Sunday, August 16, 2015

Charlie's Ramblings: Research and Writing



Sorry all for not being present the last few months.  I've been writing.  Not that I can use that as an excuse, since there are plenty of hours within a day.  But yes.  I'm in the process of writing a novel I have high hopes for.  The idea came to me at the beginning of May, from a prompt I came across while surfing Pinterest, a wonderful website that you can do more procrastinating than writing I've found.  But awesome none the less.
Room 11

As my story revolves around a young man who travels to his hometown north west of Brisbane, just outside of Blackbutt if we are to be more specific, I felt that I needed to do some research on the area and the surrounding towns.  There's only so much you can take away from googling and the internet so I decided to put the footwork in this time.  

We found a Queenslander pub called Hotel Radnor that we (My Mum, Son and I - As my Dad said, researching will need an assistant.. just not in those words lol) decided to stay at, so off we went and booked the night.  It was more or less a last minute unplanned adventure.  Sometimes these are the best things to do!

When we got there, I was ecstatic.  This was similar to how I pictured my hotel in my story.  Though, in my story, the hotel had three stories, and another tiny difference, it was haunted and run by a family of Shifters.  Minor differences really :)
The beautiful friendly Melba

We took the wide mahogany stairs up to room 11, and dropped our stuff off.  The room was huge, and also included a writing desk which I was happy with.  The verandah overlooked the main street and of an afternoon with a glass of wine, watching the sun set, it's just magnificent.
 
We met some lovely people while we were there, including Sean and Jody, owners of Hotel Radnor.  They were very welcoming and friendly and made our stay all the more worthwhile!  I was also pretty stoked to find they also had two residents, Melba a Galah, and Bob, a manx (i think thats what they call cats with no tails) While Bob proved to be a little on the elusive side, Melba was more than happy to get a few photos in exchange for a good scratch! 
 
My new favourite drink
On our first trip to Blackbutt we only stayed a night, did a bit of an explore of the town, and then visited one of the country towns that Mum grew up on, before going via Toowoomba home.  Long drive, but certainly worth it.  The Blackbutt Information centre was really helpful too.  I got a small mountain of pamphlets with loads of information around Blackbutt, Yarraman, Kingaroy, even as far down as Esk and Fernvale.  I certainly had a lot of reading material for my story that's for sure.
 
I must admit I was a little intimidated.  My initial plan was to get in with the locals and sus out the people that lived in this town.  My first attempt at this was quite amusing really.  I sat with my notebook and wine and watched the few locals that sat around the main bar, eyes glued to the tv and talking amongst themselves from time to time.  Let me point out, that apart from the bartender and myself, there were no other women in the main area.  For someone who is as outgoing as I can be,  I actually felt out of my depth.  I didn't want to interrupt whatever was on tv, but I also needed to get some information too.  Within half an hour I found myself in the pokies room putting dollars into the pokies and sipping on my warm wine, cursing myself for not having the guts to do what I came here to do.  Interview.  Mingle.  Find out what makes this town tick.
On the way to Blackbutt - beautiful view
 
In between trying to mingle I also came across a new drink that I really appreciate especially when writing, but it's not a necessary thing (In other words, writing and drinking don't HAVE to go together)  I don't drink anything bubbly anymore, including softdrinks, and while Banrock Station's Pink Moscato is a lightly sparkling wine, I let it sit long enough for the bubbles to disappear before drinking.  This definitely helped loosen me up a little, but I was still annoyed that I needed to buy a little "liquid courage" to even get me feeling somewhat comfortable.  
 
We had dinner in the restaurant.  The meals were huge and mouth watering.  Afterwards we were upstairs in the small lounge area watching Jurassic Park.  This had become a routine over the last week or two.  I wanted  to share with my six year old, how great the Jurassic Park movies were.  I had to keep checking to make sure he wasn't going to end up with dino nightmares which he assured me he wouldn't.  I think my other excuse was I felt a bit useless that I couldn't get the courage to openly chat with others.  
 
Variety at Woodfired Bakery
Back home I used July to begin my story.  It also coincided with Camp NaNoWriMo so I used that as inspiration to write as much of my story as I could as well as trying to achieve another goal.  To write 50,000 words in a month.  I'd only ever achieved this one other time back in 2009 for the NaNoWriMo in November so I was pretty determined with the story I had in mind.
 
Red Velvet Muffin
By the time the second trip had come around, I'd written more than 50,000 words of my novel, reached goal about a week before the end of Camp NaNoWriMo and was pretty stoked at the efforts.  I won't lie, there will be a lot of editing going into my story as I've nicknamed "Ironhaven" because there was a lot of fumbling in the beginning getting my story started. 
 
This time we stayed at the Hotel Radnor for two nights.  I took off Friday so we could all head up nice and early.  We stopped off at the Hotel, dropped our things off and grabbed some breakfast from the Woodfired Bakery from across the road, which I have to say was a-maz-ing! 
Lavendar Farm Kingaroy
 If you are ever heading up that way, you must MUST try their pies.  They were to die for.  Their cakes were pretty awesome too.  I've included a pic of their Red Velvet muffin with the marshmallows on top.  I'm not one for eating too much sweet things, and it took all day to eat it, but I did get through this one and it was delicious.  A real Diabetics Delight!! 

I was also determined this time to do what I attempted and failed to do the first trip around.  And that was get to know people.  I was armed with places that I wanted to visit this time around, and felt a lot more prepared than the trip no. 1

Lavendar Farm Kingaroy
 
The first day of our trip was pretty eventful we did a lot of visiting of places and people including The Lavendar Farm at Kingaroy.  It was gorgeous but a little pricey.  Well worth the visit though!
 
We passed through Kingaroy, and Wooroolin, where my Grandad used to live.  I was amazed to see how high the Wooroolin Wetlands were.  As a kid I never ever seen it get so full, but it was like a large lake.  It was crazy!

Ironhaven's setup based on here..
We passed a small shop at Memerambi called The Stop Shop that had large yellow signs that caught my eye.  We made a point of stopping there on the way back for some Gelato and sorbet.  The best flavours I've ever tasted.  Plus it was the first place that I had come across that sold bacon peanuts.  Yes!  BACON Peanuts.  So of course I bought them, and they were so good.
 
We made it to Wondai in good time.  It was a small town, like most of the towns up this way.  It didn't take us long to look around the whole place.  I especially enjoyed the Information centre which included some of the history of the timber towns and displayed the different woods and their uses, as well as bowls and other items made from these woods. 

I kept looking back at my modified map of the town and even drove down the main street to get a feel of how long it would take to walk my fictional town. (As with my town I used the street layout of Wondai to create my fictional town, and made small adjustments to suit) I more or less got the times right, though Wondai felt a lot more spaced out than my fictional town so I have to make some small adjustments to make my town seem a little more realistic.
 
We went for a drive through to Crane Winery's.  Admittedly we got lost, but I ended up buying a bottle of white wine and learnt that the grape vines we assumed were dead on the drive up to the house were in fact laying dormant. 
 
On the way back through Kingaroy we took a scenic route to Nanango.  Okay okay, we took a different turn and got lost. Again.  Thank god for plenty of fuel and the imaps, which mostly worked.  As mum was feeling a little ill after our trip my son and I decided to stop in next door at the Bunya Nut CafĂ© for a hotdog and chips for dinner.  I spoke to a young woman who worked behind the counter about the things that they got up to for fun in the area.  She was lovely and gave me a few ideas on how my characters could spend their time in between dramas.  And I'm glad I asked her some questions. 
 
We timed our trip well.  Friday at Hotel Radnor also included a visit from the Comedy Hypnotist which turned out to be quite a laugh.  I was hesitant to say the least.  But in my mind I knew this was my chance to get to know the people of this town so up I sat on the chairs in front of everyone.  Steve the Hypnotist was quite amazed when he didn't have to pick people out of the crowd.  Just a number of them including myself and the bar owner, decided to come up and take a seat.

It was quite an entertaining night and I recommend others to try it.  At least once!  I felt more comfortable with a room full of strangers than I would have with a group of people that I knew!  And oh, when I realised the things I was doing, oh my gosh!  Hilarious.  One of the best nights I've had in quite some time.

Some weird looking trees at Wooroolin. 
The next morning we were up early and headed off to the Nanango Markets.  They were huge and had everything you could imagine!  I ended up getting a hair cut (Told you they had everything), Cruzito got to play on the jumping castle, and bought a funky beanie!  Mum got my son a snake in a basket (not real) and he showed me and I jumped and made some sort of strangled noise out of fright, the cheeky bugger.  
After talking to Tina who cleaned the Hotel Radnor, I was on the look out for this certain type of breed of duck.  I'm thinking Appleyard duck or something along the lines of that.  I just wanted to see what they'd look like, and I love looking at all the animals that come with having Markets and fairs.  It's always fun.  Unfortunately I didn't find anything of the sort there.  Maybe I was looking in the wrong place I'm not sure. 
Googa State Forest. 
I also ran into Steve the Hypnotist who also handed me a number of a woman who knew her history on the towns.  I admit I'm yet to contact her but I intend to soon.  I think I was also recognized while we were at the markets, from one of the women that was at the pub the night before.  I just happened to catch from the corner of my eye someone pointing and when I turned around they were walking off.  I'm guessing they were having a bit of a giggle.  All for entertainment right :) 
How I imagine my road into my fictional town to be.
On the way back through, we spent about an hour or so talking to the owner of Virgil Smith Torchwood Artisan Village in Nanango and checked out some of his work.  I feel terrible that I don't remember the gentlemen's name, but is it bad to assume one of the men was named Virgil?  Anyway their work was amazing and I recommend stopping in and having a chat to them if you are interested in arty woodwork.  They're incredible works of art.
 
Back at the Hotel, We chilled out for a while.  I'm sure nana naps were involved.  In the afternoon, we decided to drive the town of Blackbutt.  I checked out where my fictional town was actually going to be situated (Next to Googa State Forest) and we bought some avocadoes from a roadside honour stall, which I love by the way.  There would be no way we could have things like this where I live.  You'd have the fruit, the tin, and the stall holding it all stolen within a matter of a day or two.  No offense to the place I live, but people closer to the city aren't as honest as those living in the country.  If only things were different.
Sunset at Hotel Radnor.
It was getting to be close to sunset when we rolled back into the hotel.  We had dinner at the restaurant and as usual the meals were superb.  They had done some renovating since the last time we were there.  With old corrugated iron put up, and I believe the floors were also done.  I didn't realise it until I walked in but it was slowly becoming more and more like how I pictured my hotel to be.  Freaky really!
 

Saturday night was a quiet one.  I did a bit of writing in my room.  It was more or less an early night for us but I was pretty happy with the writing I had done.  Impressed even that I was able to manage it on an ipad mini with a keyboard.  I'm looking at upgrading to a surface pro eventually.. maybe by Christmas.
Amazed that Dan's Diner is where you go for fuel as well lol
In the morning we met two guys at the Hotel who were passing through and they pointed out that the very first Mater home happened to be on Hart St Blackbutt, so of course we went for a drive to sus it out.  Pretty awesome really when, as we were leaving, we were able to share this information with other locals.  I felt like we'd done our part.
We stopped in at the Fernvale markets on the way home.  I eventually found a place in there that sold animals, and get this.  I've never seen Peacocks for sale, but sure enough, this particular place had them for $50.  I wanted one.  No I needed one! It didn't matter that I had no room for this peacock.  I just never realised that you could buy them.  For some reason I didn't think this was possible. 
I have to admit, the second trip to Blackbutt and surrounding towns gave me more insight into the way of life up there.  I've certainly got a lot more out of this trip and I'm looking forward to finishing my story and started on editing to get it publishable.