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Posts Tagged ‘robert shearman’

The delightful John DeNardo at SF Signal asked a few people to pick and choose for their dream anthology, citing what you’d choose and why. The answers were so big, they had to split the post in two.

Mine is here, as is that of Nancy Kress (hallowed be her name), Violet Malan and other interesting folk.

Part Two is here.

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Bed the size of a football field

Nature = galah

Nature = private beach thingy

And so, the retreat. The Edge writers group took off for its annual retreat. We subbed writing stuff, we spent a chunk of one day group critting, then the next day everyone had individual crits with our tutors du jour – or in this case, tutors de l’année. Then the next few days are spent writing, percolating, editing, eating, drinking, talking, etc. In our case, there were also canoe-related activities … which brings me to our tutors: this year’s tutors of awe were Jack Dann and Robert Shearman – and we also had a special guest appearance by the inimitable Sean Williams. The natural link between tutors and canoes? Shearman had to be rescued from one by Dann. And Deb, whose injury is documented below. Shearman’s rep as Britain’s Greatest Writer is intact … however, he did have to hand over his medallion from the Cambridge Rowing Eleven … it was promptly given to Jack in reward for his work as lifeguard.

The location was sourced by Kate and Rob and was awesome to the power of rad  – and it shall continue to remain undisclosed coz, quite frankly, I don’t want just anyone finding their way up there :-).

Last known photo of Robert Shearman

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Canoe

A brief post, which will be filled out tomorrow.

Rob Hoge and I took to the lake in a canoe. Nobody died, no canoe was injured, no one fell in.

The conversation did go something like this, though:

Angela: Hey, rocks.

Rob: Rocks?

Both: Argh! Rocks! Left! Left! No, your other left!!!

Angela: Hey, pelicans.

Rob: I wonder if they’ll attack us.

Angela: Probably zombie pelicans.

Rob: Bound to happen.

Tomorrow, I will post the last known photos of Britain’s greatest living (at the time of the photos) writer, Robert Shearman disappearing across the lake, in manner of Dr Livingston.

V exciting.

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Alisa Krasnostein is the unsleeping powerhouse that is the engine of Twelfth Planet Press. Really, she doesn’t sleep – email her at any hour of the day or night and she’ll reply. Go ahead. Try it. See? Told ya.

TPP has produced some of the finestworks in Australian spec-fic recently: Deb Biancotti’s A Book of Endings, Peter M Ball’s Horn, Marianne De Pierres’ Glitter Rose are but a few. Upcoming efforts include the anthology Sprawl, Ball’s Aster follow-up Bleed, and next year’s one-per-month mini-collection of single author short stories. “Alisa is busy” wins the award for understatement of the year.

Here, she takes some time out to answer random questions and refuse both donuts and danishes *gasp*. 

1. Are there days when you think “Argh! What was I thinking going into small publishing?”
No, not really. Though right at this moment in time, I’m working pretty hard to get my books to the printer to have them in time for Aussiecon 4 and I have wondered what it would be like not to have to work weekends as well! But I love indie publishing. I might get frustrated with the progress of a project but I never regret getting into indie press.

2. What kills a story deader than dead for you?
I could list the cliches or tropes or subgenres that don’t do it for me but the truth is, any story done well just works, no matter the cliche or trope.

Bad writing kills a story deader than dead for me. The most unhelpful thing is this … a story either has IT or it doesn’t and you can pretty much tell if it’s one or the other by the first paragraph, first sentence even. Writing that turns a phrase just so, sentences that run away so that you forget you’re reading and smooth comfortable, confident writing, that’s not too showy. Anything else, and I’ve already moved onto the next story. Also a story that has nothing to say or no story to tell or nothing new to add or contribute.

3. What do you hate most about editing?
Working with writers who are unable to pull back and view their own work with perspective and dispassionately. I hate working with writers who won’t let you touch a word of their work, or reply to feedback with long explanations of backstory that support why that sentence says what it does (I don’t care, if it’s not clear to the reader, it’s not clear to the reader) or writers who argue with house style by quoting a reference (that’s cool ‘n all but your story will be styled differently to the other 17 stories in the book that I already signed off and sent to layout … and I’ll be the one who looks sloppy).

4. What do you love most about editing?
Working with all the other writers who aren’t the above 🙂  I love seeing an idea or theme turned into a story written just for me. I love being the person to see it first. And I love the back and forth of working with talented writers. I love the energy and creativity that comes from that experience. I love working with writers to take a good or great story to something even better.

And I love holding the finished product in my hand afterwards.

5. Donuts or danishes?
Sadly neither right now as I have sworn off the sugar for three months 😦

TPP lives here. Go, look, buy – there’s a more than excellent chance you’ll find something you’ll love.

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Robert Shearman is a nice man. He’s also an amazing writer – allow me to quote from a review of his first collection, Tiny Deaths, “The dialogue is witty and wise, the settings believable, and the characters… well, they’re all people you know, even the multiple Jesuses (what is the plural of Jesus?). The humour is dark but never nasty. These stories display their brilliance in ways both sly and shy, as if lifting their skirts to show off their knickers and then acting as though nothing happened.” Okay, admittedly I wrote that review, but the fact remains that the book won a World Fantasy Award. He has also written for stage and television – including Dr Who. Dalek showed us how daleks evolved to conquer their greatest enemy, the stairs.

Now Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical, his second collection is currently stuffing its swag full of awards: the Shirley Jackson and the Readers’ Award in the Edge Hill University Short Story Competition, thus far. He is coming to Australia for AussieCon4. Go and meet him, buy him a drink.

 Here he takes time out from his very busy writing schedule to answer my silly’ish questions:

Now Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical, his second collection is currently stuffing its swag full of awards: the Shirley Jackson and the Readers’ Award in the Edge Hill University Short Story Competition. He is coming to Australia for AussieCon4. Go and meet him.

1. What are your writing fetishes, i.e. what can’t you write without?
Well, I’m remarkably superstitious about writing. And when I first started, I seemed to come with about twenty or so superstititions already fully formed. I could only write outside at night time. I could only write with a certain type of pen in a certain type of notebook. I could only write listening to one specific artist on my CD walkman to one specific project. Dear God, it was annoying.

And over the years, as I’ve grown older and less tolerant of myself and my stupidities, I’ve been weening myself off them. Writing outside at three in the morning was fine when I lived in Devon with nothing but sheep for company and very lenient policemen; it’s less sensible now I live in London and I share the early morning streets with prostitutes and gangland warfare and – bizarre, but true – hordes of twelve year old children who try to scare me by riding bicycles at me. So I still write outside – but I do it in the *day*time, and now only so I can get away from the twin distractions of Facebook scrabble and television game shows. I still listen to music, but they’ve invented a thing called an ipod now, so it can be any old nonsense on shuffle… so long as it’s ambient and dull. (I’ve bought an awful lot of very dull albums over the years, which would be *achingly* awful were I not wanting to write to them.) And I still use the same exercise books – but only because I accidentally bought a joblot of eighty of them a few years ago when I thought I was only ordering half a dozen… and I have a lifetime to get through them.

Otherwise, I’m really very normal.

2. When I was first asked to write for Dr Who, I …
…was on a bus in London. And it’s against the rules of London buses to dance up and down the aisles – they say it distracts the driver. So I was obliged to sit squarely in my seat and wait until the bus came to a complete halt before I could get up and do the dance thing.

I’d been a huge Doctor Who fan when I was a kid – really, genuinely obsessive about it between the ages of twelve and fifteen, the sort who could recite every single story title in order. (Actually, I still can.) And the affection for it never went away. The original BBC series was cancelled in 1989, and although I was at university by then, and was just a little too old to love it in the same way I once had, it caused me genuine distress that it was no longer on the air for the next fifteen years. It just seemed *wrong* in the scheme of things. So when the BBC announced the series was to be revived, way back at the end of 2003, I was over the moon. When my agent phoned me up a couple of weeks later, on that London bus, I was rather higher than the moon and somewhere in the vicinity of Pluto.

The irony was that I was with a new agent, and someone who had no idea of my Doctor Who geekery. And someone, too, that I had told rather stiffly I had no interest in working on anyone else’s television series – from now on, I’d said, I’d only write self-created work. So when she phoned to tell me an offer had been made, and that I was to bring back something called… what was it they’d said, Daleks? – I jumped on her right there and then to ignore all I’d instructed her and to accept. (I think she might already have done so. Every good agent knows to ignore me most of the time.)

3. The worst thing that’s ever happened to me at a con/reading was …
Conventions are a bit awkward and embarrassing if you’re there as a very minor guest, and no one has the faintest clue who you are. If I go to a Doctor Who convention, I’m treated (rather wonderfully) like minor royalty. Doctor Who fans are terribly loyal. They give you free beer, and free pastries, and free head massages. But if it’s a *general* sci-fi convention, and I’m only there to represent the Doctor Who contingent because I’m incredibly cheap – if I’m surrounded by lots of actors from American shows, and I’m just a *writer* from something made in *Wales* – then I can feel a bit like a village vicar in a room with the Pope.

I was at a con in Toronto once where that was most acutely obvious. I was in the green room, walking about helping myself to nibbles, in the company of several Star Trek actors, guest stars from The X-Files, and that lady who was in Babylon 5 who was also in Lost. (My God, was she grumpy.) I think they all thought I was some crazed fan greedy for snack food. I then had to appear on a live television show alongside George Takei. George Takei was a charming man who spoke about the great innovations of Gene Rodenberry, and how all the fictional gadgets he’d come up with like the communicator had been so prophetic. I was then asked by the interviewer whether Doctor Who was similarly advanced, whether that too would inspire the great inventors of the future. Whether the TARDIS could be something that’d be the blueprint to a whole new technology our children might enjoy. “Nah,” I said. “It’s a load of old bollocks, really, isn’t it?”

4. I hate being a writer when …
That’s hard. I don’t think I ever hate being a writer. Not any more.

I used to. There was a period when I just found the whole *effort* of filling a blank page to be torture. And then there were the deadlines. And then there was the editing. And then there was the awful self-realisation, upon finishing every single script, and every single story, that you hadn’t revolutionised the art form after all, and that what had made the journey from brain to paper was about five per cent of what you’d hoped for.

But now I just find the idea that I’m a writer terribly funny. I became a full time writer when I was 22. I was very lucky. I’m now 40. I realise I’ve spent 18 years for someone to tap me on the shoulder and tell me it was all a mistake, or a very odd joke – that I’m not allowed to do this job after all, that I have instead to go and do something that involves cash registers or heavy lifting. It’s bound to happen one day. My shoulder is ever waiting. But until my shoulder is tapped, I’m determined just to enjoy the whole thing – deadlines, editing, self-doubt and all!

5. Donuts (or doughnuts) or danishes?
Hmm. Doughnuts. I like toying with the hole in the middle, and pretending its calorific content extends to the entire ring around it.

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C’mon, you don’t need to buy groceries for a week … Sourdough & Other Stories is avilable for pre-order from the lovely Tartarus Press http://www.tartaruspress.com/sourdough.htm:

Welcome to the beautiful magic, restless passion and exquisite horror of Angela Slatter’s impeccably imagined tales.

In the cathedral-city of Lodellan and its uneasy hinterland, babies are fashioned from bread, dolls are given souls and wishes granted may be soon regretted. There are ghosts who dream, men whose wings have been clipped and trolls who long for something other. Love, loss and life are elegantly dissected in Slatter’s earthy yet poetic prose.

As Rob Shearman says in his Introduction: ‘Sourdough and Other Stories manages to be grand and ambitious and worldbuilding-but also as intimate and focused as all good short fiction should be . . . The joy of Angela Slatter’s book is that she’s given us a set of fairy tales that are at once both new and fresh, and yet feel as old as storytelling itself.’

Again, I have a beautiful cover – I have been very, very lucky with my publishers and book cover designer persons.

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Books start to feel real when you send back the final edits and then you get the blurb from your publisher. If I wasn’t so tired from typing up edits and the Most Awesome Wedding of Jason Nahrung and Kirstyn McDermott last night (MC’d by Dr Kim Wilkins, attended by Sean Williams, Alison Goodman and loads of other writers and normal people – why, yes, there was a bit of spec-fic royalty about it), I would be Snoopy Dancing.

Blurb:
Welcome to the beautiful magic, restless passion and exquisite horror of Angela Slatter’s impeccably imagined tales.

In the cathedral-city of Lodellan and its uneasy hinterland, babies are fashioned from bread, dolls are given souls and wishes granted may be soon regretted. There are ghosts who dream, men whose wings have been clipped and trolls who long for something other. Love, loss and life are elegantly dissected in Slatter’s earthy yet poetic prose.

As Rob Shearman says in his Introduction: ‘Sourdough and Other Stories manages to be grand and ambitious and worldbuilding – but also as intimate and focused as all good short fiction should be. . . .The joy of Angela Slatter’s book is that she’s given us a set of fairy tales that are at once both new and fresh, and yet feel as old as storytelling itself.’

ToC:
1. Introduction by Robert Shearman

2. The Shadow Tree

3. Gallowberries

4. Little Radish

5. Dibblespin

6. The Navigator

7. The Angel Wood

8. Ash

9. The Story of Ink

10. Lost Things

11. A Good Husband

12. A Porcelain Soul

13. The Bones Remember Everything

14. Sourdough

15. Sister, Sister

16. Lavender and Lychgates

17. Under the Mountain

18. Afterword: Sourdough and Gallowberries for us All by Jeff VanderMeer

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