Patchwork Children is a free, downloadable zine produced by me and featuring work by a variety of contributors. Raw, clever, profound, and strange, this collection stitches together disparate notions about the body, the self, art, revenge, magic, technology, analysis of nineteenth-century science fiction, viscera and dreams.
Download from the Books & Zines page of my site
Like, okay, when I was twelve and choosing what high school to go to, I was all "I want to go to Indooroopilly High because it has a film program" and my teacher said to my mother "Indooroopilly High isn't right for Mary, it's much too rough, she needs somewhere like Hillbrook".
And I went to Indooroopilly High and had a film program and it was rough but I thought for a long time that probably all high schools are rough, until I moved to Melbourne and experienced social dynamics based on class privilege that just aren't present in Brisbane in the same way. And after that I understood that no, not all schools are like the one I went to, and the people who come out of the other sort have a very different view of themselves and the world.
And I don't know, it's weird. I don't especially believe in the idea of an intrinsic self -- in fact, to put it bluntly, I don't believe in that at all. I don't believe we exist distinct from our bodies or the physical realities of our brains or our experiences or our society or time or place.
And I remember being twelve and writing in the 'what I want to be when I grow up' bit of our primary school yearbook that I wanted to move to a bigger city and to be a writer.
So it's totally possible to say that there has been a single consistent arc to who I am, that I'm someone who wanted X and Y and wasn't scared of going to a rough high school to learn the things I wanted to learn, who did move to a bigger city and become a writer.
But there's this voice in my head that's always BUT WHAT IF THAT ISN'T REALLY ME? What if I *am* someone who should have gone to Hillbrook? What if I'm *not* someone who moves to a bigger city at 21, I just thought that I was?
And it gets to stupid, stupid extremes as an anxiety. Like the other day on the way to work I was like oh god what if I don't actually like horror movies at all, what if I actually like romantic comedies and I just don't know that about myself? Ignoring the fact that horror movies genuinely make me really happy, and I loathe most romantic comedies and would rather eat mud than watch the vast majority of them.
Or I'll be like oh shit what if I just THINK my favourite character is that one but really it's this other one and I've just been lying to myself the whole time. This is one that crops up in my head a lot even though it makes literally no sense. If I think a character is my favourite that is the actual definition of them being my favourite, and yet I'm like but wait no what if I'm kidding myself.
I have a red wallet and a red purse and a red mp3 player and a red coat and have owned many pairs of red shoes over the years but often go BUT WHAT IF RED ISN'T REALLY MY FAVOURITE COLOUR WHAT IF I JUST THINK IT IS?
I don't know if there's a way to stop feeling like this, or if it's going to go away one day, or if everyone feels like this and I just don't know that.
I am so, so sorry about being so terrible at keeping this journal remotely useful. But, um, if you click [here], you can find all five of the Wolf House reissues? So that's pretty neat I guess?
The new version of the Wolf House website is currently under construction and I'll give everyone a headsup when it's live too.
Audiobook version is apparently well underway which is super-exciting! Though I'm slightly nervous that it'll be too mottsy for me to listen to it, not because of anything in the story itself but because those words are my words and some poor actor is being forced to read them.
Anyway, yes. Here it is. It's pretty much exactly four years ago that I started writing these in the form they're in, and here they are in their second edition with a new publisher and new covers and bonus content and a thousand, thousand memories wrapped up in every page.
I've submitted a bunch of horror stories and a sci-fi story to various upcoming collections, so hopefully future updates will see the page become a little more genre-balanced, ahahaha.
But cos Mixtape came out last year it isn't eligible to be nommed this year.
brb cryin forever :(
Seriously though it's a fucking honor just to be considered like that, how great, aah.
Anyway in the meantime there are a couple of new things on my books page. I'm glad to see the Wolf Girls anthology -- stories about female werewolves which is pretty fucking awesome you gotta agree -- finally see the light of day, as it was tangled in delays for a while.
I've given up on Candy Butchers as a failed experiment and am now attempting a gothic-ish novella for my 2012 project instead. So much for having a break and attempting to not be crazy anymore, ha ha! Urf.
It's a very weird experience putting these new editions together, because my default position on my writing career is that I'm an abject failure, and then I collect all the pictures people have done and I'm just like oh wait um I guess that maybe I was incorrect in that, I don't know, feelings are confusing.
Also I'm super-super sorry for being behind on comments. I'll catch up soon, I promise. xx
Seriously though being stuck in bed sucks a lot but luckily I can put the font on my kindle up until it's big enough that it doesn't hurt to focus on, even if I do kind of feel like I'm reading a Spot picture book with the text that big. Spot Goes To Westeros. I cannot see it being the big new hit somehow.
Paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaperback on Amazon UK (soon to be on Amazon US as well apparently idk I just write the stuff)
New website coming soon, there's a new facebook page for the series.
NEW EDITION INCLUDES: A NEW SHORT STORY BY MARY BORSELLINO, PLUS FANART OF ORIGINS AND OVERTURES CHARACTERS AND SCENES BY VARIOUS AMAZING AND EXCELLENT PEOPLE.
Please buy my book! I promise it's pretty good I guess a bit. People seem to dig it anyway.
I've contacted each artist individually but it's possible that emails will go astray or the message will by otherwise lost in transit. If you have created or know of pictures I have forgotten here PLZ REMIND ME as I want to include EVERYTHING. Also if you see your art here and *don’t* want it included, let me know that too, obviously. Or if you want to be credited by another name. Or if you just wanna say hi. I like it when people say hi! :D
And like, the year since then has been a really really damn rough year for me. One of the hardest so far.
But I finished Mixtape and got it published and it meant a lot to some of the people who read it, and some people whose imaginations I love were impressed by it, and those are pretty great things to have happened.
And I started and slogged through and finished Candy Butchers, and maybe in a few more months I can look at it and be proud of it to, instead of dissatisfied in the way I always am when a project is completed. Maybe I'll find a publisher. Maybe it will mean a lot to people too.
It's the third in what I think of as my 'Lennon Lyrics Trilogy' (yes I know Wolf House was five books shh shh) -- Wolf House, Devil's Mixtape and Candy Butchers all feature characters who have the lyrics to songs written by John Lennon on their wrists.
There are other recurring themes and 'spiritual sequel' connections between the three; that's just the most obvious of them. I'm sure that my future work will also fit along similar lines, but I also feel like these stories, these things which I wrote in the second half of my twenties (beginning at 25, finishing just a couple of months after turning 30) fit into a particular capsule of their own.
I guess I'm proud of having made something like that. Sometimes. I think I did a lot more things wrong than I did things right, but I also think I did close to the best that I could at the time. Is that enough, though? I don't know, but I hope so, because I don't know if I'll ever be able to do anything better, accomplish anything greater than these. If this is the upper limit of what I'm capable of, is that enough? Should I be proud of it?
the two films have a fundamentally different position on thneeds and therefore on what the whole story is actually about.
in the old cartoon, the fact that a thneed apparently does everything possible for a thing to do is a clear signal that it’s a macguffin — the actual object itself doesn’t matter. The Once-ler could literally be selling ANYTHING; the whole point is that he knows how to SELL. He deliberately creates and manipulates desire for this weird shitty scarf-thing he’s made. That the thneed is what it is becomes totally incidental, the point is that he creates demand in order to then provide the supply.
whereas in the new movie, Once-ler genuinely BELIEVES in the transformative awesomeness of the thneed. He’s going to CHANGE THE WORLD. He’s gonna make his family PROUD OF HIM. The townspeople take more convincing to believe that thneeds are good THAN THEY DO TO AGREE TO CHANGE THEIR ENTIRE CONSUMPTIVE LIFESTYLE TO A MORE SUSTAINABLE MODEL AT THE END. Like, for real, WHAT?
Thneeds aren’t meant to be a thing with intrinsic worth! They’re not something people suddenly through their own observations realise are great! They’re a weird shitty nonsensical thing without a point. Because if you make them a genuine thing that a well-intentioned kid is working hard to bring to the world in order to make life better for people, then the Lorax actually does come off like a mean bossy jerk who’s standing in the way of genuine compromise. He tries to DROWN THE KID IN HIS SLEEP for fuck’s sake.
So, like, of COURSE people end up loving Greed-ler or whatever you want to call the ‘How bad can I be?’ Once-ler. Because yes he’s an asshole, but EVERYONE ELSE IS ALSO A SELF-RIGHTEOUS ASSHOLE in the movie. And at least Greed-ler does it with some fucking panache.
Like, okay, to use a GoT analogy: if you put a single toe out of line of What’s Best For Everyone, Ned is not actually any less fucking likely to chop your damn head off than any of those blonde assholes, he’s just going to be self-righteous about it while he does it instead of saying yeah okay whatever I don’t care if what I’m doing is totally awful and greedy and shitty, because everyone’s screwed either way and at least I look fabulous while I cause havoc.
I’m not being a Once-ler apologist here, I’m just saying that this is not a fable that benefits from the introduction of moral ambiguity, because it goes from ‘big business devours the delicate beauty of the natural world for no good reason because seriously you don’t need a shitty thneed what the fuck’ to ‘don’t have any kind of dream or innovation kids because your family is never going to be proud of you either way and also the penguin from batman returns is going to try to drown you in your sleep’.
A MORAL LESSON FOR EVERYONE AMIRITE?
If you'd like to read the final draft (as in, it's finished but a professional editor hasn't gone over it yet, because it doesn't have a publisher yet) of Candy Butchers, a sci-fi-ish novel by me which has much less gore and violence than Mixtape but that's not to say it doesn't still need trigger warnings for basically everything including gore and violence...
if you're interested in reading it, email firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll throw it at your head.
WOO NOVEL YEAH.
I fulfilled twelve-year-old me's dream of writing sci-fi. I feel deeply pleased about this.
... it’s gory. So horrifying, I had to skim over some paragraphs.
.And here is another review of the same story.
... one of the more gruesome tales in the collection. A fact is made all the more distressing when you realise it is also likely the most realistic as well.
As I mention on the first link, the story is descriptive of true events and is about teenage serial killers with hammers and teenage music fans with cameras and gonzo internet memes and heartwarming Christmas family togetherness.
And apparently it's basically impossible to read? Uh.
I apologise so sincerely to my mother and to all other people who had hopes and dreams which involved me growing up to write nice, wholesome, life affirming things which were nice and wholesome.
In other news I got a tattoo? Sometimes I do that.
My tattoos are actually more spiritually-motivated than the designs probably suggest. I've talked before about how the whole tattoo-getting thing is, for me, very much a meditation on impermanence and the fact that life is change -- which probably seems odd when talking about something that has as its main cultural narrative "oh my god, it's permanent, you'll have it for the rest of your life!"
But see, we don't actually have any kind of control over what our bodies are going to look like tomorrow, let alone twenty years from now. My accident when I was seventeen taught me that bodies are incredibly fragile, mutable things. We scar and break so easily.
All we can do is try to make our bodies as close to what we want them to be now. Our tomorrow-selves will be in charge of our tomorrow-bodies, and we have no way of anticipating what challenges they'll have to deal with in that.
So "it's permanent!" seems silly to me. Nothing is permanent. Tattoos are just colour on the incredibly impermanent sand mandala of our bodies.
So that's the overall attitude I have to 'em. And then each one specifically is a part of the story of myself. The one I got for the first MCR tour I went to (in 2007) was the immaculate heart from the St Viticus prayer card by Gerard Way (oh god my arm looks so NAKED ahahaha), because I liked the sort of fractured-and-rebuilt religious iconography of it, the idea that there was something transcendental but skewed and not entirely shiny about my relationship with live music.
This theme continued with the tattoos I got thereafter, though the connection to the band became less obvious at times: a columbine flower for last year's trip to Denver and Chicago, a rose and a bird in my Sharpest tattoo. I always understood what they meant and why they were meaningful; how they fitted into my story of losing myself and finding myself again each time.
So what's with this one? Okay, so in Homestuck (SHUT UP AND KEEP READING THIS ENTRY I PROMISE IT WON'T KILL YOU THIS ONE TIME) there's a character Gamzee who's religion is... well, it's complicated. And I'd write essays upon essays about it, except I'm saving all that meta-energy around the topic for shit I'm putting in Currently Being Written Novel (which is named 'Candy Butchers' for those who care about such things).
Anyway, the point is that Gamzee's religion is linked to a lot of ideas about the carnivalesque and performativity and terrifying clowns, which are all things I was already pretty into. And then in addition to that, his hero class in the game is "the Bard of Rage". Which, again, is a thing I feel pretty closely connected to already -- I feel it's a term which really nicely describes, say, Courtney Love, or Gerard Way, or Frank Iero.
And the thing I kept thinking, over and over, while I was watching MCR on their Aussie tour last month, was this line from Chuck Palahniuk's Rant: "this is what church should feel like."
I actually almost got that line itself tattooed as the marker of the tour, but during the third and last show I went to, I thought "this is what church should feel like" and then I thought no, this IS what church feels like for me, because this is what I believe in, this is what I love, the celebration and joy and grittiness and anger and noise and music and exhaustion and exhilaration of the whole experience of live music. The carnivalesque and the performativity. The Bards of Rage.
So this tattoo is, for me, about trying to embrace and be proud of the fact that this is who I am, a woman who writes horror stories so horrifying that readers can't finish them, a woman whose spiritual comfort is the cacophony and impermanence of live music.
But, y'know, if people think it's a tattoo that I got just because I like Homestuck, that's okay too, 'cos I do.
It's not that it's a low-starred review, because I've had those before. It's that every criticism is something I'm terribly afraid of -- this reads like a checklist of 'every way in which I always assumed someone would expose me for the shitty hack I am'.
Tokenistic, racist against Indigenous Australians, writes like bad fanfiction writer, bland and non-unique character voices. It's everything I was terrified this book would turn out to be because I wasn't good enough to write it properly, and the last paragraph essentially says 'if someone else wrote it, it'd be good'.
I just feel really sick and sad and stressed out. How do I keep on writing when everything I was afraid might be true, is?
Ugh crying again what fun
Ten years from now you will still be incredibly fucking crazy, fat, fucked up about relationships, appalling with money. You won't have any babies and will feel a thousand times less ready to think about having them than you did just before turning 20.
You'll have some books out but they won't make you any money. Maybe that's okay, because even if they haven't been read by a lot of people, they've been read by some people who gained a lot from them. Knowing that there are people out there who have tattoos, who make art, who want to make up their own stories, who are still alive right now because of words you put together is the most astonishing feeling in the world. It feels even more amazing than the way you're feeling right now at the response to Pretty Good Year.
By the end of the next decade you'll have a bunch of postgrad qualifications that don't mean much, and a job you are constantly terrified of losing, and a mostly-finished armful of tattoos. You don't have the nose ring anymore, believing at 21 that you'd grown up too much for that sort of teenage nonsense. You were so much more grown up at 21 than you are at hours-away-from-30.
Your twenties are hard but there are good things in there too. I won't spoil any of the stuff that's in your future, suffice to say that you make some truly epic fuck-ups, go to some places so dark they will make your teen years look like a cakewalk, and lose some of the people you love most in the world.
And at the end of all of that, you're still here.
So I guess that's a start.
Here's hoping that the Mary of 2022 has her shit a little bit more worked out than either of us do.
You will spend the last hours of your twenties looking up pointy LARP shoes on eBay.
Sorry about that.
Your future self
Feb 5th, 2012