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.


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


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

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


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.