The Beauty and Horror of Fairy Tales

Olivia Brown of the University of Queensland’s School of Communication & Arts interviewed me about my writing (including but not limited to Flyaway), illustration, and research, and wrote this lovely long article (with lots of pictures):

The Beauty and Horror of Fairy Tales

Observation Journal: Moving fast

The activities on these pages of the observation journal were fairly straightforward: timed sprints sketching out ideas for how (or what) to teach in two workshops which in the event never happened, and another found-picture-and-word pairing (I love it when other people do it but it is by now almost hilariously not my thing).

I thought about not posting them here, then realised they underscored something I needed to be reminded of now:

  • to act (to the extent possible) on an idea immediately if it isn’t to grow stagnant; and also
  • if not acting on first instincts then to at least record them.
Double page of observation journal, densely handwritten. On the left, 5 things seen, heard, and done that day. On the right, handwritten notes for a poetic writing workshop.

The other reason I wanted to include these pages is because this was one of the last few weeks before everything before the rollercoaster of 2020 began to tilt. It was O-Week at uni, hot and crowded in the Great Court, and Brisbane was strange and full of wonders. There were caverns behind flowering shrubs under bridges, and mysterious footsteps, and poetry infecting everything near it.

A pen sketch of Shastra Deo reading.
Here is Shastra Deo, respected Brisbane poet, lovely person, and stealth nerd, reading.

I read at a Communication and Arts salon from the sawmill chapter of Flyaway, which still felt very far from being published, and got rather nervous.

Double page of observation journal, densely handwritten. On the left, 5 things seen, heard, and done that day. On the right, handwritten notes for possible art workshops for kids.

There was a storm of butterflies, and rhinoceros beetles expired on the sidewalk; magpies were learning to sing, and lorikeets hidden in the branches of a tree screeched so that it sounded like the butterflies were shouting.

Pen drawing of magpie learning to sing
This one hadn’t quite got the hang of singing yet

There were faceted windows and latticed verandahs, toga parties (here are some sketches from that: The Madding Crowd) and coffee-shop meetings, and the mysteries of public transportation, and a portal to the ’90s.

Double page of observation journal, densely handwritten. On the left, 5 things seen, heard, and done that day. On the right, photocopies of Irish stone carvings paired with overheard phrases: "It turned out it was a spy hotel" and "and suddenly screaming kids are rushing by".

I was working out how much of overheard conversations it felt right to record, and deciding public statements with non-identifying details were okay, and then deciding to pull it back further — catching little bits of delight or textures of a day, not trying to put people on display, and to pull things far enough out of context that they were about the words.

Drawing of toy tiger
“Why don’t you have a meeting with your tiger?”

Returning to the CBD of Brisbane, where I worked for so long, and missing it.

And learning so many lessons that were about people, and crowds — ah well, they will be out there to be learned again.

Handwritten page of observation journal, listing many dot point observations and reflections taken from the week's pages