Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas & All That.

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Christmas and New Year. This has been a particularly busy, weirdly stressful one for me.

Time to disconnect for a week or so and reflect on the good and the bad things that have happened this year, oh, and to read the new Iain M. Banks - oh, but I do love uncorrected proofs.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Oh, and one of the best answers ever to a question of clarification

So, I am an utter Okkervil fanboy, but in their series of Q&As arround the new release someone asked singer/songwriter Will Scheff to explain some of his songs/thematic connections/creative processes and so on. I just thought this bit was wonderful:

At the same time, I feel like if this stuff isn’t a little mysterious, even to me, than some kind of wholeness is broken. And if it’s not mysterious to listeners than the whole album can be thought of as just a bright fluorescent-lit room with nothing in the corners, no secret doors, nothing hidden, nothing special.

Oh, and you can read the rest of the Q&A here.



All right, enough Okkervil River stuff already, I promise.

The Best Christmas Present Ever - if you like Okkervil River that is

Okkervil River have released an album of covers as their Christmas Present to their fans. Having only just this minute downloaded it (well, a few minutes ago) I can say that if you're at all into Okkervil River go here and download it and realise that Christmas has come early. And if you've never really gotten into Okkervil River here's your chance to get a feel for the band, and then you can all fall in love with them, and go and see them when they play the Laneway Festival, and we can all hold hands and dance (or not).

Friday, December 14, 2007

Favourite Things and What Have You, Spoken with all the Authority of Someone who has no Authority – like a mouse, but not one of those cool mice.

I'm feeling all work avoidy today. And just a little nostalgic for the year that was.

We bought a new dog this year, and Ziggy is such a lovely little bloke. The highlight as far as I'm concerned was teaching him the joy of walking, also a lowlight as he wakes me up around five raring to go, and Ernie's cottoned on to the whole thing now – though I make them wait, yup no earlier than six, not one second, yes, I rule that household.


Looking back it's been a great year of reading and music listening, and not such a great year of cinema going, in fact about the only movies that I saw this year that I really enjoyed were Stardust and A Death at a Funeral. I can honestly say 2007 was the year of the crap blockbuster – and I'm a sucker for Blockbusters, my taste is so bad, when it comes to movies, that I sometimes shock myself, but even I couldn't sit through all of that last Pirates of the Caribbean movie, barely made it through Harry Potter and the Something, Something, and thought the Simpsons Movie was a bit D'oh. Oh, I did enjoy the new James Bond. (But see how I'm not even bothering to check the name).

Now Books. So many wonderful books.

You all know how much I loved Dark Space, but let me say it again. Loved it.

Dug Sean William's Saturn Returns, looking forward very much to the sequel.

Doubly dug Jason Nahrung and Mil Clayton's fine horror/thriller The Darkness Within, and fully expect it to win the Aurealis Award for that category, though there isn't a shortlist I just have a feeling, is all.

I thought Princess of Roumania by Paul Park was just brilliant. Neal Asher wowed me with Polity Agent and Hilldiggers, I still think no-one delivers more bang for your buck, and there's some interesting political satire sneaking in there too. Peter Watt's Blindsight blew me away.

Then there was Tolkien's Children of Hurin, so, it was cribbed from a bunch of sources, but I still contend that it's a fine and heartbreaking piece of work. Talking of fine Jay Lake's Trial of Flowers was wonderful, Mainspring didn't quite fulfil its promise for me, but it was still an entertaining and energetic read and I'll still be buying Escarpment because Jay is one of the most interesting new writers out there.

The new Don Dellilo was not quite a return to the form of Underworld, but it was still filled with multitudes. Cormac McCarthy's the Road, was very good, and better for it's brevity, though my favourite of the Old White Authors What Had New Books was Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach, which is beautifully and understatedly written and deliciously gloomy.

Ben Peek's Black Sheep sits staring at me in the study, I expect this to be the last book I read of the year, kinda wanted to hold back something special. Gee, isn't this one big love in?

Finally, Patrick Rothuss' The Name of the Wind enchanted me, and I was dubious. If you're after a great fix of fat fantasy this could be the one for you. I am extremely interested in seeing where he takes this story, and I am, I must admit a sucker for framing devices, and he uses it so very, very well.

Then there were the anthologies. Hands down the Strahan and Dozois The New Space Opera was my favourite, in fact, it may well be my favourite anthology since those Galaxy ones put out in the Eighties. I also thought Russell B. Farr's Fantastic Wonder Stories was a fine piece of work with excellent stories by Rowena Cory Daniells, Geoffrey Maloney(who never disappoints, and is certainly one of Australia's finest short story writers), Cat Sparks and Deborah Biancotti.

Music.
Well, I was spoilt.

There was a new Okkervil River album, The Stage Names, which while not as epic as Black Sheep Boy (and it's appendix, see it had an appendix that's how epic it was) was simply luminous. I can listen to this album over and over again, and have. Highlights being "Unless it Kicks" as energetic a rock song as they have ever produced and "Savannah Smiles" a truly, aching piece of story telling, as wonderful and melancholy as anything on Down the River of Golden Dreams.

Then there were new Spoon and Radiohead albums, and neither disappointed. I also discovered* Midlake, the Decemberists, and C.W. Stoneking, and my life has been better for it. Oh, and then there was the new Bright Eyes album, and the new And You Shall Know us by the Trail of Dead album. And that new Killers B-side album's great. And Tom Waits, yeah, I finally got into Tom Waits, I don't know why it took so long, but there you go. (oh, and then there was Belle & Sebastian, finally got into these guys, and Isobel Campbell Mark Lanegan's album Ballad of the Broken Seas, and probably a half dozen other albums and bands I've forgotten, including my current guilty pleasure A.F.I.)

Yes, it was a wonderful year for music.

And to short stories.

Here are my two favourites, the ones that have stuck with me, and invite deeper scrutiny, with the proviso that I haven't read all that many shorts this year, maybe a couple of hundred, and that I really only read hedonistically, so if I `ain't getting the pleasure I put it away. Anyway… for the little that it's worth… hands down favourite of the year was Jeff Vandermeer's The Third Bear, the next was Gene Wolfe's Memorare. Two marvellous fictions and Jeff's you can read here. I urge you to do so, even if it's just to disagree with me.



*and planted a flag in.

Shiny is Here, being all Shiny

So Shiny is here, containing:

The Goats Are Going Places by Tina Connolly
Cracks by Trent Jamieson
Blurred Horizons by Bren MacDibble

As well as a review section written by Tansy Rayner Roberts

I'm quite pleased with Cracks. So here's what I am going to do, if you buy a copy of Shiny and email me* at teacupthrenody at hotmail.com I will send you another story. You can have your pick of Persuasion (No, not the Jane Austen one, the Trent one...it's not as good) which has scored me quite a few honorable mentions (basically stories that year's best editors liked, but not enough to publish again. Gee, I'm selling that one), Slow & Ache (which won an Aurealis award, read it and wonder why) or Clockwork (which was an honorable mention for an AA).

Hell, if there's a story you want to read that I've published, but you couldn't get your hands on, let me know and I'll email it to you.

Now, I'm just going to sit back and let the emails flood in.

Where's my pipe? :-)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Rain & Headaches

It's day two of a particularly bad sinus headache, so I'm giving my eyes a break. Brisbane's been getting a bit of rain lately, not so much in the catchments which would be useful, but in the city itself.

Everything is green and gorgeous, and something that's flowering is getting right up my nose. The park nearby, where I take my dogs for a walk, has been producing some truly amazing fungi so it's not all bad.

Also, sold a story to Pseudopod today. It's one that's been very kind to me. Tumble. So far this story has been in Ideomancer, and reprinted in Australian Dark Fantasy and Horror 2006. I'm looking forward to hearing what the wonderful folk there make of it. Also in the middle of a story, set in the same world as Tumble, called Midnight, Two Men Cross Victoria Bridge. I'm digging it so far, it's dark and a little messy, so as long as it doesn't fall to bits in my hands I hope to find a home for it next year.

Talking of next year, 2008 is looking to be great for me. I already have something like five stories due out, not to mention my first kids' book. And there's more where that came from, baby.

Marianne's Straddie Stories

I'm going to start this straight out by saying I've known Marianne De Pierres for around ten years, and that she's one of my dearest friends: just so you know where my biases lie. But I've been thinking that it would be wonderful if one of the small presses published Marianne's "Straddie" stories. There's been three so far, Glimmer by Dark, Moonflowers at the Ritz, and The Flag Game. You can check out The Flag Game here.

Marianne has written some wonderful novels, and I'm totally digging the new Sentients of Orion series, but these shorts are the bomb. If I was a small press I'd be thinking, hmm, established audience, good fan base, maybe I should publish those "Straddie" Stories. They exhibit everything that is beautiful, warm and humane, about Marianne's writing, not to mention her precise and poetic sense of place. Marianne is not only brilliant at pacing a story she knows how to bring her settings alive, and set them alight in your mind.

It's in the novels, of course, those grounded living worlds, but the Straddie stories show something again. They bring out a different tone in what is one of Australia's most unique sf voices, and to see those stories together in one book would be a joy. What's more, a collection would probably encourage her to write more of them.

Just a thought, and maybe someone is already considering it, but if they're not, well, they should.

Monday, December 10, 2007

New Story on the Horizon, Captain.

Just emailed back the edits on my story Cracks. You should be able to read it soon at Shiny. I really, really love this story. I loved Small Change, but this story is a little more me, it's a teensy bit bleak, though. I do write stories that aren't about death, just not that many of them.

Oh, and for a bit of fun, check out the fantastical(true) bio I wrote of Tansy Rayner Roberts here, not at all bleak. And don't forget to donate some money to ASIF while you're, there, it's a really, really worthwhile review site.

Talking about reviews*. Rich Horton said some lovely things about Zahir 14 in the latest ed of Locus magazine, and about my story Harden Reflects on the Dark Arts and His Wife in particular. My favourite bit was: His love for her is convincingly portrayed -- and his reaction to her death is believable and utterly sad.

Which is what I was aiming for.


*what a neat segue way

Congratulations AA Shortlisters

Congratulations to all the Aurealis Shortlisted authors. Looking through them it's so good to see so many people that I count as friends there, and excellent to see that what has been such a good year of sales for Cat Sparks is reflected in the shortlists. And very nice to see Ben Peek there, who has put out some of the strongest shorts I've read this year. You can check out his nominated short Black Betty here, or his new tale Possession here.

There's a an excellent ROR presence, too, with Marianne De Pierre's wonderful Space Opera Dark Space up for Best Science Fiction Novel, and Richard Harland's Special Perceptions up for best Horror.

And word to my mate, Chris McMahon, and his SF story The Eyes of Erebus, fingers-crossed for you, buddy.

Friday, November 30, 2007

First Blurb

This is kind of exciting. And you can pre-order it, hint, hint.

I've just turned a corner with my new kid's book, so this was a lovely thing to come across today.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Heroes

My current writing gig is going to involve lots of visits to the theatre over the next year, all in the name of verisimilitude. Which is very cool, because I haven't seen a lot of stage plays, and I'd forgotten how much I like them. There's something dangerous about the stage that film and television can't reproduce, it lives and breathes and when it's working it's wondrous, and a bit scary.

Heroes was great, if you're in Brisbane and get the chance to see it, I can heartily recommend it. Barry Otto, Max Gillies, and Robert Coleby put in wonderful performances, and the script is a delight. It's a beautiful, bittersweet comedy.

Had a couple of story sales of late. 2008 looks like it will be a very good year for the World of Trent in Print*.



*Yes, there is an actual world called that, it's not very interesting, except when it is, though when I go there all I ever see are the flaws in the scenery, and the zippers in the suits, and the sense that the world's progenitor doesn't have a very good eye for detail.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Some Post Election Sketches While Watching the Insiders

Ernie listens to Alexander Downer.



Ziggy considers social change.


Cosmo finds Andrew Bolt's rumminations on the future of the Liberal Party fascinating

Diana muses on a female Deputy Prime Minister.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Short Stories

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but the longer I write short stories the less I understand how they work, or why one thing will work sometimes and not others, and why some things work for some people and don't for others, or why the only way to talk about short stories is in generalities (but as the form is so varied, that kind of makes sense, so I guess I do).

Here's an interesting link, worth checking out if you haven't already. I think Richard Ford is a marvelous short story writer, and this article rings true, but even if it doesn't it's quite an interesting piece.

Ziggy Asleep on the Chair in the Study


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Okkervil River

March 1st Laneway Festival - Okkervil River. Tickets bought. Trent very happy.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

One Perfect Day

Saturday is my sacred day. Coffee in the morning, pottering about in the afternoon.

Today was just about perfect. I had some excellent coffee at my local, bought Diana a copy of Summer Heights High (one of the best, darkest, funniest Australian comedies in years), went for a walk that was more running than walking, then took the dogs to the park. In between which I mowed the lawn, did the laundry, spent a bit of time plotting "The Players", and lost a game of Scrabulous.

Can't get much better than that.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Transformers

All them there writers striking in the US.

Don't you ever come back now.

You all hold out.

Don't you ever come back.

Voice over. Explosion. Something, something. Get me the President(G.M.T.P.). Morse Code. Something. Something. Toy franchise. Why, I just saved the world, because I was brave. Voice over.

Don't you ever come back now, you hear?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Humidity

It's humid today. Yesterday was worse, but today it's gotten under my skin. I had an errand to run that involved walking to the next suburb over. By the time I got back I was a ball of sweat, the air containing more moisture than my socks.

It keeps threatening to rain, but I'll believe it when I see it. Until then, Brisbane is stuck in that pre-storm humidity, an electric miasma. The dogs unsettled, and I'm grumbling about the humidity, which may be why the dogs are so unsettled.

Come on. Rain. I dare you.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

On the Birds

It's been a crazy couple of weeks, unsettled on a lot of fronts, which has meant even more irregular blogging, so I was determined to just relax and not do much of anything today, and I succeeded admirably. The only thing I wanted to do was think about a story I've been meaning to write on birds, part of the research involved reading Daphne du Maurier's "the Birds", because I'm in the mood to play a few riffs off other stories, and I just wanted to get a feel for the tone of the story, and to see if it matched the thing that's bouncing around in my head.

To my shame I had never read "the birds" before. Sure, I've seen the movie three or four times, but the short story is a different creature altogether, and a wonderful one. It's about as perfect a horror short as you could want, beautiful rhythmical writing*, wonderful characterisation, and a quiet, precise sense of place, not to mention rising menace.

It's hot and humid in Brisbane today, sultry as all hell, but while I sat reading that wonderful story all I could feel was the cold.

If you haven't read it, you should.




*truly muscular prose in an unadorned, but not bland, sense here's the opening paragraph:

On December the third the wind changed overnight and it was winter. Until then the autumn had been mellow, soft. The leaves had lingered on the trees, golden red, and the hedgerows were still green. The earth was rich where the plough had turned it.

It's that first sentence that's a kicker for me immediately setting the tone. Fantastic.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Grant. Yes, Grant.

The sky's getting all thunderous, the earth is shaking and I have been given a grant.


I haven't been able to blog anything until today, but Ozco has given me a grant. So I'll be able to spend next year writing a fantasy children's series called "The Players". I've wanted to do this for some time, but this series involves a lot of research (mainly into acting and stagecraft) and I really didn't want, nor could afford, to do it justice unless I had a grant. So I've spent the last six months not even thinking about the G (or the P) word, because I really didn't expect to get it.

But I did, and I'm still wrapping my head around the whole thing.

Thanks to the extremely tolerant Ben Peek for letting me know, and sending me a photo of the grants list via phone when I didn't quite believe him, because I didn't, not that I don't trust Ben, but I just couldn't imagine that I would get it. And even when he'd sent me the photo, I really thought it must be some other Trent Jamieson, until I got the paperwork on Tuesday.

Thanks to Marianne De Pierres and Margo Lanagan, who helped me beat my submission into shape. And thanks to the guys at Shiny for taking my story Cracks, which I used as part of my writing sample. And thanks to the ABC for publishing the Shimmaron books because I'm sure that helped. And thanks to all my Ror family because I think every writer needs something like ROR.*

And thanks to Diana who's encouraged me all the way, despite some pretty awful stuff that went on this year.


Now, I better write something damn good in 2008. And you'll be hearing all about it here.



*Unless they don't.

Walking Talking

I've a sample chapter up over at Marriane De Pierres' Message Board.

It's called Walking Talking. If you want to see one of things I've been working on this year, check it out, warning though, it's pretty rough, still needs a good kick around, and an edit, so feel free to laugh at my punctuation.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!

Dad holds someone that looks suspiciously like Marlon Brando



Sunday, October 21, 2007

1977

Let's see, 1977.


Star Wars was released, and it was just called Star Wars.


Annie Hall was released, and subsequently renamed Annie Hall: A New Hope. The ending was later replaced with a digitised, more up beat denouement; Diane Keaton was removed, and Scarlett Johansson substituted.


Stephen King published The Shining.


Def Leppard formed. (no... seriously)


The Clash release The Clash


Oh, and this person was born:



Happy Birthday, sis! I can't believe another sibling's hit the big three O.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

1001 Nights Cast and Sundry Thoughts

I was very fortunate indeed to have a story become an infinitesimal part of Barbara Campbell's excellent 1001 Night's Cast. The performance has come and gone, but you can check out the text here. Any one considering submitting something definitely should have a crack, it was fun, and a perfectly liberating way to end the week.

And what a week it was.


Some things fell apart and some things came back together again. I finished the first draft of my Brisbane novel, then sold a flash piece to Dog Versus Sandwich. Then I thrashed around trying to work out what it is I want to write while the first draft of the novel ferments in my head because it needs the time, because while this has been the least painful first draft of my life, it's still very far from there. I'm always like this after I've finished something bigish.


Next week should be a more focussed week.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Creative Spaces

Check out Martin Living's blog for photo's of various writers and artist's creative spaces. My room has just gone up, if you want a stickybeak, but there's been some excellent writers' rooms already. Have to say that it's really only been very recently that the bulk of my writing has been in that room, most of my writing over the last eight or nine years has been on the bus or the train or waiting for the bus or the train.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Zahir is right here

Get yourself a copy of Zahir 14 here.

It sure looks pretty, and it contains my story "Hardeen Reflects on the Dark Arts and His Wife".

You know you want it.

First Shiny Review

Here's the first review of Shiny. Quite an interesting, and well considered one at that.

Talking about my story - and writers like to talk about their stories, in the main - I was very pleased that the reviewer picked up that I was trying to get the reader out of the narrative - even if they were a little irked by it.

There's a scene in the story - which is only quite a short tale, and part of me wonders whether it quite bears the weight of what I was trying to achieve - where my character, Julia, talks about the sort of story she would have prefered to inhabit. This was the original story I was writing, until the story told me it wasn't, which was something of a pain at the time, because I think the original story would have been easier to write.

Anyway, get yourself a copy of Shiny, and see what you think. Eugie and Sue's stories are excellent, and both worth the price of the e-zine, in my opinion.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Oh, but it's raining. Fucking pissing down, and there's lightning, and the city is remembering what it is to be wet and slick, and moving, not just dry and still, or breathing with the hot dry breaths of a dead thing.

And the rain is dancing, sliding across the sky.

And it's a Brisbane storm. And the city is at once gorgeous, and the city is at once pathetic, because it's a Brisbane storm, but barely, and soon it will be gone.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Balloon

Sometimes the realisation that control is something of an illusion is extremely liberating. In what has not been such a wonderful week, it's good to let that desire for control go, and watch it float out of the room like a helium balloon.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Mainspring Madness

Currently reading Jay Lake's Mainspring, and it is an excellent way to spend the weekend. Check it out here.

Loved Trial of Flowers and Mainspring is a different kettle of fish, but a no less enjoyable one.

Next cab off the rank Ben Peek's Black Sheep. Spoilt for good reading at the moment.

Shiny is Here

Get yourself a copy of the excellent Shiny here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Small Change

That's the name of the YA short story I have in the upcoming and inaugural edition of Shiny.

You can check out an extract here and extracts of the other stories, all of which I am sure are going to be excellent, here . I am extremely fond of Small Change. So do yourself a world of good and subscribe, now, now, now, now, now!

As an aside, I found the whole editorial process to be a delight.

And once you do that go here, and buy the next edition of Zahir (14)*, where you'll be able to experience my story Hardeen Reflects on the Dark Arts and his Wife. It's part of a quiet, reflective (and slightly bleak) sequence of stories that are ostensibly about wizards in Brisbane.




*available any day now and, while you're at it, why not subscribe to the magazine?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The longer I write

short fiction the less I know about the form.


I've been writing short stories since I was five, which makes it coming on to thirty years in December. I think the first story I ever wrote that was any good was my first sale, a story called Threnody to Eidolon way back in 1994. Since then I feel that I've managed to get a handle on basic story structure, which is only useful some of the time, but that is all.


I know that some stories take me a day to write, and that others take a decade, and that sometimes the stories that come out in a burst are better than the cellared-fictions, and sometimes they're worse.


I know that I can't recognise if a story I've written is good or bad, until it's in print, and that I'm fond of all my stories - even the shockers - but I don't expect other people to be fond of them, and am usually surprised if they are.


I rarely know I've finished a story, until I've written past the ending.


I rarely start at the beginning, the beginning is usually somewhere in the middle.


Quite often I miss the two previous understandings (until the story is in print).


I'm never ruthless enough. Even when I write short, it is usually too long.


I'm far too fond of whimsy*. Neither of which have any relevance when it comes to understanding the form, but a little when it comes to understanding me. The same can be said for my less than regular syntax. Must watch those run on sentences.


Sometimes all I know about short stories is that they're short.


I certainly don't trust people who tell me they know how to write short stories.


One of the happiest moments of my writing life was when someone told me that I story I wrote made them cry(not once, but twice, on separate readings) and I had never met them before.


I've really only just started writing novels, so novels, yeah, I know all about writing novels.


Friday, September 21, 2007

I hate to say it...

but I didn't think that Spiderman 3 was that bad.

Actually

liked it

a

lot

sure

it's

still a

kid's movie.

but

it worked

as an end to the story arc.

It finished

in the right spot.

Perhaps

the glasses of champagne

made it seem better

than it

was

Perhaps not.

It did rely on

coincidence though

dickens

would

have

been

so

proud.


(I even loved the dance sequence)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Eds and BWFS

Just finished up some edits on a short story that I am extremely fond of for a magazine that I'm very excited about. When I say finished I mean, sort of, there may well be a few more changes to make. The editors of said magazine have impressed (and delighted) me mightily with their rigor and enthusiasm.*

The story should be available very soon, and I'll ramble on about it at length then.


BWF

Well, another Brisbane Writers Festival is done and dusted. Didn't get to that many panels, and there were a couple that I was very disappointed to miss, but it was a great few days.

I watched my wife bravely talk to her favourite writer, Armistead Maupin, Diana who is normally too cool for school went all fangirl on him, and Armistead was utterly charming.

Also caught up with Margo, Marianne and Rowena, I have made plenty of friends through my writing, but these guys are family.**

On saturday night, Marianne chaired an interview with the lovely Kevin J Anderson, and a bunch of us sat around afterwards drinking beer, and wine, and watching the beautiful Brisbane river change with the evening. Sure I was nursing a hangover the next day, but it was a fine night, particularly the ride home on the City Cat, there was some serious lighting crackling down over the western edge of Brisbane, no rain though.***


*see that's what this blog needs.
**talking of family...HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KARA! You're starting to make me feel old, sis.
***what an abrupt end to this entry. It's late.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sunshine

Just watched Sunshine, and well, have to say, what the hell was going on with the end of that movie*? I can totally understand the criticisms of the movie suggesting it was little more than an SF movie that referenced other SF movies**. About the best thing I can say is that there have been few SF movies as pretty as Sunshine, the fx were gorgeous.

And the alternate ending, pray tell, how was it fundamentally different to the ending of the cinematic release?

Possible tagline: In the future, the sun will dim, and everyone will become an emotionless arsehole that you don't care about.

*Sure I'd had a couple of glasses of merlot, but hey, that usually doesn't impinge on my comprehension of movies.

** Silent Running, Alien, Solaris, Event Horizon(see Alien and Solaris).

Rewrite Finished

I've been head down arse up these last two weeks finishing a rewrite of a novel, trying to get to the core of the work, and quick unpick the errant illogical strands that had crept in. But now I am free of it, and the novel is a stronger beast, and I've learnt more about what makes novels tick.


Can't wait to work on some shorts and get back to the first draft of the Brisbane book I've been powering through, and, hopefully, what I've learnt working on this rewrite will feed into that. Meanwhile, I've been sketching my pets - they're about the only thing I like to draw, and, because I have no shame, I give you Ernie and Ziggy, both sleeping because it's the only time they're still enough to sketch*.

*it's sad, I know, but, I don't have kids.

Monday, September 03, 2007

was that a tumbleweed?

My, but it has been quiet here. Still, one less voice cluttering up the blogosphere can't be too bad.

Lots of writing going on, and writing related stuff.
Sent my contract off to Jack Dann for a story of mine that's appearing in his antho Dreaming Again. It's called The New Deal and I'm pretty pleased with it. Working with Jack was an absolute joy and an honour, and just, well, cool.

Also, sold a story to the extremely nice Sheryl Tempchin at Zahir it's called Hardeen Reflects on the Dark Arts and His Wife, it's always lovely to find a home for a story that's dear to your heart and Hardeen was one of those. It should be out in the October edition of Zahir. There's Brisbane, there's beer, and there are ruminations upon love and the dark arts, what more can you want?

And for those who get the Writing Qld Magazine I have an article in there on writing (well, duh) and anxiety, two things I have a reasonable acquaintance with. Thanks to Katherine Lyall-Watson editor of WQ who accepted the article in under ten minutes, making it my fastest acceptance for a piece of writing ever.

Currently reading Sean William's Saturn Returns, nearly finished, and it's been an total delight: certainly a fine addition to the Space Opera genre, and one as entertaining as John Clute's Appleseed, and perhaps not quite as vexing (though I adore Appleseed*).

Talking of Space Operaish delights, if you've not read any Neal Asher Hilldiggers is a fine place to start. There's some quite pointed and timely political commentary* in the book as well, this is as close as Neal's work has come to satire. It may well rate as my favourite of his Polity books. Just like Sean, I really felt he was stretching himself with this book, and loving it. Both novels take you on quite a ride.

Expecting a copy of the New Space Opera in my hands tomorrow, then it might be time to take a break from all the spaceships. Hopefully, Mr Peek's Black Sheep, and Mr Lake's Mainspring will have arrived from O/S by then, and I do have a copy of the new(ish) Chabon to read.

Something that is most definitely not Space Opera is our dog Ziggy, behold him below, in all his cute-sketched-sleepy-puppy-glory.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Jon Courtney Grimwood on Parrish’s Patch

Marianne de Pierre periodically hosts authors on her message board, and, starting from tomorrow night, and for the next few nights you can ask the excellent SF author Jon Courtney Grimwood all manner of writerly and readerly questions.

I must admit that I hadn't actually read any JCG until this last week. Now all I can say is, how cool is Ashraf Bey?*


*Well, he really is a very charming character, of course I can say more than that, how else did I order my lunch today?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

snapshot snapped or something

My interview's up here and here, which is cool. What's far cooler are the other interviews, and a chance to see what everyone else is up to. And I still think my biggest success in the last decade or so was marrying Diana.

Congrats are also in order, Margo's collection Red Spikes is up for a World Fantasy Award, fingers crossed, Margo.

Oh, and I've just added Sean Williams Saturn Returns to my reading pile, and I don't know what Cat Sparks is writing, but I can't wait till she finishes, finds a publisher and I can get my hands on a copy.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Chris Willrich's "A Wizard of the Old School"

About a year ago I mentioned having read a fine story by Chris Willrich called "Penultima Thule", well I bought the August Fantasy & Science Fiction today, and have just finished a new Willrich tale "A Wizard of the Old School" a sequel of sorts to the last story and a very welcome one indeed. If you are at all a fan of Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser tales you'll get a kick out of Willrich's Gaunt and Bone stories, they're funny and melancholy, perhaps closer in tone to one of my favourite fantasy shorts Peter S. Beagle's "Lal and Soukyan"*.

Definitely worth hunting down for a taste of old school sword and sorcery fuelled by new school wit or something like that anyway.


*You can find that particular novella in P.S.Beagle's excellent collection "Giant Bones".**

**My favourite Leiber short is "Adept's Gambit" the original and still the best, ah but I love those Nehwon rogues.

Australian 2007 Snapshot

Carrying on Ben Peek's snapshot legacy, you can check out the current state of the Australian SF scene here.

http://random-alex.livejournal.com/
http://girliejones.livejournal.com/
http://kaaronwarren.livejournal.com/
http://cassiphone.livejournal.com/
http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com
http://benpayne.livejournal.com

And they'll all be archived here over the next week, including my somewhat less than insightful answers to Mr Payne's questions.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Astronaut Coughs: Damages Shuttle Heat Shield

I'm glad they're retiring these soon. Still I remember building a model "Enterprise" when I was a wee nip, and watching the first launch of Columbia on telly. Back then the Space Shuttles were the spaceship of the future, who'd have thought we'd be still using them now.

Stuff on the Horizon, and Two Pieces of Rope

Things have been a bit quiet in Trentsville, Qld. Not been a Trent story out in a while, and last year only saw two stories Marco's Tooth and Persuasion, the latter read by about three people. But things should change soon, I've made a few sales this year - none of which have been formally anounced so I'm going to not mention them yet, because I'm terribly superstitious - all of which I am extremely proud of.

Then there's The City and the Stony Stars my first kids' novel, and part of the Lost Shimmaron series, coming out next year. Don't forget to buy a copy in May 2008, it has not just one giant iron crow, but two, people, count them, two*. I also have an article on writing and anxiety out next month in the Writing Qld, which is something dear to my heart.

And I'm writing like a demon (which is kind of messy, things get stuck under my claws, but productive) I'm a third of the way through a pretty neat new novel - set in Brisbane and let's just say in that book, Brisbane isn't Australia's most liveable (heh, heh) city - have a rough first draft of an odd and somewhat bloody fantasy novel set in a wooden continent floating on Jupiter's red spot, which when I have another couple of months distance from it I think I can shape into something quite good, and have so many shorts nearing completion that I'm starting to lose track, not to mention the ten or so shorts I've got doing the rounds as we speak.

And then, there's the stories that I've been working on based on this. I love Woods 111, it's a thirty piece sculpture and I often go to Goma just to look at it. If you can imagine one of them floating in space, well a sort of void anyway, smudged in clouds of black predatory cranes and circled by a miniature sun, that swings so close to one side that it is uninhabitable, and so swiftly down the other face that the day is about four hours long, and the night seven**, then you have the setting for my stories about the City Vertical. Oh and at the top of the column are vast mile high trees, crawling with termites the size of beagles, and that have a tendency to topple and scrape away at the face of the city from time to time. It's pretty much a closed circuit environment, dependent on the guano from the cranes, and the miniature racing sun. This is the place I go to when I'm trying to avoid anything else, and I love it there.

Here's a bit from a new story called Rope, about a penitent who works one of the many rope-lifts that keep the industry of the city going. It's pure raw, unedited wank at the moment, but I'm having fun, and to share the wank, which after all is set on a very phallic column, I give you two pieces of rope:

It is a job of the moment. Everything is of the moment. I have seen a pigeon in flight, caught each sweep of its wings - as I worked the rope - watched it snatch a termite the size of my fist, out of the air, then, in turn, fall prey to the jabbing madness of the cranes that mark the sky like a haze or a shifting patch of black blood in otherwise shiftless water.

The woman came to me two days after the cranes devoured the pigeon, and one day after I had coiled my frayed rope aside and waited for its replacement.

"Peter," she said.

I did not recognise the name. Names are the last to go but even they are worn away, and when my time was done I would take a new name, and all the possibilities of the City Vertical, previously denied to me, would be open and unfurl like the frangipanis on the Avenue Decline. But you cannot think that way, you cannot hold the future in any regard, just the rope, or you will tumble to the haruspices so patient below -- waiting to read a different prospect in your spilled guts -- or hang yourself upon the rope itself.

"Peter, please."

I looked at her. "I do not know," I said. The words came, though it was dreadful hard to speak them, my voice a whisper: for all my strength was in my arms and my legs now. "I do not know that name."

**

I woke once to the gaze of a crane, flown in from the cloud of its brethren.

Its beak was mere inches from my left eye. Dark gimlet eyes regarded me with something close to irony. Cranes are clever they are certainly possessed of some Other intelligence absorbed, perhaps, in their long migration from wherever it is they breed and nest, because they are neither indigenous to Fall nor the City Vertical.

They descend out of the rubicund sky, their wings perfectly black. And they descend with a hungry cunning. The native birds, the sparrows and the currawongs are swift to get out of their way, to hide in the trees of the few unshattered boulevards, and peer out as hunted things peer, fearful.

I could feel its breath, and on its beak edge remained the hint of recent butchery, and I knew it could blind me in one darting movement. But it did not, merely dipped its head, as though to say it understood, that some revelation was drawing near, then it moved with steady, fearless grace around and away, over the lip of my station, its black wings extended. It dropped and glided from me, and I watched with the eyes that it had spared and felt relief. It is not uncommon to be blinded by the cranes. Some see it as a blessing. I am not so foolish.





*But only one frozen world inhabited by monsters and mad Godlings.
**And who can't imagine that.

The Weekend that ROR Ruled the Papers

Saturday morning is my favourite morning of the week. I go down to my local cafe, and read the Saturday papers, and drink coffee until I'm jittery. Today was a good day for the family ROR.

Marianne got a fine review in the SMH's Spectrum (no link unfortunately)

Margo got a mention in the Australian here

And we all got a Mention here. (Along with Quentaris and the extremely cool New Ceres, which if you haven't got a subscription to follow this link.)

Yup we are taking over the world. Fear us.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Greg Egan's Back, Baby.

Greg Egan's writing again. There's a new novel coming out next year. There's been some shorts most notably Glory, which is in Strahan and Dozois' "New Space Opera", and, well, you can check all out here.

I love Greg Egan's fiction. Oceanic was a bloody revelation. So too his excellent collection of shorts "Luminous" and, well, just pick any of his novels. Do it. Do it now.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Writing fiction is like building a bridge across a chasm, of unknow(able)n depth, using nothing but bits of material of dubious quality, some of which have been eaten by termites, never knowing if there is even another side to the chasm, or if the materials you've got are just going to give in half way. And sometimes you don't know if you've made it to the other side or fallen through until it's published and even then you can read it and realise that you didn't and it's out there for all the world to see*. I'd even posit that this is actually most times. But building rickety bridges is a hell of a lot of scary fun.

* well you wish it was, even when you hate it, part of you wishes it was.

no one wants to hear about your 97th tear* or week-o-Shite

Well, what a shit week.

Lots of little things, and vomit. Still queasy, but it's ended with a new *Okkervil River album: which is glorious and everything I wanted, and reminds me why I love this band. And I finished Falling Man**, six o'clock this morning, which ends most inconclusively or conclusively depending on your perspective, and it probably wasn't the best week to read such a book, or it was.

Begone week of shit I say. Begone, back into the abyss from which ye came.


**which at least is the correct title, got one title right this week.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Sick

I have never felt as sick as I did yesterday, had the total, fever, vomit, dizziness thing going. Bad enough in a quiet household. I can't tell you how much it sucks to wake up with a puppy gnawing a hole in your ear. So I'm dizzy, vomiting, with a headache that feels like my sinuses have exploded and taken out most of my brain, and I'm mopping up blood from my chewed up ear. It only got worse from there.

But I did get a great idea for a new Anthozoan story. The Anthozoans were my warlike coral creatures in Porcelain Salli. That idea was about the only thing that got me through the day. That's what writing's all about, I reckon: except for the writing bit of course.

Monday, July 30, 2007

SMOKE

The skies over Brisbane and much of the South-East have been sheathed in smoke on account of backburning and winds blowing the wrong way. It's given me a non-stop headache for the last three days, and provided some amazing sunsets. The world gives with one hand and punches you in the teeth with the other.

Don Delillo is a Very Clever Man

Dark Space

I finished Marianne de Pierre's Dark Space and thoroughly loved it. Loved it for the bickering, smelly, human characters. Loved it for the baroque-esque sex. Loved it for the betrayals, and the spaceships, and the monsters. Marianne is a dear friend and what I loved most about Dark Space was that I loved it.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Currently reading/listening, wanting to read/listen

Currently reading my fellow Rorette Marianne de Pierre's book Dark Space and it is meraviglioso, yes. The fine beginnings of a fine space opera, looking forward to the next instalment.

Waiting to read, once I have the money, Mainspring by Jay Lake. I adored Trial of Flowers, and this new novel looks fantabulous. Now's the time to buy those American imports because the Aussie dollar hasn't been this strong in an age – if ever. Also dying to get into Neal Asher's new one Hilldiggers – Neal's stuff is the bomb, good solid intelligent action Space Opera, Neal is the most consistently entertaining writer since David Gemmell as far as I'm concerned, but with more explosions.

The two books I am dying to read that haven't been sent to their publishers yet are (yet another fellow rorette) Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels, and Alan Campbell's sequel to Scar Night, Penny Devil.

So many books. And this isn't counting the new Don Dellilo and the new Chabon, and the book I'm reading on Scurvy*, that I have sitting next to my bed. Oh, if only I read as fast as Tansy!

On another note, (see the witty sequeway) listening to the new(ish) Bright Eyes album Cassadaga, it's excellent. The only thing I'm more excited by is the prospect of new Okkervil River album next month.


*called Limeys, which is almost as interesting as George Barrington's Voyage to Botany Bay which is extremely cool, loving the non-fiction, I'm sure everyone else knew this but I had no idea that there was a company of Barber-Surgeons, makes sense, what with them both involving cutting and such.

Aurealis Awards, but seriously.

There's been some talk about the Aurealis Awards lately. And that got me thinking, about what my AA means to me.

I love my Aurealis award - note the gollumesque finger smudges - whether or not I deserve it, it sits on my bookcase of glory, and it's just cool.


What does it mean? It's an award booksellers have heard of. Well, if you work in the books in Australia. Publishers send their reps to the ceremonies, and they like to put those little Aurealis Award winner stickers on the books. Once you get out of the specialty stores, where the bulk of people buy their books (excluding those that buy them in supermarkets) I can tell you more people (in the trade) know about the Aurealis awards than any of the international awards. It has value as a brand, which is a horrible word, but it's true. Is that in any way meaningful? I don't know. But if you're clever enough and you have the material to back it up, it could help leverage your work into bookstores beyond the specialty ones. Or maybe not.

Does it say anything about my work?

No, other than than a group of judges read my story, and liked it. Personally I liked all of the SF stories short listed that year much more than "Slow and Ache" but that story was a long time in being written and all I can see are its flaws.

Does it change your life?

Does winning any award change your life? No. Except for Margo Lanagan who has won so many awards that she has super powers, and needed to build a Fortress of Solitude (For all the awards, and and as a base for her super-villian fighting antics: there's rockets and all sorts of shit there, and a mainframe computer with a smart-cracking PERSONALITY). For the rest of us you still sit in your room, putting the words on the page, because that's what writing's about.
It's probably the only time I'm ever going to win a writing award, but I'm cool with that, because I don't write to win awards, and I don't write to have people pat me on the back and say, "good work, Trent" but when you win one it's damn good.

When I won I was utterly surprised, and delighted. Diana and I had been through a hellishly bad year (and there was more to come) and we were both worn out and wounded. Diana was absolutely bursting with pride, and I was just so happy that she was there to share the win with me. It was one of the finest evenings of my life.

I'd like to see more authors get a chance to feel that way. So check out the webpage and start nominating stories*. I'm looking forward to seeing the short-listings already.
*Otherwise I'm going to have to host my own awards ceremony called the Trenties, but then I'm going to have appoint judges, set up a system of nominations, and, the headaches, far too many headaches.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Happy Birthday, Travis!



My brother turned 32 today. My younger brother. Makes me feel old. Happy birthday, bro.



So it began, a new chapter in the age old battle of the franchises -Stormtrooper or Cylon. Depicted here in all its Polaroid glory.

seven strange things about me


I've been tagged by the lovely Miss T - check out the excellent blog that she shares with Miss D - I'm not really a meme person, but hey, what the hell.
1 - I proposed to Diana in the bedroom of a house that was later to become a brothel. I still have the piece of torn wallpaper that was above my head when I proposed.

2 - Throughout the autumn and winters of 1989 to 2002 I wore a green woollen jumper that my grandmother had knitted for dad years before I was born. It was passed down to me and I loved that jumper. Its reign ended when it began to fall apart, and I couldn't bear to see it ruined. The jumper was soft, warm, and very, very green. It was called variously "Nan's jumper" or "the Green Jumper" or "buy a fucking new jumper". I have other green jumpers -- four in fact -- but none like that one. I occasionally unpack that jumper and look at it. I miss you, green jumper.



3 -I once avoided driving between Canberra and Sydney because "my equilibrium was off".




4 - I used to think our toy swing was a time machine. I could sit on that thing for hours swinging backwards through infinity. Yeah, and there were lots of dinosaurs.




Three things a time traveller needs; a red jumper; some sensible pants; and a baby brother to trade for supplies.



5 - I have a deep and abiding terror of grasshoppers. I mean, they can just jump in your face, or fly in your face, or crawl on your face. There's too many grasshopper/face options to my liking.


6 - My first job was in a toy store where I made bikes for Christmas presents. I was bitten by a dog, owned by my employers, called Bear. Never try and pat a dog called Bear.

7 - As a baby I never crawled. I went from dragging myself around on my bum to walking. Ahh, that explains it you say.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth

Just finished watching Pan's Labyrinth, and I must say I adored it. A fantasy movie that eschews whimsy: and is remorseless in its application of the logic of its world. Wonderful and terrifying and sad, and how I like my fantasy, and perhaps the best integration of a fantastical world with the "real" I have seen in a movie.

It's the perfect fairytale, and like all good fairytales it's as brutal as all hell.

If you haven't seen it, get it out now.

Oh, and a little WOOHOO

Since Tansy* has mentioned this in her blog. The ABC have started selling the foreign rights to the Lost Shimmaron. My book "The City and the Stony Stars" is going to be translated into Hebrew. How cool is that.

I really could get used to this other people selling my stuff for me lark.





*That's the same Tansy that has read all the Harry Potter books in the last week, and written intelligent reviews of each, while wrangling a 2.5 year old, and doing more writing than me in the process no doubt. This woman makes me feel tired just thinking about it. She's also in Fantastical Journeys to Brisbane. BTW has anyone else noticed that I keep calling the book fantastic journeys to brisbane, I'm going senile.

Fantastical Journeys to Brisbane.

The excellent reviewy folk at ASIF have reviewed Fantastical Journeys to Brisbane. Read the review, then buy the book.

My name's on the cover but this has mainly been a labour of love for Geoffrey Maloney, and he's done a great job, not only in agonising over the stories, but in the finer details too. Geoff's been the one kicking bookstore doors down and making sure you'll see it at conflux, and in most specialty SF bookstores.

Check it out. The book fits nicely in the hand, it's a weird amalgam of hard cover and paperback, and would be a fantastic addition to anyone's personal library, as a talking piece AS WELL AS a fine anthology of short fiction.

You know you want it. And, if you buy it, just let me know, and I'll come over to your place and do the washing up*.



*Applies only to residents of Brisbane, and only if I'm not feeling lazy, or in a bad mood on the day.


YES I'VE CORRECTED THE TITLE

Material Support

The other day I was buying my paper at the shops. I didn't have the right change so I gave the shopkeeper $2, and told him to keep the change.

On the way out I was stopped by two dour-faced men in sunglasses, who asked me a few questions.

Did I know the man whom I had given the $2 to?

Yes, he's the guy I buy my paper from every day.

Was I aware that I had just given him more than the dollar value of the paper?

Well, yes, but-.

I quickly found myself bundled inside a car, then taken to a prison cell, stripped of my clothes and possessions, and told to don dull orange jumpsuit. Questions were fired at me in rapid succession.

Was I aware that I had just given material support to a suspected terrorist?

Um no.

Is it true that you meet with this man every morning?

Yes, but -

What is your association with this man?

I buy the paper off-

You are buying literary, possibly incendiary material off this man?
They dropped my Sydney Morning Herald on the table in front of me – there was an article mildly critical of the government on the front page.

Sometimes you are given to anger, aren't you Mr J?

No, well, but-


Three days I spent in that cell. My lawyers could tell me nothing, they didn't have all the evidence.

Shouldn't have bought a Fairfax paper.

Finally the charges were laid. Material support to a suspected terrorist. I was shipped to another cell, where I was allowed magazines and a television.

I am alert, but not alarmed. After all, we need to stop terrorists, so in a way this is really good for the nation, it was my own silly fault for repeatedly buying my paper there, I can see how suspicious that looks.

I'll be in court in another three months, I am coping well in detention, I'm even allowed to read the paper again, but I don't want to.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Sad and Sorry Tale of Grover

When Diana and I first started going out, the Lady D, bought me stuffed Grover. I dig Grover, surely he is the creepiest of all the Sesame St gang, and don't let me get started on Super Grover.
Well, as far as stuffed toys go, he lived a pretty good life. Until he became the beloved toy of Ernie, and now Ziggy.
Surely we can all get along. Umm, where are you putting your tongue?
I guess if he was a magical stuffed toy - and he still had arms and legs - he'd have gotten out years ago.

Please, please kill me.


Poor, poor bastard.

Had a good day today, some interesting things happening.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Fantastical Journeys to Brisbane

Brisbane is a ghost story. When I first came to Brisbane all I could hear were the rattling of chains, the heavy breathing of the dead. The first time I came to Brisbane, the river rose up and swallowed my guide. My last sight of her living flesh was a pale hand raised in supplication or terror, the fingertips and frantic, sinking beneath the water. Her ghost followed me for days (silently as though I was a map of the underworld, or a moment, a possible passage out of it) I did not even have enough money for a coffee, let alone an exorcism. I could not get a job, potential employers were put off by her presence. She left me one day, and then I had no-one to blame for my failure.


Once I made a living from hollowing out my bones and carrying people's dreams in the place where my marrow used to be. It was a brief and glorious career. Caught in the glamour of such a job, I never saw it coming to a close. I fell deathly ill. My doctor said there was cure in Brisbane.


Turn left and you will find Brisbane. Only left. That is the secret of Brisbane. Turn right and you may end up in a place that calls itself Brisbane, but it is just a lie. Brisbane, like my heart, is always to the left.


The city rises like a dream. But it isn't. Books have been written about it. They say that it is the journey not the destination that matters. We all know that is bullshit. It is the story that matters.





INSPECTION DAY

Two things I hate are termite inspections, and skin cancer checks. The first because I have a dread of termites, something that eats your house is terrifying*, and they've had a nibble on this place a few times. The termite guy always drives Ernie crazy, so there's barking, and growling. The second because I invariably have to get something cut out – I know, I know, better that then dying from a nasty old melanoma. Had both today, checks, not termites or melanomas.

So was pretty stressed, the dog barked, I worried about a couple of odd looking moles, but both inspections were all clear. No termites, and a new treatment put in, and no cancers. Didn't have to get a single thing cut off, out or frozen away.

What's more I managed to actually get some writing done: might be that I'm really enjoying the thing I'm writing, eh.


* Diana takes a much more sensible approach, shrugs and says "Whatever." For me it's the end of the world, I feel dirty. Termites, the headlice of the homeowning set.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Lismore Coolness

Got back from a few days in Lismore yesterday evening. Most of my family lives down there so I caught up with everybody and had a very relaxing time, even got a few more words of the novel down.

Here's a drawing my 8 year old nephew Oscar did of me.

He also drew this extremely cool ship.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Decemberists Good Coro Drive Bad

Walked down to the river, via a couple of steepish hills to get the heart pumping because it's deliciously cold in Brisbane right now, then thought I'd walk along Coronation Drive following the narrow riverside footpath, not such a good idea, all those buses rushing down at you are rather disconcerting.

Was listening to "Crane Wife" the Decemberist's last album (I think) it's bloody good. Love the Island it's like 12 minutes of Folk Metal, very cool.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Two bridges one of them real.

Walked to the edge of the city this afternoon, just under Merivale Bridge, as the rain started coming in. Trying to wrap my head around narratives longer than a few thousand words, I've been throwing out planks of words across the abyss of story and now I'm in the middle looking back at the rickety thing I've made, noticing that, in places, I've forgotten to use nails. Fighting the urge to go back and tinker, that way lies not finishing.

Listened to a track off the soon to be released Okkervil River album the Stage Names this afternoon. Lovely, because life really is not a movie or maybe. The only thing better than a new Okkervil River album would be seeing them live this year.





And so it came to pass that the Weekend of the Third Age Ended.

Every couple of years we get together with Diana's siblings, Tim & Veronica, and watch the three LOTR movies(extended editions) back to back, which is always fun. I'm inordinately fond of those movies. We watched them on Saturday night, started about seven and finished about six in the morning. They're pretty much all that is good about epic fantasy, the marvellous shifting of perspectives from the intimate to the vast and ageless, and all that is bad, particularly a tendency to faux Shakespearean soliloquy and stating the obvious.

Problem is, after nearly eleven hours of LOTR I start walking around the house getting all monloguey.

"So it has begun, the last great mopping of the kitchen floor, with this the mop that has been reforged (see I broke the mop, and had to get a new handle)."

"Thus passes this packet of chips, son of Smiths, into the bin, and the age of crisps is ended, and I am diminished, and my waist goes into the West, and the East."

The perfect curative was found to be three episodes of Life on Mars.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

BRRRR

It's cold and it's windy and I'm 62,000 words into my novel, and it's all starting to come together, and my sinuses love me again, all it took was Jason and Mil's wonderful Brisbane launch of The Darkness Within.

So nice to catch up with people, and to see the huge queue at the signing table.

Talking of catching up and friends Marianne de Pierres is the guest over at ASIF this fortnight, check it out here

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Not Deadonomicon - which should really be not Necronomicon or Necrotrentonomicon

Been a while offline, well offblog, on account of problems with my dial-up, but that's sorted, and I'm whoosing along, all broadbandish - with a touch of marchingbandish.

Not that I've been wasting my time, 61k into a new novel, and a whole lot of other projects bubbling along in the background. Life is good in the currently windy city of Brisbane, even if my sinuses are playing merry hell with my skull.

Now if there's one thing that I like to do it's boast about all my clever friends, damn they've been up to some impressive stuff.

Firstly Tansy Rayner Robert's book Seacastle is well and truly out and about and launched.

Ditto, Marianne De Pierre's fine Space Opera Dark Space.

Double ditto Jason Nahrung and Mil Clayton's fantabulous horror novel The Darkness Within.





Finally, Ben Peek's novel Black Sheep is available.





All of which shall be discussed at length, with links and everything, the moment my sinuses decide to stop punishing me. As will Fantastic Journeys to Brisbane.



hyperbole schmyperbole

Monday, May 28, 2007

And Lo Brisbane is the City Pyrotechnic

I have never experienced more in the way of fireworks than I have in Brisbane. This city needs but the smallest excuse and suddenly South Bank is aflame and detonating. I'm not just talking New Years Eve, but pretty much every weekend, and quite a few weeknights as well. We've just had twenty minutes of fireworks and I've no idea what it was for - my hair looked ok today so it might be that.

Now, when I was growing up, we only had fireworks on one day of the year, and that was Saturday at the Gunnedah Show. Back then fireworks were special, I loved fireworks, one year I remember waiting twelve whole months for more fireworks, now I'm like, fireworks, well, yawn.

And that leads only to danger, firework-related injuries are on the increase in Brisbane, all that ash has to go somewhere* and its usually in somebody's eye**. The pyrotechnics have to stop.


*Well, a fair bit of it ended up in The Road.
**Except when it ended up in the road, where it's like:

"The kid squinted. Fireworks. Ash in his eye.

Don't kill the pyrotechnist, dad.

But.

Don't kill the pyrotechnist.

He held his son close. They walked, bent against the light, and the ash. Fireworks. More ash. Darkness, but the ash remained.

Should have killed the pyrotechnist.

I'm glad you didn't, dad.

Jeez, can't I just kill someone?

More ash."

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Rainish

Hey, it's raining: not drought breaking rain, nor the sort of rain that comes down so hard you can't hear yourself think, but good steady soaking rain. I've missed that sound.

Spent the night finishing up a story*, and now it's done, I can go to bed, and it's raining.

*Though, of course, tomorrow it will reveal itself to me in all its implausible, unfinished truth, because stories are really never finished, they're precious little buggers, all "I'm sooo much better than this."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Word to the Editors

In this nation* of shrinking spec fic short story markets (well quality ones, at any rate) I just wanted to put out a big thumbs up to the good ones, and to thank them. Small Press editing is a heartbreaking job: it's long hours, for little return. You do it because you love it, but you also do it because, in your heart of hearts, you hope that people will read these stories, and maybe dig them as much as you do**.

I know how that is, I edited ten issues of Redsine, and Kirsten Bishop's wonderful, wonderful book "The Etched City". I did it because I really enjoyed finding stories that entertained me, and I was lucky because those stories found something of a readership, not because I was much of an editor (I'm really rather dreadful) but because I reckon I've got a reasonably interesting taste in fiction, and my Co-editor Garry Nurrish had some excellent contacts and a wonderful sense of design, and in Kirsten's case because she is a damn fine writer who succeeded, in spite, not because of me. Anyway by the time I'd finished editing Redsine as a result of a series of rather heartbreaking of events, I was so over giving up my weekends, and weeknights, I swore I was never going edit anything again, and I pretty much haven't(except for one project which I'll talk about in the future).

Now, as a writer I've been blessed with good editors, I don't think a single story of mine has ever been weakened by an editorial suggestion, in fact, any problems with stories certainly stem from my own failings, of which there are many, and of which there would be many more if good editors hadn't pointed them out.

Anyways, I just wanted to name a few names in the small press that I've had dealings with(as a reader or writer or both), and to say that you should check them out, if you want to read good fiction, edited by good, no make that excellent editors who do this because they care, and care enough not only to read through the slush to find the diamonds, but to put their time and money into these endeavours.

Cat Sparks
Alisa Krasnostein
Ben Payne
Russell B Farr
The ASIM COLLECTIVE

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Been writing hard of late, and when I start writing like that I tend to let the blog slip, which is no great loss, but I like playing here, not as much as writing stories, which is about the one thing I like doing most.

I've been working on two stories at once, which isn't too much as I'm actually always working on lots of things at once, but there's a hierarchy, the things that are just interesting sentences, the stories that are breathing, and the stories that are yelling in my head. Got two serious shouters.

Ones what I like to call my voice stories – because they're mainly about the voice, you know, the voice. They're really just stories in which the character chatters, and if the voice works they work, and if it doesn't well, you know…

The other is just about the bleakest thing I've ever written, and it's hard going, but compelling (for me at the writing stage, no promises on the reading front, yet) but it's dragging me on 'cause its terrible as all hell, but there's an odd beauty in it, and that's what's making the story interesting. And it's stretching me, well it feels like it is. Though of course stretching is no assurance of success, and sometimes these sorts of stories are merely steps towards the stories that work.

Fingers crossed, eh.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Mono - Putting the Brains Back in the Zombie

I just finished reading Ben Peek's story Mono, and it's just about as perfect a zombie story as you could want. It's clever, it's bleak and it's utterly humane*. If you read just one zombie story this year make it Mono, it puts the brains back into zombie lore.

And, if you're fast, Ben might even email you a copy of the story, check out the link.** He's an exciting writer with a novel coming out in June, check his stuff out, then buy the book.


*Utterly humane, that's like humane, but more so. So, I'm not a reviewer, but I thought this story was swell, and explores one of Ben's central themes of race, and what one particular culture has been doing to the world for about the last couple of centuries, but using zombies, and it still manages to be playful in its use of text.

Monday, May 07, 2007

All things that Shine, even when Dark

My friend Marianne has a book coming out soon. It's called Dark Space and you can check out a trailer for the book here. We all had a jab at this one, the book not the trailer, in family ROR, and I reckon it's rather excellent, I dig me Space Opera, and Marianne's cracked it I reckon.

I tend to look at YouTube as a whole lot of can't be bothered, on accound of my dialup modem, which is powered by a pair of fat mice in a little wheel that start panting the moment I walk to the computer, and are coughing and vomitting by the time I've downloaded my email - should stop feeding them chocolate I suppose.

Anyways while I was digging around there I came across this, the preview to the movie of the book which introduced* me to one of my favourite books ever, but which is also a fine bit of a story as well. It also has Ricky Gervais in it, and a stellar(ha, ha**) cast, fingers crossed, eh.




*Well, it was actually a letter of introduction, written on really nice paper.
**See that's funny on account of the title of the book/movie***.

**But not that funny

Sunday, May 06, 2007

SALE OF THE DAMNED

I sold a story this week that I've been working on for some time. Can't say much about where, but I'll be extremely pleased to see this one in print.

It's part of my very loose (mainly in my own head) thematic series of stories called "Beautiful Cities of the Damned" Tumble was the first of these, it was a kind of a western set in part in an alternate world version of my home town of Gunnedah – not that I've been there in ten years or so, maybe that's what Gunnedah is like now, eh. This next one is set in a city bound up in the belly of a giant snake god and is a kind of noirish thing: it was a hell of a lot of fun to write. The one after, if I ever get around to writing it is going to be a more mannered piece, along the lines of my short Persuasion* but darker and set in an eyeball.

That is if I ever get around to writing it, I'm not that into interlinking stories, Porcelain Salli and Slow and Ache being the only stories of mine that are directly related. Though I do see all of my stuff as being set in the same universe: that is my brain, which is really a bit squishier than the universe, but there you go.

Anyway, feeling reasonably pleased with myself, and, with twelve more episodes of Twin Peaks to watch, whats not to love about the world?


* Which you can read in my collection Reserved for Travelling Shows buy it here you won't regret it, unless you regret it.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Owls Are Not What they Seem

Yup, bloody coffee.

We're watching Twin Peaks again, now that season two has finally come out on DVD, and I'm loving it. Twin Peaks was our date series, Diana used to drive down to my place, (which after we moved out became a brothel, though it wasn't called One-eyed Jack's) and we'd snuggle up and watch it on my vcr. This was back in the days before dvds, dark and awful days they were, my friends, and it was an intense way to start a relationship, but it must have worked.

David Lynch is a master of the horror of the ordinary, no one can make traffic lights and trees and suburban backyards look so terrifying. The thing I utterly dig about Lynch is his understanding of magic (for want of a better word*) well, the understanding I glean of it from his work: it's those weird cracks in reality**, the peculiar shadow in the corner of the room, a sudden over saturation of colour, or when a dream leaks out into life for a moment. This sort of magic quite often doesn't make sense, and it can be ridiculous, but it's also potent, and there is always a sort of logic operating there, even if it is too hard to grasp. It's not overt, it rarely says, "I am magic." It permeates.

I don't know if I've articulated this particularly clearly, but it's 1 am, and the Owls are not what they seem, dude.


*you could also substitute magic with the word "weird".
*Or maybe reality is nothing more than weird cracks in the magic

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Just came back from a wonderful walk/run – mostly walking, though I did run up a steep hill, and relatively easily, on account of my incredible fitness. I love walking, and I love walking in Brisbane, and though Autumn isn't really here temperature wise, it is here in the light. I was full of Brisbane love today. I think it's easier to love a city when most of your interaction with it involves walking. It unfurls around you; you're constantly making new discoveries.

The first Shimmaron title has arrived; got it in the post a couple of days ago. It's Tansy's wonderful "Seacastle" get it while it's piping hot, the perfect present for any child 10-12 years old. You can pre-order it here.




The sea was angry that day, my friends

Friday, April 20, 2007

Black Dogs and Third Bears

Christ but I am getting old, used to be I could have coffee after dinner and still fall asleep at a reasonable. Not any more. Three strong coffees in the afternoon and I'm still awake.

I have read two books by Ian McEwan of late, "On Chesil Beach" and "Black Dogs" both are, on the surface at least, about failed relationships, and the epiphanies people experience yet fail to communicate, because well, epiphanies are beyond words really, and can only be hinted at – it's these things that literature circles around, like vultures over a corpse, and picks at, because the living thing, the vital thing is beyond words, but you have to have a go.

"Black Dogs" was a brilliant meditation on these transformative moments, and how they can be both a blessing and curse, and how they echo through a lifetime. I cannot recommend it enough. The Black Dogs themselves are fascinating as an image, and as I read it I couldn't help but consider how a "genre" writer might have approached these apparitions, how they would have been perhaps more viscerally(for want of a better word) central to the text. Here they are central, but also oblique, they appear for a few paragraphs, but they are everywhere within the story, a sort of textual mist.

"On Chesil Beach" is at once farce and tragedy, wrapped in such wonderful characterisation. Both books move slowly, but they breathe, they live and both books are charged with a sort of menace and a great grief. And the writing, oh, but it is beautiful.

Which leads me to Jeff Vandermeer's "The Third Bear", one of the finest short stories I've come across in a long time; I highly recommend this fable, a wonderful rumination on monsters and how they are made. Where both "Black Dogs" and, in a way, "On Chesil Beach" deal with the marks that WWII left on the psyche of the world (particularly that middle-class segment of Britain, wrapped up in it's own post imperial guilt*) "The Third Bear" is very much a product of contemporary events, and the fears that confront the Western World, and our complicity in those events. Its last few lines are grim and haunting, and the path towards them inevitable and utterly compelling.

We've a lot of ghosts in this world and how we face them, honour them, or fear them is of increasing importance. "The Third Bear" and "Black Dogs" are both very much about this, among other things, and I'm fully prepared to say I'm wrong in everything I've said concerning these stories except that they're wonderful reads, and, at the very least, a nice way to pass some time.



*Which is hardly the world, I know, but it is interesting, and perhaps still the heartland of a lot of english literature**

**Which does come across as sounding awfully naive.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Copyedits - Hurrah

After what hasn't been the best couple of weeks, finally some coolness

Got my copyedit for my Shimmaron kid's book "The City and the Stony Stars" and for the first time it actually felt like it was real. It's a thorough edit, and one that has pointed out more than a few inconsistencies in the logic of the story – for which I am incredibly grateful. I have decided that, post initial first draft rush, this is my favourite part of the process.

Talking of all things Shimmaron, Tansy's book comes out in a couple of weeks, and I'm utterly thrilled for her. These are fun books, and I hope they do well, because it would be an absolute joy to write another one.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Black Rider as in Tom Wait's Album

I've been getting plenty of words down, about 2000 a day on the "new project"*, and then bits and pieces on other shorts: which I hope to have to market (along with some piggies I've been fattening up, we'll travel down the old dirt road that leads into Toowong proper, me chewing on a fat blade of glass, and humming them there Christian songs I like to hum, hymns and that for the most part) in the next couple of weeks, well some of them, some will prove stubborn, and some will dread their delivery onto the world, and will come quickly back to me.

Word to Martin Livings, Cat Sparks and Anna Tambour, not to mention my ROR pal Margo who were all mentioned in this.

We writers love to be loved.

There's some interesting discussion over at ASIF, my favourite review site, looking at writers and their reactions to reviews. I've been fairly fortunate in the reviews I've received over the years, and no-one likes to be slammed, but one of the first things a writer needs to develop is a thick skin. You've got to be able to deal with rejection, and God knows there's plenty of that, and you also have to divorce yourself from your work: once it's written. There's nothing more embarrassing than watching a writer enter into a debate with a reviewer over a review– the writer only ever looks bad.

One of the best bits of advice I've ever heard was from Jeff Vandermeer and it was to never read reviews.

Never followed it myself, I'm always chuffed, and perhaps a little embarrassed to know that someone has read one of my stories and given it a little critical thought. And besides, there's always something slightly hypnotic about watching a train wreck even if it's your own train.

I'm listening to Tom Waits of late, as previously noted, picked up a copy of "The Black Rider", Waits and Burroughs (William) now that's a bleak combination, and lovely, "November" is one of my favourite songs right now, that and the Mark Lanegan penned song "Revolver" on the Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan album "Ballad of the Broken Seas". Countering that gloom with a lot of Belle and Sebastian and the Crystal Skulls, it's taken me nearly twelve months to warm to the Crystal Skull's last album "Outgoing Behaviour" but I have, and I love it.

*My, how enigmatic.