It’s my last night at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre, and it’s time to round up what I’ve achieved over the last 2 weeks.
First and foremost, this residency has been about the writing.
It’s my last night at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre, and it’s time to round up what I’ve achieved over the last 2 weeks.
First and foremost, this residency has been about the writing.
Just a quick reminder that the KSP Christmas in July Literary Dinner, featuring readings by me, is on tonight. More details, including booking information, at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre webpage.
Well, I missed posting last night, because I was out gorging myself on a brilliant Indian dinner at a restaurant with the 2017 KSP Fellows and Residents Group– the life of a writer is a hard and dismal one, no?– so I missed posting an update.
Anybody who thinks numbers aren’t beautiful has never been a writer. As much as I have a love of mathematics (much like I have a love of boxing: I’m not much cop at anything beyond the basics, but by God, I love what the form can do), it’s the rise in pure numbers that gets my authorial mind smiling.
Let me show you. As of the close of business today:
Equalling 10,000 words since I arrived here.
See? Isn’t lovely? Doesn’t that make you smile? Because it make me grin like a freaking loon.
The other thing that made me smile like a loon today was my family deciding I needed to be taken out for dinner, and driving all the way here to pick me up and take me out. I’m loving this small taste of the life I want to live– writing full-time; advancing projects on a daily basis; drinking up the solitary, reflective life of an artist– but it means nothing without the love and support of those I love, and I’ve been missing them terribly. Everything I do, everything I sacrifice, everything I undertake: without them, it’s ashes.
It’s a small thing: a meal together, some laughs and togetherness. But it gives me the motivation to keep going and do them proud.
They followed me home. Can I keep them?
A simple day, today. After the social butterflying and story completion of yesterday, it was time for a return to the word mines, and an attempt to get some serious traction on Ghost Tracks.
Having spent the last 4 days staring out at the same view, I decided to pack up my computer and head into the nearby town of Midland to write, just for the change of scenery. It worked: I managed 2500 words, and shaped up the next part of the narrative, so that the next day or two of writing should come as easily as today’s.
That represents an important turning point for me: I’m not a plotter, which means that I rarely have more than a general sense of where I’m going in the short term. I usually know where I want to end up– I have the ending of this novel all sewn up, for example– but the details of the journey are often only discovered very shortly before the characters find out. In loose terms, my writing comes to me in three stages:
It was a day of achievement today: after kissing Luscious goodbye (there are advantages to undertaking a residency within driving distance of home- a visit from your wonderful wife is one of them), I embarked upon my first engagement of the fortnight– a forty-five minute interview by the participants of the KSP Press Club, led by my old pal and fellow author Melinda Tognini.
Day three of my residency, and apart from taking my work past a couple of notable milestones– Song of the Water passing 2000 words and Ghost Tracks cresting 20,000– today was notable for the appearance of a surprise guest.
There’s long been a rumour of a ghost here at the Centre, and sitting alone in a perfectly silent chalet in the depths of the rolling gardens is a perfect situation for a lonely ghost to come silently through the walls and hang in the space between the door and the desk, staring through you into the depths of a million alternative realities.
My first full day of Residency, and it was important to set in place a routine that I can follow for my full time here. To that end, I started by being woken up at 2.30am: Greenmount may be idyllic, but it is also right under the departing flight path for Perth airport, and the planes are only a few hundred metres overhead and working hard to climb. Back in the day, I lived in Huntingdale, which is under the approach path– I got used to the sound of aircraft overhead, but that habit has not yet reasserted itself.
It is upon us: this morning, I packed myself up, hugged Luscious and the kids goodbye, and hied me to the other end of Perth to commence my 2-week live-in residency at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre.
I’ll be working on 2 projects while I’m here: Ghost Tracks, the children’s novel wherein the protagonist derails a ghost train and is forced to travel to the otherworldly dimension to make amends; and the collection of short stories about supernatural incursions into historical events in Western Australia. In addition, I’ll be attending some writers groups, conducting a workshop, and being a part of some events throughout my stay.
My stint as Writer-in-Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre approaches like a monster riding a runaway train over a cliff while on fire (Of course I’m ready. Why wouldn’t I be ready? What would make you think that? Ha. Ha ha ha. Oh, you. Am I ready, you ask. Hahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaahhhhhccccchhhhhh…..)
From the 10th to the 24th I’ll be ensconced in one of the Centre’s delightful cabins; staring out at the beautiful gardens while I pretend to write; visiting writing groups to spread love, bonhomie and my usual blend of fatuous advice; mentoring aspiring authors who haven’t yet worked out what a complete fraud I am; and generally living the life of a swanny writah dahling while I work on my next round of rejection fodder.
I’ll also be helming a workshop:
World Building 101 will be an intense, 3 hour session in what I do best– bringing the odd into the mundane; tipping normality so that it doesn’t look quite right, whatever angle you view it from; and generally injecting a note of weirdness into your work. We’ll be discussing, and practicing, the elements of fantasy world-building, and smashing through a series of exercises designed to give participants the beginnings of a whole bunch of different fantastical stories. You can see my full itinerary here, including the literary dinner on the 11th July, for which tickets are still available.
The workshop takes place from 1-4pm, Saturday 22 July, at the KSP in Greenmount. Bookings are open now through Eventbrite.
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……
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*
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…)
Well, my darlings, that’s me for the year. I’m outta here, to spend the next 10 days in a drunken stupor relaxing with my family, my hobbies, my air-conditioning, and my platter of Christmas nibblies.
What do I plan in 2017? A return to writing, with a vengeance. 2016 was a lost year in too many ways, and the loss of my writing was amongst the most painful difficulties I went through. No more, I say.
Last week, Luscious, the kids, and I met up with our good friends Kris and Kim, and moseyed on up to the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre for their spooky night of ghost stories. Lyn and I had entered stories in their ghost competition, and had been informed that we had both been shortlisted and would we like to come along and read? Of course we would. The KSP is one of the loveliest and most atmospheric Writers Centres I’ve ever seen, and it’s always a real pleasure to head up there. So we hooked up with Kris and Kim for dinner in Midland, paused to let Master 11 get into costume (prizes for dress-ups!), and toddled off, stories in hand.
And, well, we did all right. A prize for Master 11 for his zombification, the announcement of Luscious’ brilliant story Cross Words as the second prize winning story, and then — after clearing the room of under 18s and telling everyone that the organisers had been forced to refine the running order of the evening specifically because of the graphic nature of the winning story– my own tale, The House of Jack’s Girls, a lyrical little thing about men bringing their sons to a haunted brothel specifically to have sex with Jack the Ripper’s victims, was announced as the 1st prize winner.
A good night for the ego, and a good night for the sense of fun. KSP organiser Tabetha was overwhelmed by the sheer weight of attendees, so here’s hoping it makes a reappearance again next year. You can read all about the night, including judge’s reports, from the KSP perspective here.
Tomorrow night, Luscious and I will be up at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre, scoffing curry puffs and drinking hot chocolate — and incidentally, reading fresh new works — as part of the KSP’s Spooky Stories Night. It’s a fundraiser for the KSPs residency program, and both Lyn and I have been shortlisted in their ghost story competition. I’ll be reading my entry, The House of Jack’s Girls, and I will say that it’s one of the harder-edged horror stories I’ve written in a little while: if you’ve fond memories of my Aurealis-award winner Pater Familias from a few years back, well, it’s in that sort of territory– the kids will be sent to another room while I’m reading….
Winners of the competition will be announced, there’ a dress-up competition, warm food, marshmallows for toasting over a fire, and if you’ve got a scary story to tell, a chance to scare the bejeebus out of everyone in the best possible setting.
Tickets are cheap as chips, and it’s shaping up to be a fun old night, so come on down. You can find more details here.
If you get yourself up to the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre for the KSPSF Minicon today, you’ll have the opportunity to buy a copy of The Corpse-Rat King at the launch price of $15 instead of the retail price of $17.95 and you’ll get the code for 25% off the e-book price through the Angry Robot website.
And if you don’t, you won’t.
Easy decision, innit?
Oh yes, my friends, I shall be there. And it will start oooh, and aaahhh, then later there will be running, and screaming….
Where: Katherine’s Place, 11 Old York Road, Greenmount (Turn into the first driveway after you turn in from the highway and park at the back)
Cost: $15, or $10 if you book in advance. Leave a comment athttp://kspminicon.blogspot.com.au/ if you want to do this.
Lunch: A decent meal and tea and coffee will be available for a gold coin donation or you can BYO – there are no eateries in the vicinity.
It’s nearly time for the biennial KSP Minicon at the Katherine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre up in leafy and lovely Greenmount.
There’s always a good mix of panels and a relaxed attitude. I’ll be on two panels this year, including ‘Breaking The Rules’, which is likely to be lively 🙂
And I’ll be launching The Corpse-Rat King! I’m talking to the publisher about getting copies, and if they don’t arrive in time I’ll still be doing a reading and handing out signed things– if not the book, then definitely things— and we’ll sort out getting copies into your hot little hands if they’re not already arrived, and it’ll be my usual blend of chaos, irreverence and sweariness no matter what happens.
It’s on Sunday, 9 September, from 9.30am-4.30pm at Katherine’s Place, Old York Road, Greenmount. The whole day will cost you only $15, or $10 if you book in advance, which you can do by heading over to this KSP Minicon page post and leaving a comment. They’ll also have a good lunch available for $5 or you can BYO – there are no eateries in the vicinity, so it’s a good idea to be prepared one way or the other.
And make sure you like their Facebook page while you’re at it: all the cool kids are doing it.
‘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?
It starts at 10am. You don’t have anything else you’d rather be doing today. I expect to see you there.
(A small change in the program, btw: Martin Livings has announced he won’t be coming, and as it always takes two people to replace a man of his stature, the part of Martin will be played by me and Rusty Farr. Sort of like a pantomime horse. I’m assuming I’ll be the ass end, as usual…)
The program for this Sunday’s Mini-con at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writer’s Centre has been released, and ’tis as follows:
10.00 am Panel “How to Handle Rejections”: Adrian Bedford, Russell Farr, Simon Haynes and Bevan McGuiness followed by Readings from Sonia Helbig and Helen Venn
11.00 am Panel “Clarions; gains and losses”: Lee Battersby, Lyn Battersby, Carol Ryles, Helen Venn and Jessica Vivienfollowed by Readings from Jo Mills and Elaine Kemp
12.00 noon Panel “What’s Hot and What’s Not – trends in Speculative Fiction”: Elaine Kemp, Alisa Krasnostein, Ian Nichols and Grant Stone followed by Readings from Juliet Marillier and Ian Nichols
1.00 pm Panel “Lies, Damned Lies and Research”: Dave Luckett, Hal Colebatch, Satima Flavell and Juliet Marillier followed by Readings from Hal Colebatch and Dave Luckett
2.00 pm Panel “Hooks and Sinkers – writing a killer first line”: Adrian Bedford, Stephen Dedman, Martin Livings and Bevan McGuiness followed by Readings from Adrian Bedford and Stephen Dedman
3.00 pm Panel “Steampunk” Toby Coulstock; John Parker; Carol Ryles and Grant Stone followed by Readings from Deb Ratcliffe and Carol Ryles
4.00 pm Panel “How to get out of the Slushpile”: Lyn Battersby, Janet Blagg, Stephen Dedman; Alisa Krasnostein; Tehani Wessely followed by Q&A and wind-up.
That’s a pretty fair line-up, if you ask me, so come along and join in. Remember: don’t applaud, throw money.
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
Rebecca Doyle (WA) Rebellion
Stephanie Wong (WA) Traffic
Lachlan Dally (ACT) The Witch
1st Prize: Eleanor Marney (VIC) The Self-Sufficient Gardener
2nd Prize: Luke Johnson (NSW) A Fish on Sunday
Monica Carroll (ACT) Documentation version 1.0.0 for Cartesian Family Harmony
Jason Fischer (SA) The Imogen Effect
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.
A lovely afternoon was spent by the Battfam this afternoon: Luscious and the littlies accompanied me to the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writer’s Centre where I announced the winners of this year’s SF Awards. Apart from catching up with some old pals in the forms of Satima Flavell Neist, Helen Venn and Chris Oakley, it was great to see several winners in the Junior section turn up to receive their awards.
I’m not certain that all winners (many were from other states, including every einner in the Open section) has been notified of their placing, so I’ll hold off from listing everyone here until I get the all clear, but my warmest congratulations to all concerned, and thanks to the KSP for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this competition again. It was a fantastic experience, and a lovely occasion today. I’ll be more than happy to be a part of it again any time.
Since I last spoke, a whole slew of primo panellists have been confirmed for the KSP SF Minicon on the 21st September.
Confirmed panelists, apart from myself and Luscious, include Adrian Bedford, Janet Blagg, Hal Colebatch, Stephen Dedman, Russell B Farr, Simon Haynes, Elaine Kemp, Alisa Krasnostein, Martin Livings, Dave Luckett, Ian Nichols, John Parker, and Tehani Wessely. That’s at least as good a line-up as Gladiators, and has a distinct advantage in that none of us will wear spangly lycra. Except for maybe Rusty. Which will make a nice change from an Hawaiian shirt 🙂
The one-day mini-con, which starts at 10.00am, will be held at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre, Old York Road, Greenmount,Perth. Gold coin admission, lunch available. Join usssss….
KATHARINE SUSANNAH PRICHARD WRITER’S CENTRE– SF EVENTS
This Sunday, 17th August, at 3pm, the Chairperson of KSP, the CEO of the Shire of Mundaring and the Competition Judge – that would be me – will present the awards to the winners of the KSP Speculative Fiction Competition. Prize winners will read excerpts from their entries. Light refreshments will be available.
Come on down to the Centre, at 11 Old York Road, Greenmount, meet the winner, hear some damn good SF, and enjoy the historic grounds.
And on Sunday 21st September, starting at 11am, the KSP SF Mini-conference will be happening. The first mini-con, held in 2006, was an outstanding success, with several score people attending. The panels, readings and inexpensive lunch all contributed to the day’s success, and we hope to do even better this year.
There will be timeslots for six panels with readings in between. There will also be readings over lunch time. Once again, our friends at Fantastic Planet will be setting up shop at KSP for the day. There will also be opportunities for signings throughout the day. Lyn and I will be attending, as will many of the leading lights of Western Australian SF. More information will be posted to this humble blog as we get closer to the day.
Pencil it in, SF fans.