It’s live! Live, I tells ya!

The Road to Golgotha, the two-in-one graphic novel published through Cohesion Comics is now live! *does happy dance* … *apologises for happy dance* No one deserves to see that.

The Road to Golgotha

Now it is true that the launch was last weekend at ComicCon Melbourne (see my wrap-up here), but now the comic is unleashed upon the world. Mwhahahahahaha!

Ahem.

The Road to Golgotha consists of a story by GN Braun – His Own Personal Golgotha, and my supernatural horror story, The Road. (See how clever that combined title is? Yeah, I didn’t come up with it – all kudos to Geoff for that one). There’s a symmetry in the telling of both stories, a link of cause-and-effect that strikes deep at the main characters of each tale. This is also beautifully carried through by the illustrations of uber-talented artist, Monty Borror.

Golgotha

Here’s what it’s all about:

The Road to Golgotha holds two comics by Australian writers, set to the art of US illustrator Monty Borror. His Own Personal Golgotha by GN Braun follows the awakening of ‘the man’ into a nightmarish world of cemeteries and bones. To achieve anything, he must find out where and who he is. The Road by Amanda J Spedding shows us the changes wrought in Riley as she casts off her civilized veneer to allow the goddess within to emerge fully into her birthright. Redemption and personal growth are strong themes throughout both stories, and they each hold surprises as the protagonists struggle to come to terms with changes or growth they need to undertake. Travel with them as they go through their own personal golgotha along a road less-travelled.”

 Page17

The first-run, signed ComicCon editions of sleek black & white are available, but Cohesion is looking to have colour editions screaming their way into the world soon. And by colour I mean vivid splatters of red and wispy, fiery orange. I’m so incredibly in love with this graphic novel, and so incredibly proud to have it published and in readers’ hands.

This is the first graphic novel in the Cohesion Comics line, with some incredible storytellers lined up for the future. The Road to Golgotha is an amazing first edition to what will only be a kick-arse series from the Cohesion team. Go take a look. G’orn, you know you want to…

Review: King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

As I’m powering through the final book, I thought it best to get onto the review of King of Thornsbook two in Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire trilogy. Second books are tricky beasts, and on more than one occasion I’ve been burned by slow pacing, plot meandering, and character veering, so I tend to enter into that second book with a little trepidation (please be good, oh *please* be good).

But… Ah, King Jorg, such a gloriously grey character. Such defiance, such cunning, such dark fun.

Now before I get into the nitty-gritty of this book, there’s some housekeeping that needs doing. So in keeping with the grimdark and me writing reviews any way I please, let’s make this bloody:

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS. THERE, THERE BE SPOILERS. AND IF YOU’RE NOT WATCHING YOUR BACK, A SPOILER WILL SNEAK UP BEHIND YOU AND SLIT YOUR THROAT EASY AS YOU PLEASE. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

King of Thorns

I’m usually a little wary when beginning the read of the second book in a trilogy, especially when I’ve so enjoyed the first. What I tend to find is a rebuilding of the world, a rehashing of previous events and mansplaining the crap out of everything (totally unnecessary – give your reader credit, they have a surprising tendency to remember what happened, with like memory and stuff), not so with King of Thorns. Can I get a hallelujah? No? Too much?

We’re thrown right back into the mix; into the words of Katherine, to be precise – the woman/aunt with whom Jorg is obsessed before making our way to his wedding to child-bride Miana. But with the Prince of Arrow’s legion now marshalled at the castle gate, this isn’t a happy day by any stretch of the imagination. Happy isn’t something Jorg is at all familiar with – happiness would be a weakness, and weakness is something King Jorg will not tolerate.

jorg

A hasty marriage ceremony is on the cards, and given Jorg’s distaste for bedding someone who is essentially a child, an even hastier ruse is contrived to show Jorg’s subjects the deed has been done. This is also where we get the first glimpse of Miana’s mind and strength, and with each of her appearances throughout the book, Lawrence unveils a little more of that intellect and crafty perception she holds – she’s quite the tactician. Something Jorg will soon come to value.

This book also keeps to the format of moving from past to present and back again in its storytelling. While it took me a wee bit to get into the gist of this with the first book, I slipped seamlessly into the rhythm this time round. This type of storytelling is difficult to pull-off, let alone successfully, but Lawrence manages it remarkably well – it forces (allows?) the reader to think, to wonder why Jorg does the things he does in the present before taking you back to give you clues and scenes to decipher. It’s something I value when reading. I don’t want to be hand-held down a garden path with the writer pointing out all I need to know and why – let me do some lifting as well, it creates the connection with characters I’m wanting.

Connection is something I’ve noticed some readers find difficult when it comes to Jorg. Not me. I have about as much empathy for Jorg as he has for himself, but I like the way he forges ahead with his goals, how he sacrifices much to achieve them. There’s something to be said for writer who creates a character that has little with which to empathise but with whom I find myself cheering on. Yes, even when committing deeds that seem totally sociopathic. Is Jorg a sociopath? There’s definitely evidence to suggest as much. Doesn’t make me like him less.

jorg 1

Jorg is again joined by Sir Makin and his Brothers (who are slowly and violently dwindling) and the monsters he’s collected along his travels – Gog and Gorgoth. Gog, ever the fire-child, does hold a special place with Jorg, but would you call it love? No. Gog is a kindred, while I believe Gorgoth is the conscious Jorg struggles to find. Both will suffer because of this, Gog more so, but that demise powerfully links the two, and Jorg will always have that puckered reminder staring back at him.

One of my favourite scenes is that within the marshes – the rising of the dead, all of them, and the confrontation with the necromancer, Chella. Here Jorg and the Brothers fight those they’ve killed, those who died with the Builder’s sun and even fellow brothers in various states of decomposition – it’s hard, brutal and unforgiving. I loved it!

(Psst! You gotta love a review where I get to use the words: monster, necromancer, decomposition and sociopath.) Here’s where we find out a little more of the Dead King, and that’s a showdown I’m very much looking forward to.

But Jorg is first moving steadily toward a showdown with the Prince of Arrow – the light to Jorg’s darkness. We’re taken back to their first meeting, and we’re shown the allure the Prince has; so much so that even Jorg questions his motivations to take on a man who even he would follow. The Prince of Arrow is a man of the people, looking to unite the empire and bring peace and bounty to all within. He’s a forward-thinker, and also the one who will marry Katherine. The two set up for a mighty future battle (yes, the one that take place on Jorg’s wedding day), but first, Jorg makes for the family he knows little about – his mother’s.

It’s here, upon meeting his uncle and grandparents (and ghost Fexler), that plans for this upcoming battle really do start to fall into place (while creating a new foe). And that’s one thing a reader cannot doubt – Jorg’s ability and determination to see things through, no matter the outcome, no matter the cost. Jorg gets the information and [redacted for spoilery moment] that will have him win this war. It’s also where we learn more about the Jorg’s world and the Builders that makes Lawrence’s Broken Empire so damn awesome (this is a revelation future readers need to make, and something I won’t spoil for them).

bloody handprint

We see the return of Jorg’s memory from that copper box he carries with him, and how madness really does ride side-saddle with him. But through it all, Jorg is a tactician’s tactician. And despite the shenanigans of dream-witch Sageous, Jorg remains true to his path to the throne, albeit sometimes wandering off-path to deal with those who threaten his rise or to find… stuff… that will aid him in that battle.

Katherine plays a far greater part in this book, although most of what we discover about her is told through journal entries. We see her develop some interesting yet dangerous talents with regard to accessing her dreams and moving through them. We’re given greater understanding of the Prince of Arrow (Orrin) and his sullen brother Egan, and slowly, slowly the layers are peeled away and all are shown the truth.

It’s this final scene, this final battle between King Jorg and the Prince of Arrow (will not spoil this revelation either) and Jorg’s ensuing internal battle where Lawrence really delivers some killer blows. While I saw that spoilery bit coming just moments prior, it didn’t lesson the appreciation of the delivery; same with the big burn baby burn!

Lawrence didn’t take the easy way out here with this second book and use it to solely set up the final book. There are twists and turns; a subtle leading and plot punches to the face; there’s death on the tiniest but most powerful of scales (that’s a hint, not a real spoiler) and deaths bordering genocide. All of it woven with a delicate hand that drags you in and makes you see life in this world for what it is – not at all pretty. That this is told from Jorg’s point-of-view, one who doesn’t pretty-up the world, its people and their action, only makes this a more compelling read.

We’re introduced to new characters and we watch others die, usually violently, but anyone who says that’s a surprise is kidding themselves. This is as dark a book as was the first, which makes me a happy reader and more eager than ever to get stuck into the final book.

On a Goodreads scale, I give King of Thorns 4.5 stars.

Four and half stars

 

ComicCon Wrap-up

Where to start? Probably 5am Friday morning when I dragged myself out of bed then dragged an equally unwilling child from her bed to catch a too-damn-early flight to Melbourne. After copious amounts of coffee (for me, not my daughter), wakefulness hit then excitement – COMIC CON!!!

We were bunking down at a my friends Chris and Tracy’s place (read her work – read it!), so Saturday morning we were again up at sparrow-fart and off to Melbourne-proper. It’s a pretty city, Melbourne, and damn if they don’t make a great cup of java (yes, this is a vital part of me liking any place I visit). As my daughter and I strolled along Southbank, it wasn’t long before we were in the midst of cosplayers – excitement level-up.

Me and Cloe

While I’ve been to Supanovas, this was my first ComicCon, and what made this all the more special was that this was the launch of my comic ‘The Road’ – part of a two-in-one comic ‘The Road to Golgotha’ with GN Braun and brought to spectacular life by the artist, Monty Borror. And when I walked up to the Cohesion Press table, there she was, pride of place and absolutely beautiful. That I was sharing this with my daughter made this even more special.

Our table was beside that of IFWG Publishing, manned by the lovely Gerry Huntman, the effervescent Stephen McCracken, and one of my favourite people in the world, Robert Hood. We were in some mighty fine company.

Road

Now, I’m not a salesperson by any stretch of the imagination (kinda a design flaw in the whole being-a-writer thing), and pimping my work to strangers is hard, but the thing with ComicCon attendees is their desire to engage. There’s complete and utter acceptance of everything and everyone at cons such as these; it’s a celebration of the arts in all their mediums, and a celebration of those who love their movies, tv shows, authors, artists and all that goes with it.

The cosplayers were just brilliant – always happy and obliging for photos; and some of the costumes just blew my mind. It was happy, happy place that nurtures creativity, and you really can’t ask for more than that.

Chatting with people about the comic, explaining the idea behind the story and having people ask me questions then buy the comic was such a buzz – signing it for them as an author is a real joy. To have someone come up and buy your work because another con member recommended it? That’s the stuff of snoopy-dances.

snoopy

If all of this wasn’t enough, I got to finally meet some peeps I’d been waiting to for a long time, and my mate James O’Keefe (who was also working ComicCon) was first to the table. I’ve known James for… must be five or six years now, but with both of us living in different states… it was great to finally catch up in person.

I knew artist and writer Jason Franks would be at the con, and that was a meet I was looking forward to, especially after reading his amazing novel Bloody Waters (get on it – it’s a killer piece! Reviewed here). While I would have liked to have spent more time chatting and to sit in on his panel – time was a hungry beast for us both.

Same with Aaron Sterns – it was wonderful to finally meet and chat with the softly-spoken writer of the Wolf Creek fame. I missed his panel as well, but that’s the thing with being an exhibitor at cons, you’re there to engage with potential readers and you can’t do that effectively when visiting people you’ve been hanging to meet for a long while. But cons are also the places that allow you to have those meets with friends from other states; with the people who love what they do as much as you do.

up

Being amongst it all brings home how much this really is the best gig in the world, and how lucky I am to be doing something that feeds my soul. None of which could have happened without the likes of Geoff Brown of Cohesion Press who believed in me and how much ‘The Road’ would be a kick-arse comic. I can’t thank him enough.road page 29

I really wish Monty could have made the con, but living in the US makes it a tad more difficult to get here – he’s a very busy lad! But without him, ‘The Road to Golgotha’ wouldn’t be the stunning piece of art that it is. And to top it all off, there were two pieces of original artwork waiting for me. Two of my favourite pages from the comic that will soon be framed and up on my wall where I will love them and stroke them and love them.

It was all over far too soon. Exhausting though those days were, it really lit a fire under my bum to create bigger and better, and to make sure I attend more cons to not only connect with my mates but to readers as well, ‘cause there ain’t nothin’ better than seeing someone walk away holding your book with a smile on their face.

 signing 1

ComicCon, I will be in you…

Tomorrow morning (waaay early), my daughter and I will be dragging our tired selves onto a plane for our trip to Melbourne for ComicCon. It’s a big deal, a very big deal. This is where the two-in-one comic ‘The Road to Golgotha’ will be launched through Cohesion Press. My story ‘The Road’, takes up 47 pages of horror-filled beauty, and while it’s uber-exciting, I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet (hell, I still haven’t started packing).

The Road to Golgotha

It’s been quite a long road (yeah, I see that pun) to get to this point; the script was written about two years ago, taken from a short story I’d had published in Midnight Echo #9. This was the first comic script I’d written, and truth be told, it almost broke me. Comic writing and story writing are two completely different beasts, and it took me a while to wrap my head around the ‘stillness’ of a comic. A panel is a snapshot, a moment frozen in time – a character isn’t ‘running’ they are ‘mid-step’; they aren’t ‘raising their hand’, it’s either up or down.

A true collaboration it is, and the gods stepped in and sent extraordinarily talented artist Monty Borror my way. It’s his art that brings my story to life, his skill and mastery of the medium that took my words and ideas and made them visually real, visually stunning. I sometimes wonder if he’s a sorcerer.

So 47 glorious pages later, Monty had finished the art, the lettering had been done, and it was off to the printers in time for launch at Melbourne ComicCon. ‘The Road’ is a story of gods and monsters, of self-discovery and a battle for identity for the heroine. It’s hard and it’s bloody and she unapologetically owns it.

Page3

The other story, by GN Braun is ‘His Own Personal Golgotha’ – a search for redemption through horror-filled pages again brought to wicked life by Monty Borror. It’s a visually stunning piece that doesn’t pull any punches. It’s kick-arse.

I also get to share this experience ­– my first ever launch – with my daughter, and that’s pretty damn special. She’s just as excited as I am, despite the fact she isn’t allowed to read the comic as it comes with a ‘R’ rating, but she’s very much looking forward to wearing an exhibitor pass and exploring ComicCon.

So if you’re in Melbourne over the weekend, come say hello and take a look at the comic – we’ll even sign it for you! For anyone who can’t make it, the comic will be available on Amazon next week, in either black and white or spectacular colour.

road page 9

Now, I’d better go pack, I have to be up in five hours.

Review: Besieged by Rowena Cory Daniells

I should be writing, I should, but I’m starting to get ridiculously behind on my book reviews, which isn’t a bad thing really – it means I’m reading faster than I can write reviews… or someone’s seriously messing with time (if so – STOP IT!).

Aaaanyway… it’s book review time! Today we’re venturing into the fantastical world of Rowena Cory Daniells’ Outcast Chronicles. While I’ve read the trilogy in its entirety, here I’ll be chatting about the first in the series – Besieged. (Oh, and a special shout out to Ashely Capes for putting me onto this trilogy, too! Thanks, buddy!)

Now before we go any further, I have a marching band mustering stage right with the requisite spoiler alert, and they’re getting antsy…

<Enter marching band to the strains of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Master Blaster’ – because Stevie>

EVERYONE’S SEEING SPOILERS! IT’S A SPOILER IN JUNE! THOUGH THE WORLD’S FULL OF SPOILERS, THEY COULDN’T SPOIL US EVEN IF THEY TRIED!

Well technically you could be spoiled if you continue reading. So as the marching band exits stage left, either take your seat and continue reading (ignoring my dancing) or follow the band out to the parking lot…

Besieged

Alrighty, let’s get to this, shall we?

Imagine a world split definitively between those with differing physical attributes. Daniells’ world is ruled by ‘True-Men’, perfectly-formed and pure of blood, they believe themselves better than those unlike them. On the other side is the T’En, white-haired, blue-eyed, six-fingered people with mind-bending abilities that strike fear (and superstition) into the hearts of True-Men everywhere. Caught somewhat between are the Malajune (Wyrds), copper-haired, purple-eyed, six fingered men and women born into the service of the T’En – honoured they believe themselves to be, this indoctrination is hard-wired into them through history.

But the above is just the main structure, the loom if you will, of a rich tapestry of lives and loves, culture and magic that hold this world together. Daniells weaves her world with care and precision, but one tug at those threads and it all unravels, as we will come to see.

At times the precision of Daniells’ world-building worked against the forwarding of the story, especially within the first one-hundred and fifty or so pages. I understand the need for this world-building at the beginning of a trilogy, but there was a lot of information I felt could have been drip-fed through the story, not spelled out so completely with those early chapters.

It’s all about balance, and that Daniells’ storylines for the characters were so compelling, it was sometimes frustrating to feel bogged down in some of her descriptions when I wanted to follow the characters through their stories.

Besieged is told from several points of view, and works well to give us a taste of the different people that make up this world. While Imoshen takes somewhat centre stage for the trilogy, it’s the character of Sorne, the disavowed son of the mad king, Charald, to whom we are first introduced as a babe – I’m talking straight from the womb and (almost) directly to his father’s blade.

It’s with Sorne we spend the beginning of the book; saved (and raised) by former High Priest Oskane – for purely selfish reasons, mind – he is an experiment in the abilities of the Malanjune to find a way to defeat them. Tortured and indoctrinated into subservience, Sorne’s is a pitiful, yet strangely happy childhood, until he becomes aware of who he really is. Things really go from bad to worse when he delves into the higher planes where monsters dwell, and becomes an even greater pawn in Oskane’s plans for revenge.

besieged banner

Running concurrently with Sorne’s story is that of Imoshen. The T’En’s are also a divided race – the Sisterhood and Brotherhoods (yes, men and women split with power-plays happening all the time). History has the Sisterhoods raising all children, with the boys moving to a Brotherhood when they come of age. It’s an interesting dynamic Daniells plays out here – each Brother and Sisterhood has its own standing, but each also vies for greater standing and power with the T’En. Each T’En also has their own gift, which can range from being a Warrior, Healer, and taster of truth to communing with animals (which is so low on the scale, it’s considered tainted).

Those within the Brotherhood usually have children with Malanjune, and Imoshen was not handed over to the Sisterhood as per law but raised by men. Though loved by her father, she too, is a pawn in bringing prestige to the Brotherhood but the pact was broken and… well, all hell breaks loose when Imoshen arrives at the Sisterhood after escaping a murder-plot.

Besieged is the set-up book for Daniells’ created world, characters and the story arcs of said characters. It’s a bloody, in-your-face world that doesn’t shy from the harsh reality of a world that is bound by rules and laws that at times seem unfair, but so far have worked to keep the peace. Of course you know that the peace is going to be broken, that there are those within the book who will set out alone to make their own destinies, even when they are tied so tightly to the people they’re meant to be guiding and protecting.

It’s no secret that the Mad King Charald wants the city the T’En occupy – beautiful and bountiful that it is. He’s determined, ruthless and uses the magic and history of the gods to further his cause while taking wife after wife in an attempt to sire the perfect True-Man son.

There are parts of the book I’d like to mention here, but they’re also parts as a reader you should discover yourself. Daniells has woven an intricate world and characters that are wholly likeable and unlikeable, but there’s an honesty to this world that I really enjoyed.

While it sits squarely within the fantasy genre, there’s a darkness and brutality to it that won’t appeal to all fans of fantasy. For me, though, I liked that unashamed storytelling. Lives aren’t all pristine and happy unicorns, that if you look hard enough, you’ll see the cracks in those veneers and the dirt that hides beneath.

As I said earlier, there were times where I felt the story suffered a little under the weight of the world-building, but that’s a personal preference. Daniells’ world is extremely well constructed, the magic systems and culture, though unique to each race, they’re cleverly entwined and deftly delivered. There’s political and religious power-plays, revenge, betrayal, love and horror all finding their place here — a little something for everyone.

It’s difficult to express within a thousand-or-so words how good this book is (without it turning into a dissertation), but I’d highly, highly recommend this series. Daniells said she wanted to write a trilogy that had the reader wanting more, and she definitely delivered with Besieged. I finished the book (which is 672 pages) in about five days because I wanted to spend more time with the characters in this beautifully fucked-up world.

On a Goodreads scale, I give this 3.5 stars

stars

 

Don’t Be A Dick

Let me say that again: don’t be a dick. Four simple words with an equally simple message, but it seems there are those in the writerly community having a really hard difficult time not being dicks – some on a truly epic scale.

I’ve followed for a while the debacle that is the Hugos. I say ‘a while’ because it didn’t take long to become bored and disenfranchised with the whole thing, especially once it devolved into the slinging of poo from both sides. To say the Hugos have been irreparably damaged is an understatement. The honour of having ‘Hugo winner’ or ‘Hugo nominated’ stamped on the cover of your book has been lost. That’s a real shame. Will the awards recover? Only time will tell. Time, and whether Vox Day continues with his toxicity.

It was the perfect example of how ‘don’t be a dick’ would have helped those on all sides of the Hugo debate. Once you devolve into vitriol to further a cause (valid or not), you lose not only any sense of decency, but there’s a real chance you lose your reputation, and for writers, reputation is everything. No matter how good a storyteller you may be, if you’re a dick, you’ll find there are publications and editors that will refuse to work with you.

nice things

If only the dick-ness had been limited to the Hugos, but *le sigh* it wasn’t. Another spat broke out between authors that had political leanings (shades of the Hugos) at its core, which then resulted in one of those involved ‘one-starring’ the other author’s books on Amazon. Apparently this author isn’t a five-year-old child. Other authors were dragged into the mess, and yet again, playground behavior and bullying was the order of the day. Now I’m not saying all involved were ‘dicks’, some of those dragged into this acted with decency, common sense and rose above, but it was enough to spread quickly through the writerly community and draw more sad sighs, eye-rolls and mutterings of ‘again?’ from those sucked pulled drawn into the vortex.

Just recently I became aware of an instance of ‘dick-ness’ that struck a little closer to home, and which raised my ire. A friend and fellow author (who I won’t name for privacy reasons) was at an anthology launch where their story was listed as the lead – a well-deserved honour; it’s a wonderful piece. However another author (well-known in the genre) took it upon themselves to tear into my friend, stating without compunction that they’d paid to have their work included, that the story was shite, as was the antho (apart from dick-author’s work, of course), and that they wouldn’t be promoting it because all of the above.

This tirade was unprovoked and left my friend shocked and disillusioned with their work. I was furious. Still am, hence this post. I’ve little doubt that jealousy and the dick-author’s insecurities led to the words, but that doesn’t make it any way right. Not by any means.

booo!

Writers are an insecure bunch, myself included. We’re our own worst critics, and even those of us with publications (big and small) under our belt still have those moments of despair. When author friends have their successes we’re absolutely rapt for them, but there’s also a little stab of jealousy involved with those successes – we wouldn’t be human if that wasn’t the case. But here’s where the ‘don’t be a dick’ comes in (damn, these double-entendres are killing me). It’s simple really. If you feel like being a dick – don’t. Take any negative feelings toward another writer and turn it into the drive to write more, write better. Chanel that energy into non-dickness.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that writers are a solitary folk, that most of our time is spent in created worlds, but there’s a real joy in connecting with like-minded beings, with those who understand the intricacies and quirks that make you a writer. You need these connections, and not just on a publishing platform, but for your sanity. And if the Hugos, Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies and all the other author-transgressions are anything to go by, that sanity and sense of community is slowly decaying.

We’re in this together, peeps. Writing is truly the best gig in the world; don’t turn it into a toxic playground by being a dick. Simple.

don't be a dick

Feeding the Soul

Saturday night I ventured into the heart of the best city in the world for the Sydney Writers’ Festival, which was set to the backdrop of the festival of lights – Vivid. It was a fantastic night that all started with a forty-five minute walk, and what a walk it was!

Streets were closed from the middle of the city all the way to Circular Quay and around The Rocks, and I can’t explain how much I enjoyed walking down the middle of George Street, surrounded by so many but revelling in the solitary exploration of my home town lit up like magic. Those forty-five minutes, free to walk and explore and indulge on my lonesome was food for the soul.

opera house

Sydney Opera House under lights

I’m not sure how many writers’ festivals have a light, music and ideas festival running concurrently, but more need to. The Sydney foreshore, which is always beautiful, was transformed into a city of the fantastique. There were so many things that drew my attention… and probably why I made it to the auditorium by the skin of my teeth.

I was in the audience for the ‘5 x 15’ – five speakers chat for 15 minutes a piece. No scripts allowed! It was an eclectic lineup, too. A cook, crime writer, investigative journalist, rapper/poet/novelist, and violinist. Something for everyone, I thought, but not everything for all.

I’m happy to say I was wrong.

We began with cook (and MasterChef winner) Adam Liaw. Now I’m not a cook, not by any stretch of the imagination, so I wasn’t quite sure how Adam’s words would apply to me, but… he was great! Sure, a lot of what he spoke about was food related, about breaking food down to its main elements and drawing from there. Pretty much like you do for fiction. Adam was engaging, amusing and more insightful than I imagined.

baking

Next up was US crime writer Michael Connelly. Aah, fiction writer! I admit I haven’t read any of Michael’s books, but that will soon be rectified. He told us about his first novels (ones that will never see the light of day, which is always great to have in common), but I was most impressed with the research he undertook that turned his “crappy” novels into best-sellers. It’s the little things that count, the nuances of character, the attention to detail (no matter how small), that make a story. It’s this kind of information that’s invaluable to a writer, and I thank him for it.

Then came Kate McClymont. I’ve read a lot of her investigative pieces, especially with regard to the political shenanigans of our government – she’s very, very good, but I had no idea how funny she was. I’m sure she ran over time, but it didn’t matter. She had the auditorium in fits of laughter and entertained like a true show-woman. She was definitely going to be a hard act to follow.

Enter Omar Musa. Another Australian novelist/poet/rapper not on my radar. Now Omar had cheat cards, of which he readily confessed (but rarely looked at). Against the rules? Maybe. Did any of us care? Nah-ah. Omar is a finalist for the Miles Franklin Award for his novel Here Come The Dogs, and what he gave us was amazing. Part poetry slam, part biography, it was a feast of rhythm and verse and lyrical beauty told with an honesty that had me buy his book (and have it signed – he’s humble and happily chatted to all who came to him). It was brilliant. Just brilliant.

Here Come the Dogs

When the last speaker, concert violinist Richard Tognetti took the stage, he told us his 12-year-old son told him he’d better be funny as the previous speakers were amazing. Pressure much? Richard is one of the top violinists in Australia, and boy can he talk a million miles a minute! Nerves were definitely there, and at times, so fast did he speak it was difficult to keep track of where he was taking us. He had with him an extremely rare violin that was hundreds of years old – the history behind it (rapid though it was), was interesting, but when he put that instrument to his chin and played for us all… magic. He was transposed from this almost manic dialogue into a virtuoso of calm and beauty as he seemed to romance music from the violin. Such a fitting end to an incredible panel of speakers.

A special shout-out to the always lovely and quick-witted Diana Jenkins who emceed the event – amazing job!

After having my newly-purchased book signed by Omar Musa, it was off for drinks until there was only two of us left – me and my mate, Deb. We had a great (if not cold) stroll around the harbour foreshore, taking in the sights of Vivid, discussing the speakers and just generally laughing our arses off (as we tend to do when together).

peacock feathersfaces

The Argyle Cut and Martin Place Faces

For those of you who haven’t attended The Sydney Writers’ Festival, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s a week-long event, with days and nights chock-full of panels and discussions, book launches, culture and heritage… there really is something for everyone. If you’re a reader, it’s a chance to connect with favourite authors and discover new. For writers, who really do tend to be solitary creatures, it’s a place to revel in your passion, to talk about stories and the realness of your characters (without those strange looks you sometimes get from non-writerly peeps), and connect with those who love what they do as much as you do.

For me? Well I got all of the above, and so much more. I’m inspired, determined and I learned – something a writer never stops doing. And I can’t wait to do it all again next year.

pyschedelic building

Now get thee to a writers’ festival!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 458 other followers

%d bloggers like this: