Usually when I write a book it’s like jumping into the surf and splashing around playfully for a few months, getting that first draft done and then another few months of fine tuning with a team of professional wordsmiths who help me polish it up into something publishable and readable. I’ve always approached writing as therapy…fun therapy. It’s what I do. It’s a job. It’s sometimes lonely and sometimes frustrating. But I love it. The good and the trying.

But SAGA was different. SAGA was an ordeal by fire.

First of all I’d been diagnosed with a pretty nasty autoimmune disease and was confined to a wheelchair, in pain and terrified. My beloved sister-in-law was battling breast cancer. My teenagers were running amok. Life seemed suddenly very, very hard. And I had a deadline and a manuscript to deliver.

Needless to say the first draft of SAGA was a bit bleak. My structural editor and publisher agreed that the themes were just too dark and the whole story too steeped in abject misery. After HEXENHAUS and LIBERTY, two books full of empowering, inspirational female characters overcoming ordeals and championing the feminine warrior (who lives within us all), they felt that it would be a downer to make the third book a Shakespearean tragedy of epic proportions that saw just about every character dead at the end of it.

So I rewrote it. And rewrote it. And rewrote it. I turned it upside down and inside out. I changed story-lines, continents and even characters. And the deadline was looming like the Doomsday Clock. The copy editor was locked in. Proof-reader locked in. Printer. Booksellers primed. But it wasn’t working. Try as I might, I couldn’t make it work. Something was wrong. The spirit of the work was askew.

My sister-in-law passed away.

The heart-break of that shut me down for a while and we had to put off the publication date for four months. My publisher and team were remarkable and caring and supportive. I struggled to make sense of such a monumental loss for the family. Life was not fair. Cancer was not fair. How could someone so selfless and beautiful be taken away so young? I fell into deep depression.

And still I wrote, trying to make it all come together.

Then I ended up back in hospital with a case of tonsillitis that tried to finish me off. I was transferred to a hospital far from home and things were a bit rough for a while. Very.

I even tried to write in the hospital. That was really hard.

And then my very dear great-aunt died. She was a woman who had always inspired me with her strength and inner joy. More grief.

And still the manuscript kept being written and rewritten.

Deadline. Off to the copy-editor. By this stage we’d just decided to go with the most recent draft which was much brighter. But when my very dear copy-editor got the manuscript, she hit me with it. “Where is the fire, the spirit, the girl power?” And she was right. I’d felt so deflated of power myself through illness and grief and depression that it had seeped into the pages of my book. I felt like a robot had written it. My editor who has worked with me on all three books knew it. She told me to go away and inject some soul into it. I trust her like an honorary sister. And I knew she was dead right!

It was exactly what I needed. Now out of the wheelchair and taking tentative steps again, I felt a new wave of hope that all would be well again. The sun would come out. And so I did the unthinkable and rewrote the entire manuscript the way my heart told me to do it.  In a matter of weeks! Like a recharged whirling dervish! I changed characters, brought some back to life. Added joy and hope and vitality to my three new girl characters and in writing the new book, I began to heal. My body began working better. My heartbreak was channeled into writing a book that would inspire and pay tribute to my lost loved ones. And I felt the Sisterhood of those gone before and those yet to come filling me with the courage to write something important. I wove all the stories, the sad, the funny, the exciting and the terrifying into my work and in the end I felt the sisters had spoken. I was thrilled with the new manuscript and when my publisher read it she nodded and said, yes, this is it. This is the one. She even ended up loving one of the new characters the most from all of my Systir Saga trilogy.

SAGA. It was a labour of love and pain.

And yet now I believe she is exactly as she should be and I am so damn proud of her. She needed to go through all those painful drafts to be the strong book she is now.

For Carol-Anne, for Kay, for Grandma and Great-great-great-great Grandma Isabella Ballantyne. This one is for you and for me and for all the women who will read her and love her as I do.

You can read any of the three books in the series in any order or as stand alone books. On shelves November 5th.


Liberty Reviews

Oh my giddy aunt. The reviews are starting to come in for Liberty and they are wonderful. Whenever you write a book you can choose your words and pour your soul into them but you have no control over how they will be received so when you read reviews like these, it comes as a great relief. It is personal. Liberty is not just a book but a daughter to me and the three strong female characters are also my beloved offspring.

Keep them coming. Here are some snippets for you.

‘LIBERTY is brilliance in book form! This is a brilliant book for women (and men). It will ignite courage and inspire voices to shout out loud. But above all, it’s just great storytelling. A thrilling and addictive ride filled with deeply moving stories…’

Kids Book Review


‘An ambitious and timely exploration of power, politics and the sisterhood. Will resonate with today’s readers. Great for those interested in politics and feminism and love a cracking historical yarn.’

Books and Publishing.

‘As the three protagonists seek liberty in life and love, female readers especially will identify both with their empowerment and with their mantle as girls ‘who might just change the world.’



Liberty is all about the fight for equality and it is as relevant now as it was in medieval France, the rebellion of Ireland and the sixties protest movement. Long live the sisterhood. Liberty! You go girl!


SAGA….is in the works. It is written and delivered to the publisher and I am currently enjoying the editing process and working closely with the best people to bring this book into the world. Here’s a sneak preview of the cover and isn’t it gorgeous and YES….there will be a Viking girl as one of my three new characters.

Three more girls who change the world!

Out mid 2019.

The Systir Saga continues….


Buy Liberty NOW! Free Postage World-Wide.

LIBERTY is my new companion book to HEXENHAUS and it will be in bookstores from October 29, 2018.

I wrote this book because of a pink razor. Yeah, you know the ones you shave your legs and pits with if you are a scaredy-woos and can’t handle lasers and wax. One day I was left with a handful of used pink plastic ones, all blunt, all a bit…well…manky…you know with wet hair and rust on them. So I threw them in the bin and used one of my man’s razors and OH MY GOD…men’s razors are so superior we are talking the difference between a butter knife and Excalibur!!! His wasn’t fancy or expensive…it was pretty No Frills really but it wasn’t pink. My razors cost more. Was it the pinkness I wondered because it sure had nothing to do with quality or efficiency. My legs were so smooth after a going over with a macho black razor that fleas could ski down them. Men’s razors are superior.

And we’re the ones who get shamed about all our body hair. We are expected to have our eyebrows on fleek (okay I know that term is so yesterday but I am a Yesterday Girl). If we have tufts outside of our swimmers we are gross. If our legs look like our primate grandmothers we are ‘dirty hippies’ and only Madonna in 1989 was allowed to flash underarm wombats. Gals are supposed to be smooth. But even our hairdressing costs are way more. Whether we are after the beehive, the Rachel or the over-straightened ombre Kardashian look, it costs so much more than blokes who have short hair or hair that needs a cut, or if you’re really game, the hipster bun. That be like twenty bucks as opposed to the down-payment on a small apartment that a girl pays to get her roots done and few foils.

I get angry when I see inequality and injustice and racism and bigotry in this world and instead of these things becoming irrelevant and extinct like other useless things like a dodo bird or those plastic wine cask holders, it’s getting worse. We are living in scary, hateful times and that’s largely because we have dubious people sitting on the leader’s thrones (except for New Zealand). With a man accused of sexual assault (and that’s just prising open the creepy-arsed Pandora’s Trump Box a tiny little bit) running the most powerful nation in the world while actively being a supreme white monster and endorsing things like…um Nazis and rapists and whatnot…we are in trouble. Race hate, fear of other and rampant misogyny are having a second wind and it’s blowing a gale. Women fought so bloody hard to get just a smidgen of respect and a nod toward equality (but we’ve still got a long way to go) and I was proud to be a part of the sisterhood of strong, capable women but we are back in the fight of our lives again! We need to have warrior women as role models, not naked teens on wrecking balls. The wrecking ball bit is actually somewhat cool because this joint (society) needs a good smack in the head.

That’s where LIBERTY comes in. I dug up some amazing young women from history that most people have never heard of unless they lived in a five mile radius of these said women in their lifetimes. Betsy Gray, Irish lass, jumped on a horse, grabbed a musket and kicked some English butt screaming ‘Get out of my country you miserable, bullying shites!’. Jeanne Laisne waved a couple of axes about and rallied an army of women to ward off a bunch of apish rapers and pillagers who were sacking towns all over France. Fiona McKechnie marched against conscription during the Vietnam war and grew her armpit hair like a boss. These women are our ancestors. They are my ancestors. Like…literally. I am the daughter of the women that raised themselves up on the courage of their own sisters and mothers. I am passionate about the sisterhood and watch and applaud movements like #metoo and am humbled by young women who stand up and say ENOUGH like those in the US who rally for gun reform and stick it to the old, white, rich patriarchy.

I am woman hear me roar. Or alternatively…go and buy LIBERTY because it’s an inspiring read that will hopefully embolden young women and old women and middle-aged women to raise a flag for LIBERTY, EQUALITY and the SISTERHOOD.

Don’t ever accept second best. Don’t ever think you aren’t ‘enough’. You are a warrior. It’s in your blood!

Madness, Mayhem and Motherhood


OUT NOW – Click on image to buy: FREE DELIVERY WORLD-WIDE.

A wild roller-coaster ride through the ups and downs of motherhood and mental illness.

At 26, Nikki found herself knocking on her best friend’s door with a suitcase, a jar of coins and two little boys – all she had in the world. Madness, Mayhem and Motherhood is her funny, sad and brutally candid account of her life through poverty, homelessness, child-rearing, friendships, lust, love and loss.

Whether she was cleaning the houses of millionaires to put food on the table, falling hard for The Wiggles, drowning in cask wine, living in a tent or dealing with predatory landlords, Nikki refused to go under and tethered her survival to her love for her children, which pulled her through the darkest days.

In Madness, Mayhem and Motherhood, the struggles are raw but the laughs are loud and the love is palpable. Being a poor, mad mother has its challenges but Nikki McWatters humanises the face of poverty, while arm-wrestling her mental illness into submission and packing school lunches like a boss.

Madness, Mayhem and Motherhood is a powerful, touching and wildly entertaining story of maternal endurance.

About the Author

Nikki McWatters was shortlisted for a Queensland Premier’s Literary Award (2010) and has published a memoir and two young adult novels. She won the Irish Moth Award (2016) and has written for the Sydney Morning Herald, The UK Huffington Post and The Big Issue. She is currently the spokesperson for the annual Vinnie’s CEO Sleepout. Nikki also has a law degree in her bottom drawer somewhere.

As seen on The Today show.


Click on image to watch full interview.


Fifty Shades of Grandma

I am (basically) the same age as Nicole Kidman and Kylie Minogue. We were contemporaries back in the eighties, trying to kick-start our acting careers. Um. Hold the bus, I want my money back cos I caught the wrong ride and ended up in feckin downtown Oldsville.

What happened? It’s not the genes. My mother looks more like Nicole Kidman than I do. It could be that I’ve lived a life of slothful excess, had five children and never much bothered with moisturiser or any kind of exercise other than belly-laughing and poking fun of women prettier, skinnier, richer and happier than me because they are soooooo fake.

I spent half an hour trying to pluck an invisible but spikey chin-hair off my jawline this morning before doing a weird thing where I scraped a bank-card along my jowls toward my ears because I read about it in a dodgy blog somewhere.

Kylie and Nic became superstars. I became a tragic, bloated, perennially  disappointed creature who lives on the sofa eating salt and vinegar chips, flicking at that damn annoying whisker. I coulda been a contender. Where did I go wrong? I’m not going to answer that because I’ve written two memoirs which kind of explain that in gory detail. The fact is, chips, cheap champagne, long afternoon naps, watching re-runs of Hamish and Andy’s Gap Year in bed at night while I eat a two day old curry of the damned and splatter yellow rice stains all over the sheets, is not going to win me the goddamn Academy Award I promised myself as a little hopeful, starry-eyed girl.

I’m about to have my fourth book released, the fifth will be out for Christmas. I’m writing like a crazy dervish now trying to catch up. Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans said John Lennon. High-five John. I have written a library full of lists of things I’m going to do. At the top of the list is the Academy Award. At the bottom, pluck that goddamned bit of wire out of my chin.

I’m going to channel Cher now and turn back time like a desperate rat on an anti-clockwise spinning wheel. I still feel twenty, or maybe thirty, inside my brain. My body just gave a wobble-laugh as I wrote that. Okay, thirty-five. So that means I need to shave off about fifteen years. I’m determined to be the hottest, most energetic, power granny on the planet. As soon as my hip stops clicking I’m going to crank out the old Jane Fonda VCR…..see OLD! NO! I am going to bop like a Barbie in front of Tracey Anderson because…Madonna and Gwyneth. I will drink green kale sludge. Whatever it takes. Because I feel like I’m in a canoe that is rushing toward the edge of Niagara Falls and I’m realising ‘almost’ too late that I have to start working hard now or it’s all going to get messy.

I woke up today and looked in the mirror and thought today….today you should get out of your p.j’s and slap on some lippy and get out of the house because frankly this gig as a full-time writer means I’m fast becoming a cross between Hemingway and J.D Salinger when I really want to be a cross between Madonna and Meryl Streep and J.K Rowling.

Writing books was my cunning back-door plan to get back into the film industry. Write the book. Sell the film rights. Star in it. Oscar. Four/five books later and I’ve ended up with my spreading butt cemented to the sofa while I tap out millions of words and eat Tim Tams. Not a Hollywood deal in sight!

This was not the plan. My plan was not unlike Nic and Kylie’s. You know….world domination in their chosen field. In the eighties Nicole and I acted in a movie each, both ‘discovered’ by the same director. She went on to be noticed by Hollywood while I cosied up to the cutting-room floor. Kylie bounced from Neighbours to ‘Locomotion’ to infinity and beyond…..and I sucked on a helium balloon and then sang that song at her twenty-somethingth birthday party. True story. Sounds kinda stupid now. Sounded kinda stupid back then too.

But stand back girls cos I can feel a second wind beneath me…(excuse me)….and my time is coming. I’m a late bloomer but just you watch out because I’m coming for you. It ain’t over til the fat lady sings and as I can’t carry a tune well I’ve got all the time in the world. That Fifty Shades book…that sold a gazillion so I reckon I’ll write a new memoir about my overdue rise to stardom and I’ll call it ‘Fifty Shades of Grandma’ and the movie mob will come knocking and I’ll play myself in the fabulous biopic of my life and voila ‘I’d like to thank the Academy….’.

So stay tuned for transformation. I’ll start tomorrow. I’m devoting the rest of the day to my chin stubble. I wonder if Nicole and Kylie get whiskers?



Writing Memoir; open heart monography

I’m about to release my second memoir out into the wild. Am I completely mad? Well…now that you mention it. I’ve also published two YA novels so I can make some comparisons. I love writing. It’s therapeutic, cathartic, meditative, enlightening, enjoyable, torturous and sometimes even redemptive.

My first memoir was a coming-of-age tale of a wild and willful girl finding her place in the world. Although some of the subject matter was a bit risque (see sex, drugs and rock n roll) it was all relatively painless musings about my youth. We all went a bit off the rails during adolescence, didn’t we? Well. if you didn’t, you should have!!! Misbehaving, experimenting with illicit substances and bodies is a fairly mundane rite of passage and you just cross your fingers and hope that you come out the other side relatively emotionally intact…leaving broken hearts, empty bottles and frazzled, frantic parents in your frothy wake.

But this memoir feels different. I feel like, where I opened a window in my first book, One Way or Another, I’ve opened the front door, wide, with Madness, Mayhem and Motherhood. It’s kinda raw. It makes no literary pretentions, it offers no answers to the big questions and it isn’t a cautionary tale, nor one of triumph. It’s just my no-frills, hold-the-bullshit, nuts and bolts recollection of the nineties. I’d done the eighties thing in the rock memoir, big hair, shoulder pads and that severe line of rouge on the cheek sort of era and all that. Madness, Mayhem and Motherhood, let’s call it MMM, is the gritty tale of my decade of grunge. Seems my life rolls out against the musical background of the day….cos in the era of hip hop my frickin’ hip gave out. I don’t know what genre this decade of music fits into…complete leftover-scum-on-the-dog-bowl nonsense if my teenagers’ music is anything to go by.

Back to books. Memoir. Memoir is very much like sawing open your breastbone to sift through your innards looking for something that might look interesting on the page. I’ve recovered from my first one and waded on through comparatively easy rides through fiction where I just made up stuff about fictional character’s lives. That’s the stuff of dreams. Memoirs tend to be like living in a nightmare while you are writing/editing them. It’s so hard to relive your life and see all the places and situations where you should have or could have done better. Oh to be able to edit and proofread your actual life!! But alas you are stuck with your past. It is what it is. The trick in life is not to let it define you. It may be baggage but we can shed it, drop it by the wayside or onto a bonfire any time we like. But you can also just keep that baggage close by (in my case in a pile of ancient diaries and journals) and you can sometimes revisit and learn from both your mistakes and your successes.

Getting a bad review for a memoir hurts way more than one for a work of fiction for obvious reasons. Hexenhaus, my YA novel, was fiction, made up of fairy-tale forests and villainous villains and witch-hunts and hedgehogs….if someone didn’t like it, I didn’t take it personally. The gratuitous torture scenes weren’t everyone’s cup of tea. But a memoir is your thick, warm blood inked out onto the parchment of your own skin. It’s not about clever metaphors or snazzy literary devices. It’s just your head on the plate, your terrified eyes looking right at the reader, saying, ‘This is me. I am sharing me with you. Be gentle with me.’

It’s visceral stuff.

In the nineties, I was poor, I was mad and I was a single mother. Quite the recipe for disaster. And yet my story isn’t unusual. I’m not a famous person penning my gallant life story, I didn’t circumnavigate the world in a bathtub, I wasn’t the first woman to discover the invisible hairy marmoset lizard in the Galapagos. I just lived hand-to-mouth, making ends meet, wrestling the demon of depression, running amok on girls’ weekends, cask wine and crackers, Prosac and pizza….I still managed to drag home a famous muso but because it was the grunge era there were cockroaches all over the walls!! You’ll have to buy the book to discover if this said muso was from Cold Chisel or The Wiggles. There’s a scintillating hook right there for you. Yes, you have to buy it now!!!

Anyway….I will gnaw my fingernails to the knuckles as I wait to see how my pound of flesh in a book is received by the blood-thirsty, book-reading masses, shivering in me boots, hoping I sell enough to get my hip fixed (just kidding)! And I am grateful to have the distraction of editing  for my new YA novel in front of me begging for attention. It’s due out later in the year. Not one drop of my own blood was spilled in the writing of that one!!!

Madness, Mayhem and Madness. Out in bookstores on July 2nd this year (2018)



I’m a writer.

I’ll let you in on a secret. I’m only a writer because I am utterly crap at everything else. Everything else. I have been many other things and failed miserably. I was a bank teller briefly but I harboured a sneaky desire to be a bank robber and that wasn’t going to work so I quit before the inevitable happened. I was a cleaner but I’m quite hyperactive and never took the time to do the job very well – a bit of spit and polish and a spray of air freshener and that was it. I never managed a Savoy corner on the bed-sheets or a completely smudge-free mirror. I taught kindergarten kids but I really don’t like small children unless they share some of my DNA and I often laughed when they fell off swings. I did a law degree and nearly died of boredom. The thought of being an actual lawyer made me break out in life-threatening hives. I almost got a job writing dating profiles for people looking for love  but I did not impress with my sarcastic and slightly offensive trial sample-profiles.

I always wrote stories at school and spent a life living in a world of make-believe. The nuns called me a day-dreamer. I could string a sentence together and liked writing and developed a weird fantasy about being Jackie Collins or Judith Krantz because they wrote wonderful smut that was banned from the school library and they made bucketloads of money and looked frightfully glamorous on their book sleeves while I was then a pimply teenager with a libido going haywire. But somewhere along the way, the fantasy fell flat because after many futile attempts, I realised that it was actually hard work to write a whole book.

But, after living a life like a headless chicken, trying a bit of this and a bit of that, and pretty much exhausting every other avenue, I decided to have a stab at being a writer and forced myself to write a book-ful of words in some semblance of order and started sharing it about….

Only to discover that the heady world of publishing that had routinely doled out six figure advances to writers and built them up into glossy celebrities…..had died and been replaced by some austere fortress being guarded by accountants. I learned that in the cold hard real world of ‘now’,  writers have to compete like beggars for a low four-figure advance and will be lucky to ever make a cent past it and will be forgotten and chucked in a bargain bin in the blink of a teary eye. No amount of bouffed up hair and eyeliner is going to make you a literary star…you have to write brilliantly and yet still make it something that people want to read en masse.

I don’t think I’m a particularly good writer. Every time I read a book by someone else, I wish until it hurts that I’d written it. Other writers weave words together so effortlessly, spinning humour and suspense while keeping the reader spell-bound and transported to other worlds and times and places. I love books. The look of them. The smell of them. The way they suspend belief and reality. How they sculpt my mind and emotions. I even love how they sit on book-shelves, upright, sideways or all in a pile. I’m a bibliophile. I love books more than cake. Every single book.

No. I lie. I actually really hate anything written by Neville Shute. I know that sounds mean and a little bit blasphemous. But I was forced to read one of his books as a school-kid and it felt like water torture and I’ve never forgiven him for writing it and can’t bring myself to try another. Like that time I got food poisoning from a fish-burger and can’t even look at another or Dimple Scotch which bruised me permanently with my very first hangover. I’m sure Neville’s books are wonderful but the childhood trauma won’t leave me, so it is what it is. Everyone has a favourite writer (mine is Emily Bronte because she writes like a mad-woman) and I suspect everyone also has a least favourite. Oh, I also hate Beatrix Potter. Another sacrilege. But it’s more about the illustrations. I don’t trust those small water-coloured animals and I keep reading between the lines of her text looking for something really nasty and sinister and I always end up disappointed and faintly nervous.

So I’m a writer. It has its up side…I never get out of pyjamas. I work in bed. I am thirteen paces from the kitchen pantry. I don’t have to speak to other humans. I can kill people and have wild affairs…on the page.

The down side is that I think my butt cheek has died. No, really. I think my gluteus maximus has atrophied from sitting in the same spot day in day out, tapping words into a laptop. Also three of my fingers (the ones that hit the most popular vowels and consonants like a and t on the keyboard) are showing signs of deteriotive erosion. I’m not even making this shit up although I’m a writer so I’d forgive you for thinking so.

Also, being a writer is very, very bad for your self-esteem, your ablity to get along with other flesh and blood people and your general mental health…and your body parts. You will pour your heart onto the page and send it full of good cheer and hope and wishes to those living in the impenetrable fortresses via the wire and you will wait and wait and wait and wait and wait…..ad infinitum….until maybe….someone tells you that your work is CRAP. They rarely use that word. Usually they will say something like ‘good luck but not for us’. Most politely pretend they never saw your words and you will just wither forever waiting for that never-coming response. Rejection will become so common that you stop being disappointed when one comes pinging into your inbox like a fart-bomb and you’ll throw your head back and laugh like Jim Carrey and scream ALRIGHTY THEN!

Or….rarely….like once in a polka dot moon….someone will like what you wrote and contract it and then change it to be more like what they want and less what you thought it was and you will end up with a book that is loosely what you started but with the fingerprints of many others on it and you will look at it and sigh….’I’m a real writer now’ and then you will discover GOODREADS and learn that you only think you’re a writer and anonymous people with profile photos of cats have realised immediately that your book is a sham and it sucks and you should go back to writing dating profiles for losers that no-one could ever love.

But maybe I’m just being cynical.

It is all worth it. The dead bum. The gnarled fingers. The abject poverty. The smell of my week-old pyjamas that are gunked into my crevices and will need to be showered off, leaving raw patches of skin.

I have a new book coming out and I am so, so excited. This one. Maybe this one will be it. I’ll puff up my hair and slap on some lippy and put on real clothes and go out and flog it to the masses. I’ll pretend I don’t read the bad reviews while using the reviewer’s name as a character in my next novel, the character who has their entrails unraveled by the dashing serial killer….and I’ll walk past the bargain bin the very next week and pull my leftover books out and buy them all and give them as gifts to family members for the next few years.

No…I’m sorry. I seem to be painting this picture of being a writer all wrong. It’s actually a dream come true. My name on an actual book. In a book store. A library. It is a thrill. An incredible thrill, to hold your very own book in your hands. All the words came out of your heart, your head, your soul. The thrill is like…so thrilling…it’s…there are no words. But it’s short-lived.

It’s short-lived.

I love being a writer because it teaches you things. It teaches you humility (and a bit of humiliation); it teaches you courage (and a little bit of masochism); it teaches you resilience (and a little bit of naivete)….

But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Who’d be a writer? Me.


Sometimes writers run out of ink….

That’s where I find myself today.

It’s not writer’s block. It’s writer’s bleak.

It’s raining and the ‘bleak’ has set it.  I know it’s diaphanous. I can put my hand right through it like it’s Caspar the Not-so-friendly Ghost. And yet it clings to me. A cold mist. And it feels so real because its breath summons the hairs on the back my neck, bristling them like the quills on a frightened caterpillar.

It will lift. I know this because I am the ‘bleak’ and the lighthouse.

Today I have no ink. I’ve run dry.

With two books scheduled for release this year and two more being considered by people in the world of publishing, I can afford to rest a notch. I will relax and sink into the softness beneath the ‘bleak’ like a dive beneath the breaking waves that roll tumultously above without buffeting me about in their chaos.

The ‘bleak’ is like the Nothingness in The Never-Ending Story. It rolls in like a thundercloud, dark and menacing and it obscures the ‘everything’ as it envelops and laps over the terrain of my mind.

But I have learned to read the weather-charts and can smell the petrichor easing up from the soil beneath my feet, up, up, into my nostrils, the tinny scent that heralds rain. I am ready when the ‘bleak’ rolls in. I rug up, take a deep breath, put down my quill and batten down the hatches. Sleep is good. Reading other writers’ words is good. Today is for soft, downy pillows, a blanket fort and some David Sedaris because god knows I’m not in any mood for Virginia Woolf.

It is actually raining. Out of the sky. A Lorikeet, fluffed and soggy, sits at my window, staring at me and I know exactly how she feels.

I will start my new writing project soon. Not today. Probably not tomorrow.

But deep, deep down in the subterranean cavern of my grey matter, a little bell rings and a tiny golden speck of light glows. My lighthouse is there. I’ll navigate my way past the rocks tomorrow. Or maybe the day after that.

It’s okay to ride the ‘bleak’. It’s okay to be grey.

Pen down and breathe…..


The warrior woman has awoken.

No longer will she polish her husband’s shoes, bring honour to her father’s name, pamper and praise her little boys. No longer will she sit silently while men decide her fate. She has been silenced and shouted down and shoved into subservience while being polished and pinched and powdered pretty in pink and poked and preened and pawed and played for cheap thrills.

She is not a plaything but playful. She is not a trophy although you can earn her love. She doesn’t nag, she expects respect and says so. She won’t let men make rules that hurt her. When she says ‘enough!’ she means it and ‘no’ always means ‘no’ no matter how hard you try to bend it.

It’s 2018 and it is an awesome thing to be a woman. As the dawn of Aquarius rises, it brings a chariot with a new breed of Boudiccas, waving and shouting and singing and celebrating…the fact that they are strong and smart and hopeful.

I am a writer and I have written young adult books with strong female characters, girls who inspire, girls who make sacrifices and work to make the world a better place for not only their daughters but also their sons. They build a world for the future where women and men stand beside one another without the handicap of sexism or racism or ageism or any other ism.

In the wake of the most recent school shooting in the US, a new chant has arisen led by the youth who will be our future and for the first time in a long time, I have renewed hope for that future. I listened to Emma Gonzalez so powerfully speak out against the system that allowed a 19 year old boy to buy a gun and kill seventeen of her school-mates in cold blood. Gonzalez is the role model young women need today. She is standing up to the conservative white men in suits who line their pockets with money splattered in children’s blood. She is owning the President and the NRA like a boss!

In the wake of the election of that misogynist scary clown to the position of US President, a wave of women’s voices began to roar. A ‘man’ who admitted to sexual assault so casually, so flippantly, was elected to the nation’s highest office. He stepped into the shoes of great men. But he was a scab on a diseased society, a man-child with grabby hands and a petulant pout. Women picked away the scab and let the pus pour out. #METOO was born. Women are being heard.  More importantly, women are being believed.

I have a teenage daughter and I said to her this morning, ‘In a world of Kardashians, be a Gonzalez.’

Don’t back down. For so long, these old white men have run the joint with their power-hungry, gluttonous greed and trampled over women’s rights, immigrant’s rights, refugee’s rights, almost every basic human right that didn’t directly benefit themselves. It’s time to stand up and tell them that we don’t live in their small world. The ants are resisting the grasshoppers. The crumpled suits may well represent the one percent but we have the numbers. We are legion.

The revolution is here and Boudicca is on the frontline.

My book Victorieux, a young adult novel about three powerful young women who resist the patriarchy and wave their swords confidently, shouting ‘Bring it on! BRING. IT. ON’ will be released in October this year.

My three Boudicca-babes are

Jeanne Hachette – a poor French maid who led an army of women in resistance against the Burgundians, who sought to sack her town in 1478.

Betsy Grey – an Irish lass who was a part of the underground Irish movement against the British occupation of her beloved country in 1798.


Fiona McKechnie – a girl who gets caught up in the power and passion of the protest movement at a Brisbane university and marches against conscription into the Vietnam war (1968).

It’s never been a better time to be a woman. Or a young adult writer. Catniss Everdeen kicked down the door and strong girls are rushing through it en masse and it makes my heart glad. We write stories not to entertain but to inspire young people into action. They are our tomorrow.

The fight is real. The power imbalance is still unacceptable. But when a tragedy occurs that unites us all in grief and anger, it is heartening to hear the voice of a woman like Emma Gonzalez bursting through the ashes…

We are women….hear us roar. We have the blood of Boudicca pulsing in our veins. Don’t stand in our way or we will eat your frickin’ entrails!