Archive for September, 2009

Upcoming stories

‘Walking the Tree’ will be out in February from Angry Robot Books, with ‘Mistification’ following soon afterwards.

“Ghost Jail”, which first appeared in the Twelfth Planet Press anthology 2012 will be reprinted in The Apex book of World SF, edited by Lavie Tidhar.

“The Blue Stream”, which first appeared in Aurealis, has just been reprinted by Morrigan Books in “Dead Souls”, edited by Mark Deniz.

Morrigan Books are also publishing “Purity Zoo”, which will appear in “Scenes from the Second Storey”, edited by Amanda Pillar and Pete Kempshall.

“That Girl” will appear in Haunted Legends, edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas.

“The Edge of a Thing” has just appeared in the British Fantasy Society’s Yearbook, available only to members. It was edited by Guy Adams.

“The Gaze Dogs of Nine Waterfall” will appear in Exotic Gothic 3, published by Ash Tree Press and edited by Danel Olson.

“Hive of Glass” will appear in “Baggage”, edited by Gillian Polack and published by Eneit Press.

“The New Rat in Town” will appear in Tehani Wessely’s YA anthology.

“Isthar” will appear in the Ishtar trilogy, along with novellas by Deborah Biancotti and Cat Sparks, published by Gilgamesh Press.

Plus two more to be announced soon!

“A Positive”, short film of my short story of the same name, will be launched by Bearcage Productions in February.

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When you have a couple of computers on the go, keeping track of the latest draft can be tricky. Have you ever had that moment when, an hour into a final read-through, you think, “Hey, I’m sure I changed that last time,” and you realise you’ve been working on the penultimate draft?

I had this yesterday. It lead to a great shared experience with my ten year old son, though.

I’m working on a YA novella, and realised I had two drafts going at the same time. So I asked my son to read through one draft, while I made any changes to the other.

It was enlightening to hear the words read with his voice. There were sentences which didn’t work, others which did. He said at the end of it, “When can I read the rest?” which is what you what to hear from a reader!

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The latest book I’m reading is “T0 the Castle” by Dorothea Malm. Published in 1957, I’m not sure where I got it from, but it cost me a dollar and has a dead insect squashed between the cover the the frontpiece.

It’s described as a gothic romance, and so far the only romance on the horizon is a ‘bastard daughter’ and her long-lost father. Not sure where that’s going, but that’s not what I wanted to talk about that.

There’s a wonderful section where the father and aunt are talking about all their crazy relatives, including Cousin Thibaut who collected his earwax because he thought it must be useful (“His little spoons! No, say something quickly, take it out of my mind!) and Great-Aunt Angele.

Great-Aunt Angele was “of a truly abnormal timidity and had “all sorts of queer ways.”

One of these ‘queer ways’ is that she washes her hair every day.

This really got me thinking about the importance of detail when you’re setting a scene and placing people in it. For me, washing your hair every day or every second day is standard behaviour. In 1957, in a castle where the water had to be carried up two flights of stairs, perhaps once a month was more like it. Elsewhere, today, others will wash once a week and without easy access to the chemicals I use to clean my hair all the time.

Seems shallow, but it means such a lot. The availablility of hot water, the habits of many lifetimes, access to shampoo and conditioner; all of these things need to be considered. It’s hard to avoid writing yourself onto the page, and these small details are the places you can be tricked into doing so!

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Reviews and an interview

Danielle at Opinionated? Me? has posted a review and an interview. She asked a lot of questions about ‘Slights’, detailed ones I really had to think about. The only one which really stumped me was the one about expanding on any Australian cultural things other readers might not understand. It’s hard to know this from the inside, so please let me know if there is any Australian stuff I can kindly explain!

It’s a bit like a few of the scenes in the movie ‘Crocodile Dundee’. One in particular, where Dundee climbs over the heads and shoulders of commuters in a crowded train station to get to his girl. This reminds Australians (and probably New Zealanders) of a sheep dog running over the backs of the sheep to get to the other side, but I don’t know how the joke translated elsewhere!

Lauren Beukes and I are both reviewed at slowhub. This one made me think a lot, because the blogger ends with this:

[Those with mental health issues should be cautious in approaching this emotionally potent novel. Also, not recommended for children or adolescents]

I do wonder how the book might affect vulnerable people at an emotional level. I don’t intend Stevie’s actions to be admirable in any way. But I did try to write from a position of understanding. I wanted to normalise her and make the reader, while not on her side, be WITH her. To understand that there is much underlying why she does what she does.

I’m happy with the warning. I think it makes things clear as to what might be inside the covers. Although I do know at least two teenagers who love the book.

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Robert Freeman Wexler and me, online, talking, over at GenreVille TV! Rose Fox and Josh Jasper interviewed us after dinner, so I felt relaxed. Not too relaxed, I hope!

Also,  Jeff Ritchie over at Scary Minds has posted an incredible review of my short story collection, The Grinding House. He found a copy at his local bookshop when he went in to buy Slights! I thought they were all gone! The Glass Woman, the North American edition is available at Amazon.

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When I was eight, already a voracious reader, I borrowed a book from the local library about the California Redwood Tree. Reading it filled me with a visceral sense of BIG. I came back time and time again to read this book because I loved the idea of something so ancient and so huge existing in my own, real world.

The sense of BIG is something difficult to explain. It fills my brain with itself; the sense of something magnified to such a degree that it changes in the way it looks.

“Walking the Tree”, which is now the next novel to be published by Angry Robot, has this idea of BIG at its heart. The idea, story and character came to me fully formed while watching a documentary about ancient artefacts. The Tree, which almost fills a large island and forms the mythology, history and law of the novel, is inspired by my early fascination with the Redwood.

When in San Francisco last week, I discovered that the forest was a mere 45 minute drive away and I knew we all had to go.

Muir Woods is a well-developed venue, with wooden walkways (not made of oldgrowth Redwood, as my husband joked!) to keep you off the path. Walking them reminded me of Ray Bradbury’s “The Sound of Thunder”, and the importance not to change anything.

The trees were breath-taking. So tall you had to tilt your head back as far as it would go. Their trunks are red, soft, straight. Some of them have been burnt, but they grow on regardless. Some have caves inside (as does the Tree in my novel) and we all imagined how it would be to live there.

I have a great sense of fulfillment, having seen these trees I’ve loved since I was eight.

North America 2009 236

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