30 September, 2011

Around the traps

I haven't blogged a lot here lately, but I've been on other people's blogs a bit. Click on these.
In other news, in early October I'll be in conversation with two authors, two nights running, about their new books:
As well as all these shenanigans, I'll be on Pakistani radio with Mahvesh Murad soon, recording next Thursday, airing Saturday—this interview will be put up on her site shortly after, so non-Pakistani audiences will be able to hear me talking about writing, and listen to some of the music I like.

And I've been doing some writing (you know, of stories) as well, short stories for my Twelve Planets boutique collection, which will probably be coming out in February next year in print, then will be published as an e-book shortly afterwards.

And I've been reading for the next novel. But I shouldn't say anything about that just yet. More as it firms up.

13 September, 2011

Brisbane Writers Festival 2011

I did two days on the schools program at the BWF this year, and had a terrific time. I was on 2 panels, one with Peter Stanley, author of Simpson and his Donkey, and Maggie Steifvater, author of the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy—the third book of which is my commuting book for this week. We talked about writing from animals' points of view, which was a great topic and one I hardly ever get asked to address, which surprises me, in retrospect. Jessica Miller wrangled us beautifully.

The other panel was withmymate Marianne de Pierres, author of a trilogy too—I must dream up a trilogy to write! Joy Lawn got us talking about building fantasy worlds—where to start, what to include, how not to get lost in your own new world.

I also did three solo talks about writing short stories, which went well. Although I basically made the same points in each talk, I used three different stories to demonstrate what I meant, to keep things interesting for myself.

In all sessions, the audiences were very attentive and had great questions to ask, more than we/I could get through in the time available. Very smart and curious school students, they have, in Queensland.

One charming thing: In the show bag given to every guest of the festival were two bottles of bath products, with a letter from the Brisbane Store Manager of Aesop, beginning: "Dear Talented Individual, You will find enclosed a selection of products from Aesop's body care range. We anticipate that you will enjoy using Aesop products as much as we delight in your artistic gifts."

One eye-opening thing: the panel titled "Women, Drugs and Madness" run by QNADA, particularly Debbie Kilroy's blistering commentary on how Indigenous women are treated by the health and justice systems.

05 September, 2011

More good reviews for Blood and Other Cravings

including this one from Count Gore (Judy Comeau):
I have been reading and enjoying the anthologies edited by multiple award winning editor Ellen Datlow for more decades than I care to confess, and her newest volume is an absolute stunner. These seventeen stories push the boundaries of vampirism to the very edges of contemporary imagination; you’ll find no creaking coffin lids or moldering castles here. What you will find is unerring excellence from some of the finest writers of dark fiction working today.
Don't read this one from Lois Tilton in Locus if you don't want spoilers to all the stories:
There are very few of the traditional bloodsucking grave dwellers here, which may account for the happy shortage of romantic glamour. The vampires are more of the psychic sort, and the authors present a wide and inventive variety of vampiristic types. The point of view is rarely that of the vampire. This anthology views it much more often from the point of view of the victim; sometimes it isn’t clear which is which. This is a collection for grownups, for adults who appreciate literary subtlety and aren’t likely to put the volume under their pillow, to dream on. I wouldn’t want some of these dreams.
And from Shroud magazine:
This top-notch collection takes vampirism as its theme, but each story veers far and away from the now-worn tropes of the genre. The creatures (some human, some decidedly not) featured in these tales feed not only upon blood but hope, emotion, and life itself. They are beings of insatiable hunger and predation, stalking us from the shadows of 1970s New York, from behind the blinds of suburban homes, and from our parents’ bedrooms...[T]here is not a bad story in the bunch.

02 September, 2011

Mulberries in the wild

Ellen Datlow's anthology Blood and other Cravings comes out in less than a fortnight now, but Rich Horton's already onto it in the latest Locus. And he likes my "mulberries".
The theme is vampires, but often not traditional vampires: rather they are creatures which feed on or crave a variety of essential substances, not just blood. The mode is generally horror, and as we certainly expect from Datlow, it’s a strong book: John Langan, Kaaron Warren, Richard Bowes, and Lisa Tuttle all shine, but my favorite story is from Margo Lanagan. ‘‘Mulberry Boys’’ plops us down unexplained with a teenaged boy and a sinister older man, chasing a ‘‘mulberry boy’’. We gather quickly that the older man is paying the villagers where the younger boy lives to allow him to alter a suitable subset of their children to be fed only mulberry leaves, and so to produce, horribly, something valuable called silk. The story portrays powerfully how this changes the ‘‘mulberry boys’’ (and girls), and how the protagonist comes to grips with what this really means—it’s true horror, and yet, leaves its characters some agency. (The lack of true agency is perhaps my main complaint about much traditional horror—what sort of story is it if the characters really never have a chance?)
I did an interview with Locus when I was in San Francisco in July—that'll probably be appearing in their next issue.