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“I’m Greg Woodland. This is an excerpt from my novel ‘Pangs’ – a dark comedy romance bringing the world of the undead into the Sydney suburbs.
Tearing off a dozen leaves, Bob stuffed one in his mouth and chewed as he watched the big pink and grey spider weave its small miracle of a web. If it was possible to experience a sense of kinship with a creature so far down the food chain, Bob felt it with that orb-weaver. It would wait all night for some morsel to fall into its sticky net, let the captured insect struggle and tie itself in knots to the end, so the spider could feed at its own spiderly pace. He liked spiders: admired their patience, their diligence, their perfect lack of mercy and compassion.
He chewed the leathery wormwood leaves to a pulp, and swirled the vile paste around his canines. Just as he felt it beginning to soothe the ache, he heard a wailing noise of the kind usually heard when Halloween was being celebrated by children in the street. It came from the little room at the side of the house that used to be Valda’s junk room.
Slipping along the path to the room he peered through the flimsy curtains. What he saw was a small child cowering in her bed, head in her arms, while a large ‘spook’ swathed in a white sheet stumbled about the room wailing down at her. The charade ended when the sheet hooked itself over a chair exposing the cannonball-headed man, who collapsed in a fit of cackling. The little girl sat up, wiping her cheeks, eyes peering out of a birds-nest of red hair, fear overridden by her sense of outrage.
‘Go away Chad! You’re mean!’ she yelled, confirming Bob’s assumption that this was the man he had heard screaming at her earlier.
Chad responded with a spasm of giggling, his hands reaching under the child’s pyjama top to tickle her belly and underarms. When they began to reach elsewhere, the girl gave up trying to swipe her tormentor’s paws away and buried her head in her arms with resignation. From another room came a woman’s petulant whine.
‘Whatcha doing babe? Come back to bed for fuck sake.’
Chad’s hands whipped from under the sheet.
‘She was having a nightmare, weren’t you?’ he called out, for the mother’s benefit. ‘Weren’t ya, my girl Pearl?’ he said tickling her under the arms some more. When this failed to get the desired effect he hissed at her:
‘Where’s ya sense of humour you little shit.’
‘Leave me ALONE,’ wailed Pearl, a feisty thing, Bob thought, in spite of her horrible parents. At least he presumed these idiots were the parents. Bad news for the kid if they were. And not exactly great news for Bob.”
ABOUT GREG WOODLAND:
Greg Woodland is a writer-director of short films, documentaries and a writer of feature scripts. His short films and documentaries have screened at over 60 national and international film festivals and his feature screenplays have won several unproduced script awards.
Since 2000 he’s worked as a freelance script editor and consultant for film funding bodies and the AWG and is also director of www.scriptcentral.com.au his independent script development service. His screenplay The Whistler won several script competitions including a Varuna Writers Fellowship and brought him to Varuna in 2005. He wants to return and to that end has written his first novel, Pangs. It was shortlisted for two of the Varuna publishers’ fellowships. Close, but no cigar. But like Governor Schwarzenegger in The Terminator, he’ll be back…
“My film script then called “The Visitor” (now “The Whistler”) received an Eleanor Dark Flagship Fellowship in 2004 which got me a whole month’s stay at Varuna. I loved the place immediately, the rooms lined with bookcases and smelling of books and smoke from many fires, the gardens, the conversations with writers over Sheila’s amazing dinners. Hmm, the food. But once I got over feeling like a pretender with all this pampering, I started working. Writing and thinking in a highly focused and energized way, inspired by Varuna and my daily walks in the mountains. Due to family commitments I had to split my time into one visit of a fortnight and two of a week, spreading from winter 2005 into summer, but I powered through two new drafts of my script. It gave the project a huge leap forward and enabled “The Visitor” to get high-profile actors and producer attached, and “Letter of Intent” for investment from Screen Australia. During the GFC the project stalled, but I’m back with another one, my first novel called “Pangs”. I went to a two day Varuna publishers seminar at the Carrington in 2010, and decided to go back to Varuna because I know it will be the best thing I can do for the book. I’ll get there this year or next. I wonder if Sheila will still be cooking ….” Greg Woodland
Produced films and documentaries screened on TV, theatrical release, and film festivals
Chasing Birds, 1 hour Documentary screened ABC 2008
Crime Prevention for Teenagers (short dramas x 12) 2002
Your Turn screened SBS, 1999
Mr Memory made for SBS, 1991
Target Audience screened SBS, 1989
Green screened SBS, Channel 4 UK, Canal Plus France, 1987, 1990
Sharky’s Party screened SBS, Fox comedy channel 1990, 1998
Tripe screened ABC, SBS, Channel 4 UK, Canal Plus 1985, 1990s
Bouncers screened SBS, 1988
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