Friday, May 30, 2008
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.
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!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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?
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.
That's wintery for our fair city.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
Talking the other day about my Leiber inspired characters got me thinking about this story. It was published back in 1999 in an online Journal called Electric Wine, but I'd been working on it since my very early teens, it's about as Sword and Sorcery as I get, so if you're interested it's there. And hey, someone bought it, even paid a reasonable amount of money for it - of course, back then the Australian Dollar wasn't nearly as strong as it is now.
For all it's obvious flaws there's still something that I like about this story.
Looks like we might be off to Christchurch soon, and soaking in the mountains of the South Island, which is always exciting to a boy who grew up here* and didn't see snow until he was thirty three, and who has a book to write which has a lot of mountains in it, and who never gets a real Winter because he lives in Brisbane where the biggest mountain is this (I mean, some people are taller than that!).
Oh, and then I bought some James Squire Amber Ale, which is why I'm writing this I suppose.
*and what the hell is the deal with this picture? I'm telling you, we didn't spend much time hanging out in fields in formal gear.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Well this afternoon, after another days rewriting (which at the moment is less rewriting more filling in holes with spak filler (tm) ) I grabbed Diana's mp3 (oh, yeah, I destroyed mine today, gravity and old style 20GB non-solid state mp3s not good, when the ground included in the equation. Now the only noise it makes is the hardrive scratching against the reader, is there a more Lovecraftesque sound of despair? I loved that player, we discovered Okkervil River together, we discovered the Decemberists and the Arcade Fire and now, all there is is scratch scratch scratch (so maybe, that is more of a rats in the walls kind of Lovecraftian noise than the cold whistling of a heartless universe, but it's rather dreadfull either way))* and walked out the door.
Half an hour in I wasn't thinking about anything, just enjoying the way it felt to climb a hill, (or dodge a car because I wasn't paying attention to the traffic). I came across a young scrub turkey digging up someone's front yard, we smiled at each other, the world was good.
And it still is.
*do you remember where that sentence started, holy suspended sentence, Batman.**
**yes, I am highly whimsical today. Fey even.
Or this on Neil Gaiman's blog. My favourite line being: Style is what you get wrong, that makes what you do sound like you.
I'm not one for advice: which doesn't mean I don't listen to editors or peer at good old Strunk and White. But I like (somewhat perversely) to see what other writers do and feel paranoid that my "process", comparatively, is made of little more than twigs and sticky tape (when I'm lucky enough to have a roll and not even the good sort, but the stuff that sticks to itself and your fingers most of the time).
To all those people who've told me how much they liked (or disliked) the podcast of Tumble, thank you. I've been absolutely bowled over that people have taken the time and effort to let me know. That little story, which was utterly, utterly troublesome and contrary, has had more legs than I ever expected it to.
And once again, if you haven't tried to submit something to Pseudopod (or its kin) you really should. They've been a pleasure to deal with, and who doesn't want more of an audience?
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
That doesn't mean I don't enjoy reading writers that keep returning to a particular setting. I love Ben Peek's Red Sun stories for instance, and I adore Marrianne De Pierres Straddie stories. Then, of course, there's Fritz Leiber's Nehwon stories, and Jeff Vandermeer's tales of Ambergris.
All of these are places I like to inhabit occasionally, and all of them are works that are greater than the sum of their parts (and I love the parts, believe me). Perhaps that's the chief requirement and challenge of a series. A challenge ably met by all of these authors.
Ah, it's terrible when your friends write this good!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
No, I did not sever the heads of my dogs for these drawings!
Monday, May 12, 2008
A plastic bag from the bathroom bin.
The lid to the bin.
And, finally, a bra.
Ah, the little scamp. I think he might be building something.
Yes, I am positively looking for distractions today.
Oh, and now he's dragging the cat around the house. The cat that is almost twice his size.
Back to Chapter three.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Feeling in need of a bit of debrief I trawled the net and found this in an interview with Gibson on his webpage:
Something that started with Pattern Recognition was that I†discovered I could Google the world of the novel. I began to regard it as a sort of extended text — hypertext pages hovering just outside the printed page. There have been threads on my Web site — readers Googling and finding my footprints. I still get people asking me about "the possibilities of interactive fiction," and they seem to have no clue how we're already so there.
There is something there. I'm not quite sure what I'm thinking, or if I'm just bumping into the obvious about fifteen years behind everyone else. But there's something incredibly liberating and terrifying in the notion.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Which is unsettling, because I am firm believer that fear in a story occurs in direct proportion to empathy for the characters within it. Does that mean I'm dreadful at characterisation? Well, that's a door I don't particularly want to open.
I'd like to think I've managed disturbing, but that's relatively easy.
Now, I'm wondering if it's because my stories tend to grow the seeds of a particular image or a sentence that starts spinning around in my skull rather than a particular intent to produce one emotion or another. The few pieces I've begun with the desire to create a scare are ones I've never managed to sell.
Perhaps it's just that I scare easily. All you need is a long hallway, or a loud noise behind a door, and I'm begging off to do the washing up, or hiding behind the couch. Sad but true.
Still, I'd really like to one day create the feeling of must-lift-feet-up-onto-the-couch-so-that something-doesn't-grab-my-ankles dreadery that first reading H.P. Lovecraft's Colour from Space or Stephen King's Gramma gave me. Or, better yet, the still haunting – that way lies madness - image of the shifting curtain in Terry Dowling's truly fabulous story Beckoning Nightframe.
So, who's writing stuff that terrifies you? Who am I missing out on?
It's a fine looking magazine. I'm glad to have a story in it, and it's part of the whole Trent looks sort of prolific month or two that's been going on.
If you'd like to buy a copy, and who wouldn't want something that lovely, eh, you can do so here. They even have a couple of sample pdfs that you can try before you buy.
Enough of the pimpery. The weather here has been absolutely delightful, am about to go out in it and enjoy the sunset: something my Day Boy would have dreaded.
Friday, May 09, 2008
Sometimes the publishing gods look down and smile.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Just finished a really excellent Coopers Best Extra Stout, which does make the old Hahn Super Dry I am currently sipping on seem rather lacking, but when you tend to only buy a couple of beers at the bottleshop what can you do?
There's a rather nice review of my oddly autobiographical story "When I was thirteen I ate my City" over here.
My favourite bit of the review is this:
It might make even the old at heart decide to go on a rampage and devour a city themselves. Unfortunately, the city of Brisbane has already been consumed by the boy in the tale.
But there's plenty of other city's out there. So give it a go.
I don't know if I would have ever written this story but for Rob Hood. While I never submitted it to Daikaiju, I'm sure that's what planted the idea in my head.
Just this morning, I was tapping away on my kid's book (you know the grant one) across the road from where Diana was seeing her doctor, and I realized that I sold my first story 14 years ago almost to the day.
Now that was my first sale. It was to Eidolon, and that sale took me about four years to make. Which means that I've been writing with the intent of publication for 18 years. That's a "career" which has almost spanned two decades.
Is it a successful career? Nah, and yup.
But more yup. For nearly two decades I've been writing short stories, enjoying the process, and selling the buggers. I've even put out a collection, won an award, and received a Grant from the Arts Council to write a book that I really, really wanted to write. Hell, I've even had fan mail. I've actually published enough short stories now that I've forgotten some of them, though the moment I read a line or two, I'm instantly back where I wrote the thing. Every story's a memory, be it the failed relationship that spawned Threnody, or the fear of losing my wife that's spawned, well, just about every story I've ever written since I fell in love with her.
I haven't been incredibly prolific, the short story count stands at around 70, and some of those are really short. I've made probably around 20k from the writing, most of which was last year, some of which was for writing on writing, and a few hundred taking a couple of tutes at QUT. Hardly a mighty income, but not bad for someone that most people have never heard of.
Of course I've had things fall through – and there's going to be more of them, and I'll cheerfully, tooth-grindingly announce them here. I still haven't managed to see a novel of mine in print. Oh, and I've failed, miserably and utterly at some projects. All of which have been, to a smaller or lesser degree, heartbreaking.
But, Christ, I've enjoyed it; the writing; the making things up; the unexpected places your brain can take you. That's all good.
And I'm still enjoying it. So, yup, successful “career”.
Friday, May 02, 2008
Wasn't much up to writing today, you know how it is: managed a couple of hours, then spent the bulk of my day, getting things ready to be sent off. Had a rejection yesterday that spurred me to action - also got me thinking about some of the weaknesses of my prose. You need those sorts of rejections every now and then (sure, you don't want them, but you need them).
Writing's all about choices and sometimes you need someone to ask you why you chose to do something a certain way. And then, you really don't want to have to answer, because I was being lazy. That's a bad answer.
Beginning the flood of shorts that are going to make me look mildly prolific, Day Boy should be available here, any day now.