Saturday, April 15, 2017

Recent Book Launches, Ticonderoga's 21st Birthday at Swancon #42 and Current Reads

Ticonderoga Publications 21st Birthday (Swancon #42)

Ticonderoga Publications celebrated an incredible 21 years in typical TP style. Editor Liz Grzyb made over 50 delicious cupcakes with the TP logo in a variety flavours (I had the cookies and cream).

Russell B. Farr presented an intriguing overview of Ticonderoga's rich history, with respectful mentions given to numerous writers and editors, including Sean Williams (a Guest of Honour) and Jonathan Strahan, who were both in attendance.

The celebration also included a post-launch and preview-launch. Alan Baxter's collection, Crow Shine was 'post-launched', and I bought a copy. It was great to meet and spend some time with Alan – one of the Guests of Honour at Swancon#42 –especially as we've been anthology mates a couple of times before (Dreaming of Djinn ed. Liz Grzyb and Bloodlines ed. Amanda Pillar).

The Year's Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2015 Ed. Liz Grzyb & Talie Helene was also 'preview-launched' at the 21st birthday. This was the 6th Volume so far. I read an excerpt from it, along with fellow Perthite, Stephen Dedman, and the ever affable, Cat Sparks.

My story 'Lady Killer', which I am very humbled to have included, is on the darker psychological side and doesn't contain as much dialogue as what I'd normally write. It was an enjoyable experience compressing the life's stages of a flawed protagonist into a short story. A sphinx felt the perfect vehicle with which to do this due to the Sphinx's famed riddle to Oedipus. The story was first published in the Aurealis Award winning anthology Bloodlines. 

Alan Baxter pointed out at the reading that Liz Grzyb had written a dedication to me at the front of the anthology. This had me caught up in alliterative 'G's: I was gushing, gobsmacked and giddy - but also very thankful and appreciative.

A Few Other Buys (other than a stack of Ticonderoga books): I bought Lotus Blue, Cat Sparks' debut novel, one set in a dystopian Australia. It had a rave review in Locus Magazine recently. Last time Sparks was in Perth, she'd recently released her collection The Bride Price. 

I also bought Thoraiya Dyer's debut novel Crossroads of Canopy, which also looks a treat.

And finally, Jonathan Strahan's newly released The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Eleven. If it's anything like the one I read last year (Volume Six), it will be a bounty of rich stories. Strahan & Brown's Locus Awards Anthology played a huge role in inspiring me to write long short stories, and also understanding that the long short story/novelette genre has great value as a narrative vehicle.

I had a fab time in my couple of days at Swancon. I played a few games, bought a truckload of books, caught up with friends, and met some wonderful people. I also saw The Aurealis Awards, which had a superlative lineup of finalists. Please see the link below, as these awards, including the shortlists, usually make for wonderful reading. Congrats to all nominees.

Launch of Rubik by Elizabeth Tan 

Liz Tan and I studied a unit together on writing novels, I was a postgrad student, and Liz an undergrad, and you could see Liz' talent shining through in the class, her writing seemingly effortless in its fluidity and beauty – so it was a pleasure to attend the launch of Liz Tan's debut novel Rubik at Beaufort Street Books. It was an emotional evening for a variety of reasons, but also an exciting one. Rubik looks like a 'Tan Special' with a menagerie of quirky offbeat characters and weird events. It's also set right here in my hometown of Perth, but not quite the Perth as we know it...I did say menagerie, didn't I?

Current Reads

Just read Such a Long Journey by the magnificent Rohinton Mistry. It was Mistry's first novel and it isn't as large in scope or melodrama (which was fine with me) as the justifiably acclaimed A Fine Balance. The work explores a similar era in India's history, during what Mistry again portrays as Indira Gandhi's incredibly corrupt reign, but this time the backdrop focusses on the Indo-Pakistani 1971 War involving Bangladesh. Such a Long Journey fascinated me in a cultural sense, as it delves into the rich heritage of the Parsi community. The Zoroastrians of India are now a dwindling people, and this novel explores both the community and family's connection to the faith and culture along with its fragmentation, providing for a nostalgic, melancholy tone throughout, yet Mistry always manages to imbue his work with humour, making it all the more poignant and effective.

Where Song Began by Tim Low: An epic feat. This is all about Australian birds. Our songbirds, parrots and cockatoos are long-lived and fiercely intelligent, and Low spells out why. The research, details and many anecdotes are superb.

And the next novel my bookclub has chosen is The Good People by Hannah Kent, as we all enjoyed Kent's debut novel Burial Rites.