Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Snakes and Spiders in the Land of Oz

In case you missed it, here’s a link to the video of a huntsman spider dragging a mouse up a fridge door.

I’m not surprised it’s gone viral; we all love to talk about our creepy crawlies here and to be perfectly honest I’d be pretty freaked out by that sight myself, but I’m easily freaked out by mice anyway. If we had a resident huntsman capable of killing mice I’d be okay with that, though I’d rather he did it in the dead of night. Fortunately we don’t have mice and any huntsmen I see are nowhere near that big.

I didn’t know whether to be amused or . . . what? when I heard some Americans had cancelled their planned holidays to Australia after seeing that video, but given that most of my readers are from USA I thought it worth explaining a few things about our creepy crawlies. Huntsmen, first of all, are common but perfectly harmless, unless you’re an insect. Or a mouse apparently! And they’re not usually that big.

I spent my very early years living in a house surrounded by orange trees, quite a few miles from the nearest town. The little school I went to was also surrounded by trees, or grape vines–I’m not sure now, but I do remember sitting on the ground with my friends eating lunch and drinking rain water from a red plastic mug. The rain water often had wrigglers (mosquito larvae) in it and no doubt a few things we couldn’t see but they didn’t do us any harm.

Most of my schooling was after we moved to a bigger country town–we used to swim in the river and I spent quite a lot of time at the farm when my older sister married a farmer. I’ve also lived in Queensland, both on the beach and inland. Would you like to know how many snakes I’ve seen? Not counting zoos, none!

I’m not suggesting visitors (or anyone)  should run around the  bush barefoot, or approach snakes or spiders to test if they’re venomous, but generally they prefer their own company. I’m hardly an expert of course, just an average Aussie with a healthy respect for our wildlife–I was once kind of attacked by a kangaroo at a park, so my mother tells me, but I don’t remember it. They can actually be quite dangerous, but like most of our wildlife they don’t actually like us much and stay away. So if you want to go Oz but you’re frightened of spiders and snakes just stay in the civilised areas, or go with a tour, and you can be pretty sure they’ll stay away from you.

For details on my books please see my Non-Fiction and Fiction page or visit my Author Pages at Amazon.com or Amazon.UK 

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Crazy Teenage Magpies

I’ve never seen a baby magpie but we have a family or two of maggies that hang around constantly and their behaviour is quite fascinating. They all look the same size but the younger ones have slightly different feather tones and, while the parents sing their lovely little magpie melody, these badly dressed teenage birds squawk non-stop. They stand side by side with their long-suffering parent, who, in spite of the size of their offspring, still has to supply them with all their daily needs (most  from our dog’s bowl). I no longer have teens myself but I can empathise with the parents and cheer them on when, rarely, they fly off, seemingly after they’ve had enough of their child’s non-stop whinging. I don’t think our magpies are related to the UK magpies at all–I’m sure ours are much more tuneful, as adults at any rate.

It’s summer and nearly Christmas, but nice and cool today. For the first time in more than twenty years we’re not having Christmas at home–it’s the start of a new era. It becomes more and more difficult to co-ordinate a family dinner when all five of our boys have partners now and in-laws to fit in with plans. And three of the five live out of town. So this year it’s lunch at my eldest son’s, around 60 kilometres away, and then dinner at our second son’s, with his new wife, about two kilometres away! A busy day even though I won’t be doing much of the cooking.

I’ve just started a new book, which doesn’t have a name yet, but for those of you who’ve read ‘The Road to Karinya‘, the story karinya coverI’m writing now is Clare’s story, Book 3 of my Red Dust Series. Book 1 is ‘Stony Creek‘, which is doing amazingly well.

I was asked to write a guest post for a blog on self-publishing recently which was kind of fun–check it out here: http://theselfpublisher.wordpress.com/

Merry Christmas to everyone–help yourself to a free ebook for the holidays:

Sanctuary, Not Guilty and Last Chance at Amazon.com

Sanctuary, Not Guilty and Last Chance at Amazon UK


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Going Home. And coming back home again.

I’ve just been back to my home town, a trip I’ve been doing at least once a year for my mother’s birthday. She turned 94 and is well, but I’m always very conscious of the fact it could be the last time I see her. Of course I could die tomorrow myself but you know what I mean. Mum has already outlived her parents but her grandfather was 98 when he died, so we have good genes.

It always feels a little odd going home, because of course it’s not my home anymore. I’ve lived in Bendigo now for over 20 years and this is home but Mildura is where I spent most of my childhood and those teenage years I remember so well. It’s curious how places I’ve lived and people I knew pop up in my stories, almost of their own accord. Not that I would deliberately use any actual person in any of my fiction stories, but they are all influenced in some way by real people. At least the best ones are.

Place is something I’ve certainly made use of in stories and experiences of my own, like hitch-hiking to the river on a hot day and running across burning bitumen with bare feet, both of which I’m using in the story I’m working on now, ‘Dark Innocence‘. My last book, ‘Stony Creek’, is a rural romance and I used my own memories of living in Melbourne as well as attending a wool-shed dance in the outback as a child. I did grow up in a country town, but I had to research for that one, my knowledge of life in the outback being minimal. Quite a lot came from the recesses of my memory locker though! I suspect writing in 1st person makes it easier to access those memories and I chose to do that, as doubtful as I was at how that would be received. It’s actually doing very well on Amazon so there are clearly plenty of readers who are happy to read in 1st person.

So after driving around Mildura and visiting some of the old haunts with my sister, as well as a very nice new art gallery, and seeing my other siblings and a couple of nephews and nieces, I’m back home and happy to be here.

Details on all my books at Amazon.com and Amazon UK. Happy reading.