Feeding my book addiction

My last post had me mentioning (again) Robin Hobb, so I thought I’d follow it with a quick update on where I’m up to in the world of Hobb and other reading exploits.

I’ve been a bit behind on my reading lately, and seem to be progressing far slower than usual, so I’m only up to book two of The Tawny Man Trilogy: The Golden Fool.  Loving it of course.  But I’m quite keen to finish this trilogy, not only so that I can read more Hobb, but also because I have a number of other attractive books that continue to stare at me from their place on the bookshelf, alone and unread and tempting me with their alluring covers and seductive stories.  They include:

Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones - I love her!

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin– I am SO very excited to start reading this series because I recently watched the new HBO television adaptation of it and thought it was AMAZING! Apparently the author also played the part of executive producer in the making of the show, which gives me high hopes that the novels will be just as spectacular if not better.

On Writing by Stephen King – I have been hearing about this book literally everywhere I go.  I started reading it at work one day and already understand the hype.  Looking forward to reading the rest.

Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres– I recently heard Marianne speak at the Supanova Fantasy/Sci Fi Convention in Sydney.  I was inspired to read her books and was lucky enough to meet her at the book stall and have her sign this one.  I have heard nothing but good things about this Australian writer, so can’t wait to check it out.

Friday's Child by Ian Kennedy Williams

Friday’s Child by Ian Kennedy Williams – The author of this collection of short stories is a fellow member of my writers’ group, and a talented writer at that.  Yesterday I went to hear Ian at a National Book Council meeting here in Launceston, where he discussed where the ideas for some of his stories came from and some of the places that have inspired stories he has written.  Having already read one of his short stories in the writers group, and finding his presentation yesterday fascinating, I decided it was time to stock up on some more of his work, starting with Friday’s Child.  After hearing him read some excerpts, I already know I’m going to like it.

La Bella Lingua by Dianne HalesGifted to me on my birthday by my best friend Priscilla.  It’s been a while since I read a travel story and I’m having severe withdrawals.

I’m not out of work!..I’m a Writer! by Wayne E. Pollard – I was lucky enough to be sent this by the author when I mentioned his outstanding blog in my post about The dangers of ebook world domination.  Thanks Wayne!  Meanwhile, his blog Bo’s Cafe Life has some highly entertaining comics relating to all things writer-ly.

An example of the entertainment found over at Bo's Cafe Life

And yet, despite this excellent line up of books yet to be read, I continue to find excuses to keep buying more books to pile up in sweet anticipation.  Today alone I ordered another three from the Book Depository, which by the way is where I buy all but my home grown Aussie books these days.  Free delivery anyone?  And super cheap new books too.  Book lover heaven I tell you.

Okay, I think it’s time to scoot.  I do, after all, have a KAZILLION books to read and so little time.

~storytelling nomad~

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Busy being a nerd

Gone Fishing.  Not really.  But had I an office door of some description, that is the sign I’d have liked to have had hanging off it, just because that’s what all the cool kids seem to do these days, you know?

But I digress.

I have been absent from the blogosphere my pretties.  How many times have I set my eyes upon those blogs apologising for their absence, listing their feeble reasons for their lack of posts, cowering on their knees, praying for mercy as they beg forgiveness? Many a time have I witnessed such a sad state of affairs and scoffed at their insolence.  “Shame on you!” I have shouted with a lofty arrogance!  And yet today, my friends, followers, minions…today I yield myself as one of those sad, unworthy bloggers.  OH THE SHAME!

Before I ask of you your compassion, your mercy, your humanity, I must first follow suit and list three reasons for my unexpected leave:

  1. Work – At the snow.  You all knew this one, and frankly, with no electricity or reception I had little choice while this was happening.  Therefore, I refuse to apologise for this you evil fiends!
  2. Supanova – Ohhhh this is where it gets interesting and I start to weep with joy at the memory of my recent trip to Sydney where I joined my fellow nerds at the annual fantasy/sci fi convention.  More about this below.
  3. The Plague – Well that’s what it feels like okay?! Apparently it’s just ye ol influenza, but if the black death gets me don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Also, it has rendered me incapable of blogging, eating chocolate, being anything other than horizontal, and has brought on a severe need of Buffy reruns (potentially also due to aforementioned Supanova trip.  Unconfirmed).

So, as you can see, the past week and a half has had moments of pleasure and pain, joy and sadness, heaven and hell…but mostly, just a lot of no blogging.  Please accept my sincerest apologies.  Are we done?  Good.  Because now I demand you share in all I have to tell you about the nerd fest that was Supanova.  If you are at all confused about this awesome event, I suggest you mosy on over to their website www.supanova.com.au and educate yourself before someone discovers your nerdy ignorance.

But before I go on, I cannot contain it any longer.  I met, talked to, and touched with my bare hands two amazing celebrities.  James Marsters aka Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (SQUEEEEEEEAAALLL!), and Tom Felton aka Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter movies, who, without the beach blonde hair that so befits some men/vampires – cough Spike cough – is quite the hotty.

My world is complete!

Oh James, you naughty boy!

Moving along.  It was a bit touch and go there for a while with that damn Chilean ash cloud that continues to stuff around domestic and international flights here in Aus.  Come on Chileans, can’t you keep your volcanoes under control like the rest of us?  As it turns out, last Thursday I was on one of the first flights allowed out of Tassie after a week of flight troubles…phew.  Made it to Sydney and got ready for the 3 day Supanova bonanza.

Adz and I having a few train troubles

I went with my super awesome friend Adz, who is a big nerd also.  After one train hiccup (see right), we made it to the showgrounds where the event began on Friday night.  We spent 2 hours standing in line to purchase our photo and autograph tickets for the Sat and Sun, knowing from previous experiences that this line would get much, much longer over the weekend.

On the Saturday and Sunday we spent our time meeting the celebs (Cue more SQUEALING!), scouring the merchandise stalls and staring in amazement at the as always high standard of cosplayers.  For those of you unfamiliar with cosplay, the faithful wiki dictionary defines it as:

The practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game, esp. one from the Japanese genres of manga or anime.

Captain Jack Sparrow Cosplay

In other words, absolute awesomeness.  There were characters from Star Wars, Firefly, The Disney Movies, Superman, Pirates of the Caribbean, Iron Man and so many I didn’t recognise that even I at times felt an unworthy nerd…and that happens rarely.  One of my faves was a certain Captain Jack Sparrow, who looked the spitting image of Johnny Depp.  Sensational.

On the Saturday evening we had the pleasure of watching James Marsters in concert.  Yes ladies, the man can sing! My best friends Mel and Aly joined us, and we couldn’t help but start sighing and giggling every time he looked our way with a cheeky smile.  What a hunny.

On the Sunday evening, Adz and I had the added pleasure of attending a small after party with James and Gareth David Lloyd from Torchwood.  I’ve never watched Torchwood, so can safely say I know zip about the show, its characters and actors.  And yet, as eight of us sat at a table with this actor, everyone seemed relatively star struck.  Except me of course.  I was saving that for James, and well, like I said, I didn’t really know who Gareth was.  Soooo I tried to make conversation, and of course I put my foot in it when I asked “Where in England are you from”….to the WELSHMAN.  Okay okay, so I know being English and all I’m supposed to know this stuff, but I don’t.  It all sounds pommy to me! Thankfully he was most gracious about it, and after receiving many daggers from the Torchwood lovers around the table we managed to steer conversation back to safe topics such as the weather and food.  Boring!

And James, well James was just James.  Buffy is my all time favourite show so it was an amazing experience to meet and talk with him.  He is a big charmer and so interesting, and has the same laugh as Spike…by which I suppose I mean Spike has the same laugh as James? Regardless…I don’t really know how to describe the experience in words.  It was amazing, and yet also strange.  I can see how some fans could get ‘overzealous’ with their admiration (in fact, I think there was one potential stalker at our table), but even so, I find that meeting these ‘celebrities’ further strengthens the reality that differentiates the characters from their performers.  I love Spike and his character, and I ‘know’ him pretty well.  James was awesome and I could see bits of Spike in him, but he isn’t Spike.  Plus, he doesn’t have an English accent…I know, right!?  The actors were interesting, kind and gracious with us, but at the end of the day, this is their job, and meeting us is part of how they market themselves.  It was a wonderful experience, as it always is at these events, but it again reminded me how we can enjoy the shows and the characters in them, but meeting the actors isn’t meeting the characters, because sadly, they don’t exist…sob!

In any case, the night ended on an unexpected note with a lovely girl we met, Susannah, reading my Tarot cards for me after the celebs had left.  It was uncannily accurate!  I have always been interested in this sort of ‘supernatural’ thing; tarot cards and clairvoyants etc, but have never considered it seriously enough to actually try out, my inner sceptic telling me not waste my money on what might be a load of crap.  I’d love to do it again though because it really was amazing what she told me of my past, present and future.  She had me when she pulled out the card with the words: ‘THE HERMIT’.  She was in my head I tell you!

The festivities ended with me, the plague, and a terrifying few hours as the Chilean ash cloud threatened my return flight home.  Thankfully I was on one of the last flights out of Sydney before they went into shut down mode again.  Fate anyone?

Well, I think this account of my absence is long enough for now.  I shall leave you with some photographic evidence of me and my recent squeeze, James.  Here’s to the next post not taking as long as this one.  Of course, if I die of the plague then I can only apologise further and ask that you say kind, but funny things about me when I’m gone.

Me and Spike (My boyfriend, obviously)

~storytelling nomad~

Today will henceforth be remembered as the day Robin Hobb sent me an email

Robin Hobb Book Love

See this —> :D Yep, that sideways emoticon, with the beady eyes and unnaturally large mouth indicating extreme happiness.  Well that right there, that is an accurate representation of my face right now.  Why?  Because this morning I had the pleasure of waking to an email from Robin Hobb herself.  Now, I may sound very calm and collected, but inside, not so very far from the surface, I am jumping up and down, kinda like they do in the Toyota ads, shouting out things like “OH EM GEE!” “Life will never be the same again!” “Hallelujah!” “Robin Hobb, you complete me!”.  Or thereabouts.

Now, as much as I’d like to claim that the queen of fantasy herself sourced me out just to say hi because she heard how awesome I am, well, surprising as it may be, this just wasn’t the way of it.  Instead, it transpired as follows.

You might remember a previous post (or two) about my undying love for Robin’s Farseer Trilogy, which I have only recently discovered.  Well, a few days ago I finished the series.  After much consideration, and a few tears, I decided that I didn’t want to monopolise this blog with too much of one thing (no matter how good a thing it is), and so, in the name of keeping things varied, I did not post another blog about how AMAZINGLY AWESOME the trilogy was once I finished it and how DEVASTATED I was when it was over.  You’ll be happy to know two things.  Since then, I have started reading the Tawny Man Trilogy, where the story of the Farseers continues, so no more devastation.  Secondly, by not writing about it then, I feel like fate has allowed me to write about it now, and let’s face it, I’m sure you’d much prefer hearing about my intimate correspondence with Robin Hobb as opposed to simply reading an update of joy every time I finish a page.

In any case, seeing as I felt I could not justifiably express myself on my blog, I instead decided that if possible, I would speak my mind to the source itself, and email Robin Hobb.  Just to be clear, I am not a stalker.  I dabble in a bit of Facestalking every now and then, but stalking of the actual kind, well that’s just rude…and creepy.  So, inexperienced stalker that I am, I had no idea how to go about contacting her majesty, but after a surprisingly short time on Google, I was privy to her email.

I won’t copy and paste the contents of my email, it’s her response that I’m sure you’d rather read, but basically the gist of my correspondence to her was to communicate how brilliant I thought the Farseer Trilogy was.  I told her how I came about reading her books (I was at Supanova, standing in the Isobelle Carmody line waiting to get my Obernewtyn book signed and saw the long, snaking line of Robin Hobb fans and knew that an army of fantasy book lovers never lies!) and told her that I hoped to see her return to Australia soon.  Finally I thanked her for her superb writing and how it had encouraged me to persevere with the writing of my own fantasy novel.  Your average fan email, or so I assume.  And her response?

Dear Katy,

What a wonderful letter to receive! Thank you so much.  (And now you can see why I sit next to Isabelle . . . it’s to steal her readers!  Well, no, not really, but it sounded good.)

Good luck with your fantasy novel.  I will tell you the only trick I know.  Persevere.  Push those keys down every day.  The only way that anyone writes anything is one key stroke at a time.  So when it is dark outside and you are alone with your little lamplight shining out the window, think of all the writers all over the world who are doing the same thing, and keep at it.

Best of luck!

Robin

Ah-maa-zing!  The only thing better than a brilliant writer, is one who will take the time to respond to the fans and even give them a little piece of encouragement and advice.  My heart swells with joy!  So, I’m sorry dear bloggers, but I’m afraid this Robin Hobb infatuation won’t be going away any time soon and I can assure you this won’t be the last you hear of it! *cue further Toyota jumps*

~stoytelling nomad~

A writer? Where?

I read a blog today about someone who was surprised to be introduced by her friend as a writer, a scenario I could relate to.  I love my friends.  They are a supportive, encouraging, funny bunch of people, and I’m truly fortunate to know every one of them.  And yet, I have been known to berate them when they introduce me to people with: “This is my friend Katy. She’s a writer.”  I will smile politely through gritted teeth at this with a certain grace, but when I have them alone I beat them to a bloody pulp and scream at them to beg for mercy.  Not really.  But I will say something along the lines of “No no no! You can’t call me a writer.  It hasn’t happened yet! I’m not getting paid for my writing! My book isn’t finished!” Or similar.  Basically, I have always thought that to be considered a writer, you need to be published.  Now, when I think about it logically, I realise just how ridiculous that is.  Duh, Katy.  Obviously there are loads of writers out there who haven’t been published, who probably deserve to be.  Admittedly, there are also people out there claiming themselves to be writers, sending in absolute garbage to publishers (my days working at a major publishing house can attest to this) who are not getting published for a very good reason.  Even so, I know just from looking through the writing blogs on the wordpress.com site, that there are plenty of people out there who I would identify as writers, who may sadly never get the chance to be published.

I liken it to the philosophical riddle: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” If a writer writes and never gets published, is she still a writer? Um, are you stupid or something? In the event that you are – like my inner paranoid writerly self – stupid…then the answer is, of course, yes.

At the Melbourne Supanova this year, I spoke to Australian fantasy author Jennifer Fallon and expressed my concerns about making it as a writer and how I would know if it was time to try a different life long dream that I might actually succeed in without failing miserably and finding myself at the peak of my youth with nothing to show for it except a blank page and no money and a room full of rejection letters and…  Pause.  Breathe.  Where was I? Ah, yes.  So, she gave me two excellent pieces of advice:

1.  She could not guarantee that I would be published if I kept writing.  But she could guarantee that I wouldn’t if I stopped.

2. She told me that even when she was a checkout chick, she was a writer.

I think these are very sage pieces of advice that apply to any aspiring writer.  Firstly, you need to be viciously persistent and never give up.  Giving up is a sure way to fail.  Period.  And secondly, that a writer is a state of being.  Whatever else it is you do to pay your mortgage, put clothes on your back and feed little Felix or Jack or Poochiepoos…that there, that’s your job.  Your occupation.  Your money-making, food-on-the-table, 9-5 day job.  Some people are lucky enough to have writing as their job.  But even when you’re not getting paid for it, even if no one will publish you, even if you never show another single soul out there what you have written, if it is who you are, then you my friend, are a writer.

~storytelling nomad~