The Week: 30th December – 5th January

Canberra Australia Bushfire Smoke 5th January 2019 Sonya Heaney Nature Natural Disaster 1

Canberra Australia Bushfire Smoke 5th January 2019 Sonya Heaney Nature Natural Disaster 2

Yesterday Canberra had its hottest day on record. And now, mid-morning, the bushfire smoke (above) is worse than it has been since the 2003 firestorm. Because the air conditioning just brings in the smoke I ended up sleeping on the couch last night, where it was cooler.

This has been an extraordinary and tragic week for Australia. There’s nothing that has happened in any other country that is comparable to the scale of this disaster.

Goodbye, 2019.

Canberra Australia Summer Heatwave Sunset Sonya Oksana Heaney Smoke Bushfire 30th December 2019 1

2020 Begins

1st January 2020 Canberra Worst Air Quality in the world Bushfires.

2020 Begins …

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. I was in a little hamlet near the Victorian town of Bright for a week – with no Wi-Fi – and that area now has bushfires everywhere. And now I’m home the fires keep knocking out the phone lines and the internet.

My city, Canberra, currently officially has the worst air quality in the world, thanks to the smoke from the bushfires. The southern part of the city is the worst, and the reading for the worldwide worst air is being taken a few streets from my house. We’re covered in smoke and brown dust.

1st January 2020 Canberra Worst Air Quality in the world Bushfires.

Before and after:

Walk to the shops Tuggernanong Valley Brindabella Range Canberra Australia Winter Sunshine Blue Sky Sonya Heaney 21st July 2019 Sunny Warm Afternoon

Severe world-record bushfire smoke Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Tuggeranong 2nd January 2020

The national parks around me are being evacuated as I type because they’re worried the fire is going to hit us. And the holiday I’m supposed to soon go on the to NSW South Coast, to research for an upcoming book, is in doubt as Mogo – the gold rush town I wanted to visit – burnt down on New Year’s Eve:

Mogo Bushfire Destruction

When I returned home from Victoria I discovered that the neighbour hadn’t fed his cat in recent memory, and the little sore on his chin had grown to the point he no longer has any fur on his chin, neck or ears – just red-raw sores.

Here he is before he was sick:

Stinky the Cat

I’ve taken control of the cat at the moment, and my time these days is taken up with emergency visits to and phone calls with the vet, and battles with the poor guy to try and get medicine in him and medicinal cream on the wounds – he hates it. I’ve at least managed to get the infection to stop stinking, and he’s gained a bit of weight.

I’ve had a charity approach me to try and help with his recovery, and his owner, who refuses to pay for any medical treatment, needs to be in prison.

I got a lot of typing done while I was in Victoria, but it’s been hard to work since, with our whole region on fire. I can’t even work on a few of my manuscripts, because the locations I was using no longer exist!

This is an extraordinary way to begin the year. It’s horrifying, and it has only just begun.

 

The Week: 25th November – 1st December

Bushfires approaching Canberra on Friday night. Credit and bigger versions HERE.

It was a scary week for the Canberra region, with out of control bushfires everywhere. On Thursday the air filled with smoke at sunset, and when I went outside to look the entire valley was inundated. Our city has burnt before, and as we’re 100% surrounded by mountains and bushland, these times are terrifying for us.

Trailer for Virgin River!

20190918_100520

Cover Love

The Goodbye Café (The Hudson Sisters #3) by Mariah Stewart

Hey – Australians!

Batlle of Binh Ba Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Canberra Australia 5th June 2019

Everyone in Australia: at 2pm tomorrow the 50th anniversary commemorations for the Battle of Binh Ba – a major battle in the Vietnam War – are going to be broadcast live on television from Canberra, and then repeated the day after.

My father has played a huge part in organising this event, and hundreds of soldiers, past and present, are flying in to participate. My parents are in the official party, and will be obvious on TV, and I’ll be sitting… somewhere…! We’ve all been too busy to finalise this.

Afterwards, there’s a function at the Australian War Memorial, and then there’s a huge dinner tomorrow night, and I’ll be staying at the hotel in the city, because there’s just so much going on!

Oh, Sri Lanka…

Sri Lankan military officials stand guard in front of the St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade church after an explosion in Colombo

I’m sorry that this is supposed to be a book blog, but it has recently become a blog about so many other things.

However, I just CAN’T ignore the terror attacks in Sri Lanka today – Easter Sunday.

I’ve lost count of how many Sri Lankan stamps I have in my passports, but there are MANY. I used to stay there before and after every trip I made to India to visit my parents (they used to live there).

Sri Lankans are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Even when the civil war was still on, and there were sandbags and machine guns everywhere, and the airport staff raided your suitcases before they even let you into the building, they were always so nice about it.

I always tell this story, but one time I checked into a resort in Negombo (where over a hundred people were killed in the terror attacks), the elderly gardener saw me carrying a tiny bag up to my room, and came running to help.

I thought he’d want a tip, but by the time I’d got into my room, and turned around to tip him, he was long gone. He literally just wanted to help me. In the hotel world, this is not a normal experience…

Sri Lankans are just like this. Amazing people.

I am so upset about these attacks, and I’m so upset they won’t matter much according to the world’s news.

Notre Dame…

I’m sure everyone has seen the footage of Notre Dame in Paris on fire.

I have spent a lot of time in Paris – much of that time on my own. I used to walk to Notre Dame on many days, and simply sit in the cathedral for a while, occasionally attending a service, even though I’m not religious.

I thought it was terrible when far-right “activists” would go in there and shoot themselves at the altar to protest abortion or whatever. I thought that was as bad as it would get.

There was scaffolding on the part of the building that caught fire. Restoration work is so, so dangerous for historic buildings. Something very similar happened in Belfast when I was there last year.

The Week: 4th – 10th March

National Library of Australia Canberra Heatwave Early Autumn Heatwave Sonya Heaney 3rd March 2019

Sunny afternoon for lunch on the terrace at the National Library.

This week saw the premature deaths of two icons from when I was growing up: Beverly Hills 90210’s Luke Perry and The Prodigy’s Keith Flint. Australia saw another shocking murder of a woman by an ex who wouldn’t take no for an answer. It was a similar situation to the murder of a childhood friend of mine in 2015.

And in Russia, a huge crowd of people lined up to give flowers and bow to a statue of Stalin. Imagine the world’s reaction if they’d done this for Hitler in Germany…

Two brave activists – Yevgeny Suchkov and Olga Savchenko – were arrested for doing THIS at the event.

I was so unprepared for Luke Perry’s death. He defined my generation. I was going into high school when his character was finishing high school.

Even though I had all the Jason Priestley merchandise (t-shirts, diaries, stickers etc.), Perry was the 90210 actor who emerged as the biggest star – and was apparently a great man behind the scenes. He was one of THE faces of the 1990s, enough that he was featured across the board in other iconic pop culture shows like The Simpsons:

Brian Austin Green, Jason Priestley and Luke Perry in the 90210 opening credits:

My review of How the Right Lost Its Mind by Charles J. Sykes

The New Cover Trend

Cover Love