Tag Archives: surf

Sex, Lies and Bonsai – writing the outsider

12 Jun

have you everMy writing desk has a view of the sea. From here, at any time of day, I can see surfers skimming across the waves.  What would it be like, I thought, to live in this town and be scared of the water? To have skin that burns instantly in the sun? To have a rich and imaginative inner life but be so shy that no-one ever gets to know that part of you?

Darling Head, where ‘Sex, Lies and Bonsai’ is set, is a serious surf town – one where the wetsuit is the look on the street and the clothes shops stock only surf wear. The town even has its own lingo – been gettin’ any? is the usual greeting. It is, in fact, very much like my own home town. While I am a keen surfer myself, my kids are not really into it. In a town with such a strong surfing culture, whether you do or don’t surf becomes an important part of who you are.

Into this town I threw Edie – a shy redhead whose father is a former surf champion, a girl who hasn’t been in the water since she was twelve. Edie’s father is the town celebrity, but Edie has spent her whole life feeling like she doesn’t belong. While she escaped to the city for a few years, a failed relationship finds her washed back up in her childhood home.

In search of more money, Edie takes up erotic writing. And of course, there is something much worse than being the water-shy daughter of a surf champion – being outed as an erotic writer in a small town. I’m sure we all know the terror that comes with exposing an intimate part of ourselves to the cruel light of day…

While ‘Sex, Lies and Bonsai’ is a comedy, it is a tender one. It’s about the joy of finding someone who makes you feel like it’s okay to be the crazy mixed up person that you are.  Edie has spent most of her life trying to hide what she sees as her peculiarities. I wanted to see what would happen if she was brave enough to let them all come out.

‘Sex, Lies and Bonsai’ has become the little book that could. It’s now out with HarperCollins in the UK and HarperCollins in the US . Go little book. This book trailer for ‘Sex, Lies and Bonsai’, set in my home town, sets the scene.

Some links to buy…

‘Sex, Lies and Bonsai’ in the US: 


Barnes and Noble

‘Sex, Lies and Bonsai’ in the UK :



‘Sex, Lies and Bonsai’ in Australia:


Angus and Robertson 

tile sex lies


Our town is like the twelve days of Christmas…

22 Dec

Edie in my book ‘Sex, Lies and Bonsai’ has just fled Sydney and moved back to her home town, a small village on the north coast of New South Wales. As she re-discovers, no one is anonymous in a small town…

Here’s a short extract.surfing_santa

“The nice part about living in Darling Head, as opposed to Sydney, is that you do know who you are dealing with. I sometimes think our town is like the twelve days of Christmas. On the twelfth day of Christmas, Darling Head sent to me:

Twelve trained baristas

Eleven school teachers

Ten sporty nurses

Nine well-dressed lawyers

Eight pretty hair dressers

Seven fashion retailers

Six surfing doctors

Five real estate agents

Four surfboard shapers

Three drug dealers

Two millionaire developers

And a milkman in a white van

To be honest, you don’t normally see that many lawyers and I think there might be more than three drug dealers, but you get the picture. In our town, no-one is anonymous.”

How about your town?

You can win a copy of ‘Sex, Lies and Bonsai’ at Book’d Out (Australian residents only) or Goodreads (Aust, NZ, Canada, US, GB)

Happy Christmas and best wishes for the season.

Beautiful Byron – too many people, too few waves

30 Nov

Surfing on the north coast can be a frustrating experience. It’s pretty cutthroat out there; especially in Byron Bay. Catching the waves is the easy part; it’s dealing with the pack that’s the problem. There seem to be a lot of men out there who have evolved into a kind of man-fish thing. Their hands are the size of flippers and they get onto the waves with about two strokes.

The pack takes your measure pretty quickly. Woe betide you if you paddle for a wave and miss it. From then on every time you attempt to catch a wave someone else will come in from the front or behind or materialise out of nowhere. It gets depressing.

My lack of action surf-wise has often given me plenty of time for observing the line-up. In a typical Byron Bay pack there are:

(a) The old crusties – weather-beaten old dudes who remember Byron Bay when you had to go looking for someone to surf with;

(b) The grommets – school age kids with no respect for their elders;

(c) The surfing lawyers – the new wave of surfers, distinguished by their tight name-brand clothing, shiny surfboards and superior attitude.

A number of questions usually jostle in my mind as I watch them. Why aren’t those kids in school? What do these people do for a job? How is it, regardless what time of day I surf, the same people are there? Are they really the same, or so similar I can’t tell the difference? Why hasn’t someone done a postgraduate study to answer all these questions?

So, next time you see me out there, letting all the waves go by, it’s not that I’m an incompetent surfer. I’m working up my PhD funding application.