THUMBNAIL THURSDAY IS FULL OF CHOCOLATE

Thumbnail Thursday: forgotten on Thursday but arising onto the blog only two days later, thereby proving that it is an entire day better than Jesus.

Also: real, thereby proving yadda yadda….

Have an Easter-themed scribble, y’all. In the best resurrected Godzombie fashion, I’m off to watch horror movies and get pissed on cider.
Yeah, they’re in a car, and yeah, that’s a couple of smashed eggs on the windscreen and a basket on the bonnet (or if you’re American……. bonnet. Learn the fucking language.) and that’s a rabbit’s paw poking up above the front grill. What did you expect, cuddly fluffy bunnies?
Well, there is one, but he’s been smooshed 🙂

AND THEN THERE ARE THE REALLY *BIG* AWARDS!

Now, to an award in which you can play a part in the outcome, faithful reader.

The Battersblog has been nominated for the Best Australian Blogs 2013 competition, a little piece of fun co-ordinated by the Australian Writers Centre. Something like 1100 blogs have been entered, so it’s not that exclusive, but the winner does win the power to reform Mott the Hoople, a year’s supply of red M&Ms with the logo licked off so you can pretend they’re Smarties, and an all expenses paid trip to Canberra where 4 Big Brother rejects will hold Tony Abbot down on a footpath while you kick in his smirky little bonobo face with a pair of hob nail boots, so it’s a pretty sweet set of booty.

The People’s Choice Award is now open, and carries on until 5pm on Tuesday 30 April 2013. Voters do not need to be Australian, so if you’d like to see me blissed out on red candy, physically assaulting a loathsome patch of human slurry to some of the best glam rock power chords recorded between the years 1968 and 72-ish, just click on the icon below, scroll through page after page of blogs you don’t like quite so much as this one until you get to the ‘T’ page, and cast your vote for your humble correspondent’s rambling efforts.

Your country thanks you.


ROUND AND ROUND AND ROUND SHE GOES…

It’s awards season in Australian science fiction, with three national awards announcing their short-lists, and at times it’s enough to make your head spin as some titles crack a mention in all three, some names are conspicuous by their absence, and the clattering of d20s as judges try to make their minds up is enough to make the nerdgods brush crisp crumbs from their Devo tour t-shirts and take notice.

I’m extremely happy to announce that The Corpse-Rat King made a couple of saving roles and has been short-listed in two out of the three awards. No luck in this year’s Aurealis Awards, where it hasn’t made the Fantasy or Horror lists, but it has cracked a mention in the following:
  • The Ditmars are the Australian equivalent of the Hugos, voted on by members of each year’s National convention, this year being held in Canberra, scene of my favourite convention experience (outside of the one at which Luscious married me), waaaaaay back in 2006. The Corpse-Rat King has been nominated in the Best Novel category, along with works by fellow Angry Robot stablemate Jo Anderton, Kate Forsyth, Kirstyn McDermott, Jason Nahrung, and Margo Lanagan. I’ve not won a general Ditmar before– I was awarded the Best New Talent award 10fuckingyearsagoholyshit! earlier in my career, but it’d be nice to add an ‘open’ award to the small shrine to my genius I keep behind the garden shed.
You can check out the full list of nominees in all categories here.
  • The Australian Shadows Awards, known to everybody except everyone who isn’t me as the ‘Dead Chicks’ because, well… you figure it out:
Once again, I share the Best Novel category with Kirstyn McDermott and Jason Nahrung. I’m on a mission to win my third award, which would add a nice symmetry to my brag shelf, so let’s hope all fans of numerology can bring their influence to bear.
The Shadows have expanded significantly in scope since their inception, and now cover a whole bunch of categories. The full nomination list is here.

MARCH WITH THE DEAD!

Only one week until the official Marching Dead launch in the convivial surrounds of Stefen’s Bookstore. By this time next week we’ll be nestled together, swapping jackets and rummaging around behind the bookshelves to see where Stefen hides his money, as well as getting stuck into the reading of some well-chosen excerpts, book signings, dwarf-throwing, bear-baiting and all-in Mexican custard wrestling, before we troop over to the Generous Squire for quaffing and toasting.
Spread the word! The more who come, the more entertaining it’ll be for me to see people fighting over books: even funnier if they happen to be mine!


The Marching Dead
Stefen’s Bookstore
8 Shafto Lane, Perth
Saturday, 6th April
2pm



DEAD EASY

With less than two weeks to go until the official Marching Dead launch at Stefen’s Books (full details at the end), I’ve got two ongoing competitions at my Facebook author page:

Much like I did with The Corpse-Rat King, I’m running shout-outs every few days: simply ‘like’ my page, and when I call for responses, post a number between 17 and 369 (start of Chapter 2 to end of Chapter secondlastone). First one to respond gets an excerpt posted in their honour, and every respondent goes into the hat to win one of two copies of the e-book edition of Marching Dead.

Aaaaaaand……

I’ve created a bunch of book plates based on the brilliant cover art by Nick Castle, and I’m posting questions every couple of days. All you have to do is respond with the post that amuses me most highly, and a signed book plate will be dispatched immediately to your place of residence.

You want one of these babies, don’t you?

Boooookkkkssss……boooookkkkkssss…….

Currently, the question is: what book would have been vastly improved had the main character been killed before they undertook their quest?

To get in on the action, head over to my Facebook page, click that ‘like’ button, and join us: the water is lovely and warm…

And if you haven’t already written the details of the book launch into your calendar in fat, red crayon so that it can’t possibly be wiped off your iPad screen, here they are again:

Marching Dead Launch

Stefen’s Books
8 Shafto Lane, Perth
Saturday, 6 April: 2pm until it’s all over and we head across to the space reserved for us at The Generous Squire drinking establishment for discerning persons and get all drinky and folk-songy and dance on the table-topsy.

Come on dowwwwwwwn.

LOVING THE DEAD

Another biffo review of Marching Dead has been posted over at Book Snobbery, all the more happifying as reviewer SJ announces herself enamoured after not quite loving The Corpse-Rat King as much as she’d hoped, especially noting some of the best fantasy worldbuilding I’ve ever encountered in a very long time… and tons of laughs, many of them of the uncomfortable variety.

She also says she’d desperate for someone else to read the book so she has someone to discuss it with, so you’ll all be pleased to know that US/Canadian and e-book versions are released TOMORROW.

As Jesus said to the apostles at the first all-Jerusalem Ostrich wrestling championships, get on it, my darlings!

(This is one of my all-time favourite paintings: Reg Mombassa’s Skeleton trying to have sex with a fence (Skeletons have no eyes so it is easy for them to mistake a fence for a lady skeleton). It has nothing to do with Marching Dead, even though the book actually does feature skeleton sex. I just think it’s great. It’s reproduced here without any sort of permission from the artist on the assumption that he’ll forgive me because I think he’s so cool. If you’re still reading this, stop and go buy my book, dammit!)

ROOM 102: FREYA ROBERTSON

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a Room 102 post. Seems everyone is happy with the world the way it is, thank you very much, what with all the fabulous religious and racial intolerance, James Corden TV appearances, peanut butter and water-boarding that we all love so much. Thankfully, the land of New Zulland is an angry one, and Angry Robot Books keeps bringing New Zullanders into the light and giving them a platform.

Which is my way of saying welcome, Freya Robertson, fantasy author and new Angry Robot stable mate. She has the stall down the back, where all the fresh hay goes. Freya is a lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy, as well as a dedicated gamer. She has a deep and abiding fascination for the history and archaeology of the middle ages and spent many hours as a teenager writing out notecards detailing the battles of the Wars of the Roses, or moping around museums looking at ancient skeletons, bits of rusted iron and broken pots.She’s published over twenty romance novels under other pseudonyms and won prizes in fifteen short story and poetry competitions.

Freya tells me that “the glorious country of New Zealand Aotearoa is where the countryside is made to inspire fantasy writers and filmmakers, and where they brew the best coffee in the world.” Because we’re all familiar with those famous Kiwi coffee beans like arabuca… and yes, I probably am going to keep making those hilarious u-for-i jokes that Australians like to make about New Zullanders. You can always drop into Freya’s website or Facebook accounts to complain.
Freya’s Heartwood is a truly epic fantasy that tells the story of a dying land, a desperate quest, a love story of sorts, and the seven knights who travel the wilderness in a battle to save the land and its people. Heartwood will be published in early 2014, with the sequel to follow later in the year.

After all that, here’s what Angry Kiwi Robot Freya Robertson wishes to remove from your world:

Freya Robertson - Web.jpg



Ginger. No, not the hair colour, the root. It’s hot, but it’s not. I mean, WTF? Chillies I can understand – you add them to hot food to make it hotter. But ginger? In cakes and biscuits? Hot spice in food that’s cold? I don’t think so.Oh…sorry Lee. You meant real dislikes. Things What Matter. That’s different.

Hubby wants me to nominate mobile phones. He’s a teacher and he thinks they’re the scourge of the modern world, having destroyed students’ eye contact and concentration. He’s equated them to the Black Death, which I think is a bit harsh. But, as I work at the same school, I do agree that text bullying is becoming a serious problem, and this links me in to the next topic.

I nominate Trolls. No, not the ones that get turned to stone. I mean the sort of people who stalk Twitter and Goodreads and other forums with the sole intention of making cruel, hurtful comments for the hell of it. Because of the anonymity of the Internet, they feel free to be as snidey and harsh as they want, and it’s the same with text bullying.

It’s a free country, they say. I’m entitled to my opinion. Well, no, not when your opinion’s shit. Or racist. Or sexist. Or just downright nasty. I don’t think anyone should say anything on the Internet that they wouldn’t say to the person’s face.

This includes people who leave spiteful reviews. Boy, do you need a thick skin as a writer. After twenty plus novels I’m starting to accept there is someone, somewhere, who already hates my books. You can’t please all the people all of the time—we all know that adage. And that’s fine; the world would be a boring place if we were all the same. But there’s not liking a book, and there’s writing a review condemning it to the fiery pits of hell. Apparently it’s cool to be snarky. Readers seem to love the review sites that tear books apart. And because of this, readers think it’s cool to be cruel when writing their own reviews.

If I like a book, I’ll give it 4 stars. If I love it, 5. If I hate it, think it’s badly written, poorly plotted or just dull, I don’t leave a review at all. Now, realistically, I know if everyone did that, the ratings would be up the creek. But the thing is, that writer took the time to get his or her eighty thousand words on paper. To find a publisher, or to make the effort to self-publish. They deserve respect for that. To leave a two-star review is one thing. But to rant on slating the book and pointing out what you hated about it—what does that serve? How does that help the next reader? The fact is that a book that you hate I might love, and vice versa, so knowing why you hate it doesn’t help me. Would you read that review to the writer’s face? No? Then don’t write it.
My husband supports an English football team. Recently, the CEO has received abuse on Twitter from “supporters” of the club over money spent on players. I’ve seen some of the Tweets and they’re pretty disturbing. Not just angry but personal and vitriolic. They think they can get away with it because nobody knows who they are, and that’s the worst kind of cowardice.



So there we are. I’m going to have to start ordering different meals at the local Chinese, but at least goats can cross bridges in complete safety. 

Lyn Battersby
Mocking of phobias
Brian M Logan
Passivity
Jason Fischer
Pedantry
Alan Baxter
Lack of personal responsibility
Pandering to the lowest common denominator
Claire McKenna
Grammar
Freya Robertson
Ginger
Trolls



If you’ve got a yen to remove some thing, concept or person from the Universe, and you think you can do it in a suitably witty, pithy way, drop me a line. My stage is your stage….














ONLY 7 FOR MURDER

It’s my 8th wedding anniversary today.

8 years married to the beautiful, talented, and generally all-round wonderful Luscious Lyn, and it only keeps getting better. Through monetary hardship, professional and personal disappointment, surgeries, illness, separations and worry we’ve carved out a life that brings us happiness, awards, successes, picnics, love, togetherness, and a life that leads us to lying in the bed together at the end of the day telling each other “That was a good day” many more times than not.

Love you, my darling.

Review: Worlds That Weren’t

Worlds That Weren't
Worlds That Weren’t by Harry Turtledove

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A genuine curate’s egg, with something at all levels:

‘The Daimon’ exhibits Harry Turtledove’s talent for research alongside his inability to devolve it into his staid, plodding narrative style as anything other than hard, indigestible lumps of infodump. The story is readable as long as you gear back your expectations to the ones you had when you were first discovering SF in your early teens, but shows little sophistication or style. Readable, but nothing more.

SM Stirling’s ‘Shikari in Galveston’ should have been excellent. The premise is enjoyable, the boy’s-own-adventure setting and execution is appropriate to the subject matter, and a great deal of setup time is spent portraying the sweep of two alternative world aspects coming into collision with each other in obsessive detail. But the narrative pace is so woefully inept that it turns reader frustration into outright anger– after spending an inordinate majority of the story placing each character in exact locations the climax happens in tiny moments, half off-screen, and with most of the major characters either watching from the sidelines or playing extraordinarily passive parts. The whole thing is massively contrived and just as massively disappointing, all promise and no delivery.

‘The Logistics of Carthage’ Mary Gentle’s contribution, is equally disappointing, a gloriously detailed and beautifully painted setting being used as the backdrop to a great deal of nothing much, other than yet another in Gentle’s seemingly endless parade of worldly yet strangely alluring middle-aged Mary Sues, this time one going gently off the rails while offering us no great justification for anything she experiences. As with Stirling, this story is set in the world of one of Gentle’s novels, which also robs the reader: rather than creating something new, we end up with 2 addenda to other works that come across as half-realised and lazy.

The only piece in the collection that goes any way towards justifying the purchase price, although it does so by virtue of being an excellent work in its own right, is the last story, Walter Jon Williams’ ‘The Last Ride of German Freddie’, which not only manages to act as a gripping narrative but explores a genuinely examined alternative possibility to our own reality. It’s a work of exquisite craftsmanship, simultaneously turning established facts on their head whilst reinforcing them, and giving us strong, believable characters acting both as we might imagine them doing so in our reality and perfectly in tune with the different universe presented by Williams. It’s easily the best piece in the book, and the only one I’ll bother to pick up the book to read a second time. What stars this collection is given belong to it.

View all my reviews

Review: The Rejection Collection Vol. 2: The Cream of the Crap

The Rejection Collection Vol. 2: The Cream of the Crap
The Rejection Collection Vol. 2: The Cream of the Crap by Matthew Diffee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Still funny, but a slightly weaker collection than the first. There’s a reliance on sex and toilet humour here that wasn’t quite so prevalent in the first collection, and on the whole it comes across as slightly less clever than its predecessor. The questionnaire forms that were a feature of the first book are repeated here, but feel forced and arbitrary, and don’t actually reveal anything real about the cartoonists involved, which we did see in Volume One.

Overall, it’s still a funny book– these are good cartoons by talented and intelligent cartoonists. It just doesn’t quite reach the heights of its predecessor.

View all my reviews

Review: The Rejection Collection: Cartoons You Never Saw, and Never Will See, in The New Yorker

The Rejection Collection: Cartoons You Never Saw, and Never Will See, in The New Yorker
The Rejection Collection: Cartoons You Never Saw, and Never Will See, in The New Yorker by Matthew Diffee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hilarious stuff– cartoons dubbed too vulgar, edgy, pointed, or just plain ‘not quite right’ for The New Yorker, chosen and commented upon by the cartoonists who submitted them.

I’m a huge fan of single panel cartoons, and count the likes of Charles Addams and Gahan Wilson amongst my artistic heroes, so a collection like this was always going to suck the money right out of my wallet. And it doesn’t disappoint, with contributions from such personal luminaries as Wilson, Jack Zeigler, Mort Gerberg and William Haefeli, I was in cartoon fanboy dreamland.

From the line of mourners filing past Jesus on the crucifix and muttering “So much for nepotism”, to the pigeon announcing Jackson Pollock as his inspiration, this is a collection that rewards the darker sense of humour, and is cacklingly delicious.

View all my reviews

REVIEWING THE DEAD

Well, the first review of The Marching Dead has been posted, over at Beauty in Ruins, and, well, I think they like it.

 The Corpse-Rat King and The Marching Dead make for an entirely satisfying duology, firmly establishing Marius dos Helles as one of the finest – and funniest – reluctant heroes in the history of fantasy.

Yeah. I think they like it.

The Marching Dead is released by Angry Robot Books on the 26th of this month. If you needed a reminder, here’s the cover again, just because it’s so damned pretty.

And if that doesn’t make you want to buy the book, here’s a picture of a small dog:

I think you see my point.

I GOTTA STOP ENJOYING MYSELF

These long weekends are killing me.

Luscious Lyn and I came together as a couple after our first marriages had ended: for differing reasons, certainly, but ended nonetheless. In our younger years we’d both suffered through the break-up of our parents’ marriages as well. With children of our own we have remained determined that we will devote every ounce of energy to creating an environment that is loving, supportive, inclusive, and exciting for our children. We want them to have the happy, stable, rewarding domestic lifestyle we lacked as teenagers.

We’ve made any number of mistakes over the last ten years, but right now we seem to have achieved a wonderful balance: our kids are happy, creative souls; physically and mentally active; who feel safe and comfortable enough in their home environment to contribute their voices and opinions to our decision making without fear. We give them what we can, when we can, and they respond in ways that make us happy and proud. We share a range of experiences and adventures that challenge, reward, and grow them in equal measure. As a family we’re bloody happy.


This year, we ended our Foxtel subscription, and as we don’t get the commercial channels due to a transmission black spot and no desire on our part to buy the cable necessary to view a 24 hour stream of dogshit reality TV shows, we’ve been spending a lot more time in the evenings doing art projects, reading, playing in parks and down the beach, and quietly exposing the kids to the creative facets of our artistic careers. The kids have always been aware that Mummy and Daddy were authors, but this year, they’ve started to gain an understanding of just what that means, and what it entails on a daily basis.

Now, with their new-found understanding, they’re responding like the responsible, caring, loving children we know they are. They’re demanding we write a kids novel. 🙂

Lyn’s already started: Peter Brown Loves Dinosaurs is funny, creepy, elegantly written and an absolute delight– anybody who has read any of Lyn’s work knows just how beautifully she crafts a story– and is so perfectly Lyn that I was prompted to post on Facebook that she “had found her true voice”, which pleased her no end, given she’s been publishing stories since 2001….

The kids were so excited they insisted we sit down and draw covers for the book (this is the sort of thing we would never have done with Foxtel in the house. It’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made…)

Peter Brown Loves Dinosaurs, by Lyn Battersby
Illustrated by Connor Battersby
Peter Brown Loves Dinosaurs, by Lyn Battersby
Illustrated by Erin Battersby
 Peter Brown Loves Dinosaurs, by Lyn Battersby
Illustrated by Lee Battersby

And this last week I’ve found myself in a calm moment between projects– Marching Dead isn’t released for another month and I’m quietly making plans for the launch; Father Muerte & The Divine is written and I’m letting it ferment slightly before I go back and begin line-editing duties; the package for Naraveen’s Land is with the agent; and we’re still waiting to hear back from the publisher as to whether they wish to go ahead with Corpse-Rat King: Fall to Heaven— so what the hey: I sat down on Saturday and started writing Magwitch and Bugrat, a kids’ novel  had the initial idea for years ago but shelved until I could arrange all the pieces in my mind correctly.

Every night for the last week, we’ve gathered on our bed to listen to Lyn read the latest day’s Peter Brown Loves Dinosaurs progress. As of Saturday, I’ve had to read the day’s Magwitch and Bugrat progress, too.

No pressure.

Here’s a taste:

“What do I do with it?” she asked.

“I told you. Kill it.”

“I’m not going to kill it. That would be…” Actually, Magwitch didn’t know what it would be. She was going to say ‘cruel’, but she didn’t actually think death wascruel. She had spent all of her life, what she could remember of it, anyway, surrounded by dead people. They didn’t seem unhappy. Dead people didn’t get cold, or tired, or skin their knees and bleed. They didn’t get thirsty or itchy or get rashes on their bottoms or have sore gums or stub their toes. They simply lay very still and quiet, and let rats use their skulls as homes and every now and again gnaw on one of their bones and they never complained. And dead people never, ever, cried. “…wrong,” she finished. Before Master Puppet could ask what would be so wrong about it she picked the baby up and held it to her chest.

“You touched it!” Master Puppet cried in outrage. “You went and touched it! Now you’ll have its smell on you! You’ll… you’ll… smell like a live person!”

So, three days later, I’ve cracked 3000 words. And what does a public holiday like today look like when you’re me?

  • 1100 words on Magwitch and Bugrat
  • 300 words on Fall to Heaven, just to get myself started so there will be something in place should Angry Robot give us the go-ahead.
  • Unpack half a dozen boxes of books and shelve them in the upstairs room, including all the graphic novels, now that we’re not going to move house after all and can start unpacking all the things we previously packed. Books come first. Always
  • Take delivery and set up the new computer for the kids, because the school demands an unbelievable amount of net access for homework and it’ll mean we don’t have to surrender my laptop for two hours every damn evening, which means I’ll be able to get more writing done.
  • Eat healthily all day, including yet *another* brilliant 400 calorie meal from Lyn (parmesan chicken bites, in case you’re interested). I’ve set myself a target of losing 12 kilos this year– not exactly a huge amount, but it’s necessitating a big change in diet, and it’s one we’re enjoying. 
  • Spend time with the kids. 
  • Get the dog washed, brushed, and cleaned of burrs. 
  • Spend nearly an hour with the whole family just having a conversation round the lunch table because none of really want to be the one to break it off. 
  • Curl up on our bed with Master 8 and Miss 11 and read today’s extracts to them.

And that’s the problem, you see. 

I keep having these brilliant, brilliant days when I’m at home with the family. And then I have to put them down and go back to work. Now, I like my job. I really do. It’s not something I’ve ever been able to say before. I really like my job. But I don’t love it. 

I love being an author. I love being a father and husband. I particularly love being a stay-at-home father and husband. I did it once before, way back in 2004 when I wasn’t a good enough writer to make it work and so had to go back to a job that made me physically ill every morning. But I have a good job now, that pays well, and satisfies me, and is good enough that I feel like the most ungrateful, mealy-mouthed cur alive every time I get all pissy and whiny because no matter how good it is I’d still rather be at home being an author and father and husband.

But there it is. Call me pissy and mealy-mouthed if you will. But these long weekends are killing me. These public holidays and weeks off and vacations are fucking killing me. Because they’re like tiny, bite-sized tastes of the life I could have, if only I were good enough, or talented enough, or deserving enough.

And I can only see 2 ways to break the cycle– become a shit father and husband and ruin the family environment so that leaving it to go to work every day is a blessed relief; or work like a frigging literary Trojan and get enough quality product out in a compressed enough time-frame that it begins to pay for the lifestyle. 

And I don’t like the idea of option number one……

LAUNCH THE DEAD!

All right, my darlings, it’s official and going awwwnnnnnn…..

Thanks to the brilliant Stefen Brazil we’ll be launching Marching Dead at the picturesque Stefen’s Books, 8 Shafto Lane, Perth, at 2pm on Saturday 6th April.

Stefen's Books: Crime, science fiction, fantasy, horror and more.

I’ll be signing copies, inflicting a reading or two upon the gathered multitudes, and generally making with the fabulous author dahlink behaviour– kissing babies, shaking hands with dogs, pinching arses, sniffing seats…. no, wait, that would make me a Liberal Party politishithead….. not to mention a cavalcade of entertainment like dancing girls, bear-baiting, midget death-trap wrestling and arbalest surfing*, and then we’ll finish it all off by heading over the lane to The Generous Squire, where Stefen has set aside an area especially for general mingling and the quaffing of hearty ales.

Told you he was brilliant.

Come on down, introduce yourself, grab a signed copy of Marching Dead or The Corpse-Rat King if you’re the kind of lazy layabout who hasn’t read it yet, and generally hang out with us and have a good old nattery, beery, Sunday afternoon you know you’ve earned.

What could be better?

*may not contain any of these things. Except for midget death-trap wrestling. That shit is hilarious.