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Chapter One: Down the plughole
If it wasn’t for the long-footed potoroo, I might never have heard of Beechville. But I suppose I can’t entirely lay the blame at the potoroo’s door – Warren Corbett must also take his share.
There have been many influential figures in my life, people who have opened doors at the right time, given words of advice, turned me on a path I might not have taken. Of all of these, Warren Corbett looms largest.
Wazza, as he’s widely known in PR circles, was my first boss. More than that, he was my mentor. Do what it takes, girl, but don’t let them catch you, was his favourite saying. Second was, When in doubt, deny, deny, deny.
He’s old school, Wazza. PR Ethics hadn’t been invented when he made his first million. It was my luck – some would say karma – that I ended up at Winning Edge Public Relations still wet from my communications degree. That was when the learning really started.
Wazza taught me everything I knew – how to set up ‘grassroots’ front groups which look and act just like the real thing; how to infiltrate real groups if need be and, most importantly, how not to let your conscience stand in the way of your career. He said it was important to look ethical; actually being ethical was optional and probably unwise.
He was the learned master and I the eager student. I sucked up his wisdom as thirstily as any magician’s apprentice. Good old Wazza, he’s still there, doing his thing. God knows there’s no shortage of clients ready to fork out for his golden touch.
Out of all the graduates who applied to his company; fifty or so, he picked me. Why?
“I trust my instincts, Cassandra.” He’d leant over his massive glass table, a whiff of cinnamon aftershave drifting towards me from his shiny cheeks. “In this game, you have to. And you… I can sense something. You’re smart, but they’re all smart. You look good, but they all look good. You’ve got something different though.” He’d placed his hand-rolled cigar in an ashtray and pointed his immaculately groomed, gold-ringed, finger at my chest. “You are hungry.”
ABOUT LISA WALKER:
Lisa’s romantic comedy Liar Bird will be published by HarperCollins in January 2012. A second novel is under contract for release in December 2012. Her half-hour radio play Baddest Backpackers aired on ABC Radio National in 2008 and she has also scripted an animated children’s DVD. She was a finalist in the ABC short story award and winner of the Byron Writers Festival short story award. In 2010 she was selected for the Varuna/HarperCollins Award. She works in community relations, writes book reviews for the Northern Rivers Echo and is a manuscript assessor.
“I have been lucky to stay at Varuna twice. In 2007, I was selected for the Litlink program and worked on a comedy/crime novel, Tainted Tantra. In 2010, my novel Liar Bird was selected for the HarperCollins program and is now under contract with HarperCollins. My novel, The Greatest Child Failure in History, was shortlisted for the Varuna/Byron Writers Festival Unpublished Manuscript Award in 2010 and received a consultation with Peter Bishop as a result. It is now also under contract with HarperCollins. I think that an intensive writing period in a nurturing environment such as Varuna is an essential part of the process of developing a finished manuscript.” Lisa Walker
• The Greatest Child Failure in History. HarperCollins. (In press, scheduled for Dec 2012)
• Liar Bird. HarperCollins. (in press scheduled for Jan 2012)
• His inappropriate heart. Short story published in Kurungabaa, February 2010
• Baddest Backpackers. A half hour radio drama commissioned by ABC Radio National
• Night Calls. Winner of the Northern Rivers Echo/Byron Writers Festival Short Story Competition. Published in the Northern Rivers Echo.
• Billy Bones – Script commissioned by Wyeth for an animated children’s DVD.
• Fully Sick Backpackers. Finalist in the ABC short story competition with story produced for Radio National.