Magpies, police tape, the Belconnen owl and even a piece of Kingsley's chicken have all helped to inspire the stories of Sean Costello in the second volume of Capital Yarns.
The latest edition of Canberra-centric yarns was recently launched at Paperchain bookstore in Manuka. It features 14 new stories and illustrations from Juliette Dudley of Poyo Studio in Braddon. She also came up with the beautifully whimsical cover design.
Costello writes fictional stories with a Canberra element based on three items - be they buildings, food or anything! - which are nominated to him via social media.
"While the bulk of my stories are for adults now, it was the sleeping habits of my children, Joslin and Breanna, that started the concept," he said.
"When they were much younger, to try and coax them to sleep, I offered them a bedtime story based on any three items they could name. Later, as they grew and I had more time, I wanted to commit to writing more creatively, for adults as well as children, and I thought the concept might adapt well to other audiences - in the hope they wouldn’t fall asleep too."
Sean says the stories are arranged in "age-appropriate order" in the latest book.
"The first couple are for younger kids, the middle stories for older children and adults and then the last few for adults only. This age range reflects that my children are growing up – now aged 9 and 11, although even then many of the stories aren’t suitable for them," he said.
And executing the story with the three items is immensely satisfying.
"My favourite is a story inspired by three photos submitted of items around Dickson – the old Downer Planetarium sign, a blue bike and the words 'NSB 2602’ etched into a concrete footpath," he said.
"The story, Black Holes, begins with a man staring up at the old cracked sign, waiting for his wife to arrive for their wedding anniversary dinner, back at the location of their first date. While challenging items, the bike and the footpath graffiti are crucial memories in the story.
"Often the items I receive are iconic Canberra items like the lake or the Belconnen owl, and other times, like with this story, they are small, humble, everyday items – and often these are the most fun."
Capital Yarns Volume Two is available from a range of bookstores around Canberra (including Harry Hartog, Paperchain, the National Museum shop, the National Gallery shop, the National Library shop and the Canberra Region Visitor’s Centre) and at http://www.capitalyarns.com.au.