30 August, 2005

Hugo A-Go-Go

A bunch of people have been cooking up the possibility of a Hugo nomination for Black Juice next year. They explain it to each other (and to me!) over here.

John McGahern's Memoir

Via Liz Williams comes news of this new memoir from a writer who doesn't make mistakes, and hasn't been making them for a very long time.

Just the extract will tear small pieces out of your heart.

I am sure it is from those days that I take the belief that the best of life is life lived quietly, where nothing happens but our calm journey through the day, where change is imperceptible and the precious life is everything.

Because my mind is blank...

...in terms of words of my own except the ones I'm vomiting into the rewrite, I thought I'd put up some recent words of other people's, that have jumped out at me because of the discussions over at Deb Biancotti's blog.

Jimmy Webb, composer, in the Weekend Australian:
I think it's very charming to make mistakes when you're a teenager, it comes off very winsome and charming, but I don't think it does so for mature adults.

Christopher Cyrill, fiction editor for Heat magazine, in an article, 'Turning a Story', in Australian Author's August issue:
My job [as a fiction editor] is basically to carry away the sand while the author raises the object. My work after that is simply to disappear.

Cyrill also quotes novelist and former New Yorker editor William Maxwell saying that 'it was not the job of the editor to teach the writer how to write'.

And novelist John Gardner: 'Most rejected fiction is rejected because it is bad.' Or, I'd add to that one, because it's simply been sent to an unsuitable publication.

25 August, 2005

Mid-morning break

Four and a half pages down and - how many?! - to go. My back feels nearly normal. Dropped in here to thaw out and possibly meet Jack who was planning to drop in, change, sponge some money and be gone again. He hasn't shown, so I might just push off back to Little Peach. It's a beautiful day out there, perfect wagging-school weather. But I must be strong.

23 August, 2005

Oh yeah, and...


Even though it felt as if I'd been permanently snapped in two and would never budge again without pain, today I was mostly vertical and was able to stop using the walking stick to get from seated to standing position.

I went to the writing room and I wrote the full ten pages. I came home and typed it up. !!! Good! I managed on half a Mersyndol for the whole day! I walked back up to the shops for Turkish pizzas! For many minutes I forgot entirely that my back was broken!

Bugger - I don't feel nearly bad enough to cry off working for the gas company tomorrow.

Thank you Jonathan, Nike, Perry and Jude for your get-well wishes. They worked.

22 August, 2005

Nice timing

Just as I've moved all useful novel-notes out of the house, my lower back goes out and I'm immobilised. The writing room is now back to being the kitchen. But at least I'm sort of vertical, after being horizontal all yesterday. I started the rewrite, crippled or not. (Last week was all planning and plotting and note-making, not writing proper prose.) It may not make a lot of sense, though, with all the painkillers at work in my head.

I finished reading Nike's book - there was pain as promised, but a lot of beauty too. Got a fair way through the Congreve/Marquardt Year's Best Aus. SF&F. Made a good start on Traumascapes.

Slept, slept, slept. Dreamed, dreamed, dreamed - nothing that stuck, though. Generally, I was as absent from the world as I could manage.

19 August, 2005

Who needs a CBCA Award...

...when you've been mentioned in Neil Gaiman's journal? And in the same breath as Gene Wolfe, no less.

No one will be able to resist me now!

(via Chance, Jonathan and Tansy. Maxine and Marianne, let me just wipe that drool off your faces for you. There, that's better. And [name deleted for reasons of discretion], uncurl that lip this minute.)

18 August, 2005


I now have a desk (Dura 6ft plastic foldable table, beige. Matches the walls.) and shelves in the writing room. The dictionaries have been installed. There is a rug, a jug and some teabags. There is no excuse for me to be sitting here blogging at this time of day.

UK sampler

Simon Spanton of Gollancz tells me they are:

(a) now going to publish Black Juice in February, rather than March, and

(b) planning to put out "a sampler for the trade to help sell the book in. This will be printed with a full colour jacket and will be the size and shape of a CD insert."

I wonder what they'll decide to sample.

17 August, 2005

The Writing Room

Well, I am now the proud renter of a room just for writing. Small matter of a desk to be cleared up, but apart from that, I'm equipped. I'll have my first full day in there tomorrow, although I've sat there a bit and even checked the US White Time proofs there yesterday. And made a few tentative, does-this-really-work-this-room-thing notes for the novel. The interim desk is under a tall, narrow window looking out into a tree and across to next-door's roof, and I can look out the kitchen louvres practically to the mountains, through more trees. I'm rapt.

I finished Christos Tsiolkas's Dead Europe - crawled out from under all the blood and semen and excrement and corpses and ghouls, coughing from the cigarette smoke, nostrils stinging from the drugs, a bit hungover too. Still thinking about that one. Now I'm launching into Nike's new book (N. A. Bourke, The True Green of Hope, UQP), which promises pain right there on the front cover in the SMH blurb. So far (end chapter 1) nobody's been either buggered or turned into a vampire by their experiences. Come on, Nike, you're letting these people off too lightly.

Thought about reading Maria Tumarkin's Traumascapes in tandem, but you've got to draw the line somewhere, eh.

15 August, 2005

UK edition of Black Juice

OK, now that Gollancz are advertising it, I can put up the cover of the UK edition.

In other news: Tomorrow at 9.30 I sign the lease on my writing room.

Farewell, kitchen table. Farewell, State Library desk. Both of you have your advantages (kitchen table: multi-tasking, being there to answer phones, take deliveries and absorb teen angst, closeness to bed - oops, how did that get in there?; SL desk: hugeness, emptiness and a commute that keeps me in touch with the rest of the world and all its wonderful germs and train-loonies).

But my next world beating novel demands that I hide away and become an obsessive, wild-eyed, monosyllabic recluse for a little while. Well, OK then, if that's what it takes. (Shrugs helplessly.)

13 August, 2005

Post-implementation assessment of novel-avoidance strategies

1. I went to the dentist. I don't have the monstrous abscess I thought I must have, but I may be grinding my teeth in the night and making the tooth sensitive. I also now have very clean teeth. So that was worthwhile.

2. I found the room. $140. Share bathroom, but the bathroom is spick and span, and as I'll only be there in the daytime it shouldn't be too bad. Room is smallish, with a tiny cupboard-sized kitchen (that's where all the windows are, too), also sparkling clean. 5 minutes walk from home. Quiet street, quiet neighbours. Mine, all mine! Well, I expect to sign the lease on Tuesday.

3. Took Jack surfing. Took novel, too, so as a strategy this one was less than successful. Never mind. There was an hour and a half's driving, during which I made no progress on the rewrite.

4. The story was well and truly faffed, and now is simmering quietly in its folder so that all its flavours can merge properly.

Yeah, I've pretty much run out of excuses, I think.

12 August, 2005

Today's novel-avoidance strategies

1. Going to the dentist.

2. Hunting for a room to rent to write in - kind of counts as work, doesn't it? Anyone know of a self-contained studio/1BR unit going in the Inner West of Sydney for $150 or under?

3. Taking Jack surfing, because it's a non-exam day and apparently I promised.

4. Faffing around with the extra story that's going into the UK edition of Black Juice.

That should about do it, shouldn't it?

Oh, but I did write 3 pages of very thoughtful notes about the novel before breakfast this morning.

11 August, 2005

Glistering prizes

Shortlistings of Black Juice so far:

Prize for Young Adult Fiction, Queensland Premier's Literary Awards (won by Martine Murray, How to Make a Bird)
Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards (won by Tim Winton, The Turning)
Children's Book Council of Australia, Book of the Year: Older Readers (announced 19 July 2005)
Ditmar Award - Best Professional Achievement (won by Clarion South committee)
Courier-Mail Book of the Year Award (won by Sonya Hartnett, The Silver Donkey)
Bram Stoker Award, Short Story ("Singing My Sister Down")(won by Nancy Etchemendy, "Nimitseahpah")
Theodore Sturgeon Award, Short Story ("Singing My Sister Down")(won by Bradley Denton, Christopher Rowe and Robert Reed)
World Fantasy Award, Short Story
World Fantasy Award, Collection

Prizes for Black Juice:

Prize for Young Adult Fiction, Victorian Premier's Literary Awards
Aurealis Award - Best Young Adult Short Story ("Singing My Sister Down")
Aurealis Award - Golden Aurealis, Best Short Story
Ditmar Award - Best Short Story ("Singing My Sister Down")
Ditmar Award - Best Collection

09 August, 2005

...and a spot of colour wouldn't go astray, either.

Here's Sherryl Clark's NSW Premier's Literary Award-winning book for children. It's published by Puffin. In case you haven't been reading the Comments here, Sherryl's got a blog here, which is full of writerly goodness, including all the blood, sweat and determination you could wish for.

Because we need another picture...

Here is a photo of my grandmother, Dorothy Marshall, in her teens.

Recent and current reading

Read in preparation for panels:

Candida Baker, The Hidden
Candida Baker, The Powerful Owl
Mandy Sayer, 15 Kinds of Desire
Christos Tsiolkas, Dead Europe (halfway through)
Shane Maloney, Stiff (a few pages into)

Bought but not yet read: Mandy Sayer, Velocity

Also read: Joanne Horniman, Secret Scribbled Notebooks

Bought at Byron:

Isobelle Carmody, Little Fur
Nike Bourke, The True Green of Hope
Maria Tumarkin, Traumascapes: the power and fate of places transformed by tragedy
Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss, Affluenza: when too much is never enough

08 August, 2005

While I was away...

...having my chakras realigned and my colon irrigated (nah, just kidding), Black Juice was nominated for a World Fantasy Award in the Collection category, and the first story, "Singing My Sister Down" was nominated in the Short Fiction category.

I've just driven-and-been-driven for 12.5 hours, so I'll leave it at this until tomorrow.