26 October, 2008

Two nice TM reviews, and a cringe

Lili, over at the thinkings of a lili, thinks the following:
Tender Morsels sucked me in from the opening sentence, and kept me held tight until it rather cruelly spat me out at the end. It is gripping and sad and beautiful. The language is breathtakingly stunning. The characters are real and wonderful. It takes old and tired elements of fantasy—magic, medieval villages, wolves, bears—and reinvents them, new, glittering, fascinating.
And Kate Eltham, at ABC North Queensland, has picked the book as one of her week's picks, and says it's:
Not for the squeamish. This books is full of terrible things, but is also beautiful and fearless and highly emotional.
Meanwhile, a bloke called Rafferty in the New York Times is condescending in so many ways about horror writers who happen to be women, I don't quite know where to look. Right in his eye, perhaps, without blinking, for a while.

Abigail Nussbaum reviews The Del Rey Book

In the course of which, she has this to say:
The standout story in the anthology ... is Margo Lanagan's "The Goosle" ... a terrifying and absorbing examination of abuse from the victim's perspective, which stresses the importance of isolation and loneliness in perpetuating the abusive relationship. ... I do, however, have a vague sympathy with Truesdale's accusation that "The Goosle" shocks for the sake of shocking, as at several points throughout the story I found myself thrown out of its world, and its overpowering emotional tone, by Lanagan stepping up the grand guignol—having Hansel lay his head against what he believes to be a pumpkin only for it to turn out to be the skull of one of the witch's victims, or the description of the witch dismembering her latest kill. Elements that should have sunk me further into the story's horrific mode instead came off as over the top, and had me shaking off the story's effect to go 'oh, come on.'
Two things make me think Abigail might have been reading 'The Goosle' slightly too fast. Can you spot them? (Not you, Saul—I've already whinged about them to you.)

And yes, you'll have to have read 'The Goosle' to see them.

24 October, 2008

Tha launch

Judy Ridge was there, and took a picture. Among about 35 people from so many different bits of my life, all of a sudden I felt quite multifaceted. It was a great night, and the book is now well and truly launched and Out There.

Chris Barnes was launch-side too, which was very kind of him, seeing as he'd already finished reading the book:
For all its fantastical elements, the strength of Tender Morsels, like all good fairy tales, is its core of primal truth about how the world really works.
Jan launched our novel in great style. Thanks, Jan!

Nice review of 'Machine Maid'

In Strange Horizons:
This story is the highlight of its volume. It treats its characters and its readers honestly and seriously, speaking in a clear, original voice. The result is a thoroughly modern piece of historical fiction—and yet, the voice is that of a Victorian character and the plot relies on a device typical of the steampunk imagination.

22 October, 2008

Fifth Star for Tender Morsels (SLJ)!

School Library Journal (via Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA) reckons:
It’s heavy fare even for sophisticated readers, but the author hits all the right notes, giving voice to both the joys and terrors that sexual experience can bestow without saying more than readers need to know to be fully with the characters. While the story explores what it means to be human, it is at its heart an incisive exploration of the uses and limitations of dissociation as a coping mechanism. Beautifully written and surprising, this is a novel not to be missed.
Plus, KC at Booklist, although s/he hasn't given me a star (aawww?), says:
Lanagan's storytelling is deftly crafted, peppered throughout with archaic, accented English that breeds just the right level of strangeness for her mythical, quasi-medieval settings. Her descriptions of the yearly carnival and the rawness of everyday village life are palpably grotesque at times...her depictions of Liga's induced abortions and rape, and of Urdda's mystical revenge on her mother's attackers, are breathtakingly shocking in their scabrous detail...the wisdom of the book lies in its overthrow of expectations and convention, its examination of the consequences of foolish and desperate decisions, and its stern forgiveness of those who make them.
I like 'scabrous'. I like 'stern'.

21 October, 2008


If you're thinking of coming to the Berkelouw launch on Thursday, would you please make sure you let Publicity at Allen & Unwin know? So we can have enough bubbles for you.

You can email them at (der!) publicity@allenandunwin.com

or you can call them on (02) 8425 0146.

Thanks! See you there!

17 October, 2008

Tender Morsels Bookslutted!

Which, given the first sentence of the Prologue, is the perfect place for it.

It's not often you get to put words in Jon Stewart's mouth. I think he did quite well for me, don't you?

16 October, 2008

VOYA review of Tender Morsels

Sarah Flowers says it's:
... brilliant ... Lanagan creates a rich and complex world, packed with fully realized characters. Her writing is so beautiful that even the most brutal and painful scenes are not graphic or sordid but heartbreaking. Older teens, especially fans of fairy-tale retellings, will want to immerse themselves in Liga's two worlds. This book is one that will stay with the reader for a long time.

Spoilers/discussion of Tender Morsels

Over at Random, teenagers have been reading my book and then picking my brain. This excellent set of questions came from Teen Book Groups in Chicago (Chicago Public Library – Chinatown Branch and Harold Washington Library Center), Grand Junction CO (Grand Junction Book Club) and Newark DE (Newark High School Book Club). They really worked me over, bless them!

So if you've read the book but have no one to talk to about it, go and have a read.

Yesterday I kept an eye on Amazon to see if publication day lifted me out of six figures in the sales ranking. And lo! I peaked at 5022! Plus, for a moment there I was #3 on the Sexual Abuse Books for Teens list. I've now slumped to #4, and am back to five figures in the general ranking. So all is gloom again. :)

However, good news from the UK: Lauren the Press Officer at Random there says:
Red Spikes has been longlisted for the UKLA [United Kingdom Literacy Association] Children’s Book Award 2009 (12–16 category) Congratulations!

145 books were submitted and 81 were selected for the longlist. 5 secondary schools in Bromley have been chosen to read, discuss and work with the books on the longlist over the next 4 months. Teachers will meet in February to select the final shortlist.
So, can't stay gloomy for long.

14 October, 2008

'Machine Maid' machinations

My story 'Machine Maid', from Nick Gevers' Extraordinary Engines: The Definitive Steampunk Anthology—my mate Trent describes the story very charmingly as 'a Colonial Australia, Steampunk On Chesil Beach, but bloodier'—is going to be reprinted by Jonathan Strahan in his The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume 3.

Happy Publication Day USA!

Today (when it turns into today over there) is Tender Morsels publication day in the US. (I would have said 'pub. day' like a proper blogger, but the suggestion of alcohol in the company of readers under the legal drinking age might get up someone's nose (see comments). :)

And to celebrate, John Joseph Adams has put up an interview he did with me about the novel, at SCI FI Wire.

And Random House has sent me 24 copies of the gorgeous hardback. Oh, you USians and your hardbacks.

*pat, pat*

*heft, heft*

Heft a copy yourself, why don't you? Larry says it's 'one creepy (in the good sense), well-executed, moving book'.

Not so happy

The Girl Who Wished She Was Australian is less keen since she picked up Black Juice:
It's won awards so it must be considered good by some people. I didn't like it. I think I'm just not smart enough for this type of book. I was totally lost for most of the stories. They went WAY over my head. It's probably one of those books that I could like if I had someone explain things to me--or if I could discuss it with someone. It's like Shakespeare. I liked the plays when we studied them in school or when I'd see one of the movies. But I'm usually very lost if I sit down alone and try to read it.
And I'm just not a hit with the teenagers, eh. Andrea F, 15, joins Tyler, 15, over at Teens Talk About Books:
I've never read anything by Margo Lanagan before, but this did not give me a good impression of her. I'm not sure if this is marketed towards teens or adults, but either way I would not like this story. The plotline was so lengthy and slow that it became confusing. The darkness never ever let up in this story, just when you thought things would get better... WHAM! I'll admit it, I love happy endings. But I can read a book without one and still enjoy it, but this was not one of those. There were hardly any bright moments in Liga's life, and the few that did occur the author didn't seem to want to spend too much time on. I truly did not enjoy this book. Nominate? No. 2Q Needs more work. 3P Some Teen appeal.
I put this kind of review in here because I like to have a record of all kinds of reviews I find. Also, it's kind of funny. I'm not wounded to the core or anything.

11 October, 2008

Let's try again

Right, well, perhaps you would like to come to the official Tender Morsels launch? It will be held, unless someone pulls the plug on it, at Berkelouw Books in Norton Street, Leichhardt, opposite the Plaza.

It's happening on Thursday evening (23 October), beginning at 7 o'clock. Jan Cornall, who runs the Draftbusters workshops at which, and among which, I wrote the novel during 2007, will be doing the honours.

The launch will be held in the newly refurbished upstairs area of Berkelouw's—I haven't checked them out yet, but I'm sure they'll be eminently suitable.

It will cost you nothing, and there will be bubbles.

09 October, 2008

Kinokuniya Konversation Kancelled

Thank you, Kinokuniya - NOT. About two hours after I'd emailed about 25 people to remind them to come tonight, I got a call from my publicist at A&U saying that Kinokuniya had pulled the plug on my conversation with Garth because of lack of interest. So, I sent the invitation email with a bunch of blind cc's to protect everyone's privacy, and now I can't find out who I sent them to.

If you are one of those people, or anyone else who was hoping to mosey along without an RSVP - no one managed to mention to me that an RSVP was necessary, dammit - I'm very sorry, but the talk won't be happening.

I advise you to buy your copy at Galaxy Bookshop in York Street. Or Dymocks - that'll be closer. But give Kinokinuya a big fat boot off your list of favourite bookshops.

Updated by Ms Cranky Pants at 8.31pm: Okay I've gone in and shaken the hand of peace with Steve the manager, and we worked out exactly which misunderstandings happened on both sides. I asked him to put up a sign on the window in case any of my mates that I couldn't get in touch with turned up in the hope of being scintillated, titillated and altogether wowed. Plus I signed a bunch of stock, perhaps the most I've ever signed in Australia. So perhaps someone had better swing by and buy some. I checked out Borders - it's there, but not in the New Fiction section, where furrin books reigned supreme. I checked out Galaxy; not a single copy! Tut-tut!

06 October, 2008

Kinokuniya Thursday night in conversation with Garth Nix

This Thursday, at 6.30–8 p.m., Garth Nix and I will be in conversation about Tender Morsels at Kinokuniya bookshop, which is on the 2nd Floor, Galeries Victoria, at 500 George Street (diagonally across from Town Hall station).

If you're in the CBD at that time, please come and listen. It won't cost you anything—until you find yourself unable to resist buying the book. And we promise to be fascinating! (And I don't mind if you just want to come along to see Garth, and you may even ask him a question or two—aren't I kind?)

Red Spikes reviews, official and otherwise

Emily says:
this book is weird. don't contradict me, it is; but underneath the weirdness, it has great morals and ideas. just keep in mind that at the beginning of each chapter, or new story, don't necessarily assume you are human. also, while this book is good, her other one, her older one is better. the one with 'singing my sister down' in it. i think it was called 'beetle juice'? who knows. anyways, the story was so sad... and you can't deny Margo's writing style isn't creepy, but it's still worth the read.
Also, Sophie Masson tells me that Adele Geras will be reviewing Red Spikes for the Guardian. Eep! (Thanks, Sophie.)

First Australian print review

Hi there! I'm back from a weekend at Conflux 5, where Jack Dann, bless his buttons, did a wonderful job of launching Tender Morsels yesterday afternoon, and the bookseller sold out of copies afterwards, which was excellent.

While I was there I was mentioned in the Weekend Australian by Rosemary Sorensen as 'the increasingly visible and admired author of fantasy short stories', and the novel was reviewed all by itself by Rebecca Starford, deputy editor of Australian Book Review. She reckons Tender Morsels is:
thoroughly discomforting. Despite the intervening fantasy genre, it does not shy from the senseless cruelty human beings inflict on each other. The ‘‘tender morsels’’ are thus symbols of abstract intimacy for the bruised Liga: the joy her daughters bring to her life, wisps of regained trust between herself and others, and the possibility of love. At times brutal, Tender Morsels is, nonetheless, an exquisite novel.

03 October, 2008

Tender Morsels is published in Australia today!

And to celebrate, here is Ruud van Empel's cover illustration.

I stole it from his website, which is over here. It's from the series 'Study in Green'; have a look at the others. They're similarly moody. Some of the other series are really quite unsettling.

Which is as it should be.

02 October, 2008

(Not) our house, in the middle of our street

But almost exactly opposite us, yesterday. It started out early, but after six hours, it sorted itself out I followed it all via regular bulletins from the home front, where Steven and Harry were 'locked down', the street outside aswarm with SWAT teams and police dogs.

I got home about 15 minutes after they went in and brought the man out. Everything was still in place, although they'd taken him away; an armoured vehicle that, backlit, looked remarkably like an army tank was parked in front of my house. I had to get home via the gate in the back fence through to Paul and Christine's place. I bet they never envisaged the Siege of Lewisham when they installed that.

Funnily enough, no commuters parked in or near our street today. Steven says it was very peaceful.

Another sweep at the web

Jeff has finished Tender Morsels and asked me about it. What I told him as been divided between Clarkesworld and Omnivoracious. He still maintains it's brilliant—phew! He's also revived the tantalising beer-book pairing (doesn't he know I'm trying to give up the grog?), and says:
Her latest novel, Tender Morsels (Knopf, October), is a tour de force of sustained narrative, weaving folktale with brutal reality...a rich, original story that sometimes cloaks itself in the familiar but is at its heart deeply strange in the best possible way...recalls such masters as Angela Carter and Rikki Ducornet, while being intensely Lanagan's own.
And along with the Old:
...it's brilliantly written, full of fascinating characters, dangerous, moving...anyone who can describe food and drink this wonderfully has my attention as a fiction writer.
Don't miss out—urp.

And then, and then, an Allen & Unwin blog called Alien Onion has been born, and I made the second-ever post. And they're going to talk about my book at their inhouse book group! So they're not sick of reading it yet, eh.

And-and-and, Jack's Dreaming Again anthology is being launched at Conflux this Friday night (d'oh! I'll miss it!), and you need a copy, as soon as you can get your hands on one.