Latest Read: East of Eden by John Steinbeck. An utterly intoxicating melodrama, which explores American identity. It's humorous in parts, yet also moving, reflective, considered and visionary. The critics are right–the sporadic intrusion of the first person narrator doesn't quite suit. Still I don't believe it impacts on the overall quality of the novel. Highly recommended. Superb.
Latest story: The anthology At the Edge ed. Lee Murray & Dan Rabarts, which contains my latest story 'Crossing' will be launched at Au Contraire in Wellington this weekend. I look forward to reading it myself. It will be sold at various bookstores and will also be available from Amazon Books.
Panelists: Anthony Panegyres, Liz Grzyb, Stephen Dedman, Guy Salvidge, Leonard Goulds
I'm both host and a panelist in this celebration of short spec-fic down under. We'll have great book giveaways, including Aurealis Award winning and short-listed anthologies. I anticipate that like last year we'll have an audience led discussion. We'll most likely cover recommended reads, recommended writers, the market, the craft, the submission process, payment, publication houses and journals. The list goes on. Come along for an informative and fun night. Feel free to field questions too - we encourage it.
Bloodlines ed. Amanda Pillar wins the Aurealis Award for Best Anthology!
Bloodlines ed. Amanda Pillar (which I've a story in) won the best anthology category at the Aurealis Awards!
Here's the impressive list of world-class finalists:
Hear Me Roar, Liz Grzyb (ed.) (Ticonderoga Publications)
The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2014, Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (eds.) (Ticonderoga Publications)
Meeting Infinity, Jonathan Strahan (ed.), (Solaris)
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume 9, Jonathan Strahan (ed.) (Solaris)
Focus 2014: highlights of Australian short fiction, Tehani Wessely (ed.) (FableCroft Publishing)
Congrats to Amanda Pillar along with the 16 writers, who all contributed to the award:
Joanne Anderton "Unnamed Children"
Alan Baxter "Old Promise New Blood"
Nathan Burrage "The Ties of Blood, Hair and Bone"
Dirk Flinthart "In The Blood"
Rebecca Fung "In the Heart of the City"
Stephanie Gunn "The Flowers That Bloom Where Blood Touches Earth"
Kelly Hoolihan "The Stone and the Sheath"
Kathleen Jennings "The Tangled Streets"
Pete Kempshall "Azimuth"
Martin Livings "A Red Mist"
Seanan McGuire "Into the Green" (also writes as Mira Grant)
Anthony Panegyres "Lady Killer"
Jane Percival "The Mysterious Mr Montague"
Paul Starkey "The Tenderness of Monsters"
Lyn Thorne-Adder "Lifeblood of the City"
S. Zanne "Seeing Red"
The complete Aurealis Award Winning List is below (congrats again to all the winners and finalists). Here in Perth we had a fantastic time at the Pan Pacific Hotel, where the great gang at Swancon had it streamed live from Brisbane on a big screen (with food and alcohol catered for). Wonderful night and it felt as if we were almost there. BEST CHILDREN’S FICTION A Single Stone, Meg McKinlay (Walker Books Australia)
BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL / ILLUSTRATED WORK The Singing Bones, Shaun Tan (Allen & Unwin)
BEST YOUNG ADULT SHORT STORY “The Miseducation of Mara Lys”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press)
BEST HORROR SHORT STORY “Bullets”, Joanne Anderton (In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep, AHWA)
BEST HORROR NOVELLA “The Miseducation of Mara Lys”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press)
BEST FANTASY SHORT STORY “The Giant’s Lady”, Rowena Cory Daniells (Legends 2, Newcon Press)
BEST FANTASY NOVELLA “Defy the Grey Kings”, Jason Fischer (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Firkin Press)
BEST SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY “All the Wrong Places”, Sean Williams (Meeting Infinity, Solaris)
BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVELLA “By Frogsled and Lizardback to Outcast Venusian Lepers”, Garth Nix (Old Venus, Random House)
BEST COLLECTION To Hold the Bridge, Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin)
BEST ANTHOLOGY Bloodlines, Amanda Pillar (ed.) (Ticonderoga Publications)
BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL In The Skin of a Monster, Kathryn Barker (Allen & Unwin)
BEST HORROR NOVEL Day Boy,Trent Jamieson (Text Publishing)
BEST FANTASY NOVEL Day Boy,Trent Jamieson (Text Publishing)
BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL Illuminae, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin)
SARA DOUGLASS BOOK SERIES AWARD The Watergivers [The Last Stormlord (2009), Stormlord Rising (2010), Stormlord’s Exile (2011)], Glenda Larke (HarperVoyager)
THE CONVENORS’ AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE Letters to Tiptree, Alexandra Pierce and Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)
Congrats to All: Aurealis Awards and Ditmar Award Finalists
It's Ditmar and Aurealis Awards time in Australia. The shortlists are out and it's a thrill to say that the latest anthology I've a story in, Bloodlines ed. Amanda Pillar (Ticonderoga Publications), is a finalist for both awards.
There are plenty of great writers on the lists here and rather than congratulate everyone individually I've attached the links to the short listed works below.
Congrats to the editor of Bloodlines, Amanda Pillar, along with Ticonderoga Publications. I would also like to personally congratulate fellow Perth writer, Stephanie Gunn, whose novella from the same anthology has been short listed in the category of Best Fantasy Novella (Gunn is also a finalist for another novella in Hear me Roar ed Liz Grzyb).
It's not often you find Australian short fic being recommended so I feel humbled that Fossick Book Review has recommended one of my stories. 'Reading Coffee' (originally published in Overland 204 in 2011)was the first story that I was truly proud of and it's recommended here alongside, Angela Slatter's (who is a giant of short spec-fic) 'Brisneyland by Night'. Once again the link is attached below.
On Saturday I attended Lee Battersby's launch of his new novel for children Magrit. Battersby usually specialises in dark spec-fic (often with a comical edge) so hearing Battersby read so well to a much younger audience than usual was an enjoyable surprise. The story had all the wit and evocative imagery that readers expect from Battersby's adult work too. Lee ran a fun launch and Stefen Brazulaitis of Stefen's Books (check the store out in Shafto Lane if you get the chance)organised a great pub lunch post-launch too.
Just finished Nights at the Circus by the incredible Angela Carter. It's a genre defying tour de force, well worth savouring and it deserves all the kudos it has received. The perpetual dichotomy of the winged heroine, Fevers makes for one of the great characters in literature. It's already one of my all time favourite novels.
I've a few pages to go in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. And yes, Harper Lee ironically passed away when I was about midway through. It was a sad day for literature but what a legacy Lee left behind her with TKAM. I can see why it's deemed an all time classic; the narrative voice of Scout is both innocent and gutsy, allowing for a beautiful observational voice. I don't think I'll read the recently released prequel/sequel Go Set a Watchman though. From the snippets I've read about Go Set a Watchman, I wouldn't want to tarnish my reading of what I believe the Finch family stand for in TKAM.
The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes. Interesting look into Shostakovich, his music, and his relationship with the totalitarian regime (what Barnes aptly labels "his relationship with 'Power'"). The prose, as always with Barnes, has a pure feel due to his strong use of nominalisation throughout, and let's face it, little imagery. I'm almost at the end of this novel too. I've enjoyed it so far, but to be honest, at times I wanted a little more from the narrative, especially after reading Barnes' captivating Arthur and George a couple of years ago. Still, a good, solid read.
Political Gripe: Okay, we can't really say too much Down Under after the rise of Tony Abbott but at least he's now fallen. Yet the Americans have trumped (or drumpfed if you've seen John Oliver's comical segment) us in the Mad Tea Party stakes. What's dangerous about the far right is that it plays on fear and division rather than inclusiveness. Wake up, America! This guy, Drumpf, is leading you down a foolishly dangerous and bigoted path.
I understood, of course - it was dogma - that a true education was based on being well read, and for ten years or more I read all I could. These were wonderful years of voyage, discovery and self-esteem.
James Salter, Once Upon a Time, Literature. Now What?
I read 122 short stories in 2015. I’ve decided to put up my top 33 reads for the year (only a handful though are from 2015 publications). I suppose these yearly lists are a confusing fusion of styles and content but as varied as all the stories listed are there is something I love about each and every story. Some of these stories resonated strongly with
me; others simply entertained. Within the brackets I've indicated the anthology I read the story in (in a few cases I've attached prior foundational homes). I'm happy to discuss and provide further comments for any of the mentioned works.
‘Jon’ George Saunders(My
Mistress Sparrow is Dead ed. Jeffrey Eugenides from In Persuasion Nation: Stories)
‘Johnny Bear’ John Steinbeck (Points of View ed James Moffett &
Kenneth R . McEleheny from The Long
‘Fireworks’ Richard Ford (My Mistress Sparrow is Dead ed. Jeffrey
Eugenides from Rock Springs)
‘Patricia, Edith, and Arnold’ Dylan Thomas
(Points of View ed James Moffett
& Kenneth R . McEleheny from Portrait
of the Artist as a Young Dog)
‘The Hitchhiking Game’ Milan Kundera (My
Mistress Sparrow is Dead ed. Jeffrey Eugenides from Laughable Loves Milan Kundera)
‘Too Early Spring’Stephen Vincent Benet(Points of View ed James Moffett & Kenneth R . McEleheny from The Selected Works of Stephen Vincent Benet 1933)
‘First Confession’ Frank O’Connor (Points of View ed James Moffett &
Kenneth R . McEleheny from The Stories of
Frank O’Connor 1951)
‘Bad Characters’ Jean Stafford (Points of View)
‘The Moon in it’s Flight’ Gilbert
Sorrentino (My Mistress Sparrow is Dead ed.
Jeffrey Eugenides from The Moon in it’s
Flight by Gilbert Sorrentino)
‘The Five-Forty-Eight’ John Cheever (Points of View ed James Moffett &
Kenneth R . McEleheny)
‘Unighted Lamps’ Sherwood Anderson (Points of View ed James Moffett &
Kenneth R . McEleheny)
‘Fever Flower’ Shirley Ann Grau(Points
of View ed James Moffett & Kenneth R . McEleheny)
“The Inn of the Seven Blessings”by Matthew Hughes (Rogues
ed. George R.R Martin & Gardner R. Dozois)
I keep my private life largely out of this blog - it's more about reading and writing. So if you're after something more personal I apologise but if you're after a few recommended books you've come to a welcoming place.
I read 32 books this year, which is up from my norm of late. I read a number of strong books,
which I’d happily recommend. Let me know if you want specific thoughts on any
of those listed below (happy to hear yours too).
Books Read in 2015
Shadow Year Jeffrey Ford
Prestige Christopher Priest
The Blade Itself Joe Abercrombie The Year of the Ladybird Graham Joyce My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead: Great Love Stories from Chekhov to Munro ed. Jeffrey Eugenides (anthology) Points of View: An Anthology of Stories ed. James Moffett & Kenneth R. McEelheny Before
They Are Hanged Joe Abercrombie
Last Argument of Kings Joe Abercrombie
Always Lived in the Castle Shirley Jackson
Rising Glen Duncan
by Gene Wolfe
Station 11 Emily St. John Mandel
the Man Michael Moorcock (novella)
The Man Within Graham Greene
My Cousin Rachel Daphne Du Maurier The
Princess Bride William Goldman
A Little Life Hanya Yanagihara Bloodlines ed. Amanda Pillar (anthology) The Year's Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2013 ed. Liz Grzyb (anthology)
The Buried Giant Kazuo Ishiguro
Roving Party Rohan Wilson
Love and Romanpunk Tansy Rayner Roberts (collection) Orlando
by Virginia Woolf
Stories Fritz Leiber (collection)
Hundred Thousand Kingdoms N.K Jemisin
Dwarves by Markus Heitz
Dinosaurs: How Fearsome Reptiles Became Birds John
Sleeping Sorceress (Elric #4) Michael Moorcock
Thief of Lies Lucy Sussex (collection)
Bad Brass Bradley Denton (novella from Rogues ed. George R.R. Marin & Gardner Dozois)
A Dark Matter Peter Straub
Inside Creative Writing: Interviews with Contemporary Writers ed. Graeme Harper (expository and a complete dud)
I thought I’d mention my top 4
novel reads for the year- many came close.
The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford
A wonderfully reflective novel relating to family, childhood and the neighbourhood, more like a memoir, but peppered
throughout with a dark mystery. Superb.Deserved its World Fantasy Award.
Prestige by Christopher Priest.
Dueling rival magicians from different
backgrounds weave webs of deceit and illusion. Though there is a contemporary first person thread the text is largely epistolary, which suits
the late Victorian and Edwardian era in which the novel is chiefly set.In a structural sense, along with its intriguing unreliable narrators, The Prestige is a masterpiece. Very clever.
Blade Itself by Jo Abercrombie
Love Abercrombie's short stories and I now say that I’m
now a fan of his longer work too. Not everyone’s cup of tea but Abercrombie’s
characters are vivid, there’s plenty of escapist action and acerbic
humour and his lively active prose has dollops of impressive imagery. Perhaps
Abercrombie tries too hard to subvert genre narrative conventions at times; the red herrings and overt subversion make it fall a little short in terms of
overall plot but there are plenty of exceptional scenes. Gripping, fun and you’ll
enjoy the series.
Year of the Ladybird by Graham Joyce
Joyce’s passing was a sad loss to the world
of literature this year. The Year of the
Ladybird is a gentle read and a wonderful love story. Set in an old
fashioned summer entertainment camp in coastal Skegness, the novel’s nostalgic
setting allows for an array of colourful characters. It explores a vanishing culture,
nationalism, love and coming to terms with one’s past. A lovely summer read.
Two anthologies really stood out for me (not including anthologies I have stories in or in recommended reading lists here as that just seems unethical): My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead: Great Love Stories from Chekhov to Munro ed. Jeffrey Eugenides and the old classic Points of View: An Anthology of Stories ed. James Moffett & Kenneth R McEelheny.
Like most anthologies there are a few stories I dislike, but there are also many incredible works in these two anthologies. A few featured on last year's short story list and more will be on this year's (I'll put it up in soon)
Wishing you all a fruitful, thoughtful and happy 2016.