The weekend began early on Friday for some of us as we taught writing workshops for almost 100 students aged 11+. Both students and teachers enjoyed the day and participated with enthusiasm in the tasks and exercises. This was topped off with the book launch for Beyond the Backyard, where many of the winners read out their stories to a packed room.
That night heralded the beginning of LexiCon proper, with an amusing opening ceremony followed by a well-attended screening of local film This Giant Papier Mache Boulder is Actually Really Heavy. Director and star Christian Nicholson was there and stuck around to enjoy the con.
The Sir Julius Vogel Awards were presented this weekend at LexiCon in Taupo.
Full List of Winners:
Into the Mist, Lee Murray (Cohesion Press)
Best Youth Novel:
Light in My Dark, Jean Gilbert and William Dresden (Rogue House Publishing)
Best Novella / Novelette:
The Convergence of Fairy Tales, Octavia Cade (Book Smugglers)
Best Short Story:
“Splintr”, A.J. Fitzwater, published in At the Edge (Paper Road Press)
Best Collected Work:
At the Edge, Edited by Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray (Paper Road Press)
Greetings, writerly and creative folks!
Here in the SpecFicNZ Committee, we’ve been hatching plans for how we can get to know you better as well as help you with publicising what you’re up to in your corner of the writing world. One way we want to do this is to feature our members here on the blog, with whatever you’d like to tell us about. Below are some questions you may use for inspiration if you wish. Please keep your total wordcount around 500 – no need to include the questions, only the answers. We may edit a little at our discretion. Send your interviews to specficnz at gmail dot com along with a photo of yourself and an image of your most recent book cover if you have one. We can’t wait to find out what makes you tick!
There are easy answers and there are hard answers. If you’re in the whimsical, 30-second-Oscar-speech mood, what fuels my writing is tea, dragons, and the steely blade of Joanna Russ. The harder answer is: I want to make a difference.
Many people like the precision: the “I knew what I was and wanted before coherent thought”. The young successful artiste. The blockbuster by the age of 25. A shelf groaning beneath awards. The brilliant obit.
But I’ve never approached life the easy way. I had no clue that writing was for me until my mid-30s. I glommed onto science fiction and fantasy in my teens, Anne McCaffrey and Melanie Rawn especial favourites. I dabbled in romance writing in my early 20s, thinking it easy money (it was, but it wasn’t emotionally fulfilling). I thought my career as an advertising copywriter would fulfil my creative desire: it didn’t.
The Dog with No Name, by Grace Bridges: One eventful night in Belfast, a soulful dog makes a split-second decision that will change his life forever. FREE on Kindle 15-18 May! (Short story)
Perhaps the dog had had a name, once, long ago, when children christened the puppy they’d begged for. Perhaps it had been Christmas, with shiny baubles hung on a fragrant tree, or somebody’s birthday, and he had burst out of a barely-wrapped box with the same brown ears and grey patches that he still wore, to be greeted with delight by the little ones and a certain disapproval on the part of a busybody aunt.
I knew I wanted to write from a very early age, and when you’re small, everything is speculative fiction. Spaceships belong on the front lawn, monsters hide beneath the bed and lurk under the water, and most adults have magic powers and should be viewed with caution. Even now, when I read stories without an element of speculative fiction, it’s as if something is missing. Some extra spark that pulls a nice story into a must read.
My most recent book, Miss Lionheart and the Laboratory of Death, follows Lilly, a super-bright biology student. She’s bundled into a super-secret underground bunker and forced to create awesomely dangerous creatures for a nefarious organisation. I started writing it just for fun. Diving straight in without planning so much as a word – not at all sure where it would go. I had my unreliable narrator (it was originally in first person) and she took me on a wild ride through treachery and out the other side.
I was one of those kids who got really excited in primary school when the teacher asked us to write a story in class. I would turn in 20 page missives when other students were rushing to throw together any old collection of words. Even then, magic and fantasy was an integral part of my writing.
Partly because of my background in counselling and family therapy, I like to write characters that have real emotional issues as well as magical ones. In my recently released book, Currents of Change, the lead character is dealing with the aftermath of an abusive relationship and a second trimester pregnancy loss as well as the complications of a haunted home and a possible new love. Not an easy time for her, but hopefully interesting reading!
After 2 long years of slaving over a hot keyboard, my latest release is the final book in the Survivors series. Now I’ve moved on to working on my science fiction romance series, The Immortelle, and I’m giving serious thought to starting work on my hard sci-fi series, The Gyrath’s Gate Chronicles. I’ve been working on Chronicles on and off since I was a teenager, and it would be nice to finally tackle the project now that I have experience as both a writer and a publisher, not to mention the support of a strong set of freelance specialists.
I loved creative writing in school and always tried to push the boundary with violence, horror and particularly plot twists at the end. I loved to try and cram as much as I could into the 200-300 words we were allotted during exams. The word limits were a challenge then; now I’m just too happy to be able to write something much, much longer.
Although I read plenty Stephen King and Dean Koontz in my high school days, I was mostly into action/spy thrillers then. In terms of plotting and action, Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy probably influenced me the most, right up to today. I think some of the content in PAWNS OF HEAVEN proves it, and it’s quite remarkable, considering I’ve only recently taken up writing again after almost 20 years. My reading tastes have, however, changed significantly over the years. Raymond E. Feist got me into fantasy when I was in university mid-to-late 90’s, and I think it’s just fantastic how his RIFTWAR CYCLE has evolved and expanded over two decades. Currently, however, I’m probably inspired most by the galactic sprawl of Peter F. Hamilton’s writing. His NIGHT’S DAWN trilogy is just so epic in scope, and such a fine example of speculative fiction. Ultimately, my reading experiences resulted in me writing PAWNS OF HEAVEN (now available as an omnibus of a trilogy I self-published in 2013), which is a thriller at heart, but set in a speculative universe with secret agents, mutants, Dyson Spheres, distant worlds, mental constructs – all in one story!
I recently released Beastheads, a prequel novel in my Gryphon Clerks series of lightly steampunked secondary-world fantasy (with an SF feel).
I’m taking a break from that series now to write a contemporary urban fantasy (more Jim Butcher than Charles de Lint) set in present-day Auckland. It’s called Blokes in Black, and features some underpowered magical practitioners who find themselves targeted by mysterious goons. I’ve lived in Auckland all my life, and know a bit about it, having worked for a travel guide and for the Council, so it seems like a good fit. It’s great fun setting action scenes in places that I walk past every day.
Jan Goldie is the author of two YA speculative fiction books, A Mer-Tale (2014) and Brave’s Journey (to be published July 2015, IFWG Publishing).
She’s a communications and content writer by day, living in Papamoa by the sea with two children, two budgies and one ferocious little dog.
Tell us about your most recent release or current writing project.
A Mer-Tale is a story about a teenage mermaid. But before you screw up your nose and slam the door, it’s also a tale about an ancient alien race and their attempt to live beneath earth’s seas.
I wrote the novella for inclusion in the ‘Conclave’ collection of science fiction and fantasy stories by Lee Murray, Piper Mejia and Celine Murray and myself.
Two of the stories, A Mer-Tale and Peach and Araxi, are nominated for best novella in the Sir Julius Vogel Awards this year.
I also decided to give the indie publishing route a go. My fellow writers kindly gave me permission to make A Mer-Tale into a separate book and so my huge self-publishing learning curve began! A Mer-Tale is now on Amazon, Smashwords and iBooks and I’ve held the glossy paperback in my hand! http://amzn.to/1zZ83v2
Please be aware that I am not an accountant and the below information reflects my understanding of the situation. I highly recommend reading the links I’ve given at the end.
On 1 January 2015, European VAT law is changing. Instead of the old method of applying VAT at the seller’s location, it will now apply to the buyer. This means that if you sell directly to anyone in Europe, you will be liable to pay VAT to their country’s government – with all the administration that entails, including detailed record-keeping and quarterly returns to each of the 28 countries if you’ve sold even one item in each. Not fun!
This is a new literary journal seeking fiction and non-fiction (and art if anyone is so inclined). I am helping select the fiction – all genres are welcome and I would love to see some speculative work! BUT it *has* to be literary, i.e. a focus on beautiful language (we love description!); AND for this particular journal, we are looking for “good spaces”. This doesn’t mean nothing bad can happen, but please do leave us satisfied at the end and try to avoid dwelling on anything pessimistic, religious, or sexual. We want it to be kid-friendly. The ideal submission is brief, lushly written, with immersive description. Vignettes are cool when they pack a punch of positive energy. And does anyone have some black and white speculative art?
The first piece of advice that Bradbury gave was to write a “hell of a lot” of short stories.
On the occasion of Bradbury’s birthday (22 August), The Airship has published some great highlights from the advice he gave to writers. There’s much to be gained from his wisdom. Check it out here: http://airshipdaily.com/blog/08222014-ray-bradbury-writing-advice