27 November, 2009

Tender Morsels is on the UKLA longlist

Along with a swag of wonderful books—go over here and have a look.

That's the UK Literacy Association, if you were wondering.
The UKLA Children’s Book Award is a national award conferred by education professionals and it is held in high esteem by teachers, who regard the shortlist [announced in March next year] as a reliable indicator of the best books of the year for inclusion in class and school collections.

The announcement of the UKLA Children’s Book Award 2010 will be made at the UKLA International Conference in Winchester July 8th 2010.
It's listed in the age 12–16 section. I think it would be very interesting if it made the shortlist. :)

21 November, 2009

Some people like to be challenged

And Biblioaddict is one. She's just acquired 7 new books, and one of them is
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan. I’ve wanted to read this book for so long that it’s almost impossible to believe that I actually finally have a copy. ... I can’t wait to read this, if only to satisfy my curiosity about my reaction to this book. The subject matter in Tender Morsels isn’t usually my cup of tea, but I’m excited to be challenged by this book. I think it’s always good to make sure I’m challenging myself on a regular basis. How else do I learn when my tastes have changed? How else do I learn that sometimes I don’t know my reading taste as well as I thought I did?

18 November, 2009

YALSA Best Books list

Tender Morsels didn't make the Top Ten, but it did make the main list.

(via Perry at Matilda)

12 November, 2009

About women's work, particularly their writing work

Here. Yes.

Three other depressing stories: Sheng Keyi's story (trans. Eric Abrahamsen) 'An Inexperienced World' in the latest HEAT (the beginning of which is available, Jonathan points out in the comments, online—thanks, Jonathan!). Something depressing about this being the first item in the issue, but mainly it's the story itself. It's about a women 'well past thirty and possessed of a certain experience of life', which suggests to me that the author might well be under thirty ('born in the 1970s' says an online bio) or just on the cusp of it. I seem to have recently read quite a lot of stories by young writers, male and female - but it's particularly distressing from young women - that are essentially about feelings of revulsion for the state of middle age, and a particular contempt for middle-aged women. This one seems to think that middle age is all about mourning for lost youth, lost vitality, lost sexual attractiveness, that those losses sit centre stage in the woman's mind and render her almost incapable of interacting with 'normal' (generally younger, or male) people. It's like those scenes in Hollywood movies that are young studio executives' imaginings of how established couples relate: they're bored solid with each other, and the woman is pathetic because she's not the young beauty her husband married, and any affectionate behaviour he can demonstrate towards her is to be regarded as a great kindness of his in the face of his own loss. That Julie Christie/Alzheimer's movie seemed to stink of that. Away From Her. Anyway, read the 'An Inexperienced World' and tell me what you think.

I woke up at 2.30 am last night and couldn't get back to sleep, so I took my book light and 10 Short Stories you MUST Read and read on the couch for a while. Robert Drewe and Peter Temple. Two stories about middle-aged men behaving poorly, which was depressing enough in itself - I suspect they might have been meant to be mordantly funny - but the casual way that the women were presented, either as trophies or viragos... Did anyone else get the irrits at this?

Yairs, should stop now. The Harriet Evans article is via @tansyrr.

11 November, 2009

Sydneysiders, particularly of the Inner West!

Tomorrow night (Thursday, that is) at Berkelouw's Books in Norton Street, Leichhardt, Richard Harland will be doing the honours and launching the Keith Stevenson-edited novella collection X6, from Coeur de Lion. ALL SIX of the authors AND the Editor Himself will be there, so if you want a fully signed copy of X6, tomorrow night's the night to get it.

The shenanigans start at around 7pm. Some of us will read, some of us will natter, and some will just stand about looking enigmatic. God knows what Richard will do—possibly fouettés or backflips, or a little mime.

10 November, 2009

It's almost as if I was there!

Hey, look here! It's me giving my Printz Honor speech, back in July! So weird to watch yourself like this. Daniel Kraus, author of a splendid YA novel, The Monster Variations, filmed it.

08 November, 2009

I'm rather pleased...

...to be no. 79 on the list of Top 50 Australian Blogs for Writers. It's nice to be anywhere on that list, eh.

07 November, 2009

Long and thoughtful TM review

Over here.

05 November, 2009

No, no, NaNo

Everyone in the world seems to be doing NaNoWriMo this year, and I'm enjoying the blog posts by participants and by sage advisors like Maureen Johnson and Justine Larbalestier.

I'm not nano-ing, though. If NaNoWriMo had been August–September, I would have, but now I've got (count them!) 70,000 words of selkie goodness that require more in the way of poking, prodding, resculpting and spakfilling than they do whole extra arms of plot development.

Which is what I've spent today doing. I wrote maybe 5 pages, but I covered some tens of pages of manuscript with tiny-tiny green corrections as well. And I cut out chunks, and added chunks. And I wrote myself notes, including notes about what to write myself notes about, to work out various questions that might turn into interesting pieces of story. It's not wordcount, but it's writing. It wasn't 'fun', but it was totally absorbing. I'm looking forward to the rest of November.

04 November, 2009

The Russian translation of 'mudwife'

The Russian translator of Tender Morsels and I have been in conference—hi, Nadia! She wanted to know what a mudwife is:
First I looked into every dictionary possible and searched the web all over, but then read half a dozen interviews with you as well as a number of articles on TM and other pieces ("The Goosle", in particular) and Muddy Annie's profile became quite clear. Still, I would like you to clarify this word a bit more. Could you please explain what's the difference between a mudwife and an ordinary witch? What is special about her? Must a mudwitch necessarily be old and muddy/dirty and her deeds (mudwifery) considered by folks dirty as well? I'm fussing over this term just for the purpose of right choice of word from the variety of Russian synonyms (witches are all-time favorites in the Russian folklore, you know :) )
My answer:
The idea of the mudwife is a mispronunciation/corruption of 'midwife', as the two occupations have often been very closely aligned. Mudwives don't have to be muddy, no, but people are afraid of their power, and tend to be contemptuous of them when they're not actually making use of their powers (e.g. calling on them to help with a birth or a love affair), so unless they have strong personalities, luck and/or good training, like Miss Dance, they are likely to be poor, outcast and likely none too clean! The poorer witches also smell strange, from the herbs and substances they deal in, and the general lack of laundering.
Just in case anyone else was wondering.

NZ capers to come

And then, upcoming in March, there's this! Joan London and Gil Adamson and I will be attending the New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week, along with 19 international and 3 New Zealand writers, including, you know, Neil and Si and Richard and all my mates. We will wow Wellington.

How Boofle!

Then, this! Which arrived yesterday - 2 copies. I don't know what made me think it would be trade-paperback size. It's one of those neat small format hardbacks. A really nice production, with my 'A Dark Red Love-Knot' buried in the middle of it. Oh dear oh dear oh dear, not a happy story.

Mine Howie!

Lots to blog - first, this, courtesy of that documentrix extraordinaire, Cat Sparks.

Guardian article on the WFA win

Here's a lot of what I typed in bed last night, written up by Alison Flood and headed 'Controversial teenage novel wins World Fantasy award':
Lanagan ... hit out at the articles claiming young adults are unable to handle the themes of her book. "There's this assumption that all children have the luxury of a childhood where their innocence is always respected and their main occupation is pleasant play – at the age of 18, or 21, they are then thrust into the real world and shown its uglier side, but not before," she said. "How on earth do people imagine we equip children for life, if we never show them the sorts of issues other people encounter, if we never talk through with them how they might deal with difficulty, or violence, or unexpected shocks and surprises?"

Lanagan also pointed to the current "fashion for vampires and all things gothic", which she said showed the appetite for "dark themes, sinister characters, and horrific events against which the kinder and sweeter aspects of human nature, when they do show, can shine even more brightly".
I'm on a nice high horse there, aren't I?

03 November, 2009

Not everybody loves your books, Margo.

Google Alerts alerted me to this spectacularly bad review on Goodreads, and I had to show you:
I read black juice by Margo Lanagan, the book was kind of confusing with the different pronunciation of the words throughout the whole book. I would recommend this book to people who like a mix of medieval themes and modern themes. This book gets darker as it goes a long a bit more confusing. I didn’t really like this book much; I don’t like books like this. I didn’t have a favorite or least favorite character, I never really understand it, and just didn’t care about them. Not a single part of the book captivated my attention, this book made me feel absolutely nothing and I disliked everything about it. I don’t have a favorite line, and nothing kept me reading it except that it’s a project. I really don’t know why the author would ever right something as horrid as this book, this is the single WORST book I have ever read. There’s just stories, and they didn’t really make an ending all together. I pray to god that this book will never be made into a movie, and if it does get made into a movie it doesn’t deserve actors and should just take hobo’s off the side of the street if they’re lucky enough to have them to act.
I like the way he goes from vague dislike to really putting the boot in. A nicely constructed review, I think. :)

02 November, 2009

Tender Morsels ties for Best Novel in World Fantasy Awards

with Jeff Ford's The Shadow Year. You can see Scott Edelman's pic of Garth Nix (far right) holding my statuette, here. Oh, there are a few other winners and representers there, too, I guess. :)

Curses! I have not ripped random_alex's heart out through her chest wall!

From here:
Finally, let me make a frighteningly big admission: I am not usually a huge fan of Margo Lanagan's work. It's not that I dislike her writing; on the contrary, I think she is hugely talented author. For me, though, her stories tend to just be too dark to enjoy; and the very fact that she writes so beautifully, I think, makes it all the more distressing to read. Also in X6, however, is Lanagan's "Sea-Hearts." This story captivated me. It seemed weird, after reading it, that few novellas capitalise on the form in a way that seems most suited: by telling a story that takes place over a long period of time. Lanagan does that, and it surprised me a few times when the story kept going - but it made sense every time, and every addition to the story developed it more and more richly. Fleshing out, as it were, the old story of the selkie wife, it examines relationships in all their complexities. Finally, a Lanagan story that - while still being dark and murky - doesn't make me want to cry at the rottenness of the world!
*vows to do a proper three-hanky job next time*