It’s only a few weeks until the main program for Sydney Writers’ Festival gets under way. This year’s program looks completely amazing, featuring writers such as Helen MacDonald, author of the frankly astonishing H is for Hawk, Daniel Mendelsohn (who will be in conversation with David Malouf about reading the classics on Thursday 21 May – be still my beating heart), Malcolm Knox (whose new novel, The Wonder Lover, is out now, and who was profiled in the Fairfax papers over the weekend) and many more.
If you’d like to catch me I’m doing a number of events in and around Sydney during the Festival. First up I’ll be in conversation with Geordie Williamson at the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba on Monday 18 May at 3:00pm, where we’ll be talking about Clade, climate change and writing the Anthropocene.
On Thursday of the same week I’ll be back in Sydney, this time at Randwick Library, where I’m speaking at 6:30pm. Tickets for this event are free, and can be booked online or by calling 02 9399 6966.
And then, over the weekend, I’m at two events at the main festival. The first is a panel at 11:30am on Saturday 23 May entitled ‘Imagined Futures’, chaired by Ashley Hay and featuring Emily St. John Mandel, David Mitchell, Jonathan Lethem. I’m incredibly excited abut this panel: I’ve been a huge admirer of Lethem for years, and as I said when I posted about my favourite books of 2014, I adored both The Bone Clocks and Station Eleven. Tickets for this one are $25 or $20 concession, and although there are still some available I suspect they won’t be for long.
The second, which I’m also very much looking forward to, is with Anson Cameron and David Schlosberg on Sunday 24 May at 3:00pm, and is entitled ‘Climate Change and the New Nature’. I think this should be a fascinating and quite provocative session. Tickets are $14.
Anyway, hopefully I’ll see some of you at some of these events. And if not, take a look at the full program: it’s an incredible line-up.
I’m going to put together a roundup of reviews and articles about Clade soon, but in the meantime I’ve done a pair of Q&As you might like to check out. The first was for Penguin, and you can read it on their website; the other was for the fabulous Angela Slatter’s blog.
And while it’s not about the book, I’ve also just done a little thing for Zena Shapter about the music I’ve been enjoying recently. You can read the whole thing over on Zena’s blog, but because I wrote it a couple of weeks ago I didn’t include two things I’ve been loving in the past little while. The first is Israeli singer-songwriter Asaf Avidan’s fabulous album, Gold Shadow, which rather like Angel Olsen’s excellent Burn Your Fire For No Witness, looks back to the 1960s and beyond for a series of sounds and production techniques which manage to sound both retro and completely contemporary. And the other is The Beatles’ fourth album, Beatles For Sale, a record I was convinced to go back to by Jonathan Gould’s enthusiastic discussion of it in his biography of the Fab Four, Can’t Buy Me Love (which I’m planning to write something about on the weekend). For various reasons I’d come to accept the line that it’s an album born of exhaustion and creative burnout, a trough between the high points of A Hard Day’s Night and Help, but having listened to it again I’ve realised it’s actually much more interesting than I’d given it credit for, not just because original songs like ‘No Reply’ are so terrific, but because the choice of covers implies a fascinating conversation with their various influences and antecedents (and also, I suspect, prefigure the engagement with music hall and other, older forms on albums like Sgt Pepper).
A little after the fact because I’ve been in Adelaide for Writers’ Week, but last Friday saw the release of the finalists for this year’s Aurealis Awards, and I’m delighted to say my story, ‘Skinsuit’, has been shortlisted for Best Horror Short Story alongside stories by Deb Biancotti, Kirstyn McDermott, Garth Nix and Angela Slatter.
You can read the full list of finalists on the Aurealis Awards website, but suffice it to say there’s a lot of brilliant stuff on the various shortlists. And while the story isn’t online, if you’re in Australia you can read it by picking up a copy of #137 of Island Magazine.
The winners are announced in Canberra on 11 April and tickets to the ceremony are $40 until 11 March and $50 thereafter. In the meantime my congratulations to all my fellow finalists, in particular Deb, Kirstyn, Garth and Angela, and thank you not just to the team at Island for publishing the story, but to the judges and organisers for making the awards happen in the first place.
Update: you can now hear Jonathan Strahan, Tehani Wessely, Alisa Krasnostein and Seán Wright discussing the awards and the various shortlists on a special episode of the Coode Street podcast.
You can now watch Geordie Williamson’s characteristically generous and thoughtful speech at the launch of Clade at Better Read Than Dead Bookshop in Newtown last week. My heartfelt thanks to Geordie, the team at Better Read Than Dead and everybody who came along for making it such a special event.
As usual the February issue of Locus Magazine includes its annual Recommended Reading List, covering books and stories published over the previous calendar year. Compiled by the magazine’s editors, reviewers and a panel of outside critics, it always makes for fascinating reading, and this year’s list, which includes a number of books and stories I have read and would heartily recommend (David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks, Garth Nix’s Clariel, Adam Roberts’ Bête, Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor, Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Sword, William Gibson’s The Peripheral) and a number I haven’t but I’m looking forward to a lot (Rjurik Davidson’s Unwrapped Sky, Ben Peek’s The Godless, Nina Allan’s The Race) is no exception.
At a personal level though I was delighted to discover my story, ‘The Changeling’, which was published in Jonathan Strahan’s Fearsome Magics (which also gets a mention in the Recommended Anthologies list) included in the list of Recommended Novelettes.
You can read the full list of recommended books and stories over at Locus. And if you’d like to read ‘The Changeling’ you can pick up a copy of Fearsome Magics (which also features stories by Garth Nix, Karin Tidbeck, Kaaron Warren, Frances Hardinge, Isobelle Carmody and a bunch of other excellent people) from online and bricks and mortar retailers or through your favourite ebook retailer.
My new novel, Clade, hits bookshop shelves today. I’m incredibly excited it’s finally out: Penguin have done an amazing job and it looks gorgeous, but more importantly it’s a book I’m very proud of, and which means a great deal to me.
If you’d like to know a little more about it you can check out the publisher’s description, or read the first chapter, and if you’re curious about the title I’ve written a little piece about it you might find interesting.
I’ll be posting more information on events and things as they’re announced, but if you’re in Sydney there’s a launch at Better Read Than Dead at 6:00pm on Thursday 5 February, and one of the Sydney Story Factory’s Author Talks at 6:00pm on Wednesday 18 February. I’ll also be at Adelaide Writers’ Week in March.
But in the meantime, yay! And I hope you like it.