Archive for August, 2009


One of the things which influenced the beginnings of me as a writer of speculative fiction was the disintegration of Skylab and its consequent descent to the Earth. I still have the articles I clipped out during my pivotal 15th year. There was so much that fascinated me and sparked ideas; what if the metal had absorbed some kind of knowledge or experience and could now transfer it? What if something had hitchhiked? How would the landing of a piece of Skylab affect Country Australia? Suburban Australia? City Australia? I never wrote a Skylab story, but thinking about all these things, without being restrained by ‘what really is”, led me to the sort of stories I still write today.


I had forgotten all this until we went to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum on our trip to Washington. Seeing it, large in the centre of the hall that way reminded me of how excited I’d been at the time, and what huge affect it had on me as a story-teller.

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KGB Bar Reading

Last night, Robert Freeman Wexler and I read at the KGB Bar. Robert read from his novel, “The Painting and the City” and I read a short story called “In the Drawback”. Robert was kind enough to share with me some Throat Coat Tea, which tasted like aniseed and really did coat the throat! Wonderful stuff when you have to read for 25 minutes.

The bar itself is fantastic. Up a flight of ricketty stairs, the walls dark red and covered with Russian ads and paintings, the atmosphere is smoky although no smoking is allowed any more. The mood is vibrant with conversation, yet through both readings there was absolute silence. What a brilliant audience! If I lived anywhere within two hours of New York, I would travel in for this night every month. Andrew Fox and Chris Genoa are up next, reading on September 16.

Afterwards, about 30 of us went out for a stunning Chinese meal, which puts the best that Suva can offer to shame.

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Harry Markov at Temple Library Reviews has written an incredible review of Slights. Really gives me chills to think that my book is affecting people in this way.

For all those in the New York area, make sure you come see me read at the KGB Bar on Wednesday night.  We all go out for a meal afterwards. I’m looking forward to a night out on the town!

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Publisher’s Weekly

Publisher’s Weekly has announced Slights as their book of the week. I heard this news as I sat in a hotel room in New York, the noise of the streets below barely disturbing me, and it seemed exactly the right place.

The one regret in my life is that I didn’t come to New York and spend a year or so in my twenties. Laziness and fear stopped me. That failure to act spurs me to write, and to seek publication, and to write more. I won’t ever let myself down again.

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We’re in Vancouver, leaving for Montreal tomorrow.

I’ve been thinking about “Mistification”  my second novel, about a magician called Marvo.  Reason is, we’ve seen two magicians here, one pretty good, the other truly woeful.

I was partly inspired to write “Mistification” by the vast difference between a good magician and a bad one. I think good ones create true magic; they manipulate their audience beautifully, use human nature to their advantage, and draw us into the place they want us to be in order for the trick to work. I love this stuff.

We bought “The Mummy Mystery” trick from the magic shop owned by the good magician. I remember this trick from childhood. You guess which colour mummy is in the sarcogphagus. He showed us how to do the trick, and gave us a little hint into human nature which makes the trick work.

My son and I both felt sorry for the bad magician. His patter was off and inappropriate at times, his tricks wrong. He did a card trick for a large audience on the street, so none of us could hear him nor see what the card was he held up. Not only that, the trick involved him holding the card between his teeth, which I guess he thought was funny, but we couldn’t understand a word he said. The audience left in droves.

He called out the card and I’m not sure if the person who chose the card said yes or no. He kicked over his magic table, knocking his cards every where. This, as a distraction, as a trick, is an old one. He didn’t use it though; he just picked the cards up and swore at them. Most of the rest of us left then.

To be a good magician, I think you need to be brilliant reader of human expression and mood. You need to know who you’re playing to.

Marvo, my magician, is brilliant.

And his magic is real.

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