Killings columnist

I’m delighted to join the Kill Your Darlings team as a Literary Columnist for Killings for the remainder of 2015. My column will be:

Investigations into and explorations of literature and writing: literary places, literary lives and works, literary terms and methods, authors’ obsessions and concerns. Sometimes creative, often personal.

Read more here.

I’ll post links to each piece as they go up.

There’s so much else going on – I can’t even – so have a squiz at the events page and my Facebook page to keep up: workshops, Instagram collectives, Qld Poetry Fest, a Hares & Hyenas reading, and having some poems published…

Also the first book I acquired for Echo is now out in the world. I’m like a glowing (and anxious) mum. I really love working with authors, but also editors, designers, proofreaders, and schedules! Seriously, I love schedules. This job is the perfect fit for me.

And today I got to meet a great Aussie actor because Echo is publishing his autobiography. There’ll be a pic up on Monday on the Echo Facebook page… He gives really good hugs! And I actually quite needed one today, despite all this radness. So that was great.

Hope you are all prosperous and loving and being loved x

What the wow

UPDATE: Published this then realised my blog turned EIGHT yesterday!

I spent half the day in my pyjamas and wrote 1181 words which just tipped my WEIRD Scottish manuscript over 50,000 (rough) words. Last night I saw Jack Ladder & the Dreamlanders and it rocked; I danced with a whisky in my hands and Jen Squire, who wrote this overwhelmingly lovely and amazing profile of me, would be interested to know that I actually put ice in it, because it was cheap stuff and I wanted to hydrate since I didn’t plan on moving from the front of the stage where I could see Kirin J Callinan’s dance moves.

So, working in publishing has been a ride so far. Stimulating, satisfying and definitely challenging at times. Mainly, I’m grateful that I’ve finally found my place, in terms of a day job, in the world of books. My colleagues are intelligent, lovely and great fun as well. You can’t ask for more than that. Oh! So, if you are working on a manuscript, please do keep Echo in mind. I’ve already signed three debut Australian novels and two nonfiction books, as well as managing a bunch of other titles. Please also check out the forthcoming books on that page, and follow us on social media, as there may be something up your alley as far as reading goes.

What else is happening? I’ve been writing my contributions for the Dear Everybody collective. They’ll appear here, and if you’re in Melbourne do come along to the tie-in event at the Emerging Writers’ Festival. Next weekend I’ll be the official reporter, for the second year in a row, at the Australian Booksellers Association Conference. I’m looking forward to hearing about what’s happening in the industry, and to partying with the booksellers. The weekend after that is Sydney Writers Festival. I’m participating in Forest for the Trees: Writers and Publishing in 2015. I’ll stick around for a night so I can see some events as well. And soon I have some workshops coming up in the ACT, Queensland, and possibly at the new Coffs Harbour Writers Centre. There will be more info on my Events page soon.

As mentioned in Jen’s profile, I’ve also been planning a dream trip back to Scotland. I’ll be staying on Islay and Jura, and then I’ll finish the trip in London to see Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch at the Barbican. I can’t wait.

Since I’m not reviewing books professionally any more (and limiting the chairing I do), I’ve really been enjoying reading whatever the fuck I want this year. Finally getting to Elena Ferrante. Catching up on some Aus reads I missed. Finally just now picking up Knausgaard. Reading John Bayley’s bio of Iris Murdoch (the mess, the swims, the lovers – it’s amazing). Dipping into books of poetry and short stories. I still add the odd short review on Goodreads and sometimes even on Instagram or my Facebook page. But mainly, now, I read for pleasure, for research, and I read manuscripts for work. I got so much out of reviewing, but I’m enjoying the shift.

I didn’t mean to write a blog post, but here it is. Unstable world, at times a chaotic storm in my head and my chest (‘hung velvet overtaken me’) but there is comfort in words, and art. My muse at the moment, Caravaggio’s John the Baptist c. 1600: John the Baptist

Spark, flow, sigh: the erotics of body & mind on Killings

 

John William Waterhouse’s Mariana in the South, via VictorianWeb

 

Recently, as we sat around having a few drinks after a book launch, the poet Jennifer Compton asked the question, ‘Do you find writing to be an erotic act?’. My instinctive answer was ‘yes’, but I’ve been thinking about it ever since. How did I interpret the question? And why was my answer so sure?

Find out over at Killings.

Whisky nights

whisky nights

‘I’m compelled to write about the whisky bar. One reason is that my job as a commissioning editor is still so new and exciting, I’m learning so much, and I think I can write about that better down the track. Another reason is that I won’t have the bar job forever, and I want to capture something of it while I can.

‘I fell in love with single malt whisky, as many people do, in Scotland. It was a warm June day in 2011 when my partner Gerard and I walked into The Whisky Experience on The Royal Mile in Edinburgh. We were on a 10-week trip across the UK and Europe, with a tour of the Scottish Highlands to come. I’d spent a few days previously in Edinburgh in 2008, travelling alone in winter. The city, all stone and fog, got under my skin, and I knew I wanted to see more of the country. But I’d missed whisky in 2008. I was only 22, after all. My main squeeze, as far as alcohol went, had been bourbon and coke, like many regional Australians. I’d also had a particularly bad experience with the cheapest and nastiest variety of blended Scotch whisky. So I didn’t think I liked Scotch, and I hadn’t yet learned what the differences were between a blend and a single malt, and had very basic knowledge of the differences between whiskeys (including bourbon) and whiskies. On that one day in 2011, everything changed.’

Read the rest over at Writers’ Bloc.

Projects and publications, plus an opportunity for online writers

It’s been a while since I updated, so I’ll shove it all in one post. First of all, Happy New Year! 2014 was an incredible year for me, though it started out rocky (I was unemployed for about two months). The highlights were finishing my doctorate, publishing Captives, and having a story included in Best Australian Stories 2014.

Simpsons did itAnother highlight was reworking a chapter of my thesis and having it included in this book: The Simpsons Did It! Postmodernity in Yellow (eds Martin Tschiggerl and Thomas Walach-Brinek). I wrote about Lisa Simpson as a nonconformist, the prominent voice of the show’s critiques of dominant consumer society (while being complicit to it, as the show is). If you’re interested, it’s available on Amazon. I’m looking forward to my copy arriving on the 4:30 autogyro.

I was also delighted to contribute recently to The Lifted Brow: Digital 15;2, with two new flash stories: ‘Close Like This’ (set in a strange underground bar) and ‘The Washington Irving Hotel’ (set in an abandoned hotel I saw in Granada).

Soon I’ll be contributing to a cool online project, Dear Everybody Collective, where artists and writers collaborate back and forth and the results are published on Instagram. I’ve really enjoyed following so far, particularly the collab between Rose Jurd and Melinda Bufton. Follow and scroll back here.

Speaking of online projects, I’ve decided to release the current short story I’m working on, plus a couple of new flash pieces and perhaps some audio in a package on Gumroad, to try something different rather than publishing new work through literary magazines. Of course I’ll continue to do that, I just like the idea of having a button here where people can always find new work from me, if they’re interested. Perhaps at some point I’ll release an extract of my novel-in-progress, or even digitise one of my workshops. What do you think? Editing is important so Daniel Young (of Tincture Journal) is on board to help me curate and polish the pieces. If you’d like to find out when I’ve released anything this way, add your email here (it won’t be too often/spammy).

And now the opportunity: I’ve been invited to be a judge for the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, which awards $5000 over a year to a writer who will produce 50 pieces (roughly one per week). There is more info here. There has been some criticism of the prize, namely that it’s not enough money per piece of work. These criticisms come from  writers whose work is valued (financially) at a professional rate (as it should be) but I just want to take a minute to describe my own reaction to first hearing about the grant, and explain why I support it.

First of all, I thought it was generous, as it’s a personal donation made by a writer and teacher who has produced great volumes of online writing (mainly for interest, innovation and pleasure), so knows what it takes. Secondly, in my experience over seven and a half years of blogging, there were times when I wondered why something like this didn’t exist. Before and after writing for Crikey, for example (who only paid for a short while, by the way, when it was in the budget), I certainly would have applied for it. I was writing two posts per week for no immediate financial gain (though peripheral opportunities arose), and had a strong readership.

I experimented with advertising and it was never lucrative, though I know some people make it work. There are many types of blogs (ie. literary, experimental etc.) that would never attract advertising. Also, having ads on your blog requires admin work, or for some bloggers even requires you to (arguably) compromise your content with ‘sponsored’ posts on particular subjects. While this grant ‘sponsors’ a writer, the entire concept for the posts will be the author’s own, and there will be no editorial intervention.

People who are professional freelance writers are paid more than $100 for a piece (although many publications in print and online still only pay around that, I know because I’ve written for them), so I can see why some might have an issue with this grant. But those writers have put in the hard yards and are on a different tier, I think they can acknowledge that this grant is just not for them. Who is it for? There is a massive ‘blogosphere’ (and social media-sphere) of all kinds of writers (creative, critical, personal, you name it) who put a lot of time into their online writing, and who do it for love, and this is who this grant is for. They will already have a strong concept, and they will already write regularly. Off the top of my head I think about two of the blogs that inspired me at the beginning: Christopher Currie’s ‘Furious Horses‘ (the 365 stories project) and Krissy Kneen’s ‘Furious Vaginas‘. These blogs were updated with regularity and were a kind of discipline for the writers (and they have both gone on to be traditionally published authors) as well as being unique, stimulating and entertaining for the reader. I’m sure there are other writers like this to uncover, who will be excited to have their work acknowledged and financially supported. And I’m looking forward to discovering a range of voices and ideas as a judge of the Thiel Grant. Again, click here if you’d like to learn more or apply.