Saturday, September 25, 2010

My grant application, behind the scenes: at ROR

Vision member Gary Kemble announced this week that he had received an OZCo (Australian Literature Board) Grant. So I grabbed him and said, Gary, please tell us how you did it!

Read on...


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Friday, September 24, 2010

Movie Minutiae: The Crow (1994)

The Crow - based on a comic book about a man returning from the dead to avenge his girlfriend's rape and murder - is a tragic story, and there was another tragedy behind the scenes.

Read on at The Buzz...

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Audio: 612 Brisbane interview

I was planning on tweeting just before we went to air, but was so nervous I forgot.

So, if you missed the interview, and would like to hear me, Stephen M Irwin and Will Elliott talking to Richard Fidler about Macabre, you can listen here:

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Australia Council grant

I've been walking around like a... well, a zombie since Monday, when a letter turned up telling me that my Australia Council New Work grant application was successful.

I was so sure that I'd missed out that I read it as a rejection letter, then went back. Saw the words 'delighted to advise'... thought, that's a bit insensitive... went back, read it halfway through.

I realised that my grant application had been successful. Tweeted. Read the rest of the letter, which told me not to tell anyone until Wednesday. Deleted the tweet.

I still can't really believe it. There were 13 successful applications. My lucky number this year - I was on floor 13 at AussieCon 4.

The grant means I'm going to be able to take some time off work to do stuff that I can't do when I usually write (at night), namely interviews and research (library research).

The project is called 'Skin Deep' and is about tattoos, ghosts, Brisbane, corruption, politics.

So now I've got even more incentive to clear my plate by finishing the edit on 'Metamorphosis' before the end of the year!

I have to heartily thank Kate Eltham and the Queensland Writers Centre. Kate ran an excellent seminar on grant writing earlier this year. So far I'm two from two!

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AussieCon 4 links... and then some!

I know I said I was done with the AussieCon 4 posts, but Twitter friend @illegibscrib has sent me this EPIC collection of AussieCon 4 links. Thank you @illegibscrib - con-goers the world over salute you!


2010 Hugo Winners and Nominees (includes voting breakdowns)
Masquerade Competition Winners
All Aussiecon4 Convention Newsletters (The Echidna)

Kevin Standlee
Video: 2010 Hugo Awards Ceremony
Video: Worldcon Chairs Photo Session

Jo Walton
Ditmar Awards 2010

Cheryl Morgan
Video: Ditmar Awards 2010
Video: Aussiecon 4 Opening Ceremonies
Video: Aussiecon 4 Closing Ceremonies
Video: Aussiecon 4 Fan Guest of Honour Speech by Robin Johnson
Worldcon, Day 1
The Dead Critics Panel
Smoke Filled Rooms
My Terrorist Resume Expands

Voyager Books
Maria Quinn wins Norma K Hemming Award

Galactic Suburbia
Links to Aussiecon4 Podcasts

London in 2014
Aussiecon Update

Photos from Aussiecon4 / Worldcon 68

Gary Kemble
In pictures: The Nightmare Ball
(panels and summaries)
The story behind Switzerland's first sf movie (Cargo)
Kim Stanley Robinson still betting on utopia
The future of short stories
Drinking the Kool Aid at WorldCon
Ebooks: the future is now
Finally, my AussieCon4 wrap
Audio: Interview with Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Audio: Kim Stanley Robinson Guest of Honour speech
Audio: Charlie Stross on ebooks
Audio: ebooks and the publishing industry panel
Audio: Kim Stanley Robinson on climate change
Audio: Directions in Australian Horror
(author interviews)
Interview: Marianne de Pierres
Interview: Tim Holman
Interview: Angela Slatter
Interview: Rowena Cory Daniells
Interview: Trent Jamieson
Interview: Helen Stubbs (Winner of Aussiecon4 Short Story Competition)
Interview: Kaaron Warren
Interview: Graham Storrs
Interview: Cory Doctorow

John Scalzi
Tales from Melbourne
My Big News: I’m Toastmaster of Chicon 7, the 2012 Worldcon

Paul Cornell
How Australia Was

Seanan McGuire
Officially the Princess of the Kingdom of Poison and Flame

Gail Carriger
WorldCon AussieCon4 Day 1 Friday
WorldCon AussieCon4 Day 2 Saturday
WorldCon AussieCon4 Day 3 Sunday: Final Report
Quick Check In After WorldCon AussieCon4

Catherynne M Valente
Notes on Losing My First Hugo

Trudi Canavan
My AussieCon4 ‘Report’

Peter Watts
Worth the Price

Tansy Rayner Roberts
Feminist Fail and Win at Aussiecon 4
Thoughts from Worldcon
Yet Another Worldcon Post

Jennifer Fallon
Musing on the Panels Stuff-up at Worldcon

Helen Lowe
An Interview with Cheryl Morgan: Reprised for Worldcon
Worldcon: Two Days In
Worldcon: It’s All Over Now

Helen Lowe (Orbit Books)
UNconventional: Worldcon & Me

Nicola Pitt (Orbit Books)
Worldcon photos from last weekend!

Tracey O'Hara (HarperCollins)
Aussiecon4, or the 68th Annual World Science Fiction Convention

Kathleen Jennings
Aussiecon4 / Worldcon Sketchbook

Kyla Ward (AHWA)

Alan Baxter
Worldcon, the story so far
Worldcon wrap, part two
Worldcon panel – Novellas
Worldcon panel – The eternal border
Aussiecon4 photos – last post

David D Levine
The Days Are Just Packed - Aussiecon, days 1-2
The Days Are Just Packed - Aussiecon, days 3-4
The Days Are Just Packed - I've seen the Southern Cross for the first time

Graham Clements
My Writing Week 3 (35) - Aussiecon
My Writing Week 3 (36) - More on Aussiecon
Aussiecon 4 - Young Adult Panels

Foz Meadows
Worldcon Wrap

Stephen Dedman (and possibly others) – Talking Squid
Worldcon 2010 Observations

Deborah Biancotti
Oh, yeah, there was a WorldCon

Brian Thurogood
YA Speculative Fiction continues to gain readers and importance
AussieCon4 – a ‘science’ failure
Artists’ Paradox of “a knock at the door” at AussieCon4
The Eternal Border, a discussion on taboos at the 2010 WorldCon
The steampunk playground within speculative fiction
Pitching the novel – advice from AussieCon4
Cyberpunk and the City – the view from AussieCon4
Fantastic Females – writers discuss feminism at WorldCon
We’re all connected, all the time – blogs and social networking in the world of YA spec fic
Making a living – professional writing for speculative fiction authors

Australian Literature Review

On ‘Anachronistic Attitudes: Writing thought and belief in historical fiction’
On ‘Destroying the Future to Save the Planet’
On ‘Nuts and Bolts: Editing YA Spec Fic’
On ‘Keeping Pace: Maintaining momentum in fiction’
On ‘Write What You Know’
On ‘In Conversation: Kim Stanley Robinson and Robert Silverberg’
On ‘Girl Meets Boy Meets Dragon: Romance in fantasy’
On ‘Steal the Past, Build the Future: New histories for fantasy fiction’
On ‘Thinking in Trilogies’
On ‘The Novella’
On ‘Kim Stanley Robinson – Guest of Honour Speech’
On ‘Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey’
On ‘Losing the Plot: Plotting in advance VS writing as you go’
On ‘Crowns and Swords: The intertwined worlds of fantasy and monarchy’
On ‘Hand-waving Rule Bending and Other Dirty Tricks of Hard SF’
On ‘The Race to the Red Planet’
(author interviews)
Mary Victoria – Author Interview
Fiona McIntosh – Author Interview
Ben Chandler – Author Interview
David D. Levine – Author Interview
Kim Stanley Robinson – Author Interview
Kate Forsyth – Author Interview
Zoe Walton – Publisher Interview

Rachel Hyland (Geek Speak Magazine)
Conventional Wisdom: A WorldCon Memoir
Living the Fairy Tale: an interview with Seanan McGuire

The Wheeler Centre, Melbourne
Melbourne Gets its Geek On

Parker Strahn
Aussiecon 4: Day One (Thursday)
Aussiecon 4: Day Two (Friday)
Aussiecon 4: Day Three (Saturday)
Aussiecon 4: Day Four (Sunday)
Aussiecon 4: Day Five (Monday)

Nicole Murphy
AussieCon - so far
AussieCon - going on
AussieCon - relaxacon
AussieCon 4 - the conclusion

Lord Mountain Goat
Video: GRRM, Bringing Game of Thrones to HBO (part 1 - spoilers!)
Video: GRRM, Bringing Game of Thrones to HBO (part 2 - spoilers!)
Video: GRRM, Bringing Game of Thrones to HBO (part 3 - spoilers!)
Video: GRRM Answers Fan Questions

Jake Stormoen
A Game of Thrones HBO Panel at AussieCon (Worldcon)

A Game of Thrones HBO Panel at AussieCon (Worldcon)

James (WOTLuckers)
Worldcon Report (Including Kaffeklatsch with George R R Martin)

Aussie Chris
Meeting George R.R. Martin

World Con 2010 Day 1
World Con 2010 Days 2 and 3
World Con 2010 Day 4
World Con 2010 Day 5

Ameel Zia Khan
Aussiecon 4: Day 1
Aussiecon 4: Day 2
Aussiecon 4: Day 3
Aussiecon 4: Day 4
Aussiecon 4: Day 5

Kathryn Andersen
Worldcon 2010 - Day 1
Worldcon 2010 - Day 2
Worldcon 2010 - Day 3
Worldcon 2010 - Day 4
Worldcon 2010 - Day 5

Shane on the Go
Worldcon - day 2
Worldcon - day 2 - after lunch
Worldcon - Day 3 - Part 1
Worldcon - Day 3 - Part 2
Worldcon - Day 4 - Part 1
Worldcon - Day 4 - Part 2... and then it was over ...
Video: Robert Silverberg on Novellas: The Perfect Format
The Hugos

Soon Lee
Aussiecon: Day One
Aussiecon: Day Two
Aussiecon: Day Three
Aussiecon: Day Four
Aussiecon: Day Five
Hugos 2010 voting statistics: musings
Aussiecon 4: WTF moments. Picks for 2011

Day One: Environmental Politics in SFF
Day Two: Robinson and Silverberg in Conversation
More about Aussiecon 4

One con ends...another begins.
WorldCon Day 4
End of the WorldCon, and I feel fine

Megan Burke
Aussie Con 4 - My First Panel (inclusive of legs, nerds, boys and fruit)
Musings on a sense of community in Aussie Con 4 & MWF
Aussie Con 4 - Wrap Up

Patty Jansen
Write What You Know
The Next Step: Should We Go to Mars?

M A Miller
Promoting your book to the converted: AussieCon 4 from an author’s perspective

Celia Powell
AussieCon 4 Roundup

Tez Miller
AussieCon 4

Aussiecon IV

Julia B
What I've learned from the Pros

Thoughts Spurred by WorldCon (In Particular, "Characters Dress Themselves, A Mantra")

Satima Flavell
A worldcon is a wond'rous thing, God wot!

Con Reporter
Preliminary WSFS Business Meeting Report
Main WSFS Business Meeting Report
Sunday WSFS Business Meeting Report


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Monday, September 20, 2010

Monster sunnies

Yes, I'll take the pair the monster is wearing. I think they'll suit me. (pic by Amelia Kemble)

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Finally, my AussieCon4 wrap

You would have thought that I'd written enough about AussieCon 4, but I wanted to blog about some of the personal highlights.

Kim Stanley Robinson talking about the importance of utopian science fiction. This really made me think about my own writing, because he's so right - writing about utopia is so much more of a challenge. I write a lot of dystopian stuff, although since having kids I generally aim for happy endings! It got me thinking about utopian stories. I don't have any, but at least it got me thinking about it!

Sitting on the panel next to Paul Haines, talking about why we're into horror when the real world is so awful (or words to that effect). I said that I generally enjoy reading and writing escapist fiction. Giant cockroaches, zombies, that kinda thing. But that's only partially true. Paul said that writing what he writes is a cathartic experience for him. For me, I can only write when I'm not down (or, I find it hard to write when I'm down). On the plane home I read three stories from Scenes From the Second Story, including Paul's "I've Seen The Man". 

When I interviewed Ellen Datlow in 2006 she told me:

"When I read a half a dozen really excellent, very strong short stories one after another, it's exhausting. You can't just go straight from one story to another if the first one makes the impact it should. It's difficult to switch gears that quickly."

And that's exactly what it was like. I'm not going to go all 'lit' on yer ass or anything like that (well, maybe a little). I like writing over-the-top escapist stuff because it's fun. But reading those stories made me aspire to something else. I want to write stories where the reader needs to take a pause at the end, catch their breath, have a think.

(Kinda like how I was today, after reading Stephen Dedman's "Never Seen By Waking Eyes" in Macabre - an excellent example of taking a well-worn trope, giving it depth and making it genuinely creepy.)

The short story panel with Cory Doctorow and Stephen Dedman was good for me, because it reminded me about podcasting (which Doctorow suits today's commuting lifestyle). I've since subbed two stories to podcast markets. Keep your fingers crossed for me! :)

As well as that, just meeting people! It was so good to catch up with Angela Challis and Shane Jiraiya Cummings from Brimstone Press. It was hard to believe I hadn't seen them IRL since 2006. When we were working on BLACK together it was almost as though the experience was so intense we were summoning each other, if that makes sense. It was great to see Kyla Ward again. And then there were a bunch of people from the horror scene I've had lots to do with, but never met IRL. eg Talie Helene, Marty Young -- I'm going to forget people here and get in trouble.

Then there were 'the next generation'. People who I've got to know on Twitter but never met. eg Alan Baxter, Felicity Dowker, and Helen Stubbs.

So, all in all, it was brilliant. And I really hope it's not another four years before I can get to my next con!

Last but certainly not least, I'd like to thank everyone who helped me with my grant application: Queensland Writers Centre CEO Kate Eltham, my boss at the ABC Stuart Watt, and Marty Young from the Australian Horror Writers Association. I'd also like to thank Kyla Ward for her efforts programming the horror stream, and honouring me by inviting me to sit on a couple of panels, and also Angela Challis for letting me read from 'Feast or Famine' at the Macabre launch.

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Minimalist cover for 'Bug Hunt'

If short stories had book covers, this is what the one for 'Bug Hunt' would look like! You can read 'Bug Hunt' for free, online. (PDF)

It was also an experiment in remixing CC content - inspired by the seminar I attended on Friday at The Edge.

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

New tshirt: 'The Rural Jurors'

Concept by Cristen Tilley. Design by Cris and I for #secretcrush.

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Free read: Lines in the Snow

As the days grew longer, so did the look of longing in her eyes. I’m an old man so I can see these things, but Jack missed it, the poor fool. He was too busy thinking about picking a ring in Jonestown and whether Pip Sullivan’s barn would be big enough for the reception. Lucy, meanwhile, was eyeing the sleigh she’d rode in on, watching the blanket of snow on Main Street growing thinner each day.

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Free read: Pine Coffin, Folded Flag

Charlie smacked his lips together and tried to work some moisture back through his mouth. This part of the country was always dry. The yellow land gave way to a piteous blue sky and searing sun that burned just as hot at eight in the morning as at midday or six in the evening. He thrust his spade half-heartedly at the unyielding ground, sending the solid clunk of steel on stone out into the endless drone of cicadas. He looked down into the hole, now about half as deep as it needed to be and roughly rectangular, and decided he deserved a break.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Ebooks: the future is now

Science fiction writers have always been on the cutting edge, and now sf publishers are scrambling to stay ahead of the ebook curve.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Drinking the Kool Aid at WorldCon

I've written a piece for ABC's The Drum about why science fiction conventions are so important for writers, publishers, editors and fans.

Head on over, take a look, and leave a comment.

I don't know whether I quite nailed the 'Kool Aid' connection. What I was getting at is that when I arrived at WorldCon it was a bit disorientating, but then I 'drank the Kool Aid' and fit right in.

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

On grants: paying it forward

As you will know, the only reason I was able to attend AussieCon 4 is because I was able to secure a Career Development Grant from Arts Queensland.

If you're interested in applying for this grant (or similar grants) my first recommendation would be to keep your eyes peeled for the next grants seminar by the Queensland Writers Centre.

I'm also happy to answer any questions people might have about the process. If I can help, I will. Leave a comment or tweet me.

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AussieCon 4: other perspectives

Here are some other perspectives on AussieCon 4...

Nicole Murphy
In the end, I’ve come away with my love of cons reaffirmed. Be scared, people – I’m finding it hard to not get back into con organising again :)

Alan Baxter
Far and away the real highlight of this con, as with every con, was meeting people in our vibrant genre community. Not only seeing old and dear friends again and getting to hang out with them, but meeting people in person for the first time that I know very well from online interaction, and meeting new people for the first time.

Plus, there's a stack of awesome photos at Flickr.

(If you'd like me to add links to your con-wraps, please tweet me or leave a comment)

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Audio: Directions in Australian Horror

Audio from the 'Directions in Australian Horror' session at AussieCon 4, featuring Stuart Mayne, Bill Congreve, Angela Slatter, Trent Jamieson and Honey Brown.

I found this session a little frustrating in that we're still trying to define what horror is and what it isn't! (Check out this similar discussion back at Conjure in 2006) And the divide between how authors want to define their work and how publishers want to market it.

Part of me wants to scream IT DOESN'T MATTER, LABELS AREN'T IMPORTANT! But I think labels are important to horror fans. And I saw evidence of that in the questions at one of the other horror panels. Horror fans, I think, want to be able to go to their bookshop and find a decent horror section that contains more than paranormal romance and a gazillion Stephen King books.

But maybe this is old-fashioned, given many books are sold directly via the internet now, and the knowledgeable bookseller has been replaced in many cases by social networks.

What do you think?

Leave a comment or tweet me.

Download now or listen on posterous
NewDirectionsinHorror.MP3 (20549 KB)

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Monday, September 06, 2010

The future of short stories

Some notes from today's session with Cory Doctorow and Stephen Dedman.

Cory Doctorow says there hasn't been a big market for short stories for a very long time.

He says short fiction seems like a good length for the web, but the fact that computers do a whole heap of stuff means that people find it hard to concentrate on fiction if they're reading it on a connected device. However, he says that the advantage is that on the web, stories have an opportunity to find an audience they never had before.

Stephen Dedman says the nature of the web means that stories can be the length they're meant to be, rather than trying to shoehorn them into magazines where generally they have to be shorter.

Doctorow says the commercial value increases with the notoriety of the piece of fiction. And he says he can see opportunities for the marketing of physical extrusions of digital works.

He uses the example of the original scroll of paper that Jack Kerouac typed On the Road on. It's worth heaps. Not because you can't get cheap versions of the work, but because the work has such notoriety.

He says he's currently working on an anthology of reprints of his stories. There will be free ebooks, audio readings by his writer friends, POD versions via, and a high-end hand-bound version featuring end papers of ephemera he's collected over the years, such as Jay Lake's cancer diagnosis.

He's also got a system whereby if you spot a typo, he'll correct it in the next version and credit you in the footnote. So if you want to buy it again, you can get a version with your name in it. He says he's found a way to monetise typos!

Doctorow says there have been some other interesting experiments. He says podcasting has potential, because people connect more when they hear a voice, and also it fits in with commuting, looking after kids (and I guess going to the gym).

He mentioned EscapePOD, and Stephen Dedman mentioned PseudoPOD.

Doctorow also mentioned Mongoliad, a web serial that features a blend of stuff, some free, some paid for.

Actually, AussieCon 4 has really amped me as far as short stories go, but I've got to stay focussed on my novel!

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Sunday, September 05, 2010

Audio: Kim Stanley Robinson on climate change

A really interesting talk by Kim Stanley Robinson on what we can do about climate change.

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KSR_climate.MP3 (28856 KB)

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Me + friends

This is the money shot, baby!

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Interview with Cory Doctorow

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corydoctorow_int.MP3 (6637 KB)

Unedited audio of my interview with Cory Doctorow, which will feed into my article for ABC News Online.

He talks about DRM, emerging business models, tips for authors, and much more.

(There's also a screaming kid about halfway through -- the joys of lobby interviews! :))

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Interview with Graham Storrs

1. Congratulations on TimeSplash. So, up until now the book has been available as an ebook, but now it will be available in print and as an audiobook? Who is publishing the print/audio editions?

Thanks, Gary. My new publisher is a small, Danish company called Big Bad Media. They did the '100 Stories for Haiti' project recently, so you might have heard of them. They're a multimedia company, rather than the usual kind of indie publisher, and it's truly exciting to work with them. Their vision for everything is in multiple media and Web 2.0 marketing. The ebook deal was very much in the mould of traditional book publishing, but this is something else. The pace is breathtaking. 

2. Can you give me the 'elevator pitch' on TimeSplash?

Timesplashing - jumping back in time to create paradoxes - started out as something underground, edgy and cool. Then Sniper took it too far and turned time travel into the ultimate terrorist weapon. Scarred by their experiences in the party ‘scene’ that grew up around timesplashing, Jay and Sandra are thrown together in what becomes the biggest manhunt in history: the search for Sniper, Sandra’s ex-boyfriend and a would be mass murderer.

3. What was the inspiration behind the book?

I was pitching a much more 'literary' time travel novel to a Big 6 publisher when, as I was speaking, the image of lobbing time travellers like bricks back into the timestream came into my mind. I saw the splash and the 'river' of time smoothing it over but carrying some residual turbulence downstream. And I thought, kids would love doing that. It would make a great extreme sport, especially if there was some real danger involved. I was so excited, I blurted it all out, right then. Talk about queering your pitch! I went home and fleshed out the characters who were already forming in my mind and started plotting it straight away.

4. There's been a lot of talk about ebooks in the past few months, with the launch of the iPad. Depending on who you talk to, it seems they're going to either revolutionise publishing or be a disaster for mid-level authors. What's your take on this?

I'm sure ebooks will revolutionise publishing. It may be as little as 10 or 15 years before paper books are only produced as "deluxe editions" and by POD for die-hard technophobes. It looks like the paper book distribution infrastructure - the book shops - will crumble away well before then. Amazon is already the biggest paper book seller on the planet and the savvy book retailers are rushing to acquire market share in this online business. Once the book shops are gone, ebook prices will look very much more attractive. It's a shame about the iPad. Dedicated ebook readers, using e-ink, give a much better reading experience, but whatever the device, the economics of ebooks vs print will force the change in the end. 

Eventually, this will all settle down and everyone - authors, readers and the publishing industry - will understand the new market dynamics, but I think it is inevitable that we will have a decade or two of "interesting times" first. The biggest disruption will come not from ebooks but from self-publishing. This is where everyone is in completely new territory. For mid-list authors feeling threatened by change, I can only point to Joe Konrath and say, do what he does. The author, as always, is the brand.

My own path to publication is symptomatic of all this turmoil in action. TimeSplash was first picked up by an "ebook first" New York publisher. That was great but I didn't have an agent and didn't know what to do with my print and audio rights. Then a UK author, Emma Newman (who had podcast her own first novel before landing a publishing deal for it) said she'd like to record it and we could jointly self-publish it as an audio book. I thought this was a great idea. I love how Emma reads. Even before the recoding was all done, she let Greg McQueen of Big Bad Media hear a sample and he fell in love with the book straight away (bless him!) I sent him the full MS and within 24 hours I was on Skype with him, nutting out the contract details for audio and print deals. 

5. In your profile you say that you were always writing but never had any luck getting fiction published. What do you think was different about TimeSplash? Do you think focusing on writing full-time made the difference?

No, I think that was just sheer self-indulgence. What made the difference was taking fiction writing seriously as a business. I was a complete idiot about it for most of my life then, thanks to an event organised by the Queensland Writers Centre and Hachette, which included great advice and industry insights from people like Kate Eltham, Marianne de Pierres and Bernadette Foley, my eyes were opened. It was a real road-to-Damascus epiphany. I suddenly say how the publishing business worked, where each player fitted, and what each of them needed from me as a writer and business partner. After that, I wouldn't say it was easy, but, on some of the doors I'd been staring at glumly for decades, I could finally reach the knocker.

6. What are you most looking forward to at WorldCon?

Meeting people. I live out in the country and I only communicate with other writers by email. It's very rare that I actually get to meet one. And I've discovered over the past couple of years that I actually like my fellow writers. They're bright, they're fun, and they enjoy talking about writing! The WorldCon programme looks excellent but I'd honestly swap just about every session in it for a chance to have a coffee with the writers I've met on various social networking sites.

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Saturday, September 04, 2010

Kim Stanley Robinson still betting on utopia

Acclaimed science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson has told the 68th World Science Fiction Convention in Melbourne that he is still optimistic about the world's future.

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My Medusa ((Tag: worldcon, nightmare ball,

This is part of my prize from Nightmare Ball. I have no idea how i'm going to get her back to Brisbane!

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Audio: ebooks and the publishing industry panel

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ebookspanel.MP3 (17957 KB)

Here's some audio of this morning's 'Did the future just arrive? The ebook and the publishing industry' panel, featuring Cory Doctorow, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Kate Eltham and Alisa Krasnostein.

(My visit to AussieCon 4 has received financial assistance from the Queensland Government, via Arts Queensland)

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Audio: Kim Stanley Robinson Guest of Honour speech

Well worth a listen. Kim Stanley Robinson interviews himself! He talks about his childhood, the importance of fatherhood, his love of the outdoors, and hope for the future.


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KimStanleyRobinson.MP3 (22089 KB)

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Kaaron Warren interview

Kaaron Warren talks horror, labels, novels and short stories.

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KaaronWarren.mp4 (1881 KB)

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Interview with Helen Stubbs

Those at the Ditmar Awards tonight would have seen Helen Stubbs pick up her award for the AussieCon 4 short story competition.

Before WorldCon, I flicked a few questions her way, and this is what she had to say.

1. Can you tell me a bit about your award-winning story, 'The Perforation'?

Sure. Suburbs and cities are disappearing, leaving black-walled craters behind. Karen loses her dad to one, and she goes in after him. I won't spoil the rest. 

The story was inspired purely by the required phrase 'make ready.' I Googled it and found it was part of the printing process. Before you print you have to proof, so that got me thinking about the many meanings of proofing. In the story they 'proof' against the Perforation. I also had to use an Australian town or geographical feature, but that was easy. I love speculating possible Australias.

2. How long have you been writing?

Always! I've been working on novels for 10 years. I've had mentors (Louise Cusack and Sue Pearson) and a writing group (Prana Writers) for the past two years and I've learned a lot in that time.

3. What do you think makes a good short story? What do you like to see in a short story and what are you aiming for?

A good short story creates a believable world. I need to care about the main character, and a twist at the end is important. I like upbeat stories that take me to another reality, or let me live an unusual experience. I want to finish it and think, 'I need to read that again.' In my stories I squeeze in as much plot as possible. It's a challenge to create textural depth with minimal words. I want to leave my audience wondering about aspects of the story, while thinking, 'Wow.'

4. What are you most looking forward to at WorldCon?

The whole physical manifestation of the Great Stream of Creative Energy. In other words, meeting other writers and fans, getting writing tips and developing new ideas.

(This project received funding from the Queensland Government via Arts Queensland)

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Interview with Trent Jamieson

I had a quick chat with Trent Jamieson, author of Death Most Definite.

You can check it out at HorrorScope.

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Interview: Rowena Cory Daniells

A short interview with Rowena Cory Daniells...

1. I wanted to ask you about the work ethic/work demands on fantasy writers. When I interviewed Sara Douglass last year for Flycon she said that writing fantasy for a living can be like 'stepping onto a treadmill'. Can you relate? 

Well, I've been writing madly all these years since my last trilogy came out so I have books up my sleeve in final draft stage. I can see what she means though, because the books are so long and the readers devour them. There has to be joy in writing. I find I just disappear into the stories and resent it when I have to stop and do the cooking or the shopping.

2. When I spoke to you at Trent Jamieson's book launch recently, you told me about your latest series King Rolen's Kin. I note that the books (you said 120-140k each?) are coming out just a month apart (with the third due out this month). Is this a new trend in publishing, and what impact does it have on you as a writer? 

I  like books coming out a month apart. Like many other readers, I hate waiting for the rest of the trilogy. From the writer's point of view it means completing the trilogy before publication, which in some ways is good because you can go back and tweak things in books one and two to foreshadow things in book three. (I'm the sort of person who writes on the fly. I don't know the intricacies of the plot, I only have a general idea of where it will go and the characters constantly surprise me). So I like the control of completing a trilogy before publication.

3. I guess whether books are released a year apart or a month apart, the writer still has to deliver the three books they are contracted to produce – but did you approach this trilogy differently to previous series? 

My first trilogy was sold on the strength of the first book, and I had the second book in draft form. Before I could hand in book two, I had to complete book three so that I could slide clues and foreshadowing into it. That was a mad scramble and I decided then that I would much rather write the whole trilogy before selling. So I'm glad Solaris are doing it this way.


4. You're on a panel about 'pitching the novel' (Saturday 1200, Room 203). Do you think that speculative fiction writers (particularly fantasy writers) really need to think about writing a series of books rather than just one-offs? 

So much work goes into building a fantasy world and one book is not enough to explore it, so I would much rather write series. There is no reason why the writer can't write self contained books within that world, as well as trilogies. And from the publisher's point of view they want series because the author and the series develop a following.

5. What's the most common mistake inexperienced writers make when pitching their novel?  

They get lost in the story. They know the story inside out with all the back-story as well. The editor just wants to hear the 'high concept' as they call it in the movies. It is really hard for a writer who has spent years with their head inside a book series, to distil the series down to the high concept. You have to be able to say -- It's a book about X who wants X but can't get it because of X. Despite it sounding easy, it is really hard to do.

6. You're also on a panel about writing for games. What's the key for writers looking to move into this growing area? 

I wish I could say it was a growing area. It is in some ways, but the GFC hit the games industry hard. Many of the large companies collapsed. The traditional games are still being made, but these take years to develop with created worlds and back story. A market has opened up for small games that came be played on facebook and iphones and indie companies have taken these on because you don't need the huge team and years of development. If you want to write for games you need to play games and play the games made by the company you want to write for. Plus you need to do some research into screen writing because that is closer to the kind of writing that's needed in games, rather than the traditional book writing.

Take a look at this video:


7. Would you like to see any of your books/series turned into a game and, if so, which one? 

King Rolen's Kin would work well as a traditional game, lots of battles and quests. 

8. If you could go back 10 years, is there anything writing-wise you'd do differently? 

Arrgh! What a loaded question. There are career decisions I made which impacted negatively on me, but I made them with the knowledge I had at the time. The most important thing would be find an agent who is simpatico with what you write so that they keep in touch with what the publishers are looking for in your genre. The next would be believe in yourself. It has been a long time between trilogies for me, but I kept writing and writing and writing...


9. What's your tip for making the most of AussieCon 4?

You can plan all you like but it is the things you discover by accident, the people and the panels, that are often the high point of the convention! 

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In pictures: the Nightmare Ball

My photos from the Australian Horror Writers Association's Nightmare Ball, at AussieCon 4.

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My photos from the Australian Horror Writers Association's Nightmare Ball, at AussieCon 4.

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Friday, September 03, 2010

Nightmare ball

Yeah, decided not to get dressed up in the end.

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Angela Slatter interview

Angela Slatter, who launched The Girl With No Hands today, talks about the importance of short stories and the small press.

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Sound clip 07.mp4 (1335 KB)

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Unedited audio from my ebooks interview with Tim Holman, publisher with Orbit in the US and the UK.

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timholman_edit.mp3 (12942 KB)

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The story behind Switzerland's first sf movie

If you're going to see the When ET Has a Chainsaw panel (Friday 1700, Room 212) and then Cargo tonight (Friday 2100, Room 210), you might like to check out this week's Movie Minutiae, over at The Buzz.

Director Ivan Engler told me all about the challenges of making Switzerland's first science fiction movie.

Cargo took eight years in the making, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Most of my fellow filmmakers know about the ordeal I went through, and everybody is not only impressed, but also quite scared when they hear about the sacrifices.”

Read more at The Buzz.

(My trip to AussieCon 4 has received financial assistance from the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland)

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Interview: Marianne de Pierres

Here's a quick interview with Marianne de Pierres (aka Marianne Delacourt)...

1. I see that you've got a packed schedule for WorldCon. Which panel are you most looking forward to being on, and which other panel/event are you looking forward to seeing?

Has Hollywood Sucked Vampires Dry? (Sunday 1300, Room 213) should be a lot of fun, but all of the panels are interesting. Who the other panelists are often determines how much you enjoy a topic, and all my fellow panellists for WorldCon are fabulous.

2. This is my first con since 2006, and first WorldCon ever. As a con veteran, do you have any advice for newbies such as myself?

Check back to the bar frequently, most real friendships are made there and the Dealer’s Room. Don’t expect to sleep much, and beware of a Cat Sparks room party – you may emerge changed forever.

3. I note that one of your panels is on jumping genres. You made your name with science fiction but you're having a lot of fun as Marianne Delacourt. How hard was it to make the jump from one to the other?

Ahem … I prefer the word “switching”, jumping connotes sinking ships! My reading tastes are eclectic and that often drives my writing muse. It’s always hard to break into a genre, a new voice can take a long time to build an audience. However, I don’t dwell on that too much, I’m writing books that I’m enjoying, that’s the bottom line.

4. What's the deal with writing under a different name? Is it so that the reader has a clear expectation when they buy a 'Marianne de Pierres' book or a 'Marianne Delacourt' book?

Yes. I’ve published seven SF novels and I didn’t want my SF readership confused. It’s a different style and tone and I think it’s only fair to signal that clearly.

5. Does Delacourt have her own back story, as Richard Bachman did?

Only in that she’s has a much more optimistic, lighter view on life. She deals with the murky stuff with humour.

6. You've also got a YA novel coming out next year. How challenging was it to jump into YA writing?

I guess only time will tell how the readers respond, but it is a very ‘personal’ piece. It is everything scary, sensual, mysterious, romantic, and adventurous that I ever wanted to read as a teen. I’m satisfied that I’ve written something very true to my original vision.

7. And is there potential for extra stress on the writer, when you have to keep two series going, instead of just one! (Admittedly, it would be a great quandary to be in!)

There are stresses when deadlines overlap, but for the most part its stimulating to have different stories to work on. I hate the feeling of being bogged down in one world, with one set of characters only. That’s when you can get a little crazy and want to kill them all off!

8. Is there one piece of wisdom you wish you'd had when you first set your sights on becoming a published writer?

I have a couple of succinct pieces of advice and you can read them here:

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Charlie Stross on ebooks

If you're interested in ebooks, you should hear what Charlie Stross has to say about them. He's been reading ebooks since the late 90s!

(Note: I know that's very vague. Ideally I'd put some dot points of the key areas covered. I'm writing an article for ABC News Online but I thought in the meantime people might like to have a listen)
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stross-ebooks-edit.mp3 (7894 KB)

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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Interview with Patrick Nielsen Hayden

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PNH-ebooks.MP3 (7816 KB)

Ahead of the ebooks panel discussion at AussieCon 4 on Saturday (1300, P3) I had a quick chat with Patrick Nielsen Hayden. I'm writing an article for ABC News Online but, in the meantime, here's (most of) the audio.

This project has received financial assistance from the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.

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View from hotel room

The steel horse that's taking me to melbourne