Tag Archives: adam byatt

Mount Pleasant – A Track By Track Breakdown

Here is a track-by-track breakdown of the songs on the record, what inspired the band and how I used those ideas to create the narrative of each song for the book.

Listen to the album here: MOUNT PLEASANT


I wrote the Prologue as a way of establishing the setting and motifs of the collection, that of deceit, deception and false facades. The setting of Western Sydney was inspired by the origins of the band, and it is the city I live in.

The Prologue is a fictional retelling of the changing of the name of the suburb where three of the band members grew up. There is no music for this piece of flash fiction but it explains the origins of the album’s title and frames the inspiration of each track, and allowed me to explore a set of stories based in Western Sydney in the 1990s and early 2000s.

The title of the album comes from the name of the suburb where three of the band members grew up. As a name it no longer exists. The local council wiped its name to clear itself of the violence and dangerous youths inhabiting the space. Nothing changed except the name.

Track 1 Holding Pattern

This was the first song released off the album and the first story I wrote. The title of the song is an in-joke as a close friend of the band claimed they were being kept in a ‘holding pattern’ due to the band’s lack of decision making. The band describe the song as being a bit all over the place but feeling right.

It was released with the cover art of the album which gave me the idea of a young girl living in an apartment complex, running up and down the stairs as a means of having some form of control in her life. She meets a recently arrived young boy and the story explores the holding pattern each of them lived in based on their suburb and how it affects their lives.

The song is angular and emphatic in the opening before a pause, a held breath leading to a crushing crescendo, and I wanted the narrative to have that same sense of movement. To have the reader imagine what it means to run, to be held within social strictures, and to be left behind.

Track 2 – Potemkin

The song title refers to the Potemkin village. The myth of the term comes from stories of a fake portable village built solely to impress Empress Catherine II by her former lover Grigory Potemkin, during her journey to Crimea in 1787.

I translated the original setting of Crimean Russia to that of a high school student, the pauper queen as she is named in the story, attending a performance of King Lear and explores the artifice of theatre as a metaphor of the schoolgirl’s existence. This existence extends to where she lives and how it defines her life and the life of her younger brother.

For the ending of this story I channelled John Hughes and The Breakfast Club for a monologue that would look great as a short film or a slam poem.

Track 3 – Pendock and Progress

This is my favourite song on the album. It is fast, frenetic, chaotic and triumphant, yet has pauses for breath. And I love the sound of the snare drum; it’s a perfect sonic fit in the track. It is the names of the streets where the band grew up.

It was the second song released and the second story I wrote. Pendock Close became a cul-de-sac, a dead-end street the protagonist rides his second-hand bike around. The cul-de-sac stands as a metaphor for the facades of society we inhabit, those we are forced to live and yet have no understanding there is something other what you consider normal.

Track 4 – Meet Me In The Meadow

This is a softer sounding song, and the narrative follows the burgeoning relationship a girl has with her crush, and the metamorphosis of adolescent sexuality. It is almost romantic in its feel, and the band used a quote from the Wes Anderson film, “Moonlight Sunrise” as the title.

In reading a synopsis of the film, the romantic element stood out. Not wanting to frame a narrative with a Wes Anderson style I diverted it to examine how boys and girls engage with the facades of masculinity and femininity; how they are both forced into frameworks that are detrimental to their developing sense of emotional, sexual and mental identity.

There are echoes and facets of these facades found in other stories in this collection, notably “Potemkin,” “Time Away” and “Gueules Cassees.” We need to interrogate who we are and understand how we have been deceived into accepting less than what we are worth.

Track 5 – Shambles

This story has a lightness in the music and in the content in comparison to the other stories. It is more comic in its approach than the other stories but still reflects the divide we encounter between what we think we are and what we really are. It is tongue in cheek in places, and it was definitely fun to write, and is reflected in the bouncy joyfulness of the music.

The protagonist is in his last year of high school and his academic life is a bit of a shambles. He’s a Western suburbs philosopher who likes grunge, works in a fish’n’chip shop and says there are two types of people in every situation. It even had my editor, Jodi, using “There are two types of people…” in her vernacular after editing this story.

I don’t think we use the word “shambles” enough. Time to bring it back.

Track 6 – Time Away

The band describe the song as an attempt of taking “time away” from all of the pitfalls of life but the escape is never found. Therefore my vision for this story was the father of a family who get to go on a holiday to the Gold Coast only to come home and find out he has been retrenched.

When Jodi sent back her initial edits, the email began with an expletive enhanced exclamation. I know if I get that then the story is working. Ben Hobson, who provided the quote on the cover, also connected with this story. I believe it is the heart of the collection.

The opening of this song has two parts. The first sounds like a demo track, setting up the motif of the track. The second part of the opening is a favourite section of mine as it has the drum track muted, all the top end rolled off so there is no sibilance in the hi hats, and it feels like a heartbeat, which was channelled into the father in the story. When the track kicks in proper, the bass drum is a thumping vibrancy underpinning the remainder of the track. There are so many layers to this track in its construction as it builds and builds in the midsection of the track before pulling back, and it is in this section, the return to the muted drums, that the father in the story wrestles with himeself.

It is perhaps one of the “softest” stories to read but the resonance is unsettling. Stories of masculinity and what that means, are in the forefront of our minds, and how that affects us, our children and families, and the wider community. From that central story, which as Track 6 is like the halfway point, every other story resonates from that point and reflects the broader perspectives and perceptions. One action can have far-reaching consequences.

Track 7 – Summer Sun

This story references the horrendous summer bushfires of 2001/2002 in Sydney where the paradoxical beauty of the world is slowly being destroyed. Our understanding of the macro comes into focus when we see the lives of individuals in the micro.

Bushfires are a constant threat in Australia and in 2019-2020, from September to almost March, significant parts of the country were on fire. This year we have had significant rainfall and lower temperatures.

We will within this dichotomy, between risk and reward, and the story focuses on a young man who observes the destruction of the bushfire even as his own body undergoes chemotherapy treatment.

Track 8 – Well, Go Well

This song serves as an interlude before “Gueules Cassees” and the band was influenced by Boards of Canada in the composition of this track.

I used it as a platform to lead in the final track, and once I knew what the focus was for “Gueules Cassees” I focused on developing a masculine voice for this interlude. A Twitter thread gave this piece its impetus where the user asked people to respond with apologies used by men in situations of domestic violence, sexual assault or manipulative behaviour in relationships. This narrative is a compilation of various apologies which frames the final track on the album.

The opening of the narrative begins, “APOLOGISE LIKE A MAN.” and uses various iterations of this sentence with different punctuation and capitalisation. It is also the final line. I was interested in how punctuation and capitalisation affected the reading experience and the intended meaning.

Track 9 – Gueules Cassees

The band describes this as the most brutal track to close on. “Gueules Cassees” is a French term meaning ‘broken faces’ and refers to ex-servicemen of World War 1 who returned home with disfigured faces due to the war. A Google search will provide you with some horrifying images of the reality of war, and the people who tried to assist them in their return to society where physical disfigurement lead to social ostracism, loss of status, breakdown of relationships or being turned away from jobs.

I needed to find a parallel of broken faces and in choosing the issue of domestic violence, I wanted to engage with the issue and the hiddenness of its impact on women. I was hesitant to write this, wanting to be authentic and truthful without getting it wrong, so I sought the opinion of other readers. Three women volunteered to read for me, to ensure I had the veracity of the story correct. Unfortunately, it rang true for those early readers, and they also offered new insights to develop the narrative further. I hope I have done this narrative justice.

It is a brutal concept, reflected in the music and the language. Seeing this song played live at the end of 2020 was remarkable as I had had the story drafted, and the intensity of the track was palapble to me.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for listening.

Post Marked Piper’s Reach Review

It is only a little over a month before “Post Marked Piper’s Reach” is released and  an early review is in.

Courtesy of Andrew Gillman, you can read his review HERE

Suffice to say, we are more than a little chuffed at his review because it encapsulates so much of the novel’s heart (of darkness).

Links for ordering copies can be found at the Vine Leaves Press page HERE in both paperback and ebook in a region best for you.

The First Pitch

Yesterday my collaborative writing partner, Jodi, gave her first pitch for our novel, Post Marked: Piper’s Reach before the commissioning editor of a large publishing house.

I was not able to be there because the pitch was in Brisbane and I live in Sydney. I posted this comment on Facebook yesterday: 

In a little under an hour Jodi will have pitched our collaborative novel Post Marked: Piper’s Reach before a commissioning editor. Feeling nervous and anxious and excited for her. Wish I could have been there. Will see what happens.

Jodi responded:

Sitting in a character arc workshop feeling horribly nervous. Might vomit!!

But after it all went down Jodi’s reflected:

Update. I did not vomit on the commissioning editor from ******** (company name redacted). I was however terribly nervous. I wasn’t asked for the first 50 pages but ****** (name redacted) took down the website address to look at it further and my email address to contact me if he was interested. 

Regardless of the outcome I am glad for the experience and what it adds to what we need to do next. 

I don’t know how I would have performed if it was me having to pitch but I’m sure  the time will come.

While at the con, a reader of Piper’s Reach found Jodi, and expressed what a lot of readers have intimated when they get to the end of Ella-Louise’s and Jude’s letters:

I had a random reader moment where I got my first good natured: ‘I hate you! I can’t believe you did that!’

We’re going out for a beer later to talk about it. Very excited.

We are very close to finalising edits on Season 3 of Piper’s Reach and waiting on return edits from our editor on Season 2. 

From here it’s a case of developing our queries, synopsis information, character arcs and work out where we pitch next. It’s a very exciting time as we see the fruits of our writing building momentum.

What started out as a fun collaborative writing project has become the vehicle for pushing our writing forward, individually and collaboratively, and seeking publication for a story we have faith and belief in.

The Wrap – Piper’s Reach Blog Tour

“To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.” ~ Phyllis Theroux


Post Marked: Piper’s Reach is an ambitious organic narrative collaborative project between Jodi Cleghorn and Adam Byatt traversing an odd path between old and new forms of communication, differing modalities of storytelling and mixed media, all played out in real and suspended time.

In December 1992 Ella-Louise Wilson boarded the Greyhound Coach for Sydney leaving behind the small coastal town of Piper’s Reach and her best friend and soulmate, Jude Smith. After twenty years of silence, a letter arrives at Piper’s Reach reopening wounds that never really healed. When the past reaches into the future, is it worth risking a second chance?

The above is what we pitched to our prospective audience, in the hope someone would like to offer their blog to host an interview. It went beyond what we expected. Here are some numbers:

9 days, 9 interviews, 43 questions, more than 12,200 words written. I haven’t been able to get stats for each blog, but this is enough.

I never expected such a response. From an initial pitch, to a workable project (which is still going), to a blog tour and now a launch.

Today, the first letter is live. Ella-Louise reaches out to her best friend, Jude, after 20 years of silence. Each week, every Tuesday, another letter is posted. We have no end in sight for our characters, so we’ll see where this all ends up.

It has been such a rush creating and writing the character of Jude. Jumping back into the beginning of the process (we started writing in secret 3 months ago) helped me go back to see where Jude was at the beginning, compared to what he is in my head now (3 months and 6 letters written by Jude and 6 by Ella-Louise).

During last week, Jodi and I talked about the psychology of our characters (thus not contravening the ‘no spoilers’ policy) and revealed interesting truths about who our characters are, how they think, and how they respond.

Check out the interviews for an understanding of our project and what it means to us. Behind the Scenes – The Making of Piper’s Reach

I hope you, as reader, will enjoy the story as much as we have had in writing it.

Post Marked: Piper’s Reach Blog Tour – Rebecca Emin

Today the lovely Rebecca Emin (@RebeccaEmin) hosts the 8th stop on the promo blog tour for Post Marked: Piper’s Reach.

While we leave crumbs on the kitchen table, we talk about why we wrote a story in letters and what it’s like to work collaboratively on a project; especially one that has a ‘no spoilers’ policy.

Writing collaboratively has always been a bigger and better experience than going solo for me. I find it almost intoxicating… sharing the responsibility of building a narrative; riding the joint momentum… Most of all I love watching my characters come alive through another writer – Jodi

We write independently of each other but the narratives are intrinsically tied to the other. We weave in and out of each other’s stories. The advantage of collaboration is the perspectives and insights another person provides. The downside to this project is the ‘no spoilers’ clause – Adam

To read the whole interview, click here.

Post Marked: Piper’s Reach Blog Tour – Victoria Boulton

As launch day rapidly approaches for Post Marked: Piper’s Reach, today on the blog tour, we drop in on the delightful Victoria Boulton (@Vicorva).

In this interview, Victoria asks us why we decided to write our story completely in letters. She also asks us about the origin of our characters, how they are informed by the process of letter writing and what we love about this project.

A letter is intimate and personal. It is a private, shared moment between two people – Adam

There is a sense of freedom and danger in pursuing a non-traditional form of story telling – Jodi

Ella-Louise is broken and burned out, living a sea change to try and reclaim her life. This is the most intimate connection I have ever had with a character. I’m drawn to the first person POV, but this is something altogether different – Jodi

Jude is the essential every man. But at the same time he’s vulnerable, he’s loyal and has a deep centred sense of place and purpose – Adam

To read the rest of the interview click here.

Post Marked: Piper’s Reach Blog Tour – Nicole Murphy

Today we have the extraordinary privilege of being hosted by Australian fantasy, science fiction and romance writer Nicole Murphy.

It begins by asking “Why text messaging to brain storm a new project?” before exploring the importance of place to the project.

Location is important because where you live shapes who you are, what you do, the opportunities available (especially during adolescence) and the way people see and treat you – Jodi

We created the fictional town of Piper’s Reach before we even had characters. Location puts the characters into a frame of reference… it became the framework for understanding the relationship between the characters – Adam

To read the full interview click here.

Post Marked: Piper’s Reach Blog Tour – Alan Baxter

Today’s stop on the Post Marked: Piper’s Reach Blog Tour is at the wonderful home of British-born, Australian based dark fantasy, sci-fi & horror writer, Alan Baxter. He teaches Kung Fu and loves his heavy metal.

Jodi and I are going to rifle through his CD collection while we’re here talking about the role music plays in the lives of ourselves, and our characters Ella-Louise and Jude.

Jude’s preference for songs from the past is perhaps an indication of his inability to grasp the present situation with Ella-Louise. Even though they have different musical tastes, the music they share amplifies their emotional connection – Adam

Ella-Louise uses music as a mirror to her past, and later the changing dynamic of her relationship with Jude. The lyrics she shares are tiny glimpses inside her, but for every answer they illuminate, twice as many questions are spawned – Jodi

You can read the rest of the interview here.

Post Marked: Piper’s Reach Blog Tour – Tuesday Serial

Pull up a comfy chair, grab a cup of tea and your favourite cardigan as we stop the Piper’s Reach blog tour at Tuesday Serial.

Tuesday Serial is the place to go to link your serialised web fiction.

Today, the lovely PJ Kaiser has opened the fridge and declared the cupboard a free for all, and has asked us a bunch of questions about the new project.

It was Adam’s idea for the characters to be two long-lost friends getting back in touch with each other and Adam later sent me a text message asking if I thought perhaps these two had harboured crushes but they’d never synced up to let them hook up… and hey presto… my character appeared – Jodi

With no real idea who our characters were, we continued to toss ideas back and forth. We had no endpoint in mind when the first letter was written, a bit like a shot in the dark, a character hoping, trying, wanting to reconnect with the past, but not sure if there will be reciprocation – Adam

To read the full interview, click here.

Post Marked: Piper’s Reach


In December 1992 Ella-Louise Wilson boarded the Greyhound Coach for Sydney leaving behind the small coastal town of Piper’s Reach and her best friend and soulmate, Jude Smith. After twenty years of silence, a letter arrives at Piper’s Reach reopening wounds that never really healed. When the past reaches into the future, is it worth risking a second chance?

Yesterday marked the beginning of the unveiling of #thesecretproject between Jodi Cleghorn and myself.

Post Marked: Piper’s Reach will launch Tuesday 10th April and will roll out one letter a week. Each week one letter will be available on the website (sshhh… it’s still a secret) as a downloadable PDF handwritten letter. See if you can guess whose handwriting it is and who wrote which character.

But we need your help. We’re looking for some lovely friends to invite us over (between Monday 2nd – Monday 9th April) for a cuppa (we’ll bring the scones and jam and cream) and a chat about Post Marked: Piper’s Reach.

To help foster the conversation (because we’ve been keeping it a secret), we’ve assembled a few points of focus so we don’t have rely on religion, sex and politics as conversation starters. If we get really stuck, we can talk about the weather (Piper’s Reach is known for its epic storms and some really lovely scenery).

Break out the fine china (for Jodi) and the tin mug for me.

  • The original Concept/Pitch
  • Creating a location by text message
  • Organic writing process
  • Characters & authors’ emotional involvement in the writing
  • Back story
  • Instantaneous vs delayed gratification in the digital age
  • The music

If you are interested in having us over, please leave a comment. Our minions will talk to your minions and there will be plenty of cake to go around.