Ashes to Ashes, Banjo to Jewellery

The jewellery project is going very well, with KRin Pender-Gunn joining the team. Look at the pretty things she makes!

Recently, the lovely Aaron Jelbart donated a dead banjo to the cause. It was in his garage waiting to go to landfill, so he was especially excited to give it to the project to be made into new art. Here is the poor thing:

When its parts have been made into jewellery, I’ll post more pictures.

Shop at our KittyandCadaver Etsy store

Interested in donating to or being part of the Kitty Jewellery Project? Visit the jewellery project page.

New to Kitty and Cadaver? Find out about the project in About Kitty and Cadaver or start from chapter one at Read the Book.


Making jewellery from a dead piano – Step One: Be Prepared

tealightA long while back, I wrote about the piano donated to the Kitty and Cadaver jewellery project by Eddie Tichelaar of abc Pianos. The piano is warped beyond repair or salvation and would otherwise have been chopped up for firewood.

At the time, however, I hadn’t found a craft jeweller to work with, so the piano (maker unknown, but Eddie says it dates from 1900-1915) has been sitting in Jess Harris’s shed since 2013 waiting for its chance.

Well, not only does the project now have three craft jewellers (Hello Breanna, Amy and KRin!)  but Jess is about to move house, so dismantling the piano has become an urgent matter.

The piano - BeforeCoordinating our schedules so we could all be at the shed at the same time was difficult, so Jess and I decided to make a start one afternoon after she’d finished work for the day.

Here are a few things you need to know about dismantling a piano.


  • It’s best not to do it on a winter afternoon when you lose the light at about 5pm.
  • If you have to dismantle a piano on a winter afternoon after 5pm, it would really help if there was an electric light in the shed where the dismantling is to take place.
  • If you don’t have any such electric light, some candles would be helpful.
  • Tealight candles are not much good for the purpose.
  • With or without adqueate light, having the right tools is essential.
  • A simple flat-head screwdriver and a rubber mallet are not really the right tools for the whole job, though they’ll do in a pinch to get started.
  • Dismantling a piano in the dark by tealight on a cold winter evening with only a flathead screwdriver and a mallet is not the brightest idea Jess and I have ever had.
  • Once you get over how cold it is and how difficult the task ahead, dismantling a piano in the dark by tealight on a cold winter evening with only a flathead screwdriver and a mallet is a pretty bloody funny.

keysWhich is to say, Jess and I laughed a lot that evening while trying to work out how to dismantle the bloody thing. Some parts are held together with screws but I knew that other bits were held in by clever carpentry alone. The trick was working out which bits were which. By tealight candle in a dark shed.

Did I mention the shed was full of straw? Because one of Jess’s flatmates was rather ill-advisedly given a sheep as a pet-come-lawnmower.

Yes, you did read that correctly.

It’s illegal to keep a sheep in the suburbs like that – even in Boronia – so the sheep was re-homed. The hay was not.

Given how ridiculously ill prepared we were, Jess and I managed to pull apart a good deal of the piano, including the individual keys – before the competent people arrive.

The competent peopleBreanna and Amy were the competent people. They had pliers and a spanner and several clues about how to dismantle a piano.

They also discovered the electric light switch in the shed.

Yes, there was a light all along. Jess, who has lived in that house for a year, never knew it was there.

There’s still a bit to take apart – piano wire and metal pegs, mainly, but also more wooden panels and maybe the pedals, if the craft team can think of something to do with them.

JessWe’re also discussing how to use the ivory from the piano keys. As it’s a very old piano, we can legally re-use it, though we’d need paperwork to get the permit for it to be take  or sold overseas (ivory being, very properly, illegal otherwise). There are some ethical issues to consider though, so we’re talking about what approach we might take.

NarrelleShop at our KittyandCadaver Etsy store! New jewellery just added!

Interested in donating to or being part of the Kitty Jewellery Project? Visit the jewellery project page.

New to Kitty and Cadaver? Find out about the project in About Kitty and Cadaver or start from chapter one at Read the Book.


Tansy Rayner Roberts and Muskateer Space

musketeerspace_bluesmallNow that Kitty and Cadaver: Not the Zombie Apocalypse has been told in serial form, and while you’re waiting for a) the polished version to come out as a whole book or b) the second book of the series to be written (research has now begun) – you, dear reader, might be looking for a new online serialised novel to read.

Enter Tansy Rayner Roberts, stage left, with her new serialised online book project, Muskateer Space. Before rushing off to read it (as I recommend you do) you may want to find out a bit more about Tansy, Muskateer Space and what issues writers face when embarking on these kinds of projects.

What led you to write Musketeer Space?

As with all writing, a big idea took hold and I couldn’t shake it away. It’s rare for me to get such a good ‘elevator pitch’ type story in my head – one that practically sells itself when you explain the premise – so I hugged it deep to my chest and started writing! If anything, I’m even more in love with it now, so trying to write as much as possible before the inevitable ‘falling out of love’ stage which is much harder to write through.

Why did you decide to post it as an online story?

I’ve been in the writing doldrums lately, and wanted to give myself a bit of a kick in the pants with deadlines and an immediate audience. I liked the idea of harnessing adrenalin, guilt and the energy of my readers to strike fear into my own heart and get a novel written at a steady pace. Also I think that it’s good for me to encourage myself away from notions of preciousness about my writing – to take myself a bit less seriously for once. Writing is supposed to be fun as well as work!

I felt that my blog itself had got a bit quiet in the last few months too, and wanted something to perk it up a bit. This seems to be working!

What’s your favourite part of writing the book this way?

I like that this self-imposed deadline is working for me the same way as a ‘real’ publisher deadline – giving myself permission to focus on my writing regularly instead of waiting until all the other weekly domestic tasks are out of the way, adding momentum and strategic panic to the equation, and so on. Plus it doesn’t hurt to have nice comments from readers encouraging me along, or quoting their favourite bits.

The associated blogging – reviews etc – is helping a lot too. I’ve immersed myself in Musketeer and space opera media, which is adding extra charge to my writing. Build you own obsession. I’ve got to the point that writing the next bit of the story is the reward I give myself for completing less fun work, which is a pretty good sign.

What’s the most challenging part of writing and posting an online book?

I don’t think I’ve reached the most challenging part yet. I’m only at week 6, and I started out with a ‘cushion’ of nine chapters drafted. Obviously the most challenging part will be the week where I am horribly behind and need to write, edit and post a chapter from scratch. And/or when I hit the wall at the halfway mark. I’m still in the honeymoon period right now.

What’s been your experience so far? Reader responses?

Modestly positive! I am acquiring new readers every week, and I have received all manner of pleasing comments from readers, from blog comments and emails to private whispers in the bar at Continuum X. I am hoping to get some stern nudges as well when I make a continuity error or a typo, but so far everyone has been very kind.

What makes me happiest is when I see someone – friends and strangers alike – promoting the series off their own bat, simply because they’re enjoying it or they’ve just chosen to sponsor it. It feels like I’m getting back to basics about why write, and why publish – it’s a more intimate reader-writer experience than traditional publishing (not that I’m knocking traditional publishing, or having books in bookshops, which is lovely – but that process doesn’t really allow writers to peer at their readers to see what chapter they’re up to, unless you stalk people on buses).

What I’m actually enjoying most of all is the quilt-as-you-go method of editing – I actually loathe editing whole novels, more and more as I get older, which is very frustrating because it’s such an important part of the writing and publishing process. Taking the structural edit aspect out of the equation is very freeing (though only something I feel is justified for me with this one book, because it’s based on a novel that also had major structural problems) and I’m enjoying the editing process. The further I write ahead, the more edits each chapter gets before I post it, not just for prose and sentences but also for characterisation, worldbuilding, etc.

What other online book projects do you recommend to readers?

Girl-Who-Circumnavigated-FairylandI’m not sure if Catherynne Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making [now on Amazon]  is still up online or not, but that is a great example in recent years of a story that started out just being for an author and her fans, and became so much more. There’s a playfulness to it that isn’t as evident in Valente’s other work, and while she’s written many magnificent books I do think this one is her best.

I’ve also only just started reading Scott Lynch’s Queen of the Iron Sands which looks very promising – again, a writer who is professionally published elsewhere choosing to do a for-the-love-and-tips project.

I was trained to read serials via Harry Potter fanfic, of which my favourites were the works of Maya (who went on to write professionally as Sarah Rees Brennan) and Copperbadge/Sam Starbuck who sadly left his great HP work unfinished, but still writes fic in the Marvel Movieverse. That idea of compelling character narratives, and subversions of canon text, is at the heart of what I’m doing with the Musketeers.

The internet allows for serialisation across multiple media, and there’s many that I love. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was a brilliant example of the form through vids, while Questionable Content, Shortpacked, Dumbing of Age, Teahouse and Multiplex are ongoing webcomics I really enjoy.

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Faith Erin Hicks and Nimona by Noelle Stevenson are brilliant books which were first published in comic serial form – Nimona is still going but has a planned endpoint rushing towards us, and I like to throw everyone in that direction. It’s the story of a supervillain’s teen sidekick who turns out to have massively destructive powers of her own.

Tansy2014-1Tansy Rayner Roberts is a multi-award winning fantasy novelist, podcaster and pop culture critic. Her books include Love and Romanpunk, Ink Black Magic, and the Creature Court trilogy. Her latest novel, Musketeer Space, is a gender-swapped space opera retelling of The Three Musketeers, serialised on her blog. Tansy is @tansyrr on Twitter.

New to Kitty and Cadaver? Find out about the project in About Kitty and Cadaver or start from chapter one at Read the Book.

The Kitty Jewellery Project: Introducing Breanna Handfield

Woven guitar string necklace and bracelet by Breanna Handfield

Woven guitar string necklace and bracelet by Breanna Handfield

Kitty and Cadaver: Not the Zombie Apocalypse has reached its conclusion, but there’s plenty more juice in the engine. I’m already planning the second book in the series, and of course the various side projects, while delayed, are still planned.

To that end I am very delighted to announce that the Kitty Jewellery Project to make jewellery from reclaimed musical instruments (that would otherwise be thrown away) is going ahead, with Breanna Handfield as our first craft/jewellery partner, and Amy Chidgzey as our second!

Necklace: cello bridge, agate, baroque pearls by Breanna Handfield



I have been at the Continuum X convention this weekend, promoting Kitty and selling some of Breanna’s beautiful jewellery and hair sticks, made with guitar strings, clarinet reeds, cello bridges and violin bows.

Breanna is a costumer and crafter, currently working as a costumer for a Melbourne production of a play attributed to Oscar Wilde. She has created all of these items herself and each piece is unique.

Whatever we don’t sell this weekend will be listed on our Kitty and Cadaver Etsy store!

Violin bow and crystal hair stick

Violin bow and crystal hair stick by Amy Chidgzey

Of course, we’ll be producing more jewellery and hair sticks – using the broken violins and parts donated by luthier Tom Ferguson, the piano donated by Eddie Tichelaar and guitar strings donated by various musicians, including RGB Radio and Tim Cav of Dr Dupree. We remain on the look out for more donations of broken instruments/parts to use in repurposed jewellery that allows the beauty of an old instrument to live on.

Future jewellery may incorporate lyrics from the songs or quotes from the text. If you have a favourite line you’d like incorporated into a necklace, bracelet, earrings or other jewellery, send us a request and we’ll see what we can do!

Interested in donating to or being part of the Kitty Jewellery Project? Visit the Jewellery project page.

Peacemaker: Comic vs Book

Peacemaker Tour BannerGR author pic_webMarianne de Pierres is my guest blogger today. Her new book, Peacemaker, began life as a short story, turned into a comic book and is now galloping towards us a a novel by Angry Robot book. I asked Marianne to talk about writing a comic versus a book.

Peacemaker: Comic vs Book

Peacemaker cover_BlackMy new novel Peacemaker started out as a short story about ten years ago. Even after it was published, the story kind hung around in the back of my mind, whispering subliminal messages to me that it wasn’t done yet.

When I got around to thinking about it again, it demanded to be turned into a novel. I set about making the story transition from short fiction to long form, delving deeper into the narrative and the characters. The protagonist felt very natural to write, and the setting excited me, so it was a fun experience.

That’s what made it all the more curious that, when seventy pages into the novel version, I became smitten with the idea of turning it into an online comic.

Peacemaker_p1_loresI began to talk to friends in the industry. Nicola Scott, Andrew Constant and Paul Jenkins were fantastic and gave me much helpful advice. I knew I was a complete beginner at this kind of writing, and I was acutely aware of my inexperience. Somehow, that still wasn’t enough to stall the whim. I just loved how this world looked in my mind. I had to see it drawn. Thanks to Nicola, I hooked up with emerging artist Brigitte Sutherland, and we opened a dialogue that lead to the first issue being published about a year later.

In that time, I learned a huge amount. I’ve always been someone who writes fairly lean prose. I like to get to the point. I like that you can use just a few words and still pack them full of electrical charge. I take it as a challenge to do that.

Writing the comic then, I told myself, should just be a more compacted version of what I was already doing. Not so!

Peacemaker-CR_webI soon came to the realisation (by the end of the second issue – still unpublished) that it is really the artist telling the story. The writer gives signposts, enhances characterisation and makes sure there is an overall coherence to the plot (a thousand comic writers are going to POW! me off stage right now). Remember, this perspective is framed by a novelists brain. A novelist controls everything about his/her novel. A comic writer has an entirely different process.

I had to take myself out of the equation and let the artist and their images tell as much of the story as possible. Most interestingly for me was the fact that I felt compelled to show the reader a glimpse of the antagonist in the very first issue, something I would rarely do in a novel. It was then that I realised the luxury that even a lean writer has in books, playing with their words, creating a slow burn, luring the reader along.

So much time; so many words; such bliss …

Peacemaker will be released as an e-book on 29 April 2014. Check out Angry Robot for links and the print book release dates!

New to Kitty and Cadaver? Find out about the project in About Kitty and Cadaver or start from chapter one at Read the Book.

A Powerful Theme: an exploration of theme tunes by Night Terrace’s David Ashton


Recently, I’ve been very excited by a new Kickstarter project –  the SF comedy radio serial Night Terrace, about Anastasia Black (Jackie Woodburne of Neighbours fame) a retired world-saving adventurer who finds her quiet life irritatingly interrupted when her house starts inexplicably travelling through space and time. Stuck with her (or indeed the other way around) is Eddie Jones (Ben McKenzie), who was trying to sell her something at the time.

Of course, the show needs funding first!

Music is an important part of the TV and radio experience (and I hope to the reading experience of Kitty and Cadaver!) With this in mind, I’ve asked David Ashton, responsible for the theme tune and other sounds of Night Terrace, to write about TV and radio theme tunes. Read on! (or skip straight to pledging support for Night Terrace at Kickstarter.)


by David Ashton

I have the ‘Sound Designer’ job for Night Terrace. If the project meets the Kickstarter goal then I’ll be making whizz-bang spacey sound effects and stuff. Kind of like the BBC Radiophonic Workshop working on Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy.

In other words, this is pretty much my dream job.

I also have to come up with a theme tune. Television and radio themes are among the most evocative pieces of music there are. Once, when I was working at the ABC, I unexpectedly heard the BBC Match of the Day theme wafting across the airwaves, instantly transporting me back to childhood Sunday teatimes listening to the UK soccer results. When I mentioned it to the broadcaster he said that several people had called in to say the same thing – obviously I wasn’t the only one with an English Dad.

Theme tunes do a vital job of setting up the mood and tone of a series. Take Nerf Herder’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme for example. It starts with an ominous descending pipe organ riff – the kind of thing you’d expect to hear in a Vincent Price movie – before suddenly becoming an upbeat, punk-ish guitar instrumental just on the ‘edgy’ side of mainstream. What better way to say “we’re going to take all your boring old ideas of what a vampire story is and replace it with something clever and youth-oriented”?

Or compare the ‘adventure in space’ theme from the original 1978 Battlestar Galactica (by Stu Phillips and Glen Larson) to the elegiac theme to the 21st version of the series (by Bear McCreary) and you’ll know immediately all you need to know about the two approaches to the same story.

Sometimes a really good theme tune can lift less-than-stellar material too. The Walking Dead is too often a mediocre series but usually the best moment in any given episode is towards the end of the cold open when the arpeggiated violins start to fade in.

I should admit at this point that I’m enough of a theme tune nerd that I don’t just have favourite theme tunes, but favourite moments in theme tunes. I even have a favourite hi-hat hit in the Cowboy Beebop theme (its at about 29 seconds if you’re interested.)

My favourite era of TV themes is probably the ‘spy-fi’ era of the sixties (with some overlap to the fifties and seventies). Shows like Danger Man, The Man From Uncle, The Prisoner, The Avengers and so on. These programmes manage to pack more action and intrigue into their theme tunes than most shows manage in a whole series. If you’ve wondered how Tom Cruise keeps having hits with those Mission Impossible films – well, you can thank Lalo Shifrin for that.

I want to make a special mention here of Barry Gray, who created the many classic theme tunes for Gerry Anderson’s TV series. He’s best known for the military bombast of the Thunderbirds music, but his U.F.O. theme is classic spy-fi and the Space 1999 theme is spy-fi given a wakka-wakka disco groove for the 1970s. My favourite of his, though is the absolutely manic theme for Stingray. “Anything can happen for the next half hour” goes the voice-over, but really that promise is there in the theme tune.

Here are six Fun (And Slightly Opinionated) ‘Facts’ About Theme Tunes You Might Not Already Know:

  1. The singing in the theme music for the Battlestar Galactica re-boot is actually real lyrics in Sanskrit.
  2. Hollywood composer John Williams began his career writing theme tunes for television, including the great themes for Irwin Allen’s TV productions such as Lost in Space and one of my favourites The Time Tunnel. Back than he was credited as “Johnny Williams.”
  3. The original version of the Doctor Who theme was made in 1963 – before synthesizers had even been invented. Delia Derbyshire, working at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, realised Ron Grainer’s composition by taking a lot of individual sounds (including some made by electronic testing equipment and some made plucking a piece of string) re-recording them at different speeds to create the right pitches and the sticking all the resulting pieces of tape together in the correct order to make the tune.
  4. Douglas Adams was a brilliant writer with terrible taste in music, but he did good when he picked Journey of the Sorcerer by The Eagles to be the theme music for the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy radio series.
  5. The theme to Futurama is heavily inspired by the 1967 track Psyché Rock by Pierre Henry. The opening theme and animation for Archer is just a straight rip-off of Cowboy Beebop.
  6. One theme tune to have an impact on the pop charts was Angelo Badalamenti’s theme to Twin Peaks (with vocals by Julee Cruise.) What you might not know is that the Badalamenti/Cruise/David Lynch style of spooky twangy jazz actually came about when Lynch wanted to use This Mortal Coil’s version of Song to Siren in his movie Blue Velvet. When they couldn’t afford to license that track they instead went about re-creating their own version of ethereal-vocals-and-guitar pop, which then carried over to become the musical identity of Twin Peaks.


Night Terrace is a new audio comedy from the minds behind ABC1′s Outland, ABC2′s Bazura Project and the hit podcast Splendid Chaps. It follows the adventures of Anastasia Black (played by Neighbours veteran Jackie Woodburne), who used to save the world for the government but now just wants a quiet life in retirement. So when her house inexplicably starts travelling in time and space she’s understandably miffed. She’s also not exactly thrilled about Eddie Jones, who happened to be on her doorstep at the time and is now her unlikely fellow traveller. University hasn’t prepared Eddie to cope with other worlds or time paradoxes, but he still thinks they’re a step up from selling electricity plans door-to-door.

Together Anastasia and Eddie will face alien invasions, hideous monsters, and a shadowy figure known only as “Sue”. All the while hoping the house will eventually take them home…

The team are crowdfunding the first series of Night Terrace right now. Jane Badler, chanteuse and actress (the original Diana of the original V!) is also slated for a role if the show is funded. They’re over two thirds of the way to their goal – and you can help them reach their funding goal at Kickstarter. I have a Key to the Terrace, but if you’re really keen you can be listed as a producer!

What’s your favourite theme tune (or Kitty song?) Feel free to leave a comment!