2020 for one of Australia's finest musical yarn spinners, Robert Forster, was meant to be spent travelling between Brisbane and Europe, the continent where he met his wife Karin Bãumler and where his solo career began 30 years ago with the album 'Danger In The Past'.
Instead, he has found the silver-lining in stillness, in being confined to the streets of the town of his birth, Brisbane, the inspiration behind the title track of his 2019 album 'Inferno'.
Words do not flow from Robert Forster's pen like a torrent. Yet when they do come, they are as meaningful as a quenching shower after a drought; they're memorable, vital, nourishing.
Alongside the late and dearly missed Grant McLennan, Robert crafted narratively classics with The Go-Betweens.
Since 1990, he has released seven solo albums, won awards as a music writer for The Monthly, and published three books, including the acclaimed autobiography 'Grant & I: Inside And Outside The Go-Betweens'.
With COVID putting a planned tour on hold, Robert has written a few songs, of course, but also plunged into a three-decade deferred project: a debut novel.
"I've written three songs this year, which is a very good year for me; three songs is a bumper year for me.
"Mainly I've been working on a novel that I started in 2017 that I was going to focus on this year, but I had quite a few shows in Europe through the Australian winter from about late May, on and off, until about September, and so I was going to be travelling more, playing more, not as much as when you're touring for an album and I was going to be working on the book in between that but because that fell away, I've been working more concentrated on the novel.
"I've been wanting to do it since the early '90s and I've tried a lot through the '90s and maybe the late '80s, but it never really got off the ground and I just never did anything that I was happy with or got very far, but I'd go back to it every couple of months.
"I started to write for The Monthly as a music critic and then I wrote 'Grant & I', and that came out in Australia in 2016 and it was really after that. I just started with a couple of ideas hoping one would take off and one of them did."
Robert plans to have a draft of the book in the hands of his publishers in early 2021. Before then, though, he has his sights set on an upcoming Brisbane Powerhouse gig.
Backed by a three-piece band, Robert returns to the stage for a career retrospective unlike any other.
"I'm hoping that people come along and see me and get back into the concert experience. Because it's our first and I've got nothing after it, I'm going to throw everything I can at it and get the most out of it as I possibly can and I think that will be really good for the audience too.
"I think it will have a freshness. I'm going to try new things too, like playing songs from the past that I maybe haven't played for a quite a while that I know will work pretty well. Just changing things.
"It's going to be back to normal capacity, so it's not going to be that spread-out experience. That will be really nice. It will be good to have people close together. There's a lot more energy.
"I played one [event] where people were spread out and it was great but that intensity's not there and that intensity will now be back."
Robert Forster & Band play the Brisbane Powerhouse on 23 January.