Thursday, March 29, 2007


It’s no easy thing to try and escape the surly bonds of the small press. Every effort to transcend its borders is met by an equal and opposite reaction designed to keep one in one’s place. Football fans might fall back on phrases like “the level playing field” or “the tall poppy syndrome”. We, however, are the all-dancing, all-singing Fred Karno’s Army of geekdom (and incidentally, just what bl00dy good are we?). We move to more esoteric rhythms. Our great leveller is Maxwell’s Demon.

Read the rest of my post over at Jerry Jarvis' Wig

Sunday, March 25, 2007


One of the things my mother left mewhen she died was a large plastic bag full of photographs, a companion to the enormous plastic box of photos she left my brother. When we moved to our current house I packed it away, without much of an idea what I was going to do with it other than keep it around to amuse myself with when I needed to bore the kids with stories of my past.

Re-arranging my computer desk last week, I realised that what I really needed to do was to scan them all in, so that I could burn them to CD. Then I could give a copy to my brother, and I'd have an indestructable collection of photos so I could amuse myself when I needed to bore my grandchildren with stories of my past. This was the first photo I pulled out:

Me, aged somewhere between 3 and 5, I'm guessing. Looking at it, I'm struck by how innocent I am, how there's a look on my face that says I'm just happy to be here, just soaking it all in because everything is wonderful, everything is an adventure and a source of excitement. It's the same look I see on Connor's face, that same happiness. Looking at it, I feel old, and broken down, and sad in a way I don't feel a man with such a happy family life has a right to be. And honestly, I look at myself now: in my mid-30s, in constant pain, with a million responsibilities and a million and one irritants, and I don't know which urge is strongest-- to somehow go back, to put my arm around this little boy and sit him down, tell him of his future and all the pitfalls and pains that will beat him about, and give him the clues and the keys that will turn him into me, mid-30s, pain-free, with the world at my feet and all the power and fearlessness that innocence should become; or to gather my children into one all-embracing hug, look into the innocence and happiness in their faces, and weep for what will become of it.
Or maybe I'm just getting old and mentally flatulent.
And then I do look at the two children I have fathered, and I hear my friends and family telling me how much of me is present in their faces, and I struggle to see it-- genuinely, hopefully, I look at their faces and see nothing of myself. And I wonder how much is projection, and how much is hope? And really, in the end, it doesn't matter. I have 5 children, and only 2 of them have a share in my face. And I would die for the three who have no share in my genetic heritage every bit as much as for those who do. I have 5 children, and I love them all dearly, and as long as I do right by them that is enough.
I should have taken better care of my future, when I was young. At least I have some chance of helping my children do so.

Any Dad in there?


Tomorrow is our second wedding anniversary. Two years ago, at Swancon 2005, Luscious and I confirmed in front of our friends and family something we'd already known for quite some time: that we wanted to spend our lives together, now and for always.

There's no real way to talk about the feelings I had that day without sounding trite and cliched, because the feelings I had are universal: overwhelming love, and passion, and a sensation down to the cellular level that what was happening was perfection itself, and that my life would never be anything but wonderful from that moment on. Two years later, despite the trials we've suffered, and the crises we've faced, that feeling remains. I still love my darling wife more than anything else in the realms of imagination; I still hold my children dearer than anything worth dying for; I still see myself as a small part of a unit of 7 beings, wife and kids and me, and nothing matters more than making them happy and fulfilled and safe.
So we've indulged ourselves this weekend: our tax returns arrived just in time to lash out and hire a spa for the week (a: yeah, we were that late. b) $180 for a week. How cool is that?); we've been out for dinner; and we treated ourselves to the Deadwood and Spaced box sets (now there's a double feature...). But really, the occasion is about us, and being together, and acknowledging that what really matters to us both is this feeling that we never, ever, want to be apart.
Which is exactly how I feel.

Who loves ya, kiddo?


Just spent some time tinkering about with the Batthome: new look, new news, new biblio information. Give it a look.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Oh yes, you know you want it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Hey, anybody out there got any MST3K they'd be willing to let me and Aidey-baby borrow for a week or so?

We've only got 4 episodes on our hard drive, and now we'vew watched them all, and the local video store counterdrones look at us like we're two-headed alien babies if we ask for anything weirder than Ghost in the Shell.


Received a phone call from Blakey tonight, just to say hi and catch up on stuff before he comes over this weekend. Life is good, school is fine, everything's going swimmingly, except....

BLAKE: I got an academic detention.
LEE: Huh? What for?
BLAKE: We had a casual day today, and we had an assembly, and I was wearing the wrong shoes.

Detention for wearing the wrong shoes. As Aiden said, that's like getting detention for having the wrong nose...


Happy days: Rob Hood has accepted Beached for publication in Daikaju II/III. Look for it to come out some time around June this year.

That's my second sale for the year, after Truthful Remains to Black Box. With The Time Eater and The Ballad of Henry Renfield due to come out in the coming months, and Father Muerte & The Joy of Warfare available now, it feels just like being back in harness.

About bloody time, too.


Congratulations to Will Elliott, whose novel The Pilo Family Circus has been announced as the winner of Dead Chick II, otherwise known as the 2006 Australian Shadows Award. You can read judge Rob Hood's report here. TPFC has carried all before it this year, with a brace of Aurealis Awards under its belt as well, and Will is a hell of a nice guy, so it's pleasing to see him get some sugar for his work.

Proving that awards equals sales, Lyn and I went out the day after the award and purchased a copy.

Wonder if Will wants to come over and play dollies :)


Over at Horrorscope, they've announced something quite exciting: The Australian Horror Writer's Association Mentor Program.

If you've always fancied a crack at becoming a writer of things written, you can now team yourself up with one of a select group of Australian dark fantasy and horror authors and drink them dry of their experience, wit and resolve. More importantly, they will read your work, critique it, and offer advice, tips, conversation, gossip, scuttlebut, and whatever help they can in a one-on-one service over three months.

Apart from myself, mentors include people the quality of Stephen Dedman, Paul Haines, Robert Hood, Martin Livings, Kaaron Warren, David Carroll, Cat Sparks, and Shane Jiraiya Cummings. In other words, a pretty damn impressive crowd.

Applications open April 1st (when else, really?) More details can be found at the AHWA website.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


ERIN: I want a biscuit.
DADDY: (Rushed off his feet and hassled) Yeah? Well I want world peace.
ERIN: Maybe if you ask nicely...

chingNext problem, please!


As a treat, we let Erin stay up and watch The Cat In the Hat on TV last night. I have only one rhyme to make about this movie.

Adam Sandler's not in it
So him I shan't smear
But please kill Mike Meyers
And then watch me cheer.


My contributor's copy of Aurealis 37, which contains Father Muerte & The Joy of Warfare, the 4th in that particular series. This is the first issue from the new editorial team of Stephen Higgins and Stuart Mayne, and they've lashed together some pretty decent names to the Aurealis raft: apart from myself, it contains stories from Kaaron Warren, Sophie Masson, Rjurik Davidson and Adam Browne, as well as reviews by Bill Congreve and Kate Forsyth, and a stonkingly funny and insightful article on just what constitutes food by Patricia O'Neill.

A special note about the illustration to my story, here: Adam Duncan has produced an illo so graceful and beautiful, and so resonant of the themes within the story without, in any way, giving away the elements it references, that when the time comes I shall be nominating it for the appropriate Ditmar Awards. I'm hoping to get hold of Adam and get permission to reproduce the illustration here for you all to see, but in the meantime, you could always by a copy of the magazine :)


Whooph: it's been one of those periods, where projects have piled up against each other to create a natural bottleneck through which I've had to push myself, grumbling all the way. As of this morning, however, they're all behind me, and I can concentrate on something new--

The third draft of The Memory of Breathing has been retruned to Producer Matt. Another 22 scenes added, in all, so that this draft turns in at 51 scenes and 167 pages. That's 19 800 words of scriptage, ladeezngennulmen. I'm guessing running time to be somewhere around the 135 minute mark, but that could be best-guessage. At least now I can kick back and wait for PM to read it through and get back to me with his thoughts.

The Time Eater has been rewritten and sent back to Steven Savile for adding to Doctor Who: Destination Prague (pre-order now!). One Sontaran removed (Season 3 is on its way....); a few bits and bobs cleaned up; and two scenes rewritten to change the point of view.

And lastly, Beached, my submission to the upcoming Daikaiju II/III double anthology has been completed and sent to the glamorous and dignified Rob Hood. I'm really hoping that this one racks up a sale, not so much for the story itself (although I think it's pretty good), but for what it represents: Daikaiju II/III has been a closed market since the first book was released, and to receive a personal invitation to submit something is a big indication of respect, from a man for whom I have nothing but.

So an afternoon to rest, and then onto new work, with a note of happiness and relief in my voice-- guess who managed to unearth the previously-thought-lost The Corpse Rat King from his hard drive the other day?

Friday, March 16, 2007


If you check out the sidebar, you'll see a teensy little map. As of tomorrow, we can start building an indication of where visitors to this blog are coming from. A little bit of value added fun to while away those long, lonely nights.

And then, once I get a good idea of where everyone is, I can start programming the flying death robots........

Real content over the weekend, I promise.

Monday, March 05, 2007


I forget what number bad things travel in, but I'm guessing we're close to the limit:

I'm at home this afternoon, playing with Connor, when the phone rings. It's a reverse charge call-- will I accept the charges? I will. It's Aiden, who has managed to drain all his phone credit on the kind of crap teenagers drain it on. He, Luscious, and Erin have been at the gym for the last hour or so. He says the words you dread: "We've been in an accident."

Sitting in the queue at the traffice lights, waiting for them to change, and a City of Wanneroo truck smashes into the back of the car because the driver (in his own words) "wasn't paying attention". The rear of the car is bent up; the window smashed; lights and fenders crushed and crumpled; Lyn and the kids are bruised, in pain, and shaken; and the driver of the truck, the one in charge of several tonnes of fast moving metal and with the attention span of a gnat, doesn't even say sorry.

They're home now: the relevant insurance details have been swapped, thanks to the swift arrival on the scene of several C o' W higher-uppers, and I'm sure the City of Wanneroo will do the necessary business; the kids are flaked out on a couch, watching something light and cartoony; and Lyn's lying on the bed, full of painkillers (because what she needs on top of all the other pain she has is a car accident...). So that's us with no car for the foreseeable future, and at least 3 trips to the chiropractor. Thanks for coming.

I mean, honestly: what kind of a fuckwad starts daydreaming as they approach traffic lights?

I know I should be relieved: my wife and kids are relatively unharmed. I know car crashes can bear worse results. But so far this year we've had two computers burn out, one car sit inoperable due to a broken starter motor that we're having to save up to repair, and now this. I just want to put my head under my pillow and cry.

Friday, March 02, 2007


One interesting side-effect of my Silverbergian WIP-death:

I've realised how much of my work, and how much of my thought processes, had fallen into a pattern defined by what I thought other people expected: how often I went to an event because it was what the cool kids were doing, or because it might be good for my career, or networking; how often I LJ flisted people because they had done so to me, or because it felt like the done thing; how many associations I was a part of, not becuase I wanted to be, but because I felt I should be. How I approached stories in similar ways because certain markets leaned towards that approach; how my defaults were the same as everyone else's; how writing was a process, a production line, a habit. How much of what I viewed, or read, or discussed, was based on what those around me were doing, and the need to fit in with a very small community on the edge of my interests.

Rammel, gewgaws, falderal, and expectations. And almost all of it without conscious realisation on my part.

'Mazin' what losing your bookmarks shows you.

Since I've started working on new stuff, from scratch, I've noticed something else: the forms are different, the approach, the skill sets I'm bringing to each story. I have only the task uppermost in my mind: the writing, pure and fresh, with nothing standing between me and the enjoyment of writing each indiviual piece. And I'm understanding that, for me, the joy is in the discovery of the writing process: unfettered from the expectations I have created for my 'work' as an homogeneous whole, I'm pushing myself towards new story forms, work that is immediately different to me, and exciting for all that. The stories look different, on the page as well as in my mind. I'm more experiemental in structure, point of view, narrative construction. I'm breaking rules, and doing so with confidence, because if I don't sell another piece ever again, well, fuck it: I had that career. This is the next one. I don't really care if I get the "Hey, didn't you used to be..." response, because I'm not even sure I'll be there to hear it.

I feel as if I've emerged from a cocoon, and that what should have been apparent to me all along is only now becoming clear, because the eyes with which I view things are still new, and sting in the sunlight. I feel closer to the desires and goals I had when I first started writing than I have for some years. And honestly, I don't know where this is all going, but it's no longer the point. I'm on my own out here, building my own structures. Whatever this new work leads to, it'll be mine.


Seen on a t-shirt yesterday:

I am a 12th level Paladin.


It would be unporofessional of me to say too much, because, you know, I'm sure you can imagine hundreds of possible reasons why the BBC want me to remove all references to Sontarans from The Time Eater before Season 3 (29, fuck you!) of Dr Who airs.....

I shall, however, refrain from mentioning my enormous Doctor Who fanboy erection reaching the upper levels of the stratosphere.


Well, I must say I'm reasonably chuffed with myself-- I came back from my Clarion stint with two tasks uppermost in my mind: to return to mainstream employment in order to ensure a more secure income stream; and to get back to basics with my writing by sloughing away as many non-essential distractions as possible and concentrating on the pure act of writing.

As to the first, I start a 6 month contract with the ATO on the 12th (cue sound of things changing and staying the same...), with the hope that old contacts and hard work will see me springboard into something permanent.

And the second, well, that's working out too: I'm knee-deep in the 3rd draft of the movie, and expect to have that back to Producer Matt within the week. I've sent 5 stories out, selling one so far. And I'm currently banging through the necessary line edits on the half dozen or so I had in hard copy when the hard drive died, so I expect to have sent them out as well by the end of March. I've received the rewrite specs for The Time Eater, my story in the now-available-for-pre-order Doctor Who: Destination Prague anthology. And I'm currently hard at work on a commissioned story for an anthology I'm not yet cleared to talk about, but for which I'm having a hell of a lot of fun writing (Giant mutant dolphins, baby! Giant mutant dolphins!)

Oh, and, you know, I posted a haiku about genital wigs over at Jerry Jarvis' Wig this morning :)

It's all good, clean fun down our way.


Two very nice emails waiting in the inbox when I logged in this morning:

The first to tell me that I'd won a copy of Lars Von Trier's supernatural-soapie-turned-feature The Kingdom, coutesy of Horrorscope, and the second from Black Box supremo Shane Jiraiya Cummings, accepting my story Truthful Remains for this sequel to the excellent multi-media horror anthology Shadow Box. The original anthology was, in my humble opinion, one of the standout Australian genre projects of the last few years, so it's nice to crack a mention in the follow-up, too.

And while we're talking about things horrible (uh, I mean....), the Australian Horror Writer's Association has announced the shortlist for this year's Australian Shadows Award (hereby dubbed Dead Chick II), and Father Renoir's Hands, a story from Through Soft Air, has made the list. It's nice to be noticed again (I was fortunate enough to win Dead Chick I last year): I think the AHWA are doing fantastic work as an association, and it's pleasing to be held in some esteem by them. The winner will be announced on March 25th, so I'll let you know who gets the statuette this time round.