science fiction and fantasy writer

Archive for December, 2012|Monthly archive page

Ellen Datlow’s Kickstarter campaign

In Uncategorized on December 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Ellen Datlow has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a planned anthology called “Fearful Symmetries”, which will be published by ChiZine Publications. Ellen says:

Fearful Symmetries will be an unthemed anthology of about 30 original stories from both veteran talent and new voices, and will be published by ChiZine Publications. I have a stable of writers whose work I love and who I regularly publish; writers like Laird Barron, Kaaron Warren, Elizabeth Hand, Lucius Shepard, Sarah Pinborough, Jeffrey Ford, Joe. R. Lansdale, and others. And while I intend to include writers like these, I also plan to have an open reading period, something I don’t do often, to give a chance to new talent that I may not be aware of.”


Well, another apocalypse has been…

In Uncategorized on December 23, 2012 at 2:28 pm

…and gone. Apparently, if you follow the Mayan calendar, that just means you start over from zero. The Roland Emmerich version had way more spectacle, but I think I prefer this way. A much better pretext for a party.

Anyway, I thought it might be timely to write up a talk I did at the Conflux 8 convention in September. The theme for the convention was apocalypses, and particularly apocalyptic fiction. My talk was on making use of historical apocalypses in writing fictional ones, and why I think it’s important.

Not very Christmassy, but here it is.

The Definitive Rules for Writing Magic

In Uncategorized on December 18, 2012 at 10:05 pm

(Or, some shit my writers’ group made up one night)

I led a discussion earlier this year with the CSFG Novel Writing Group on what are the characteristics of a good system of magic in fiction. We discussed a range of examples of what we thought were good magic systems, or systems that had good characteristics, ranging from Harry Potter to Warhammer to Star Wars and Dune (yes, magic) and encompassing a bunch of other stuff that makes us sound waaaay higher-brow than that.

We also realised that if you do LOTR to The Wheel Of Time you get TWOT, which probably tells you everything you need to know about the difference between Tolkien and Jordan.

Anyway, our rules are:

1. Limit Magic
2. Keep To The Rules

(These first two rules really come from Fiona McIntosh, so we thought we’d best make up some more of our own so that we’d seem clever too. Thus:)

3. Or, Do Whateverthefuck Is Cool
4. Give Magic a Cost
5. Magic Must Be Integrated Into Ecology and Society
6. Use Clever Handwaving To Disguise How Little You’re Really Explaining
7. Maintain Some Air Of Mystery (Or, For Crying Out Loud, George, He’s Strong With The Force, Who Gives A Shit About His Mango-Chlorine Count?!)
8. File Off The Serial Numbers
9. Steal From Life
10. Treat Magic As A Storytelling Tool


Un-sale :(

In Uncategorized on December 14, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Ralan has called (possibly) dead on Specutopia, which means I have to find another home for my story “Sepia Man.”


The Next Big Thing

In Uncategorized on December 12, 2012 at 7:29 am

For those who haven’t yet come across it, there’s a “blog hop” (pyramid scheme?) doing the rounds at the moment where writers respond to a standard set of questions about their next book project and then ping a couple more writers to do the same. Simon Petrie pinged me.

In my case, “next” book project means “first” book project:

1) What is the working title of your next book?

My working title is Austrialia (note the extra “i”). I like it, some beta-readers have hated it (the title, not the book, he hastens to add for the benefit of all the agents and editors out there who are no doubt reading this post).

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was looking to write a historical fantasy and kicking around a few moments in Australia’s colonial story that I could use for a starting point . The Eureka Stockade miners’ rebellion during the Victorian gold rush caught my interest for a number of reasons.

Read the rest of this entry »


In Uncategorized on December 7, 2012 at 9:55 pm

My story “Vandiemensland” has been accepted for the CSFG anthology Next.

This is rather neat – after 7 years as a CSFG member, this will be my first story in one of the guild’s anthologies. The story itself will be the fifth one published in my alternate-Australia series that includes “Bitter Dreams”, “Once a month, on a Sunday”, “Red Dirt” and “Dancing the Labyrinth” (which can all be found on the Stories page of this website)

On knowing who wants a glass of water, being a sadist and the Asshole Leper Hero problem

In Uncategorized on December 5, 2012 at 11:59 pm

A while back I read an article by David Wong at entitled 5 Ways You Don’t Realize Movies Are Controlling Your Brain, and it got me thinking about how storytellers trick their audiences into caring about things that they know don’t exist.

I’ve written elsewhere about screenwriter Andrew Stanton’s advice on storytelling. Stanton says his first commandment of storytelling is “make the audience care.” There’s even a TED talk about it, because of course there is. This one’s good TED though, not bad TED – nearly as good as the one about making a chickenosaurus.

“How do storytellers make us care?” the two of you ask who haven’t gone to find out how to make a chickenosaurus.

With characters.

Kurt Vonnegut said that the storyteller must always “give the reader at least one character they can root for”. Robert McKee goes even further, saying that “character is story, story is character”. It’s a point that’s hard to overstate. [more…]