Tania Chandler: #Robinpedia

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Dreams can come true.

Who is Tania Chandler? She’s a crime writer, an Australian, and an all round rad shiela (is that how you spell it?). Like all cool writers she lives in Melbourne… I live in Sydney. Graeme Simsion, famous for the world wide smash The Rosie Project, has described her lead character as “flawed and troubled as any hard-bitten dick.

Tania’s novels are known for taking the archetypes from crime fiction and shuffling them around. Her character Brigitte has all the hallmarks of the femme fatale yet is the lead character. Aidan has the typical traits of the strong and silent police officer who drinks too much yet is relegated to the love interest category. Tania’s playing around with tropes gives her novels a fresh and light feel despite them dealing with distinctly dark subject matter.

Why does this cover scare me so?

Her debut novel Please Don’t Leave Me Hear published through Scribe  has a super creepy cover. I don’t know what it is about it but it gives me a serious case of the willies (damn you Graeme Simsion, now I’m even giggling at this). It was shortlisted for best debut novel by BOTH the Ned Kelly and Davitt awards. 

Her sequel, Dead in the Water, which was brilliantly reviewed on Newtown Review of Books by a complete genius, has a sex scene between a married couple with three kids. That deserves some kind of an award in itself. Married people getting all sexy for sexing and what not is a rare occurrence. Usually married people are either sleeping or having fumbly sex but this couple gets it on like Donkey Kong. I award Tania Chandler a Vag Badge, for sexifying married life with kids.

Tania Chandler’s website is here.
Find Tania Chandler on Facebook here.

Find Tania Chandler on Twitter here.

Read Tania Chandler’s article about the dreaded second novel, anxiety, and imposter syndrome here.

If you have information you’d like to add to this entry please leave it in the comment section.

If you’d like to know more about Robinpedia go here.

Quick follow up note: Graeme Simsion has also been credited with ensuring Anita Heiss has the best calves in Australian writing.

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: I Gave My Kids Mum Cuts

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I gave my kids mum cuts and now I have guilt. I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m not a hairdresser. I don’t try to cut other people’s hair. I’ve never thought about offering to cut someone else’s hair before but for some reason I decided that I could definitely cut my children’s hair. My little girl turned out fine…. Unfortunately my boys now look like extras from Blackadder.

I am not sure if I have failed them as a mother or given them the much needed, character building, “bad hair cut from your mum” component that every child needs. It’s sure to be a character building experience, but will it be in a good way? 

My mother used to love to give my siblings and I a good old mum cut. When my sister asked for a bob, she got a mullet with a spiked top, I think she might have been in high school at the time. My poor brother was Blackaddered on a regular basis, and although he is smiling in photos but the pain of unjust haircuts is clearly visible in his eyes. As for me, my hair was cut in such a manner that my curls formed large cup like shapes around my ears that made me look even more like a monkey than I already did, and I one time I had my chin sliced open with wayward scissor snaps.

When it comes to character, my siblings and I have loads of it. We are in no need of any future character building, we’re all full up. Not that the mum cuts were the most character building experiences of our childhood, they were more the icing on the character-rich cake. I think my kids could do with a little less character than I got so I always get anxious when I unintentionally repeat the sins of the past.

My husband assures me that it’s fine. They’re too young to understand just how bad the hair cut is (he’s not denying its awfulness), and the extra short fringe shows off their beautiful faces. He says the contrast of the bad haircut actually makes them look even cuter. He has declared it a win. I’m hoping that he is right….

And after all, it’s just hair. It’ll grow back.

Michael Williams: #Robinpedia

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Michael Williams ready for a spot of grocery shopping.

Michael Williams…. Michael Williams…. MM CC McWilliams…. the big M. The Mster. Master Williams. What can be said about a man who simply describes himself as Elena Ferrante. A man whose mother thinks he’s cool. A man who has been mistaken for a dead, English actor and lived to tell the tale. A man with a beard. But wait, there’s more.

Michael Williams is either best known as the director of the Wheeler Centre or popular radio host on Radio National. He is both a regular guest on The Book Club with Jennifer Byrne, and a top tier writers’ festival speaker. In short, he excels at everything he does, and he does quite a bit.

The Wheeler Centre is possibly Australia’s preeminent hub for literature and creative conversations. It’s in Melbourne and I’m from Sydney so I may get excommunicated from my state for saying that. Since 2010 The Wheeler Centre has hosted more than 1600 events with more than 2200 speakers. Their goal for 2020 is to be nationally and internationally renowned as a centre for innovative conversation…. job done early. Michael stands firmly at the healm of this proud institution. Unsurprisingly he’s quite the inspiring speaker himself.

You can listen to his dulcet tone at 9am Saturdays on Radio Nation on his show Blueprint for Living.  He talks about food, travel, architecture, and everything you need to live a good life. Apparently he even covers fashion. Is there nothing he does not know? If you miss it on Saturdays it is replayed 6am on Sundays, and you can listen to the podcast anytime.

Prior to this Michael was the Head of Programming at the Wheeler Cente, worked at Text Publishing and Triple R. As such he’s a prominent figure in the Australian book industry.

Find Michael Williams on Radio National here.

Find Michael Williams at the Wheeler Centre here.

Find Michael Williams on Twitter here.

Find me drinking gin and crying into my armpit because Michael Williams and I are the same age and I haven’t even organised myself to brush my teeth today.
If you have information you’d like to add to this entry please leave it in the comment section.

If you’d like to learn more about Robinpedia go here.

[For first time visitors to this blog, read the about section, I do in fact already know that I am dyslexic.]

Book Club ABC Season 10 Summer Special: #bookclubABC 

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It’s here. It’s really here. We’ve emerged from the wilderness and Book Club with JByrne is before us again. I’m so happy I could …

….

WTF. They’ve got a desk. They’ve got a news panel style desk. Oh no, no, no, no, no! How can I perform #sockwatch now? ABC, I implore you, get a clear cutout on the bottom. We need to see Jason’s woolly socks. What if BLaw is on? How will we see those magnificent ankles? Is that why you’ve introduced the desk? It was bloody Ben wasn’t it? Benjamin Law and his sexy nude ankles requiring a nudity warning. Deep breaths. Just listen to JByrne’s mellifluous voice and forget the ankles.

[Do remember I’m dyslexic so there will be typos, spellos, grammos, and just plain wrongos]
JByne tells us that they’re doing a 5 of the Best special. Each of the panelists gets to choose the best book to discuss that they read this year PLUS they’ll reveal the top 5 books as voted by the Book Club viewers.
The guests are introduced. Be still my beating brain, it is the beauteous Michael Williams, anonymous Italian novelist, dead British actor, and most importantly, my muse. C.S. Pacat is also on. I am so excited. She was brilliant last time she was on. And of course regular panelists, Magic Marieke and Jace the Ace Stegersaurussex, complete the panel. You complete me, I whisper to my television.

But before we can listen to these Gods of Australian literature we’re hearing from the gatekeepers, booksellers, on “what sold its socks off.” Too soon, JByrne. Too soon. We’re only just getting used to the end of #sockwatch. Have some sensitivity with your language choice, please.

Book sellers tell us that debut, female, authors are the hot trend this year. So glad having a vagingo is hot right now. Hannah Kent is apparently part of this trend because she’s put out her second novel this year. I’ll just let that sink in and move on. Lianne Moriarty is also hot right now. Girl on a Train is still hot. Girls are hot. Who runs the world? Girls! Something I didn’t catch the name of was also hot. The description left me wondering if the bookseller knew the difference between high and low fantasy. I was already questioning someone putting out their second novel being considered a debut author…. But the general consensus is in, girls and escapism are so hot right now.
And now it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty. What books will the panelists be discussing?

My Muse Michael is the first cab off the rank. He’s chosen The Sellout by Paul Beatty. A controversial book from the controversy loving director of the Wheeler Centre / anonymous Italian woman / dead British actor. He’s going to say something naughty and we all await with anticipation. My glass of moscato is positively beside itself and my semi-soft blue-cheese is hanging on his every word.

He opens by saying it isn’t an easy or comfortable read. There’s slavery. There’s racism. There’s a whole heap of big issues and humour is used to convey them. The humour makes it “spikey” but Michael says he believes Beatty “doesn’t care if you like it or not.” Those spikes are part of the point…. What have I become? I’ve come up with a Jace the Ace Stegersaurussex level pun.

Interestingly this book is the first American book to win the Man Booker Prize. It’s surprising because not only is the style a tad jarring but the book is not just American but overtly and unashamedly American.

Marieke says that The Sellout was a “book of ideas in search of a narrative.” What a poetic phrase. I’m stealing it. She says that it had so many big and interesting ideas that it seemed to overwhelm any attempt to wrestle it into a narrative.

Michael says that it echoes Catch 22 but isn’t as well actualised. But he chose The Sellout, shouldn’t he utterly adore it? He says that it has a great setting but character arcs are weak.

Jason puts it simply, “the parts are greater than the sum.” This is why Jason and Marieke are the regulars, throwing out sentences of gold.

C.S. is finally permitted to speak. My wine, my cheese, and I cheer. She says that the experience was like being on social media. It was very contemporary and you were being hit with lots of ideas and snippets. She appreciated the fresh approach and the perspective given. I love her so much. She’s so smart and articulate. Hearts are literally coming out of my eyes right now.

JByrne says that the message was that “it was ever thus.” Boom! That’s why she’s on the big bucks, people. Four words and she has utterly nailed it.

Michael concludes that he admired The Sellout more than he liked it and urges people to read it.

Next up is C.S. Pacat and she has brought The Cursed Child by a little known author called J. K. Rowling. There’s the customary dramatic recreation that I’m the only person on the planet that doesn’t love. You’ve got zombie thespian Michael Williams on, get him to perform them! Sweet merciful cheeses, did Gollum emerge from Middle Earth just to say “Harry Potter” in that recreation. That was terrifying. What next, clowns? I need a hug.

C.S. says she chose it because J. K. Rowling is a genius at world building and she really missed the world and wanted to visit again. She acknowledges that she doesn’t like “zombie franchises” but wanted to read this. For people unfamiliar with what a zombie franchise is, it’s those long series of books which have totally lost their way and continue on an on and at book 10 you’re questioning what the fucking point is anymore and screaming, “why won’t you die” at characters that you once loved. Spec fic and crime fic fans know what I’m talking about.

C.S. liked that it was about a bad father. Segue to Michael. That’s a bit rough. Michael was also keen to step back into Harry’s world but he’s not as eager to go back in after hanging out with the Cursed Child.

Marieke was not super jazzed about it. She’s not a Potterhead and says she felt like she was at a party where everyone knew each other except her and she was just lingering by the dips table all night. Somebody give this woman a raise immediately. She is throwing out soundbites all over the place. She tops it off with, “Who the fuck is Hagrid?”

Jace the Ace Stegersaurussex talks about how he read the Harry Potter books to his children. My ovaries are tingling. He then jumps to the heart of the matter and says that it works very well for theatre script, which it is, but to make it more accessible to novel readers, which Harry Potter fans are, more details needed to be added.

Jace, JByrne, and Michael start chatting excitedly about the Potterverse, you can see Marieke travel back to that dips table in her mind. I can’t help but wonder if C.S. has been muted. She brought the book. Where are her words?

A producer must have noticed this also, C.S. is permitted to speak again. She notes that it was interesting to go into a plot driven series through a character  driven script. She’s slayed it again. You know what, she doesn’t need to speak as much because she bloody kills it every time she opens her mouth. More love hearts come out of my eyeballs.

Marieke wasn’t impressed with the logic flaw in the manuscript in regards to time travel and multiple realities. Michael quotes Terry Pratchett at her in response. I am always happy for a Terry Pratchett reference.

And now it is time for Jace the Ace Stegersaurussex’s choice. Music and Freedom by Zoe Morrison. Ace loved the use of music. JByrne also liked the music and said it was one of the two pillars of the novel. The other pillar was domestoc violence.

Marieke liked the book but was not a fan of the structure. Whereas both Michael and Jason liked a bit of muddling of the structure because it mimicked the loss of control.

Marieke goes out on her own, she didn’t love the music but found the story of domestic violence incredibly effective.

Michael reasserts the importance of music because it represents control. Ace and C.S. (who has finally been allowed her voice again) says that music actually represents freedom, but is of course important.

In the end the whole panel agree, they would recommend the book to friends because not only is it important but it was artfully written.

Okay, the panel are now recommending books.

Michael recomends The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Marieke recommends The Voyeur’s Motel by Gay Talese

JByrne recommends Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

Ace recommends The Return by Hishmash Matar

C.S. recommemds Swing Time by Zadie Smith

JByrnes now gets the spotlight. She goes a little bit rock’n’roll with Jimmy Barnes’s memoir. She loves Barnesy, she loved the book. She even got Barnsey himself to do the voice over for the dramatic recreation…. I’m still backing Michael performing this as being better. Just sayin.

Spoiler alert, right up front they reveal the end, it ends with Jimmy Barnes leaving his family in a van with the band. It does not end with his current life. That’ll come in like volume 3 apparently. Fingers crossed Cold Chisel makes it into volume 2.

Marieke was expecting a rock’n’roll memoir but got Angela’s Ashes. She says it was very important but staggeringly difficult to read. It was about immigration and displacement. It was about child abuse and resilience.

Acec was skeptical at first but was won over. He notes that there were some bad puns but in the end he became a Barnsey fan. Michael was okay with the bad puns because he felt that the humour was a coping mechanism.

C.S. liked the gaps. Such hideous abuse was depicted yet there were still stories that clearly went untold. It meant that Barnsey endured even worse child abuse than depicted.

Michael acknowledges that the known future of the writer is an important driving force. Even though the book doesn’t get to Barnsey making it huge, the reader knows that he did. The contrast of the staggering success with the horrific abuse is important even though it goes unsaid.

Looks like another unanimous reccomendation.

Marieke is being a total rebel and chooses an older novel, Terms of Endearment. She claims that she has replaced JByrne with a new literary life coach, Aurora Greenway. What the actual eff! Replacing perfection with that selfish, narcissistic, meanie??? I don’t even know how to feel anymore. I started this season saying that Marieke was right about Wuthering Heights and JByrne was so terribly wrong, and here I am at the end saying Marieke is wrong and JByrne so very right. It’s like I’ve come full circle but finally remembered to put my underpants on the right way. I just can’t even.

Marieke imagines flipping off everyone who doesn’t agree with her love of Aurora. I think JByrne and Marieke may come to blows. I’m scared and excited all at the same time. Ace is trying to be diplomatic. I can tell he is also scared.

C.S. doesn’t vibe on the book. Marieke declares that she doesn’t care with such emotion cracking in her voice that you know she does in fact care and her heart is being ripped out of her chest. C.S. soldiers on, she doesn’t like books with characters that are so awful that you’re supposed to feel smuggly superior to them. She wants to be in the world not looking down on it. That’s so beautiful, more love hearts. Marieke externalises her flipping off of everyone.

Michael talks about the structure of the book echoing how little space the daughter is given. Aurora is so all consuming that very little is left for her daughter

Michael says that the men in Terms of Endearment range from dissapointing to criminal. Marieke likes this because it’s just like real life.

And my kids are up yet again so I’ll have to finish this recap later. Will “edit” in the end shortly. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! It has been an interesting night. Random fireworks, yelling drunken neighbours, increasingly grumpy trio of children. Not that I blame my neighbours, I’m excited for Book Club too. If I had fireworks I’d be letting them off too.

The top 5 books as voted by the viewers were:

  1. Clementine Ford’s Fight Like a Girl
  2. The Dry by Jane Harper
  3. Man in the Corner by Nathan Besser
  4. The Good People by Hannah Kent
  5. Insults About Age Everywhere I Look by Helen Garner

And now there’s a quiz.

Marieke is so excited…. she is not at all excited. The M Team vs Ace and C.S. Who will win, who will be victorious, who shall sob and who shall cheer? In short, the M Team won. C.S. somehow missed a quote from Tolkein. I have no idea how because I screamed the answer psychically at her. TOLKEIN. IT’S IN THAT LETTER GANDALF WROTE THEN BILBO SAYS IT. IT’S A REOCCURRING MOTIF. IT’S ACTUALLY IN REVERSE IN MERCHANT OF VENICE. I AM OF NO HELP ON ANY OTHER QUESTION!

And now they’re wrapping up for the year with Paul Kelly and Charlie Owen performing. They assure us they’ll be back next year in the weekly format.

But don’t forget to vote for the Book Club ABC in the Logies.

Catch up on episodes in iView.

Michael Williams will be my next #Robinpedia entry. Keep an eye out on Thursday.

Why Writers Need to Vote in the Logies

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I don’t know if you’ve noticed but the Australian book industry has taken a bit of a beating of late. The government seems intent on bankrupting authors with trying to reduce the copywrite on their works and changing parallel important laws. Not since sleazy venture capitalists took over Borders then tried to use it’s success to prop up their other failing companies and ultimately bankrupted all of their companies, have books been so under threat in Australia.

This year Australia’s most prominent television show on books, The Book Club ABC hosted by Jennifer Byrne, has been nominated for a TV Week Logie. I urge you to vote for it. Even if you hate TV, even if one of the panelists said something mean about a book you liked, even if you saw some mainsplaining going on in an episode, and yes, even if you’re just not that into the show. I urge you to vote for it anyway. And not just because I love the show and write recaps.


I urge you to vote for The Book Club ABC in this years TV Week Logies because it is this country’s most successful show about books and we need to show people that we still love books and that we support authors. Let’s get behind the Books Create Australia movement, let’s lobby politicians, but let’s also show popular culture that books matter. Books are just as loved and necessary as they always have been, so vote for them. Vote for books to win.


Voting closes on the 18th so you need to vote now rather than leaving it until later. So what should you do if you really want to get behind books and vote right now but there seems to be a few pesky categories you need to vote in before you are allowed to skip straight to Best Lifestyle Program and vote for books and you have no clue who to vote for? Here are some suggestions to help you out in a book loving way.

Best Actor

Anthony Brandon Wong from Family Law. The Family Law is Book Club regular Ben Law’s baby.

Best Actress

Virginia Gay from Winners and Losers. Virginia Gay has been an enthusiastic panelist on Book Club a number of times

Best Presenter.

Jennifer Byrne from the Book Club.

Gold

Jennifer Byrne from the Book Club.
Those are just suggestions to get you past the mandatory voting fields so that you can skip straight to Best Lifestyle Program and vote for The Book Club ABC. Obvious vote for who you want in those fields. But books need you. They don’t even usually rate a mention on the Logies, this year they need you to advocate for them. Vote for books to win best Lifestyle this year.


Vote now. Let’s make books win on TV.

[If you get time, please also vote for some scripted shows, TV script writers work hard, so knowing that their shows resonate with you would also be fab.]

All I Want for Christmas is BOOKS

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It’s that time of the year again, the time when I write out the perfect gift suggestions for Christmas, guaranteed to please even the fussiest gift receiver. You’re welcome.

Let’s start with the kids in our lives.

Want a great picture book? You can’t reall go past My Dog Bigsy by Alison Lester. It’s an adorable book about a cheeky dog that causes quite the commotion amongst other animals. Buy it here.

 

Looking for something for the sporty 7-10 year old in your life? Try Kicking Goals with Goodesy and Magic by Anita Heiss, Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin. A lovely book about friendship. Buy it here.

Do you have an 8-12 year old who loves action and adventure and also has a love of maps? Al Tait has what you want and plenty of it in her Mapmaker Chronicles. It’s been described as the best thing since Deltora QuestBuy it here.

Do you have an 6-9 year old that loves action and adventure but want unicorns instead of maps? Search no further than Kate Forsyth’s Impossible Quest series. So many beautiful nods to classic fantasy, your kids will be sure to love it. Buy it here.

 

Wendy Orr’s Dragonfly Song is also a great choice. And just quietly, I’m pretty sure it based around the same ritual that the minotaur myth was derived from. Give it a read. Fascinating stuff. Buy it here. http://www.booktopia.com.au/the-dragonfly-song-wendy-orr/prod9781760290023.html

 

Looking for something for 12+? Try Fleur Ferris’s Risk. It’s an eerie book about what lurks online. Buy it here.

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This year, why not go on a crime-spree for the adults in your life?

 

Harry’s World by A.B. Patterson. Rough cop, gritty issues, sexy sexing and beautiful writing. Buy it here.

 

Love crime but the person you’re wanting to buy for is ice-cold? Go get L.A. Larkin’s Devour. It’s the hotest thing in Antarctic Noir. Buy it here.

 

Emma Viskic’s Resurrection Bay won all of the crime awards. All of them. It’s a book that truly lives up to the hype. No spoilers, just buy it here.

 

The Promise Seed by Cass Moriarty is a beautiful story about cross generational friendships and the ties that bind. Buy it here.

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How about books that explore mental illness?

 

Anna Spargo-Ryan’s debut The Paper House has taken Australia by storm. A beautifully literary book about living with mental illness and grief. It is contemporary Australian fiction. Buy it here.

 

I also hear that Confessions of a Mad Mooer is awesome. Forget all other suggestions, this book is the perfect Christmas gift for young and old. It’s my memoir, whoops I mean, it’s the author’s memoir about their month long stint in a psychiatric hospital with postnatal depression. A must read for any PND sufferers, and for any of their friends or family. Also great for any writers struggling with mental illness. It does have swearing. It’s nonfiction. Get it here.

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You want to give the gift of laughter instead of crime or madness? 

 

Try Our Tiny Useless Hearts by Toni Jordan. Fresh, funny, a great read with lots of depth along with the laughter. Buy it here.

 

We’re all Going to Die by Leah Kaminsky… okay, I know the title sounds a bit morbid, and it is about death, but I promise that it’s actually uplifting. It even says it’s a “joyful book about death.” Buy it here.

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Feel like you want something more historical to give? 

 

Try Ben Pobjie’s Error Australis a humorous recap of Australian history. Buy it here.

Mary’s Australia by Pamela Freeman is a fascinating read about life in the times of our very own Saint, Mary MacKillop. Buy it here.

 

Or you can get Girt by David Hunt. It is a totally unauthorised history of Australia. Buy it here.

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I hope that I have helped make things a little bit easier for you…. Now go buy my book!

 

Don’t forget to check last year’s book recommendations, they’re still excellent choices. So get on it and buy, buy, buy!

Allison Tait: #Robinpedia

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Hair of fire, pen of flame, Allison Tait is an Australian writer, teacher, and an inspiration to up and coming writers. Her series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, have been warmly received by critics but also, more importantly, by the children they are aimed at.

The Mapmaker Chronicles are published through Hachette. They are well liked for mystery, mayhem and even murder. They’re an adventure quest set on land and sea. Allison’s Mapmaker Chronicles have been compared to Emily Rodda’s  Deltora Quest for action and excitement. A must read for 8-12 year olds… and 37 year olds. I never grew up.

Allison is also known for her educational podcasts with Valerie Khoo. In these podcasts Allison draws on over twenty years worth of experience from working in magazines, and now novels, to help new writers not make the same mistakes she did when she was starting out. Valerie and Allison’s podcast is rated number 1 in Australia for writing education.

And as if all that wasn’t enough, I suspect that Allison Tait is part of an underground organisation known as The League of Extraordinary Redhaired Gentlewomen. It’s so underground that I’m the only one who knows about it. The members don’t even know about it, that’s how cool and secret it is. Seriously, ask them about it and they’ll deny all knowledge of it.



The League consists of amazing red-haired women who kick arse and are talented in multiple ways. Other members include Emma ViskicIsla FisherPenelope BergenKeighley BradfordLisa Fleetwood, and many more. I think I might even be in it. By day we create art, by night we fight crime.

Find Allison Tait’s website here.

Find Allison on Facebook here.

Find Allison on Twitter here.

If you feel you’d like to add any information please do so in the comment section.

Learn more about Robinpedia here.