A MURDER TOO CLOSE TO HOME

Keen-eyed readers will be aware that my family and I live in Clarkson, a northern suburb of Perth (or southern suburb of Geraldton, according to several friends).

Keen-eyed watchers of the news will have heard that a murder occurred in Clarkson a couple of nights ago. You can read about it here and here.

Here’s the newsie round up: two groups men got into an argument over a girl whilst hanging out at a local primary school. One man stabbed another. His mates got him to hospital, then went to the stabber’s house and, unable to break into the locked house to gain their revenge, chased a friend into his shed and stabbed him 20 times, killing him.

Here’s our round-up: we live across the road from our son and daughter’s primary school. Directly opposite our house are a number of parallel-parking spaces. Beyond them, a path leads from the footpath into the school. From our front door to the basketball courts is a distance of maybe fifty feet. Our children walk that path twice a day, every day.

On Wednesday night, whilst Lyn was pulling the car out to take Aiden to guitar practice, several men ran from the school grounds, up the path, openly bearing weapons (Lyn mentioned at least one golf club) and screaming death threats at people behind them. They jumped into a car in the parallel parking spots, and screamed away, almost side-swiping our car in the process. By the time Lyn had dropped Aiden off, picked me up at the train station and returned home—maybe twenty minutes—the area was roped off and several police were in attendance. Twenty feet from our front door was a crime scene. These men had been in a knife fight. In our children’s school. On the pathway that our children walk down from the road to the basketball courts on their way to school. Twenty feet from our front door. These men then went and murdered someone in a house in our suburb. Murdered an innocent bystander because they were angry and seeking revenge over an argument about a girl.

I’m not stupid and I’m not naïve. I know about crime: I’ve seen it, been its victim, known perpetrators and criminals of various stripes over the years. I know it happens in suburbs and in homes. I’m not blind. I don’t even bat an eyelid at the notion of murder- I live in a city that’s played host to two of the worst serial murderers in Australian history, a city where people get thrown from traffic bridges and if the bouncers don’t get you in our nightspots, the gangs will. I’ve met suicides, prostitutes, and convicted drug felons. They don’t make rose coloured glasses in my prescription. But:

If Lyn had been half a second slower on the brakes, she and my children would have been part of this crime. They would have been innocent bystanders in the way of a gang of angry, armed men who had already (and would go on to) exhibit extreme, fatal, violence. I have no shred of doubt that they would have been seriously harmed. My children’s school is a crime scene. The path they walk every day of the school week is, quite literally, a blood-soaked crime scene. One of the two places my children should feel safest in the world has been used as a backdrop to gang violence and attempted murder.

I will not tolerate my family being in such an environment.

Aiden finishes his high school career at the end of next year. We will take that time to get the house ready, and then we will sell it, and move. Mandurah appeals: we have friends there, it is close to the town where I grew up, and it has everything I consider necessary for a good family environment. It is time to get ready, and leave.

CONGRATUMALASHUNS

…to Stephen Dedman, who has recorded his 100th short story sale under his own name.

Stand still for five minutes and let the rest of us catch up, will you?

HULK CLEAN!

Clean up day yesterday. Hired us a trailer, got stuck in. Took loaded-up trailer to the tip. I don’t know about you, but our tip weighs the car on the way in, weighs it again on the way out, and you pay a fee based on the difference in weight. (And oh, my nerdy interior rang with the voice of Peter Jones intoning “It is vitally important to get a receipt every time you go to the lavatory”….)

684 kilograms of rubbish I lumped into that trailer, with Luscious’ help.

No wonder I’m bloody knackered.

GO YOU RE-EEEEDSSS!!!

Huddersfield Town 1- 1 Nottingham Forest.

TOP OF THE TABLE, BABY!!!!!!

Ahem. I feel better now.

And as a comedy aside, what do I have in common with Torvill & Dean, Ian Paice, Andy Cole, and the Manic Street Preachers’ James Dean Bradfield?

This.

LIVING IN SUBURBIA

Sometimes, the soundtrack of your life says something perfect…

Did something I haven’t done for a long time this morning: jumped on the bicycle, banged the ipod in my ears (took it out, attached earphones, put them in my ears. More comfortable, and there’s music!), and inflamed my arthritic knees down to Bunnings and back to pick up a couple of things for the house.

It’s early on a Saturday morning, it’s a sunny day, I’m riding through deepest, darkest, middle class suburbia, people are out in their front gardens, doing all those middle class things middle class people do on a Saturday morning– mowing, washing the four wheel drives they never take further than the shopping centre, wiping down the lawn furniture for another garage sale…

And what comes on the playlist? Pleasant Valley Sunday by the Monkees. Followed by REM’s The End of The World As We Know It.

I had to get off the bike I was laughing so hard.

It’s just a pleasant valley Sunday-hey! Here in status-symbol laaaannnndddd……..

MEMEY MEMEY MEMEY

Gakked from a whole bunch of people.

Go to Wikipedia, enter in your birthdate (sans year), post three events, two births and one death.

EVENTS

1215 – The Fourth Lateran Counil meets, adopting the doctrine of transubstantiation, meaning that bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Christ. (Heh. Given my views, somewhat ironic, non?)
1634 – The Irish House of Commons passes “An Act for the Punishment for the Vice of Buggery”.
1930 – Patent number US1781541 was awarded to Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard for their invention, the Einstein Refrigerator.

BIRTHS

1821 – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Russian novelist (d. 1881)
1897 – Lucky Luciano, American gangster (d. 1962)

DEATH

1917 – Liliuokalani of Hawaii, Queen of Hawaii (b. 1838)

There’s really a very long list of happenings on this day. It’s here. Check it out, there’s quite a lot of fun stuff, if you’ve got a mind like mine.

COMINZEE OP!

Couple of events on the horizon at which you may like to join myself and Luscious.

Luscious and I will be reading at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writer’s Centre Open Day on April 23rd, between 11.15 and 11.45. I’ll have copies of Through Soft Air there for sale, as well as copies of Aurealis 36 and some of the other magazines in which we’ve appeared.

I’ll be placed under the microscope at Australian Science Fiction in Focus for a 2 week stint as guest interviewee starting the 14th of June. Luscious will take her place before your gaze for a fortnight from 23rd August.

I’ll remind you closer to the dates, but at least now you know!

Song of the moment: Even Flow Pearl Jam

Pretty, isn’t it? It’s the 2005 Aurealis Award for Best Horror Short Story, and I won it on Saturday night at a wonderful ceremony in Queensland. Luscious and I flew in from Perth to attend, as she was nominated or Best SF Story for her brilliant work The Memory of Breathing. Sadly, it lost to Trent Jamieson’s Slow and Ache, which can be found in the brand new Aurealis 36. The issue also contains my Australian Shadows nominated story Father Muerte & the Flesh, as well as Kim Westwood’s AA nominated Terning Tha Wheel, so it might be described as ‘a fair old read’…

A huge whoop of congratulations are accorded the Western Australian contingent, who cleaned up: Juliet Marillier winning the Best Fantasy Novel category; Grant Stone for being accorded the Peter MacNamara Award and about bloody time too; and most especially, our very good friend KA Bedford, whose novel Eclipse took out Best SF Novel. I’m afraid I let out a very audible “Yessssss” when that one was announced 🙂

We spent the weekend as guests of just about our favourite couple in the world, the sweetly divine Rob Hoge and Kate Eltham, who treated us like visiting royalty (they tried to crash their car into a pole in Paris and kill us, then they shot us and started World War One), and it was wonderful to catch up with so many faces we don’t get to see anywhere near often enough: Chris Lawson; Sean Williams; Rob Hood (hope the wrist is better, Rob); Cat Sparks; Geoff Maloney; Trent; the list is a long one, and includes some new friends who greeted us with warmth and fellowship: a big halloo to Robert E, Heather, Kim, Rjurik, and Nikki & Damon.

Perhaps the best part of it all was being presented my award by Jason Nahrung, a friend of mine now for a couple of years and someone I couldn’t have been happier to shake the hand of in my moment on stage. Jason has been an unfailing support and pal– he interviewed Lyn and I a couple of weeks before the trip and I always have the greatest feeling of pleasure after being in his company. To receive my award from someone for whom I have such affection made it just that little bit sweeter.

Truth to tell, everyone in Queensland makes us feel so goddamned welcome we’re always slightly guilty when we leave. It’s a subtle plot, I’m sure of it. One of these days we’ll be gassed in our beds, and wake up in a village with them all, and no way of escape…

As always, Brisbane means shopping. Can’t tell you yet if the best buy was the Jack Skellington head ceramic cup; the 4-pack of Invader Zim figurines (Beaver Gaz is our favourite), or the amazing spray-painted art piece we picked up from a street artist who was packing up because it was about to rain and gave it to us for barely anything just so he wouldn’t have to leave with it. Time will tell.

NO WORDS ARE NECESSARY

My darling wife, getting ready for the awards night. Is it any wonder I’m utterly smitten? Simply the most beautiful woman I have ever known.

FUN FUN FUN

It’s no secret that I’m a museum and art gallery geek. Brisbane art gallery has one of the goldurn funnest displays I’ve ever seen. Since November 2004, they’ve been encouraging the general populace to pull up a seat and take part in creating a growing city, made from white lego blocks. We had a go last year with the kids, but this time we set aside half an hour and had a serious crack at adding our creations to the city scape. Like all good art it’s interactive, forces its audience to think, and defies any sort of accurate description, so a couple of photos might give you some idea.

The first is my creation, with a couple of other buildings in the background.

And this one, just to give you a sense of scale. According to the docent, they’ve gone through six layers of buildings since last year, and some of those spires at the very back are nearly six or seven feet tall. It’s the kind of thing that makes me wish I had a job in Brisbane, simply so I can take a day off and really build something…

“So. What do you think the working class are doing?”

BRISBANE CUISINE

This place was around the corner from Rob and Kate’s. This was as close as I dared venture.

TODAY’S COLOUR IS MONDEGREEN

For some reason, there were a rash of Non-English speaking moments over the last few days. Firstly, outgoing AA director Lea Greenaway, who tortured her description of Richard Pitchforth as someone who fertilises new ideas, by telling us that he’d always been full of fertiliser; then backed it up by admitting they’d mis-spelled Shane Dix as Shane Nix in a previous programme, and that while she was sure Garth and the family would love to take credit, Shane had always been a Dix.

Then I shared this conversation with my darling:

Lee: How are you feeling?
Lyn: (Yawns)
Lee: Is that your answer?
Lyn: Yes. I thought I’d let my mouth speak for itself….

And finally, we were entertained this morning by Erin’s rendition of “Postman Pat, Postman Pat, Postman Pat and his bright green cat…”

Must check the colour on the tellie.

IN OTHER NEWS ENTIRELY

Monstrously huge happinesses and congratulations to our friends Sean and Terri, upon the arrival of their 3rd daughter, Emmaline Scarlet, on Sunday morning. We’re over the moon with joy for you, guys.

AND IN HOUSE NEWS……

We have bathroooooooooommmmmssssss!!!!!!!!!!!

SWANCON

We’ll be at Swancon this weekend, where the collection should be launched, as long as the publisher can get copies to us in time. if not, I’ll be conducting The Anti-Launch, where you can win copies of magazines in which I have appeared, and play some silly games into the bargain. At least one copy of aurealis 36 will be available, which means you’re likely to be the first person in Perth besides us to scam a copy.

Come on down. Say hi.

Song of the moment: Silence. Everyone else is asleep.

OH MY GOD, IT’S SO PRETTY

Have a look what my publisher sent me today. Don’t you just want to buy it? I know you do.

Observant, long-time readers may note the change of title 🙂 Really observant, really long-time reders may remember it was the original title when it was first picked up by Prime. I’m grateful that Prime supremo Sean Wallace has decided to go with it: it’s always been my favourite option, and I’ve been a real pain in the arse, agitating to keep it all this time. And it’s led to artist Gary Nurrish creating this magnificent cover.

Happy author.

Buy me. Buy meeee…….

BATTERSDUO IN PRINT, AND PROGRESS ON THE PAGES AT HOME

Borderlands 6 is out. My story The Imprisonment of Marianne sits between its covers, and just as excitingly, Luscious’ The Hanging Tree is in there as well! Read this one: it’s proof that The Memory of Breathing was no one-off.

Lyn’s recent story in the Redback issue of Shadowed Realms prompted Horrorscope to say this:

Starting the issue off is Lyn Battersby’s Edges. Talk about dysfunctional relationships! There are some nice transitions between ‘characters’ here that very effectively resolved my initial feelings of unease into fear. The main character’s terror and desperation are palpable but, in the end, it’s five against one… not good odds for saving a relationship.

It goes on to say that this issue is the strongest one so far, boding well for both SR and my darling, who continues to make Ben Peek look like an idiot.

In good writing news, the lack of a computer in recent days has forced me back to a notebook and pen. With limited time at my disposal due to the current overly-busy lifestyle, I set myself a target of 300 words per day: a modest total to be sure, but one I hadn’t achieved for the entirety of this year. Four days later, I’ve managed it every day, am working on two new stories, and feel like I’m achieving something at last.

Maybe, just maybe, after a few false dawns so far this year, I might be able to get this career back on track. Let’s see, shall we? I’ll drop a weekly tally in to track my progress, and y’all have permission to razz me if I don’t keep up.

IT STARTS

Clarion South 2007 applications are now open.

You have no excuse. Get them in. I’ll be there, tutoring in the 2nd week, and you’ll also suffer at the hands of Rob Hood, Simon Brown, Gardner Dozois, Kelly Link, and Janeen Webb. How can you not want to do this?

Apply now!

HOGE-TOWN!

One of the goddamn best people I’ve ever met, a man of whom I cannot speak highly enough, one of the best pals I’ve made in writing: Robert Hoge has an LJ. Flist him.

KISSY KISSY, MY FROG

We had ourselves a low-key Valentine’s Day this year: we’ve bought each other so many things as we moved into the new house that adding something just for Hallmark Day seemed a little, well, over the top. I mean, when your wife can walk through the door and give you a hard-cover graphic biography of Jimi Hendrix drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz and 2 Hendrix CDs for no other reason than she knows you’ll love them, why do you need to have the greeting card industry set aside a day for you?

So we just took the phone off the hook; moved the TV and DVD player into the bedroom and threw Love Actually at it; uncorked the wine; made up a plate of cheeses, dried fruits, and grapes; and simply relaxed into each other’s company for the night.

It was bloody wonderful.

MEANWHILE, IN THE CELLAR….

So Gary Megson has resigned as manager of Nottingham Forest.

About fucking time.

HOUSE NEWS

I know you have a need to know:

We’re down to the bathrooms, ladies and gents. The tilers were supposed to be here in the last couple of days to do their thing, but will soon arrive on Monday after my “Where the fuck were you?” phone call. Once they’ve done, the electrician will arrive to move the power points four inches up the wall so we can fit the new vanities in. Which will be duly fitted, followed by taps, soap holders, towel rails, the showers, the new toilet for the ensuite, and me, having my first non-hand-held-shower-head shower for three weeks, sighing with something approaching ecstacy as the water cascades down my back (don’t think visually).

Everything else is cosmetic: we have a miniskip full of dead plant life, and at least another one to go. The compost bin has been installed into a corner of the garden and is busily, uh, sitting there doing the composting thing. Boxes are being opened, emptied, and folded. We’ve discovered a new Mecca– Bunnings has been replaced in my affections by Howard’s Storage World, (I kid thee not), where today I picked up a bike rack so we can stop using the entire patio as a bike repository. Yesterday it was an eight-drawer movable table for Lyn’s painting supplies. I loves it. It is my precious. And slowly, out of the debris of broken boxes and dust, a home is emerging.

Housewarming invitations are beginning to be discussed 🙂

AND JUST BECAUSE I BLOODY WELL CAN

A gratuitous Connor shot, because he’s so frigging gorgeous.

I can make my Daddy mushy like that


Song of the Moment: San Jacinto Peter Gabriel

WE MAY AS WELL JUST CHANGE OUR NAME TO KUTTNER AND BE DONE WITH IT

Received a phone call from the stylish and altogether frabjous Jason Nahrung last night. Not only a denizen of our all-time favourite city, Brisbane, Jason does journalism-guy stuff for the Courier Mail, and wanted to interview Luscious and myself with an eye to the upcoming Aurealis Awards.

Which was no pain at all, as he is a complete gentleman and a delight to chat to. And I still owe him a beer, so it was a chance to remind him of my obligation. Excuse me, barman, I have no children with me this trip!

Our reputation as the single-entity-with-two-names continues to grow…

LYNAPALOOZA!

Luscious fans! Get yourself over to Anna Tambour’s website and read this month’s featured story, a new and previously unpublished Lyngram entitled Simeon The Monkey. It’s weird, touching, and of the usual stratosphere-high Luscious quality!

In double-good-news-with-chips, no less than 2 authors have recommended The Memory of Breathing for the Bram Stoker Award, and ASIM have nominated it for the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Fountain Award.

Is wot me and Arfur would call a nice little earner…

13!

Happy birthday Aiden! Hope you made out like a bandit! (He certainly did at our end: a bike with all the accessories, and a CD rack, and a DIY T-Rex skeleton kit with poster and replica claw, and a double-barrelled lava lamp. Lucky bugger. Wish I was 13 muttergrumblerazzumfrazzumenvywhingejealousy…..)

LOOK AT MY BOTTOM

Check out the bottom of the page to see the latest shiny banner-toy. Yessiree, yon author-boy is now a member of the Australian Horror Webring. Follow the ‘next’ to see who else is a member.

Do we get sandwiches?

VOTE!

The Tin Ducks and the Ditmars are open. If you’re a member of (respectively) Swancon and the Natcon, you can nominate and vote.

No pressure, but in 2005 I gave the world:

I Can Make You Famous, Shadow Box, October
Decimated,
Shadowed Realms Issue 8, November
Gunslinger,
The Devil in Brisbane, Prime Books, October
Murderworld, Andromeda Spaceways In-flight Magazine Issue 18, April
Love Me Electric, Consensual a Trois, March
(The Aurealis nominated…) Pater Familias, Shadowed Realms, Issue 3, January
(The appearing in Year’s Best Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror…) Father Muerte & The Rain, Aurealis Issue 33, January

No pressure.

AND IN DOMESTIC NEWS…

The house continues apace. The original office has become Connor’s bedroom, as the desk we bought for Lyn is bigger than the room 🙂 So our office/reading room/studio now takes up the first third of the house, and Connor’s original bedroom is now the playroom.

Got that? 🙂

By my reckoning, in the last week I have seen: 60+ allen bolts; 200+ screws; 8 flat packed items of furniture; one quarter of a tonne of dust of various types; 8 cuts; 26 scratches; and three rooms almostnearlyjussssstabout finished…

And the bathroom guys come on Monday.

I confidently predict a liveable home environment by Christmas.

TOUCHING A NEW BASE

Well, we’re in the new house: the computer is connected (although a fan did not survive the journey: it sounds like someone is using a chainsaw inside a light aircraft in here…), most of the house has been painted, the new floors have been laid, and we’ve almost chosen the new bathroom fittings. Whilst it’s fun kneeling on the bare concrete floor to shave myself in my daughter’s princess mirror, and sitting down in the bath to shower with a hand-held nozzle, I’d really rather like a bathroom that doesn’t resemble the inside of a Beirut bombsite, ta muchly.

I’ve a lot to catch up on, a lot to chase after, and a lot to get back on track in the next few weeks. Bear with us while we try to get our life in order: renovations are, to put it in the mildest possible terms, a complete fucking bastard. Never again. Never again.