Hello! This Saturday I had an awe-inspiring fangirl experience. With a group of friends I flew out to Melbourne to go see Tim Minchin as Judas in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. In an ARENA. It was absolutely incredible, and I have to say the Australian cast gave some of the best performances in the roles that I have ever seen or heard. I even bought an exorbitantly priced t-shirt which I will now wear forever, until they bury me in it.
Anyway, that has nothing to do with writing or reading. But what this has brought to the forefront of my mind is fandom. Most people have a favourite author – or five – and I was wondering about how being a literary fan can be a different kind of experience in comparison to musicians or movie stars who regularly pop up on our tv boxes with a new project to promote. Fiction is for the most part really all about the words, rather than the person behind them. A lot of writers are quite reclusive, and would rather divorce themselves as a person from their work and let the words do the speaking. Which I think is a good idea; it’s important to me to appreciate the writing as a separate entity and not get wrapped up what relates to what in their life. This unfortunately gets a bit hard when I start reading and feel so close to the voice in that writing, like – separate entity or not – I know something about the author.
First and last sentences
I am never happy with a story until I know the first and last sentence. The in-between can be hazy, but as long as I know where it begins and where it ends, I know I’ll get the middle eventually. The first sentence of The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, from the very first draft, was ‘He was taking me to the machine.’ That sentence shaped everything that was to follow, most importantly (as anyone who has read it will know) the point at which I began the story.
Okay, ‘write what you know’ might sound like weird advice coming from a speculative fiction writer. My novel is set hundreds of years into the future – what exactly do I know about that? But unless you really are writing from the perspective of an alien race, human beings are still human beings. And in an imperfect future world – a dystopia, which is what I write about – the problems that trouble humanity are drawn from the imperfections of the present day.
Inkyites, I'd like to introduce you to Harison. He's a fun, book-loving kid, and the youngest of this year's Inky Awards Judges.
So, Harison, what was your favourite book as a child?
Under the Red Elephant by Jan Mark and Jeffery Reid.
What's a book that made you cry?
I haven’t read any book that made me cry.
A book that made you laugh?
Do you know how many passionate, articulate, book-loving teenagers there are in Australia?
I don't actually know the answer to that question myself, but I'm pretty sure that every single one of them applied to be an Inky Awards judge. It was, in fact, so hard to choose four teen judges that this year I've chosen six. Yup - you read that right - this year all six of the Inky Awards judging positions will be held by teenagers. Best. News. Ever!
I am immensely proud to announce that the judges of the 2013 Inky Awards are:
Everyone asks writers where do we get our ideas, which is kind of a weird question for a couple of reasons. First, if there’s one thing writers never seem to run out of, it’s ideas; we find them everywhere. Second, we could have as many ideas as we like, and still not have a novel. As the previous writer-in-residence Garth Nix commented in one of his posts, ideas alone are not enough. If you want to be a writer, you have to bridge the gap between having an idea, and turning it into a story.
A lot of this lies in the craft of writing, in understanding words and how they should be put together and in trying to continually improve how you write. Many of the portions of my novel that I’ve worked the hardest on are the bits no one notices – and that’s the point, if they’re written right, you shouldn’t notice them. These are some of the descriptive portions when something needs to be said well but said quickly in order to move the action along. For example, there’s one scene where two characters are looking through windows in houses that face each other. Both windows have blinds, and one character unlocks their window, climbs out, and climbs into the other window. Sounds simple, right? Yeah, not so much. Because, you try writing that sequence without saying the words ‘window’, ‘blind’, ‘open’ and ‘close’ three hundred million times.
A week or so again, my work was rocked by all the attention I received at Reading Matters. So many people flocking to see me being awesome - it was such an honour.
And then Sarah presented on the Grimace Project
...and suddenly all eyes weren't on me *pouts*.
Hello all and this week I’m doing writing tips for my posts. Since I don’t have any suitable photos I’m decorating my posts with snippets of artwork from some of my picture books instead (I am an illustrator as well as a writer).