Meet My Muse with Ainslie Paton
I used to think muses were for artistic people. Folk who created pieces that hung in galleries. I used to think people who had muses where a bit out there. They weren’t like me. I was a working writer, and though I created things, they were commercial. I didn’t need a muse. I needed a work ethic.
Now that I get to write for pleasure as well as for rent and cat food, I still rely on the work ethic to get me through, but every so often there’s a spark of something to light the way.
I count among those sparks: coffee, conversation, migraine drugs, dreams, eavesdropping, people watching and ripped from the news events.
My coming release, Inconsolable, owes its scope to a ripped from real life story.
In 2000, a man known as Jhyimy Two Hats made his home on the cliffs at Bondi. He lived there for seven years until council had cause to fear for his safety and attempted to evict him. Over 400 residents signed a petition to allow the caveman to remain on the cliff and Jhyimy lived in his sprawling camp for another three years.
For ten years visitors to the Sculptures by the Sea exhibition wondered if Jhyimy was an art installation, particularly if he was in the mood to recite poetry.
Jhyimy was an older man than Drum, my hero in Inconsolable, and I never knew why he chose to live on the cliff, and although the views were sensational, the weather in winter would’ve been chilling. The fact that he did was the inspiration for Inconsolable.
In writing Inconsolable I tried to imagine what might make a man choose to be a hermit and to pick a place in the world to live where he just might fall off.
This isn’t Jhyimy’s story, but it borrows from the time he lived at Bondi and I hope you can love Drum a little bit despite the fact he’s chosen an awkward, difficult way to live.
Foley’s first sight of Drum
He was barefoot, his hair was long, grown out of a once decent cut, curling about his ears and neck and sun-bleached in a paint chart of variable caramels, sands and honeys. His beard and mo were neat, clipped, not hipster, 1800s, Ned Kelly.
He had the palest eyes, grey as if the sun had stolen their depth and faded them to half-strength. She took a step towards him and he lowered them, embarrassed maybe. She didn’t want to make him feel that way. He was down on his luck. She wanted to help him.
“Hi, I’m Foley.” She should’ve said where she was from, but those lowered eyes cut. She didn’t know who this man was, but he was big and beautiful and reticent, and she’d done nothing to threaten him except arrive.
Sometimes the only way to forgiveness is through love
Foley has a new boss she doesn’t like, a flatmate who’s been known to wear odd shoes, and a car that’s ready to pack it in. She hasn’t met a guy worth lipstick in forever, and though she planned a life less ordinary, the only thing unique about her is a badly thought through tattoo. Until Drum.
Drum wasn’t always the cliff guy, a homeless man sheltering in a cave tucked above a popular tourist beach. He wanted to get as far away from his previous life as possible. Now he wakes with the sun, runs on the beach, does odd jobs for cash to buy food, and is at peace. Until Foley.
It’s Foley’s job to find Drum a safer place to live, but the only home Drum wants is the one place he can never stay: Foley’s heart.