An Observer’s Guide to Understanding Author Behaviour

Modern cities and towns offer many opportunities to observe and analyse human and animal behaviour. Below is an example of one rare but increasing specimen you may encounter – the author.

Activity: Impromptu dancing, playing with imaginary drumsticks.

Where: Usually in the author’s living room. (If occurring elsewhere, be worried).

Probable Cause: The author’s book has received a good review. Even a positive rating on Goodreads can induce this behaviour.

Action: Wait until dance subsides, expect to be informed of good news and react accordingly.

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Activity: Contented smile, clear eyes, dreamy expression

Where: Home, supermarket or public transport.

Probable Cause: Writing is going well and plot problems are solved.

Action: Do nothing, as author may still be “in the zone” and need to return to desk/writing nook suddenly.

Activity: Author sullen, eyes downcast

Where: Chance encounter with author on the street.

Probable Cause: Many. The author may have looked at their sales reports or received a snarky review. Behaviour may occur around the time a real-world bill is due, and author may be reflecting on their income.

Action: Be upbeat, do not mention writing or other stressful topics. The true author will quickly recover as a spark of creativity lifts their spirits.

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Activity: Author’s mouth drops open, eyes widen and swivel to nearest writing implement.

Probable Cause: Inspiration has struck.

Where: Literally anywhere.

Action: If behaviour occurs in a domestic environment, ensure the author has a clear path to a writing desk and small children/pets are distracted. If in a work meeting, slip your writer buddy a piece of paper and field questions from the boss, until the author is finished scribbling down ideas.

Activity: Author’s hair is uncombed, clothes crumpled, cannot recall when they last ate.

Where: Coffee shops, parties.

Probable cause: Writer’s block.

Action:  A serious condition, which if untreated, can end friendships. Gently encourage author to join you in an uplifting activity such as walking in the park, along the beach or watching a movie. It may take some time for this condition to lift, but the author will soon be showing behaviours suggestive of inspiration, as described above.

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Have you noticed any author behaviour that needs an expert’s opinion? Let me know in the comments below!

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And finally – If you like to read historical mystery/romances with a hint of the supernatural, “In the Time of the Forest” is free on Amazon for the next few days. Don’t forget to do the Goodreads quiz afterwards 🙂

Cover Reveal: The Alchemist of Rome

The Alchemist of Rome

Cover Design by Adriana Hanganu,

Beware when magic crosses your path. You may live, but you will live to regret it.

Almost one year ago, on 31 March 2017, I first set pen to paper on The Alchemist of Rome, the sequel to The Alchemist of Paris.

There’s some familiar characters and some new ones. The mystery begins in Rome, and then moves to the Amalfi Coast and Malta – I always love a book where the characters travel.

This wonderfully atmospheric cover was designed by Adriana at

23. The Perfect Age

I had a Christmas story, but didn’t post it in time – I will have to post it next year. So for number 23 in the “Fiction by Numbers” series, here’s another short and sweet piece from the vampire underworld…

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She’d read somewhere that twenty three was the perfect age.

At twenty three a person was said to have financial independence, health, love, and hope for the future. At twenty three, so it was said, a person had found their path.

Of course life is never like that. There can be wars, depressions, upheaval and rebellions. Youth can be lost to plague or worry or fear. Life was just a matter of finding your time, and seizing it.

Evangeline liked being twenty three though. She liked the smoothness of her face, the glossiness of her hair and the lightness of her step. She liked how she could wear the latest fashions and how she had the assuredness of the young.

The eternally young.

As Evangeline gazed into the sky over the city, a pang of sadness stuck her heart. It looked so different from when she was alive.

Evangeline was a vampire, and she’d been twenty three for some time now…


An exercise in micro-fiction – stories which run from zero to twenty four

click the Flash Fiction menu for more!

© 2014 M. C. Dulac

17. Real Jobs

“One of us is going to have to get a job.”

Billy, the aspiring game designer, looked around at his roommates in the crowded apartment.

It may have been in Sydney, Australia or Brooklyn, New York or London, England. Anywhere where rent was high and dreams were so hard to reach.

“I’ve already got a day job,” said Sally, the cartoonist, poking her head over the top bunk of the bed.

“I’ve got a day job and a night job,” said Lizzie, the writer, appearing through the curtains of the bottom bunk.

“I’ve got a day job, a night job and a dawn job,” said Evan, the aspiring illustrator, from the makeshift desk in the linen cupboard, “I start courier deliveries at 4 a.m.”

Only Kenny, the strange guy who lived on the mattress on the balcony, seemed undisturbed. No one was sure what Kenny did. He stared into space a lot.

“We’re going to have to get another job because the rent has gone up again,” Billy said, “And – we might have to take a break from our dreams for a while.”

“Dreaming makes the world go forward!” Sally cried.

Billy’s nostril’s flared, “We can’t eat half-edited novels! And 3D vectors! And cute drawings of cats! And ebooks!”

Everyone had leapt up now as their dire situation became clear.

“How much have you made from your ebooks this year Lizzie?” Billy spun around, “33 cents?”

The room was silent.

Lizzie’s cheeks grew red.

“$17.00,” she murmured.

“$17.00?” they all said incredulously.

Lizzie shrugged.

“That’s enough for a whole pizza!”

The thought of pizza immediately lifted the young people’s spirits. They spilled down the narrow staircase to the overpriced gastropub across the road.

Out on the balcony Ken looked up. He’d got it at last! The artificial neural network algorithm that would propel the next generation of computer technology. Tomorrow he’d go out and pitch it.

After all, dreaming does make the world go forward.



An exercise in micro-fiction – stories which run from zero to fifty

click the Flash Fiction tag for more!

© 2014 M. C. Dulac


Speaking of ebooks, Four Ghost Stories is just 99 cents on Amazon! A spooky read for this Halloween month.

Flash Fiction 11 – Zombie Stories


Three hours into the five hour drive from Bungowan to Sydney, Brian started telling zombie stories.

Katy tightened her grip on the wheel. Brian was the most annoying co-worker she had ever had.

“- and he sucked the guy’s brains right out of his head! So,” Brian loosened his tie and opened a bag of chips, “You know any stories?”

Katy frowned as a line of rocky cliffs rose out of the plain, “Actually, my dad told me a story about those cliffs over there. My family used to go camping out this way. That story frightened me to death when I was a kid.”


“Forget it. I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Why not?”

“It’s scary Brian.”

That was the worst thing she could have said. Brian leered as he stuffed Burger Rings into his mouth.

“It’s about things that live in the earth,” Katy kept her eyes on the road.

“What things?”

“Dead things.”

There was a sign indicating a scenic lookout, “So let’s go up there.”

“To the cliffs?” Katy felt her heart pound.

“Sure. We’ve got time.”

Katy swallowed. Brian was the senior salesman and she didn’t want him telling the whole of head office that Katy was scared. She turned onto the dirt road. The eucalyptus trees were short and twisted with a smooth white bark. The forest looked like an army of skeletons. A few kilometres in, the bush became eerily quiet.

“We’ll just drive around the lookout okay?” Katy’s voice was a dry whisper.

“Fine by me,” Brian smiled as the car bumped over the track.

At last they reached the lookout. The sun was hovering over a mountaintop nearby.

“So what’s the story?” Brian persisted.

“They live in the earth over there. They only come out if you honk your horn three times. There’s three of them. Come on, let’s go,” Katy began to swing the car around.

“We can’t go without -”

“Leave the horn alone Brian! I mean it!”

But Brian had banged the wheel three times. The sharp sound sent a flock of cockatoos circling.

“Ha ha!” Brian bellowed.

Then something shuffled through the trees. Something grey, vaguely human, with hollow eyes and mournful mouths. They stepped over the ferns and onto the dirt car park.

Brian scrambled backwards in his seat, “Go quick! Get out of here. Before the third one gets here.”

Katy sighed as she waved to her parents, “I’m already here Brian,” she said as she switched off the engine and her skin turned grey.

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Flash Fiction – 1. Bits

It started just after she bought the new storage boxes for her bedroom. A shiny bit of clear plastic-like material was lying on the floor. It must have come off the boxes, Helen thought, as she picked up the bit and threw it away. She hadn’t noticed where the boxes were made. In some low-cost factory somewhere, she guessed.

Helen found another bit a few days later, glittering on the living room carpet. She didn’t remember taking the boxes through the living room. Maybe the bit had been caught up in her clothes. She put the bit in the garbage bin.

That week she went to work as usual – sitting through meetings, preparing financial reports that were out-of-date by the end of the day, avoiding her gossiping colleagues. On the bus home, she bent over her iPhone, reading the day’s messages.

She was in a shopping aisle when she saw the third bit. More of the clear, silvery plastic. She put the instant meal in her shopping basket and stepped carefully around the bit. Someone else would pick it up, she figured. Strange how much it looked just like the bits in her apartment.

On Saturday, her friend Kate came by, with her daughter Lily. Kate had to go into the office urgently and she couldn’t find a babysitter. Helen didn’t know a lot about kids, but she was always happy to hang out with Lily. Lily was about four, independent and a cool little kid.

Lily played make-believe for a while, and then Helen took her to the park. It was a beautiful summer day, all crisp and colourful. They sat on a bench by the duck pond.

On the bench was another shiny bit.

Helen and Lily stared at it for a full minute.

“What is it?” Helen asked, even though she was the grown-up.

“It’s a bit of the world,” Lily said.

“The world?”

“It’s falling apart,” Lily squinted into the sky.

Helen picked up the fragile material and traced over it with her finger. The world really was falling apart.

“So what are you going to do about it?” Lily said, with a child’s blazing sincerity.