Archive for January, 2010

Some more internet mentions this week, which is exciting! Danielle over at Reading Watching Living conducted this wonderful interview, while Katie over at Sophistikatied Reviews has done me the honour of a Waiting on Wednesday post prior to the appearance of the guest blog I’ve written for her, so watch this space!

I have also – and the sheer thought of it fills me with a gleeful, tingling sensation – come face to face with my first ever book review, courtesy of Kate O’Donnell. Alas, there is no specific link to which I can direct you, as it was with Bookseller and Publisher magazine – a hardcopy publication, despite their website – who also interviewed me in the same edition. I can’t give you the whole review, but I can say that Solace & Grief was described as “a clever and funny supernatural romp, with a chilling underside to it…a smart and appealing read for the ‘Vampire Academy’ crowd.”

Which, you know. GLEE!

OMG, people – my first ever author interview is now online, courtesy of the most excellent Steph Bowe! You will find it here, along with the details of my book launch, so if anyone out there is going to be loitering in Melbourne on February 20, please drop by and say hello. There will be nibbles and fun and quite a lot of exuberant geekness on my part, or possibly just some split-the-jaw grinning, but it’s also the day before my birthday, so even if you aren’t interested in procuring yourself a copy of Solace & Grief, your salutations and raisings of the glass will be more than welcome. Although if you did want to buy yourself a copy, it would sort of be a like a birthday present to me, only you get the actual present! Everybody wins!

Note: The following started life as a Facebook comment, in response to this article by Susan Hill on the benefits of reading established writers over amateurs.

Beneath the ire and invective, I think there were two main points in that article, and that, while individually interesting, they contradict each other in confluence.

Hill says, “If someone writes a marvellous short story I don’t care where they come from,” and that people who have done so should be lauded. By contrast, she despises those who are elevated “just because they have put one word in front of another, or because they’re asylum seekers.” That’s not an entirely unreasonable statement, I feel: the idea that positive discrimination should not extend to the fields of creative endeavour. Rather, everyone should start from an equal footing.

But Hill begins her rant by complaining about the idea of having her name taken off a piece of writing. Sarcastically, she laments of the idea that “names…are invidious. They might indicate to people that the story was worth reading.” Which, for me, given the fairly obvious fact that not everything a person ever writes is brilliant – even a professional writer, even a genius – this entirely negates the idea that she’s after a level playing field. It’s not enough that her story be good, or that it be displayed alongside other good works; we must know they are hers – and that her works have a pedigree, in the form of her previous publications – as distinct from the work of the unfamous.

If the insult of anonymity comes from having good works (hers and those of established writers) displayed alongside bad (the efforts of token, unvetted enthusiasts), she has no reason to be fearful that some ignorant member of the vox populi might express preference for the latter kind, simply because of a lack of nomenclature to guide them, because the whole burden of her argument is that this cannot actually happen. She has worked hard; her work is therefore better, and reasonable people should know this to be so. Nonetheless, this is the fear that comes across – and if you consider the idea, which Hill clearly hasn’t, that the token, unfamously authored works might have been chosen as much for their quality as because their authors were asylum seekers, then this fear, expressed through the removal of her name, completely undermines any claim that she would approve of any short story that was good, regardless of where the author came from.

Because if the origins of the author don’t matter, then why should their title? Hill simply wants us to know how successful she’s been, and takes umbrage at the notion that a chance might be taken – gasp! – on some unproven newcomer whose works aren’t necessarily up to her own calibre. Yes, names are an individual guide to what is worth reading, but only subjectively: we return to authors we like, but not everyone likes the same thing. Take away the names for an instant, however, and we are forced to contemplate flying blind. If, walking through that exhibit – assuming Hill had submitted – a fan of hers was forced to try and distinguish her contribution from those of a dozen anonymous others, and confess afterwards that though they liked six pieces, they couldn’t say for certain that one in particular was hers, then I’d call that a valuable exercise. Perhaps – and this, for Hill, seems the most dangerous thought – perhaps, without that signifying name, she might not even make the fan’s list in the first place.

As Hill herself points out, “you cannot get a single reader if no reader chooses you” – but choice can be made on grounds other than a name. The arts world is nepotistic, by its nature – that won’t ever really change. But if, for a day, we can pretend otherwise by letting someone whose name we don’t know stand alongside the greats – allowing other people to judge, name-free, whether they could potentially belong there – then that really is an example of democracy in writing.

Bottom line: Hill believes in the potential talent of new writers. She just wants to have heard of them – and for them to have heard of her – first.

There are two, basically.

1. We just got back from the UK last week, and although I’m not jetlagged, I’d like to plead Temporal Disorientation While Having To Find A House And A Job And Get All Our Stuff Out Of Storage.

2. Books. Specifically, my books. Behold!

So shiny...

Squee!

So, it seems that 2010 – the dawn of a new decade which may or may not be called the tens, teens, tweens or tweenies – is finally upon us. Huzzah! This was the first New Year’s Eve I’ve ever spent overseas, and the only one where it’s been cold. Toby and I put forward a few suggestions as to how we might celebrate, but in the end, a 24-hour virus/flu on his behalf saw us stay in by ourselves and have a pleasant, if very quiet, evening of geekery. I bought us a box of Indian food from Sainsbury’s, which actually wasn’t bad, and courtesy of our hosts – or, more specifically, their DVD collection – we watched Stigmata, which was very 90s, but not unenjoyable, paused to have a discussion about the apocryphal Gospel of St Thomas, and then watched The Lawnmower Man, which was sort of hilarious, but which made up for it by featuring a young, sometimes shirtless Pierce Brosnan wearing hot glasses and an a gold earring as the Rogue Scientist. Then we caught up with a bit of the classic Doctor Who we’ve been watching recently – Tom Baker in Pyramids of Mars – and went to sleep. Also, I may have done some writing.

Speaking of which: the first draft of the Ambush Novel is now complete. There’s one more scene I want to add in, a made-up word I want to change and a conversation to be fixed, but these are all little things, and otherwise, I’m extremely happy with the results. So if nothing else, I’ve managed to achieve my crazy goal of finishing it before we returned to Australia. Yay!

Finally, re my predictions for the second part of Doctor Who: The End of Time, I was right about some things, and wrong about others. I’m happy with that. It was, by and large, a good episode, although in all honesty, I’m keen to move on from the schmaltz of Russell T. Davies and see what Stephen Moffat can achieve – especially given that he’s been responsible for all my favourite episodes.

Rock on 2010!