SHE’S GOT A BEAUTIFUL SPEAKING VOICE
Lyn’s been interviewed by the Sunday Mail, along with such Oz Horror luminaries as Rob Hood and Robert Stephenson, on the horror works she considers ‘the greatest’. I think she comes across beautifully: articulate, considered, and professional. I’m very proud.
Go, read, tell her how clever she is.
WRITING GUY BUSINESS
It’s been a bitser of a week week. Wrote that story I mentioned earlier, finished my reading for Clarion South (Eight manuscripts in all, displaying a real range of skill levels. It’s good to see such an interest in attending), pitched an idea to a new publisher of short SF novels and had the idea rejected, and did some goal setting for the second half of the year and for the next 5 year arc.
Still, after a bit of a fallow period it’s nice to feel a sense of purpose again. Next month marks the 5th anniversary of both Luscious’ and mine’s first appearance in print, so it feels important to reach that mark with a firm sense of progressing onto a new stage of my career. Getting back to some concerted work practices is part of that.
AWARDS, BEST OFs, AND WHOSE CAREER IS IT ANYWAY?
An interesting discussion (discussion: the respectful and considerate exchange of handfuls of mud, at speed) over at Shane Jiraiya Cummings’ blog on the subject of whether or not it lies within an editor’s purview to send published stories to the multitudes of awards and Best Of Anthologies that clutter the arteries of our fair genere, and if not, why not? And if so, why not? And if not, why so? And on, and on, and keep taking those pills, Battersby….
Despite my levity, it’s a serious subject, and I encourage anybody with an interest to jump on and contribute their 2.2 cents, GST included. For the record, I’m of the opinion that a writer has no right, or expectation of right, to any services not outlined within the submission guidelines and/or contract delivered by any magazine or publisher. If it’s not specifically stated that the editor will send your story to an award committee or Best Of editor, it’s not safe to assume that they will do so. Checking up is a simple matter: ask. Come the time to be thinking about deadlines, contact the editor and ask them whether they will be sending your work in. I’m considered a prolific short story writer, yet it’s still only a matter of a dozen cut and pasted emails, once a year, to ascertain whether my stuff is being sent to any individual outlet.
Over the course of a calendar year, you could expect, as an Australian SF writer, to be in line for a minimum of 2 awards (Ditmars and Aurealis) plus somewhere in the region of 4 or 5 Year’s Bests, give or take. It may be, over the course of a year, an investment of time and money to organise copies to go to these places, but then: a) I’ve met very few editors who don’t either send the stories anyway or will do so on request and b) very few committee and editors who won’t engage in a dialogue and make it easy to get your work to them. They want to read your work, every single one of them.
And in the end, it comes down to this: it’s your career, not anyone else’s. Not the editor’s, not the publisher’s, not the postman’s. If you want to win an Aurealis, you can’t unless they read your stuff. If you want to get into Datlow & Link’s Year’s Best, or Strahan’s, or Hartwell’s, you can’t unless they read your work.
The buck can only stop in one place.
My reading tastes have taken a turn in the last week, and I’ve thrown myself into a series of biographies. I do this every now and again. I have an insatiable urge to know what is behind the creation of a special person, and whilst the famous don’t always interest me (I couldn’t be persuaded to invest my time in an Angelina Jolie biography, for example), artists do, and I’m fascinated by what it takes for a person to reach the pinnacle of their chosen art.
I’m partway through Capote: A Biography by Gerald Clarke, upon which the recent movie was based. It’s heavy going: Clarke has been ruthless with his research, and I’ve no doubt the book is as accurate as anybody could possibly expect, but he writes with no feel for his subject, portrays none of the excitement, despair, or sense of life that his subject merits. I’m persevering, because I know little about Capote and I feel I should, given his importance to twentieth century literature, but the book should have been entertaining, and it’s not. Clarke demonstrates his ability to collect facts, but little artistry in the creation of his man.
Before that, I whizzed through a second reading of Norma Farnes’ idiosyncratic and excellent biography of Spike Milligan, Spike: A Memoir. Farnes was Milligan’s agent, manager, and friend for almost forty years, and where Clarke writes with knowledge of his subject, she writes with knowledge of her subject matter. The book is by turns witty, heartbreaking, and astonishing, and gives the reader a glimpse into Milligan that other biographies (and I’ve got my share) don’t. It’s a book I enjoy, and a fascinating insight into a man I find at once compelling and inspirational. (Also an utter bastard for about 97% of the time, but that’s part of my fascination).
What kicked off this period of biographical fascination for me was the first book, Beside Myself, Antony Sher’s autobiography. Australians might best know Sher for his portrayal of Benjamin Disraeli in the film Mrs Brown (Her Majesty, Mrs Brown over here), but he’s a man of much greater dimensions than a too-brief movie resume. Arguably the finest stage actor of the last fifty years (and yes, I include McKellen, Branagh, Jacobi et al in that statement), he is a painter, novelist, and gay rights activist into the bargain. The book is simply amazing. I’ve never read an autobiography where the author is so willing to strip himself naked to the glare of the reader’s attention. No false humility, no grandiose bandstanding, Sher presents himself with as honest a self-evaluation as I have seen in such a work. What came across to me was a man with whom I felt a massive sense of affinity and affection, and whose story touched me very deeply at a number of points.
Lyn is reading it now, but for the first time in a long time, I want to gift this book to a particular friend, because he’s the one person I know (besides my wife) who would not only enjoy the book but would be able to draw something personal and lasting from it.
Don’t ask me why, but lately I’ve had a hankering to get myself some of The Angels work on CD. I’ve been a fan since I was in my early teens, but as I only had a couple of cassettes, and no longer have a cassette player, I hadn’t listened to them for a while. A few weeks back I thought I’d struck it lucky: a new live CD, all the hits, and as I hadn’t seen their great double set Liveline in a shop for years, I was a happy boy.
Here’s a note for all slavish fans on a CD buying wet moment: Read The Cover Carefully!
Turns out it was a new release by The Angels Band, some of the original members sans Doc Neeson doing a set of acoustic covers of the band’s material. And does it stink? I lasted three songs before I flung it into the back seat of the car, where it remains.
So I’ve been a grumpy Angels fan since then. But on Thursday, there was a new poster in my local CD shop. A new Best Of has finally been released, with 20 songs just waiting to grace my car with their buzzsaw punky goodness. I tra-la-lad my way to the counter with my wallet flapping happily in the airconditioned breeze.
Shit and double shit. They could order one in for me, but now I was too disappointed. I’ll just rifle through the racks and see if there’s anything to make me feel better, I decided.
Guess what I found? The double CD Liveline set, with 10 extra tracks, for cheaper than the Best Of!
The last three dyas have been loud. Very, very loud 🙂
Doc Neeson was one of the most magnetic front men I’ve ever seen in concert, and there was a time when I saw them regularly. At their best, their lyrics are loopy beyond anything their peers were capable of: listen to Take A Long Line, Shadow Boxer, or Mister Damage, and try to work out what the hell is going on. Onstage, they were a visual marvel: Neeson was a whip-thin, hyperactive snake of a man, and counterpointed by Rick Brewster’s statue-like lack of animation, it made for a dance of bizarre proportion. And could Brewster play? Jesus, I’ve seen guitarists bend like India rubber men trying to coax licks out of their instruments half as precise and soaring as the bald, bespectacled lead guitarist could reach with a flickering wrist and a thousand yard stare. And yet, they’ve never really reached the status that the likes of AC/DC did, never managed to transcend their stage energy and create something lasting (apart, perhaps, from Am I Ever Going To See Your Face Again?, and that is mainly because everybody seems to know the right response…). They are perhaps the greatest example of an Australian pantheon that includes the likes of Weddings Parties Anything, Painters & Dockers, and Spy V Spy: bands who always sounded better live, and who couldn’t translate that special vibe to the studio.
When I was a teenager in Rockingham in the mid-80s, every metalhead there was existed within an aural suit of armour composed entirely of AC/DC music. If you liked it heavy, you were allowed no alternative. So those of us who couldnit see the attraction of their interminable thud and blunder epics were automatically on the outer. I remember discussing it once with a fellow Angels fan, and he presented me with an argument that reminded itself to me as I drove home from work on Friday, screaming along with Doc at the top of my voice: AC/DC is the big fat drunk guy at the bar, swinging fists in slow motion and threatening to take everyone on. But it’s The Angels who’d slide up to you in the middle of the fight and bottle you in the neck.
A REALLY BAD JOKE ABOUT CANNIBALS
Courtesy of Blake. I take no responsibility…..
What did the cannibal do after he dumped his girlfriend?
Wiped his bum.
Exit, stage lefffttt……
For the first time in a long time, all 5 Triffbatts are away at their relatives for the weekend, which has given Luscious and I a chance to do a few things we’ve been keeping for such an occasion: sleep in, eat breakfast in bed, share a bath, and write. Oh, how we’ve written.
Luscious, who is still busily banging away on the keyboard as I write this, has turned out 2938 words (she tells me) on a new story she’s calling Pauline & The Alien, as well as having line-edited a story she’s sending to the upcoming Gastronomicon II called Diane, and a third story entitled Clay.
I’ve managed a whole lot of business stuff that needed doing (Tedious, but necessary. I shan’t bore you with the details) but I’ve also managed to write an entirely new story myself. After all that banging on about bits I haven’t finished, I did my usual thing and created something new, a 1500 word horror short called Searching For Little Deaths.
Now here’s my problem: it’s awful. Not in a I’ve written a piece of crud way, but in a I described it to my wife and she got tears in the corners of her eyes and almost asked me not to write it, which she’s never done before way. This story is hate mail territory. Lyn and I actually discussed whether I wanted to send it out, and whether I was prepared for the backlash.
There isn’t a woman in the world who isn’t going to hate me when they read it.
Which has me in a bind. Because it’s a horror story, no doubt about that. I made another person frightened just by describing what the story was about. She’s told me that she doesn’t want to read the finished product, not to ask her to read it. As horror stories go, that’s not a bad way to start. BUT: Everything this story is, I’m not. It’s violent towards women, it’s violent sexually, it equates mental and emotional processes that should never be put together. It’s terrible stuff, black-soul stuff, and if I expressed these thoughts in conversation you’d hate me. But it’s just a work of fiction. I’m not engaging in any catharsis, I’m not revealing myself in any way. I just wanted to write as nasty a story as I could. I am most definitely not this story.
Yet I’ve had enough experience to know that many readers can’t make that distinction. For the first time in my career, I’m considering leaving in something in my drawer because I’m afraid of the reaction it will garner.
It’s a weird feeling.
GOALS HAVE BEEN SET
Right, just so’s you all know, Luscious and I are both annoyed at our lack of productivity this year, and have set ouselves the goal of one finished and enveloped story per month for the rest of the year. Five stories each by January the 1st.
As you were.
GRATUITOUS FAMBLEE SHOTS
Just coz I said I would, a bit of a gallery:
Nananananananana Cat Girl!
Went to the zoo, pretended to be crocodiles…
Song of the moment: Take a Long Line The Angels
THE REST OF THE LIST
Okay, look, this is all very boring, and unless you’re a big fan of reading long lists of titles and numbers, you’ll probably want to go and look at something far more interesting, but in the interests of completeness: I finally finished the rest of the story fragments and so forth that I found on my trawl through my notebooks, files and folders. Another 50 584 words of incomplete fiction just waiting for me to get off (on?) my arse and do something about them.
That’s a grand total of 72 391 words of public shaming. I am shamed.
So, anyway, the other story fragments are:
When the Petals Fell 118
Fire Gods 290
Say You Remember Me 359
On the Steps Of The Temple 105
And In My head The Words Begin 190
Between A Leaf And A Star 460
A Big Fat Fantasy Story 298
The Hedge Wizard’s Apprentice 278
Dures Tilan 169
The Census Taker 119
My Name Is… 443
The Flat And Atlas-Painted Leaves 320
The Day Before Father Flew Away 510
Can I Keep Him? 226
In The Pit 262
Plant Life 250
Learning German 306
Last Meal 277
Blood And Bone 410
Cause of Grief 341
The Butterfly Ineffectual 304
Death Match du Jour 232
From The End To The Beginning 689
When Immortals Die 532
The Torturer’s Tale 1062
The Following Word 291
Dreaming On The Job 295
Buckley’s Second Chance 264
By The Time You Read This 65
Defending Joan 603
Everybody Dies 81
A Second Coming Of Sorts 1137
The Dragon Solstice 1769
Public Savants 34 967
So there we go. Next time I’ll talk about what I thought of Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, which we saw today, and our trip to the zoo, which we’re doing tomorrow. And I’ll post a piccie or two, just to make things interesting again.
But now it’s late, and I’m buggered. Go to bed.
Song of the moment: Dance Me To The End of Love Leonard Cohen
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: KSP MINI-CON
On Sunday 13 August, the KSP Speculative Fiction Writers Group will host a mini-convention featuring panels, readings and refreshments. All free except lunch, which will set you back $5 per head. There will also be books for sale with several authors hanging around, pens in hand.
(Lyn and I will have copies of our stuff for sale, and if you ask nicely, we’ll even take that horrible yucky old money off your hands in return for a book or two. Or three. Hey, take as many as you want…)
This cosy event will be held in conjunction with the awards for the annual Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre Science Fiction Short Story Competition. Featured panellists include Lyn Battersby, Sally Beasley, Angela Challis, Shane Jiraiya Cummings, Stephen Dedman, Russell Farr, Dave Luckett, Elaine Kemp, Carol Ryles and Aiden Triffitt. Our MC (loud fanfare off) will be the one and only Lee Battersby. The day will conclude with the announcement of winners in the KSP Sci-Fi competition, which has become one of the country’s most prestigous contests.
Where: KSP Writers Centre, 11 Old York Road, Greenmount
When: Sunday 13 August, 10.00am – 5.00pm
Help keep the scene alive between cons by favouring us with your presence:-)
Any questions or enquiries can be shot to Satima Flavell Neist, but come on down: it should be a barrel of fun, and you’l get to the see the A-Boy finally come out as a fully fledged Oneofus!
BUT TONIGHT, I’M CLEANING OUT MY CLOSET.
Oh dear. I really have no right to whinge: guess what I found when I was cleaning up the office again today?
Another 38 story fragments. I’m transcribing them now, but it’s likely I’ll have something like 30 000 words of unfinished short stories by the time I’m finished. I’ll list them, just like the last lot, but right now, I’m ever so slightly embarrassed.
Luscious and I have the Triffkids until next Friday for our share of the school holidays, which means we’ll be spending our time with them instead of going out anywhere much, which means that we’ll be able to insititute a regular writing routine as of Monday. And I’ll have plenty to be getting on with…
Lyn and Cassie are out tonight on a girly mission, the littlies are in bed already, and once Dr Who has been watched and the girls are gone: a pack of crisps each, a cool drink each, and the boys and I have Godzilla Vs Destroyah on the box!
Song of the moment: Some R&B crap Cassie is forcing us to listen to in the background.
AND IN COOL NEWS…..
Through Soft Air has been listed an Australian Horror Writer’s Association Recommended Book.
If you haven’t already bought it, now you have to: The AHWA says so.
OVER, ALL OVER….. ONLY FOUR YEARS UNTIL THE NEXT ONE!
Well, I’m back to normal sleeping times now that the World Cup is over, and the Italian National Diving Team have got their hands on The Trophy The Brazilians Didn’t Leave in a Rubbish Bin (Liddle World Cup in-joke for the true believers…). Altogether: Fabio Grosso’s an arrrrsseeehooollleeee………
Truth to tell, I’m kind of disappointed they played France. I was hoping Portugal would make it. Wouldn’t it have been a laugh? 11 players all falling over simultaneously in different parts of the pitch, clutching theiur ankles and screaming as if they’ve just been shot with a howitzer, while the ref stands at the centre circle, holding the ball and trying to tell someone that the game hasn’t even started yet?
Maybe it’s just me…
Anyway, I was pleased to get what I would consider a ‘true’ final: exciting, controversial, and amidst all the hoo-ha, filled with some damn good football, not that anyone seems to remember that, so badly has the Zidane/Matterazzi spectacle absorbed us all. Finals are often rather boring, with both teams determined not to lose, rather than win. The 3rd place playoff is usually where all the action is: 2 teams with nothing to lose, playing like dervishes. It’s usually the best game of the tournament, and it went close again this year. But the final was all I’d hoped for, and of course, we had that head butt.
My opinion: stupid man, that Zidane. It appears that Matterazzi may have called him the “son of a terrorist whore.” Is that worth losing the World Cup over? Your dignity? The respect of your team-mates, your country, and the watching world? His final match, and the possibility of holding aloft the greatest prize in world football, pissed away because a thick-headed Italian defender make a comment about his Mum. Has that never happened to Zizou before? I mean, I loved my Mum, but she’d have kicked my head in…
Still, it’s all over now, and we can settle in to watch the great Juventus sell off sale begin. Ahhhh, Serie C never looked so good 🙂
$1.40 A LITRE AND THE IDEA OF DOUBLE VALUE SHOPPING
Petrol prices hit the $1.40 a litre mark during the week, which has made the Luscious One and I re-examine our shopping procedures. All those supermarkets in our local area, offering 4c off this and voucher that… more and more these days, the idea of value-added shopping lies uppermost in our thoughts, what with being skint and needing to stretch everything as far as we can. Do we shop at Coles, get our 4c off petrol plus Fly Buys? IGA gives you 4c, plus they’re part of the Super Savers scheme, and you can get multiples of 6c vouchers if you shop wisely. Action give you points towards a $20 voucher to spend on fruit and veg, plus the obligatory 4c off per litre…
Yesterday I found myself nixing a proposed trip to the Wanneroo markets to buy fruit, because by the time we got there, the cost of petrol would have made the trip a false economy. Because we were only going to buy fruit and nothing else.
So I’m interested: are we the only ones who are beginning to think this way? Or is it just the poor? The family-burdened? Or are we all beginning to change the way we view our shopping needs?
If so, what are steps are you taking?
SHE LOVES ME, SHE LOVES ME…. NOPE, THAT’S IT, SHE LOVES ME
For no reason at all, just because she loves me, Luscious popped into a second hand bookstore and presented me with a hardback anthology called Analog’s Golden Anniversary Anthology the other day. Poul Anderson, Asimov, Bova, Fredric Brown, SPrage De Camp, Dickson, Heinlein, Oliver, Schmidt, Sturgeon, Van Vogt, Weinbaum and more: 380 pages of golden age goodness.
When you consioder how utterly meh Analog has become as a magazine, it’s sometimes a welcome surprise to be faced with the assemblage of talent it used to collect.
I feel a wallowing a’comin’…..
FALLING OUT OF LIKE
I made a strange discovery during the week: I realised I don’t like someone who I had always thought I liked. Normally I realise when I’ve started to dislike a person, or I dislike them upon contact. But I realised, as I thought “I like Person X, but…” for the umpteenth time in relation to something they said, that I’d been saying this to myself a lot, for a long time, and the truth was, I didn’t like them after all.
I have no wisdom to offer about this. It’s just a weird feeling, is all.
A QUICK STOCKTAKE IN THE INTERESTS OF INSPIRING ME TO GET OFF MY ASS AND FINISH SOME OF THESE DAMN THINGS
So I’ve been doing a bit of kvetching (or in Battersby Household Speak: there was kvetchage. which I add only because I think it sounds funny…) because I’ve got no projects on the go, and nothing in the trunk, and nothing is coming up on the publishing front, so I was a wee bit becalmed. You may have noticed…
Apart from two stories doing the rounds, all I’ve got out is Napoleone’s Land, which sits with agent and publisher; The Ballad of Henry Renfield which awaits publication in the Monster Noir anthology; and Manuscript Found Upon The Body of a Hanged Soldier, a story I completed almost a year ago for the approaching-mythical-status Fading Twilight anthology. None of these have concrete publication dates, so it was anybody’s guess as to when I was going to see print again. What’s more, I didn’t have anything I was really working on, so it was anybody’s guess as to when I’d have anything finished.
SO: Luscious is out tonight, the kids are in bed, and I’ve read all the new posts on the The World Game site. My eyes fall on a stack of half a dozen notebooks I’ve got sitting above my desk. I’ll just have a squizz through them see what’s in there.
What I find, after I’ve transcribed all the pieces into Word, are the beginnings of 30 stories, totalling over 20 000 words!
I’m going to list them, which might bore you to tears because it’s no more than list of titles and word counts. But consider it a public shaming: once it’s written down, it’s in the public sphere, and then I’ll have to do something about them. 20 000 words, and he moans about not having anything…. whining maggot.
So, they are:
The Squire 1259
The Escapees 134
Mr Snopes 4058
Most Divine of Winds 236
Magwitch and Bugrat 892
Indian Jim 158
In From The Snow 2672
The Corpse-Rat King 3688
Adding Machines 103
A Good Year For The Roses 2227
Where The Jungle Ends 245
Forever Amen 151
One Last Sacrifice 736
Still Life 209
Six Seconds 122
The God of Insects 200
Clones, We’re All 221
Dudley Awesome, Super Guy! 311
Down Amongst The Teensies 264
A Fork In The Sky 1450
Domitian’s Statue 349
Father Muerte & the Bells 82 (Yup, I had the start of a Muerte story, and had forgotten it. Bad author! No biscuit!)
Playing With Jimi At the Tower of Babel 204
The Undertaker 305
Beyond The Fence 407
There you go. 21 807 words of beginnings. And given I have a second novel to get the hell on with, and I know I have a file full of first pages I should pull out and transcribe, and Iive just been contacted by a newly formed small press publishing company asking if I’m interested in writing a 40-50K novel for them, I really have no bloody excuse any more, do I?
Next time I’ll just post some nice pictures of the family, to make up for getting all angsty and self-indulgent, I promise.
Song of the Moment: Generals and Majors XTC
I SAY, GINGER, TIME FOR A JOB SWAP…
Took the kids in to have lunch with Luscious at her course today. Erin was wearing her Powerpuff Girls top, and entertaining Lyn’s pals with her general cute 4 year old act. Someone asked who the PP Girls on her top were, which prompted this reply:
They’re Bubbles, Buttercup, and Blossom. And Biggles!
There’s a crossover that needs writing…..
The issue also features a competition, wherein you can win one of two signed copies of my collection Through Soft Air. For those too slack to get over to TicON and read the details, here they are:
Win a signed copy of Lee Battersby’s debut collection Through Soft Air
TiconderogaOnline has two copies of Through Soft Air to give away, signed and kindly donated by the author.
1. Closing date: midnight Western Australian time (GMT +0800) 31 July 2006.
FATHER, FORGIVE ME, IT’S BEEN 5 MINUTES SINCE MY LAST CONFESSION
This is not the Dalek you are looking for…
Song of the moment: Mama Weer All Crazee Now Slade