Who doesn’t love a good book sale score?
Hitler didn’t, that’s who. Yeah.
Nine bucks, people. Niiiiiiiiiine bucks.
Who doesn’t love a good book sale score?
Hitler didn’t, that’s who. Yeah.
Nine bucks, people. Niiiiiiiiiine bucks.
The dust has finally settled, I’ve gone back to the real world, and I can finally reflect on a mad fortnight of Magrit-related shenanigans.
First up was a surprise appearance at the Perth Writers Festival— a surprise to me as much as anybody else, as I was only added the roster 10 days out from the event when Emily Rodda pulled out, long after all the publicity material had been prepared and programmes printed. Even so, an invitation to appear is not one you turn down, so I duly rocked up to the Festival Schools Day on Thursday and spent a delightful 45 minutes talking all things writing with veteran YA author Carole Wilkinson and moderator Deb Fitzpatrick, as well as all the things you usually do on a panel for kids– pretending to eat the microphone, pulling stupid faces, impersonating Emily Rodda…… you know……
Friday I rejoined Carol at a session for teachers on inspiring writing in the classroom, chaired by AJ Betts and in the presence of the all-powerful Andy Griffiths, who kindly consented to a selfie and a signed book for Master 11, who was filthy as could be that he was unable to meet his literary hero. Andy was an education– quiet and internalised off-stage, he came alive in front of an audience, mixing charm, performance and insight, then returning to his quiet, self-contained self at the end. While the session itself was enjoyable, and it was nice to talk about the teaching of writing for a change, exposure to other authors and the way they manage themselves is beyond valuable. Andy and Carole are very different people, and the insight into their working lives was incredible.
And then there was Sunday. A solo session, at 9 in the morning, (that’d be Sunday morning), for a pack of kids almost all of whom were expecting Emily Rodda. No pressure, then….. Stuck for ideas, Luscious and the kids jumped on and helped me stuff a bag full of random items from the garage, and while I read sections from the book, the kids used the parts to build a Master Puppet skeleton at my feet. I think they did quite well, too.
The rest of the Festival was a joy, as it is is when you’ve got an artist lanyard in your hot little hand. Apart from access to the paid sessions for free, it entitles you to access the green room, whereby you can meet the other artists, and comes with an invitation to the opening night party. I bumped into the delightful Melinda Tognini, who I hadn’t seen since our first year of University in 1989, Luscious met Jack Heath, which was her entire reason for attending the festival, so much did she love his current novel, and Master 11 got an insight into the professional life of an author. It’s one of the reasons I attend every year: I get to breath in the essence of authorship, and realign my compass with the wider literary world beyond the cramped, and increasingly unsatisfying, speculative fiction borders I’ve inhabited until now.
I’ve three books in my computer, all part-started and all clamouring for attention: another children’s novel, a crime novel, and a linked collection of supernatural historical stories. These are the works I need to complete, before I take on anything else. Being at the Festival, exposed to the full range of the literary spectrum, helps me realise how large that literary world is, and how much of it I still want to explore.
Then it was on to Stefen’s Books the following weekend, and the official Magrit launch. Stefen has always been good to me, and this occasion was no exception, with a window display, posters throughout the store, and a sell-out crowd that emptied the shop of stock. Some reading, a revival of some of my old stand-up skills (such as they are), and an awful lot of skeletons drawn in an awful lot of books — a once-only addition to my signature– and Magrit was officially launched into the world. As is a Stefen’s tradition, we then retired to the pub next door for lunch, a drink or two, and much laughter, which is part of what makes his launches so special.
Of course, what that also means, is that you can now get yourself down to Stefen’s to pick up a copy of the book, or order it from Walker, or find it at any one of a million billion trillion excellent, good, or utterly dodgy bookstores. Go on. What’s stopping you?
So that’s it: Magrit is now out into the world, I’ve had my annual reminder of what it is to be a real writer, and now it’s back to the day-by-day crunch of day job, with a garnish of must-sit-down-and-write-something-today. I’ve made it know that my next work will be abut a boy who derails a ghost train, so I guess I’d better start adding to the 2500 words I’ve completed so far, right?………
There’s a meme doing the rounds of Facebook that requires the recipient to name 10 books that have had an impact upon them, then pass the disease on to ten innocent schmucks. Rather than waste all that typing on just one form of social media, I thought I’d list them here, too.
10. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John Le Carre. Sparse, brutal and unforgiving. A perfect ‘cold equations’ novel, and still just about the best thriller ever written.
1. Doctor Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Brilliant satirical dark comedy centred around stunning multiple performances from Peter Sellers, who is never better than here. Kubrick’s best film by a country mile.
2. The Crow. Dark, dystopian revenge fantasy that distills everything that a 19 year old in the late 80s found too cool for words, backed by the single best soundtrack in movie history. Nominally a superhero film and on that basis still one of the best 3 or 4 superhero films ever made.
3. ET. First saw it on an excursion with my under 13 soccer team. We’ll all deny it to our dying breaths, because we were Rockingham bogans trying to be tough, but we all bawled like we were sponsored by Kleenex. The special effects have dimmed over time, but the emotional impact never has.
4. The Italian Job. The film that inspired a life long love of heist movies. Good, clean, criminal fun from beginning to end.
5. Fight Club. Nihilistic, counter-culture view of a personal apocalypse. Brilliantly out of kilter, with a career-defining performance from Brad Pitt.
6. 12 Monkeys. The perfect combination of Terry Gilliam’s visual and narrative brilliance, Brad Pitt’s superb ability to create a beautiful freak, and a thoughtful and finely tuned SF plot. An utter classic.
7. Iron Man. I’m making no excuses here: this is the movie the 8 year old me waited 30 years to see, and it was everything I expected it to be. I loves it with loves that turns any form of criticism at all into “nahnahnahnahcan’thearyoucan’thearyounahnahnah…”
8. Blade Runner. Ridley Scott was never better. Another stunning, beautiful dystopia rendered in images so perfect they will live forever in my internal viewfinder. The flames along the edge of Sean Young’s iris may be the most perfect filmic image ever committed.
9. The General. Film’s greatest magician at his highest peak. Brilliant comedy, special effects, stunts and storytelling, still genuinely gripping after 90 years.
10. A Night at the Opera. My first Marx Brothers movie, it still has the power to crease me over with helpless laughter and yet, as I grow older, it’s the quiet moment of Harpo and Chico playing together on the ship that fill me with wonder. The archetypal something-for-everyone comedy, it should make talentless hacks like Adam Sandler hang his soulless head in shame. A wonder.
Satima’s a fantastic inspiration to anybody who feels like they’ll never achieve their publishing goals: The Dagger of Dresnia is the result of 11 years of hard work, faith, and perseverance, and it’s pleasing that she’s managed to partner with an aspiring press like Satalyte Publishing, who are looking to stake out a permanent place in the Australian publishing landscape. It’s a bold venture, and I’m hoping that both Satima and Satalyte receive the very best of fortune, not to mention sales.
If you can judge a person by the quality of their enemies then Satima must be rubbish indeed, especially if you can get the likes of Juliet Mariller and Glenda Larke to speak at your lunch. Or maybe that just speaks to the quality of your work, and of you as a person, non?
The Dagger of Dresnia is book one of a trilogy, and you can purchase it from the Satalyte website here. I managed to snaffle a few quick snaps of the launch in between talking-type duties:
STEPS FORWARD, SAYS A FEW WORDS
In her wisdom, she’s asked me a few questions, and I’ve told the world to milk cows and have sex. And some other stuff. Go here and read my interview, and catch the rest of her line-up here while you’re at it.
THE BOY IS BACK!
Almost a year to the day ago, Master 9 came down with a mysterious illness that caused him to vomit more than 40 times a day. School quickly became impossible. A normal life became just as impossible. Luscious withdrew him, put her life on hold, and set out to home-school him while she and the medical profession set out to determine what was wrong.
A year later, with a diagnosis of Rumination Syndrome under his belt, a year of the hardest emotional work I have ever seen a parent put into a child paid off. His vomiting has diminished to the point where he can go entire days without vomiting, and generally, if he does, it’s once or twice a day at worst. He and Lyn have battled every step of the way: against the illness, against despair; and against a medical fraternity that couldn’t give a shit about doing anything more than convering their own insurance premiums. They’ve never given up, never taken negative advice at face value. Bit by bit they’ve dragged GPs, specialists and surgeons in their wake, and changed both our lifestyle and environment until this week, for the first time in 12 months, this:
His first day at school in a year. For now he goes back one day a week, under the care of a teacher who is so understanding of his condition she has organised special care and infrastructure to ensure he has a safe space to retreat to should he be unable to stay in class, and coping strategies for when he can. But even one day is a victory, and he’s already talking about how soon that one day can become two, and two become three, and on until he’s back at full time.
I am so proud of them both I can barely find the words.
STUFF YOUR LUFTBALLONS, I HAVE LEGO
Naturally, that didn’t take into account the umpteen set I would buy over the course of what I dubbed The Great Set Rebuild of 2013, because things go better with 1950s Hollywood titles, so that, eventually, it became the Great Set rebuild of 2014 and, finally, the Is This Frigging Thing Not Over Yet of It’s Never Going to be Bloody Finished.
And yet, here we are. 99 sets, in all. It would have been 100, but for an incomplete set that arrived last week with filthy, unusable parts that I’ve had to source from third parties. However, sets were built, photos were taken, and here, for what it’s worth, you can wallow in the glory that is my Set Rebuilding Fu.
I’ll tell you this for free, though: I can’t wait to get back to building bloody MOCs…..
And theme by theme:
Thanks to the twinned miracles of my credit card and the international postage system, I took possession of this fine piece of work yesterday:
For those not in the know, it’s an exploration of the writing process by the delightfully brilliant author Jeff VanderMeer, whose work on the writing life, Booklife, is one of my most dearly-held biblical texts. This volume is overflowing with illustrations by Jeremy Zerfoss that are the kind of semi-surreal and absurdist illustrations I love, and would be worth the price of admission alone if not for the fact that VanderMeer is a wonderfully deep thinker about the authorial process and his words would be worth the price of admission alone if not for…. it’s a grand looking book. You get it.
It’s also backed up by a fantastic web page filled with extra content, which you’d know if you’d clicked the picture.
However, the purpose of this post is not to pimp VanderMeer’s work, but to have a bit of a play with my own. Because while I was aimlessly flicking through, looking at all the pretty pictures, I entertained myself by reading some of the opening and closing lines he’d collected to support his chapters on the art of creating memorable images with which to bookend your stories– readers remember the last and first things they read, we all know, so there’s an art to giving them memories that will walk away from the story with them.
Which prompted me to scroll through my own work and see just how well I’d done with that particular art throughout the years. The answer to which is
Anywhere But Earth, which features my story At The End There Was a Man, is now available from the Coeur De Lion online store.
29 stories of humanity’s experiences of, well, anywhere but Earth, featuring the likes of Margo Lanagan, Richard Harland, Robert Hood and Jason Fischer, and clocking in at a spine-bending 728 pages, this is going to be the biggest anthology released in Australia this year. Quite literally.
Yon Liney Uppey:
Calie Voorhis– Murmer
Cat Sparks– Beautiful
Simon Petrie– Hatchway
Lee Battersby– At the End There Was a Man
Alan Baxter– Unexpected Launch
Richard Harland– An Exhibition of the Plague
Robert N Stephenson– Rains of la Strange
Liz Argall– Maia Blue is Going Home
Chris McMahon– Memories of Mars
CJ Paget– Pink Ice in the Jovian Rings
Penelope Love– SIBO
Donna Maree Hanson– Beneath the Floating City
Erin E Stocks– Lisse
William RD Wood– Deuteronomy
Robert Hood– Desert Madonna
Steve de Beer– Psi World
Damon Shaw– Continuity
Wendy Waring– Alien Tears
Patty Jansen– Poor Man’s Travel
Jason Fischer– Eating Gnashdal
Kim Westwood– By Any Other Name
Brendan Duffy– Space Girl Blues
TF Davenport– Oak with the Left Hand
Sean McMullen– Spacebook
Margo Lanagan– Yon Horned Moon
Mark Rossiter– The Caretaker
Jason Nahrung– Messiah on the Rock
Angela Ambroz– Pyaar Kiya
Steve Cameron– So Sad, the Lighthouse Keeper
You know you want one. No more talking. Just go.
We’ve been glued to broadcasts of the Queensland floods, as I know you have. It’s scary, not only because of the sheer extent of the devastation and the tragic losses of life, property, and community, but because we almost instantly fell into a form of list-making– tallying up those friends and acquaintances from the region and realising just how many people who have touched our lives are being affected by this. To all of you: Geoff and Diane; Kate and Rob; Nikki and Damon; Kim; Rowena; Trent; Marianne; Peter; Ben; Chris; Bob; Heather; Julie; Angela; Kathleen; the Clarion South guys; everyone at QWC; all the Visioners; the mob at Pulp Fiction; and everyone else in the ridiculously long list we came up with over lunch yesterday until we stopped for fear of the sheer scale of it that I’ve forgotten to mention here; and all your families; our hopes and prayers for your safety and welfare.
One way you can help, and get some fresh reading material by way of thank you, is to purchase a copy of the somewhat-ironically-titled-given-the-circumstances After The Rain ebook download: Fablecroft Publishing publisher/editor Tehani Wessely is in Queensland right now, being with her family, but has managed to create an electronic version of the book: 13 stories that will appear in the (larger) print book in April, including contributions from myself and Luscious, some of them in a slightly different form to the way they will appear in the print book, plus 3 essays on the floods and their impact on local communities by Queensland writers specifically commissioned for this special edition.
Tehani says of the ebook: After the Rain was commissioned in 2010 and is due for release in April 2011. However, in the face of the ongoing flood disaster in Queensland, the authors and I have pulled together this limited ebook version as a fundraiser. The authors have freely given their stories for this use. All payments will go to the Flood Appeal, and we are leaving it up to you to decide how much you want to pay for the book. We recommend at least AUD$10.00, but all donations are gratefully received.
Go here to buy it, or to query. The ebook is available until 15th February.