On Feb 12 The Beast’s Heart gets its US release, and I’m officially counting down the hours, now.
I’ve got plenty of time to do it, too, because I’ve just kicked off two whole months’ leave from my day job, in which I’m going to do my level best to get the next WIP as close to done as I can. This will also mean I’ll have loads of time for all the little bits of PR stuff that comes with a book release without the inconvenience of having to put on pants and turn up at an office in a state that makes it worth their while to pay me. So: yay for purchased leave! I will be doing all of this in my pyjamas.
Well it’s farewell to the old year as we usher in the new. And if you’re reading this, I wish you happiness and love and peace and all things sweet and good for 2018.
There were many, many things that were pretty shit about 2017. But here are a few things that made me happy this year.
I signed the contract with Hodder & Stoughton to publish my very first novel, The Beast’s Heart. I’ve definitely raved on enough about this, so suffice to say everything about this particular journey has been awesome.
I won an Aurealis Award for my story Pretty Jennie Greenteeth. Frankly, the nomination alone would have made it to second place on this list. I did not expect to win, so again: off the scale awesome.
I got to meet one of my heroes of the publishing world, Ellen Datlow. *swoon*
Finally, FINALLY, Australia legislated to legalise same-sex marriage. I remain strongly critical of what it took to get there, but there is no question the end result in itself remains a good, sweet thing.
I was part of the creative production team on TWO writing festivals/conventions, and attended a further three.
I got to go to Dark MOFO in Hobart. A. May. Zing. I never knew there were so many delicious varieties of hot alcohol. And the art. Holy fuck. It blew my tiny mind.
Those are the high points. There are a million other things that made me happy over the last 12 months, including that my family are happy and healthy and here with me and this remains a state of awesome that underlies every other awesome thing in my life. I’m lucky to be surrounded by amazing people in my personal and professional life. And I’ve read some fantastic books (many of which were written by friends) and eaten some spectacular food this year (I don’t want to understate the pleasure eating delicious things brings me, or the gratitude I feel that I’m in a position to do so.)
I’ve got a few plans for 2018… But for now, I hope you have a fab time seeing off the old year, and that 2018 brings you all kinds of wonderful.
So here’s what I’ve been counting down to. *silly grin*
I am beyond excited to announce that on 31 May 2018 my first novel, The Beast’s Heart, will be published by Hodder & Stoughton in the UK. (If you click on the image above, it will take you to the announcement on the Hodderscape website.) Here’s a little snippet of what they say about it to whet your appetite:
Set in seventeenth-century France, it is a luxuriously magical retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale – from the point of view of the Beast. Both the writing and story-telling are lush and evocative, rich and achingly exquisite; this novel is the epitome of psychological depth and descriptive beauty.
The Beast’s Heart (formerly known as Novel Project #1) was my way of immersing myself in one of my favourite fairy tales, and in my very own fairy-tale-come-true was picked up by Hodder & Stoughton out of the open submissions process they (bravely) ran in 2015. (Bravely: they got 1445 submissions! That is a LOT of reading!)
There is a bit of celebrating going on in my house tonight.
The very glamorous Lyn Battersby, one of the YA fiction judges
Russell and Liz of Ticonderoga Publishing
Sean and Terri
Alan and Durand
Michael, Davina, Traci and Roxy
Tehani, Sam & Terri
Other fave moments from the evening included getting to see Sam Murray pick up her Aurealis for Best Science Fiction Short Story; watching Sam deliver Tim Napper’s speech for his win for Best Horror Short Story; and having the honour of accepting Kaaron Warren’s award on her behalf for Best Horror Novel. (If you’re interested, the #fauxcon hashtag chronicles my Canberra crowd’s celebration of the evening from back home. Made me wish I could be in two places at once.) All the winners are up on the Aurealis website.
And here’s a few pics from the day I spent at Swancon in Perth (again, thank you Cat Sparks!). I caught a GOH talk with Traci Harding, attended *two* book launches, a panel debating various thorny issues that arise in SFF fandom and I got a short excursion to a local bookstore to catch sight of Cat’s new novel Lotus Blue in the wild. Plus I spent some serious quality time with my tribe in the restaurant and the bar.
Alan & I in the bar (Cat Sparks)
Traci & I at the launch of Ticonderoga’s 2015 Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror (Cat Sparks)
Alex in the bar (Cat Sparks)
Cat signing books in the wild
Alan & Cat at the launch of Ticonderoga’s 2015 Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror
Corinne looking a little bloody (Cat Sparks)
Dinner on Saturday night
Liz & Tehani (Cat Sparks)
Nicho & Durand (Cat Sparks)
Dinner on Saturday – crazy alien tree
Slightly licked Ticonderoga launch cupcake
Lotus Blue launch (Cat Sparks)
Sean chilling in the hotel restaurant (Cat Sparks)
Stephen & Anthony reading at the Ticonderoga launch
I rounded it all out with a delicious dinner with friends under a spectacular, purple, fairy-lit tree. As always, the very best thing about going to a con was the people. *sniff* I love youse all.
That Aurealis Award I was nominated for a little while ago…
Well, the Aurealis Awards ceremony was last night, and…
I still can’t quite believe it.
I was happy just to be nominated. Seriously, to have my work rated as being on a par with the likes of Lisa L Hannet and Tansy Rayner Roberts, not to mention my very good friend, the extraordinarily talented Shauna O’Meara, counts as achieving one of my big writing goals, right there. My cheeks still hurt from smiling 24 hours later.
I’m not sure how coherent I was in accepting the award, so I’ll repeat all the eloquent thank-yous I wish I’d made here.
Firstly, thank you to Belladonna Publishing for picking up Pretty Jennie Greenteeth and bringing my strange little story out into the world.
Thank you to the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild for being the most amazing writing community ever and for offering generous and incisive feedback and critique on this story (and many others). It was especially exciting to share the shortlist with so many other CSFG members.
Thank you to my beautiful family for all the encouragement and giving me the space and time to write.
A big thank you to the tireless Aurealis judges for their commitment and energy in the face of a task of massive proportions.
And, finally, huge congratulations to all the 2016 Aurealis Awards nominees and winners, especially (again) CSFG members Tim Napper and Kaaron Warren, who won Best Horror Short Story (The Flame Trees) and Best Horror Novel (The Grief Hole) respectively. I have so many good friends among this list of excruciatingly talented authors, I’m still amazed to number myself among you, let alone have come home with an award.
My creepy, nasty, strange little story Pretty Jennie Greenteeth from Belladonna Publishing’s Strange Little Girls has been nominated in the YA category!
And because these things are always better shared, I’ve got so many good friends on the short list with me, I’m hard put to count them all. So particular congrats to Shauna O’Meara, Dave Versace, Ian McHugh, Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Kaaron Warren, Tim Napper, Tehani Wessely, Thoraiya Dyer, Simon Petrie, Angela Slatter, Alan Baxter, Sam Murray and Lisa Hannett – and everyone else on the list!
Being a very visual person, a fun thing I’ve liked to do since I discovered it a few years ago is checkout Pantone’s colour of the year. Interestingly, for 2016, for the first time ever, they announced TWO colours for the year: Serenity and Rose Quartz. (Side note: naming paint colours is a job I’ve always coveted.) This colour pairing was supposed to express something about the need for harmony in chaos. And it was very pretty in a sort of a kittens and candy-floss kind of way.
The irony, of course, is that on many levels 2016 was not a kittens-and-candy-floss kind of year and I’m not sure that as a global society we really embraced that whole harmony thing. But, in the spirit of aspiring to Serenity and viewing the world through Rose Quartz-tinted glasses, here is my writing achievements round up for 2016.
Just like 2015, I elected to focus on novel projects. I find that what with working a day job and spending time with my lovable and hilarious family, I have to be a bit strategic about how I spend my writing time. So I didn’t do much on the short story front. Here’s what I did do:
Wrote two new short stories (and started another, um, eight or so and had ideas for a few more…)
Sold 2! (One old, one new.) Both to markets I’m very happy with.
Got Novel Project #4 to just over 107,000 words. I wanted to finish it and didn’t, which is annoying, but I’m almost there. Early feedback on the first chunk has been really encouraging, and I’m reasonably confident of wrapping up the first draft soon.
Had some exciting things happen in relation to Novel Project #1, which are still a bit secret. But I’m looking forward to talking more about those in 2017.
Got into the 2016 ACT Writers Centre HARDCOPY professional development program, which was affirming and valuable and through which I’ve met a bunch more talented and extraordinarily lovely writers.
Was part of the team for Conflux 12 & pulled off a wonderful con.
Finish the damn first draft of NP#4 and get it out to my very patient beta readers.
Probably do a bit more work on NP#1
Have a little rest from novel projects and write/finish/polish up/send out some short stories
Give in to the lure of the long-form story and start planning out NPs #3 and 5
Get my bloody passport in order and get myself to Europe for a bit of research.
And what’s the colour for 2017?
A “tangy yellow-green” called Greenery. The comment from Pantone is all about vitality and the desire to rejuvenate.
Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the hope we collectively yearn for amid a complex social and political landscape. Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate, revitalize and unite, Greenery symbolizes the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose.
Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute
I’m a big fan of green and, you know, nature stuff. But the cynical part of me can think of a few other associations for green in today’s “complex social and political landscape”, which are less kittens-and-candy-floss and more poisoned apple. Which is to say, I actually think green is a very fitting choice for 2017.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if 2017 did turn out to be all about rejuvenation and new growth and a renewed focus on environmental sustainability? And shared prosperity is actually pretty good too, so let’s have some of that.
Here’s to 2017. I hope all your good dreams come true, and we kill off a few of the nightmares.