Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sometimes it's the little

milestones that keep you going. I broke the 30k mark on the new novel today, wrote some rather harrowing scenes - the sort that pick at your personal fears - and started filling in some scenes that were rather loose.

My first drafts are rather windswept affairs, high on feeling and action, and not so full of sense, but the story is taking root and I 'm starting to catch sight, over this hill and that dale of text, of the ending, and I'm thinking that this book may even be better than the first one.

What's even more important is that, while each of these books is a separate entity, I now have a very clear picture of what the next book is going to be (and, heaven help me, if I get a chance to write it, the one after that).

I never thought I'd get a chance to create my own mythos*, but I have, and I'm taking a deathly** serious stab at it. How often do you get the opportunity to probe the loose teeth of your psyche and get paid for it?

*Though if you're interested I have another story cycle, which has something of a conclusion in this. Though I do want to write more stories about a certain cattish ship called Trim when I have time.

**yes, that really is a horrible pun.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Little Linkage - It's all I have time for.

Peter Singer has written an interesting piece on the importance of an education in the Humanities here.

Certainly worth checking out.

And that increasingly exciting writer, Peter M Ball has written a fine story, read it here.

We're in the middle of a great and wonderful ferment in Australian SF. So much good stuff is happening. There's hardly a day when I don't come across some interesting bit of Australian SF, or hear of some new book coming out.

I mean we've new novels by Marianne de Pierres to look forward to, Richard Harland's Worldshaker is getting about, and there's a Deborah Biancotti short story collection nearly out. How can you not be excited?

And then my dear friend, and Avid colleague, Krissy Kneen's new book is being launched on Thursday. Let me tell you, this book is going to explode, and then the explosions are going to explode. It's not SF, but it comes from that honest place that all good books come from - and I'm not talking about Alstonville.

So what's getting past my radar?

Let me know, what I'm missing or have forgotten, or what you're writing, if you have more time than I do.

It's certainly more exciting than word counts and photos of me staring slack jawed at the camera from the dim distance of my holidays - oh, those halcyon days, I do miss you.

Monday, July 20, 2009

So, I'm a Tolkien Tragic

Yes, I've heard that Sean Bean is going to be playing Lord Eddard Stark in the HBO adaptation of A Game of Thrones which is very cool, but I'm even more excited by this. They've started rebuilding Hobbiton for the adaptation of the Hobbit. I'm such a LOTR tragic that I've actually been there (and Rivendell, and a whole bunch of other LOTR locations in NZ). The Hobbit is one of those wonderful books from my childhood. I was already reading Science Fiction by then, thanks to Dr Who, but the Hobbit was the book that got me reading fantasy, and is probably the reason I still see my self as a fantasist.

So here's me indulging in my dagdom to the max.

Here I am standing outside of a hobbit home. Note I am a little taller than the average hobbit.

Diana and I squat uncomfortably in Bag End

And here's a bored local.

A day later, Diana was so embarrassed by her geekdom that she jumped off this*

*yes, that is my wife. I stayed bravely on the ground, someone had to guard our things.

Today was

a productive day.

Three thousand and a bit words, which is pretty good for me - and I even managed to clean the bathroom. I now know all the major threads of the story, and I'm even beginning to understand my character's motivations - thank goodness for that, eh.

This stage of the writing process is very much like wiping the steam off the bathroom mirror and discovering that you have a good half dozen scary, horrible, and, hopefully, interesting things standing behind you.

Still a lot of steam to remove though.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Buranda State School Fete and Science Fiction Sunday

I had a fun day at the Buranda State School Fete, talking about writing and books, with school kids and parents, and hanging out with Louise Cusack and Meg Vann - it was great to get to know them a little better.

Thanks to Anthony Brown for organising the whole thing. It's a fantastic school, and I managed to pick up a swag of really cool secondhand books at one of the stalls. I now have a very well -loved copy of T.H. White's Once and Future King, a book I've always wanted to read but have never gotten around to, and an equally loved copy of Ray Bradbury's S is for Spaceship. I ended up with six books in various states of belovedness, and now have two thirds of LOTR with cool covers from the seventies (yeah, it's a weakness, like buying copies of the Ballantine edition of Lud-in-the-Mist whenever I find it*)

*Talking of which we'll be discussing Hope Mirlees' classic novel in an upcoming SF Sunday at Avid Reader. We're** doing a lot of cool stuff with SF Sunday, our next meeting's in a couple of weeks where we'll be discussing psychedelic fiction and then reading Michael Moorcock's classic Behold the Man.

**that being the hyper organised much less flighty and given to rambling Paul Landymore

A Bit more on Slights - Warning. May Contain Enthusiasm

So I'm not the one for indepth criticism, and I've been known to get madly enthusiastic. But there's so much interesting fiction being written in Australia right now. More authors than I can name without forgetting someone, and that's not counting my ROR family: all of whom are thrilling me with their fiction.

Slights is Kaaron Warren's first book from Angry Robot (she has another two coming) and I can't wait to see them. Slights is to Australian Horror what The Shining was to American. I honestly believe that if anyone ever says to you that the Great Australian Horror novel hasn't been written then you can point to Slights, or bash them over the head with it. It's a masterpiece of voice, a bleak and haunting novel that gets it's hooks into you and yanks, all the while scratching its broken nails down the blackboard of your psyche.

Kaaron Warren has set the standard by which all future Australian horror novels will have to be judged*.

That is all.

*of course, feel free to disagree, but I'm glad I'm not writing horror.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Slow and Ache Aloud

Slow and Ache is up and aloud at Terra Incognita, Keith Stevenson's SF podcasting site. Check out all the other stories there too.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sometimes when

the writing’s not going as well as I would like, and I get a bit grumbly, I suddenly remember what it is I’m doing, and how bloody lucky I am.

I’m getting to write three books about Death, my favourite literary character (or nature incarnate or whatever). I’m getting to put my own stamp on it, and that’s a very cool opportunity to have. Sure, I’m not the first, the last, or even the only one doing it, but I’m the only me doing it, and if I’d told my fifteen year old SF writing self that this is what I would end up writing about, he’d have looked at me and said: Of course.*

That fifteen year old always knew I’d have a shot at this. He was a pretty dreadful writer, and the progenitor of a lot of my bad writerly habits (run-on sentences anybody?) but he never stopped believing that this was where I was headed. Of course, he expected it to happen a lot sooner. Fifteen year olds always do.

So, yeah, I’m writing about Death. Even on the worst days that cheers me. You rarely get the chance to write (in a paid capacity with real books coming out) exactly what you want. I hope people will want to read them just as much as I’ve wanted to write them.

*He’d have also asked, when I got the glasses and if that wasn’t caused by something that fifteen-year-old boys are fond of to distraction.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Coming up.

From July 15 over at Terra Incognita you'll be able to hear me read Slow and Ache. There's been some fabulous readings from the likes of Bill Congreve, Cat Sparks and Jason Nahrung. Definitely worth checking out. And, if you're interested in finding a partial context for my upcoming novella Iron Temple, Slow and Ache is a good start.

This story won me an Aurealis Award back in 2005, and was read by about ten people, so if you want to know what all the fuss was about - and if it was J.F. (Justified Fuss*) check it out .

* not to be confused with F.J. (Fuss Justified): the distinction is subtle, but it's there.

Monday, July 06, 2009


I bought a copy of Kaaron Warren's novel Slights at work (my other work, yes I have three jobs) yesterday. What an utterly compelling read, if I wasn't being such a disciplined writer (yes, I can be, thank you very much) I would have given myself over to it.

Kaaron like Margo Lanagan*, and, well, like all my favourite writers, is at once disturbing, dark, and utterly truthful, in the way that good fiction is truthful. It's a wounding, powerful and fascinating read - I'm utterly jealous of her.

Get yourself a copy today.

*who's been in the news of late - you know you're doing something right when you make a bit of a stir.

I'm not

a big fan of word counts - though I'm always curious to see what other writers are up to, it's never really the number of words that I'm interested in but the particular words used and their combination with other words, that make up the molecular chemistry of their stories. Which is really just to say that numbers aren't that exciting, unless they're your numbers.

The words I got down today are very much keeping me on track - hoping to have a rough (very rough) draft of the next book finished in the next six weeks. Also discovered a few things I didn't know about my characters, which is always exciting - one of my leads is developing a drinking problem (and, no, that is not autobiographical), another is seeing rather too much of themselves in a person they despise, and Snowball Earth is proving to be an important and rather unexpected plot point.

I've pretty much put down the pivotal scenes, and am starting to link them up and, in the linking, see what's working and what isn't. If it all goes to plan I should have a cohesive draft by the middle of August. Fingers crossed, eh.

A few things arrived via email and the post today that made me feel rather chuffed - including the copyedits of Iron Temple (maybe the last Space Operaish thing I ever write. Keith Stevenson's done a fabulous job, and I don't think I made it easy on him) and a package from Orbit of some very enticing novels - more about these later, eh.

Iron Temple's noisy and messy, and I'm really very nervous about it. I know X6 is going to be fabulous but that story burned serious holes in my cortex. I'll be interested to see how it's received. In fact, I'll be interested in what I think about it when I read the copyedit.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A Typical Writing Day

Today was a typical writing day. Once I'm in a project the writing doesn't really stop, the file stays open and I'm back and forwards, adding things, thinking about things. Trying to find the right way to describe a character's movements, or their voice, or the way a particular bit of the world works.

The writing tends to fuse with the rest of my day creating a bit of tension between what's going down on the page and what's distracting me from it. It seems to work, but is never really all that relaxing. That said, it's one of my favourite bits of the novel writing process. It's still all new and shiny and full of possibility - particularly in the things that I can link up to the previous book. There's a lot of dialogue, a lot of action, and not a lot of concrete detail - that's for draft two, when I try and sort out the logic not only of plot, but of space, and motion (oh, and what the hell it is that I'm actually saying).

Another twenty thousand words and things will be a bit more of a challenge, but at the moment I'm still finding connections with the stuff I'm writing and the stuff I've written, and it's all rather fun.

My turn to cook dinner.