There’s no denying it: Kaaron Warren is an awards hoover. Over three novels and umpty-million short stories, she’s won everything from the Aurealis, Ditmar, and Australian Shadows Awards to everything Canberra critics can give her to the Shirley Jackson Award. She’s one of our very few world class authors– she’ll be a Guest of Honour at the 2018 World Fantasy Convention— and if that wasn’t enough to make you hate her through sheer envy, she’s also one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met. Her latest novel, The Grief Hole, is, like most of her other work, an utter tour de force.
She’s one of my favourite SF people, and as always, it’s an utter pleasure to be in her company. And as always, no surprise to find that what Kaaron writes about isn’t what is seen in the surface but what lies just below, easily missed until she brings it into the light for examination.
A visit to my grandmother’s house was always full of words. From the moment we arrived there was chatter about school and friends and what the mean kid did. About what was for lunch and how well the bread dough was rising, and whether or not it was helped along by my uncle saying, “Arise, Sir Bread” every time.
After lunch was quiet time, but even more filled with words. There were piles of Family Circle and Women’s Weekly to read, and of Australasian Post (courtesy of my jokester uncle). I would nestle myself in a corner with a packet of lifesavers and read my way through the piles. Then I’d go to Nana’s bookshelf. She loved historical novels the best, so there was Georgette Heyer and Catherine Cookson, books I read in a sitting or would borrow to take home and finish that night. I was already keener on ghost stories than these historical romances, but I loved Heyer and Cookson for the way they told the story and for their descriptions. I learnt a lot about dialogue and setting from these books.
My most prized literary treasure, though, is this book.
When my Nana died, I inherited some of her books. Not the Georgette Heyer’s for some reason; they went elsewhere. But I did inherit this book. I’ve never read it. The Garfield bookmark shows where my Nana was up to.
Tears prickle my eyes as I type this. Looking at this book, and the bookmark there, makes me miss her so much. I’m not sure I’m sad she never finished this book, or if it gives me a sense of eternity, as if there is no ‘ending’, there is simply a bookmark keeping a record of where you’re up to for when you come back.