While I was offline… and OMG look at all the Conflux book launches!

  • Sean the Bookonaut has been blogging up a storm. Viz, an examination of Grimdark — a category of genre coding I hadn’t even heard of.
  • Angela Slatter is having a book, Narrow Daylight, published by my digital publisher Xoum — yay for being stablemates (and stable mates, though are we, as individuals, stable? argh!)
  • Lisa L Hannett has had a new essay published at This Is Horror, calling for a consideration of less used/abused things that go bump in the night, which in turn leads to an essay from James Bradley about the ever-evolving vampire metaphor.
  • Random House is taken to task for onerous conditions in its digital imprint Hydra, and makes amends, as reported by Locus.
  • A Brissie launch on April 9 for Charlotte Nash’s debut novel Ryders Ridge.
  • Dymocks ends its publishing effort, D Publishing, perhaps on the nose from the get-go due to a roundly criticised contract base.
  • Margo Lanagan makes the long list of the Stella Prize with Sea Hearts.
  • And I’ve sifted the program for Conflux next month to find the book launches — hold onto your hats!

    I’m not sure if it counts as a launch, but Angry Robot (whose supremo Marc Gascoigne is a guest of honour at the con) is having ‘an hour’ from 1.30pm on the Sunday. Angry Robot is chockers with Aussie writers (Kaaron Warren, Jo Anderton, Trent Jamieson, Lee Battersby …) so it’ll be bookish, whatever it is.

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  • Goodman, Hannett & Slatter, Konqistador: hot stuff, out now!

  • Konqistador, international gypsies and musical magpies, have released this beautiful tune above on YouTube. Tis from their album Suada (reviewed here), which you can listen to in full.

  • On Thursday night (Dec 13), at the Rising Sun Hotel (cue Eric Burdon! well, kind of …) in South Melbourne, Alison Goodman’s crime yarn Killing the Rabbit enjoys a new lease on life as A New Kind of Death thanks to Clan Destine Press. The launch kicks off at 6.30pm. It’s an awesome yarn: you know you want it! Email Lindy (lindy AT clandestinepress.com.au) to let ’em know you’re coming.

  • On 14 December, Lisa L Hannett imports co-conspiritor Angela Slatter from Brisbane for their Adelaide launch of Midnight & Moonshine: 6pm for a 6.30pm start, South Australian Writers Centre, 2nd Floor, 187 Rundle Street. There will be cake; email Russ (editor AT ticonderogapublications.com) to reserve a slice.

  • And a quick shout to Sandy Curtis, dynamo writer from Bundaberg, who was awarded the Johnno on Thursday night for her services to Queensland literature. Well deserved!
  • Writerly roundup

    While I was up north, exciting things have been happening. For instance:


    Midnight and Moonshine

  • Angela Slatter and Lisa Hannett have revealed the cover of their collaborative collection, Midnight and Moonshine, and now available to order ahead of its November release. It is very, very pretty — the art is by Kathleen Jennings, recently short-listed for a World Fantasy Award, as was Lisa for her solo, debut collection, Bluegrass Symphony. The stories will be awesome. It deserves to be under many Christmas trees and on many book shelves.

  • Kim Wilkins has started a writing advice page on Facebook. Kim, or Dr Kim as she’s affectionately known to many of her students, has a knack for making the writing process understandable and desirable. Her tips column in WQ magazine was exceptionally popular, so plug in!

  • The embers of the Borders bookstore meltdown are being stoked this month with the online business rebranding itself as Bookworld and offering free postage.

  • And check out the awesome writing talent on the guest list at November’s Supanova in Brisbane and Adelaide!


    Meanwhile, Ego Likeness have released a new single. This band give great ear worm; I can’t wait for the new album to land.


  • Snapshot 2012: Rjurik Davidson

    australian speculative fiction snapshot 2012 logoRJURIK Davidson is a freelance writer and associate editor of Overland magazine. Rjurik has written short stories, essays, reviews and screenplays. PS Publishing published his collection, The Library of Forgotten Books, in 2010. His novel, Unwrapped Sky, will be published by Tor in 2012. He writes reviews of speculative fiction for the Age newspaper, film reviews for several magazines and has a regular column in Overland. Rjurik’s screenplay The Uncertainty Principle (co-written with Ben Chessell) is currently under development with German company Lailaps Films. He has been short-listed for and won a number of awards. He can be found at www.rjurikdavidson.blogspot.com and has a blog on the Overland website called Against Reality.

    You have a collection and, in the pipeline, novels set in your world of minotaurs and sirens: how have you approached such mythic creatures in your fiction?
    As a child I read the Greek myths and, around the age of six, my imagination was captured by the ruins of Ancient Rome. There’s always been something transcendent about myth, which is why they still resonate with us. But in my stories, I wanted to approach the mythology — minotaurs, sirens, cyclops and gorgons — with a modern sensibility. That is, I wanted to keep the sense of myth and the mythic, but place it within an industrial world. The minotaur myth, for example, is sometimes said to be about technology: Theseus finds his way through the minotaur’s labyrinth with a ball of string. In a sense, ‘The Passing of the Minotaurs’ <read the short story at SciFi.com> — which is an extract from an early section of Unwrapped Sky — is a rewriting of this myth in an industrial capitalist world. The minotaurs are undone by modernity — by the power of commodification, if you like, in a similar way to many old and beautiful things in our world (old buildings or old forests, for example).

    This fantasy world, and the city of Caeli-Amur, might be thought of as city a bit like Rome or Turin in the 1920s. In Caeli-Amur, there’s industrialism, a rising working class, a strange bureaucratic capitalism, but there’s also the remnants of an older less developed society, and even further back the ruined remnants of a more advanced society. So the mythology all takes place in a world where there’s a great deal of of change. There’s social turbulence. No one quite knows where it’s all headed. It is a world where ‘all that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned’ as Marx once described it. What could be more profane than the death of a minotaur and the use of its body parts as commodities?


    Have the short stories been a way of exploring the world in preparation for the longer works, or were the novels always the end goal?
    I love short stories. In many ways, they’re more interesting than novels. You can be more experimental and you can be more adventurous in content. Quite often, the things which become famous at novel-length are first done in short story form (think of Gibson, for example). The stories gain a certain notoriety and this encourages the writer to develop those sorts of stories at longer length. One of the reasons is that novels have a slightly longer shelf-life, and there’s a little more money in them. That’s the way it happened with me, anyway. People liked Caeli-Amur and the stories set there, so I thought, right, time to write a novel set there. Still, I’ll always write short stories, just as I’ll always write essays and scripts and other things.


    You are an editor on a literary magazine and you’re a Ditmar winner for best new talent: what’s your take on the literature/genre divide?
    Oh, I have several responses, all pretty contradictory. My first response is that the division is false. Writers like Atwood, Ishiguru, Houllebecq and Winterson are clearly writing SF. On the other hand, there are plenty of SF writers writing very ‘literary’ science fiction: Gene Wolfe or M John Harrison, for example. Partly the division is invented by the marketing departments of publishing companies, partly there’s an inherited prejudice against SF in the ‘mainstream’ (which I find ignorant and repulsive), but there’s also quite often a self-reinforced ghettoisation from the SF community also.

    I find it all pretty frustrating because there are all sorts of deleterious effects of the division. SF writers are unfairly ignored and ‘literary’ writers writing SF too-often claimed as ‘original’ when they’re really borrowing tropes that have been around for decades. At Overland we try to be inclusive: we’ve had special SF editions, publish SF stories and articles, but I do feel fairly sad that the SF community pretty much ignores us — something reflected not only in terms of our submissions but reflected in things like awards, links to our online articles and so on.

    Another passed-down quirk of the division between the literary and SF worlds is the over-emphasis on plot-driven narrative in genre. Genre writers, readers and editors probably do want more ‘action’ than the literary world (which could often do with more action!). I’m not sure that’s healthy. Having said that, the SF community is a really welcoming and in the end, in terms of fiction, that’s where I happily exist.


    What Australian works have you loved recently?
    There’s a bunch of really great Australian SF writers. In fact, I’m amazed by the talent in Australian SF. I’ve loved stories by James Bradley, Lisa Hannett, Angela Slatter. But you know, I’m constantly surprised by the number of new writers coming though. And then there are other wonderful writers who have been around a while: Kirstyn McDermott, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti, Trent Jamieson and so on. I might say that the loss of Paul Haines leaves a massive hole in the SF scene.


    What have been some of the biggest changes in Australian speculative fiction in the past two years since Aussiecon 4?
    I’m not sure I could answer that. I’ve been a bit lost in novel-writing. But things seem to be coming along okay. The Aurealis Awards I went to last year were vibrant and professional, and the writers coming through, as I mentioned before, are talented. The end of Clarion South is a pretty big blow, I think, and there’s the ongoing ‘digital’ revolution (Aurealis is now mostly in e-book format).

    The challenges here are going to be the challenges the whole publishing industry is facing. No one can be sure quite where we’ll end up, but it seems likely that there will be less money around, and fewer readers (the statistics show that the average reader age is increasing). None of this is great for writers or publishers and we can expect that as an money-making industry, publishing might be on its last legs.

    At Overland we’ve been debating this for some time (on the website, in public forums and in the magazine’s pages) and some of us think that the solution may be to return to a more, for want of a better term, ‘social-democratic’ system, where the government funds an independent publishing house (or houses?) in the way it funds something like the ABC.

    In this sense, the challenges of publishing are similar to those of quality Australian TV drama, which can’t compete with international TV without stepping out of the system of commercialism. SF steps out of these bounds with labour-of-love small presses (which are wonderful), but they’re not a way for anyone to earn a basic living.

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    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:

    Snapshot 2012: Robert Hoge

    australian speculative fiction snapshot 2012 logoBRISBANE writer Robert Hoge has never had a job that didn’t involve writing. His first job was working on a sports newspaper at the University of Queensland where he spent time interviewing future Olympic gold medallists before they were famous. Since then he’s worked as a full-time journalist, a speechwriter, a science communicator for the CSIRO and a political advisor. Robert has had a number of short stories, articles and interviews published in Australia and overseas. You can visit him at www.roberthoge.com.

    You had a beautifully poetic short story in last year’s After the Rain anthology and there’s a similar atmosphere to other shorts: is that a preferred mode or just what best suited those yarns, a space you were in at the time…?
    Glad you liked it.

    I kind of hit on a series of shorts about the elements – especially water – almost by accident. I certainly didn’t plan it that way but I think I kept coming back to it because it was simple but brutally powerful at the same time.

    I like taking the elements we’re so familiar with – water, rain, fire – and throwing them onto the page and seeing what happens.

    You’ve got an autobiography occupying your time — where to after that, writing-wise?
    Yep, I haven’t finished any new short stories in a while because I’m still really focussed on that. But by the end of the year, I want to knock a few new short stories out and get stuck into a novel about civil disobedience that keeps rattling around my head.

    After the awards ceremony at Perth’s natcon last year, you wrote an open letter to the spec fic community about ensuring access to such ceremonies. What was the response?
    The response was very heartening – especially from the event organisers themselves. Everyone seemed to immediately understand and acknowledge that we need to do better – as a community.

    I think the community has a tremendous capacity to self-organise and self-correct when we need to. We can get an awful lot done when we put our mind to it.

    What Australian works have you loved recently?
    Well, if I keep it to the last year or so…

    The Courier’s New Bicycle by Kim Westwood; the collections by Paul Haines, Angela Slatter (2) and Lisa L. Hannett; and a lot of the really high quality stuff that’s coming out from Twelfth Planet Press.

    I’ve also really been enjoying the artwork Kathleen Jennings has been producing – it’s great and you can tell almost immediately that it is a work produced by her.


    What have been some of the biggest changes in Australian speculative fiction in the past two years since Aussiecon 4?
    That’s a hard one. I think it’s so much easier for everyone to organise now, to communicate, that the changes seem – and probably are – less pronounced. And I think some of these things would have happened without Aussiecon 4 anyway, but I’m really impressed with the development of some of our independent presses. The people running them are doing great but I’m also really impressed with how much it is allowing other creatives like Amanda Rainey and Dion Hamill to develop as well.

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    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:

    Up a tree, with vampires

    kathleen jennings illo of Jason Nahrung up a tree

    A belated note to acknowledge that the wonderful Dr Brains have picked my grey matter for ruminations on things writerly and vampiric over at their Lair — if the wonderful Kathleen Jennings illo is anything to judge by, I’ve truly gone out on a limb! (Because the Brains, aka Angela Slatter and Lisa Hannett both host — a kind of left and right brain thing, perhaps — I’m linking to them both!)

    For those who haven’t seen the blog that this illo riffs off, Goths Up Trees is not only photographically interesting but comes with the kind of endearing snark one would expect — great fun.

    Ready, steady, go … some Tuesday Therapy for the new year

    The calendar is flipped, the clock is ticking. Welcome to 2012.

    Back in the year just gone, Lisa Hannett was canvassing for inspirational sayings of a writerly bent for her Tuesday Therapy. I came up with a mere word, which Lisa has just published at her blog.

    Here, gathered sweaty and very non-new yearly limp around the water cooler — not much vim and vigour in the high 30s, I’m afraid, new year or no — the word, perseverance, sparked a discussion about the subtle difference between it and persistence; a degree of resistance to be overcome in one, an inner spring of tenacity in the other. It probably comes down to how you approach your writing challenges. The main point being, that you keep going.

    Of course, what I *could* and possibly *should* have sent Lisa was my favourite quote — I don’t know why it didn’t jump immediately to mind, it wasn’t even outrageously hot at the time; and yes, I am also shite at witty rejoinders. So here’s a bonus Tuesday Therapy and a rather timely one for this time of year, all those blank squares on the calendar, scribbled resolutions and what not:


    sandman's death


    It is Neil Gaiman’s Death and a wonderful saying that I’ve taken to heart, ever since I first saw the motif on a t-shirt. It speaks for itself.

    Tick, tock.