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.

Brrrr

Brisbane got to play at winter today. I even wore a scarf when I took the dogs for a walk - though I felt pretty lame walking past people in shorts and t-shirts. Yes it got down to a low 11 degrees c - though the windchill would have brought it lower.

That's wintery for our fair city.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dreaming Again on Voyager Online

If you're interested in Jack Dann's new anthology Dreaming Again (and why wouldn't you be, after all I'm in it) check out the Voyager website, where Jack will be talking about the anthology. I may have a story in it, but I just loved Dreaming Down Under. I'm excited to see just what's inside the cover of this new one.

The Sky turned a Glorious Raw Umber and then

we had rain. A storm, and about the first drops of serious rain we've had in Brisbane in months. Wonderful.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Wee Bit of Juvenilia - Trail

I've just added a story to Trentodumpicon.

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.

Excellent Days of Which there Should be More

Caught up with my friend Grace today for coffee, then had lunch with Diana, and while she ran off and sorted out some errands of excitementitude, I even managed a couple of hours writing and sorting out two things of troublesomeness.

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

Walking

I think I've got my walking mojo back. If you're one of those people that read this blog regularly (ie my family, well they tell me they do anyway) this hasn't been the greatest year at the Jamieson household, a lot of health stuff in the main. Of course, there's been some excellent things going on as well, which is life - but you've gotta have a moan, haven't ya.

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.

Stylish Togetherness

Most of the time I feel that every writer I know has it more together than me. They've got some sort of Master Plan, while I'm just stumbling along whistling, tripping over a whole heap of stuff and scuffing my shoes. So it's always nice to read something like this on Justine Larbalestier's altogether sensible and entertaining (even if she likes cricket) blog.

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

Serial Worlds in the Short Form

I've been thinking about worlds and settings. I tend to see all my stories as linked, but there are some that are more obviously part of a linked tale. Slow and Ache and Porcelain Salli are set in the same universe (as is the novella I'm working on for a certain project) and I did try my hand at a heroic fantasy sequence (and in the end it was too close, and far, far inferior, to Fritz Leiber for my liking) but that's about it for me.

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.

A taste of Chaos Space

Marianne De Pierres' much anticipated Chaos Space may still be a while off, but you can get a taste of it here. Check it out. Dark Space was one of my favourite reads last year, and this book promises to be even better.

Ah, it's terrible when your friends write this good!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Today was much more productive. And that was even on the back of some rather sad though expected news - more on that later, maybe.


Still things are going along nicely enough that even a few bumps (and a couple of monstrous potholes) in the road can't really spoil the drive. Started book two of the Players today, and it doesn't seem to suck, means I'm probably going to start heading down to the library in the mornings to write it up - that place has been good to me, in the last year I've written two novels by hand there, two pretty good novels, I reckon.



No, I did not sever the heads of my dogs for these drawings!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Unproductive

This has been a truly unproductive day. I did post off a contract, and sort out a bridging sort of paragraph. But that's it. Bah.

Maybe I'll get a burst of energy tonight.

Bah.

Ok, so the house isn't that Clean

I just saw Ziggy trot past my door with these things:

A sock.

A shoe.

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.

Clean House Means Chapter Three Has Stalled

A clean house means that Trent is procrastinating.

House is clean - I even polished the furniture. Oh, and I just folded my laundry.

It's the end of days, I tell ya.

BECAUSE THERE ARE TOO MANY CHARACTERS IN CHAPTER THREE.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pattern Recognition

I've just finished reading William Gibson's Pattern Recognition. This book has taken me far too long to read, but not through any lack of the text, more through the place I have been over the last couple of months. Anyway, if you haven't read it, I can highly recommend it.

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.

Hmm.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ain't Got the Dreads

I was thinking today, as one does when one is an onanistic as I am, about my writing, and about how hard it is to write a really scary story. I don't think I've ever managed it – please let me know if you disagree. In fact, I don't think I've even managed scary.

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?

Look At this Would Ya

Well, Day Boy is gadding about out there in the always entertaining Murky Depths. I am dying to have a gander at the internal artwork, but here's the cover.



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

Illustrated Joy

I saw the illustrations for an upcoming story of mine today, and they're brilliant. I've been extremely lucky with the illustrations that have run with my stories, but these were exactly how I had imagined them.

Sometimes the publishing gods look down and smile.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Ziggy on Diana's Legs


Beer and a Nice Review

Beer being one of my favourite things, I am quite pleased that I can actually indulge myself again. While I was sick I didn't touch a lick of alcohol, which was fine, sore throats and beer don't really mix - regardless of what you may have heard. But now I am back.

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.

Despair and Successful Career

There are some very wise words here.

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

Choices

Things are still crazy in Casa Jamieson. But they're starting to settle down, we hope.

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.