28 February, 2006

'Singing My Sister Down' online

For the purposes of Nebula voters, Allen & Unwin have now very kindly put the nominated story online here.

[login/password no longer necessary]

27 February, 2006

Octavia Estelle Butler, 1947-2006

Octavia was one of our instructors at Clarion West 1999. She had so many books left in her, this is a real loss.

In Dorothy Hewett's play, The Chapel Perilous, a character says: "I had a tremendous world in my head and more than three-quarters of it will be buried with me."

(Photo by Beth Gwinn)

Nebula ballot

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) have announced the final ballot for the 2005 Nebula Awards.

Short Stories
  • "Born-Again" - K.D. Wentworth (F&SF, May05)

  • "The End of the World as We Know It" - Dale Bailey (F&SF, Oct/Nov04)

  • "I Live With You" - Carol Emshwiller (F&SF, Mar05)

  • "My Mother, Dancing" - Nancy Kress (Asimov's, Jun04)

  • "Singing My Sister Down" - Margo Lanagan (Black Juice, Eos, Mar05)

  • "Still Life With Boobs - Anne Harris (Talebones, Summer05)

  • "There's a Hole in the City - Richard Bowes (SCI FICTION, Jun05)

[Wide-eyed smiley face goes here.]

23 February, 2006

In the UK...

...Black Juice is being reprinted, after being on the market since 1 February. Crazy stuff.

21 February, 2006

Scott reckons...

One thing I've realized since then is that writing is a sport too; it takes conditioning. You have to write every day to build your sentence-level craft. You have to write your way out of hundreds of plot-tangles and character breakdowns to develop sufficient problem-solving reflexes. And until you've written a novel in one focused stretch, you can't build up the muscles it takes to keep 80,000 words of plot and character arcs in your head, which is a hard, hard thing to do.
I would probably change that "every day" to something wishywashier like "a whole lot" or "heaps, and maybe every day for a few good stretches of time", but apart from that I'm with him.

Not perfect after all

Elizabeth Bear is less impressed with my powerful beast of an imagination. She thinks it's pretty, but tends to run around in circles and occasionally lose its way.
The writing is stunningly beautiful, the stories sometimes piquantly observant. But Lanagan's sense of rhythm and mine don't mesh. I see where her beats fall, and then she carries the story on after the kicker, as if she doesn't quite know how to arrange things so that the necessary information falls before the final downbeat, or as if she doesn't quite trust the reader to get the epiphany (all her stories in this are epiphantic rather than climactic, if you know what I mean) without having it 'splained. Also, after a while, though the situation of each story was interesting and unique, they all started to sound alike to me: character walks through brief, interestingly-worldbuilt situation. Character undergoes epiphany. Narrative explains epiphany. fin.
Sigh. I guess I'll just have to settle for doing stunningly beautiful and piquantly observant.

In a nice little review...

...of my "very odd collection" in the Times on the weekend, Kate Saunders says my imagination
...is a powerful beast, encompassing clowns and angels, dreams and nightmares — mostly nightmares. She writes with wit and detachment, and a certain exuberant ruthlessness.
Yeah, so watch yerself. :)

18 February, 2006


There is a nice review of Black Juice in the second half of this blog post by Joe Gordon over at Forbidden Planet.

17 February, 2006

New story

OK, does anybody recognise these two?
Two foster-brothers came upon them in that night. Long pale naked streaks they were, with staring pale eyes and ragged skirts made out of gum blossoms that covered neither their sex nor their bottom. They bent above the children and made their vague noises, and straightened their knobbed wooden bowl hats.

OK, so it wasn't live after all

(sorry, Peter!) but I did talk to Harriett last night, and it went well. If you go here and you click 'Listen to "The Word"', and you have a RealPlayer plugin and you wait a bit (I don't know when it will play or be up in the archive list), you can hear it, possibly with a rather husky reading of a paragraph of 'Singing My Sister Down'.

16 February, 2006

BBC interview

Tonight at 9pm (AEST) - that is, 10am in the UK - Harriett Gilbert will be interviewing me live for the BBC World Service's 'The Word' program.

13 February, 2006

Today's news

  • I finished compiling the 2004-2005 tax info for the accountant.

  • In the middle of the day, I saw a house burn down - I thought it was only a couple of streets away, but it was actually about a kilometre. I followed the smoke and watched from the end of the street with all the neighbours and passers-by, while the roof burned.

  • A package arrived from HarperCollins/Eos containing page proofs of White Time, bound page proofs also, and the paperback edition of Black Juice. These had some of the awards listed on the covers ("Two times World Fantasy Award Winner" - whee!) but were printed too late for the Printz seals. Still, they look great. Below is the new paperback (with seal).

  • No writing unrelated to tax was done.

12 February, 2006

The Outland review

is now out. Outland is Ottakar's Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Newsletter. Steve Robinson, manager of Ottakar's in Sunderland, reckons:
But a good short story, a really good one, is deceptively difficult to write. Which is why Black Juice such an outstanding collection. Because every single story in it is, quite simply, perfect. That's what I said: perfect.

08 February, 2006

Something I can't cure myself of

Tagging dialogue when the action would do the job. For example, in new short story:
‘See? Something is interfering with it,’ said Da, taking the lamp down the steps.
‘See? Something is interfering with it.’ Da took the lamp down the steps.
would work just fine. Somehow I never see myself doing this redundant thing until I reread the draft.

First UK review of Black Juice

Reviewer Saxon Bullock says:

All we need now from her is a full-length fantasy novel that maintains this level of eye-opening quality, and we'll know for sure that a seriously talented new voice has officially arrived.
Oh, is that all.

06 February, 2006

What I've been doing

  • Working on the Writing Room's other purpose, i.e. storage room, which involves a lot of boxes, dust, sweating and the occasional enormous spider. (I don't mind enormous spiders when they just sit quietly in a corner, but when they rush at me across the top of the box I'm carrying, I'm a bit unnerved.) Parts of the house are looking a bit clearer, yes.

  • Writing anything that's not a novel. I've started several short stories and poems. Some of the short stories are novel-related; I'm just seeing where they go, to try and find what the core of the thing was, that interested me. I've also been quietly, disjointedly raving into notebooks - just playing, really, trying to enjoy the writing rather than be too desperate for results.

    I've also started making notes for a new novel. Maybe the scope of this one is narrow enough for me to cope with. Maybe I even know what this one's about...aah, who am I kidding!

  • Preparing our tax 2004-05 information.

  • Preparing the October-December Business and Individual Activity Statements.

  • Wondering whether I should prepare the first half of the tax for 2005-06, while I still remember how to do this.

  • Socialising - quite a lot of that. Not just on weekends, either.

  • Having a haircut. It looks nothing like the photo in the previous post; all short and feathery now. Requires 'product'. *rolls eyes*

  • Walking Club - 6.10 every weekday morning for 4-5 turns around the park with Jen and Joanna.

  • Cycling - missed out on my big weekend ride, though. Took Harry to the beach instead.

  • Re-reading books to finalise shortlists for the NSW State Literary Awards.
Busy, eh.