I was doing a bit of a clean up in my study this weekend and made a couple of hilarious archaeological discoveries. Here’s the first.
Context: I have none. I don’t even remember writing it. I must have been about 11 or 12. I remember discovering Alfred Noyes’ poem The Highwayman around that time, so that’s a possible source of inspiration.
(I think she’s kneeling, not pregnant, in that last pic.)
I’m officially on my Christmas holidays as of now. Not being religious, for me this holiday is all about spending time with family, taking stock of the old year and looking forward to the new and taking a break from my day job. It is, however, a time of year when I traditionally do a heap of writing, so wish me well on that, won’t you?
Whether you’re somewhere cold or somewhere warm (like me), and however you celebrate the end of the old year and the beginning of the new, I wish you a safe, happy and relaxing break, and I hope you get to spend it with people you love.
I’ve had so much going on lately, I feel like I’ve barely had time to stop and breathe (or write a blog post).
First there was the Read3r’z Re-Vu read through of the proof of The Beast’s Heart, which was WONDERFUL.I could not have wished for a lovelier, more thoughtful, more enthusiastic bunch of first readers. They had so many good questions and so many astute observations and their responses left me in tears of joy on more than one occasion. You can see their individual reviews up on Goodreads (more tears of joy), and I’ll post a link to the review they post on the Read3r’z Re-Vu website when it goes up. But I have to say, this was a favourite moment:
I went to Genrecon in Brisbane a couple of weeks ago. That was just fantastic. Highly recommended.
I wrote an article for Hodderscape giving y’all an opportunity to snoop around my writing space.
I have been conspiring with my good mate Shauna O’Meara (who is responsible for the amazing playing card art for A Hand of Knaves) on a new Secret Project involving roses. It has been amusing to find she shares my “get it right” OCD in respect of historical details, to the point where she went to great lengths yesterday to find samples of rose breeds that would have been around in the 17th Century (there is a hint as to the nature of the Secret Project, right there.) Here’s a snippet of our conversation while she communed rapturously with nature…
This has been an exciting few days! Hachette Australia HQ held their book bloggers night last Thursday, and this lil old thing got given out, leading to a small social media flurry on my part as people tweeted & instagrammed pics of their copies. I am telling you as a total rookie debut author, I don’t think this will ever get old.
But here’s the exciting part: a group of book bloggers and reviewers from Sydney blog Read3r’z Re-Vu will be doing a read along of their proof copies of The Beast’s Heart from Sunday evening through Monday, and they’ve asked me to join them! Basically, I get to peek over their shoulders and watch their reactions (via whatsapp) as they read it!
Am I looking forward to it? Am I what!
In return, I’ll be giving them some exclusive insights into writing the story plus a bonus playlist of songs I listened to while writing it.
On top of that, the submission window for A Hand of Knaves closed on Thursday at midnight. So now I have a fat folder sitting in my inbox of short story submissions ready to read. Really looking forward to seeing what’s waiting for me there.
Plus there’s a few other bits & pieces to be getting on with, like a wrap-up of last weekend’s Genrecon and a new article for Hodderscape, not to mention I’ll be starting a new job on Monday. So it’s not like I’m going to be at a loose end over the next few days…
I have been a bit quiet over here of late (busy busy), so today I’m posting a treat by proxy. Hodderscape has just published an article of mine that makes my heart sing for reasons that have nothing to do with my own words, and everything to do with the exquisite fairy tale artwork I got to share – including, by way of example, Lorena Carrington’s exquisite cover for this lovely book of fairy tales by Kate Forsyth (which I have pre-ordered for its release next month). The article also features artworks from Kathleen Jennings and sculptures from Spike Deane
If you are a writer, you have probably at some stage of heard of something referred to as ‘the iceberg principle’. It’s pretty simple really. The premise is based on the idea that 90% of the iceberg lies invisible, under the water, with only 10% visible above the surface. This is a metaphor for what you know about your story, world and characters, vs what actually makes it onto the page for your reader to see.
Just by way of example, here’s a sentence from one of my WIPs:
If she had been at home, she most likely would have been abed with a hot brick and one of her housekeeper’s restorative tisanes.
That might have taken you all of two seconds to read. And it probably took me a couple of minutes to craft the actual words that went into it. But that sentence also represents at least 45 minutes worth of internet research on:
18th Century remedies for period pain
Lydia E Pinkham
Liquorice root, including where it grows and what its medicinal properties are
the medicinal properties of Dandelion root
Which is basically just my way of reassuring myself that it’s OK to have only produced 200 words after getting up at 5.30 am and writing for 1.5 hours before the family gets up and we all have to get ready for work/school/etc. And also goes some way to illustrating why it takes so damn long to write a bloody novel.
And now I have had that stupid Lily the Pink song stuck in my head all day. Yeah. You’re welcome.
Conflux 13 is over & it was amazing. I feel like I’ve been operating on overdrive for a week now. Where should I start? OK, highlights.
1. Meeting Ellen Datlow. Idol from my youth. Giant of the fantasy & horror genres. Hard not to spend the weekend in a total fangirl tailspin.
2. The panels. What’s not to like about spending the weekend talking with like-minded and fascinating people like Angela Slatter, Kirstyn McDermott and Aiki Flintheart about things like Fairy Tales With Teeth and Claws, Beastly Transformations, Magic Schools and Deadly Dance?
Kirstyn McDermott & Jason Nahrung on Fairy Tales With Teeth & Claws, courtesy of Cat Sparks
Liz Grzyb interviewing Angela Slatter, courtesy of Cat Sparks
Kaaron Warren interviewing Ellen Datlow, courtesy of Cat Sparks
The Magic School panel: Lyss Wickramasinghe, Angela Slatter, me, Dion Perry
3. Winning second prize in the CSFG/Conflux short story comp for my story Flawless! (Which I’ve now been invited to read at the next meeting of the Canberra Fairy Tale Ring. as it fits neatly with the AFTS November theme of Snow White.)
4. Interviewing Zena Shapter for the launch of her new novel, Towards White, out from IFWG Publishing.
5. Drinking creme de violette bellinis and planning a live-tweeted rewatch of The Lady and the Highwayman and perhaps also A Hazard of Hearts (both movies based on Barbara Cartland novels made in the 1980s).
6. Discovering who was the mysterious origami master leaving perfect tiny dragons and unicorns all over the con.
7. Watching our guests of honour Ellen & Angela, & MC Kaaron opening their thank you goody bags to reveal a beautiful cast glass key by Canberra Fairy Tale Glass artist Spike Deane. I’m given to understand they were well received.
8. And last, but definitely not least – because this is what it’s all about when it comes down to it – is spending time with beloved friends and kindred spirits, both new and old, talking about writing, publishing, reading, movies, games, art, history, research, language and anything else that moves us and connects us and makes us part of the same tribe.
Ellen Datlow & Angela Slatter
Louise Pieper, Ellen Datlow, Kaaron Warren
Me, with Zena Shapter & Tim Napper in the background
Alan Baxter & Sam Hawke
Spike Deane of the magical keys
Tim Napper & Kylie Seluka
(All photos, except the first four, by Cat Sparks.)