Tag Archives: ian irvine

Dream Builders- the gifts of speculative fiction writers to emerging writers

Standard

1111

Fantasy readers have long been familiar with Tolkien’s three gifts of reading Fantasy, eRcovery, Escape and Consolation, but what I have come to discover is that these are not the only gifts of Fantasy. Not only are there three gifts for the readers, but there are also three gifts for the fellow writer. I call these gifts Embracement, Academia, and Dream Building.

Embracement
Many a budding Speculative Fiction writer has endured the slings and arrows of outrageous prejudice because they apparently write just silliness. They write about trivial things like believing in the good in people, how hope shall prevail, these are apparently things that don’t mean anything to anyone… Obviously they should be writing about relevant things like sexually ambiguous, serial killers, who love porn, inject heroine into their eyeballs, are charismatically alluring and yet are still the best darned kindergarten teacher around. That’s what real writers write about, real life. Not minority groups like Hobbits showing that they too are of value, that they too can be great. That’s just babyish nonsense. Brethren (I hope you don’t mind me calling you that), if you think that writing about hope and triumphing over obstacles is something that you’d actually like to do, then boy is Speculative Fiction the community for you. They’ll love you for your dedication to fairy tales, they’ll adore your deliberations over exactly what colour a skink that lives in a Mars like environment would be, they’ll accept that monkeys can talk and fly and wield magic and that’s important. What’s more, it isn’t just your fellow fledging writers who will encourage you, those published demi gods will actually come down from on high and actively encourage you. They’ll even remember you. So if you don’t necessarily want to become a starving artist, unappreciated in your time, living in a mental institution, slowly sipping contraband absinth, these people will accept that. Heck they’ll accept it if you do. That’s what is so great about Speculative Fiction writers. They believe in people and they welcome people.

Academia
Yeah, I know, ironic right? Don’t Speculative Fiction Writers just make it all up? Aren’t they writing Speculative Fiction because they aren’t smart enough or disciplined enough to write about and understand real life? No and No. Sitting down with a Speculative Fiction writer is like have a living encyclopaedia in front of you. If you are lucky enough to hear Ian Irvine speak, he’ll cover a range of topics, from the environment, to the history of Speculative Fiction in Australia, to the reasons behind the collapse of Boarders, and then go onto let you know the best way to escape from family BBQ’s in order to get some writing done. Even John Flanagan, who is notorious for claiming he just makes stuff up, can provide you with an eight page dossier on the discovery and usage of coffee in his world. And quite frankly, what Kate Forsyth doesn’t know about pee isn’t worth knowing. It is staggering the vast array of expertise these people have, you cannot help but be inspired to research and write just from listening to them for half an hour. They’re the human equivalent of art galleries and I love to soak them up and you will too.

Dream Building
This is their final, and I believe greatest gift. Speculative Fiction writers are dream builders, not dream killers. They understand that you have a story and that you would love for people to read it. They don’t treat the dream of being published like a dirty thing. Something that you should never dream of. That you should only write for the sake of writing and forsake all other dreams. I think it is because of the nature of Speculative Fiction, they often write about good triumphing, and that deep down people are good, that they tend to be more accepting of dreams and motivations. They tend to skip the thought that people only wanting to write to get published, they cast aside the notion that there are people out there who deeply despise writing and are only doing it to get rich and or famous. These people say, what’s your dream? Work hard, and go for it. Dreams can come true and if you work for it, yours can too. They are willing to encourage you to be the best you that you can be. They accept you, they embrace you, they encourage you to research and work hard, but they also encourage you to dream. And dreams are what fiction is made of.

Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre 2013: A Rewrite

Standard

image

Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre 2013: A Rewrite

I had the great pleasure of attending the Speculative Fiction Festival, organized by the amazing Kate Forsyth, and held at The New South Wales Writers’ Centre, this last weekend. In short, it was amazing. And I should possibly leave it there, nay I should definitely leave it there, but I won’t. As “they” all say, “A great story is not written, it is rewritten.” “You must learn to love editing.” Or my favourite, and “Nobody writes a perfect first draft… well if there is somebody who does, she’s a bitch and I hate her.” So I have determined to rewrite the festival in order to make it more interesting, in order to make it speak to a generation, in order to give it vim and vigour.
Hmmmmm, where to begin.

Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre 2013: A Rewrite

A sea of nervous writers sat in a large room. The appearance was light and airy but the atmosphere was anything but. It was an excited yet nervous air full of buzzing writers with their heads open. (Not immediate enough. Make your writing immediate!!!!) This is the worst kind of excited nervous air as it is “writer nervous excited air”. The most kind of verbose, over adjectified kind of air in the world. This can only be topped by “writer in a flap” air. Ian Irvine strode into the room, he was the first of the guest speakers to enter. He could have entered casually and taken a seat and prepared himself for the day but some silly fan girl at the front of the room squeeeeed, “Oh my God, that’s Ian Irvine, its Ian Irvine. I love him.” (Okay, it was me) This caused a room full of beady writer eyes to focus on the man, the man with the plan, the man with the 61 page plan (as it turns out, he’d just finished a novel which he had a 61 page plan for). He smiled graciously, said hello, and took a seat. (My exact role in this situation may have been a tad exaggerated; the fan girl squeee may have been a tad under exaggerated)
You know what, that’s not exactly, the most powerful of opening is it? Kate Forsyth said that we should start our stories with a BANG! Hmmmmmm, when was there a bang, where was the bang. I must move the bang to the start. I’ve got it!

Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre 2013: A Rewrite

SPLASH! Ben Chandler’s glass tipped over. An almighty flood of water gushed out of the glass like some sort of hot water spring exploding after years of pent up sexual frustration. (Yeah, I put in sex, that’ll get the punters in!) It trickled towards the electrical equipment in front of Ben’s shaking fingers. At any moment the stage was set to EXPLODE!!!! People rushed about. What would happen? We were all doomed, doomed, doomed I tell you! But a hero stepped forward. A member of the New South Wales Writers’ Centre admin came forth with paper towel and a cool attitude and sopped the water up with her very calmness… and her paper towel. The day was saved and we all lived happily ever after.

Okay, that was RUBBISH! I seriously doubt a spilt cup of water was what Kate Forsyth had in mind when she said start with a bang. I feel so stupid, why did I even bother. I have failed her, I failed myself, and I have failed you. Sigh. Well, hopefully this was not all for naught. How about I write out a list of some of the festival highlights for me and hopefully you can glean some insight and put it together in an order that works for you?

Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre 2013: A Highlights Package
Ian Irvine:
• Sara Douglas was the first Australian Speculative Fiction Author to hit it “big”. She paved the way for all us future Australian speculative fiction writers, by making publishers believe that yes, fantasy was awesome, and yes Australians could be awesome at it too. Respect.
• It will cost you at least $5000 to get a good quality editor for your work. If you want to self-publish you need to invest that yourself in order to have a comparable product with publishing houses.
• 2 million books are published per year now because of ePublishing.
• Self-promotion is the way of the future, make friends with talented people (or give birth to them) who can help you.
• As for how to plan, if it works, it is good, if it doesn’t, it is not.
• “If the characters are having a good time, then the reader is not.”

Juliet Marillier
• She has the most amazingly expressive hands I have ever seen. So tiny yet beautiful.
• UK publishers actually want to have the publishing rights for not just the UK but for Australia and NZ too.
• Australians actually buy more books than most other Countries. We are actually a big market when it comes to novels.
• Publishers are less inclined to do publicity and promotion these days so you need to really develop that yourself.
• Some agents are strictly business and contract advisors, others have a more creative approach, you must choose based on your own individual needs. Research research research.
• Love of storytelling and stories begins before you can read; it begins in the laps of your parents as they read to you.

Sophie Masson
• Fairy tales are a complex world of dichotomous forces
• Writing is like having a magic wand. You can do anything you want.

Kate Forsyth
• Fairy tales are important. They give us hope. They give us a way to cope with our own lives. They let us know that in the end, everything will be alright.
• Writing fairy tales is challenging because everybody thinks they already know the story, usually that just means they know, Disney, Grimm, Anderson or Perrot.

Garth Nix
• Just write. Don’t worry about genre or sub genres; let the publishers worry about that.
• “I write outlines… mostly for the pleasure of departing from them later on.”
• “Read more things.”
• “Children’s natural state is an imaginative one”

Pamela Freeman
• “There may be someone out there who can write the perfect first draft… But I hate them whoever they are.”
• Low fantasy is “where there’s thieves and bandits and people have sex a lot.”

Melina Marchetta
• Strip the thought, “It’s a bit indulgent,” from your vocabulary when talking about doing what you need for writing. If you need to travel to somewhere to get in the zone, that is a business trip, NOT an indulgence.

Belinda Murrel
Spoke of how she wrote for her children, so they had something stimulating but not dealing with themes they were not emotinally equiped to deal with maturity wise.

John Flanagan
• Write what you would like to read.
• He is the funniest speaker I have ever heard, he was utterly brilliant but I was so enchanted by him that I failed to take adequate notes

Dionne Lister
This I think was possibly the best comment of the day for me, “Why should I publisher put the time and effort into your work if you haven’t?”

There were many more inspiring speakers. If you want to read what twits had to say about it check #nswwc xxoo love you all