Adam Browne – Interview

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If you want to go somewhere you’ve never gone before – try Adam Browne’s writing.  I’ve plunged through the solar system in glorious adventure with Cyrano De Bergerac in Pyrotechnicon, watched a wonderful animation by Adam Duncan based on one of Adam’s short stories called The Adjustable Cosmos (Hapsburg Emperors in the stars) and now I’m all prepared for the launch of his next book The Tame Animals of Saturn on June the 9th.

Adam, tell us about the Tame Animals of Saturn https://www.facebook.com/events/214355685622863/

It was inspired by the writings by and about Jakob Lorber, a 19th Century Austrian mystic who was given to know the animals and plants of the Solar System. It’s richly illustrated.

I hope to revive interest in him, not as a Christian or a theosophist – he was both – but as a beautiful and tireless fabulist.

What was your initial inspiration for the book?

Thirty years ago, in The Book of Imaginary Beings, I read of Lorber’s ‘Leveler’. Borges writes with great dry wit of the immeasurable service the Leveller does man. Its pyramidal legs are made by God to stomp out roadways in preparation for the tarmac-layers and so on. It’s only with difficulty that I acknowledge there might be some people who aren’t immediately captivated by things like this. Lorber has stayed with me ever since. The book was a side-project, but it was one I had to do.

The Leveler by Adam Browne

The Leveler by Adam Browne

You love to explore the odd laneways of speculative fiction. How do you find your way into these laneways?

When I was young, science fiction seemed to be about freedom. There seemed to be few rules – just a playground for ideas. I remember being disappointed when a writer or filmmaker borrowed from elsewhere.2001: a space odyssey was a model of originality, but rather than copy its example, filmmakers copied the film itself. It’s still happening now, likely under the guise of homage – but it’s antithetical to the whole sf ethos. Anyway – I dunno – I don’t see my writing as weird anyway, to be honest. I haven’t admitted this before, but I was surprised when people called my stories New Weird or whatever. For me, they were just the stories I wanted to write.

Thomas Edison, en route to Saturn by Adam Browne

Thomas Edison, en route to Saturn by Adam Browne

What’s your writing process? Do you throw a lot away? Do you write every day? Are you a planner or do you fly by the seat of the pants?

My stories start at the start. There’s some initial idea – with an old one, for instance, called Neverland Blues, it started with the idea that Michael Jackson had fled his problems by turning himself into a spaceship. The story accreted from that. I write from the seat of my pants. And yes, I throw a lot away. Each story has a discards file which is inevitably much bigger than the story itself.

How do you go with social media? What do you do to increase interest in your work and how much time do you spend on it? Any tips?

Yeah social media. It’s such an easy way to advertise your work but maybe not so effective. Still, although there must be better ways to do it, the urge to become skilled in marketing remains a velleity.

Facebook is my guilty obsession. At its best it’s a wunderkammer, and a way for me to vent excess imagination and gags – also an excellent way to resume or maintain friendships … but I suspect the reason I find it so seductive is because it’s all about me. Almost everything I read on it is in some way related to something I’ve already said. That’s the way it’s designed. It’s the equivalent of those kids’ books where your child’s name is inserted into the text. It enables my narcissism.

The bhura flower, native to Saturn by Adam Browne

The bhura flower, native to Saturn by Adam Browne

What artworks (books, music, visual arts, films) have most inspired you?

I’ve been thinking recently about how 80s art-pop was a sort of gateway drug into the arts. Devo, Talking Heads etc etc. I remember being delighted by a performance art piece that made its way onto Countdown – a pingpong game with people’s heads sticking out of the table, players in whimsical dress, a bit of a ceremonial vibe. It wasn’t the piece so much as that such stuff was possible… My father took me to all the great art films of the 70s too. 2001, Satyricon, Tarkovski etc etc. There was 2000AD, the British comic antho – then Heavy Metal magazine – and Raw. There was the French comic book artist Moebius. And Fantastic Planet – then the art of Roland Topor, who designed that film – I’m afraid I’m just listing the usual suspects here – in which case I might as well mention PK Dick, whom I discovered when I was 15, on a trip to the Northern Territory: the first story of his I read was ‘Nanny’. Such a gem. It’s hard to find writers these days who delight me as much as he did. Martin Amis is one, but I have to be careful not to copy his style. Another usual suspect: WS Burroughs – a ‘writer of good bits’, as Amis called him – for me, the good bit, the inspiring bit amid the dross, was the vignette with the Sailor, in the bar, an astronaut, it felt like, purchasing a drug stored in dull grey tubes of lead, cracking it open, his face melting to absorb it…

And now for the tabloid question.  What is your relationship with Bessie Bottomley, Librarian extraordinaire?  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009898788233

I find Bessie Bottomley to be very adept at satisfying my holds.

The Tame Animals of Saturn is a available from http://www.peggybrightbooks.com/new/

Website http://adambrowne.blogspot.com.au/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ontogeny.recapitulates.phylogeny

Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Browne

photo by Linda Jullyan

photo by Linda Jullyan

Aurealis Award winner Trent Jamieson

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Congratulations on winning the 2015 Aurealis Award for both Best Fantasy and Best Horror novel! https://aurealisawards.org/  That’s amazing.

Thanks! I was completely surprised, and delighted.

It’s about Mark – a Day Boy who works for a Vampire, running chores, protecting his master during the day. It’s his last year as a Day Boy and he must decide how he is going to enter adulthood as man or monster or something not quite either. And, things don’t go smoothly at all. I kind of pitched it as To Kill a Mockingbird meets Dracula – which is a bit cheeky, but kind of the mood that the book went along. My mum didn’t like it because it was too violent – and she’s read all my stuff. I’ve promised her the next book is very different – but you never know with books.

Can you pin-point an initial inspiration for the book?

A very strong image I had of two boys smoking in a crypt flicking cigarettes at a coffin. I knew at once that they worked for vampires, but I wanted to know what they were like, how they had gotten so comfortable, even brazen, in their job. Everything sprang from that.

What are you working on at the moment?

A novel called the Stone Road. I’m just picking through a messy first draft and trying to work out what it’s about – which I think I know, now, but we’ll see. There are many drafts ahead.

You’re clearly a fan of Lovecraft and also devoted to Brisbane where you now live. Brisbane is nothing like the gloomy windy shores of New England. Is Brisbane a gothic place in your mind? What makes it so?Trent-Photo

Funnily enough I’m not that into Lovecraft other than the cosmic horror, though I tend to play around with it a lot less seriously in my work. But I adore Brisbane. It is not a gothic place in my mind at all, in some ways, like most cities, I guess, it’s a blank slate. But that’s just an invitation to artists. Brisbane is a place that drives some great fantasy writing. You’ll be seeing new fantasy and horror novels set in Brisbane by Angela Slatter and Gary Kemble in the next twelve months or so, and that excites me. I think it’s a city worth writing about, and you know, what makes a city great comes down to the community that lives in it, and the stories they tell. The more stories and art we have the richer the place we live in. Brisbane sings with stories, and I’m proud to be a part of that.

What’s your writing process for books? Do you throw a lot away? Do you write every day? Are you a planner or do you fly by the seat of the pants?

I am slow and non-linear. And I slap scenes together and see how they work. I write thin – my early drafts are whisps – and then too thick, and then have to thin again. I don’t plan, but I do a lot of rewriting, structural and line-by-line – I don’t know if you’ve noticed here, but my punctuation is awful! I try and write every day, even if it’s only a few words. I don’t tend to do marathon sessions until I am editing and deadlines come into play. Otherwise it’s just chip, chip, chip and see what you end up with.

How do you go with social media? What do you do to increase interest in your work and how much time do you spend on it? Any tips?

I have gotten worse at this over the years. I’m a bit weary of social media as a platform, or maybe just weary of the sound of my voice. As a place to have fun it’s great, but as a selling tool for me, I’m not so sure. I don’t spend nearly enough time on increasing interest in my work. But I am always open to anything interesting when it comes along, promotion wise. What I do do, I try and have fun with. If you’re going to promote you need to be creative, honest, and have fun. Writing books is the thing that interests me, and reading. Everything else is just waving flags (unless, you’re great at it, and there are some really wonderful self promoters out there) and hoping someone notices.

What 3 artworks (books, music, visual arts, films) have most inspired you?

I am terrible at narrowing things down to favourites. They always change, because I keep reading and listening, and you forget your favourites (well, I do, anyway), and then you encounter the work again and you remember that, yes, you listened to that album non-stop for a year. But there is a constant churn of inspiration. Currently it’s Ursula K. Le Guin’s Tombs of Atuan, N.K. Jemisin’s book The Fifth Season (which I am reading at the moment), and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.

All of which are feeding into the new book whether I want them to or not.

http://www.trentjamieson.com/

Trent can be contacted at teacupthrenody at hotmail dot com

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Interview with Sara Douglass Series Award Winner – Glenda Larke

This fortnight’s interviewee, Aurealis Award winner Glenda Larke brings her lifetime experiences of living in exotic places to the creation of wonderful fantasy worlds.

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Congratulations on winning the inaugural Sara Douglass Series Award for the best Australian speculative fiction series completed between 2011 and 2014 with your Stormlord trilogy – The Last Stormlord, Stormlord Rising and The Stormlords Exile.https://aurealisawards.org/2016/03/25/the-winners-of-the-2015-aurealis-awards

Could you tell us something about the Stormlord Trilogy?

The first book, The Last Stormlord, introduces a world where it never rains, at least not naturally. Stormlords — men or women with power over water — use their magical control to bring water to the desert land. Unfortunately, the Stormlords have been dying off and water allowances are being reduced, prompting unrest and rebellion. As the land is torn apart by war, the unscrupulous attempt to control the only two young people who might one day just have enough power to provide solutions. The story continues in Stormlord Rising and concludes in The Stormlord’s Exile. Along the way, there’s love, battles, bravery, betrayal, tragedy, compromise, and ingenious use of water magic…

Can you pin-point an initial inspiration for the books? Reviewer Jason Nahrung suggested your experience of living in arid climates like WA and Tunisia may have influenced your use of the theme of water in these books.

 As a kid, I remember a West Australian summer on our farm when a rat fell into the rainwater tank. That was our only drinking water. We had to drain the tank and rely on the generosity of neighbours while we waited for rain — so I’ve always known how precious water is.

We lived in Tunis in North Africa for two years. When the wind blew from the south, there would be sand heaped against the outer walls of our house — sand from the Sahara. I visited a town in Algeria where, when it rains, they distribute rainwater from the wadi when it flows according to how many people in each household. We were there on the first wet day they had that year; it was in December. Now we live near Perth W.A., where the waterflow into the dams that serve the city has decreased from an average of about 400 gigalitres a year prior to 1975, to last year’s 12 gigalitres.

We take two minute showers now, and don’t plant a lawn.

All that is what inspired me to write the Watergivers trilogy. It wasn’t difficult to think of a scenario. Control of water has already been a weapon of war; the dictator Sadam Hussein quashed criticism and destroyed the culture and livelihoods of the Marsh Arabs in Iraq by draining their marshes. Control of water is already an economic weapon. Who has the right to water in California: the cities or the farmers? Who can use the water of the Rio Grande: USA or Mexico? Israel controls much of Palestine’s access to the water of the Jordan River basin — imagine how well that works out!

I hope readers immerse themselves in the story and care about the characters. I hope they find the can’t put the books down because of the tale of adventure it tells. But I also hope that some readers think about the issues, issues which are already shaping the world we live in. Unfortunately we don’t have magic to fix things. We only have ourselves.

What are you working on now?

 I’ve just finished another trilogy, The Forsaken Lands, based on the idea that if the Spice Islands of Asia had possessed magic when Europe tried to colonise them to control the spice trade, there may have been a different outcome. The first book is called The Lascar’s Dagger. (“Lascar” is a word given to Asian sailors who worked on European ships…) The trilogy has everything from pirates and sea battles to conniving queens, sorcerers — and a very sneaky dagger.

I’m working on a standalone fantasy now, as yet untitled, which might be the first in a series, if it’s successful. (My only other standalone was my very first published book, Havenstar.)

What’s your writing process for books? Do you throw a lot away?  Do you write every day?  Are you a planner or do you fly by the seat of the pants?

 I am a very messy writer. I did try meticulous planning once, but by the time I arrived at Chapter 3, I was way off the plan. I kept on thinking of better directions for the plot to go in!

Before I begin a book, there are three things I must have: an understanding of what makes the main characters tick; the ending (although it may change); and a vague theme — i.e. something that keeps the plot from running away in too many directions. I usually have a strong visual impression of some of the early scenes. But apart from that, I’m an explorer without a map, and yes, sometimes I get lost, I have to backtrack, or throw away the useless diversions. I rewrite a lot. (I always smile when neophyte writers ask, “How many times do you re-write? Two? Three?” The real answer to that is: “However many it takes.” Some parts will be perfect as soon as I write them; other parts might have 30 rewrites.)

As for how often I write: that too depends. Most of my books were written in between a day job and family commitments. I worked on a project basis, so when my day job was tough, writing was laid aside, sometimes for weeks. When job and publishing commitments clashed, things could get interesting. I remember reading the proofs of a novel at night in a pup tent in the rainforest during a tropical rainstorm — by candlelight. I wrote part of one of the Stormlord books chugging along on the deck of a slow fishing boat on the Kinabatangan River.

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How do you go with social media? What do you do to increase interest in your work and how much time do you spend on it? Any tips?

Social media devours much more of my time than it should! I have no idea whether it’s terribly helpful with regards to selling books, although I try to keep people informed of what I’m up to. It’s so hard to assess what generates sales, and anyway, nowadays there is so much noise out there on social media that the occasional peep from an individual author just gets lost in the roar.

For me, I think social media is more important as a means of information and help (e.g. from fellow authors) to me. I value my online friendships because I find people can be so supportive and inspiring, even if we’ve never met. This is especially true of the Australian spec fic scene — readers, writers, industry professionals, convention organisers, etc — fabulous folk. Without them, I might have given up years ago.

You worked as a field ornithologist in Malaysia. Did this career have any influence on your writing?

Absolutely. Birds had a big part to play in The Isles of Glory books, and also in The Dagger’s Path. I think those avifaunal story lines succeeded only because I know my wild birds…

As well as that, when I worked in the field on bird conservation, I saw wonderful places — islands, cliffs, swamps, rainforests, mountains, lakes, rivers — scenes that inspired parts of different books.

 What 3 artworks (books, music, visual arts, films) have most inspired you?

It’s always been books, books, books with me (although I love classical music, especially 18th and 19th century symphonies, which I play while writing. I once lived just beside a path called Beethovengang…)

It’s hard to pinpoint special books out of the thousands. Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising was probably one of the first to set on a path to writing fantasy, although I actually decided I was going to be a writer when I was about eight and still into Enid Blyton’s Famous Five!  Oh, and Lord Juster’s present to the King in “The Fall of the Dagger” was  inspired by the Burghley Nef saltcellar of 1527, which you can see in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

If you want to know more about Glenda try:
http://glendalarke.com

http://glendalarke.blogspot.com

Twitter: @glendalarke

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/105625628881/

 The Burghley Nef saltcellar, 1527 from The Victoria & Albert Museum, London

50% off all books

Clan Destine Press – my publishers – are having a 50% off everything book sale.

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Wouldn’t a nice cup of tea be better?

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This week’s star customers were the three teenagers I caught drawing with red pen on the poster cases. I was “somewhat peeved”.  Does being nice to people when they first arrive count for nothing?!!

“Hey stop that! Someone’s going to have to clean that up,” I yelled.(not to mention that I have to report it… in triplicate.)

“Oh sorry Miss” said the girl with the pen.  And then she made it all worse by coming up to me with an incredibly cheeky grin on her face and saying, “I’m very, very sorry. I couldn’t help it.  It’s been a stressful day.”

I was confounded by this.

“Um Fair enough!” I muttered.  But the grin sent a bright red bullet of fury into my brain.

As she turned to go, I called out “Hey” and as she turned back to face me, I lifted up my mobile and clicked it at her.

By then I realized I’d done something rash. There were three of them and one was a very large lad.  So I took myself off and locked myself in the office till the train came and took them away.  As I closed the door behind me, I heard her friend say,

“Did she just take your picture?” so they knew what I’d done. Result! (pumps fist in air)

(I didn’t actually manage to take a picture – I’m a complete Klutz in these matters)

They haven’t been back.

But honestly. Since when has graffiting been a cure for stress.  What happened to a good book, a nice cup of tea or a lie down?!!!!

Station Stories – where we ask all the hard existential questions.

Touched by celebrity

 

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I always chat with any Scandinavians who come through the station after visiting the zoo. I have such happy memories of my 7 years living in Copenhagen. They are lovely countries and Social Democracies are my government of choice. Got talking to a couple of young Swedes the other day and they told me they were from Malmo – Home of Scandie Noir.
“Does it annoy you to have all those crime thrillers set in your city?” I asked.
“No in fact, my father’s apartment was used for a setting in The Bridge!”  said one.
Turns out it was the home of the first victim in the latest (3rd) series.
OMG! I have been touched by celebrity! 🙂

Wheelchairs

One of my wheelchair travelers is a young man of middle-eastern origin and poor English.  I don’t know if he didn’t understand that the driver would get a ramp out for him or if, as seems more likely, he is building up his strength to get in to the train without help. Some very fit individuals do. But he’s not there yet and last week he didn’t hoik the chair up high enough and it got caught on the lip of the train.  Over went the chair tipping him face first onto the train floor.

He didn’t fuss, though the rest of us flapped round in a tizz – train driver, station staff, fellow passengers. But the young man simply crawled around on his hands until he was in a good position for someone to lift him back into his chair.  He’s got the determination to get there eventually.  But I was relieved he waited for the ramp this week.

Guns, Lemurs and Paint Sniffing

Its’s the end of the year and a lot of school groups are coming through. “I remember you,” says one 13 year old boy to me.  “We were here last year and that guy was sniffing paint on the opposite platform and he fell over.  That was scary.”

I remembered that day though not the boy.  My old friend J had sniffed so much paint out of his plastic bag he actually passed out on platform 2. He was up again by the time I got round to check on him.

Platform 1 was full of a school kids who were most concerned about him so I took the opportunity to warn them about the dangers of paint sniffing.

I was sorry the boy was scared and hastened to reassure him. J had never been in danger of anything more than bruises.  In the 12 years I’ve been doing this job, I’ve become much more relaxed around people under the influences of substances and I hardly blink at it now. (Probably not such a good thing)

“I saw that guy recently and he told me he’d given up,” I told the boy now.

The boy expressed doubt.  He regarded himself as a worldly youth and said he had relatives who took drugs and they never gave up.  Ah,the wisdom of youth! Statistics mean nothing to them.

My favorite customer this week was a woman with long cherry red hair and lots of silver jewelry from Georgia, U.S.A.  When I asked her why she’d come to live in Australia, she won my heart by cheerily making a joke about gun control.(“I was getting tired of having to shoot people all the time”).  Apparently she was also sick of being legally obliged to have a sign on her door saying no guns in this house to stop people bringing their weapons into her home.

Also she’d fallen in love with an Australian and was about to become a citizen here.

She’d been in to the Zoo to feed the Lemurs and showed me a great picture of herself with a perky looking lemur on her lap.

“Does it get any better than that?” I asked and she agreed that her life had probably peaked and she might as well give up from now on.  She was fun.  Hope she comes back.

Unicycle hockey

Working at zoo station this week and fell into conversation with a retired man who is working at introducing unicycle hockey to the local primary school. Yes it’s true! People do play hockey on unicycles!!! www://hockey.unicycling.org.au/

I’ve recently read A Time of Gifts -a travel book by Patrick Leigh Fermor. He’d played bicycle polo in Hungary before the war. I’d thought it was just the lost frivolity of a decadent upper-crust but my retired man says there is still a bicycle polo club in Melbourne, although these days you provide you own bike and they have trouble finding place to play.

After last week’s grim post, it’s nice to be reminded that the world can also be a delightful place.