POSTED!

The contracts for Father Muerte & The Flesh to appear in this year’s Best Fantasy & Horror Vol. 20.

Very satisfying.

IT’S ENOUGH TO GET A MAN THINKING

I’ve been cleaning the office today, and now that I have a box for them, I’ve discovered just how many thumbnails for single and three-panel comics I’ve scribbled down over the years.

In fact, at one or two a week, I wouldn’t have significantly less than a year’s worth of material.

Hmm….

Song of the moment: All Along The Watchtower Jimi Hendrix
Reading: Still amongst the Vukcevich stories

WHY I LOVE FLYING

Now, it’s well known that Luscious has a phobia about flying. It’s probably less well known that I’m as eager about it as a private school student with a trip to see Nursie and a bowl of warm vaseline. I loves it, I tells ‘ee, I bloody loves it.

I mean, come on! On Sunday night, interrupted only by an attractive woman who gave me a warm meal with a cool drink and a chocolate bar and who then did the dishes for me, I: read several stories from the Ray Vukcevich collection Meet Me In The Moon Room and discovered another author I would kill to write like; saw a movie; watched Stephen Fry drop Parky to the floor in hysterics; wrote an entire short story; ate; drank; did I mention the chocolate?; had a nap; and performed one of my favourite solo acts, that I’ve not had the opportunity to do in some years- listened to several hours of music, in the dark, with my eyes closed with no fear of interruption.

What’s not to love?

LABYRINTH OF THE FAUN

Saw Pan’s Labyrinth whilst in Brisbane. It’s a slow movie, and for much of the first two-thirds of the film seems slow without great reason to be so. Then the screws tighten, and it slides towards so many terrible consequences with inexorable momentum that you find yourself appalled and invested in equal quantities.

It’s a remarkable achievement: layered, complex, and deeply tragic. I fell in love with it a little bit, I think.

As my pal Ben Maulbeck said afterwards: all that, and Franco still ruled for 40 years.

….AND IT’S GOODNIGHT FROM HIM

All right, that’s all for now. A smattering of falderal to finish–

I’ve been contatced by Producer Matt, who wants me to work on a third draft of the movie. This is a good thing: he likes where I’m taking it and has a screed of notes to help me thicken the world behind the plot. I should have it all done by mid-late February. If this movie doesn’t get made, I may have to climb a water tower….

I’ve received a swathe of good advice regarding the selling of Napoleone’s Land, and I’ll be pushing hard to turn this excellent (in my humble opinion 🙂 ) manuscript into a sold novel over the next few months. My deepest thanks to Kate Eltham, Gavin Grant, and Kelly Link for the wisdom.

I anticipate having two new stories in envelopes by the end of next week, and half a dozen out by the end of February. After a lean 2006, I have sloughed the majority of distractions from my eyes, and am prepapring for a significant change in my work habits across 2007. My second novel, The Corpse Rat King, should crest the halfway point by end of February as well, which will make me a happy writer.

I’ve read over 50 stories already this year, counting the 17 I read from my Clarion students. The Batterslog has been updated. No novels as yet: I might remedy that after I finish the collection I’m currently reading. Of course, maybe I should shove graphic novels under that heading. That’ll fill it out pretty quickly 🙂

Back to school for Aiden tomorrow. Think pitying thoughts at about 8.30 Perth time. Erin starts pre-primary on Thursday, and due to a happy confluence of tween-jobbyness, I’ll be able to take her for her first day. Tune into the mentosphere and feel my happiness 🙂

Erin’s first tooth fell out while I was in Brisbane. Apparently, the tooth fairy pays $2.50 at Nanna’s house! She’ll be taking a significant pay cut if she ever flies around here, I can tell you….

The Chronicles of Riddick is a piece of shit. But such a fun piece of shit.

Dinosaurs and Satan. Who could ask for more?

I have no words to tell you how wrong this is. It’s so very, very wrong. I laughed so much I was in pain.

BRISBANIA MARK THE TWAIN

Of course, I did have other things to do while I was in Brisbane, chief amongst them being two workshops for the Queensland Writer’s Centre: The Art of Critiquing, and The Proper Care And Feeding of Your Genre- Writing SF & Fantasy.

Goodness gracious me. How many people can you cram into a room? 16 people came for the Thursday night session, and another 22 for the SF writing on Saturday. That’s a whole lot of heads, people. That’s a whole lot of eyes.

Thankfully, I had great rooms. There’s something about the air in Brisbane: they take their writing very, very seriously. They worked me like a thrupenny upright, pushing questions at me from all angles, taking notes and voicing opinions, and writing like editors were lining up at the door outside. The QWC were professional, supportive, and couldn’t hae worked harder to make the experience positive and enjoyable. Like the Clarion experience, I want to work with these guys again. Money is one thing, but I felt rewarded.

I don’t know what it is about Perth, I really don’t. But I entered another sphere in Queensland, and from a purely writing point of view, I can’t help but feel that my own professional development has been (and will be) hindered by my choice of location. If you can’t have everything, then this was the everything I can’t have. I’ve come home with an awful lot to think about. Look for a change in habit, starting from the end of tonight’s posts.

OPEN UP AND SAY AA

Saturday night, of course, saw the staging of the 11th annual Aurealis Awards. Being in town with nothing better to do than to make a drunken spectalce of myself, I toffed me up (Student Peter: Your feet! They’re in shoes!) and took my beautiful lady love for a night out amongst the fitlitglitterati.

It’s a good night, the AAs: the ceremony is quick, and carries the right mix of professional respect and laid back bonhomie; the bar is free and plentiful; and everybody is generally pretty damn happy to see each other. Like any awards, they carry their share of the ludicrous (this year, we were treated to– a full length graphic novel being nominated (and winning) the short fiction gongs; a presenter with a pathological inability to pronounce Eidolon, and a novel that only tied in its category being pronounced the clear winner of the Golden Aurealis for Best in Show). Yet it’s all taken with a pinch of salt, and when the evening turns for the serious, the respect and admiration in the room is something to behold: I had the very good fortune to be sitting next to Bill Congreve, and when he was awarded the Peter MacNamara Award, the response was enough to give him the shakes. Bill is the coolest of cool customers, but he spent a large part of the ceremony turning his award over in his hands, and taking it out the box one more time read the inscription. I like Bill a hell of a lot, and was as happy as a very happy thing to see him pick this award up. For me, as unsuccessful in my categories as I had expected to be (I hadn’t a second’s uncertainty about who would win my sections, and I was dead right), it was the highlight of the evening.

I did, however, manage to get onto the stage once: as official Western Australian carrier of acceptance speeches, I had notes for no less than 4 other nominees in my pocket, and when Stephen Dedman deservedly struck gold in the Horror Short Story section, I was able to sidle up to utter a few words in his defence. Unfortunately, I can report that no amount of scraping with the edge of a ten cent piece can remove a name from the front of an Aurealis Award…..

After several hours of concentrated drinking (Ten beers, I tells ‘ee! Ten!) and catching up with faces both familiar and new (A big Hello to Gary Kemble, who I was delighted to meet for the first time), Lyn and I eventually succumbed to the noise, heat, and dehydration and accepted a lift home sometime around 11.30. It had been fun, it had been an honour to step into Stephen’s shoes, and it was a relief to lay my weary drunken head on my pillow.

It’s likely to be my last AA ceremony for some time, so I damn well made the most of it, your honour.

A hearty conratulations to this year’s winners. Much as I’d like to bitch and moan… well, okay, no, I haven’t the least desire to bitch and moan. There’s not a writer who was gonged who isn’t a leader in the Australian SF field, and I don’t have to read Williams or Lanagan or Dedman to know that when they get gonged, they deserve it. It’s a good crowd, this one, and it’s good to be amongst them. Slainte to you all.

WHOOOMPH, HERE I AM…….

So….. well….. I’d love to say: Here I am, a good night’s sleep under my belt, a restful day spent kicking around the house, and I’m ready to rumble.

Unfortunately, I get to say: a night of rumbling sleep below the belt, I think I saw the inside of my house, and ready or not, here’s my post…

BRISBANE

Was hot! Not 40+ degress-what-the-fuck-is-going-on? hot like Perth, but at only a few degrees lower in temperature and with an average humidity of approximately 427%, I spent two weeks gaining an understanding of what it must feel like to live in Colleen McCullough’s armpit. However, delightful visual images aside, we’re here to talk about what went on, so for part the first, let’s discuss….

CLARION SOUTH

Let’s be straight about one thing: I never again want to tutor at a long-term workshop where I’m placed in an unequal power relationship with Luscious. We knew it would be hard. We’re not stupid. And we probably spent longer talking about our week together than we did living it. But Lyn is my wife, my love, and my equal, and we long ago made the decision that we were exactly equal in every way– as people, as managers of our relationship, and as writers. Being forced into a situation where that equality was misaligned, as a matter of policy, left a stain.

Now that’s said, let’s be equally straight about this: if they ask me back again to tutor in two years time, I’ll be on the plane so fast I’ll leave contrails.

The stories were, for the most part, exciting. The students were, for the most part, a passionate, dedicated, egoless bunch who threw themselves into all aspects of the writing environment with a zeal I responded to in a very visceral way. The social aspects of a 24-hour-a-day writing environment went off: Lyn and I hosted a wine and cheese evening in the tutor’s apartment on Wednesday night; I was invited to dinner on another; spent an obscene amount of time in cafes and students’ apartments gabbling on about writing; watched several episodes of Firefly at the behest of Jess Irwin (No, before you ask, I still don’t think it’s very good. I will watch the rest of the series before I review. But no, it’s still overrated); watched a group of pals eating the dodgiest Lebanese food in existence after my well-attended reading on Thursday; made several pals I’ll keep with me for quite a while (Lee’s Boys: details to come); and then there was Mafia….. Oh, Mafia.

I’m not going to explain it here. It’s a card game. Sorta. And an RPG. Sorta. And a party game. Sorta with chips. And it’s hilarious, and will make you paranoid for days, and after a dozen games in 2 weeks I can still tell you exactly how I could have won every game, if only they’d have let me…… I need 12 volunteers, one evening, and a drink or two. Then I’ll have converted you.

It was an absolute priviledge to be allowed to spill my ideas out in front of such true believers. In my honest opinion, there are several students who will go on to create substantial bodies of work in the years to come. The atmosphere in the crit room was passionate, open, and honest, and some of the critiquing was of a standard that would humble anything I’ve received in the past, even by some professional who do it for a living. Previous students have talked about Clarion as a crucible, and they’re right: it will be impossible for any of the attendees to emerge without having become better writers. Some will be very good indeed.

The week took about a day and a half, by my reckoning. At the end of it, the students presented me with the most wonderfully hilarious and delightful gift (more below), as well as posing as unicorns with me for our group photo. I left them to the tender mercies of Kelly Link, exhausted, invigorated, and desperately sad to leave. Thankfully, that wasn’t my last act: Kelly and Gavin Grant, her editor-publisher-partner, invited me back on so many occasions that I spent roughly half the next week on campus and completely failed to meet up with any of my intended lunch dates. But it meant that I was able to read mopre stories, this time as friend rather than tutor (and with some of those guys, that was a fine treat indeed), play more Mafia, take in a movie, and generally hang out and talk writing more than I’d have hoped for.

I want to do it again.

LEE’S BOYS

It seems I have been adopted 🙂

For reasons beyond my ken, but possibly because I am a big, eager doof who was obviously having way too much fun just being there, several of the students dubbed themselves Lee’s Boys, and proceeded to hang out and entertain me just for the damn fun of it.

So, to Ben, Dan, Jason, Jasoni, Jess, Laura, Alessio, Chrisses G&L, Peter and Michael, I have only this to say:

Look into my cold, dead, lizard eyes. I am not Mafia.

Song of the moment: Dead Are Dancing Toni Childs
Reading: Meet Me In The Moon Room Ray Vukcevich

I SUPPOSE I SHOULD SAY SOMETHING

I know I should update about Clarion, and Brisbane, and all the other bits and bobs of effluvia with which I can clutter up the ether.

But all you really need to know is: Clarion was a hoot, I had a great time, and I invested in both the process and the people. I made some friends I will carry with me when I leave, and read some stories I expect you will all see in print really soon. Lyn and I survived the experience, just.

I’m still here in Brisbane, with 2 workshops, the Aurealis Awards, and the industry love-in still to come before I fly out. A heartfelt apology to those with whom I discussed the possibility of lunch: it doesn’t look likely that I will get the time to do anything, as I’m still spending a lot of time assisting with Clarion, and a surprise movie deadline has me chained to a keyboard for the rest of it.

This has become less a busman’s holiday than a break in office routine.

As to the rest of it, well, it won’t interest you, isn’t that important to anybody but me, and I can’t be bothered talking about it.

Not sure how often I’ll be ether-chatting upon my return: several things have become self-evident sicne I’ve been here, the most obvious of which is that I need to write this year. The second most obvious of which is: I’d rather.

OHHHHH WHAT A BEAUTIFUL MOOOORRR…… HEY, WHERE’S MY WIFE?

Well, I’ve just returned from dropping Luscious off at the airport. In less than an hour she’ll be in the air, and her Clarion South adventure will have started.

I’ve done a pretty damn good job of straight-facing her fear of flying and the sadness at being apart for so long (we’ve never spent so long away from each other), because she needed the reassurance to get her on the plane. When you have to take the weight of medication she has to take to fly, the last thing you need is a reason to worry or change your mind.

But the truth is, I’m rather bereft, and the house feels big and empty and quiet. I’m beyond proud of my darling wife, not least because she’s willing to risk her ego, fears, and self-confidence to attend a writing course I’m convinced she has the talent not to need, because she feels it’s the best thing for her career. She has strength, character, and talent beyond my ability to measure, and I’m humbled to think she wants to spend her life sharing her days with me.

I’m going to feel very lonely until I see her again.

Song of the moment: I Scare Myself Thomas Dolby