2015 versus 2016

Well, 2015 certainly kicked my writing backside. I started off the year well, but a combination of work and family commitments conspired to drop my writing productivity to almost zero by the time we reached December.

This website was a victim of my malaise – I haven’t written an article for a few months now. It has been a combination of a lack of time and not feeling like I’ve had much to say. A poor excuse, granted.

On the writing front, I only published one short story in 2015, Authentic Empathy which was published in the special 200th edition of AntipodeanSF earlier in the year. It was a great privilege to be selected for the magazine (and if you’re interested in looking at the story, check out my bibliography). The rest of the year I spent skipping between a few longer works, including refining the draft of my urban science fantasy novel (Unaligned), and building out a fantasy long story into a novella length work. Both require a lot more work, but it was good to make some progress.

I also wrote the start of a science fiction novel (about 10,000 words) as well as a couple of chapters of a middle grade novel, as well as the opening scenes for the sequel to Unaligned. From this you can probably tell that I’ve spread myself a bit thin over too many projects, rather than finishing a smaller number. There is probably a lesson in that.

I also accumulated a backlog of reviews I haven’t written, especially for the Australian Women Writers’ Reading Challenge.  I reviewed 4 books (reviews can be found here) by Australian women authors and read another 3, but didn’t hit my goal of ten in total. This certainly reflected my much reduced reading for the year, but I’m disappointed nonetheless.

On the podcast front, I contributed exactly nothing to the GalacticChat podcast this year. Stupidly, I should have thought about setting up some interviews when I was at GenreCon in Brisbane – fellow podcaster Helen Stubbs and I both attended and there was such a wide variety of authors and other interesting industry types, good interviews couldn’t have helped but follow. Ah well, lesson learnt for next time.

So, what is in store for 2016? GenreCon in November and a few weeks off work over Christmas has renewed my appetite for writing, which has been great. I’ve been transcribing a lot of my longhand writing from the year onto the computer over the last few weeks which has been surprisingly validating (I wrote more words last year than I thought!). I’d like to get the first draft of Unaligned into fighting shape and finish off the fantasy novella. I seem to do better at writing first drafts than the editing process, so I will punctuate the editing with working on a couple of short story ideas (I think having some short stories published does help me keep a sense of momentum).

For this website, I’ve decided to work towards publishing one article each Sunday night, to create some sense of regularity. I will publish any news about publishing of my work separately, so the Sunday night article will be either a review, a general musing or something that has caught my attention. This probably means finding some kind of project to help create content – I’ll add that to my to-do list.

Hopefully this will also mean that my reviewing for the Australian Women Writers’ Reading Challenge will be a little more prompt!

I’ve been contributing to AntipodeanSF behind the scenes, producing the eBook versions of the magazines each month. I’ll continue doing that, and will look at how I might improve my contributions in the podcasting space, depending on what happens with Galactic Chat.

That should be enough to keep me going.

Given my long absence from this website, I doubt I have any readers left, but if there are any of you out there, what are your 2016 writing resolutions?

Ditmars preliminary ballot – Galactic Chat!

The preliminary ballot for the Ditmars (Australian SF awards – a voted award not jury picked) has come out and I’m very pleased to say that Galactic Chat has been nominated for the Best Fan Publication in Any Medium category.

For new readers of the blog, I am a minor contributor to the Galactic Chat podcast, which aims to interview the people that make up the Australian speculative fiction scene. The podcast is led by Sean Wright (who is also nominated for a bunch of other stuff around his fan writing), and also includes contributions from Helen Stubbs, David McDonald, Alexandra Pierce and Sarah Parker.

In 2014 I conducted two interviews. The first was with Ion Newcombe, the publisher of AntipodeanSF (which recently published its 200th issue) and the second was with agent extraordinaire Alex Adsett. I am very proud of both interviews – it was great to speak with such fascinating people and I’d like to take the chance once again to thank them both for subjecting themselves to my incessant questioning!

The full Ditmar ballot can be found here, and I’ve reproduced the list below (accurate as at 14/2/2014) with links to the embarrassingly few nominated books that I’ve reviewed on this site. I’d like to give a particular shout out to Sean Wright for his well deserved nominations, fellow podcaster Helen Stubbs for her Best New Talent nomination and other fellow podcaster Alex Pierce for her many nominations!

I should also note that I was interviewed for the 2014 Snapshot, which is a very deserving entry in the Best Fan Publication in any Medium category.

Best Novel

  • The Lascar’s Dagger, Glenda Larke (Hachette)
  • Bound (Alex Caine 1), Alan Baxter (Voyager)
  • Clariel, Garth Nix (HarperCollins)
  • Thief’s Magic (Millennium’s Rule 1), Trudi Canavan (Hachette Australia)
  • The Godless (Children 1), Ben Peek (Tor UK)

Best Novella or Novelette

  • “The Ghost of Hephaestus”, Charlotte Nash, in Phantazein (FableCroft Publishing)
  • “The Legend Trap”, Sean Williams, in Kaleidoscope (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “The Darkness in Clara”, Alan Baxter, in SQ Mag 14 (IFWG Publishing Australia)
  • “St Dymphna’s School for Poison Girls”, Angela Slatter, in Review of Australian Fiction, Volume 9, Issue 3 (Review of Australian Fiction)
  • “The Female Factory”, Lisa L. Hannett and Angela Slatter, in The Female Factory (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “Escapement”, Stephanie Gunn, in Kisses by Clockwork (Ticonderoga Publications)

Best Short Story

  • “Bahamut”, Thoraiya Dyer, in Phantazein (FableCroft Publishing)
  • “Vanilla”, Dirk Flinthart, in Kaleidoscope (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “Cookie Cutter Superhero”, Tansy Rayner Roberts, in Kaleidoscope (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “The Seventh Relic”, Cat Sparks, in Phantazein (FableCroft Publishing)
  • “Signature”, Faith Mudge, in Kaleidoscope (Twelfth Planet Press)

Best Collected Work

  • Kaleidoscope, Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2013, Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Phantazein, Tehani Wessely (FableCroft Publishing)

Best Artwork

  • Illustrations, Kathleen Jennings, in Black-Winged Angels (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Cover art, Kathleen Jennings, of Phantazein (FableCroft Publishing)
  • Illustrations, Kathleen Jennings, in The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings (Tartarus Press)

Best Fan Writer

  • Tansy Rayner Roberts, for body of work
  • Tsana Dolichva, for body of work
  • Bruce Gillespie, for body of work
  • Katharine Stubbs, for body of work
  • Alexandra Pierce for body of work
  • Grant Watson, for body of work
  • Sean Wright, for body of work

Best Fan Artist

  • Nalini Haynes, for body of work, including “Interstellar Park Ranger Bond, Jaime Bond”, “Gabba and Slave Lay-off: Star Wars explains Australian politics”, “The Driver”, and “Unmasked” in Dark Matter Zine
  • Kathleen Jennings, for body of work, including Fakecon art and Illustration Friday series
  • Nick Stathopoulos, for movie poster of It Grows!

Best Fan Publication in Any Medium

  • Snapshot 2014, Tsana Dolichva, Nick Evans, Stephanie Gunn, Kathryn Linge, Elanor Matton-Johnson, David McDonald, Helen Merrick, Jason Nahrung, Ben Payne, Alex Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Helen Stubbs, Katharine Stubbs, Tehani Wessely, and Sean Wright
  • It Grows!, Nick Stathopoulos
  • Galactic Suburbia, Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Andrew Finch
  • The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond
  • Galactic Chat, Sean Wright, Helen Stubbs, David McDonald, Alexandra Pierce, Sarah Parker, and Mark Webb

Best New Talent

  • Helen Stubbs
  • Shauna O’Meara
  • Michelle Goldsmith

William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review

  • Reviews in The Angriest, Grant Watson
  • The Eddings Reread series, Tehani Wessely, Jo Anderton, and Alexandra Pierce, in A Conversational Life
  • Reviews in Adventures of a Bookonaut, Sean Wright
  • “Does Sex Make Science Fiction Soft?”, in Uncanny Magazine 1, Tansy Rayner Roberts
  • Reviews in FictionMachine, Grant Watson
  • The Reviewing New Who series, David McDonald, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Tehani Wessely

Galactic Chat interview – Alex Adsett

Long term gentle readers of the blog are aware of my dalliance with the Galactic Chat podcast, interviewing the occasional unsuspecting member of the Australian speculative fiction community before their agent tells them it is a bad idea.

Well, this fortnight I decided to skip the middle-person and went straight to interviewing an agent, on the premise that presumably she wouldn’t have anyone to warn her. “Who agents the agents?” I thought to myself. “She’ll never see it coming. It’s fool proof.”

I then may or may not have let out a maniacal cackle.

Alex Adsett, of Alex Adsett Publishing Services, was kind enough to fall into my trap come on the podcast and answer all kinds of questions relating to what’s interesting in the Australian speculative fiction scene, when an author needs an agent and some tips when considering contracts, amongst many other topics.

She was articulate, knowledgeable, engaging and passionate in her advocation for her authors. Sounds like everything someone might look for in an agent.

The interview is online now – you can find it on the Galactic Chat website under episode 55, on iTunes or wherever good podcasts are sold.

Do yourself a favour and check it out.

Galactic Chat – Ion Newcombe interview

Regular blog lurkers will know that I have been helping out with the Galactic Chat podcast, interviewing the occasional unsuspecting member of the Australian speculative fiction community when they can’t think of an excuse to get out of it quick enough.

Ion “Nuke” Newcombe is the latest victim of my interviewing technique. Nuke is the editor in chief of the Australian online magazine Antipodean SF and a long time supporter of the speculative fiction scene. Full disclosure: Nuke has published some of my flash fiction and has been both an inspiration and provided valuable support to my writing, making it doubly fun to be interviewing him.

Antipodean SF has been going since 1998, and Nuke has some fascinating insights into trends that have happened in the SF scene over that time. He also has some great insights into the world of flash fiction. Check out the show notes for more details, then get your listening ears on.

Many thanks to Nuke for not only putting up with my questions, but providing such an interesting and wide ranging set of answers!

And the winner is…

So, as regular readers of this blog know I’ve been helping out with a podcast called Galactic Chat, in which we interview people in the speculative fiction field. Usually authors and usually Australian, although not exclusive on either front.

Recently, our podcast was nominated for a Ditmar (which are the Australian national voted speculative fiction awards) in the Best Fan Publication in Any Medium category. It was a great honour to be nominated, however we were up against some absolutely fantastic competition (the likes of Galactic SuburbiaThe Writer and the Critic, The Coode St podcast – all of which are up for the internationally recognised Hugo award this year). I don’t know about the others, but I spent quite some time practicing my gracious loser face, in case the television cameras panned to me when they announced someone else won.

(What do you mean it wasn’t broadcast on national television? What about local television? You mean that was just some guy with his own video camera? Sheesh)

There were a lot of awards to give out (the Victorian Chronos Awards, the Ditmars and a few additional individual awards that defy classification), but MC’s George Ivanoff and Narelle Harris did an excellent job keeping things moving. Soon enough we got to our category, and I sat in the audience with what I hoped was a congratulatory grin on my face.

And then we won!

It was a shock, I can tell you. Sean Wright, our intrepid leader and absolute backbone of the Galactic Chat podcast, led us up on stage and before I knew it we were each being handed a trophy.

Me and my DitmarAs you can see from the photo, it is a very pretty trophy.

Sean and Alex did the talking for us on stage, but I’d like to use this post to thank my fellow interviewers (Sean Wright, Alex Pierce, Helen Stubbs and David McDonald) and in particular thank our fellow nominees – I listen to all the other podcasts and always take a huge amount of enjoyment from them and both fanzines listed have a long and distinguished history in the Australian speculative fiction scene. I’d also like to thank Jason Nahrung and Keith Stevenson, who were the very patient subjects of my newbie interview techniques during the qualifying period.

Congratulations to all the winners on the night, in particular Sean Wright who also took home the Best Fan Writer award.

And most importantly, thank you to everyone who voted for us. You know who you are.

For a full list of all nominees, you can go here. At the time of writing, a list of the full results hadn’t been published, but I shall come back and edit this post when they have.

Edit 11/6/2014

The results are on Wikipedia now.

Galactic Chat up for a Ditmar

So, the preliminary Ditmars ballot is out and a podcast that I contributed to last year (Galactic Chat) has been nominated. It’s the first time a speculative fiction project I’ve been involved in has been nominated for an award, so its very exciting.

The 2014 Ditmar preliminary ballot can be found here, but to save that extra click, Galactic Chat can be found in the Best Fan Publication in Any Medium category, which I’ve reproduced below.

Best Fan Publication in Any Medium

  • Dark Matter Zine, Nalini Haynes
  • SF Commentary, Bruce Gillespie
  • The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond
  • Galactic Chat Podcast, Sean Wright, Alex Pierce, Helen Stubbs, David McDonald, and Mark Webb
  • The Coode Street Podcast, Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan
  • Galactic Suburbia, Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts

Those that follow speculative fiction awards closely may have already noticed that three of our competitors are up for the Hugo award for Best Fancast (The Writer and the Critic, Galactic Suburbia and The Coode Street Podcast).

Now just because we’re up against three Hugo nominated podcasts doesn’t mean we have any less chance…
(…checks facts…)
Ah, apparently it does mean we have less of a chance. Still, I like to think of us as a plucky band of misfits taking on the might of the establishment, and unless fiction has lied to me my entire life that means we’re almost certain to win…
(…checks facts again…)
OK, apparently fiction has lied to me my entire life. Ummm, it’s an honour to be nominated?
(…checks facts a third time…)
Yes, it’s an honour to be nominated.
I should also mention that several of the Galactic Chat “cast” have further nominations.
  • David McDonald has been nominated for the William J Atheling Award for Criticism or Review;
  • Alex Pierce was nominated twice for the Atheling, is part of the Galactic Suburbia team AND was nominated for Best Fan Writer; and
  • Sean Wright, leader of aforementioned plucky band of misfits, has also been nominated for the Best Fan Writer award.

All nominations are very well deserved – its been a pleasure working with all the members of the Galactic Chat crew and it’s great to see them being recognised for their diverse talents.

The Ditmars are presented each year at the Australian National Science Fiction Convention, which this year is Melbourne’s Continuum, held in early June.

Galactic Chat – 2014 season off and running

After a bit of a hiatus over the summer break, the Galactic Chat podcast is off and running again for 2014.

David McDonald kicked off the  year with a fascinating interview with one of my favourite authors, Kaaron Warren. Warren is a stalwart of the Australian horror scene, with some truly disturbing tales. I’ve reviewed a few of her works over the last couple of years, including Through Splintered Walls, Mistification and IshtarIt’s a great listen.

Alex Pierce then moves the year along with an interview with Tehani Wessley. Wessely is the principal of Fablecroft, a small independent press here in Australia. While Galactic Chat tends to focus on authors, I love the interviews with people involved in other aspects of the publishing world. Well worth a listen, especially if you’re keen on understanding the Australian speculative fiction publishing scene.

At the time of writing this post, Wessely’s Pozible project Cranky Ladies of History, is still active here.

To top off this brilliant start to the broadcasting year, Sean, our stalwart leader and driving force behind Galactic Chat, has started  a Facebook competition where you can win copies of Jonathan Strahan’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year. Go to our Facebook page for details.

If you like to keep up with the Australian speculative fiction scene, Galactic Chat is the place to do it. Do your ears a favour and download one of the podcasts.

(You could even vote for it in the Ditmars, but only if you want to :-)


Have you been keeping up with Galactic Chat?

Sean Wright has been interviewing up a storm lately on Galactic Chat, a podcast that I (too) occasionally help out with.

Since I last posted about Galactic Chat there have been a LOT of new episodes. Sean is an interviewing machine, there is no doubt about it. Interviews have included:

  • Episode 29: Narelle Harris (horror and romance writer) chats to Alex
  • Episode 30: Tansy Rayner Roberts (fantasy writer) chats to Sean
  • Episode 31: Tracey O’Hara (paranormal thriller writer) chats to Helen Stubbs
  • Episode 32: Stephen Ormsby chats to Sean about his new publishing venture, Satalyte Publishing
  • Episode 33: Sean Williams (New York Times best selling speculative fiction writer) chats to Sean
  • Episode 34: Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (Filipino speculative fiction writer) chats to Sean
  • Episode 35: Julia Rios (fiction editor for Strange Horizons, host and producer of the Outer Alliance Podcast) chats to Sean
  • Episode 36: Devin Madson (self published author) chats to Sean

You’ll notice the heavy load that Sean is lifting. I’ve only done two interviews since the podcast was rebooted – both were excellent fun, but I’m going to have to pick up my game!

So, listen, subscribe, comment – the podcast is a ball to do and we’d love to have more audience participation!

If there is anyone in the Australian speculative fiction scene that you’d like to see us interview on Galactic Chat, leave a comment here or on the Galactic Chat website.

Galactic Chat Interview – Jason Nahrung

Well, my next interview for the Galactic Chat podcast is now up. I interviewed dark speculative fiction author Jason Nahrung. It was an honour to get the chance to interview Jason – I’ve been a big fan of his writing for a long time (you can see my previous reviews of Salvage and Blood and Dust elsewhere on the site).

Jason writes at the dark end of the speculative fiction spectrum, and has a broad and deep knowledge of the horror genre in particular. I’ve spoken with Jason at a couple of conferences, and it was very exciting to capture some elements of those “at the bar” conversations in the podcast.

Jason picked a great reading for the podcast – reminding me of how much I loved Blood and Dust (and making me even more eager for him to hurry up and finish the sequel!

I hope you enjoy the interview and please leave feedback here or at the Galactic Chat website.


Show notes follow:

In this episode we Skype in Jason Nahrung, a man who has been called one of the nicest people in the Australian speculative fiction scene, while writing some of its most disturbing fiction.

A penetrating cross-examination ensues on topics far and wide, including his award winning novellaSalvage, his award nominated novel Blood and Dust, what it takes to write on the Melbourne public transport network, whether the modern vampire can be re-fanged, the impact of journalistic skills on self editing and what listeners should read if they want to dip their toe in the horror wading pool.

All this plus the answer to a question that has haunted your interviewer for years – what exactly is a ‘gothic sensibility’?

Jason also does a reading from his latest novel Blood and Dust, where listeners will learn slightly too much about how vampire lovin’ and vegemite can go together.

Jason’s excellent website, www.jasonnahrung.com, is mentioned at the end of the podcast.

Blood and Dust can be found at the Xoum website Blood and Dust

Salvage can be found at the Twelfth Planet Press website 


Author Website: http://www.jasonnahrung.com

Author Twitter: @JNahrung


Interviewer: Mark Webb

Guest: Jason Nahrung

Music & Intro: Tansy Rayner Roberts

Post-production: Sean Wright


Twitter: @galactichat

Email: galactichat at gmail dot com

Galactic Chat interview – Keith Stevenson

Well, my first interview for the Galactic Chat podcast is now up. I interviewed speculative fiction all-rounded Keith Stevenson. Keith is a publisher (Coeur de Lion Publishing), a writer, an editor and is in the early stages of producing a new magazine – Dimension 6.

I had a great time talking with Keith. He has some really interesting perspectives on the speculative fiction scene, and I loved his “try anything” attitude. His passion for learning new skills and using those skills to look at the genre in new ways was inspiring. Coeur de Lion has published some fantastic works (see my reviews of Pyrotechnicon and Anywhere But Earth) and it was a privilege to get a glimpse into the mind of the man behind the curtain.

I also asked Keith to do a reading from one of his short stories – I thought it would add something for listeners if they could hear an example of the interviewee’s work. Would love to get feedback on whether listeners find that part of the interview useful.

(I have to apologise for the sound quality. This was my first interview and I hadn’t factored in the sensitivity of the microphones to background noise. Our illustrious leader Sean Wright, who does all of the post-production work, did the best he could to clear it up.)

I hope you enjoy and please leave feedback here or at the Galactic Chat website.


Show notes follow:

In this episode we introduce interviewer Mark Webb who grabs hold of writer, publisher, editor, podcaster and speculative fiction raconteur Keith Stevenson and quizzes him about his wide and varied speculative fiction career. They cover some history around Coeur de Lion publishing and what makes a Coeur de Lion publication, Keith’s recently announced Dimension 6 speculative fiction e-magazine initiative, his latest writing projects and the fragmentation of the publishing world that has accompanied the eBook revolution.

Keith also does a reading from his time travel paradox short story ‘…They First Make Mad.’ to round out the interview.

More information about coeur de lion publishing, including details on where to purchase the books mentioned in the podcast, can be found at http://www.coeurdelion.com.au. More information about Dimension 6 can also be found at the website.

If listeners want to hear the end of ‘…They First Make Mad’, they can hear the whole story, plus stories by Brendan Duffy and Trent Jamieson, on the Terror Incognita Speculative Fiction podcast episode 14 at http://www.keithstevenson.com/terraincognitasf/tisf014.html.

Note: there was a bit of background noise at the venue, and Mark’s recording equipment wasn’t quite good enough to screen it all out. Listeners should pretend they are sitting at a trendy café, eavesdropping on two sophisticated writer types talking shop. In fact, it is compulsory to be drinking a macchiato while listening to this podcast. You’ve been warned.

Author Website: http://www.keithstevenson.com

Author Twitter: @stevenson_keith


Interviewer: Mark Webb

Guest: Keith Stevenson

Music & Intro: Tansy Rayner Roberts

Post-production: Sean Wright 


Twitter: @galactichat

Email: galactichat at gmail dot com