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.

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.


That is all.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


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


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


was a blast.

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

Then there was Terry Whidbourne's sublime artwork, check out his webpage at 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.


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.