THE DEVIL IN BRISBANE
Geoffrey Maloney, guest blogging
Something diabolical is happening in Brisbane.
One of the things that Trent and Grace forgot to mention is that the Devil lives in Brisbane. He mostly likes to hang out in an inner city suburb called Toowong. Maybe because Toowong’s got a great big cemetery, and the old horned guy gets to grab some last minute soul-stealing opportunities. Although mostly you’ll find him drinking beer at the lovely old Regatta Hotel - that looks over the lovely old meandering river - or drinking café lattes in one of Toowong’s trendy coffee shops. Trent Jamieson knows a lot more about what the Big D gets up to in Brisbane than I do; he’s spent some serious time compiling a Devil Facts’ list. Although, to be totally embarrassing, I think that Grace Dugan is the only person I know who’s kissed him. She assures me that he’s a lousy kisser and his mouth tastes like cigarettes. The Devil, not Trent.
Zoran Zivkovic when he was a guest at last year’s Brisbane Writers’ Festival was so impressed by the presence of the old evil one in our sub-tropical city, that he decided to compile an anthology dealing with that very subject. The outcome, not surprisingly is entitled, ‘The Devil in Brisbane’. It will be launched at this year’s writers’ festival by the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, who has a keen interest in promoting the Devil - as you might expect - as one of the city’s big tourist attractions. Jeff Vandermeer and my humble self will be performing official duties.
It is a great honour for me to have worked on this project with Zoran as his assistant editor. Wonderful to work with all the writers who were so totally professional in their approach. Great to see the dynamic Brisvegas style cover art that K J Bishop provided. Much to my three diabolical daughters delight, Big Sis’ Kirsten commenced sketching it in our dining room during one of her visits to Brisbane. Luis Rodrigues did a splendid cover lay-out and Sean Wallace at Prime Books delivered big time by getting abundant copies of the books here well in time for the launch. So all engines are go for the launch on the 29th of September.
This all started when Zoran, as part of his official duties at the writers’ festival last year, conducted a master class, perhaps more simply describe as a writers’ workshop. Some of the people from that class dropped over my place today to collect their author’s copies of the anthology. I’ve always wondered about this master class thing which is a big feature of the writing scene in Brisbane, but everybody I met today confirmed that Zoran worked some diabolical magic during the day they spent with him. I think he’s a bit of a magician at heart.
Like Trent Jamieson, I’m a newbie to Brisbane. I grew up in Sydney and Brisbane was always the redneck city of the north, but Sydney’s like that, always throwing criticism on its sister cities. And Brisbane’s bad politics are largely gone - the redneck boys from the bush no longer control government. Like Trent too, I fell in love with the place. I love the weather. I love the purple haze of the jacaranda trees that cover the city in late spring. I love the old wooden houses and the wonderful river, and that people still hello to each other when they pass in the street. I love the fact that my three daughters have opportunities open to them that they would never have had in a place like Sydney, because we wouldn’t have known the right people or lived in the right suburb. When I moved to Brisbane, I felt like I’d come home and wondered why it’d taken me so long to get here. Yeah, it’s a homey kind of place, but it’s buzzy and vibrant too. It’s odd that way, a bit weird really.
‘The Devil in Brisbane’ is an eccentric book, and perhaps it suits this city perfectly. Brisbane is a hard place to put labels on these days, and ‘The Devil in Brisbane’ is in a sub-sub-genre all of its own. It’s a wonderful folly in the most delightful way. And for reasons which I don’t quite understand, people in Brisbane are giving it tremendous support. It’s not everyday that you get a book launched by the Lord Mayor, and manage to get a major write-up for it in the Saturday newspaper. Which might suggest to some, that there’s not much happening in Brisbane. Which is far from the truth. As Trent mentioned, Brisbane isn’t a country town. It’s a city of over one million people. In a city this size there’s important things happening all over the place. ‘The Devil in Brisbane’ has become one of them.
But, yet, of all places, the Devil chooses to live here, in Brisbane. I think I know why. We probably have the best coffee of any sub-tropical city in the world, and the Devil, well, he enjoys the warm weather and he loves a good café latte. And we have so many writers too who are so willing to sell their souls for a brief flicker of fame.
Geoffrey Maloney lives in Brisbane (you should have guessed that). His collection “Tales from the Crypto-System” is available from Prime Books. Geoffrey is a professional croquet player. On days off, he manages research and evaluation projects for the QLD State Government. Occasionally he does some work as an editor, and he usually finds some time to write at 3:00 o’clock in the morning when everybody else is asleep in his old wooden house.