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

Advertisements

GenreCon — too much for two days!

genrecon logoGenreCon has just put its program online, and — ARGH! — I need two of me. Maybe three.

This program really pops my cork: writing stuff such as ‘how to’, villains, and subtext, and then there’s industry stuff like finding the right publisher and life without advances. It’s very cool to see Romance Writers, Sisters in Crime, Conflux and the horror writers hosting ‘community’ events. I keep hearing how damn professional and, ahem, well-oiled a convention machine the RWA is, so it will be great to get an insight into that, and with Conflux hosting the natcon next year (yep, already booked), the timing is right to fly the F&SF flag.

Bottom line, though, is the number of experienced writers, publishers and agents on the program. For an emerging writer such as myself, the osmosis learning will be in overdrive. This is going to be a hoot!

I’m also quite looking forward to publicly picking the brains of Joe Abercrombie at our ‘in conversation’, and talking ‘setting the mood’ in a session on the Sunday. But damn, there’s good stuff on then, too! Too much!

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.

  • Words of writerly wisdom

    Recent common sense from writers wot know:


    Two-million-word writer Kim Wilkins:

    Write the fucking fiction! Don’t write blogs and marketing plans and twitter yourself in front of everyone in hopes of building a platform. Write the fucking fiction FIRST. The rest is just white noise until you have a good finished product. And it must be good.

    Read the rest here. It’s fucking gold. You can have a ‘cosy chat’ with Kim at the Brisbane Writers Festival on 9 September.


    Justine Larbalestier, whose blog is informative and entertaining, on YA writers doing it for the money:

    If someone really decided to become a YA novelist solely to make big money then they’re an idiot with incredibly poor research skills. Choosing to write novels—in any genre—as a path to riches is about as smart as buying lottery tickets to achieve the same.

    And to complete the trifecta, Joe Abercrombie offers an overview of planning, something I’m going through at the moment with a similar process to this:

    I’ll know the setting and the rough plot for each part, some idea of what each point of view character needs to do, but usually I only plan the first part in any close detail, working out exactly what each chapter is going to contain.

    Abercrombie and Wilkins are guests at GenreCon in Sydney in November, which should be a hoot.

    Snapshot 2012: Kyla Ward

    australian speculative fiction snapshot 2012 logo
    KYLA Ward is a Sydney-based creative who works in many modes. Her latest release is The Land of Bad Dreams, a collection of dark and fantastic poetry. Her novel Prismatic (co-authored as Edwina Grey) won an Aurealis Award for Best Horror. Her short fiction has appeared in Ticonderoga Online, Shadowed Realms, Borderlands, Gothic.net and in the Macabre anthology, amongst others. The next Cursebreaker story, ‘The Jikininki and the Japanese Jurist’, will shortly appear in The New Hero anthology from Stone Skin Press, who will also print her very first Mythos tale, ‘Who Looks Back?’ in Shotguns vs Cthulhu.

    Her work on RPGs including Buffy the Vampire Slayer saw her appear as a guest at the inaugural Gencon Australia. She has had feature articles in magazines ranging from Dragon to Art Monthly Australia. Her short film, ‘Bad Reception’, screened at the Third International Vampire Film Festival and she is a member of the Theatre of Blood repertory company, which has also produced her work. In addition, she programmed the horror stream for the 2010 Worldcon. A practising occultist, she likes raptors, swordplay and the Hellfire Club. To see some very strange things, see her website at www.tabula-rasa.info.


    Your first solo book is a collection of poetry — did you see that coming in your projections of a writing career, given how hard it is to get poetry published, let alone (one would think) macabre poetry?
    No, it was a complete surprise! I attended the secondary launch of Leigh Blackmore’s Spores From Sharnoth at the Don Banks cottage and performed a few pieces in the open mic section. Danny Lovecraft of P’rea Press heard me and the entire idea was his. The faith was his and a serious part of the work. Poetry is a hard sell these days and I can’t pretend the book has been an overwhelming financial success, even though we recently made it onto Amazon. But I hope that the good reviews in Publishers Weekly amongst others, the Rhysling nominations and making the Stoker preliminary ballot go some way towards repaying him.


    You write for the theatre and for role playing games as well as poetry: in what ways do these pursuits influence your fiction practice?
    Undoubtedly it does. As a matter of fact, one of the things turned up by the process of editing The Land of Bad Dreams was that, all unknowing, I write poems specifically to be spoken aloud. Danny would point out errors in the metre and such that I couldn’t see, until we realised I was counting the points where I drew breath as syllables! Some pieces such as ‘Day Cars’ we ended up leaving in this weird hybrid form. But as I have said elsewhere: when I have an idea, it’s generally specific to a form. A script idea is a script, a poetry idea is a poem, a novel idea is a psychosis. It is extremely rare that I would translate one to another.

    I think this is one reason poetry continues to be written, long after the days when people would fight each other at bookstores to secure the latest instalment of Byron’s ‘Don Juan’. Some ideas can only be expressed in poetry, and any attempt to do so tends towards poetry, whether this is acknowledged or not. Thus ‘prose poems’, dramatic monologues and a significant amount of flash fiction.

    What advice do you have for writers who get the chills when it comes to reading their work out loud to an audience?
    No, no, no: it’s the audience who are supposed to get the chills!

    Being able to read your work in public is a great resource for a writer. They are the most difficult aspect of a work for the general public to ignore, or pirate. Readings can make a launch or signing into an event. Readings can be filmed and placed on YouTube. Plus, nothing displays the artistry of a piece, the flow of sentences and the aptness of words, like performance — assuming that the performer doesn’t freeze up and treat gripping prose like it’s a list of ingredients on a cereal box. The life is all there on the page, you simply have to release it out. Practice is the key: first getting used to the sound of your own voice and then learning how to control it. In my case, I can’t pretend that lengthy drama training didn’t help.


    What Australian works have you loved recently?
    Ben Peek’s ‘Below’ and Stephanie Campisi’s ‘Above’ <in Above/Below>. Clever, unusual and effective.


    What have been some of the biggest changes in Australian speculative fiction in the past two years since Aussiecon 4?
    Those associated with a slow recovery from near-total exhaustion? Or was that just me? E-books seems to have taken off in a big way. I am also looking forward to seeing what happens with GenreCon in Sydney this November: a brave experiment by any standards.

    * * *

    THIS interview was 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. You can read interviews at:

    GenreCon for Sydney in November

    From the Queensland Writers Centre bulletin, a great event for genre writers:

    The Australian Writer’s Marketplace is proud to announce GenreCon!

    Rydges Paramatta, November 2-4th 2012

    GenreCon is a three-day convention for Australian fans and professionals working within the fields of romance, mystery, science fiction, crime, fantasy, horror, thrillers, and more. One part party, one part celebration, one part professional development: GenreCon is the place to be if you’re an aspiring or established writer with a penchant for the types of fiction that get relegated to their own corner of the bookstore. Featuring international guests Joe Abercrombie (Writer, The First Law Trilogy, Best Served Cold, The Heroes), Sarah Wendell (co-founder, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books), and Ginger Clark (Literary Agent, Curtis Brown).

    For more information, visit GenreCon.com.au. Early bird rates available to the first 50 registrations.

    The event looks to have a strong industry and networking focus, and the ticketing system includes mention of pitching opportunities.