Archive for margo lanagan

Aurealis Award winners for 2012

Posted in awards, books with tags , , , on May 20, 2013 by jason nahrung

perfections by kirstyn mcdermottThere is new shiny on the bookshelf: Kirstyn snared the Aurealis Award for best horror novel with Perfections. The novel previously won the Shadows, too. Yup, pipped me (and others) again, she did, and rightly so. Perfections is one of those novels where every word is in its place, every concept beautifully revealed, and the story lingers long after the cover is closed.

If you run an eye down this list of winners, announced in Sydney on Saturday night, you’ll see Margo Lanagan is still riding the wave with her novel Sea Hearts (psst: Coeur de Lion is working on releasing a digital version of X6, in which the original novella from which the novel sprang first appeared, along with the remarkable ‘Wives’ by Paul Haines), and also kicking goals with her most excellent Cracklescape collection.

Cat Sparks pictures from the night are here

Kaaron Warren‘s ‘Sky’, from her Through Splintered Walls collection, is again in the winner’s circle. Here’s a heads up: Kirstyn’s collection in the same Twelve Planets series is to be launched at Continuum next month.

The awards are always a great event, with lots of catching up, and meeting new people, too. Highly recommended if you want a peep at what’s happening in the Australian spec fic scene: the finalists make a damn fine reading list.

In accepting the Peter Mac for her awesome contribution to Australian writing through roles in such events and organisations as the Queensland Writers Centre (and now Brisbane Writers Festival), Fantastic Queensland and Clarion South, Kate Eltham spoke about the tribe that is the spec fic community and it supports and nurtures its own. The awards are the perfect example of inclusivity, respect and support. Next year they’re in Canberra, probably around March. Looking forward to it already!

Aurealis Awards winners 2012

BEST CHILDREN’S FICTION (TOLD PRIMARILY THROUGH WORDS)
Brotherband: The Hunters (Random House) by John Flanagan

BEST CHILDREN’S FICTION (TOLD PRIMARILY THROUGH PICTURES)
Little Elephants (Penguin) by Graeme Base

BEST YOUNG ADULT SHORT STORY
‘The Wisdom of the Ants’ (Clarkesworld) by Thoraiya Dyer

BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL
(Joint winners)
Dead, Actually (Allen and Unwin) by Kaz Delaney
Sea Hearts (Allen and Unwin) by Margo Lanagan

BEST ILLUSTRATED BOOK/GRAPHIC NOVEL
Blue (Giramondo) by Pat Grant

BEST COLLECTION
That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote (self-published) by KJ Bishop

BEST ANTHOLOGY
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Six (Night Shade Books) edited by Jonathan Strahan

BEST HORROR SHORT STORY
‘Sky’ (Through Splintered Walls, Twelfth Planet Press) by Kaaron Warren

BEST HORROR NOVEL
Perfections (Xoum) by Kirstyn McDermott

BEST FANTASY SHORT STORY
‘Bajazzle’ by Margo Lanagan (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press)

BEST FANTASY NOVEL
Sea Hearts (Allen and Unwin) by Margo Lanagan

BEST SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY
‘Significant Dust’ (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press) by Margo Lanagan

BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL
The Rook (HarperCollins) by Daniel O’Malley

PETER MCNAMARA CONVENORS’ AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE
Kate Eltham
KRIS HEMBURY ENCOURAGEMENT AWARD
Laura Goodin

Newcastle Writers Festival truly ex-cell-ent

Posted in travel, writing with tags , , , , , , , on April 9, 2013 by jason nahrung
newcastle jail courtyard

Newcastle Gaol courtyard, scene of the crime

Every writers’ festival should have a jail.

Especially for a panel on horror.

The inaugural Newcastle Writers Festival  was a hoot, and pretty darn smooth, too, despite being held over a number of venues and being run by staff who hadn’t really done much like this before.

They had 60 writers and a whole lot of sell-out panels, with a grand get-together at the art gallery and an opening night speech par excellence from Miriam Margolyes  in a gorgeous theatre, panels in council chambers and the wonderfully scenic Noah’s hotel and a pub and — awesomeness of awesomeness — an old jail!

Kirstyn and I had a grand ol’ chat with Jenny Blackford about writing and horror and Kirstyn’s necklace and the barbarous destruction of some very old fig trees in a city park, all in the surrounds of a barred courtyard with an old loo in the far corner. Newcastle is Kirstyn’s old stomping ground, and it was interesting to see the evolution of the city through her remembrances.

Also flying the flag for spec fic was Margo Lanagan — we caught her YA panel. Jack Dann and Janeen Webb and Russell Blackford were also guests, but family commitments meant we got only to see Jack read an amazing homage to Gene Wolfe in a packed pub outing dedicated to Sin. Amidst gay-hating religion and people smuggling and ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ — the poem, not Iron Maiden — Jack and wonderfully, pointedly funny Anita Heiss brought the prose on home.

Miriam Margolyes’ opening night talk — highly recommended

Anyway, we loved the atmosphere at the festival — they drove those of us at Noah’s in an adapted tram to the Friday night soiree! — and Newcastle itself is a pretty amazing place, so much going on in not a lot of square mileage given the coal and the coast and river and history and attempts to breathe life into the inner city. Some wonderful artwork on display, for instance, at the Emporium, and some serious cafe action. There’s even a writers’ walk, which we didn’t get to do, but the fact they have one is pretty cool. I felt there was a real hunger there for some spec fic action, too. If even felt like a spec fic convention in one way: the hotel’s bar shut far too early!

The festival was such a blast the organisers have already announced dates for next year — April 4–6 — and we’re putting it on the calendar now. Even if the festival isn’t using the jail as a venue next year, there are tours. Ex-cell-ent!

While I was offline… and OMG look at all the Conflux book launches!

Posted in books, events, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2013 by jason nahrung
  • Sean the Bookonaut has been blogging up a storm. Viz, an examination of Grimdark — a category of genre coding I hadn’t even heard of.
  • Angela Slatter is having a book, Narrow Daylight, published by my digital publisher Xoum — yay for being stablemates (and stable mates, though are we, as individuals, stable? argh!)
  • Lisa L Hannett has had a new essay published at This Is Horror, calling for a consideration of less used/abused things that go bump in the night, which in turn leads to an essay from James Bradley about the ever-evolving vampire metaphor.
  • Random House is taken to task for onerous conditions in its digital imprint Hydra, and makes amends, as reported by Locus.
  • A Brissie launch on April 9 for Charlotte Nash’s debut novel Ryders Ridge.
  • Dymocks ends its publishing effort, D Publishing, perhaps on the nose from the get-go due to a roundly criticised contract base.
  • Margo Lanagan makes the long list of the Stella Prize with Sea Hearts.
  • And I’ve sifted the program for Conflux next month to find the book launches — hold onto your hats!

    I’m not sure if it counts as a launch, but Angry Robot (whose supremo Marc Gascoigne is a guest of honour at the con) is having ‘an hour’ from 1.30pm on the Sunday. Angry Robot is chockers with Aussie writers (Kaaron Warren, Jo Anderton, Trent Jamieson, Lee Battersby …) so it’ll be bookish, whatever it is.

  • Aussies on Locus’ recommended list of 2012

    Posted in books, fantasy, horror, science fiction with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2013 by jason nahrung

    Pleasing to see Aussie writers make the cut on Locus magazine’s recommended spec fic reads of 2012.

    Some that my eye found were Kaaron Warren and Margo Lanagan for Twelfth Planet Press yarns, and Margo for Sea Hearts and her collection Cracklescape as well, and the Slatter/Hannett Midnight and Moonshine collection — doubly great to see a small presses from Down Under making an impression — and Sean McMullen and Terry Dowling and Anna Tambour and Greg Egan, and editors Amanda Pillar (Ishtar) and Jonathan Strahan (three books!).

    Salvage in Twelfth Planet showcase at Melbourne Writers Festival

    Posted in books with tags , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2012 by jason nahrung

    twelfth planets press melbourne writers festival showcaseAugust is a big month for Salvage, having an outing in Queensland and now, bobbing up at the Melbourne Writers Festival!

    Twelfth Planet Press presents a free showcase event at the festival, with Kerry Greenwood of the Phryne Fisher mysteries fame launching the Twelve Planets series. On hand to present their titles already released and forthcoming will be Kaaron Warren, Cat Sparks, Deborah Biancotti, Narrelle M Harris, Deborah Kalin, Rosaleen Love, Kirstyn McDermott, Lucy Sussex … and me*.

    There will be drinkage, and music, and all Twelfth Planet books will be available, including the newest releases of the Twelve Planets range: Through Splintered Walls by Kaaron Warren and hot-off-the-press Cracklespace by Margo Lanagan (previewed at Continuum in June).

    I’ve just read these two titles, and they are spectacular: Margo has brought her touch of the fantastic closer to home, while Kaaron raises the chill factor, especially with the longest story of her collection, ‘Sky’: you might want to have a bath after reading it.

    Kerry will be joining the Twelfth Planet authors for signings.

    The showcase is on Sunday August 26, at 5.30pm, at the Yarra Building in Federation Square. It’s a free, non-ticketed event, which means you can just turn up and enjoy. An ideal pre-dinner outing, neh?

    Writerly round-up: a new book, an award, a farewell

    Posted in awards, books, news regurgitation, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2012 by jason nahrung

    It’s the afternoon after the four days that came before, and what a grand four days Continuum 8 offered. Held at Rydges in Carlton, where the bartenders were, as usual, outgunned by demand, the convention pulled together writers, publishers, readers and knitters (!) from around the country for the celebration of all things fantastical.

    Twelfth Planet Press launched new titles by Kaaron Warren — a printing error has meant a recall for those who have already snaffled the enticing collection — and Margo Lanagan (officially hitting the shelves in August) and my novella Salvage (yay!). Keep an ear out for a podcast recorded at the beautifully laid out Embiggen Books(timber shelves! ladders! SECRET DOOR!) about the Twelve Planets series of collections. [update: the podcast is now available here]

    Twelve Planets podcast

    Twelve Planets podcast at Embiggen Books

    There were panels on vampires, e-books, Australian writing and many other things; launches; parties; costumes; crafts; dinners on Lygon St; the nearest Japanese restaurant would’ve seen a pleasing surge in income. And there were awards, with Paul Haines and Sara Douglass both receiving posthumous accolades. A further highlight of the Ditmars was the squeaking octopii, given out as stand-ins when the actual awards failed to arrive in time.

    Also awarded were the Chronos awards, recognising achievements by Victorian writers, artists and fans, and how pleasing it was to receive one for ‘best fan writer’. A lovely acknowledgement of my new address! And Kirstyn and co-host Ian Mond landed Ditmar and Chronos awards for their podcast, The Writer and the Critic. The awards lists are below.

    Convention pictures by Cat Sparks*

    More pix from yours truly

    So amidst the catching up, the memorials and general frivolity, a bittersweet announcement has been made: my wonderful boss, Kate Eltham, is leaving the Queensland Writers Centre to take the reins at next year’s Brisbane Writers Festival. Kate is a dynamic woman and talented writer who has made the QWC such an active organisation, reaching out across the state and the nation and overseas through various programs all aimed at not just keeping writers of all ilks in the loop but helping them to be part of the loops. It’ll be interesting to see what new ideas she brings to the BWF. This is great news for Kate and a real shift of gears, but I confess that I will sure miss her. Good luck with it, mate!

    Kirstyn McDermott, Ian Mond host Continuum awards ceremony

    Kirstyn and Ian host the awards ceremony

    Ditmar Award winners:

    Peter McNamara Award: Bill Congreve

    A. Bertram Chandler Award:Richard Harland

    Norma K Hemming Award, TIE: Anita (AA) Bell for Hindsight; Sara Douglass for The Devil’s Diadem

    And a new award, the Infinity:Merv Binns

    Best Novel

    • WINNER: The Courier’s New Bicycle, Kim Westwood (HarperCollins)
    • Debris (The Veiled Worlds 1), Jo Anderton (Angry Robot)
    • Burn Bright, Marianne de Pierres (Random House Australia)
    • The Shattered City (Creature Court 2), Tansy Rayner Roberts (HarperCollins)
    • Mistification, Kaaron Warren (Angry Robot)

    Best Novella or Novelette

    • WINNER: ‘The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burnt’, Paul Haines (The Last Days of Kali Yuga)
    • ‘And the Dead Shall Outnumber the Living’, Deborah Biancotti (Ishtar)
    • ‘Above’, Stephanie Campisi (Above/Below)
    • ‘Below’, Ben Peek (Above/Below)
    • ‘Julia Agrippina’s Secret Family Bestiary’, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Love and Romanpunk)
    • ‘The Sleeping and the Dead’, Cat Sparks (Ishtar)

    Best Short Story

    • WINNER: ‘The Patrician’, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Love and Romanpunk)
    • ‘Bad Power’, Deborah Biancotti (Bad Power)
    • ‘Breaking the Ice’, Thoraiya Dyer (Cosmos 37)
    • ‘The Last Gig of Jimmy Rucker’, Martin Livings & Talie Helene (More Scary Kisses)
    • ‘Alchemy’, Lucy Sussex (Thief of Lives)
    • ‘All You Can Do Is Breathe’, Kaaron Warren (Blood and Other Cravings)

    Best Collected Work

    • WINNER: The Last Days of Kali Yuga, Paul Haines (Brimstone)
    • Bad Power, Deborah Biancotti (Twelfth Planet)
    • Nightsiders, Sue Isle (Twelfth Planet)
    • Ishtar, Amanda Pillar & KV Taylor, eds. (Gilgamesh)
    • Love and Romanpunk, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Twelfth Planet)

    Best Artwork

    • WINNER: ‘Finishing School’, Kathleen Jennings, in Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories (Candlewick)
    • Cover art for The Freedom Maze (Small Beer), Kathleen Jennings

    Best Fan Writer

    • WINNER: Robin Pen, for The Ballad of the Unrequited Ditmar’
    • Bruce Gillespie, for body of work including The Golden Age of Fanzines is Now’, and SF Commentary 81 & 82
    • Alexandra Pierce, for body of work including reviews at Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus, Not If You Were The Last Short Story On Earth, and Randomly Yours, Alex
    • Tansy Rayner Roberts, for body of work including reviews at Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus, and Not If You Were The Last Short Story On Earth
    • Sean Wright, for body of work including ‘Authors and Social Media’ series in Adventures of a Bookonaut

    Best Fan Artist

    • WINNER: Kathleen Jennings, for work in Errantry, including ‘The Dalek Game’
    • Rebecca Ing, for work in Scape
    • Dick Jenssen, for body of work including work in IRS, Steam Engine Time, SF Commentary, and Scratchpad
    • Lisa Rye, for Steampunk Portal series
    • Rhianna Williams, for work in Nullas Anxietas Convention Program Book

    Best Fan Publication in Any Medium

    • WINNER: The Writer and the Critic podcast, Kirstyn McDermott & Ian Mond
    • SF Commentary, Bruce Gillespie, ed.
    • Galactic Chat podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayner Roberts & Sean Wright
    • Galactic Suburbia podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayer Roberts, & Alex Pierce
    • The Coode Street podcast, Gary K. Wolfe & Jonathan Strahan

    Best New Talent

    • WINNER: Joanne Anderton
    • Alan Baxter
    • Steve Cameron

    William Atheling Jr. Award for Criticism or Review

    • WINNER: Alexandra Pierce & Tehani Wessely, for reviews of The Vorkosigan Saga, in Randomly Yours, Alex
    • Russell Blackford, for ‘Currently reading: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke’, in Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
    • Damien Broderick & Van Ikin, for editing Warriors of the Tao: The Best of Science Fiction: A Review of Speculative Literature
    • Liz Grzyb & Talie Helene, for ’2010: The Year in Review’, in The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2010
    • David McDonald, Tansy Rayner Roberts & Tehani Wessely, for ‘Reviewing New Who’ series, in A Conversational Life

     

    Chronos Awards

    Best Long Fiction: The Last Days of Kali Yuga, Paul Haines (Brimstone Press)


    Best Short Fiction: ‘The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burnt’, Paul Haines (in The Last Days of Kali Yuga)


    Best Fan Writer: Jason Nahrung


    Best Fan Artist: Rachel Holkner


    Best Fan Written Work: ‘Tiptree, and a collection of her short stories’, Alexandra Pierce (in Randomly Yours, Alex)

    Best Fan Artwork: Blue Locks, Rebecca Ing (Scape 2)

    Best Fan Publication: The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond

    Best Achievement: Conquilt, Rachel Holkner and Jeanette Holkner (Continuum 7)


     
    * It’s possible there might be a photo of me with a bottle of wine and a glass: I was pouring for other people. Honest.

    Salvage launches — tomorrow night!

    Posted in books, fantasy, gothic, horror, things to do in melbourne, writing with tags , , , , , , , on June 7, 2012 by jason nahrung

    salvage by jason nahrungA gentle reminder — well, more of a whoop, really — that Salvage is about to be launch. A bottle of red cracked across the bow and sent out into the stormy waters of the marketplace for your — I hope — reading pleasure.

    Tomorrow night’s launch at Continuum 8 in Melbourne is part of the Twelfth Planet Hour: a party to celebrate not just Salvage but the latest titles in the rather awesome Twelve Planets range of collections by Australian women writers: Kaaron Warren’s Through Splintered Walls and Margo Lanagan’s Cracklescape. You can schmooze with some of the other TPP authors, too. If that wasn’t enough there’s cupcakes, a juggler and a surprise announcement from the press … oo-err! The party kicks off  at 7pm; entry to the convention is by gold coin donation today.

    Can’t make it to the party, nor the convention but still want some seaside love-on-the-rocks with added vampire? Order Salvage at www.twelfthplanetpress.com, and/or enter the Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win a copy.

    At Continuum, I’ll be:

    • Launching fellow TPP author Narrelle M Harris’s sequel to The Opposite of Life, Walking Shadows, published by Clan Destine Press, at 6 o’clock tomorrow night
    • Discussing Backyard Speculation — Australian settings in fantastic fiction — on Saturday 10-11am
    • Reading, probably from Salvage, on Saturday 2-3pm alongside Cheryse Durrant, Alison Goodman and Margo Lanagan
    • Discussing e-books: what are they worth? on Sunday 11am-noon
    • Chatting with guest of honour Alison Goodman on Sunday noon-1pm
    • Discussing Vampires: From Horror to Heart-throb on Monday 10-11am
    • Discussing the Awards Debacle on Monday from 2-3pm.

    It’s gonna be a grand weekend!

    Snapshot 2012: Rjurik Davidson

    Posted in books, fantasy, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2012 by jason nahrung

    australian speculative fiction snapshot 2012 logoRJURIK Davidson is a freelance writer and associate editor of Overland magazine. Rjurik has written short stories, essays, reviews and screenplays. PS Publishing published his collection, The Library of Forgotten Books, in 2010. His novel, Unwrapped Sky, will be published by Tor in 2012. He writes reviews of speculative fiction for the Age newspaper, film reviews for several magazines and has a regular column in Overland. Rjurik’s screenplay The Uncertainty Principle (co-written with Ben Chessell) is currently under development with German company Lailaps Films. He has been short-listed for and won a number of awards. He can be found at www.rjurikdavidson.blogspot.com and has a blog on the Overland website called Against Reality.

    You have a collection and, in the pipeline, novels set in your world of minotaurs and sirens: how have you approached such mythic creatures in your fiction?
    As a child I read the Greek myths and, around the age of six, my imagination was captured by the ruins of Ancient Rome. There’s always been something transcendent about myth, which is why they still resonate with us. But in my stories, I wanted to approach the mythology — minotaurs, sirens, cyclops and gorgons — with a modern sensibility. That is, I wanted to keep the sense of myth and the mythic, but place it within an industrial world. The minotaur myth, for example, is sometimes said to be about technology: Theseus finds his way through the minotaur’s labyrinth with a ball of string. In a sense, ‘The Passing of the Minotaurs’ <read the short story at SciFi.com> — which is an extract from an early section of Unwrapped Sky — is a rewriting of this myth in an industrial capitalist world. The minotaurs are undone by modernity — by the power of commodification, if you like, in a similar way to many old and beautiful things in our world (old buildings or old forests, for example).

    This fantasy world, and the city of Caeli-Amur, might be thought of as city a bit like Rome or Turin in the 1920s. In Caeli-Amur, there’s industrialism, a rising working class, a strange bureaucratic capitalism, but there’s also the remnants of an older less developed society, and even further back the ruined remnants of a more advanced society. So the mythology all takes place in a world where there’s a great deal of of change. There’s social turbulence. No one quite knows where it’s all headed. It is a world where ‘all that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned’ as Marx once described it. What could be more profane than the death of a minotaur and the use of its body parts as commodities?


    Have the short stories been a way of exploring the world in preparation for the longer works, or were the novels always the end goal?
    I love short stories. In many ways, they’re more interesting than novels. You can be more experimental and you can be more adventurous in content. Quite often, the things which become famous at novel-length are first done in short story form (think of Gibson, for example). The stories gain a certain notoriety and this encourages the writer to develop those sorts of stories at longer length. One of the reasons is that novels have a slightly longer shelf-life, and there’s a little more money in them. That’s the way it happened with me, anyway. People liked Caeli-Amur and the stories set there, so I thought, right, time to write a novel set there. Still, I’ll always write short stories, just as I’ll always write essays and scripts and other things.


    You are an editor on a literary magazine and you’re a Ditmar winner for best new talent: what’s your take on the literature/genre divide?
    Oh, I have several responses, all pretty contradictory. My first response is that the division is false. Writers like Atwood, Ishiguru, Houllebecq and Winterson are clearly writing SF. On the other hand, there are plenty of SF writers writing very ‘literary’ science fiction: Gene Wolfe or M John Harrison, for example. Partly the division is invented by the marketing departments of publishing companies, partly there’s an inherited prejudice against SF in the ‘mainstream’ (which I find ignorant and repulsive), but there’s also quite often a self-reinforced ghettoisation from the SF community also.

    I find it all pretty frustrating because there are all sorts of deleterious effects of the division. SF writers are unfairly ignored and ‘literary’ writers writing SF too-often claimed as ‘original’ when they’re really borrowing tropes that have been around for decades. At Overland we try to be inclusive: we’ve had special SF editions, publish SF stories and articles, but I do feel fairly sad that the SF community pretty much ignores us — something reflected not only in terms of our submissions but reflected in things like awards, links to our online articles and so on.

    Another passed-down quirk of the division between the literary and SF worlds is the over-emphasis on plot-driven narrative in genre. Genre writers, readers and editors probably do want more ‘action’ than the literary world (which could often do with more action!). I’m not sure that’s healthy. Having said that, the SF community is a really welcoming and in the end, in terms of fiction, that’s where I happily exist.


    What Australian works have you loved recently?
    There’s a bunch of really great Australian SF writers. In fact, I’m amazed by the talent in Australian SF. I’ve loved stories by James Bradley, Lisa Hannett, Angela Slatter. But you know, I’m constantly surprised by the number of new writers coming though. And then there are other wonderful writers who have been around a while: Kirstyn McDermott, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti, Trent Jamieson and so on. I might say that the loss of Paul Haines leaves a massive hole in the SF scene.


    What have been some of the biggest changes in Australian speculative fiction in the past two years since Aussiecon 4?
    I’m not sure I could answer that. I’ve been a bit lost in novel-writing. But things seem to be coming along okay. The Aurealis Awards I went to last year were vibrant and professional, and the writers coming through, as I mentioned before, are talented. The end of Clarion South is a pretty big blow, I think, and there’s the ongoing ‘digital’ revolution (Aurealis is now mostly in e-book format).

    The challenges here are going to be the challenges the whole publishing industry is facing. No one can be sure quite where we’ll end up, but it seems likely that there will be less money around, and fewer readers (the statistics show that the average reader age is increasing). None of this is great for writers or publishers and we can expect that as an money-making industry, publishing might be on its last legs.

    At Overland we’ve been debating this for some time (on the website, in public forums and in the magazine’s pages) and some of us think that the solution may be to return to a more, for want of a better term, ‘social-democratic’ system, where the government funds an independent publishing house (or houses?) in the way it funds something like the ABC.

    In this sense, the challenges of publishing are similar to those of quality Australian TV drama, which can’t compete with international TV without stepping out of the system of commercialism. SF steps out of these bounds with labour-of-love small presses (which are wonderful), but they’re not a way for anyone to earn a basic living.

    * * *

    THIS interview was conducted as part of the 2012 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’re blogging interviews from 1-8 June and archiving them at Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus. You can read interviews at:

    Snapshot 2012: Garth Nix

    Posted in books, fantasy, science fiction, writing with tags , , , , , , , on June 4, 2012 by jason nahrung

    australian speculative fiction snapshot 2012 logoGARTH Nix has been a full-time writer since 2001. He has worked as a literary agent, marketing consultant, book editor, book publicist, book sales representative, bookseller and as a part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve. Garth’s books include the award-winning fantasy novels Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen and the science fiction novels Shade’s Children and A Confusion of Princes. His fantasy novels for children include The Ragwitch; the six books of The Seventh Tower sequence; The Keys to the Kingdom series; and the Troubletwisters books (with Sean Williams).

    More than five million copies of Garth’s books have been sold around the world. His books have appeared on the bestseller lists of The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, The Guardian and The Australian, and his work has been translated into 40 languages.

    Garth also produced the IF Award-winning and ACTAA-nominated short animated film The Missing Key, directed by Jonathan Nix; is a silent partner in the literary agency Curtis Brown (Australia); and is a co-founder of the online games developer Creative Enclave.

    He lives in a Sydney beach suburb with his wife and two children. Find him online at www.garthnix.com.



    You and Sean Williams looked to be having fun with the whiteboard when it came to plotting out your Troubletwisters series. How did the two of you go about collaborating on that series?
    The whiteboard video you can see on YouTube is a kind of condensed version of how it actually works. Basically, we got together at various times to work out the story in considerable detail, building up a chapter outline for the first book, and a backgrounder for the characters, setting and so on. Then I wrote the first chapter, Sean took it away and wrote the first draft of the rest of the book, mostly following the chapter outline but varying where he wanted to or thought it necessary. Then he flicked it back to me, and I revised it, sent it back again and he revised it, and so on for a couple of iterations. We also discussed any major changes as we went along. The end result is that when we look at any given page, neither of us can remember who wrote what, it is a true joint effort. We’ve repeated this basic process in the next two books, including the one that is just out now, Troubletwisters: The Monster.


    A Confusion of Princes is based on a computer game and you’ve done a great job of absorbing the game conventions such as respawning into the narrative. What were the challenges of this adaptation, if that’s a fair description of the process?
    It would be more accurate to say that the game, Imperial Galaxy, shares a background with the book. I actually had started writing the book first, then when Phil Wallach and I began work on the game, I suggested we use the background of the galactic empire, the three teks and so on, for the game. I had intended to finish the book earlier, but got distracted, so a kind of limited subset of the game came out in a beta version before the book was finished. You can play that game at www.imperialgalaxy.com, but essentially the game is stalled at the moment for lack of funds, and has been frozen for about two years now. We do still hope to return to it at some stage.


    You’ve been branching out and drawing on your family’s various skills as well: a very well received short film, self-publishing a collection of Sir Hereward stories, the computer game and the novel, and goodness knows what else. What have been the biggest pleasures you’ve found from exploring these diverse creative worlds?
    The film, The Missing Key (trailers at www.themissingkey.com), is very much my brother Jonathan Nix’s work. I co-produced it, but had little creative input, just the business management and so on typical of a producer. It has won a bunch of awards, and I am pleased to be an IF Award-winning and ACTAA-nominated producer, but I can’t take much of the credit.

    I self-published Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz: Three Adventures as an experiment to test new digital waters. I like to keep up with and investigate publishing trends and changes were I can. I do like to be involved in various ventures and activities, and I like to use my business mind as well as my fiction-writing faculties.

    What Australian works have you loved recently?
    I was enthralled by Margo Lanagan‘s Sea Hearts and greatly enjoyed Dave Freer‘s Cuttlefish (not yet released), but in general I haven’t read much Australian (or in fact any) science fiction or fantasy. I’ve been mostly reading non-fiction, particularly history. I was kind of shocked at myself when I realised how little of the Aurealis shortlist I’d read at the awards ceremony last month, so I have picked up a bunch of books and stories to read when I get the chance.

    What have been some of the biggest changes in Australian speculative fiction in the past two years since Aussiecon 4?
    I’m not sure changes are obvious until much later, perhaps six, seven or even 10 years, when you can look back and point to things that have become significant or made an impact over time. That said, I think in general it is encouraging to see so many people involved in reading and writing speculative fiction, and to see more and more Australian authors getting a foothold in the USA and UK, and in translation.

    * * *

    THIS interview was conducted as part of the 2012 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’re blogging interviews from 1-8 June and archiving them at Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus. You can read interviews at:

     

    Snapshot 2012: Scott Westerfeld

    Posted in books, writing with tags , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2012 by jason nahrung

    australian speculative fiction snapshot 2012 logoSCOTT Westerfeld is the author of five books for adults and 13 for young adults, including the New York Times-bestselling Uglies and Leviathan series. The latter was illustrated by Keith Thompson, and the former has just been adapted as a graphic novel series scripted by Devin Grayson, with art by Stephen Cummings. Scott’s work in progress is a meta-paranormal romance. Find Scott online at scottwesterfeld.com.


    How exciting is it to see Uglies being given a manga treatment — the sign of more cross-platform excursions to come?
    I’ve always wanted to rewrite the series from Shay’s point of view, simply as an exercise in perspective, but it seemed a bit lazy re-tell a story I’ve already told. But when the idea of a graphic novel adaptation came up, I realised that a different medium would be the right place to effect the shift in perspective. I’m working on an original graphic novel at the moment, having learned a lot from watching Devin Grayson adapt my outline for Shay’s Story.


    When you were writing your Leviathan series (which includes illustrations), did you expect it to be such a fashion hit in terms of the fan art? (I note that Uglies seems pretty popular, too…)
    Lots of people think that adding pictures to a book makes it younger, but in reality it just means reaching a different set of readers: those with a more visual bent, many of whom come out of manga and graphic novel traditions. So yes, there is a lot more fan art and cosplay for Leviathan than any of my other books. It really does change the kinds of questions readers ask. What are the dominant colors in this society? How do people dress for breakfast? Like fan fiction, fan art opens up countless new kettles of fish and makes the world of the book much bigger.


    You were on a panel about the fiction of the fantastic at the Sydney Writers Festival. What are some of the key ideas about writing fantasy and science fiction?
    World-building is a fundamental concern of our genre. Speculative writing quite often starts with a world and lets the stories, characters and conflicts come out of that world.


    What Australian works have you loved recently?
    Sea Hearts is a glorious read. It’s full of lovely sentences, as one would expect from Margo Lanagan, but also it’s one of the few multi-generational sagas I’ve read that doesn’t lose its flow as the decades pass. The bleak island setting is so unchanging and inescapable that the story can last a century and yet you always know right where you are.

    I’m also enjoying Library of Forgotten Books, a collection by Rjurik Davidson. The shorts stories are all darkly atmospheric, both in their themes and their language, which gives them an impact that’s more like a novel than a divertimento.


    What have been some of the biggest changes in Australian speculative fiction in the past two years since Aussiecon 4?
    I don’t know.

    * * *

    THIS interview was conducted as part of the 2012 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’re blogging interviews from 1-8 June and archiving them at Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus. You can read interviews at:

    Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

    Join 1,433 other followers