February 15th, 2010

Willow

Olympics

I love that it's the same Australian guy who does all the Olympic Opening and Closing Cermonies and has done since Sydney.

My favourite parts of this years were the fiddlers and tap tap dancing, the poem and the prairie fields with Joni Mitchell singing.

I spent all day yesterday working on one quilting block whilst at maelkann's. I had to unpick several bits after misreading the instructions - though they seemed perfectly clear when maelkann read them. And then I got almost to the end of the block and realised I had cut a large, central piece from within the bloody selvedge and will need to unpick the whole thing and start over. That was kind of a sumamry of how the rest of my day went. Still not actually a working version of GJ. maelkann cooked a vegetarian red curry and rice for dinner which turned out really well (I forgot to serve the dessert I brought - see previous comment about brain).

Here's to hoping for a better day!



Willow

So, Kevin Rudd just has better grasp of PR then, usually?

You know, if the politicans (Baby Boomers) really are afraid that we (the X and Y Gens) will not be able to support them in their retirement (ha! Maybe we won't be able to afford all your overpriced investment properties when you put them up for sale?), perhaps they might like to look at ... ooh, I dunno? Immigration?

From The Sydney Morning Herald:

After Rudd came off stage, he spoke to me and the few other under-30s (we had congregated for strength in numbers). He extended his points about the problems with the ageing population and the financial problems gen Y will incur when the baby boomers become pensioners.

At that point one of my friends introduced me, dropping in that I am completing a PhD. At this, Rudd rolled his eyes and in a terse voice lacking any sense of irony remarked that is the "excuse" that "all" young women are using nowadays to avoid starting families. Since then I've come up with numerous one-line retorts, but in the moment I just froze in shock.



cuppa

2010 Australian Specfic Snapshot: Ben Peek

It seemed fitting to start with Ben Peek for my series of interviews. Ben Peek is a Sydney-based writer. He's had two novels published. The first was an autobiography called Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth, and was published by Wheatland Press, and illustrated by Anna Brown. His second novel was a dystopian novel called Black Sheep,. His short stories have appeared in collections like Polyphony, Agog!, Forever Shores, and magazines such as Aurealis, Fantasy Magazine, Phantom, and Lone Star Stories. In 2007 and 2008, he ran an online comic with Anna Brown titled Nowhere in Savanna.

Peek also conducted the first Aussie Snapshot, in 2005, which was so much fun that ASif! repeated it in 2007 and again, now, in 2010.

1. You did the first Snapshot back in 2005. How do you think the scene has changed over nearly 5 years? Do you view the local scene differently to how you did when you conducted those first set of interviews?

Five years.

It doesn't seem like five years, to be honest. I wonder if that's a sign of age kicking in or something similar.

As for the scene changing, I'm not sure it has, hugely. There's new writers and new presses, of course, but it seems to me that it speaks largely to the same audience, a problem that exists in small presses around the world. Of course, I'm probably not the best person to give an opinion of the scene, since I have very little to do with it. The parties, cons, whatnot--they're really not my scene. The few people I  chat with I do so over email, so I'm a bit out of touch. I guess you could say I don't really have a huge interest in the scene anymore. I just write. I just publish. After that, it isn't really my concern.

2. What are you working on at the moment and what can we expect from Peek  in the near future?

At the moment I'm writing a novella called BELOW, which is the second  half of a small book I'm doing with Steph Campisi called ABOVE & BELOW. She's writing ABOVE. It's a pretty neat idea, actually, in that we're writing two novellas that will be printed as one book, and which, no matter the side you begin on, fold into each other and compliment the other story, yet remained independent. That's going to be published by 12th Planet Planet Press. There's a story of mine called White Crocodile Jazz coming out in SPRAWL, an anthology edited by Alisa Krasnostein, and I recently recorded my novella, 'Under the Red Sun' for Keith Stevenson's podcast.

There's some other stuff in the works, but if there's anything I've learnt about this gig in the last fifteen years, it's that it isn't worth bothering to talk about until there's things signed. Hopefully there'll be things to say soon enough.

What hopefully will happen is that this year there will simply be more of me around. Last year wasn't a particularly good one, from a business stand point, and even a personal one, really, and it took its toll. So, push through, clap hands, and so on and so forth. 

3. You've been writing short stories, and a novella, in a series you call > Dead Americans. What fascinates you about iconic Americans and what are you exploring when you write them with alternate history?

I guess when I'm writing about dead Americans, what I'm writing about is my culture. I'm a white Australian, a mongrel background kid who grew up on Japanese cartoons translated for Americans, American movies, and make believe fantasies primarily from the States. Soaked into that is the music, the lives, the general thrust of the capitalist society we live in, and dead Americans--at least the ones that fascinate me--all form a part of that little tapestry. Sometimes, when I write about them, it's the big, obvious people like John Wayne, who embodied that noble, yet humble, big, tough masculine figure--and who also had the duality of the racism and the freedom that is part of the country. Others, like Octavia Butler, aren't so much as about the author, but about the themes she engaged with, the things that motivated her work, and a desire for me to get people to read more of it. It's different each time out, and part of that is myself, too--because I hate repeating myself in my work, since it doesn't feel like growth, and it isn't interesting or challenging to do.

Americans, pop culture Americans especially, are bigger than they have a right to be. David Carradine is a good example of it--why should anyone remember the guy who played Kane, a Z-grade martial arts wandering bum in a Z-grade series that demanded no loyalty? Truth is, there's no reason, but they do, and likely they will forever now, because of the simply amazing way in which he accidently killed himself, tied up in a body stocking, with woman's clothes next to him, and a rope tied around his genitals.

4. Which Australian writers or work would you like to see on the Hugo shortlists this year? What have you enjoyed reading?

Hugos?

You know, I laughed, just a little, when I read this. I can't remember who won a Hugo last year, much less be particularly moved to figure out who deserves one this year. A statue and accolades from people you don't know? I know there's a line for people who want it, but it's not my thing.

But you know, me and awards. It's why I'm so charming.

Book wise, I'm currently enjoying Thomas Lynch's APPARITION AND LATE FICTION. I'm a big, big fan of Lynch, ever since I read THE UNDERTAKING years ago, and this is the first book that has felt similar, thematically, to that. I totally recommend it. I read James Morrow's SHAMBLING TOWARDS HIROSHIMA, which I thought was okay, but seemed to be aimed at people who are more into monster flicks than me--Morrow's THE PHILOSOPHER'S APPRENTICE is sitting close at hand, and I'll read that soon, I think, because it looks like Morrow in full swing, which is an excellent thing. Lydia Millet's collection LOVE IN INFANT MONKEYS isn't so bad so far, and like everything Millet writes, is written with such a fine command of language. I should see about getting a poster of Millet and making her into a rockstar for the disenfranchised. I kinda stumbled and fell off on Margart Atwood's ORYX AND CRAKE, though it was beautifully written, and--

And, you know, there's a lot of nice books out there. Fine writers. Ngugi Wa Thiong'o's WIZARD OF THE CROW--that and a couple of David Gemmell books I hadn't read before his death, STORMRIDER AND RAVENHEART. Both writers are hugely different, but they hit what I wanted at the time.

5. Will you be at Aussiecon 4 in September? If so, what are you most  looking forward to about it?

September?

That's a little far away, don't you think? I've barely figured out February.

To read all the 2010 Snapshot Interviews hot off the press, check these blogs daily:

http://random-alex.livejournal.com/
http://girliejones.livejournal.com/
http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com/
http://www.mechanicalcat.net/rachel
http://tansyrr.com/
http://editormum.livejournal.com/

Will we beat 83 this time? If you know of someone involved in the Scene with something to plug, then send us an email at 2010snapshot@gmail.com

coffee

2010 Australian Specfic Snapshot: Angela Slatter

Angela Slatter is a Brisbane-based writer and 2009 graduate of the Clarion South program. She has a Masters (Research) in Creative Writing, which produced Black-Winged Angels, a short story collection of reloaded fairytales. She is now working on a PhD in Creative Writing, whilst also working at the Queensland Writers’ Centre. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies such as Jack Dann’s Dreaming Again, Tartarus Press’ Strange Tales II, Twelfth Planet Press’ 2012 and New Ceres Nights, Dirk Flinthart’s Canterbury 2100, and in journals such as Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Shimmer, ONSPEC and Doorways Magazine. Her work has had several Honourable Mentions in the Datlow, Link, Grant Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror anthologies #20 and #21; and two of her stories have been shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards in the Best Fantasy Short Story category.


1. It looks like you are coming up for a really big year this year with not one but two single author short story collections! What will be in each of them? Will they have different focusses and if so, have you approached the writing for these collections differently?

Well, the first collection, Sourdough & Other Stories, is through Tartarus Press in the UK. They’d taken one story of mine (“Sourdough”) for their Strange Tales II anthology, then approached me about submitting another for Strange Tales III (“Sister, Sister”). I had several stories set in the same universe as those two and asked Rosalie at Tartarus if she’d be interested in looking at a collection. To my surprise she said ‘yes’ and so I sent her the stories I had and then wrote the last four I’d planned for the cycle. There are four stories that had been previously published in the collection and the rest is new work. I had the idea of interconnected stories moving across time, with some characters appearing in different stories at different points in their lives. I’m very fond of these stories, they’re mostly my own fables and I loved creating them.

The second collection is coming out via Ticonderoga Publications – Russell B Farr emailed me and asked if I’d be interested in doing a collection of reprints in time for WorldCon in Melbourne this year. The answer was ‘hell, yeah’. It will be mostly reprints of selected pieces I’ve done in the last five years and two new works that haven’t seen light yet. I think the title we’re looking at is ‘The Girl with No Hands’ at this point. Because these are mainly reprints, this is more an exercise in selecting stories and seeing how they fit together – more like putting a jigsaw puzzle together than the natural accretion of writing stories for a theme. In some ways it’s easier, in some ways more difficult.

2. I know that you are also working on a novel. How does writing a novel vary from writing short stories? How do you see your two collections helping the development of your career as a writer?

Argh! The novel question. The short story is relatively easy for me now as I’ve been doing it for five years. I know its shape and its rhythm. I know I can finish it quickly so there’s an immediate gratification side to things there. The novel is the long haul, it’s the endurance race; it’s about keeping yourself interested in the story for a longer period of time. If you as the writer can’t stay interested then how do you think your reader is going to stay interested? Shifting to the novel is a huge change for me.

Having the short story collections out feels like I’ve got a bit of a breather from them, as if I’ve gotten the ones out that I needed to get out at this stage in my career. Now it’s time to shift to the Big Project. I spent most of last year, post-Clarion, trying to split my brain between short stories and novel writing and it did not work. The lesson for me was that while I can work on more than one short story at a time, I can’t work on two different forms at a time. As for how the collections might help the development of my career, well, I can only hope they will help make a bit of a buzz and people will be looking for my novel after reading my short stories.

3. What goals do you aspire towards as a writer? And what drives you to achieve them? What are you currently working on?

Um, I don’t know that I think of writing in terms of goals. I get an idea and I want to get it on paper. I guess what I demand of myself is that the language is as beautiful as it can be, even if I’m describing something awful :). I want there to be a rhythm and cadence to my work and for it to give the reader ‘pictures in the brain’, I guess :). When I read my own work I want to feel that I placed every word in the right place – and not to cringe if I’m reading it a few years down the track.

At the moment, I am working on a novella, Ragged Run, which is a follow-on from the story “Brisneyland by Night”, which will be in Twelfth Planet Press’ Sprawl anthology. It features the character of Verity Fassbinder again, and looks at Brisbane’s Weyrd underbelly. And in a few weeks I’ll be on the re-working of “Well of Souls”, which is the novel.

4. Which Australian writers or work would you like to see on the Hugo shortlists this year? What have you enjoyed reading?

Peter M Ball would be a definite for the Hugos, for Horn is an awesome piece. Deb Biancotti’s A Book of Endings also deserves a jersey.

5. Will you be at Aussiecon 4 in September? If so, what are you most looking forward to about it?

Yes, I will be there – I really should seeing as there will be a book launch of my book – it seems only polite to go! I haven’t really thought about what to look forward to at this point – it still seems far away and I have a lot on my plate in between now and then. I guess the buzz that can be created when we have so many people around, having the chance to get a lot of internationals in a room with the Aussie crowd is always welcome and I think it has the potential to be really productive and inspiring to all get together and share ideas and beers.

To read all the 2010 Snapshot Interviews hot off the press, check these blogs daily:

http://random-alex.livejournal.com/
http://girliejones.livejournal.com/
http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com/
http://www.mechanicalcat.net/rachel
http://tansyrr.com/
http://editormum.livejournal.com/

Will we beat 83 this time? If you know of someone involved in the Scene with something to plug, then send us an email at 2010snapshot@gmail.com