Marsden Park Series

Marsden park is a new suburb that is rapidly growing on the outer edges of Western Sydney. Bisected by Richmond Road, the suburb now has a Homemaker Center, Costco, Shopping Village, and new housing estates.

Throughout my Library Degree, I have had to create a fictional library to base a number of my assignments on. I created the Marsden Park library, with grand visions of it one day becoming reality (one can dream). In this imaginary world, Marsden Park has split away from the Blacktown council, and has its own council area.

It’s a huge modern library; the bottom level is similar to the Penrith library, which has all of the physical collection and children’s section downstairs. My imaginary library also has an extensive underground archive, and upstairs, is a large makerspace, the Indigenous collection, and tech rooms for classes.

Similar to Penrith, the library is attached to the council building, so it is easy to walk between the two buildings. It has a large auditorium, and it is next to a large Westfield shopping center. I drew most of my inspiration from Penrith, where I did my professional placement a few years back.

My inspiration for Catalogue of Disaster sprung from when I was studying the Community Histories subject while in lockdown. One of my assignments called for a fictional library, so of course I used the Marsden Park library.
One night, I couldn’t sleep. The idea of the story came to me, and I wrote down the entire plot outline on the notes app on my phone. I did not go to sleep until 5am. As soon as I woke up, I started writing the story.

Spoiler alert: Click for a discussion about Jake from CoD

Jake is a male version of me; if I could cut out my male side and spawn him into a person, that would be him. He is young and keen, very smart and dedicated to his career. He desperately wants to find someone, but every time he begins a relationship, it fizzles out.

He finds out during the story that he fits under the demisexual umbrella – he is only sexually attracted to people he has a strong connection to. As with all of the rainbow sexualities, no two demisexuals are the same. For Jake, he wants to have sex, but it has never happened. He has never persued that with any of his girlfriends in the past.

The night he finally got Alison home, as much as Jake wanted sex, he really didn’t like Alison, and as such he couldn’t get aroused (not to mention all of the alcohol he consumed).

Falling in love so quickly with Garret is another part of being demi – once that connection is made with someone, love can be instant and last for as long as that connection exists. I have fallen in ‘love’ with people I’ve never met, based on this phenomenon.

Jake is shocked when he realises he is attracted to Garret. As it turns out, Jake is pansexual – he is attracted to the person, not their gender. Being an academic and intellectual means that Jake processed it and just went with it.

Being the son of a nurse, Jake has grown up with regular {embarrassing and awkward} conversations around sex and STIs, HIV and all that good stuff. He knows about PReP and HIV treatments, as well as all the other STIs. So when he learns about Garret’s HIV, straight away he wants to know what treatment Garret is using.

Garret is a responsible man, Jake knows this. So when Garret breaks the news, Jake is not concerned about transmission because of using protection, PReP, and as we learn, Garret’s treatment which keeps his viral load undetectable.

Garret is a beautiful soul. He keeps others at bay by being the office grump, not to be a rude prick, but because he is afraid to let people close and get hurt again. While it’s not mentioned in the book, Garret is sapiosexual, which means attracted to intelligence. His ex was not that intelligent, so when Jakey-Bum comes along, he is blown away.

Am I done with Jake and Garret?
No.

I had an idea for a book 2, which grows on Jake and Alison’s couch fiasco, but I stopped writing it about half-way in. I might alter this into a short story which could be a free read down the track, or maybe I’ll write the story as I saw it. Or scrap it all together.

My current story, still not titled, has a few sneaky crossovers. Cameron does some shifts at the Marsden Park library / council, and spies Garret from afar. He also crosses paths with Alison. There is another sneaky one, but I’m not going to tell you that. If you find it, email me for a prize 😉

After I wrote Catalogue of Disaster, I knew I wasn’t done with the Marsden Park Library and surrounds. The series has so much potential, and I really wanted to push myself as a writer. I started thinking of ideas, and reflected on my experiences of living in Western Sydney, and working near the infamous Dawson Mall.

Inspiration behind Beneath the Grandstand

Then it came to me. When I was working at Westpoint in Blacktown, I used to walk from the station to the shopping center every day, and pass numerous beggars and homeless people. There was one man, though, who caught my eye, and I thirsted to know his story.

He never begged or harassed passers-by. Every morning, he would stand near the taxi rank and wish people a wonderful day. He was polite, and always made me smile. Sometimes I would see him sitting in his spot, doodling in a sketch book, other times he would be chatting to people.

Over time, I noticed he was no longer bubbly, and seemed to be getting down. I wanted to know his story, to know why he was there, what had pushed him onto the streets. So I finally pushed aside my nerves, and went looking for him.

He wasn’t there, and I didn’t see him again. I cursed myself many times, as I really wanted to talk to him. I can only hope that he received some support and made it into housing. Even now, almost 3 years later, I still look for him every time I go that way.

When I decided on writing about a homeless man, I originally thought of having my MC as a businessman who walked past the homeless man daily, and they sparked up a friendship. I realised my character need so much more depth though – a businessman would have enough money to invite Mr Homeless into his home and live happily every after. It was too easy.

The idea to have a security guard as a MC came to me after I made a joke with my SO about writing a book on his past security job, and all the shit he had to face in that industry. Inspiration struck, and I realised this was the angle I needed to take – security guard and a homeless man.

Beneath the Grandstand is the story of Cameron, a security guard, who has just broken up with his childhood sweetheart. His ex was mentally abusive, and had led Cameron into some serious debt. With nothing but a suitcase and the clothes on his back, Cameron is out on the streets, alone.

Cameron has bad depression and anxiety, which is another central theme of this story. There is still so much stigma attached to mental illness, so I wanted to tackle that in this story as well. There are so many darker themes going on here, but I’m not giving any spoilers.

While working night shift at a hospital that has been damaged by fire, Cameron meets the mysterious Mr Loner, a young man who ran away from home at the age of 16. Running from a past of child abuse, he lives in fear of being found by his abuser. He and Cameron quickly become friends, but Mr Loner’s past threatens to tear them apart.

I did something a bit different for Beneath the Grandstand: I compiled a playlist to accompany the story. Each chapter lists a song title, which sets Cameron’s mood. See below, or click here to open YouTube.

Where CoD is a light-hearted story of 40,000 words, BtG is much more serious, and comes in at 75,000 words. Both stories are standalone (separate stories), however you will come across some sneaky crossovers. There is no #3 yet, but there will definitely be more in the future. As for now, all of my attention is currently focused on The Darkest Realm.

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