Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Wish

It's been one hell of a year... and I mean, a big one for us all.  A lot has happened in the publishing world, a lot has happened in the world of writers.  And I have been reading a fair few books I don't normally read - as I'm sure you all have too.

However at this time of year, I'd like to wish you all a very Merry Yuletide for the Season and a Prosperous New Year.  I do hope you keep you and your family safe and enjoy each other's company, food, presents and just treasure the time we have to spend with each other.
I say this because I've lost a few people care deeply about this year - including one of my pets - and it's not easy when your family is one member short (or two) on the first Christmas.  And yeah, I just read back and saw that I called my bird a person; well, if you guys had the opportunity to meet her, you'd find she thought she was people.

Anyway, take the time to sit back this holiday season and hang out with your family and relax.  Don't rush around on the day out on the roads - as it's the most dangerous then.  But, on the same token, I'm going to be out and about on the day too celebrating and remembering with family and stuffing myself with great, home-made foods.  I will be at the coast - where the internet sucks and is very expensive - and so I'll try to pop in here when I can and let you know about what I've been doing while there.  Otherwise, if I can't, I'll be back on 2nd, January to let you know what books I've found, what kinds of stores I wandered through that had books and what written works I enjoyed.  

Keep safe guys, enjoy all your books at this wonderful time of year and may you have a great time with your loved onesAnd until my next post, happy reading!   

Friday, December 21, 2012

An Interview With Ged Maybury

Seeing I'm away next week for some fun in the sun and by the ocean to chill out, I thought to set up a funny and wonderful interview with one of my favouritely funny people, Ged Maybury. 

I met Ged about 20 years ago when I was a financial member of the Logan Writers' Guild and he spoke at one of our workshops at the Logan North Library in the IKEA Centre at Springwood (now that's a long time ago seeing how much that area's changed).  He wrote Young Adult works back then and he was as funny then as he is now.  We took him to The Coffee Club for afternoon tea and everyone got on famously with him.  He and I ended up nearly having a food fight over a piece of gluten-free Jaffa Cake... yummo and hilariously funny too.  Now, it's been quite some time and I found him on Facebook.  He no longer writers Young Adult, but Steampunk, wears a lot of pink - his favourite colour - and he's enjoying life and writing totally; and he agreed to be interviewed and we can still make each other laugh.  So, here you all are:  and interview with Brisbane Steampunk author, Ged Maybury.

1.  How long have you been writing?  And what kinds of genre have you written in your life? 

I began writing prior to high school, as most of us do. I recall my very first attempt at a story in about grade 7:
Teacher: “Today I want you to write an adventure story.”
I got to works and duly turned in about 12 pages (the average being about 1) Mrs Wilson was very impressed, probably astonished, and praised me to the entire class. But later she called me up for a private chat. Handed me back my epic tale, “This is very good, Ged.”
(nod)"Is this the first time you’ve written a story?”

“It’s very VERY good. You have quite a talent.”

(surprised by this, belated nod) 
“But I’m wondering: is this maybe a bit like a book you recently got out of the library?” [I had only just discovered the school library.]
“Ah. So you copied the same story ideas you saw in the book?” 
(nod) [I saw nothing wrong in that.]

“Well, when you do creative writing, it’s best if you come up with your own ideas.”

“Oh.” [This was a surprising new idea to me. Somewhat alarming.]

“Do you think you can do that?”
And I did. A mere 20 years later I wrote my next story. “TimeTwister” was taken up by Ashton Scholastic and sold about 50,000 copies. This was such a good start I decided to write some more.

2.  Have you always called Australia home? Or have you travelled and lived in all kinds of places?

I’m from New Zealand. I’ve been in Aus for 13 years, and have been a citizen since 2001. The only other places I have been are Papua New Guinea and Kansas City in the USA.

3.  How long did it take to get your first book published?  Or did you self-publish?

My first book started out as a script idea for a TV drama for children. (I’d been writing stageplays prior to that.) After I completed the first episode in 1984, someone suggested I approach a TV producer in TVNZ – who just happening to be starting up his own company right then – and while he had it he showed it to a Scholastic rep, and she thought it was a go-er. Soon I had a contract to write a book before a single word of it had been written!

I set about writing the book while the TV company completed their first big project, and got it finished just in time for them to crash and burn and go bankrupt and hastily leave their offices owing rent and I arrived in time to retrieve exactly 14 pages of my only hand-written copy from the bin. The guy with the computer had already stormed off, taking all their records with him.

At that point my book was dead, and I tried hard to give up all dreams of being a writer ( – which, incidentally, I never wanted to be).

But by a bizarre twist, five months later someone sent another computer printout of the book to the publisher – once again in draft-quality not letter-quality. Lacking a return address, but having mine, they sent it to me to complain. My book had come back to me!!

We then agreed to give up on the TV series tie-in and just do the book, which we duly did. That is how I came to be a writer.

You may call that easy if you like.

4.  Who is your favourite character from any of your books or stories?  Why?

Oh that is a hard one. I have created so many characters over the years. Comedic ones, and heroic ones. I think my favourite plucky hero type would have to be Varja D’Rotimar – heroine of my space adventure “Hive of the StarBees” (published 1995). Niece to a nasty neurotic space pirate Pommit D’Rotimar, she takes charge after they crash on a strange and distant planet – not far from a bizarre hive seething with gigantic metalloid insects, while a mind-controlling alien tries to steal the very core of their ship and other complex stuff. She’s heroic.

5.  Do you plan your books or do they just happen and the characters take you on a big adventure?

I’m a ‘pantser’ – I write by the seat of my pants, with only the barest intuition of how the story must go. That way, wonderful things happen along the way as my characters come out with unexpected gifts, secrets, or twists. Or even surprise chareacters who walk in at the halfway point and send the tale spinning off in a new direction.

I never get the story I expect. Usually I get one a lot better.

1.  What's your favourite colour/s? (everyone's got more than one).

Pink. (D’uh!) And burgundy colours too.

2.  Seeing it's close to Christmas, what do you love - or loath - about this time of year?

I loath the inescapability of it all. The commercial barrage. The ritual of obligation over genuine gift-giving. And having to spend time with people who are just not on my wavelength. Oh, and the sheer bloody *waste*. Bins full of cheap paper the next day. Toys that break. Presents that no-one wants or likes. Love for Christmas? – I have none, except that my two boys kind of like the fluff and stuff and ritual. (None of us are Christians.) 

3.  What is your funniest memory of all time?

I’m more inclined to recall the moments when I got a big laugh from my surprise on-liners, but they would take too much explaining, so here’s a childhood moment instead:

My younger brother was (and still is) intellectually impaired. At the age of about 2, he was given scrambled eggs for the first time. We were given the job of serving him this, and we told him what it was, “mmm, yummy” and all that, and told him to get eating. He gazed at it for many long seconds, then poked his finger into it. This tiny moment became memorable, and for years afterwards my elder brother and I could instantly set ourselves laughing by remembering it. Sadly, what delights a child can be just plain unfunny to an adult.

4.  If you had the cash, time and a building for a bookstore, what would you name your bookstore?  And what kinds of books would you have in it?

A bookstore? Gods, why would I want one of those? That sounds like work! Besides, I’ve quite lost my love of books and reading. But if I did have a bookstore, I’d call it本の愛. [“hon no ai” – “Love of Books” or more simply “Love This” ]. And I’d sell Japanese plushies, books, manga and anime as well as indie Sci Fi and kids books and just any kind of stuff that I like. (But NO COMICS!)

5.  What is your favourite place where you live now?

The West End. Spring Hill. Bardon. East Brisbane … anywhere with history and remnants of Victorian elegance.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Short Holiday

I'm afraid to say this but I'm going to be away next week.  Yep, I won't have any access to the internet from 24th December until 2nd January.  So, I thought to let you guys know a few days in advance so this isn't a surprise to you.

But!  I do have a great interview with Ged Maybury coming up on Friday for you to read.  It's funny and inspiring and I thought it would be the best one to keep you guys entertained until I get back from Brunswick Heads and fill you in on what I did there; bookwise.

You see, there's no bookstores in Brunswick Heads; but there is this place called Clem's Cargo which has a bit of everything there.  And there's a Life Line or a Vinnies as well as a book exchange at the bus depot.  However, it's been years since I was there last, so I don't know how much this place has changed.  So, when I get back from the coast, I'll have to let you guys know what it was like there and what I bought.

Otherwise, I'll be doing posts right up until I leave here on Saturday night.  So, keep on here until then.  Until my next post, happy reading.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Books! Books! Books!

This time of the year is the worse time for me; but it's also the best time.  It's the time of year where I've gotten all my Christmas gifts all wrapped up and under the tree just waiting for the big day - or better known as The Orgy of Greed in my family - and all the shows I usually watch have all wrapped up for the year.  
I've also organised my grocery shopping to the tiniest detail so that if I ever do have to go out into the massive crowds again, it's for certain things; then I rush home again.  How I detest going out into the crowds just to get such things as eggs or bread or deodourant; just because I forgot it last time.
But this time of the year also gives me plenty of time to catch up on any reading I've left unfinished.  Seeing there's sappy Christmas movies that have been put on each and every year (and usually I have them on dvd and watch them when I feel like it) and I've ended up turning off the television at around 8pm or so at night now, I've found that I'm heading off to bed at around 10pm where I'm reading in the still, breezeless heat of the night.  Yep, it's been very hot lately and not good weather to sleep.  So, what I do is catch a nice cool shower, wash my hair and read until late; or until it cools off a little at around 1am.  And I've caught up with some serious reading of late.  So far, I've caught up with 'A Christmas Carol' by Charles Dickens - which is a novella that I've been nibbling at for about two weeks; and I only finished it last night or the night before.  And over the weekend, I picked up a cute little book titled: 'The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones' put out by Pocket Books.  I loved the films and totally loved this book.  It took me an hour and half to read and its stories twisted and turned just like a real journal.  Now, I'm reading another little book called 'The Christmas Quilt' that Mum gave me.  She said it was just a sweet little story about somebody who lost the Christmas spirit and quilts and art; and she thought I'd like to read it.  So, I'm up to chapter two in it - and they're huge chapters - of the five chapter book.  I've also begun to read 'Life of Pi' - not because of the movie coming out, but because I've had the book on my shelf for so long and would like to get through it at some point.  

So, what have you been reading lately; seeing we've all got time to finally sit down and catch our breath before the real rush of Christmas begins.  You know what I mean!  When family arrives and the real silly season takes place.  Until my next post, happy reading!    

Monday, December 17, 2012

'A Christmas Carol' By Charles Dickens

It's Christmas and Mr Scrooge's business partner, Marley is dead.  But he has no time to mourn is passing; no, none at all.  He quickly organises Marley's funeral and returns back to work, where his office is lit by only the fewest of candles and warmed by the smallest amount of coal in the furnace.  Without the fireplace going, Scrooge's workplace is dark, cold and without the happiness of the outside world.  And seeing so much happiness of the festive season, he has turned his desk so he doesn't have to face it and he can work on without knowing it's there.
Seven years pass by, Marley's name is still on the sign out the front of the business.  Scrooge hasn't bothered to take it off the front as he didn't see the use to.  Bob Cratchit sits trying to warm himself by his meagre fire as he wraps himself warmly in his clothes, which have been patched and re-patched by his wife; attempting to work as his teeth chatter against the cold.  He wishes he could nab another piece of coal, but Scrooge has that securely locked up on his desk and key for the box of coal within reach.

Yes, Scrooge is a mean, miserly old man.  He won't spend the money on anyone or anything if he doesn't think he needs to.

Until this Christmas Eve, when Marley shows up at his house, haunting him - trying to scare him - into changing his mind just a little of what the Christmas spirit is about.  Marley tells him of three Christmas Spirits that will visit him that night - Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future - all of whome will try to convince Scrooge that if he keeps travelling his current path he will not like what happens.  However, will Scrooge believe in his heart enough to change?

I have been meaning to read this story of Charles Dickens' for some time.  And after seeing a movie of it a few weeks back on television, I picked out the book of Christmas Short Stories by this very author, and I began reading a little each night before bed.  And I gotta say, I do love his style.  It's wonderful and brilliant.  I really didn't like Scrooge to begin with but by the end, he turned out to be okay; and realised his mistakes.  Charles Dickens will be an author I will most definitely revisit in the future.  Until my next post, happy reading!  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

'The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones' by Pocket Books

Welcome to the secret world of Dr. Henry Jones - better known to you as Indiana Jones - professor, archaeologist and the man who can fly a plane (but not land it), carries a bull whip and a hat and never lets go of either one when the going gets tough.
Within the weathered pages of this lost journal, you'll find plenty to read.  There's treasures Dr Jones found when he was a child - and they were taken from him - and he recorded them in this journal.  He talks briefly about his mother and how little time he spent with her before she died at a very young age.  And this well-presented journal is dotted throughout with notes from - of places - but the KGB.  Yes, sadly, it had fallen into the wrong hands; and Dr. Jones' notes have been sifted through by them.  All of his friends, no matter who they were (dead or alive) have had their backgrounds checked out by the Russian Government.  Unfortunately, just when he's looking for the Crystal Skull, the journal ends; without any notes or ideas of where it will end up next.

I bought this book a couple of years ago as I'm a big Indiana Jones fan.  And I promised myself I'd read it this year; yep it was on my Mt TBR by the office door.  And this afternoon, I spent the last hour and half reading this fun book.  It was full of photos from the movies and I found it very entertaining and funny in some places.  The stories within this journal twist and turn around themselves  and work along the same lines - or similar - as the movies.  And they have letters, notes, menus, a driver's license and other things taped inside it.  It all looks great and I loved reading it.  The publishing company even got the cover right and it looks like leather; but it's really vinyl.  So, if you can get your hands on this funny and brilliant little book, do so.  It won't take long to read, and it's a lot of fun.   

Learning to Love Books

I learned to love books a very long time ago; further back than most people normally would.  However, this post's idea came from The New Dork Review of Books post from today.  He wrote about his love of books and how he came to love them so much; firstly posting it in Book Riot, then his own blog.  So, I thought to run with the idea and post about how I came to love books.

But, you know, thinking about it and talking about it are two different things.  I could think about how much I love books all day; but having to talk about it?  Well, that could take all of a month.  I don't know what it is about books that makes me go weak at the knees.  It could be their odour (for old books) or their smell (for new books).  It could be the author and their style, the particular series the books are from - and I've decided to read - or it could be that I've been collecting books on a particular author for years and just can't stop.

However, what you want to know is what got me started in to my passion for books.  I do remember learning to read; but that's not it.  I remember going to the school library at primary school whenever my friends and I had fights and I didn't like what they said to me.  I'd hide there, in amongst the only things that didn't criticise me.  But pretty soon, my friends found me; and I hated that.  I also hid at the local library when I wasn't at school; and that library was only a 5 minute walk from my house - how fortunate is that!
I'd read when I was sick with a cold, when I was at parties with my parents, when we were at restaurants... well pretty much anywhere.  And it was something of an escape mechanism I used because I wasn't a well kid; and when children are sick and are constantly seeing doctors, having blood tests, going to hospitals and having their lives interrupted by these unusual trips here and there, they tend to find an escape.  Mine was reading and books.  I read just about anything I could get my hands on.  And you know, when things get really tough in my life, I still do.  I've been known to sit and read the ingredients on the side of a shampoo bottle, what was in the laundry liquid and how to wash my favourite black skirt.  And that was just today.  I didn't read a book; I read anything with words so I didn't have to think about losing my pet budgie.  I have always done this since I was kid to work through hard and tough times in my life - weird but true.

Reading has become more of an escape mechanism in the last decade or so.  Since I've left school, I've loved reading more and more.  There's nobody telling me what I can and can't read (as if I'd take anyone's opinions over what I could read anyway; my parents didn't stop me from reading what I wanted).  Now, don't get me wrong, I had some great teachers at school who recommended some wonderful books to me; and the set reading was brilliant too.  However, my teachers also didn't turn around and tell me that what I read in my spare time was wrong; and neither did anyone else.
So, I found myself picking up books I had always wanted to read and getting right into them.  I loved reading just about anything; from non-fiction to fiction, romance (which I normally found horrible) to horror, I was reading as much as I could and loving it.  And the best thing about it all was that I beginning to get into more complex books because of one website:  Bookcrossing.  This site - and its members - pushed me to cross over some boundaries and work on my reading habits; that the books I was reading were keeping me in a rut.  So, over the last few years, I read books I didn't normally read, found myself in genres that were unusual for me to be in and really stretched the good ol' imagination.  Now, reading has become an absolute pleasure to me.  I'm not escaping anything, I enjoy it as much as the next person and that's how it's supposed to be.

So, how did you come to love books and reading?  Love to know how you got into reading; be it the way I did or another way perhaps?  Well, until my next post, happy reading!