Rolling the bones, and otherly write bites

ad&d dungeon master's guideI’ve had a wee sabbatical, and there has been wordage, but now it’s back to the mines. Mordor, today; I do hope they’ve cleaned up the blood from the latest cull. At least we had a D&D session on Saturday: not too much bleeding for our side. There’s nothing quite like that communal escape into the fantastic, that combined storytelling, all tempered by a far more personable overlord and some random dice havoc.

Here’s a few of the more interesting articles to cross the desk lately, starting off with a nostalgiac reprint of Gary Gygax’s inspirational classic fantasy titles for role-players (ah, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser!), and an updated appendix to that appendix. You might notice Joe Abercrombie’s name on that latter list — he’s a guest at GenreCon in Sydney in November. Here’s a program teaser. It looks tasty. So, hands up who loved the Thieves World books? Who bumped dice with Jubal? Ah, good times …

Rolling on, and Angela Slatter offers advice for meeting agents — ‘hide the crazy’ — and suggests a key element is to have a good story. You don’t hear much about the value of a good story these days; it’s mostly about how to network and SEO your way to digital sales. Good art and good sales aren’t mutually exclusive, are they? So yay to Writer Unboxed, who reckons one of the biggest mistakes a writer can make is not understanding story. Ah, the learning, it just doesn’t end …

Which leads to Justine Larbalestier, who’s been blogging like a chipmunk on a wheel this month and making far more sense. Well worth stepping off your own wheel and checking out her posts, such as this one about the need for characters to keep learning and this one about them needing to have a life already!

I also enjoyed this introduction (typos and all) at Kirkus to the history of the vampire novel — close to my heart, given Salvage owes a debt to Le Fanu’s Carmilla.

  • midnight and moonshine by angela slatter and lisa hannettLooking forward to: seeing this book in print! Even if I wasn’t helping to launch it, I’d’ve been tempted to drive to Adelaide for Launch II. Lisa and Angela have provided two, well, three actually, of the most enjoyable collections of recent years: this combined effort may just be exponentially awesome.

  • Listening to music while the world slowly bleeds

    This is Lucia Micarelli, whose violin is a favourite attraction of the HBO television series Treme (available on DVD any minute now…). There’s a lot of soul in that playing, isn’t there? That violin appears on a couple of tunes on the Treme soundtrack, which has been on high rotation here while outside the house the world continues to find its own little slices of hell: floods, fires, cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis — and that’s just in our little corner of the globe.

    treme soundtrackIt’s a grand soundtrack, lifted from the first series, with an eye focused on post-Katrina New Orleans, one blink blame, one long stare at recovery and pride, and plenty of winks at simply enjoying life, whatever may come. The album’s resonance reaches further than Louisiana, right across the Pacific to rubble and mud and houses and lives thrown asunder. There’s comfort in the fact that American’s inability to care for their own (cf Steve Zahn’s ‘Shame Shame Shame‘) isn’t replicated on the grander scale; that citizens and nations rally in support of those in need. Japan and the Pacific: it’s your turn now, and how sorry are we that you need it?

    I realise that tectonic plates are one thing and global warming is another, but honestly, would it really hurt us to take a little better care of Spaceship Earth, even if — egads — its passengers might have to tolerate a little inconvenience? There’s nothing quite like a natural disaster to remind you just how delicate an ecosystem is, especially when it’s the one you rely on to keep you breathing.

    Also playing…

    Inspired by The Runaways movie, I finally added some serious Joan Jett to the CD collection and haven’t been disappointed — great rock ‘n’ roll to bop away at the keyboard to. Hard to go past ‘Do You Wanna Touch Me (Yeah)’!

    Also making noise is the latest from Theatres des Vampires, Mephisto Waltz. The Italian outfit don’t quite scale the same symphonic heights as Nightwish, but their tunes are lush and grand; Sonya Scarlet’s voice offers distinctive warmth and wide range, a real femme fatale feel, with her accent to the fore. Buzzing guitars, thumping drums, strings and piano: all the bases are covered in a theatrical but not overblown presentation.

    Rounding out the play deck is an oldie but a goodie from Velvet Acid Christ, lust for blood. This synth-driven industrial/EBM album is perfect accompaniment for editing and, turned up, urban action scenes of the spooky noir variety, but damn me if the door bell sound on one track isn’t STILL fooling me every time…

    Here’s ‘Carmilla’, from Theatre des Vampires: probably not what Sheridan Le Fanu had in mind, but I’m not going to disapprove.