Monday, December 27, 2010

ALL THINGS CHRISTMASSY

Hope it's been a good few days for you all, no matter how (or not) you celebrate (or not) the period.

It's been a mix of most excellent (in my best Bill and Ted voice) and catastrophic here at the Batthaim. We're currently neck deep in plastic dinosaurs, little egg-shaped iPod speakers, fishing rods, watercolour pencils, jewellery and reading material (I myself received a much-needed new wallet and a funky biography of Charles Manson), and the children are running around like mad things with their cousin Tanika who stayed the night after coming for a barbecue with Lyn's brother Roger and his partner Cassie last night. Christmas is always a balancing act between our desire to give each other cool things and Lyn's religious convictions (which include not acknowledging Christmas or birthdays), so we end up usually just having something that can best be described as "Present Day with Food splurge". It seems to work well enough.

Which is all balanced by our airconditioner blowing up a few day ago, our reticulation system blowing up a few days after and our garage door deciding yesterday to come off its hinges and get stuck to the point where no human agency can move it. As it's currently shielding the work car I have to get back to work on the 4th, this is just a teensy bit of a problem. Annnd also an indicator that I'll be spending 2011 as poor and under the cosh as 2010.

Be that as it may, I do have something in the gift department for you all: the Christmas edition of Terra Incognita, Keith Stevenson's fantastic SF podcast series, features not one, but two stories: my own In From The Snow, and my good friend Jason Fischer's extraordinary Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh, which features Jasoni singing the Undead Camels song.

That's right! Jasoni singing! How can you pass that up?

Go. Listen. Enjoy. And here's to a happy and profitable 2011 to you all.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

NANOWRIMO

Yeah, so I posted once back on the 7th with a word count, and then went suspiciously quiet. So how did I do?


Father Muerte and the Divine, 50 886 words. 'Nuff said.

AND AT HALF TIME, THE SCORE IS: LIFE 3, BATTERSBY NIL

So this is what 40 feels like, is it?

If you'd asked me a year ago, I'm not sure what I'd have told you about how I felt at the thought of turning the halfway marker and heading for home. (I'm working on an average lifespan of 8o here. Anybody who knows better about the avergae lifespan being shorter can keep it to themselves. I bet you never get invited to parties....).

I was trapped in a job that did nothing for my soul except eat it, with little to no hope of escape. I was unhappy about the flow of my writing career-- I had become becalmed, and felt only isolation from my peers. My family life was happy, at least: I have a truly beautiful and wonderful wife, who is the central happiness around whom the family revolves, and my kids are the perfect combination of delightful and insane. But as good as it was was as good as it was going to get, and once I left the house it really wasn't that good at all. Truth be told, I was spending more and more time not leaving the house: my sick days were piling up, my lunches were long and my leaving times earlier and earlier, and once the front door shut behind me, the last thing I wanted to do was drag myself out to spend time with people I knew weren't that happy to see me and weren't heading in directions I wanted to go.

39 wasn't a particularly good place to be. The prospect of spending most of the last half of my life in the same situation wasn't even depressing. It was just... numbing.

Then it got weird.

For the first thing, I escaped my job. Out of the blue, a position in arts administration became available, and bugger me, I got it. By the skin of my teeth-- my gaffer will cheerfully admit they took a chance on me, and thankfully, cheerfully admit it's worked out-- but I was able to walk (Walk? Fucking RUN!) away from my soul-destroying job (the one I ate to find comfort from, the one that had helped me gain 20 kilograms, the one that had my wife begging me to stay home most Mondays so I wouldn't come home so miserable and depressed) and start again.

Six weeks after I started I was on a beach, helping to install a sculpture exhibition. I spent the week of my 40th birthday administering the first art exhibition I'd ever curated. I've spent the last month organising 2 art exhibitions; 3 writing talks; an online writing group; liaising with the Navy, local yacht club and three bands regarding our Australia Day celebrations; and running a Nanowrimo region. I travel a third of the time that I used to, actually speak to my colleagues, oh, and enjoy going to work. It's not too mad a claim to say that I saved my life by finding this job. Not too mad at all.

Added to which, somewhere in amongst all that, I turned a corner in my writing career. Perhaps it was the change of heart that came with the change of job, but suddenly, I forgot to give a damn what people thought of me. I forgot to get caught up in the politics of the scene. I forgot to keep in touch with people, and in doing so, went a long way towards learning who the people were that wanted to keep in touch with me. The only thing I remembered to do was take joy in the writing act itself. I wrote a novel this year, and a bunch of poems, and drew some cartoons, and none of them will see the light for a while, if ever, but the novel's good, and the cartoons were fun, and I like poetry.

And I have no idea what the rest of the world is doing. I haven't read a blog for nearly a year-- sorry to those of you who have blogs and are taking the time out of your lives to read this. I apprecaite your interest. But when it comes to reciprocating, for the first time in a long time, I'm too damn busy, and it's good. I used to read blogs to keep away from writing, and now I'd rather write. My peers interact with me when they want to, if they want to: the lovely people at the Australian Writer's Marketplace commissioned me to write an online SF course during the year, and I've had a constant trickle of communication from friends and colleagues that I've accepted on its own merits rather than going out searching for it. I'm more balanced, obviously, and happier. But I've also shucked away a lot of dead wood, a lot of former friendships that I had to realise were dead before I could comfortably offload them. Life is lighter now.

And now I'm halfway through another novel-- the Father Muerte one I mentioned at the start of November. 51 000 words, to be reasonably precise. I'll be finished it by the end of January, by which time it'll be something like 2 years since I've seen a short story in print. But I'm even writing them again: I've got some markets I want to try, and a rewrite that an editor is asking for, and strangely, the writing life is enjoyable again.

So, cliches about life starting and blah blah blah aside, being 40 looks pretty good so far. My happiness isn't perfect-- I've got an awful lot of excess weight I have to lose; I'm in pain a fair bit of the time, although I've come to live with that; and seven of us in a house on a single wage means we won't be seeing Rome any time soon.

But I am happy, and that alone is a massive change of outlook from a year ago.


There's a lot gonna happen kid. Don't forget to duck.




WHILE WE TALK ABOUT BIRTHDAYS

November is a mad-ass month for birthdays around here. In three weeks, half of our family have one, not to mention my neice Zara (Hi, Zara!), starting with myself on the 11th and culminating in Erin in the first week of December. That's 5 in all, in 24 days.

So to my sensational 6 year old, the Connorsaurus, and my beautiful 9 year old Erin Jane Butterfly, all my love. There's no end to the joy and wonder you both bring to my life.

NOVEMBER WAS A MAD OLD MONTH, MY FRIENDS

Ahhhh, the best laid plans of mice and Lee are aft to gang aglay all over the frigging place.

See, what I was going to do was post regularly about my progress through Nanowrimo, pausing only to ruminate upon the occasion of my 40th birthday, and congratulate my favourite 5 year old in the whole world on turning into my favourite 6 year old in the whole world. And indeed, those things did happen. But along the way, the world changed ever so slightly.

Well, let's be honest, the entire household has been turned upside down, inside out, and arsehole to breakfast by this:


Allo, babeeeee. No, wait, I'm the babeee!


Luc Aden Jeremy Triffitt, my first grandson, arrived in the world at near-as-dammit 11pm on the 11th of the month, having caused his Mum and Dad to finish the last mouthful of my birthday dinner and say "Well, that was nice. Can we go to the hospital now?" He was a tiny, tiny little thing on arrival-- 3090 grams and 49 centimetres long, and is a tiny little thing now: at the pool this morning, two old ducks who were cooing over him had to be persuaded that he wasn't actually only a few days old.

He's been with us three weeks now-- parents Aiden & Georgie have neither the spondoolies nor the age to live in their own space, and he is a beautiful, smiley, snuggly little bugger who has the good grace to cause everybody ructions and then fall asleep peacefully within about 90 seconds of me picking him up. Needless to day, he and me are the best of buddies :)

So, this the world, Luc. Try not to break it, and be back for tea.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

CREEPY LITTLE DOLL FACE


I swear to God, is that not the creepiest book cover you've seen in all the live-long day?

It's the cover of the upcoming anthology Devil Dolls & Duplicates, edited by Anthony Ferguson and published by Eqilibrium Books. One of my early tales, The Divergence Tree, will be in it, along with a farly stellar groups of Australian scary-story people. Check out this table of Contents, then start saving your pennies, because it looks like a real cracker:

Marcus Clarke: Human Repetends
Wynne Whiteford: Automaton
Van Ikin:  And Eve Was Drawn from the Rib of Adam
Michael Wilding:  This is for You
Stephen Dedman: A Single Shadow
Jason Franks: The Third Sigil
Jay Caselberg: Porcelain
Sean Williams: The Girl Thing
Chuck McKenzie: Confessions of a Pod Person
Lee Battersby: The Divergence Tree
Rick Kennett: Excerpt from In Quinns Paddock
Lucy Sussex: La Sentinelle
Jason Nahrung: Spare Parts
Robert Hood: Regolith
Kaaron Warren: Doll Money
Andrew J McKiernan: Calliope- A Steam Romance
Tracie McBride: Last Chance to See
Martin Livings: Blessed are the Dead that the Rain Falls Upon
B Michael Radburn: The Guardian =
Daniel I Russell: Tricks, Mischief and Mayhem
Christopher Elston: Hugo- Man of a Thousand Faces
 
Told you it was good....

SEVEN DAYS IN

So, Nanowrimo is seven days old, and amidst my Municipal Liaison duties, administering the Rod Garlett exhibition Sands of Gulgulga (and here) at the Kent Street Gallery, and organising the City of Rockingham's own Nanowrimo events (3 rather cool writing/speaking events entitled "Nano Cafe", with speakers Simon Haynes, Tehani Wessely and Dave Luckett), I've managed to get me just over 12 000 words down.

12 114 to be exact, on the long-talked about but never-anything-actually-anything-done-about Father Muerte novel, Father Muerte & The Divine.

In good old fashioned Nano tradition, word count is nothing without a widget, so here be my first Nano widgety o'meter-ness:


12114 / 50000 (24.23%)


Plenty left to go, but a start is a start.

And tomorrow, they step through a rift in space and visit a civilisation of highly intelligent parallel-evolution dinosaur ghosts.

In all honesty.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET, NANO!

National Novel Writing Month kicks off in a few days, and I will be bellying up to the nanobar again and trying to get some words down amidst the madness of a work-heavy month. If you’re also attempting to climb the word mountain, you can find me under the username leebattersby.

For my sins, I’ve persuaded the Nanos-that-be to create a new region—Rockingham/Mandurah—and if you’re local to that region then sign on up: a certain little black duck has been named Municipal Liaison, and I’ll be organising a bunch of stuff across the month to keep us all amused.

I’ll also be working on something I’ve threatened for a while: Father Muerte And The Divine, the long-avoided-being-thunked-about Father Muerte novel. Fans of the series have permission to send kind thoughts in the direction of my computer….

SIGH. HALF OF THAT GENETIC MATERIAL COMES FROM ME…..

Connor runs into the reading room, throws himself onto his back on the floor and starts waving his arms and legs about, shouting “bubble bubble, bubble bubble”. Then he rolls over onto his face and lies very still. He does this three times, then yells “I’m pancakes!” and runs out of the room again.

I go quietly back to my book and try not to think about him choosing my nursing home….




As if that wasn't enough for the week, a couple of days later I wander into the kitchen to find Luscious  laughing her shapely ass off. The young master has recently held the view that curly-haired people know everything. Why? a) because he has curly hair, and just possibly b) because his curly-haired father has told him so :)

So, in proving some arcane point of 5-year old’s knowledge to his mother, they have this conversation:

LYN: How do you know?
CONNOR: Curly haired people know everything.
LYN: But I’m your Mum.
CONNOR:Yes.
LYN: Mum’s know everything.
CONNOR:…..Yyyyessss…..
LYN: And I have straight hair.
CONNOR: Yes.
LYN: So how do I know everything if I don’t have curly hair?
CONNOR: (Pausing just long enough to trick his Mum into thinking she has him out-logicked). I've made you some!


De-FEATED!

GOD, DO I REALLY SOUND LIKE THAT?

Head on over to the fabulous Mister Keith Stevenson’s podcast website Terra Incognita, and not only can you enjoy listening to the likes of Jason Fischer and Margo Lanagan reading their own fine work, but you can download the latest podcast—issue 24 features me, reading Father Muerte & The Flesh, the story that won the inaugural Australian Shadows award back in the day, and the third of the four Father Muerte stories to have seen print. Given what I’m working on during Nanowrimo next month (about which, more in a minute), it’ll serve as a bit of a taster.

Go. Listen. Wonder how Luscious puts up listening to that voice day after day after day…..

WORD

To my buddy Grant Stone, whose story Wood has been published in New Zealand’s premier SF market Semaphore. I worked on this story with Grant when he placed himself under my dubious care through the Australian Horror Writers Association mentorship scheme, and I’m pleased as punch to see it hit print, and also to note that it’s as creepy and icky-making as it was when he first sent it to me.

Go, read, enjoy, send him your creepy stalker love….

THANK GAWD THAT’S OVER!

What a bloody awful month and a bit that’s been! First Lyn’s sent to bed for a week with a filthy sort of chest infection. Then Connor ends up in hospital for a weekend with a weird sort of croupy thing the doctors can’t quite identify. Then Erin ends up in hospital (and just for fun, a completely different hospital) with pneumonia. Then I get a chest infection of my very own, and spend the next four weeks hacking my lungs up every time I giggle.

What a bloody laugh.

Thankfully, it’s all back to normal now, such as we is, and somewhere along the line it seems to have inspired the normally scary and frightful Martin Livings to get quite sweet in his old age, so all’s well that ends with a metric fuckload of tissues in the compost….

Monday, September 27, 2010

WEBSITE UPDATE

Over at the website, I've added a couple of new items for your edification: the biblio page is now complete, and a couple of free stories have been added to the Free Lee! page-- check out Decimated, from Shadowed Realms issue 8 as well as mu Aurealis-Award winning story Pater Familias from Shadowed Realms issue 3.

Enjoy!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

BIG NEWS

So to the big news:

I have websitage!

After much cocking things up and not-being-at-all-clever about hosts and doman names and stuff like that-- really, I can't escape the essential 19th Century level of my technological abilities-- I can proudly announce the presence of leebattersby.com on the electronic landscape.

Come on down and have a look. Some of the pages are still under construction, but you'll find stuff there about me, my writing and cartooning, the sorts of random falderal that amuse me.... in short, it's a snapshot of the inside of my brain, only much easier to navigate.

And while you're web-hopping, jump on over to Lyn's new website as well, which is like a snapshot of the inside of her brain. Which means it's prettier than mine, and much more elegant.

WHAT'S IN A TITLE?

Sometimes, this writing gig ain't all just wine, yachts, and sex with supermodels, you know.

During the week I submitted the first story I've completed this year. That alone is case for both celebration and concern: there was a time, not that long ago, when I sold ten stories a year, never mind submitted my first one in September. But life is a much different thing than it was a couple of years ago, and my aims are different, too. 2010 has been a year for other things. However, it's been the first story I've ever submitted that's contained an apology.

The reason for that is the title.

I may not be good at much, my little friends, but I do delude myself that I'm quite good at finding the right title for my work. No Phil Dick, perhaps, but I at least avoid stories called "The Vampire" or "The Ghoul" or... well, you get the drift. And once a title is right, it's right. There is such a thing as a perfect title-- one that encapsulates the theme of the story, gives the reader a glimpse into the events about to unfold without giving the game away, and jumps out of the Table of Contents with such force that the reader wants to turn to your story first.

The story I wrote is set in the 1920s, in a jazz club in Harlem. It deals with the US Civil War, with the differences between white and black magic, with the way music can be used to capture emotions and re-channel them as a source of power. It talks about slavery, indvidual freedom, the germination of the Civil Rights music. It's rough, and nasty, and unpleasant things happen.

It's called Nigger Music.

It's a perfect title. There is no other title that encapsulates everything that happens within the story, that ties together the way we name things, the way white owners and their black slaves changed after the power relationship was destroyed, the roles that the three characters (white Le Mesurier, black Tobias Mancer, and the musician Robert Johnson) interact. It is the perfect title for the story.

But looking at the title bar of the email and seeing SUBMISSION: Nigger Music..... well, it's the first time I've looked at it and thought, "You know, that's going to need explaining."

THERE HAS BEEN WORK, OH YES THERE HAS.

Sigh. apologising for the lack of posts seems to be a habit these days. Let's just take it as read, shall we?

There's been a couple of reasons for my absence. Work has been mad-- we're coming up for the 2010 Nyoongar Art Awards, a major art award the City of Rockingham co-presents with the Town of Kwinana, and part of the grand prize each year is a solo exhibition for the winner. And I'm the one who puts it together, so the last couple of weeks I've been hip-deep in phone calls to art galleries to arrange transport of artwork, organising invitation designs, sourcing catering, talking to wineries about label printing.... all the fun things that go on behind the scenes before an exhibition hits the gallery space.

Then there's been the sickness. No sooner had Luscious and Aiden recovered from bouts of bronchitis than Connor decided to have a turn. By last Friday his coughing was so constant that he ended up at Rockingham hospital, then spent the weekend at Fremantle Hospital whilst Lyn and I took it in turns to stay the night and run back & forth to Mandurah to transport toys, clothes, and other sundries. Turns out our little boy doesn't do things by half-- the bronchitis triggered a series of asthma attacks, which helped bring on a bout of croup. At least, that what the paediatrician said. A week off school seems to have helped-- now he only coughs when he needs to remind someone he's sick, usually if it means getting dessert early...

So, mad as it's been, it's been Life. Still, I'm back now...

Sunday, September 05, 2010

JUST BECAUSE IT'S A BRILLIANT PIC


One of these things is an Australian predator that strikes fear into the small, helpless creatures upon which it feeds.....

The other is Connor.

Go on, how many of you were expecting me to say "The other is a dingo?"

It's okay: his Mum did too :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

NOW WITH ADDED LACK OF CONTENT

Nothing to see here today, folks. The Luscious One has been in bed due to extreme sickeryness; writing continues to be sporadic and slow; and once I shuffle the houseful of not-quite-as-quiet-as-they-think-they're-being kis out of the house I'll be able to go out and deal with the front garden while TLO has a much-needed nap.

So in the absence of actual content, I give you the gift of music:


Saturday, August 21, 2010

TAKE THAT, CHILDISH SENSE OF WONDER!

Driving home from the Worlds Next Door launch, Lyn spots Venus out the car window and points it out to the kids, which prompts us to have a conversation about the planet, and why it's so bright, and all of that sort of kiddie-inspiring sensawunda stuff. Shortly afterwards....

CONNOR: (gasps) Venus is following us!
ME: Oh no! Maybe it's stalking us!
LYN: Maybe it's because women are from Venus, and it can see there's two girls in the car so it's attracted to us and wants to be with us!
ERIN: Yeah, or maybe it's just that Venus goes around the sun the same way Earth does so it looks like it's moving at the same speed Earth is.

Well. Yes. Maybe it's that.

Fuck you, childhood world of magic.

CONGRATULATIONS

to Tehani Wessely and Fablecroft Publishing for a fantastically successful launch for their Worlds Next Door anthology on Thursday night.

Lyn rose from her sick bed to come with me, and the littlies dressed up-- it was brilliant to see, at the launch of an anthology for children, just how welcome children were to the launch. Trust me, it's not always the case-- with cake, balloons, colouring in at a table, and story readinsg for the kids it was a well thought-out and festive occasion, which was rewarded with high attendance and good sales. It bodes well for a fledgling company that's headed by an intelligent, savvy, and forward thinking operator-- again, not always the case, particularly in small press SF-- with good product.

We had a damn good time, and it was nice to be able to catch up with people like Simon Haynes and Alisa Krasnostein, who we've not seen in far too long.

AND THE BEST THING ABOUT VOTING IS....

... the conversation you have with the peoiple who hand out "How to Vote" pamphlets, which is the same every time, and invariably goes like this:

ME: No thanks, guys, I've already decided.

SOME DODDERING OLD OCTEGENARIAN WITH A LIBERAL PARTY OR FAMILY FIRST T-SHIRT ON: Some variation of a didmissive snort or croaky plea to reconsider and put things in the "right" order if I want to save Australia for White Jesus and get rid of all the niggers, brownhatters and young people.

ME: Seriously, do you really think I waited until 10 seconds before I line up to start thinking about this?

SDOOWALPOFFTO: Assorted sputtering while the Greens hander-outerer sniggers.

There's probably a really good reason why they have a sausage sizzle near the front door and not a gun stall...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

MY NECK HURTS.....

I've been at home for two days, looking after the kids whilst Lyn and Aiden are abed with horror cases of bronchitis-- the warning on the pack of antibiotics says "Not suitable for gorillas of a delicate disposition", I swear......

I did, however, manage to get the iPod cranked up while dropping off a Tupperware order for my darling wife this evening, and stumbled across a couple of songs I haven't heard in ages, both of which reminded me of what a little rocker I am, deep down in that weaselly black ravine I call a soul.

Firstly, a band that I was never a huge fan of while growing up-- where I lived, there were two types of males: those who liked AC/DC and those who could read. So I needed a little bit of time in civilised company, where the ability to use two different forms of cutlery in the same meal didn't mark you out as some sort of mutant, before I could appreciate just how hard these boys could rock. Once I did, however, I added several choice cuts to the playlist, from which they have rarely moved.

Despite that, I rarely appreciate the appeal of Bon Scott-- smelly, drunken little bogan stoat that was way too much like those who made my after-school hours a misery as he was. I'm a Brian Johnson man, I have to say: Geordies being a much more appealing variety of lout to my untrained eye.

This song, however, has to just about rank as their most rockingy rocking moment of rock, and Scott's performance is pure cheek. Do as I did: crank it really fucking loud, and try not to crash whatever you're driving at the time....






My second offering comes straight from the Get Out of Gaol Free Card of my soul: Lyn and I have always had a joke "Get Out Of Gaol Free" celebrity-- that one famous person who, should they turn up unexpectedly one night during a rainstorm, we'd be able to say "Yes" to without consequences.

Or in my case, say "Geronimo!" to....

As most everyone who knows her knows, Lyn's is geeky bignose brilliant-comic-writer-turned-pretty-damn-average-novelist Neil Gaiman.

Mine, since the age of nine, I tells you, is the single hottest leather-clad babe to pull on a guitar and get sweaty. And to all those who cry "denial" about her sexuality, I simply put my fingers in my ears and cry lalalalalalalalalalalalalalala to you all.....

Maybe it's the era I grew up in, or the kind of girls I dated, but to me, despite all the effing and blinding that goes on around me, and despite all the, shall we say, medical ways of describing the sexual act, there's always been something really dirty about the title of this song: it's as if everything that needs to be described is common knowledge, and all that's necessary is the agreement. Maybe it's that sense of anticipation: the moment of pause, the deep breath before you dive into the hot and sweaty stuff. Maybe it's just that the 70s were slightly more innocent than today, and my inner child still lives in that twilight time before anybody asked me to touch anything.

Whatever, in a world of hip-hop, sexually explicit lyrics, and open sexuality, I still think this is the dirtiest song ever written.

Enjoy.

(PS: Do you think Lyn would complain if I took a screen capture at 58 seconds in and used it as my wallpaper?)



Monday, August 09, 2010

NIBBLETS

A quiet couple of weeks in the Batthome, as the madness of recent months settles down and we all return to some sort of routine. I’ve managed to squeak in the tiniest bit of writing, which has whet my appetites once more, there’s been some writing-related stuff abounding, so I’m still somewhere in the remotest touch with my inner writer-guy, even if I’ve fallen well out of touch with the writing world—as noted during the week by Martin Livings, when I admitted I knew nary a whit of the wedding he’s been talking about for over a year on his blog. (What can I say? Out of touch I am.)

Still, stuff does abound: I received my contributor copy of Australis Imaginarium, which contains my Australian Shadows Award-winning story The Claws of Native Ghosts. A pretty book it is, to— editor/publisher Tehani Wessely has put together a fine collection of tales spanning the last 20 years of Australian SF publishing, all themed towards a modern myth-making that makes the book a uniquely Australian reading experience, from Lucy Sussex's 1990 tale Red Ochre right through to Ian McHugh's Once a Month On a Sunday, from last year's ASIM 40. Quite often, the small press has to stand out from mass market publishing by virtue of the quality of its product, and the artwork, paper weight, and font styles are all of the highest quality. This is a lovely book, in a bunch of ways, and if you’re interested in my work, it’s a lot easier to find Claws in this volume than in its original publication, so I thoroughly recommend picking it up.

I’ve also received news of another reprint sale: one of my older pieces, The Divergence Tree, which appeared way back in the Orb 3 / 4 double issue in 2002, has been picked up for the intriguingly-named Devil Dolls & Duplicates anthology, coming out soon from Equilibrium Press. Not much news about this one as yet, other than that tantalising title, but I shall pass on news as I receive it—if the stories live up to the title this could be a thoroughly enjoyable little volume to pick up.

The Luscious One and I also headed out on Saturday morning to attend the inaugural meeting of The Rockingham Full-Time/Part-Time Writers Group, which I mentioned in my last post. It’s been a while since I’ve bothered being part of a writing group, but the continued interaction and goal-setting will, hopefully, be good for my decidedly slack efforts of late, so once we’ve found ourselves a dedicated meeting space (a bunch of tables near the coffee grinder at Dome being, perhaps, not ideal), it’ll be good to have those regular little interventions now that I am decidedly in absentia as far as the local SF scene is concerned. Please, Writing Gods, let me have product soon….

Lastly, just for kicks, I’ve collected a few free samples of my wordage that have found their way onto the internet over the last few years—check out the *Free Lee* feature on the sidebar for a smattering of interviews, stories, and poems that are out there for your amusement and otherwise.

Hey, while I’m at it, have some youtubery for fun:


Monday, August 02, 2010

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THEY GIVE ME A TEXTA....

So I'm drawing with the kids after dinner tonight, and, you know, we'd watched Walking With Dinosaurs with dinner, and, you know, Erin was drawing a tyrannosaurus, and Connor was drawing a stegosaurus, and, you know, I wasn't reeeaaalll sure what I was going to draw.....





Wot choo lookin'at, you ugly Paki triceratops poof?




Skinosaurus. Because I am the drawing equivalent of the bloke who comes out of the shower after yowling the house down and announces "Never been formally trained..." to his bleeding-eared family....

THE AHWA MARKET HIVE WANTS YOUR OPINION

Have a look at this message from AHWA Market Hive collator Ray Gates, then email him and give him your opinion.

As part of the July news, I put out the call to see how many members were interested in listing poetry-specific markets in the Market Hive. The response, so far, has been somewhat underwhelming...

So if you're keen to find good homes for your sonnets and odes, your ballads and verse, your limericks and haiku, you need to let me know!

Either send me a message at: markets@australianhorror.com, or duck into the member forum and leave a message under ‘Calling all Bards' in the AHWA News section.

Want it? Need it? Let me know!

Personally, I’ve said yes, but then, I’m a “Best of” included poet, I am...... :)

PREDATORS...

…is actually 2/3 of a really good monster movie, much to my surprise: genuinely creepy, and with a good build-up of suspense, not to mention a movie-stealing performance of much fun by Laurence Fishburne, and a performance from Topher Grace that suggests he’s finally ready to hold a big-screen audience. I went along with my ever-eager Teen Twosome, expecting to be there only because I was having a night out with my boys, and found myself actually having a whale of a time.

Yes, it’s a pity it runs out of ideas and resorts to big lashings of dumb to get the job done, but until it does, it’s better than all bar the original movie in the franchise. Not that that’s saying much, but, still, get it out when it hits the DVD stores and pair it with Arnie's Big Boy Gunfest first version for a fun boy’s night in.

WIP IT, WIP IT GOOD

Apart from all that palaver above, I do have some fresh pieces I’m working on, or at least, am supposed to be working on. Nothing upcoming in print: the last year has seen very little in new short story material and what I do have is in slushpiles here and there at the time of writing. However, I currently have on my thumb drive:

At the End There Was a Man: a straight SF piece (something I haven’t written in the longest time) I’ll be submitting to the upcoming Cour de Lion’s anthology Anywhere But Earth, which currently weighs in at a smidgeon over 4400 words.

Europe After The Rain: I’ve been wanting to write something inspired by one of my favourite works of art, the incredible Max Ernst painting of the same name. When Fablecroft Press announced the submission guidelines for their upcoming anthology, with the title After The Rain , welllll……. The Dresden fire bombing, golems, Hitler Youth: I’m definitely in the saddle on this one :)

Attacking Waters: Horrible title, but it’s only a place marker until the real title is washed up by the text. Seven cowards, from different times and places scattered throughout history, meet in a Budapest backstreet bar and head out for a mythical city that can only be found when there is nowhere else to run. But when they get there, something starts hunting them…. 750 words in, so far, and no pressure to send it to anywhere specific as it’s completely on-spec, so this is one I’m doing for fun.

So, you know, along with finishing the long-overdue edits on Napoleone’s Land and Corpse-Rat King. Enough to be going on with…

OCCASIONAL WRITING, WITH MUSIC

What an interesting couple of weeks it’s been, my friends. Lots of sound and movement, signifying…. well, signifying something, I suppose.

There’s been a lot of writing work happening, although, bizarrely, very little actual writing. I started by attending Toe In The Ocean writing festival in Warnbro on the 17th, where I delivered a 90 minute SF/F writing workshop to just over a dozen attendees, many of whom had never dipped their toes (see how I work that in? See, see?....) into the genre, so it was really energising to see them wrestling with conceits they had never before encountered: once you start getting into unicorn horn physics you really have everyone’s attention…. I also spent some time in the ever-lovely company of Tehani Wessely and managed to catch up with Heidi Kneale, whom I’ve not bumped into for far too long, so it was a damn good day all round.

And it seems to have rubbed off on some of the writers who attended, as well: this morning I received an email invite to join a new writer’s group that has sprung up in the wake of the festival: The Full Time/Part Time Writer’s Group, who will be meeting once a month, starting this weekend.

Anybody who’s in the Rockingham region might be interested in the following set of details:

The Full Time/ Part Time Writers Group

The problem: For those of us who work full time, it can be hard to find the time to write, let alone talk about it!

The solution: We’ve decided to form a writing group that meets the first Saturday in every month, in the Rockingham area.

The inaugural meeting will be held 10.00am, Saturday 7th August at the Dome on the Rockingham foreshore (15 Kent Street).

Anyone can join; you don’t have to be a full time worker, just willing to have a little fun.

To get to know each other, for the first week write 100 words about yourself from a different point of view and bring it to the meeting…

Join us on Facebook: Rockingham Full Time/ Part Time Writers Group:


If you have any questions, please contact group organiser Eryn Bicker


I’ve also been heavily immersed in the creation of an online SF course for a writing institution on the East Coast, which currently involves reading scads and scads of free online SF for use as reading materials (Awwwwww, shame :) ) If you can, I thoroughly recommend heading over to Project Guttenberg, as I did, and settling in to read Mary Shelley’s almost-forgotten masterpiece The Last Man – an astonishing piece of work that deserves to be remembered far more than it is. Consider this my public service education announcement of the day :)

It’s interesting work, preparing an extended course in this manner—it’s designed to be 6 weeks in length, performed and assessed completely on-line, and powered by the Moodle engine, and as I’m determined to include reading material with each lesson it’s resulting in me having to complete a self-paced crash course in creating copyright contracts and lesson planning. Still, once it’s all finished and up on the site I think I’ll be as proud of it as anything I’ve achieved in writing so far. I enjoy teaching writing: it’s a buzz to watch concepts hit home in a student, and creating something that (hopefully) will run for multiple sessions over an extended period of time feels like I’m giving something significant back to the genre that spawned me. I think it’s time to get business cards drawn up that say “The James Gunn of Mandurah Science Fiction”……

I’ve also spent a fair amount of time swearing into a microphone whilst feebly attempting to record two stories for Coeur De Lion Publishing’s excellent podcast series ‘Terra Incognita’. Assuming the ever-brilliant Keith Stevenson can assemble something from the combination of mondegreens, mis-pronunciations and bad boy words I’ve sent him, somewhere in the future you should be able to hear Father Muerte & the Flesh and/or In From the Snow in my dulcet tones down your earphones. In the meantime, there are over 20 much more erudite and capable authors than myself in the TISF archives: go, listen, enjoy.

In between, there have been a couple of reprint sales: ASIM have picked up two pieces for their upcoming “Best of Vol.2” series— the story I co-authored with Nigel Read, Instinct, will be appearing in their “Horror” volume, whilst my poem Working for a Greener Narrative will appear in the “Fantasy” volume. I’m particularly chuffed about the latter—it’s the first time I’ve had a poem reprinted, much less chosen for a Best Of, so it’s a very pleasing achievement.

Monday, July 05, 2010

SPECIAL LOYALTY BONUS BIT

Some stories sing. Some howl at the moon like the love child of Boo Radley and a Gong Show contestant. Others, well, others sing, but really, it’s only in the shower, once the wife and kids have gone out, and nobody is around to take the piss because the story happens to know all the words to Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go and insists on doing all of George Michael’s dance moves in the wet, slippery nude.

After the number of rejections the following story has received, I’ve worked out which song it’s singing, and it’s short enough that those of you who care can experience a free read of a story that never quite made it.

So, for your reading pleasure, or otherwise, a freebie:



INVADED BY AN INTIMATE STORYLINE


Meanwhile, in a cubicle some way distant from the main story, a man sat back from his computer’s strobing screen, loosened his tie, and experienced the type of epiphany the rest of us have to watch the right movie to believe in.

Orders died part-way up the throats of generals. Massed ranks of slavering Orc-demons checked their watches, shuffled from foot to foot to keep the circulation going, and glanced about, calculating the chances of maybe, just for a minute, dropping their battle shields and lighting a quick fag without anyone in command catching them at it. Far above, in a sky so distant it was more velvet than blue, the intercontinental bombers of the US Air Force circled in mile-wide loops like so many hungry seagulls on autopilot. Cards were dealt. Bets were placed. Coins changed hands in silent camaraderie. All except for one lonely aircraft at the periphery of the armada, where a role-playing game called ‘Mafia’ entered its third round.

It could all resume at any moment. The war for truth. Or freedom. Justice. You know. That one.
Any moment at all.

#

No longer defined by his cubicle, so insignificant to the scheme of things that I don’t even know his name to tell you, not even really our hero, the man closed his boss’ door for the last time, took a moment to drain the last cold swish of coffee from his cup, and dropped his security pass at the front desk. A puff of air-conditioned cold pushed him from the building forever. He inhaled the smells of the street, looked left, then right, and strode away, the cardboard box in his grasp holding the few reminders he wished to retain.

In an unnamed pass, high in a mountain range at the edge of the world, turbaned teenagers passed around spliffs and tuned a radio to catch the latest scores. Men in balaclavas clung to ropes above them, calling out “There, no there, there!” in strange accents as the static receded. Deep within the most important building in the world, a silver-haired man in a suit more expensive then your life threw a red telephone against the wall and sat with his arms crossed, glowering at the world he imagined lay outside.

Queens trumped Jacks. Shields were lowered. A tail gunner looked at his crewmates, smiled convincingly, and said “I am not Mafia” as they voted.

Nothing was over, of course. Not without some sort of resolution. It would never cease, no matter what happened at this moment. But just for this moment, this one, small moment...

#

After dinner, with a newly-purchased bouquet fanned out above the lip of a vase, and a half-bottle of red between them on the carpet, the man with no cubicle shared his epiphany with his wife, and held his breath.

Orc-demons stared at one another. Pilots looked up from their cards. The most important building in the world grew silent. As far as a galaxy far, far away, even as far as that, weapons were lowered. Everyone stopped, and waited, and watched.

The man’s wife reached out and ran a single fingernail down the side of his jaw.
“I love you so much,” she said, and brought his smile down to her lips.

#

A soccer ball struck the mud midway between two lines of trenches. Slowly at first, then with greater assurance, men of both sides emerged to shake hands, to hug, to swap chocolate and whiskey and photographs from home.

By the time the man and his wife turned off the lights and drew each other down onto the bed, a new game was well underway.

------

MY DAY JOB AND YOUR PART IN IT. MAYBE.

As part of the literary focus of my job here with the City of Rockingham, I’m in the process of creating a register of local writers, in order to build a database of writers in the Rockingham region. The City already keeps a roster of Artists, enabling us to communicate news of competitions, opportunities, events and the like. Now I want to do the same for writers.

If it’s of interest to you, and you’re in the area (or, at least, close enough to the area: remember, I once joined the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild by persuading them that Perth was a Western suburb of Canberra......) you might want to contact me.

It is to be noted: a) all details are private and won’t be released to anyone outside City of Rockingham employees; it’s purely an internal database, and b) the intent is not to create a nuisance list or telemarketing list, rather, it’s a list of people to whom I can send such writing related info as comes my way, should I think it appropriate, so my intention is not to bombard you with a million emails a day. However, if there is a City of Rockingham event that might fit your expertise profile, you may get contacted by someone not-me asking if you’re interested. That I cannot control......

If that’s fine, get in touch. Put “Writer’s Register” in the subject line of your email, and include the following in the text: Name; Address; Phone Number; Mobile; Email address; Website; “Interests”. And I'll add you to the list.

MIDNIGHT ECHO #4 NOW AVAILABLE!

That’s right, after all the chatter and begging you to be patient, the vulture has landed!

12 stories, 3 poems, artwork by 8 talented artists, an interview with Charlaine Harris (author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels), and featuring the creepiest cover known to mankind courtesy of the outstandingly talented Perth artist Justin Randall.


Costing only $3.50 for a shiny pdf and only $10 if you want us to murder some flora on your behalf. It is, in my humble and entirely non-biased opinion, the single greatest collection of dark fiction in the history of mankind.

Look at those names: Jenny Blackford, Geoff Maloney, LL Hannett, Jason Crowe, Clarion South alumni and rising stars Dan Braum & Christopher Green…. Don’t you just feel your nipples hardening? Don’t you just want to reach for your mother’s credit card and sneak off to the AHWA shop while she lies comatose in front of Wife Swap clutching a half-empty bottle of cooking sherry?

You’ve really got no excuse have you?

There’s an interview with Horrorscope here if you'd like to know more about the hand inside the puppet behind the mind behind the issue, and I’ll even give you a taste of my editorial if it’ll help persuade you. Here, look:



As I reach the halfway point of my life I have seen monks immolate themselves to protest foreign wars; passenger aircraft driven into buildings; subway air-conditioning used as a tool of religious terrorism. My mother lived through the euphemistically named “Irish Troubles”: even after a decade of living in Australia she was afraid of being in a crowded cafe with a discarded backpack. She was born during The War. Which War? The one big enough and wide-ranging enough that we simply call it “The War”. Atomic science followed. It didn’t give us Godzilla, but Russian orphans with missing limbs and swollen jaws, acromegalic and cancer-shriven. Serial killers are celebrities: we watch movies about Gacy, Bundy, Zodiac, see Jack Unterweger live on television. Serial killers as legend—Hannibal the hero, jaded Jigsaw, delightfully ditzy Dexter. It puts the cream on its hands. It pays to watch vicariously.
#
What was once feared is risible.

HELLO? IS IT ME YOU'RE LOOKING FOR?

I’m still alive.

I realise things have been deader then Dannii Minogue’s career around here lately, but things have changed significantly since last I jotted something down in this space. Reality has eaten my life. My new job— Cultural Development Officer at the City of Rockingham — takes up every ounce of my day: it’s been 17 years since I’ve been anything but a Commonwealth Government employee in my day job world, not discounting a couple of years in the middle where I was afforded the luxury of being a stay-at-home Dad. It’s not just that things are done differently in my new environment, it’s that people think differently, even when confronted by situations that are inherently the same. Whilst it’s been an education to learn just how many attitudes and processes I’ve internalised over the years, breaking out of those modes of thought and adapting to a totally new way of doing business, amongst a completely different set of personalities (people’s personalities are defined by their workspace— another adaptation I’m having to learn) is taking time.

To add to the hilarity, we currently have more than a full house—Darth Barbie has been back with us for the last three months, after having left a relationship which went bad in the way that knife fights go bad when you don’t realise the other guy is packing an M-60, and working through the scars of it has been, well, shall we say, hard for all concerned (Not for him, as far as I can tell. Just hard for those of us who give a damn.) And Aiden, whilst still in year 12, has found a steady girlfriend, who is now his fiancĂ©, and is 15, and is pregnant, but not to him…. Oh yes, it’s a simple life we lead.

Somewhere in the haze of get up-go to work-come home-have dinner-take part in the latest crisis-watch the World Cup-snatch a couple of hours sleep-get up that my days have become, there has been writerly stuff. Not actual writing, you understand, that’s just crazy talk, but associated writerly stuff that at least keeps my fingers in the pie. My withdrawal from the writing world, forced and voluntary though various elements of it may be, seems almost complete: I managed to bump into a few old writing colleagues at the WA Museum’s breathtaking A Day in Pompeii exhibit yesterday, and it was pleasant, but hardly the fiery, passionate mental affair of days past. Perhaps I’m just growing up—it’s impossible for me to be interested in writing if I have writers and my family in the same place.

Still, writer-coolness abounds:

­ I’ve just attended my second Writing Race at the AWM Online, a fun online forum where an invited writer hangs out with attendees, swapping tips and anecdotes and writing like a mad thing for an hour, which is always a thoroughly enjoyable experience.


­ I’ve stepped up to the plate and agreed to act as a judge for this year’s Aurealis Awards , in the Graphic Novel category, comics being a long-held love that’s been shunted into the background while the SF thing became established but which is rearing its wonderful head again.


­ The ever-lovely Tehani Wessely has accepted a reprint of Claws of Native Ghosts for the upcoming Australis Imaginarium anthology she’ll be publishing through her bright and shiny new publishing venture, Fablecroft Publishing.


­ I’m involved in developing and pitching an online course in Science Fiction Writing (of which more details when it’s a going concern).


­ And I’ve just received through the mail the podcasting materials for an upcoming episode of Keith Stevenson’s Terra Incognita podcast.

All good, clean fun.

Added to which, there’s some interactive Battcool which you can be a part of: Lyn’s brilliant story of family and loss, The Mikarr Way, has been posted as a free web story over at Electric Velocipede. Go, read, enjoy, marvel at my darling wife’s talent.

Lyn and I will also be appearing at the A Toe in the Ocean Writing Festival, two weeks from now, where we’ll be giving a science fiction writing workshop. If you’re in the area it’ll be well worth coming down and having a look.


And, of course, the biggest writing news item of my day........ which is the subject of my next post :)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

SUNDAY YOUTUBERY

Okay, so the lyrics might not be terribly appropriate for our anniversary, but you know, it's called 5 years and it means I get to show you a Bowie clip. That's a good enough excuse :))))


MIDNIGHT ECHO: NEW EXCERPT

I was nervous during the ceremony. Although I fumbled with the ring at one point, I managaed not to drop it, and my nervousness was accepted as part of the standard jitters. During the photographs I was ushered to the side as Alice and her bridesmaids took centre stage and hammed it up for the photographer, flouncing around in their silk dresses and looking, I thought, a little tarty. Feeling spare, I moved away and leant against the trunk of a weeping willow. From this aspect, I had an even better view of Charles than I had before. His body, still caught by the snag, bobbed gently up and down with the flow of the current. I admired the neat cut across his throat and the way his body had been sliced open to allow his intestines to swim free in the murky water of the Murray.

-- Sleeping Dogs by Geoffrey Maloney and Andrew Baker

Sunday, March 21, 2010

MOVING ON

New home, new environment, kids happy in school, Lyn studying, everybody happy.

All we've needed to complete the sea change was for me to find a new job.

Let's be honest, working for the Tax Office was only the base line-- it was drudge work, more often than not, soulless and uninspiring, and whilst I might have liked the majority of people I worked with, it was no longer enough-- a 75 minute train journey each way to a workplace that was in great danger of becoming just another rostered call centre was not how I envisaged my working life. I liked the people, but the work and the infrastructure has become increasingly restrictive, increasingly unskilled and droneworthy. Something had to go. I had to go.

I've been looking. And I've found.

From tomorrow, I'll be the Community Development Officer in the Arts & Culture Office of the City of Rockingham. Ill be working with a team whose responsibility it is to enable artists within the local area to access the range of skill sets, grants, and busines structures available, to help them to become self-sustaining. I'll also be part of a team making sure the public art within the region continues to reflect and emphasis the values and attrributes of the City.

Cool job, but the title will look terrible on a t-shirt.

I grew up in Rockingham, at least, I lived there between the ages of 8 and 21. When we moved there, in 1979, it was a town of 26 000 people, connected to the somewhat-distant state capital by a bus service that can only be described as sparse. Now there's over 100 000 people in the area, it has its own University campus, and is a large part of a conurbation that stretches to Clarkson 100km to the North and Mundurah 30km to the South. Art flourishes within the region, particularly public art. It's a vastly changed place from the one I left 17 years ago, but then, I'm a vastly changed person.

The truth is, I'm 39 now. I've settled into the town, and house, in which I hope to spend at least the next 20 years as my children grow up and move into their own adult lives, and grandchildren begin to arrive on the scene. I want to enjoy my life. I want to create art, and be with my family. I want the space and time to become the successful artist I've wanted to be for a decade. To support these goals, I want to be at a job that rewards me and doesn't take 75 minutes just to get home from.

It's taken me until almost 40, but I might finally have found the final piece in my puzzle-- a job that satisfies me and gives me the chance to do something concrete in a field of endeavour that means something to me. Time will tell, but maybe, just maybe, I'm set.

RUBBISH WITH ANDREW PREVIEW

Because I'm feeling rather self indulgent this morning:


AND ANOTHER ONE

Oh, what the hell: frigging genius, this is:


SUNDAY YOUTUBERY

I've not been the same since libraries started stocking DVDs. Especially as they seem to like stocking DVDs of all the old comediy shows I grew up with.

Thanks to Rockingham Uni Library, we introduced Blakey to the wonder of Morecambe & Wise the other week, and I've been on a jag ever since.

Here's one of their best moments. Bring me sunshine? They always did.

MIDNIGHT ECHO: A NEW TASTE

Apologies for missing Wednesday-- things and stuff and junk arose, which I'll mention in the next post or two (it's dead exciting). Until then, enjoy:


The problem with poison is that it can grow stale. The first one hundred times, you know, it was interesting. Then you start recycling. You start tasting the same poisons you've already had. You start having de ja vu.

"I've died this way before," you think. And you have. That's the problem. There are only so many poisons in the world, and so many ways to take them.

So you start to combine them. Mix hemlock and cypripedium. The first is cold, you remember, and the second burns. You combine the two, hoping for something crazy, something that will take your head clean off, separate your teeth from your jaw. All that happens, instead, is a mild burn. The fire from before, that first fire, it's absent. All that's left is something lame, something unoriginal, something worse than pure.

-- Poison or the Knife by BL Hobson

Sunday, March 14, 2010

MIDNIGHT ECHO: NEXT TASTE

Under a streetlight, no sudden moves. Looking like a lost motorist. Give directions, he thought, like a good girl. Don't be scared, he said to himself.

She walked back and leaned over to peer into the window. Even with the streetlight, he flicked on the dome. The girl was a good yard onto the sidewalk, not getting within reach of the window. Not yet.

"Excuse me, ma'am," he started. She smiled at that. Good.

God. He swallowed. Braces.

-- Carnal Knowledge, by Don Norum

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

MIDNIGHT ECHO: FOURTH TASTE

“This very day they descend on Paris.” The Monk stabbed a finger westward and heads swung around to follow his gesture. Odile shrank back against the wall. “Swathed in their black finery, borne on the backs of Catholic servants!” Pain flared in Odile’s head, the sickle-thorn burying deep.

“These crimes, this effrontery, can not--must not!--go unchallenged!” One of the strangers, a red-capped young man, leaned in to his neighbour. His neighbour nodded vigorously.

“The Calvinists and Lutherans have no desire to simply go their own mistaken way in peace.” The Monk’s face twisted into a snarl, baring yellowed teeth, and the thorn dug deeper with each word. “They would see us crushed in their wake, rent and devoured and shat upon the earth!”

-- The Hand of God, by Jason Crowe

Sunday, March 07, 2010

MIDNIGHT ECHO: 3RD TASTE

What did she think she was doing? She looked at her babies, snoring in their bassinets, and nearly abandoned her plan. They might not mind if we stay, she reasoned, as she got up to tuck blankets around their shoulders. They'll never know what we've lost.

A few bars of 'Happy Birthday' drifted in from the other room; her mother warming up for later.

Theresa ran her tongue around the thick scars inside her mouth, then clenched her teeth. "Mum?"Her voice was too quiet. She inhaled, exhaled slowly, tried again. "Mum?"

"What?" came Evelyn's voice, echoing from the kitchen.

"I forgot to get candles for the cake. Can you run out and get some? I'm going to give the kids a feed before everyone gets here-- and we can't have the party without candles."

-- Tiny Drops, by LL Hannett

Thursday, March 04, 2010

POOR ME YOUTUBERY

Sick. Bent over from back strain. Sick.

I need more Small Faces.

Youtube provides.


MIDNIGHT ECHO: 2ND TASTE

The usher guided a replacement couple into the newly vacant seats a row ahead of Max and his date.

Max’s date gripped his thigh, fingernails like talons. “Run,” she hissed at the new couple, but they were already concentrating on the movie. An usher swooped in at the end of the aisle and squeezed perfume into the air.

“Just inhale,” Max said. “It helps.”

His hand clamped around his date's arm. She winced in his grip, refusing to inhale the cinnamon haze that drifted onto them. "No, no, no."

She tried to stand. Max gripped her head, made her look at the freshly-vacated seat by his side. She stopped struggling, eyes wide and tired.

--The Movie, by Graham Fielding

Sunday, February 28, 2010

SUNDAY MIDNIGHT ECHO YOUTUBERY

In honour of our first Midnight Echo excerpt, an entirely appropriate piece of Sunday youtubery. What else but that hairpsray and pastel classic, "Hungry Like The Wulluf"?---




YOIKS, AND AWAY!

Lastly, a fond farewell to Perth writer, cartoonist, actor, and all-round fine fellow Grant Watson, who has taken his ball, his wife and cats, and his massive talent, and skedaddled to Melbourne on the flimsy pretext that he's got a job there and quite fancies the notion of a regular pay cheque and the chance to eat every now and again.

The are few people in the Australian SF community I respect as highly as Grant, so it's somewhat paradoxical that I welcome his moving several thousand kilometres away-- after all, I don't see a time or place where we'll ever meet in the flesh again because of it-- but I think Melbourne is going to be a boon for him: he's a big talent, and I firmly believe he'd just about exhausted his opportunities in the small sphere of influence that Perth afforded him. Ensconced within a bigger community, with exponentially greater opportunities to further his craft, I think he's going to bloom like a triffid in a school for the blind. And I think Australian SF fans, not to mention cartooning and theatre fans, will be the beneficiaries.

The very best of luck, Grant.

SNAPSHOT 2010

As part of this year's Australian SF Snapshot, I've been interviewed by the lovely Tehani Wessely. You can read the results here. With the Worldcon in Melbourne approaching in September there are couple of questions on that subject, but it does, as is its purpose, provide a quick snapshot of where I am at the moment.

The Snapshots have been run twice before: you can read my 2005 interview here and my 2007 interview here. It's interesting, to me at least, to see how my goalposts have moved over the last 5 years-- my ambitions and hopes are not what they once were-- not even close, really-- and I'm a hell of a lot more comfortable with the path ahead of me that I was 3 years ago.

Eventually, all the interviews that make up this year's Snapshot are going to be archived in one central location, but for now, start at Tehani's and go LJ-jumping to read those you find interesting. They finished something like ninety in the week the snapshot was running, so there's bound to be someone who takes your fancy.

MIDNIGHT ECHO: FIRST TASTE

For your delectation, and to provide a trail of poisonous little breadcrumbs leading towards the candy house with the smiling little old lady that is Midnight Echo #4, my authors and I have decided to give you a little snippet of each of their works in the lead-up to the release of the issue.

First up, an aperitif: something elegant, graceful, with just a hint of blood in the aftertaste--

Cromwell laughed and clapped him on the back. "Beautiful, graceful, intelligent enough to make pleasant conversation, she represents all that is good about England."

"She lives in America," Father Ignatius pointed out.

Cromwell flapped his words away with a small wave of his hand. "A small colony in Virginia struggling to do nothing more than survive on corn and tobacco. One season in my court and she won't think twice about what she's left behind. Did you see the wolf?"

"Not really. It was too dark." He felt her presence, though, even in the safety of the palace.

"I've housed it on the lower floor. The lady insisted, saying if her companion was to spend its nights outside with the common animals, then that's where she'd stay too. I've heard it's a large beast, so large it makes our forest wolves seem like puppies in comparison."

"It howled once, at the beginning of our journey. The sound put me in mind of those banshees the Irish are always going on about."

"Terrifying," Cromwell said.

"Invigorating."

-- Cromwell's Beast, by Steven J Stegbar.

MIDNIGHT ECHO 4: THE CULPRITS

The decisions have been made. The editing has been carried out. The human cattle have been coralled. Finally, finally, I can announce the line-up for Midnight Echo #4, and oooh, there's some creepy and disturbing little monkeys crawling amongst the ruins of this one. This April, you will be reading the following stories:

  • Cromwell's Beast-- Steven J. Stegbar
  • Carnal Knowledge-- Don Norum
  • The Moon & The Mesa-- Dan Braum
  • Sleeping Dogs-- Geoffrey Maloney & Andrew Baker
  • The Hand of God-- Jason Crowe
  • Where We Go To Be Made Lighter-- Chris Green
  • Tiny Drops-- LL Hannett
  • Little Boy Lost-- Patty Jansen
  • In The Walls-- Philip Roberts
  • Visiting-- Richard Barber
  • The Movie-- Graham Fielding
  • Poison Or The Knife-- BL Hobson

As well as the following poems:

  • Rabbit-- Holly Day
  • Mirror-- Jenny Blackford
  • The Fat Aftermath-- Jude Aqulinia


Midnight Echo #4 will be available in April. Go here for purchasing options.

JUST DROPPING BY TO TELL YOU...

Agh, it's been hectic. Sorry I haven't been around, but Real Life (tm) threatens to swallow me alive at the minute. Job searching has been uppermost-- the 75 minute travel each way to my current job is really beginning to take its toll, and I've spent much of the last 2 weeks running through the interview process for a very cool job much closer to home. I have my fingers well and truly crossed: this would be a dreamy one, should I get it. Still, we've stuff to talk about, so let's get to the postings, shall we?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

THURSDAY MORNING SICK AS A DOG YOUTUBE COMFORT MUSIC VIDEO

Sick.

Yucky sick.

Not good laying about with a slight headache eating Red Rooster and watching telly sick.

Stomach cramps and headaches and swaying about all dizzy as fuck sick.

Must have comfort music.

Stevie Wright and Steve Marriott (the best voice in rock and roll history, imho) will provide.

The greatest Australian band ever. E-VER.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

DEEP JOY

I missed out on Sunday Youtubing on the weekend, so here's something special.

Stanley Unwin.





Remarkibold. Goodlilode. Deep joy. :)

ROUNDING UP

MIDNIGHT ECHO

Well, (claps hands) that’s that.

All the submissions have been read, all the rejections have been sent, and now that the dust has cleared, I’m left with the 12 stories and 3 poems that make up the contents of Midnight Echo #4. Assuming nothing falls over between now and April, it’ll be my delight to present you with stories from the likes of Aurealis Award winners Chris Green and Geoffrey Maloney and international man about town Dan Braum, as well as the first poem penned by the lovely Jenny Blackford in many a long year.

I’ve received well over 200 submissions from all corners of the globe (quite literally!), and it’s a good feeling to be able to look at the final list and be satisfied that the works I’ve chosen are an accurate reflection of my views towards the art of horror writing, as well as damn good pieces in their own right. Will you enjoy them? It is to be hoped. But for now, I can move on to the second-stage editorial work--- writing the editorial, shaping and editing submissions, discussing art and contracts with the appropriate AHWA Kahunas--- and start to mold the final shape of the issue.

Stay tuned, and as soon as I get the all-clear from Midnight Echo Big Banana Marty Young I’ll give you the final Table of Contents.


A QUICK GLANCE INTO A NEARBY BUCKET

With the time-intensive scutwork of submissions editing out of the way, I can finally indulge myself once more with thoughts of my own work. The Battersby Art machine has been quiet of late, and there’s a lot of product to be fed into the business end. To whit:

  • 2 novels need editing: Napoleone’s Land and Corpse-Rat King
  • 3 stories are currently away in the world, and I have 2 more, The Possession of Mister Snopes and C to finish and send. The goal is to have completed and sent 15 by the end of the year, 12 from the partially completed work I have on hand, and 3 completely new pieces.
  • 3 poems: Hart Crane, Treading Water; Wish Fulfillment; and Like A Leaf Falling need final polishes and sending out
  • 3 cartoons are finished, I’ve 2 more that have been inked but not shaded, and I need at least 1 more completed after that to constitute a complete batch. The goal is to have 24 (or at least 4 batches) in circulation by the end of the year.
  • And I promised myself that I’d complete a new novel by the end of the year, so I really need to get started on that as well. Still, on this score at least, you may be pleased by the following…..


SO IT BEGINS….

It began in a dream.

It has taken me a million years to leave my father’s embrace, and now I am falling. I am supposed to fall forever. I am never to touch the ground again.

Eight minutes after my fall commences, I start to burn.


Those are the opening words of the Father Muerte novel.


A QUICK WORD ABOUT PEOPLE TALLER THAN ME

He likes his privacy, so at his request I don’t make mention of him too much on this blog, but I’m breaking that rule because Aiden turned 17 a couple of days ago, and you need to know just how proud I am of the young man he’s become.

I simply couldn’t wish for a more intelligent, funnier, more capable, caring (as anyone who’s seen him with Connor can testify) and just generally excellent Bonus Son, and I’m excited by the thought of what’s coming to him in the years ahead as he navigates his final year of high school and heads on to University and the world beyond.

As soon as he acknowledges that System of a Down suck the devil’s dangly bits he’ll be perfect…..

Sunday, January 10, 2010

SUNDAY YOUTUBERY

To finish the week, a spot of self-indulgence on my behalf. My very very favourite Monkees song.

Enjoy.


A WEEKEND MOST PRODUCTIVE

It started out well: Lyn rang me on Friday afternoon to tell me she was picking me up a couple of train stops early, because she was at our friend Tehani's place and they'd decided to stay for dinner. And a fab evening it was, too: I committed Australian Man Adultery (cooked on another man's barbecue without his consent), we sat and chatted far past the kids' bedtimes, and Tehani let me borrow her copy of X6, Coeur de Lion's collection of novellas by 6 Australian authors. I'd forgotten just how much I love sitting around and jawing about writing and writers. Part of the reason I've yet to really find a village for myself in the writing world-- I'm a writing geek, not an SF geek, when it all comes down to it.

And much satisfaction there has been this weekend. I've completed another 2 cartoons, and sent out another two short stories, as well as inputting line edits for half of a third (dinner calls me, or I'd be finished that one too). I've finally finished chopping down a diseased hedge that's been spoiling our front yard, spent an enjoyable afternoon drawing with the kids, and even managed to fit in a couple of good exercise sessions with the Wii Fit Plus-- love that rhythm karate, folks! Luscious and I even found the time to watch a DVD together without the kids-- looxury, bloody looxury.

The new week starts tomorrow: I intend to lose another 500g, finish another couple of cartoons, and start wading my way through the first round of Corpse-Rat King edits, as well as send out the remaining shorts in my 'In Progress' folder. But for now, it's dinner, relaxing with a nice glass of Myalup Vines Wineries port (okay, my second glass...) and resting my bones before heading into the new week.

Slainte!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

HITTING THE GROUND

It's been a good start to the year.

  • I've lost just over a kilogram in weight. I set myself a loss of 12 kilos for the year, so this represents a good beginning.
  • I've completed and submitted Plot or Pants?, an article on novel planning to WQ, the monthly magazine of the Queensland Writer's Centre
  • I've line-edited the five stories currently in my 'In Progress' folder and submitted the first of them. My plan is to have all five out in the world by the end of next week. Not a big goal, perhaps, but I only saw print twice last year, while I was focussing on Corpse-Rat King, and that's just not up to my usual standards.
  • I'm up to date with reading for Midnight Echo #4, and about to start filtering the stories I kept for a second stage of reading. If you were thinking of submitting but haven't got around to it, might I suggest you do so soon? I've received 157 submission so far, of which 33 have made it to a second reading. Submissions close 31st of the month.
  • I've completed 2 cartoons of the 24 (minimum) that I plan to complete and submit.

Not bad so far. There's a lot of year left, and some big goals to achieve (2 novels to edit and submit, ya know?). But I'm on the way...

SHIVERS ALL UP AND DOWN MY ARMS

The only known footage of Anne Frank, watching from a window as a wedding procession begins in the summer of 1941. I found it via an article on The Smart Set, which sums it up far more articulately than I am capable of. Much more can be found at the Anne Frank House Museum Amsterdam.

What's always been the defining nature of the tragedy of the Franks, for me, was the ordinary nature of the family: these weren't war heroes or spies or members of the Resistance fighting the brave struggle. They were simple people just trying to keep their heads down and survive an onslaught that was beyond their understanding-- in short, they were me if the same thing happened to my world. Watching this very ordinary footage, with its very ordinary teenager doing what any young girl would do with such an event happening under her window, amplifies that.

Knowing what happens such a short time after this footage was recorded makes it tragic beyond words.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

TODAY AT THE FOOD HALL

Waiting for Lyn to come back from getting her lunch.

Erin: I spy with my little eye, something beginning with B.
Lee: (makes lots of guesses. Gives up)
Erin: Don't you know the word?
Lee: No.
Erin: Daddy. Everybody knows the bird is the word.



Weird fucking daughter I'm raising.

2009 YOUTUBERY

A final tubery for the old year, the two songs of my year.

No fillum clip can I find for this one, but someone was nice enough to post the song with an image of the album cover:






And the greatest rock band in the world in all their glory:


TWTYTW

So that was 2009.

Hmm.

Actually, as years go, 2009 was a pretty good one, a feeling prompted in large part by a massive sea change halfway through the year. 2010 will be the year of completing that sea change, all things being equal, so by the time I turn 40 in November I hope to be facing the last half of my life from a pretty damn good vantage point. However, it being the turn-over of calendars and all that, the Year In Review questionnaire must by needs be posted, so see if you can spot the hidden theme within (hint: it starts with 'Mandurah'....)

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before? Moved to Mandurah; bought a 2-story house

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I have goals, rather than resolutions. I set myself half a dozen goals at year’s start and I achieved four of them, so I’m pleased with that. My big goal for the upcoming year is to lose weight—I’ve got to the stage now where it’s really beginning to affect my ability to do family activities, especially with the kids, and that’s just not good enough.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Right at the end of the year, my good friends Sean & Terri welcomed their new daughter Asha into the world, their fifth consecutive daughter proving once again that Sean has the most feminine sperm in the Universe :)

4. Did anyone close to you die? Nope.

5. What countries did you visit? The country of the blind, where I was proclaimed King, until they realised I wasn’t one-eyed, just short-sighted, so they made me Minister Without Portfolio and set me loose.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? Breakout success.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? May, when we moved from Clarkson to Mandurah. What started out as a decision to escape a suburb that was deteriorating before our eyes has turned into a sea change of life-altering proportions. Everything has been for the better. 14th December, when we learned the depths to which my brother has fallen.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Finishing Corpse-Rat King.

9. What was your biggest failure? My weight.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Stayed injury-free this year, which was a relief after last year’s run.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Our new house.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration? My family, for grasping the opportunity afforded by our big move and pushing ahead with their own lives so beautifully. Mandurah City Council, for beginning a domestic green waste recycling program that is simple and workable enough that it should be picked up permanently and should make a big difference to our waste programs.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? My brother, whose behaviour slid from being simply selfish and amoral right into the truly criminal, and whom I now have to cut loose. He’s simply run out of chances, and I cannot expose my family to him any more.

14. Where did most of your money go? The new house.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? The move to Mandurah.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009? Oh, Hark by Lisa Mitchell. Amazing stuff. Also Baba O’Riley by The Who, a rediscovery that kicked Lyn off onto a big Who jag that shows no sign of ending.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:i. happier or sadder? ii. thinner or fatter? iii. richer or poorer? Happier, fatter, and, if not richer, then at least our poverty is more organised :)

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? Progressing my work circumstances towards where I want to be, rather than where I need to be just to get by. Put simply, I wish I'd realised sooner that my work no longer fits my life.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Waiting.

20. How did you spend Christmas? Spent it alone with Lyn, while the kids were at relatives’ houses. We all got back together on Boxing Day and did things at our own speed.

21. Who did you meet for the first time? Several new work acquaintances. Big deal.

22. Did you fall in love in 2009? Well, does my new suburb count? Parrots in the backyard, kangaroos hopping down the street at dusk, long sculptued lawns and garden beds I mean, come on!

23. What was your favourite TV program? QI; Dexter season 3; BSG seasons 3 & 4; Serial Killer Sunday; Moral Orel; and bizarrely, televised poker, which we started watching late one night as a laugh and became sadly addicted to for most of the year.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? No, although I do hate what my brother has become.

25. What was the best book you read? Actually, I can’t think of a *really* good book I read in 2009. Most of the books I read by my favourite authors weren’t quite up to their best—I read Snuff & Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk, for example, but neither was as good as Rant; John Cornwell’s Hitler’s Scientists isn’t as good as Hitler’s Pope; it was that kind of year. perhaps the best was Necropolis, by Catharine Arnold- a history of London's cemeteries and funerary practices that suffered from referencing too few sources too repetitively, but at least had a fascinationg central subject.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Lisa Mitchell- an amazing talent for someone so young.

27. What was your favourite film of this year? Where The Wild Things Are; Up; Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs; Battlestar Galactica: The Plan; In Bruges; District Nine. Word to Terminator: Salvation for the Golden Compass Memorial Biggest Piece of Shit of the Year Award.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 39, and it passed by without a blip.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Money in volumes I could swim through.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? Fat Guy Casual.

31. What kept you sane? I am sane. It’s the rest of you that are mad. (They think I am crazy, but is it I who am crazy.....)

32. What political issue stirred you the most? I was fairly politics-free this year. My focus was largely on domestica.

33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009. Mandurah kicks Clarkson’s arse.

34. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

To keep in silence I resigned
My friends would think I was a nut
Turning water into wine
Open doors would soon be shut
So I went from day to day
Though my life was in a rut
‘Til I thought of what I'd say
Which connection I should cut
I was feeling part of the scenery
I walked right out of the machinery
My heart going boom boom boom
"Hey" he said
"Grab your things I've come to take you home."

--Solisbury Hill, Peter Gabriel