Recent common sense from writers wot know:
Two-million-word writer Kim Wilkins:
Write the fucking fiction! Don’t write blogs and marketing plans and twitter yourself in front of everyone in hopes of building a platform. Write the fucking fiction FIRST. The rest is just white noise until you have a good finished product. And it must be good.
Justine Larbalestier, whose blog is informative and entertaining, on YA writers doing it for the money:
If someone really decided to become a YA novelist solely to make big money then they’re an idiot with incredibly poor research skills. Choosing to write novels—in any genre—as a path to riches is about as smart as buying lottery tickets to achieve the same.
And to complete the trifecta, Joe Abercrombie offers an overview of planning, something I’m going through at the moment with a similar process to this:
I’ll know the setting and the rough plot for each part, some idea of what each point of view character needs to do, but usually I only plan the first part in any close detail, working out exactly what each chapter is going to contain.
Abercrombie and Wilkins are guests at GenreCon in Sydney in November, which should be a hoot.
No sooner had we just finished watching the last episode of Blake’s 7 than the announcement hit the interwebs that an American outfit was interesting in remaking the cult British television show. First thought: this could be wicked, what with modern special effects and all. Second thought: another UK show mangled by Americans missing the point. Verdict: torn.
I loved Blake’s 7 as a kid; the 1978-81 show offered something different. A crew who were together by desperate convenience, who weren’t jumping each other’s bones but rather each other’s nerves, and who could lose just as easily as win. And, as io9 points out, led by someone who might just be a zealot dangerous to all around him.
The effects were hokey, the gender politics at times ghastly, the episodic plots sometimes dodgy, the fight scenes lamentable. We now have a ‘Blake punch’ in our house, whereby the merest tap on the shoulder will cause instant collapse. And yet, with the friction between said zealot Blake and self-serving computer whiz Avon, the equally self-preservationist thief Vila and the mercenary smuggler Jenna who found something — or someone — to believe in, the show is still enjoyable. There are the witty one-liners and put-downs, acerbic sniping all round. Dayna and Soolin can shoot straight, too; even Vila has his hero moments. And there’s Servalan, of course, a stylish, three-dimensional villain who has her share of travails. Talk about leave Buck Rogers for dead!
Add in some bold decisions: killing off a cast member mid-season, dropping the titular character for two seasons, destroying the uber-starship Liberator and replacing it with a far less ostentatious and well kitted out ship… Indeed, by the end of the final, fourth season, only two original cast members remain on the bridge. And then there’s the conclusion, of course: it’s hard to imagine an American television show in which the heroes totally and utterly lose.
If it does get up, it will be interesting to see in which direction the remake goes. Let’s just hope it doesn’t poke science fiction in the eye the way the remade Battlestar Galactica did.
THERE is a moment in the newly released movie Hysteria, which traces the invention of the vibrator in the late 1800s, where the humour to be extracted from doctors masturbating women to release their ‘hysteria’ runs into the horror wall: the feisty heroine, played brilliantly by Maggie Gyllenhaal opposite the rom com’s leading man Hugh Dancy, faces institutionalisation and forced hysterectomy. The engine of her dire straits is her father.
While the movie has its laughs, its social commentary, both of class and sex, is telling. The medical condition of ‘hysteria’ was only dismissed in the 1950s, the movie’s afterword tells us. It takes a lot of Rupert Everett’s hijinks as electrical experimenter and comic moments with mating ducks to relieve that uneasiness.
SURGICAL maltreatment of women as a way of dealing with perceived hysteria, or lunacy, is very much to the fore in Emilie Autumn‘s new album, Fight Like a Girl, which landed this week. It offers a narrative, musical arc set in an asylum for women — some of the music is from a planned Broadway show — but this is not the home for wayward girls so endearingly and sexily brought to the stage in her previous live show. Rather, this is the surgery where those ‘wayward’ girls are locked away to keep their brash sense of self and identity from unbalancing the patriarchy. Women as objects to be used, as threats to be neutralised, is the theme.
The ranging styles of the songs, from the upbeat defiance of the titular single to the violin ballad of ‘What Will I Remember?’, the vaudeville of ‘Girls! Girls! Girls!’ to the funereal ‘Goodnight, Sweet Ladies’, is clearly rooted in the dramatic production. And what a dark show it promises to be, with drug therapy and incarceration, and threats of sterilisation, rape, mutilation and murder among the offerings.
Tellingly, the album opens with the strongest, most strident songs, giving the impression of a revolution being quashed as the songs then travel into the asylum. A number of shorter tunes, some instrumental, suggest bridges between scenes, before the album draws to a close with the military beat of ‘One Foot in Front of the Other’, a hint of recovery and the promise of round two.
Along the way, there are treats in the minimalist electro of quite terrifying ‘Take the Pill’, harpsichord-driven ‘If I Burn’ and the seven-minute menace of ‘Scavenger’.
She’s quite the multi-talented artist, Ms Autumn, and this album, a different beast with some familiar stripes to her breakout Opheliac, suggests, even after just a couple of listens, further rewards in store.
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?
Very sad to hear of the passing of Jon Lord, who rose to fame as the keyboardist for Deep Purple, pumping the instrument through the Marshalls to help make the band, in 1972, the loudest in the world. Lord finally quit the band in 2002. Classically trained, a composer as well as a rock pioneer, he was also a charming, gentlemanly person. I think myself lucky to have seen him with Deep Purple, sans Blackmore unfortunately, and with the Hoochie Coochie Men at an amazing pool-side blues gig on the Sunshine Coast. A true legend.
My 2003 interview with Lord is here
How good was it to see Stuart Chatwood caressing those keyboards? Jeff Burrows going restrained Animal on the drums up the back, silhouetted by that spectacular backlighting beaming out across the Palais like some kind of mystical door opening? And Jeff Martin, being Jeff Martin, up the front of the Tea Party for the first time since they called it a day seven years ago?
Very bloody good.
Sure, the sound was always a pain with the feedback buzz and increasing muddiness. The lighting at times a little overbearing. The medleys a little ad hoc, not quite as smooth in the transitions as we’re used to.
Oh, there might be a few cobwebs still hanging off the trio, but after two hours of blasting out hits such as ‘The River’, ‘The Bazaar’, highlights in ‘Fire in the Head’ and ‘Psychopomp’, and on, to an encore culminating in ‘Sister Awake’/’Paint It Black’), they proved they’ve still got IT.
Throw in the theremin on ‘Lullaby’ (if memory serves), ‘Shadows on the Mountainside’ and a wee slice of ‘Hallelujah’ — more Cohen than Buckley — with ‘Heaven Coming Down’, ‘Release’, ‘Temptation’ and more, and last night’s opening gig of the Reformation tour in Melbourne was quite the emotional rollercoaster. More fun than Luna Park next door. And somehow, walking out into a cool, light shower of rain was the perfect end to what might be a new beginning for the Canadian trio.
They’re recording this Australian tour for a live album; will the studio follow?
Bookings are now open for those able to attend my chat at Caloundra Library on Monday August 13 at 10-11am and at Noosa Library on Tuesday August 14 4-5.30pm. Expect to hear about the writing and publishing process, landscape as character and inspiration, and vampires, of course. Given that Salvage was primarily written on (and is kind of set on) Bribie Island and polished off at Noosa, it’s something of a homecoming.
You can also rsvp for the Brisbane launch at Avid Reader, 6 for 6.30pm, on Friday August 10 by emailing events @ avidreader.com.au or phoning 3846 3422, or drop me a line and I’ll pass it on. Kim Wilkins will be doing the honours.
You can also book in for the Darkness Down Under panel, with Kirstyn McDermott, Angela Slatter and myself, at Logan North Library on Saturday August 11 at 1.30-3pm. If you like reading or writing horror and dark fantasy, there should be something in this for you.
All events are free. Copies of Salvage will be available. There will be coffee and time for chinwagging. I’m looking forward to it!
Lauren Beukes is looking like being one of those authors I just have to follow. I read the first chapter of her second novel, Zoo City, today over lunch, and within those few pages, however badly hyphenated on my Kindle app, despite having to read the very first line twice, I was:
Mission accomplished, then. Unless the book takes a swerve into Stupid, I’m on board. I greatly enjoyed her Moxyland, a multiple point-of-view thrill ride. I can’t wait to see where Zoo City takes me.
This is the promo video for the new album by Konqistador, late of Melbourne and North America, now of Istanbul, and it’s the barest taste of the thoroughly entertaining Suada.Fortunately, they’ve kindly made audio tracks of the album available at YouTube so you can indulge before you buy (have a listen, name your price, download away at bandcamp).
Suada is an intriguing album. Emotional, transportative, at times meditative, others stirring, a real sine wave of sparse and dense.
‘Harcanan Kotu’ opens with a chop and change of percussion, bass and fuzz, borrowing a riff from ‘Evil Gotten Evil Spent’ on Konqistador’s ‘Courage Riot album which showed strong Middle Eastern influences.
There follows three tracks that are more obviously rock tunes: ‘Albastru’, gothic and seductive with a delicious hint of menace; ‘Suada’, showcasing the world music and electronic elements with a jaunty beat; and ‘Brancovan’, offering hints of poppy hair metal, a wonderful anthem that leaps from the speakers and demands attention.
There follows a more scenic second stretch, introduced by the low noise of ‘Izul’ that suggests a mysterious, perhaps spooky journey ahead. Wind noise and muted arabesque vocals further suggest a lost time or remoteness, slowly giving way to electro, almost SF, effects evoking the weird, the Gothic and the haunted. A superb introduction, it probably doesn’t stand alone as well as other pieces here.
This lends the album a feeling of being a collection of mini-landscapes, an anthology rather than a novel, and what an enjoyable journey it is.
Izul is followed by ‘With Eyes Shut’, a sweeping choral opening complemented by belly dance jangle and whispered lyrics, industrial sounds contrasting with the drums giving way to electric guitar-led cruise and some bursts of subdued electronica to provide some light and shade.
This is where I was most likely to drift off – not necessarily a bad thing – and ‘Rafqa’ pulled me back after the fade.
‘Rafqa’ bustles with percussion and vocals. It stands out for being a relatively straightforward song amidst the more atmospheric offerings of this section – a transition or perhaps demarcation between the more instrumental works?
The album jumps to ‘From the Ruins’, a comparatively sparse Greek guitar-and-synth instrumental that drops us back into a more desolate, though relatively pacific, landscape.
Dreamy ‘Keykubat’ is much more lush; it brings percussion to the fore, with ethereal vocals, synths and a gradual building of tension. It wouldn’t have been out of place on Trent Reznor’s soundtrack to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It hits a lot of my buttons thanks to the vocals and synth textures.
‘Huzun’ offers a quiet fall away to keyboard/electronic instrumental with choir, an interlude that gives way to percussion and then changes gear with swelling requiem organ under a driving percussive beat and then into fade.
And finally we have the closer ‘O Yar Katit Darom’, resetting yet again with its quiet start. The vocals add to its meld of Arabia and India; quite a contrast to ‘Huzun’. It’s a particularly long piece at 13 minutes, caught in its percussive groove before again we have the swell, reminiscent of Ministry’s ‘Khyber Pass‘. The SF effects add contrast, a flying saucer landing in the middle of a bazaar, perhaps with a windstorm in effect, indicating the end of a musical wander through varied yet complementary sonic terrain.
IF something more retro is your style — say, ’80s dancey and all Depeche Mode-y / Human League-y — have a taste of Christopher Anton’s Spaceships and Dreamers (Part One). You have permission to boogie.