Friday, May 14, 2010

14. On Finding Cassie Crazy/ The Year of Secret Assignments

With this book, I thought: why not have three girls at Ashbury writing letters to three boys at Brookfield? And see what happens?

But what would happen. I didn’t know. So, one night, I lay down on the rug on the living room floor, closed my eyes, and listened to Black Market Music by Placebo.

Placebo, on high volume, make me feel exactly the way I felt when I was sixteen. By the time the album finished that night I had the characters and the plot.

I like both titles. The book started out as Lydia’s Notebook, and then I had to liven that up. I had long lists of ideas, a lot of them to do with paper cuts and paper tigers. The American publishers were not keen on Finding Cassie Crazy because they thought it might sound like somebody searching for a girl named Cassie Crazy. That’s why it became The Year of Secret Assignments in North America.

I was living in Birchgrove, in Sydney, in the ground floor apartment of a building right on the harbour. When a ferry arrived at the wharf, the whole apartment rattled and vibrated. I was working as a lawyer at the time. On weekends, we had pancakes down by the water, and fairy penguins sometimes swam right by us. I wrote on my laptop outside with an umbrella shielding the screen from the sun.

We had cockroaches, water rats, mice, lizards and termites in the apartment. That floor I was lying on, listening to Placebo, the termites were secretly eating it. Eventually, we started falling through the floorboards.

One night, before the floors and the window ledges crumbled, I woke up and there was a boot on the bed. What’s a boot doing on the bed? I thought, and I reached out to pick it up. My hand disappeared into some warm, deep darkness, and the boot shrieked, and leapt off the bed, and turned into a cat, a neighbour’s cat, flying across the room and out through the kitchen window.

I always felt bad about that cat. How peaceful he must have felt that night, curled up between us, deeply asleep. I’m allergic to cats, and later I remembered I’d been hayfeverish the last few weeks. The cat must have thought that the three of us were friends – that we had a silent, secret understanding – that, each night, when the moon was high over the water, he would slip into our room, and we would all sleep quietly until dawn.

And then, one night, out of the blue, the girl was suddenly poking it and screaming!, as you would scream too, if you woke to find a warm, yowling boot on your bed. But still. Poor cat.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Rose said...

You have excellent taste in music. Placebo and Radiohead . . . I am impressed.
Are you familiar with the Australian band Oh Mercy?
I never tire of them. And my NaNoWriMo novel was based upon a line from one of their songs.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Amy Nutmeg said...

I've never listened to much Placebo or Radiohead - but I like 'Talk Show Host' and 'No Surprises'.

Have you ever listened to Sarah Blasko or Lisa Mitchell?
If you haven't, you should, and then tell me what you think.

9:01 PM  
Anonymous Amy Nutmeg said...

also, surely we could think up a new rhyme for you for next month - every moon in June perhaps?

that's every moon, not just every full moon :)

9:29 PM  
Blogger Jaclyn Moriarty said...

I just tried Oh Mercy, and Sarah Blasko and Lisa Mitchell, and I like the sound of them all! You guys. Thanks. You're the best. I'm going to follow up on all three.

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Amy Nutmeg said...

I'm glad you like them - it's always fun when people like your recommendations!

Another thing: I write songs, and seeing as Placebo was your inspiration, you might like to know that I once read 'buttermilk pancakes' and wrote down a couple of phrases for inspiration - so it is a chain :)

8:45 PM  

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