Inspired by Canberra


Ah, Canberra. The nation’s capital. Reviled across Australia as (allegedly) the soulless, out-of-touch political heart of the country. (For those of my readers who are overseas, it may come as a shock to learn Sydney is not in fact Australia’s capital. Sydney is to New York as Canberra is to Washington, if that helps.)

As Canberrans love to point out, though, almost all the politicians that live here for part of the year are from other parts of the country—so if they bring a deficit of soul with them, whose fault is that? We didn’t vote for them! 😉

Canberra is, in some ways, an overgrown country town. Our population is around 370,000 people—so we don’t have the heavy pollution and insane peak-hour traffic you get in bigger cities, but we still have the amenities of a big city. We’re actually Australia’s largest inland city … but all the state capitals are on the coast, so we’re only the eighth-largest overall.

The city sprawls over 812 square kilometers, but has a population density almost a fifth of Sydney’s, and just over a third of Melbourne’s. What that means is we have a lot more green spaces than either of them do: reserves running through suburbs; low mountains covered in walking trails and with lookouts perched on top; parks for the kids to play. It’s a great place to raise a family. And a great place to set a story when your supernatural population likes green spaces.

Canberra: a very pretty city. We have lakes!

Canberra: we have lakes!

Werewolves and fairies would love it here—there are places with hardly any iron or steel, and green corridors a wolf could sneak through. Vampires would have to be careful how they hunted given the lower numbers of humans to snack on, but depending on their appetites they’d do alright too.

So far, all my books have been set in Canberra (all 2.5 of them!). I wondered at first whether setting a supernatural tale here would somehow lack credibility, and whether I should instead pick Sydney or Melbourne, even though I’m less familiar with them. But then I thought, if Sookie Stackhouse can run into vampires in a tiny town like Bon Temps, why can’t Canberra have its own supernatural stories, that element of magic?

When I see the sunlight sparkling off the surface of Lake Burley Griffin on a crisp autumn afternoon, or the glittering lights of the city from Mount Ainslie at dusk, I think that magic is already there. All I’m doing is telling people about it.

In a fit of procrastination, the other day I made a Pinterest board celebrating Canberra. Check it out, you know, if you want to.

Click here to see this week’s other Thursday’s Children blog posts.

A wet weekend… and not in a fun way! :p

Going into the long weekend I thought I was going to have a quiet one. I thought I might do some editing or a bit more reading for my new novel idea. I did end up doing both of those things, but only in very tiny portions.

The weekend started really well. The launch post for Aussie Owned and Read went up—my regular reader will have seen me reblog it, as well as the second post (all about moi; go figure). Aussie Owned is a book blog; I’m part of the octumvirate* of contributors, which I’m very excited about.

My new t-shirt, being modelled by someone that is not me.

My new t-shirt, being modelled by someone that is not me.

I popped out to a local nerd convention, where I bought myself a Minecraft t-shirt, then had lunch with the significant other; an introvert’s good day, right?

Then at dinnertime the storm rolled through.

Australia has had some extreme weather this weekend. Queensland, not satisfied with nearly washing into the sea two years ago, thought it’d try again with the fallout from an ex-tropical cyclone. Canberra, jealous, got in on the action with its own storm. We’re not on the coast so our problems weren’t as bad as theirs, but my local area got 60 mm of rain in thirty minutes.

A significant proportion of which ended up in one room of my house.

It washed in through the ceiling and poured out light fittings; it ran down one wall of the room like my very own internal water feature. The carpet squelched underfoot; the couch absorbed so much water it soaked right through to the floor underneath. Later, when the electrician removed one of the wall sockets, water came out of the wall.

Amazingly, the television stayed dry. But that’s about all.

So the rest of the weekend was spent first with buckets and all the towels we and several friends could spare, and then on the phone to the insurance company and various tradies. An electrician took light fittings and a wall socket away; a carpet technician is coming back tomorrow to rip up the carpet; a builder came around to do some quick repairs to stop any more rain getting in. Plus I’ve done about ten loads of washing in the last day and a bit.

Tomorrow I have to deal with the insurance assessor and the bank. That may be worse than dealing with the storm! :p

But despite the shellshock I still feel relatively lucky. We didn’t lose power, unlike others I know—which is good, because mopping up in the dark would have been impossible. We don’t have a foot or more of water through our house and the roof is still attached—unlike some folks in Queensland. And I’m insured, so hopefully the gods of bureaucracy will shine on us and everything will eventually be repaired or replaced.

It’s not much of a silver lining. More like pewter or tin. But that’s why I’ve been a lazy blogger this weekend! Forgive me?

* Possibly not a real word.

First post! First post! …oh, shut up.

My name is Cassandra Page, and this is my blog. I was contemplating giving it a truly awful pun name, like “Cassandra, Page Turner”, just because it makes me groan. But I’m not sure whether a blog name that reads like a joke out of a Christmas cracker is such a good idea, even if it is that time of year.

Anyway. I’m generally not very good at small talk (you noticed, huh?), so I’ll just launch straight in with the introductions, shall I? For any souls, lost on the internet, who happen to wander by.

I am a writer of young adult urban fantasy. I have one completed novel, called ISLA’S INHERITANCE. The main character, Isla, has the misfortune to live in the same, very beautiful city as I do: Canberra, the capital of Australia. I say misfortune, because when you’re seventeen, beauty isn’t generally your number one criterion for things you’d like in a city. As someone in their mid-thirties, I’m actually rather fond of the place, but I grew up here so I know how she feels.

Fortunately for Isla (it’s pronounced eye-la—blame the Scottish), she was lucky enough to have a writer who was looking out for her. I did my very best to make her life “interesting”, as per that old Chinese curse. I’m so generous. But don’t worry; I did give her a bestie and a boyfriend. I’m not totally mean.

Canberra: a very pretty city. We have lakes!

Canberra: a very pretty city. We have lakes!

ISLA’S INHERITANCE is currently doing the agent submission world tour. I’m also working on a sequel, which is as yet unnamed. It’s about seven-eighths done, though, which is very exciting.

When I’m not torturing my hapless imaginary friends, I am of course a public servant (I do live in Canberra, after all). I actually edit in my day job, which is great because I get to torture real people with words instead. But I have to be nice while I do it, because they are public servants too.

I’m also a single mum to the most charming, adorable and bright three-year-old boy in the world. Not that I’m biased or anything. He likes to swing on my computer chair while I’m trying to write—so, you know, he’s part of my creative process. Which is nice.

What do I envisage for this blog? I could give you some professional-sounding spiel, I suppose: writing about the process and the mechanics of writing, and my search for the Holy Grail of agented publication. All of which is kind of true. But the real truth is that I plan to make it up as I go along.

Don’t tell anybody.