AN AWARD NOMINATION, AND A SMALL SLICE OF HISTORY

First things first: The House of Jack’s Girls, a pleasant little thing published by Pseudopod back in October, has been nominated for the Australasian Horror Writers Association’s Australian Shadows Award. I’m up against a fair roster of talent, but it’s been a while since I’ve received even a nomination, so it’s nice to be listed.

shadows

Luckily for you, because Pseudopod is all internettily and stuff, you can both read it and listen to the svelte-larynxed Chloe Yates read it to you right here. Be warned: it’s a horror story, and it’s very much MA15+.

To add to the general joy and all-round bonhomie, Antipodean SF reaches 250 issues this month. The legendary Ion Newcombe has been toiling away for 21 years, consistently providing a voice for new writers and releasing wave after wave of quality flash fiction every damn month– he’s way overdue for all the major career awards in Australian SF, but what do I know?

To celebrate, issue 250 is a massive (relatively speaking) tome, with over 50 stories from some of the most familiar names in the Australian SF scene and the usual healthy dose of rising talent. I’ve got a story in amongst it all, along with many writers you’ll actually want to read.

Check it out.

THEY CALL ME…… THE WHITE RAVEN!

The International Youth Library is the world’s largest library for international children’s and youth literature. Founded in 1949 by Jella Lepman, it has grown to become the internationally recognized centre for children’s and youth literature.
 
Each year, the Library awards the White Ravens – an annual book catalogue of book recommendations in the field of international children’s and youth literature. This year’s White Ravens catalogue contains 200 titles in 38 languages from 56 countries.
 
The print catalogue will be launched at the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair, and all 200 White Ravens books will be on display at the International Youth Library’s stand at the 2018 Bologna Children’s Book Fair.
 

DON’T PACK AWAY THE BRIDESMAID DRESS JUST YET

Magrit is beautifully written, succinct, tender and, at times, desperate and disturbing. It manages to combine the dream logic of Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman with the otherworldliness of The Twilight Zone. Constantly inventive and suspenseful, Magrit is a book that stays with the reader long after it has been finished. 

magrit_cvr_hr

Fresh of the back of not winning the Aurealis and CBCA Book of the Year Awards for Magrit comes news of one more Award shortlisting, and this time it’s a beauty: the little book that almost could has been shortlisted for the Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature as part of the 2017 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

The Prize, which attracts an award for (wait for it) THIRTY THOUSAND FREAKING DOLLARS, will be announced on 22 May, when I’ll be lying in bed exhausted after running myself to death for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content, so, you know, it might be pretty flipping good weekend, as weekends go……

For the full skinny, including the list of all shortlisted works across 11 categories, you can head over to the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards page.

EAT ME, I’M A BRIDESMAID

Good news, today, with the release of the 2016 Aurealis Awards finalists. Magrit has been shortlisted in the Best Children’s Fiction category: a new category for me, and my 7th nomination since 2004. With six previous nominations and one win, it’s time to see if my bridesmaid dress still fits……

aurealis-awards-finalist-high-res

 

It’s always nice to be nominated, and it’s always great to see the names of friends like James Foley, Kaaron Warren, Juliet Marillier, Deborah Biancotti, Claire McKenna, Kirstyn McDermott and Alan Baxter make the list. But it’s always a special joy to see names new and unfamiliar listed: the field of speculative fiction constantly renews, and it’s a challenge for those of us with older heads and harder veins to adapt to the new ways of thinking and expression that fresher, lighter word-dancers bring.

So congratulations to all the nominees, and here’s to a damn good knees-up on the night.

And on the subject of damn good knees-up (See what I did there? I am available to segue at children’s parties), you can now reserve a place to watch me eat at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writer’s Centre Christmas in July literary dinner! I’ll be performing for my supper, with readings, book signings, possible kitten juggling and even a special guest appearance by a tap-dancing Satan on roller blades*

 

literary-dinner-flyer

 

There are plenty of other dining options throughout the year, so come along for some good food, great company, and the chance to hear some fine literary treats. Or come to mine, it’s all good.

(*May not actually happen. Sats is a busy guy, and to be honest, we don’t talk much these days. It’s complicated, but he met this girl, she doesn’t like any of his old housemates… you know how it goes…)

 

 

BRIDESMAID REVISITED

The 2013 Aurealis Awards were announced this weekend. Marching Dead was shortlisted in the Best Horror Novel, but lost out to Fairytales for Wylde Girls by Allyse Near.

A full list of winners has been posted at the Aurealis Awards website. Congratulations to the winners in all categories: with several hundred novels, stories, anthologies, collections and graphic works published each year it’s a big mountain to climb.

LYING LIKE CARDS: A MARIUS DOS HELLESPONT FIX

To note the Aurealis Award nomination for The Marching Dead, here’s a little bonus for those of you who knew him before he went electric.

Lying Like Cards: A Marius dos Hellespont fix is a vignette I wrote to mark the publication of The Marching Dead. It concerns the game of Kingdom, which I invented for the novels and which nobody has had the decency to licence and make me a rich man by producing limited edition gold-plated versions thereof. Or even a DOS game. The story takes place just before the opening of The Corpse-Rat King, so if you want to get the full benefit of the narrative, buy my goddamn books already. It’s appeared at the Angry Robot website and some delightfully hand-made booklet versions were given to people who attended the book launch, but it appears here for the first time.

Enjoy.

Lying Like Cards: A Marius dos Hellespont Fix

An hour ago there had been six at the table. Now there were two. Marius don Hellespont, late of His Automancer’s Court of Taslingham, even later of the cells beneath the court, took a moment to glance down at his cards before casually flicking over a stack of riner coins so they splashed across the green paper tablecloth.
“Whatever that adds up to,” he said, deliberately yawning. The fat Tallian across from him pursed his lips.
“That is bad etiquette, sir.”
“In this fine place?” Marius waved a hand at the shabby, peeling wallpaper, the warped floorboards, and the boarded up windows that surrounded them. “Where are my manners?” He nodded at the coins. “Whatever that adds up to. See it or raise, tubby.”
The fat man waited enough that Marius knew he was beaten. The game of Kingdom was a complex one, if you paid attention to the cards, and it became more difficult the fewer players were at the table. Ostensibly, the object was to build the hand most closely resembling the current ruling class: Royal family, if you were in Scorby, Council of Elders in Zerpha, Automancer’s Cabal in Taslingham, and so on. If you were paying attention to the cards. Only the most trusting of beginners did that.
Real players, and Marius was a real player, knew that the object of the game was much simpler: to take your opponent’s money. The cards were immaterial. What counted was keeping your opponent off-balance– learning their tells, their psychological weaknesses, and then exploiting them. Like all truly great sports, Kingdom was won by the one who best played the man. The Tallian hesitated the tiniest smidgeon, and Marius had him.
“Gods damn it.” The fat man blew out his cheeks, aiming to recover lost bravado. “Gods damn.” He made a show of counting the coins, then counting them again. Marius very deliberately did not leer like a greedy baby snatcher. “All right,” his victim said. “All right.” He riffled his stack, came to the decision Marius knew he was coming to all along. “All in.” He moved his pile into the centre of the table.
Marius didn’t count them. He had no need. He knew he had the bet covered. He paused just long enough to make him sweat, then casually smiled and laid his cards face down before him. “Call.”
A queen, a prince, a knight, three nobles, a peasant. Pretty close. Good enough to win most hands. The fat man stared at them for several seconds, then raised his gaze to Marius.
“One peasant.” He snapped the card onto the table. “Three nobles.” Snap. “One knight.” Snap. “One prince.” He held up the last card, turned it so that it faced Marius. “One King.” He laid it down with a grin, slid it into place with the others. “My hand, I think.”
He reached out to draw in Marius’ coins. To their right, a door crashed open.
“What the fuck?” Both players reared back from the table as if stung. A soldier was standing in the doorway.
“The King!” he roared. “The King has been killed!”
“What?”
“Assassins from the house of Belchester! The King is dead!” He flung himself back out the door. The room erupted in a mad scramble to follow him: off duty guardsmen and civil militiamen hurling themselves towards distant guardhouses, to swords tucked over lintels, to scythes and halberds and sharpening wheels in front yards. As the room emptied, Marius raised a sympathetic eyebrow at his stunned opponent, and began scooping coins into his pockets.
“Tough timing,” he said, and rose before the fat Tallian could recover himself enough to object. “Still, the cards never lie.”

# # #

Marius sat in a booth at the back of ‘The Hauled Keel’ and watched his young apprentice Gerd weave through the crowd, two tankards of Krehmlager in his beefy fists, plonking down opposite his master and passing one over. Marius raised it in salute, and took a long swallow.
“You hid the armour?” he asked, once he’d recovered his breath. Gerd took a sip, and choked.
“In a barrel on Pudding Alley.”
“Good. Good.” Marius removed a short stack of coins from a pocket and slid it over. “Your share.” Gerd accepted it without counting. Trusting lad. Stupid boy. Marius felt the weight of all the winnings secreted around his body, and took another swallow to help ignore a sudden pang of conscience. From outside came shouts, and a clattering so loud that even the seasoned drinkers within the pub were silent for a moment.
“What’s that?” Gerd stood, and turned towards the window. Marius tilted his head.
“Soldiers,” he said after a moment. “Forming up in front of Traitor’s Gate.”
“Isn’t that the…”
“Road to Belchester?” Marius nodded. Gerd slowly sat down.
“You don’t think..?”
Marius took a long draught of his lager, shook his head, and signalled a passing girl for another while he recovered the feeling in his face. Krehmlager was traditionally strong. The Hauled Keel’s brewing room deserved its own hospital. “No,” he said, finally, flipping a coin through suddenly-clumsy fingers. “And even if there’s a little skirmish or something, nothing will come out of it but opportunity.”
The new pints arrived. He picked his up and gestured to Gerd to do the same. “Drink up,” he said. “We’ve got to get our stuff and be ready to follow them.” He smiled, thinking of the riches to be had on the battlefield to come. “I’m going to teach you how to be a corpse-rat.”


AWARDING THE DEAD

Pleasant news this week, with the announcement of this year’s Aurealis Award shortlists. The Marching Dead has been pinged in the Best Horror Novel list.

There’s some old favourites amongst the full list of nominees, as well as a number of names that are new to me, which speaks to a local scene that’s in rude health. You can see the full list here.

AWARDS 2: BATTERSBY 0

A busy weekend for the rest of the Australian SF community this last weekend, with Conflux 9, the Australian National SF Convention, being held in Canberra. Sadly, Olympic-level skintness kept us from attending, which was a pity, because my one Conflux, back in 2006, ranks as my favourite convention experience (barring the Swancon at which I married Luscious, naturally. Yep, for those of you who don’t know, I married my wife at an SF Convention. Some might call it geeky. Some might call it realising that everyone we would have invited to the wedding were already going to be gathered in one place anyway…). Marc Gascoigne, Angry Robot head honcho, was Guest of Honour, and it would have been great to catch up with him the flesh for what would likely have been the only time ever. Ah, well.

The Australian SF ‘Ditmar’ Awards were announced at the Con, and The Corpse-Rat King was beaten to the Best Novel gong by Margo Lanagan’s Sea Hearts. There’s no shame in that: Lanagan is an immensely popular, multi-award winning author, and Sea Hearts has already collected a  swag of award nominations and wins. After losing out to Kirstyn McDermott in the recently-announced Australian Shadows Award, it makes me 0 for 2 in short lists this year. I’m disappointed– if you’re on a shortlist you want to win the thing– but not hardly surprised.

All of which means it’s time to get off my lazy arse– I’ll admit, I’ve been the very personification of slackness this last couple of weeks, as day job stress and general mehness overwhelmed me– and get back to finishing the works in progress. Father Muerte & The Divine is ready to line edit, I’m waiting to hear if Agent Rich can place Naraveen’s Land before I launch myself towards finishing the edits on it, and Magwitch and Bugrat, the children’s novel I started at the behest of Luscious and the kids, is 3/4 complete and needs to be rounded off.

As a way of finding the time, we set the alarm a half hour earlier this morning, rose in the dark, and I managed to shoot out 500 words before having to get ready for work. This will be the pattern from here on in. It’s nice to be nominated for awards, and sickening to watch a procession of everybody else get them all. work is the only cure.

So here’s a little extract from the first draft of Magwitch and Bugrat as a little literary sourdough starter:

              Bugrat found his own voice as he grew, and used it to ask questions, “What is this?” and “What’s that called?” and “What is this for?” and “Why?” and “Why?” and “why?” over and over again. Magwitch had never taught anybody before. She didn’t know how to make someone sit and listen and believe that she was the only one who knew the real truth about things. So she listened to Bugrat as much as he listened to her, and because he was allowed to do some of the talking, their little world slowly changed to fit his view of it, as much as it had once changed to fit her.
            “Why are they called headstones?” he asked, pointing to the slabs of stone that lay face down amongst the grass. And because she didn’t know, and because neither of them really believed that “Because they are,” was a real answer, headstones became jumpstones, because jumping from stone to stone was what Magwitch and Bugrat used them for.
            “What are they?” he asked of the stars that flickered uncertainly beyond the edges of the surrounding roofs when they night sky cleared and the smog went to bed. And Magwitch would tell him her dreams of windows in the sky, and the blackness around them where little boys and girls could play safely with no walls to hold them in, and never have to worry about anybody looking out.
            “What are these for?” he would wonder, while he stretched out to try and touch the cold, unfriendly glass of the windows around them, and Magwitch would pull on his arm until her greater weight slowly dragged him away, back into the safety of the brambles and the deep, comfortable shadows.

            “You must never touch them,” she warned him. “never, ever, ever.” “Why?” he would ask, and “Why?” and “Why?” but Magwitch would not answer. 

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.

1000! 1000 POSTS, WA-HAHAHAHAAAAA!

Wot ‘e sez.

‘Tis true: my 1000th post, and how fitting that it should be by way of a general Nate of the Station update. For it has been a busy couple of weeks, my little cabbage-leaf wrapped spatchcocks, and much WriterGuy goodness has been noticed.

We’re five weeks into the first intake of the Australian Writers Marketplace Online SF Course, and the second intake has now begun: it’s not too late to enrol, and we’re only chatting amongst ourselves until you can make it.

My first set of students have become analytical T-Rex’s and are producing story beginning after story beginning– there will be some hypercharged writers with a trunk full of stories coming atcha in the next couple of months, and it’s been gratifying to watch as they turn on to what I’m teaching and apply the lessons to their own writing. It really is quite amazing how an author’s work can evolve in a short period of time just by absorbing a few well-placed lessons, and there are a couple of names who are going to come out of this course and establish themselves over the next year or so. At which point I shall claim bragging rights and mango beer tributes in equal measure.

The agent search for The Corpse-Rat King continues: I’ve had a number of requests for partials, and one full has been asked for as well, so even though the rejections come regularly there’s enough interest out there to keep my spirits up. The adjustment from short stories to novels is a sharp one, and I have to keep reminding myself that it was a long time between writing my first short and selling my first, and that I can’t expect to simply pen my first longer work and have the world fall at my feet. Will I sell this one? Dunno. Will I have the patience and fortitude to write three, five, eight novels before I sell one? Fuck, I hope I don’t have to. But if I do, so be it. Everything is a learning curve. Still, let’s hope I sell CRK and we can go from there…

On the appearance front, I’ll be heading out into the wide world in my WriterGuy disguise on a couple of occasions over the coming months:

Luscious and I have both been shortlisted in this year’s KSP Speculative Fiction Awards, and I’ve been invited to attend as the guest author for the day, so I’ll be giving a little speech about my writing life and philosophies (and trying not to sob) as well as giving a reading, kissing babies, and doing the watusi with any stray gypsies who may be passing. Join us on the 14th August at the KSP Writers Centre to find out the winners and share in the general bonhomie and watusiriness.

I’ll also be heading out to Curtin University on the 26th of September to deliver a guest lecture to a Web Publishing class on social media and how I use it as part of my Dayjob and WriterGuy goings on. (Part of their Internet Communications Major, and how old does that make me feel? You can get a degree in the Internet. A degree. Does your degree come in pdf? I’m going to have a Horlicks and listen to my 78s will I think about it). That’s right, me: the guy who couldn’t get Google + to work, and still can’t get it to link to FB and Twitter properly. Me. Anyone else as amused by the thought as I am? Send your reply via this blog, my website, my Amazon page, twitter feed, Goodreads page, LinkedIn profile, Facebook, Google +, AHWA member page, or Livejournal RSS feed, or just tag this blog on Stumbleupon like any reasonable person would….

Lastly, as part of Dayjob World, I’ve taken up the mantle of Municipal Liaison for the Rockingham/Mandurah region of Nanowrimo once again, and have already started to compile the activities and prizes to keep everyone racing towards their 50 000 word target. Last year we conducted a series of workshops with Simon Haynes, Dave Luckett and Tehani Wessely as speakers. This year we’ll be holding a masterclass with an internationally-renowned Fantasy author from Perth who shall not be named just yet because we’re still confirming details but she’s very cool and one of my favourite people in the biz, and I’m busy gathering prizes for The Night of Writing Dangerously event to be held on the 12th: five hours of catered writing time broken only by prize giveaways, competitions, and the opportunity to go head to head with an established pro to win yourselves goodies. More details as they come closer to hand, but if you really want to join in you could always register on the Nanowrimo website, join the Rockingham/Mandurah region, and take part in the write-ins that we’ll be holding. All the cool kids will be doing it.

And that, for the moment, is about it. How was your day, my darlings?

AUSTRALIAN SHADOWS WINNERS ANNOUNCED

Award news during the week, as the Australian Horror Writer’s Association announced the winners of this year’s Australian Shadows Award.

Midnight Echo #4 came up just short in the ‘Edited Publications category’– contest judge Rocky Wood called it “an outstanding achievement”, which I think is testament to the talents of the contributing authors– and I don’t think there are many who would argue with the list of winners. 

So heartiest congratulations go to:

Long Fiction winner: Under Stones by Bob Franklin (Affirm Press)
Edited Publication winner: Macabre: A Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears, edited by Angela Challis & Marty Young (Brimstone Press)
Short Fiction winner: She Said by Kirstyn McDermott (Scenes from the Second Storey)

AND ON THE SUBJECT OF THE AHWA…

That fine and august organisation has just released the shortlist for the 2010 Australian Shadows Award, and I was deeply chuffed to find Midnight Echo #4 on the list for ‘Best Edited Publication’. I’ve always enjoyed editing, and the cast and crew of that magazine were an absolute joy to work with: talented authors, excellent and professional backroom staff, and good administration– the whole process was a delight. That the end result has received a chance at winning such a gong is very, very pleasing indeed.

Full details are here, but in case you’re hyperlinkingly challenged, the full roll call is:

LONG FICTION

 
  • Madigan Mine by Kirstyn McDermott (Picador Australia)
  • The Girl With No Hands by Angela Slatter (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healy (Allen & Unwin)
  • Under Stones by Bob Franklin (Affirm Press)
  • Bleed by Peter M. Ball (Twelfth Planet Press)

 

EDITED PUBLICATION

 
  • Macabre: A Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears, edited by Angela Challis & Marty Young (Brimstone Press)
  • Scenes From The Second Storey, edited by Amanda Pillar & Pete Kempshall (Morrigan Books)
  • Dark Pages 1, edited by Brenton Tomlinson (Blade Red Press)
  • Scary Kisses, edited by Liz Grzyb (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Midnight Echo #4, edited by Lee Battersby (AHWA)

 

SHORT FICTION

 
  • “Bread and Circuses” by Felicity Dowker (Scary Kisses)
  • “Brisneyland by Night” by Angela Slatter (Sprawl)
  • “She Said” by Kirstyn McDermott (Scenes from the Second Storey)
  • “All The Clowns In Clowntown” by Andrew J. McKiernan (Macabre: A Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears)
  • “Dream Machine” by David Conyers (Scenes from the Second Storey)

Honestly: not a dud amongst them.

Winners are announced April 15. Win, lose, or lose in some other way, I’ll announce them here on the blog, so stay tuned.

 

DEAD CHICK TWO: THIS TIME IT’S PERSONAL

His consistent attention to voice, his narrative muscle and unrelenting delving into a mind denied its presumed right to have what it wants, all conspire to make this story resonate…. The dread inexorable march of bloodshed won me over.

So sayeth judge Sarah Endacott, in awarding The Claws of Native Ghosts this year’s Australian Shadows Award.

To say I’m chuffed would be to understate the case. The Australian Shadows is the Australian equivalent of the Stokers– a technical award, given by the industry peak body, judged by industry professionals. To be shortlisted in a field alongside Sara Douglass, Paul Haines, and rising stars Jason Fischer and Chris Green was cool enough. To beat them was gratifying indeed.

Gary Kemble interviewed me in the wake of the award announcement for the ABC arts blog Articulate, and you can read it here. As is mention in the interview, to be recognised for both the entertainment value and technical merits of my work is extremely rewarding.

I’ve set aside this weekend for being unbearably smug, and then I’ll get back to work on Monday.

AND AT THE OTHER END OF THE SPECTRUM (YES, MY SPECTRUM HAS THREE ENDS. WHAT OF IT?)

I’m rather chuffed to be told that Claws of Native Ghosts has been shortlisted for this year’s Australian Shadows Award.

This award has been very good to me: In the four years the award has been running I’ve been nominated four times, winning the inaugural award, and it’s a real rush to make the list– Australian horror is an active, vibrant field, and the quality of the other nominees this year is astonishing. And I’m especially pleased to see two of my Clarion South acolytes on the list: Jason Fischer and Chris Green rank very highly on the NextBigThingometer, and you’re seeing the start of that right now, careful readers.

The winner will be announced on March 13, so stay tooned.

AUREALIS 2009

Well, the backslapper’s ball part of the evening is over, and all the attendees are doubtless gathered together to celebrate the true meaning of the Aurealis Awards: a large group of well-dressed writers and friends getting pissed as rats 🙂

A hearty congratulations to all the winners. I genuinely think it was one of the strongest fields I’ve seen in years, and for myself, I have not one batted eyelid at losing to Kirtsyn McDermott, who would be a worthy winner in any lineup. A particularly happy slap on the back to my very good friend Adrian Bedford, who was undoubtedly shocked, flustered and disbelieving, but deserves every accolade he picks up. I’m proud of ya, buddy.

For those who have a need to know, the full list of winners:

  • Peter McNamara Convenors’ Award for Excellence: Jack Dann
  • Best Science Fiction Novel: K A Bedford, Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait
  • Best Science Fiction Short Story: Simon Brown, The Empire
  • Best Fantasy Novel: Alison Goodman, The Two Pearls of Wisdom
  • Best Fantasy Short Story: Cat Sparks, Sammarynda Deep
  • Best Horror Novel: John Harwood, The Seance
  • Best Horror Short Story: Kirstyn McDermott, Painlessness
  • Anthology: Jonathan Strahan (ed), The Starry Rift
  • Collection: Sean Williams and Russell B. Farr (ed), Magic Dirt
  • Young adult novel: Melina Marchetta, Finnikin of the Rock
  • Young Adult Short Story: Trent Jamieson, Cracks
  • Illustrated book: Shaun Tan, Tales from Outer Suburbia
  • Children’s novel: Emily Rodda, The Wizard of Rondo
  • Children’s fiction illustrated work/picture book: Richard Harland & Laura Peterson, The Wolf Kingdom Series

COMING IN FROM THE SNOW

This year’s list of Aurealis Awards finalists has now been released, and it is with some measure of chuff that In From The Snow has made the shortlist for Best Horror Short Story.

Reaching an awards shortlist is always an achievement: you’re competing with every story published by every Australian across an entire year, and banking that 5 disparate judges whose qualifications can be as little as “I want to do it” or as much as “Dr of SF at SF University of The Future” will agree to not hate your story as much as they hate everybody else’s, and that’s assuming you’re even nominated– In From The Snow was nominated by Harper Collins, who published it, but in the science fiction category. I nominated it within the fantasy and horror fields myself (if you’ve read it you’ll understand why it could be considered any one of the three). There are no guarantees: reaching the ballot means you’ve been given a ticket to the lottery, nothing more. Under those circumstances, to be held up as one of the 5 best stories of the year, in any field, feels like a significant achievement.

It would be nice to win. Hell, it’s great to win. I’ve been fortunate to do so once before, and it’s one hell of a good feeling. It’s a quality field- if you picked up a magazine and saw Trent Jamieson, Deb Biancotti, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian McHugh on the contents page, you’d be a happy camper. But I have one advantage they don’t: I’m quite willing to kill and impersonate them for as long as it takes to get my hands on the gong. After all, I already wear Deb’s underwear….

Check out the full list of nominees for these year’s awards. I’ve a lot of friends there (waves), and there’s a lot of damn fine material. Pick one, buy it, read it. Let me know what you think. I’d be surprised if you were disappointed.

THE WINNERS!

Okay, the KSP have placed the list of winners up on their website, so I can now officially congratulate everyone who copped a gong in this year’s SF Awards.

So, slaps on the back and warm manly hugs to:

Shire of Mundaring National Young Writers Awards

1st Prize: Violet Macdonald (TAS) The Last Words
2nd Prize: Michael Greif (WA) Target

Highly Commended:
Rebecca Doyle (WA) Rebellion

Commended:
Stephanie Wong (WA) Traffic
Lachlan Dally (ACT) The Witch

Open Section

1st Prize: Eleanor Marney (VIC) The Self-Sufficient Gardener
2nd Prize: Luke Johnson (NSW) A Fish on Sunday

Highly Commended:
Monica Carroll (ACT) Documentation version 1.0.0 for Cartesian Family Harmony
Jason Fischer (SA) The Imogen Effect

Commended:
Bella Anderson (VIC) Treasure
Felicity Bloomfield (ACT) Tentacles all the Way
Laura E Goodin (NSW) Mooncalf

You can read my full report here, if you wish.

WHILE WE’RE AT IT

Heart congratulations to the delightful Karen Miller, who recently made the shortlist for the James Tiptree Award. And the equally delighftul Robert Hoge, who was selected as a judge for next year’s World Fantasy Awards.

Friends in high places, man….

SWANCON 2008

I had a long post here about Swancon. If you’ve got the rss feed archived you’ve probably still got it somewhere. I dunno: some things about the internet escape me.

Anyway, suffice to say, it’s gone now. I’ve decided not to post it. To those who enjoyed catching up with me, my thanks. To those who didn’t, I apologise. I hope everyone had a great time.

NOT LONG NOW

Erin arrives back in Perth tomorrow night, and will be back home by Monday afternoon. It’s about time: we’ve missed her so much it hurts, and we can’t wait to hug her and tell her how much we love her. And listen to all her stories (we know already that she’s seen live kiwis and danced with Maori pois), and see the photos, and look at the pictures she’s drawn, and read her holiday diary, and hug her again, and……

She’s been gone too long.

CONNING ON

Lyn, Aiden, Blake, and I are off to Swancon next weekend, along with the vast majority of the Western Australian SF community. Lots to do, lots to see, and no money to buy anything with (sigh), but at least I’ll be on some interesting panels.

If you really can’t get enough of my dulcet tones, you can catch me at the following times and locations:

Flash Fiction
Lee Battersby, Martin Livings, Zara Baxter
Friday 10am
When does it work? Why does it so often fail? Why is it so popular? Why do people have such strong feelings about it? Should it have its own awards? Is it a dumping ground for ideas that fail to develop? Or is it simply the perfect form of fiction for an era of multi-tasking and short attention spans?

Horror: The State of the Art
Lee Battersby, Stephen Dedman, Shane Jiraiya Cummings
Sunday 12pm
Where exactly is the Australian horror scene today? Some commentators have pointed to a recent resurgence in the field- is this the sign of more growth to come, or a momentary swell of interest before audience return to reading other genres? What is it that Australian horror has to offer that other nations can’t? An incisive look into one of Australia’s most promising- and oftentimes most neglected- genres.

Critiquing: How Much Feedback is Too Much?
Lee Battersby, Juliet Marillier, Robert Hoge, Satima Flavell Neist
Sunday 5pm
Writer’s Groups (face to face online), manuscript assessment services, mentoring- will they help you to write better? Or will they hurt your confidence, or waste your time?

Dr Who and the Big Finish
Lee Battersby, Stephen Dedman, Rob Shearman, Ian Mond
Monday 11am
Big Finish are a notable producer of Doctor Who audio plays and other media. What is it like working with them? How have things changed with the new series? How does fandom feel about their take on Doctor who? What about their work based on other cult SF properties?

You Gotta Make Way for the Homo Superior
Lee Battersby, Lyn Battersby, Tom Eitelhuber
Monday 11am
David Bowie’s name is synonymous with many trends: rock, art, androgyny, the reinvention of the self. And, of course, science fiction. This panel will look at ways in which Bowie’s music has influenced the culture of the 20/21st centuries. Which writers have been inspired by his lyrics? Who inspired him first?

Keen-eyed observers will note that I appear to be in two places at once on Monday. I’ve notified the programmer, and hopefully by the time we’re all at the Con it’ll be sorted: I don’t want to miss out on either panel, so fingers crossed for some expert tweaking of time and place. I’ll also be presenting an award at Sunday Night’s award ceremonies, so I’ll be enjoying getting frocked up and getting on stage.

PUSHING TIN

On the subject of which (oh, how smooth was that?), the traditional longest-shortlist-in-the-world, the WA SF ‘Tin Duck’ Achievement Awards have been released. You can see the full list here. I’ve several stories up for consideration, so if you enjoyed any of the following during the year, consider giving them a nod:

Father Muerte & The Joy of Warfare (Aurealis 37)
The Time Eater (Dr Who: Destination Prague)
Beached (Daikaiju III)

You’ll also find Lyn’s story Born of Woman, from Daikaiju II on the list. Easily the best flash fiction piece published last year by an Australian, imho, it’s well worth consideration.

AIDEN’S BIRTHDAY

It had to happen: the A-Boy turned 15 on Saturday, and for his present, we acceded to his desire to invite a whole bunch of friends to go paint-balling. A whole bunch of his friends, and his brother. A whole bunch of his friends, his brother, and me.

Fat men in all-over protective suits and heavy plastic face masks sweat. And puff. And get carpet burns from throwing themselves behind giant plastic barriers while teams of rampaging teenagers try to shoot the fat man’s nads off.

5 days later I’ve still got the bruises where the paint balls hit. Those bastards sting!

But it was a hell of a lot of fun 🙂

Happy birthday, Aidey-baby.

STUDIES IN AUSTRALIAN WEIRD FICTION

Ever-groovy Ben Szunskyj has announced the arrival of SIAWF Volume 1, and let me tells ya, the contents list is a doozy! To whit:

Essays —
“Lionel Sparrow (1867–1936): An Unknown Australian Writer of Gothic Horror” by James Doig
“The Weird Verse of Christopher Brennan” by Phillip A. Ellis
“Wandering Child: The Fantasies of Vernon Knowles” by Mark Valentine
“An Afternoon with Elizabeth Jolley, author of The Well” by Benjamin Szumskyj
“Shadows & Sexuality: The Horror Stories of Stephen Dedman” by Benjamin Szumskyj
“‘Tim Winton’s Take on the Weird: In the Winter Dark as Cross-Genre Fiction” by Phillip A. Ellis “A Bibliography of Australian Fantastic Literature to c.1960” by James Doig
“Brett McBean: An Appreciation” by Tim Kroenert
“Thrills and Excitement, Adventure and Action: Don Boyd, an Endless ‘Myth-Cycle’ Unto Himself” by Charles Lovecraft & Margaret Lovecraft

Interviews —
“Pater Horrere Familas: An Interview with Lee Battersby
“The Terror From Australis: An Interview Leigh Blackmore”
“The Weird Talesman: An Interview with Terry Dowling”
“Harvesting Wild Grapes: An Interview with Phillip A. Ellis”
“Home is Where the Horror Is: An Interview with Steve Gerlach”
“Laughter From the Dark: An Interview with Richard Harland”
“Horror From the Outback: An Interview with Rick Kennett”
“Darkness Be My Scribe: An Interview with Marty Young”

Ongoing Columnist —
“The Ossuary” by Robert Hood. First article entitled “Ghosts, Monsters and Chainsaws”

Symposiums —
“Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock: A Fortieth Anniversary Retrospect” discussed by James Doig, Patrick Lee and Brett McKenzie
“Crosses & Shadows: Australian Christians Discuss the Horror Genre” discussed by Nathan Hobby, Tim Kroenert, Amanda Robertson, Lyn Battersby and Benjamin Szumskyj

It’s available now, so get the heck over to the site and order a copy of what’s shaping up as an important critical journal.

THE GREEN LANTERN IS NOW BURNING

I know you’ve been waiting: head over to Strange Horizons now, and you’ll find my poem I’ll Keep a Green Lantern Burning. Ta-daaaaaa!

TIN DUCKS AND DITMARS

Swancon, this year, is the National SF Convention. Which means that, apart from being eligible to vote for the Western Australian SF ‘Tin Duck’ Awards, members of the convention can also nominate and vote fro the Ditmar Awards.

So should it interest you to know, the Battlist of eligible works for 2007:

Beached: Daikaiju III
The Time Eater: Dr Who- Destination Prague
Father Muerte & The Joy of Warfare: Aurealis 37
Born of Woman: Daikaiju II (Lyn)

BUT, BUT, BUT……

Year 1 already? When did Erin get so big?

And how cute was it to see her bound out of her room at 6am on Monday morning, fully dressed in uniform and hat, with her backpack on her back, ready to go? Poor thing: the longest 2 and a half hours of her life…..

SALES AND PUBLICATIONS

Much movement on the Battersby writing front since the start of the year, ennumerated thus:

  • Head on over to Sci Phi Journal, where you can still find myself, Stephen Dedman, and Geoff Maloney filling out the pages of their first issue. My story You Pretty Thing concerns itself with cloning, elevators, and wacky psychiatry hi-jinks.
  • I’ll Keep a Green Lantern Burning, a powemme no less, will be appearing in Strange Horizons as of February 4th
  • Lycanthrope: The Beast Within, a new anthology from Graveside Tales about something or other I can’t quite put my finger on, will contain my story The Claws of Native Ghosts. The gooden folken at GT sent me a glowing acceptance letter during the week, and who am I to refuse flattery of that type? 🙂
  • Ben Szumskyj, Perth-based horrorphile and publisher of cool literary works about the genre, raked me over the interviewing coals for the first issue of his upcoming Studies in Australian Weird Fiction. Dunno if that means I’m Australian, weird, or fiction, but I enjoyed the interview, and I’m looking forward to seeing a scholarly magazine aimed at understanding what separates us from the rest of the genre world.

So it’s all go, really.

AUREALIS AWARDS

Congratulations to all Aurealis Award winners. The full list will be somewhere on the net by now: Luscious and I had them read to us at a party for just that purpose on Saturday night by the ever-lovely Tehani Wessely, who has finally seen the light and moved to Perth from far-too-close-to-the-centre-of-the-Oz-SF-Universe-for-its-own-good Brisbane. A good, chatty time was had by all. Special mention of the wonderful Anna Tambour, a truly lovely lady and unique writer who is finally getting the notice and reward she’s been due for a very long time.