Sunday, May 24, 2015

In Sunshine Bright And Darkness Deep.

And so I can announce my story, Bloodlust, has been selected for inclusion in the inaugural Australian Horror Writers Association showcase, In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep. Slated for publication at Halloween, the TOC and cover were published online last week.

I'm pleased to be included alongside name writers like Marty Young, Cameron Trost, Jason Nahrung, Joanne Anderton and Dan Rabarts.

I love the cover artwork by Greg Chapman.

And the blurb? Those South-East Asian vampiric gangsters would be mine. I first encountered them when I was walking through the KLCC underground passages in Kuala Lumpur. They didn't want to stay there, hidden away.
"In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep is an anthology like no other. The tales herein will take you on a weird and terrifying journey. You will set out on a road trip and find yourself trapped in the arid Australian outback where a little girl and her grandfather struggle to survive. There are isolated farmhouses threatened by bushfires and bullets, and rainforests teeming with bloodthirsty bugs. The cities are full of trouble too. The murky waters of the Brisbane River hide spiteful spirits and the suburbs are infested with insane inhabitants masquerading as ordinary human beings. Then, you will leave Australia, departing from Melbourne, to hunt down vampiric gangsters in Southeast Asia, before sailing future seas and visiting realms beyond this world altogether. This inaugural showcase anthology features the work of just a handful of the many talented and darkly imaginative authors who make up the Australian Horror Writers’ Association. If you are unfamiliar with Australian horror, let this book be just the first step on a long voyage of discovery."
The River Slurry • by Rue Karney
Triage • by Jason Nahrung
Upon the Dead Oceans • by Marty Young
Beast • by Natalie Satakovski
The Grinning Tide • by Stuart Olver
Our Last Meal • by J. Ashley Smith
Veronica's Dogs • by Cameron Trost
Bullets • by Joanne Anderton
Saviour • by Mark McAuliffe
The Hunt • by Mark Smith-Briggs
The Monster in the Woods • by Kathryn Hore
Road Trip • by Anthony Ferguson
Bloodlust • by Steve Cameron
Elffingern • by Dan Rabarts

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I Love A Good Review.

And this is a very good one.

My story, Outside World, which was published in Aurealis #80 last week, has been reviewed on Tangent. And the reviewer had some nice things to say about my story.

This is a story that came about from thinking about a couple of other stories while I was climbing Little Adam's Peak in Sri Lanka. The original idea certainly wasn't fully formed and needed a lot of cajoling to become the story it is now. And some rewrites. But I'm pleased with how it ended up, and it pretty much holds true to my original vision.

The review?
"Outside World," by Steve Cameron, is an allegory for people who are forcibly dispossessed in the real world. Veronica, the narrator, is the last of a small community which has been ordered to vacate to make room for a colony of stranded aliens. The aliens don't want to have to do this any more than she does, but her town sat on a mine that, while mostly stripped-out, still contains enough ore for the aliens to build what they need to repair their crippled ship. Refreshingly, they are not portrayed as evil: the one that we see, Aldreth, is just a person who wants to go home. As with "Loyalty,” (the other story in Aurealis #80) it's a variation on a concept that has been done often already, but Veronica's grief is deeply convincing, her character complex despite the shortness of the story.
Yep. I'll take a review like that any day. Thanks, Tangent.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Vale: BB King.

I'm not sure when I first became aware of BB King, but I suspect it was in my Blues Brothers days when I'd hang out with Rob and listen to vinyl by artists like Solomon Burke and Sonny Terry. I do remember being captivated by those sweet little licks he'd play. Nothing flashy, nothing difficult, but no excess either. Every note told a story, and the story was the blues.

I saw BB King only once, sometime in the 80s. What a great show! I would have loved to have seen him again, and again, but it wasn't to be. And now it's too late.

If you haven't read his autobiography, I recommend that you do so as soon as possible. He truly was poor, being the son of a sharecropper, picking cotton as a child and basically living alone from the age of ten. He had a real tough start to his life, but it speaks testaments to the man that he did what he did from those humble beginnings.

Last night I played two BB King albums back to back and raised a glass of red wine to his memory.

He was 89.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Outside World.

I'm pleased to announce I've finally made the pages of Aurealis. Issue 80 includes my story, Outside World.

I first picked up a copy of Aurealis way back in 1990 as I passed by a news-stand at the station. (Yes, I paid for it.) Issue #2, with artwork by Shaun Tan and stories by Damien Broderick, Rosaleen Love, Paul Collins and Stephen Dedman, among others. Little did I know that one day I would be writing and they would actually publish one of my stories.

But now they have.

Outside World is a story of immigration, a story that has its roots in two other tales I read. The Arrival by Jean Arasanayagam, and Sky Burial by Xinran.  

I was in Sri Lanka, climbing Little Adam's Peak and thinking about these stories when the idea for this piece popped into my head. Not fully formed, unfortunately. In fact it took a lot of consideration, several rewrites and a major change in the ending after critiques from my friends at SuperNOVA writing group. It would have made a great story to tell at drinks if I'd been climbing Adam's Peak rather than Little Adam's Peak, for that is where Arthur C. Clarke was when he looked up and imagined space elevators for the first time.

Aurealis 80  is available here.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Reading The Beatles.

I'm alternating my reading at the moment, a bit of non-fiction between the fiction. A couple of Spec-Fic magazines thrown in for good measure. Lots of short stories, as this is the form in which I've been writing thus far. But in my non-fiction moments I've been getting back (ha! - get it?) into one of my great loves, The Beatles.

If I had to choose only one band that I could listen to for the rest of my life, then it would have to be The Beatles. I've been listening to them since I was a kid, and I never tire of them. There's a lot of music that speaks to me in ways that other artforms cannot, but music by The Beatles does so more consistently and more meaningfully than most.

But as a whole cultural phenomenon that came to represent everything about the sixties, I find their story fascinating. And so I read about them. A lot. I probably have more books about The Beatles than on any other subject.

It's been a while since I've read much about them. The last few months has seen me read three or four Beatles books, and I've loved every second of it. Insights, different viewpoints, little tales about meeting them, seeing them, descriptions of concerts or events. And every now and again I find something that I didn't know about, something that stuns me, impresses me, or just makes me jealous I wasn't ten years older. Makes me wish I'd lived the sixties as a teenager and managed to see them live.

But I have my little Beatles moments I cherish. Standing next to a guy as he was opening all the mail addressed to George Martin. Sitting at the console in studio two where they recorded just about everything. Touching the keyboard Billy Preston played in the Get Back sessions. Playing the piano Paul used on Lady Madonna. Standing at the Strawberry Field gates in a mist so magical and mystical I half expected Lennon to walk towards me.

There truly will never be another band like The Beatles. At least not for me.

Check out my Beatles page here.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Thoraiya, Tabbouleh And Tor.

My friend, Thoraiya Dyer, has promised Taboulleh for everyone. And that's a promise I intend to make her keep. For everyone? Well, for me at least.

You see, I love middle eastern food. Lebanese, Turkish, Arabian - offer it, and I'm there.

I've only met Thoraiya once in person, which is a shame and a situation that must be rectified. She's lovely, and has a good heart. And yet the Tabbouleh offer is not simply her being generous, but a celebration. Giddy with excitement she made an offer she may yet regret.

Thoraiya is a superb writer, and after a stack of rejections she's landed a three book deal with TOR.

And that is a big deal.

For those not up on the Spec-Fic world, TOR is a name publisher, with a proud history and a respected name. And I'm excited my friend Thoraiya will have novels under their imprint.

She's sold well before, in short story markets. She has a collection and a novella out with Twelfth Planet Press. And I feel honoured to have shared a TOC with her in Epilogue, published by Fablecroft.

Congratulations, Thoraiya. I'm proud of you.

Oh, and Thoraiya kinda rhymes with Himalaya, not with her surname.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Motivation And Such.

Last post I mentioned I was lacking motivation in my writing at the moment. I'm kind of sad to report that hasn't improved.

I currently lack motivation for a couple of reasons of which I'm well and truly aware, although I choose not to go into any detail here. I've spent a bit of time reflecting and looking into why I feel this way, and I must admit to not knowing what to do about it. Apart from, you know, just writing.

But I want my heart to be in it. And writing just for writing sake becomes little more than exercises that lack soul.

I work in education, and continually I hear teachers give students examples of athletes as role models in their academic studies. Just this week I heard about Michael Jordan who was cut from his high school basketball team. I would like to point out the speaker also mentioned Edison, Einstein and The Beatles who were all told at some point they wouldn't succeed. And yet it seems athletes are the examples we most often use. I've done it myself.

Last week I was told about a runner, someone who is, for the very first time, undertaking one of those iron-man thingies where they run, swim and cycle ridiculous distances. This runner, who is a friend of a friend, committed himself to finishing this event. And so he woke at 4.30 every morning, ran kilometres, trained hard, focused on where he needed to improve, controlled his diet - all the things athletes do when they are training towards something.

I have much admiration for people who commit to something like this.

I considered this as a role model for my own motivation. But as I thought about it, the less it works. While there are certain similarities, the analogy between creative and athletic endeavours doesn't satisfy me enough to be useful.

An athlete like the runner mentioned above, has a specific date and event he is working towards. I'm sure he has a goal time he would like to achieve, but I'm almost as certain he'd be happy just to finish the event. And should he not achieve either of those goals, he would be able to measure how far he fell short and what he would need to do to complete it next time.

But a writer like myself is writing a bunch of short stories,  one after another, sending them out and hoping to make a sale. And there is no second place. We either sell the story or we don't. IF we don't, we get a rejection, and it's rare they contain detailed feedback on how close we got to a sale. More often it's a generic No, Thanks. There isn't a single event we are working towards, where we do the same thing over and over and over to improve in preparation. (No, rewriting doesn't count.)

That's not to say we don't have goals. To sell to this or that particular market, to sign an agent, to make a three book deal - whatever. But so much of this stuff is outside our control.

All we can do is keep writing, hoping we improve, listen to the feedback we do actually get and then remember much of it is subjective. It's all about trying to tighten our techniques while keeping the stories human and relatable.

And a lot of this is undertaken blindly, hopefully progressing by feel or self realisation. Unlike runners, we don't always have the indicators that we're shaving seconds off our time, or getting a faster start. Or even improving.

Maybe I need a coach or a mentor.