal, Why Buddhism is True, Nonzero) on The Daily Stoic, and Ezra Klein interviewed Ted Chiang (a short story of his was adapted into the movie Arrival in 2016) on his podcast, the Ezra Klein Show. Which reminds me…

Port Campbell, Victoria

Port Campbell, Victoria

What I’m reading: Ted Chiang had a brilliant article in the New Yorker about why we shouldn’t be so afraid of AI and the impending singularity. His collections of short stories are phenomenal, and Arrival was maybe my favourite movie of 2016.

I finished Steven Pressfield’s Tides of War, which I didn’t enjoy as much as the first, but I’m chalking that up entirely to the bad mood I was in at the time. I loved Gates of Fire. I loved The Afghan Campaign (which may be my favourite of his so far), and I’m currently loving The Virtues of War. I’ll definitely be giving Tides a re-read. Pressfield’s stories are so meticulously crafted, they almost demand it.

What I’m watching: Bob’s Burgers. Still loving it.

Until next month…