30 September 2010

I'm The Guest Poet At The Ballroom Cafe On Sunday 17 October

I'm very pleased to announce that I will be the guest poet at the Ballroom Cafe in Newtown in October.

The details are:

Date and time: Sunday 17 October 2010, 4pm–6pm

Venue: The Ballroom Café, Newtown
(corner of Riddiford Street & Adelaide Road - see map)

Contacts: Neil Furby, ballroompoetrycafe (at) gmail.com
L. E. Scott, (04) 801-7773 (daytime)

Running Order:

About The Performers

Gracious Deviants Pete Edge and Darrel Greaney are an acoustic duo. Their sound is heavy with harmony and steeped in the traditions of the NZ singer/songwriter.

Tim Jones is a Wellington poet and author of both literary fiction and science fiction. His work has been published in NZ, USA, UK, Australia, Canada and Vietnam. He has just completed the manuscript for his third poetry collection, Men Briefly Explained.

Tim says:

The Ballroom Cafe poetry readings in Newtown, Wellington on the third Sunday of each month have rapidly become a staple of the Wellington poetry scene. That has a lot to do with the excellent hospitality of the venue, and even more to do with the great job Lewis Scott and Neil Furby have done in organising the events and bringing in an excellent, multicultural mix of poets, performers and audience members.

I am really pleased to have been invited to be the guest poet at October's session. If you're in the neighbourhood, I hope you'll be able to come along, listen, and take part.

28 September 2010

Tuesday Poem: Swing


I'm left arm over
I'm the new red ball
I'm the prodding by the batsman
at the green and sweating pitch.

I'm two slips and a gully
I'm a short square leg
I'm the keeper standing back
and the umpire's call of "Play".

I'm the short strides then the long
the rock back and the gather
I'm the front foot thudding down
as the ball departs my hand.

I'm the seam proudly upright
I'm the late movement in
I'm the bat that is nowhere
as the ball hits the pad.

I'm the turn to the umpire
the scream of an appeal
I'm the slowly rising finger
and the batsman's long walk back.

I'm the hugs I barely feel
as I focus on the moment
when for one ball I decoded
the mysteries of swing.

Tim says: "Swing" is my contribution to the new anthology 'A Tingling Catch': A Century of NZ Cricket Poems 1864-2009, edited by Mark Pirie (HeadworX, 2010). I've read the anthology, and it's very good.

Technical note: Before the physics majors who haunt these poetry blogs start commenting on it: yes, I realise the ball won't swing if the seam is precisely upright, as claimed in Stanza 4, and that the seam should be slanted slightly to the right if the bowler wants to create inswing, and to the left if the bowler wants to create outswing, unless the ball is roughed up enough to reverse-swing, in which case those directions should be reversed. But that would have taken a lot of extra stanzas to explain. What am I, a coaching manual?

Check out all the Tuesday Poems on the Tuesday Poem blog.

23 September 2010

A Short History Of The Twentieth Century, With Fries

By the time they got to the Finland Station, Lenin and his posse were famished.

“What’ll it be, boss, Burger King or McDonald’s?” asked Zinoviev.

Lenin rustled up the kopecks for a quarter-pounder and fries all round and they set to chowing down. By the time he finished, Lenin had had a better idea.

“I’m tired of this revolution business,” he said. “Let’s set up a chain of family restaurants instead.”

It took a while to convince the Mensheviks, left-SRs, and other petit-bourgeois elements. Nevertheless, Lenin’s will prevailed, and Party cadres fanned out across the land in a sophisticated franchising operation. By the end of 1917, Moscow and Petrograd were under complete control, and Siberia was falling into line. Lenin’s Bolshevik brand — “the burger for the worker” — was taking command.

The big international chains didn’t take this lying down. With an aggressive combination of discounting, free giveaways, and sheer intimidation, they muscled in on the Bolsheviks. For four years, the struggle went on. The starving inhabitants of Northern Russia woke up each morning not knowing whether the Golden Arches or the Hammer and Sickle would be standing atop their local fast food outlet.

It was a bad time all round, but at the end of it, the red flag with the yellow emblem reigned supreme across Russia. Crowds flocked to enjoy the cheery, efficient service and chomp their way through the basic Bolshevik burger or such additional menu choices as the Red Square (prime Polish beef in a square bun) and the Bronze Horseman (horse testicles on rye — an acquired taste). Fuelled by Bolshevik burgers, Russia was on the move. Tractor production went up twenty per cent. Electricity output doubled in five years.

After Lenin choked to death on a fishburger on 1924, new CEO Joseph Stalin launched a full-scale campaign of collectivisation and industrialisation. Horse testicles were out, borscht was in. These changes were far from universally popular, but, as the slogan went, “You can’t say no to Uncle Joe”. From Murmansk to Magadan, it was Joe’s way or the highway.

The years 1939 to1945 were bad ones for the Bolshevik brand. An ill-advised attempt at a strategic alliance with Schickelgruber’s, an aggressive new German franchise, ended in disaster. The names Leningrad and Stalingrad will forever be remembered from that period as examples of poor service and unusual burger ingredients. But Schickelgruber’s was finally seen off and the Bolshevik brand entered a new phase of expansion. It was time, said Uncle Joe, to export Lenin’s legacy to the world.

This wasn’t an unqualified success. What goes down well in Kharkov can cause indigestion in Kabul. The expansion policy did net Bolshevik the important Chinese market, but even there, Russian attempts to include cabbage in Chinese burgers were soon met by Chinese demands that all Bolshevik meals include a side-order of rice. Before long, there were two competing Bolshevik brands, and then three once the Albanians got in on the act.

It was the beginning of the end. Weakened by the massive costs of enforcing brand compliance in territories as diverse as Kazakhstan and Cuba, the Bolshevik empire collapsed in debts and squabbling. It was all over for one of the major franchises of the 20th Century.

For a nostalgic reminder of those days, take a trip to the Finland Station, where you can still see a statue of Lenin addressing the workers, burger in one hand, fries in the other.

Tim says: "A Short History Of The Twentieth Century, With Fries" was first published in Flashquake (2004), and is included in my short story collection Transported.

Transported cover

You can buy Transported online from Fishpond or New Zealand Books Abroad. You can also read review excerpts and find out more about Transported

20 September 2010

Tuesday Poem: Losing Weight

Losing Weight

Losing weight, you
lose your tether to the ground.

The moon awaits, a plate of bone
atop an empty table.

You pass it on its trailing edge
and rise to join the stars.

Tim says: "Losing Weight" was first published in Astropoetica (Summer 2009). Astropoetica is an excellent online journal which I recommend to anyone interested in the stars and poetry.

Continuing that theme a little, "Losing Weight" has been selected for inclusion in Dwarf Stars 2010. Dwarf Stars is an annual anthology of poems 10 lines or under published by the Science Fiction Poetry Association.

Check out all this week's Tuesday Poems.

16 September 2010

Getting Science Fiction And Fantasy Published In New Zealand. Part 1: Short Fiction

This is a post for NZ Speculative Fiction Blogging Week.

At Au Contraire, I gave a talk about getting speculative fiction published in New Zealand. This and the following post are an attempt to capture what I said at the workshop, and later said I would write up for SpecFicNZ. Part 1 focuses on short fiction. Part 2 will look at novels.

I am sure to have missed various things, so please give details of additional publishers and markets in the comments.

I'm in no way suggesting that speculative fiction writers should confine their efforts to submitting stories in New Zealand - but there are lots of guides to submitting to overseas markets, so you check these out if that's where you want to concentrate your efforts.

Finally, I'm concentrating here on fiction written for adults, rather that written for the YA/MG/children's markets.


There is one currently active magazine market for short speculative fiction (and poetry) that I know of in New Zealand: Semaphore Magazine. Semaphore Magazine is published quarterly, with an annual anthology. It pays for short fiction and poetry. Editor Marie Hodgkinson says "I want to further increase the proportion of work written by New Zealanders that is published in the magazine, with particular regard to the representation of non-Pakeha and LGBQT writers".

Other paying sf magazine markets, like Prima Storia, appear to have come and gone. If you know of any others that are active, please let me know.

The good news is that it is possible to get speculative fiction published in several New Zealand literary magazines. JAAM, Sport, Bravado and Turbine have all published stories that can be considered speculative fiction, and Landfall's recent themed issue on utopias and dystopias skirted similar territory.

Having said that, you probably wouldn't get too far submitting that 9000-word interplanetary war story based on the latest developments on black hole physics to a New Zealand literary magazine, or for that matter your Xena-meets-Spartacus fanfic (though I'm there with bells on!). The softer, near-future end of SF; SF satires; urban fantasy; and stories which show an awareness of their own telling are more likely to appeal. If in doubt, add more irony - one writer told me that he sold two previously rejected stories to NZ literary magazines by retelling them in an ironic manner.


SF and fantasy will be a tough sell to most of the big New Zealand short story competitions, which tend to favour heads-down, no-nonsense mimetic realism, but the fiction section of the annual Royal Society of New Zealand Manhire Prize for Creative Science Writing has to be worth a crack - though this year's deadline has just passed. Bugger!

Your chances of doing well in a competition are strongly correlated with who's doing the judging. Check out what the judge writes, and what types of fiction they say they like, and then decide whether it's worth submitting. (Of course, in a large competition, your story may have to survive a filtering process before it reaches the named judge.)


By their nature, anthologies are intermittent - other than the annual Best New Zealand Fiction series - so you have to keep a weather eye out for submission guidelines. I've had a number of stories published in New Zealand anthologies over the years: my first two published stories were in an anthology of sf stories for NZ secondary schools (though most of the stories had originally been written for an adult audience), and a new-writers' anthology.

There have been occasional anthologies of New Zealand speculative fiction, such as Rutherford's Dreams, and this year there's a brand-new entrant in the field: A Foreign Country: New Zealand Speculative Fiction, published by Random Static. Random Static say that another short story anthology isn't on their immediate horizon, but they will be looking to publish novellas.

I'll return to Random Static when I cover markets for novels.

Just as the identity of the judge is the most important thing to know in a competition, so the name and inclinations of the editor are the most important thing to know when considering a submission to a general fiction anthology. Have they written SF or fantasy or horror, or anything that isn't set in our consensus reality? Have they said nice things about speculative fiction? Have they included speculative fiction stories in previous anthologies?

Do the research, and then go for it.


You'll be doing very well to get an entire collection of speculative fiction published by a mainstream New Zealand publisher. My recent collection Transported is about 1/3 sf and fantasy, and I think that hurt it with some mainstream reviewers (though others liked the mix).

However, in the publishing industry, all is in flux. As with any other aspect of publishing, you need to keep your ear to the ground, your eyes peeled, your shoulder to the grindstone, and in general contort yourself in strange ways to get the best picture of what's going on and where the opportunities are.

"Hah!", you might be thinking, "I don't even get out of bed for less than 80,000 words". In that case, stick around for Part 2, where I'll look at the options for getting speculative fiction at novel length published in New Zealand.

13 September 2010

Tuesday Poem: Love In A Nutshell, by Renee Liang

This follows my interview with Renee Liang last week.

Love in a nutshell

For Roseanne and Stephen

I wanted to tell you how love grows from a tiny seed
sown at random
like drifting seed pods in summer
you catch and wish upon

how the clash of swords in a gym
sometimes sounds like sudden laughter
and why taking the hit
is better than ducking

I wanted to say
why losing car keys on a black sand beach at midnight
is no problem
if you have each other

and of the warmth of the moon
embraced by punga trees
and the sound of stars when they breathe
in your ear

I wanted to feel again
that moment of the first kiss
the dry softness of lips, the uncertain eyes
the wet palms

and I wanted to remember
lying in bed afterwards
with my finger on the replay button

I wanted to tell you how love tastes like chocolate brownies
how it is made up of two thirds chocolate and one third cream
and how extra sugar is unnecessary
but you put it in anyway

I wanted to ask you
how you found out how to hold hands
when he is so tall and you are so small
but then I realized you grew
to fit each other

I wanted to show you
how to hurl stones as far as you can
on a beach
running after each other

and how to do it again and again until your breath
aches in your chest
and how you can make your belly hurt
from laughing with friends around board games

I wanted to find a scientific reason
why pillows are softer with two heads lying on them
but a search of the medical literature
brings no answer

I wanted to tell you
of the protective embrace of parents
and of how they guide you to the edge
when you are ready to take your first flight

and of how they watch
with fear and love in their eyes
as you step off
and find your wings

I wanted to tell you
of the feel of wind in your hair
and the chime of the wood pigeon
in your own place

and of how four bare feet entwined
can discover another country

I wanted to tell you –

but you already know.

Tim says: "Love in a nutshell" comes from Renee's third chapbook, Banana. It's full of good poems, but this one is my favourite. It's great stuff.

You can read all the Tuesday Poems at the Tuesday Poem blog.

09 September 2010

An Interview With Renee Liang

Renee Liang likes to call herself a ‘writer’ as the best description for her disparate activities, which so far include poetry, plays, fiction and non fiction, blogs (for The Big Idea and The Tuesday Poets), librettos and recently, screenplays. She has been part of the Auckland poetry community for a number of years, serving from 2005-9 as a Poetry Live MC. She also organises other arts initiatives focussing on community building and collaborations.

Renee, what impresses me most about your writing - in addition to its quality - is its range. You're a poet, playwright, short story writer, novelist, and most recently, I gather, a librettist, in the sense that poems from your chapbook Banana have been set to music. How do you organise your life to be able to fit all these things in?

I’m still in a phase of exploration! I’m in love with words and fascinated by stories, and find it very difficult to switch my writing brain ‘off’ (probably a familiar feeling to most writers). I’m always sniffing around, absorbing whatever stories I find and wondering how to best to express them.

I naturally like to experiment with a wide range of writing genres. I think of them as ‘tools’ – much like differently shaped sculptural tools, each genre will bring out a different aspect of story, and each story will have its ideal tool. For example, poetry is perfect to express a concentrated feeling or a single concept, but to explore a longer narrative showing how a character fights with her emotions, I might choose theatre. I’ve found that learning skills in one genre often helps me improve in other genres too.

It’s not that unusual among NZ writers to explore multiple genres over the course of a writing career (or even to change art forms entirely) and the community is small, so it’s easy for poets to meet composers and playwrights to meet filmmakers. People seem willing to share their experiences and secrets and teachers, mentors and collaborators are all very accessible. I’m a huge fan of ‘learning by doing’ and am not too shy about approaching people whose work I admire, so that helps a lot.

And as for how I fit it in timewise… well we all make time for the important things! I find my work as a part-time doctor and researcher fits in well with my urge to write stories. I don’t watch TV if I can help it and unfortunately I don’t have much time for music these days, as I prefer to work in silence, with a clear head. Unfortunately I have an increasing addiction to the Internet so I’ll have to deal with that one somehow.

If some dictator said "You must devote yourself to only one of these forms of writing", which would it be - or is that an impossible demand to meet?

Pretty much impossible – as I’d want to be free to choose the ‘form’ that I think serves the story best. But poetry is my first love, I find it calms me, and it’s the thing I do most easily.

Banana, which I very much enjoyed, was your third poetry chapbook. Do you plan to keep publishing your poetry in chapbooks, or do you intend to publish collections as well?

I’d love to publish a collection! In fact I put together a manuscript for a poetry collection a few years ago and showed it to someone whose opinion mattered to me and he said (as kindly as he could) that I needed to do quite a bit more work. So while I sharpen my skills, chapbooks are a fun and rewarding way to ‘test’ my work without risking too much!

The next one due out soon is “Toward the Cyclone” – it’s a cycle of sonnets inspired by a study tour to Fiji with a group of other young Pacific leaders, where we met lots of locals, toured industries and villages, and talked with senior leaders.

In the title poem of Banana, you directly address the use of that term as an insult to mean "Yellow on the outside/white on the inside" – and you've called your blog Chinglish. Does your being a Chinese New Zealander mean that you are forced to confront these issues of racism and identity whether you want to or not, or did you make a deliberate decision to address them in your writing?

There’s too little time to invest in stories that you don’t care about, and identity is something I find important. Also, I believe that writing grounded in personal reality has power. Being a Chinese New Zealander means that I wear at least one of my identities on my face. Quite often in my daily life I am reminded that I am ‘different’ and it does mean some confrontation – for me if not for my often blithely unaware antagonist! And conflict is good drama, and audiences suck up emotion (and can also tell when it’s not real). So for all those reasons, I’ve found that writing about identity is worthwhile.

Once I started doing that, I found that people identified with my characters – and not just other Chinese Kiwis, but lots of others. It’s a case of the personal becoming universal I guess. Human experience has a lot more similarity than we like to think.

On your blog, you say that one of your top priorities in 2010 will be working on the third draft of your novel. Do you expect this to be the final draft, and what process of revision do you use?

Well, you never know whether it’s your last draft until you are nearly done! That being said, each of my ‘drafts’ so far has contained a significant reworking, often a major structural change or revision of character. I’m still learning what process of revision and rewriting works best for me. I find I tend to micromanage, which affects my progress – so at the moment I am trying to step back and get the larger arcs and themes right before I go for the detail. I’m very lucky to have a wonderful mentor, Siobhan Harvey, who is doing a combination of gentle coaxing and kicking me into action, and gives very valuable feedback.

You are heavily involved in the Auckland arts scene, not least as MC of Poetry Live. In many areas, Auckland seems big enough to be largely self-contained: events unfold there without much reference to the rest of the country. Is this my Wellingtonian viewpoint showing through, or is there some truth in this?

We Aucklanders like to think (and Wellingtonians will be unsurprised at this) that we have the most lively arts scene in the country. This is partly due to size which is in turn partly due to economic reasons – for example, there are lots of actors in Auckland because the TV and film industry is centred here, and so it’s very easy to find people to make new theatre work. But there are also lots of poets, and filmmakers, and musicians… and we are always organising things and meeting each other and talking and hatching new work.

As an example, Poetry Live is an amazing incubator of work, not just poetry, but for music, visual arts, theatre, film, and cross genre. On any night of the week in Auckland it’s possible to find interesting performances or events, and quite a lot of it is free or koha, so it’s a particularly vibrant time to be around. We’re lucky to have great access to venues too – city council and local businesses take the time to build a good relationship with artists, in line with the idea of a ‘creative city’ which Auckland aspires to be.

As for whether we are self contained: Auckland is a bit of a train station. A lot of visiting artists come through from south of the Bombays or overseas, and quite often they perform – for example when I was at Poetry Live we tried to include out-of-town guest poets in our lineup whenever we heard they were in town. Similarly many Aucklanders like going to other centres to show off their work. I usually seek out local poets to meet wherever I travel.

You've said that you enjoy working collaboratively, and you did a great job of putting this into practice when you brought your play Lantern to Wellington and got local poets to write poems on paper lanterns which were hung in Bats Theatre's Pit Bar during the run of the play. Why is working collaboratively important to you?

I find in a good collaboration the whole is much more than the sum of its parts – when you put together two people from different artistic backgrounds but with the same passion and commitment, the project just fires! It’s also good because now there’s more than one ‘driver’ and you can push each other through the rough patches, and also keep one another to deadline (very important in my case).

I also love the way that collaboration opens up whole new avenues of artistic exploration – I gain access to skills I might never acquire for myself, or get pushed into exploring something I might never have done on my own. Generosity and respect are important in a collaboration – the contribution doesn’t have to be equal (although it’s great when it is), but both artists should end up with something they are proud of.

Which authors, playwrights and poets have had the most influence on your writing, or are among your personal favourites?

I’m always discovering new heroes, so my answer to this question is likely to change depending on what I’m reading! That being said, I really look up to Hone Tuwhare as a poet. He seemed to have a knack for finding the emotional heart of things in a playful, unpretentious way – a real joy with words. I’m also a great fan of Chekhov’s plays – they are good, old fashioned, meaty plays, back when playwrights didn’t have to pander to the short attention span of audiences and there was time to really explore the subtleties of character. Of course I’m secretly proud that he was also a writer-physician.

Do you have a plan for how your writing career will unfold? If so, and if it isn't a secret, where do you see yourself and your writing in five years' time?

I guess I have the same ambitions as most writers – I’d like to write something which changes the way people think and which lingers in the mind long after. I don’t have a five year plan for achieving this though! I figure that if I listen to my own passions, I’m more likely to write something that I like, and what I find compelling others might also find compelling.

I have no idea what ‘form’ my masterpiece will take either – it could be any genre, or maybe a hybrid! The distinctions between art forms are getting less and less these days. If I’m enjoying myself and feeling stimulated, then I see that as a good sign.

07 September 2010

Tuesday Poem: Down George Street In The Rain

Down George Street In The Rain

I talked to the shop signs
down Cuba Street
down Cashel Street
down George Street in the rain.

I sidestepped the shoppers.
Take that, Phil Bennett!
Take that, old lady with a limp
and orthopaedic shoes.

We were as Gods
as eighteen-year-old Gods
who wore our Gore High jerseys to the bottle store —
they wouldn't let us in.

We smiled upon our people.
People, we said, we walk among you.
Don't bow, don't scrape, don't even step aside.
In gratitude, in wonder, let us pass on

to our destinies, our mortgages
down Cuba Street
down Cashel Street
down George Street in the rain.

Tim says: "Down George Street In The Rain" was first published in broadsheet 3 and is one of the poems included in my forthcoming collection, "Men Briefly Explained". As the notes to that collection explain, Phil Bennett, the No. 10 in the 1977 British Lions rugby touring team to New Zealand, was famous for his sidestep.

I turned eighteen in 1977.

For non-New Zealanders: Cuba St, Cashel St, and George St are central city streets in, respectively, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin.

Check out all the Tuesday Poems on the Tuesday Poem Blog.

04 September 2010

Short Reviews: Enamel 2, Bravado 19, and "You And Me And Cancer Makes Three", by John Irvine

It's review time again, with two literary magazines and a poetry chapbook to consider: all three of which I enjoyed.

Enamel 2

Enamel is an annual literary magazine edited by poet Emma Barnes. Issue 2 appeared a couple of months ago. I thought the first issue was good, and this issue matches up. (Disclaimer: I have three poems in this issue.)

Helen Rickerby has an excellent review which concentrates on the poetry, and lists the contributors, so instead I want to say a little bit about the two stories in this issue.

Susanna Gendall's "Nowhere Else" is a quiet but well-constructed tale of lost love and lost connections. I liked the understated way she sketched out and resolved — or perhaps un-resolved - the situation, although I had to read it a couple of times before I worked out exactly who was whom.

Jenni Dowsett's "Infection" is another story of the end of a relationship, but the context is very different - what seems very like a plague of zombie-ism is sweeping through the community, and when one partner is infected and the other isn't, this can lead to some tough decisions ... I enjoyed the way this story worked through the implications of its premise.

So, with these stories and lots of good poetry, Enamel is well worth getting.

Bravado 19

Bravado is a literary magazine based in Tauranga. It's been going for the best part of a decade and, perhaps without the publicity it deserves, does a really good job of publishing authors along the spectrum from first-time-in-print to well-established. (As an aside, we tend to talk about 'new and established authors', but this binary classification leaves some rather large areas of writerly territory untenanted.) I have been published in previous issues of Bravado, but have nothing in this issue.

Confession time: when I open an issue of a literary magazine, I look at my own work first - typos, typos, are there any typos? - then the work of people I know, and only then at the work of people I don't know. This is neither fair nor reasonable, but at this very moment an evolutionary psychologist is huffing into view to explain why I behave the way I do. (It's in the genes, apparently.)

So: I'm always pleased to see Laurice Gilbert's name when I open a journal, both because she's a friend and because I always enjoy her work. Her poem in this issue, "Are We There Yet?", is an immediate favourite: and of the poets whose work I didn't know, I especially enjoyed David Griffin's back-country poem "The Back Valley".

There's much more to Bravado than poetry: it has stories, essays (I especially enjoyed Sue Wootton's essay-cum-poem-exegesis "Bulls' eyes and oxtails"), interior artwork that would do Edward Gorey proud, and book reviews: mainly of poetry collections, but also a lengthy review of Jeffrey Paparoa Holman's Best of Both Worlds: The Story of Elsdon Best and Tutakangahau.

I would urge you to subscribe to Bravado, but, ominously, the Subscriptions page on their site says "We have currently suspended subscriptions to Bravado pending an announcement". I fear what that announcement might be; I hope it won't mean the end of this excellent magazine.

You and me and cancer makes three, by John Irvine.

When John asked if I would review a chapbook about his experiences as a cancer patient, I said "yes" with less than complete enthusiasm, because my first thought was "This will be horribly depressing". I'm relieved to say that it isn't depressing at all - in fact, this is a delightful little book.

In 2009, John spent a month in the Lions Cancer Lodge at Waikato Hospital undergoing radiation treatment after the removal of some skin cancers. This book has a poem for most of those days, each facing a colour photo John took during his stay. The emphasis is on the shared experience, the warmth and humour of the residents - and the carers - and the characters John spends his time with:

... suave Paul, with sleek silver hair
looking every bit the politician
that he isn't

and so forth. The course of treatment imposes a natural narrative structure to the book, and so the ending is bitter-sweet, with John leaving, but many of the friends he has made staying behind.

I liked "You and me and cancer makes three" a lot. To find out about getting a copy, contact John at cooldragon (at) slingshot.co.nz

01 September 2010

News From A Foreign Country

I've already blogged about new NZ short story collection
A Foreign Country: New Zealand Speculative Fiction, edited by Anna Caro and Juliet Buchanan. But now there's more news worth sharing, courtesy of the anthology's indefatigable publishers Random Static:

Au Contraire Competition

Many of the stories in A Foreign Country were selected via the open competition run in conjunction with Au Contraire.* Entries were judged by author and Au Contraire Guest of Honour Sean Williams, who commented:

"This was VERY difficult. Each of the top three was brilliant in its own way. Weird how themes of parenthood, dreams, and loss weave through all of them."

And the winners were:

1st Place - 'The Future of the Sky' by Ripley Patton
2nd Place - 'Dreams of a Salamander Nation' by Susan Kornfeld
3rd Place - 'Cry of a Distress Rocket' by Brian Priestley
Honourable Mention - 'Beneath the Trees' by Claire Brunette

*(Tim adds: the other stories were solicited. By solicitors.)


A Foreign Country is now available from an ever expanding list of bookshops including Parsons, Unity and The Bookie in Auckland and Arty Bees in Wellington (some of these may not have it on the shelves right now, but they should soon). If your local independent bookshop is not on this list, please mention the anthology to them.

Bookshops which don't have copies in stock will be able to order them in for buyers on request - you'll need the ISBN: 978-0-473-16916-9. There will also be copies for sale at the Going West Festival, Armageddon in Auckland and other events to be confirmed.

Looking Forward

Random Static is currently catching its breath before tying off a few loose ends and continuing to market and sell A Foreign Country. They also have a few new projects planned - due for release soon is Barking Death Squirrels by Wellington based writer and A Foreign Country contributor Douglas A Van Belle.

(Tim adds: I'm planning to interview Doug for this blog in a couple of months.)

Random Static is soon to engage in a major overhaul of its submission guidelines: "Whilst another short story anthology isn't on our immediate horizons, any of you looking for a publisher for a novel, novella or comic book may want to check our website in a few weeks."

(Tim adds: Random Static is going from strength to strength! I'm especially pleased that they are looking to publish novellas - the novella is a great length for science fiction, but they are usually very hard to place. If only I had a desk drawer full of them...)