You gotta have braaaaiiiinsss…

Best New Zombie Tales vol 2I was delighted to receive a box full of books this morning! I ordered a dozen copies of Best Zombie Tales vol 2 a while back, and they’ve finally arrived! They contain a lot of terrific zombie stories, and my own contribution, The Truth About Brains – about a 14 year old girl whose brother gets turned into a zombie, and she’s trying to fix him before mum finds out!

There are a couple of ways to get your hands on these fine zombie tales –


Best New Zombie Tales (Vol. 2) (Paperback)

Best New Zombie Tales (vol. 2) (Kindle)

or you can get a copy from me, for $20 plus postage (or you can get it from me in person). Just let me know in the comments and I’ll send you my Paypal info!

GaryView: Moonlight

Gary and LissaLissa: <knocks on Gary’s front door. He answers> Heya, Gary!

Gary: Heya. Come on in.

Lissa: <thrusts a potplant at him> Happy birthday.

Gary: Um. My birthday was in September.

Lissa: Yes, but you didn’t tell me until November, so now you get a present. It’s a cactus. They can live for hundreds of years if you treat ’em right, according to Google. Don’t worry, I’ve typed up a ‘care and feeding’ guide for you.

Gary: <stares at cactus for a bit, pokes it gently with his index finger, grins> Hundreds of years, eh? That’s really cool.

Lissa: Thought you’d like it… <pauses to sniff> Gary, what’s that smell?

Gary: <worried> Does it smell bad?

Lissa: No, it smells… edible.

Gary: Come and sit down. I’ve got to get something… just a tick.

<He leads Lissa to the dining table and rapidly vanishes. The table is mysteriously clear of books and covered in a slightly motheaten tablecloth, and a silver service setting for one. Daisies that have grown like weeds at the edge of the concrete in Gary’s front yard have been cut and are gathered in a raggedy group above the setting, near the dessert spoon. Lissa, puzzled, sits and examines it all  minutely, especially the decoration – a fat new candle sticking up from the middle a parfait glass. Some miniature daisies are scattered around the base of the glass. Gary returns with a bone china bowl full of clear soup>

Lissa: Wh…?

Gary: Do you remember when we were watching Moonlight, and Mick cooked Beth that meal he couldn’t eat because he’s a vampire? You talked about it a lot.

Lissa: I did?

Gary: You said all this stuff about how feeding someone is a way of caring for them. You said a lot of stuff about nurturing and nourishment, and you talked about your Nanna, and how she used to bake cakes and biscuits, and made lunches and dinners and everything for you kids, and how you like to cook for Kate now.

Lissa: Yeah. I guess I did talk about it a lot. It struck a chord, I guess. <swirls the soup with a spoon> So you made me soup?

Gary: Um. I made… a lot of stuff.

Lissa: Oh. <tastes the soup> That’s lovely.

Gary: <grins like an idiot> Does it? Because I couldn’t taste it. It smelled okay.

Lissa: It tastes fantastic. <eats more, slowly>

Gary: … Are you okay?

Lissa: Fine. Good. The best. <wipes her eyes> Absolutely the best ever. This is delicious.

Gary: It’s a beef consomme. It’s got eggs and sherry in it. And beef soup. From a tin. I didn’t know how to make it from scratch.

Lissa: This is… is… <wipes eyes again> Where did you get all the stuff? How did you do this? You only own a kettle.

Gary: Oh, there were pots and plates and things in boxes in the spare room. And a camp stove, from when I was a kid, and the shop had one of those little toaster ovens going cheap, so. You know. I made stuff I could cook in that.

Lissa: I didn’t know you could cook.

Gary: I did some stuff for mum, when she got too old to do it for herself. But mostly it’s just following instructions. As long as it’s straightforward I can do that.

Lissa: I’m… I don’t know what to say. <wipes eyes again>

Gary: That bit of the show really got to you, didn’t it?

Lissa: I liked the series. It had a good developing story arc, and the status quo kept getting wobbly. It wasn’t always predictable either. Pity it got cancelled. You said you liked it too. Even though the vampire stuff was only half right.

Gary: Beth reminded me of you. Always asking questions.

Lissa: Mick reminded me of you. Always answering them eventually! And other things. It was so sad, when he found the cure for being a vampire but had to give it up again so he could save Beth.

Gary: Yeah…

Lissa:<pats his hand> Yeah. But this is lovely. Thank you. <eats more soup>

Gary: There are more courses coming – prunes wrapped in bacon, savoury tomatoes, olive and almond rolls – that’s got more bacon – melon and ham, well it’s called something starting with ‘p’ I can’t pronounce, but it looks like ham, and avocado with prawn and this sauce I made with mayonnaise and herbs and stuff.

Lissa: Oh my god, so much food!

Gary: Yeah. I had to use up all the ingredients, the perishable stuff anyway. I don’t have a fridge. Oh, and I made a pavlova. I cheated a bit with that one and bought a base. But I used Mum’s recipe book to work out how to do the rest of it.

Lissa: Oh!

Gary: I’ll pack up the leftovers for you to take home.

Lissa: Which recipe book is this?

<Gary leaps up and returns with “The Australian Hostess Cookbook” , published in 1969. He proudly shows her the page with the consomme recipe. Lissa flicks through it and sees, on almost every page, serving suggestions and recommendations on being a good hostess underlined and notated. The page where the hostess is exorted to put fresh flowers at the table setting is underlined in red, with Good idea! written next to it in Gary’s neat hand. The recipes he’s used are all highlighted with red asterixes.>

Lissa: Wow. You really went to town.

Gary: I hope it’s all okay. I mean. I haven’t cooked since Mum died in the 80s, and then it was mostly toasted cheese. She liked toasted cheese. And soup. She really liked the consomme.

Lissa: <flings herself at him in a fierce hug> I love it all.

Gary: <patting her back awkwardly> You haven’t even tried most of it yet.

Lissa: <muffled> It’s all going to be absolutely perfect. I can tell.

Gary: That’s good. Cos… I think you’re going to be eating it all week. It’s a lot of food.

Lissa: <laughing, wiping her eyes again> It is! Tell you what, bring it all in and I’ll describe it all to you as I go. How’s that?

Gary: That’d be nice.

Lissa: And Gary?

Gary: Yeah?

Lissa: Thank you.

Gary: <Smiles> Thanks. And thanks for the cactus. I’ll take good care of it.

Get Moonlight – The Complete Series at

The Australian Hostess Cookbook, edited by Hanna Pan and published by Thomas Nelson (Australia) is out of print. I found Gary’s copy – marked up as stated – at a second hand shop.

*For newcomers, the GaryView is a review of books/films/TV/entertainment carried out as a conversation between Lissa Wilson (librarian) and Gary Hooper (vampire) , characters from my book ‘The Opposite of Life’.

Extra added fun

My day as an extra for the filming of Outland was a blast, despite the long periods of waiting, standing up all day and the awful sunburn. As we were taking part in a faux Pride March, my friend Julie was my tv girlfriend for the day. I’m told we make a cute couple. 🙂 See pictures here!

Lessons in Language: Toe to tow

I was in Beechworth recently – enjoying a spot of fine food, excellent wine and a luxurious B&B called Freeman on Ford. It was all very wonderful, made more delightful by Beechworth’s generally intact historical architecture and cheerily promoted link with Australia’s most famous bushranger, Ned Kelly.

It was while partaking of the Ned Kelly tourist walk that I heard tour guide Daniel Goonan talk about Ned’s exploits as a boxer. Goonan referred to boxers having to ‘toe the line’ or ‘come up to scratch’, referring to the way that 19th century bare knuckle fighters had to come up to the central line drawn in the ring – the line or ‘scratch’ – before beginning the bout.

After the tour, I chatted to Goonan and his colleague at the Beechworth Visitor Centre about the etymology of both expressions, and we discussed their boxing origins at length. We also discussed spelling.

‘Toeing the line’ is another of my language bugbears. According to my dictionary, ‘toe the line’ means ‘comply with authority’. These days, I often see it in print as ‘tow the line’, which annoys me. Tow it where?

Actually, to stick pins in my own pomposity about this, I thought the term derived from military usage – ranks of soldiers having to line up, toe to the line, in precise ranks. Of course, just because the Beechworth historical experts say it’s a boxing term doesn’t mean they are necessarily correct. The Wikipedia entry on the subject (and we all know that this is an utterly reliable source of information) refers to its origins variously as foot-racing, the military and the British House of Commons.

Nobody, however, is suggesting it is or was ever spelled as ‘tow’ in this context.

Coming ‘up to scratch’ is a whole other matter. My dictionary lists this as ‘up to the required standard’, which I suppose you would want to do as a boxer or risk a broken nose. The Online Etymology Dictionary notes that it’s a sporting term dating from 1778 but how it transformed from being at the starting line to being of a high enough standard to compete isn’t covered. However, English for Students has attempted a more comprehensive reply, with reference to boxing and knockout punches, and who am I to disbelieve them?

As much as I love etymology, it can be frustrating. Many words and particularly expressions are in use in the vernacular long before they are ever written down. As a result, people often try to reconstruct the origin of words by deciding what seems likely or logical, rather than by tracing the actual route the words have taken. When it’s all just words in the air, until someone pins them down on paper (or screen) that’s not always possible. Remind me to tell you about the Australian expression ‘Buckley’s or none’ one day.

In the meantime, I’m going to hunt up some more of that excellent Beechworth beer and wine, and drown my linguistic sorrows.

Words are like oxygen