Sunday, July 22, 2018

Another Con Down, Another Con to Go.

I went to Edge Lit 7 last weekend, a fabulous mini-convention held in Derby. It's a one day affair, with some great guests, panels and workshops. I've been before, as well to it's November counterpart, Sledge-Lit, and always had a good time.

I travelled up with Andy Remic, which was a joy as always. We talked life, books and writing. Lots of writing. We're friends, but I also enjoy reading his work. He's a great writer with a long, established career, and it's a privilege to spend time in his company and be offered writing advice from him. (Which usually commences with 'Cameron, have you started writing a novel yet?)

A few of the friends I traditionally catch up with weren't able to attend. Work, life, and in one case an offer to watch the World Cup. To be fair, it was an offer to travel to Europe to watch it on TV and I believe beer was involved. But there were others I was able to spend time with. I saw Selina briefly before she had to leave, was able to dine with Jay, which was great as always, and met Neil, Simon and Lucy, with whom Andy and I shared a drink or two.

I met some writerly types for the first time as well. Gav Thorpe, Anna Smith-Spark, Anna Stephens, RJ Barker, Paul Tremblay Stan Nicholls, Steve McHugh, and Adele Wearing, as well as a few others.

The panels I saw were great, I went to Andy Remic's workshop which could have been longer, and enjoyed the Gemmell Awards.

David Gemmell was a really well known fantasy author in the UK, but I'd never heard of him. Some told me his fame was limited in the US and Australia. I'm looking forward to investigating his writing.

Congratulations to Alex Davis and the team for the organisation. The weekend away inspired me. I came home and signed up for Fantasy Con in October. If you're going, it would be great to see you there. If you're not, why not?

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Lady Who Sings to the Dead.

I'm so very pleased to be back in the pages of Outposts of Beyond.  A great little magazine, containing novellas, short stories, flash fiction, poetry, articles and reviews. I feel privileged. This is the fifth time I've been published by Alban Lake, and I look forward to having a new shiny copy of this issue in my hands.

My story, The Lady Who Sings to the Dead, is set in Australia long after an apocalypse but in a non-technological time. This story occurs in the same world and many years following the events depicted in two of my other stories, The Last of the Butterflies and Fireflies.

I love this world I've created. I love visiting it and I love writing in it. I really like some of the people who populate it.

I imagine there are many more stories to be told. For the time being, however, you we have this one.

Enjoy.


Table of contents:

The Lady Who Sings to the Dead by Steve Cameron
The One That Is All by Mike Adamson
The Voice of the Moroth by John Buentello & Lawrence Buentello
The Monster at the End of the World by Lee Clark Zumpe
The Steppenwolf Revisitation by Alan Ira Gordon
The Assassin Program by Christina Sng
The Quicksilver Wall by t.santitoro
The Unfolding by Melanie Smith
The Stories We Tell by Holly Day
Terran Vacations 2070 AD by Marge Simon
Water 2050 AD by Marge Simon
Meteor Shower BC by Marge Simon
The Ship by Marge Simon
The New Canadians  by Aaron W. Haney M.D.
Blade Runner 2049 Review by Kendall Evans
Integral Parts by Robert E. Porter

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Take Me Away....

Two weeks in the south of France does wonders for the soul, mind and body.

We drove there and back. It's kind of weird driving onto a train, sitting in the car for the 35 minute tunnel crossing, and then driving onto the wrong side of the road in France. Two weeks later we did the same trip in return, arriving home having added more than 3000 miles to the odometer.

Our dogs, faithful travelling companions both, were so well behaved. They sat on the back seat and loved every moment of the trip. I have to say though that a number of French dogs were enamoured of one in particular. Good thing she never gave out our phone number or address.

Driving in France is a pleasure. The roads are excellent, traffic flows well, and the scenery, drastically changing the further south you travel, is stunning. Then there's the food and wine. Fabulous. Just fabulous. And no, I did not add to my waistline. I was moderate in all my eating and drinking. I know, you're only concerned about my health.

Lots of scenery, lots of art and lots of history. The highlight for me was the Grottes préhistoriques de Cougnac, a series of caves with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. But then, tucked away in the back, is a series of cave paintings. At least 25,000 years old. Primitive, artistic, and moving beyond belief. I could only stare, trying to take it all in. Photos not allowed, so I grabbed a few postcards. If you haven't seen them, then you've seen enough pictures in books, films and websites to get the idea. But those can in no way compare to the real thing.

(I thoroughly recommend the Werner Herzog documentary, Cave of Forgotten Dreams about the Chauvet caves, which have far more artwork than the Cougnac caves. For their preservation, however, they have been closed to the public for many years.

But at night, sitting outside under French skies and sipping red wine, I gazed at the stars and my mind turned to a prehistoric France. The people then, most likely my ancestors, saw the same stars and the same hills. How much has the landscape changed in 25,000 years? How much did they understand about the sky? There were certainly some different animals, the lifestyle was very different and the landscape too. But a few people left art that is still there now.

Yes, the holiday was also a time of self-reflection, and wonder and awe. And for me that makes for a pretty good break.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Gone, But Not Forgotten By All.

I worry sometimes that we're losing our past, our heritage.

Carson, Ross Ryan, Buffalo, Sid Rumpo, Co. Caine?

None of these will mean anything to most of you, and even if you are Australian the chances are you won't know them, or at least not have heard of them in a very long time.

These were all musicians in the early 70s. Well known at the time, and some of the members went on to other things. But now largely forgotten.

My last foray into an Australian music store had none of these available. Most of them have never even had their work released on CD. Even if it was, it was generally on a specialist re-issue label for a very short time.

I'm lucky to have a few friends who remember these acts. I also have a group of friends who have ripped their vinyl to CD and share them, as long as the music is well out of print and not available in any format. Yes, their first aim is to protect and support the artist. And that is exactly how it should be.

My dad played a lot of older music when I was young, so I have a love of crooners, big band, brass band, and even some country music. But having taught for a number of years it seems as though the past is largely forgotten by many young people. They were never exposed to it. Occasionally I has a student who would approach me when no one else was around to tell me they'd discovered some amazing "new" artist, such as Hendrix or Nirvana, and wondered if I'd ever heard of them. But these are big names, and I very rarely hear anyone mention any of the artists above, although I Am Pegasus gets the very occasional spin on Australian radio.

We need to make sure we don't lose our Arts heritage, whether it's a novel by George Turner, a Smiley film, or an old album by Blackfeather.

Explore the past. There are some real diamonds in there.

Monday, May 7, 2018

There's An Optimistic Vibe In The Air.

Spring has arrived, later than last year for sure, but it's finally here and making up for lost time. The skies are blue, the flowers are blooming and the grass needs cutting once again.

OK, that last one I'm not so keen on, but at least the grass isn't as tough as the grass back in Australia. Nor does it need cutting on a fortnightly basis.

The change in weather seemed quite sudden, and because of that the longer days also seemed to appear without much warning. One morning I realised I was waking at 5am (or earlier) simply because it was light outside.

For a number of reasons, and I'm sure the arrival of Spring is part of it, I feel really quite optimistic at the moment. I got to work with a spring in my step, a song in my heart, and a bunch of other cliches. Someone even mentioned they'd noticed I was whistling at work last week. I hadn't noticed it myself, although I know I whistle. Fortunately they told me they quite liked hearing it. I have, of course, become quite self-conscious in the office now and have stopped myself a couple of times as I was about to launch into song.

The writing continues, slowly, but this beast is being lashed into shape. I like where it's heading. I hope you will too.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Ideas A Plenty.

I've had a good run of ideas for short stories recently. Some are merely snippets, some are almost fully fleshed. All have gone into my writing journal.

I have no idea how many will end up getting used. I never do. And some that do get used end up being more of an inspiration, or a launching point, rather than the original idea. A piece of conversation I overheard on a plane (and noted because it was so ludicrous) will get used, but even the original conversants would never recognise it. It was idea of the silliness of the conversation I loved, even though the participants were earnest and serious.

One of the ideas has already developed into a few paragraphs, and I'm enjoying writing this one. It's a comedy piece based on an idea I originally had about a year ago, but mashed it with another idea I had a week ago. And they fit so well together it is as if it was meant to be.

Writing comedy is difficult. Humour is so subjective that you can never be really sure how well it is working until a range of readers tell you. I've been fortunate in my attempts, and my biggest sale was a humorous piece which garnered good reviews, comments and even a mention in a recommended reading list.

But the main thing is the ideas have been flowing, and I'm working at whipping them into shape and pushing them out into the wild world.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Andy Remic: Writer, Film-maker, Mentor and Friend.

I had the privilege and honour of spending an afternoon with Andy Remic. Not only is he a friend, but he's a fabulous author with more publishing credentials than I could ever achieve.

Yeah, we hang out from time to time. We meet up for drinks, to watch TV shows, to listen to music and just chat.

Among our many chats, we've talked about writing before - quite a few times. He's also done me the great honour of reading some of my work and offering fantastic advice and feedback. We've even talked about the industry. We've talked about the work involved, the contracts, the business, the hopes and dreams, the problems encountered. And all the while he's been patient, encouraging and supporting.

This time, however, was different, and I can't quite put my finger on how. Sure, we talked about the same range of writing topics, but there was a lot more about the mechanics of writing, of getting published. It seemed to me as though the discussion was more focused and structured. More than that, though, I think I was more active in my listening (not that I don't ever listen to advice from someone who know what they're doing) and I think I asked better questions.

I left feeling energised and inspired. Thanks Andy, for your time, your advice, your encouragement and your friendship.

And if you're not familiar with Andy's work, check out this review in last week's Grimdark

Remic is so good at creating a horrific vision of the front—of hopelessness and horror, of surrender and grit, of the randomness of death when a million people are trying to kill you in a million different ways.
A fun book, with a big mid-novella twist and a constant sense of foreboding, Return of Souls gives fans of this series more of what we loved about A Song for No Mans Land, and then turns up the fantasy dial.

 Surely that's enough to get you started.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Ever Sneaky and Mysterious Thoraiya Dyer.

Thoraiya Dyer is a name many of you will recognise. She's a great writer and also a friend - although we've only really met twice in person, chatted once on the phone, and never spent anywhere near enough time together. We don't even e-communicate very often. Her online presence is restricted to a website, a few tweets and, like many mysterious and elusive beings, a couple of photos. (which may or not be her)

So it's no surprise to accidentally discover she has a new release on Tor books.'Part two of A Titan's Forest series, Echoes of Understorey continues on from last year's Crossroads of Canopy. Already it has received excellent reviews - including a star review in Publisher's Weekly.
"There’s far more to this story than can easily be summarized, and readers will savor its intricacy, depicted in evocative prose (“the monsoon greeted her with a wet slap across the face”). Dyer skillfully weaves elements of mythology, family loyalty, and divine destiny into a distinctive, enchanting, and complete world."
But if that's not enough to convince you, consider the following as well:

"I am majorly impressed with Thoraiya Dyer's Crossroads of Canopy. A unique, gorgeous, and dangerous world, a stubborn female hero, and a writer to watch!"--Tamora Pierce

"For her striking first novel Crossroads of Canopy, Thoraiya Dyer reworks the stuff of epic fantasy in ways that seem organic, rooted in the natural world but just as true to human experience." --Locus magazine

"Recommended for readers who appreciate nuanced world building, as both Canopy and Understorey arestrange, fleshed-out lands thrown into turmoil."--Booklist

I've read quite a bit of Thoraiya's work, and I can highly recommend both her short and longer fiction to you. Although I have yet to read Echoes of Understorey, I look forward to doing so. And I must admit to being jealous of those of you who will encounter Thoraiya's writing for the first time.

Congratulations, Thoraiya.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Another Impending Publication.

Did I mention I have another story being published in a few months?

I certainly hinted, back here, but I don't believe I have given any further details.

The Lady who Sings to the Dead is set in Australia long after an apocalypse but in a non-technological time. This story occurs in the same world and many years following the events depicted in two of my other stories, The Last of the Butterflies and Fireflies.

I can trace its origins to a tour I undertook many years ago in Port Arthur - a convict colony in Tasmania with a painful and violent history in the most glorious surroundings. Those familiar with Port Arthur will no doubt easily find the connection.

This will mark my fifth publication in Outposts of Beyond, the first since 2014. And it's good to be back. Alban Lake has always been a supportive, encouraging and fair publisher. I look forward to receiving my contributor copy. Keep an eye out for the release date in July.

As for other stories set in this same world? I have a few ideas. Watch this space.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Home Again, Home Again?

I'm confused.

I'm currently in Australia, at the tail end of a two week visit, and in a day or so I'll be heading home. Or am I currently at home, and heading off again?

Since July 2016 I've been working and residing in the UK with Lindsey. That's where you'll find our dogs, our TV, my Beatles' albums and our car. But I grew up in Australia, so for so many years that was my home. Before that, however, I was born in Scotland and emigrated to Australia when I was a tot.

So which is my home?

Both, in different ways. But for now I'm heading home, with a bag full of Tim-Tams to share with Lindsey. If you drop in for a coffee after I get back, you might just score one.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Weather With You.

The past week has been cool, although milder than it has been. Temperatures have ranged from 6 to 10c and mostly dry. Yes, there have been a few showers, but nothing terrible.

In a couple of days it will be high 20s into the 30s. Not in Lincoln, of course, but in Melbourne, Australia.

Apart from articles about my Australian Football team, and the odd bits of news I pick up through Facebook, I have no idea of what's happening back home. Entertainment, politics, news or sport - none of it. I stopped reading the Australian news and weather a few months after arriving over here. There just didn't seem much point, and I felt it was more important to be aware of what was happening here in the UK.

But I've been tracking the Melbourne weather for the past few weeks as I'm heading home in a few days, time to visit family and friends. It appears I'll be arriving into a 33c day. Guess I won't be needing my winter jacket and scarf.

I was planning to get up to a football match, although I think that's now fallen through. I have made some plans to hang out with my best friend, to have dinner with others, to visit my school, and to catch up with family.

I've also made arrangements to visit Deakin University, where I studied all those years, and to chat with some staff there regarding the differences between the Australian and UK tertiary systems. Aaah, Professional Development - grab it where you can.

When I booked my ticket I wasn't too fussed. Yes, I was looking forward to going, but as the departure date approaches my excitement continue to grows. I really can't wait to see my family and friends.

And Tim Tams. There will be Tim Tams.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

With Infinite Complacency: Some Reviews.

Goodreads and Amazon have received excellent reviews for the Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths anthology of which I am a part. And I'm excited by the number of these that mention my name and story in particular.

Unlike the review of Sherlock Holmes: The Australian Casebook in The Australian, Steve Connor doesn't make an appearance. These all get my name correct.

For those who missed the earlier announcementLeft Hand Publishers describe this release as a collection of short stories from writers around the world, spanning different genres, to bring you a compendium of tales to provoke thought, entertain you, and even mystify your imagination.

My story, With Infinite Complacency,  is about Australian astronaut Amanda Jefferies, who finally makes it onto the International Space Station only to watch in horror as the apocalypse unfolds on the Earth below.

The publisher describes my story as a "sci-fi saga about the end of the world, cosmic lies, and bananas."

Some Goodreads and Amazon review quotes:

"Steve writes with authenticity about his characters and their true-to-life scientific environment."

"...there are some incredible pieces of short fiction in this anthology. Among my favorites 
     With Infinite Complacency by Steve Cameron ..."

"... With Infinite Complacency by Steve Cameron is a science fiction tale. ... I love the concept in this story and the twist at the end. I also loved the idea how would you feel if you were  alone in the universe?" 

"I enjoyed them all, but those that stick with me are Red Carnation, With Infinite Complacency, Death and the Horse, The Fall, and The Half-Dead Man." 

Thank you for the reviews, and thank you for reading our stories. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

James Worrad is a Very Naughty Writer.

I first met James Worrad at Loncon in 2014. I knew someone, who introduced me to two other people, who then introduced me to three other people, of which James was one. Really, this was exactly how it happened.

We stayed in touch online, and then when I moved to the UK, we continued to stay in touch online. Although James lives about an hour from me, we rarely manage to be in the same room together. From time to time we catch up, and can I just point out that he continues to be as bad an influence as he ever was.

He is corrupting, naughty, and sometimes very funny. Oh, and he is a writer.

His first novel is out. Or about to be out. Or something like that. The Scalpel is the first in him Feral Space series, and draws on the weird story of the Gibbon Sisters. Now this is a case I am actually familiar with, and I love the idea James has put it to good use.
"Eerie as heck but oddly moving. The two girls couldn’t function apart but knew they were consuming each other’s identities as time progressed. They announced one of them would die and, hey presto, one of them did that very day, just collapsed in her sister’s arms. Feral Space doesn’t go that way, but I wanted to take the twins’ predicament to an extreme: two sisters sharing a single body and presenting themselves as one to the rest of the world. The idea of showing that in a novel set my keyboard alight."
Keep an eye out for James, and if you see him around take pity on him and throw a few pounds in his direction.  Seriously, buy this book.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

New Years And New Plans.

At the beginning of every year people make plans and resolutions.

Not me.

If I want to make a change, then I try to do it. No need to align with a date of imaginary importance. I think the last resolution I made (and didn't keep) was back in the 20th Century. I just don't really see the point. I suppose a large part of that is my failure to keep my resolutions.

I do, however, use New Year as a time of reflection and planning for the future. Nothing formal, simply a few thoughts about what I have done and what I hope to achieve. Writing usually pops into my brain, as does playing my guitar more often with the intent to improve. And there's sometimes something about exercise and planning earlier for work.

You might be asking right now what the difference is between these and resolutions. Simple. This is merely planning, and I don't make it a promise.

As the Australian academic year rolls around, this was the time when we had our summer break. This was when I had some free time to get on with things and I needed to start preparing for the commencement of the school year.

Of course that doesn't apply here in the UK. The extended break is in July and August. So this year I took the opportunity to eat well and go for long walks with Lindsey and the dogs.

Hope you all had a good Christmas and New Year.