Tide Of Stone – With Kaaron Warren


“….when first the tide of brass

Hath seized upon and held possession of

The iron’s open passage-ways, thereafter

Cometh the tide of the stone, and in that iron

Findeth all spaces full, nor now hath holes

To swim through, as before….’

I did a lot of reading while writing ‘Tide of Stone.’ I tend to gather unusual books around me, because I never know when I might need a detail, an inspiration, a new way of thinking or an insight into character.

  • The Nature of Things – Lucretius
  • The Lighthouse Stevensons – Bella Bathurst
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
  • Chronicle of Crime – Martin Fido
  • Look for the Woman – Jay Robert Nash
  • Eyewitness – Brian Stone
  • The Cult of the Immortal – Ange-Pierre Leca
  • On Death and Dying – Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
  • The Coroner – Derrick Hand and Janet Fife-Yeomans
  • Night – Alvarez
  • Beyond Bad – Sandra Lee
  • Welcome to Hell – Colin Martin
  • Death Defying – McAllister
  • Heroes and Monsters – Montefiore

For this book, I wanted to try to understand what it felt like to be locked up for life, with no prospect of release, so I read the two books Welcome to Hell, by Colin Martin and Death Defying, by Pam McAllister


Both of them are empathetic and lacked judgement about the crimes committed and I found this a really interesting road to take. Usually, ‘lifers’ are presented as evil, deserving of their time inside, and while there was no justification for the men and their crimes in this book at the same time they were represented as very human. Allowed to speak, to express their sorrows. It helped direct the way I wanted to present the prisoners in my novel. I didn’t want it to be all about the crimes, although I didn’t want to shy away from what they’d done, either. I wanted the prisoners to be judged for the present selves. The older beings slowly disintegrating. Part of the inspiration for this was visits to old people’s homes. Even the best of these are hard to be in. For me, the worst part is the faint echo of who the people once were. They have a photo of them with a boat, or a cat, or a newly painted house, photos from decades earlier. This is part of what I wanted to capture, this feeling of separation from the past that old people can have to observers.

I read or at least kept track of current events over the decades, mostly in Australia. I didn’t want to venture too far into historical depictions, but I wanted to quickly build a feel of the times as I wrote. I chose the character names by flicking through the book of murder, selecting names from people who featured in the year I was writing. I go back as far as 1830, with the first diary entries add date, so there were a lot of years to cover.

I read Lucretius when I was trying to choose a title. I think I googled ‘stone’ and ‘immortality’ and he presented to me, so I read it in the Great Books of the Western World version I have. I’ve loved these books since I was a child. We had a whole set and I used to sort them by colour, read snippets (although not understanding any of it except for Gulliver’s Travels) and putting them back into their own bookcase. The books were sold at one stage, something my poor mother always felt guilty about, so eventually she bought me another set! I treasure them so very much.

The Lighthouse Stevensons (and another book about lighthouse keepers I can’t 645658remember) helped give me some of the details about isolation and starvation, including the eating of tallow candles out of hunger.

Heroes and Monsters helped me make some lists of who might be in the tower, although I realised, not for the first time, that hero and monster are often so named in the eye of the beholder.

The Coroner and Death and Dying and other similar books gave me details about what happens to the body as the processes shut down.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was so utterly fascinating I read the whole thing even it probably didn’t help my research. The idea that immortality isn’t just being alive forever, that a part of you can live on without your consent or control, is quite terrifying.

immortallifeBeyond Bad and Look for the Woman are all about women who commit crimes, because I didn’t want only men in the tower. I wanted to understand or at least have some idea of the motivations of all of the offenders in the tower. Not to have total empathy, but because I didn’t want it to be a good guy/bad guy story.

That’s just a small glimpse into the books I read for Tide of Stone!



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