Grave Robbers in Nineteenth Century Edinburgh, and PJ Johnson’s novel, Isla Rising.

January 9th, 2022

 This discussion with Poet and Novelist, PJ Johnson, explores ideas of life and death, and the mysterious place between the two, as imagined in her novel, Isla Rising.

In Nineteenth Century Edinburgh (Scotland) the festival of Samhain was celebrated as a liminal time between the death of summer and the birth of winter, when the threshold of the other world was felt to be nearest to this world -   at a time outside of ordinary time.

PJ Johnson's novel is set in Edinburgh, 1833, Samhain, when the spirits were thought to walk amongst the living. Around this period in history, too, the most desperate of the poor might be driven to overcome their fear of the spirit world and turn to grave-robbing. Their customers were medical men eager to study the human body in the hope of finding cures for its ills. The episode ends with the author reading an excerpt from her novel in a chapter that deals with just this subject. 

Isla Rising can be purchased from the following sites:

Lane Bookshop Claremont

Planet Books Information

Isla Rising Website

An adventurer and businessman sails into a full life of giving back in his retirement

November 25th, 2021

Peter Sim has led an exciting life, which in his younger years took him cycling across Europe, working in the timber industry in Canada, visiting ports as a merchant seaman, and toiling as a deckhand on a whaling boat in Albany. This was all before he had reached his mid-twenties.

He then became a businessman and navigated his way through various businesses, some with devastating losses which were eventually overcome, a feat he says he couldn't have done without his beautiful wife and life partner, Sheila. He finally found his business feet and worked his way into establishing a successful real estate business.

As if this were not enough Peter and Sheila spent a year sailing around Australia.

But this is where the story really begins. In retirement, Peter has volunteered his time and expertise to two wonderful organisations.

One is 'Sailability' which provides sailing and boating experiences for people with disabilities through the Royal Perth Yacht Club.

And he and Sheila are also heavily involved in Borderless, which we have discussed previously on this podcast. The charity mainly runs on sponsorship of $40 a month. Links to both Sailability and Borderless are provided below:




The importance of inclusive diversity on boards

November 19th, 2021

PhD Candidate, Veronica Lawrance is a passionate advocate for improving  diversity on boards so that they better reflect the communities  they serve. She discusses diversity not only in terms of gender, but across the many groups that reflect the society in which we live.

In this interview she concludes that diversity is not enough if it is seen only as a superficial goal. It must be one that is truly inclusive. This idea goes beyond token involvement on boards. It enables under-represented groups a seat at the table and a voice that is heard.  

The podcaster interviewed

November 8th, 2021

In today's episode, Poet and Novelist Pat Johnson interviews me. My name is Iris Lavell and Pat thought it might be interesting to put the focus on a couple of things in my own life - a novel I had published a while back, the reasons for starting a podcast, and the volunteer work I am involved in. We met in a cafe over tea and toast, and while we thought it might be reasonably quiet in the corridor, the microphone didn't think so. As you can hear, there is still what might euphemistically be called a 'vibrant' atmosphere with chatter and the occasional slamming of a door. Even so, I very much enjoyed meeting with Pat, and hope you find the interview to be of interest. 

Sexologist and Human Rights Advocate Dr Lorel Mayberry discusses her work with Borderless Friendship

October 28th, 2021

About thirty years ago, Dr Lorel Mayberry became aware of the child sex trafficking 'trade' and has since become a passionate advocate for the rights of children and communities affected by this crime. Wherever she has been able, she has provided practical assistance to prevent the damage being done at the outset. This interview details some of the positive and uplifting work being done to provide opportunities for people in affected areas. 

The video mentioned in this episode is There is No Monday

It is well worth taking a few minutes to check it out.

Giving back - volunteering at Solaris, Read Write Now and sponsoring Hill Tribe Children for Borderless Friendship

October 19th, 2021

In the nineteen-nineties Lizzie visited Nepal. It changed her life. Upon her return home she resigned from her corporate job and took up work in aged care where she felt she could make a positive difference in the lives of others. Since then she has been involved in volunteer work as a tutor at Read Write Now, as a Reiki practitioner providing complementary therapy for cancer patients through an organisation called Solaris, and has visited and sponsored Hill Tribe children in Thailand. She tells me  that she gets back far more than she gives.

I found the talk most interesting. In our discussion I mention a couple of links that would be put up on this summary. Here they are: 

Borderless Friendship


A Short Story by the Podcaster

September 28th, 2021

Today's episode features a short story of mine that is included in the 25th anniversary edition of Writefree's Anthology to be launched at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Centre, Greenmount, on Sunday October 24th. All are welcome to attend. The event starts at 2pm and light refreshments will be provided. I'm hoping to interview more people in the future, so if you are interested in being interviewed on a topic of your choosing, please let me know. 

Iris L.

Volunteering in Western Australia

July 24th, 2021

This episode provides a brief overview of a few volunteer organisations in Western Australia. If you have been looking for something to add interest and value to your life, perhaps it will give you a starting point for further exploration. Peak volunteering bodies mentioned here are Volunteering Australia and Volunteering WA. The particular volunteer groups mentioned here can be easily found through a quick search. 

A musical interlude

June 20th, 2021

A joyful piece of music with some local gals and guys to cheer a rainy day. Recorded during an early lockdown.

You can't stop the beat

Migrating from the U.S. to Australia. A creative’s journey

June 9th, 2021

Poet and novelist, Pat Johnson, migrated to Australia with her family when she was 18. Here she reflects on the impact of migration on the family and on the cultural differences that exist between the two countries. She goes on to talk a little about how these have influenced her  creativity.

Pat is currently seeking a publisher for her new novella, a glittering and sensitive work of speculative fiction. 

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