Someone has stolen Nick’s body – and his face! Frances has fallen in love with her best friend but she can’t tell anyone. Dan saves his friend and lives to regret it … The characters in these fourteen stories are angry, vulnerable, rebellious – and unforgettable.
Joanne and Jacqueline met when they were the only resident writers at the Varuna Writers’ Centre, a huge old house in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. Chatting around the fire one night after dinner, they decided to write a book of short stories together. They found the title immediately – that was the easy part! Home again in Lismore in northern New South Wales and Sydney respectively, they wrote their stories and swapped them and discussed them for a year … and Bad Behaviour is the result.
From Story Wizards ed Sandra Bernhardt, Macmillan Education Australia, Melbourne, 2005 ISBN 0 7329 9267 2
Who is Jacqueline Kent?
I started growing up in Normanhurst, a north-western suburb of Sydney, ar a time when the bushland around our house was gradually disappearing, but when McDonald’s did not exist. When I was eleven we moved to Adelaide. One of the best things about Adelaide was its flatness, because it meant I could learn to ride a bike – my two younger sisters and I weren’t allowed to do this in our part of Sydney because of the hills and busy main roads. I went to a fairly posh Adelaide girls’ school (which I didn’t enjoy much) and then to university (which was much more fun).
After that I worked as a radio journalist for the ABC, and travelled a bit, and lived in London: the damp, freezing weather drove me back to Australia after a few years. I’ve basically lived here ever since, with short trips to other places. I live in an apartment not too far from the harbour with my partner John, surrounded by far too many bookds that I can’t bear to part with. I spend most of the day at the computer writing, which is fun sometimes – though some days I miss someone to talk to: email and texting isn’t quite as good.
What does Jacqueline think about writing?
I started being a writer ery early. When I was little, before I could write properly, I used to tell myself stories and draw them on bits of scrap paper. I was never good at drawing then, and I don’t think I’ve improved! I’ve done many different kinds of writing , though: radio and TV scripts, stories, novels, biography (and notes for these stories, of coure). I’ve also done a great deal of editing: working on books written by other people.
Writing can be difficult, I think. That’s because so often you have an idea what you want to say – and the best words just won’t come. You have to keep going over and over, and each time, with any luck, you get closer to what you mean to say. Working as an editor teachers you that things can always be written better. I wish working as an editor automatically made you a better writer, but helping to improve other people’s work does sometimes help you understand your own weaknesses. When you see why something doesn’t work, you can sometimes see how it will.
What does Jacqueline say about her stories?
I hope you like these stories of mine. In ‘Good time, great taste’ I wanted to tell a story with a very big time span. But I thought it needed to have something binding it together besides a character.
I came up with McDonald’s because it’s something everybody knows, and I once overheard a little boy say earnestly: ‘I could spend my whole life at McDonald’s!’ which seemed too good an idea not to use. I also needed to choose incidents in Cassie’s life that were not only crucial, but which happened in the same place. In a real sense, thenMcDonald’s is central to Cassie’s life. The ending is not meant to be sad: it just shows Melanie and Cassie heading towards their known and unknown futures.
‘Refuge’ is based on something that really happened: most of my stories are taken from real incidents and people. When I came to write about Dan and Luke, I realised how easily parents and children can get each other wrong – and also how helpless kids can feel when their parents don’t care about them in the right way, or have their own ideas about who they ought to be. Dan will never communicate with his father: they just don’t understand each other, and Luke will never save his mother, who has her own idea of what she wants. This story features people with widely different points of view, and it needed a focus. Dan, the would-be rescuer whose actions drive the story, provided that.
Each of these stories took about a week to write, I guess – but a great deal longer to think about. I can’t just sit down and get going: I have to know what my structure will be, and only then can I begin to write.