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Name: Demelza Carlton

Age: 30

Username: DemelzaCarlton

Habitat: The sound of endangered Carnaby’s cockatoos can be heard crying “Whee-you! Whee-you!” in the predawn light as they drop pinecone grenades on unsuspecting felines. The light filters dimly through the west-facing window, screened from the street in cream. Ice blue walls are barely distinguishable from the white of the ceiling. The books on the shelves muffle the rapid click of touch-typing fingernails as the mermaids are victorious again…

I could’ve just said I live in Perth, Western Australia, but I couldn’t hear myself think over the bloody cockies.

Favourite Genres:

Scifi, fantasy and historic fiction

Worst Read Book:

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton. Just because it’s set in my home town doesn’t mean I have to read it. It’s boring with weird details I didn’t want to know.

Best Read Book: Zog, by Julia Donaldson. Best for reading aloud. You’ll never look at dragons, knights or princesses the same way again. Or the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Authors you admire:

Colleen McCullough. She’s a retired neurosurgeon, lives on Norfolk Island and she’s written some amazing fiction in several genres. Her Roman history ones are brilliant. There’s always at least one kickass heroine in her stories – even in Roman history. She even wrote a Pride and Prejudice fanfiction – The Independence of Miss Mary Bennett.

What do you despise about writing:

Touchpad keyboards. Formats that reset themselves after you’ve fixed them twice. Graphic artists who can’t obey simple instructions for covers.

What does writing mean to you:

Extracting the mermaids (or fishermen) from my head for a little while. It’s a way to release the stories in my head so I can read them later. I’m learning to share them slowly.

Are you published?

Yes – Ocean’s Gift was published by Lost Plot Press in November. It’s available through Amazon.

Ocean’s Infiltrator (the sequel) is due out in April, also through Lost Plot Press.

What inspires your writing?

Nightmares, work, my morning commute…for the mermaid stories, it could be anything. Sometimes music, a meal, something a friend said, a picture or a memory. I wrote a whole short story attempting to write a kitchen scene for a writing prompt. The characters wouldn’t stay in the kitchen – but they had a fairly hot time of it anyway. Cask strength whiskey is not for the unprepared.

Music that inspires you:

That depends on the story. Nightmares tends toward Powderfinger and Evanescence with a touch of Queen; Ocean’s Gift is Florence and the Machine and Evanescence, with a touch of KISS and Pink; Ocean’s Infiltrator takes Evanescence, Lash, Black Veil Brides and Flyleaf. I will even admit to a scene in Nightmares that was inspired by a One Direction song. See if you can pick it…

What attracts you to men/women?

Oh…the line that hooked me for good was, “I’m doing a PhD in theoretical physics.”

Most embarrassing moment:

The day a train trip inspired the first episode of Mel Goes to Hell. I still hate briefcases.

Best moment:

I see so many in a day…one day it’s a man offering me his seat on the train, yesterday it was a pair of cockatoos (they mate for life) flying really close to me as they had a loud discussion about dinner, or accidentally meeting my husband on the street outside work and getting an unexpected kiss. There’s no one best moment, just really lovely, surprising ones every day.

If you could be male for the day, what would you do?

Deck whoever has my body and make the bastard give it back. I like being a woman.

Favourite quote:

A conversation from Arthur C Clarke and Gentry Lee’s Garden of Rama:

“Nothing I have seen…suggests to me that humanity is capable of achieving harmony in its relationship with itself, much less with any other living creatures.”

“Your view is too hopeless. I believe that most people desperately want to achieve that harmony. We just don’t know how to do it. I have to think so. Otherwise…I fear I would simply give up.”

If you could host a dinner party and invite six people past or present, who would they be and why.

Terry Pratchett for my husband, so he could inspire a bizarre characters in the next Discworld novel. Stephenie Meyer and Jane Austen, so the ladies could converse while I cooked. I’d ask both “What were you thinking?” about Twilight and Pride and Prejudice, respectively. Wiebbe Hayes, a soldier heralded as a hero for saving many lives when the ship he travelled on was shipwrecked at the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, for I’d like to ask him who he was and what really happened. I’d want his Skipper, Ariaen Jacobszoon, there, too, for his story – without the Skipper, no one would have survived the shipwreck, yet no one knows how or when he died. Well, that’s six of them – my husband would be invited, too. He has good table manners, remembers jokes so I don’t have to and always makes sure everyone has a drink. 

If you only had twenty four hours to live – what would you do?

I’d be on a boat on the ocean with my family. Hopefully we’d have stolen the boat with a crew who knew how to drive it, too.

What’s on your ‘Bucket list’?

Antarctica. And I will.

What is the most important lack in your life:

Time and sleep.

What’s the most blatant lie you’ve ever told:

“I will never publish Nightmares or post it on Wattpad.” I meant it at the time….

How do you react to bad reviews?

“Thank you for taking the time to comment.” 

Oh no, what if they’re right? I have to check and fix it if I can…wait, they called me a what? Hahahaha…

What are the occupational hazards of being a writer?

Normal writers suffer from all the hazards of a desk job, without a proper ergonomic assessment of their workspace. As I’ve done that, I’d say my fieldwork has its own hazards.

Sunburn, mosquitoes, robber crabs, sharks, spitting octopi, whales, seasickness, a sore throat and shoulders from firing too many guns, lionfish, the hangover from trying too many drinks at too many pubs and restaurants, penguin pecks, being chased by a sea lion, rope burn, ice burns…what? Don’t you do research for your writing?

Who would play you, in a film about your life?

Drew Barrymore.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?

How to touch type – on a typewriter! Talk about old school!

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