Archive for September, 2010

Anthology of the day.

I skipped a couple of days due to trip to Sydney to watch my parents’ home be auctioned. Not quite my childhood home, but almost. Very odd experience; savouring the ‘lasts’. Last time in this house. Last time swimming in the pool. Last time walking through the door.

The book I took with me was Macabre: A Journey Through Australia’s Darkest Fears, edited by Angela Challis and Marty Young.

At close to 700 pages, this book is a real study of Australian horror writing, from “Fisher’s Ghost” by John Lang (1836) to stories from the last five years from writers such as Kyla Ward, Martin Livings, and Gary Kemble (recently awarded an Australia Council Grant). There’s a story from Bob Franklin, the comedian, who read two minutes of his story along with a bunch of others at the launch.

My story in the book is “A Positive”, the one which inspired the recently-award winning short movie of the same name. I showed this at a seminar at the Uni of Canberra. Screenwriter Michael Cove, director Chris Bamford and I talked about translating the story to film, including the choice of location.

The film was shot in a country setting rather than a suburban one, which added to the sense of isolation and meant that a certain story element was added.

Michael and I talked about the differences between writing visually and writing on the page. Things like setting the scene; in film, you can set the scene with a single shot lasting a couple of seconds. You can layer the scene with artwork, furniture, wall colour; all of which adds to the mood, and to our impression of the characters. In a written story, you have to make a point of the things you show, and this can interrupt the flow of the narrative. It also can make the point laboured. If you say, ‘the painting on the wall had a gold-edged frame and was a dusty copy of a Victorian Impressionist painting’, you’ve lost the reader at ‘the painting’. So you have to be pretty sure you want to describe that painting. There’s more room in a novel, of course, and that’s part of what I love about novel-writing – the room to move.

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Anthology of the day

Alisa Krasnostein’s Sprawl was released at Worldcon and also showcases a lot of the best speculative fiction writers in Australia. There’s new work from Ben Peek (whose Red Sun world I adore), Cat Sparks (recent winner of the Ditmar award for best short story) and Angela Slatter, my Ticonderoga Publications stable mate.

Alisa says in her intro “True to its name, the book is sprawling – across Australian cities and states and even the Tasman sea, and across genre, form and length.”

I love the fact that Australian writers are producing such broadly different work.

My story, “Loss”, begins this way:

Rhonda lost the power of speech first. Suddenly and painfully, mid-sentence, her tongue burned and she sucked it to ease the hurt.

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Short Stories

Today’s featured anthology is Bill Congreve’s Fifth Annual Volume of the Year’s Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Bill brought this out in time for Worldcon, which was fantastic, because it’s an excellent showcase of Australian writing today.  Kirstyn McDermott’s award-winning “Painlessness” and Paul Haines’ horrific “Wives” are just two of the stories in this book.

My story “The Census Taker’s Tale”, from Dirk Flinthart’sCanterbury 2100′ appears as well. I absolutely loved this anthology for its binding theme and the way it recalled the original Canterbury Tales.

The first paragraph is one that connects it to what’s gone before and therefore not so good as a stand alone. So here’s one from the middle:

The schoolteacher, an ignorant, angry woman who taught only as much as she knew, which was very little indeed, always stood on her step and screamed at passers-by. ‘Look at your wife, her body hanging out,’ or ‘Some learning wouldn’t go astray, Mr Plod.’ Yet my mother knew, through the radiant ghost of a baby which crawled the streets crying for her, that the schoolteacher had more than one child and that she had drowned them all. These are the things my mother learned from the ghosts in her village.

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Short Stories

I do love short stories. Reading them and writing them. I’m a bit slow at it, needing time to get to the meat of the matter. Maybe that’s why I only had a couple out last year, but this year I’ve got heaps! I thought I’d spend the next little while talking about the anthologies I’m in and the stories themselves.

I’ll start with Haunted Legends (Tor), edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas, because it arrived, all shiny and tempting, yesterday. I read the Joe R. Lansdale story first because he is one of my favourite writers, and his “The Folding Man” is no disappointment. Geez, that was creepy and scary.

My story in the book is “That Girl”, one of my Fiji stories. This is the first paragraph:

ST Martin’s was clean, you could say that at least. Apart from the fine mist of leg hair, that is. I watched as Sangeeta (“You know me. I am Sangeeta.”) crawled through the women’s legs, a long piece of thread hanging from between her teeth.  She stroked a shin, a knee, looking for hairs to pluck.

The anthology is all about urban legends and our new interpretations of them.

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Back from an exhausting, exhilarating Worldcon. I’ll write some impressions soon, but today I’ll just do an update of interviews etc.

I started numbering all these announcements but then realised they are all pretty fab!

Slights won the Ditmar award for Best Novel.

Dead Sea Fruit, my short story collection, launched, as did Angela Slatter’s The Girl with No Hands. Both books sold out of stock at the convention! Russ Farr, our publisher wore a kilt to the launch and he looked very smart indeed.

Gary Kemble interviewed me about the Ditmar, and about being a horror writer.

Dark Fiction Review interviewed me about all sorts of things.

Angry Robot Books announced that some titles are now available for the iPad.

Jo Walton at Tor Books talks about the Ditmar Awards. Did I mention I won one?

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