Haines, Huf and then, thankfully, some good writerly news

x6 collection of novellasThis post from Paul Haines is truly gutting. A talented writer, without a doubt, the kind I’ve used as a benchmark when writing a story — would Haines (I always think of him as Haines, though I call him Paul to his face; I don’t know why that is) shy from writing this, I ask, when I’m up to the icky bit? Hell, no, as long as it’s making sense. The news that cancer has forestalled his writing career just as it was about to break out of the short story box is horrible; the news that it might be imminently fatal is so much worse. Father, husband, friend … this life thing is a cruel roulette wheel, and I can only hope — wish, pray — that Haines can beat the odds. Haines has three collections of short stories out, and you can find his most excellent novella ‘Wives’ in an anthology called X6. Read them, and rail.

YOU might not have heard of Liz Huf if you live outside of Central Queensland, but we’ve lost someone special with the passing of Liz Huf, from cancer. Liz, who won a Johnno Award for her contribution to Queensland literature, helped to found and then run the literary magazine, Idiom23, at what is now Central Queensland University, for more than 20 years. She organised writing retreats in CQ was also an editor and documentary film maker. More than that, she was one of the good guys, softly spoken, interested and ever helpful. She was, the Gympie Times‘ Uncle Jim notwithstanding, my first fiction editor, in the fledgling magazine Yapunya and then Idiom23, which I contributed to as a BA student. I remember her fondly, and know that she’ll be sorely missed. You can read an obituary here.

And now for some good news:

The Nix family have proven a potent combination in the animated film business, as this news article at Locus shows. The Missing Key has already bagged an impressive array of awards. First Shaun Tan, now Garth Nix: there’s something in the water, all right.

Food for thought: Josephine Pennicott writes about the value of perseverance, a word I’m thinking of having tattooed on my forehead, or perhaps just pinning to the wall above the computer.

Emerging Writers Festival: the fun ‘slide’ of writing

Finally dragged my carcass down to the Emerging Writers Festival last night, thanks to Kirstyn being on a panel about speculative fiction and then the urging of EWF party animal Alex Adsett to see Not Your Nana’s Slide Night.

The panel went well if quietly, moderated by Rjurik Davidson with Alison Croggon (her Gift still ranks as one of my favourite fantasy books), Kirstyn and Paul Haines (his Last Days of Kali Yuga collection is out now, get it while you can because the publisher has folded*). There was talk of breaking taboos and other-worldly examinations of our own, and process. Apparently, Twitter commentaries are the new meter of popularity (?) for events: certainly, they illustrate how different people will home in on different things, and hear them differently.

The slide night at the Trades Hall, complete with bar, was a cracker. Nine writers talked to a series of 20 slides, each slide on screen for 20 seconds, and the diversity was wonderful and entertaining indeed. A dry-witted introduction to Scotland, a crayon-ish exploration of a small town devoted to museums (lost clothing, body discardations, bicycles in a bus masquerading as a museum of transport), a holiday in Barcelona bouncing off America’s Next Supermodel, Indian food, suggestions for what should’ve been Melbourne’s Fed Square, drawings from time spent in Asia… and so on. Some funny, some poignant, some informative: all entertaining. I mentioned there was a bar, didn’t I? A superb locus for the atmosphere of the event.

Folks we met were rapt in how egalitarian and warm the festival has been (it’s not over yet) and I saw plenty of evidence of that (good luck with that SF novel, Trish; with that creative writing course, James); I really must make the effort to get to more events next year and enjoy the bonhomie.

Last Days of Kali Yuga by Paul Haines* There a reported 300 copies of Kali in the wild. Look to a bookstore near you. The good news is, for those with an e-reader, the book is available in e-format (Amazon, Smashwords, et al)! This is Haines’ third collection, it includes the awesome novella Wives and a despairingly good new yarn about a man on a bridge with a child. I thought I’d be able to flit through the collection quickly, having read his previous two, but his writing just won’t let you do that. You read one par, then two, and then you’re stuck, dragged into a very human story with just the right amount of fractured reality to entrance and bedevil.