It’s been a while between posts. I put it down to consultancy work that took me to six different countries in the last six weeks of 2008 and the first two weeks in 2009, followed by a holiday (punctuated with job applications) in southern Thailand, the move home to Melbourne and starting a new job. I’ve barely had time to write a shopping list, let alone a blog. And as for working on my novel…
Let’s just say I appreciate the irony of have called our travel blog Great Balancing Act, when it’s now that the real juggling act begins. Love, art, work, childcare, all the demands and delights that come from being home amongst family and friends. I try to keep all the balls in the air, but some fall on the ground and roll beneath the couch, out of reach — at least for the time being.
Anyway, despite getting ready to leave Cambodia whilst in the midst of finishing one full-on job and preparing for another, I managed to appear for one night only at The Living Room in Phnom Penh to talk about and read from my first novel, Behind the Night Bazaar.
This in itself was a treat: converted from an old villa with ceiling fans and verandas all around, The Living Room was one of my favourite places to hang out in Phnom Penh. Tash and I enjoyed many a pancake breakfast there on the weekends, and some Sundays I read stories there to children, while my friend Martel organised craft activities. My book club met there in the evenings once a month, and during December, it became my de facto office.
The reading was attended by many of my dearest friends in Phnom Penh, though there were also a few unfamiliar faces in the small crowd. On the walls of the room around us was a stunning photo essay of the community at Stung Meanchey garbage dump, upstairs an exhibition of portraits of Cambodian boxers.
I took the chance to read from my the draft of my second novel, most of which was written in Cambodia, dubbed Pattaya Bay (at least until I come up with something better). I chose a scene involving a dress rehearsal for a transvestite beauty pageant, and the feedback was very encouraging. One man in the audience — someone I didn’t know — reckoned the writing was more assured in the draft than it was in the published book.
Now if only I could find the time to finish the next draft…
The Living Room, #9 Street 306, Phnom Penh; open 7am-6.30pm Mon-Thurs, 7am-9.30pm Fri-Sun. Tel 023 726 139.