In which the extremely personable and knowledgeable host George Penney chats with yours truly at Bohemiana about locating vampire fiction in Australia, the importance of fiction in the climate crisis, and some of our favourite goth rock.
I also name drop the superb albums Lotus Eaters by Wendy Rule and Crater Vol.1 by Android Lust, which were on high rotation when I was writing my island Gothic Salvage.
I note quite a few familiar names from across the literary spectrum on George’s interview list – a valuable opportunity to get behind the scenes in the writing process.
November is still an action-packed month for literary events, but next year’s calendar is already looking healthy with events scheduled through to September. So let’s get planning! The 2023 calendar of literary events is now live with plenty more to be confirmed. Updates, notifications and corrections are appreciated.
In which FableCroft Publishing presents its first anthology in six years, ‘celebrating the connections and creativity that make us human’.
In which I have a story, my first in two years. One of 24 from writers from here and overseas.
The invitation to submit a story for The Art of Being Human came during a period of Covid-induced turmoil – restrictions and lockdowns, broken supply chains, working from home. Deaths.
At a time when live entertainment and the arts were among those sectors especially suffering, they were also elevated: online performances and gatherings became a lifeline, as well perhaps as a reminder that, like the natural world around us, these pursuits were too easily taken for granted. As were their practitioners.
And so ‘Exposure’ came to light, a combination of some of my favourite subjects as I tried to find a way to address the anthology theme: the place of art in our society, what it means to me, and what it can offer in a time of cataclysm, whether it be the short-term upheaval of a pandemic or the ongoing catastrophe that is climate change. I find it hard these days to write anything that isn’t touched by climate change – it is, as we are finding as a society and as a species, ubiquitous.
The story developed from a mental image of a Polaroid camera in a box in a dusty, warehouse-like room. You can read the result for yourself, with the Kickstarter now available – this is the only place to go if you’d like a print copy, and digital copies are also available.
Last year, as Ballarat stumbled from one set of pandemic restrictions to another for the second year in a row, Lake Wendouree became an important outlet for us. We’ve always been drawn to the Botanic Gardens and the lake, where the turn of the seasons is in on full display and there’s an overriding sense of calm: birds, trees, water. During peak Covid, having the lake within our permitted 5km radius was a blessing, a place to walk and to breathe.
So when photographer Ian Kemp last year invited me to write a response to his beautifully composed, atmospherically processed photographs of the western side of the lake – an area largely comprised of Fairyland and ‘the lagoon’ – I had no hesitation in agreeing,
During our harshest period of lockdown in 2020, Ian used his one hour of permitted exercise a day to capture the mood of the time, his monochromatic images, printed on aluminium, showing immense depth even as they fade away at the edges, capturing a sense of isolation, transition and, yes, tranquility.
You don’t need to know the lake to sense the emotion of Ian’s images, but seeing the familiar locale rendered in such a different way focused my response and encouraged me to pay new attention to the area and my relationship to it. The mood of the photographs triggered my response, the essay ‘Hours in Fairyland’, which directly references some elements of the images while expanding outwards to a broader context of pandemic, nature and climate change.
The original concept was entitled Making landscapes…one hour at a time, featuring a range of Ian’s images and my essay, and now there is to be an outing: one of Ian’s splendid photos (at 900mm x 1300mm, it’s seriously striking), ‘There is rapture in solitude and space’, and my words are part of the exhibition SHAC & CO.
The exhibition, involving SHAC members collaborating with others artists, in on show at the Mercure Ballarat Hotel and Convention Centre, Main Road, Golden Point, from 20 June to 31 July 2022. Free entry. The official launch is on 23 June at 6.30pm. I can’t wait to see what my fellow artists have cooked up!
Chuck McKenzie aka Uncle Charles has been doing a wonderfully entertaining series of readings of spooky stories – he has crossed the 30 mark – and now it’s my turn.
‘Spare Parts’ is one of my first published stories, back when I was active in Brisbane’s Vision Writers group and we put out an anthology of members’ work. (2003 – heady days!) It was reprinted in 2011.
Chuck succinctly, knowingly, describes the story thus:
In this dark vision of the near future from Jason Nahrung, cloning technology provides the rich with a steady supply of compatible transplant organs. Healthy hearts, Undamaged livers. Fresh lungs. Finally, anything that threatens your quality of life can be replaced.
With that kind of description, I reckon I’d pay him to do my book blurb!
There are plenty of events already hitting the 2022 calendar of literary events, with some postponed from the Covid disruption of the past couple of years – more strength to them! As I wrote last year, with hit-and-miss results, here’s hoping the new year runs smoothly, with plenty of chances to gather in person to celebrate writing, reading and spoken word. Updates, notifications and corrections to the calendar are appreciated.
Maybe hanging around with the Words Out Loud crowd, when that was a thing, has rubbed off on me, because here comes a poem!
The curtain has been raised on the cover for Infectious Hope, a 47-poet anthology curated by Canberra-based Silvia Cantón Rondoni that aims to inspire and comfort amid the storm that is Covid-19.
Says the publisher:
Infectious Hope is a call out for positivism and resilience during lockdown and isolation. Editor and poet Silvia Cantón Rondoni has curated a poetry anthology that includes a spectacular range of diverse poets from around the globe, and focuses on their insights and strength during the pandemic.
A poetic vaccination of the soul, and a reminder that we are in this together and are stronger than we know.This anthology contains the creativity of 47 poets, including luminaries Fiona Wright, Joe R. Landsdale, Isobelle Carmody, Roz Kaveney, and Linda D. Addison, as well as an introduction by Lee Murray.
Here’s a photo I prepared earlier, when I thought I was leaving my employment at the Herald and Weekly Times in October, 2019. Not so back then.
But now, here we are, my last shift behind me, at least for the foreseeable.
This would have marked my 32nd year in newspaper journalism. How the industry has changed since I first walked through the door of the Maryborough Chronicle as a fourth-year cadet journalist, my first job after leaving uni.
Am I leaving it or did it leave me?
There’s more that could be said, but … nah. Tonight, I’m out of words, in print or otherwise. A big dip of the hat, though, to those erstwhile colleagues who made the journey what it was. Good journos, good photographers, good artists. Good people. Great people. Colleagues and friends.
Unlike some of them – many of them – I’ve been able to leave on my own terms.
Anyway, looks like I’m out of the newspaper game. I know, never say never … I’m looking forward to having my nights and my weekends back, but man, I’m gonna miss the team.
The 2021 calendar of Australian literary events is showing plenty of signs of life as the community dusts itself off from the devastation and chaos of 2020. Here’s hoping the new year runs more smoothly, with plenty of chances to gather in person to celebrate writing, reading and spoken word. Updates, notifications and corrections to the calendar are appreciated.