Thursday, December 20, 2007
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
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.
All right, enough Okkervil River stuff already, I promise.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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
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
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
Thursday, November 29, 2007
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
Cosmo finds Andrew Bolt's rumminations on the future of the Liberal Party fascinating
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
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.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Saturday, November 10, 2007
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Happy Birthday, sis! I can't believe another sibling's hit the big three O.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
And what a week it was.
Next week should be a more focussed week.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Monday, October 08, 2007
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
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
Saturday, September 29, 2007
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.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
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
Friday, September 21, 2007
as an end to the story arc.
in the right spot.
the glasses of champagne
made it seem better
It did rely on
(I even loved the dance sequence)
Sunday, September 16, 2007
The story should be available very soon, and I'll ramble on about it at length then.
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
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).
*it's sad, I know, but, I don't have kids.
Monday, September 03, 2007
Lots of writing going on, and writing related stuff.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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."
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.
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
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
* well you wish it was, even when you hate it, part of you wishes it was.
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
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
Sunday, July 22, 2007
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.
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.
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.
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.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
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
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.
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.
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
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?
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
Poor, poor bastard.
Had a good day today, some interesting things happening.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
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.
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
Here's a drawing my 8 year old nephew Oscar did of me.
He also drew this extremely cool ship.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
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
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.
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.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
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 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.
Monday, May 28, 2007
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.
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?
Sunday, May 27, 2007
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
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.
Russell B Farr
The ASIM COLLECTIVE
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.