The Writer and the Critic: Episode 22

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!

Here are the show notes:

This month’s episode of The Writer and the Critic is the last of those recorded around Continuum 8 back in June, wherein your hosts, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond, invite themselves back to the hotel room of the highly esteemed Drs Brain, Angela Slatter and Lisa L. Hannett, for literary fun and merriment. The finer points of name pronunciation and resultant avoidance of the wrath of angry grannies is duly noted, followed by some candid behind-the-scenes chat concerning Angela and Lisa’s co-written mosaic novel, Midnight and Moonshine, due for release from Ticonderoga Publications in November 2012 and available for pre-order right now. There might also be significant — but highly esteemed — blushing.

Lisa L Hannett and Angela Slatter

Discussion then moves on to the the two books selected for dissection on the podcast. Angela’s pick was Voice of the Fire by Alan Moore (begins around the 26:00 mark) while Lisa chose Galore by Michael Crummey (59:00). Scalpels are sharpened and edifying evisceration is conducted with much exuberance.

Voice of the Fire and Galore

If you’ve skipped ahead to avoid spoilers, come back around 1:33:00 for some final remarks.

Next month, the podcast is back in real time with Kirstyn choosing Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth for discussion and Ian bringing Osama by Lavie Tidhar to the table. This time, as the novels were picked three months in advance, neither of the pair has actually read their selection … so anything might happen. Read ahead with them and join in the spoilerific fun!



What Makes Kirstyn Happy

Overall, I’ve been a tad grumpy these past few weeks. Too much stuff on the boil, too many New Shiny Things I’d rather be doing, not enough time in the world to execute even half of my Cunning Plans. General online explosions, general offline crappola. Plus, somewhere in there, I saw The Dark Knight Rises. Ugh. I’m not even going to start, except to say … no, wait. I’m letting it go. Just like with Prometheus, I’m letting it all go, baby.

There have, however, been quite a few things cross my radar recently which have made me smile, and laugh, and generally feel pretty good about life. And I realise I barely ever comment on stuff like that … the good stuff, the happy stuff, the stuff which often feels ephemeral and momentary but, honestly, can be just as tangible and lasting as the sad-angry-depressing stuff upon which I generally find myself dwelling. Not that it isn’t important to engage with things that are problematic, infuriating, troublesome, or simply thought-provoking — unless those things are overblown, over-expensive, over-ego-driven wastes of celluloid not worth your spit — but that sometimes, a lot of the time, it’s equally important to focus on the happy.

So this might become a regular thing. What Makes Kirstyn Happy: A Not-So-Ephemeral Miscellany. (I promise, as much as I love them, teh kittehs will be few and far between; you have the rest of the interwebs for that.) Okay, here we go . . . cranky pants are officially off.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I’m not a massive Jane Austen fan and I’ve never actually read Pride and Prejudice, although I have somewhat reluctantly watched one or two film/television adaptations over the years. (My favourite Austen novel of those I have read is that fine piece of Gothic snark, Northanger Abbey. Big surprise, I know.) And yet I am absolutely loving The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modernised adaptation of Pride and Prejudice told via a series of video blogs. I know I’m not getting a lot of the references and Austen in-jokes but I don’t care. I’m still captivated and eagerly await each twice-weekly episode. There might even be the odd internal squee when the YouTube alert lands in my inbox. Okay, there is a very odd internal squee every time the alert lands in my inbox! And, you know, being relatively unfamiliar with the plot means a little light suspense and random surprises for Kirstyn, which makes her very happy indeed. (Yes, I know Lizzie ends up with Darcy, but little else. No spoilers, please!)

Delites Dystopian Vending MachineThe Delite-o-Matic Vending Machine. Part of a promotional competition run by Fantastic Delites here in Australia, which doesn’t make me want their chips or rice crackers or whatever those things are, but which did see me watching the YouTube clip with increasing delight. (Heh. See what I did there?) It was written up by the original Gawker article along oh-so-wry dystopian lines of “What is the world coming to, when people will bow down and worship a machine just to get a packet of free chips?” [insert faux-ironic breast-beating here] but it reminded me first and foremost of how persistently, curiously playful humans can be. Of course they wouldn’t do anything for a free packet of chips, Gawker. In the end, I don’t think it was even about the chips. The prize could have been any useless old piece of crap and some of those people would still have been standing there pressing the damn button. Because it was a curious new thing standing in their shopping mall. Because a gauntlet was thrown down and picked up in the name of fun. Because it was a game, and we humans love love love to explore and challenge and play. Sure, sometimes it comes back to bite us in the arse. But this time, it resulted in free snacks and an hilarious piece of video us snackless folks can enjoy as well. Well played, Fantastic, well played.

midnight and moonshineMidnight and Moonshine by Lisa L. Hannett and Angela Slatter. Books had to come into this at some point, right? Few things make Kirstyn happier than a fabulous and much-anticipated new book by a couple of her favourite short story authors, and I have been awaiting the release of this collection since I first heard rumours of its conception well over a year ago. And check out that magnificent cover by Kathleen Jennings! This book is going to look so fabulous alongside Angela and Lisa’s individual collections from Ticonderoga and, knowing how well these two writers work together, I’m fully expecting it to be one of my top five books of the year. (No pressure, ladies.) The ever-so-slightly unHappy in this news is that Midnight and Moonshine is only available for pre-order right now — in either Trade Paperback or droolworthy Limited Edition Hardcover formats — but, hey, all that means is that Future Kirstyn will be getting a gorgeous gift from Past Kirstyn come mid-November. That makes Future Kirstyn so very, very happy. Or will make her very, very happy. Whatever. The gods are dead, but will not be forgotten. Kirstyn. Can. Not. Wait.

Kim Boekbinder“Planet 216” by Kim Boekbinder. I first came across Kim Boekbinder via Amanda Palmer who was plugging Kim’s Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of her album, The Impossible Girl, back in 2010. It might have been the first Kickstarter campaign I ever backed and it resulted in a brilliant, amazing, eclectic tapestry of music which also makes me exceedingly happy whenever I listen to it. (Which just happens to be right now, in case you were wondering.) Kim is running a different kind of work-in-progress funding campaign for her next album, the space-themed Mission Control. I’m not going to be a part of that because, quite honestly, I would rather be hit with the finished product rather than get the sneak peeks along the way. And based on the “Planet 216” demo which was released, appropriately, on the day that Curiosity touched down on Mars, the album is going to hit hard. I dearly hope she comes to Australia to tour it — I’ve only ever seen her in support of other acts but I think the full Kim Boekbinder stage experience will make for a most memorable night. Anyway, the song made Kirstyn happy this week. You will be fierce, you will be fragile, you will be free. Thoughts for a new tattoo right there . . .

Book Launches and Mugshots. Lastly, my beloved Jason Nahrung launched his new novella, Salvage, up in Brisbane last weekend at Avid Reader bookshop. A splendid time was had, many friends were caught up with, and afterwards much yummy Indian food was consumed. Salvage is a beautiful, melancholy story which has garnered some very deserving reviews, one of which came from Alex Pierce on the Galactic Suburbia podcast. At one point, Alex described Jason as an author who is “compassionate but cold-blooded” … a description which pleased him immensely and which inspired in me A Small But Cunning Plan. Unfortunately, VistaPrint was a little late with the delivery and my “Happy Book Launch” gift became a “Happy Post-Book Launch” gift instead but it was totally worth the wait to see the smile it brought to his face. (Not to be confused with the “smile” in the photo; that’s post-trip exhaustion and a touch of the flu kicking in. Or maybe it’s just what cold-blooded compassion looks like in the flesh.)

jason mugshot

And all that, kittens and cats, is What Makes Kirstyn Happy. Enjoy!


Oops, My Psychosis is Showing …

Oh, look! I have been interviewed by Angela Slatter and Lisa Hannett over in the Lair of the Evil Drs Brain. With marvellous illustrations by Kathleen Jennings to boot!

Answering their questions was such fun — the perfect mix of the thoughtful and the flippant — and the monthly Drs Brain interview series is definitely worth following. You can nab the feed from either Angela’s or Lisa’s blogs, both of which are great reads in their own right.

Now, anyone fancy a nice cup of hemlock herbal tea?

Lair of Evil Drs Brain


The Writer and the Critic: Episode 12

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!

Here are the show notes:

On this episode of The Writer and the Critic, your hosts, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond, decide to eschew their normal thirty-odd minutes of waffle and plunge straight into a discussion of the two titles at hand, Bluegrass Symphony by Lisa L. Hannett and Everyone’s Just So So Special by Robert Shearman. As both books are short story collections and also very new releases, there are no spoilers as such. But here are the time stamps anyway: 03:00 for Bluegrass Symphony (yes, that’s three minutes — they really meant it with the eschewing) and 33:00 for Everyone’s Just So So Special. Final remarks kick in around 01:21:00.

Kirstyn would like to disclaim that she is a judge for both the Australian Shadows and the Aurealis Awards this year, for which Lisa Hannett’s stories are eligible, and therefore needs to stress that her opinions of the collection as expressed on this podcast are solely her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the judging panels for either award. Ian would like to disclaim that he loves Rob Shearman just so so much, and is therefore incapable of holding any objective opinion of his work. So there’s that.

Bluegrass Symphony / Everyone's Just So So Special

The Karen Joy Fowler story that is tangentially mentioned can be read online over at Subterranean Press, while Rob Shearman’s insane One Hundred Stories project lives here.

Next month, Ian and Kirstyn invite John Richards from Boxcutters to be their special podcast guest. John has chosen Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture by Douglas Coupland as for everyone to read, while Ian has selected Room by Emma Donoghue and Kirstyn has recommended The Secret History by Donna Tartt. They will most likely be back to their usual spoilerific form, so read ahead and join in the fun!


Not so much breaking news . . .

. . . as a handful of notable events that have happened over the past month. Old news, most likely, but I still like to keep a record of such things here if only for my own edification.

The 2010 Ditmar Awards for Australian SF were announced at the Australian National Science Fiction Convention, NatCon-Dudcon III, on 3rd September (the Friday night of WorldCon). It was a pleasure to see a whole bunch of very deserving people take home a shiny trophy. The full list of winners and nominees are on the Locus Website. It makes for a very fine reading/viewing list indeed!

The 2010 Hugo Awards were also announced at WorldCon, with the ceremony taking place on Sunday, 5th September.  Australian author and gentleman Garth Nix did a superb job as Master of Ceremonies, and the entire event was streamed live and now can be viewed online. The full list of winners and nominees are on the AussieCon4 website — congratulations to everyone!

Ticonderoga Publications have announced the first in an ongoing annual series of Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror, to be edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene. Hopefully, this series will fill a void left by the untimely end of the Brimstone Press “best of” collection, Australian Dark Fantasy and Horror, while expanding the boundaries into other areas of the fantasy genre. The first volume will cover stories published in 2010, and will be published in June 2011. Full submission guidelines can be found here.

Finally, I’m extremely excited to learn that Ticonderoga will also be publishing Adelaide author Lisa Hannett’s debut short story collection in July 2011. Bluegrass Symphony promises us cowboys and fallow fields, shapeshifters and rednecks, superstitions and realities in harsh prairie country — and a whole bunch of other things thrown in the mix. Lisa is a brilliant writer and I can’t wait to get my hands on this book!