Galactic Chats, Zombie Signings and Emerging Writers

Galactic Chat

While I was over in Perth at SwanCon, Alisa Krasnostein interviewed me for Galactic Chat, the sister podcast of Galactic Suburbia. The Chat podcast is an ongoing series of lengthy interviews with Australian authors and it’s well worth catching up on if you’re not already a regular listener. My interview is now available for downloading or streaming here. It runs for about half an hour wherein I talk about various writing-related matters including my novel, Madigan Mine, how writing a story can be likened to making a patchwork quilt, and why the imperfect truly is beautiful.

If you’re in Melbourne this weekend, get your zombie on and stumble along to Dymocks Southland on Saturday 28 May to celebrate International Zombie Awareness Month with author signings and a zombie shuffle! The timetable for the day will be:

11am-12 noon: Local horror authors Kirstyn McDermott (Madigan Mine) and Bob Franklin (Under Stones) will be signing copies of their books. Be afraid!

12 noon-1pm: Bestselling author James Phelan will be signing copies of his YA zombie novel Alone #1: Chasers (plus copies of his adult thrillers!).

1-2pm: ‘The Walking Dead’ Zombie Shuffle! Turn up to Dymocks Southland in full zombie costume for your chance to win a fantastic The Walking Dead prize-pack (courtesy of our friends at Madman Entertainment). Best costume wins, prizewinner announced 2pm.

Also in Melbourne, the Emerging Writers Festival starts tomorrow with a plethora of panels, conference, launches and other literary delights. I’ll be appearing on a panel next Tuesday evening to chat about speculative fiction with Alison Croggon, Paul Haines and Rjurik Davidson. Here’s the nitty-gritty:

Get Into Genre: Spec Fic
6:00 PM, Tuesday 31 May 2011
The Wheeler Centre — 176 Little Lonsdale Street

We all know genre rocks, right? For writers and lovers of fiction, Get Into Genre is an opportunity to hear from our sepculative fiction writers and industry professionals. Our panellists discuss how they got started in their writing field, and the challenges and opportunities of their writing forms. All sessions are interactive, so you can ask the questions you want answers to.


Ditmars Awards and Myth-Information

This is the first of two posts I plan to write about the latest Ditmar Awards controversy which ran rampant in certain corners of the internet over the past couple of days. I’m not going to name names or list a series of links. If you don’t already know what’s been happening — and you really care — it’s easy enough to dig around and find out. I’m writing this post first, because it’s the easy one.  Tomorrow I’m going to talk about the perceived problems surrounding the Ditmar Awards and hopefully contribute to finding solutions. But first, today.

As a lot of you will no doubt be aware, there has been some very heated discussion (to use the word loosely) over the results of this year’s Ditmar and Tin Duck Awards. If you’ve not yet seen the results, they are listed in full at the Locus website. A bunch of folks won multiple awards on the night and one small press publisher, Twelfth Planet Press (to be referred to herein as TPP), was very well represented indeed. The fact that Alisa Krasnostein (TPP owner and publisher) was also convener of SwanCon36/NatCon50 was pointed out as a possible conflict of interest and accusations of lobbying and unfair advantage were made. Some people defended the awards and the winners, others sided with those who felt the results were “embarrassing” and did not provide a true representation of the Australian spec fic community. I participated in the discussion on one forum and see little worth in hashing through it all it again here.

However, an aspect that I find particularly troubling is the grouping of a whole bunch of individual award winners into one homogeneous TPP mass, a grouping which has served as the basis of a lot of the recent argument and debate. The phrases “16 out of 18” (as a ratio of TPP wins to total awards) and “clean sweep” were repeated in various forums, and the concept seems to have become a slippery “fact” that even folks who were defending TPP from various insinuations no longer dispute. Twelfth Planet Press sweeped the 2011 Ditmar Awards; what remained to be discussed was how.

But let’s take a closer look:

Between the Ditmars (including the Atheling) and the Tin Ducks, there were a total of 20 awards given out over eighteen categories (two categories resulted in ties with joint winners).

Twelfth Planet Press was the publisher associated with a total of 10 awards. (Ditmars: Novella/Novelette, Short Story, Collected Work, Fan Writer, Fan Publication; Tin Ducks: Written Short Form, Professional Art, Professional Production, Fan Written, Fan Production.)

An astounding achievement, certainly, but hardly a “clean sweep”. So where does that phrase, and the 16/18 ratio, come from? The “18” part is easy — you discount the fact that two categories (one Ditmar, one Tin Duck) had joint winners and simply elect to count the categories rather than the actual awards given. But how does 10 awards turn into 16?

Watch closely kids, here’s some stellar prestidigitation for you:

  • The Ditmar Best Achievement was awarded to Alisa Krasnostein, Kathryn Linge, Rachel Holkner, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts & Tehani Wessely for the “Snapshot 2010”. This was not a TPP production but because Alisa was involved, you can count it as one anyway. So were her fellow Galactic Suburbanites, Tansy and Alex, for that matter. Plus Tehani reviews for ASiF (and won a Tin Duck for her work). Both Galactic Suburbia and ASiF are TPP productions. Doesn’t matter that the Snapshot wasn’t — you can definitely count it. That’s 1.
  • Now, Tansy Rayner Roberts also won Ditmar Best Novel and the Atheling Award. Power and Majesty was published by HarperVoyager and  “A Modern Woman’s Guide to Classic Who” appeared her own website. But it doesn’t matter, because she does work with Alisa and TPP as well, so these are obviously defacto wins for TPP. That makes 3 so far.
  • Then there’s Amanda Rainey, who won both a Ditmar (Fan Artist) and a Tin Duck (Fan Art) for her SwanCon36 logo. Nothing to do with TPP? No, but she has designed a lot of TPP book covers over the years. Sure, she’s also done covers for other small presses such as Ticonderoga and Fablecroft, but we’ll count these two awards for TPP anyway because Amanda does contract work for Alisa. There, now we have 5.
  • We can easily grab number 6 from the Ditmar Best New Talent, because Thoraiya Dyer has been published by TPP. Not exclusively, but enough that we can count her as part of the TPP conglomerate. That’s an extra 6 awards we can credit for TPP, which brings us to the magic number of 16. As in 16 out of 18.

And let’s take one last look at the number 18, shall we? As mentioned above, this was derived from counting categories rather than awards. In the Ditmar Short Story category, I tied with Cat Sparks. My story came from a Morrigan Books anthology, Cat’s from a TPP book. In the Tin Duck Fan Art category, Amanda Rainey’s SwanCon36 logo (designated TPP as above) tied with an artwork by Christina Lorenz. But if you’re making the case for a “clean sweep” then you simply use the number of categories for your total while counting any tied category with one TPP winner as win wholly for TPP. Sure, it’s not entirely accurate but does get rid of a couple of troubling non-TPP award winners when it comes to crunching numbers, and leaves only the winners of Ditmar Best Artwork (Shaun Tan) and Tin Duck Written Long Form (Juliet Marillier) standing apart from the Twelfth Planet Press crowd.

Quite a feat isn’t it? Of course Shaun Tan did supply cover artwork for Fablecroft, which is run by Tehani Wessely who won a Tin Duck for her ASiF reviews (a TPP publication) so perhaps we can count him as part of TPP as well. Then it would be 17 out of 18. I wonder if Julia has any connections with Alisa . . .

See how ridiculous it all gets? The Australian spec fic community is incredibly small, especially when you consider the wealth of creative talent and productivity to be found within its ranks. As I said somewhere yesterday, the famous rule about six degrees of separation is overkill when it comes to Aussie spec fic — two or three degrees would be enough to put you in touch with just about everyone else. To lump individuals, and their individual achievements, together in order to belabour a point or bolster an argument — just because they’re friends or have worked together on other projects —  is both unfair and unwarranted. It belittles the awards, it belittles individual achievement, and it belittles those who make such generalisations in the first place.

Regardless of which side you stand on the Great Ditmar Debate of 2011, and what outcomes you’d like to see in terms of rule changes or future voter encouragement (more on this tomorrow), I hope that at least you agree that care needs to be taken when talking about such potentially sensitive issues. Facts need to be correct, especially when you’re relying on said facts to argue a particular case. Moreover, I really do hope that the myth of the “TPP Clean Sweep” or the “16/18 ratio” gets put to bed. It’s not accurate, it’s not fair, and it’s not helpful.

And I thought this was the easy post.

[Disclaimer: Although I have not worked with Alisa Krasnostein or Twelfth Planet Press previously, I will be publishing a collection as part of the Twelve Planets series in 2012. I don’t believe this has any bearing on my opinions expressed either in this post or elsewhere over the past couple of days, but I’m happy to acknowledge the relationship.]

SwanCon, MegaPodcasts and Ditmar Awards

SwanCon36 was a wonderful convention and merriment was had by all. I was on a lot of panels and even managed to sit in the audience for quite a few that I wasn’t involved with — which doesn’t always happen, depending on how busy I am catching up with people and how good the bar is (and it was a very good bar). My program highlights were seeing Kaaron Warren interview Ellen Datlow — it was more of a friendly conversation — as well as being on a very lively discussion panel with Kaaron, Ellen and Paul Haines called “Darkness Beyond Borders”. Heaps of fantastic audience involvement and fascinating debate about horror and dark fiction, where the genre fits and how it bleeds into the mainstream. The live Galactic Suburbia podcast was also a lot of fun to watch and there were quite a few enthusiastic discussions over the weekend — on and off the program — concerning eBooks and social media. Much food for thought!

Speaking of podcasts, Jonathan Strahan from Coode Street, Helen Merrick from Pangalactic Interwebs, Alex Pierce from Galactic Suburbia and my own good self got together to record a live SwanCon MegaPodcast on the Friday afternoon. You can download or stream it from The Writer and the Critic, and the others will no doubt have their own links floating about the place in due course. It was a blast and gave me a welcome practice run for recording W&C with Ian live at Continuum 7 in June.

On Sunday afternoon Ticonderoga Publications threw a 15th Birthday celebration and launched their two newest anthologies, More Scary Kisses and Dead Red Heart. There were yummy cupcakes and fine wine and some heart-fluttery readings — I read an extract from “Frostbitten”, the story I have in More Scary Kisses, although I had to make a last minute switch when I saw there were kids in the room! Ticonderoga has been releasing some remarkable books in the last few years, with more exciting titles to come. I’m particularly looking forward to Bluegrass Symphony by Lisa L. Hannett, due for release later this year.

Ditmar Award 2011

Because SwanCon36 was also the 50th National Science Fiction Convention, the Ditmar Awards were presented on the Sunday night. I’m extremely proud to report that “She Said” (my piece from Scenes from the Second Storey) tied for Best Short Story with “All the Love in the World” by Cat Sparks. Cat’s story is brilliant and Sprawl, the Twelfth Planet Press anthology in which it was published, also won Best Collected Work. Twelfth Planet did extremely well at the awards overall which just goes to show what a powerhouse it has truly become in SpecFic publishing.  It’s worth pointing out that TTP doesn’t just publish traditional print books, but is also heavily involved in new media production, with Galactic Suburbia and the ASiF review website being well represented in the awards:

  • Best Novel: Power and Majesty, Tansy Rayner Roberts (HarperVoyager)
  • Best Novella or Novelette: “The Company Articles of Edward Teach”, Thoraiya Dyer (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Best Short Story (tie): “All the Love in the World”, Cat Sparks (Sprawl, Twelfth Planet Press) & “She Said”, Kirstyn McDermott (Scenes From the Second Storey, Morrigan Books)
  • Best Collected Work: Sprawl, Alisa Krasnostein, ed. (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Best Artwork: “The Lost Thing” short film (Passion Pictures) Andrew Ruhemann & Shaun Tan
  • Best Fan Writer: Alexandra Pierce, for body of work including reviews at Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Best Fan Artist: Amanda Rainey, for Swancon 36 logo
  • Best Fan Publication in Any Medium: Galactic Suburbia podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayer Roberts, & Alex Pierce  (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Best Achievement: Alisa Krasnostein, Kathryn Linge, Rachel Holkner, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, & Tehani Wessely, Snapshot 2010
  • Best New Talent: Thoraiya Dyer
  • William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review: Tansy Rayner Roberts, for “A Modern Woman’s Guide to Classic Who”

Locus has published the full list of Ditmar nominees and winners, as well as the results of the Tin Ducks and the other awards presented at SwanCon over here. Congratulations to everyone!

Now I’m back home and very tired, but also very much looking forward to the next time I get to hang out with the fine folks that make up the Australian speculative fiction community. Enthusiasm! Creativity! Gin and tonic! What more can you ask from a long weekend?

SwanCon 2011

I’m off to SwanCon over at the Hyatt Hotel in Perth this Friday and it’s turned into quite a busy convention for me! Here’s all the official panels and other fun stuff I’ll be doing:

  • 2.00pm — Friday, 22nd April — Plaza 1
    SF Book Club: The Windup Girl

    Discussion panel with Robin Pen, Helen Merrick, Andrew Cameron, Kirstyn McDermott, David Cake
  • 3.00pm — Friday, 22nd April — Freshwater Bay
    MegaPodcast: Read/View or Die

    Live podacast with The Coode St, The Writer and the Critic, The Pangalactic Interwebs and Galactic Suburbia
  • 4.00pm — Friday, 22nd April — Plaza 1
    Darkness Beyond Borders

    Discussion panel with Kaaron Warren, Kirstyn McDermott, Ellen Datlow, Paul Haines.
  • 6.00pm — Friday, 22nd April —  Conservatory Bar
    Book Launch: Toast the Twelve Planets!
  • 10.30am — Saturday, 23nd April — Plaza 2
    Author Reading
  • 11.30am — Saturday, 23nd April — Freshwater Bay
    The Mid-List Crisis and the Cult of Celebrity Authors
    Discussion panel with Ellen Datlow, Justina Robson, Kirstyn McDermott
  • 10.30am — Sunday, 24th April — Plaza 3
    Casting Your Pod

    Discussion panel with Grant Watson, Kirstyn McDermott, Helen Merrick, Jonathan Strahan
  • 5.00pm — Sunday, 24th April — Freshwater Bay
    Book Launch: More Scary Kisses / Dead Red Heart

It looks like it’s going to be a fantastic convention. Now all I have to do is pack . . .

Ditmar Awards Ballot

I need to travel more often. On Tuesday, I got off a plane in Newcastle to hear that my novel, Madigan Mine, had been nominated for an Aurealis Award. Yesterday, while I flew back to Melbourne, the Ditmar Awards finalists were announced and I was welcomed home by news of no less than three nominations!

There was much dancing of a joyful nature. 🙂

Madigan Mine has been nominated for Best Novel while “She Said” is on the ballot for for Best Short Story. And The Writer and the Critic — the podcast I produce with my dear friend Ian Mond (and the Pointy Stick) — also garnered a surprise berth in the Best Fan Publication in Any Medium category. It’s especially interesting to see this latter category dominated by podcasts — five out of the six finalists. Definitely a sign of changing times . . .

Along with the Aurealis Awards shortlist, the Ditmar ballot showcases the very impressive work being produced by the Australian speculative fiction community right now. It’s tremendously exciting to see so many talented people being acknowledged, even if such a strong ballot makes deciding who to vote for that much harder!

The winners of the Ditmar Awards will be announced at SwanCon 36, which doubles at the 50th Australian National SF Convention, over in Perth this Easter. If you’re a member of the convention, or were a member of the 2010 NatCon (DudCon 3), then you’re eligible to vote for this year’s Ditmars.

The full Ditmar ballot can be found here, along with voting information and instructions. If you’re eligible, please take a few minutes to look over the list and cast your vote — you have until Friday, 22nd April 2011.


Ditmar Awards open for nominations

The 2011 Ditmar Awards which recognise achievement in Australian science fiction, fantasy & horror will be presented at SwanCon36 (which is doubling as the 50th National Science Fiction Convention) in Perth over the Easter holidays.

Nominations for the ballot are now open and a handy online form can be found here along with details on alternative nomination methods. There is also a dauntingly comprehensive wiki of eligible works for 2010 available if your memory needs some jogging.

Nominations close on 14 March 2011.

And here’s where I polish my shiny old trumpet again and let you all know which works of my very own are eligible for a Ditmar nomination. I’m actually quite surprised at the list — it seems 2010 was an unusually productive year for me. If you’ve read/listened to and enjoyed any of the following and think they might deserve a berth on the ballot form, please feel free to nominate:

Best Novel category:

  • Madigan Mine by Kirstyn McDermott (Pan Macmillan Australia).

Best Novella or Novelette category:

  • “Monsters Among Us” by Kirstyn McDermott in Macabre: A Journey Through Australia’s Darkest Fears, edited by Angela Challis and Marty Young (Brimstone Press).

Best Short Story category:

  • “She Said” by Kirstyn McDermott in Scenes from the Second Storey, edited by Amanda Pillar and Pete Kempshall (Morrigan Books). [Note: this is my personal favourite of the short fiction I published last year and, I think, one of the best stories I’ve written.]
  • “We All Fall Down” by Kirstyn McDermott, Aurealis 44.

Best Fan Publication category:

  • The Writer and the Critic by Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond.

The William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review

  • Ian Mond and Kirstyn McDermott, for reviewing and critiquing speculative fiction novels, in The Writer and the Critic podcast.

[If you want to catch up on The Writer and the Critic, the podcasts are available for downloading and/or streaming here.]

More Scary Kisses

More Scary Kisses

I’m locked in the bunker trying to get my second novel finished over the next couple of months, but the release of this cover from More Scary Kisses was too beautiful not to post. Not only do I have a short story in the forthcoming anthology but so does my beloved husband, Jason Nahrung. Our first shard TOC . . . all together now: aaawww!


More Scary Kisses is edited by Liz Grzyb and will be published in April 2011 by Ticonderoga Publications, with a launch at SwanCon 29. The full Table of Contents are as follows:

Heather Albano – “The Dark Season”
Annette Backshall – “Hunting Rabbits”
Liz Coley – “Marriage of Convenience”
Dayle A. Dermatis – “Matchmaker”
Roxanne Dent – “Miss Luella’s Magic Shop”
Felicity Dowker – “Berries & Incense”
Donna Maree Hanson – “Phantom Love”
Martin Livings & Talie Helene – “The Last Gig of Jimmy Rucker”
Kirstyn McDermott – “Frostbitten”
Nicole R. Murphy – “The Protector’s Last Mission”
Jason Nahrung – “Resurrection in Red”
Amanda Pillar – “Philomena and the Blond God”
Carol Ryles – “Snake Charmer”
Fraser Sherman – “Sword of Darcy”
Eric Steele – “3am”
Frank Summers – “Dances with Werewolves”
DC White – “The Dark Night of Anton Weiss”

Right. Back to the bunker then.