Here’s what’s been happening in publishing land so far this year for my stories:
Ticonderoga Press has announced the Table of Contents for the YEAR’S BEST AUSTRALIAN FANTASY AND HORROR 2013, & my story All the Lost Ones is being reprinted.
All the Lost Ones is set in nineteenth century Venice, because I have fallen in love with the mess that was European unification. It was initially published in Exotic Gothic 5, edited by Danel Olson and published by PS Publishing. EG5 is two volumes of gothic awesomeness. Terry Dowling’s EG5 story, “The Sleepover” is also part of the YEAR’S BEST! You can read a brief excerpt from All the Lost Ones here, while you wait for the YEAR’S BEST to arrive. Aaaaaand you can pre-order the volume here.
Review of Australian Fiction has published my story The Executioner Goes Home.
At over 8000 words, this is a looong short story; a kind of paranoid rococo space opera meets isolated underground desert world, with bloodshed. You can read a brief excerpt here and buy the RAF issue for only AUD$2.99 here. You’ll also get an excellent paranoid Twinmaker story from Sean Williams included in the price!
Review of Australian Fiction also recently published my story No Mercy for the Executioner.
Entirely unrelated to the executioner of the above mentioned title, this is a kind of YA post-apocalyptic story with extra icing.
(Note on the executioner thing: sometimes you find yourself exploring a theme & then sometimes those stories, despite being written years apart, are published at around the same time. And you end up looking like a serial killer. It happens.)
That’s it! Apart from the secret stuff…
Locus interviewed yours truly a few weeks back, and the spotlight is now up online. ‘Yours truly’ means me, btw. Do people still use ‘yours truly’.
In other recent news, my novella sale to PS Publishing (as reported in the recent PS Publishing news which I cannot identify online) is due for publication in early 2015. The novella has moved from its working title to its final title, WAKING IN WINTER — from a line of Sylvia Plath poetry. I am pleased as all hell about this sale, & excited to see WAKING IN WINTER, edited by the inimitable Mr Nick Gevers, reach an audience. Seriously. I can’t wait for you to read it.
When you read it, tell me what you think. Go on, I can take it.
AND finally, EXOTIC GOTHIC 5 is now available for sale. Edited by Gothic aficionado Danel Olsen, EXOTIC GOTHIC 5 comes in TWO big volumes, with me flying the flag for ‘my homeland’ with a story set in Venice in 1867 – the year of Italian Unification under that enemy of the church, Garibaldi, & his ‘generalissimo’ Menabrea. Garibaldi and Menabrea do not appear in this story, btw. EXOTIC GOTHIC 5 is, coincidentally, also available via PS Publishing in a two-volume (with slipcase) set or as a separate Volume 1 and Volume 2.
In 2012, I made the committment to read 6 books by Australian women writers and review 3 (the ‘Miles’ level of the challenge). Ultimately, I read 11 books in this category and reviewed at least 9 and so, buoyed by the craziness of success, I this year vowed to read 10 and review 6 (the ‘Franklin’ level of challenge).
And then I panicked. Because what if something went wrong? What if I couldn’t read that many books?
Spurred on by the energising energies of that panic, I started on 1-January and read 2 books in about 3 days. Both were Shirley Hazzard books, so it wasn’t any kind of hardship. And then I started to read more widely (because there aren’t enough Shirley Hazzard books for me to get to ’10′).
It’s mid-May. I’ve already read 12 books by Australian women writers (well, 11.5, since one was co-written) and reviewed most of them to a small or larger extent. Here’s the list, & links to Goodreads:
- Shirley Hazzard, The Bay of Noon, 1970
- Shirley Hazzard, The Evening of the Holiday, 1966
- Judith Lucy, The Lucy Family Alphabet, 2008
- Honey Brown, After the Darkness, 2012
- Gillian Mears, A Map of the Gardens: Stories, 2002
- Caroline Overington, Ghost Child, 2009
- Leah Giarratano, Black Ice, 2009 (not reviewed)
- Scott Rankin & Leah Purcell, Box the Pony, 1999
- P.M. Newton, The Old School,
- Kerry Greenwood, Tamam Shud, 2012
- Patti Miller, The Mind of a Thief, 2012
- Joan Lindsay, Picnic at Hanging Rock, 1967
Nothing from the eighties, interestingly enough. Some of the reviews above are quite short, but I’m sure there are at least 6 coherent reviews to be counted towards my Franklin challenge.
And it appears I have hit my target! Also, exceeded it. And intend to keep reading, since I’ve made barely a dent on the pile of books I collated for the exercise.
In particular, I would particularly recommend Honey Brown’s book, Kerry Greenwood’s, Leah Purcell’s, Judith Lucy’s and at least one of the Shirley Hazzard’s (The Bay of Noon).
Glancing at my To Read pile, I can see a couple of Janet Frames, a Sue Woolfe, Mary-Rose MacColl and another couple of Shirley Hazzards. Plus a sentimental favourite re-read, Elyne Mitchell’s Silver Brumby. Nothing in my childhood stands out as brightly as the Silver Brumby series. It almost makes me afraid to re-read it.
Life is funny.
Sometimes it hands you opportunities you never considered would come your way. Opportunities that seem to exist in another realm, for other people. People who probably do this kinda thing all the time, or at the very least have some kinda background in it. But instead the opportunity has come to you. And when those opportunities do appear, you find yourself having one of those reactions.
You know, the ‘Er, wtf?’ reaction.
Ever had that?
So when Terri Sellen asked me to host the Ditmar 2013 Awards at Conflux 9, my first reaction was ‘Er, wtf?’ And my second was, ‘Is there a budget?’
( There isn’t a budget.Collapse )
The Ditmars: by the people, for the people! Excelsior.
- Current Location:Under a cat
- Current Mood:Elated
- Current Music:The drumming of fingers on keyboards
I thought I’d recap on my year of reading during my Year of Writing (since my ‘six months off’ kinda snowballed there).
Goodreads tells me that in 2011, while I was allowing the bulk of my productive time to be sucked into the pitiful task of ‘earning money’, I read 26 books (plus another 23 entries in the Aurealis Award reading for Graphic Novel/Illustrated Work).
The highlights of the year were Patchett’s Kindle single, THE GETAWAY CAR (every writer should read this one), a re-read of Budrys’ WHO, Calvino’s IF ON A WINTER’S NIGHT A TRAVELLER, Thompson’s BLANKETS (graphic novel) & Richard Parry Lloyd’s PEOPLE WHO EAT DARKNESS (deeply depressing & compelling non-fic). So, all up, 2011 was a better year for reading than I’d actually remembered.
In 2012, I’ve read 51 books so far (again, not counting around 25 Aurealis entries), 26 by women writers, though I didn’t plan for it to be quite so even. And since the 2 books I’m now reading are by men, well, I guess I’ve screwed up that balance.
I did focus on a) books by women writers, b) books on writing & c) books on positive psychology, though all of these categories combined don’t describe the full range of my reading.
The reading highlights of 2012 have included Shirley Hazzard’s CLIFFS OF FALL (short story collection), Brubaker’s & Rucka’s GOTHAM CENTRAL (graphic novel), Rilke’s LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET, Frederickson’s POSITIVITY, Amsterdam’s THINGS WE DIDN’T SEE COMING, Hitchens’ MORTALITY, and Zelda Fitzgerald’s bracingly weird SAVE ME THE WALTZ. I haven’t finished Hughes’ BIRTHDAY LETTERS, but that will be book #52, & will be counted as a highlight as well. It’s brilliant.
In particular, I read 11 books by Australian women writers for the Australian Women Writers Challenge: 6 novels (if we count Garner’s THE SPARE ROOM as a novel), 3 short story collections, 1 memoir & 1 non-fic. This means I’ve met my Miles challenge level (read 6, review 3), & in fact met it before June, I think, with some very focussed reading. Thing is, I acquired so many books by Australian women that I have enough to do another couple of years of the challenge.
So in 2013, I’ve signed up for the Franklin level of the challenge: read 10, review at least 6. I’m daunted, since this will put me at the edge of what I achieved this year, so some early focus is again in order. I’ve already lined up PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK as my first read (yes, it probably is cheating to start with a short one) & I figure it’s time to tackle that Ruth Park HARP IN THE SOUTH book. Plus CAREFUL HE MIGHT HEAR YOU is on the list – but not on the shelf. On the shelf I must read an Overington, a Brown (AFTER THE DARKNESS), a Ferreira, a couple of Astley’s (am sort of dreading reading more Astley), a Newton (THE OLD SCHOOL), a Hooper (THE TALL MAN), plus more Hazzard and Mears.
2013, eh? Looks like it’s going to be a big year.
Whatever your preference, whether you’re a fan of one genre or a devoted eclectic, the 2012 Australian Women Writers Book Reading & Reviewing Challenge invites you to celebrate a year encountering the best of Australian women’s writing.
Last December I signed up for the Miles challenge to read 6 books by Australian women writers & review 3.
Here’s how I’ve done so far:
Helen Garner’s THE SPARE ROOM, finished 2-January: this is one of those books for my huge pile of ‘I admired it, I just didn’t like it’. This seems to be a common occurrence for me across all book genres: I respect what the author achieved even in as much as I didn’t connect with the author’s characters. It is probably not surprising, given how anti-social I am, that I fail to connect with most characters (since I can often fail to connect with most people).
Justine Larbalestier’s LIAR, finished 10-January: I don’t know where I was getting all this reading time in January. Oh, that’s right, I became a shut-in that month. Can’t say too much about this one because it’s one of those books you experience, & guess at, & to say anything at all feels like giving it away.
Shirley Hazzard’s CLIFFS OF FALL, finished 28-January: gawd, have I fallen madly in love with Shirley Hazzard. This collection of ‘short stories’ (really, several are actually pieces from her novels – probably precursors to the novels, admittedly) was one of the great finds of 2012 & compelled me out of my refusal-to-buy-books (on economic grounds) and into a ‘must buy everything by Shirley Hazzard’ tailspin.
Shirley Hazzard’s THE TRANSIT OF VENUS, finished 23-February: and so, straight onto another Shirley Hazzard, which I didn’t like so much but I admired even more. Damn, she is a smart writer! Her authorial cunning is so complete that I got to the end of the book and skim-read from the beginning again. This is a book that has been polished like a fine gem. Or like a stone that has been so *well* polished it’s begun to look like a gem! That’s how good it is, how smart, how beautifully expressed. Sadly, the ‘heroine’ at the centre of the book is one of those dastardly passive, wan types who sighs and mourns and *waits*, and whose emotions are – frankly, & I know it’s meant to be her saving grace, that ending – fickle. Yes, fickle! Finishing this book, I became wary of starting another Hazzard because I despised that heroine so much. Still on the ‘to do’ list, with 3 other Hazzards staring at me from the shelf.
Kristen Tranter’s THE LEGACY, finished 01-March: okay, this one confused me, but I’m looking forward to more Kristen Tranter in my future.
Katherine Howell’s COLD JUSTICE, finished 18-March: loved this one! Howell is a great storyteller & does wonders with dialogue. Also, marvellous use of Sydney without being self-conscious. There were multiple points of view in this book & I felt like something was missing from a couple of the characters, but I figure if I start from scratch with Katherine’s first Ella Marcone book, I’ll probably understand the characters better.
Anita Heiss’ AM I BLACK ENOUGH FOR YOU?, finished 17-May: this was just the right book at just the right time for me.
Tansy Rayner Roberts’ LOVE AND ROMANPUNK, finished 17-June: fantastic read, one of my favourites of the year! A short story collection that punks its sub-genres. Superb writing. If you buy only one small press book in your life, make it this one. And then buy a few more because, well, it’s a good thing to do.
Marrianne de Pierre’s GLITTER ROSE, finished 30-June (not reviewed): this is a lovely book, but for some reason I didn’t review it. Best do that now: one of the prettiest books I’ve ever bought, with its vibrant pink cover with gorgeous pencil-and-ink effect beach setting, it’s a collection of short stories around an alternative (or future?) Australia where lost people drift together to meet an alien intelligence/intervention (it’s not exactly spelled out). The book has a sweetness & yearning that I appreciate. Really just a charming book.
Gillian Mears’ FOAL’S BREAD, finished 23-September: bittersweet, impressive and cruel. I wanted something more from this book. Not necessarily more cruelty, though, there was enough of that.
Michelle L. McQuaid’s 5 REASONS TO TELL YOUR BOSS TO GO F**CK THEMSELVES, currently reading: it’s ironic that this book is written by someone I discovered while working for one of the worst bosses I’ve ever had (no, my boss wasn’t Michelle). Alas, this book came out too late to save me. I’m looking forward to acquiring its wisdom before the next bad boss.
So. That’s my #aww2012 reading list for the year so far: 10 books read by Australian women writers, & most of them reviewed. I guess I passed my Miles challenge. And actually, I seemed to have passed it sometime back in March. The rest of my reading has been gravy. Tasty, delicious gravy.
I suspect I’ll have time for one more #aww2012 book this year. Given the size of the stack I’ve built up, the hardest bit will be deciding which one. I still haven’t tackled Caroline Overington’s or Adrienne Ferrier’s books, largely because as the pile grew taller, it became harder to pull those books out without knocking over the whole darn thing. My mother has just leant me Larbalestier’s TEAM HUMAN, which I’m keen to read, & I’m also looking forward to getting onto that Mears’ story collection. But then there’s Honey Brown’s AFTER THE DARKNESS and …
Yes. This clearly means I am signing up again for the challenge in 2013…
A surprise arrived in the post today: the Shirley Jackson Award administration sent me a commemorative token & a copy of the Shirley Jackson Award Ceremony programme.
The awards were handed out in July at ReaderCon, & Elizabeth Hand ably won the Novella section where my ISHTAR novella featured. The list of winners also includes Sheri Holman, Kelly Link, M. Rickert, Maureen McHugh, Jack Dann & Nick Gevers. Pretty fab list, no? And it’s awesome to see so many women honoured & so many ‘small presses’ included. I really like that about the Shirley Jacksons.
So I can’t tell you how touched & proud I was to receive this souvenir this morning. Not just because it’s such a tangible, *physical* object that has travelled all the way from Readercon. But also because I kinda collect stones. My grandmother collected shells, but I like the weight & seriousness of stone & rock & crystal.
And a big thank-you to Liza Trombi for agreeing to be my stand-in should I achieve the unlikely & actually win an award.
This is so going right onto my desk.
It may be that when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work
and when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
― Wendell Berry
I cannot begin to express how much THIS article resonated for me this morning while trawling Twitter (emphasis mine):
Curiously, however, we subjects of late capitalism act as if there is infinite time to waste on work. Work looms over us as never before. “In an eccentric and an extreme society like ours,” argue Carl Cederström and Peter Fleming in their book Dead Man Working, “working has assumed a universal presence – a ‘worker’s society in the worst sense of the term – where even the unemployed and children become obsessed with it.” (2) Work now colonises weekends, late evenings, even our dreams. “Under Fordism, weekends and leisure time were still relatively untouched,” Cederström and Fleming point out. “Today, however, capital seeks to exploit our sociality in all spheres of work. When we all become ‘human capital’ we not only have a job, or perform a job. We are the job.”
Given all of this, it is clear that most political struggles at the moment amount to a war over time. The generalised debt crisis that hangs over all areas of capitalist life and culture – from banks to housing and student funding – is ultimately about time. Averting the alleged catastrophe (of the end of capitalism) will heighten the apocalyptic temporality of everyday life, as the anticipation of catastrophe gives way to a sense that we are already living through the catastrophe and it, like work, will never end. The increase of debt justifies the extending of working hours and working life, with retirement age being pushed ever further back. We are in a state of harrassed busyness from which – we are now promised – there will never be any relief.
(Reminder: emphasis mine.)
The contemporary culture of work is becoming – I’ve noticed – an increasingly large theme in my latest fiction writing. As usual, though, my fiction is an exploration of – not a conclusion on – the theme, and so I don’t yet have a clear response. Except to say that I’ve noticed in myself a dichotomy between “work” & “a job”, the one being a meaningful engagement in a craft I value (oh, fiction writing, say, for argument’s sake) & the other being ‘stuff done for money’. And also a dichotomy between “a job” and “real life”.
This latter has unnerved me the most, since it implies that any 8 hour/day or any 40 hour/week is time spent ‘out of time’. Time spent channelling someone else’s chaos into cash. Time spent wasting time until you can resume your “real life” which is left behind at the office door or lift well, like a ghost, a skin – or like the soft insides of the hardened carapace that is sent into that lift or through that door.
The real you is left in your real life. The exoskeleton – emptied of life – is sent inside.
Possibly more later, after I’ve finished sounding my barbaric yawp & had some clear ideas about an actually intelligent reaction.
… and with the generous assistance of Twelfth Planet Press’s resident designer, Amanda Rainey, I made bookmarks.
If you’d like a bookmark of your very own – and I can’t blame you, they’re adorable – make sure you come to the Twelfth Planet launch Sunday 26th August, 5:30pm at the Yarra Building, Federation Square, Melbourne. Go on, use your power for good!