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2016 Ditmar Awards.

So it has come to my attention, via the medium of Google Alerts,1 that Stormbringer is eligible for the 2016 Ditmar Awards.

What are the Ditmars, you ask? They’re essentially the Hugos for Australian SFF, as nominated and voted on by members of the NatCon, which in 2016 will be held in Brisbane.

Anyway. Reading through the wiki list, it occurs to me I am woefully behind in my Australian SFF reading. For those of you who, like me, use GoodReads, I’ve created a handy list of eligible works to add to your reading pile. Which you should totally do, whether you’re Australian or not, and whether you intend to vote in the Ditmars or not, because Australian SFF, woo!

And me? Well, I’d better get to reading…

  1. So, yay and thank you to whomever added me to the wiki page. []
2018-06-26T12:39:00+10:0012th August, 2015|Tags: ditmar awards, fandom, sff, stormbringer, wyrdverse|

5 Things About Australia.

When you write speculative fiction, everything comes down to worldbuilding, which is the fancy word writers use to describe the ability to make the fantastic elements of a story consistent and believable. For the Books of the Wyrd (Liesmith, Stormbringer), I used to think this meant focusing on things like the authenticity of the Norse elements, and the mechanics of the Wyrd and Wyrdborn. As someone who’s consumed fantasy media ever since she was a little girl, this was something I figured I could handle.

And then I decided to set my story in Australia.

I mean, it made sense; I’m Australian, so why wouldn’t I? The problem? I sold Liesmith and Stormbringer to a U.S. publisher, who published it to a U.S. audience. Suddenly, I was coming up against questions about an entirely different set of worldbuilding, one I hadn’t prepared for.

This is the “worldbuilding” of Australia-as-setting. And, let me tell you; getting over with Viking gods and magic? Easy. Getting over with an Australian setting that defies the stereotype of rugged white manly men doing rugged white manly men things in some nebulously hostile Outback? Much, much harder.

So let’s have a quick look at that stereotype. Because as much as Australians love messing with foreigners’ perceptions of our country, I really think it’s time to clear a few things up…

Keep reading at Buried Under Books…

2015-08-10T07:29:59+10:0010th August, 2015|Tags: guest blogs, stormbringer, wyrdverse|

The One Girl in the Village.

I was fifteen when I stopped reading fantasy novels.

I remember the book that killed my interest. I’m not going to name it, only to say it’s considered one of the greats of the genre. My father had loaned it to me, the book pulled from his wall-to-wall collection of battered SFF paperbacks after I’d asked him for something to read. Something for “grown ups” (this was in the mid-90s or so, before the YA boom filled in that transitional gap between growing and grown). He took Famous Fantasy Novel from its shelf, and handed it to me. “Read this,” he said. “It’s a classic.”

I didn’t make it through the first fifty pages.

“It starts slow,” Dad said. “Stick with it.”

But I wasn’t worried about it starting slow. I worried about it starting wrong. I worried about it starting as a story of a farmboy and his farmboy friends, and the One Girl In The Village.

Continue reading at In Bed With Books »

2018-06-26T13:22:35+10:007th August, 2015|Tags: books, culture, guest blogs, sff, stormbringer, wyrdverse|

Corporate fanfic.

The fanfic communities I grew up participating in were always overwhelmingly queer and female, as well as interested (albeit often imperfectly) in intersectionality and social justice. Fanfic then became a way of critiquing mainstream media through that lens, so I’m used to the idea of transformative works being exactly that: transformative. In that they take a source text and interrogate it for tropes and biases, with the produced output often being ways for their authors to work out those issues in their own minds (as well as being a piece of fiction).

So it’s interesting, coming from that background, to surface into modern pop culture, which is saturated with what is essentially “corporate fanfic” in the form of franchises and remakes. I think there are a lot of questions in there about who is (and isn’t) chosen to produce these works, what audiences they’re marketed for and to, and why some “fanfic” is given the stamp of legitimacy while other fanfic is not. Just why can’t Spider-Man be gay or black? And not to put too fine a point on it, there are a few things people like Joss Whedon (Marvel film fanfic), John Scalzi (Star Trek novel fanfic), Steven Moffat (Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who TV fanfic), and Chuck Wendig (Star Wars novel fanfic) all have in common. I’ll let the reader figure out what they are. So while none of that is the fault of the people mentioned, I think it’s worth having a discussion around why them in particular and not someone else.

Today I’m over at Libromancer’s Apprentice, talking about The Angels, fanfic, and Stormbringer.

2018-06-26T13:22:34+10:004th August, 2015|Tags: fandom, fanfic, interviews, stormbringer, wyrdverse|

Specfic Australiana.

Australians seem to be well represented in the fields of science fiction, fantasy and horror, given our relatively small population base. […] I wonder if marketing a work as ‘Australian’ (or, indeed, as actively representing any particular diversity group) might sometimes be doing that work a disservice, in that the ‘Australianness’ of the work might then shout louder than other story elements potential readers would find more compelling or relevant. […] I guess my question is whether a work actually needs to be marketed as being Australian, if that’s only going to conjure up images of kangaroos and gum trees, when that might not have much, if anything, to do with the story.

–Leife Shallcross on Aussie specfic.

Leife is the president of our local specfic writer’s group, and she’s lovely.1 I love this interview with her for a lot of reasons, but this quote in particular resonates with me.

I’m Australian and I write Australian urban fantasy set in Australia. I set it in the Australia I know, which is highly urban, educated, white collar, and cosmopolitan. In other words, it’s basically the antithesis of version of the Australia we tend to sell overseas: rural, “rustic”, working class, male, and very, very white.2 This was a deliberate choice, and it was a deliberate choice because it’s not an Australia that foreign markets tend to see very often.

Still, it’s… irritating when I get U.S. readers ((And it’s always U.S. readers, not ones from Britain or Canada or continental Europe or any of the other regions my stuff’s available in.)) telling me my Australia isn’t “authentic” enough because it doesn’t conform to some Mad Max-esque mental image they have of what my country looks like.

Yeah, about that.

It’s other, little, things as well. The biggest one I tend to notice is U.S. readers complain the affect of my characters is too flat. To which I say: uh, yeah. Duh.

The thing about emotional affect is that it’s cultural. USians have a very exaggerated emotional affect that, frankly, reads as histrionic to a lot of other people, Australians included. This is particularly true in media originating from the U.S.3

Australia, meanwhile, is notoriously the land of the laconic. Our national motto is “she’ll be right, mate“… up until the point where things aren’t, in which case it becomes “bugger“. In other words, large showy displays of emotion are often considered gauche, pretentious, or childish here.4

So, yeah. When I write characters like Sigmund, Em, and Wayne they do, indeed, tend to undersell their reactions to startling events. In Sigmund’s case in particular it’s because he’s, yanno. A dude, and the pressure on Australian men to maintain flat affect is even heavier than it is on Australian women. Which is also one of the reasons Em, who works in the male-dominated tech industry, has a flatter affect than Wayne, who works in the arts.5

This is the stuff that, I think, non-Australian readers miss. Hell, probably even Australian readers miss it, but perhaps they miss it in the sense that fish “miss” water.

Anyway. It’s little things like that–those little, semi-invisible cultural assumptions–which make the Wyrd series “Australian urban fantasy”, as opposed to “urban fantasy… IN AUSTRALIA!!!”. Whether people notice them or not, whether they’re “effective” or not… eh. I guess that’s up to other people to judge. But they are things I think about.

  1. This is writer code for go read her stuff. So, yanno. Go read her stuff. []
  2. Unless someone needs a scene with some “Mystical Aborigines”, that is. []
  3. One of the reasons every Australian I know hates the “Australian” characters in Pacific Rim is because they “read” like USians, particularly the young bloke whatshisface. “They care too much to be Aussies,” is how my husband put it. Also their accents are terrible. And their names. And their dog is British. Seriously. So. So fucking bad. []
  4. This occasionally makes dealing with people from the U.S…. interesting, shall we say. I got this a lot when I was first signing deals for Liesmith, both with my agent and with the publisher. There were these phone calls where I’d get something like “so we’d like to offer you representation!”, followed by an expectant pause. And I’d be thinking, Oh… okay. I guess this is the part where I shriek and scream excitedly? Except what I said was more along the lines of, “Awesome. Thanks.” It’s not because I wasn’t excited, it’s just that I’ve been brought up in a society that values understated reactions. But I think I threw a few people with my lack of externally visible squee. []
  5. Em’s other reason, for the record, has to do with her schizophrenia, which is only alluded to in the first couple of books–Em mentioning doctors and her “meds” in Liesmith, Sig and Wayne assuring her she’s not hallucinating when Hel appears in Stormbringer–but is confirmed in the third. []
2016-05-14T11:05:25+10:004th August, 2015|Tags: australia, liesmith, sff, stormbringer, writing, wyrdverse, xp|

Just a quick plea:

If you’ve read Liesmith or Stormbringer (or both! both is good!) and want to support the series, I’d really appreciate it if you could consider leaving reviews at GoodReads (1, 2) and/or Amazon (1, 2).

I know it seems silly, but these really do help the books, both in convincing other people to read the series, as well as convincing publishers to publish not just more books in this series (which would be nice for yours truly!), but more books featuring non-”traditional” heroes and representations of gender and sexuality in general.

So if you’ve got a few spare moments to help out, I’d really appreciate it.

Thanks!

2019-07-31T08:28:26+10:0030th July, 2015|Tags: liesmith, stormbringer, wyrdverse|

STORMBRINGER release day!

STORMBRINGER

It’s time to get hammered!

Ragnarok—aka the end of the world—was supposed to doom the gods as well. Instead, it was a cosmic rebooting. Now low-level IT tech and comic-book geek Sigmund Sussman finds himself an avatar of a Norse goddess. His boyfriend, the wealthy entrepreneur Lain Laufeyjarson, is channeling none other than Loki, the trickster god. His best friends, Em and Wayne, harbor the spirits of slain Valkyries. Cool, right?

The problem is, the gods who survived the apocalypse are still around—and they don’t exactly make a great welcoming committee. The children of Thor are hellbent on reclaiming their scattered birthright: the gloves, belt, and hammer of the Thunder God. Meanwhile, the dwarves are scheming, the giants are pissed, and the goddess of the dead is demanding sanctuary for herself and her entire realm.

Caught in the coils of the Wyrd, the ancient force that governs gods and mortals alike, Sigmund and his crew are suddenly facing a second Ragnarok that threatens to finish what the first one started. And all that stands in the way are four nerds bound by courage, love, divine powers, and an encyclopedic knowledge of gaming lore.

Stormbringer, the exciting second Book of the Wyrd, is available now!

Read an excerpt or buy the whole thing from one of the following purveyors of fine textual goods:

U.S. & Canada
Amazon.comBarnes & Noble • iBooks

Australia & New Zealand
Bookworld • Angus & Robertson

UK
Amazon.co.uk

2019-04-29T11:56:42+10:0022nd July, 2015|Tags: stormbringer, wyrdverse|

Songs of STORMBRINGER: “Far-ðu. Til. Hel-ví-tis!”

“Another!” Forseti cried. The arrow had hit the jötunn in his arm, and for one blissful moment his song began to fade as he reached up to pull the shaft from his skin.

“Nice try, assholes,” Loki screamed, voice made huge by the strange devices of the mortals.

Ullr shot again, but this time Loki was prepared, darting around to hide behind one of the tall black towers erected on the stage. The arrow hit the tower, sinking in, and a screeching hiss filled the air. Then Loki’s song started once more.

“This one’s for you, kid,” he howled, then:

Drove up to Ásgarðr where Svaði built the Wall.
Just came to see you, but was greeted by a brawl.
Am I ever gonna see this place again?

So. In a story with a bogan rock soundtrack… where the cricket bat of Donald Bradman is a portal to another world… where AC/DC songs are used not once but twice… where a major plot element revolves around a reference to Midnight Oil…

In all of that, what was the single most Australian finale I could possibly think of including?

Oh, yeah. Right. This.

It’s time to get hammered!

Buy Stormbringer today.

2018-05-01T10:26:18+10:0022nd July, 2015|Tags: music, stormbringer, wyrdverse, xp|