Welcome to My New Site!
Thanks for dropping by! This is now your one-stop-shop for news, updates, photos, and anything else I want to share. As I branch out into new creative endeavors, this is your best bet to keep up to date with what I'm doing next. I have some exciting new stories on the way so make sure you sign up to the mailing list if you want to be the first to hear about them.
It should also be noted that this gorgeous website was made by my sister! If you are interested in creating a similarly gorgeous website of your own, check out www.lalucacreative.com.au
That's all for now. I promise I will update this more often than my poor little wordpress blog.* There are all kinds of exciting things on the horizon, so you'll hear from me again soon.
*If you signed up to my mailing list on the old site, that will be carried through to this one. If you only subscribed to the blog, unfortunately that's no longer active so you should sign up to this mailing list just to be sure.
Luke Arnold Reads: One Foot in the Fade
Watch me read from One Foot in the Fade, book 3 in the Fetch Phillips Archives, on The Realm's Facebook page:
*This is an abridged repost from 2019
When I was about thirteen, my dad recorded The Big Sleep off the telly, onto VHS, and told me that I might find it interesting. Watching Bogart and Bacall being witty as hell in black and white, kicked off a bit of an obsession. I ate film noir for a few years, following Bogie’s career in particular. Then Dad handed me the book.
Phillip Marlowe had me from page one. The voice, the characters, and the infinitely quotable “Chandlerisms.” Farewell My Lovely, The Long Goodbye, Lady in the Lake, I read them all, and I go back often.
Now, if you haven’t read any Chandler, and you’re here because you were a fan of Black Sails, then I have a treat. Toby Stephens (my dear Captain Flint) played Phillip Marlowe in a series of dramatizations for BBC Radio 4. They are abridged but thoroughly engrossing versions of all the books. It’s a great way to be introduced to Chandler’s work while getting a good dose of Toby Stephens being brilliant. I bought it on iTunes, but you can listen to it in other ways depending on where you are in the world.
Raymond Chandler’s work has been referenced or ripped-off, countless times, in every medium, to varying degrees of success. I took some pretty big handfuls of inspiration myself when I was first creating Fetch Phillips. But often, the derivative works miss the mark.
They take the fedoras and the trenchcoats and the femme fatales. There are smiling mobsters and stolen dirty pictures and rich guys who drink too much. The hero is a cynical smart-ass with a dark past and a strong jaw, but there’s usually something missing. The romance.
Marlowe is a bit of a softy. Though Chandler himself says that a “love interest almost always weakens a mystery story,” Marlowe is a romantic. That’s why he does what he does and why, sometimes, he’s so good at it. A good detective story should be a study of humanity, like any other worthwhile work of art.
There is no point saying any more about this because Chandler said it best himself, in his essay “The Simple Art of Murder.”
If you haven’t read any Chandler, or Dashiell Hammett or James M. Cain, and you were wondering what my book might be like, I hope this gives you an idea of the story I wanted to write.
Take it away Ray…
“But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world. I do not care much about his private life; he is neither a eunuch nor a satyr; I think he might seduce a duchess and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin; if he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things. He is a relatively poor man, or he would not be a detective at all. He is a common man or he could not go among common people. He has a sense of character, or he would not know his job. He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him. He talks as the man of his age talks, that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness. The story is his adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. He has a range of awareness that startles you, but it belongs to him by right, because it belongs to the world he lives in.
If there were enough like him, I think the world would be a very safe place to live in, and yet not too dull to be worth living in.”
Pretty great right? I won’t say that Fetch Phillips quite lives up to this description. Maybe in time. I believe it’s somewhere in his blood. But Sunder City is a long way from Los Angeles, and Fetch’s monsters have a bit more bite than Marlowe’s…
…but let’s leave that for next time.
The Buskers Guide
My brother George and I are similar in the way that we’re willing to embark on an adventure even if we’re not sure we have the skills to succeed at it. George really put that to the test when he started The Buskers Guide. It follows George and his mate Josh as they become musicians and see how far a few songs can take them. The journey is documented in their Drifter Diaries.
The show really hits its stride in episode 3 (when my Mum makes a cameo with a cocktail). They meet some beautiful, unique characters and it also serves a useful tourism video for how to get around Australia without a lot of cash.
This was filmed a few years ago, and they’ll soon be dropping some fresh, original songs under a new name, so it's a great time to see the origin story.
I show up briefly, a little into the series, but make sure you go on the whole journey.
I’ve promoted this series on Instagram before, but it needs saying again. It’s a Middle-Grade series (roughly 8-10-year-olds) from Steven Lochran about Dinasour Cowboys!
Three books are out already: Riders of the Thunder Realm, The City of Night Neverending and The Edge of The World. The Champions of the Blade is on the way.
If you’re reading this, you probably watched Black Sails. If you did, then you already love Toby Schmitz who played the inimitable Jack Rackham. You may or may not know that Toby is also a ridiculously talented writer and director.
He is a prolific creator and performer of theatre all around Australia, but he is very involved with Red Line Productions at The Old Fitz. Recently, I saw the closing night of Degenerate Art. Here’s the set-up:
“A twice-rejected art school applicant rises to political power through the use of charm, cunning and violence. From there, he declares merciless war on ‘cultural disintegration’, ordering an aesthetic purge of the entartete Künstler – the ‘degenerate artists’ – and their work.
As a result, between 1933 and 1945 one fifth of all artworks in Europe – valued at billions of dollars – are looted by, or have their sale coerced by, the Nazis.”
Yes, it’s about Nazis. Also, it’s written IN VERSE! (like Shakespeare). Plus, it’s a mind-blowing, captivating, delirious night at the theatre.
This is a tough bloody subject, no doubt, and there are valid arguments to say that we should leave these monsters in the past and not dignify them with continued analysis, lest it be misconstrued as a celebration.
But the joy of the play (to me) is how we are reminded that they were not monsters, but flesh-and-blood, petty, pathetic, greedy, awful fucking men. And maybe we wouldn’t need reminding if similarly well-spoken, sharply dressed, alt-right arseholes weren’t poking their heads up right now, asking to be listened to. As the play reminds us; this was yesterday.
Also, the writing is so staggeringly dense, poetic and hilarious that it’s like being beaten around the head with a sack full of classic texts. In a good way.
But why recommend it if it has already closed? Because it will be back. I have no doubt. When it does, make sure you see it.
Also, just go see live theatre. New stuff. Sometimes it’s bloody brilliant.
(And if you happen to be programming a theatre season somewhere in the world, make sure you drop Toby Schmitz a line and have a read.)
If you’ve ever watched Pokemon (or similar anime), you’ll be familiar with a world in which everyone is obsessed with a single stupid game. Well, Kyle Bosman from Easy Allies has used that trope to create a web-series called Box Peek.
It is utterly charming and laugh-out-loud funny but the greatest triumph is how it was mostly created by the genius and determination of one man. The whole show is constructed with paper puppets that Kyle draws, cuts out, puts on popsicle-sticks and films in his apartment. And you won’t believe how good it is.
Watch it because it’s great, and watch it because it will inspire you to stop making excuses and just make some shit!
Also, I was lucky enough to play one of the characters and the first season is up right now.
It’s time to talk about this beautiful piece of art!
It was designed by Emily Courdelle and Steve Panton under the watchful eye of all the incredible minds at Orbit UK.
I love it, and it looks even better on a bookshelf.
All the details are taken from locations in the book (including some that Fetch doesn’t visit till the sequel) but if you ever end up in Sunder City, don’t try and use this map to navigate the streets. The artists have taken some liberties. Hopefully one day I’ll bring out something more practical.
People ask me how much input I had, and the answer is very little. Orbit was kind enough to keep me in the loop but it looked so good that there wasn’t much for me to say. The first versions were much cleaner and I did make the suggestion that we break it down a bit. When we first step into Sunder, the city is already a shadow of its former self. I thought the cover should hint at the fact that this place has seen better days. They added the cracks, and I was happy. Then they went even further by turning some of the areas black-and-white and now it’s just perfection.
One of the joys of looking at the cover is the fact that it isn’t my work. I can admire it and show it off without wading through the complicated feelings related to everything inside. When people open up the book, it’s all excitement, nervousness and vulnerability, but when they admire the cover, I can just admire it with them, honoured that these talented people would dress my words in such a charming outfit.
Sunder City Goes Global!
In February 2020, The Last Smile in Sunder City will be released in the USA, UK, and Australia. Since I first announced the book, I’ve been flattered that so many people have asked me where else it might be coming out, and in what other languages.
As of writing, I’m excited to say that there are now four translations of The Last Smile in the works. A couple of these I’ve mentioned on twitter already. Others, I am able to announce for the first time.
These have been my favourite emails to receive over the last few months. New publishers coming on board, bringing the book to new countries, designing new covers, and teaching Fetch Phillips to speak a few new languages. My agent Alexander Cochran and the team at Orbit have done amazing work to make this happen and I feel like a very lucky debut author.
I don’t think any of these versions have a locked-in release date yet but I’ll do my best to update the information as it comes to me.
So, The Last Smile in Sunder City, the first book in The Fetch Phillips Archives, is going to be translated into…
German! – courtesy of Verlagsgruppe Droemer Knaur!
Portuguese! (Brazil) – with Nova Fronteira!
Italian! – coming to you from Triskell!
and Spanish! from the good people at Trini!
It’s still early days, but I’ll share more information about each release as I get it. I hope this is exciting news for some of you. It certainly is for me.
No firm travel plans yet, but you can bet I’ll be using this as an excuse to bounce around the world as much as possible when the book is out.
See you soon!
Nautilus, new Disney+ series announced
Luke has just wrapped Season 1 of Nautilus, a prequel to Jules Verne’s classic story 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in which he plays Captain William Millais, a man on a mission to hunt down Nemo, with whom he shares a past.