A few weeks ago I attended the school productions of all of my children. The primary school production was a mammoth effort involving the entire school split into three casts, each numbering almost 300 students ranging in age from 5 to 12. The high school production was the school’s nineteenth, and boasted a cast of about 70 and a live band. The teenagers were talented and entertaining beyond their years, and the primary school kids were adorable beyond belief.

My son has participated in the school production every year since starting high school, and every year I marvel at the level of polish. In the past four years they’ve performed Fame, Bye Bye Birdie, Jesus Christ Superstar, and The Wedding Singer. With the exception of Jesus Christ Superstar for which they chose a non-specific, modern day setting, all the productions have been set in another time and another place. Not 21st century, not in Australia.

Now, I understand that the choosing of a musical appropriate for a high school cast, one that suits the particular talents of the available students, one that school can afford to obtain rights to use and one that isn’t going to require sets, effects and costumes beyond the school’s resources is arguably the hardest part of the entire enterprise. I’m guessing that such an animal set in modern day Australia does not exist.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if it did, though?

Not that I’m volunteering to write it. Stage plays are far outside my knowledge and skill set. But if someone else were to do so – someone who knew what they were doing – what might it look like?

  • Modern technology

Nothing says “modern day” like smartphones and the Internet. The cast would probably come on stage all staring intently at little rectangular boxes in their hands, until some catastrophe renders their devices inoperable and they’re all forced to look up and interact with each other.

  •  Popular culture

A difficult one to nail down, because pop culture now changes at the speed of…well, the Internet. Just going off what the young folk in my house seem to be interested in, I’d throw in references to Buzzfeed, League of Legends, World of Warcraft, cosplaying, dubstep, Regular Show and Adventure Time, and movies such as Maleficent and Frozen in which “the girl saves the girl”.

  •  Icons

    Zombie koalas, perhaps?

If Aussie kids can perform American musicals with creditable American accents, then why not send our musicals over there? In that case, you’ll be wanting some recognizable Australian icons – kangaroos and koalas, boomerangs and didgeridoos, and at least one character who dresses in khaki and who reads like a cross between Steve Irwin and Crocodile Dundee. One of my online friends recently described Australia as “Deathland”, so you could throw in some of our world-famous dangers – spiders and snakes, sharks and crocodiles, and bushland that spontaneously combusts in summer.

  •  Zombies

That’s just a personal preference – but if you’re going to use my ideas, the least you could do is humour me. Doesn’t have to be a full-blown zombie apocalypse, although that would be fun…


Breaking news in Tracieland – the president of Dark Continents Publishing, Inc., David Youngquist, announced the company’s closure.

This is news to the world at large, but company members have been quietly nursing the company through the final stages of a terminal illness for a few weeks now – attending to legal requirements, releasing authors of their contracts, helping them where possible to find new homes for their books, and closing various accounts. We’ve been determined to follow the company principles of being author-driven and looking after our “family” right to the end, and judging by the heartfelt commiserations and good wishes for our personal futures, we’ve done that part right if nothing else.

The reason for the closure is devastatingly simple – we weren’t making enough money to meet our obligations and commitments. The remaining three founders of the company – David, Sylvia and me – had been propping it up for quite some time out of our own pockets, and we’d got to the stage where we were reaching into those pockets and coming back out with nothing but lint.

I do not grieve for the company, but rather remember it with everlasting fondness. I got far more out of my involvement than I ever put in (which was considerable). DCP led me to make my first trip to the United States for the company’s official launch at WHC 2011 in Austin, Texas. The company published my first short story collection, Ghosts Can Bleed, and I even got to autograph and sell copies of it. It’s led me to develop skills and acquire knowledge that I might never have been pushed to do. Through DCP, I have met dozens of awesome, creative individuals and formed friendships that are destined to last a lifetime.

Rest in Peace, DCP.




What’s the connection between horror and baked goods, you might ask? I don’t know – all I know is that, even when you leave out Halloween celebrations, there are a lot of creative cooks out there crafting elaborate (and presumably delicious) edible horror artifacts. I did learn one interesting new piece of trivia in the course of my online research; iconic horror actor Vincent Price was born into wealth courtesy of his paternal grandfather, who invented the first cream of tartar baking powder. So there’s that.

Here for your delectation is a selection of articles and posts to whet your appetite. First up, the one that inspired this blog post: Christine McConnell. A.k.a. the woman I would want to be if I couldn’t be me.


A little history on the origins of the sugar skull, where I learned that sugar can be a good sculpting material for poor, pious and artistically talented.


Shut up and take my money!


I love sugar, but I can barely stand to look at these, let alone try to eat them if I was left alone with one.


Just a simple fangirl, combining two of her favourite things (much like what I’m doing, except without getting my kitchen dirty).


Apparently, zombie-themed wedding cakes are a Thing. Do we have AMC’s The Walking Dead to thank for this?