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“Hi, I’m Maree Kimberley and I’m reading from my work in progress, a young adult novel, Dirt Circus League.
‘That’s the Dirt Circus League,’ Karen’s voice was low. ‘They’re one weird mob of kids.’
‘They’re one talented mob of kids,’ said Angie.
‘Yep, and trust me they’ve got twice as much weirdness as they got talent. They’re from a cult, y’know.’ Karen scanned the festival crowds. ‘Look, see that guy over there? The tall one with a shaved head wearing a bandanna and cut-off cargoes.’
Angie looked across and her heart jumped up and thumped three times fast in the pit of her throat. The guy was gorgeous. Not just I’ve-been-living-in-woop-woop-so-long-I’m-attracted-to-anything-with-one-head-two-arms-and-two-legs-gorgeous. He was a two metre tall, solid-muscle-mass god.
‘Uh-uh.’ Karen shook her head. ‘I can see right inside your brain, girl, and I’m telling you that for every gram of gorgeous that boy is, he’s one ton of nutso.’
Karen clicked her fingers in front of Angie’s staring blue eyes. ‘Snap out of it, chickie. He calls himself Quarter and he’s the craziest bastard ever to set foot anywhere near this town.’
Angie raised her eyebrows at Karen. ‘Now I know you’re exaggerating.’
‘Nah,’ Karen shook her head. ‘Old Bob wanting to marry his prize bull got nothing on this guy. Quarter and the rest of the Dirt Circus League, they all live up in this abandoned wilderness resort about two hundred kilometres north of here. Just kids, all of them, living smack bang in the middle of nowhere. He’s about eighteen, I think, and is one of the oldest. You know why?’
‘Cos they all believe that when you turn twenty, you give your body back to Mother Earth. Gaia, they call it.’
Angie rolled her eyes at Karen. ‘You want first go at him, just say so. You don’t have to spin me a story.’
‘Swear it’s true,’ Karen crossed herself, ‘so help me jeebuz. According to them, I should’ve died two years ago and you’ve got about three years left.’
Angie snorted. ‘Come off it.’
‘You don’t believe me?’
‘Okay. Meet me outside the School of Arts tonight and I’ll show you something that’ll turn your insides curlier than two-minute noodles.’
Angie looked back at Quarter. His head swivelled and he stared back at her and everything around her faded until all she could see was the outline of his face and all she could feel was the slow thump of her heart, heavy with blood. Then he turned and disappeared into the crowd.”
ABOUT MAREE KIMBERLEY:
Maree Kimberley lives in Brisbane, Australia where it’s nearly always sunny. She holds a Bachelor of Creative Industries and a Master of Arts, both from Queensland University of Technology. She has published short stories, feature articles and a children’s book and has several novel-length manuscripts hidden away. Her obsessions include the grotesque, bizarre and somewhat strange. She also has a thing for circuses. Maree enjoys combining her obsessions into stories: some work and some fail dismally. She has a sneaking suspicion that it’s the bad stories that make her a better writer.
“My first (but definitely not my last) visit to Varuna was in November 2011, where I undertook a professional development program with Stephen Measday as my tutor. Stephen’s advice was invaluable in taking my manuscript to the next stage. I got more work done in my week at Varuna than I could do in six months at home. It was a fantastic experience.” Maree Kimberley
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