Heading to Continuum for a climate disaster or two

continuum convention logoSpeculative fiction convention Continuum runs at Melbourne’s Jasper Hotel June 8-11 (gosh, that’s starting tomorrow!), and I’ll be heading along to talk about climate change (as well as many other things, no doubt, but officially: climate change).

The guests of honour are Alison Evans and my fellow climate fiction writer and researcher Cat Sparks, so that’s excitement enough right there.

This year the convention has added a Deep Dive stream, in which folks give (mostly) 20-minute talks on topics of interest. I’m presenting some research from my PhD-in-progress outlining the mosaic approaches of three Australian SF climate fictions (Sue Isle’s Nightsiders, James Bradley’s Clade, and Steven Amsterdam’s Things We Didn’t See Coming). Other dives include body horror, convict women in Tasmania (Van Diemen’s Land), the metaphorical use of monsters, and Cat’s talk on ecocatastrophe and Anthropocene fiction, to name a few.

I’m also on a panel on the Friday night talking about climate science and climate fiction, and the state we’re in.

Day tickets are available for the convention, which celebrates pop culture, geekdom, fandom and speculative fictions in all their forms. Visit the Continuum website to find out more.

Get your Aussie vampires here

alison goodman launches the big smoke by jason nahrung

Picture courtesy of Alison Goodman

Home again from the Continuum convention in Melbourne, at which there was much catching up, some learnin’ and some launchin’.

Always good to reconnect with the clan, and very appreciative indeed of those who were able to make the launch for Blood and Dust and The Big Smoke — my Aussie vampire duology. So great to have them out in the world!

Alison Goodman did the launch business with aplomb — just look at that hat! Here’s a quote from her speech:

The Big Smoke is based on the old European vampire lore, but given a new bright Australian slant. These vampires wear a permanent sun squint and a pair of sunglasses. The book pulses with hot weather, hot blood and hot vengeance.

For more info, or to snaffle a copy for the vampire-lovin’ reader in your family, check out the Clan Destine Press links below! (edit: worth noting the books are also available at Amazon, Booktopia et al)

Aurealis Awards a happening thing

aurealis awards logoThe Aurealis Awards are one of my favourite events on the literary calendar, a crash of companionship, congratulations and commiserations, but above all, good company drawn from the ranks of the Aussie speculative fiction community — agents, publishers, writers, readers.

Sadly, my study schedule means I probably won’t be at them this year — the first I’ve missed since, I think, 2007 — but I hope to catch up with many folks at Bundy WriteFest in Bundaberg in May and Continuum in Melbourne in June.

If you’re able to get to Canberra for the awards on April 11 — tickets are $40 before March 11, $50 thereafter — get along and share the love! Margo Lanagan is the host for the evening’s shenanigans — that should be a hoot, right there!

The awards also make a darn fine suggested reading list if you’re interested in what Aussie spec fic writers are into, so keep an eye out for the finalists when they’re released soonish.

Addendum (27 Feb): finalists have been released and can be found here

Also on the radar is GenreCon, an industry get together with lots of panels and bar time to find out what’s what in the genre world. That’s in Brisbane at the end of October. Again, sadly, I probably won’t be going due to a family event at the same time, but it’s well worth the effort.

Calendar of Australian literary events

Continuum X, at which Kirstyn wins an award and I wear a top hat

Home again from Continuum X, the national science fiction convention held in Melbourne at the weekend. Knackered, but happily so, after much catching up with friends old and new. It was a most excellent convention.
Briefly, because the catching up with work is kind of catching up with me, a few of the highlights:

  • Waving my walking stick around at the launch of a new collection by Rosaleen Love and Kirstyn’s Perfections, new in paperback — an exercise in creative thinking in the latter instance, as a print error caused the book — for this launch only — to be retitled Imperfections, and the author providing a personalised tale on a page unintentionally left blank
  • Mulling over the challenge presented by guests of honour Jim C Hines and Ambelin Kwaymullina in their speeches addressing equality and appropriation
  • Chinwagging with Jack Dann and co-host Gillian Polack at the launch of his back catalogue, and specifically Jubilee, and nabbing Janeen Webb’s collection, Death at the Blue Elephant, and seeing Jo Anderton’s trilogy made complete with the launch of Guardian.
  • Chewing over topics such at witches, the Gothic and the evolution of various critters, on three panels of learned friends
  • presenting a Ditmar for Best New Talent to an absent Zena Shapter from a quality field
  • seeing an absent Garth Nix (though he was on the phone!) recognised for a career of achievement with the Peter McNamara award
  • seeing Kirstyn land a Ditmar for her story, The Home for Broken Dolls — she was also highly commended in the Norma K Hemming for her collection Caution: Contains Small Parts. (Full awards list below)

    Photos from Continuum by Cat Sparks

    Other things to emerge from the event:

  • the Chronos awards, for Victorian speculative fiction, need a good, hard think about the continuing inclusion of ‘no award’, and also how to increase publicity and engagement to prevent a slide into irrelevance (a list of eligibles has already been started for next year)
  • a bar that charges $9 for cider and $15 for wine is a big aid for avoiding hangovers (but good on them for extending their hours to midnight on Sunday)
  • you can buy awesome burgers and sweet potato chips at Perkup Expresso Bar — even on Christmas Day.

    2014 DITMAR AWARDS

    Best Novel

    Winner: Fragments of a Broken Land: Valarl Undead, Robert Hood (Wildside)
    Finalists:
    Ink Black Magic, Tansy Rayner Roberts (FableCroft)
    The Beckoning, Paul Collins (Damnation Books)
    Trucksong, Andrew Macrae (Twelfth Planet)
    The Only Game in the Galaxy: The Maximus Black Files 3, Paul Collins (Ford Street)

    Best Novella or Novelette
    Winner: The Home for Broken Dolls, Kirstyn McDermott (Caution: Contains Small Parts)
    Finalists:
    Prickle Moon, Juliet Marillier (Prickle Moon)
    The Year of Ancient Ghosts, Kim Wilkins (The Year of Ancient Ghosts)
    By Bone-Light, Juliet Marillier (Prickle Moon)
    What Amanda Wants, Kirstyn McDermott (Caution: Contains Small Parts)

    Best Short Story
    Winner: Scarp, Cat Sparks (The Bride Price)
    Finalists:
    Mah Song, Joanne Anderton (The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories)
    Air, Water and the Grove, Kaaron Warren (The Lowest Heaven)
    Seven Days in Paris, Thoraiya Dyer (Asymmetry)
    Not the Worst of Sins, Alan Baxter (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #133)
    Cold White Daughter, Tansy Rayner Roberts (One Small Step)

    Best Collected Work
    Winner: The Bride Price, Cat Sparks (Ticonderoga)
    Finalists:
    The Back of the Back of Beyond, Edwina Harvey (Peggy Bright Books)
    Asymmetry, Thoraiya Dyer (Twelfth Planet)
    Caution: Contains Small Parts, Kirstyn McDermott (Twelfth Planet)
    The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories, Joanne Anderton (FableCroft)

    Best Artwork
    Winner: Rules of Summer, Shaun Tan (Hachette Australia)
    Finalists:
    Cover art, Eleanor Clarke, for The Back of the Back of Beyond (Peggy Bright Books)
    Illustrations, Kathleen Jennings, for Eclipse Online (Nightshade)
    Cover art, Shauna O’Meara, for Next (CSFG)
    Cover art, Cat Sparks, for The Bride Price (Ticonderoga)
    Cover art, Pia Ravenari, for Prickle Moon (Ticonderoga)

    Best Fan Writer
    Winner: Sean Wright, for body of work, including reviews in Adventures of a Bookonaut
    Finalists:
    Tsana Dolichva, for body of work, including reviews and interviews in Tsana’s Reads and Reviews
    Grant Watson, for body of work, including reviews in The Angriest
    Foz Meadows, for body of work, including reviews in Shattersnipe: Malcontent & Rainbows
    Alexandra Pierce, for body of work, including reviews in Randomly Yours, Alex
    Tansy Rayner Roberts, for body of work, including essays and reviews at http://www.tansyrr.com

    Best Fan Artist
    Winner: Kathleen Jennings, for body of work, including Illustration Friday
    Finalists:
    Nalini Haynes, for body of work, including Defender of the Faith, The Suck Fairy, Doctor Who Vampire, and The Last Cyberman in Dark Matter
    Dick Jenssen, for body of work, including cover art for Interstellar Ramjet Scoop and SF Commentary

    Best Fan Publication in Any Medium
    Winner: Galactic Chat Podcast, Sean Wright, Alex Pierce, Helen Stubbs, David McDonald, & Mark Webb
    Finalists:
    Dark Matter Zine, Nalini Haynes
    SF Commentary, Bruce Gillespie
    The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott & Ian Mond
    The Coode Street Podcast, Gary K. Wolfe & Jonathan Strahan
    Galactic Suburbia, Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce, & Tansy Rayner Roberts

    Best New Talent
    Winner: Zena Shapter
    Finalists:
    Michelle Goldsmith
    Faith Mudge
    Jo Spurrier
    Stacey Larner

    William Atheling Jr. Award for Criticism or Review
    Winner (tie): The Reviewing New Who series, David McDonald, Tansy Rayner Roberts, & Tehani Wessely
    Winner: Galactic Suburbia Episode 87: Saga Spoilerific Book Club, Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce, & Tansy Rayner Roberts
    Finalists:
    Reviews in Randomly Yours, Alex, Alexandra Pierce
    Things Invisible: Human and Ab-Human in Two of Hodgson’s Carnacki stories, Leigh Blackmore, in Sargasso: The Journal of William Hope Hodgson Studies #1 (Ulthar)
    A Puppet’s Parody of Joy: Dolls, Puppets and Mannikins as Diabolical Other, Leigh Blackmore, in Ramsey Campbell: Critical Essays on the Master of Modern Horror (Scarecrow)
    That was then, this is now: how my perceptions have changed, George Ivanoff, in Doctor Who and Race (Intellect)

    Peter McNamara Award
    Garth Nix

    Norma K Hemming Award
    Winner: Rupetta, N. A. Sulway (Tartarus UK)
    Highly commended: A Very Unusual Pursuit – City of Orphans, Catherine Jinks (Allen & Unwin)
    Highly commended: Caution: Contains Small Parts, Kirstyn McDermott (Twelfth Planet)
    Finalists:
    Dark Serpent, Kylie Chan (HarperVoyager)
    Fairytales for Wilde Girls, Allyse Near (Random House)
    Trucksong, Andrew Macrae (Twelfth Planet)

  • Continuum, Chronos … shiny!

    chronos awards for salvage and mornington ride

    Home again, and happy to say, there is new, somewhat unexpected shiny on the shelf. Salvage won for best novel and ‘Mornington Ride’, from Epilogue, won best short story – the first time one of my shorts has been nominated for an award. Bonus: the actual trophy is very neat, complete with kind of fun typos for those who care to look closely.

    Click here for the full Chronos finalists and winners list

    Awards aside, Continuum came along at just the right time — the sun’s been hard to find over Wendouree Tor for a few days now, but there was plenty of warmth at Con9.

    It was a very busy con, lucky to have knowledgable and personable guests of honour in NK Jemisin (her excellent, challenging guest of honour speech is here) and Paul Collins, and it reminded me yet again just what a sharing, caring, passionate community we have here in spec fic-dom. Good friends are hard to find, the saying goes, but obviously not harking from someone who’s been to a con.

    Next year’s Continuum is June 6-9, with Jim C Hines and Ambelin Kwaymullina as guests of honour. I’ve already bought my membership.

    Anon, my friends, anon.

    Caution: Contains Small Parts, by Kirstyn McDermott — we have launch!

    caution contains small parts by kirstyn mcdermottIt’s a little over two weeks until the launch of Kirstyn’s Caution: Contains Small Parts. Why, yes, I have had a preview read, and yes, it rocks in that unsettling McDermott mode that recently snared an Australian Shadows and an Aurealis Award for best horror novel. The collection is a sharp, four-story title in the ongoing, and quite stunning, Twelfth Planet Press Twelve Planets series.

    Also at the launch, we’ll be lifting a belated glass to Kirstyn’s award-winning Perfections and my award-not-wining Blood and Dust, both of which came out very late last year.

    Caution: Contains Small Parts launch: Sunday, 9 June, at 6pm, as part of Continuum 9 @ Ether, lower level, 285 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne.

    The collection is available for pre-order, or you can get a Twelve Planets subscription deal. The book will be on sale at the launch, naturally, where the author will happily sign copies.

    Oz Horror Con, Sydney Spec Fic Festival: here we come!

    So, another idea to make it an easy, homebody year, and look what’s happened: outings! adventures!

    Hehe.

    First up, I’ll be hanging out with the horror buffs at Oz Horror Con in Melbourne, which is on the full weekend but I’ll only be there on the 20th as part of a contingent from the Australian Horror Writers Association. The venue sounds very, um, underground, though sadly lacks full accessibility WHICH IS SOMETHING THAT SHOULD NOT HAPPEN cf this missive from Hogetown about a similar event TWO YEARS AGO, and the con itself is likely to cover a wide spectrum of the pop horror scene. I could be the gothic tragic hugging the shadows saying ‘who’s that’ at every second cosplayer, but it should be educational and quite fun. I should try to watch Patrick again, just to be schooled up.

    And now the wheels have turned far enough to say I should be catching up with a whole bunch of writers and readers at the NSW Writers’ Centre’s Speculative Fiction Festival on March 16. Kate Forsyth is directing again — last year’s was a hoot, I’m told.

    And down the track, over Anzac weekend in Canberra, there’s the national SF convention, Conflux, followed by Melbourne’s Continuum.

    Throw in the Aurealis Awards and a few other stray bits ‘n’ bobs — and the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton, UK — and 2013 is looking like a preeetty busy year…

    There are plenty more events on, of course; the wallet is already smouldering. Check out the calendar of Aussie literary events for an idea what’s available.

    Writerly round-up: a new book, an award, a farewell

    It’s the afternoon after the four days that came before, and what a grand four days Continuum 8 offered. Held at Rydges in Carlton, where the bartenders were, as usual, outgunned by demand, the convention pulled together writers, publishers, readers and knitters (!) from around the country for the celebration of all things fantastical.

    Twelfth Planet Press launched new titles by Kaaron Warren — a printing error has meant a recall for those who have already snaffled the enticing collection — and Margo Lanagan (officially hitting the shelves in August) and my novella Salvage (yay!). Keep an ear out for a podcast recorded at the beautifully laid out Embiggen Books(timber shelves! ladders! SECRET DOOR!) about the Twelve Planets series of collections. [update: the podcast is now available here]

    Twelve Planets podcast

    Twelve Planets podcast at Embiggen Books

    There were panels on vampires, e-books, Australian writing and many other things; launches; parties; costumes; crafts; dinners on Lygon St; the nearest Japanese restaurant would’ve seen a pleasing surge in income. And there were awards, with Paul Haines and Sara Douglass both receiving posthumous accolades. A further highlight of the Ditmars was the squeaking octopii, given out as stand-ins when the actual awards failed to arrive in time.

    Also awarded were the Chronos awards, recognising achievements by Victorian writers, artists and fans, and how pleasing it was to receive one for ‘best fan writer’. A lovely acknowledgement of my new address! And Kirstyn and co-host Ian Mond landed Ditmar and Chronos awards for their podcast, The Writer and the Critic. The awards lists are below.

    Convention pictures by Cat Sparks*

    More pix from yours truly

    So amidst the catching up, the memorials and general frivolity, a bittersweet announcement has been made: my wonderful boss, Kate Eltham, is leaving the Queensland Writers Centre to take the reins at next year’s Brisbane Writers Festival. Kate is a dynamic woman and talented writer who has made the QWC such an active organisation, reaching out across the state and the nation and overseas through various programs all aimed at not just keeping writers of all ilks in the loop but helping them to be part of the loops. It’ll be interesting to see what new ideas she brings to the BWF. This is great news for Kate and a real shift of gears, but I confess that I will sure miss her. Good luck with it, mate!

    Kirstyn McDermott, Ian Mond host Continuum awards ceremony

    Kirstyn and Ian host the awards ceremony

    Ditmar Award winners:

    Peter McNamara Award: Bill Congreve

    A. Bertram Chandler Award:Richard Harland

    Norma K Hemming Award, TIE: Anita (AA) Bell for Hindsight; Sara Douglass for The Devil’s Diadem

    And a new award, the Infinity:Merv Binns

    Best Novel

    • WINNER: The Courier’s New Bicycle, Kim Westwood (HarperCollins)
    • Debris (The Veiled Worlds 1), Jo Anderton (Angry Robot)
    • Burn Bright, Marianne de Pierres (Random House Australia)
    • The Shattered City (Creature Court 2), Tansy Rayner Roberts (HarperCollins)
    • Mistification, Kaaron Warren (Angry Robot)

    Best Novella or Novelette

    • WINNER: ‘The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burnt’, Paul Haines (The Last Days of Kali Yuga)
    • ‘And the Dead Shall Outnumber the Living’, Deborah Biancotti (Ishtar)
    • ‘Above’, Stephanie Campisi (Above/Below)
    • ‘Below’, Ben Peek (Above/Below)
    • ‘Julia Agrippina’s Secret Family Bestiary’, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Love and Romanpunk)
    • ‘The Sleeping and the Dead’, Cat Sparks (Ishtar)

    Best Short Story

    • WINNER: ‘The Patrician’, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Love and Romanpunk)
    • ‘Bad Power’, Deborah Biancotti (Bad Power)
    • ‘Breaking the Ice’, Thoraiya Dyer (Cosmos 37)
    • ‘The Last Gig of Jimmy Rucker’, Martin Livings & Talie Helene (More Scary Kisses)
    • ‘Alchemy’, Lucy Sussex (Thief of Lives)
    • ‘All You Can Do Is Breathe’, Kaaron Warren (Blood and Other Cravings)

    Best Collected Work

    • WINNER: The Last Days of Kali Yuga, Paul Haines (Brimstone)
    • Bad Power, Deborah Biancotti (Twelfth Planet)
    • Nightsiders, Sue Isle (Twelfth Planet)
    • Ishtar, Amanda Pillar & KV Taylor, eds. (Gilgamesh)
    • Love and Romanpunk, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Twelfth Planet)

    Best Artwork

    • WINNER: ‘Finishing School’, Kathleen Jennings, in Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories (Candlewick)
    • Cover art for The Freedom Maze (Small Beer), Kathleen Jennings

    Best Fan Writer

    • WINNER: Robin Pen, for The Ballad of the Unrequited Ditmar’
    • Bruce Gillespie, for body of work including The Golden Age of Fanzines is Now’, and SF Commentary 81 & 82
    • Alexandra Pierce, for body of work including reviews at Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus, Not If You Were The Last Short Story On Earth, and Randomly Yours, Alex
    • Tansy Rayner Roberts, for body of work including reviews at Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus, and Not If You Were The Last Short Story On Earth
    • Sean Wright, for body of work including ‘Authors and Social Media’ series in Adventures of a Bookonaut

    Best Fan Artist

    • WINNER: Kathleen Jennings, for work in Errantry, including ‘The Dalek Game’
    • Rebecca Ing, for work in Scape
    • Dick Jenssen, for body of work including work in IRS, Steam Engine Time, SF Commentary, and Scratchpad
    • Lisa Rye, for Steampunk Portal series
    • Rhianna Williams, for work in Nullas Anxietas Convention Program Book

    Best Fan Publication in Any Medium

    • WINNER: The Writer and the Critic podcast, Kirstyn McDermott & Ian Mond
    • SF Commentary, Bruce Gillespie, ed.
    • Galactic Chat podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayner Roberts & Sean Wright
    • Galactic Suburbia podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayer Roberts, & Alex Pierce
    • The Coode Street podcast, Gary K. Wolfe & Jonathan Strahan

    Best New Talent

    • WINNER: Joanne Anderton
    • Alan Baxter
    • Steve Cameron

    William Atheling Jr. Award for Criticism or Review

    • WINNER: Alexandra Pierce & Tehani Wessely, for reviews of The Vorkosigan Saga, in Randomly Yours, Alex
    • Russell Blackford, for ‘Currently reading: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke’, in Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
    • Damien Broderick & Van Ikin, for editing Warriors of the Tao: The Best of Science Fiction: A Review of Speculative Literature
    • Liz Grzyb & Talie Helene, for ‘2010: The Year in Review’, in The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2010
    • David McDonald, Tansy Rayner Roberts & Tehani Wessely, for ‘Reviewing New Who’ series, in A Conversational Life

     

    Chronos Awards

    Best Long Fiction: The Last Days of Kali Yuga, Paul Haines (Brimstone Press)


    Best Short Fiction: ‘The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burnt’, Paul Haines (in The Last Days of Kali Yuga)


    Best Fan Writer: Jason Nahrung


    Best Fan Artist: Rachel Holkner


    Best Fan Written Work: ‘Tiptree, and a collection of her short stories’, Alexandra Pierce (in Randomly Yours, Alex)

    Best Fan Artwork: Blue Locks, Rebecca Ing (Scape 2)

    Best Fan Publication: The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond

    Best Achievement: Conquilt, Rachel Holkner and Jeanette Holkner (Continuum 7)


     
    * It’s possible there might be a photo of me with a bottle of wine and a glass: I was pouring for other people. Honest.

    Snapshot 2012: Alison Goodman

    australian speculative fiction snapshot 2012 logoALISON Goodman has been writing and being published for almost 24 years. She began to get published in her second year of university – mainly feature articles and short stories – and her first novel came out in 1998: Singing the Dogstar Blues, a young adult science fiction thriller. It won the Aurealis Award for Best YA novel and was an ALA Best YA book. That was followed by her crime thriller, Killing the Rabbit, published originally in the USA, and which is now about to be re-released in print in Australia and as an e-book under the new title, A New Kind of Death.

    Her latest two books are the fantasy duology Eon and Eona, which were New York Time Bestsellers and have been published in more than 18 countries and 10 languages. Eon (under its initial Australian title The Two Pearls of Wisdom) won the 2008 Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel and was also an ALA Best YA book and a James Tiptree Jr Honour Book.

    This year, Alison has been contracted to write a new historical/supernatural series with publishers in the USA, Canada and Australia. The first book is due out in 2014.

    Keep in touch with developments at www.alisongoodman.com.au and her Facebook page.

  • Alison is guest of honour at Continuum, starting TOMORROW NIGHT at Rydges on Swanston in Melbourne.
  • YA SF, crime, Chinese-influenced fantasy … have you picked stories to best address certain themes, or are you just having a grand old time in all the diversity genre has to offer?
    I suspect a bit of both. In terms of genre, I go where the story takes me. When I have the initial idea for a book or series, I take note of where it seems to fit in the genre market and think about the conventions of that genre. If some of them work for me, I’ll use them (either with or against the expectations). However, I don’t feel obliged to stick faithfully to the conventions or, indeed, to one genre. I do like to meld genres, which can bring a whole bucket load of problems with it but is a lot of fun to write.

    In terms of themes within a novel, I usually find that I may start with an idea of a thematic line – developed from the plot and character – but find that other, stronger themes emerge as I write. Having said that, the thematic starting point is not usually the driving force for me in my writing process – I am more engaged by character and plot and these supply the passion that propel me. So, I don’t feel that I pick stories to write by the appeal of their themes. Still, it is not really possible to separate out those three elements – plot, character, and theme. They are so deeply entwined in the development of my fiction that at least some of each needs to be in place before I start writing.

    Romantic plotlines, of varying degrees, operate under some level of mostly social pressure duress in your books, and happy endings are not guaranteed. In what ways is love, whether unrequited, doomed or conquering all, important to your storytelling?
    I think it is more that desire is important to my storytelling, rather than love. That often includes the desire for love, but I think that is secondary to the desire for the ultimate goal of the main character, be it power as in the Eon duology or truth in A New Kind of Death (Clan Destine Press). Love is not the main goal of my characters, but it is almost always part of their motivation. How characters go about loving or seeking love is a fundamental building block of my characterisation. It is not the driving force of the main plot-line – that is the domain of romance fiction – but it is one of the elements that adds depth and universality to the characters, and provides sub-plots that support and add duress to the events in the main plot.

    You’re in the midst of a research trip to Europe for your new series. Has anything you’ve unearthed been wonderfully surprising, the kind of thing where you just HAVE to use it in the books?
    Yes, I came across a porcelain women’s urinal shaped like a lady’s slipper. In time of necessity in a crowded royal drawing room, it was slipped under one’s huge hooped court dress and clutched between the thighs! That is definitely going into my novel. However, I’m always wary of bunging in a bit of research because I like it. For me, research has to be at the service of the story and the fastest way to become a bore is to write pages of research detail and go off-story.

    I recently read an article by James Wood in the on-line New Yorker about Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell novels, but it is also about writing good historical fiction. Wood writes that:

    ‘..what gives fiction its vitality is not the accurate detail but the animate one … novelists are creators, not coroners, of the human case’.

    That really hit a chord with me. When I am researching, I look for those shining details that are going to give the flavour and energy of the time without weighing down my story…such as a urinal for women that is shaped like a shoe.

    What Australian works have you loved recently?
    This is where I shift uncomfortably and confess that I haven’t read much fiction lately because it has been all about researching my new series. My stack of fiction To-Be-Reads is huge, but I have just finished Garth Nix’s new book A Confusion of Princes which was magnificently inventive with a great, wry narrator and a lot of satisfying action. I’m also reading an advance copy of Kirstyn McDermott’s new novel Perfections, which is heart-achingly gorgeous. Mostly, though, I have been reading primary and secondary source research books, which sounds dry but is actually a lot of fun. And, as it happens, one of the most valuable research books I’ve come across so far has been by an Australian – Jennifer Kloester – who has written an excellent guide to the Regency era in Georgette Heyer’s Regency World.

    What have been some of the biggest changes in Australian speculative fiction in the past two years since Aussiecon 4?
    I think some of the biggest changes in Australian speculative fiction are the same changes that have been hitting all of publishing. What immediately comes to mind is the rise of the e-book and the crisis of the bookshop. The gathering force of the e-book is offering some great opportunities for authors – more control over backlists and a greater cut of the royalties – but as with all these new modes, it also brings challenges that often leave many behind. The demise of so many of our bookshops breaks my heart, and I sincerely hope that Australia does not follow in the footsteps of Britain and starts closing libraries too.

    Another change that I think has particularly affected the speculative fiction market is the ‘phenomenon book’ such as Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games series. They can all be gathered under the banner of the speculative genre and, I think, have opened up new audiences to our work, and in fact, to the idea of reading for pleasure.

    * THE END *

    THIS is my final interview conducted as part of the 2012 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’re blogging interviews from 1-8 June and archiving them at Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus: the list of interviewees is here. You can also read the interviews at:

    Salvage launches — tomorrow night!

    salvage by jason nahrungA gentle reminder — well, more of a whoop, really — that Salvage is about to be launch. A bottle of red cracked across the bow and sent out into the stormy waters of the marketplace for your — I hope — reading pleasure.

    Tomorrow night’s launch at Continuum 8 in Melbourne is part of the Twelfth Planet Hour: a party to celebrate not just Salvage but the latest titles in the rather awesome Twelve Planets range of collections by Australian women writers: Kaaron Warren’s Through Splintered Walls and Margo Lanagan’s Cracklescape. You can schmooze with some of the other TPP authors, too. If that wasn’t enough there’s cupcakes, a juggler and a surprise announcement from the press … oo-err! The party kicks off  at 7pm; entry to the convention is by gold coin donation today.

    Can’t make it to the party, nor the convention but still want some seaside love-on-the-rocks with added vampire? Order Salvage at www.twelfthplanetpress.com, and/or enter the Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win a copy.

    At Continuum, I’ll be:

    • Launching fellow TPP author Narrelle M Harris’s sequel to The Opposite of Life, Walking Shadows, published by Clan Destine Press, at 6 o’clock tomorrow night
    • Discussing Backyard Speculation — Australian settings in fantastic fiction — on Saturday 10-11am
    • Reading, probably from Salvage, on Saturday 2-3pm alongside Cheryse Durrant, Alison Goodman and Margo Lanagan
    • Discussing e-books: what are they worth? on Sunday 11am-noon
    • Chatting with guest of honour Alison Goodman on Sunday noon-1pm
    • Discussing Vampires: From Horror to Heart-throb on Monday 10-11am
    • Discussing the Awards Debacle on Monday from 2-3pm.

    It’s gonna be a grand weekend!