Well, here we are. The 29th, and final, Precious Things post. And I can’t think of anyone better to round off the whole thing than the woman I call ‘Luscious’, Lyn Battersby.
Lyn is a talented author and editor, with a writing voice I think is utterly unique. Her writing has taken a back seat over the last couple of years while she finishes a University degree. She’s currently in the final stages of a post-graduate teaching internship, and as one of the top two or three students in the state, she’ll have her pick of assignments when the adverts are answered towards the end of this year. Once she’s settled in her new job, she’ll be back amongst the pages where she has made her home over the last 15+ years.
For now, however, with thanks to the 28 friends, colleagues, peers, and artists I like and admire who have created this series, it’s time for the artist I love to speak.
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Cat Sparks has done pretty much everything there is to do in Australian speculative fiction. She’s been a publisher, illustrator, and editor. These days, she’s expanding her long-standing writing repertoire: she’s just released her debut novel, Lotus Blue, and is putting the finishing touches to a PhD in climate fiction.
Here, she takes us back into the depths of her childhood, and goes some way to answering what so many of those of us who call ourselves her friends have wondered: how did she get like that?
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If you enjoyed Magrit, then Sue Whiting is the person to thank. Sue is, to put it simply, the best editor I’ve ever worked with: I learned more from working with her on this one manuscript than I’ve learned from the rest of my career combined. Her ability to pull threads together, to identify logic gaps and tighten sentences I thought screwed to their maximum torque, was astonishing. She did such an amazing job that she’s indirectly responsible for the difficulties I’ve had with my next work– now that she’s left Walker Books and gone back to her first love, writing, I’m no longer certain how much of my greatest success is mine and how much is hers, and for a long time I was paralysed by the fear that it was all down to her.
An accomplished author in her own right, here she lets us into both the beginnings and underpinnings of her literary career.
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There’s no denying it: Kaaron Warren is an awards hoover. Over three novels and umpty-million short stories, she’s won everything from the Aurealis, Ditmar, and Australian Shadows Awards to everything Canberra critics can give her to the Shirley Jackson Award. She’s one of our very few world class authors– she’ll be a Guest of Honour at the 2018 World Fantasy Convention— and if that wasn’t enough to make you hate her through sheer envy, she’s also one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met. Her latest novel, The Grief Hole, is, like most of her other work, an utter tour de force.
She’s one of my favourite SF people, and as always, it’s an utter pleasure to be in her company. And as always, no surprise to find that what Kaaron writes about isn’t what is seen in the surface but what lies just below, easily missed until she brings it into the light for examination.
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It’s been too long since we’ve visited fellow artists’ precious things: the KSP Residency kept me away from all but the most basic blogging, and since I returned to the day job, the weight of work has been ramping up so that I’ve had very little time to myself for such things. Thankfully, the skies have cleared (I can’t wait to tell you about The 18 Month Plan tm) and we have a chance to get back to business with one of Australian Speculative Fiction’s most divine lunatics, the brilliantly unique Adam Browne.
For a start, Adam’s more than a writer: he illustrates his own works, and they have titles like Pyrotechnicon: Being a True Account of the Further Adventures of Cyrano de Bergerac Among the States and Empires of the Stars, by Himself (dec’d) (a wonderful confectionery of a book I was proud to read pre-publishing), “Other Stories,” and Other Stories, and his latest, The Tame Animals of Saturn. He has a tendency not to appear in major presses: such is often the fate of truly original voices, and Adam is truly original– if you’d like further proof, my favourite of his short stories involves the soul of Michael Jackson being implanted into an immortal spaceship, and grooming a street urchin to travel the stars with him forever. And that’s the easy version of the synopsis.
Spend five minutes at Adam’s blog, luxuriate in the writing and drawings, then come back here to enjoy an insight into one of the most intriguing and fascinating writers Australian speculative fiction has ever produced.
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Andrew J McKiernan is a writer and Illustrator, living and working on the Central Coast of New South Wales. His stories have been everywhere since he first appeared in 2007, the length and breadth of his talent resulting in multiple Aurealis, Ditmar and Australian Shadows Awards nominations, and a metric fucktonne of Year’s Best anthology appearances. He was Art Director for Aurealis Magazine for 8 years and his illustrations are as good as his stories, the talented bastard: you can see a bunch of them over on his website, as well as on covers and internals all over the shop. He even looks natty in a hat, a skill I envy with much greenness of the eyes.
Here then, is he, hat and all:
Precious Things: Andrew J McKiernan
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I first met Claire Davenhall several years ago, as an entrant to the annual outdoor sculpture exhibition I coordinate for my day job. Claire made an impression on everyone at the exhibition: partly because she’s quite physically small, and she had a habit of lugging things like 8 foot high, solid steel shark fins up and down the beach, but also because there was a time where she seemed to coincide the exhibition with the birth of her children– giant shark fins are one thing; giant shark fins being lugged about by she-must-be-ready-any-moment pregnant women is a whole different class of funny!
I’ve had the very great pleasure of watching Claire’s art practice grow over the intervening years, and frankly, I’m taking credit: she’s my discovery, and now that she’s exhibiting at things like Sculpture by the Sea and Swell Sculpture Festival on a regular basis, it’s about time I got my finder’s fee…..
You can see Claire’s work on her website. She’s a fantastic talent, a lovely person, and as you’re about to read, a real weepy 🙂
Precious Things: Claire Davenhall
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I know I’ve said this about a few people, but Jay Watson is one of the loveliest human beings alive. He’s a giant of a man, tall and broad, and just big, but there’s not an ounce of malice or intimidation in him. Quite the opposite: he’s one of the gentlest, most caring people I’ve ever come across. And while it is often a truism, in this case it’s simply true: there’s not a person you’ll meet who doesn’t adore the man.
A passionate and long-time SF fan, he’s been on more Swancon committees than is healthy, is one of the organisers behind the excellent CrimeScene convention, and is a friend and safe space for anyone who needs it. My first experience of him was sitting at a dinner table, throwing Goon Show lines at each other, and it’s been a long, happy association ever since. Now here he is, in his own words.
Precious Things: Jay Watson
Jay’s on the left.
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Colin Sharpe is one of those irritatingly handsome men who you can’t hate because he’s also extremely likable and manages to keep the terrifying things he does to kittens a secret. He’s a father, a cyclist, a rock-climber, hockey player, an Inventory Controller and an artist, but not always in that order. He has been involved in many aspects of Perth fandom, in many different roles, and was proudly one of the editors of the superb manga anthology Xuan Xuan.
Here he discusses his passion for comic books, and reveals his Precious Thing as an issue that those of us who were there at the time will recall with the kind of horrified fascination that we had the first time Johnny Depp sucked, or Al Pacino did that weird shouty thing he does, or the first time we saw Rob Liefeld’s work, or heard a Mariah Carey song, or realised Steven Segal was serious……
Precious Things: Colin Sharpe
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Amanda Curtin has always been one of those authors I’ve found slightly intimidating, as well as an aspirational benchmark. It seems like she’s been on the stage at every Perth Writers Festival I’ve ever attended, always speaking with an encyclopaedic understanding of the industry; her name is always attached to every study I see produced about the state of WA writing; she appears to be associated with every literary market in WA I can’t get within kilometres of getting published by…. men stand aside as she walks by, women swoon, horses stamp their hooves nervously……
Having finally met her this year, she is, of course, utterly lovely. She still dresses up as a bat and fights crime at night, but gently, with a soft-spoken voice and an interest in how the criminal is getting on. She’s also published two novels, Elemental and The Sinkings, and a short story collection, Inherited. Elemental was shortlisted for the 2014 WA Premier’s Books Awards (Fiction and People’s Choice categories), and in 2016 it was published in the UK and in a new Australia/NZ edition. She has been a freelance book editor for more than 30 years (accredited with the Institute of Professional Editors) and has a PhD in Writing. She’s got a beautifully-written and welcoming website, and is equally approachable on Facebook or Twitter. And she’s here, as erudite and articulate as ever, to talk about her most precious literary possession.
Precious Things: Amanda Curtin
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Daniel I Russell is a horror author and psychology student who, like myself, travelled from the heartlands of England to the Western Australian countryside. He, however, came from Wigan, so you can understand where the horror and the need for psychological understanding comes from.
With a fine line in sick storytelling, and an equally fine line in sick jokes, he’s one of the few guys around who make me laugh in the way I truly enjoy– heartily, both at the joke and at the discomfort of those who don’t get it.
He’s alive on the web over here, and thanks to the mysteries of techonockery, he’s live in front of your very faces as he delivers his Precious Thing in person! In his full, filmic glory, heeeeeere’s Daniel!
Precious Things: Daniel I Russell
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Norman Jorgensen is one of the finest fellows in Western Australian writing: welcoming, friendly, open-hearted, and with a well of bonhomie that makes instant fans of anyone who runs across him. On top of all that, he has a fantastic line on rousing books for all ages, including In Flanders Field, Jack’s Island, and the recent The Smuggler’s Curse, that bring a sense of wonder and adventure back into reading.
You can find out all you need to know about Norman at his website. Suffice to say he’s an absolute pal, not least to my son Master 12, who has just the slightest taste of star-worship going on whenever they meet. It’s an absolute pleasure to welcome Norman on board.
Precious Things: Norman Jorgensen.
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Amanda Kool lives at the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges, a glorious part of the world surrounded by valleys, forests, walking paths and, most importantly, she says, wineries.
She writes in a little nook at the bottom of the house, closed off by a deep red curtain (her very own Black Lodge). In the summer, this is the only room in the house that is not in danger of combusting due to the sheer ambient heat.
Surrounded by the paraphernalia of whatever book she is writing (various tchotchkes, gewgaws, spirits, liqueurs, books, food stuffs and weaponry), she sits at her desk with a pot of freshly brewed tea and…according to her, procrastinates, avoids, trembles, and swears.
Despite all that avoidance, she’s seen her debut novel Tallwood published, as well as The paper Fox, an interactive story for IOS devices, and a bunch of other tales. Here, she takes us to a place familiar and intimate, and yet somehow all her own.
Precious Things: Amanda Kool
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Damian Magee is, quite simply, one of the loveliest people alive. A gentle librarian with glasses and a moustache that would send Professor Challenger into fits of envy, his softly-spoken demeanour, air of general gentility and love of all things Sherlockian seem almost old-worldly when surrounded by the gauche flashiness of much of science fiction fandom, wherein he spends most of his off hours.
Here, as befits his bibliophilic stature, he gives us not one Precious Literary possession, but a quartet.
Precious Things: Damian Magee
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Tabetha Rogers Beggs is Chair of the Katherine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre, where her boundless enthusiasm and personality goes a long way to giving the Centre the drive such places need to do more than simply hang on and survive. A writer herself, she’s wandered over a range of genres and forms, and details her journey at her website, Put It In Writing.
Here she takes us on a personal journey, and reveals her precious literary possession as having more dimensions than just literary ones.
Precious Things: Tabetha Rogers Beggs
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Chuck McKenzie was one of the very first friends I made in SF. We met at a Convention in 2002, and basically, have been pretty much taking the piss out of each other ever since. He’s also the author of a novel and a number of finely crafted short stories, may of which were assembled in his collection Confessions of a Pod Person.
Chuck has worked as a reviewer, editor, judge for both the Aurealis and Australian Shadows Awards, and owner of an SF/comic bookshop. He claims he was born in 1970, and still spends much of his time there. He’s a fan of the Goodies, so he’s not all bad, and enjoys a nice Merlot, so he’s not all sane.
He also understands greatness, as will become more than apparent as he reveals his precious literary treasure.
Precious Things: Chuck McKenzie
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I’ve known and admired Adrian Bedford for nigh on a decade. One of the gentlest people I know, he’s made a career of taking readers into uncomfortable places, and then rewarding them with endings that give hope and uplift. A multiple Aurealis Award-winner, his latest work, Black Light, is a crossover crime novel that mixes supernatural fantasy with a taut, tightly-plotted thriller. His genuine humility is revealed by the fact that his website is named Little Known Author, and he seems to truly believe it.
A good friend, it’s a pleasure to have him reveal his soul for you here.
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Gerry Huntman is one of the giant brains behind the truly excellent ezine SQ Mag. He’s also a writer in his own right, having published over 50 pieces of short fiction, mainly towards the dark end of spec fic. Like me, however, he has a tendency to wander all over the genre as his attention span takes him. His novel, Guardian of the Sky Realms (Cohesion Press), for example, is a young teen fantasy work. You can find more about him over at his Livejournal Blog.
He may also be the only other person besides me who remembers Willard Price’s Adventure novels.
Here he takes us on a journey through his development as a reader, and like all good stories, leaves us guessing until the final, climactic reveal of his Precious Thing.
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I’ve known Alan Baxter for a while now, although the Australian SF scene being what it is, we’ve only been face to face on one occasion: a raucous evening at a Natcon a few years back that started with beer and ended with wandering the streets of Perth looking for a decent curry…. and then ended with more beer. It was that kind of Natcon.
Alan writes supernatural thrillers and urban horror, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. He also teaches Kung Fu. He lives among dairy paddocks on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia, with his wife, son, dog and cat. He’s the multi-award-winning author of several novels and over seventy short stories and novellas. You can read extracts from his novels, a novella and short stories at his website or find him on Twitter @AlanBaxter and Facebook, and feel free to tell him what you think. About anything. He says.
Sounds like a challenge to me….
In the meantime, settle back and enjoy as he lets us view a Precious Thing of real beauty.
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Talitha Kalago is an author with a deep love of the horror genre. She lives on the Sunshine Coast, surrounded by tanks of snakes and freshwater shrimp. Talitha loves entomology, rock climbing, reading, web design, photography and video gaming, and is found online at both her website, Traditional Evolution, and her blog.
As might be expected from such a damned cool sort of person, her Precious Thing is both gorgeous, and very, very cool.
Precious Things: Talitha Kalago
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It’s Sunday morning: time for a new Precious Things post, and time for a new experience for me– because, for once, I’m going to introduce someone about whom I know almost nothing.
Pat Cattigan and I have been Facebook friends for 2 years, brought together by a shared sense of humour, usually expressed on posts about football. Pat lives in the original Perth, and follows Celtic Football Club. And that’s all I know. Even when I asked if he wanted to provide a bio and photo for this post, he replied with the following:
O Grade in Woodwork. Failed footballer still dreaming of becoming a travelling Hobo.
And, to me, that’s the great thing about the internet: under normal circumstances, Pat and I would never meet, or know anything about each other, but here we are, and we all get to know something about his tastes, and something near and dear to me. So, ladies and gentlemen, my pal Pat:
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After a little hiatus thanks to shutuptou’renotmyMum, we’re back with another Precious Things post. This time out, it’s friend, mentor, Australian SF veteran and furniture, and all-round frood of the froods, Doctor Stephen Dedman!
Stephen is the author of (watch this space for regular updates) novels, 120+ short stories and a non-fiction book on the historic relationship between American SF and the US military. His history is littered with service to writerdom, and he is currently available as a manuscript mentor through the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre. He plans to update his website any day now.
My first experience of Stephen was meeting him at a long-distant Perth Writers Festival, when it was still held at the Fremantle Arts Centre and had just about enough budget to pay to open the gates. (We knew it before it went electric…) After a long, and at times, exhausting panel on an uncovered stage in the centre of the courtyard, in the mid-day February sun (It should be noted: Stephen’s wardrobe come in any colour you like, as long as you like black), he still took the time to accept being buttonholed by a naive git looming out of the crowd as he departed, asking him for advice, patronage, and general feelings of bonhomie. The fact that he took the time to chat, give me his contact details, and provide one of the single most useful piece of writing advice I’ve ever received, tells you a lot about the man.
Later, he invited me to join him at my first science fiction convention, and shared my first ever panel. He purchased some of my earliest stories. He was best man at my wedding to Luscious. It’s been a friendship of going on 15 years and counting.
Stephen is one of the coolest people I know. So there.
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Welcome, my friends, to the mind of Western Australian fantasy author Bevan McGuiness. Bevan is a veteran of novels (including his Eleven Kingdoms and Triumvirate series’), short stories, reviews, and textbook works on science, a subject he sufferes through daily in the name of education the teens of this world.
Keep your arms and legs within the carriage, and please, ignore the man behind the curtain..
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Oh, I’ve had so many things I wanted to talk about this last week : I want to say a few things about the passing of legendary actor John Hurt; to talk about starting my new work– a piece of military SF short fiction, and how losing one story fragment has led me to another opportunity; and to talk about the new fitness routine that has led to me losing 3 and a half kilos since the start of the year.
BUT I’ve been a-bed since lunchtime last Wednesday with a chest infection that just won’t quit, so it’s all going to have to wait.
In the meantime, though, I can at least get a new Precious Things post up. This time, it’s the lovely Deb Fitzpatrick. Deb’s an author of YA and Children’s books who I first met a couple of years ago at the opening of the Perth Writers Festival, and it just brings a smile to my face each time we bump into each other: she’s a joyous personality, and that’s reflected in the positive, enriching books she writes.Her latest is At My Door, a title for younger readers. The Break (2014) is for adult readers. Her two novels for young adults – 90 Packets of Instant Noodles (2010) and Have You Seen Ally Queen? (2011) – were named Notable Books by the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA). The Amazing Spencer Gray (2013), a novel for younger readers, will be published in the US in early 2017. In mid-2017 a follow-up book, The Spectacular Spencer Gray, will be published.
Precious Things: Deb Fitzpatrick
While I don’t think of it as a precious literary treasure, I would say that That Book for me is The Bodysurfers by Robert Drewe.
It was the book in which I first saw my own places drawn on the page, lyrically, beautifully – places made valid as literary settings. Rob Drewe grew up in Perth and had already achieved great things in The Savage Crows when I read this book of short stories.
To see the beaches I grew up on written about in this way really opened up some possibilities for me…
Time for another Precious Thing to be revealed, and for reasons soon to be revealed, today we have no less than two examples for your education, entertainment, and all-round enjoyment.
First off the rank is Greg Chapman.
Greg has been quietly racking up credits as both author and artist since 2009, and has ranked out a series of novellas, stories, and graphic works on a regular basis, including collaborating on the Stoker Award-winning graphic novel Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times with Lisa Morton and the late Rocky Wood. One of the nicest guys around, and a true lover of the dark side of the speculative street, Greg’s a constant voice for the inclusion and enjoyment of dark fiction. You can find out more about Greg at his website, but for now, here he is on the subject of his most precious literary treasure.
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