Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Training His Eyes To See Black

My sister has a whole pile of baby clothes in pastel greens, yellows, and blues. Her house is decked out in similar colours, with a splash of red and dark wood here and there.

This means that aside from the night itself, my nephew has very little exposure to the colour black. He's only six weeks old and this is a crucial stage in his visual development. His eyes need to learn to differentiate all the colours of the visible light spectrum, including the one colour that isn't part of it.


Just a small part of my uncular duties. I'll wait a few more years before exposing the little tike to all the wonderful trappings of the world of crime.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Me And Monica

The Internet has that very special ability to keep track of every single thing you say to it, even if it lasts for only a short time and you change your mind and revise.

The other day I wrote a post titled 'The Long And Winding Road'. Because I was in a hard-arse crime writing mood, the original title was 'The Fucking Long And Winding Road'. When I wrote it like that, it wasn't coming from any kind of angst place. I just liked the sound of the phrase.

Next morning, I looked at it and realised that just like in real life, whenever I swear it sounds like I'm an old fart that isn't hip to the lingo of the kids today. I was brought up not to swear and agreed with it in full, at least until I was old enough to indulge in guns, drugs, and hookers.

Then I found that a little swearing can go a long way.

But in this case, that post's title didn't work, so I took the word 'fucking' out. It's the same process I use in some of my short stories. Put lots of 'fucking' in, then take the extras out in the edit.

The absolutely funny thing about this is that for the short time the post had the word 'fucking' in it, a dodgy Taiwanese search engine picked it up and autoblogged it. And for some reason, attached 'Monica Bellucci nuda' on the end.

There's nothing wrong with being attached to a naked Monica Bellucci, so I offer this post up as fodder to all the other dodgy Taiwanese search engines out there.

Here's hoping it ruins my future career in politics.

Monday, January 22, 2007

NEWS: Ruttan. Bruen. Steinhauer. Bagley.

Bombshells and grenades are dropping all around the world of crime fiction. None of this 'order a personal rocket launcher and have it delivered to a house in the suburbs within a few days'. No, this is all above board. And the news is brilliant.




And that's not all:


Bloody hell. What a week in the world of crime fiction news. It's going to be a great year all round.

(Editor's note: the order of all items is chosen randomly and without favouritism, except for the bit about Bruen, which is just too fucking cool.)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Thrillerfest Will Have To Wait

After weeks of thinking and budgeting and planning and talking (but mostly just thinking), I've decided not to go to Thrillerfest this year. And it's pretty much a financial decision. Unfortunately, July is too soon to get the cash together to turn the Thrillerfest event into a full-blown holiday.

I could use credit and I could go on my own, but I have a bucketload of debts that really need a chunk taken out of. The thought of adding to that debt is enough to make veins burst in my forehead, like popcorn in a saucepan.

While my main reason for going to Thrillerfest would be to meet all the fine people that I've only known through words, I can't financially justify spending thousands of dollars to do so, at least this year. The way I would do that would be with a novel that's worked over and ready to show to agents or, better still, a novel out or on the verge of being published.

That's just not going to happen in the next six months.

My first novel is my chance to make a name for myself and I want to make sure I do it right. Debut authors have that chance simply because they are debut authors, filled with the promise of even better and bigger books to come. New kids on the chopping block, rebels without a pause, underdogs to root (or barrack) for.

I know I've said I would come to Thrillerfest, but I was always a little iffy about it. I hope no one will cry if I don't show up.

Just remember, there's always next year!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Long And Winding Road

Paul Guyot is back in full force over at Murderati, and this time it's personal.

Just today (or tomorrow, I never know with all these bloody time zones), he put up an excellent post on the head games that us writers put ourselves through. Paul tackles subjects such as I'm Not Good Enough, I Can't Do This, and This Is How Those Other Guys Did It So I Have To As Well.

Putting it this way makes these mistakes seem ball-crushingly obvious, but it's amazing how many years it takes to work through the issues and come to those light-bulb-moment realisations that allow you to Get Back To Work, Write What You Want To Write, and Do It Your Way.

I suppose he doesn't need to be reminded that it took him four years to figure this out.

My long and winding road has been somewhat different, but also similar. I spent two years writing the first draft of a PI novel that had maybe only one good idea in it. I'd gone so far against the idea of writing to market that I'd written an entire novel that doesn't even interest me. And I know this because I've written five versions of a blurb for it.

The novel was also set up as a series and as I crawled towards those bittersweet words, THE END, I realised I didn't want to write a series at all. I tend to completely absorb myself in my latest interest and when that's over, I'm not happy until I've moved onto the next obsession. I'm sort of a serial monogamist that way. This kind of thinking doesn't lend itself to the idea of writing a series. That's just too much time spent on the same thing.

Having gone through the process of writing a novel and letting it go, I'm now far more aware of the time and effort it takes, and the path all that work follows. I'm half way through the first draft of another novel, one whose blurb would entice me to read it, and I have an idea for a follow-up. Something in the same vein, but completely unrelated.

I'm still a big baby in this world of writing, partly because I've spent so many years concentrating on music, forgetting all my voracious gobbling up of books in my childhood. The last two years have seen me correcting this and, at the same time, falling heavily for the world of crime fiction.

In that time, I've also taken off my crime fiction blinkers and opened my eyes to the worlds of the supernatural and (as Tribe puts it) the New Weird, worlds that have always attracted me. Thanks to writers like John Connolly, Sara Gran, Anne Frasier, Neil Gaiman, Charlie Huston, and Alexandra Sokoloff, I now have the courage to follow my desire.

And because it's what I really want to do, everything I write will be set in Australia, regardless of what anyone thinks the market wants. I'd rather contribute to the body of work here than be just another drop in the pond over the other side of the pond.

Yes, it's a long and winding road, but I'm loving every minute of it.

Monday, January 15, 2007

How To Write It Much More Betterer

This year I'm making it a point to improve the quality of my writing, so I decided to rewrite my Clarity Of Night contest entry as a learning exercise. It's easy to do this on something short, and it helps that it's been out there in the real world.

M. G. Tarquini sent me an email giving me feedback on the story, suggesting a way to improve it. If you read the original, it becomes obvious that the wordy science lesson at the beginning drags. It serves the purpose of setting a tone and mood, but what's the point if it doesn't keep the reader interested? Mindy's suggestion was to work this information into the rest of the story, starting it a little later in the piece, the point where it kicks into gear.

Here's the revised version:


In the alley next to the wall I wait.

Among the garbage and the flies, the smells of long-spoiled foods, the mould-covered carcass wedged between the rubble up against the wall.

The mould feeds on the moisture and the warmth, its spores crawl up the wall in a speckled pattern, random and chaotic in its beauty. I watch the wall and I wait.

I wait for those that make the alley their home, surrounding themselves with fortresses of cardboard boxes. As if this would offer them protection.

I wait for one whose hair is matted and grey, face riddled with liver spots, whose life is not far from its end.

I wait until he sleeps.

The spores flee my body like wasps from a nest. They fly towards the old one and seep into his tattered clothes until his decaying skin is covered completely. He will wake and he will scream, but who would care for him in the dead of night, in this sewer of an alley?

No one to help him, but he will help me. He will sustain me.

And when the work is done, I will wait in the alley, next to the wall.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

I Made "The Outfit" Hoot

That well-known collection of Chicago-based crime writers over at The Outfit recently held a competition to come up with the best last line to a novel. The kind of line that makes you want to read everything that came before it.

Here's my entry, which received an honourable mention, putting me at the same level as Victor Gischler's entry:

"Even though the final design looked more like a Lamborghini than a Ferrari, Dennis swore that for the rest of his life – no matter what anyone said – he would wear his condom with pride."

Now tell me you don't want to read absolutely everything that led up to that.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

"Silent Grey" Short Fiction Contest

Jason Evans over at Clarity of Night runs a semi-regular short fiction contest. I haven't entered before, but this contest--inspired by the photo shown--caught my eye during a free lunch hour, so I pumped out my entry and off it went.

Have a read of THE NATURE OF DECAY and check out all the other entries while you're at it. Tell me what you think, and tell the others too.

But don't try to enter, because you've already missed the moonlit boat.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Since I met Sandra at the now defunct Mystery Circus, I knew she would be a force to be reckoned with. Like all Canadian leprechauns, she's shorter than me, but I still have to say that I look up to her.

She puts in so much time and energy into her work and the promotions for it, and yet she still goes round to all the blogs and gives people gentle and optimistic pushes. I've said before that I can't wait for her novel to come out and now that day has finally arrived.

Credit card, prepare yourself.

Here are all the details:

A suspicious death. A missing baby. A corrupt police department.

When a man shows up in reporter Lara Kelly's office with a video that appears to show a woman falling to her death, Lara is intrigued but suspicious. The man claims he went to the police, but that they refused to investigate.

Under pressure from her editor to use the video to build a story about the incompetence of the local police captain, Lara gathers enough evidence to print a story about a suspected suicide.

Detective Tymen Farraday, the newest cop in a precinct plagued by scandal, is ordered to investigate and discredit the reporter if necessary. When potential evidence is stolen and Lara is attacked, Farraday is forced to put his grudge against reporters aside and work with the journalist to solve the murder while trying to protect her from the killer.

Just when they think they have the evidence to arrest a suspect, two more murders turn the investigation in an unexpected direction.

The guilty have already shown that they'll stop at nothing to protect their secrets.

In a town where one person holds all the power, not even the police can be trusted.

And the prime suspect isn't the only person Lara and Farraday need to worry about.

"SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES has to be one of the most satisfying mysteries going that grips the reader from beginning to end."
- Clive Cussler

"..there is never a dull moment. It's a hard book to put down."
- Tony Hillerman

"Here is the new voice, and what a voice! Eloquent, sassy, compassionate and written with a style so assured it’s hard to believe it’s a debut... This is talent writ huge."
- Ken Bruen

Buy the book at:

Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Moving To The Future

If you haven't dropped by here in a while, that makes perfect sense: neither have I.

In honour of ringing in the New Year and all, I've moved to the 'new and improved' Blogger. Expect a few changes around here until I get the hang of it. Once it's all sorted I'll do a catch up post.

Woah. The future is, like, now.