Posts Tagged ‘the lifted brow’

Laura Goodin is an American living in Australia, but it shouldn’t be held against her. She’s a Clarion South survivor from 2007 and has the tribal tattooing to prove it. She blogs over here and writes, writes, writes and has published in journals as varied as WetInk, ASIM, The Lifted Brow and the Canterbury 2100 and Baggage anthologies. She is also a published poet and several of her plays have been performed. She is also the producer of Outlandish Voices podcast – which lives here. I asked her some questions – here are her answers.

1. What are the five essentials in any story?
Plot, plot, plot, character actions that make sense, plot, and plot. I’m a sucker for plot. Victorian adventure stories are my literary teddy bear: I cling to them for comfort and inspiration and will not surrender them, no, never! Granted, I’m not saying a good story is just one damned thing after another. Rather, I’m saying that stories I love are more than just characters sitting around thinking about how their life sucks, or even sitting around thinking about how they’re going to defeat the evil wizard or the Dark Duke or whatever. They are stories where things *happen*. You could argue that plot is nothing without good characters, because if you don’t care about the character, you won’t care *what* happens to them. Y-y-e-s-s-s, I suppose, but a plot that doesn’t hold a reader riveted — for whatever reason — is flawed. That flaw could be in pacing, detail (too much or not enough), or characterization. [if you choose to edit the American spelling, I will somehow cope.] “Character actions that make sense” is in there because it pretty much covers in one phrase everything characterization aims to accomplish.

2. Who is your main writing buddy and do you fight with them?
I tend to be a solitary writer. There are a few friends with whom I get together very occasionally for write-ins, and I have a writing buddy in Canada with whom I have discussed the possibility of a real-time Skype write-in (alas, it has yet to happen, but I haven’t given up yet). And, of course, my Clarion buddies and I cheer for each other across the miles. But even at Clarion, when we were all gloriously in the same place at the same time, I was a solitary writer. Sometimes the energy of writing with others keeps me focused; more often it makes me scattered and distracted. Fight? No. Unless someone takes the last piece of candy from the bowl.

3. Which sale caused you to Snoopy Dance around the room?
My first acceptance — not a sale, technically, because no money changed hands — was to Antipodean SF. I’d come back from Clarion desperate to prove myself in the same league as my Clarion buddies, but sendout after sendout had sunk without a ripple. I really was just a wannabe, this was becoming more clear by the day. Then Antipodean SF accepted a flash piece, and suddenly someone who wasn’t related to me actually liked my work when they didn’t have to — it was a very emotional moment, and I’m not being sarcastic. Other notable sales: finally getting a story into Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, getting a one-minute play about aliens in the Australian Tax Office produced in the UK, and selling a science-fiction story to an honest-to-high-heaven *literary* magazine (that’s Wet Ink, issue #19, if you’re interested — out soon!). But actually, *every* sale and/or acceptance makes me Snoopy Dance. Does that make me pathetic?

4. I first knew I was a writer when …
I actually never *didn’t* know I was a writer. I’ve written all my life. Most of my day jobs have involved writing or editing. Writing is harder work than breathing, but it underpins my life in the same way: you don’t have to *know* you’re an air-breather, you just breathe air. When you stop for any length of time, you are gripped with ever-increasing anxiety, and then flailing panic, until you breathe again. Same with writing.

5. Donuts (or doughnuts) or danishes?
I’m American. Both, please.


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Huzzah – a lovely surprise – just got an email from Ron Serdiuk, Coordinator of the Aurealis Awards.

My story Words, which appeared in The Lifted Brow # 5, has been shortlisted for Best Fantasy Short Story.

Thanks so much to wonderful TLB editor Ronnie Scott, and also (and especially) to the judges and the organisers of the Aurealis Awards – they do everything for free and in their own time and they run a very professional ship.

Full list should be available soon – I know Cat Sparks and Tansy Rayner Roberts have also scored shortlist berths – congrats, gals!


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… that I’m a fan of The Lifted Brow (China Mieville said it was ‘gorgeous’; Jeff VanderMeer called it ‘f*%king awesome’ and sent me a picture of him holding it (see? That’s his thumb); Robert Shearman said it was ‘the most beautiful anthology in the universe’ – okay, I may have exaggerated that last one). MPhoto_040309_002y point is that The Brow is looking for subs – Australian subs for the AUSTRADIA ish.

Hey, we are doing a really fun issue next year and we need Australian work. Pls send up to three pieces of unpublished writing (any genre) or art/comics to editors@theliftedbrow.com by 1 December, with AUSTRADIA in the subject line. No queries though; if in doubt, just send it. This might be an opportunity to work on something unconventional; we’ve published stories as long as 10,000 words, for example, and we like things with pictures and other stuff. Or it may just be an opportunity to send your best work to a place that badly wants to see it. (Unfortunately: no music for this one! But we’re often interested in reading short stories, tour diaries, jogging diaries, birdwatching diaries – all four of which we’ve published – by bands we like.) *** THELIFTEDBROW.COM *** The Lifted Brow is a biannual attack journal from Brisbane and Melbourne. In a short space of time, we have debuted or published early-ish work by Chris Currie, Ben Law, Krissy Kneen and Michaela McGuire, alongside artists like Douglas Coupland, Neil Gaiman, Tom Bissell, and The Lucksmiths. Our December issue is an atlas of the world, to be followed in 2010 by a poor people magazine and a Halloween special.

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Quick and dirty visit to Melberlin (actually, not dirty at all, not even slightly soiled; very, very clean and pristine visit).

Arrived Thursday night, checked into hotel at 9.30pm, ordered room service, sat in front of tv for a few hours channel surfing as my brain wound down like the clockwork monkey it is … kept thinking how I should take the chance to transcribe the notes in my Moleskin for the final draft of Gallowberries … and yet could not get my ass out of the chair. This, I think, is the universe’s way of saying ‘Y’know, you’re tired. Why don’t you just rest, dumbass?’

Friday: woke up at 4am – so unfair. Went back to sleep until 9am. Had late breakfast, wandered down to Federation Square – which is a great space filled with some tremendously ugly buildings. Buildings so ugly it’s quite breathtaking and, in a way, admirable. Awesomely, defiantly ugly buildings. The BMW Edge lecture theatre is quite cool though, looking out over the river and this is where I went to the first of the two sessions I attended.

The Future of Fiction with authors Stephen Amsterdam (Things We Didn’t See Coming, winner of The Age Book o’the Year – http://www.stevenamsterdam.com/Things_We_Didnt_See_Coming_by_Steven_Amsterdam.html), China Miéville (Perdido Street Station, The Scar, The City & The City, etc) and the able and amusing Ronnie Scott (editor of The Lifted Brow http://www.theliftedbrow.com/?page_id=14) as the moderator. Some very interesting discussion about whether books will survive and in what form. I’m still reeling after hearing Dr Miéville had recently scanned in about 80% of his book collection and then recycled the bodies. The book-loving luddite in me screams ‘Vandal!’ and gets a nervous rash. I’m trying not to think about it.

It was the night of two dinners – first one was with my colleague, friend and all-round clever clogs Meg Vann, she of AWMonline, at The Quarter in Degraves Lane (which, for some reason, keeps coming up in my brain as ‘Gravesend’). Then there was a brief stop at the Sofitel 35 (fabulous bar on the 35th floor) and meeting Harvest editor and poet, Geoff Lemon and poet Josephine Rowe (http://harvestmagazine.wordpress.com/contributors/words-and-art-issue-three/). Next, dinner the second at the Melbourne Wine Bar with Ronnie and Pete. V nice!

Saturday: lunch with fellow Clarionite, Suze Willis, at Blue Train – much noise and laughter and very good food (bacon makes everything better). Then a wander across the bridge, back to Fed Square and into the line for the next session, Visions of the City, starring China Miéville (awesome), Margo Lanagan (awesomer) and Jack Dann (awesomest), and moderated by talented spec-fic writer Rjurick Davidson. Some interesting stuff, but a little meandering … and as usual, there are the members of the audience who ask questions that aren’t really questions, but incoherent burbles with a subtext of ‘This is actually about me, I really, really want to hold a microphone!’ A dead giveaway is when a question starts with ‘This is a two-part question’ … There was also the horror of the city councilor who had apparently not seen her speech before she read it out; did not seem to know the word ‘renaissance’ and, I’m pretty sure, pronounced ‘version’ as ‘virgin’ … it was a bit hard to swallow the trumpeting of Melbourne as a city of literature at that point. Maybe that’s just me being cruel and unreasonable (it happens), but I do think public officials should be better at speaking in public. Call me crazy …

Good to see some other fellow Clarionites, Amanda Le and Steve Mitchell; and then to go for a far-too-brief drink with Kirstyn McDermott (amazing writer, soon-to-be Picador author and general cool chick http://kirstynmcdermott.com/). And then to the MWF launch party with Meg V once again – met lots of people, drank passable wine, ate some great finger food … and then back to Sofitel 35 to discuss writing with the Steel Megnolia. Listened to outgoing festival director, Rosemary Cameron talk – and she’s wonderful. She used to direct the Brisbane Writers Festival and it’s great to see she brought the same energy and vibrant life to MWF that she did to BWF.

Sunday: off to the airport, arrived early in order to sit through a 2 hour delay. Huzzah. Back home about 5.30pm.

I’m not sure I had a real festival weekend … but I had a weekend and it involved a festival and there were writers …

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The new Lifted Brow is out – t’is #5.  The CRISABOE issue: What predictive text thinks you’re typing if you type “Brisbane”. Hometown readers, this is the poorly-thought-through affair to your One Book Many Brisbanes, your student magazines, and a national book culture which rarely gets the sunshine state at all. What do four-minute shower restrictions mean for a man who sweats grease? (That one’s fiction.) Is it possible to visit all thirty-two council libraries in a day? (That one’s not.) CRISABOE is a recurring reason to make good art from and about Brisrael City.

My short story ‘Words’ appears therein, but more importantly, Rob Shearman’s Pang is in it and Tom Guerney’s epic spec-fic poem Valcapella and Dwinn is on a CD, cunningly adhered inside the front cover. Other fiction from Caren Beilin, Tony Birch, n a bourke, Blake Butler, Chris Currie, Laura E. Goodin, Bryce Wolfgang Joiner, Andrew Kertesz, Krissy Kneen, Jennifer L. Knox, Matthew Lanzdorf, Darlin’ Neal, Robert Shearman, Antonia Strakosch, Justin Taylor, Scarlett Thomas, and Joe Wenderoth. And there is other stuff.

Acquisition can be actioned here http://www.theliftedbrow.com/

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So much writey goodness in Brow #5 … if for no other reason, get this one for Rob Shearman’s Be of Good Cheer (you know, Rob Shearman, talented British writer, wrote that Dr Who ep, won a World Fantasy Award for his first collection Tiny Deaths – yes, I see you nodding and light bulbs going on around your head, that Rob Shearman). Art! Writing! Assorted miscellaneous goodness. Blurby bits below:

Hey what! It’s Friday, and Brow 5 is up for preorder (ships in a few weeks). What it got??? A chapter from Tom Bissell’s Rome book (out 2012). Twelve new poems by Tao Lin. Michael Hearst goes on tour with The Magnetic Fields. New work by Robert Shearman, Mandy Ord, Glen David Gold, Bryce Wolfgang Joiner, Scarlett Thomas, Angela Slatter, Justin Taylor, Chris Currie, Tony Birch, Krissy Kneen, Blake Butler, n a bourke, and many more.

Art all the way through by James Gurney (Mr Dinotopia) and Renee French. A hundred pages of the best and strangest new writing about Brisbane. And Thomas Benjamin Guerney’s fully acted-out and music-ed sci-fi audio drama: eighty minutes of strict post-apocalyptic rhyming couplets, which Daniel Handler calls “an epic of heartbreak and awesomeness”. TLB5 is a 280-page book + CD.

Better yet, you can subscribe to either side of this issue. Start right now with TLB4 (Spiral Stairs, Heidi Julavits, The Lucksmiths, Neil Gaiman, and 103 others), or finish in December with TLB6, which is an atlas of the world: 246 countries, a bunch of cities, and several made-up places, newly observed by The Church, Douglas Coupland, Christos Tsiolkas, Bodies of Water, and who knows who else.*

POINT OF PURCHASE: www.theliftedbrow.com.

Heaps of live shows coming up all the way into October. Let’s keep in touch. And let’s never land this ROFLcopter! Not when “the giggles” is a renewable fuel.

We feel lucky every day, all thanks to you, and we always hope you’re doing good. This is totally, personally, 100% the book I wish I could get in the mail today and spend all Saturday reading. Works with a coffee. Try it, you’ll like it.

The Lifted Brow.

*Maybe you? Submissions close in 11 days, and the details are really easy: http://www.theliftedbrow.com/?page_id=14 (read less) Hey what! It’s Friday, and Brow 5 is up for preorder (ships in a few weeks). What it got??? A chapter from Tom Bissell’s Rome book (out 2012). Twelve new poems by Tao Lin. Michael Hearst goes on… (read more)

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TLB6 is an atlas of the world, newly observed by lots of bands, writers, and artists that you like. Participation is easy:

1. Pick a country.

2. Send us fiction or nonfiction, a song, or a comic based on that country. The relationship of your piece to the country you pick can be as real, fake, or loose as you want.

Angela’s note: Please read the FULL guidelines – I know you will, for you are wise and informed and want to do the right thing by all concerned. They live here http://www.theliftedbrow.com/?page_id=14

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