Browsing Tag


When Stephen King met Jim Morrison

Amy WinehouseYou’ve probably heard of the 27 Club—that exclusive group of musicians who died at the age of 27, after a short life of wild excess. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse all joined the club, leaving their fans bereft and guaranteeing themselves a place in rock legend.

That rock ’n’ roll lifestyle, huh? You wouldn’t read about it…and if you did, you wouldn’t believe it. That’s the trick with fiction. People want a page-turner. But if you put in something really extraordinary, they say ‘pfft, that would never happen!’ Well, I’m here to tell you that it would. Here are just a few things I discovered while researching for my book All Over the Place

Jim MorrisonJim Morrison is in the club—he died when he was 27. Well, that’s what they WANT us to believe. Actually, he’s alive and living in the Seychelles. No, he’s really a cowboy in Oregon. And he also has a regular gig playing a small club in Anaheim. Seriously though, he’s in the Lone Star state: Stephen King reports picking up a hitchhiker in Texas he swears was Jim Morrison.

There’s no disagreement about the fact that Brian Jones from the Rolling Stones was 27 when he died. He drowned in the swimming pool at his English country house, the former home of Pooh Bear and the real Christopher Robin. Murder was suspected, but never proven. Later, the swimming pool was re-tiled. And in 2001—not wanting to let an opportunity go to waste—the Brian Jones Fan Club offered the old tiles to souvenir hunters for £130 each, every one numbered, with a certificate of authenticity. Classy.

Sid & NancyAnd don’t people love to blame their mothers for their problems? Try this one. Everyone knows the story of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. When she was found dead in their hotel bathroom with a single stab wound, Sid claimed to know nothing about it. He overdosed not long afterwards, having only made it to 21. It’s rumoured that his mother confessed to giving him a lethal injection of heroin, so he wouldn’t have to face a jail term for Nancy’s murder. No one knows where his ashes are—some say his mother scattered them on Nancy’s grave in Philadelphia. But witnesses claim to have seen her accidentally spill them at London’s Heathrow airport, where they were blown around by the airport ventilation system. Thanks mum.

“There’s nothing glorious in dying,” wrote Johnny Rotten later, in his autobiography. “Anyone can do it.”

Watching the VMAs this year made me wonder what stories we’re yet to hear about today’s stars, up there collecting their awards. Some of them have made it to 28 and beyond already. Others are still waiting to discover what 27 holds. Whatever happens, we’re sure to read about it—and somewhere, a writer will probably use it for inspiration. As they say, truth is stranger than fiction…but turning it into fiction can be a lot of fun!

To see where fact meets fiction in All Over the Place, head to your favourite retailer:


If you want to be something

RWNZ heart


Only a week to go!

I missed last year’s RWNZ conference, which was in Wellington, at the same hotel where the All Blacks were staying. The All Blacks + a horde of romance writers = a dynamite combination!

Sadly, I don’t think there’ll be any rugby players this year (unless the girls find their own!), but there is an amazing lineup of local and international speakers. Marie Force, James Scott Bell, and Courtney Milan are all giving workshops, along with a host of other writers and publishing industry experts. I’ll be there soaking up all the expertise and advice, and catching up with friends. I even have a glam, Mad Men-style dress and gold, bejewelled shoes to wear to the cocktail party. Fabulous shoes are de rigueur at writers’ events!

Making artSeeing everyone get more excited as the conference draws nearer has made me think about what a determined bunch writers are. We’re all driven by the need to write, and by the sneaking, glimmering hope that we really can do this thing…and that people will read our stories, and like them. Writers have to keep the faith through weeks or months of work before they have a finished product. And if they lose faith, they keep writing anyway—because they just have to.

If you’re pursuing something creative—music, art, writing—outside validation is actually very nice. An exhibition with little red sold stickers on all your paintings. Your book optioned by a production company. Your mother/spouse/therapist finally acknowledging that your obsession is worthwhile.

But whatever the passion, we shouldn’t need to justify it. One day there may be a bestselling book, or a hit album, or a gigantic Damien Hirst-sized cheque. Or a medium-sized cheque, which is also a delightful thing! Or maybe it will just remain a satisfying pastime. But if it means anything to you, the only option is to keep going, keep creating. If there’s doubt in your mind about being good enough, just let it roll around in there, and get on with what your heart desires. After all, the only way to be better at something is to do more of it—the people we consider the most talented are also the people who put the most effort and practice into their particular skill.

Not always famousIn short, whether you want to be a painter, a singer, a writer, or just the best darn pom-pom maker this side of the Rockies, the secret is to do it. And by doing it, that’s what you are. A writer is someone who writes. A painter is someone who paints. A pom-pom maker is someone who makes pom-poms. In time, maybe you’ll join the ranks of successful/well-paid/award-winning pom-pom makers. But everyone starts from the beginning—and it’s only by combining persistence and practice with aptitude that successful people become so.

The RWNZ conference will be full of wonderful writers, some more famous and successful than others, but all learning, and determinedly being writers in their fabulous shoes, no matter where they are on their path. I plan to do the same!

I recently came across this video online, and they way Rosie discussed all this really resonated with me, so I wanted to share it here. I hope you find it as inspiring as I did!

And, as Rosie says…

…if you want to be something, start being it. I’ll be cheering you on! 🙂



P.S. Stay tuned for conference photos and news! If you’re on Twitter, you can keep up with what’s happening using the #RWNZ14 hashtag. And while you’re there, you can find Rosie at @RosieFrmThePast, or check out her website at www.rosiemoed.com—you’ll be blown away by all the things she’s being!


Our extraordinary, ordinary lives

“A life without the extraordinary is a life unlived.”

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.”

The internet is awash with pictures and quotes exhorting us to live an incredible life. We like them, we share them, we save them to our ‘inspiration’ folder. But do they make us feel a bit, you know…


Follow that dreamEvery day now, we see staggering achievements from high fliers in every field, often as they happen. You start to get the impression that the world is full of people doing the most unbelievably spectacular things. And you’d be excused if you just threw up your hands. I mean, once you’ve seen someone skydive from outer space…

Of course, the flip side of that is TV shows packaging the ordinary as something astounding. The Kardashians seem kapable of selling anything, including a karefully krafted kharade. (That last one almost worked!)

So what really counts as extraordinary, anyway?

If you ask me, the most extraordinary thing about us isn’t the flashy, splashy achievements. It’s our fortitude in getting through every minute of every day, the mundane, ever-turning cogs of going to work and coming home, laundry and groceries, bills and housework. It’s our strength in surviving the run-of the-mill but agonising lows that we often don’t even see coming.

And it’s our ability, through all that, to keep dreaming. To hold onto high hopes and imagination, and the determination to make something happen. And, when we take a moment, to see the magic that’s there in the most commonplace things. The backyard miracle of a squishy caterpillar utterly transformed. The way a baby’s eyes change colour as he grows. That rush when you look at someone and know your life’s about to change. (The kind of things that writers collect and treasure!)

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. – Albert Einstein

The most amazing stuff of life is in the hearts of the people who share our path, and the way we love each other. If we’re lucky, it’s a long, ordinary journey with them by our side. With our eyes open, the little stuff is as spectacular as the big stuff. Lots of people dream of writing a book one day – and maybe everyone does have a book in them! But anyone’s life could BE a book. And an extraordinary one at that. Walking down the street, on any regular day, you’ll pass perfectly regular people living the most inspiring, heartbreaking and uplifting ordinary stories.

So we’ll keep dreaming, and making those plans, small and big. Maybe we won’t kash in with a krazy kareer – but that’s kool. We might find that what we do turns out to be something extraordinary after all.