Tag Archives: a beginner’s guide to dying in india

Blog Tour

Hello there humans and approximate facsimiles, I am excited to tell you that this week I am in the middle of a blog tour. A blog tour is basically like a hedonistic punk rock tour except without all the hotel room trashing. Or chain smoking. Or public performance. Or actual touring. But what it does mean is that I get to talk to people all over the world via the comfort of my couch and pyjamas. The tour includes a couple of interviews with different blogs and a few different pieces I’ve written on different aspects of writing, plus a tiny confession about when I pretended to be a woman. I’ll be cataloguing them all here, feel free to respond either in comments below or on the various websites hosting the tour.


Interview with Ravina

Screenshot 2013-10-22 09.21.20 copy

Becoming Your Character guest post at Bunny’s Review


Your Setting As A Character guest post at High Class Books

book professor

Interview with the Book Professor 

I’ll update this post as more tour things happen. I hope your day is filled with guitar solos and high fives.

Dying’s 1st birthday

"I am 1 year old today! Waaah! Waaaah! Bring me things and focus all your attention on me constantly."

Dearest humans of earth.

Today is the one year anniversary of the release of my novel A Beginner’s Guide to Dying in India. Like many one-year-olds it is currently demanding a lot of attention and keeping people awake until the early hours of the morning. However, unlike human children it neither produces faecal matter nor places small objects up its nose. Bonus.

To celebrate this anniversary I'm putting on a special little deal especially and exclusively for YOU Florence or Bill or Mikhail or whatever the fudgecicle your name is. (Also I need travel funds becuase I am about to head to Colombia to do some research for my next novel Adonis Comma Coma and from what I've heard karma points aren't legal tender in Bogota). So just for this week, anyone who orders a copy through this website will get a special hand written piece of writing featuring their name. It might be a limerick, it might be a haiku, it might be an imagined obituary, but it will definitely be…you know, a thing.

On top of all of this malarkey but I’ll even be donating 20% of all profits this week to Warchild Australia.

Now, play nice and click RIGHT HERE and then on the 'SHOP' tab. It’s what Oprah would want you to do.




You may have heard of vampires. These lovable sun-loathing scamps have populated the pages of novels ever since the early something-forties. I used to be quite found of vampire stories, the intrigue of immortality and all that gaff, but I am now, unequivocally, irrevocably, MOTHERFUCKING SICK of vampire stories and every jerk who is jumping on that already overloaded bandwagon.

My reaction to this phenomenon is so intense I've actually developed a medical condition so rare that my doctor insists it doesn't even actually exist. It forces me to violently convulse every time someone mentions Twilight or the Vampire Diaries. Strangely, this convulsion always localises in the area of my fist and seems to inevitably collide with the speaker's face.

I've decided to do something about this by encouraging people to write stories about anything at all besides vampires with the INAUGURAL JM DONELLAN AWARD FOR A SHORT STORY ABOUT ANYTHING EXCEPT VAMPIRES.


Those of you have submitted to short story comps/publishers in the past will now that their guidelines are typically more rigid and inflexible than the 'must be straight and anglo-saxon' component of the Klu Klux Klan membership requirements.


This competition is different. I WANT your cover letter to be ridiculous. Include pictures, photos, nick nacks, whatever the goddam hell you feel like. Just be original and don't write about vampires.

Word limit is 5 000 words. Preferably these words should be arranged into sentences with appropriate punctuation and paragraphing. Eg:

Green elephant

is unacceptable.


is perfect, if a little strange.

Competition opens June 28th at 10.39am and closes September 22 at 12.59pm.
Send your entries to jmdonellan[at]gmail.com

1st Prize



$20.15, the current contents of my wallet. You also get a signed copy of my novel, A Beginner's Guide to Dying in India. Hot diggity damn!
2nd Prize

You get a signed copy of my novel, A Beginner's Guide to Dying in India. Sweet captain cupcakes on toasted rye!

Everyone else your prize is the fact that you have managed to write a story that is not about vampires. Be proud.


1 Q: My story is about vampires, is it eligible?
A: Please send me your full name and address so that I can promptly dispatch a team of ninjas to have you killed.

2 Q: Geez Louise man, what's yer freaking beef with the nosferatu?

A: see above

3 Q: Is this just an elaborate ploy to harvest other people's ideas for the purpose of possible future plagarism?

A: Not according to my very expensive lawyer, no.

4 Q: My story is about a gay penguin on the quest to discover his true calling as an internationally acclaimed hula hooper with the guidance of a breakdancing shaman with a dark and troubled past. Am I going to win?

A: Ask again here.

5 Q:Is this a joke?

A: No, the Twilight series, that was a joke. This is a legitimate competition with way awesome and furthermore radical prizes, bro.

6 Q: Have you ever written a story about someone with a pathological fear of Phil Collins?

A: Why yes, now that you mention it. You can read it here:

Download Fearing Phil Collins by JM Donellan


On the weekend this happened:

Futurespces3 Futurespecs Futurespecs2
Futurespecs5 Futurespecs6 Futurespes4

And yes I am aware of the fact that it is poor form for a writer to blog primarily in images but I've spent last 48 hours being drunk, hung over and scrubbing gallery walls with sugar soap so you'll forgive me if I'm uncharacteristically laconic. 

I also want to let Brisbanites aka Brisbanians aka Brisneylanders aka Brivakistanians know that you can now get my book from Black Cat on Latrobe Tce in Paddington (formerly Mary Ryan's Paddington) This means you can stop buying it from those horrible corporate bookstores that
charge you too much and have staff that think that Dostoyevsky is a
brand of vodka. 



Oh hello there 2010, it's lovely to meet you. You know, me and your slightly older sister were very close, but I'm sure we'll get along just fine. I thought I'd kick off my first post for this year my announcing a competition. WHOEVER BRINGS ME THE HEAD OF STEVE FIELDING WILL RECEIVE UNTOLD RICHES. Just kidding. Although that would make me very happy.

This competition is inspired by the recent album I decided to post entitled "Cute Girls on Dates with A Beginner's Guide." You can see it on flickr or the facebook fanpage. I have often pointed out the fact that if you don't enjoy my novel, you can use it for various other purposes (doorstop, kindling, hand to hand combat). I'd like to see how far we can expand on that theme. The aim of this competition is to see who can come up with the most original/hilarious alternate use for A Beginner's Guide to Dying in India.

Betterzombiehorde copy

Maybe you could use it to fight off zombie hordes, or perhaps lace it with some sort of contact based poison and leave it lying around the Family First offices as a subtle weapon. Maybe you could cut it up and design a
wedding dress out of it. (Hey if you can do it with toilet paper I
don't see why you can't use literature.)

Wedding dress copy                               Toilet-paper-wedding-dress

       Beginner's Guide

wedding "dress"             VS               toilet paper wedding dress

I'd prefer photos, but as I writer I suppose I'll have to accept written entries as well. Photos can be authentic or photoshopped, but you have to be in them in some capacity.

What's the prize you ask? Well well well, my little lemondrop, you just sit back and listen.

On tuesday I leave for Cambodia. I am going to scour that small south-east Asian nation for THE WEIRDESTS SHIT I CAN FIND and deliver it into the hands of the winner. It might be an antique statue of the deity of awkward conversations, or perhaps some strange asian sex toy, perhaps it might be some kind of rat/dog hybrid (although  Australian customs might have a few things to say about that.) Whatever the case, it is going to be fricking weird and fucking hilarious.

That's the immediate payoff, the second part of the prize will be a cameo in my next novel, tentatively titled Adonis' Coma. Now when you are old and grey and your grandkids say:


"Hey Grandma/pa how come you aint done shit with yer life except learn how to open beer bottles with yer eyeball?" you can proudly answer:

Grandpa simpson

"Listen, you little genetically modified sun and smog resistant brats. I was a character in a NOVEL. Sure, it didn't sell so great and the critics said it was the kind of thing that Douglas Adams would have written if he'd been beaten as a child and homeschooled by a foster Mum from Latvia with poor english and a chronic meth addiction, but it was still a NOVEL. Printed on real paper, not this synthetic fireproof Prototree (TM) harvested protopaper you kids use these days. Now shut up and get me my soylant green popsicle, my sunprotection armour and my hoverchair. I want to go down to the store and pick up a new hip. This one's playing up again."

AND on top of all that I will give you a free replacement copy of the book that you have destroyed with your hilarious genius, signed and all. Hell, if you live in Brisbane I'll deliver it in person.

Tell your friends. Tell your frenemies. Tell that girl that you used to IM until she started sending you naked pictures of herself wearing a spiderman mask and it got awkward.

You can get a copy of the book here OR if you want to be a cheap bastard you can just use this image and photoshop it.

send all entries to:


Good luck. I look forward to reading your entries in some sweaty Cambodian internet cafe with a weird looking guy tapping on the window trying to sell me roasted peanuts and filmed-in-the-cinema pirate DVDs of Avatar.


Well well well, who knew a promo tour could be so much fun huh? I wasn't exactly sure what a writers promo tour would entail, I mean, I assumed that there would be vast quantities of A-grade cocaine, plasma screen TVs thrown out of 5 star hotel windows and fistfights with police, but other than that the details were blurry.

Melbourne, just so you know, I have a big crush on you. I mean, I'm in a committed relationship with Brisbane, but I do like sneaking down and visiting you on a no strings basis. Thanks for providing a capacity crowd for the launch event too. Oh and that cougar hitting on me was a nice bonus too. If I had been single, a few years older, and not  rendered almost unconscious by the potency of her discount perfume I may have taken the bait. 

I also got to make with the tourist styles and visit the penguins on Phillip Island, they ban the use of cameras, but here is a dramatised re-enactment:

We also met the King of the Penguins (aka head of the board of trustees for the penguin protection society) who regaled us with delightful tales of the various gruesome murders that have occurred in the small community of Phillip island. Apparently a man he used to have dinner with carved an 'A' in the chest of his adulterous wife and dumped her in the ocean. What a heart-warming story, I'm surprised they haven't made a telemovie about it.

I also saw Red Symons in a couple of bookstores. Unfortunately he wasn't dressed like this:

On the plane from Melbourne to Sydney I had the distinct pleasure of sitting next to a female body building champ from New York. She had arms the size of telegraph poles, and would not shut up about her newly acquired puppy. I wasn't about to tell her to pipe down so I could grab some shut eye though, she would have crushed me more easily than bad reviews crush my fragile eggshell ego.

I'm also very fond of Sydney, but there's a lot of bad memories for me here too. I lived in Sydney for a couple of months in 2003 and I was hanging out with a bad crowd. By which I mean actors. Seriously people, if you can at all avoid it, never date a TV actor. (Seriously Jovita Lee Shaw, I don't care if you did have a recurring role on Mcleod's daughters, if you spent all your money on champagne and fancy lingerie don't come crying to me about being broke when rent day comes round.)

I dropped into the Dymocks on George st and was proud to see my book located so close on the shelves to Nick Cave's new novel. However, I decided it looked a lot better in front of some other book that had been shortlisted for a major literary award. I think the staff moved it back though, the bastards.


By strange coincidence, internationally best selling author Matthew Reilly was there signing copies of his new book, THE FIVE GREATEST WARRIORS. This is the sequel to THE SEVEN ANCIENT WONDERS and THE SIX SACRED STONES. No doubt it will be followed by THE FOUR IMPERTINENT HOOLIGANS or something similar. I got him to sign MY novel instead of his. He proudly proclaimed it "the greatest book I've never read." 


Of course, I did have to buy one of his books in order to get his attention. I got that signed too. It's listed on ebay here.

The launch event at Sydney was another capacity crowd, this time held at the NSW writers centre, which is ironically located on the grounds of an abandoned lunatic asylum. It's quite pretty though, I could certainly think of worse places to suffer from severe delusional paranoia. 



PS a big thankyou to all the authors I toured with. You can check out their brilliant and original work at the Interactive Publications website.




I had an abortion this week. I was halfway through my follow up novel (for adults at least, my kids book is done and dusted) when I made the difficult decision to prematurely end its life. It was entitled Junk Quay: A Modern Ghost Story. Basically it was a story about blues music and quantum mechanics. This guy featured pretty heavily:

So far I haven't had any christian fundamentalists at my door, but I'm
keeping plenty of death metal albums, gay porn and hardmount prints of Piss Christ on hand to ward them off if neccessary. The good news is that this has given me the chance to dive straight into my next book which I was much more excited about anyway. Expect God in a Coma to hit shelves sometime before the end of the world.

Lately I've been accused by many people, my girlfriend among them, of being a self-promotion whore. I justify this by the fact that this is my first art baby. I'm a bit like that annoying friend you have who's just had their first kid and starts working it into every single conversation you have with them by the most implusible segue imaginable:

You: Hey, have you read Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart? I think, for me, it epitomises the pinnacle of African literature and perfectly encapsulates the feeling of fear and confusion that faces a ancient culture dealing with the plague of European colonisation.


You: Uh…yeah I think you should me one last week…

Them: Oh! That was when he was three months and THREE days. This is him at three months and SIX days! Doesn't he look so grown up! Look at the way he's looking at that Caravaggio print on the wall, I think he really has a basic grasp on critiquing and appreciation Baroque era Chiaroscuro painting!


"waaaah! Caravaggio's excessive use of shadows
exemplifying chiarsocuro painting displeases me! I'm having a pre-naptime existential crisis!"

In any case, it's only two weeks until the Australian release of A Beginner's Guide to Dying in India and in preparation I've been drinking too much and spending an unhealthy amount of time playing xbox, much like my literary heores George Orwell and Anthony Burgess did before the release of their respective masterpieces.


    "I pwned yr droids with my l33t skillz!"

I've been asked if I'll sign copies when it is released. People, seriously, I will lick, bless, baptise and sign in my own blood any copy you want to obtain in exchange for your not very hard earned cash. 

People outside of Os-Tray-Lee-Arg can already get it here: AMAZON.COM:http://is.gd/4EcCk or here:THE BOOK DEPOSITORY (UK/EUROPE): http://is.gd/4EbWt

Both stores ship anywhere in the world except Sarah Palin's house. Plus
they have heaps of other amazing books like
the Bell Jar and Of Mice
and Men
that TV characters sometimes mention in a very obvious and
unnatural way when the lazy script writer is trying to make them appear
educated in the space of the few minutes of content between coke


If you write a review for me I will be forever in
your debt. Seriously I'll give you a kidney or something. It may not be
MY kidney, but nevertheless…