FAMOUS AUTHOR PICTURED FAMOUS AUTHORING

Attention has been pointed, this afternoon, towards this gallery of SF authors and their writing spaces. Personal favourites include Andre Norton’s Great Wall of Quiff and a pic way down the bottom, where Arthur C. Clarke has pushed a Sri Lankan rentboy off his lap to make room for a monkey.

I’ll readily admit to being a complete geek for this sort of thing: artists and their artistic processes fascinate me, and I’m often as keen to learn about the story behind the creative process as I am to experience the end product. Writers, in particular, are a source of anthropological fascination: I devour author biographies and am in a constant search to find whatever it was that made each particular author so memorable and me so…. well, lot of weather we’re having, innit?

Anyway, in the spirit of full disclosure and acting like famous artists in the hope that it’ll rub off, I present my own writing space. Well, spaces. Well, space and writing.

The Battdesk, hard at work in the entire room we set aside as writing space, office and reading room. Keen-eyed viewers will note such essential items as the lantern and hand-spreader. 
My actual writing space, at the kitchen table. I’m seated behind Luscious Lyn’s laptop, as mine is currently attached to the TV so we can watch some stuff on the hard drive. As Hemingwayish as the wine glass looks, it’s stored nothing more exciting than Pepsi: I managed to break our last drinking glass this morning. That’s how exotic and windswept we are around these parts, my friends. Mandurah exotic.


ROUNDING UP

WANT A BIT OF PUSSY?

Now, my love of the domestic cat is well known (chokes, gags, tongue strikes cheek at speed and goes straight therough like a chainsaw through a baby’s head…)

However, my love and respect for Grant Watson is also well known. And real. So Grant needs financial help in saving the leg, life, and dancing career of his cat Kris, who was walloped by a car recently and whose medical bills far exceed the capacity of Grant and wife Sonia to pay. Over on his LJ, he’s sent the word out asking for donations. Grant’s between jobs, and Sonia’s disability pension just ain’t gonna cut it. Under normal circumstances, you can imagine my reaction. But friends is different. Friends is important.

Visit Grant’s page and help out. C’mon, I gave. I gave money to save a cat. C’mon, that should count for something, shouldn’t it?…..

THEY TELL ME IT PASSES

Cassandra has rejoined us, and may, in a decade or two, work out what all the fuss was about. In the meantime, it was all my fault, and her stepmother’s fault, and that guy over there’s fault, and your fault, and nobody understands, and it’s all right for us to say……

Oh, and can I download these songs and will you burn them for me, Lee?

Many decisions have been made in the last few days. Many of them are private. But I think it’s fair to say that my relationship with Cassandra has changed. Just how much may take some time to work out.

JOIN NOW, ASK ME HOW

The new AHWA website is up and it looks booodiful. I’ve now received my membership card ( I am the new Number Thirty, in my best Leo McKern voice…) and have wandered round the members-only section fulfilling my weaselly black little heart out.

Join. It’s cool.

READINGS

The Horror Day readings at Fantastic Planet went spiffingly well on Friday night. Many thanks to all who joined us: it was a big crowd, and appreciative, and the vibe was brilliant.

Lyn opened proceedings with her tale Simeon The Monkey, which you can still read for yourselves over at the uber-lovely Anna Tambour’s site right now, in slightly earlier form. Go on. I’ll wait…. tap tap tap tap…. back? Good. Shane Jiraiya Cummings and Carol Ryles joined in before I pranced about reading Never Grow Old, a story about Peter Pan, incest, and the only foolproof way to make sure you never grow up, before Stephen Dedman rounded things off and we all settled in to conversations, book buying, and free champagne. Shane has pictures up, which are worth a look. We have some of our own which I’ll put up as soon as I download them from the camera (it’s been a slack weekend…)

Reading Never Grow Old was a hoot, because it’s a piece that begs a performance reading, rather than a stand-still-and-orate reading. It’s dialogue driven, which means I can use my voice properly. Peter is a fun character to play with. I can use the lightness and immaturity of his voice to counterpoint the darkness of what is actually happening under the childlike conversation he engages in with Sarah, the young girl he meets in the playground of a night-abandoned day care centre. I had a hell of a lot of fun with it, and judging by the comments I received afterwards, it all worked pretty well.

I also enjoy the challenge of performing a new piece at a reading: it’s completely unknown to the audience, so they have to pay attention to find out what’s happening, and can’t coast on the fact that they know what’s coming. It’s the clsoest I’ve come to pure performance since my stand-up comedy days. I miss that buzz, sometimes, the power that comes from needing to work the consciousness of a room as it sits before me. I’ve crashed and burned before, but Friday night was one of the good ones.

Now: let’s see if I can sell it to an editor, non? 🙂

OH, SO VERY RIGHT

Passed on from Jay Lake’s LJ, a quote that strike me right in the ‘truth’ quadrant of my funny bone:

Isn’t it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists?

Song of the moment: Who Wants To Live Forever? Queen
Reading: Mojo Stories edited by Nalo Hopkinson

PLANT THE FLAG AND SAY CHEESE!

Back in 2002, I jaunted my way over to the Writers of the Future workshop in LA, where I spent a week under the watchful eye of Tim Powers, learning clever writer tricks and buying souvenirs.

David D Levine was also in attendance, a fellow winner and student, having placed second in the same quarter in which I came third.

From the beginning, he stood out from the other winners for me. Not that I wish to bask in his reflected glory, but he seemed to me, as the week wore on, the only other attendant for whom writing was more than an enjoyment, for whom it was an obsession, a divine chore. David wore his writerly passion like a suit of armour: part dedication, part ambition, part overwhelming devotion to his craft. This isn’t to say the others didn’t show it, but David, he showed it every waking moment. It came off him in waves.

In that alpha male lizard-brain way that creatures of similar habit have when placed together I looked around and said to myself: Him. He’s the one. He’ll be the biggest competition to my world dominance and eventual climb to the unreachable pinnacles of glory and timeless fame.

Well, maybe not in those exact words 🙂 But something in me knew: this guy was going places.

Anyway, David won the Hugo for best short story this past weekend. There’s a tiny part of me that wants to pull my hair out and chuck a paddy, particularly given my current inability to climb out of the not-even-a-local-hero rut I’ve landed in. But the far vaster part of me, the part of me that sits underneath everything and keeps its hand on the rudder, knows: he’s my pal, and I’m proud as all hell for him. And I always knew: he’d be the one, out of all 17 of us, who’d climb the mountain first.

Well done, mate.

A POST ABOUT TITS

Boy, I like breasts. Big ones, little ones, round ones, flat ones, covered up ones, naked ones, cleavage-boasting ones and ones zipped up tighter than a zipped up tight zippy thing. Breasts, boobs, boosies, tits, funbags, love pillows, jugs, shirt potatoes, front buttocks, jubblies, I love ’em all. Of all the big pretend Charlton Heston Impersonator In the Sky’s alleged creations, breasts come very close to the top of my personal favourites list. Love looking at them, love touching them, love putting my face between them and saying “Mmmmmmmmmm.”

I’m a fan.

But I’ve always been aware of one simple fact when it comes to breasts: they don’t belong to me.

Seems like Harlan Ellison forgot that last weekend at the Hugo ceremony, and boy, hasn’t the SF world had the C21 fall in upon it in a big old way since then! The back and forthing has gone to and fro, hither and yon, and here and there like crazy. Forget all the the links: google ‘Harlan Ellison Connie Willis grab’ like I did, and you’ll find a place to start. It’s not exactly hidden, know what I’m-a sayin’ ?

I wasn’t there when it happened. I don’t know anything about Ellison and Willis’ relationship, pre-during-post or anywhere else the ceremony. His website has a half-arsed, trying to make a joke out of it, kindasorta without actually saying sorry apology of sorts. Sorta. Kinda. Self-justifyingly. I’m not going to comment on the rights and wrongs of that, either. But, you know, I’m a guy, I like breasts, I have a brain. So I will say this:

1. Connie Willis has, so I am informed, breasts.
2. Harlan Ellison grabbed one in a sexual or proto-sexual manner during the Hugo Awards ceremony. On stage. In front of the entire audience.
3. It appears he didn’t ask permission.

Them’s as appears to be the facks, offsuh, far as I can make out, once I strip away all the back and forthing, to-ing and fro-ing, hithering and yonning….

That, my friends, is sexual assault. End of story. I don’t give a shit how great a writer he is or isn’t; how much of a crusader for women’s rights, racial rights or chipmunk’s rights he has been in the past; whether it was just “Harlan being Harlan”; or whether the intent was comedic, satiric, or downright just plain drunk-drugged-senile-silly-whatever.

Sexual assault.

Where’s the argument?

SIGH

I’d hate to be the guy that gets up at ten past six, it’s dark, he has his cup of coffee and reads his paper, goes to work, sits behind the desk, says nothing, never contributes. I’d hate to be that guy. –Jason Akermanis, Alpha #14, September 2006 issue.

Oh God. I’ve turned into that guy.

NEW RITUAL

Today is the second day of my full-time house husbandness (house husbandry sounds a bit wrong, somehow). My beautiful Luscious is settling into her new job, and enjoying it, thank goodness. Call me a hairy old throwback if you like. No really, go ahead. Okay, now that’s over, I’ll admit to a whole parcel of guilt over chucking in my day job to be at home while consigning her to the jobmines. It’s what she wants to do, but still, well, call me a hairy old throwback.

My biggest problem lies in believing in her writing so much that taking her away from it for 11 hours a day whilst opening up my own writing chances speaks of such overwhelming selfishness on my part that I can’t balance it against the good things that will come from the change. For which she’ll give me a slapping and a reminder when she reads this, I’m sure.

So, a lot of our routines and rituals are changing to accommodate our new working arrangement, including blogging practices. Basically, unless I have something ultra-groovy that can’t wait, I’m likely to stick to updating once a week, on Tuesday nights. The time will be better put towards housework, writing, the kids, and finding time to be together with my darling wife.

However, for the moment, this is Tuesday night, so:

GODZILLA IS KING!

Took the boys to the FTIs screening of Godzilla: Final Wars on Saturday Night. What with Perky and Chesh also in the audience, this gloriously bad fillum (non-G watchers just don’t seem to get the idea that the general level of badness is part of the enjoyment), much Double Take style fun was had. My personal favourite moment occured when an elderly farmer pointed his teeeensy little BB-type rifle at the 100 metre high Godzilla, and his 2 ft tall grandson rushed in between them to stop him shooting. I couldn’t help myself: “Just shoot over him” was audible to all. Then there was the moment Mothra entered the fray, to Blake’s cry of “Hey! Mothra’s not a bad guy!”

So there was the big G, there was Gigan, there was Mothra, King Caesar, Matrix-clad kung-fu aliens, seven or 8 other monsters I can’t recall because I was laughing too hard, and a special appearance from the US Godzilla which resulted in my new all-time favourite movie quote:

“I knew that tuna-eating monster would be no good!”

Cinema gold. Best bad movie moment since the ‘head Japanese arhcaeologist’ in King Kong Versus Godzilla informed us that, in the opinion of the scientific community, big G was the result of mating between a T-Rex and a Stegosaurus…

And I managed to keep a family tradition alive: last time we went to an FTI screening with door prizes, Aiden won a collectable Nightmare Before Christmas figurine. The time before that, Blake won an Invader Zim stubbie holder. I was left in no doubt, on the way to the cinema, of my duties as regards prize winning., Thankfully, I came through, although with both Godzilla 2000 and Weather Woman as the other prizes, it’s the only time in my life I could conceive of being slightly disappointed to win a free copy of Seven Samurai….

SWANCON 08 MEETING

The first meeting of the Swancon 33 committee happened at our place on Sunday. I don’t know what shape the final convention will take, but it won’t be a quiet journey to get there 🙂

BATTERSBY SPEAKS!

Okay, writing types! The good folks at the KSP Writer’s Centre will be hosting 2 workshops run by yours truly a couple of weeks from now. I’ll be posting reminders closer to the dates, but for your consideration, as quoted on the KSP website:

Thursday 6th April , 9.30am-11.30am Words First Writing Group. Critiquing Workshop

Writing is the art of putting the right words in the right order, to pinch a phrase from Wordsworth. Award winning short story author Lee Battersby will be taking participants through the act of editing their own work, from line level to the narrative arc, and discussing how killing the lines you love can make for a tighter, more effective work. If you are not a regular member of the group, booking is essential. Limit 18. Sponsored by the Department of Culture and the Arts. Non-Members $20 Members $3

Saturday 8th April, 1.00pm-4.00pm Want to win the SF Competition? With last year’s judges Lee and Lyn Battersby

The 2005 Judges of the KSP SF/Fantasy Competition will give advice, and answer questions, to assist aspiring entrants to the 2006 competition, pointing out the major strengths and weaknesses they observed in work submitted last year. They cannot guarantee that everyone or anyone will win the competition as a consequence of attending their workshop, but both feel that many writers may benefit from their observations and advice. Non-Members $20 Members $20

Stay tuned, because I don’t think those prices are quite right, but I shall advise once I get correct word.

EVERYTHING OLD IS, WELL, YOU KNOW…

You know my story, and my collection, Through Soft Air, right? ‘Course you do! Well, let me tell you: when I wrote the story, back in something like 2001 or 2002, every word of the thing was original, straight from the gnarly depths of my subconscious to you. Including the title. And then, whilst browsing online today, 5 years or so later, look what I found.

I’ve included the whole poem, because, well, you heathens could get a bit of culture inta ya, orright? The highlighting is mine, Consider me well and truly freaked out right now…

SUGGESTED BY A PICTURE

That happy gleam of vernal eyes,
Those locks from summer’s golden skies,
That o’er thy brow are shed;
That cheek–a kindling of the morn,
That lip–a rose-bud from the thorn,
I saw; and Fancy sped
To scenes Arcadian, whispering, through soft air,
Of bliss that grows without a care,
And happiness that never flies–
(How can it where love never dies?) 10
Whispering of promise, where no blight
Can reach the innocent delight;
Where pity, to the mind conveyed
In pleasure, is the darkest shade
That Time, unwrinkled grandsire, flings
From his smoothly gliding wings.
What mortal form, what earthly face
Inspired the pencil, lines to trace,
And mingle colours, that should breed
Such rapture, nor want power to feed; 20
For had thy charge been idle flowers,
Fair Damsel! o’er my captive mind,
To truth and sober reason blind,
‘Mid that soft air, those long-lost bowers,
The sweet illusion might have hung, for hours.
Thanks to this tell-tale sheaf of corn,
That touchingly bespeaks thee born
Life’s daily tasks with them to share
Who, whether from their lowly bed
They rise, or rest the weary head, 30
Ponder the blessing they entreat
From Heaven, and ‘feel’ what they repeat,
While they give utterance to the prayer
That asks for daily bread.

William Wordsworth, 1828.

FEED ME, SEYMOUR.

I know some people have asked, and with Prime being a bit on the slow side to update their website, I’ve hunted down a link for those of you who can’t wait to order my book through Fantastic Planet or cadge on from me directly at Conflux. To whit:

http://www.booksurge.com/product.php3?bookID=WLDS00001-00742

Go. Buy. Read. Tell me you love me…

MEME TIME!

Been a while. Gakked from ashamel

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open it to page 161.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
5. Don’t search around and look for the coolest book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you

“Your Individual is a pretty disgusting, vain, lewd little bastard… By God, he has only one right guaranteed to him in Nature, and that is the right to die and stink to Heaven.”

From Short Lives: Portraits of Writers, Painters, Poets, Actors, Musicians, and Performers in Pursuit of Death by Katinka Mason

Song of the moment: 1000 Umbrellas XTC