Dreaming up a story: Eromon No More

dreaming in the darkWhere do your ideas come from, folks ask. Good luck answering that (aisle 3 at the shopping centre doesn’t cut it, I’ve found). But here’s an insight into the making of my yarn Eromon No More, which I’m bloody chuffed to have included in Jack Dann’s anthology Dreaming in the Dark (now available to order) where it rubs shoulders with some truly impressive talents — and is also a rare occurrence of Kirstyn and myself having a yarn in the same book.

So, I can trace the spark of the idea back to a panel at a Continuum convention in Melbourne (happening again June 9-12 2017) where the absence of variety in high/second world fantasy was noted. Not many old people as protagonists, for instance. And I’d been taken with the portrayal of Lamb in Joe Abercrombie’s Red Country, a damaged soldier trying to find some peace.

I nutted out a short yarn, deliberately generic, in which an old coot and a young thing have fled war for the peace and hard yakka of a farm, only war comes to find them — it was meant to be kind of a satire or a critique, but never really got there.

I sent this to Jack for Dreaming. And he said: Give me more.

My story in Jack’s Dreaming Again remains one of my favourites: his faith and commitment to that yarn kept me in the game at a time when I could happily have given it away. Then, as now, he said to give him more. Now, as then, I went looking.

winds of change anthologyThe original skeleton of the yarn remained much the same, but I tapped the feel of a fantastical Australia (most of my yarns are set here, one way or another; I need a very specific reason to not set a yarn in my country) I’d conjured up for another story, Wraiths (Winds of Change, 2011) to breathe life into the setting and add some cultural nuance.

But where did those two characters come from? They’re probably a construct or amalgam of stories read and watched, maybe even some D&D played, their characters assembled consciously and subconsciously … Who knows? Aisle 3 is as good a suggestion as any.

I do know the story title is a nod to the suburban habit of naming houses Emoh Ruo I first encountered in My Brother Jack, and perhaps was a call to George Johnston’s desire to escape that reality that ultimately he didn’t seem able to. Maybe it illustrates the characters’ motivation and ill fate. Or perhaps it had no deeper meaning than a bit of fun wordplay for a dark story that tries to end on (for me) an uncharacteristically lighter note.

Funny, too, how what was meant to be just a bit of scenery, in this case a chicken, came to have a metaphorical role in the story. That idea must’ve been on special in the supermarket that day.

Funnily enough, I’ve still got another iteration of this story in the back of my brain. One with a goose. And even half an idea for another story involving these two characters. Another trip to the supermarket may be required!

  • Dreaming in the Dark has 21 stories from writers including Sean Williams, Garth Nix, Angela Slatter, Terry Dowling … it’s a cornucopia of Aussie writing. Check it out here.

  • The Brisbane launch is at Dymocks, 17 Albert St, on Thursday 8 December from 6pm. There will be readings, live music, drinks, signings and bonhomie! It would be lovely to see a few Brissie pals there! Free to attend, but please RSVP!

     

    2017 Calendar of Australian Literary Events

    calendarThe calendar for the remaining weeks of 2016 is still pretty darn busy, but with next year’s literary calendar already getting busy, it’s time to cast ahead to 2017 and get those literary motors running. So here is the 2017 calendar of Australian literary events!

    And if you’re still at a loose end for what remains of this year, you can still check out this year’s calendar.

    As always, updates, notifications and corrections are appreciated!

    Words Out Loud in Ballarat – November edition

    words out loud in ballaratWords Out Loud returns to Babushka lounge in Ballarat on Thursday, November 24, 7-9pm, for its next session of spoken word.

    To mark the final event of the year, Jessica Wilkinson will headline. Jessica is the founding editor of RABBIT: a journal for nonfiction poetry, which celebrates its 20th issue in November. She has published two poetic biographies, marionette: a biography of miss marion davies (Vagabond 2012) and Suite for Percy Grainger (Vagabond 2014). She is currently writing up a third, on choreographer George Balanchine, research for which was undertaken at the NYC Public Library and Harvard under the Marten Bequest Travel Award. She is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at RMIT University, Melbourne.

    Writers, readers, poets — all word lovin’ folks with a hankering to share the love are invited along, with five-minute open mic spots on offer. Babushka has excellent sound and backing tracks can be accommodated. You won’t find a friendlier venue. Sadly, Babushka has announced it is likely to close at year’s end, so this a chance to farewell this most excellent host.

    The event has a nominal theme of “on the edge”, but as always, performers are encouraged to take the theme and run with it for their 5-minute slots — or ignore it altogether!

    Entry is free.

    Keep up to date at the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/wordsoutloud/.

    Words Out Loud in Ballarat – October edition

    words out loud ballaratMake a flap. Aim for the sky. Let your words (or someone else’s) soar. Words Out Loud is “winging it” when it returns to Babushka lounge in Ballarat on Thursday, October 20, 7-9pm, for its next session of spoken word.

    Writers, readers, poets — all word lovin’ folks with a hankering to share the love are invited along, with five-minute open mic spots on offer. Babushka has excellent sound and backing tracks can be accommodated. You won’t find a friendlier venue.

    The event has a nominal theme of “winging it”, but as always, performers are encouraged to take the theme and run with it for their 5-minute slots — or ignore it altogether!

    Entry is free, though a gold coin donation would be appreciated for this non-profit, community event.

    Keep up to date at the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/wordsoutloud/.

    Words Out Loud in Ballarat – September edition

    spoken word in ballaratWords Out Loud returns to Babushka lounge in Ballarat on Thursday, September 15, 7-9pm, for its next session of spoken word.

    Writers, readers, poets — all word lovin’ folks with a hankering to share the love are invited along, with five-minute open mic spots on offer. Babushka has excellent sound and backing tracks can be accommodated. You won’t find a friendlier venue.

    The event has a nominal theme of “new leaves”, but as always, performers are encouraged to take the theme and run with it for their 5-minute slots — or ignore it altogether!

    Entry is free, though a gold coin donation would be appreciated for this non-profit, community event.

    Keep up to date at the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/wordsoutloud/.

    Words Out Loud in Ballarat – August edition

    words out loud in ballaratShare “the road ahead” when Words Out Loud returns to Babushka lounge in Ballarat on Thursday, August 18, 7-9pm, for its next session of spoken word.

    Writers, readers, poets — all word lovin’ folks with a hankering to share the love are invited along, with five-minute open mic spots on offer. Babushka has excellent sound and backing tracks can be accommodated. You won’t find a friendlier venue.

    While the theme is “the road ahead” (make of it what you will), it isn’t compulsory! Share your own work or something that has moved you, or just come to enjoy the performances and meet district writers.

    Entry is free, though a gold coin donation would be appreciated for this non-profit, community event.

    Keep up to date at the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/wordsoutloud/.

     

    Sharing the love — little heart warmers

    2016 has been a bit shit in a lot of ways, hasn’t it? Loss and meanness and downright ugliness. But, as Heart would say, or sing, rather, what about love?*

    Well, recently my writerly community was gathered in Melbourne** celebrating their love of the written word, in various literary and visual forms, and my wife and I were off at the other end of Ballarat taking a quiet anniversary weekend out. Here’s a picture: let’s call it Love 1.

    Worldmark Ballarat resort

    If you like willows and lake reflections and red bricks against blue sky, you’ll find more pictures here.

    On day 1 of the weekend, we ate dumplings at our favourite dumpling house (Fu Man Lou) and then went on a ghost tour***, the tickets for which had been given to me for my birthday. That’s love right there — a gift from someone who “gets” you. For the record, the tour started out pretty well, in a haunted Victorian-era bakery subject to flooding, but kind of went off the boil as the night wore on and the cold set it. Too much sauce, not enough substance — unlike the dumplings. Nom nom nom. Funnily enough, the site of the dumpling house was also the setting for one of the ghost stories. What the hell, Love 2.

    The second night, we went to Catfish Thai. Oh my, times a bunch. Seven courses, each one delectable. We had a window seat looking over this old brick place and next to it a wall covered in winter ivy — noice. Wonderful restaurant, great service, divine tucker, with a bill best suited to special occasions. Love 3.

    And then, as there are on anniversaries, wee small gifts of affection: a Plague Doctor Bird! My beloved secured this months ago, a fabulous work by KJ Bishop, a damn fine writer who also is a dab hand at gardening and sculpture. Round it out with a Batman mug: Love 4!****

    Plague Doctor Bird

    The weekend wasn’t entirely without its “literature”, of course. We slummed for a day and watched Anomalisa, a disappointing film from Charlie Kaufman about a dude not coping with his decisions in life and hurting everyone; the well-constructed and quite engaging, and infuriating, The Big Short; and a surprisingly entertaining Trainwreck. Claymation annoyance, effective rom com and political statement: Love 5. The wine and cheese gets the movie marathon over the line. Also, do check out a card game called Sushi Go! Great for pairs or groups, quick and easy but not without its strategy. It’s Australian, and, I’ve just found out, was the subject of an Indiegogo campaign: more love!

    And, as readers of this blog might realise, I finished off that weekend by sharing that other love of mine: my vampires. But that’s enough about that.

    As shit as it all gets, we’ve got nature, and art, and each other. It’s worth taking the time out sometimes to remember that. Love out.

    * New album out next month! (New versions, a couple of new tunes *drums finger* still no Oz tour, but.)
    ** We missed youse all!
    *** We did their Ararat ghost tour a few years ago and it was brilliant.
    **** In return, there were poppets. We love poppets🙂