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Tag Archives: Australian Author
I had been a very happy reader over the past two weeks. I received both All The Murmuring Bones and The Tallow Wife And Other Tales, books by Angela Slatter, in the mail. I read them, and then reread the two volumes that share the setting of the stories: The Bitterwood Bible And Other Recountings and Sourdough And Other Stories. It’s been a delightful romp through Slatter’s complex and mythopoeic universe.
As you can see, All The Murmuring Bones has a different publisher to the other three books, who have all been published by Tartarus Press. Titan Press still managed to give the book a stunning cover image; it’s just a pity that all four books don’t share the same presentation. And that is probably my only nitpick. (I’m annoyed I haven’t the Sourdough in hardcover.)
Unlike the other three books, this is a novel and not a collection of stories. One of the features that delighted me was hints and flickers of the previous stories from her collections, used to create depth to the history of the family of the O’Malleys. The protagonist is Miren O’Malley, the last pureblood scion of the seagoing family. It is her bloodline that is a pivot to the entire plot, spinning and steering the action like a ship’s wheel. Miren is more than just a ‘plucky’ girl character running away from an unhappy betrothal, as her complex feelings about her family give her a motivation not often seen in fairy tale literature – she needs to save not just herself, but many other people who have had interactions with her family.
The book’s antagonists are members of Miren’s family, her grandmother, Aoife, her distant cousin, Aiden; and the mysterious sea-queen. The sea-queen is both the source of the family’s curse and the source of the family’s prosperity. It’s Slatter’s genius that creates a creature that can be both sympathetic and monstrous, like Medusa.
Angela Slatter’s prose is as lush and vibrant as a jungle, and it is often referred to as Gothic, as it is dark and dangerous and can haunt you for weeks after you’ve finished reading any of her books. It’s easy to get so distracted by her poetic details that you have to go back and reread a page to keep track of the action (well, that is the case for me). It’s not a book to dip into, because then you miss all the machinations that went before. Plan on having a day free when you start reading All The Murmuring Bones.
All the Murmuring Bones can be read as a stand alone book, but I recommend having a book binge by reading all four books in one fell swoop. Then you can appreciate the interplay between all the stories. Get trapped in Angela’s net.
Above is the link to my book. Don’t you just love the cover …
This week I was pleasantly surprised to have a story published by the Every Day Fiction magazine/website. What makes it interesting is that I can read the comments of readers that are rating the story. The first critique was a bit of a slap in the face, but the comments after have been both encouraging and helpful. (As always, setting is my weakness. Sigh.)
I’ve supplied the link above if your interested … it’s a five minute read. Not Steampunk, but still Speculative Fiction.
Having been an Aurealis Awards judge … there isn’t any conscious decision towards what sort of stories win awards. A lot of things are going on with judging any award.
There is a panel of judges, but it just takes one nay-sayer in a panel to knock down the front runners in a close run race. Or, a person on the panel drops out halfway through the judging period and the rest of the panel is scrabbling to make sense of the mess left behind. The smaller the number of people left, the more likely it is that personal taste will affect the end result.
Lately, what I see happening is that the darker, more literary stories are being accepted by the magazines and anthologies – thanks to the popularity of GoT and its darker themes. Fashions in writing happen just like in any sort of human-based activity- just more slowly. Ten years from now, we might be looking at a retro-revival of sword and sorcery or space opera. So, it is these darker stories that are winning the awards.
A good story is still a good story. Do your best to write amazing stories. You might not win awards, but you will get nominated for the short lists over and over again. That is more of an indication of the quality of your work than anything else.
What books should you be purchasing with your hard-earned cash? Well, come closer, beloved reader, and I will give you some excellent recommendations. This is the first of three posts about recommended readings. You can give them as gifts, buy them for your summer holiday reading, or just as a treat.
Blackbirds Sing, by Aiki Flinthart, is going to be considered a classic in future years. It is a series of interlocked tales, embroidering a story arch into a rich tapestry. It is set in an alternative past. Flinthart has quite a few successful novels under her belt, but this is a new venture for her. There is still plenty of action, but the intricate interweaving – of the characters and settings – is rich, deep, and wonderful. The illustrations by Caitlyn McPherson are glorious.
Pamela Jeff’s Five Dragons is an anthology of dragon stories, including a Steampunk dragon tale. Yes… she had me at Steampunk dragon. If I say anything else, you will just think I’m gushing.
Gillian Polack is one of the best writers in Australia (and the world), using her academic background to strengthen her narratives, making them compelling reading. I can recommend all her books, but I have a particular fondness for The Wizardry of Jewish Women, with its haunted lemon tree. The Year of the Fruitcake is her latest book. I think. I haven’t read her books in order of publication, because you don’t need too. They stand on their own merit.
As quoted by Simon: Ex Libris is a novel with twelve chapters that can be shuffled into any order yet will always present as a cohesive story arc. The project aims to make a print run where each individual copy contains chapters that have been arranged at random. With nearly half a billion possible combinations, each copy will be one of a kind yet all of them will tell the same story.
Simon is one of the most innovative and intelligent writers I know. Please consider supporting this special project in storttelling.