C'est moi - The Author Stalker - AKA Shelley Gardner
When pondering who to have as my final guest for 2022, I had an epiphany…why not me this time?
I don't think anyone had a fair chance of guessing who my next victim would be, but my clues were all true. Although according to my kids I cannot sing, I was once part of a team of backing singers for a 1983 Bubble Yum ad recorded at EMI Studios in Sydney. My fave band at the time, Duran Duran, just happened to be recording in the same building so a friend snapped this shot of me planting a kiss on Monsieur Simon Le Bon's cheek, though it was Roger I had a crush on.
While getting ready for school one morning, I received the call that all 1970's kids dream of...a call from Miss Marilyn from The Super Flying Fun Show. She spun the wheel & I won a Sigmund the Sea Monster board game. This exposure to celebrities was good training for my future stalking my favourite writers!!
And finally, I'm not only obsessed with all things reading and writing but also the Russell Crowe movie A Good Year, having watched it around 14 times already...and probably again in January. If you love Provence, wine and a beautiful story, I highly recommend it.
Although I am not yet the author of a published novel (still pfaffing away on completing my two WIP's) I am the author of this little ol’ blog, which I can't believe is coming up close to three-and-a-half years since it first started!
It wouldn't have been possible without the generous support of all the wonderful authors whom I have approached, sorry stalked, and of course YOU my dearest readers <3
And then I thought, why not also make it a special Christmas edition So sorry, it's going to be a REALLY long one, but at the end you'll get to see how Team NBRF will be spending Christmas day!
This year I bought Christmas cards with the words Peace, Joy & Hope on the front. That is my wish for us all.
The past few years have been challenging for the world. The unpredictability of life has caused us all to live in a constant state of low-level, anxiety, sometimes extreme. And this has caused so many of us to find ourselves in a state of utter exhaustion as we count down the final days to Christmas 2022. Myself included.
So I am going to have a little sabbatical over the summer, and early Autumn. I am going to read and rest, spend time with those I love, and hopefully rediscover my writing mojo, which has sadly been MIA.
But fear not. The Author Stalker will be back with a venegeance on April 1st 2023.
To those of you missing someone special this Christmas, wrapping you all in a giant hug. May your many precious memories make the empty seats at your table easier to bare. I know that there are several empty ones at mine.
Wishing you all a truly magical Christmas. May 2023 will be kind and gentle, and filled with all the things that fill your heart with joy.
Q1: You are hosting a spectacular dinner party. Name four dream guests you would love to have seated around your table, and what would they be dining on and drinking?
A: Dani Shapiro - memoirist & novelist would have the first seat at my table. To say that I adore her eloquent prose would be a massive understatement. I love how she writes from within and truly honours the integrity of her stories, no matter how difficult they may be to share, and how she teaches writing to those of us who also have this mad compulsion to write. It is my dream to one day attend her Sirenland Writers Conference at La Sirenuse Hotel in Positano, Italy https://sirenland.net/
Cheryl Richardson - US Life Coach would have the second seat at my table. In 2001, she was a guest on Oprah, where she posed the question ‘What is your passion?’ As I sat there at the age of thirty-three, with two small children, I realised I couldn’t answer that question. Of course I was passionate about my family but this was more about finding something that was just for yourself, something that would replenish your soul, refill your cup. Then Cheryl asked something so simple…‘What you were passionate about as a child?’
Writing. The word popped into my head instantaneously. I suddenly realised that something that had been such an integral part of my life as a child and teenager had totally disappeared from the landscape of my adult life. I used to write constantly. I tossed up between studying journalism and nursing at university. Nursing won. It is only now, as a woman approaching her mid-fifties, that I realise I never wanted to be a journalist. I wanted to be a novelist. But in late 1980’s Sydney, that wasn’t something I ever thought possible as a career.
After that show, I began to write again, to reconnect with words, so Cheryl gets an invite.
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 – 1822) - Poet, dramatist, essayist & novelist would have the third seat at my table. In my teens, I discovered his poem, A Lament, in a book called The Golden Treasury of the best Songs and Lyrical Poems in the English Language. The book was owned by my beloved Nana, and was given to her in February 1911, when she was only six years of age.
In those angst-filled teenage years, where I wrote my own dark and depressing poetry, A Lament spoke to me…
Ten years ago I chose to write under my maiden name, Gardner. My late father never finished writing his memoir, so I figured if I was ever lucky enough to one day be published, by using Gardner it would be like the both of us finally found our way onto the shelves of a book store. I went with Shelley Gardner, instead of Michelle Gardner as my Nan, my maternal grandmother, called me Shelley…and also as an homage to Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Joan Mary Gardner - my precious mum would have the final seat at my table. It has been twenty-five long years since I last heard her voice, last hugged her, last shared a conversation over a cup of tea. I wouldn’t have to tell her my secrets and my joys, about the wonderful life I have created, my beautiful family and friends, because as a believer in woo-woo, I believe that she already knows all of that. Just to see her in person again, to share a meal, hear her laugh and see her smile would be bliss.
Q2: What is your favourite book of all time and why?
A: Ginnie & the Mystery Doll by Catherine Woolley.
Discovering this novel at the age of eight, it was the book that made me want to become a writer. The disappearance of Lady Vanderbilt, the pearl necklace, her mysterious re-appearance at an auction over a Cape Cod summer.
I adored this book and was so forlorn when I couldn’t find my original copy that I bought a second hand copy from Ebay, and later a first edition (luckily Catherine Woolley isn't well known!)
Then, while clearing out my late parents’ home in 2016, I stumbled across an old box of cassette tapes, the ones where you recorded songs from the radio. Think Duran Duran, Eurythmics, Flock of Seagulls. I almost threw it out but decided to take a stroll down memory lane. And I am overjoyed that I did.
Because, as I removed a cassette from the bottom layer, I let out a scream. There she was…my Ginnie…laying patiently in wait for me to discover her all over again. And so now…I have three copies.
And because this is my blog, I can break the rules and name my second favourite book of all time. Trixie Belden & the Red Trailer Mystery by Julie Campbell. I would lose time reading the Trixie series, something I share with dear friend and author Cassie Hamer.
Growing up in leafy Turramurra, on Sydney's north shore, mysteries were in somewhat short supply, so Trixie took me travelling to another place, and I was hooked.
The novels that made me want to become a writer - Ginnie & the elusive Lady Vanderbilt, and Trixie off solving countless mysteries - perhaps I should write mysteries instead of contemporary women's fiction!
Q3: If you could travel anywhere in the world to write for a year, where would we find you?
A: This is a no-brainer. Italy. The comment under my photograph, in my Year 12 Yearbook, was Ciao Italiano! My plan, after uni, was to work in the UK (where my dad was from) then move to Italy, find myself a hunky Italian man…and live happily ever after.
A six foot three, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Aussie I met at uni kind of got in the way (though not complaining as we have been happily married for thirty years next April).
I am yet to get there but am still obsessed with everything Italian – the language (just ask my poor Italian friends on whom I practice my Italian), the food and the glorious vistas. I dream of one day attending Sirenland, then travel around Italy for three months, writing, eating arancini and drinking molto Limoncello!
Q4: Describe your go-to reading spot at home and what book/s would I currently find there?
A: During the daytime, in warmer weather, you will most likely find me reading on my beautiful porch swing, a gift from my family in the UK in memory of their brother, my late father.
In the colder months, I am snuggled into my comfy chair by the window in my writing room, keeping warm by the fire.
No matter the season, I read in bed every night, usually using my Kindle as it is lighter to hold when laying down. I normally buy both the real & digital copies of books to have the flexibility when reading. Yes, I know, a publisher's dream - :-)
My tbr pile is currently out of control, but I’m hoping to make a big dent in it over the holidays.
Patiently waiting for me currently is Michelle Johnston’s tiny uncertain miracles https://www.harpercollins.com.au/9781460715284/tiny-uncertain-miracles/ , Ali Lowe’s upcoming release The Running Club https://www.hachette.com.au/ali-lowe/the-running-club , Petronella McGovern’s The Liars https://www.petronellamcgovern.com.au/ , Rachael Johns’ The Work Wives https://www.harpercollins.com.au/9781867220282/the-work-wives/ & Sally Hepworth’s The Soul Mate https://www.panmacmillan.com.au/9781760784997/
Q5: As a lover of words, is there a special quote you would like to share with us?
A: Tomorrow (noun) – a mystical land where 99 percent of all human productivity, motivation and achievement is stored. – Unknown
I LOVE quotes that resonate, and often write them in a little book. As a major procrastinator, especially currently with my untouched WIP, this one is very apt.
Q6: What do you like to do when you’re not writing/blogging?
As most of you are already aware, pre-Covid I was a very social creature. So it is wonderful to be slowly re-emerging from my cocoon, and re-connecting with family, friends and my writing community. You will often find me eating out with friends, and attending author events.
I also adore all things renovation (not sure hubby is as keen!) and can frequently be found bingeing on home shows and drooling over home magazines, in search of inspo for my own home. British crime shows are another major obsession…Shetland, Deadwater Fell, Keeping Faith, Line of Duty…just to name a few.
But nothing speaks to my soul like music, especially the violin & cello. You will often find me, AirPods in, on my porch swing, off in my own little world...lost in the beauty of strings. And I love nothing more than to hear them played live. Learning the cello is on my bucket list...as is speaking fluent Italian.
Q7: In a few lines, which emerging Aussie author/s should we look out for?
A: I am eagerly awaiting the release of Karina May's Duck à l'Orange for Breakfast https://www.panmacmillan.com.au/9781761263798/ which is due for release on March 28th 2023.
I am also super excited to read Holly Craig's The Shallows https://hollycraig.com/the-shallows/ out on July 1st 2023.
Q8: How will Team NBRF be celebrating Christmas 2022?
Shelley Gardner 🎄🎁 Christmas Day celebrations will start around 5pm this year, as Bre & Ed and Ella & Ryan will be sharing Christmas lunch with their darling boys' families. My gorgeous sis Jacki will come up early afternoon and the first of many bottles of champagne will begin to pop. When the gang is all here the next few hours will be spent eating nibbles, whilst opening our gifts. There's every chance that Shaun will then nod off on the lounge while the rest of us chat and laugh and get a little merry .
Sometime near 8pm you will find me seated at this table, surrounded by my beautiful family, sharing a meal (despite us all being full from too many nibbles). Christmas Day is always tinged with sadness for those missing from our table, but I know that they are all watching over us, wishing us so much love and happiness. We'll then roll ourselves back to the lounge for our Christmas night tradition...National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation! https://www.shelleygardnerwriter.com/
Sandie Docker 🎄🎁 Christmas will be a quiet one for us this year, and I’m a little relieved to tell the truth. 2022 has been a bit of a doozy for us, so I’m looking forward to relaxing with hubby and Miss 16 (who’ll be working on Christmas Day) and enjoying our traditional dinner or lunch (depending on Miss 16’s shift) with all the trimmings. Gotta love homemade stuffing!!! Hope you all have a happy and safe break and I hope there are some books under your tree. https://www.sandiedocker.com/
Claudine Tinellis 🎄🎁 Christmas Day is a food marathon in our house. My youngest (at 15!) is still young enough to get excited by the prospect of opening presents. So we’re up early. And whilst cradling a mug of strong coffee, presents are exchanged and photos are taken before I don my apron to prepare the turkey and baste the ham. Later, chaos descends when the rest of my family arrives! Champagne flows to the sound of paper ripping, dogs barking and squeals of excitement from my nieces and nephews. An exhausting but wonderful day! https://www.claudinetinellis.com/
Cassie Hamer 🎄🎁 A few years ago, my parents down-sized from our family home to a much smaller, beach-side flat. Of all the boxes and boxes of goods Mum wanted me to take, I only wanted one thing - my Santa sack (pictured). This pillow slip is probably as old as I am but I have such treasured memories of waking in the dark on Christmas morning as a child and feeling around its shape and bulk to see if Santa had deemed me 'naughty or nice'. (It was always nice). These days, I have three children of my own and Christmas starts in much the same way. Lots of presents, and a living room full of wrapping paper before we get ready for our family lunch.
This year, I'm hosting our family of 18 and it'll be a traditional menu of prawns and smoked salmons for starters, followed by ham, turkey and salads. We will break crackers, tell silly jokes and wear the even sillier paper hats. After lunch, the kids will swim. We may play cricket and we will all fall asleep in the arvo, too full of food. Mum always makes a pudding and one of my other favourite traditions is pouring it with rum and lighting it up to flame. At the end of Christmas day, I always go to sleep feeling a mixture of relief that I've given my girls the kind of magical Christmas that I got to have as a kid, but also sadness that it's over for another year. https://www.cassiehamer.com/
Rosemary Puddy 🎄🎁 Christmas Family, friends, food, fun. Bing Crosby on the playlist, presents, piles of discarded paper, ribbons and bows, excited grand babies, batteries, tinsel, unknotting the fairy lights, Santa photos, champagne and fruit for breakfast, cold climate lunch on a sweltering Sydney day, bon-bon’s, paper hats, Dad jokes, afternoon nap, Shrek, Die Hard, Love Actually, King’s speech, UK phone calls. Love my family, love our Christmas. https://thebookpodcast.com/
Anna Loder 🎄🎁 I love Christmas, I always have, and am so looking forward to it! I have lots of brothers and sisters so Christmas Day is so much fun! Dave’s parents live in Bathurst so we’ll also be spending some of the day there with his daughters too - I’ve got the playlist ready to go! And once that’s all done this is where I’ll be reading in front of the tree…perfect! https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/reada-book-podcast/id1536112529