After a huge weekend at the Australian Natcon, I’ve had some time to recover from what was an epic four days. It was great to catch up with some old friends and meet some new ones. After being in the fan scene for a couple of years now, I’m feeling much more at home at conventions. The Guests of Honour, Ben Aaronovich, Jill Pantozzi, Keri Arthur and Maria Lewis, were all incredibly entertaining. I don’t think I’ve laughed this much at a convention, especially at the fan fund auction where you could even bid on a piece of string.
Recent Travel Adventures
The You Yangs Regional Park rises starkly out of flat farmland. It’s a massive rock formation, Flinders Peak appearing in the distance on the way from Melbourne to Geelong. The You Yangs offers some of the best peak views in Melbourne, and the hike to the top is not difficult for people with a good […]Read More ›
1000 steps and I’m at the bottom of them, along with women clad in fluorescent active wear, hikers hauling weighted training packs and dads carrying kids. The Kokoda Track Memorial Walk, popularly called the 1000 Steps, is a short but steep walk in the Dandenong Ranges, Melbourne.Read More ›
After every convention I go to, I try to put some meandering brain thoughts into words, so that everyone can partake of the wonder that is a speculative fiction convention. This year Continuum 13 was the Australian National Science Fiction Convention. Last year I’d been on the committee for Continuum, so this year was an entirely […]Read More ›
When you have to carry all your own gear, it can be really hard to figure out what camera to take on a multi-day hike. That 70-300mm lens sounded like a great idea at the time, but after four days of trekking the extra weight really adds up. I’ve just got back from a six […]Read More ›
Ever got photo envy? Why are their photos so much better than mine? Chances are, a few little tweaks could take your photos from average to amazing.Read More ›
Have you ever said to yourself, I’d love to be creative, but I’m just not that sort of person?
As a full-time creative professional, I hear this wish expressed all the time. I wish I was creative. I wish I could do what you do. Creativity can seem like the daunting domain of people with funky dress sense and hipster glasses. Of course, I don’t believe there’s a line between creative and non-creative people. It’s not like there’s a secret creative land where all the artists, writers and photographers live, and non-creative land for everyone else.
I was having one of those days. Sitting there writing, thinking that even if I write and write and write, I’ll never be as good as [insert author name here].
Funnily enough, it seems like a bunch of other writers were having those days too. I checked into social media, where at least three author friends were feeling down about their progress in their writing career. Most of us don’t have a huge fan base to build us back up with praise. The comments sections lie empty on blogs.
In researching a new novel, I stumbled across a curious tidbit within The Scientific Sherlock Holmes by James O’Brien. It briefly mentioned The Valley of Fear, one of the four Sherlock Holmes novels, as an early precursor to the hardboiled novel. Intrigued as Holmes coming across a mystery, I immediately sought out the story. I’m a perpetual dabbler in Sherlock Holmes – I’ve read and enjoyed many, but not all of the stories.
Since I was a teenager, I wanted to be the lead singer in a rock and roll band. It was something about watching Renee Zellweger rocking out on the top of Empire Records that did it for me. Everything in that moment was thrown to the wind in the name of music. The movie finished, but life goes on.
It’s been a month since I got back from New York and I’ve finally had a chance to read through all my notes from the World Fantasy Convention. I travelled there with a grant from the Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature, and part of my grant was to bring knowledge back to writers in Melbourne. So I thought it would be useful to type up all my notes (at least the interesting ones) from some of the panels. Hopefully these contain some ideas and book recommendations for your own writing.
There’s an undeniable attraction for writers to New York City. Whether it’s the conglomeration of culture, the proportion of publishers or just the way the city has featured in so many art forms. Walking New York is like being in an artwork itself. The buildings are the paintings, the streets the galleries. Having been to the city twice, I spent a week after the World Fantasy Convention exploring and revisiting some of my favourite destinations.
The scales were hard under my fingers, but after 120 million years, I still expected to feel some of the softness of a live fish. And yet, here I was, in the presence of possibly the oldest thing I had ever touched, apart from the Earth which I walk upon. While children ran around, shouting in joy at the dinosaur skeletons, I took a moment to stop and think, this is where I am, and it is a small place indeed.
In which Kat discusses the World Fantasy Convention, writerly adventures and the joys of bagels.
It’s been an intense, insane weekend and I’ve finally had time to sit down and collect my thoughts. Last weekend I attended the World Fantasy Convention for the first time. It was a fantastic experience, one of those defining moments in a writing career, especially being in the early days of my publishing journey.
A room full of genre fiction writers is my idea of heaven. It’s nice to be in a room full of people who won’t roll their eyes when you proudly announce “I write genre fiction!” So it was a no brainer to go to Genrecon in Brisbane this year, attended by writers of romance, sci-fi, fantasy, crime and everything in between. I had a fantastic weekend bantering with other authors, percolating ideas and being entertained by Mary Robinette Kowal’s insane level of talent (I mean, who else can write novels and work as the right hand of Oscar the Grouch?).
Here’s a little write up of some of the panels I attended.
I’m delighted to announce my short story “In the Company of Rogues” will be included in the And Then… short story anthology published by Clan Destine Press.
And Then… is a great big book of adventure tales from some incredible Australian and New Zealand writers, including Kerry Greenwood, Alan Baxter, Amanda Pillar and Andrew Nette. It’s jam packed full of derring-do and swashbuckling tales. My own story is that of Randall the Rogue, who goes on a quest with his sidekick, Dennis the Budgerigar of Doom.
If a flaming budgerigar wizard hasn’t sold it for you, check out their Indigogo campaign page, where they’re raising funds to pay the lovely authors and produce this book.
Being a lover of dramatic overdressing and crime, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the TV show that is Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Based on the book series by Kerry Greenwood, Miss Phryne Fisher, lady detective, seems to always find her well-heeled foot in crime. She investigates with a pearl-handled gun, 1920s convertible, and the dashing Detective Inspector Jack Robinson in tow.
Driving out through the grey outskirts of Melbourne, I knew I needed a day out in nature. Nothing calms the stressful mind than being present in the green of the bush, without mobile phone reception.
Within 90 minutes of Melbourne, the Yarra Valley is an ideal day trip. One popular driving route is the loop which goes through Lilydale, Healesville through the Yarra Ranges National Park, then down to Warburton and back to Melbourne. There are plenty of great cafes and stops along the way, whether you want to do the loop in one day or three, it’s a morish trip full of natural and nourishing beauty.
As someone who works in digital media as well as being an author, I often get asked by other authors “Do I really need to use social media?” The simple answer is YES! Publishers, agents and festival organisers are no longer just looking for people who can tell a good story, they want you to have an online presence. Having a ready audience for your work is a great indicator to a publisher that you’re pro-active at promoting your work. And if you’re a self-published author, how else are you going to get the word out about your amazing space-opera zombie novel? Social media is a great place to connect with other like minded authors and readers.
There’s something beautiful about crisp winter country air; there’s a bittersweet sharpness to the tang of cold on the skin. I stood on the curb of Lancefield’s wide street wondering why I didn’t bring a warmer jacket, stuffing my hands into my pockets in the hope to get warmer. The clear sky gave way to cool shade and warm sun.
I am delighted to announce that I have been awarded a grant through the Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature Travel Fund! I’m incredibly excited for this career opportunity to travel to America in August. The travel fund is for people in the literary industry to increase their professional development and contribute to Melbourne as a City of Literature.
I’m starting a new section on my blog to discuss some of the tools that help foster creativity in a practical way. The first book I’m featuring is Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction. Written by weird fiction author Jeff VanderMeer (The Southern Reach Trilogy, Finch), Wonderbook is a prolific and thorough overview of the process of writing fiction. Bursting with full-colour illustrations, the book also features interviews with some of the biggest genre fiction writers in the world, including an extended interview with George R.R. Martin. While it’s aimed at genre fiction writers, I imagine that any writer could benefit from this book.
In the middle of Melbourne is a hidden place, accessible only by magic doorway… well, it seems that way, but you can also walk from Collingwood Station. No special train platform is required to visit Abbotsford Convent, but it sure feels like you’ve stepped into Hogwarts or Brakebills.
He swept in through the front door, shirt torn as lightning flashed – hang on, my twitter stream’s buzzing, OH MY GOODNESS IT’S A CAT!!!
If that sounds like your writing process, then it might be time to get some tools for distraction free writing.
I’ve wanted to try astrophotography since I got interested in landscape photography many years ago. Looking at those amazing astral photos, I wondered how it was done and what equipment I needed. Thankfully the rise of digital photography and the reasonable price of low-light lenses has made astrophotography affordable and fun. Apart from equipment, the main qualities you’ll need is patience, and a warm jacket!
Australia is one of the most expensive countries in the world. But visiting this beautiful country doesn’t have to break your budget. Melbourne is my favourite city in Australia (quite possibly the reason why I live here!), and also one of the easiest to navigate if you’re tight on money. Here’s my itinerary for three days in Melbourne on a budget, plus bonus tips on transport and food.
Since returning home after two years of travel, I’ve embraced a minimalist lifestyle. What does that look like, you wonder? I’ll get there… Living out of a backpack helped me understand that I don’t need a lot of stuff to live – in fact, most people in the developing world have less than I do. When I returned to Australia to unpack the boxes of stuff from my old life, I kept pulling things out and going “I don’t even know why I own this.”