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.