BRWF 2018

Two years ago I went to the Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival and it was one of my all time favourite events. I’m very excited to be heading back down south this June to spend some time with a slew of wonderful people. I’ll be at these things if you want to chat and/or throw tomatoes. The program is really incredible, check out the full schedule here.

Thursday 7th June 6pm

Author talk at Coffs Harbor Library

Saturday 9th June 12pm

Poetry: In Just a few Words

with Johanna Featherstone, Lorna Munro and Craig Nelson

Sunday 10th  4pm

Fiction: The Novel In A Time Of Digital

with Ute Schulenburg, Marieke Hardy & Jesse Blackadder

Canberra and the Commonwealth

Hello person who is reading this.

This post exists in order to announce 2 x exciting things!

Exciting thing the first:

I’ll be performing at one of the satellite events for the Commonwealth games on Thursday the 12th of April. Tales and Ales will feature some of my favourite humans, who also happen to be incredible performers and poets. This is a free event, so tell all your broke friends to show up.

Event info:

Come along to Tales and Ales to take in some of Queensland’s finest spoken word and hip hop.

Drop  in to hear Scott Wings, Anisa Nandaula, Hope One (Hot Brown Honey), The Architects of  Sound, Borrowed Verse, Josh Donellan and more. Don’t miss the live slam and resident DJ spinning tracks between acts.

Facebook event

Festival website

Exciting thing the second:

I’ll be heading to our nation’s capital to headbutt Tony Abbott  perform and present at the Canberra Flash Fiction Fun Weekend. There will be a bunch of fantastic authors like Jackie French and Irma Gold presenting speeches and workshops. I’m especially excited about performing at the Tales After Dark event on Friday night.

Six Cold Feet season one

The complete first season of Six Cold Feet is now available. Step into the strange little town of Ullara, where the friendliest people have the deepest, darkest secrets…

You can listen right here or find us on apple podcasts, stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.

Thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and all our patrons on Patreon! We’ll be back with season two in the not too distant future…

Aurealis

Between the podcast, poetry, my big fat secret project, and trying to finish two novels I haven’t had a lot of time to write short stories, but I’m thrilled to announce that I have a story in this month’s Aurealis. 

It’s probably one of the weirdest and darkest things I’ve ever written, but I also made sure to have jokes about garden gnomes and dentists. Something for everyone! Especially people who like dark comedies set in the afterlife.

I’m also very excited to have my work appear alongside the inimitable Joanne Anderton.

 

Six Cold Feet Episode 1- Born under a bad sign

We are very excited to share the first full episode of our series Six Cold Feet! In episode 1 we meet our narrator, River, and some of the curious inhabitants of the town of Ullara. River tells us about Harmony’s unusual past.

If you dig it please rate us on whatever podcast platform you use. If you don’t enjoy it, just keep that to yourself, m’okay?

love etc.

Six Cold Feet launch party + other shenanigans

Why hello there! I’m very, terribly, tremendously excited to invite you all to the launch party for Six Cold Feet. If you’re in Brisbane, come and party with us in person. If you’re anywhere else in the universe, have yourself a private listening party and let us know what you think of our first episode.

I’m also performing at the Silent Rage of the Angry Mime and Yarn Storytelling over the next couple of weeks. Come to one, or two, or EVEN ALL THREE!

100+ books a year 2017: the good

This year I – along with the rest of the known universe – have been feeling increasingly disenfranchised with the state of modern journalism. The 24-hour-news cycle, Russian fake news farms, real news being called fake news, fake news passing as real news, fake juice being called real juice and then placed into $400 dispensers, it’s a quagmire of questionable quantity over all too rare quality. Good  journalism still exists but – much like Ryan Gosling visiting a wax museum exhibit of ‘Ryan Gosling through the ages’ – it’s difficult to find the genuine and actual amongst a forest of false facsimiles feigning the factual.

I’ve been spending less time reading the news and more time reading books. This is not to say I wish to be less informed. It’s just that when the news cycle starts to include responses to op-eds of something someone may have possibly said according to sources who cannot be named because they are imaginary best friends and/or drug-induced hallucinations, I start to develop a craving for long-form, in-depth writing that can’t be sated by listicles, tweets, or articles. In confusion: here’s a list of some of my favourite books this year.

 

RUNNING THE BOOKS by Avi Steinberg

I’ve been doing a lot of research on prisons lately, including the brilliant Ear Hustle podcast and Ted Conover’s revelatory Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing, but I particularly enjoyed this book. Steinberg shares anecdotes ranging from the bittersweet to the brutal. My favourite part: learning that male and female prisoners shared the same library at this facility, but on alternating days, never being allowed to meet in person. They would write each other love letters (known as ‘kites’) and leave them in the books in the library. I’m a sucker for stories of human connection in the face of adversity, and throwing a library in the mix just sweetens the deal.

 

 

THE ANIMATORS by Kayla Rae Whitaker

I’m grateful to the relentlessly fabulous Avid reader bookclub for pointing me in the direction of this book (along with a few others on this list.) If you enjoy reading and aren’t part of a book club, not to put too fine a point on it, but what the fuck is wrong with you? Just kidding. Mostly.

What I loved about this book was the way it explored the friendship of the two lead characters and took them to places that were unexpected and thoroughly genuine in their presentation. Although it deals with some extremely dark content, there’s a verve that resonates throughout the novel that makes it feel ultimately uplifting in spite – or perhaps because of – what the characters go through. I got to see Whitaker speak earlier this year and she was charming and engrossing and also was a fellow fan of the Maxx, so she can chalk me up as a lifelong fan.

 

TIME TRAVEL: A HISTORY by James Gleick

Before I read this book I had an idea of myself placed on a continuum in which I was aware of a future self who would eventually read this book. Eventually I became that self looking back at a past self who was yet to experience having read this book, but who would eventually become the self that I now was, who was formerly the person who had not read this book but intended to become the person in the future who would have read this book after having been someone who intended to read this book, and further back still someone who was unaware of this book but upon becoming aware of its existence would desire to be a future self who had read it.

 

THE SELLOUT by Paul Beatty

Beatty writes like the world is on fire and he is yelling commands to put it out in some places and pour gasoline on others. His writing is vivacious, lyrical, insightful, clever, and angry. There are plenty of writers who can pen a great story and construct engaging characters, but so few where you can read a paragraph and instantly match their particular flavour and style to the writer. By way of example, this masterful snippet:

“I’m so fucking tired of black women always being described by their skin tones! Honey-colored this! Dark-chocolate that! My paternal grandmother was mocha-tinged, café-au-lait, graham-fucking-cracker brown! How come they never describe the white characters in relation to foodstuffs and hot liquids?

Why aren’t there any yogurt-colored, egg-shell-toned, string-cheese-skinned, low-fat-milk white protagonists in these racist, no-third-act-having books?” 

 

FEVER DREAM by Samantha Schweblin

It’s been far too long since I read something so brazenly surreal. I know that Twin Peaks comparisons are woefully overused, but I think in this case it’s warranted. This a short, fascinating K-hole of a novel. Concise, hallucinatory story and scenes that whir and eddy around the page. I’ll definitely read this again.

 

 

 

 

 

AN UNCERTAIN GRACE by Krissy Kneen

Another Avid recommendation, penned by fellow Brisvakistanian Krissy Kneen, this was a bizarre and beautiful book. It shifted times, perspectives and characters to examine human relationships, sexuality and consciousness. An Uncertain Grace made me feel at turns uncomfortable, intrigued, enthralled, and appalled. Much like the human experience that novels are supposed to reflect, it was complex and surprising.

 

 

 

THE GOOD FATHER by Noah Hawley

In the arts (as in most facets of life) jealousy can be debilitating and insidious. However, it is REALLY hard not to be jealous of Noah Hawley. Not only is he an incredible author, but also the showrunner of the brilliant Fargo and the incredible Legion. The latter is, for my money, the best show on TV right now.

In any case, what I love about this book is its perspective. It examines a man, Paul Allen, who has recently discovered that his son has been accused of assassinating a presidential candidate. The way Hawley explores Allen’s denial, fear, confusion and endless questioning of his own possible failings as a father who may be ultimately responsible for this violent act is a far more fascinating approach than simply examining the shooter himself.

In an age of violence (largely perpetrated by men) works that analyse the origins and causes of extreme acts are essential. I’ve thought about this book almost every day since I read it six months ago.

 

HERA LINDSAY BIRD by Hera Lindsay Bird

My best friend Alex brought this collection back from NZ for me and sweet jelly Jesus on graham crackers it is good! Filthy, hilarious, insightful, Bird is everything I love in a poet. I was lucky enough to tell her how much I admired her work when I met her at the Queensland Poetry Festival this year but she looked at me like I was a weirdo (which, to be fair, I am) and I slunk away awkwardly. You might’ve seen her poem Monica flitting about the internet, every one of these pieces is just as entertaining.

PS: the aforementioned Alex is currently raising money for the National Resources Defence Council  by riding across the entire mainland USA. A lot of us like to complain about politics (like me) but it’s people like Alex who actually roll up their sleeves (or bikepants, as the case may be) and get the work done. Flip him some money if you feel like donating to a worthy cause and making the world a slightly less shitty place.

 

DYING: A MEMOIR by Cory Taylor

This year I lost two wonderful friends and as a result I’ve been obsessing over death and mortality. I thought that reading this book might help. It didn’t. At all. But it was a brilliant book, so there is that. Taylor has a enrapturing candour to her writing that makes this short but fascinating book an absolute must read.

Death is one of the few things that truly unites all of us, and it’s rare to see it examined so honestly and thoughtfully. I also recommend checking out the interview she did with Richard Fidler.

 

 

WITHOUT YOU, THERE IS NO US by Suki Kim

Given the current (appalling) state of journalism I have more respect than ever before for writers like Kim who engage in long-form investigative journalism. For this book, she undertook great personal risk by posing as a christian English teacher in order to gain access to one of the most closed nations on earth. She writes about experiences such as her students asking her things like ‘Is it true everyone in the world speaks Korean?’ A fascinating and terrifying reminder of what can happen when you allow propaganda and dictatorial thinking to subdue information (Australia and America, I’m looking at you.)

 

 

 

I’ll write up another entry with the bad and the weird picks for the year soon.* Also, if you like books, maybe you’d like to check out one of mine? My last novel, Killing Adonis, received a Kirkus Star, which is sort of like a Mario star in that it grants temporary invincibility and superspeed.

*denotes a length of time ranging from ‘tomorrow’ to ‘the heat death of the universe.’