Not for the faint of heart, apparently

On Monday night I gave a reading from Madigan Mine at The Wheeler Centre, as part of their “Debut Mondays” series. It’s the first time I’d read that particular section in public, and it’s one of the nastier scenes in the book. There is a knife involved, and quite a bit of blood, and someone getting sliced up (although not fatally). As I was nearing the end of the ten minute reading, I became aware of a commotion in the audience and looked up to see a young man slumping over sideways in his seat. Turns out he’d fainted!

Needless to say, I didn’t finish the reading. The young man came around after a couple of minutes and was perfectly fine, if a little embarrassed. During the impromptus intermission, during which some very decent wine was served, three women crowded over to me to ask how the piece ended. “We have to know what happens!” Later, I chatted with a man who confided that he usually didn’t read that kind of thing, but that he found himself completely engrossed by my reading. So, I guess it all went well. You know, apart from making people pass out.

Me and Chuck Palahniuk, who knew?

In other news, Mother and Father Blackbird have both been working very hard the last couple of days, flying to and fro with food for the new babies. I can’t see them from my vantage, but I’m thinking of setting up at a ladder at a respectable distance just to have a squizz. I’ll wait a couple more days until the babies are older and I am perhaps at less risk from being divebombed from a justifiably irate Father Blackbird. Here are a couple of photos of the industrious pair. I do believe that Father Blackbird is giving me the evil eye!

Mother Blackbird

Mother Blackbird

Father Blackbird

Father Blackbird


Things that go bump in the night


Next Sunday is Halloween! It’s also my birthday! Double Huzzah!

Fittingly, I’ll be at Dymocks Southland for their Halloween HorrorCon on the 31st, eating too much sugar and signing books along with four other might fine local authors of dark fiction — Alan Baxter, Bruce Kaplan, Bob Franklin and the dashingly handsome Jason Nahrung. Come along and say Boo!

Date:  Sunday, 31st October 2010
Time:  12.00 noon – 1pm (approx)
Address:  Dymocks Southland, 3067 Westfield Shopping Centre, Cheltenham, VIC

For those in the mood for a night of spooky Q&A, Continuum 7 is hosting a Halloween Trivia Night next Saturday with none other than the fabulously vampiric Narelle Harris as Inquizator. Costumes are optional but there will be lots of yummy prizes, so don’t be shy about getting your Halloween groove on.

Date: Saturday 30th October
Time: 8pm
Where: Brian Boru Function Room @ The Celtic Club, 316-320 Queen Street, Melbourne
Cost of Entry: $5

The  published their Top 25 Horror Films this past week. It’s not exactly the list I would make, were I in the habit of making such lists — The Hunger is missing for a start — but it’s a fine collections of films nevertheless. There’s a few classics on there I keep meaning to track down — Peeping Tom, Don’t Look Now, Les Diaboliques — so it’s also a timely prompt. Good the see the beautiful Swedish film, Let the Right One In, making it into the top ten.

Lastly, here’s an interesting factoid for you: October 2010 has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays — all in one month. Mathematically, this only happens once in 823 years. Such things amuse me.

ETA: Sadly, this last is not true. In fact, the last time this happened in October was 2004 (six years ago) and the next time it will happen is 2021 (11 years from now). Thanks to Andrew McKiernan for pointing this out for the benefit of a Kirstyn too lazy to google . . .

Debut Monday at the Wheeler Centre

The Wheeler Centre

I’ll be at The Wheeler Centre next week as part of their Debut Mondays series of new author readings. Joining me will be other debut authors Lara Fergus, Lisa Lang and Anna Krien. It’s a free event, in a lovely venue (with wine!), and books will be available for purchase in the foyer afterwards if you like what you hear.  I’ll be reading from my novel, Madigan Mine.

Date:  Monday, 25th October 2010
Time:  6.15pm — 7.50pm
Place:  The Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000

So if you’re in Melbourne with naught to do, please come along. It’s always lovely to see a bunch of friendly faces at things like these.

The Wheeler Centre is dedicated to the discussion and practice of writing and ideas. They run a truly impressive year-round programme of talks and lectures, readings and debates — the majority of which are free to attend. You can subscribe to their newsletter here.

A Monstrous Manifesto

While we’re on the subject of the magnificent and utterly brilliant Catherynne M. Valente, here is a most wonderful poem she wrote to open the Monsters Ball at StrowlerCon last weekend in Boston, USA:

If you are a monster, stand up.
If you are a monster, a trickster, a fiend,
If you’ve built a steam-powered wishing machine
If you have a secret, a dark past, a scheme,
If you kidnap maidens or dabble in dreams
Come stand by me.

If you have been broken, stand up.
If you have been broken, abandoned, alone
If you have been starving, a creature of bone
If you live in a tower, a dungeon, a throne
If you weep for wanting, to be held, to be known,
Come stand by me.

If you are a savage, stand up.
If you are a witch, a dark queen, a black knight,
If you are a mummer, a pixie, a sprite,
If you are a pirate, a tomcat, a wright,
If you swear by the moon and you fight the hard fight,
Come stand by me.

If you are a devil, stand up.
If you are a villain, a madman, a beast,
If you are a strowler, a prowler, a priest,
If you are a dragon come sit at our feast,
For we all have stripes, and we all have horns,
We all have scales, tails, manes, claws and thorns
And here in the dark is where new worlds are born.
Come stand by me.

You can hear Cat reading the poem over at the StrowlerCon livefeed archives (about a minute from the start of that link). The rest of the archives are well worth watching for some amazing performances by a whole bunch of very creative folk. Makes me wish I’d been there.

And yes, I believe I may just have a small writerly crush on Ms Valente. Why ever do you ask?


Life Abhors a Vacuum

No, really, it does.  The busier I get, the more life grins and says, “Oh, wait, there’s also this you need to look at, please. Um, like yesterday.”

Still, I’ve managed to find time to get this fledging website off the ground. There’s not a lot of content thus far, but hopefully that will change, bit by bit. If you’ve been reading my livejournal, then you needn’t worry about the older posts here; they’re selected highlights which I’ve imported from my LJ because I’m a little bit obsessive about keeping all the relevant stuff together. Also, I don’t think I’ll be using my LJ very much anymore, because maintaining two blogs is a fast way to CrazyTown.

So, upwards and onwards.

I’ll be at Continuum 5 over the weekend of 14-16 August, which should be a blast. I’m reading a story on the Sunday afternoon, if people are still awake by then — if I’m still awake by then! — although I’m not sure which one. I have two recent ones which would fit the 15 minute timeslot, one in third person, one in first. I’m tempted to go with the latter, as I think first person narratives have an added sense of the dramatic when read aloud. And I’m all about the dramatic. I also need to come up with some sort of steampunkish costume thingy for the masquerade on Saturday night. Shouldn’t be too hard; half my wardrobe would lend itself quite nicely to something steampunkish. I had procured a box of cuckoo clock innards I was intending to cut apart and fashion into something funky, but that’s not going to happen now. BusyBusyBusy, remember? Hope to catch up with a lot of people over the weekend.

I’m also looking forward to attending this panel at the Melbourne Writers Festival the following weekend, which sounds fascinating. China Mieville, Margo Lanagan and Jack Dann. Could it get much better than that? It’s probably the only thing I’ll actually get to see at the MWF this year. Which is one more than I saw last year, so I guess I can’t complain. Okay, I can, but I really shouldn’t.

I’m kind of out of practice when it comes to complaining, to tell the truth. Life continues to be good to me. Piling on the busy-ness, but good nevertheless.

Little Disturbances

I am reading my story, "Indigo in Absentia", at the launch of Southerly – Little Disturbances in Sydney in a couple of weeks. It was lovely to have this piece accepted for Southerly‘s special short story issue, and even nicer to be asked to read it at the launch. I like reading my work aloud in public. (Preferably by invitation – I’m not one of those weirdos standing on the steps of Flinders Street Station with a portable PA system, although I’ve sometimes considered it. Someone needs to balance out the ill being done by the fundamentalist Christians who set up shop Friday and Saturday nights. I’ve often thought that an hour or two of reading Neil Gaiman stories aloud to the public would be a step in the right direction.)

But I digress. I like doing readings, mostly because it’s about the only situation in which writers – splendidly isolated creatures that we are – get to approach the sort of immediate feedback that rock stars enjoy. Unless you’re Neil Gaiman doing a reading, in which case you pretty much are a rock star.

Anyway, I’m reading a story. The launch is at the UTS main campus, in the Gallery Courtyard, which is somewhere near the co-op bookshop on corner of Harris & Broadway, apparently. Friday 28th November, 5.30pm – 700pm. If you’re in Sydney, come along and watch me pretend to be a rock star, sans the actual sex, drugs and rock’n’roll type stuff. I probably won’t get to sign any tits either. Sigh. Writers never have any fun.