“When W. COQ disappeared at Deddick near Snowy River in winter 2006, he left behind the manuscripts which came to be known as COQworks, hallucinatory pulp in a freak patchwork of genres.”
Or so says the blurb to COQworks #1: Vanishing Points. And there’s some truth to it. Winter 2006 was certainly a trying time, especially that trip to the Snowy, and I put aside creative concerns then which I wouldn’t revisit for many years. In a sense, I lost – or killed off – my alter-ego, COQ, who by that stage had laid claim to a large portion of my work.
Back in 1996, tired of the compromises of my first two novels (Liadhen / My Boyfriend’s Father), I’d had an idea: a fictional author, accused of a heinous crime, reveals the truth of his guilt or innocence inadvertently through his fragmented writings. The twist? He thinks he’s writing fiction – trashy genre stories. But somehow his backstory shines through.
It was a big ask. In 1997, having struck it moderately rich with arts grants, I rented a cabin in Tasmania and finished a first draft of Vanishing Points. Along the way I produced enough fragments, I thought, for a companion piece, Breaking Glass. But I’d had it with writing – the isolation, the discipline. I moved to Melbourne and went out partying, played music, worked at straight jobs, travelled. In 2002, in an empty house in the Adelaide Hills, I furiously typed enough fragments to convince me there was a third volume: ilLiterature. And I gave my fictional pulp-writer a name: W. COQ.
COQ – perhaps unadvisedly – took a part in my music. Since 2001, he was (or believed he was) “a dimension-traveller, part-man part-bird, shot through time via an irreality lacuna centred over Manhattan at the turn of the millenium.” (The quote is from former COQ-agent M. Brody’s online zine Too Many Bands via COQ & CO Books & Music.) His musical output, always shambolic, got stranger and stranger. Then he disappeared, and I was none the wiser.
Years passed. I kept moving, lugging that box of manuscripts from town to town. I felt sure that somewhere in that box was the answer to the mystery: Who is W. COQ? In 2014 I finally published Vanishing Points. Breaking Glass has been “coming soon” for a while now. I’ve come to accept it’ll be a long road, this COQworks saga. But it’s what COQ would have wanted. Long live COQ!