Luna’s stuck in the city – plus, a ghost!

Carla Caruso, author pic, HarperCollinsSo my digital-writer-in-residence gig continues (until June 25!) – along with my story, Mermadelaide. (It’s about a mermaid stuck in the city and is being told via daily Facebook and Instagram posts.)

It’s funny that once you start writing a story, you see symbolism everywhere. Like the below oceanic wall at a play area at Westfield West Lakes, and the fibreglass whale at Mitcham Square shopping centre (which my twin lads are captured wrecking… er, having fun on).

Another funny thing happens when you begin telling a story. Naively, I thought I was alone in this, but now better understand the phenomenon since listening to a Longform podcast with Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert. (Did I mention I’m a podcast addict?)

Anyway, what happens is… another story idea sneaks in and tries to demand your attention!West Lakes WestfieldBoys at whale

So since telling the tale of Luna the mermaid, I’ve had another idea for a digital story about a ghost girl, dubbed Ghostelaide, vying for my attention. Here’s how inspiration struck…

I did an interview recently with TV writer-turned-novelist JD Barrett about her debut book, The Secret Recipe for Second Chances. It features a ghost chef and was a little inspired by the 1947 film, The Ghost and Mrs Muir. (My husband couldn’t believe I’d never seen the movie, so nicely got it for me!)

Then I listened to a podcast interview with US romance author Susan Elizabeth Phillips about her new novel, Heroes are My Weakness, inspired by gothic clifftop romances (hello Hitchcock’s Rebecca). And I realised I loved films like that, too, and all things ghostly. At the time of listening to the podcast, I was going for a run, which took me past Mitcham Anglican Cemetery. I went in and discovered it features heaps of cool headstones from the 1800s.

So I started imagining another photo shoot for a story, comprising lots of black, and cream lace, and red velvet, plus misty roads and grey skies in our wintry City of Churches. I began to wonder if I could even start my own business, telling digital stories like this for time-poor people. Or…

Was it just another crazy idea of mine, which I’d soon discard like my on-trend oversized winter vest?

Elizabeth Gilbert had this to say about the writer’s muse on the Longform podcast, and what can happen mid-project. “The tricky bit [with beginning a new story] is that you have to start from a place of: ‘This is what I’m most excited about, this is what I’m most curious about.’ And then you have to recognise, and know, what will happen is that six months into it, it’s going to feel very boring and tedious, because making things is often boring and tedious.

“And another idea is going to come along very seductively and do The Dance of the Seven Veils in the corner of your studio and say: ‘I’m a much more interesting, much more exciting idea. Why don’t you abandon this project that you’ve been working on for six months [Carla – or even less than six weeks!] and come and run away with me to paradise?’

“And you have to be smart enough to know not to do that, because six months from now, that project will also be dull and boring, and another idea will come and seduce you. And you have to be able to stay with it through the boring part and get to the end… When those other seductive ideas come along, you have to tell them to take a number.”

Point taken. So, Ghostelaide, take a number!

Pic: Ghosty inspo for me at the Torrens Arms Hotel recently.


Hello from the newbie digital writer!

Carla Caruso - author picHi, I’m Carla Caruso, the new Digital Writer in Residence at the SA Writers Centre for the next six weeks!

The idea for my project, Mermadelaide, started as a weird obsession. Peculiar fixations can strike us writers at any time! One day, without warning, I had a sudden interest in mermaids.

I’d never watched The Little Mermaid before or even knew about the ‘mermaid’ pastel hair trend, but I started googling the sea creatures and borrowing books on the subject. I decided to just go with the creative ‘spark’ and hope it’d lead me somewhere. And it did … to this residency. Telling a tale online about a mermaid stuck in the city, through daily posts on Facebook and Instagram.

Once I got the tick of approval from the SA Writers Centre, the hard work really began.

First, I had to find someone to play my oceanic heroine, Luna. Cue aspiring Adelaide model Jade Allen, who works in retail and isn’t yet signed to a modelling agency. (I’m secretly hoping she’ll get her big break being discovered via the story!) Her look was perfect, and after an exchange of messages, she somehow agreed to be part of my crazy project.

Finding a photographer was easy – I’m married to one (hello James Elsby). My illustrator sister (Daniella Caruso), who I wanted to ‘fill in the story gaps’ with drawings, also couldn’t come up with a good enough reason to say no. So both were roped in. Next, I scoured for a makeup artist, and Kimberley Bradshaw from The Blushing Creator, though heavily pregnant, agreed to take on the challenge.

Our first shoot day was organised (no mean feat in ensuring everyone was free) – just when a thunderstorm blasted Adelaide. Taking photos was delayed another week – argh! – but the new shoot day arrived, with clear skies, and we think the results were worth the wait. (Thanks also to the mother-in-law for babysitting our two-year-old twins on the day, an adventure in itself.)

Anyway, who says new Adelaide club Atlantis Lounge is the only place you’ll find mermaids in the city? Follow Luna’s journey here (pretty please): and Until next time!

mermaid 1

mermaid 2

mermaid 3

Words from the Cloud

“Peace out,” as they say, “I’m outta here.”

It’s come to that bitter-sweet moment, at last. James is leaving the building. The past six-weeks have flown by at an almost ridiculous pace. You know what they say, “time flies when you’re having fun etc. etc.”

I’m incredibly grateful to the SA Writers Centre for giving me the opportunity to tell an interesting, experimental story that, we can only hope, that you’ve enjoyed! Thank you, as well, to all the loyal readers who kept up with the story of Luke Bracken, The Desert and The Cloud.

The esoteric tale has come to an end (at least for now), but that doesn’t mean you can’t rewind and take it all in again. Perhaps there’s small details you missed or maybe you’ll find the story takes on a new meaning, now that you know where the electric demons came from.

Part 1 – Cold Open

Part 2 – Like This

Part 3 – Ghosts

Part 4 – Clouds

Part 5 – Roads

Part 6 – Photographic Evidence

Part 7 – Tracks

Part 8 – Dust

Part 9 – Sunset

Operation Electric Forever has been a tough project at times, mainly due to wrangling together all the different elements (text, social media, mapping etc.) but also due to the emotionally intensive process of self-reflection and exploration. In the end, Operation Electric Forever is a story for and about you and me, an ode to the often confusing, confronting and challenging world that we live in. I hope that, somehow, I’ve managed to create something relatable and honest.

Of course, I’d love to hear people’s opinions on the tale itself, the use of digital elements and any other points that need making. I won’t be gone for good, after all. I’ll be hiding behind the process of writing the final residency report for a little while yet and then heading back into creating interesting blocks of electric scribbles for your enjoyment.

You can keep up with my work by following me on Twitter (@james_wrr) or my personal travel and creative blog Electric Holy Road.

Best of luck to the next Digital Writer in Residence! I’m incredibly excited to see where your words will take us.

So, I guess that’s all, folks! Happy reading! Happy writing! Happy exploring!

Yours digitally,

James Rudd ❤️

Operation Electric Forever, was created during the SA Writers Centre Digital Writer in Residence program during 2016.

SA Writers Colour Logo copy copy


Sunset – Operation Electric Forever – Part 9

[E̠̙̩̩X̙̹̹͇̤̥̳T̸̫͖̥̦͕̱?̫͓͔̗̳̜̳ ̣̬̺͡ͅI͖̣̗̦N͍͍͉T̶͙̖̜̺̬?̶͔̩̰ ̨̮͎̼̰-̛̫͇̜ ̻̞S͘O̰̬̦M̫̠Ȩ̰͉̝Ẉ̻̖Ḩ̱̟̻̤̘̙͔Ẹ̙̠̮̯̬R̤̪̣̟̘͘E̝̹]̗̯

See the boy in centre stage, illuminated and ghastly, pale back arching up towards the sky. Count the knobs and curls of the spine. Count the fine hairs on his arms and legs.

[ENTER FROM STAGE REAR – T̩̬H̩̪̙E̢͍ ̛̮̥͈̞̫D̮̫̦̙́E̜̜̙̻̭̣Ṣ̟̀E̟̭̩ͅR̖̱̫͔͕T]

See a man draped in black, dripping in midnight satin, emerge. See his broad brimmed hat, his gloved hands, his hidden face. The Desert opens his mouth and lets out a stream of bright television static. It’s unintelligible, but also completely understandable.

“Who are you now? After all of this, who are you?”

See the boy. He thought, after all of it, he’d be a different person. He thought that by falling apart he would emerge as something better. He thought that by running away he could control life, that by building his ego he could conquer fear.

A rusting red car, with two tyres missing and an engine full of death, sits in one corner of the stage. In another, a group of people, friendly faces with names like “Max”, “Shelby” and “Floor”, stand watching. They whisper to each other.

On the front of the stage, his sister kneels, phone in hand, trying to find that precious lifeline that will connect them again. She is close, but oh so far.

The boy sits hunched over his own knees, a mottled, papery and fragile human lump. With each careful brush of fingertip against skin, more came off until he sits amongst small mountains of forgotten skin, the fallout from his brush with the sun.

The skin underneath is not new and clean like he had wanted at the beginning of his short adventure, but pink and violent. An eruption of pain and dryness. He went through a wasteland seeking to find himself, but has ended up as part of it.

He falls forward, letting legs come out from underneath him. Laying with chest against the cool grey floor, he admits “there are no fresh starts… I couldn’t find one out there… I want to go home.”

“Nonsense,” The Desert says, “This is your home now.”

[EXIT STAGE REAR – ͓͇̮͖̩͇Ț͙̦͎̱̟H̙͉̮̝̯̩̹E̲̩ ̙̺DESER̗̺̣̜͕T͚̥̰͎]

Continue reading “Sunset – Operation Electric Forever – Part 9”

Dust – Operation Electric Forever – Part 8


See the boy. He struggles with the car’s air conditioning. For the past two hours it has been spitting out nothing but dusty heat. The car groans and shivers as if in the critical stages of sunstroke.

See the boy, his right arm burnt red raw by the sun, his face a mess of sweat, salt and redness. His beard is thin and scratchy, yet visible. Across from him, sits a tall figure in black, hunched over and spread across the passenger seat like some wet, eldritch thing. Behind the boy, the tall figure in black also sits, sprawled out across the back seat, amongst boxes, bottles and sleeping bags. Around him, the desert sprawls outwards. Somewhere out there, The Desert stands, tall and brooding, drenched in electric midnight, watching.

Continue reading “Dust – Operation Electric Forever – Part 8”

Tracks – Operation Electric Forever – Part 7


“She’s all good to go, mate.” Mr. Pfeiffer slapped the bonnet of the rumbling 4WD. He threw the keys to Mr. Bracken.

Mr. Pfeiffer was the type of straight-talking Aussie bloke that Mr. Bracken loved. He had arms the size of tree trunks, a chest covered in thick black hair and fingers stained by the honest art of auto-maintenance. He burped and swore, loved his footy and carried his ancestors’ European surname with just the right balance of pride and self-deprecation.

Mr. Pfeiffer was the type of loud-mouthed Aussie bloke that Perrie Bracken hated. He had arms that swung too wildly, a chest that should be hidden under a proper shirt and hands that looked like sausages that had been left out in the sun for too long. He burped and swore, loved his stupid macho ball game and didn’t really play to well with anyone who wasn’t also a European descendant.

“Couple’a cans’a gas in the back, ‘case ya need ‘em. Maps in the GPS and under the seat. Just gotta bring some water and stuff with ya.”

“Thanks, mate. I can’t thank you enough for this.” Mr. Bracken said.

“It’s no problem at all. She wasn’t getting much use with me. Better to go to a good cause. I just hope you find the lad soon.”

“We all do.” Continue reading “Tracks – Operation Electric Forever – Part 7”

Photographic Evidence – Operation Electric Forever – Part 6


See the boy in centre stage. That is, in the centre of the entire world. As his vehicle rips and tears through the rugged landscape, the planet moves around him like an endlessly repeating pantomime panorama.

A town passed by about an hour ago. The audience (that’s you) surely would have seen the boy leave his car on the side of a wide road in the middle of that town, walk into a quaint convenience store and pick up a veggie pasty and an iced coffee. What the audience would never have been able to guess without narration is that the boy would have loved a curry pie, stuffed full of beef and oil… but his character is a vegetarian at this stage of the story.

“Wise choice.” said the shimmering black mass that was sitting patiently in the passenger seat. “Appearing to care is one of the most important things in this life.”


“I do care. I don’t want to hurt anything that has feelings.”

[Mockingly] “Then why drive a car? Why wear a leather belt?” The Desert asks the boy. The creature speaks in a rough hum, like the background radiation of the Big Bang, but even still, the question sounds cruel.

[Defensively yet apathetic] “Shut up” says the boy.

Continue reading “Photographic Evidence – Operation Electric Forever – Part 6”