Monday, December 31, 2012


So this is me, my friends, closing down the computer and signing off for 2013.

See you through ON the other side...

Review: The Story Of The World Cup

The Story Of The World Cup
The Story Of The World Cup by Brian Glanville

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I desperately wanted to love this book: it was given to me by my wife as part of a Christmas tradition where we buy each other a second-hand book that we might not have bought ourselves, but which we think "Of course!" once we open the wrapping. I'm a football fan, a lover of the World Cup (one of our favourite shared memories is of me utterly failing to remain quiet whilst watching Australia v Japan in a hotel room during WC2006 whilst she unsuccessfully tried to get some sleep next to me), an utter football tragic in as many ways as time and money let me be. This looked like a good fit. I really, really wish it had been.

Sadly, the book turns out to be a depressingly mundane read from an author who seems to have been given a word-a-day calendar for Christmas and grown bored with it by about January 5th: every winger in the history of the sport is 'insidious' (and half of them 'little'); every right foot that scores a goal a hammer; every left likewise; and while 'fulminating' may be a cool word to pull out and use when you want to impress a girl you like, I hadn't read it in a text in something like 20 years, which makes the sixteen times it appears in this book so laughable it verges on a drinking game.

More disturbingly is Glanville's preoccupation with describing players via their skin or hair colour. Three types of players exist in Glanville's world: those with a mane of blond hair, like Gabriel Batistuta or Luis Hernandez; those who are 'dark', like Gerd Muller or Franz Beckenbauer; or most worryingly, those he simply describes as 'black'. In the early pages, in those first few tournaments where it is quickly apparent that Glanville has no direct experience and is pulling together reports from the time, such a description can be accepted as a yardstick of the modernising effect that black footballers were having on the national aspirations of countries like Brazil and Uruguay. It serves to highlight the special attributes certain players brought to their tournaments, and what they overcame to get there. By the time we get to 1994, an he still insists on singling out players like Aron Winter for this description, there's only one conclusion that can be reluctantly drawn. There is simply no need for the description anymore. It is Glanville, not the circumstance, who accords importance to the colour of a player's skin.

It leaves a lingering taste in the mouth, but it's not the only problem.

Glanville can't decide whether the book is to be a Wisdenish collation of facts or a more personal, opinionated series of recollections by a man who performed journalistic duties at a long series of the World Cup events, and has been able to extend his research back to cover those that occurred before his time. It leads to a schism of approach between pre- and post-1966 reportage: dry as dust to begin with, and lapsing increasingly into irrelevant asides that do nothing to advance the narrative of each tournament (his constant niggling at, and denigration of, for example, both Kevin Keegan and Bobby Robson, is never at any stage backed up with a reason why he feels this way towards an admired player and manager). Ultimately he tries to cover both styles, and falls between them both, coming across like nothing more or less than the boring nerk at the end of the bar who thrusts himself into a passionate fan argument without being asked, and proceeds to bleed it dry by acting like an utter anorak: lacking humour, original insight, or anything approaching an understanding of the passions that drive the argument in the first place.

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And so we come to the end of 2012, a year named after a shitty movie that replicated it in as much as it was overbudget, filled with bad science, was downright made of stupid, and made me want to stab John Cusack in the eye. Thus it is in a somewhat reflective and grown-up mood that I contemplate this year's annual review. Some mighty highs, some pretty deep lows, some jelly beans found down the back of the coach that tasted okay once you got the fluff off, a dead guy in the boot that's beginning to smell. And chips.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?

Saw my novel in print, achieved promotion to co-ordinator level at work.

2. Did you achieve your goals for the year, and will you make more for next year?

I've changed this question slightly, from 'resolutions' to 'goals', as I think it's a more positive approach, and there's one change for me for a start-- I'm going to try to be a little more positive this year. My general sense of humour has slipped alarmingly from 'wry' through 'dark' to 'gallows': I need to rein it back a bit.

Other than that, I actually did not bad this year. Most of my goals were writing-related, and despite problems with me weight (more on that later) and a promotion at work which has resulted in longer days, I still managed to successfully navigate the publication of my first novel and the completion of two more, which was pretty decent going under the circumstance.

So what's on the cards for 2013? I've a list of 8 goals this year, covering professional, personal, and hobby. This is what I'm aiming for:

  • Lose 12 kilograms. My weight ballooned in 2012, to the point where, if I was getting on a plane with Jabba the Hutt and Colleen McCullough they'd probably ask one of us to take a later flight. To a certain extent I've been time-poor, but the greater truth is that I've been a fat lazy bastard with no willpower. 12 kilograms will take me back to 100 kilos, which would mean I only needed to repeat the feat in 2014 to be back where I belong.
  • Send the Father Muerte & The Divine chapter package and synopsis to SuperAgent Rich. Winning my first novel contract was wonderful, but the bigger trick is doing it again. Now that I've fulfilled the 2 novels of that first contract I'm in a position to aim for a new one, and with the Father Muerte novel first draft finished, it's time to get it in the hands of the man who can get it for me.
  • Pitch the 3rd Corpse-Rat King novel. Angry Robot have made encouraging noises. Nothing worse that a robot that gets cold feet. I'll have this in their hands in a couple of weeks.
  • Write a new novel. All part of the career arc. Write, write, and write again. I'm up to 'again'.
  • Write a kids' book. At the particular behest of Miss 11 and Master 8, kidlings about town. And why not? Strings, bow, career. And it might be fun.
  • Turn Napoleone's Land into a fantasy novel. Way back in the dim, dark past, I wrote an alternative history that utterly failed to do anything worthwhile. But the armature is good, and I'm a better write now, and when you read a novel like Joe Abercrombie's Red Country and see what can be said whilst not being said, it sets a mind to wondering. This is a very do-able task, and there's a good story there, just waiting to find its best format.
  • Enter Nnovvember. Every year the Lego community on Flickr produce a poster in memory of Nate 'nnenn' Neilson, a much-loved member of the community who specialised in building twin-pronged spacecraft called Vic Vipers. I had my first crack at it this year, and while I didn't make the poster, loved the craft I created and really enjoyed the feeling of being part of a hobby community. So I'm going to have another crack this year.
  • Design a Cuusoo kit. Lyn's challenged me to build a 'substantial', well-realised MOC, and somehow I've escalated that into putting it up on Cuusoo, the Lego/AFOL collaboration site. Once a set reaches 10 000 votes, Lego commit to reviewing it with the possibility of releasing it as an official Lego kit. It's been done several times already, and for those who have read The Corpse-Rat King, Lyn has requested a 'wreck of the Nancy Tulip' set complete with Nandus/Littleboots and Marius. Maybe. Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaybe.

So. Tune in same Bat-time, same Bat-channel, to see how I get along.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My step-daughter Cassandra gave birth to a gorgeous little girl, Aisla.

G'wan, isn't she gorgeous?

With our own gorgeous two. Already giving Master 8 'the look'.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Not close, after 5 years of estrangement between them, but Lyn's mother Pat died late upon this year. Thankfully, they managed a small reconciliation in her final days, but really, no good came of it

5. What countries did you visit?

I tried to visit a country for old men, but there wasn't one.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

A Happy wife. 2012 was rough on my beautiful darling, from her Mother's illness, to a demoralising work situation, to serious health issues of her own that are likely to result in surgery some time in 2013. we sat down the other day and decided that, as of the 1st, all is tabula rasa: 2013 starts with a blank slate on all fronts, and the past can fucking well stay where it's put. If we get to this time next year, and this one thing is achieved, the year will be worth it.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 

28 August. Call me Captain Self-Obsessed, but the publication of my first novel was the highlight of the year.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Seeing The Corpse-Rat King hit print. It's been a long time coming-- too long-- but becoming a published novelist, in the way I wanted to become one, was a big turning point in my life, one of those turning points I hope to look back on in many years' time and say "Yeah, there. That's when I started out on the path that got me here."

Honourable mention to outmanoeuvring several more-qualified applicants to gain a promotion at work and become co-ordinator of my department after my old co-ordinator suddenly upped and left after 8 years. My manager cheerfully admits (too cheerfully?) that mine was the weakest application on paper, but my interview blew them away, and after 8-odd months in the job I feel like I might just be coming towards making the position my own.

9. What was your biggest failure?

The upkeep of this enormous white elephant of a house in which we live. I've lost 900 grams in the last 5 days sanding, patching, painting, and basically working like a reno-wallah trying to get the big bastard up to a condition where we can think about selling. a house this size was appropriate when we bought it three years ago, back when we had a small army and a trail of camp followers to house. But it's now too big, too expensive, and too much like constantly painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge to keep it maintained for the remaining 5 of us.

A smaller house, with a garden I can enjoy, rather than constantly service, will be the aim.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

We have 5 people living in our house, and every single one of us has seen the inside of a hospital in the last 18 months. even now, I'm hobbling about on one foot after an accident playing basketball with Master 8 a couple of days ago. Health has not been good for either Lyn or myself.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I'm tempted to say our new car, a nice downsize from our enormous gas-guzzling 6-seater Falcon with its myriad of mechanical issues to a neat, compact 2012 Hyundai i30 with its parsimonious appetite and nice level of comfort and space. But I'm going to plump for the $700 we spent on our space-age Dyson Transformer vacuum cleaner. It's the first decent vacuum we've had, and came at a point where we could afford to buy  from the top shelf, and in this instance, we got exactly what we paid for. Just one of those pleasing moments where we could indulge on a necessity, and have been well rewarded.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Each of the members of my family, who pulled together to make a year in which both parents had full time jobs with long hours as painless as it could be, and as usual, my darling Lyn, who puts everybody before herself, and whose sacrifices this year really were sacrificial. The burden shall not be so great in 2013, I promise.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

In the wider world, the National Rifle Association in the USA, whose response to the latest gunning down of innocent schoolchildren showed a vile and reprehensible lack of basic humanity and love for the very citizens their existence is not only predicated upon but, in its purest form, happens only in order to serve in times of national emergency. They skirt perilously close to advocating the armed assassination of their own country's citizens, and egregiously close to the behaviour of a terrorist organisation. It's time they were disbanded, burned to the ground, and a new, saner organisation erected on their bones.

On a level much closer to home, the grandfather who lives less than fifty kilometres away and simply sent his grandchildren envelopes with money in them for birthdays and Christmas, and who left one of his grandchildrens' names off the Christmas card, hardly covered himself in glory. That's one slow decline in relationships that's about to slip right underneath the radar.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Restoring some lifestyle we'd been missing, and more recently, paint.

Oh, and Lyn  and the kids finally badgered me once to often about getting a dog, and now they've got one. As far as I can tell he eats money and shits happiness for my kids, so he gets to stay another year.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The Hobbit movie, especially as I am father to an 8 year old who decided to read the book for himself this year and then totally lost his shit when he started watching the trailers. I've been an uncritical Tolkein fan since I was his age: Sue me.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?

No one song, really. Musically I had a rather disappointing year. I always try to discover one new band that excites me, but this year I couldn't find one. The closest I got was a song by Gotye and a couple of distracted listens to Florence & The Machine: amazing voice, but I lacked the time to really explore it.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: i. happier or sadder? ii. thinner or fatter? iii. richer or poorer?

Even-keeled, muuuuuuuch fatter, slightly richer in material goods but battening down for a period of proper, grown-up belt-tightening. And, I should mention, fucking exhausted! I can't remember ever feeling so tired, so often for so long.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Achieving a decent work-life balance. It tilted a bit too much this year.

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

Working Saturdays, missing my kids' assemblies, flaking out exhausted in front of Foxtel of an evening and letting it all wash over me and my beer/cider/moscato.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Cooked the family a slap-up breakfast, did the presents thang, then lay on the bed with my Christmas books and my winter cider and me beloved wife while the Bigguns went off to their dad's for lunch and sleeping over and the littlies went to their grandparents for lunch and more presents and sleeping over.

21. Who did you meet for the first time?

My new offsider at work, the lovely Donna, and quite a few Facebook friends and Goodreads buddies, most notably the esteemed Brian M. Logan, who I'm counselling through a sad, tragic addiction to a plastic football club. I also met, for the first time in the flesh, those splendid fellows Daniel Simpson and Anthony Panegyres at the KSP SF Mini-con (well, okay, I'd met Daniel before, but this was a proper, full-on, hail-fellow kinda meeting)

22. Did you fall in love in 2012?

I did, with the T-Rex Master 8 got in his giant Lego kit for Christmas. But the little bugger won't share.

As always, of course, I am gushingly and diabetes-inducingly in love with my beautiful and wonderful wife, the Luscious Lyn.

23. What was your favourite TV program?

Again, nothing really jumps out, and this is probably a reflection of the year as a whole: a lot of stuff was absorbed/watched/listened to, but very little made any sort of lasting impression. Recently, the kids have discovered Monty Python's Flying Circus, especially Miss 11, so I'm getting great enjoyment watching it with them, but largely because I'm watching them watching it.

Mock the Week and Russell Howard's Good Week were the two comedy panel/variety style shows that had me rocking back in my chair roaring every week. They'll be the ones I'll be scrabbling to pick up in iView or similar now we've finally cut the Foxtel umbilical.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

No, not at all. I had a largely hate-free year.

25. What was the best book you read?

Red Country by Joe Abercrombie. Demoralisingly, Abercrombie does an enormous amount of what I'd like to do as a writer, only better, deeper, and at a level I not only can't match but at a level I don't think I'm capable of matching.

Honourable mention to the Book of the New Sun quadrology by Gene Wolfe, which remains as utterly superb as it always has been, but is beaten back into second place by being a re-read rather than a new one; Pyrotechnicon by Adam Browne, which is a wonderful confection of a novel that lifts and gladdens the heart; and Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff Vandermeer, which is soaringly intelligent, literary, convoluted and decayed all at the same time. I gave all of them 5 star ratings on Goodreads, and if you haven't read any of them, I lend you my heartiest recommendation.

Golden Turds for Wolfskin Volume 2 by Warren Ellis, a pointless and boringly stupid thud and blunder graphic novel whose shiny paperstock meant it wasn't even good enough for wiping my arse on, and Tales from the Vulgar Unicorn, a Thieves' World collection edited by Robert Lynn Asprin, although in the latter case the fault was undoubtedly mine for revisiting teenage reading, rather than the book: it is what it is, unashamedly and unapologetically pulpy and slapdash, and it's me that has moved on to more sophisticated fare, not it.

If you'd like to read my reviews of these books, some of them are here on the blog (try the 'reviews' link in the cloud) or you can see them on my Goodreads profile.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

As mentioned above, I bummed out this year. No new music that really gripped me and turned my head. I spent more time in my iPod playlists than in listening to the radio. so I'll go left-field and nominate This Is My Jam, a music-based social media site that I signed up to a couple of months ago, and which I'm hoping will lead me to discover new sounds next year.

27. What was your favourite film of this year?

Yeah, it was The Avengers. Loved it. Loved it with a giggling, bouncing fanboy love. Loved it with my kids next to me loving it, loved it again with just my wife, loved it all over again on DVD. Love love love.

Yes, I'm a big stupid superhero spectacle loving fanboy. Bite me.

Honourable mentions to Seven Psychopaths, the downright funniest and don't-give-a-shittingnest movie of the year, with Christopher Walken delivering the single best one word line in all of cinema. And a telemovie called Holy Flying Circus, about the reception given to Monty Python's Life of Brian and the stitching up of the Pythons by the talk show Friday Night, Saturday Morning, which managed to be affectionate, dispassionate, intelligent and fantastical in turn, as well as damned funny in its own right, and was an exceptional piece of small screen film-making.

The Polar Express Award for Making Me Want to Stab My Own Eyes Out went to Prometheus, a film so god-awful bad I actually had blocked it when I wrote the first draft of this review and only remembered it when I took Lyn to the DVd store this evening to find something to watch, a film so bad it could only make Grant Watson happy because now Alien 3 is nowhere near the worst Alien movie ever made: Prometheus is so bad it's the three worst Alien movies ever made.

Dishonourary stabs in the eye to Dark Shadows, the first movie ever to make me wish Johnny Depp would just stop, take a deep breath, and stop (thankfully, if he really is playing Tonto in a new Lone Ranger movie, my practice at wishing he would just stop should not go to waste), and reinforced my wish that Tim Burton would Just. Fucking. Stop! and Total Recall, a movie in which Colin Farrell-- an actor I have a bit of time for-- acted like a man possessed, but couldn't stop this most idiotic of remakes putting the 'stupid' in What The Fuck Did I Shell Out Good Australian Dollars for This Stupid Piece of Shit?

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 42, and spent the day at home with my family constantly telling me I wasn't allowed to do anything, just sit back and enjoy my day. So I did :)

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Greater satisfaction.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

Falling-to-bits because I'd rather make sure the kids had decent kit.

31. What kept you sane?

Lyn, the kids, writing, cider.

32. What political issue stirred you the most?

The Newtown school shooting.

33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

Many years ago I set myself the goal of being a full-time writer by the time I was 45. I might not reach it by that age, but it remains a goal most devoutly wished.

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

Dear sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
                    Paperback Writer, the Beatles.

Review: Red Country

Red Country
Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A stunning novel, deceptive in its slow pace as it is that very pace which builds and builds and builds tension and danger in every-thickening layers. It's a frontier western story dressed as a fantasy: thick with dust, shit, sweat and spit, populated by characters at once familiar to both genres but, again, accreted with such deep personalities over the passage of the book that they lodge under the reader's skin and stick there. I was utterly absorbed from beginning to end. Easily my book of 2012.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012


I don't have anything profound to say about this one. Indeed, I don't think it's terribly profound itself. But anyone who's ever been in the garage, or kitchen, or garden, while a parent works away, seemingly oblivious to their presence, may recognise something in it.

I'm watching you, Igor.

Monday, December 24, 2012


Christmas is one of those subjects that makes ripe pickings for a cartoonist. So to say Happy Robanukah to y'all, and because I plan to spend actual Presentapalooza Day liying under the table half-cut singing rude songs about your Nanna, here's a couple from the vaults, a day early:

...and a bicycle and an Action Man Mountain Ranger and a Godzilla Rampage game... you know, you're a lot easier to talk to than Santa... and a bow and arrow set and a swimming pool and...

Thursday, December 20, 2012


I'm not sure what disturbs me more about this one: that Satan, the Lord of Flies, Master of Lies, the Great Enemy, the anti-Christ himself, is afraid of a couple of drunk bikers with baseball bats, or the fact that he appears to have a Prince Valiant hairdo.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Review: Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson

Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson
Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson by Hunter S. Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've never been drawn into the cult of Hunter Thompson: I've been aware of him, in a rough "he wrote that and that" kind of way, without being intimately familiar with the building blocks of his reputation. From that point of view, this chronologically-arranged collection of interviews certainly helped me to pin down the significant events in the creation of the myth surrounding him. However, the more I read, the more I felt seeds of suspicion begin to burrow: those famous incidents-- his time with the Hell's Angels, talking football with Nixon, on the trail with successive Presidential candidates in the 70s-- get trotted out again, and again, and again, at every opportunity, and each time they sound a little more misty-eyed, a little more lacking in centrality: despite himself, Thompson ends up sounding like one of those old-time war veterans who reveal just how peripheral they were to the main thrust of events-- the stores clerk whose anecdotes place him on the shores at Omaha Beach, but show that he arrived long after the fighting had moved on.

And there's another accidental revelation in placing so much of Thompson's direct interactions with interviewers in so enclosed a space: the sudden understanding, halfway through, that the man himself is something of an intellectual coward. Time and again he launches into an outrageous exclamation, only to duck and weave away from it when challenged in any sort of meaningful way. This is especially apparent in transcripts of talks he gives to gatherings of students, which more often than not degenerate into pantomime performances where he pretends not to hear questions, accuses his inquisitor of stupidity or misunderstanding, and otherwise bends himself in knots trying to avoid justifying his statements. Not, perhaps, quite so noticeable at the live event, but clear as crystal when laid out in type.

None of it makes Thompson any less fascinating a study: if anything, this lifelong adherence to weasel logic and continued refusal to accept responsibility for his statements enhances the interest in his character, because it quickly becomes apparent that Thompson has a couple of golden moments early in his career and is able to parlay them into a long, slow, gently declining reputation that sustains him far longer than it might otherwise have done. And the ways in which he manages to sustain his time in the limelight through increasingly shrill and desperate proclamations makes for compulsive reading, until the inevitable relief when reaching the end of the book and having it, finally, all end.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012


Influences shine through: looking at this one I can see how much I was hoping to emulate Crum's classic hippo cartoon. But the whole thing ends up feeling like a 'The Road to...' movie.

Or maybe that's just me.

Either way, penguins on a camel? Comedy gold.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


So, having been tagged for the last Next Big Thing and duly completing ten questions about Marching Dead, I was tagged by the deeply sexy Jason Nahrung, and declined him, because I had nothing else to talk about. Then I finished Father Muerte & The Divine, just before I was tagged by the equally sexy Rowena Cory Daniells.

So here I am, talking about that book, too:

What is the working title of your next book?

Father Muerte and the Divine.

Where did the idea of your book come from?

I've explored the character of Father Muerte in four previous short stories: Father Muerte & The Theft (Aurealis 29); Father Muerte & The Rain (Aurealis 33/34/35 triple issue); Father Muerte & the Flesh (Aurealis 36) and Father Muerte & The Joy of Warfare (Aurealis 37). I've received a lot of feedback from readers wanting to know more about the character's background, and wanting to see him interact with a larger story, so it was a good chance to go back into his past and expand upon the scope of his mystery, especially as I had a couple of breaks in my writing calendar where I could spend a goodly amount of time working on the story.

What genre does your book fall under?

Definitely fantasy, but more towards the Urban end of the spectrum rather than the epic. Except it takes place in a seaside town that may or may not exist. Is there such a thing as Holiday Village Fantasy?

If you found yourself in a lift with a movie director you admire and you had the chance to pitch your book to them, what would you say?

Now you've finished the Corpse-Rat King movie, Mister Gilliam, do you fancy a read of this one?

Every writer dreams of their book being turned into a movie or TV series like Game of Thrones: if this happened to your work, which actors would you choose to play your characters?

Like Game of Thrones? Do I have to? Sorry fans, but I couldn't get past episode three. I don't care how much you gussy it up, I can spot a soap opera when I see one.

However, when it comes to characters, I rarely picture a known face upon them. Occasionally, if I want a characters to continue to act in a certain way I'll try it out-- Captain Bomthe from the Corpse-Rat King was lightly modelled on Bill Nighy's 'uptight' character. But not with these charatcers: I've been working with them, on and off, for a decade now. They have their own faces.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Love. I love Muerte, Henri and Benito. There's a small core of readers who love the stories and keep nagging me for another one. And I loved the idea of doing something really spectacular with what had come before: this is the fifth instalment of the narrative, so I had some history to play with.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

It was written in two bursts of about a month each, a year apart. the first half was written whilst I was waiting for the Angry Robot Open Submission period was grinding its way to a conclusion, and then I had to drop it when they picked up CRK. Once I'd delivered Marching Dead it was just about time to start this year's nanowrimo, and there I was with a novel needing roughly 50 000 words to finish it...

What other books would you compare this book to within your genre?

I'm not sure. If anything, it probably sits-- in my mental image of it, at least-- closest to those convoluted Grant Morrison 'everything's an illusion and a conspiracy and all your paranoias are just silly. And correct.' comic book series, with a faint hint of Gaiman's 'Seasons of Mist'. But that's not really it, either.

It's just, I dunno, weird. And cool. And there's sort of a Keith Laumer oddness to it, and a China Meiville Gothic urban-ness, and a rollicking Bester tongue-in-cheekness, and half the documentaries I've watched in the last six years contributed, and then there's some stuff that's probably just me having a mental seizure.... maybe I'm not the best person to answer this question.

When will your book be available?

I expect to deliver the synopses and 5 chapter package to SuperAgent Rich in the next couple of weeks, and then the rest is up to him.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Time-travelling Benito Mussolinis, a colony of hyper-intelligent dinosaur ghosts, live human skinning, the fall of Satan, Maxwell's Demon, the Red Baron's fetish for post-World War I biplanes, coelacanths, pareidolia, bit-culling souls, molybdomancy... what's not to love?

Keen-eyed readers will note that I haven't tagged five authors to continue the meme onwards. That's because every author I know has done the damn thing and it's all getting rather circular and incestuous. Consider me your cul-de-sac for the day.

Friday, December 07, 2012


Fiends, ravens, condiments, let me humbly unveil what is, in my utterly objective and unbiased opinion, simply the goddamn prettiest book cover in the history of the entire Universe.

The Marching Dead will be out in March 2013 from Angry Robot Books, and features the return of Marius dos Hellespont and Gerd, reluctant heroes of The Corpse-Rat King, as well as Granny, Keth, an undead dominatrix, psycho-killer warrior nun skeletons, smugglers, naked troglodyte cannibals, an underground nunnery, and the word 'fuck' 71 times.

Can't wait now, can you?

Thursday, December 06, 2012


So here we are, at the second Thumbnail Thursday, and this time on a Thursday!

I've flirted with being a cartoonist several times over the years, and even placed a few here and there, but it's slowly become apparent to me that I lack the drawing skill to make any kind of ongoing income from it, and the time it would take me to learn those skills is better put towards advancing my writing career, as I at least have some sort of foothold on the lower slopes of that particular mountain.

However, i still have a couple of hundred thumbnails that I've scribbled down over the years, some of them in rather nice notebooks indeed as I've taken the hobby more or less seriously at that particular moment. Some may be funny only to me. Some may need a little bit of explanation. But what the heck: you;d rather I was a complex, multi-layered fellow than one who simply trots out a never-ending succession of innuendos and nob gags, wouldn't you?

You wouldn't? Shut up and have a cartoon....

Cavemen and cave art seem to crop up regularly, along with a couple of other themes (You should see how many times I riff on 'we should see other people'). Either I'm harking back to a simpler, happier time, or people crouched in caves chewing on bones is inherently funny. Or I'm lazy.

Sunday, December 02, 2012


And I should probably gloat slightly:

95 676 words later, Father Muerte & The Divine is finished.

December will be spent editing, polishing, writing the synopsis and sending the sales package to SuperAgent Rich. But it is, in all intents and purposes, finished.

Two novels written this year. That's what I'd call a decent start.

Review: Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again

Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again
Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again by Frank Miller

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A helter-skelter follow up to the seminal Batman revival 'The dark Knight Returns' that places much more accent on colour and spectacle and gives air-time to updated supporting characters, most notably a brilliantly effective Ray Palmer and Barry Allen, not to mention arguably the best portrayal of Plastic Man committed to ink in, well, just about ever. There's a lot of cynical, self-aware fun in this volume, although Miller packs too much in to satisfy three issues-- I would have liked to have seen some of the supporting threads teased out into fuller narratives, particularly the 'Joker hero-killer' subplot that is resolved far too easily after the main action ceases. And, of course, Miller's jail-bait fantasies are never too far away, and surface ickily right at the end, but that's what you get with Miller these days, so it's not unexpected.

It's messy, chaotic, and doesn't, in the end, fulfil its potential, but I still come back to this every now and again just for the sheer, anarchic fun of it all. And Plas.

View all my reviews


Agh, finally.

Yes, today is officially the second day of the following month, but for us, with the last of Erin's friends having just left from her birthday sleepover, November is finally, finally over.

November means:

Nanowrimo. I acted as ML for my region for the third year, as well as working on Father Muerte & the Divine, for which I wrote a shade over 43 000 words, and completed. I topped up the other 6 000 and a bit words by beginning The Sin-Eater's Lonely Children, working on the Muerte synopses, and various associated fiction tasks.

The Day Job's Literary Month, involving organising and running a five hour writing marathon on a Saturday night complete with guest speakers and a metric fuckload of giveways; the awards presentation for the City's short story competition on a Tuesday night; and a two hour seminar by Dr Helen Merrick on the following evening. All within a week of each other.

Three birthdays: mine, Connor's, and Erin's. Connor and Erin had a birthday party each. On the same day. At two different locations. Never. Bloody. Again.

Nnovvember. My first attempt at contributing to this mass Lego community initiative, to build a Vic Viper model to help commemorate the passing of popular builder and AFOL Nate 'nnenn' Neilson.

All this on top of the usual writing work, day job work, family commitments, swimming lessons, preparing the house for sale, blah blah etcetera and so forth.

I'm buggered.

BUT: I have a completed novel, two happy kids, new Lego for myself, no more work events for the rest of the year, and the first Lego MOC I've built that I think matches up to the rest of the Flickr stream, so we'll call it a draw and now I'm going back to bed.

And because I promised, here are the pictures of the finished Viper.

From the top


From the rear, showing greebles and biplane wings

Side view, showing twin forward pods, and the connection between hull and engine, which...


And the underside, with all the transparent goodness and weapony-looking bits.

Comin' atcha!

Friday, November 30, 2012


Whilst rummaging through my papers in the office today, as part of our ongoing attempt to get the house in some sort of sellable shape, I came across a big tub of thumbnails for single panel cartoons.

Let's be honest, I'm never going to get around to drawing them all properly and trying to forge a second career as a cartoonist with them.

So, in the interests of getting them out there in some form, I present Thumbnail Thursday, an ongoing series which will be ongoing as long as I still have thumbnails to upload. Naturally, being me, the first one is presented on a Friday.

I make no claims of quality or humour, other than that each piece was found in my little discarded tub of scribbles. You may enjoy them or not as you see fit.

Oh, sure, maybe it started as an abduction...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Review: Tales From the Vulgar Unicorn

Tales From the Vulgar Unicorn
Tales From the Vulgar Unicorn by Robert Lynn Asprin

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

When I was a young teenager, thirteen or fourteen, I read a few of the shared world 'Thieves World' anthologies and enjoyed them. I remember them as being good, rollicking, adventure-fantasy fun, so when I found this volume at the back of my archive boxes I had an 'ooh' moment and decided to give it a read, out of a nostalgic whim for some good, simple fun.

Sadly, the book is dire. Each of the volumes is sprinkled with a smattering of SFnal big names: in this issue it's Philip Jose Farmer, an author who veered wildly between interesting and embarrassing throughout his career. His story in this volume is an example of the worst kind of hackery, of the sort that would have shamed even John Jakes, and the rest of the anthology struggles to raise itself above his level. David Drake and AE van Vogt represent the old school pulp style with their usual clogging, pedestrian best-of-the-1930s efforts, and there's nothing that can recommend the efforts of Lynn Abbey, Janet Morris and Andrew J Offutt (a super-pulpy writer whose stories often have the saving grace of seeming to be taking the whole thing with his tongue firmly in his cheek, but who can't even bring that off in this instance.)

It's fantasy of the dumbest D&D variety, with one-dimensional characters, hokey broad-brush Burroughsian cultural and social infrastructures, and that peculiar 'phat phantasy' mix of conversational English and clumsily formal sentence structures that makes the whole thing come across like some particularly uninspired fourth rate Christmas pantomime.

If I'm objective I can see why I enjoyed this sort of stuff as a naive, non-critical boy of 13-- it's thoroughly escapist, without the sort of soggy character development that demands you think instead of just enjoying the thud and blunder. But I should have left it with my younger self.

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Saturday, November 17, 2012


I was chatting with Luscious Lyn yesterday, as is my wont, and the subject of hobbies came up-- pure hobbies, done without any need for achievement or motivation, but simply undertaken as a means of play. It had occurred to me that she doesn't have one: there was a time when writing fulfilled that function for both of us, but writing has taken a back seat for Lyn in recent days, and anyway, it's been going on a decade since either of us wrote anything without thinking of some form of publication, and that's not the nature of a pure hobby.

Two hours at Spotlight yesterday and that particular oversight was corrected. She's on the couch, watching youtube tutorials on blackwork cross-stitching techniques as I type this...

My hobby, these days, is Lego. And for me it's just that: a chance to play without judgement, to roll my imagination around a different set of concepts and use a different array of skills to produce something entertaining for myself. Or not. It doesn't matter. It's just me, playing. But I'm also aware that there's an enormous community of others who take it far more seriously than I do, and every now and again I'm struck by just how much fun it would be to hang out with some of them: join the clubs, have the conversations, take part in the groups displays, etcetera, etcetera and so on. Then I think about how much time it would take, and I have a stiff drink and a lie down, and everything goes back to normal.

Still, every now and again, even I am the recipient of someone else's enormous love and dedication to what is, for me, my silly little play hobby. Bricklink, that wretched hive of scum and villainy that makes my Paypal account balance look so consistently tiny and feeble, was the personal mission of the late Daniel Jezek, a Lego fan who took paying it forward to an amazing level. You get guys like Jess Gibson, author/director of the highly entertaining film AFOL: A Blocumentary, a film I watch probably once every three months just for the checkitoooouuuuuutttttness of it. They're all over the place, and consistently doing something amazing.

And earlier this week, during a period of steam-letting, I took it into my head to work out what the hell the fuss was all about with the Lego community's seeming fascination with something called The Vic Viper. They're all over the place-- little twin-pronged spaceships of all shapes and sizes, all to the same rough template. They're cool, but they're also ubiquitous, and it's a wee bit odd. So, a bit of research:

The boring bit is that it's a type of spacecraft from a bunch of games in the early 80s which I didn't play and don't recall. 

The interesting bit is that they were the favourite building style of a gentleman named Nate 'nnenn' Nielson, who died in a car crash back in 2010. Before my time in the hobby, but if you'd like to see the kind of esteem he was held in, try these out for size:

  • A eulogy posted on the AFOL site The Brothers Brick, which describes him in ways that make we wish I knew the man, or
  • The fact that at Brickworld 2010, hundreds of Vic Vipers were displayed by scores of builders in a missing man formation to mark his passing, or
  • Perhaps most tellingly, that Lego itself not only included a Vic Viper in one of its recent sets, but, well, check out the insignia....

And lastly, as an ongoing commemoration, the AFOL community has dubbed November Nnovvember, a month where Vic Vipers are built, and displayed, and seriously shit-hot cool maps are created and stuff.

Cool guy memoriam. Spaceships. A sense of community.

I'm in.

So I'm giving it a go. I've got three days off this weekend, the kids are down south with their grandparents, and apart from writing, it's a kickaboutalazboutapalooza. Lyn's cross-stitching, Aiden's minecrafting, Halo4ing, and Assassinscreeding. I've got 13 1/2 thousand pieces in a tub just screaming to be laid out all over the living room floor.....

As a handy guide, here's a little sign that someone worked up to tell me exactly what is and what isn't a Vic Viper, with the kind of detail even I can't find confusing:

I've carved me out some interesting pieces from the collection.

I think I've got the general shape sorted out

I've got this cool funky biplane kind of arrangement going on.

And this is where I was at come bedtime last night

I'll keep posting pics of the work in progress over the weekend, but in the meantime, if you;d like to have a gander at a bunch of really really really supercool VVs by guys who prove that I have a little playtime hobby while they are creators of stunning imagination and mad brick skillz, check out this Flickr Hivemind.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Last week, the inimitable Steven Savile tagged me on his blog as part on an ongoing chain of book/author recommendations called The Next Big Thing, a happy reach-around for writers where we all stride about like avenging peacocks with ICBMs where our penises should be. Today it's my turn to take possession of the giant cockmissile, and answer the ten questions originated by Paul Magrs, then pass over the reins to five other writers who will be doing the same on their own blogs in a week's time. Ready?

What is the working title of your next book?
The Marching Dead

Where did the idea come from for the book?
It’s the sequel to The Corpse-Rat King, which came out this October from Angry RobotBooks.

What genre does your book fall under?
Loosely under Fantasy, although very much at the absurdist end of the genre. Angry Robot claim they publish “SF, F and WTF?” I’m aiming for “WTF?”

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I don’t really envisage actors when I’m writing characters, at least, I do so very rarely. There was one character in the first Marius dos Hellespont novel who I based on Bill Nighy’s ‘uptight’ characterisation because it was a nice fit, but that’s as far as it went for these two novels.  If you absolutely had to have an answer, I’d say perhaps Paterson Joseph for Marius, but that’s all I’ve got.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
He found a King, won the girl, and saved the day. If it wasn’t the end of the world as we know it, he’d be bored shitless by now.

Which is 2 sentences, but sue me.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
As with the first novel in the series, Marching Dead will be published by AngryRobot Books, in April 2013. It was represented by the tall, virile and generally froody Richard Henshaw of The Henshaw Group.

How long did it take you to write a first draft of the manuscript?
I completed the first draft in a shade under 5 months. It’s currently with the publisher, who has probably had to call out for more red ink by now.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
That’s a hard one: I actually don’t read a huge amount of fantasy. The Corpse-Rat King seems to have collected a bunch of comparisons to Joe Abercrombie, so let’s say that.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
 A contract that said “two books, with an option on a third”.

The Corpse-Rat King was inspired by a dinner table conversation with a good friend in which we bemoaned the soft-focus, taking-itself-way-too-seriously, hyper-hygienic worlds of too many Fantasy novels. CRK was an attempt to subvert those tropes, and Marching Dead was a good opportunity to introduce a different tone into the world I had created, and push the characters into states of mind they hadn’t experienced in the first novel.

What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
Anybody who read and enjoyed the first novel will—hopefully—enjoy the chance to meet with some characters alluded to in the first book, particularly Marius’ parents, plus there’s a randy smuggler queen with a patch and an undead dominatrix with a degree in gymnastics and a really really big tub of goose grease. And Gerd loses his virginity. And if you didn’t read the first book, and that makes no sense at all to you, then you’ll be pleased to learn that Marching Dead stands alone as a separate adventure, and you’ll get to experience all this sort of thing for the first time. And, as usual, everybody says fuck far too often for their own good.

And finally: A reminder... (the 5 who will be tagged)
In the interests of sharing the pimp—and really, isn’t that what life is all about?—I shall be tagging the sensational KA Bedford, Stephen Dedman, Wesley Chu, Daniel Russell, and Guy Salvidge. They may have already done this—I was too slack to check. They may not wish to be involved—I was too self-involved to ask. They may be dead—I was at home with my wife and she’ll vouch for me. But won’t it be fun to come back to their blogs in a week and see if they join in?

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


I'm feeling generous. Have a little taste of Father Muerte & the Divine first-drafty goodness:

It is easy to disarm a philosopher’s stone. The stone transmutes elements. Lead can become gold, wood can become steam, bread and wine can become flesh and blood. All it takes is for the stone’s wielder to focus his will upon the subject long enough for the chemical reaction to occur. The stone itself is merely a catalyst: the trigger that initiates chemical change without engaging in, or being changed by, the reaction. It is Maxwell’s Demon, bringing the wielder and the will ever closer whilst remaining aloof, unchanged; providing balance as both sides of the equation continue to eat themselves like chemical ouroboros. To destroy one, it is only necessary to turn its power back upon itself. Complete the loop of chemical change so that it is the stone, not the wielder, that becomes both agent and the reagent. Command the stone to turn itself to shale, to soap, to water, and the monster was destroyed. 
The difficulty is never in the act, it is in persuading the stone’s owner that it must be done.


Damn, I just noticed: that damn word count widgetty things updates every damn instance of it each time it updates.

Ignore the ones in the text column, my peeps. I've put one in the sidebar now.

(I have peeps?)




Tuesday, November 06, 2012


It's November, that time of the year which should be all about my birthday but is instead all about everybody else's birthday, Americans playing spin-the-bottle-win-a-fuckwit, my day job providing umpty millions of opportunities for all the other writers in the region to get their wordfreak on, and me running around trying to please everybody and getting fuck all done on the personal front.

Except, of course, that I got me two weeks holidays, so suck on that, hidden Overlords of the Universe. Coz I get to stay home all day and do Nanowrimo, at least until next Wednesday.

Angry Robot duties are in abeyance for the moment-- Marching Dead has been delivered and I'm quietly waiting for the edits to come back and ruin my Christmas-- so I've turned my attention back to Father Muerte & The Divine, with a self-imposed brief to have the bastard finished by the end of the month and a synopsis package in the hands of my agent in time to ruin his Christmas by making him sell the damned thing for me.

6 days in, I've managed 15 000 words. Helps to have time off and a project you're already 50 000 words into, no?

Right now it's my usual melange of weird, unrelated shit, pummelled together without rhyme nor reason in the hope that not too many bits fall off once the editing starts: time travelling Benito Mussolinis; intelligent dinosaur ghosts; the Fall of Lucifer; the Red Baron's previously unknown fetish for post World War I biplanes; rain cycles; pareidolia; the stone of Scone; the hive mind of children; philosopher's stones; live human skinning; and 4 dimensional Maxwell's Demons abound, there's still another 30 or 40 000 word to go.

As Cupid Stunt would say, it's all done in the best POSSible taste!

Anyway, for those who'd like to play word count progress bingo, some cute little widgets, courtesy of nano:


Okay, so you may have noticed a couple of reviews on the site in recent days. There's a very good reason for this: I've discovered how to cross-post my Goodreads reviews onto Facebook and my blog.

It's all part of that wonderful multi-platform cross-posty thousand screams into the wilderness with a single click line of bullshit that is social media. If nothing else, it'll help to point out what shitty taste I have in books.


Review: Storm Front

Storm Front
Storm Front by Jim Butcher

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Thanks to the vagaries of the Western Australian library system, I've read about half a dozen of Butcher's Dresden novels, out of order, having arrived at them via the engaging and sadly defunct television series.

They get better-- a *lot* better-- but this opening volume is surprisingly weak: choppy, badly balanced, written with the kind of breezy lack of depth I'd normally associate with a Star Trek or Star Wars tie-in. It pulls deus ex machina out of its backside with cheerful abandon, sketches characters in with slapdash rush, and just generally feels like a good idea the author was incapable of taming properly before it loosed its chains on him. I usually enjoy the Dresden books as good-natured sorbet between weightier tomes, but this was hard going. And that's before you get to the jocular misogyny that litters the book: women are either hard bitches, whores, or damsels in distress-- sometimes in turn, sometimes simultaneously-- but they are *always* liars of one stripe or another, and always either in need of a good seeing to or engaged in doing just that without his aid, at which point they're back to being whores again.

I'm not naive enough to confuse author with text, particularly with a narrator as obviously flawed as Harry Dresden, but it does add a rather distasteful subtext to the novel that took some swallowing, and even my best intentions barely made it through the 'love potion as rohypnol with added rapey goodness' scene.

Had I experience this volume first I strongly doubt I'd ever have picked up another volume in the Harry Dresden series.

View all my reviews

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review: Diary

Diary by Chuck Palahniuk

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A delightful romp of narcissism and nihilistic philosophy that represents an early high point of Palahniuk's career, however it does have a couple of deep flaws that weaken the overall effect. Whenever the spotlight is on Misty, protagonist and narrator of the book, everything is in clear focus and the characterisation bites deep and hard. But secondary character are, to a man, fuzzy and ill-defined, with little to distinguish them and some deeply inexplicable motivations are never explored: the supporting cast often acts as it does simply because the plot demands it be so, rather than out of any consistent narrative arc, and it leaves the reader with an impression of a succession of poorly-defined, out-of-focus cardboard cutouts being placed about the stage for the protagonist to wander past. Admittedly, this can be considered a function of Misty's unreliable first-person narration, but it's a trick Palahniuk performs better in other novels. More damning, however, is an ending that takes all of the narrative suspense that proceeds it and simply disperses it upon the wind- the climax simply fizzles out, and what should have been a chaotic whirlwind of effect is simply a damp and unsatisfying squib. Once again, it can be considered a function of a message oft-repeated throughout the book: that lief has no happy endings, indeed, no endings at all, and that what we experience is simply a B with neither A nor C to add meaning: narratively clever, but emotionally unsatisfying as an ending.

At its best, Diary is a bleakly hilarious tour de force, with Palahniuk's trademark mix of anger, satire and vicious social commentary in full flow. But it just doesn't maintain itself long enough, and ultimately, lets its reader down.

View all my reviews

Sunday, October 21, 2012


My appearances on this blog have been brief and irregular lately: my day job eats my life, and leaves me little time to do more than throw the occasional shout out at my Facebook page at the moment. It'll be a bit like this for a couple of months yet: bear with me. My day job/ home life balance should sort itself out soon, and I might find some more time to come here and post long, interesting, witty lines of banter to fulfil my dancing monkey obligations.

In the meantime, I've popped up and made an appearance as part of an SF Signal Mind Meld on the subject of heroes v protagonists, alongside a raft of other authors including Angry Robot stablemates Jo Anderton, Maurice Broaddus and Chris Holm. Which was nice.

And with nanowrimo rapidly approaching, I've signed on again to act as ML for my third consecutive year, and will be devoting my time to completing the back half of Father Muerte & the Divine now that I've delivered Marching Dead to the Robot Overlords. I'll try and post some word count updates along the way, as well as a snippet or two to pique your interest. As a sop to blatant currying of public opinion, here's a first draft extract to get you started:

Understand that, just as there are men who stand apart from the general populace, whose greatness of deed and nobility of stature ensure their names echo throughout history, so there is Benito’s special cafe bombon. It is the Odysseus of coffees, the Muhammad Ali, the Kal-el of Krypton. Coffee black as tar, as thick as a demon’s blood, crouched upon a base of condensed milk sweet enough to cause diabetes amongst innocent bystanders. Drinking it is like hosting a championship wrestling bout in your mouth. Bitterness and sweetness pummel each other for the singular honour of being the one to give you a heart attack.

Most mornings I have three.

I have little time or inclination for luxuries. Hard, bitter, highly caffeinated coffee, milk supersaturated in glucose, both contain high levels of energy. And what I do requires superb amounts of energy. I live in Costa Satanas, a village on a coast you can only visit when the need arises, at the edge of a sea that has changed names so many times over the century that you can only see us if you use the right map to travel, and even then, only if the sky matches the day on which it was drawn. The village exists because I do. Were I to lose my concentration, even for a moment, it would go back to its natural state, and be lost. I would survive, but I would be alone.

There, now. Wasn't that worth hanging around for?

Monday, October 01, 2012


It's been almost a month since I blew the dust off this baby and made with the updatery, and there's a very good reason for that: I've been off enjoying life.

Response to The Corpse-Rat King has been positive, and if you haven't got your copy yet then there's really no excuse-- it's in all the good book stores and most of the rotten ones, and if you haven't picked it up then I can only assume it's because you hate me and you've never really liked me and you'll be sorry when I'm dead and all this guilt will be on your head, I can't, I can't, I can't stand losing.... wait a minute.

Marching Dead is finished, and has been delivered to Angry Robot for their consideration. All being well, it will appear on shelves next April.

And right now, I'm giving myself some down time before I turn my attention to the next project on the block: either a return to Father Muerte & The Divine or if the Angry Robot overlords activate the clause in my contract, the third Marius dos Hellespont novel which I'm nominally calling Fall To Heaven. We shall see, we shall see.

But for the moment, I'm clearing my mental palette, watching a buttload of documentaries, playing with the kids, and getting the house ready to put on the market before the end of the year so we can downsize. Give me a week or so, and I'll be back on the bloggery treadmill, but for the moment, no signal is a sign of contentment.

Sunday, September 09, 2012



If you get yourself up to the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre for the KSPSF Minicon today, you'll have the opportunity to buy a copy of The Corpse-Rat King at the launch price of $15 instead of the retail price of $17.95 and you'll get the code for 25% off the e-book price through the Angry Robot website.

And if you don't, you won't.

Easy decision, innit?

Friday, August 31, 2012


Want to find out why the hell this post has that title?

Monique Mulligan has interviewed me over at Write Note Reviews.

Go. Read. All will be revealed.


Oh yes, my friends, I shall be there. And it will start oooh, and aaahhh, then later there will be running, and screaming....

Get your peepers on this little lot and tell me you don't want to come on down and hang out. This is going to be one fabbo day:

The 2012 KSP Speculative Fiction Writers Group Minicon
Panellists include :
Local Writers: Lee Battersby, Amelia Beamer, Hal Colebatch, Cathy Cupitt, Stephen Dedman, Joanna Fay, Satima Flavell, Sonia Helbig, Elaine Kemp, Pete Kempshall, David Kitson, Martin Livings, Dave Luckett, Juliet Marillier, Ian Nichols, Anthony Panegyres, Carol Ryles, Guy Salvidge, JB Thomas. 

When: Sunday, 9 September, 2012  9.30am-4.30pm

Where: Katherine's Place, 11 Old York Road, Greenmount (Turn into the first driveway after you turn in from the highway and park at the back)

Cost: $15, or $10 if you book in advance. Leave a comment at if you want to do this.

Lunch: A decent meal and tea and coffee will be available for a gold coin donation or you can BYO - there are no eateries in the vicinity.


Discussion Panels: Meeting Room

10:00 Breaking the Rules
“Look, that's why there's rules, understand? So that you think before you break 'em.” - Terry Pratchett
Sometimes the 'rules of writing' need to be broken. But what are they and how and when do you get away with breaking them? And what do you need to be aware of before you do? All the best writers are renowned for breaking rules and new writers are crucified for it, yet there are times when we all need to cross that line.
Lee Battersby
Sonia Helbig
Martin Livings
Anthony Panegyres
Guy Salvidge

1100: Is the Internet the New Slush Pile
Google the question: “is the internet the new slush pile?” and the wisdom of the masses will tell you that since mid 2011, there has been a grass-roots change in the world of publishing. The inference given in hundreds of articles unearthed by such a search is that you should no longer submit to slush piles while trying to get noticed. There's a new wave of authors who publish their material directly to the Internet in the hope that their book will attract the attention of publishers and agents. But what does this method of gaining attention achieve and will it replace the tradition of slush pile Mondays? For that matter, with so many new writers self-publishing, is there a need to be picked up at all? Or is it a path to self-destruction of the writer's rights?
Stephen Dedman
David Kitson
Dave Luckett
Ian Nichols

12:00 Lunch

Book Launch, The Corpse Rat King by award winning author Lee Battersby (Angry Robot Books)

Lee Battersby is the author of the novels The Corpse-Rat King (Angry Robot, 2012) and Marching Dead (Angry Robot, 2013) as well as over 70 stories in Australia, the US and Europe, with appearances in markets as Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, Year’s Best Australian SF & F, and Writers of the Future. A collection of his work, entitled Through Soft Air has been published by Prime Books. He’s taught at Clarion South and developed and delivered a six-week Writing the SF Short Story course for the Australian Writers Marketplace. His work has been praised for its consistent attention to voice and narrative muscle, and has resulted in a number of awards including the Aurealis, Australian Shadows and Australia SF ‘Ditmar’ gongs.

He lives in Western Australia, with his wife, writer Lyn Battersby and an increasingly weird mob of kids. He is sadly obsessed with Lego, Nottingham Forest football club, dinosaurs, the Goon Show and Daleks. He’s been a stand-up comic, tennis coach, cartoonist, poet, and tax officer in previous times, and he currently works as the Arts Co-ordinator for a local council, where he gets to play with artists all day. All in all, life is pretty good.

1:00 Critting and Crowd-Sourced Editing
Should writers have their manuscripts criticised by a broad audience of their fellow writers? What value does it add to your work? Can you lose your ideas by letting others see your manuscript before the editor does? How about crowd-sourcing of editing? Is it possible to let others perform the work for you while reading early revisions of your manuscript? And how do you even take advantage of such services? Should they be avoided completely?

Amelia Beamer
Satima Flavell
Pete Kempshall
Juliet Marillier
Anthony Panegyres

2:00 Building Characters without Cardboard
In online reviews, a common complaint against many recent authors, especially those who choose to self-publish, is that their characters seem two-dimensional or otherwise lack depth. So what does the aspiring author need to consider in their writing so that their characters seem more real to the reader? And how do they achieve it? Are characters planned or imagined? And what are the pitfalls that many new writer, and even experienced ones, fall into? And how do you write convincing characters from the other gender?

Lee Battersby
Martin Livings
Juliet Marillier
Carol Ryles
JB Thomas

3:00 Has Erotica Become Just another Mainstream Sub-Genre
With Fifty Shades of Grey now the fastest selling book ever, it's difficult to ignore the part that erotica has played in this series’ success. Writers thinking of including sexually explicit content in their novels are often confused by the terms ‘erotica’ and ‘pornography’. How should a modern writer approach this situation? How to avoid mistakes? Should erotica feature in a serious novel at all?

Amelia Beamer
Cathy Cupitt
Stephen Dedman
Elaine Kemp

Kaffeeklatsch Schedule (Library)
1PM – 1:30PM Joanna Fay: Publishing with a small press overseas
Joanna’s Daughter of Hope, the first novel in her epic fantasy sequence The Siaris Quartet, has recently been published as an e-book by Musa Publishing, a relatively new e-press in the USA. From the comfort of her lounge room in the Perth hills, Joanna has taken an intensive 'high learning curve' this year on the road to publication, while coming to grips with both the potential and pitfalls of online promotion.

2PM - 2:30PM David Kitson: Self Publishing – A complete end to end guide for anyone planning on doing it themselves
David’s self-published novel, Turing Evolved, broke into the top 20 Science Fiction book list on and is now rated at four-and-a-half stars with one hundred and fifty customer reviews. Learn about David’s experiences with editing, uploading, customer feedback and eventual contact and representation by a literary agent.

3PM – 3:30PM Juliet Marillier: Theme to be announced
Juliet is a New Zealand-born writer who now lives in WA. Her historical fantasy novels for adult and young adult readers include the popular Sevenwaters series and the Bridei Chronicles. Juliet’s books have won many awards including the American Library Association’s Alex Award, the Prix Imaginales and the Aurealis Award. Her lifelong love of folklore, fairy tales and mythology is a major influence on her writing. Juliet has two books out this year: Shadowfell, first instalment in a fantasy series for young adults (available now) and adult fantasy Flame of Sevenwaters, to be published in November.