I CONSIDER MYSELF A FASS… A FASLY… A FACILILY… A TEACHER

My stint as Writer-in-Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre approaches like a monster riding a runaway train over a cliff while on fire (Of course I’m ready. Why wouldn’t I be ready? What would make you think that? Ha. Ha ha ha. Oh, you. Am I ready, you ask. Hahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaahhhhhccccchhhhhh…..)

From the 10th to the 24th I’ll be ensconced in one of the Centre’s delightful cabins; staring out at the beautiful gardens while I pretend to write; visiting writing groups to spread love, bonhomie and my usual blend of fatuous advice; mentoring aspiring authors who haven’t yet worked out what a complete fraud I am; and generally living the life of a swanny writah dahling while I work on my next round of rejection fodder.

I’ll also be helming a workshop:

World Building 101 will be an intense, 3 hour session in what I do best– bringing the odd into the mundane; tipping normality so that it doesn’t look quite right, whatever angle you view it from; and generally injecting a note of weirdness into your work. We’ll be discussing, and practicing, the elements of fantasy world-building, and smashing through a series of exercises designed to give participants the beginnings of a whole bunch of different fantastical stories. You can see my full itinerary here, including the literary dinner on the 11th July, for which tickets are still available.

The workshop takes place from 1-4pm, Saturday 22 July, at the KSP in Greenmount. Bookings are open now through Eventbrite.

PRECIOUS THINGS: COLIN SHARPE

Colin Sharpe is one of those irritatingly handsome men who you can’t hate because he’s also extremely likable and manages to keep the terrifying things he does to kittens a secret. He’s a father, a cyclist, a rock-climber, hockey player, an Inventory Controller and an artist, but not always in that order. He has been involved in many aspects of Perth fandom, in many different roles, and was proudly one of the editors of the superb manga anthology Xuan Xuan.

Here he discusses his passion for comic books, and reveals his Precious Thing as an issue that those of us who were there at the time will recall with the kind of horrified fascination that we had the first time Johnny Depp sucked, or Al Pacino did that weird shouty thing he does, or the first time we saw Rob Liefeld’s work, or heard a Mariah Carey song, or realised Steven Segal was serious……

Precious Things: Colin Sharpe

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FIVE FOR FRIDAY: FAVOURITE AUTHORS

Back when I was growing up, it’s fair to say that the explosion of artistic experimentation represented by the post-war literary boom, the New Wave, the Sixties, sexual liberation, good music, haircuts longer than a piece of peach fuzz, and colour television hadn’t really reached my hometown of Boganville. When I first started to entertain the idea of becoming a writer, benchmarking options were fairly thin on the ground: what i looked on as some sort of aspirational holy trinity consisted of everybody’s starter for 10: Asimov, Bradbury and Heinlein.

It’s far to say, I don’t exaggerate when I say going to University was the saving of my soul.

Over the years, I’ve stumbled across countless authors who have filled in gaps in my education, my understanding of the Universe, and paved the way for me to become an infinitely better human being than I was the day I first walked across campus (First, yes, I pretty much do separate my life into before and after day one of Uni, and second, if you think I’m an arsehole now, that’s probably fair, you should have known me then).

So, for today, here’s a list of five authors whose works I remain in love with, who continue to inspire me, and for whom I am, unashamedly, a fanboy.

FIVE for FRIDAY: AUTHORS

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PRECIOUS THINGS: AMANDA CURTIN

Amanda Curtin has always been one of those authors I’ve found slightly intimidating, as well as an aspirational benchmark. It seems like she’s been on the stage at every Perth Writers Festival I’ve ever attended, always speaking with an encyclopaedic understanding of the industry; her name is always attached to every study I see produced about the state of WA writing; she appears to be associated with every literary market in WA I can’t get within kilometres of getting published by…. men stand aside as she walks by, women swoon, horses stamp their hooves nervously……

Having finally met her this year, she is, of course, utterly lovely. She still dresses up as a bat and fights crime at night, but gently, with a soft-spoken voice and an interest in how the criminal is getting on. She’s also published two novels, Elemental and The Sinkings, and a short story collection, Inherited. Elemental was shortlisted for the 2014 WA Premier’s Books Awards (Fiction and People’s Choice categories), and in 2016 it was published in the UK and in a new Australia/NZ edition. She has been a freelance book editor for more than 30 years (accredited with the Institute of Professional Editors) and has a PhD in Writing. She’s got a beautifully-written and welcoming website, and is equally approachable on Facebook or Twitter. And she’s here, as erudite and articulate as ever, to talk about her most precious literary possession.

Precious Things: Amanda Curtin

author shot

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FIVE FOR FRIDAY: POETS

When I was in my final years of high school: of barely-moderate achievement; from a family with a fair to middling military history; living in a Navy town; surrounded by friends who either came from a military family or had aspirations to join the military, I pretty much sold my mother on the idea that I was going to join the Army. I had long harboured a dream to join the Air Force– I was, as I still am, deeply in love with military aircraft, and wanted more than anything to be a pilot. However, when my eyes betrayed me, I decided I couldn’t bear to be in the Air Force and not fly, so the Army it was going to be. I applied for, and was accepted into, the Australian Defence Force Academy, and convinced my Mum that I was on my way to becoming a Lieutenant in the Intelligence Division.

Two days from the flight, I had a panic attack and cancelled everything. Instead, I enrolled in an English degree, and stayed at home for the next three years while I learned to write poetry. I literally ran away from the Army to become a poet.

To her dying day, I don’t think my mother ever quite forgave me.

My first publications were poems, and I still, every now and again– especially when the creative well is dry and I need to kick something into gear through sheer wordplay and condensed imagery– turn to poetry. There’s a comfort in working within the form, and a sense of pure satisfaction whenever I make it work (not often enough: I’m just not good enough, or disciplined enough, to be a real poet). My most recently completed long work is a poem, of sorts: a 32-stanza picture book I’m waiting to hear back from my publisher about.

So here, for the fun of it, are 5 poets whose work I love, and whose views of the world have influenced my own work.

FIVE for FRIDAY: POETS

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