Thursday
Mar312011

Aurealis Awards 2011

More Clarion South 2009 success:

 

YOUNG ADULT Short Story

Inksucker, Aidan Doyle, Worlds Next Door, Fablecroft Publishing

One Story, No Refunds, Dirk Flinthart, Shiny #6, Twelfth Planet Press

A Thousand Flowers, Margo Lanagan, Zombies Vs Unicorns, Allen & Unwin

Nine Times, Kaia Landelius & Tansy Rayner Roberts, Worlds Next Door,

Fablecroft Publishing

An Ordinary Boy, Jen White, The Tangled Bank, Tangled Bank Press

 

BEST COLLECTION

The Library of Forgotten Books, Rjurik Davidson, PS Publishing

Under Stones, Bob Franklin, Affirm Press

Sourdough and Other Stories, Angela Slatter, Tartarus Press

The Girl With No Hands, Angela Slatter, Ticonderoga Publications

Dead Sea Fruit, Kaaron Warren, Ticonderoga Publications

 

FANTASY Short Story

The Duke of Vertumn’s Fingerling, Elizabeth Carroll, Strange Horizons

Yowie, Thoraiya Dyer, Sprawl, Twelfth Planet Press

The February Dragon, LL Hannett & Angela Slatter, Scary Kisses,

Ticonderoga Publications

All the Clowns in Clowntown, Andrew McKiernan, Macabre: A Journey

Through Australia’s Darkest Fears, Brimstone Press

Sister, Sister, Angela Slatter, Strange Tales III, Tartarus Press

 

FANTASY Novel

The Silence of Medair, Andrea K Höst, self-published

Death Most Definite, Trent Jamieson, Orbit (Hachette)

Stormlord Rising, Glenda Larke, HarperVoyager (HarperCollins)

Heart’s Blood, Juliet Marillier, Pan Macmillan

Power and Majesty, Tansy Rayner Roberts, HarperVoyager (HarperCollins)

Monday
Mar282011

Locus 2010 

Somewhat late news, but relevant in the context of Clarion South 2009 achievements.

Locus 2010 Recommended Reading List http://www.locusmag.com/Magazine/2011/Issue02_RecommendedReading.html :

"The Third Bear", Jeff VanderMeer - Collections

"A Glimpse of the Marvellous Structure (And the Threat it Entails)", Sean Williams (Godlike Machines) - Novellas

"A Thousand Flowers", Margo Lanagan (Zombies vs Unicorns) - Novelettes

"The Miracle Aquilina", Margo Lanagan (Wings of Fire) - Short Stories

 

"The Duke of Vertumn's Fingerling", Elizabeth Carroll (Strange Horizons 4/5/10) - Short Stories

"Brisneyland by Night", Angela Slatter (Sprawl) - Short Stories

"Lost Things", Angela Slatter (Sourdough and Other Stories) - Short Stories

Sunday
Mar272011

Clarion South stocktake

It's been two years since the last Clarion South writers' bootcamp took place in Brisbane. It was about this time (February to be exact) that we finished the 6 week slog.

Essentially, it is a writing 'camp' that is arranged weekly with a live-in tutor who guides the group through daily critiquing sessions of each others' work. Each participant produces a new story per week and it is picked apart systematically in an attempt to improve it, celebrate it and give it and the writer the best chance at producing publishable work.

It is a confronting process for those new to it all and those who lack skin the thickness of leather. My writing definitely came out of it stronger, though I'm not sure I did.

The next Clarion South was likely to happen next year in 2012, but the issue of an affordable venue has been a problem for some time and has not yet been resolved, despite the best and selfless efforts of the convenors – this message on the clarion south site:

Thanks for your patience with us.

As you may know Clarion South had to change venues at short notice in 2009 following the sale of the Griffith University accommodation facilities to a private provider. The new venue was out of our price range, but with some fundraising help from the community we were able to deliver the 2009 workshop as originally planned.

Since then we’ve been looking to find a new permanent home for the workshop. The workshop is important to us and we know there are lots of writers keen to hear about its future.

While we had been hoping to be in a position to run Clarion South again in 2012, we’ve been unable to find a suitable venue for the workshop. It’s important to us that the cost of any workshop we run remains within financial reach of most writers.

Unfortunately we’ve been unable to lock in a viable venue option that would allow us to run the workshop at an acceptable cost to writers. The cheapest option would still more than double tuition fees.

So, with regret, we must tell you that at this stage the workshop is on hold indefinitely.

We know many of you will be disappointed, and so are we. Clarion South has been a great experience for us and we’re proud of the great writers in Australia and overseas that the workshop has helped.

In the meantime we will continue to look for a venue that enables to run the workshop in the format for which it has become famous. We will alsoinvestigate other configurations and opportunities that might give the workshop a future in Australia.

Thank you again for waiting patiently for this update. We have greatly appreciated the support of the speculative fiction community around the
world.

This is a very real shame. In the context of awards, achievements and recognition, it is not small feat that CS09 has produced multiple award nominees for such prestigious events as the Aurealis Awards and the Ditmars.

Without Clarion South, I would not have the connection to the writing community that I have now. I would not be as good a writer as I am now. I would not believe in my writing as much as I do now. I’m not sure how to put a price on such awareness, and I’ll always remember Clarion South 2009 as my crucible.

More posts about Clarion South 2009, my experiences, and its alumni to follow.

Wednesday
Mar092011

Borders without customers, Part II

Myth number 3: Book prices are expensive in Australia because publishers are evil money-grabbing, faceless conglomerates who want to take over the world.

This is a complicated one to unpack. Firstly, there’s the issue that a lot of book prices are left over from a twenty year-old economy where the Australian dollar was 40 or 50 cents to the American greenback. The book industry is also one of those rare, strange beasts where the identical product that was released twenty years ago is still being made and put out into the market, and the truth which everyone knows but few people have been willing to articulate is, well, things never really ever get cheaper. Which leads me to my second point: things have never really been cheap in Australia. We’re isolated, so we have to factor freight costs onto everything we import, and our population is tiny, which means we can’t produce in bulk and get the same wholesale discounts as the other bigger consumers. Our food, rent, and wages are all three times, if not more, than the dollar-equivalent in the US, another as a relic of that 1990s economy, though I’ve heard time and again the comment that the quality of things here is better, which could all be placebo effect, but the quality – the physical quality – of books certainly is. So many of my imported books are either printed on clumsy, public toilet paper-esque pages, or the thinnest Bible paper. I understand this may not factor in for a lot of people – they’re not buying a book for the paper stock, after all, but for the words and ideas contained therein – but it’s definitely a factor as to why locally produced and printed books cost more.

Thirdly, we are one of the only countries in the world to tax our books. The GST, that deceptaively doe-eyed 10%, knocked the wind out of the bookselling industry for years. Yeah, I know, anticlimax, but people never seem to factor this in either.

Remember when there was this whole movement about buying Australian products because even though they might be a more expensive, you were supporting local industry and jobs and your own economy, yadda yadda yadda? I must be getting old …

Myth number 4: The music industry went digital, survived piracy and hasn’t completely died, so what the fuck are you guys afraid of?

Click to read more ...

Monday
Mar072011

Borders without customers

Steph Moriarty was a flat-mate and fellow Clarion South attendee in 2009. With a razor-sharp critiquing knife and a look that can freeze you in place in terror, she's also worked for years at the coal-face in the book-selling business. She knows her stuff.

In two parts, below is her response to the many opinion pieces and speculation about the Borders / Angus&Robertson debacle in Australia.

I’m pretty deeply vested in every facet of the book industries, so it’s particularly frustrating to see so many people hypothesising about why things are the way they are, and how Borders and Angus & Robertson had it coming, etc. with only a speculative understanding and no insight into how things actually are.

I have worked as a bookseller for seven years, with experience in chain stores as well as independents. I am a professional writer who reads not nearly as much as some people I know, but I would venture a reasonable amount. Which means I buy a reasonable amount of books from wherever I can get them: big bookstores, franchises, indies, second-hand bookstores, and yes, because I’m frequently poor, online. This is my explanation (and occasional angry digression) on a few popular misconceptions on recent book industry events.

Myth number 1: REDgroup went bankrupt because of rising ebook sales/internet book sales.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb132011

Ten reasons you won't get published

Sunday
Feb132011

Breathe

His breath came hard. Forced, wavering. It had the pitch of reluctant air being sucked through a tiny crack in the wall, whistling, wheezing until just enough made it into his lungs. Then he stopped, shoulders and chest falling in submission, but tense, in anticipation of the next.

            His name was Jaspar and he thought he was twelve years old. He also thought he was deep underground, but his memory of the time before had faded into dreams and he wasn’t quite certain what it meant to be underground. Where he was, was simply where he was.

            His older brother Dekus was sitting with him, eyes glowing blue in the darkness, head slightly hunched in the confined space of the grotto where they slept and kept the few things they called their own. Dekus’ hands were on his shoulders, bracing them, waiting with him for the attack to pass, gifting him strength.

            It was time for the next breath. He knew it, his body knew it, but it seemed his chest and lungs and throat had forgotten what happened next. He forced his lungs to begin expanding, to draw in the musty darkness, to keep going.

            His hands were clenched hard, but trembled nonetheless. His gaze was locked on his brother’s and he struggled not to think of consequences, of what might happen if his lungs didn’t respond, if the next breath didn’t come. It felt like it might be easier to tunnel through rock than to stop a thought. The best Jaspar could do was to delay it. Concentrate on the moment, on a detail of the stone ceiling, or stare at the whorls and etchings of the pictures he had carved into the stone walls.

            When the next breath did come, recalcitrant, resentful, burning, he mentally added another day to his own scoreboard.

Monday
Jan172011

Riparian worlds

The recent flooding disaster in QLD and other Australian states reinforced the way water can completely change a landscape and our view of it.

 The future river-proof QLDer houses

My Brisbane suburb of Graceville was altered in both its physical environment (streets and houses submerged, creeks and the river joining to form suburb wide lakes that revealed the contours of the land) and social / political (streets where neighbours rarely spoke changed dramatically; water-spotters wandered about; complete strangers and strange houses were evacuated by volunteers en masse).

 

For me, the single biggest outcome from this disaster is the way we relate to our city / state and to each other changed. We were pushed out of our ruts.

 

Sunday
Nov142010

Preaching

Writing is hard. This is an oft repeated claim, or statement, or warning. And it is true for me, presumably for most. Writing is hard not because I have no ideas, or can’t find the words or have doubts about my ability and my prose. Writing is difficult and challenging because of all of these issues, but it is hard because in everyday life’s endless events and potential distractions, forcing myself to sit down regularly and just write is a constant struggle.

For some, I understand it may be easy to do this, to sit and want to write and then do so. At times it is, when the words flow, the ideas lurk in the background just waiting to be given form, but in general writing is a discipline and a habit that requires constant vigilance and constant tending. Finding the time isn’t hard. I am a father of two young children and I work full-time and I don’t leave the household chores to my wife, but I can easily, easily find time. There’s at least a half hour every day I could write. In half an hour I can write a page; a page a day is a novel a year. Writing is hard because I have to summon the will to sit myself down in that chair and let the words come. I have to turn off the TV, or close the book, or turn off the computer game, or any other easy ‘I’ve-just-worked-all-day-and-want-to-relax’ activity and write.

For some, it might be relaxing to write. It isn’t for me. It isn’t a chore, though it can feel like it. But it is a challenge and it requires discipline, not least because writing a novel is such a long-term project. There is nothing more insidious than the thought that not writing today doesn’t matter, not writing that page is irrelevant when it’s taken three years to get this far.

Writing is hard, and like any other discipline, if you do it anyway, the reward for achieving and completing that story, whether or not it ever makes its way out into the world, is that much greater.

Tuesday
Jul202010

Interview with Trent Jamieson

Trent Jamieson, Brisbane short story demi-god, local luminary of the writing scene, University teacher, Aurealis Award winner and Clarion South tutor, has written his first novel: an urban fantasy “Death Most Definite”, and soon to be the first in a trilogy.

How did you get your start in writing fiction?

I’ve always written fiction, well, since I could hold a pen and write. And I’ve always written Speculative Fiction. It’s what I grew up reading. Everything from the Magic Pudding, Lord of the Rings, and Lud in the Mist, to Dan Simmon’s Hyperion Cantos. Spec Fic has marked the important moments of my life: it’s been a comfort through some pretty horrible things, and an accompaniment to some wonderful stuff as well. So it’s natural, I guess, that I’d want to write it too. Not that I don’t read other literature as well, but Spec Fic will always be at the heart of my reading and writing.

You have an impressive number of short stories publications. Was it a big leap to moving from short stories to the long form of novels?

Not so much a big leap, just a different direction. They’re two very different modes of writing. But I’ve been writing both for a very long time: it’s just that the short stories started selling earlier.

How did you get your break with the Death books?

Persistence. Seriously. Orbit opening their offices in Australia certainly helped. It’s a bit easier to get your foot in the door, if there’s a door to put your foot in. I found Orbit to be very approachable and fortunately they liked the idea of this series and loved the first book. Hard work, lots and lots of hard work, luck, and good timing all played their part too. And my biggest break was marrying Diana. My wife has always supported my writerly aspirations. That kind of belief is incredibly important. Without her I may have given up a long time ago. And Diana is the reason I fell in love with Brisbane and ended up writing a novel(series) set there. Diana is the keystone to all my fiction.

Your trilogy is essentially being published back-to-back over the next 2 years. Has it been difficult writing each novel in such a short period?

I’ll let you know when I finish the third book. Like any long project it has its ups and downs, but, in the main, I’ve loved writing the books. I think novels suit my temperament.

Have you had any issues with maintaining consistency between the novels?

Not consistency, my stories are very much about voice, and I think I’ve got a very clear idea who my protagonist is and how he sounds. Steven de Selby is the glue that holds those books together and, while he changes, and grows up a bit, he has very peculiar world view.

Can you tell us about the process of deciding the style of covers?

I’ve not had that much of a say in it – though I love my cover. Of course, I’ve been shown it at various stages of its development, and my opinion’s been sought, but the decision hasn’t really been mine. And, to be honest, I really don’t think it should be. I’m not really about having a cover that I love and everyone else hates.

You were a tutor for the first time at Clarion South in 2009 and we have often heard of Clarion experiences from its students. What was it like from the other side of the desk?

It was wonderful, exhausting, and exciting. I’m quite sure I learnt much more than I taught. The worst bit for me was that I had caught some sort of virus and I had to push through the fatigue – you don’t get a lot of sleep when you’re tutoring. The best was seeing all that potential in the room, listening to all those insightful critiques. You really start to feel invested in the student’s future. I’m always so excited to hear of a sale or some other milestone reached. Oh, and jealousy, definitely jealousy. I forgot about that, you’re all so much more talented than me, damn it.

Is Clarion South comparable to the QUT short story writing course you teach?

Well, this year I haven’t been doing much teaching, so many deadlines! Though I’m back in a month or so. But not really, they’re two very different things. At Clarion you are living and breathing short stories, meeting tight deadlines, and getting in each other’s faces 24/7. The short story course is one of many units a student will be doing that semester, it’s part of an integrated whole. I think either would compliment the other.

You have been writing to various deadlines for the Death books in the past months. How do you motivate yourself each day / how do you ensure you achieve the progress you need to meet those required submission dates?

It’s just a matter of breaking it down into achievable targets, knowing there’s a bigger picture, but not thinking about it too much. I’ve still got a couple of deadlines to meet yet on this series so I don’t want to be too smug about it.

What is your opinion on the recent debate over e-book pricing? Are there plans to release your Death books for e-book readers as well as print?

I must say I don’t have an opinion, but I guess it comes down to content, and what the-book contains that the paper-version may not. E-books certainly allow for a richer environment – though that makes them somewhat different to books, more book as app, then book as book. Regardless of format the e and hardcopy books go through the same editorial process, and that `ain’t cheap. So, hey, I do have an opinion. Yes, my books will be available as e-books.

__________________________________

Trent’s own site can be found here and a review by Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus here .