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!
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.
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.
The new financial year seems an auspicious time to hang out my shingle in the editing arena.
Helping writers with their manuscripts is something I enjoy and have skills in, and with newspaper journalism going down the gurgler, now is a good time to diversify.
The awarding of my doctorate in creative writing (UQ, 2019) has encouraged the expansion of my freelance editing work.
This builds on a 30-year career in newspaper journalism, much as a sub-editor with skills in grammar, punctuation, spelling and clarity of expression, and a decade of providing editing and manuscript services to professional bodies, publishers and fiction writers. My own experience as a published writer further informs my practice.
Yes, for the first time since finishing the PhD, I’ve written — and sold — a short story. Whew.
‘Wollemi Dreaming’ was written in response to a call-out for an anthology called Oz Is Burning, by US publisher B-Cubed Press, with a brief of a fire-related apocalypse/post-apocalypse setting.
The theme of this anthology struck a spark, and it landed in tinder: images of the Black Summer bushfires still burning at the time this story was written and the incredible efforts of specialist firefighters in protecting the unique Wollemi pine stand in New South Wales; climate change; and crimes against our First Nations peoples. It’s not so hard to imagine the hubris of the wealthy privileged preying on the desperate to destroy part of our natural world that others risked their lives to save. But this story lets nature defend itself.
Here’s the full table of contents, which includes a couple of pals — huzzah!
And Gaia Screams by Ann Poore Across the Ditch by Clare Rhoden Burn, Burn! by Almas Alexander Red Sky at Morning by Sue Bursztynski Fires of the Heart by E.E. King Pay Back by Alex Isle By the Grace of God by Harold Gross Should Fire Remember the Fuel by Kyla Lee Ward Welcoming the End by Aura Redwood Beef by Zena Shapter The Last Wish by Lauren E. Mitchell Wollemi Dreaming by Jason Nahrung Firestorm Sounds by Suzanne Newnham Red Sky, Blue Dream by Jack Dann Infestation by Paula Boer Writing on the Wall by Gillian Polack Dire Insurance by Jared Kavanaugh Divorce by Donna J.W. Munro Inconvenient Visitor by Lucy Sussex Burning Hearts by Eleanor Whitworth Harvest by Narrelle M. Harris A Town Called Hope by Silvia Brown
Cover to come, and the anthology to be available this year, with a portion of the profit to go to a bushfire charity: [update: WIRES]. Bravo, B-Cubed. I look forward to seeing the finished article!
The calendar of Australian literary events is piling up with cancellations and postponements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but numerous writing organisations are heading online to keep the words flowing and the connections intact.
I’ve listed festivals offering online programming at the top of the calendar as well as in chronological order, and I’m curating a page at Ballarat Writers listing activities available online, such as joining in spoken word and poetry gigs, tuning in to award ceremonies, and listening to readings.
Neale Thompson, who made the coffee table in the background drawing on my piece ‘Ghosts of Us’. Picture: Kirstyn McDermott
The They Are Us collaborative ekphrastic art exhibition filled the room for its official opening on February 27, and it was quite the night.
It was very rewarding indeed to see, after a year of development, how the artists from Soldiers Hill Artist Collective had used the short stories and poems of our team of writers working under the Words Out Loud banner as inspiration for such as wide range of art on the theme of They Are Us.
And I was especially chuffed to see the exquisite coffee table (with terrarium, a so delicate world balanced on the surface) made by Neale Thompson in response to my melancholy (shock!) ‘Ghosts of Us’. It even has wildlife carved into its pattern as a special treat.
Part of the audience at the launch of They Are Us
The combined works comfortably fill the generous space at the Lounge Gallery, Billy’s Bar, at the Mercure at 613 Main Rd, Ballarat, and the launch crowd comfortably filled the room! Lovely to see some red dots on the walls by the end of the evening, too!
City of Ballarat’s deputy mayor, Cr Belinda Coates, again showed her appreciation of not just the exhibition and the project’s collaborative nature, but the role of art itself at a defining time in history.
Reuben Morgan (of the BallaRat Pack), who composed a gorgeous piece for the previous WOL-SHAC collaboration Weathering the Future in 2018, has again written a bespoke theme piece. He was unfortunately unable to perform it on the night, but a recording of the work (about seven minutes in three movements) played during the launch shows a piece well worth a closer listen when it becomes available as he reflects on the refugee experience.