Tue, 02 Mar 2010
C6: Report from the Art Dept

Immediately after C5 last year I begged Chair-of-C6 Hespa to let me edit together a video for the opening ceremony for C6. She then asked me to do some decorations for the venue, to give the con an apocalyptic flavour. This was quite probably too much for one person. For the last few months I have neglected everything else going on around me, but I'm pretty sure I pulled it off.

There are photos of the props I made, which got a lot of comments, especially the zombie cat and giant computer, thank you! And photos of the Maskobalo set-up, which I also coordinated (Mikee did all the lighting).

The video, however is my pride and joy. I spent literally hundreds of hours on it. I hope you like it.

I have to publicly thank everyone who responded to my Twitter cry for cardboard boxes - Deb Kalin, Chris Miles, my brother Alex and Amanda. For enabling the video, thanks again to Alex, Chris, Dougal Scott and my local video store. Thank you to my parents for letting me raid their attic, shed and garage for EXPLOSIVES signs, CRT tvs, truck turn signals, lights and the oscilloscope. Everything else came from Reverse Art Truck and the mistint shelf at Bunnings. Thank you also to Fran La Fontaine who schlepped everything to the venue with her cunning skills in truckbed tetris.

But the person who really let me get away with this was Richard. Thank you. I'll clean up the paint and cardboard now.

Mon, 01 Mar 2010
Continuum 6: Future Tense

I woke up this morning completely drained of adrenaline, which is what I have been operating on for the last couple of months. BUT IT WAS WORTH IT.

C6 was a great con and I will write more about it once I regrow my chewed-out brain.

Let me just leave you with this. DJ Omega and I conspired to bring about the highlight of the Saturday night Maskobalo.


Fri, 19 Feb 2010
Snapshot 2010: Kirstyn McDermott

Kirstyn McDermott was born on Halloween, an auspicious date which perhaps accounts for her lifelong attraction to all things dark, mysterious and bumpy-in-the-night-ish. She has been published in various magazines and anthologies, including Shadowed Realms, Southerly, GUD, Redsine, Southern Blood and Island. Kirstyn lives in Melbourne and is a member of the SuperNOVA writers group. Her short fiction has won Aurealis, Ditmar and Chronos Awards and her debut novel, Madigan Mine, will be published by Picador in 2010.

1) Congratulations on your contract with Pan MacMillan! I believe we'll be seeing your first novel this year. What can you tell us about it?

I'm right in the middle of the final edits, actually. The novel is called "Madigan Mine" and is scheduled for release in August this year under the Picador imprint. It's a modern gothic tale, set for the most part in contemporary Melbourne, which tells the story of a young man who may or may not be being haunted by his dead ex-lover. It's a book I've been working on, in various incarnations, for quite a while now and it's still a little weird to realise that it will be out of my head and into print in just a few short months!

2) You edited the first issue of the Australian Horror Writers' Association magazine, Midnight Echo, with Ian Mond. What surprised you most about the experience? Is editing something you'd like to do more of?

I've done some work along the same lines in the past (a very short stint fiction editor for "Bloodsongs" magazine back in the 90's) and I'm friends with a few magazine/anthology editors, so I knew roughly what to expect going in. I'm not sure that "surprising" is the right word, but what shocked me what was the number of submissions we received from people who apparently don't even know how to use a spell-checker! When you get a manuscript and there are several obvious spelling errors and typos on the first page, it's really hard to keep reading. It indicates either laziness or incompetence on the part of the writer, and it's kind of insulting as well. If you expect an editor to read through a 4000 word story, you really should -- at the very least -- run a spell-check over the document and do some basic proof-reading.

I will say that I was very pleasantly surprised by how well the issue came together. We received brilliant stories by some amazing writers and sometimes it felt like our work was being done for us in terms of the right balance and scope for the magazine. Realising the significance of the debut issue, both Ian and myself wanted to showcase the breadth and depth of the genre with a particular focus on Australian writers -- and that's exactly what happened. We prodded a few writers whose work we were particularly interested in a couple of those did submit stories, but the majority of the issue basically fell into our laps through the general slush pile.

As to whether I'd like to do more editing ... if I could avoid reading through slush piles and only work with great writers whose writing I find interesting and engaging, then sure! :-)

Really, as much as I do enjoy editing and working with other writers, I enjoy writing my own stories a lot more. (Most of the time, anyway.) Plus, when it comes right down to it, I think I'm a better writer than I am an editor. It's a constant battle when I'm editing someone else's work to recognise genuine problems that need to be fixed as opposed to something that is simply written differently to how I would have done it. Given the time I have -- or lack of it -- I'd much rather devote this energy to words of my own and let someone else wield the flensing blade.

3) What is it about horror writing that attracts you? Do you see yourself continuing in the genre, or is it not something you consciously decide?

It's definitely not something I consciously decide. I write the sorts of stories that come to me, and don't really think a lot about where they fall in the genre (or if they fall in the genre at all). It just so happens that most of what interests me, in writing and in life in general, is on the darker side. I don't think I'll ever be writing bouncy chick-lit or feel-good fiction -- it's just not the sort of stuff I have in my head. Occasionally I've come up with an idea for a story which I think will be a happy one -- or happier, at least -- but when I start writing, things always seem to take a decidedly darker turn.

I'm not sure exactly why this is, or what specifically attracts me to dark fantasy/horror/gothic type writing; it's just always been this way. This hasn't really answered your question, has it? I'm not sure I can articulate it, precisely. What interests me are those people and groups who exist on the fringes of society: the outcasts, the outsiders, the ones who are excluded and the ones who exclude themselves. I'm also fascinated by things that defy definitions and boundaries, by the liminal and the transitive, the trangressive and taboo. The darker aspects of spec fic seem to be able to talk about these ideas on their own terms, rather than the terms imposed upon them by the mainstream. I think it's this that attracts me to the genre, more than the old cliche of it being like a rollercoaster ride -- scary but safe. At its best, the horror/dark fantasy genre is anything but safe.

4) Which Australian writers or work would you like to see on the Hugo shortlists this year?

There are so many! Margo Lanagan, Paul Haines, Cat Sparx, Kaaron Warren, to name but a few. Oh, and I believe that Angela Slatter is eligible for the Campbell Award ... she's a very, very fine writer who most assuredly deserves to be on the ballot.

5) Will you be at Aussiecon in September? If so, what are you most looking forward to about it?

Yes, I'll definitely be there! AussieCon3 was my first experience of spec-fic conventions and I'm really looking forward to attending another con of that magnitude. So many people, so many panels, so many parties! It's always fantastic to catch up with friends outside of Melbourne (and Australia) who I don't get to see that often, and many of them will be at AussieCon4. Plus, Kaaron warren, Cat Sparx and Angela Slatter have all recently announced that they will have story collections published to coincide with the convention, so there should be some fabulous launches to attend -- not to mention three very fine books to add to my collection!


This interview was conducted as part of the 2010 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We'll be blogging interviews from Monday 15 February to Sunday 22 February and archiving them at ASif!: Australian SpecFic in Focus.

You can read interviews at:
http://random-alex.livejournal.com/
http://girliejones.livejournal.com/
http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com/
http://www.mechanicalcat.net/rachel
http://tansyrr.com/
http://editormum.livejournal.com/

If you're involved in the scene and have something to plug, then send us an email at snapshot2010@gmail.com and we'll see what we can do!

Thu, 18 Feb 2010
Snapshot 2010: Lucy Sussex
A Tour Guide in Utopia cover

Lucy Sussex was born in New Zealand, and is a Senior Research Fellow at Melbourne University. She has published editions of crime writers Mary Fortune and Ellen Davitt; and edited four anthologies, including She’s Fantastical (1995), shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award. Her award-winning fiction includes five books for younger readers and the Ditmar-winning adult novel, The Scarlet Rider (1996). She has written three short story collections, My Lady Tongue, A Tour Guide in Utopia (Mirrordanse, 2005) and Absolute Uncertainty, from Aqueduct Press (Seattle, USA, 2006). Currently she reviews weekly for the Sunday Age newspaper.

1) Your 2009 story 'Something Better Than Death' was nominated for an Aurealis Award and is appearing in Ellen Datlow's forthcoming Tails of Wonder and Imagination. Congratulations! Do accolades like these affect your creative writing at all? Do you think much on how a work might be recieved before it's fully realised?

Recognition is always nice (grin).
I think if you bothered about reception you'd never get anything done. The writing, that's the fun, what happens after is incidental.

2) You have done a significant amount of literary archaeology in 19th Century Australian Women's Crime Fiction. Are you still haunted by Mary Fortune?

Haunted? Not literally, although I have dreamt about her (which I hear is an occasional hazard of biographical research. Michael Holroyd, though, says his wife Margaret Drabble dreams about his biographical subjects). In some respects I'll never get her out of my hair, as new information keeps emerging, which makes her all the more interesting. Some day her gravesite may be revealed, and if so I'll organise a plaque, as I did with Ellen Davitt.

Is there someone else you would particularly like to exhume?

Not literally again (bodies smell, for one thing). I'd like to do a biography of Catherine Crowe, who published a bestselling murder mystery novel with three female detectives, predating Edgar Allan Poe. She was also a Spiritualist, feminist, and ran away from her husband (as did Fortune).

3) What are you looking forward to working on next? More short stories or a longer work?

At present I've returned to a novel, which began with an accidental conjunction between Victorian crime and quantum physics. Greg Egan told me not to do it...

4) Which Australian writers or work would you like to see on the Hugo shortlists this year?

I'm in several minds about this. Firstly, stacking award ballots never works, because other parties hear about it and stack better... Secondly I'd rather something was on the ballot because it's good, rather than being oz. That said all we oz writers would really love to be on the ballot!

Will you be at Aussiecon in September? If so, what are you most looking forward to about it?

Yes. Causing trouble?


This interview was conducted as part of the 2010 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We'll be blogging interviews from Monday 15 February to Sunday 22 February and archiving them at ASif!: Australian SpecFic in Focus.

You can read interviews at:
http://random-alex.livejournal.com/
http://girliejones.livejournal.com/
http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com/
http://www.mechanicalcat.net/rachel
http://tansyrr.com/
http://editormum.livejournal.com/

If you're involved in the scene and have something to plug, then send us an email at snapshot2010@gmail.com and we'll see what we can do!

Tue, 16 Feb 2010
Snapshot 2010: Deborah Kalin
Shadow Queen cover

Deborah Kalin was once addressed by a recruitment agency as "Cheng Soon" no matter how often she corrected them. A resident of Melbourne, she shares a birthday with Pablo Picasso, was born in the year of the Fire Dragon, collects books beyond her ability to read them all, and once worked at an aluminium smelter where a sparrowhawk routinely ripped pigeons to pieces on a lamp post just outside the cafeteria. She mostly ate not the meat at this cafeteria.

1) Shadow Bound, the second book in The Binding is due to be released this year. How have you found the process different from the first book, Shadow Queen? Did you find it easier or harder having people waiting at the other side of your deadlines?

I found writing SB much more difficult to write, for a variety of reasons. Partly it was a consequence of my habit of writing without an outline -- which means basically I write myself and my characters into impossible corners. (Of course I had an idea as to what happened, but no battle plan survives first contact.) Having the first book published and its storyline effectively set in stone meant anything I'd written into that first half of the story couldn't be changed when I found myself in an impossible corner in the second book, so finding elegant solutions got ... tricksome. The other part of what made SB difficult to write was, as you say, having people waiting at the other side of the deadline. I'd worked to deadlines before, so that wasn't a problem, but I was just so conscious that Allen & Unwin had taken a leap of faith and actually paid me money for this story that I convinced myself I could never possibly deliver something worthy. And of course there was also the normal anguish and plot-hate that comes along mid-book, which in the end saved me. If the dreaded middle of a book has taught me anything, it's that my thought processes and perspective about my manuscript's quality are never to be trusted. So I simply ploughed on, writing the best I knew how, and revised it the best I knew how, and somehow, it all ended up not only finished, but cohesive.

2) I know you've been knee deep in edits recently. Can you tell us a bit about how you manage a writing/life balance?

Lately, not so well! It is difficult to find the time to write: I have a full-time job, and my commute to work is neither short nor simple enough that I can get any writing done on the trip, and of course the weekends end up chock-full of the housework and the (scant!) social life I couldn't fit in to the weekdays. My normal routine is to start the dayjob quite early, around 7am (the commute isn't as painful pre-peak-hour traffic), and then after I've clocked off I'll hang back and write at work, or walk to the local library and write there. I find I work more efficiently that way -- there's no internet, or tv, or housework, or mail, or phone messages demanding my attention. It does make for long days, and a lot of lugging the laptop around, but it makes for less procrastinating. In fact, the less time I have available to write, the better I am at churning out words! I also have a regular writing date -- every Saturday I meet up with a couple of my writer friends at the library and we write until we've hit our target. Then we reward ourselves with cake or hot chocolate or a movie. I love the Saturday catch-up, because it makes the writing social but it also makes the writing just part of the routine.

3) What would you like to be working on five years from now? Do you see yourself continuing to write long fiction, or are there some shorter works you'd like to get your teeth into?

I'll always write novels -- there's so many of them jostling for space in my head that I genuinely have ideas for at least the next 7 books lined up, waiting for their turn to be written. That being said, I love the discipline of short fiction, and I like the platform it gives me to explore ideas. I'm currently working on a short story just for a break (between finishing the edits for Shadow Bound and going back to the rough draft of the current novel, which is, in the way of most novel drafts, being recalcitrant). It's set in the same world as a previous short of mine, "The Wages of Salt", and I think I'll probably come back to that world repeatedly, because one story wasn't enough to explore it. So the short answer is: both! Novels usually take precedence, because they take longer to write but actually stand a chance of making me some money, but short stories will always have a place. (How else will I ever get through all my ideas?)

4) Which Australian writers or work would you like to see on the Hugo shortlists this year?

Shadow Queen, of course! :)

Okay, more seriously, this is the part I dread, where I rattle off a list and end up forgetting favourites anyway, and it just never ends well! So with the caveat that I -know- I'll forget so very many somethings, I'm a big fan of Sean Williams, Margo Lanagan, Deb Biancotti, Cat Sparks, Paul Haines, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Justine Larbalestier... Really, I'm a big fan of Aussie writing!

5) Will you be at Aussiecon in September? If so, what are you most looking forward to about it?

Definitely! (Unless fate intervenes and I have to be out of town. Which fate had better not do.) And everything!


This interview was conducted as part of the 2010 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We'll be blogging interviews from Monday 15 February to Sunday 22 February and archiving them at ASif!: Australian SpecFic in Focus.

You can read interviews at:
http://random-alex.livejournal.com/
http://girliejones.livejournal.com/
http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com/
http://www.mechanicalcat.net/rachel
http://tansyrr.com/
http://editormum.livejournal.com/

If you're involved in the scene and have something to plug, then send us an email at snapshot2010@gmail.com and we'll see what we can do!

Mon, 15 Feb 2010
Snapshot 2010: Gillian Polack
Life in Cellophane cover

Gillian Polack's most recent publications are a novel (Life through Cellophane, Eneit Press, 2009), an anthology (Masques, CSfG Publishing, 2009, co-edited with Scott Hopkins), two short stories and a slew of articles. Her next anthology will be released soon (Baggage, Eneit Press, 2010).

One of her stories won a Victorian Ministry of the Arts award, one was runner-up in a Conflux short story competition and three have been listed as recommended reading in the international lists of world’s best fantasy and science fiction short stories by Ellen Datlow, Kelly Link and Gavin Grant. She received a Macquarie Bank Fellowship and a Blue Mountains Fellowship to write at Varuna.

Gillian has a doctorate in Medieval history from the University of Sydney. She researches food history, designs the Conflux banquets etc. 'Etc' includes emotional cruelty to ants and being thrown off a morris dance side, the organisers citing 'incompetence at dance.' She is the proud owner of a violin, a disarticulated skull named Perceval, and 6,000 books.

1) You have recently completed editing an anthology, Baggage, coming out in April through Eneit Press. It has a fabulous line-up of Australian authors. (I for one cannot wait to read it!) Is the theme of cultural baggage in spec fic something you have had in mind for a while? Did the authors surprise you with their approaches to the subject?

Cultural baggage is something I know rather well. It's one of my (many) obsessions. My PhD was on time and history as Medieval cultural baggage, though I usually don't describe it using those words. I teach cultural baggage, I research cultural baggage, and all my fiction has cultural baggage as a sub-text one way or another.

Because issues relating to cultural baggage are with me all the time, every day, in one way the authors didn't surprise me. I pushed them to write something at the edge of their tolerances, in many cases, and wanted to see writing that didn't re-invent #racefail and other great non-debates. So when I received what I asked for, I merely gloated a little.

In another way, they all surprised me. Each and every one of them worked with their own understanding to produce fresh and interesting work. – that was something I had expected. Ask good writers, get fresh and interesting work: simple cause and effect. However, several of the contributors had sleepless nights and publicly discussed the difficulty of writing their stories. KJ Bishop blogged, just the other day "This was without doubt the hardest writing job I’ve ever had." That level of intensity brings its own special gift to a short story. There's so much in these tales that, even though I've read them a thousand times, I still love them.

This intensity is what surprised me, although it shouldn't have. It surprises me that I want to read and reread even when I know them almost by heart.

This is the wonder of working with such very good writers. Each one has a unique approach and knows how to articulate what they want to say. Even when I received an anguished cry for help from someone, I received the cry because the writer had a deep understanding of what they needed to achieve and was stumped at that moment on how to get there, not because they didn’t have either the vision or the capacity to achieve that vision.

I still can't believe I had the opportunity to edit Baggage. I shall take a monument to breathe a silent thankfulness that Sharyn Lilley proposed it and backed it and pushed me into doing what I wanted to do, not what I thought the community would tolerate.

2) You're well known for your enthusiasm for food history. What is the most interesting new-old recipe you have tried recently? How did it taste?

I tried using duck fat in a 19th century American pastry recipe. The result was not nearly as crisp as I thought it would be, and the flavour was ordinary. My mouth felt clumsy.

In March I'll be returning to Jane Austen's era, as I'm preparing for a talk. I intend to use up the rest of the duck fat in a much more appetising fashion. Clever flavours, perhaps, or deft ones. No-one needs a clumsy mouth.

3) Having Masques, Life Through Cellophane and Baggage come out in quick succession makes you look even more ridiculously productive than usual. What are you looking forward to getting on with next? More short fiction or long? Would you like to do more editing?

I don't think of myself as productive: I'm a lazy sod. I'm just a lazy sod who gets bored easily.

I'm writing, of course. I can't not write. Long fiction, because I write only maybe one short story a year. I love editing short stories and I adore reading them, but my brain likes long visits with interesting people and novels are how that happens.

I would love to do more editing. If I were allowed to play with complex ideas and challenging concepts and given the deadlines to enable that, then I would say 'yes' to more editing in an instant.

I'm also looking forward to more teaching. For me teaching is just as important as getting published, though not as important as writing and learning. Teaching, writing, researching, working with other writers – they all bond together to make my dream existence.

4) Which Australian writers or work would you like to see on the Hugo shortlists this year?

There is a vast amount of untapped talent in Australia. Some of it is seen - mainly through specific spheres of influence or good fortune - and some really not known outside a little circle. In my ideal world, I'd like to see these writers noticed – the usual mob, plus those who get passed over or are half-hidden. (There's an essay in this, lurking, isn't there?)

Being realistic, however, the Hugos demand an international reputation. Most voters are not local and even local voters don't know the vast range of writing. This narrows the field down.

My narrowed-down wishes run along these lines:
Kaaron Warren with Slights. She's underestimated locally, and her writing is astonishing. Margo Lanagan, of course, and Lucy Sussex and Justine Larbalestier. Jonathan Strahan and Jack Dann and Greg Egan and John Birmingham and Sean Williams. Lots of artists: Nick Stathopoulos, Les Petersen, Bob Eggleton, Marilyn Pride, Lewis Morley, Greg Bridges.

I'm going to return in three minutes and say "Oh, no, I missed so-and-so." This is part of the problem. I can't identify one or two Australian writers or artists and clamour for attention only for them – there are a lot of very talented folk working right now.

I wish I had the chutzpah to do what a bunch of writers are doing in their blogs and say "Me" and list eligible works. I can't. I'm far too far under most radars to even be considered for a Hugo. Probably also not talented enough. I'll be disappointed if Kaaron's novel doesn’t get any notice at all, though.

5) Will you be at Aussiecon in September? If so, what are you most looking forward to about it?

I shall be there. I've wanted to go to a WorldCon for ages, but life has this habit of getting in the way. This time, I have to be in Melbourne two days after, for Jewish New Year. I'm taking that as a sign that, for a change, life's indulging me.

I rather suspect I'm most looking forward to seeing everyone I only know long distance. Whenever a friend outside Australia says "I can't get to Melbourne" my heart sinks a little. Second in running has to be the academic program, given half of me is inescapably scholarly. And third? The parties.

I'm not including books in this reckoning – I can't assess books against friendship or learning or having fun – they belong everywhere. Although there are none in my laundry or my bathroom. Wasted space. My pantry is not wasted space, nor is my wine cabinet (ie they contain books). So, yes, I really want to meet new books and other new friends at Aussiecon.


This interview was conducted as part of the 2010 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We'll be blogging interviews from Monday 15 February to Sunday 22 February and archiving them at ASif!: Australian SpecFic in Focus.

You can read interviews at:
http://random-alex.livejournal.com/
http://girliejones.livejournal.com/
http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com/
http://www.mechanicalcat.net/rachel
http://tansyrr.com/
http://editormum.livejournal.com/

Mon, 15 Feb 2010
Snapshot 2010: Narrelle M. Harris
Opposite of Life cover art

Narrelle M. Harris is the author of The Opposite of Life, a Melbourne-based vampire novel. She has also authored three other novels, and wrote an essay for the true crime book Outside the Law 3.

1) You have set up Twitter feeds for your characters, Gary (the vampire) and Lissa (the librarian) and they often review movies together (to hilarious effect!). Is this a natural extension for you in terms of social networking and book promotion, or does it come more from your past as a writer of fan fiction?

I suppose being a former fanfic writer didn't hurt, as I'm used to thinking of characters outside the context of their original story. A major influence is the fact that Gary himself collects books, films and stuff about vampires, so naturally he has an opinion on them. He thinks most of them are pretty stupid, in that they are not accurate in terms of how he understands being a vampire. He's kind of literal minded! So I found myself watching vampire-related stuff with a dual eye - what I thought of it, and what Gary thought of it. Actually, at my public talks people often expect me to know what his opinion would be on a variety of things!

So the Twitter accounts and the GaryViews (Gary-reviews. Sorry about the awful nearly-pun) came about from a combination of the above, an interest in social media and how it can be used to keep an audience engaged in the long wait between books, and my own entertainment.

The very first GaryView actually happened because I talked a comedian into giving me tickets to her show, on the basis I would blog about it. When the time came, there was the split between what I thought and how I thought Gary and Lissa would react, which has amused me a lot at the time. So I wrote their reaction as a conversation. People seemed to like it, and I found it immense fun, so I've continued. These days, I find both the reviews and the Twitter conversations excellent writing exercises. Ideas get explored that I might not do in the novels themselves. People ask questions or react in ways I wasn't expecting, and I have to think about how these characters would respond, which is great for getting under their skin.

2) You recently had an essay published in Outside the Law 3. Do you find that non-fiction writing feeds your fiction writing? Does it flow the other way at all?

I write for a day job as well, actually - corporate writing, web editing and so forth, so I've been switching between fiction and non fiction regularly for about eight years now. I think the two do feed into each other. With the kind of jobs I've had (including being a journalist for a business to business magazines about retail) I learn about things I would never have independently researched and I can sometimes slip that info into a story. But I try to use creative skills in writing articles too. Just because you are writing for an 'expert' group (like supermarket owners!), you absolutely don't want them to be bored. One of my favourite non fic pieces was a promotional piece on suits for a local manufacturer!

3) I believe you're working on the next Gary and Lissa book, what can you tell us about it? Are there more Melbourne landmarks for us trainspotters? When will we get to read it?

Is AAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!! an appropriate answer to this? I've blogged and spoken before about the fact that my first stab at the sequel didn't work and I had to go back to the drawing board. I submitted the new manuscript in January. The publisher called at one point to say the editor was ten chapters in and loving it, but they've been busy since then preparing a few more books for publication. When they get the chance there'll be a raft of edits, I'm sure. I wouldn't expect to see it out before the end of the year, though I will keep my fingers crossed for an Aussiecon 4 launch. As for more Melbourne landmarks - well of course! And the guys do a trip out to Ballarat as well.

4) Which Australian writers or work would you like to see on the Hugo shortlists this year?

I loved Peter Ball's Horn, and Tansy Rayner Roberts' Siren Beat. Deborah Biancotti's A Book of Endings was also superb. It's fairly obvious I've been reading a lot of Twelfth Planet Press stuff lately! Another Victorian writer who isn't well known in the SF community is Mary Borsellino, whose YA vampire series, The Wolf House, has been published as an e-book. I understand the first two books may be coming out as a hardback compilation sometime soon. She has a vivid style and a fresh approach to the vampire legend - she describes it as 'Twilight for punks'. More people should read her work, so head off to www.thewolfhouse.net to find out how to download it. Another amazing book which defies classification is Tom Cho's Look Who's Morphing, which is fantastical and strange. So I don't know if he's eligible, but he damn well ought to be! I mean, in one chapter, the lead character and his mother turn, Transformer-like, into cars! How cool is that?

5) Will you be at Aussiecon in September? If so, what are you most looking forward to about it?

You betcha! I'm very much looking forward to seeing what is happening in the publishing industry, especially with small presses, and how the community is dealing with the introduction of e-books, the iPad, Kindle and the like. If things pan out well it would be great to launch the new book there, but I'm not holding my breath for that. Editing and publishing take a Really Long Time.


This interview was conducted as part of the 2010 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We'll be blogging interviews from Monday 15 February to Sunday 22 February and archiving them at ASif!: Australian SpecFic in Focus.

You can read interviews at:
http://random-alex.livejournal.com/
http://girliejones.livejournal.com/
http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com/
http://www.mechanicalcat.net/rachel
http://tansyrr.com/
http://editormum.livejournal.com/

If you're involved in the scene and have something to plug, then send us an email at snapshot2010@gmail.com and we'll see what we can do!

Sat, 13 Feb 2010
ASiF Australian Speculative Fiction Snapshot 2010

In 2005, Ben Peek spent a frantic week interviewing 43 people in the Australian Spec Fic scene. In 2007, a group of ASiF! reviewers took up the challenge and did it again, this time interviewing 83 people.

In the lead-up to Aussiecon 4 in Melbourne, and the great opportunity offered by the local Worldcon to see some Australians get a shot at the Hugo ballot, some of the ASif! reviewers will be doing it again, and blogging interviews from this coming Monday until Sunday 22nd Feb.

To read them hot off the press, check these blogs daily:
http://random-alex.livejournal.com/
http://girliejones.livejournal.com/
http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com/
http://www.mechanicalcat.net/rachel
http://tansyrr.com/
http://editormum.livejournal.com/

Will we beat 83 this time? If you know of someone involved in the Scene with something to plug, then send us an email at 2010snapshot@gmail.com

Tue, 22 Dec 2009
Feliz NaviDread!

Here is a small toy from the Sci-Fi Christmas Cracker I edited a few weeks ago. I hope all your festivities are less horrible than this.

Merry Newtonmas everyone!

Wed, 02 Dec 2009
A Sci-Fi Christmas Cracker!

I may have signed up for Nanowrimo last month but what I did instead was edit together a giant collection of hilarious videos for the inaugural Continuum/MSFC Christmas Party. Song! Dance! Jokes! Poor taste! Dragons! Inappropriate humour! You'll be rolling in the aisles - in pain!

There will also be delectable edibles and loads of silly season silliness.

When: Friday 11th December
Doors open at 8pm, excitement begins at 9pm.

Where: St. David's Uniting Church Hall
74 Melville Road, West Brunswick
(Melways ref 29 C5, or catch a #55 tram from William Street in the city, to tram stop 36).

Cost: MSFC and Continuum members free, otherwise $2 at the door.
Gold coin donations for food and drinks.

We apologise but due to the nature of the venue no alcohol is permitted on the premises.

Tue, 13 Oct 2009
Continuum Presents: Halloween Trivia

Continuum Trivia Night 31st October at 7.30pm Elephant and Wheelbarrow
94-96 Bourke Street Melbourne (Corner of Bourke and Exhibition Street) Cost 5 bucks

Wed, 09 Sep 2009
Pouts optional

I've created this aspirational image as a reminder to myself that the height of fashion and style is not jeans and a Threadless t-shirt (even if they are all $9 today *shakes fist*). And seeing as I cannot afford the postage on these lovely togs from Pinup Girl Clothing, let alone the togs themselves, I shall have to begin building them for myself. Yes.

Tue, 08 Sep 2009
District 9

Cheapass Tuesday and I only had time to see one movie. My first choice was The Young Victoria, but it wasn't showing during school hours. So it came down to Inglourious Basterds and District 9. I kind of want to see both, but ended up choosing D9 because it's shorter. Short attention-span is short.

Loads of my friends have already seen it and they all raved*. "Awesome!" they said. You're all wrong, my friends.

It's an OK kind of movie. The effects are fine and believable. They've put heaps of thought into making the aliens ("prawns") both hideous and anime cute at the same time. I wasn't put off by the violence (I had to stop eating at one vomitty point, but I got over that). But blah to the characters and erg to the story.

Yes. We get it. It's about apartheid. It's set in Johannesburg just to make sure we don't mistake the forced sensation in our throats for a bit of stuck popcorn. Aliens have arrived on Earth (why and where from is not explained) and are put into a temporary camp in South Africa for 20 years.

And after that? Well there's this completely uninteresting guy and some stuff happens and his opinion of the aliens is changed 180 degrees. And That Is All. There's maybe half a sub-plot given to the main alien character, Christopher Johnson, but he isn't anything more than the dude with the MacGuffin.

The uninteresting guy, Wikus, is married to Tania, and although he does stupid and cruel things without question as part of his work, we are supposed, I think, to like him because he makes little tchotchkes for his wife and calls her Baby. He calls her Baby a lot. It's irritating. As is the lack of explanation as to why anyone would marry such an idiot.

The documentary style (to heighten the Theme - do you get it yet?) creates distance from the main characters, making it even harder to empathise with this blah person, but is then confused by the switch in POV when stuff actually happens. A good chunk of the film is just undisguised exposition, by people actually talking to camera ("interviewees"). Boooring.

I got really antsy watching District 9. It felt longer than it was and the denouement was twee.

Three out of five black bilious vomits.



*Except Richard. He knew ;-)

Tue, 18 Aug 2009
C5: Galaxies by Gaslight - A Co-Chair's Perspective

Thursday
We had a pre-con event on Thursday evening; a Hangman's Tour of the Old Melbourne Gaol arranged and performed by Heath Miller. I was kind of afraid it would be a bit cheesey, but I was very wrong. It was a little creepy, but mostly it was about getting the information across and a bit of imagining what it was like being imprisoned. (Not nice, by the way, really not nice.) Terrific tour, highly recommended. It also gave a good chunk of the committee a chance to meet our Guests of Honour Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Narrelle M. Harris. There was a bit of discussion about the set up the next day as we had limited time to get everything in place before the doors opened. Much sleeplessness resulted.

Friday
Our fears proved unfounded and we were able to set up a little early and in record time and then it was all on! Most of the daytime events during the weekend are a blur, but oh my god, the committee. There has never been a committee like the C5 committee. Every person on it knew what to do, where to be, who to talk to. It ran like clockwork, which for a steampunk con was appropriately fortunate.

The Introduction to Con Going panel was brief, but I hope we said a few useful things for the first-timers. The Opening was also brief, but then things really got going with Richard Harland's Worldshaker launch. Jack Dann again hitting the mark with his sales pitch and Richard gave a terrific reading. Then cocktails and talking, (so much talking!) until Thank Cthulu You're Here. George Ivanoff ably wrangled Narrelle Harris, Danny Oz, Scott Pollard and Paul Poulton in theatre sports. I acted as a last minute stand-in judge, but I'm afraid I was enjoying the show so much I didn't contribute any actual funnies. Early to bed, but then so much more brain-churning that there again wasn't much actual sleep. Which did not set me up too well for

Saturday
First in the door at 8am so the Dealers could finish setting up, then running around chatting, fixing, addressing, whatever needed to be done. The Dollhouse panel with M1k3y and Heath was a hoot. I hope the audience had as much fun as we did talking about the inherent Godishness of Joss Whedon and arguing the finer points of Eliza Dushku's acting chops.

More fetching and carrying and just a little panicking before my reading in the afternoon. Heath and I concocted a genius plan where he would take half my slot to read a story originally written for the conbook, but deemed inappropriate for print (by me - I'm such a prude). This meant I only had to read half as much as I thought. Everybody wins! The readings went well. I really enjoyed Gillian Polack's and Lucy Sussex's readings too. Vindictive dart throwing and books on the rampage. What's not to like?

After that it was all about preparations for the Maskobalo. Hespa and our tech guys - Mikee's Mikes and The Hairy Dude did an OUTSTANDING job with the sound and lighting. Combined with Guttermonkey's props and all the lanterns we could muster the space had a terrific ambience even before it was filled with costumes. And boy, howdy. I could go on and on, but I will wait until there are photos and then link, because really you have to see.

I especially have to mention DJ Omega who generously and skillfully kept us on the dance floor almost without pause. You have seen nothing until you have seen thirty people in steampunk outfits bouncing around to the Monkey Magic theme.

There was still a good crowd at midnight keen to carry on, so it was up to the Coccoon Bar. Excellent conversations were had and it was verrrry late early before I got back to my room.

Sunday
For those keeping tally, by this point I had had less than 10 hours sleep in the last 36. Caffeine and adrenaline, my friends, caffeine and adrenaline. Sunday is a total blur. I know I spent money in the Dealer's room, because I have a beautiful shiny pile of books to read. I caught some of the Steampunk Fashion panel and felt quite underdressed. Cass and Omega went all out and looked gorgeous. The Closing Ceremony went well, I think. After getting out quite efficiently we attempted a Dead Dog party, but I think we were all too dead. Ah, well.

Thank you again to everyone who attended, the fabulous committee, our generous and fascinating Guests of Honour and to you for reading this far.

The Nod.

It's days since C5 and I'm still on cloud nine. This clip is from Groove, which I highly recommend if you're into dance/electronica.

Fri, 31 Jul 2009
Faux b-b-b-book

CREATE YOUR DEBUT YA COVER

  1. Go to Fake Name Generator
    The name that appears is your author name.
  2. Go to Random Word Generator
    The word listed under "Random Verb" is your title.
  3. Go to FlickrCC
    Type your title into the search box. The first photo that contains a person is your cover.
  4. Use Photoshop, Picnik, or similar to put it all together. Be sure to crop and/or zoom in.
  5. Post it to your site along with this text.


Photo credit: fidofido

Funny thing is, I didn't have to manipulate the image at all, it came pre-de-headed.

Wed, 22 Jul 2009
lameclaimtofame

There was a twitter trend I jumped on this morning that had everyone competing for the most #lameclaimtofame

I posted this one

and then realised, as a few comments came in, that it was somewhat unrepresentative.

But whaddyaknow someone's put my Sportsgirl ad on Youtube.

Can you see me? No?

I'll let you in on the story then.

I was doing work experience on the shoot as the runner. I washed dishes, fetched beer, carried cables and stopped the pedestrian traffic while the camera was rolling. It was a freezing cold day and when someone asked me to move a jacket out of the way, I put it on. It was a huge black leather thing and I was swamped. But frankly spending a day with all these models who were being primped and fussed over at every turn I was happy to have something to hide in.

The director decided he wanted some movement in the background of one of the shots so he asked me and the stills photographer to walk along the street. We did as requested for a couple of takes and then he said, "You guys are great, you should join Actors Equity. I just need you to turn around and walk the other way."

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it really was that we were so distractingly good looking that it would have ruined the point of the advertisement. Maybe.

So there you have it. I'm the shorter of the two black blobs in the last scene, walking away from the Sportsgirl logo. My one and only appearance on national television. I told you it was a lame claim to fame.

Sat, 04 Jul 2009
Warrior

I have a wee little story in AntiSF at the moment. It's called Warrior. I hope you like it.

Thu, 14 May 2009
Continuum Trivia Night
Wed, 01 Apr 2009
Leaving on a jet plane.

In twelve hours we're getting on a plane to foreign parts. We won't be back for a couple of weeks and I'm not going to do anything email-y or blog-y or twitter-y and not even much phone-y. I won't even be using my usual mobile number. It's an old school, retro kinda trip. The kind you send postcards.

If you're going to have any parties while I'm gone, please clean up the mess before I get back.

Have a great Easter break!