The Writer and the Critic: Episode 23

The latest episode of our podcast is now available for direct download and streaming from the website or via subscription from iTunes. Feedback is most welcome!

This month brings the first fresh recording of The Writer and the Critic since the massive  pre-record-a-thon back in June. Yours hosts, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond, welcome themselves back into the slightly rusty saddle with a brief catch-up on what they did during their break … which seems to have been a whole bunch of extracurricular reading and podcasting! Kirstyn confesses to the reading slump in which she currently finds herself bemired, while managing to provide a a handle of capsule reviews along the way. Ian discusses his short story ennui as well as taking the opportunity to plug episodes of Last Short Story and the Martian Drive-In Podcast in which he appeared. Podcast floozy, thy name is Mond.

The books tabled for dissection this month are Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth (beginning around 21:40) and Osama by Lavie Tidhar (at 1:06:10). There are many, many spoilers, including detailed discussions of both endings. Be warned! For supplemental listening, Ian and Kirstyn both highly recommend this episode of Galactic Chat in which Sean Wright interviews Kate Forsyth about the research and writing of Bitter Greens.

Bitter Greens and Osama

If you’ve skipped ahead, please back around the 1:53:00 mark — yes, it’s another loooooong podcast — for some final remarks and listener feedback.

Next month is the special Writer and Critic eBook Extravaganza! Ian and Kirstyn will endeavour to read and discuss the following six — yes, SIX — originally self-published eBooks as recommended by their listeners:

Unlike other books featured on the podcast, Ian and Kirstyn will also be commenting on the format, practical readability and publication standards of these six titles in the context of a broader discussion of e-publishing — and they have given each other permission to abandon any book they find a struggle for whatever reason. Join them for what should be a most entertaining, engaging and edifying episode!

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I Love the Smell of New Books in the Morning

Oh! Oh! Oh! Look what lovely, lovely things arrived in the mail today:

Bitter Greens, Poet's Cottage, To Spin a Darker Stair

That’s Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth AND Poet’s Cottage by Josephine Pennicott AND To Spin a Darker Stair edited by Tehani Wessley which contains stories by Catherynne M Valente and Faith Mudge, as well as beautiful illustrations by Kathleen Jennings.

I am soooooo tempted to take myself off to a hotel room this weekend and do nothing but read and order room service. Forget funding grants and so on for writers … I want a Reading Residency, dammit!

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Writerly Links

Kate Forsyth has written a beautiful account of her great-great-great-great-great-grandmother, Charlotte Waring, who migrated from England to the Australian colonies as a young woman and who would later go on to write the first children’s book to be published in Australia. Kate talks about the mysteries of creativity and how a small, brown pebble plucked from an English garden in 1826 would eventually inspire her own fantasy series for children, The Chain of Charms:

I believe a writer takes everything they have ever seen and heard and felt and longed for and been disgusted by – they pour it into the crucible of the imagination and transform into something quite different. It is alchemy. It is magic.

Brandon VanOver talks about the relationship between author and editor over at the Random House blog:

Sometimes I encounter the misconception that authors are alone on an island of creativity, and editors are simply drab sticklers who take a manuscript and tidy it up by applying the laws of grammar and usage, laws as predictable and inscrutable as gravity. The truth is that there are few more intimate and dynamic relationships in publishing.

Molly Ringle of Seattle was the grand prize winner of the 2010 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, an annual competition to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. This competition honours the memory of 19th English century writer Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, who famously opened his 1830 novel Paul Clifford, with the much-quoted, “It was a dark and stormy night”. Molly Ringle won with the following truly cringeworthy sentence:

For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity’s affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss — a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity’s mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world’s thirstiest gerbil.

The full list of winners across all categories can be found on the official Bulwer-Lytton website.

Finally, an oldie but definitely a goodie: Neil Gaiman’s pep talk to NaNoWriMo authors. Witty and inspiring, Neil’s advice is the perfect pick me up for any author sunk hip-deep in the Novel Doldrums:

You write. That’s the hard bit that nobody sees. You write on the good days and you write on the lousy days. Like a shark, you have to keep moving forward or you die. Writing may or may not be your salvation; it might or might not be your destiny. But that does not matter. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Hmmm. Think I might need to go read the whole thing again myself.