Category Archives: Brisbane

The Theory of Everything

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I’m tremendously excited to be have worked on The Theory of Everything as a part of the Brisbane Festival. The director, Thomas Quirk, produced one of my all time favourite theatrical works, The Raven, which was an interactive performance piece about Edgar Allen Poe. It also starred one of my best friends, the supernaturally brilliant actor Erica Field. It’s an honour to be working with Thom on this show, alongside other amazing theatre folk like Yvette Turnbull and Marcel Dorney. When I was in my early twenties, I had a massive band crush on his group Flamingo Crash, so it’s rewarding and bizarre to be collaborating with him on this project.

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For this show I was asked to write a bunch of loosely connected vignettes on subjects including physics, philosophy, love, death, elf magic and tentacle porn. Brisbane Festival shows always sell quickly, Friday night is already sold out and Wednesday is nearly gone as well so if you want to come along you should clickety click here. There are also tons of other amazing shows and some great multi-ticket deals. Check it out!

Love etc.

Love and Psychopaths

Oh hey there everyone! In super magic big plus exciting times news: I recently handed in the manuscript for my new novel to Pantera Press! Hopefully they like it, otherwise I’ll just print it out and drive around throwing it onto people’s lawns which will be very expensive and time consuming and also possibly injure their pets.

This has meant I’ve had some time to finish up and release a couple of short stories for your digital media bookreading simulator device. One is (sort of) a  love story about a man who is enraptured by someone who isn’t really there and the other is a (sort of) horror story about a bromance between psychopaths. They are only $1 each, so it’s either get one of these stories or some used underwear from your local charity store, your call.

erica final cover THIS             House. Hunting. JM Donellan

 

PS a quick thank you to the folks on Twitter and Facebook who helped me put together some ideas for House. Hunting. by sharing their stories about the strange/psychopathic behaviour of their housemates. You guys have shared roofs, bathrooms and bodily odours with some seriously fucked up individuals.

PPS I’lll be at the Sydney Writers’ Festival in a couple of weeks and it will be crazy and amazing! There will be heaps of other great authors like David Mitchell, Emily St John Mandel, Annabel Crabb etc. Come and say hi if you’re in that corner of this particular universe.

You Have the Right to Not Remain Silent

SHUT UP! Sound familiar? If you work in the arts or do anything vaguely interesting with your life, you’ve probably had this phrase or variously profane iterations hurled at you more often than you’d like. We’ve all heard the stories of people who move next to bars and complain about the noise (if you can’t figure out that bars make noise, then disturbance to your serenity is most likely the least of your problems). But what about the smaller operations? Indie theatre companies, folk musicians and other dregs of society?

Last year we hosted an intimate theatre performance at our house that had an audience of 25 people and featured three actors talking for around an hour with no amplified music or sound of any kind. It was basically a dinner party with only three of the guests doing all the talking. Our show ran for a grand total of five nights.

The neighbours across the street were furious. The noise, they claimed, was unreasonable.  On the night of our second last performance, they decided to protest the disturbance of the peace by blasting triple M at an insane volume. I went over to talk it out and endured several minutes of screaming about the fact that we were making too much noise. I considered raising the delicate concept of irony but decided to pick my battles. I assured our neighbour that we only had one remaining show and then he could go back to his life of staring rancorously at passersby for the rest of his days.

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Then our other neighbours – who hadn’t screamed at us but had also told us in no uncertain terms that they thought that the show had been ‘too noisy’ – started renovations. And when I say renovations, I mean they tore away one side of their house and built three new rooms. This went on for around four months, usually starting around 6am (earlier than the legally allowed commencement). When the renovations were finally complete, we all breathed a sigh of relief…until their new baby arrived the following week. Have you met a babyperson before? They can be quite adorable, it’s true, but they also come equipped with advanced sonic weaponry that grants them the ability to obliterate the eardrums of everything within a 300m radius and also disrupt the sonar capabilities of any bats or dolphins in the same timezone.

There are many people (like me) for whom making a reasonable amount of noise is part of their livelihood. When you tell them to shut up you may as well be walking into a restaurant and telling the proprietors to stop producing so many cooking-related scents. Obviously, people don’t have the right to crank up Skrillex at 2am because that’s just fucking unreasonable (and also displays terrible taste in music). But if your neighbours are rehearsing for (or performing) a show, try and show the same consideration that they show you when your goddamn baby screams at three in the morning. Now I know what you’re going to say, you don’t HAVE to work in the arts. Well, that’s true, but only in the sense that you don’t HAVE to have children or renovate your house. Take a moment to think how you’d feel if someone knocked on your door and said “Look, I’m trying to watch Australia’s Biggest Loser Idol’s Kitchen Rules and your child is really fucking loud. You really shouldn’t have ever procreated. Is there any way that you take your screaming progeny back to the babyfactory so I can hear who they vote as this week’s best emotional meltdown dancer?”

Quiet for it’s own sake isn’t always a good sign in any case.  If you’ve seen any action movie ever you’ll know what follows the line “It’s quiet….too quiet…” is usually a large amount of bloodletting and/or explosives. Societies that are too quiet on the whole usually have something very creepy or oppressive going on, as shown in this very informative documentary:

 

If you really want to live in a world where you hear nothing but the sounds of your favourite reality TV show or talkback host I have a solution for you: noise-cancelling headphones. A decent pair will set you back around the same price as one of the many massages you’d probably require on a weekly basis if you spent your entire life being stressed out and complaining about your fellow humans discourteously producing decibel levels greater than a bunch of Buddhist monks on a vipassana retreat.

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One simple purchase will allow you to enjoy all of the infomercials and hate-crime inciting current affairs programs you want without the outside world disturbing you. Hell, with these things on there could be a zombie apocalypse raging outside and you wouldn’t notice because you’d be so engrossed watching one of the many zombie apocalypse TV shows currently on offer.

In conclusion:

PS

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Last Drinks Before the Apocalypse casting callout

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Thespians of Brisbaneland, I want YOU! Well, not all of you. Just a few. Four to be precise. This year as part of the Anywhere Theatre Festival I’ll be writing a new script for a show entitled Last Drinks Before the Apocalypse. It’s going to be an overnight performance, and as far as I know it will be the first original script to be performed in this way in Australia (please let me know if I’m wrong about this so we can correct it before we send out press releases!)

I’m super excited to have an A++, nine million gold star creative team featuring Jessica McGaw,  Nathan Sibthorpe and Lucas Stibbard. We’re looking for a cast of two guys and two girls in their mid-late 20s/early 30s.

SYNOPSIS

It’s the night before Eve and Victor’s wedding and also – rather inconveniently – the night before the end of the world, at least according to their two best friends Lilith and Ivan. Together with a couple dozen of their favourite people, they are about to indulge in a night of revelry that only the end of the world can initiate. Secrets will be body slammed onto dinner tables, confessions will swing from chandeliers, love and lust will be smeared all over the place like blood at a violent crime scene. The morning will eventually arrive in much the manner it usually does, but between then and now the whole world’s about to change – just in time for it to end.

OVERVIEW

LAST DRINKS BEFORE THE APOCALYPSE will be a performance that directly incorporates the audience, enrolling them as the wedding party guests and assigning challenges and roles ranging from the hilarious to the heartbreaking. The narrative will progress according to a randomised process of prompt questions being selected by the audience occurring as a party game within the reality of the story. This will be an intensely interactive, partially improvised show that will offer a multitude of different experiences within the house in which it is performed. The main part of the story will occur in the first two hours, with the audience then invited to spend the night and participate in various smaller experiences throughout the evening. The final part of the show will take place at breakfast the following morning, and one of two endings will be chosen based on the audience’s guiding of the piece.

Auditions will be held January 25th 4-6pm, please contact our producer Jess (jess_mcgaw AT hotmail DOT com) to arrange a timeslot or for further info. More details are provided in the project outline document below.

Please forward this on to anyone who might be interested, I guarantee it will be a once in a lifetime experience.

project outline last drinks

eve sample

Ivan sample

LILITH sample

VICTOR sample

 

100 Books A Year 2014 part II.

 

here come the dogs

Here Come the Dogs by Omar Musa

There’s a reason why this book is appearing in a myriad ‘best of’ lists this year – well more than one actually – in short; it’s really fucking good. It’s a bleak, unflinching and sometimes hallucinatory piece of work that flips between poetry and pose with disconcerting ease. Omar’s finely honed skills as a poet and lyricist are well manifested in his debut novel. I had the pleasure of featuring on a panel with Omar at the National Young Writers’ Festival earlier this year and he is a fiercely intelligent and yet incredibly good natured and friendly soul. His music is also highly engaging and arresting, well worth a listen.

 

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Blindness by Jose Saramago

Okay, I’ll be honest. I’m only halfway through this one, but it’s nevertheless one of my favourites I’ve read this year. I saw the film some years ago and it was passably entertaining and featured a great cast, but the book is exponentially more interesting. Saramago uses the allegory of a strange infectious blindness to examine complex themes such as morality, governance, greed and politics. There are elements of scifi thriller here, but it’s a primarily a work that examines humans at their best and worst and basically exemplifies all the strengths of the novel as an artistic format. No wonder he managed to bag himself one of those peskily elusive Nobel prizes. I spent some time in Lisbon last year and in Portugal Saramago is revered as a national icon, it’s easy to see why.

 

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Five Wounds by Johnathan Walker & Dan Hallett

This was a profoundly fascinating piece of work, but not an easy read by any means. Visually it is inventive and captivating, simultaneously old and new. The story content is interesting but quite hard to follow and incredibly dark. I tend to enjoy fairly morbid territory in literature but this was a little to grim even for my tastes. However, if you enjoy particularly macabre writing then this might become one of your favourites.

Definitely worth the cover price just to see what the creators have done in terms of aesthetic and layout, but if you’re into conventional structures or are looking for an easy read you’re probably better off searching elsewhere.

 

tainted trialThe Tainted Trial of Farah Jama by Julie Szego  

I’m not usually a fan of true crime, but I was invited to interview Julie about the book at the Reader’s Feast Crime & Justice Festival earlier this year and it ended up becoming one of my favourites of 2014. The book follows the trial of Jama; a young Somalian refugee who has been falsely accused of rape via inexplicable DNA evidence. The way that Szego unpacks the multitudinous issues surrounding the case including race, religion, rape culture, assimilation vs integration and the limitations of the justice system is relentlessly beguiling. I also recommend Anna Krien’s Night Games, which covered some similar territory and was equally brilliant.

 

adulthood

Adulthood Rites (Xenogenesis book 2) by Octavia E. Butler

While not quite as fascinating as the first book in the trilogy, the second book of the Xenogenesis series is nevertheless essential reading. Butler remains one of the (unfortunately) few African-American authors to be really successful in the scifi genre, and her work is a fascinating study on human nature and behaviour. The story follows a group of humans who have been interbred with an alien species and their return to a ruined earth. The complications in the narrative come from the various groups attempting to eek out an existence and warring over various genetic modifications they have undergone during their time away from earth. Recently there has been a push for Butler to be used in place of H. P. Lovecraft as the World Fantasy Award Statuette. More on that here.

                                       Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel 

StationelevenUKHCThis book was recommended to me by Black Cat Books, one of my favourite book stores in the world which is sadly about to close its doors. If you live in Brisbane, you have a couple of weeks left to check them out before they are gone forever. Lately I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated with the commonly held attitude in the Australian literary scene that ‘scifi is not a high literary art form.’ Despite the fact that the Booker of Bookers was awarded to Rushdie’s novel about kids with superpowers, there remains a prevailing attitude that if a novel isn’t literary realism, it’s just pulp fiction. This work is one of many (see also the Bone Clocks) that happily and successfully blends genres. The story follows an acting troupe that roams across a post-apocalyptic world where 99% of the population has been wiped out by disease. It flips between characters and eras in a manner that is spellbinding and highly satisfying.

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The Special by David Stavanger

Despite having appeared on countless stages in Brisbane and all over the country both as himself and alter ego Ghostboy, this is Stavanger’s first published volume. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him perform a number of times and he is always wildly unpredictable and incredibly entertaining, and this collection lives up to Stavanger’s live performances. Dark, philosophical and funny, this is by far one of my favourite modern poetry collections. Stavanger has just been named as one of the cohosts of the Queensland Poetry Festival, so we’ll certainly be seeing plenty more of him in the very near future.

 

anthony A Difficult Place To Be Human by Anthony Anaxagorou

I met Anthony at the December edition of Brisbane’s infamous Ruckus Slam (where I managed to take home 2nd prize and win a woodford ticket yessssss). I was completely astonished by the way he weaved words together, a very honest and passionate performer. Poets are often admonished for putting on airs, and I personally am very fond of poets like Anaxagorou who are more concerned with speaking from the heart than trying to sound like the reincarnation of Wordsworth. I was particularly impressed by his piece The Master’s Revenge, which features in this collection. Check out the video here:

 

 

 

thirst

Thirst by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi

Lately I’m trying to read more Middle Eastern novels (feel free to send me recommendations!) and I found this slim little piece of genius in the Kinokuniya bookstore in Kuala Lumpur when I was on tour there earlier this year. Apparently Dowlatabadi was arrested by the Iranian regime, not for any specific infringement but because so many dissidents were found to be in possession of his work that the secret police just assumed he was up to no good. What an absolute superhero. This dream-like allegorical story within a story looks at war, humanity and propaganda. His writing is lyrical and captivating and I will certainly be seeking out more of his work.

 

Rat_Queens_Issue_1_cover Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch

There’s a hell of a lot to love about this series. It’s subversive, action-packed, beautifully illustrated and so fucking funny it should be illegal. It also manages to subvert a lot of classic comic book tropes. Thanks to Scott Wings for the tipoff.

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saga chapter one

 

Saga by Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples.

IT’S JUST SO FUCKING GOOD. A beautiful, complex story about war and family and destiny filled with humour and fantastic, insane characters. The art is the best in the business right now. Just read it, for the love of all that’s holy.

 

That’s my favourites for the second half of 2014! The full list of books I read this year is here. What did you love (or hate) in 2014?

PS I released my latest novel Killing Adonis in October. Let me know if it made it onto any of your lists (favourite books, least favourite books, books I used to fend off Mormons, books I used to prop up creaky coffee tables etc.)

 

 

 

SUPANOVA 2014

Hello there internet, how are you? I’m fine, thanks for asking. Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been insanely busy promoting Killing Adonis and finishing off the script for the new graphic novel. I’m going to quickly share a couple of highlights from this year’s Supanova festival, because it was one of the best weekends of my life. As a diehard fan of anime, comic books, scifi and video games this whole festival was definitely my bag/jam/cup of tea (bag of jam tea?) Here’s some of my highlights. Apologies in advance for dropping names like I usually drop glasses (frequently, and with much embarrassment).

1 Robin Hobbs educating me on the finer points of bong engineering.

2 Meeting heaps of super enthusiastic fans. After years of tapping away at the keys alone in my room, it’s REALLY nice to meet people who are genuinely excited about this new book.

3 Talking gender in fiction with Robin, Kylie Chan, Steve Worland and Peter Hambleton. It’s a subject that I’m very passionate about and it was great to explore it in this forum. Also I had a few people ask about the ‘ungendered’ story I mentioned: there’s a link here. PS Hambleton loves whiskey. True story.

4 This bullet time photo with all the supanova authors:

5 Alan Tudyk throwing a massive box of maltesers onto the writers’ table.

6 A giant dalek offering the crowd tea and biscuits.

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7 Amazing costumes

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8 The pineapple.

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9 Usurping Matthew Reilly’s signing desk while he was at lunch (sorry Matt!)

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10 Getting my ‘yearbook’ signed by some amazing writers and the Supanova staff.

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There’s a few more pics on my facebook page. See you next year!

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L to R: Kylie Chan, Matthew Reilly, Juliet Marieller, Robin Hobb, Famous Pineapple, Some Total Loser, Steve Worland, Sean Williams, Scott Baker, Ian Irvine, Colin Taber.

Killing Adonis launch party sneak preview.

Hey dudes I made a little sneak preview video for the launch with my friend the amazing incredible astonishing etc Sandi Darling who runs a cool parents blog at Milk Eyes.  Note: this video features lots of big shiny drugs. Don’t forget to RSVP to Events@PanteraPress.com. Facebook event is here. 

Killing Adonis now available for preorder TELL EVERYONE AND THEIR GRANDMAS

DEAREST THE UNIVERSE KILLING ADONIS IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER LOTS OF PLACES EVERYONE GO BUY IT PLEASE I HAVE KIDS TO FEED.*

Killing Adonis_JM Donellan_3D

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Google Play books

Amazon

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*Not human children of course, just baby goats. But those things eat a LOT!

PS Don’t forget everyone in the world except Chris Brown and Gina Rinehart is invited to the book launch/warehouse party.