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  • Writer's pictureElaine Marie Carnegie


Please welcome Bernard with his story of the Hidden Folk to the Writer's Journey Blog this week.

Some people consider me successful. I have a university education, I have a house to call home, food in the fridge and clean clothes. Some people would call me a failure. I never hold a job for any longer than it takes to upset a manager, I haven't seen my daughter in more than 2 ½ years, and I just don't stick it out. I put myself betwixt and between both groups of people and I identify as 'unsuccessful'.

I also need you to understand that I work in phases, something like a carousel Where some of the horses fall off and eventually are replaced. Each phase seems to last about 3 months. I might write for a few months, and then draw, and practice lock-sport, or archery or photography. The horses usually fall off after I have applied myself and achieved a recognisable benchmark. In a sense I have been writing for years; but Hidden Folk was created from the better parts of many other projects.

For decades I have lived with depression and later anxiety. I have been diagnosed with Extreme depression, Extreme anxiety and I am Extremely high functioning. I call this Triple E. One aspect, just one aspect to my survival is achievement If I can look back at the end of the day and see pages of typed text, characters drawn, or postcards posted I have won.

Another thing about me is that I need to achieve to believe. I also learn about each craft, about myself and how I can hack each craft. Once I attempted to write a novel, 50,000 words. I wrote 25,000 words, and I learned that I can write, my ideas onto a screen. I am better at achieving 1000-2000 words in a sitting. Short stories, not chapters. And, that the shorts can be arranged, like chapters into a novel. OK, still not 50,000 words, but it’s a complete story.

There is no formula to writing, there is no creative method. Each project (for want of a better word) needs tools. A house can't be built with a pencil, but you don't see too many architects with power-drills. Amongst my writing tools are half ideas, never full ideas. There is an amount of uncertainty, a great aliquot of persistence. A word processor, words, grammar, the ability to remain friendly towards editors. There is text-to-speech, cameras with video mode, audio recorders, VO artists. And these are just some of the tools I can think of.

I can see my characters, and I can illustrate them (poorly), but this allows me to add in details and backstory. This allows me to differentiate better between the 7 Rainbow Fairies, and to familiarise myself with the Undead Fairy. I can dress my Ogres like broken stockbrokers, I can dress my Trolls from op-shops and surround Fallen with flies and stink.

So, how did Hidden Folk begin?

With lots of thinking and a very awkward process. Having attempted NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and hearing about Camp NaNo, I wanted to set myself a more realistic goal of 10,000 words as short stories. I thought about my children, when they were... children. My son liked dinosaurs, robots and superheroes. My daughter liked princesses, cartoons and fairies. Then two memories hit me hard. The first were fairy books that came as 7 to a series and were insipid would put me to sleep before my girl had blinked twice. The other was a book I had heard about, written years ago by Australian celebrities, in which the protagonist from one story would be introduced as a peripheral character in the previous story. These could be read in order, starting anywhere in the book.

It occurred to me that 7 fairies could be in circular fiction. For this father to be true to my girl, one would have to be Pink, so I combined indigo and Violet to a simple Purple. I thought again and realised that they would live in the Ararat Regional Park, a 15 min drive from my home passed farms and into a forest. And for just another cliche, each Fairy would have to find a button.

At this point things went weird. Due to dates and circumstances, I hired 7 artists to each draw a fairy, I created briefs for each character, and the artists created manga and chibi caricatures.

Camp NaNo started. I achieved and I was proud. I used text to speech for the flow, I invented villains, allies and a swear word. The Heroes Journey was condensed to- Problem. Solved.

Camp NaNo ended. I was distracted, the carousel had moved on and I wouldn't write for months. At work, in an abattoir, I thought that my son would be upset with Fairies. I read through the stories and though I should expand on the Villains, Codswallop and Bunkum. I wanted to make them more comical than villainous, and my son had a sophisticated sense of toilet humour. FART JOKES.

I owed the two Dragons more attention and realised that they would have a greater purpose than being allied to Fairies. And thus, it grew. I looked at local maps and thought about where the Dwarves would be, and where the Ogres would have their farm. I played with ideas at work, and then came home and wrote.

Nothing was sacred. Every word was disposable. My editor, Marion McAdie was brutal. She wanted a chapter moved. I moved it. As I created each story, I felt cohesion was missing. I had notes on paper, which I ordered, and re-ordered. Then realised they were the introduction. I beef-up the inclusion of Tinker (of Tinker's Tales on Youtube), my original steampunk persona. I had included another version of myself as Mr. Moore (of Moore St). It was too ridiculous not to work. I needed to have two versions of myself interacting with each other.

And then I book-ended the whole thing with Mr. Moore, writing an afterword to bring time up all of the loose threads. Other stories were added, another editor was listened to. And books were published in time as Christmas gifts.

BIO: Bernard Quince stands at 5'10”, with lean build and the potty belly of a well feed 45-year-old. He has given up on personal image, by having his wife shave his head every few months, wearing mostly hi-vis safety shirts and 2nd hand trousers. He grew up in and around Stawell, Victoria, Australia. As a teen he attended high-school in the next town Ararat. He returned to Ararat years later and has been there for almost 10 years.

In the interim, he became highly educated and trained. He started with a double science degree, Biotechnology and Chemistry. Topping this with an Honours degree. Later he would undertake a Graduate Diploma of Education, and work as a high school science teacher for several years. He has also completed several trade/ vocational certificated courses. Bernard has worked in hospitality, manufacturing, retail, education and an abattoir, just to skim the surface of his resume.

Bernard is married to Megan, who wisely has not taken his surname, and happily lives in her own home. He enjoys gardening for insects and vegetables, cooking (not cleaning) and distractions, shiny things and squirrels. Amongst his best friends he includes 6 chooks (1 rooster and 5 hens), 4 Dragons, 2 lizards any anyone who will lend him a trailer.


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Jim Bates
Jim Bates
May 20, 2021

Really an interesting story, Bernard. Thanks so much for sharing it and here's wishing you all the best in the future.


May 18, 2021

Thanks for sharing a most unusual process!

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