A corpse in the spare room

January 14th, 2012

When you’re an author, every experience is a useful one. (WARNING for those with tender stomachs and soft hearts: this is a rather gruesome post.) For example – last week my cat caught a mouse in the compost heap, brought it inside and then lost it. She does this occasionally, and I usually manage to catch the mice and let them go again. But I couldn’t find this one, and eventually forgot about it.

Until this morning when I woke up to a most peculiar smell coming from the spare bedroom. A sickly sweet smell.Β  The sort of smell that crawls into your nose and won’t go away.

That’s when I remembered the mouse.

It took me a while to find it, because the smell seemed to be everywhere. And by now it was seeping out of the spare room into the rest of the house. But I managed to track it down to one corner, under a pile of blankets. Poor little mouse, thoroughly dead and beginning to stink. I carried it outside, then I opened all the windows and put the blankets out to air.

And all the time I was thinking – I now know what a corpse smells like when it is starting to rot! What a useful and important thing for an author to know!

The smell wasn’t as grossly awful as I had always expected (though I’m sure it would have gotten worse if I hadn’t found it when I did). It was more a creepy sort of awful, that made me shudder and feel a bit sick, and not know why.

Now I think I shall go and make some notes about it, so I don’t forget it.

0 thoughts on “A corpse in the spare room

  1. Lily says:

    Do you ever stop giving out advice? (in a good way ;)) Thats kinda gross but now you’ve given me more good advise: Experience what your charecters do. (If you can.)

    1. Lian says:

      Yes, it’s very important to be interested in the world when you’re a writer. And to observe. That’s how you make your books more realistic and believable. Even the smelly bits. πŸ˜‰

  2. Lily says:

    Ha ha ha. I acted out a part one of my charecters played while writing it down in my mind and that part of the story is really descriptive.

  3. Mia says:

    Dead mouse…Cool! Once i found a dead rat in my grandparents attic. I dont know how it died, but it was bloody and smelly. MY Grandpa made me dispose of it before my grandmother found out he hadnt gotten rid of it already.That earned me a coca-cola and hersheys bar from the corner store!
    Of course, my grandmother still found out, but i was happy πŸ˜€

  4. Daniel G says:

    The thing I love about this trilogy is it takes something so fundamental, so imprinted into society and it throws it out the window. Safety – something we in Australia and so many others in other countries take for granted is explored in such a strange ( but fantastic) way. I find these ideas are very similar to John Marsden’s (another one of my favourite australian authors) tomorrow series. I wish Lian would come to our schools or run a writing workshop because her writing style just really makes you rethink society’s logic doesn’t it?

    1. Lian says:

      Hi Daniel, I hadn’t thought of this series in connection with the John Marsden Tomorrow series (I’m a great fan of his too), but I see what you mean. Meanwhile I continue to be intrigued by the growing evidence that the more desperately we protect our kids the more vulnerable they become on both a macro and micro level – from not knowing how to follow their instincts in a dangerous situation (or worse, not even knowing how to recognise danger) to being overwhelmed by allergies as a result of growing up in an overly clean environment. Thanks for the very nice message – I appreciate hearing from you.

      1. Daniel G says:

        Yeah, I’m only 16 so I don’t have a lot of experience in terms of seeing change in society, but from what my dad and my granddad tell me, the little things they used to do (play in the mud, climb trees, things like that) ended up building them up. now in present day society where everything is pristine and as safe as possible, i cant help but wondering if our generation really is “safer”. Maybe today’s society isn’t so different from the City of Jewel…

        1. Lian says:

          We have a little way to go yet, but we’re certainly getting there! I think your dad and granddad are right. Ironic that, as adults, we are so keen to stop children doing the things that made us who we are.

  5. Daniel G says:

    its so true, and now with all this gaming and “virtue life” its like our generation and younger even are seeing a distorted version of the world. John Marsden talked a lot about experiences that children have in an interview I watched and I think both his novels and your novels are, subtly, eye openers.
    Have a happy Easter and thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us πŸ™‚

    1. Lian says:

      My pleasure, Daniel. It was good to have you drop by.

  6. Rachel says:

    I feel bad for you! I would have hated and/or thrown up if I found a dead mouse in a room! I found a dead mouse in the shed once, but it wasn’t beginning to rot, but it still creeped me out.
    Knowing the smell of a corpse would TOTALLY help an author. Now if you want to explain anything to that extent, you just explained how you felt and what you smelt when you was in that moment.

    1. Lian says:

      I have met quite a few dead mice in my life, so am probably a bit more used to them than you are, Rachel. Mind you, the smell was horrible.

  7. Rachel says:

    And by the way, thanks for that advice. I am a writer too (at the age of fourteen), and I think I will try it sometime.

    1. Lian says:

      You’re very welcome! Don’t forget to check out my advice for young authors page.

  8. Rachel says:

    I did and I saw mine! πŸ™‚ For some reason that makes me happy-and it IS good advice!

    1. Lian says:


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