Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas, if that's your bag.

Well, have made it through the retail madness - sold books, and books, and a lot of my favourites, which is always nice. Also managed to "deliver" my novella to Keith Stevenson today, not too fond of it at the moment, but now, with some enforced distance ahead, I'm sure I'll be callous enough to cut and cut and make sensible in February. So, huzzah.

Just finished writing the jokes for the Christmas Crackers tomorrow. If any of you know me, well, you'll know how lame they are. They're of the bad pun variety, eg. Why did the Television have fingers? It was digital.

Yes, they're that bad!

Now, have yourself a merry and safe Christmas - if that's what you're into.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Rambling Retale

Christmas for retailers is utterly crazy, draining (a bit like the battle of Helms Deep, but with Christmas Wrap, and less armour) and actually rather nice.

I'm not ashamed to say that I've worked in retail(books) for around 14 years (except last year, when I was pretty much writing full-time) and the thing about Retail (and, in fact, any ostensibly service based industry*) is it tends to knock the edges off you a bit (in a good way). If you can't deal with people, then you really can't cut it over any length of time. You've got to love people or the job just won't work for you, because you see people at their best and worst.

I reckon most** people should work in a shop for a while. It's a very Zen like activity, and if it doesn't increase your sense of empathy, I'm not sure what will. Impatience, judgement, intolerance, even ego, all of it have to be put aside, or you're just going to be miserable. Over the years, I've seen people crumble because of these things. But, if you can let them go, without letting go of your dignity, it can be a very satisfying job.

There's this perception that shop assistants are just idiots, or bored teens. In, books at least, let me say, this just isn't true. I count myself very lucky to have worked with some of the most wonderful people in the book trade. Passionate, personable and patient. They're the best people to pass the time of day with, and they read, and they care about books, and they're bloody funny, and, if they didn't think that bookselling was worthwhile, well, there would be even less of a publishing industry than there is.

So, anyway, as I disappear into the madness that is a retail Christmas, I hope you all have a very wonderful, safe and happy holiday. And, if you work in a shop, well, there's only four more days (and nights) to go.


*and, who, ultimately, doesn't?ok, maybe some CEOs
**Though there are some people who just shouldn't.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mongol

It's been a rather disappointing year of movie watching. But I have to say that I really did enjoy Mongol. If you haven't seen it, and don't mind a bit of blood, I can't recommend it enough. It's a simple story, but a fascinating one, with some really bleak humour and nicely choreographed battle scenes.

It may be my favourite movie of the year - am certainly regretting not seeing it at the cinema.

Novella

I know I keep saying it. But the novella is almost done - one tiny scene to write, a wee bit-o-spit and polish and it's done*.

I really don't have a clue if it's any good, but some of my best writing is in there - I reckon - and the story holds together (if you don't look at it too closely) over its 21,000 words. And I love it and loathe it equally, which is just about how I feel about all my stuff. But I figure self loathing is an important element in any writer's make-up, `cause, geez, if I didn't have that I would have given up ages ago.

Watched the Unforgiven last night. Realized that I had never seen it before, and it wasn't half bad - though it's sound track dates it somewhat, or, maybe I'm just too much of a fan of those early Morricone Western Soundtracks.

Right then, back to the novella.

Oh, and the Bathroom is finished. Last thing was done today - looks pretty swish.






*except, no doubt, for a bit of extensive editing.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Long Day

It's been a long day. Starting with writing, and a problem with the plumbing in the bathroom, and ending with an unexpectedly long shift at work, (just got home in fact) the plumbing problem fixed perfectly, and a lovely draught of James Squire Golden Ale (which really is like drinking beery sunshine).

Funny though, it turned out to be one of the best days I've had in a while. That's the way it is with days, they wend and they wind and you never know where they're going to end up.

Got off the city cat in Toowong turned to look at the city and there, hovering over the skyline, was the most spectacular moon I've seen in a while - sure, she had a bite out of her, but she knew she was gorgeous and wasn't shy in showing off. Gotta love a moon like that.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Free Delivery

My Aurealis Award Shortlisted Story "Delivery" is now online at Cosmos, so you can experience it free. It's the only skiffy story I wrote last year, and it's got cool spaceships, science*, and everything. Check it out.







*pseudo and not so pseudo - I cribbed my storks** off an article I'd come across in New Scientist.

**well, their method of propulsion.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I'd get such a shock I'd probably...

I'm in such a Smiths mood at the moment.

Possibly because every new album I have bought this year post Shearwater's Rook and Okkervil River's The Stand Ins has been a disappointment. Sure I wasn't expecting much of Chinese Democracy, and the new Killers album is kind of catchy, but dopey as all hell and I still don't get the "Are we human or are we dancer" line.

So it's the Smiths. What thirty something lad doesn't have a Smiths related memory? I mean my later years at Uni involved a lot of mooning around, wondering why this girl or that didn't love me, listening to the Smiths, on cassette no less.

Oh, well, what difference does it make?

Happy 400th Birthday, Milton.

A Dungeon horrible, on all sides round
As one great furnace flamed, yet from those flames
No light, but rather darkness visible
Served only to discover sights of woe,
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
And rest can never dwell, hope never comes
That comes to all; but torture without end

(Sounds like Southbank on New Year's Eve)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Today began

with shit.

Poor Ernie had gotten a dose of the runs in the middle of the night, and not being able to get out, well, lets just say the living room and the study were a rather delightful tableau of crap.

Of course, I discovered it with my feet. I've never seen so much shit. Six-o-clock in the morning, and me a little hung over from the staff xmas party, and there I am mopping the shitty floor, and then washing crap from the matted fur of Ernie, a whole plug of which had formed around his bum*. Just lovely. And he wasn't enjoying it either. Finally, he was cleaned, I had a shower, and some codeine, and found another turd with my heel. Not so good for your hangover.

At least Ernie's stomach has settled, and his fur has never looked cleaner. So everyone's a winner.


*Yes Ernie could never survive in the wild, his bowels would block up after a few months, man's best friend really got screwed over on that score . Ziggy on the other hand is short haired, and wily, and while a sea eagle or a snake would find him a nice meal, I'm certain he would live till a ripe old age.

D & Z


Today

was a weird day.

Seems I'm a finalist in three categories of the Aurealis Awards. I'm not sure how that happened but there you go.

I'd just like to thank the editors who picked up those stories, worked them to a nice shine, and deserve most of the kudos. I just write them, and send them out, which is all you can do really. But these are the people who, through great cost in time (and, in most cases money), slush, edit and get these stories into the mystical world of readers - where every writer hopes their stories will end up, but you never know, you just don't, and you can never tell which stories people are going to like (well, I can't) which is a good thing because otherwise that's all you'd ever try and write which would be very dull indeed.

So thanks to Alisa, Ben and Tansy who edited Cracks and published it in the wonderful Shiny magazine, which is one of my favourite magazines, and has a fourth issue out now, which I would have blogged about ages ago - if I hadn't been so neglectful of Blog.

And thanks to Terry Martin who edited and took Day Boy for Murky Depths - a magazine I think just keeps getting stronger, and one I was very pleased to be published in.

And thanks to Damien Broderick, who took Delivery, and who is not only something of a literary hero of mine, but has been taking some great SF for Cosmos Magazine: and allowed me to fulfill my dream of being published in the closest thing going to Omni Magazine.

I don't expect to win, so I reckon I may as well thank these people now, because the finalist thing is really about the editors or nothing would ever see print. And if it can validate the magazines, and maybe increase the readership a little, it means that these markets may stay around so that they can publish more stories (hopefully some of them mine).

And cheers to Margo, Tansy, Marianne, Dirk and Richard, fellow ROR folk, and all finalists - and in some cases in the same category. Not to mention the multi-nominated Sean Williams, Deb Biancotti and Kim Westwood. And Jack Dann. And Angela S, and Lee B, and Cat S. And everyone else on the lists which can be found here, and which reminds me how many people I am going to be very pleased to be catching up with on the night - because it really is just an excuse to have a very big party.




*Though, if I do win something, well, then it will be all about me!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

You

can tell when I've suddenly got writerly commitments, or the homestead is undergoing renovations. This place suddenly grows deathly quiet.


Well, my commitments are nearly done. My novella has some sort of through line, the bathroom is nearly finished, and there's a little space in my skull for my dear little blog. Look at the poor little fellow, as sketched on this dog chewed post-it-note, has to use a rope for a belt.
Doesn't look too steady on his feet - it's all that red wine.


I'm already gearing up for next year, once everything is put to bed, I'm dying, just dying, to get onto something(s) new.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'm drowning in books

at the moment. Wonderful books. Datlow, Link and Grant's Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2008. Christos Tsiolkas' Dead Europe. Neal Stephenson's Anathem, and now, Daniel Abraham's The Long Price Book One: Shadow and Betrayal.* It really is wonderful, perhaps the best fantasy novel I've read in years. This is the real deal, marvelous world building pared with a fine sense of character and evocative prose. If you haven't heard of it, I urge you to find yourself a copy now.

Every time I despair of finding a new fantasy to read something comes along and makes me realize that there are people out there still producing, original and passionate fiction. Paul Park was the last to do this for me, now Daniel Abraham has been added to my list of fabulists whose work I will hunt down until my eyes stop working and my heart beats out its last. His stuff is really that good.



*which was published in the US as: A Shadow in Summer

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

So, you're supposed to be editing your novella, say

and you get your hands on a copy of Neil Gaiman's the Graveyard Book, and well, that's that day wiped out. The book is a delight, an absolute delight, the most comfort of comfort reads with just enough sting to it - well, more than enough sting because, as in most of Gaiman's fiction, it's wrapped around a moment of terrible brutality, that is dealt with quickly*, but resonates throughout the whole novel so that the stakes (even when we're not quite sure exactly what they are) are always high.

Like I said to Angela Slatter:* It was very sweet and sad, like coming to the end of a block of chocolate that you'd convinced yourself was going to last forever, even though you knew it wasn't.

Go out and buy yourself a copy.

While, I'm being all bossy, check out Chris Currie's blog Furious Horses. Chris is a writer that is going to go a long way***. His work is at once tender and ridiculous and all things in between, which is to say very good. And every day there is a new story up, and if I was half as fecund, I'd be very pleased indeed.

So, I better get back to that Novella




*I'm in such a name droppy mood today. Well, she's such a great writer, and if you haven't read her wonderful story the Jacaranda Wife in Dreaming Again, then you should go out and buy yourself a copy now, even if it means missing out on a couple of meals.

**Anansi Boys had a similar moment, that, unexpectedly, turned my stomach, and happened at about midpoint, this one starts with it, well, the immediate aftermath.

***How condescending is that, but give a jealous older writer his comforts, eh.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Red Pen Week

It's red pen week at Casa Nomicon. I'm working through the draft of Iron Temple, filling index cards, writing in margins - sadly, lots and lots of question marks and scrawly notes demanding "To What Purpose?". There's only a month to go, and there's still plot holes that I could drive a truck through - but it will come together.

It's one thing selling a story, it's altogether a different proposition when you're writing something that is going to share space with Margo Lanagan, Terry Dowling, Cat Sparks, Paul Haines, and Louise Katz. You don't want to be the one that writes something that sucks, or, even worse, is just okay.

It's more than a little scary.

Back to the red pen.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Wedding

Spent the weekend on the Goldcoast Hinterland in a place called Springbrook. It was my sister's wedding. The bride was beautiful, the groom handsome, and my little nephew Taj was as cute as a button*.

Everyone had a great time - truly one of the best weddings I've been to, and no, I didn't drink too much.

Woke up this morning to mist sliding into the valley, and ducklings trundling across the lawn, and not a hangover in sight.


*one of those really cute buttons.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Clockwork Up At Pseudopod

My story Clockwork is live at Pseudopod.

This is a story I'm exceedingly fond of. It was harder in the writing than I want to say, and helped me work through a few issues that I had at the time - it was also first published in the Vision anthology Glimpses*, and received an honorable mention in that year's Aurealis Award, which is cool, but the main thing is, well, I reckon I grew up a little bit in the writing of it. And, if it seems a slightly awkward child now, that's what happens when you add time to the mix - appropriate, I suppose, considering the title.

Let me know what you think.

And a big thanks to Ben Phillips, who I know was a bit worried about pronunciations - and is actively seeking a Australian vocal talent, if you're interested - Australian pronunciations are hard enough for Australians, just how many of you know how to pronounce Coraki or Indooroopilly?

*another debt I owe that wonderful Brisbane writer's group.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Science Fiction Sunday at Avid Reader

Avid Reader Bookshop
in association with
Science Fiction Sunday Productions
Present:
The Show Ain't Over Till The Fat Lady Has Her Face Sucked Off By A
Seven Foot, Nine Tentacled Alien Terror From Beyond - A Space Opera.
Join Trent Jamieson and Paul Landymore as they take you on a gut wrenching, breath shortening, eye widening, mind boggling journey to the edges of the universe and beyond in the company of Ian M. Banks, Peter F. Hamilton, Ken MacLeod, Alistair Reynolds, Marianne de Pierres, Sean Williams et al. The Deep Space Cruiser
Fanciful Idea departs 5:00 pm, Sunday 23rd November.
*
This should be a fun hour or so at Avid, you'll get to hear us natter on about our favourite Space Opera authors, cover a bit of this grand old lady's history, and maybe even discuss "New Space Opera". Hopefully we'll get a bit of a discussion going. Ever since I read Foundation as a wee nip I've loved Space Opera, and I'm very lucky to count two of it's finest practitioners as friends - well, I'm not so sure about Sean, since Diana and I nearly killed him giving him a lift to his hotel a few months back, but that one way street leaped up out of nowhere, honest!
#
Paul Landymore is an extremely knowledgeable bookseller, and SF fan, and, hey, I'm writing a Space Opera novella right now - I promise, Keith, I really am. So if you're in Brisbane and want to come along please call Avid Reader Bookshop on 3846 3422, We'd love to see you there.
And, if the response is good, this should be the first of many monthly SF Sundays (we'll be covering Fantasy as well, I think*) with future topics including Cyberpunk, books with talking cats, and humorous stories about hats, well, definitely Cyberpunk anyway.
#
*I'd love to do one on Lud-in-the-Mist and it's descendants for instance, oh and the New Sword and Sorcery, and the New Weird**)
**Is there anything that isn't New these days?
If you're wondering about the hashes, it seems that this is the only way Blogger will let me separate paragraphs.

Ziggy Hunts the Flea


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It's Raining

outside and I have a copy of Anathem. Time to go to bed and read.

So

the US has (will have) itself a new President. What a cracker of a speech, eh.

Something Like Regular Programming

Marking is done. Stories are being written.


S

Waves crashing, and a distant, coughing machine, that he recognised at last as his own lungs. He dragged himself out of the water and saw, he didn't know what he saw, but it loomed over him, and funny, but the first thing that he thought was: predatory indigene.
The second: Well, that's it, I'm dead.
He'd been thinking that a lot lately.
Only he wasn't.


He'd been sailing, touring the archipelago when the plague surfaced. And that was the best way to describe it, it had bubbled out of his flesh, like the Mantacorns he seen lift out of the water.
Plague, God alone knew how. He'd had all the injections. Captain Quinn had assured him, after taking a little of his blood, that appropriate measures were being taken. They'd stripped his bed, burnt the linen, then thrown him overboard. Appropriate measures.


#

I.T.


People were always making dust, and dust was always being converted. Thinking matter continued now much longer than it ever had: no more the slow rise from dumb to smart (by way of absorption into co-operative cellular masses, sentient and scheming) then back again. A flake of dandruff could become a soldier, grow tiny legs, burn tiny engines lay waste to tiny kingdoms. The employment opportunities for retired matter were nearly endless. From dust to dust was never truer.

Walking back to his rooms, sore and smiling. Jack ran into a rogue advertisement. It mumbled at him. Suggested brands long forgotten by all but the most nostalgic.

He ignored it. And its cries grew more plaintive. It grabbed at him with desperate rubber-coated fingers, hard where the rubber had worn away. He pushed the hands from him.

"Mondo Tethys Gum is the best. Chew it. Chew it. Please."

The air filled with a dry sweet smell, more sickening than enticement.

Why did advertisers never switch these things off? He knew the answer to that. When companies fell in Iron Temple, they fell hard.

Its cries drew more advertisements. Slice of life mechanicals, Endorsers, Placardinators. They followed him down the streets, crying, reaching out, sharing, giving in confidence information. Jack could have shot them. There was no law against that. In some suburbs of the city, they were hunted for sport in great advertorial culls. Still he couldn't. He felt sorry for them.
Jack wondered what it was like to wander endlessly, chased by the closing Outage, and never selling a thing.

He started into a jog. By the next street corner, all but the most tenacious advertisements had fallen away. A few more streets and it was just him.

He slowed to a walk, not far from his room. The street empty again, though he knew things watched him. Dust motes curious.

Behind him gunshots sounded. A cull had begun. Final sales put to rest. Whatever happiness a night of fucking had given him fled.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ennea & "Αλογάκια του Λούνα Παρκ"

My story "Carousel" has found a third reprint, this time at Ennea, the SF/comic supplement of Greek Newspaper Eleftherotypia. Can't tell you how thrilled I was to find this out. This is the second language this story has been translated into, and probably the version that has been read by more readers than any other - pity I can't read Greek.

Ennea is definitely a market worth checking out, and I quote:

Have always in mind that we are always open to new submissions (from 500 - 2.500 words). We do not publish any more, but rarely, longer stories in installments. Strictly Science Fiction stories, no Fantasy or Terror.) As we need a new story every week we would be grateful if you could "spread the word around" to your fellow authors.

You can sub the stories to ANGELOS MASTORAKIS at angmst@enet.gr

What have you got to lose, on a reprint sub, but the time it takes to send an email?

Oh, and thanks to Nick Mamatas (who wouldn't know me from a bar of soap) who first mentioned this market on his blog. With this, and (possibly) another sale in works, I owe him a beer or two. Spread the wealth I say.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Laughter in the Dark

Amongst the various things that I'm reading, dipping into, devouring at the moment is Nabokov's “Laughter in the Dark” whose first two paragraphs pretty much articulate what novels and short stories do.

Once upon a time there lived in Berlin, Germany, a man named Albinus. He was rich, respectable, happy; one day he abandoned his wife for the sake of a youthful mistress; he loved; was not loved; and his life ended in disaster.

This is the whole of the story and we might have left it at that had there not been profit and pleasure in the telling; and although there is plenty of space on a gravestone to contain, bound in moss, the abridged version of a life, detail is always welcome.

Detail is always welcome. Brilliant, eh.

Domine

It's all thunder and lightning outside - a real Brisbane storm, and yes, I'm an idiot for writing this now, but hey...

My contributor copies of Year's Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy 4 arrived in the post today. A wonderful thing to find in the post box after a day's work. Even more wonderful, of course, are the contents.

I really regret that I hadn't read Rjurik Davidson's wonderful story Domine until now. Most of the others I had read in the original incarnations, but this story was new to me. What a beautiful short story it is, and reason enough - as though you needed any more reasons - to buy yourself a copy of the Year's Best.

Domine possesses such elegant and economical prose, and a wonderful symmetry. There's no thunder and lightning, except that most powerful sort, the type that strikes your heart and slows its beating until it becomes a clenched and knotted thing, released to beat again only by the story's ending. I've not read as fine an exploration of fathers and their sons in a very long time. Stories like Domine are one of the reasons I still read Science Fiction.

Hunt down a copy.

Zzzt

Friday, October 10, 2008

More Prettiness


Oh yes, and I am in there too (my story Cracks, published in last years excellent Shiny magazine), and Mr Peek, Cat Sparks, Rjurik Davidson, Adam Browne, Richard Harland, and Rick Kennett

You can order yourself a copy here, or at any good bookstore.

Tis the end

of days. So how about that sharemarket, eh? Maybe we should start calling it the scaremarket. Oh, and that's it for me ordering anything from the US in a while - seems like near parity of the dollar was nothing but a dream - gotta start selling more stuff OS.

Still flat out, but creatively flat out, writing synopses, which seem to take up an awful lot of synapses, and getting through my draft of Iron Temple - which should be finished by the end of the month, then redrafted, polished and what not in November. It's looking good, if a little messy, and a little rambling, but all my early drafts are like that. Oh, and I'm working on too many other things, but I'm kind of liking that - the living ones will clamber to the top, the others will expire and slide away to be either resurrected or forgotten.

I've been reading Extraordinary Engines, Nick Gever's steampunk anthology, and what a fine book it is. Standouts so far are Margo Lanagan's Machine Maid, which I can only describe as a Colonial Australia, Steampunk On Chesil Beach, but bloodier. And Jeff Vandermeer's Fixing Hanover, which was wonderfully and terribly sad. The Jeff Ford is pretty good too.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Look at this Prettiness.

Coming to a bookstore near you. And being launched at Conflux. I know, I'm biased, I'm in it, but I really can't wait to read the stories, and Cat Sparks just get's more amazing with her book design every time she puts out a new title* .


More information as it comes.
*Cat just amazes me, not only is she one of Australia's most talented short story writers (and one, I reckon who is just about to become known as a damn fine novelist). But then she keeps producing these wonderful books.**
**And Dirk, well, he's a writing editing machine.

No Deadwood and

now, no Rome. I am bereft. The episodes have played themselves out. It's all done.

Sure the last season felt a bit rushed, but still, it's the best television I've seen this year. I'm going to miss Vorenus and Pullo, Mark Antony and Atia of the Julii. Not to mention all that blood.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sidney Nolan We are the Landscape

If you live in Brisbane. You must, you must, you must go to the Sidney Nolan Retrospective at the Qld Art Gallery. Unlike the much hyped Picasso Exhibition this one is free, I've been three times and it's bloody brilliant.

I've never been much of a fan of Sidney Nolan's work, but seeing his paintings, these grand struggles with the landscape, well, they're like nothing else - ok, so he was influenced by Picasso, but who hasn't been in the last sixty years?

But what he gets, and projects, and is just gloriously there, is this idea of landscape. And our interconnectedness with it. We are the landscape. You could say that is a central theme of fantasy fiction, and it is expressed so well in almost all of Nolan's work.

If you live in Brisbane and you write genre fiction, and you haven't been to the Nolan Retrospective, then you've got a couple of weeks to get along and see it, and you better or, well, let's just say I've been taking an interest in bare knuckle boxing of late...*




* yeah, right.**

**and what is it with all these thinly-veiled threats?

Dreaming Again - Brisbane Massive Unite

Pulp Fiction and Queensland Writers Centre are celebrating the release of DREAMING AGAIN here in Brisbane on Tuesday 23rd September, 6.00pm for a 6.30pm start at QWC, Level 2, 109 Edward Street, Brisbane.

There will be readings, there will be signings, but most importantly there will be nibbles and drinks - and books!

All profits from sales of the book on the night will go to the Clarion South Writers' Workshop. Several of the writers featured in DREAMING AGAIN are Clarion South alumni – survivors of a six-week writers’ boot camp! For more information about Clarion South go to http://www.clarionsouth.org/.

DREAMING AGAIN contains 35 stories by authors such as Isobelle Carmody, Terry Dowling, Margo Lanagan and Garth Nix - along with Brisbane's own Peter M. Ball, Rowena Cory Daniels, Trent Jamieson, Chris Lynch, Jason Nahrung, Angela Slatter and Kim Wilkins (many of whom will be hopefully be joining on the night!)

We'll all be joining hands and turning into a giant specfic monster fighting robot - anime style (I'm the left thigh).

Please come and join us in celebrating some familiar, as well as some very new, Australian voices - and help contribute to the development of the next generation of emerging writers.

Event: Celebration of Dreaming Again
Venue: Queensland Writers Centre, Level 2, 109 Edward Street Brisbane
Time: 6:00pm for 6:30pm
Cost: Free! Bookings essential
RSVP: To book, phone Pulp Fiction Bookstore on 3236 2750 or email pulpfictionbooks@bigpond.com


This should be a lot of fun. Get there if you can, and if you can't well, writers hold grudges...

Life

has been agreably dull of late. Busy in places, but mainly just getting on with things. I've been reaquainting myself with old novels, and the partial evil of passive sentences.

Saw Hellboy 2 yesterday, which was utterly gorgeous in places, and lacking in others - but oh, so beautiful. If only it had possessed a brain. When did we all become so stupid, eh? Or expect so little of cinema. Fricken Hero's Journey and what not. I reckon it's cosmic rays, Hollywood's just a glittering positive litmus test, or something: I'm sure I would have known what, once, but not any more.

`xpect it will be quiet around here for a while yet.

Be seeing you.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Study and the Fabulists that Time Forgot, One Still Living, Two Long Dead.

I've spent the last couple of days reorganising my study, digging books out of storage and putting them into some order that is, at the very least, sort of useful. I've now got all my novels together and three groaning shelves of short story collections - including Tony Daniel's excellent the Robot's Twilight Companion, the wonderful Galaxy Best ofs vol1 & 2, Anne & Jeff Vandermeer's Steampunk, and the Strahan and Dozois New Space Opera.

Sorting my books has been a wonderfully cathartic experience Robert E Howard's Complete Chronicles of Conan is sitting next to the recent Penguin translation of Proust's In Search of Lost Time*. I found all my Fritz Leiber's, my Michael Shea's, and my copy of Hope Mirrlees' Lud in the Mist. Which led me to thinking that these are three of most influential fantasists that no one has ever heard of.

Without Fritz Leiber's Nehwon books, and to a lesser extent, Shea's Nifft the Lean the current crop of sword and sorcery writers would not exist** and if a better fantasy novel than Mirrlee's Lud in the Mist has been written***, then I've yet to read it. I've never understood why this book hasn't had broader appeal. If you've read Neal Gaiman's Stardust or Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke then you'd love this book. Maybe it has slipped through the cracks because it's hardly a big fat fantasy but the prose is gorgeous and the story driven by deep dark wit.

Same could be said for the Leiber and the Shea, they're basically novellas, but if you haven't read the Adept's Gambit, Lean Times in Lankhmar or The Fishing of the Demon Sea you're missing out on some wonderfully adult and glorious fantasy. Hunt down these authors, believe me, they're worth the effort.


* my, aren't I cleverly ironic.

** And lo, you say: ye Prince of the Blogs not blogged much, wouldn't that be a good thing? To which I respond: nay, well, ok, maybe, but Scott Lynch's Gentleman Bastard Novels are great fun. And Joe Abercrombe's books are a fine way to spend an afternoon. Not to mention the Garth Nix Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz novellas, well, the one I read was extremely promising.

***Sure, there are novels just as good, say Crowley's Little Big, Carroll's Land of Laughs, and that book about wizards, you know, it's the one with a dragon and a mountain on the cover.***

****BTW I love the cover of my copy of LUD-in-the-Mist, it's the Lin Carter*****, Ballantine paperback ed, it looks like a bad acid trip

*****Now, there's a man responsible for more awful sword and sorcery stories than anyone, but he can be forgiven (at least a little) for reprinting LUD.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The rain's just come on in. Thought it was static, or my laptop, grown a little angry or a little tired, then I realized it was the rain.

It's just me and the cat, awake and listening. And the rain. Oh, and there's clean sheets on the bed, and a book waiting. So, soon, it will just be the cat listening, if the rain even lasts that long.

Post

In the post novel malaise, the well's a trifle dry. So, other than various workish duties, I've been submerging myself in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridan and No Country for Old Men, and what wondrous bloody fever dreams they are.

I've been thinking about writing lately - what a surprise, eh. Teaching it, well, obviously, focuses your thoughts on the processes, and it takes me that the only truly important things, other than an understanding of what words do, and an idea of how to put them on the page*, is joy and bravery.

There's a bleak joyfulness in Blood Meridan's tumbling, rushing landscapes, (my goodness, all those stars) and McCarthy doesn't shy away from engulfing you in it. There's a confidence in his prose that I can only envy.

Talking of confident prose I'll be at Avid on Saturday Sept 13 taking part in the Marathon Reading of Of Mice and Men. There's some great readers involved, John Birmingham, Krissy Kneen, and Chris Currie among them, so you should pop down and check it out. There's more details here, and all the proceeds are going towards the support of aboriginal literacy.**

I've never read any Steinbeck, so this has been a great excuse to correct that lack.





*both of which are a lifetime's work, and for me, one that involves a lot of stumbling.
**so if anyone is interested in sponsoring me, let me know

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ziggy Usurping My Position on the Bed


Well, he did until Cosmo knocked over a book, startling him from what was obviously a very deep sleep, I have never heard a more aggrieved bark in my life.

The novel is done

and sitting in a post box. I'm giving myself tomorrow off, to read, and ruminate. Tonight I treated myself to BG's Razor, which I had been very much looking forward to, and was something of a return to form for the series after a pretty lacklustre season 3. Neat mosaic story telling, explosions, and lots of sweaty people scowling at each other in space - how can you beat that?


The house is quiet, but for dogs scratching at fleas, and Cosmo stomping into the study, and I'm still basking in the finished, and posted, a book glow: which should last until I wake up in the middle of the night and remember all the other stuff I have to do.


Ah, but what you going to do, eh?

Cosmo considering something (possibly a prowler) outside my study window, or, perhaps, just contemplating the substance of a word as first read in my copy of Chambers.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Quiet

Yeah, it's quiet.

Go and read some Bukowski or something.

Fifty pages of novel polishing to go.

Then into the post and the cruel world.

And then, novella, novella, novella and Players, Players, Players.

Can we just add another month to the year, please?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wind Whistling

It seems of late that a lot of my spare mental time has been taken up with me staring blankly into space, a soft soughing filling the usual saucepan clatter of thinking noise that my brain likes to produce, and that often keeps me up at night, when I really should be sleeping. I have a lot of stuff to get finished by the end of the year, and it's scaring me a little - following me around when I go for a walk, or jumping out at me when I get out of the shower, you know, that sort of thing.

Still, I managed, between that soft nothing noise, and stacking my new bookcases* - the construction of which tore the skin off my knuckles, and reminded my back that it's not as young as it used to be, and that it probably should get a little more flexible - to write a short story tonight, well, a short short story, but one that made me chuckle, even if it never finds a home.

I've started working at the Avid Reader in West End, on top of the tutoring, so I am well and truly employed, which is in itself a peculiar thing, but good, peculiar thing, you couldn't hope for a nicer bunch of people to work with than the folk at Avid, and I'm loving the tutoring.

I'm just missing that saucepannery clattering.



*and let's not even begin to think about the terrors of Ikea, all those flat pack boxes, the reek of chipboard, and the lingering stench of terror (or, perhaps, just the food court).

Friday, August 08, 2008

Quiet

Yeah, it's been quiet, but I've been busy. Ziggy offered to blog for me, but his spelling is worse than mine, and it's all about trees, and other things that he likes to pee on.

Polishing the novel, and getting deeper into my novella. Iron Temple is either going to be the best bit of Spec Fic I've ever written or the worst, but by the time it gets delivered to coeur de lion I swear I'll have sweated blood over it. At the moment, it has a star ship named after Matthew Flinder's cat, masturbation in space, and clockwork sex dolls (you have to be very careful with these, what with all the spinning toothed wheels), oh, and it's not at all kinky.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Friend in Need

I'm a bit late to this, but Paul Haines needs your help.

Paul, a wonderful Australian writer, has been battling cancer for the last ten months. He and his family have been through absolute hell. And just when it was starting to look like things were getting better some spots were found on his liver and (This from Paul's blog by way of Ben Peek's )

He [his oncologist] still wants to wait a couple of months (ideally he wants even more than that) to see how the cancer in my liver is behaving. He also understands our fear, our need, to not be sitting around waiting to do nothing. So in those couple of months we will try the other two forms of chemotherapy for cancers like I have and to combine that with a monoclonal antibody called Avastin. Chemo fights the tumour, the antibody fights the blood vessels feeding the tumour. Unfortunately, Avastin is not part of Medicare or the private health system's funding at this stage, so we're having to come up with $20,000 to do it. Our parents have said they will help us here, which is a great relief.

Let's not leave it up to Paul's parents. If you'd like to donate some money, a fund has been set up.

Here's a link to a site where you can donate some money and take some of the pressure off Paul and his family.


http://girliejones.livejournal.com/990904.html

Paul's a great guy - not that that matters, I'd really hate to think that that matters - chip in, if you can.
Well, I'm worn out. Have spent the morning avoiding looking at the novel. Thinking about giving myself the day off - maybe going and seeing that movie about a bat.

I start tutoring at QUT on Tuesday, two classes on the short story: am very much looking forward to it, though there is still a fair amount of trepidation involved in the mix as well. Always is until you get to know the class.

Finished

That is all.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Oh

but this bloody novel is so close to done, a mere sliver of a fraction and then. Just polishing, and sense-making. I hope it works, I really hope it works.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Why is it

that everytime someone asks me what I like to read my mind goes blank as though I read nothing, and I can't even remember my favourite authors, even though every story I read has an attendant and specific story surrounding it, like the first time I read Fritz Leiber and felt as though the universe was cruel and unbending, but I wouldn't bend for it not any more, and I was all of thirteen and the next day I had the flu, and it was the sort of flu that just hammers you and I bent, fuck I bent, and I was so miserably sick that I still remember it with a rueful shudder, even though I have had worse flus: or how I read Michael Swanwick's gorgeous Stations of the Tide on the top of Green Mountain, wrapped in the cold and the mud and the rain - surely enough rain to drown a world - and regarded the satelites passing overhead with a cold yearning and dreaded the idea and image of a mad and predatory old earth: or how I read Sean William's Metal Fatigue when Diana and I were first dating, and she was studying and sent me off while she studied, and I was in Brisbane for the first time and I found a spot by the river, and read and smoked expensive cigarettes and felt so sophisticated because there was the water and the city, fat and shiny in the distance: or how I read Margo's Singing My Sister Down out the front of Coles holding shopping bags and waiting for Diana who had ducked back into the shops, and getting to that inevitable end and feeling something puncture inside of me: or how I read Perdido St Station in quick gulps across the road from work in my breaks, and the buzz of the Weavers and the Slake Moths and their darting dance through various realities and how I couldn't look at scissors again in quite the same way, and Christ, these are just the first things that come to mind, and tomorrow a dozen other stories would have sat here with their own stories, and there'd be others that I'd just hint at because, they're not at all for sharing: how come I never think of that?

Monday, July 21, 2008

God Called in Sick Today, or How Emo Can Help you Finish a Novel

I am so close to finishing this draft of Death Most Definite (or Walking Talking, I'm still not sure what to call it, maybe A Regional Apocalypse: yeah, I'm not great at titles) I can smell it.

I know some people hate writing to anything but silence. I'm not one of them - most of the time, because there are some times when I need absolute silence, just me and the screen, but even then there's barking dogs, whippersnippers, drunks (sometimes wielding whippersnippers), and my own fingers (the five I use) tapping the keys.

This book started with Okkervil River's Unless it's Kicks and Spoon's The Ghost of You Lingers and Rocket From the Crypt's On a Rope and the Clash's White Riot and half of Bright Eye's Cassadaga Album. The third draft stuck with most of these, but the central song was Gotye's Heart's A Mess and Jame's Getting Away with it (All Messed Up). Note the mess theme - you should look at my study.

But this latest draft, which has led to an overall darkening of the story, has been all about the Emo this last week or so. AFI and My Chemical Romance, broad sweeping operatic gloom punk/pop, over and over. The cheeriest I've gotten is Thom Yorke's Harrowdown Hill, and the Midlake song Excited but Not Enough. I think I just saw my neighbour jump off his balcony.

Me, I'm just chipper. This novel is nearly finished (of course sometimes that it the longest slowest bit). The knife fight's done, the Negotiation's made and the explosions have gone out one by one: all that's left is a kiss and impending doom.

On another note my story Cracks, originally published in the excellent Shiny magazine is getting a second life in Bill Congreve and Michelle Marquardt's Australian Year's Best SF and Fantasy 4. This pleases me no end because, well, I am extremely fond of that story. There's a whole bunch of things I was trying to riff off in that story but the main one was Faulkner's As I Lay Dying- the brief coffin making scene, I thought flagged that pretty obviously - which to my mind is one of the most amazing novels ever written*. And I thought I made a pretty good stab at it - stab, mind, just a stab.

The best thing though, besides it finding a second home (and I thought it's first home was wonderful, the lovely Shiny have been nothing but a pleasure to work for) is that any reviews the story might receive won't focus on whether it is YA or not, which seems to be the chief argument of reviews of YA fiction (well at least of Shiny).


*if anyone's interested the brother story to this one Day Boy published here is riffing off Twain's Huck Finn, because well I like to riff off dead white american authors. Both books you simply must read because, well, they're so beautiful and isn't that the most perfect reason to read anything

Happy Birthday, Little Brother


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ziggy Asleep on D's Leg While Watching The Eye (But not Sauron's)


R.L. in the Shadow of the Valley of

Still feeling the rewrite love. I've about sixty thousand words staring at me now that I'm reasonably happy with, and a slight hole in the middle of the ms -- partly due to the removal of a couple of characters as well as some messy POV interludes -- that I'll be spending the next week patching up.

Who knows, this book might be okay. I'm certainly much more conscious of the beats of the story in this draft, not to mention the characters keep whispering in my ear, and their whispering has been mighty consistent.

Of course, the novella has languished a bit this last couple of weeks, and I'm still waiting on some feedback on the Players - which is vexing, not least because I think I may have dropped the ball on the book. They're the two things that are going to keep me occupied writing-wise until at least November.

Finished Joe Hill's "Heart Shaped Box" thought it was pretty fab, nice brooding horror. Will be very interested to see what he writes next.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rewriting

I'm in the middle of a rewrite - my romantic comedy about the business of death - and I don't think I've ever enjoyed anything more. I'm tightening up the story, removing a couple of characters that just don't work (and were the least organic things in the last draft) and building up the ones that do. The books as pacey a tale as I've ever written, but I feel in control of it.

It's a difficult thing to explain, but the characters and the story are filling the spaces I leave for them with an ease that I have never encountered in my writing before. Which I am sure is in no small part because of the excellent feedback I'd gotten on the previous draft, but hopefully is also some evidence of growth in my writing.

I love these characters and this world, most of it's set in Brisbane so that part's easy, and I'm actually very grumpy when the real world - which is also set in Brisbane :) - intrudes. I'll be sad when the thing is done. Hopefully that's a good sign.

I'm done for the day. It's raining, and I'm actually feeling a bit like a writer (and a little bit like a bicycle).

Monday, July 14, 2008

Doing my Taxes

I hate doing my taxes. But I also sort of love it. I think I'm wrong.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Back From Lismore

Spent the weekend down in Lismore catching up with the various families. Had a great time, and got to see my sister's new house.

Even managed to get a start on Joe Hill's Heart Shaped Box, which has so far proven highly entertaining.

Things learnt: my father-in-law once met Frank Sinatra on a plane out of Fiji. My wife and sister-in-law know the Once More With Feeling soundtrack word perfectly. I can only write in the back seat of a car for about twenty minutes before I start wanting to throw up - but, then again, that could have been the prose style.

I've also started working on developing some sort of methodology to my writing - not a system, or a set of rules, but more a examination of why I do some of the things I do. Which is probably only interesting to me, and really amounts to a reinvention of the wheel, but I might start posting up here from time to time.

Here's the first one: which is more of an aphorism:

Self awareness may be a useful tool for a writer, but self skepticism is even more important.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wordpool

was a blast.

It was great meeting Krissy Kneen. Kim and Josie were utterly entertaining speakers (Kim Wilkins always is*!). And Kate's M.C.ing wonderful (thank you, Kate).

Then there was Terry Whidbourne's sublime artwork, check out his webpage at www.the7thworld.com for just hint of the very cool stuff he is doing. I 'm dying to see more of Queen Bee, and the Edwardian graphic novel he's working on sounded fantastic. He's a very talented artist and I reckon we'll only be seeing more of his artwork in the future.

All in all an excellent night at an excellent bookstore.


*I'm sure the same goes for Josie Montano, too.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

And talking about all things Pseudopodian I see that Shane Jiraiya Cummings has just had himself a story up. You can check it out here.

Oh, and still not in bed yet - but soon, damn it.

Fragments of a Blog or Bloggish Fragments

Ziggy survived his visit to the vet, though less intact. Spent last night fretting over him, so didn't sleep that well, but I did manage to finish Spook Country. One of the things I love most about Gibson's last couple of books is the development of his elegant yet spare writing style. There's something haunting about it like walking through a low key but all pervasive and persuasive dream. Beautiful stuff.

Bought the new Shearwater album today. It's as gorgeous and haunting as Palo Santo, and just as that album has (and still does) I'm sure it will accompany me on many walks, and, as is appropriate for an album called Rook, it has gotten me thinking about a certain bird project that's been rumbling in the back of my mind for over a year now - if only I had time!

Tomorrow is Wordpool Thursday, looking forward to it very much.

Of a similarly aural nature I heard from Pseudopod this afternoon, they're taking my story Clockwork. I loved what they did with Tumble and I reckon this story is even more suited to reading, and it's one of my most personal stories. Very excited to see how it'll turn out.

Was reading a review of Dreaming Again in the June Locus today, apparently I'm a newer star on the Australian SF landscape with Margo Lanagan, and Rjurick Davidson - well I should be so lucky. Rich Horton's review put me in a very good mood indeed. Not least because he points out some of the stories that he enjoyed including a couple of Rorettes' tales.

Far too tired for blogging. The novel rewrite though is going well. Ziggy's restlessness wasn't the only thing that kept me awake last night, I kept running through scenes in my head. I'm starting to live the book, which I'm sure Diana is finding very pleasant.

And it's only going to get worse.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Poor Ziggy

Ziggy is off to the vets tomorrow to be desexed. Poor little fella. Here's a drawing of the little guy, all casual, and unaware of the looming end of his genetic destiny.

New Beginning

I'm paring up my Sword and Sorcery juvenilia with the opening scene from a novel in progress called Empire December.


One of the joys of readings are they give you chance to really look at how something works with an audience. Diana picked this up, started reading it aloud, pointed at a spot about three quarters of the page and said: that's where the novel begins.


And, damn it, she's right.



Of course, I don't have any time to work on this novel at the moment. Death Most Definite is taking up around ninety percent of my thought processes.

Juvenilia

Just three days to Wordpool. Have been practicing my reading of Stilloch of the Jackorich, oh, and those that attend are in for a bloody treat there's more gore in this story than you usually find at the local butchers.

This is my favourite bit of Stilloch, no gore, I'm afraid, and a part I won't be reading from:



(translation: The Old God sighed. Never before had all the god's hopes in fact the whole worlds rested on one man. A man who knew so little of the world.)

Because, well, I knew so very much of the world when I was fifteen, obviously.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Arthur's Pass - no that's not dandruff



Death Most Definite After the Weekend

Had a wonderful weekend of birthday parties, catching up with old friends, Garth Marenghi's Dark Place (thanks, Geordie), a bit of Gencon, and even some rain. And, while I wasn't working nearly as hard as the likes of Marianne, and Sean, this afternoon I managed to fall asleep in my study in what has to be one of the most uncomfortable chairs ever made.

Next week is all Death Most Definite (nee Walking Talking). I've started a new draft, and with a whole bunch of exceptionally helpful readerly comments that have set ideas bouncing around in my skull, I think I might actually be heading towards a good book.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Fifth Star Wow

I just read Margo Lanagan's Fifth Star of the Southern Cross, and wow. Margo has written some absolutely brilliant stories, and like the best of them this just grabbed me, held my head down in its slop bucket of imagery, and didn't let go until it was done. It's dense, brief (though it contains a whole world within that brevity) and visceral. It may well be the best short story I read this year. It's certainly one of the bleakest. I often think of Margo as a fantasist, but this story has reminded me that she can write damn fine unflinching and utterly unsentimental science fiction.

Now I'm even more nervous about my novella!

Ah, to be writing short fiction in a country that already has Terry Dowling, Geoff Maloney, Greg Egan, and Margo Lanagan (not to mention those Williams, Battersbys, Dugans, Peeks, Sussexs and Sparks and a dozen others). It's unsettling I tells ya. Drop the ball a little, eh, I dare you...



*I am very much looking forward to reading Tender Morsels and The Goosle.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Back Announce

Back from a marvelous holiday driving around Christchurch, not to mention spending a day on the Tranzalpine train racing through the snow.

Lots of announcements to make (and one I can't say anything about yet, but has me very happy indeed).


First of all there is this. I'm still not sure how I ended up there, but if an anthology with that line-up doesn't lift your game then nothing will. Now, I just need to finish my novella, it's the most space operaish thing I've ever written - but I think it has a real heart - so if I manage to pull it off, I shouldn't look so lacking. Hey, and those other folk are going to be brilliant. Who wouldn't want to read a new Paul Haines novella? Or, for that matter something of that length by Cat Sparks? And that's not even mentioning Terry Dowling, or Margo Lanagan, or Louise Katz. (Performance anxiety, much?)


Then there's this. Murky Depths has some of the art spreads up on their web page at the moment. Aren't they pretty?


Finally, we have. If you've ever wondered if I could have ever been a worse writer than I am now, well... you can get a chance at Avid Reader on thursday the 10th of July where I'll be reading from my fifteen year old self's sword and sorcery novel Stilloch of the Jakorich. I've just dug this out of a tin chest in the laundry. Here's a sample, well a very rough synopsis.






The details for the event are below (I can't wait to hear what Kim and Josie reading!):




Thursday, 10 July 2008, 18:00 - 19:30

Special Juvenilia QWC Wordpool.



Meet authors Kim WIlkins and Trent Jameson and Josie Montano as they get in touch with their inner young adult. There will be music and illustration by Terry Whidborne and lots of juvenille fun.



Location: Avid Reader Bookshop Contact

email: books at avidreader.com.au
ph 384603422

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mist

Sometimes you shouldn't get what you wish for.

The Mist is one of those pivotal and deeply inspirational stories for me (Lovecraft's the Colour out of Space, is another). I read Stephen King's novella when I was sixteen, and it crouched in my brain and laid eggs there. There was an intimacy in that story, in the face of the inconceivably awful, that I found utterly compelling, and I'd always wondered what it would be like as a movie.

Well, the Mist is a fine movie, but the inconceivable is now conceivable*, and I kind of wish that I hadn't seen it.

Well, too late for that. Still, if you didn't fall in love with the novella when you were a wee nip, I reckon there's a lot to enjoy here, and if you did, well, maybe you'll be better at separating the two mediums.

*I kind of wonder if the person that designed the giant monster at the end of this movie was the same person that designed the monster in Cloverfield - a movie that had the advantage of not being based on a beloved childhood tale.

You're Never as Fit as You Think You Are

You get yourself a bike. You start riding, it's not that hard, which is cool. You don't forget how to ride a bike, eh.

Then you get to something little more than a slight gradient against a tiny breeze and suddenly you can barely make any headway. The muscles in your legs are burning and a little kid whizzes past you on their bmx (with none of those fancy gears your bike has) not even breaking a sweat.

I think it's going to be a while before I can ride anywhere useful - unless it's downhill

Book One is Done and a Lame Sketch

It has a beginning, a middle and an end, and I think it holds together well enough to subject it to readers.


It's even funny(possibly), and thrilling (maybe) and dark in spots - or it's awful, but awful is kind of okay at this stage, because I think I'm heading in the right direction, and if that means digging myself out of a whole heap of awfulness, so be it.


And I can go to NZ without feeling too guilty about a week of very little writing.


Now, here is a quick (lame) sketch of one of my favourite scenes in the book. That's the black swan Tuonela, and the squiggly thing on her back is Beth. They've just escaped the mad Script Editors, that ropey thing in the background is one of the ropes that keeps the curtains of the world from closing.





Oh, and here's a bit from the beginning, not the most elegant way to appear in another world:

Beth wasn't in the school auditorium any more, she wasn't anywhere she recognised at all, except on a stage, in a grand theatre, packed to capacity. Her migraine had just jumped up another notch, otherwise, she might have acted differently, demanded an immediate answer. But the world spun around her like a fairground ride. A horrible, dizzying sick-making ride.

Oh, no. Not now!

But there was nothing she could do. The blood drained from her face, and then, in another world, in front of thousands of people, Beth Williams threw up all over the stage.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Book One Almost Done

I've been busy getting the first book of the Players done. Well, this new draft. I'm a big fan of new drafts, I'm an even bigger fan of finishing them.



I'm actually at a stage with this where I'm almost happy to have people reading the book. My first drafts are always such a mess, but this draft is now possessed of a form, and even some sort of dramatic tension, will wonders never cease.



Between that and getting ready for the South Island, well...



Found out I'm tutoring at QUT next semester - just a few hours a week on the Short Story, but I had so much fun doing this last time, that I'm looking forward to it, once I get over the terror of the first class.



And now here's my favourite recent sketch of little Ziggy.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Heading South

We're going here in just over a week, thanks to my wonderful house sitting sister, Jade (I promise the boys won't be any trouble). I've always wanted to go to the South Island, and, while I know a week isn't nearly enough, it's going to be cold and we're going to kick around mountains, and ride trains, and I'm even going to get some writing done - I hope.

Oh and then there's this. Is there anything more exciting than a new Okkervil River album?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lighterman's Tale

Well, I was extremely chuffed this morning to hear from my bud Dirk Flinthart that my story The Lighterman's Tale is going to be Canterbury 2100. I'm very excited about this, because, for one, I'm sure it's going to be a pretty cool anthology, anything Cat Spark's Agog! Press produces is, and I put a lot of sweat and blood into my story - just trying to get the voice right.

Oh, and my bookshop owning mother-in-law, called me up today to let me know that they'd gotten their hands on a reading copy of this. Which I expect to be a rather fine anthology as well, and which also contains another story of mine that did not come easily to me, but of which I am awful proud.

See, I'm almost looking prolific.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Line War

Just finished (well, on Sunday, but I've been busy) reading Neal Asher's latest book Line War. Have to say that not only does it wrap up the Ian Cormac series satisfactorily, it's a damn fine action SF read, with all the explosions you could ever want, and an utterly thrilling sense of scale.

I really don't know anyone that does this sort of high octane Space Opera better. Highly recommended if you're looking for something entertaining, witty, and fast-paced. The Cormac books are Asimov's Foundation series strapped to a supernova.

Monday, June 02, 2008

It Never Rains But it Pours

That's Brisbane for you. Wet. Wet. Wet. Still, managed quite a bit of writing today (well, there wasn't anything else to do) and then sat down and got through quite a bit of Neal Asher's Line War. As usual, it's a highly entertaining read, certainly the perfect way to spend a wet evening.

Another entertaining (and free) read can be found here. I think Simon is really about to break out, and he certainly deserves it, I know* few writers that have worked as hard at their career as him. Check it out here.



*Not that I know Simon, but I've certainly admired his approach to his career.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Grant

Today I wrote an outline for a new novel that I'm utterly crazy to consider starting, but I probably will, if only on the weekends. I was wondering why I am feeling so creative at the moment, and why I have managed to finish so much over the last six months or so, and (well, duh) it is mostly because I received a grant from the Australia Council for the Arts last year. It has given me the time and the head space to not only write the material I was given the grant for, but also to finish another novel, several short stories, and even consider a new novel. It has also allowed me to say yes to a couple of projects that I'm not certain I would have been able to complete otherwise, so I reckon that's value for money.

To anyone that has applied for a grant this year, I say, good luck! And to anyone that is considering applying for a grant: well you should just go for it. What have you got to lose? You certainly have a hell of a lot to gain, and not just the confidence that comes from people saying: "we believe enough in this project to give you money for it." It's that space to breathe, to make mistakes, and to create. It's bloody priceless. I wouldn't have traded the last twelve months for anything.

Rain

Brisbane is experiencing that most peculiar of events: precipitation. While the city is all too familiar with perspiration, we have forgotten what rain is like. Indeed, despite the hike in petrol prices, half of Brisbane seems to have decided that today is a very good day for a drive. So, not only are the roads slick and soaking they're rather crowded.

And everyone is wearing a jacket or a coat, and most of these coats are at least ten years old, a sizable portion of them date from the eighties. Brisbane is a relatively fashionable city, but come a cold, wet spell, and you're liable to see half the population dressed like extras in Miami Vice. Of course, my old grey jacket never goes out of style!


this picture was taken with my eeepc when I should have been writing


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

No Sleep Means a Plot

2 in the morning I was rudely awoken by two dogs barking at possums warring (and it was a mighty sort of battling with clumping and banging from roof to tree and back again) and that was that, I couldn't get back to sleep. So, instead, I plotted a novel based on Day Boy. It may come as no surprise to some, but I rarely plot anything, but this has come to me fully formed - of course I don't have time to write it, but maybe, if I could just routinely wake at 2 in the morning...

Day Boy itself started with nothing more than a voice, and the image of two boys lounging and smoking in a vampire's crypt and making faces at the sleeping monster and his "solemn dreams".

But I think there's more there and the voice keeps rattling in my skull, so we'll see.

Lack of sleep must suit me, made more breakthroughs with a certain story today then I have all year.

Cosmos 21 is Out and About

Cosmos 21 is out and about. Not only is Cosmos my favourite monthly popular Science Magazine (and yes, I do subscribe) this issue contains my story Delivery - and some pretty nifty artwork by Jamie Tufrey.

There's also plenty of cool stuff on Robots, Space Elevators, and Russell Blackford has written a brief history of Australian SF.

There's even a brief review of Aurealis 38/39 in which Tansy Rayner Robert's story The Scent of Milk gets a nice write up.

Can't tell you how chuffed I am to be in this magazine. This one my parents can actually pick up at their local Newsagents! So thank you Damien, and thank you Wilson - hope people like the story.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Bit Flash: Owl

Here's a piece that was originally published and performed here. If you haven't checked out the 1001 Night's Cast site you should, there's some excellent flash fiction here - including a few pieces by the wonderful M. John Harrison. I thought the idea of Barbara Campbell's performance piece was wonderful, and was so pleased to have a small(miniscule) part in it.

Here is one of my stories, well, a version of it. I'm very fond of it, and think that it may be the best piece of flash fiction that I have written (like writers can ever judge their own work).

OWL

The room was like all the other rooms that Tara had stayed in, in that particular hotel, down to the painting on the wall above the bed: a sort of nocturne of an owl, perched on a tree branch in front of a brown expanse of river. The owl stared gloomily out at the room. It was definitely an owl, but there was no way of telling what sort of owl, and that bothered her because; she liked birds; considered herself a bit of an amateur ornithologist; and she really thought that that was something the artist should have considered when painting the bird, at least in the name of verisimilitude. The artist may as well have substituted the picture with the word Owl, in fact if they had, Tara would have been happier because then she would have imagined a Grass Owl, Tyto longimembris, a truly timid, beautiful predator, and one that would have suited the location depicted, and the gloomy expression that the artist had painted upon the face of the non-specific owl: grass Owls were racing towards extinction. Perhaps that was what pained her most about the picture, because within it, Grass owls didn't exist, only something that looked like an owl.

But was that too much to ask of a picture?

Tara followed this train of thought while he entered her, as she had, while he had, in every other room that they used within the hotel. Her orgasm when it came, if it came, would be non-specific. They made love, like the owl in the picture, non-specifically, and gloomily. Which made her wonder, as he gasped and moved above her, why she kept having the affair?

Oh, she knew why. Because it made her feel something. But in truth her deepest feelings came from regarding that owl, from considering it from all angles.

And she had had ample opportunity in this room, and in all the others.

She loved her husband.

But this, coming here, fulfilled something else.

A non-specific something, she supposed. It allowed her to explore the part of her that hated her husband, because he was all too her husband, because there was always an equal measure of love and hate in every relationship and a certain will to self destruction. Not that she wanted their relationship to end, but ten years, with no big shift, nor even more than a handful of little ones, this affair had been an inevitable.

She knew that, just like the owl, their love could be replaced with a small piece of paper on which was written the word love. She could even imagine the sort of paper it would be: soft and cream coloured and ragged around the edges. She would hold it in her hand, and pass it to him, warm with the heat of her hand, and then he would hold it, delicately, regarding the plain font with his brown eyes, perhaps breathing on it, then he would pass it back, her poor cuckolded husband would pass it back.

But then this affair was little different. It too, could be summed up with mere words, written on fragments of paper. Though the handwriting would be messier, less precise. And the paper lined, perhaps torn out of an exercise book.

Affair.

Orgasm.

Owl.

She put a hand against her lover's chest. Brought him to halt. He looked at her, dismayed, nearly as gloomy as the owl in the picture, though with an edge of anger. She shook her head.

Sullen, he stalked from the room. He was a good man, in his way. And she felt genuine affection for him, but she had grown tired. He was some time in the bathroom.

Enough for her to dress and to write a single word on the back of a piece of yellow envelope paper, that she did not even bother to warm with her hands.

Over.

She wrote, underlining it, and tracing the words, so that they appeared stark, and thick, and definite.

The single word as real as any goodbye that she could have said, and just as final, even if it was only written in blue biro, and stood in for the words that she should have said but couldn't. And then she fled the room.

The owl watched her from the painting, but could not judge, because it was merely an owl, but not any particular type of owl, and lacked the certainty required that a better artist might have given it.

The Week that Wasn't (Endlessly, He Said)

Not exactly the most productive of weeks, though I am nursing a few stories in the back of my skull, and have the seed of a novel that I may have time to work on towards the end of the year. My Cosmos story Delivery should be out in the next couple of weeks. This is the most skiffy story I've written in the past twelve months or so, and certainly the most straightforward, I'll be interested to see what people think of it.

Currently finishing up my kid's book (work) titled The World's a Stage - which has taken me far longer than I thought it would, but there have been reasons beyond my control for that - received some extremely helpful feedback on it this week, which I think will see it a much tighter more psychologically insightful tale.

Enjoying a Carlton Mid with my blogging this evening (not a bad mid-strength beer that still tastes like beer), and listening to AFI - my guiltiest of misery-angst-anthemic-rock-pop pleasures. Not a bad way to shuffle along into the night at all.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Free Peek

If, like me, you're a fan of Ben Peek's fiction, and you love his Red Sun stories, you should most definitely check this out.

Ben is just finishing up a novel set in the world of the Red Sun, hopefully someone will be wise enough to snap it up immediately, so we can all read it soon.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Murky Depths Copy Arrives

I got my copy of Murky Depths today.

The artwork for my story is gorgeous, and dark, and fits the story perfectly - thank you Mr Brian Troll - I can't imagine it was easy.

you just know you want it


It has a cover, and you can preorder it here (and not just the cover)

Sunrise Moonrise

Sometimes when the world hurls a whole heap of shit at you, you just have to decide to make what you can out of it, see it as an excuse to put yourself in interesting places. Diana has taken the term off due to illness, so we ended up, thanks to some very generous friends, this week on the beach north of Caloundra.

Woke up before dawn and walked to the water. The coral sea was a flat dark mass, noisy and shuddering at the edge, but, for the most part, still. A low band of cloud streaked the horizon like a strip of pearly dark fat in the meat of the sky. I watched the sun set a match to it. Had the beach to myself for that fire.

There's a fair bit of dust in the air at the moment, sunsets and sunrises have been beautiful things, dirty pastel striations slipping from orange to steely gray; all the sediments of the sun's passage set upon the horizon. And the moon's been a great copper coin in the sky. It's hard to believe that we can breathe this air, maybe we don't, maybe it just settles inside us like sand.
Could explain my hay fever.

The moonrise was even more beautiful, a fat full moon lifting out of the horizon, rising over what had to be one of the biggest cargo ships I'd ever seen. It's a damn beautiful coastline, sometimes it's nice to be reminded of that.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Murky Depths - subscription offer

Murky Depths - you may have heard of them, hello, my story Day Boy is in the latest issue* - are running a subscription offer. You can check it out here.

One of the problems with subscribing to UK publications is the poor performance of the Aussie dollar over there - makes it a bit `spensive. But this is a way of addressing that issue. If you like dark fantasy/horror, with a leavening of some pretty neat and very dark** comic strips you should check it out.

Here's a link to the PDF tasters here and here.

This is a magazine that I feel has improved with every issue, I'm fascinated to see where it goes.



*of which M.J. Sellars has already said: Just finished reading Trent Jamieson’s 'Day Boy'. Superb. The quality of the writing is excellent: fractured and immediate but rhythmic and mesmerising. There’s an awful lot of emotion for such a short story and a real weight of history to the thing. And I don’t even like vampire stories.
How cool is that?

**well you're not likely to get cheery shiny bunny stuff from the likes of Richard Calder author of the excellent novel The Twist or Luke Cooper who's stuff kind of scares me, and you still have an opportunity to get in the ground floor with (though he is liable to chop you up into tiny gory pieces***).

*** My lawyers have suggested that this is libelous. I'm sure Luke Cooper is a great guy and has never chopped anyone up, not even for research which we can't say about da Vinci now can we?

Writing Two Types - Pieces of Process

I have two writing minds, and they are located in separate times of the week. Weekends are for writing shorts and non-fiction. My weekdays are for novels. It seems to be the way my subconscious likes to work because, I suppose, up until the last year, most of my writing was short fiction, and most of that was done by necessity on the weekends (or on the train to and from work*).

This weekend I've managed to write and submit an article to a US mag, and start on a short story project that that had been languishing a little. The article I started before sunrise on Saturday, and it was an absolute blast, and so fun to write that I'd finished a pretty good draft in time to take the dogs for a walk before nine - where I got the idea for another article, which, if I'm on the ball I might just write up this evening**.

The short story has been a more fractured thing. Bits and pieces here and there. But it's starting to take shape, we'll see how it looks next weekend, eh.

Have high hopes for the week, should have a more or less complete second draft of the Players by Friday, am currently working on the scenes in the poisonous Hamlet-inspired world of Belladonna, where something does indeed smell rotten. Fingers crossed.



*unfortunately I don't have a train at home.
**though I do have a copy of Neal Asher's Line War just looking at me, waiting to get its mycelium hooks in.