Down the Rabbit Hole

Wonderland is eccentric characters, bizarre incidents and strange encounters with those who live at the bottom of a rabbit hole. You might find any of these at the Queensland Writers Centre when members dash down the Rabbit Hole and write non-stop for three whole days on their current writing projects. Twice a year the Centre offers writers the exquisite gift of a quiet space devoid of distraction, a haven humming with the energy of other writers tapping feverishly on their keyboards. No phones, no washing, no mouths to feed, no questions to answer—just the blank page.
The original Rabbit Hole concept involved writing ten hours a day for three days with the aim of producing 30,000 new words. And, yes, some writers actually achieved that. These halcyon Rabbit Hole days now last only seven hours, and some participants still write 30,000 words. But let’s not talk about them; we each have own goal, and most of us are pretty happy with what we achieve.
This year I’ve been working on a manuscript called One Hundred Greek Cafés, the sequel to Aphrodite and the Mixed Grill: Greek Cafés in Twentieth-Century Australia (2007). And in the Rabbit Hole last week I nailed six chapters: the Marble Café (Childers), the Blue Bird Café (Lockhart), Nennas’ Café (Aramac), the Paris Café (Barcaldine), the Rainbow Café (Redcliffe) and the story of café supplier Samios Foods (Brisbane).
When you come home after your last day in the Rabbit Hole you really do feel like you’ve been in another world; your family has seen little of you, you haven’t socialised or watched TV, and the world seems to have moved on a little. But you’ve got your word count. And some thrilling Wonderland adventures: an encounter with the colourful Speridon Nennas who, in the days before electricity, used a diesel generator to ring his café sign with coloured lights, something the good people of Aramac had neither heard nor dreamed of; the pursuit of an elephant that ran away from the circus in Barcaldine and was found scoffing bananas in front of the Paris Café in Oak Street, not once, but two years running; murmurings about the man who, in a desperate attempt to cover his murderous twin brother’s tracks, hid incriminating evidence behind a picture on the wall of Katoomba’s elegant Paragon Café—just three of the one hundred Greek café stories I’m working on. Do you reckon this book deserves a sexier title?



Filed under Greek Cafes

5 responses to “Down the Rabbit Hole

  1. Roger

    As you are working on a ‘sequel’, maybe something along the lines of:
    Travels with Aphrodite or Around Australia for a Mixed Grill?
    Don’t forget the ‘tick list’ for us enthusiasts…

    • toni risson

      Hi Roger. Spent yesterday working on a grisly murder that involved the Paragon Cafe in Katoomba. How are things in Lockhart?

  2. Roger

    Hi Toni, Lockhart isn’t going much at all. Did you hear us on ‘Macca’? We have since had a few people call in because of that, but not really enough to keep going as we are.
    We are going to have a stall at Clunes Booktown in May, we would love to have some of your books to sell.

    • toni risson

      Hi Roger, I didn’t hear you on Macca, sadly – did you ring in and get through or was it set up beforehand?
      This is bad news about Lockhart; it’s such a lovely town. We need a Greek Cafe Bus Tour for baby-boomers!
      I’ve never heard of Clunes but a quick Google reveals that this is another gorgeous place. Are you having a stall at the festival? Glenn says you’ve got eight books left? How many were you thinking you might sell?

      • Roger

        Hi Toni,
        There are links to some of our media successes on our facebook page, including the Macca interveiw –
        Yes we are having a stall at Clunes, probably bigger than what we really need so if you would like to send us a few titles we would be happy to offer them on your behalf (we have my aunt’s Australian history collection to sell too). A LOT of book worms go to Clunes, and quite a few authors have small stalls.
        We only have a few copies of Aphrodite left.

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