More good stuff, inc. Aussie dark fantasy at Apex

Still catching up after some touring — more on that once I’ve sorted through the metric s-load of photos and try to remember where I was for the past month — but it’s worth a peep over at Apex, where Tansy Rayner Roberts surveys a bunch of Aussie writers about their weird stuff. Interesting stuff, about our love-fear relationship with the bush and the sun, and a great quote from Margo Lanagan:

“I’m regularly surprised by how timid and squeamish some readers are”

  • I couldn’t get to the Digital Writers Conference in Brisbane, but Alan Baxter was a panelist and his report makes me jealous! Alan also reports on the launch of Hope, a suicide awareness anthology that has an enviable TOC of spec fic writers — the Paul Haines story in particular pops out and demands attention; get it anywhere you can!
  • Two very informative writer-bloggers have been prolific while I’ve been away and I’m still trying to catch up, but for starters, I loved the suspense and tension post from Terribleminds, and Ian Irvine has given prolific a bad name, actually, not only unveiling his own painful path to publication but getting guests in to share their writerly wisdom e.g. this excellent post from Stephen M Irwin on the first step.
  • It’s Nanowrimo — I’m not indulging, have already done a couple of sprints this year and needing a little chance to catch a breath before the new year. There’s some wisdom from Patrick Duffy for those who are, though.
  • Our fellow World Fantasy colleague Ellen Gregory has provided a glimpse into both the con and San Diego’s Old Town. World Fantasy is a superb conference for writers due to its focus on the business, even if this year’s program was a little less interesting for my interests. A panel on the social impact of true immortality was an eye-opener, however; I hope I can find my notes! Plus there was the ‘for the hell of it’ Aussie party catered by the always generous Garth Nix, Jonathan Strahan and Sean Williams, and the Brits did a great job of raising interest in Brighton 2013, though the Marmite almost cost them the goodwill!
  • Another snippet of nom nom nom: for those unpublished writers with a YA MS hot to trot, check out the Hardie Grant call as posted at Perilous Adventures.

  • I am a judge for the Aurealis Awards. This post is the personal opinion of the writer, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of any judging panel, the judging coordinator or the Aurealis Awards management team.

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    memento mori

    My weekend was a no-news weekend. My head and my heart were elsewhere. So here’s the thing. I get to work this morning, pick up the paper. The cover is black. A real rip snorter of a Big News Day. The newsroom is in a lather. The TVs are turned up. Never a good sign. The paper was hours old, of course. The net gave me the figure. 120 dead, and climbing. It hit 131 before I logged off. It’ll go higher, they say. Possibly much higher.

    I’ve been in shock most of the day. Maybe we all have. Even the politicians were lost for words. How the fuck do 131 people die from a bushfire in 2009?

    It makes you want to check the calendar. Stick your head out the window and look for smoke.

    This was, we’re told, the motherfucker of all bushfires, in all its fractured number. One quote that struck me, paraphrased: they had a 30m dead zone, gutters full of water and a wet roof, and he told me the kitchen just exploded.

    The kitchen just exploded.

    How do you deal with that? How much of a firebreak should you need to stop your kitchen from exploding?

    My country is burning and we’re reeling because the damage is staggering. All we can do is count heads and hug each other, donate to those who survived with nothing and mourn those who lost it all.

    Now, add in the floods that are devastating my home state. Nowhere near the loss of life, but the property damage is massive.

    Floods in the north, fires in the south. And there’s more.

    Five dead in a head-on, both cars aflame. Miraculously, one woman survived.

    And a five-year-old gets taken by a crocodile. It’s almost surreal, isn’t it? Five, a crocodile, amid all this other horror and misery.

    The country feels like one massive wound tonight, shell-shocked from its Big News Day.

    Ready for the kicker? You won’t read about this in the paper. There won’t be a headline, an interview, not that I’m aware of. It wouldn’t rate on a Big News Day.


    I’m looking at a MySpace page because I got sent a message. One of my MySpace Friends has died, peacefully, of a brain tumour. She was 26. Her page is bright, vibrant, filled with attitude and pictures of smiling young people and what I would count as an admirable taste in pop culture. I reckon I would’ve liked her, if we’d met, her and her friends swapping messages about gigs and other ordinary stuff we use to fill her lives. Twenty-six.

    And it’s not over yet. Rain’s still falling up north, fires are still burning down south, the funerals haven’t started yet.

    Front page, back page, MySpace page: doesn’t matter which, it’s a Big News Day. Every day is a Big News Day for someone, and maybe that’s the point I’m looking for here as I try to make sense of today.

    Not what’s worth dying for but what’s worth living for. And making the most of it while we can. Because we just don’t know, do we?

    Go safely, friends. There’s been more than enough news today.