31 May, 2006

Jonathan? Sure!

From over here:
I love the Premier's Literary Awards dinner. It's a night when writers who aren't Neil Gaiman get to be stars: [ :) ] all these people who spend much of their lives tapping away in the quiet of their rooms emerge into the limelight and a chosen ten or so get to stand up at the podium and say something witty or profound or incoherent and shake a politician's hand to great applause. I was going to say it was like a literary Oscars, but it's more of an anti-Oscars: a celebration of the inward, the thoughtful, the critical, the gentle, the impassioned and the incisive.

30 May, 2006

George snippet

George Saunders has been on the road for In Persuasion Nation. He did a reading in LA the day after I left, if you can believe my bad luck. Anyway, from over here:
So you’re not sure what you’re working on next?
I think a story will tell you what it needs if you reside with it. Einstein says something about “No worthy problem can ever be solved on the original plane of its conception.”

Einstein said that?
Yeah. We were talking.

What I must do before I go again

Write a ten-minute speech to deliver at the Printz Awards Dinner. (Actually, that's by tomorrow afternoon.)

Write a novel - cue mirthless laughter.

Post off cheque to Tax Office - no laughter there.

Tech. writing - a manageable amount, and mostly done from home.

Research funky, up-to-the-minute art galleries in Los Angeles and New Orleans - anybody got any ideas? - to take my funky, up-to-the-minute son to.

I'm sure I've forgotten something, but that should keep me busy until 14 June, shouldn't it. Especially that novel. [whispery sound of wool being pulled over own eyes]

What I've been doing since getting back

Giving an author talk and a short-story masterclass (!) at the VATE Conference.

Finishing (I think, I hope) the copy-edits on the Red Spikes collection. The final story gave me a bit of grief; it was long and I felt I'd chosen the wrong point of view, so I changed the POV and it still seemed very long and tedious (no wonder I'm having problems getting a novel completed...), so I hauled out a couple of alternatives and sent them off. What do you reckon, Jodie? [ingratiating smile]

Getting and doing tech. writing work. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Looking with horror at the bank account. Looking with horror at the fresh tax bill, due 6 June, that hit us on Saturday.

Finishing (I hope) a short story for an anthology, about a month after it was due. I sent a first draft with apologies by the due date.

Doing a real-time email interview with Joe Sutliff Sanders' children's literature class in Illinois - hi Julia, Rachel, Scott, Jordan, Amy, and of course, Joe!

Spending a weekend in Bathurst with my sister - hi Jude!

Attending the NSW Premier's Literary Awards dinner at the Art Gallery of NSW. You can even see me there, over at Judy Ridge's Misrule blog. Pix there also of 'my' two winners, Ursula Dubosarsky and Kierin Meehan.

Lots of excuses not to blog, if I were the kind to make excuses. :)

Run out and read...

  • Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking
  • David Klass's You Don't Know Me
  • Lynne Rae Perkins' All Alone in the Universe and Criss Cross (thanks again, Ruth!)

17 May, 2006

And another story

I've just signed the contract for a story of mine, 'The Goosle', to go in a non-themed anthology of science fiction, fantasy and horror that Ellen Datlow is editing for Del Rey.

It's an icky, sticky, extension-of-Hansel-and-Gretel story, not, I don't think, YA. Horribly fun to write.

I'll let you know when it's due to come out.

My only regret is that Ellen didn't like the changeling story, 'Daughter of the Clay', enough to publish it as well. However, that one's going in the new collection, Red Spikes, so if you're Australian (or friends with an Australian) you'll be able to read it before Christmas.

11 May, 2006

Agog! Ripping Reads

I'm happy to be able to tell you that my story, 'A Pig's Whisper' is being published by Cat Sparks in Agog! Ripping Reads, which will be launched at Conflux 3.

I just got the proofs today, so it's really happening. This will be the first story of mine to be published since Black Juice came out in March 2004; the poem in Kids' Night In 2 has been the only other new piece that's come out. Everything else has been reprints, which are good in their own way but don't give me the feeling of progress that a new publication does.

It'll also be my first publication in an anthology of original short stories - yes, I'm building my career completely arse-about. :)

10 May, 2006

Books bought and brought back

Here is the stack of books I bought in the US:
  • Paul Park, A Princess of Roumania

  • Holly Black, Tithe

  • Gail Giles, Shattering Glass

  • Uzodinma Iweala, Beasts of No Nation

  • Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

  • Michael Cunningham, Specimen Days

  • Justina Robson, Living Next Door to the God of Love

  • Paul Mandelbaum, ed., 12 Short Stories and Their Making

  • John Green, Looking for Alaska

  • Chris Lynch, Inexcusable

  • Gail Mazur, Zeppo's First Wife

  • Tim Pratt, The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl

  • George Saunders, In Persuasion Nation

  • Lucia Perillo, Luck is Luck

  • Michelle P. Brown, Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts

  • Hal Duncan, Vellum

  • Octavia E. Butler, Fledgling

Books I meant to buy, but the booksellers didn't stay set up at the Nebulas weekend for long enough:
  • anything by Carol Emshwiller

  • Kelly Link, Magic For Beginners

  • Eileen Gunn, Stable Strategies and Other

And if I were to list the books I nearly bought but managed to restrain myself from buying, we'd be here all day.

Plus, Denise Hamilton, who chaired the panel at the LA Times Festival of Books, gave me a signed copy of her crime novel, Savage Garden. Thanks, Denise!

Hmph, so much for blogging on the road.

OK, so I didn't win a Nebula, either. Still, there's no shame in losing to Carol Emshwiller, and I even got to hold her lovely piece of lucite for a little while - even had a Locus photo taken with a Nebula (Harlan Ellison's), almost as if I were a Grand Master myself!

We got back to Sydney this morning at about 6.15, and after some unpacking and housekeeping, the past fortnight, seems like a bit of a dream. I slept all right on the plane so I shouldn't feel too unreal, but the weather has chilled down a lot since we were here, so it doesn't seem quite the same Sydney we left 2 weeks ago. Every now and then - as I clean the stove-top, for example - I think, 'God, I met Neil Gaiman!' or - as I sort receipts - 'I sat between Nancy Kress and Kelly Link and signed books! And Harlan came up and introduced himself!' And it would have been nice to come back with a prize, so, yes, there's the odd 'Aww' about that, but it was still an amazing trip.

The little publicity I did was fun, too. The Los Angeles School Librarians Association were a great bunch - hi Caroline, hi Rosemarie! - and the students of Boulder Creek High School in Anthem, AZ, were very attentive listeners too, once we'd all got over the excitement of the fire drill - the alarms went off right as the talk was supposed to be starting, so out everyone went into the blazing sunshine. As well as themselves, the students had evacuated the Dippin' Dots machine, so while we waited for the all-clear - hi Amy, Julie and Stephanie! - they brought me up to speed on Dippin' Dots and freeze-dried ice cream. Neither of which I ended up trying before I left.

The reading at the Nebulas weekend was quiet but good - I was competing against Gordon Van Gelder interviewing Harlan Ellison, so I did well to get Kelly and Gavin and Eileen Gunn and Paolo Bacigalupi and Luke Hannaford along to listen, as well as the people who turned up 10 minutes before the end because they wanted to see the next person on the agenda.

The best part of the trip? It's a toss-up between the people (those mentioned above and many not noted as well - hi Ruth, hi Walter!) and the desert landscape. But the city and townscapes were all interesting, not to mention the supermarket-scapes and the canyons and the Mexican border and Dateland, AZ, and... It was a very quick sampling of many places I hope to go back and spend longer exploring.

07 May, 2006

2 one-liners from Ellen Klages

Steven (on way home from restaurant): Call me a cab!
Ellen: You're a cab.

OK, maybe you needed a bit more context for that one, but I forgot it.

Spruiker: Do you know we're offering $1 dollar beers and $3 margaritas in our upstairs bar?
Ellen: No, but if you hum the first few bars, maybe we'll remember it.

She was just warming up for her auctioneering today.

Yes, I am alive.

I've been racing around the southwestern US since leaving LA last Sunday. We've 'done' (i.e. had a little taste of and vowed to return and look properly at) Death Valley, Las Vegas, Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff, and now we're in Tempe, Arizona, for the Nebula Awards Weekend. We've been from spring to summer, then back to (Sydney-standards) winter, then abruptly back to summer again, and in fact we brought all the right clothes, from the swimmers to the woolly hats and gloves, to the glam and the bling. We've used 'em all.

Tonight is the Nebula Banquet, which is the second of the two professional high points of this visit. I'm having the best time catching up with [insert name-drops here] and meeting [insert other name-drops here] for the first time. I've now seen Connie Willis officiate at an event, instead of just photos in Locus. (She does a great job.)

Best goodie bag ever - aak! I already have about 20 new, cheap-cheap-cheap US books to bring home. But can I leave behind Paul Park's A Princess of Roumania? Or Octavia Butler's Fledgling? Or - no, I don't think I can sacrifice any of these. Add to to-do list: buy new suitcase for books.