Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

Have yourself a wonderful New Year's Eve. May the books keep on getting better, the stories more outlandish, and the laughter louder - leavened with enough tears to keep you humble, but no more.*

I've got a good feeling about 07.

*Actually lets discard the tears altogether, we can make up for it in a decade or two**.
**but only if we have to.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Me and the World Getting On a Year*

I'm almost done with this 33 year old lark: never really stuck, sort of like an ill-fitting suit that you buy on sale, then realise it doesn't look so good, but you've spent a fair bit on it – even though it was on sale – so you wear it anyway.

So I'm shedding 33 – it's peeling off, going to need the vacuum in a minute – and trying 34 for size, I'll let you know how it goes this time next year.

Reading Vellum, loving it, perfect birthday present to self. Loving the weather today, wet and cold. It's Brisbane, it's December 27, and it's wet and cold, these sorts days you've got to take as bonus, because soon we'll be melting into our shoes, and the city will grow heat-strokey and sullen.

Have yourself a nice 28th of December, or, as I prefer to call it, Trent Day.

Trent never looked cooler than when he was rocking out in his Disneyland t-shirt

*depending on your calendar

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Hope your xmas was swell

Hope you all had a great Christmas. Mine was fantastic, down in Lismore with both sets of family, lots of fine food and alcohol, and I even managed to finish a short story, pretty happy with it, too.

Today I spent the morning catching up with siblings, then had a dream drive home, Lismore to Brisbane in under two and a half hours.

Vellum is proving a wonderful read, the writing beautiful and rhythmical, the perfect way to end up the year I reckon, I do like my pretty words.

34 in two days time. I'm fitter and happier than I've been in a while, growing old doesn't always suck - except, perhaps, in a Michel Houellebecq novel.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Twilight Singers

One of the coolest bands in the official soundtrack to the grand history of my love affair with Diana - in which continents topple like vast baroque and teetering houses of cards, tears drown the heavens, and an army of rats conquers the moon in ships that are powered by the blood of angels and shaped like bunches of roses – are the Afghan Whigs. While we were falling in love we were listening to their album Gentleman it's moody and dark and dangerous and wonderful. It's always been a huge regret of mine that we never got to see them live.

Pretty much Diana's favourite solo artist, after Bowie, is Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees fame. We missed him the last time he was in town, and have regretted it deeply.

Well, lead singer of the Afghan Whigs, Greg Dulli is touring in Jan with his band the Twilight Singers, and one of the current members of the Twilight Singers is none other than Mark Lanegan, and I just bought tickets. (You just knew it was going to work out didn't you, as does the love affair, until it ends tragically at the sundering of the universe, which is a way off, thank goodness).

Ricky Gervais, and what do YOU find funny

Everyone has a different idea of what is funny, or who is funny for that matter. I think I'm hilarious, but some people disagree – the idiots.

Ricky Gervais, is just one of the funniest comedians around, and has certainly helped me through some of the tougher parts of this year. I loved the Office, adored the Extras, and his stand up is a joy.

Word to the comedians, I say. Without Ricky Gervais, Larry David, and the creators of Arrested Development and Scrubs, I very much doubt I would have made it through 2006 with most of my sanity intact.

What do you find funny? Is there anything I'm missing out on?

And if no-one responds to this post, well, you gotta laugh haven't ya.

For starters I find people who think they're funny, but aren't, hilarious - basically that covers my arse.

The Store Has Slammed into Christmas

The Store has slammed into Christmas, we tried to swing around it, but it came up on us too fast, which is why you should never drive a store at night and never into a storm. It's busy, busy, busy.

Started reading Vellum by Hal Duncan, thoroughly enjoying it, the book's a hot bath of words with the odd sharp and worrying thing scratching at you beneath the bubbles.

Well, better get ready for work. Lucky me, I've only got two more days of it left. Hope you're all feeling festive, preferably with bells on.

Word to the A.A.N.

Congratulations to all the Aurealis Nominees. I hope you're all excited, because, if you win, you're allowed into all the hottest nightclubs, and, say, if you want sit up the front of aeroplanes with the pilot, maybe flick a few switches, you're allowed. It's true. Dangerous but true.

I'm particularly excited to see Grace's book "The Silver Road" shortlisted for Fantasy, and Martin's novel "Carnies" in the shortlist for Horror. Fingers crossed, guys.

Short storywise though I'm suddenly struck by how little I've read this year. Seems like a solid line-up though, and a fine reading list for early January.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Favourite Things – Book Stuff

It's nearly midnight. And it's just a week before Christmas, in case you hadn't noticed, and I thought I'd mention a few of my favourite things from the year past. Just the top twos (which is about the number of people that read this blog, hey mum, hey travis).

Favourite Novels

Shriek: An Afterword – Jeff Vandermeer

This is a truly superlative piece of writing. It's dark, it's funny, it's a magnificent rumination on art and family and love, and the way things fall apart - because they do, and that's what art's about if you ask me. Buy this book, and you will be rewarded, at least until you fall apart.

The Silver Road - Grace Dugan

I know Grace Dugan and I know what a wonderful writer she is, but I still wasn't expecting this. I read a lot of fantasy, and hell, I've been known to jump on the bandwagon, but I still think this is one of the strongest debuts I've ever read. Grace is a writer to watch. If you haven't bought this book yet, you simply must.
I was absolutely bowled over to be asked to launch this book in Brisbane, and totally proud, for me it was like being asked to launch "The Wizard of Earthsea".

Favourite Shorts

I haven't read as much short fiction this year as I normally do, but these are my favourite two, though to be honest, I have at least another twenty that come pretty close, but it's my blog and I can be as arbitrary as I like.

When the World Was Flat – Geoffrey Maloney (from Agog! Ripping Reads)

Geoffrey is one of Australia's finest writers, period. And he's been writing some really remarkable stuff of late. He can do funny, he can do rage, and every year he seems to become more focussed. His control of his material is second to none. I'm an unabashed fan of Geoff's work, but every year he gets better, every year his work is more challenging.

Oddly enough my other favourite story was also set when the world was flat.

Penultima Thule – Chris Willrich (from Agog! Fantasy & Science Fiction)

A marvellous adventure tale, humorous and melancholy at once, this tickled the Fritz Leiber fan in me. Hunt it down if you can, I wouldn't be surprised to see it in a couple of next year's year's bests.

Shit, I can't leave it at two.

Jable Sharks – Neal Asher (from the Engineer Reconditioned)

This nautical tale of terror is a very fine piece of work indeed. I loved it. But, as I've discovered this year (having read pretty much everything he's written now) Neal Asher is one of the most consistently entertaining and energetic writers out there.

The Souls of Dead Soldiers are for Blackbirds, Not Little Boys – Ben Peek (from Agog! Ripping Reads)

Everything Ben has produced this year - that I have read, and there's still a few I have to hunt down, when I'm a little more flush - has been a corker (my, such eloquent literary criticism). He's had a great year, and deservedly so. I expect Ben to become a big time author next year, start smoking cigars and go on reading tours of the US, travelling from state to state in a big old steam train crewed by a team of vampiric, rockabilly dwarfs.

It's getting late, have to work tomorrow. Didn't get to albums, or tv, not to mention film. Maybe tomorrow.
Have yourselves a very merry week before Christmas, and buy lots of fiction.

Dragons and Not Dragons

I saw Eragon last week. I wouldn't recommend seeing it, the dragon is kind of cool, but a kind of cool dragon isn't enough to hold this grab bag of clich├ęs together. Still it did remind me of one of the most remarkable dreams I have ever had.

The day before I went on my first date with Diana I dreamt about dragons. There was no narrative structure to the dream, just me, lying on my back looking up at the sky. It was cloudy, dark, lightning-crammed clouds, and then the clouds parted, and there they were, huge and distant in the sky, dragons. At least five of them. They just flew there above me, circling and snapping playfully at each other. And I have never felt as at peace as I did in that dream.

It doesn't sound remarkable, but even now, eleven years later, I can close my eyes and see them.


Today I was cleaning up my study, chucking out long ago rewritten drafts of things, moving teetering piles of books, when I came across a tiny egg and two tiny desiccated lizard corpses. Geckos occasionally come into the house and one obviously decided to lay its eggs behind a pile of books on the topmost shelf of my bookcase. It wasn't a good idea.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

December. The One with All the Links

It's a cool night. Been a cool December so far, but we know it's all going to change. Brisbane will get stinking old foot-in-sock-hot soon, and then, on and on until at least March.

I was born on the 28th of December 1972 in the NSW town of Gunnedah. It was supposed to be early January, but it was a scorching summer, so my parents tell me, and I just wanted out so I could cry pretty much non-stop for a week. Being born at the end of the year adds a little more pathos to those end of year thoughts (well, let's pretend it does) and gets you thinking, because you really are going to be a year older.

Thought I would get in early.

It's been a quiet one for me, but, when I look back at it, a good one. Read some fine books, explored another country, and even managed to write a little. Writing wasn't such a priority this year, other things, which I refuse to blog about, came to the fore, but none-the-less I somehow managed to win an (to the point where for some this was the only solution), see two new stories to market**, and deliver my kids book to the ABC – it's part of the Lost Shimmaron, which is going to be a fun series, and, hopefully, I'll get to write a couple more.

I also have a story in this. The story is "Tumble" and it is one of my favourites, took me an awful long time to write, had a hell of a lot of false starts, but writing to me is often about false starts, short stories I have a terrible time approaching in a linear fashion, but that's half the fun. And they are fun. Maybe not so much fun to read, but hell, I love writing them. Sometimes a story just has to give the reader the bird, I reckon. Readers are rather pandered to, if you ask me***.
You can read a review of the anthology here.

I saw some excellent live acts. Okkervil River - who I actually saw for the first time pretty much a year ago on a much hotter more fraught December night than this one, and saw again in September - and the Dresden Dolls are stand outs, but the Shins were good too.

And there was always Brisbane. There was always the river, and there was always the moon.
I entered the year me, and, coming on to the end, with no real revelations at hand, will end it me – but different, of course, I can't tell you how, but I am, and so are you.

*No accounting for judges' tastes, eh. But there's nothing cooler than winning an award for the look on your beloved's face, and family members dig awards.

**One of which is set in a giant bottle floating through space, and called "Persuasion", and it's in my collection.

***Tumble isn't one of those stories, and part of it happens in an alternate-world Gunnedah, which is kind of cool, and I don't know how it got there.