REMIXERS HOWAY!!

The first story in the groovy Remix my Lit project is up at the website and available for remixing. Cut, paste, wibble, handwave, set to interpretive dance, do that shwimmy-shwimmy Star Trek transporter special effect, whatever you like, and send it on to them in order to be part of a very special project.

Direct from Remix-honcho Amy Barker to you:

This is a remixable short story. Write a remixed version and then email it to anthology@creativecommons.org.au for your chance to be published in a hard copy anthology alongside Emily and her original work, along with more of Australia’s best writers.
All remixes will be published on the Remix My Lit website.

More stories to come.
http://www.remixmylit.com

Cherished
by Emily Maguire

This girl I hang out with sometimes wears shiny red polish which draws attention to her ragged nails and sunless skin. Silver bikie rings squat on her stumpy fingers.

Her eye-makeup is always uneven. This is not a fashion statement; she does not flaunt a retro-blue-frosted left eye and a goth-inspired-charcoaled right. It is only that she is easily distracted and so will forget to apply a second coat of mascara on one eye or blend the liner on the other. From a distance it looks fine, but up close the imbalance is off-putting.

Her hair is the colour of dried blood. It smells of chemicals and is stiff to the touch. In a photo taken on her sixteenth birthday it is waist length, shiny and brown. I asked her why she changed it but she only laughed.

When she dances or argues she grows a perspiration moustache. During sex, sweat coats her forehead even if the rest of her remains dry and cool.

A tan would disguise the steel-blue veins radiating from her areolae, but she is not the type to sunbathe topless nor is she a woman familiar with salon treatments. She leaves her disposable razors in my soap dish and her tweezers on the basin.

I think her gums are unhealthy, because one time she borrowed my toothbrush and left behind a smear of pinkish toothpaste at the base of the bristles.

I suggested she buy some new jeans after I overheard a mutual friend make an unflattering comment about the size of her arse, but her new jeans were even tighter. The angry lines they leave on her belly make me think of childbirth.

And yet when she checks her reflection in my bathroom mirror, she smiles like she has caught sight of a beloved friend.

My own story, tentatively entitled Alchymical Romance should be available within the next month or so, along with several others. Far be it from me to tell you how to do your work, but I’m looking forward to seeing who can combine elements from different stories into a new narrative…..

SPONGECONNOR BONNORPANTS

So, I’m not suggesting my three year old son watches too much Spongebob, but this morning, as a reward for working so hard in the garden, we take the family to McDonalds for a late breakfast.

The Mccheckoutchick asks us what we’d like to order. Connor looks the pictures behind her head and shouts “A crabby patty!”

Father dissolves in laughter. Mcregisterjockey looks blank. Father rofls even more…..

DEATH OF A MONSTROUS LEGEND

Goddammit. Stan Winston is dead.

This guy scared the willies out of me in so many ways, at so many times. He was at the very peak of monster making, between the stop motion stuff that we loved and forgave despite its awkwardness and the CGI blowouts that make modern spectaculars so ho hum (when anything is possible, then everything becomes mundane…). He ranks with Ray Harryhausen, Willis O’Brien, Rick Baker and Jim Henson as one of the greatest exponents of visual suspension of disbelief I’ve ever experienced. His honour roll is mind-boggling: Iron Man, Aliens, Constantine, Predator, Leviathan, and on and on and on. If you’re an SF/adventure movie lover, the full list will make you smile a smile of much goofyness.

If you’re not familiar with his work, Rob Hood has a fantastic gallery of images, as well as some of his own thoughts.

62. Too damn soon.

BOOKS UP THE WAZOO!

It never rains but it pours books, which is why you have to carry a heavy duty umbrella……

No sooner does my contributor copy of Aurealis 40 arrive in the mail than I come home from work last night to find that the Clarionite of Cool, Peter M Ball, in happiness at how much we loved his last mail-gift, has sent us another Etgar Keret volume, The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God and Other Stories. Luscious, in response to a conversation earlier in the day, has returned from the library with a Will Self book for me to sample (Dorian, for those who might be interested). And to top it all off, a big box marked ‘Harper Collins’ arrived, containing two contributor copies of Dreaming Again, ready for me to riffle through, sniff, and rub all over my naked body!

And lookie here: me with a day off work today 🙂

RECEIVED

In today’s mail, my contributor copy of Aurealis#40, containing my story Never Grow Old. Apart from your humble correspondent, there are contributions from, amongst others, three of my favourite Australian authors- Stephen Dedman, Paul Haines, and Adam Browne. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better trilogy of talent in an Australian magazine this year. Added to which, editor Stuart Mayne has answered my ego-boost prayers and awarded me another illustration by the sublimely talented Adam Duncan (who gave me the wondrous illo for Father Muerte & The Joy of Warfare in issue 37), so I’m a happy writer-guy indeed.

Go. Buy. Read.

OTHER PEOPLE’S WORK

So it’s one of those periods where my own work sits forlornly on a shelf because I’m hip-deep in the works of others: my AHWA mentorship has entered its final fortnight, which saddens me because I’ve had a fabulous time working with Jason & Ben; and I am now the proud renter of three foolscap files of stories containing something like 100 stories to read in the next couple of weeks as part of a secret squirrel project I’m involved in. So there’s little to report in regards to my own advancements of word upon page.

Instead, I offer this moment of memage, gakked from Luscious, who gakked it in turn from Martin Livings

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your winter. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.

Well, I’m not going to tag anyone, but seven songs? I can do that:

1. Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night- The Fratellis. I first heard The Fratellis as part of the soundtrack for the movie Hot Fuzz, where they contributed a rocking cover of T-Rex’s Solid Gold, Easy Action and their own composition, Baby Fratelli. It was enough for me to eventually get around to downloading their debut album Costello Music. And every track is a winner: stomping, infectious anthems that recall the best moments of bands like Little Feat, The Sweet, and the Small Faces. Honestly, I could have picked anything from this album- I’m listening to it at least once a day at the moment- but this is arguably my favourite (just shading songs like Chelsea Dagger and Country Boys & City Girls. Loving it. And now I have their follow-up, Here We Stand. And I’m loving that too. (Acid Jazz Singer already stands out)

2. Jump (They Say)- David Bowie. Grant Watson is responsible for this one, cutting a ‘Best of Post-89’ disc for me after a discussion of the man’s music. An ode to loss and despair in the wake of his brother’s death, it has become easily my favourite Bowie track because it’s one of the few moments where he comes out from behind the theatre and speaks directly from his pain. And there’s an amazing streak of gallows humour that runs through this, bleak and self-hating and immensely powerful. Like the best of Bowie’s work, it’s astonishingly tuneful, which means you can love this solely as a piece of music without grasping the deeper meanings behind the lyrics. It’s a truly masterful song, and another on my high rotation.

3. Blood Theme- Daniel Licht. Oh, I am so into Dexter right now. I own the first three books, I’ve bought the first season DVD box set, I even entered and won a Hachette Livre contest and scored another Season One box set, a t-shirt, and a blood spatter kit. And the soundtrack. Hotdamn, I love the soundtrack to the series. It’s schizophrenic: the first half based around a series of swinging Cuban dance tunes (and the abominable Andy Williams Born Free), the second half comprised of the creepy and haunting score by composer Daniel Licht. Again, I could have chosen any of Licht’s pieces, but Blood Theme, which closes each episode, has an extra quality- a sense of finality, a surety that the other pieces, by nature of their place within the show’s framework, lack.

4. The Ballad of Dwight Frye- Alice Cooper. I’ve been a huge fan of Cooper since seeing a theatre group perform a dance routine to Welcome To My Nightmare when I was 11. Bit by bit I’ve collected his catalogue, and some tracks, particularly from his early, pre-solo career, stand out as truly bizarre theatrical experiences: tracks like Halo of Flies and Desperado are incredible. I’ve loved this song since first hearing- I’m a Dwight Frye fan, and my story The Ballad of Henry Renfield (from the upcoming Monster Noir) was written very much as homage to it.

5. Death of a Clown- Kinks. Another song that has inspired my own work, in this case the premise and first episode of my TV series Cirque, which I pitched for the recent Screenwest TV Awards. Ray Davies is a beautiful writer of musical narrative, and there’s so much mourning and loss in this song that it grips me from beginning to end no matter how often I listen to it. Something is lost by the song’s narrator, beyond the death of the main charatcer: some sense of life, of immortality, of innocence. I know I’ll spend years trying to unravel the layers in this one, and applying that understanding to my own work.

6. Vicious Traditions- The Veils. Another song we discovered via the fillums. In this case, the Costner/Hurt vehicle Mr Brooks, a movie the Lyn and I love. Yeah, it’s got a couple of cop outs towards the end, but until then it’s fantastic, and this amazingly haunting song turns what might be a somewhat naff moment into a scene of true terror and loss. Taken on its own it stands out from the rest of the Veils’ somewhat mundane catalogue as one of those moments where somebody had an idea that went against the usual grain, took to it without fear of failure, and created something special.

7. The Dead Eyes Opened- Headless Chickens. It’s a dance tune set to a fake 30s radio story about an animate severed head on top of a bonfire. What else do you need? It’s loopy, funny, weird, and bloody catchy. Loves it, I do.

And you know, cos Battlists have the habit:

8. My Weakness- Moby. It’s no sceret that I find my day job spiritually exhausting. It’s deadsoul stuff, pointless adminsitrative database pounding that counts only for the time it takes me away from writing. There are train trips home where all I want is to sink into a soundscape and let someone else carry me into the clouds. And that would be Moby. Of several I could have chosen (I love The Sky Is Broken just as much), I chose this one because it was first on the playlist today.

There you go. If you do this one yourself, let me know in the comments or link back.

THE COOLEST ADVICE EVER

Morning tea today was a going away party for a fellow in our team who has decided to call it quits now that he’s turned 70.

Yeah. Seventy. And you should hear the plans he has for what he’s going to do next.

So when he was asked what the secret was to his energiser-bunny level of enthusiasm and passion, he gave this reply, which is too damn cool not to share:

Always have something you can’t give up on.

I should be half this cool at his age.

OH DEAR

Overheard at work today

“It’s Detective Goran, not Inspector. He’ll never get promoted with his attitude.”

Where do you start……?

TO LEE BATTERSBY, THE WORLD’S GREATEST UNPUBLISHED 18 YEAR OLD, BEST WISHES AND GOOD LUCK, ALGIS BUDRYS

Back in 1989, I did a couple of things in quick succession: read Algis Budrys’ novel Michaelmas and discovered the Writers Of The Future contest, which Budrys was co-ordinating. In those pre-net days (how did we ever survive?) you had to write in to get details of the competition. So I did- a gushing half-query, half-fan letter in which I signed myself off as ‘the world’s greatest unpublished 18 year old’.

Shaddup. I was young, okay?

In due course, back came the guidelines sheet. But also: a copy of the latest Writers Of The Future anthology, with an inscription inside— the title of this post.

Was I inspired? I had a story in the mail within a fortnight. It didn’t win, it didn’t even place. But the fuse was lit. Over the next 19 years I’ve written and performed stand-up comedy and one-act plays; published poetry, cartoons, reviews, interviews and short stories; completed my first novel; written a feature film and a television series pitch; and on and on and so forth. The whole of my bibliography, set into motion by an act of kindness.

In 2001, after several years away doing other things, I entered the Writers of the Future competition for the second time, and became the first Western Australian to win. In August of 2002, I flew to LA as part of my prize, where I was going to be able to meet Budrys and tell him, face to face, what he’d inspired in me. To make things even better, before I flew out, I sold and saw published a reworked version of that story I’d originally written back in 89 (there’s a hint, kids. Never throw anything out….). It’s still archived: you can read it here. Sadly, Budrys fell ill, and so we never met, but I was able to tell the story, and have it relayed to him.

Last night, as reported over at Ed Gorman’s blog amongst others, Algis Budrys died of cancer, aged 77. We never did get to meet, but he was, and always will be, a central figure in my karass. He was a writer of important works: Michaelmas is a major SF novel and unarguably one of the major precursors of cyberpunk, and Who? is an astonishingly humanist reworking of the cold war/spy thriller. But more than that—he was an inspirational and kindly figure who will be remembered by a generation of writers for the hand he held out to them along the way.

Vale.