Guest Post – On Writing Path to the Night Sea – Alicia Gilmore

Path to the Sea

Welcome Alicia Gilmore to my blog. I recently asked Alicia to talk about how she came to write her amazing novel Path to the Night Sea – here is what she shared with me.

 

On writing Path to the Night Sea

 

Path to the Night Sea started as a short story in a fiction class with Sue Woolfe. Sue had given the class a selection of photographs and objects to spark our creativity and give us a physical stimulus to write a short fragment. I remember a small glass perfume bottle and a photograph caught my attention. The photo featured a woman in profile, seated at a piano, her hands poised to strike the keys. There was a cat sitting on top of the piano, and I wondered if these were the two most important things in her life – music and her pet. I started to write about this woman who would sit and play, not looking out of the curtained window, but indoors with her cat. Her face in profile, her ‘good side’… The perfume bottle that perhaps had belonged to a woman who would never get old. A bottle that held scented memories… Ideas and elements came together and what is now a lot of Day One in the novel formed the original short story. Sue read the story, said I had written the start of a wonderful novel and she had to know what happened to Ellie. I realised so I wanted to know too.

The story became darker the more I delved into Ellie’s world. Seven days seemed the fitting structure for Ellie to be introduced to the reader and for her to seek her path, tying in with the religious dogma she’d heard from her Grandmother and Father. Listening to music by Nick Cave and Johnny Cash helped me establish the mood at times and gave me the impetus to embrace the flaws and the darkness within my characters, especially Arthur. When I was writing the first drafts, I was living near the beach and the waves, particularly during storms, formed a natural soundtrack. If I peered out from my desk, I could catch glimpses of the ocean. By the time editing was underway, I had moved to a house that backed onto the bush and had inherited a cat. Listening to the raucous native birds, possums scurrying up trees and across the roof at night, dealing with the odd snake and lizards, plus watching the cat, heightened those natural elements of the story.

I was concerned about and for my characters. I needed to ensure that Arthur in particular had moments, however fleeting, when he was ‘human’, and that Ellie, despite her circumstances, not be passive. Ellie had to find the courage to fight for herself or remain lost to the world forever.   I found myself going off in tangents in early drafts with minor characters and subplots but judicious readers and editing brought the focus back to Ellie and Arthur, and the confines of restricted world they inhabit.

I had thought of letting Ellie go one morning years ago when I woke up and heard the news about Elizabeth Fritzl kidnapped and abused by her father. In my drowsy state listening to the radio, the reality of her situation came crashing in and I wanted to put my humble writings aside. What was fictional pain in the face of such devastating reality? As the recent shocking events in California this week have shown – thirteen children being trapped and chained at home by their parents – a nondescript house on the street can hide the most unimaginable terrors. Path to the Night Sea is my way of using language to explore familial dysfunction, small town horror, and ultimately, hope.

Sea

 

Post Script: The White Book – Han Kang

The White Book

The White Book

Han Kang

Translated by Deborah Smith

Allen & Unwin Australia

Portobello Books

ISBN: 9781846276293

 

Description:

From the winner of the Man Booker International Prize for The Vegetarian

 

Writing while on a residency in Warsaw, a city palpably scarred by the violence of the past, the narrator finds herself haunted by the story of her older sister, who died a mere two hours after birth. A fragmented exploration of white things – the swaddling bands that were also her shroud, the breast milk she did not live to drink, the blank page on which the narrator herself attempts to reconstruct the story – unfolds in a powerfully poetic distillation.

 

As she walks the unfamiliar, snow-streaked streets, lined by buildings formerly obliterated in the Second World War, their identities blur and overlap as the narrator wonders, ‘Can I give this life to you?’. The White Book is a book like no other. It is a meditation on a colour, on the tenacity and fragility of the human spirit, and our attempts to graft new life from the ashes of destruction.

 

This is both the most autobiographical and the most experimental book to date from South Korean master Han Kang.

 

 

My View:

Experimental in presentation and design, economically written, no words wasted, emotions captured seemingly effortlessly, this is a stunning read, an emotional read.

 

Poignant beautiful prose – so personal, like reading someone else’s diary, someone who has a heart full of sadness (I hope that is not the reality, I hope that is just my imagination).

 

Post Script: The Three of Us – Kim Lock

The Three of Us

The Three of Us

Kim Lock

Pan Macmillan Australia

ISABN: 9781743538647

 

Description:

A life lived in the shadows. A love that should never have been hidden.

 

In the small town of Gawler, South Australia, the tang of cut grass and eucalyptus mingles on the warm air. The neat houses perched under the big gum trees on Church Street have been home to many over the years. Years of sprinklers stuttering over clipped lawns, children playing behind low brick walls. Family barbecues. Gossipy neighbours. Arguments. Accidents. Births, deaths, marriages. This ordinary street has seen it all.

 

Until the arrival of newlyweds Thomas and Elsie Mullet. And when one day Elsie spies a face in the window of the silent house next door, nothing will ever be ordinary again…

 

In Kim Lock’s third novel of what really goes on behind closed doors, she weaves the tale of three people with one big secret; a story of fifty years of friendship, betrayal, loss and laughter in a heart-warming depiction of love against the odds.

 

“With great care and compassion for the lives and losses of human beings, Kim Lock artfully weaves a moving and surprising story of the simple complexity of relationships and how they shape us” Sophie Green, author of The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club.

 

 

My View:

Subtle, gentle and topical, this book has something to offer all discerning readers. It is a powerful love story, an optimistic read. It is also a historical novel, an Australian study of domestic life in the conservative suburbs in the 1960’s; a time that saw the middle class boom and the slow beginnings of the equal rights movement for women. Fifty years on and the author reminds us that there are still some barriers that need to be broken.

 

Kim Lock has cannily crafted a narrative that subtly exposes our prejudices and highlights some of the historical social injustices that have impacted and influenced Australian society.

 

This book has all the emotions though is not in any way melodramatic, subtleness is its strength.

 

Thought provoking scenarios and engaging, realistic characters dictate that this is a novel that will be revered, enjoyed and cherished.

 

 

Coconut and Ginger Brown Rice – Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Fit Food

Ultimate Fit Food

Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Fit Food ($39.99), published by Hachette Australia.

Photographer Jamie Orlando Smith

 

COCONUT AND GINGER BROWN RICE

 

SERVES 6 AS A SIDE

This rich and fragrant rice is delicious with curries or as a side to any Asian main course, and it makes a great change from plain boiled rice. Cooking the rice in coconut milk does increase the level of fat and saturated fat in the dish, but there are advantages to using coconut that make this an excellent choice for a pre-event supper…“p.231

 

1 tbsp rapeseed oil, for frying

1 small onion, peeled and finely diced

3cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated

1 tsp ground turmeric

300g brown basmati rice

1 x 400ml tin reduced fat coconut milk

chopped coriander, to serve (optional)

Sea salt

1.Place a medium heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Add the rapeseed oil and, once hot, add the finely diced onion with a pinch of salt. Cook for 5–6 minutes, until softened.

2. Add the ginger and turmeric and continue to cook for 2 minutes, stirring everything together. Then stir in the rice, ensuring it is well coated in the flavoured oil.

3. Pour in the coconut milk and 400ml of boiling water and bring up to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid. Cook for a further 30–35 minutes, until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed.

4. Remove the rice from the heat and fluff with a fork, seasoning with a pinch of salt if needed. Serve immediately, sprinkled with coriander, if using.

 

HOW TO USE UP LEFTOVER RICE

Leftover rice can be stir-fried the next day with added vegetables, eggs, meat, prawns or tofu for a delicious lunch or supper.

 

Southern Indian Fish Curry – Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Fit Food

 

Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Fit Food ($39.99), published by Hachette Australia.

Photographer Jamie Orlando Smith

Ultimate Fit Food

Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Fit Food ($39.99), published by Hachette Australia.

Photographer Jamie Orlando Smith

 

SOUTHERN INDIAN FISH CURRY

SERVES 6

This is a lightly spiced, creamy curry with a delicately sweet-and-sour flavour that is popular in the southern regions of India. Serve it with boiled basmati or brown rice for a perfectly balanced pre-exercise meal. Coconut is rich in a certain type of saturated fat which is metabolized more rapidly than that from animal sources – this means that coconut makes a useful energy source for endurance sport and competitions.” p. 230

Southern Indian Fish Curry

½ tbsp flavourless oil, e.g. groundnut, for frying

2 onions, peeled and finely sliced

2 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp ground turmeric

2 tsp ground cumin

3cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated

1–2 long red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped, to taste

1 x 400ml tin reduced fat coconut milk

1–2 tbsp tamarind paste or watered-down tamarind block

1 small aubergine, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 carrots, chopped into bite-sized rounds

200g green beans, topped and tailed and cut in half

600g meaty white fish (e.g. cod, pollock, haddock or coley), cut into bite-sized pieces

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

TO SERVE

Coconut and Ginger Brown Rice (see next post)

2 tbsp desiccated coconut, toasted (optional)

 

 

 1.Place a large, shallow saucepan or a high-sided frying pan over a medium heat and add the oil. Once hot, add the sliced onions with a pinch of salt and saute for 8–10 minutes, until completely soft.

2. Add the spices and continue to cook for a further minute or until you can really smell them, then add the ginger and chillies and stir over the heat for a further minute.

3. Pour in the coconut milk, tamarind paste and 400ml of water (use the empty coconut milk tin to measure the 400ml). Season with salt and pepper, stir well and bring to a simmer.

4. Once the sauce is simmering, add the aubergine and continue to cook for 5 minutes, then add the carrots and simmer for 10–15 minutes, until the carrots and aubergine are tender and the sauce has thickened a little.

5. Add the green beans and cook for a further 3 minutes, then add the fish. Stir well to coat, then cook for 3–4 minutes, until the fish is just cooked through. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

6. Serve the curry with rice in warmed serving bowls, sprinkled with toasted desiccated coconut, if using.

California ‘Fried’ Chicken Sandwich – Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Fit Food

Ultimate Fit Food

Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Fit Food ($39.99), published by Hachette Australia.

Photographer Jamie Orlando Smith

 

 

California ‘fried’ chicken sandwich

SERVES 4

As a family with four teenage children, we are always looking for healthy ways of preparing not-so-healthy fast food favourites like pizza, burgers and fried chicken. This recipe is brilliant because it looks and tastes like a fried chicken sandwich, with the satisfying crunch from the chicken and the creaminess of the mayo, but is actually made with baked chicken and a yoghurt dressing. The kids love it, we know they’re eating well and everyone’s happy.” p. 224

50g wholemeal flour
200ml buttermilk (or 2 eggs, beaten)
150g puffed rice
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder or granules
4 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried sage
8 mini chicken breast fillets
4 wholemeal buns
1 ripe avocado, peeled, stoned and sliced
½ iceberg lettuce, shredded
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mexican hot sauce such as Cholula (optional), to serve

FOR THE YOGHURT DRESSING

75ml Greek yoghurt
½ garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp cider vinegar

California "fried" chicken sandwich

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C/gas 4.
  2. Put the flour, buttermilk and puffed rice into three shallow bowls. Season the flour with salt and pepper. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and dried sage to the buttermilk and mix well. Crush the puffed rice with your hands so that the pieces are broken down slightly but not powdered.
  3. Dip a piece of chicken into the flour so that it is completely covered. Remove and shake off any excess, then dip into the buttermilk. Allow any excess buttermilk to drip off, then put the chicken pieces into the puffed rice. Turn over to make sure they are completely coated, then place on a baking tray. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.
  4. Put the tray into the preheated oven and bake for 25–30 minutes, until golden and cooked through, turning halfway through cooking.
  5. Meanwhile, make the yoghurt dressing; mix together the yoghurt, crushed garlic and vinegar with a little salt and pepper. Taste and add more vinegar if needed.
  6. Slice open the buns and divide the avocado slices between them. Top with shredded iceberg lettuce.
  7. Once the chicken is cooked, place on top of the lettuce and spoon over dollops of the yoghurt dressing, as well as a drizzle of hot sauce, if desired. Close the buns and serve immediately.

PER SERVING

KCAL 510

FAT (g) 13.0

SATURATES (g) 4.0

CARBS (g) 67.0

SUGARS (g) 10.0

FIBRE (g) 8.0

PROTEIN (g) 27.0

SALT (g) 1.30

 

 

Frozen Berry Breakfast Bowl – Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Fit Food

Ultimate Fit Food

Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Fit Food ($39.99), published by Hachette Australia.


Photographer Jamie Orlando Smith

 

 

FROZEN BERRY BREAKFAST BOWL

SERVES 4

The ladies in my life love a bowl of berries like this in the morning. I think it’s because it tastes a lot like ice cream! Acai berries are one of the latest superfoods to reach our shores from South America and, among the many wondrous claims made of them, they are said to boost energy levels. So, no more excuses for staying in bed . . .” p. 196

Frozen Berry Breakfast Bowl

6 tbsp acai juice or 4 tbsp acai powder
300g frozen berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or mixed berries
4 bananas, peeled, broken into pieces and frozen for at least 2 hours
Water, coconut water or apple juice, if needed
1 fresh banana
4 small handfuls of granola
2 handfuls of fresh blueberries

  1. Put the acai juice or powder, frozen berries and frozen bananas into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. If the mixture looks like it needs some help blending, add a small amount of liquid, a little at a time, to get it going. The mixture should blend to a soft-serve ice cream consistency rather than a smoothie consistency.
  2. Transfer to serving bowls and top with sliced fresh banana, granola and fresh blueberries. Serve immediately, before it starts to melt!

TO MAKE IT LEAN

Leave out the acai juice or powder and replace it with an extra 100g of frozen berries if you’re watching your weight.

PER SERVING

KCAL 332

FAT (g) 12.0

SATURATES (g) 4.0

CARBS (g) 43.0

SUGARS (g) 33.0

FIBRE (g) 10.0

PROTEIN (g) 7.0

SALT (g) 0.04