Archive for August, 2016


The first review came in for The Grief Hole and it’s pretty damn good! Jim McLeod at Gingernuts of Horror absolutely nails it. I have lots of favourite bits in the review, but I think the best line is

“However, as the story unfolds and secrets are divulged your respect and admiration for Theresa grows exponentially, with all the wonderful character traits converging into one of the most believable protagonists in recent years. ”


This is the bit that brought tears to my eyes. Theresa is very real to me, so it’s wonderful to know she’s real to the readers as well.




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I love Haralambi Markov’s fiction. His voice is strong and unusual and his ideas! His ideas are incredible. Weird, outrageous, courageous. Yet he makes them work. Here’s how he refreshes his well:


“The idea of creativity as a physical well with concrete limitations, one that needs nourishment in reciprocity to consumption, appeals to me. In writing about my mental state I often refer to myself as a metaphorical body of water caught in one permutation or another. Writing, then, is the alchemy involved to transmute truth and concept into a narrative with the waters of this well as medium.

Metaphors aside I do find my own creativity to be a limited resource. For every project I try to be as honest in my storytelling as possible and weave in something fundamentally universal and true about the human condition as I perceive it. Often, there’s an element of confession embedded. Small. No more than a kernel of personal truth. It’s a way for me to stay connected to my words even when I write about something as impossible as hauntings that last centuries and monstrous raspberry bushes.

It’s also a way to make writing difficult and slow, since I’m basically cutting open wounds to feed the words and I need time to heal – as pretentious as this may sound. After each finished draft, I’m exhausted and the ways I make it possible for myself to return to writing is to not write. Some writers are prolific and can transition from manuscript to manuscript with ease. I am not one of these people. I need time and distance.

In this breathing period, I focus on my relationships and friendships, catch up on my reading, watch movies and binge watch shows. I collect anecdotes, experiences that can be as small as noticing how my neighbor tends to the flowers in the communal park; snippets of talks with friends either in person or via messenger; saturated-with-emotion and well-acted narratives; heightened dramatic moments in competition shows.

This is the raw material I collect. In the beginning, it’s a heavy sludge – nothing like water, but over time, it purifies distills and I find myself standing by the well. Sparkling waters await me and the urge to write returns.”


You can read “The Language of Knives” at tor.com


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Craig Cormick is multi-talented, multi-faceted and often multi-coloured in his dress. Flamboyant, vocal, supportive, clever. That’s him.


If you want to see him in person, this month, Craig and I will be reading at An Evening of Awesome


Meanwhile, here he is, talking about his Well.

“The well of – well – Inspiration!

So I was asked to do a blog post on refreshing the well of inspiration. But to address that I think I should address the problematic relationship that I have with inspiration.

And, like many authors, I thought I’d better check was other writers have to say, and see if their experiences were similar or not.

Charles Bukowski said, “Drink from the well of yourself and begin again.”

Or Ned Vizzini wrote, “Dreams are only dreams until you wake up and make them real.”

And Tchaikovsky said, “Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy.”

All nice enough, but none of them really captured how inspiration and me get on. So on a whim of Inspiration I have decided to personify her, to give you more of a feel for her.

Let’s call her Simone. Or starburst-girl.

  • Or whatever you want.

But that doesn’t tell you what she’s really like, does it.

To paraphrase Dickens, she is the best of people and she is the worst of people.

She is the type of person you’d love to invite home, but you know your mother would not altogether approve.

She is also a wild child at heart, and isn’t averse to trying new and crazy things.

And she comes when you least expect it.

You can call on her and labour hard to make her come, but she rarely will. But then, just want to lie down and have a rest, she comes screaming and singing with bells and whistles on.

I would much rather she visit on days when I was home alone, able to concentrate on writing. But no, she’d rather show up just before my wife walks in the door, or when we have a family thing planned.

  • She’s inconvenient.

Some nights she creeps right into my bed when my wife is sleeping and I wonder how to answer her call without waking my wife. She – caring spouse that she is – actually bought me a pen with a light in the end so I could engage with Simone without waking her.

You might see some people talking about Simone and asking how deep her well is, or worrying whether she will come back after she’s visited you – like one really good visit from her means she isn’t coming back for a long, long time. But that’s not how she rolls.

Sometimes she comes so often she leaves you with a drawer-full of issues and ideas to work over for weeks.

Other times she might just tip-toe around the house, just out of your reach, taunting you with her closeness.

  • Tease!

Strangely enough she seems to love doing it to me on airplanes. I have many of my best stories – including this one – from airplane journeys.

So inappropriate places and inappropriate times are her favourite.

But when she visits she can be so wonderful. But infuriating as well.

I remember one time when I was in hospital for a minor operation and the anaesthetist was trying to get the mask on my face to knock me out, and she was suddenly there on my lap with a brilliant idea. So I was trying to take notes with a borrowed pen and pad, while he was trying to get the mask on and I was saying, ‘Just a minute. Just one more minute.’

  • True story.

On the plus side, when she does show up in one of her better moods, it is like she turbo-charges your mind and your senses. It’s like a wild ride and you just sit there and hold on tight.

But don’t count on making a booking in your diary. That’s also not how she rolls.

Sometimes I might wake up in the middle of the night, expecting her to be there and I might go down the kitchen and sit at the table with a cup of tea waiting for her. But she never shows up.

  • The bitch!

There are places she clearly likes more than others. Up in the mountains. Down by the beach. Sitting in concerts or lectures. But again, more often than not, when you aren’t expecting her. (You’ll find a lot of disappointed authors on mountain tops pretending they are climbers.)

After several decades and dozens of book and stories I’d like to think I’ve come pretty close to figuring her routine out, and being able to anticipate her and even knowing when and where I can refresh my well of ideas.

  • So I’d like to think.”



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Adam Browne is ‘gnarly’ ‘brilliant’ and ‘unique’, according to his reviews, and I wouldn’t argue with any of that. His brain works in amazing, fascinating ways which amuse, shock, surprise and delight me. Here he is, talking in his own particular way, about how he refreshes his well.


“On Spaceships

Recently, on Facebook, a friend mentioned he used never to read a book unless there was a spaceship in it.

I’d forgotten until then that I used to be the same way. Spaceships. Transcendence. I’d been indoctrinated by 2001: A Space Odyssey. I’d learned that apotheosis takes place away from Earth.

My transition probably began with Phillip K Dick. I found my first PKD book when I was 15, on a school trip in Alice Springs.

There were spaceships in his books, but they were peripheral or incidental. He was the gateway drug into what I read now — which isn’t much, admittedly.

It’s because I’m so particular. Where spaceships used to do it for me, now I need high-style, grim wit, irony, genre-tricks. I read Martin Amis sometimes. He and his father, Kingsley, were sympathetic to sf. I wonder if this is why I enjoy Amis, when I do enjoy him (‘The Little Puppy that Could’ is one of my favourite sf stories, I add; one of Amis’s very few in that genre) — because he respects Idea.

Some current sf doesn’t have ideas — it’s ossified — just a pastiche of stuff from before — some sf has ideas but they’re sophomoric, or presented in a sophomoric way. This is never the case with Amis.

Anyway: spaceships. As I say, I don’t read about them these days, with a few exceptions — I’m not an absolutist — Aurora, by Kim Robinson, is a masterpiece, and actually an anti-spaceship story (I dislike war movies, but like anti-war movies).

So that’s one problem. An avenue for reading pleasure has been closed to me.

The worse problem is that a lot of the novel I’m writing is set on spaceships.

They’re great spaceships. There’s one that is driven by shadows; another with a destination-magnet, another still is acausal…

But I started writing it years ago, and I’ve changed since then.

Spaceships don’t solve problems. Transcendence isn’t found in the sky but on the ground. The closer to the dirt the better.

I haven’t thought of a solution yet. Suggestions welcome. Maybe I need to do what Kim Robinson did — go anti-spaceship.  It’s a similar strategy to how the early porn filmmakers got around censorship etc — by making salacious movies, but pretending to be admonitory.

Might be a solution. I often base my decisions on lessons learned from the early porn filmmakers.”

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