Emilie Autumn in Melbourne: time to leave the asylum

ImageEmilie Autumn is an amazing singer-songwriter who has turned dark times into performance; who has in fact built a fantastical persona and entertaining stage act under the asylum for wayward Victorian girls motif.

Her most recent album, Fight Like A Girl, took the bold step of turning institutionalisation into a musical where independence — girl power — wins out over patriarchal straight jackets. And more power to her. Such a themed, narrative album was to be applauded.

But it hasn’t translated to her latest Flag stage show, which doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. With a surprisingly unadorned stage compared to her previous — and sensational — visit to St KIlda’s Espy, with songs interrupted by burlesque, a quaint fan fic skit and the once amusing, now, quite frankly, past its time, rat game, in which offside Veronica pashes an audience member to give the crowd a lesbo thrill, the show lacked cohesion.

The sound wasn’t great, either, the whole gig set to a backing track that often overwhelmed the at-times patchy vocals.

There were highlights as songs such as ‘Fight Like a Girl’ blasted out, and signs of what the show could’ve been when the always entertaining Captain Maggot, under-used, stalked Emilie in demonic garb on stilts.

Emilie is perhaps trapped at the moment, between wanting to break out her artistic vision but feeling compelled to play to her fan base — there’s a great deal of audience support for the rat game, for instance. Will her fans go with her if she leaves the asylum? Will they accompany her on a journey past the dalliance with madness and teasing sexuality?

It will be interesting to see what direction Emilie takes next, but I hope the next stage show flies a different flag.

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Dining Ballart: Irish Murphy’s — and a detour via Death at the comic shop

dinner at irish murphy's ballarat

Dinner at Irish Murphy’s Ballarat

We ducked into Irish Murphy’s to escape the antarctic gale sweeping down Ballarat’s Sturt Street last night, and what a warm encounter it turned out to be.

Through the swinging doors of the airlock, through the public bar and into the restaurant, where the staff were welcoming indeed. Tucked into a cosy booth, we enjoyed an early dinner: lamb shanks ($25), bangers and mash ($20), and for me, roast beef with veg ($21).

Massive serves — dessert was just never going to happen. Tasty tucker. And while the strips of beef were a little chewy, the roast taters were the best I’ve had in eons. I was only half joking when I said next time I’d be ordering just a plate of them! Washed down with a glass of Pepperjack shiraz: spot on for a blustery day.

Old signs and display windows of bottles add to the brick-n-timber ambience. Getting there early was a bonus.

Another keeper!

Death figurine from SandmanEarlier, guided by a friend, our trip to town netted a joint housewarming present to ourselves: an absolutely stunning figure of Death, from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman books. Safe to say, we’ll be back to visit the wonderfully laid out Heroes HQ comic shop, occupying the rooms of a building forming part of a former military base.

So far, Ballaratia: all good!

Salvage nominated in the Ditmar Awards

Salvage by Jason NahrungVery pleased to see Salvage among the six nominations for best novel of 2012 in the Ditmar Awards. The awards are popularly nominated and voted upon, so perhaps can be seen more as a measure of awareness within fandom, which makes the listing very cool.

Salvage and Blood and Dust are both finalists for best horror novel in the Aurealis Awards, and Blood and Dust is up for best novel in the Australian Shadows, so the Ditmar nom balances the books nicely!

There was a little confusion with Salvage, due its word count being precariously balanced on the cut-off 40,000-word mark between novella and novel. My fault, really: I should’ve got a final-version count from the publisher rather than going off an earlier version. We’re talking a difference of one or two sentences, but enough to tip it over into novel territory.

Also up for the Ditmar is a star-studded field, including Kirstyn’s Perfections — also a finalist in Aurealis and Shadows.

The awards will be announced at Conflux in Canberra in April. (Edit: I originally said the awards would be presented at Continuum in June; sorry Conflux!)

Once again, the Ditmars show the stature of podcasts and the internet in the realm of fan publications, and strong fields elsewhere. Here’s the full list:

Ditmar Finalists 2012

Best Novel

  • Sea Hearts, Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)
  • Bitter Greens, Kate Forsyth (Random House Australia)
  • Suited (The Veiled Worlds 2), Jo Anderton (Angry Robot)
  • Salvage, Jason Nahrung (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Perfections, Kirstyn McDermott (Xoum)
  • The Corpse-Rat King, Lee Battersby (Angry Robot)
  • Best Novella or Novelette

  • ‘Flight 404’, Simon Petrie, in Flight 404/The Hunt for Red Leicester (Peggy Bright Books)
  • ‘Significant Dust’, Margo Lanagan, in Cracklescape (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • ‘Sky’, Kaaron Warren, in Through Splintered Walls (Twelfth Planet Press)


    Best Short Story

  • ‘Sanaa’s Army’, Joanne Anderton, in Bloodstones (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • ‘The Wisdom of Ants’, Thoraiya Dyer, in Clarkesworld 75
  • ‘The Bone Chime Song’, Joanne Anderton, in Light Touch Paper Stand Clear (Peggy Bright Books)
  • ‘Oracle’s Tower’, Faith Mudge, in To Spin a Darker Stair (FableCroft Publishing)


    Best Collected Work

  • Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan, edited by Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Epilogue, edited by Tehani Wessely (FableCroft Publishing)
  • Through Splintered Walls by Kaaron Warren, edited by Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Light Touch Paper Stand Clear, edited by Edwina Harvey and Simon Petrie (Peggy Bright Books)
  • Midnight and Moonshine by Lisa L. Hannett and Angela Slatter, edited by Russell B. Farr (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2011, edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (Ticonderoga Publications)


    Best Artwork

  • Cover art, Nick Stathopoulos, for Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 56 (ASIM Collective)
  • Cover art, Kathleen Jennings, for Midnight and Moonshine (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Illustrations, Adam Browne, for Pyrotechnicon (Coeur de Lion Publishing)
  • Cover art and illustrations, Kathleen Jennings, for To Spin a Darker Stair (FableCroft Publishing)
  • Cover art, Les Petersen, for Light Touch Paper Stand Clear (Peggy Bright Books)

    Best Fan Writer

  • Alex Pierce, for body of work including reviews in Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus
  • Tansy Rayner Roberts, for body of work including reviews in Not If You Were The Last Short Story On Earth
  • Grant Watson, for body of work including the ‘Who50’ series in The Angriest
  • Sean Wright, for body of work including reviews in Adventures of a Bookonaut


    Best Fan Artist

  • Kathleen Jennings, for body of work including The Dalek Game and The Tamsyn Webb Sketchbook


    Best Fan Publication in Any Medium

  • The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond
  • Galactic Suburbia, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Alex Pierce
  • Antipodean SF, Ion Newcombe
  • The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
  • Snapshot 2012, Alisa Krasnostein, Kathryn Linge, David McDonald, Helen Merrick, Ian Mond, Jason Nahrung et. al.
  • Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus, Alisa Krasnostein, Tehani Wessely, et. al.
  • Galactic Chat, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Sean Wright

  • Best New Talent

  • David McDonald
  • Faith Mudge
  • Steve Cameron
  • Stacey Larner
  • William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review

  • Alisa Krasnostein, Kathryn Linge, David McDonald, and Tehani Wessely, for review of Mira Grant’s Newsflesh, in ASIF
  • Tansy Rayner Roberts, for ‘Historically Authentic Sexism in Fantasy. Let’s Unpack That.’, in tor.com
  • David McDonald, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Tehani Wessely, for the ‘New Who in Conversation’ series
  • Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene, for ‘The Year in Review’, in The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2011
  • Rjurik Davidson, for ‘An Illusion in the Game for Survival’, a review of Reamde by Neal Stephenson, in The Age
  • Double trouble: Blood and Dust an Australian Shadows finalist

    In the same week that the Aurealis Awards listed Blood and Dust and Kirstyn’s Perfections as finalists for best horror novel of 2012, lightning has struck twice: both books were announced last night as finalists for the Australian Shadows best horror novel.

    This time, the pair is keeping company with Lee Battersby‘s Corpse Rat King.

    That short-list of three is overshadowed by the short fiction award finalists — eight of ’em! That’s a long short-list! I blame Kaaron Warren, who has not only three of the four yarns in her Through Splintered Walls collection listed there, but the fourth in long fiction (kind of a middle ground between short and novel) AND the collection itself. Pretty awesome, huh?

    Here’s the full list, with winners to be announced on April 12.

    Australian Shadows 2012 finalists

    NOVEL

  • Lee Battersby, The Corpse Rat King (Angry Robot)
  • Kirstyn McDermott, Perfections (Xoum)
  • Jason Nahrung, Blood and Dust (Xoum)


    LONG FICTION

  • Daniel I Russell, Critique (Dark Continents)
  • Robert Hood, Escena de un Asesinato (Exotic Gothic 4, PS Publishing)
  • Kaaron Warren, Sky (Through Splintered Walls, Twelfth Planet Press)


    SHORT FICTION

  • Felicity Dowker, To Wish on a Clockwork Heart (Bread and Circuses, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Jason Fischer, Pigroot Flat (Midnight Echo 8, AHWA)
  • Martin Livings, Birthday Suit (Living with the Dead, Dark Prints Press)
  • Andrew J McKiernan, They Don’t Know that We Know What They Know (Midnight Echo 8, AHWA)
  • Kaaron Warren, Creek (Through Splintered Walls, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Kaaron Warren, Mountain (Through Splintered Walls, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Kaaron Warren, Road (Through Splintered Walls, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Marty Young, A Monstrous Touch (Dangers Untold, Alliteration Ink)


    COLLECTION

  • Felicity Dowker, Bread and Circuses (Ticonderoga)
  • Martin Livings, Living With the Dead (Dark Prints Press)
  • Kaaron Warren, Through Splintered Walls (Twelfth Planet Press)


    EDITED PUBLICATION

  • Cthulu Unbound 3, eds David Conyers and Brian M Sammons (Permuted Press)
  • Surviving the End, ed Craig Bezant (Dark Prints Press)
  • The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2011, eds. Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (Ticonderoga Publications)


  • Salvage, and Blood and Dust, finalists in the Aurealis Awards!

    Happy dancing here in the shadow of Wendouree Tor with the word that both Salvage and Blood and Dust are finalists for the Aurealis Awards’ best horror novel of 2012, AND Kirstyn’s Perfections is also in the running! Yes, we’re going head to head!

    This is my first short-listing in the AAs — The Darkness Within was highly commended in a year when there was no short-list — so it’s a hell of a thrill to have two, quite disparate titles listed.

    The fourth book in the finalists’ list is by fellow Victorian Jason Franks, who I met earlier this year at Oz Horror Con. He’s very cool and very passionate about his craft, so I’m looking forward to tracking down his Bloody Waters — it’s his first novel, following some well-received graphic novels. Nice, eh?

    Indeed, the Aurealis finalists make for an excellent recommended reading list.

    Another thrill is to see other writers by my publishers Xoum and Twelfth Planet Press making an impression on the lists.

    And check out the science fiction novel section — SIX titles in a category usually a bit light on, and offering a whole lot of variety.

    Interesting, too, to see self-published works making the short-lists, and the number of multiple nominations — Margo Lanagan, Jonathan Strahan, Jo Anderton and Kaaron Warren in the thick of it, amongst others. Wow, it’s a quality field all over. Congratulations, y’all!

    The awards will be presented in Sydney on May 18.

    Aurealis Awards finalists 2012

    FANTASY NOVEL

  • Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth (Random House Australia)
  • Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff (Tor UK)
  • Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)
  • Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier (Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Winter Be My Shield by Jo Spurrier (HarperVoyager)
  • FANTASY SHORT STORY

  • ‘Sanaa’s Army’ by Joanne Anderton (Bloodstones, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • ‘The Stone Witch’ by Isobelle Carmody (Under My Hat, Random House)
  • ‘First They Came’ by Deborah Kalin (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 55)
  • ‘Bajazzle’ by Margo Lanagan (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • ‘The Isles of the Sun’ by Margo Lanagan (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

  • Suited by Jo Anderton (Angry Robot)
  • The Last City by Nina D’Aleo (Momentum)
  • And All The Stars by Andrea K Host (self-published)
  • The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina (Walker Books)
  • Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Rook by Daniel O’Malley (Harper Collins)
  • SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY

  • ‘Visitors’ by James Bradley (Review of Australian Fiction)
  • ‘Significant Dust’ by Margo Lanagan (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • ‘Beyond Winter’s Shadow’ by Greg Mellor (Wild Chrome, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • ‘The Trouble with Memes’ by Greg Mellor (Wild Chrome, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • ‘The Lighthouse Keepers’ Club’ by Kaaron Warren (Exotic Gothic 4, PS Publishing)
  • HORROR NOVEL

  • Bloody Waters by Jason Franks (Possible Press)
  • Perfections by Kirstyn McDermott (Xoum)
  • Blood and Dust by Jason Nahrung (Xoum)
  • Salvage by Jason Nahrung (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • HORROR SHORT STORY

  • ‘Sanaa’s Army’ by Joanne Anderton (Bloodstones, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • ‘Elyora’ by Jodi Cleghorn (Rabbit Hole Special Issue, Review of Australian Fiction)
  • ‘To Wish Upon a Clockwork Heart’ by Felicity Dowker (Bread and Circuses, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • ‘Escena de un Asesinato’ by Robert Hood (Exotic Gothic 4, PS Publishing)
  • ‘Sky’ by Kaaron Warren (Through Splintered Walls, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

  • Dead, Actually by Kaz Delaney (Allen & Unwin)
  • And All The Stars by Andrea K. Host (self-published)
  • The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Amberlin Kwaymullina (Walker Books)
  • Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)
  • Into That Forest by Louis Nowra (Allen & Unwin)
  • YOUNG ADULT SHORT STORY

  • ‘Stilled Lifes x 11’ by Justin D’Ath (Trust Me Too, Ford Street Publishing)
  • ‘The Wisdom of the Ants’ by Thoraiya Dyer (Clarkesworld)
  • ‘Rats’ by Jack Heath (Trust Me Too, Ford Street Publishing)
  • ‘The Statues of Melbourne’ by Jack Nicholls (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 56)
  • ‘The Worry Man’ by Adrienne Tam (self-published)
  • CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through words)

  • Brotherband: The Hunters by John Flanagan (Random House Australia)
  • Princess Betony and the Unicorn by Pamela Freeman (Walker Books)
  • The Silver Door by Emily Rodda (Scholastic)
  • Irina the Wolf Queen by Leah Swann (Xoum Publishing)
  • CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through pictures)

  • Little Elephants by Graeme Base (author and illustrator) (Viking Penguin)
  • The Boy Who Grew Into a Tree by Gary Crew (author) and Ross Watkins (illustrator) (Penguin Group Australia)
  • In the Beech Forest by Gary Crew (author) and Den Scheer (illustrator) (Ford Street Publishing)
  • Inside the World of Tom Roberts by Mark Wilson (author and illustrator) (Lothian Children’s Books)
  • ILLUSTRATED BOOK/GRAPHIC NOVEL

  • Blue by Pat Grant (author and illustrator) (Top Shelf Comix)
  • It Shines and Shakes and Laughs by Tim Molloy (author and illustrator) (Milk Shadow Books)
  • Changing Ways #2 by Justin Randall (author and illustrator) (Gestalt Publishing)
  • ANTHOLOGY

  • The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2011 edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Bloodstones edited by Amanda Pillar (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year Volume 6 edited by Jonathan Strahan (Night Shade Books)
  • Under My Hat edited by Jonathan Strahan (Random House)
  • Edge of Infinity edited by Jonathan Strahan (Solaris Books)
  • COLLECTION

  • That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote by K. J. Bishop (self-published)
  • Metro Winds by Isobelle Carmody (Allen & Unwin)
  • Midnight and Moonshine by Lisa L. Hannett and Angela Slatter (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Living With the Dead by Martin Livings (Dark Prints Press)
  • Through Splintered Walls by Kaaron Warren (Twelfth Planet Press)

    -#-

  •  

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

  • 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.

  • Sydney Speculative Fiction Festival: a fine day out

    writers gather at nsw writers centre's speculative fiction festival 2013

    Coffee break under the jacarandas

    Now that was fun! The NSW Writers Centre held its sold-out Speculative Fiction Festival on Saturday, and it was one of the most relaxing, enjoyable, informative literary events I’ve been to.

    Kate Forsyth curated the event, gathering writers and publishers from as far away as Perth: Garth Nix, Juliet Marillier (launching a collection, Prickle Moon, which sounds fab and has — awesomely — a hedgehog on the cover), Ian Irvine, Richard Harland, Alison Croggon, Adelaideans Lisa Hannett and Ben Chandler, Angela Slatter, Rob Hood and Cat Sparks and Deb Biancotti and more and more.

    Sadly, Kim Wilkins and Marianne de Pierres were unable to attend.

    nsw speculative fiction festival

    First panel of the day: international fantasy

    The centre itself is housed in a gorgeous old building, two stories, a former asylum and, I’m told, the building in which shock therapy once occurred.

    No such shocks at the fest, but plenty of stimulation: publishing insights from the likes of Joel Naoum (Momentum) and Zoe Walton (Random House) as well as conversation about writing fantasy and YA and using fairy tales and, of course, getting published.

    Sydney turned on a warm day with a cool breeze, and lunch and coffee on the lawn under the shade of the jacarandas was a delight. Gotta love those crows, chiming in with their own comments from time to time.

    prickle moon launch at NSW Writers Centre

    Russell Farr with Sophie Masson and Juliet Marillier and Liz Grzyb launching Prickle Moon

    Chrissi and Amber from Galaxy Bookshop kept an eye on the stock, and the centre’s Rose Powell was a butterfly of biz keeping everything in order — she certainly deserved a drink as the book launch got underway on the veranda at the end of the day.

    Kirstyn and I sat on a panel with Rob Hood and Deb Biancotti about horror and the weird and had a jolly old time talking Gothic and psychology and chills to a room surprisingly full for a dark side discussion; the interest was heart warming and the audience engaged.

    As always, half the fun is the chinwagging, and with the likes of Alan Baxter and Mark Webb and Zena Shapter and Rivqa Rafael and Angie Rega (who has a new website! and new stories coming out!) and oodles more, there was plenty of chinwagging to be had, both there and at the pub afterwards.

    Addendum: Pix by Cat Sparks!

    Throw in a Manly ferry trip the night before to attend the launch of Kate’s The Wild Girl (review here by Sean, my go-to blogger for all things spec fic)and dinner after, and fair to say the weekend away was a delight.

    Next up: Newcastle Writers Festival and the ever-enjoyable Conflux.

    See the calendar for more Aussie literary events