Thursday, July 30, 2009

Alice in Wonderland trailer

Yay! I'm excited! Burton + Depp + Bonham-Carter + crazy-arsed Lewis Carroll = can't wait.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Edsel Grizzler launch

If you're free on the afternoon of Tuesday the 18th August, and you're in any kind of proximity to Beecroft, in Sydney's north-west, you should definitely consider dropping in at the Children's Bookshop, where the wonderful Deborah Abela will be launching my new book, Edsel Grizzler - Voyage to Verdada. I'm told that there'll be pizza!

We'll also be celebrating the launch of the all new, shiny, VIP Book Club, a book club for kids. So that's two reasons for celebration, plus the pizza!

Here's the proper, official invitation. If you do want to come, please RSVP, and we really hope to see you there.

So little time...

Sometimes I feel like this guy, especially when it comes to punctuation. Just call me Captain Grammatical...

(Thanks to my excellent cousin Clansi, for sending my this via

Monday, July 27, 2009

The dreaded BAS

When I was a young chap, I was crap at maths. Now that I'm an older chap, I'm a little less crap at maths. But I'm still pretty crap. There's something about the inflexibility of numbers that irks me, that makes me feel ... well, angry, to be completely honest.

A few years ago, John Howard went back on something he'd said years before: "We will never have a GST under a Coalition government. Never, ever." Liar! A few years later, what did we get? A GST. Which is an initialism for something that makes keeping books rather more difficult than it needs to be. Perhaps not for someone who is "good with figures", but difficult nonetheless.

The first time I had to do a Business Activity Statement, or BAS, I went out and bought MYOB. Big mistake. I should have caught on, when the sales guy dropped a flyer into the bag with the software - a flyer for a twelve week TAFE course on How to use MYOB.

That first night, I installed the wretched thing on my computer, then spent five or six hours screaming at it. "I don't want to reconcile my check! I don't even have a check to reconcile! I don't know what reconciling a check even means! And it's spelt C-H-E-Q-U-E!"

Then, after several hours of screaming, I felt like crying. Seriously. I got that old familiar feeling from high school, with the maths teacher standing by my right shoulder, pointing at my maths book, jabbing with that long finger, demanding that I know what something-or-other's value was. "No, what's x? It's very simple. Work it out! What's x? X!"

"I don't know! Leave me alone!"

Except it wasn't my old maths teacher standing by my desk, but John Howard, pointing and demanding. "What's your input tax credit? No, not your PAYG witholding tax, your input tax credit. What is it?"

"I don't know! Leave me alone! I'm a writer! I've only ever wanted to be a writer! If I'd wanted to be an accountant, I'd have done accounting! And I'd have paid better attention in Year 10 maths!"

I've got a spreadsheet now, which my accountant (that's someone who is good with numbers, who people like me pay to be good with our numbers) gave me. And my BAS still takes the better part of a day, every three months, but I don't need a twelve week TAFE course just to know how to use it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Inkys longlist (which I can't reveal)

Along with the other Inkys judges, I received an email from Lili Wilkinson at the Centre for Youth Literature a week or so back, wherein we were given the names of the twenty YA books on the 2009 Inkys longlist. I'm not at liberty to mention which books are on said list, except to say that there are ten Australian titles (which will be dukeing it out for the Golden Inky) and ten international titles, which will compete for the Silver Inky. And that I've got a truckload of reading to do between now and the beginning of October. Not to complain - free books!

The launch of this year's Inkys will be an online event on the 20th of August - more details here. Check it out, take part. The final vote is a readers' vote.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Now THAT's weird...

I'm currently working on a graphic novel text for which I was commissioned. It's a futuristic thing about global warming, called A New Kind of Alchemy, in which the new 'alchemists' seek to create water from non-watery elements.

Anyway, the point is that I was trying to come up with a character name for the teenager who is working within New Science. For some reason I thought of Gregor. I'm not sure why, but it felt good as a name - it's got elements of older language, but sort of works five hundred years in the future as well.

Then I went to a website that gives the meanings of various names, and I typed 'scientist' into the meaning box. And in amongst the Alans and Benjamins and Plinys and Leonardos was... Gregor, derived from Gregory or Gregorius, which means 'watchful and alert'. Like a good scientist.

Now, isn't that weird?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Anonymity Jones, laryngitis and kickarse reviews

1.00 am: I finish and email the final draft of Anonymity Jones. At least, I finish and email what I hope is the final draft of Anonymity Jones, which is now scheduled for release by Woolshed Press in February 2010. I feel good to have finished the draft, but am also quietly concerned, since I have a gig later in the morning, and have been able to say little all day due to laryngitis. But it's improving, so with sleep I feel sure it'll be OK.
*Voice quality: 4/10

7.00 am: I get out of bed and prepare to drive to Cherrybrook Technology High School for a day of author talks. I drink a glass of pineapple juice, which is supposed to be good for laryngitis.ª
*Voice quality: 5

8.00 am: I hit the M7, repeating everything the radio newsreader says, just to check my voice.
*Voice quality: 5-6

9.00 am: I reach CTHS, and find the library. I assure the organisers that my voice is improving by the minute. More pineapple juice, which is supposed to be a trick singers use.ª
*Voice quality: 7

9.30am: I start my 50 minute author talk to 75 Year Sevens, who are good enough to remain very quiet for the duration. I even manage to do my wrestler voice. Falsetto toddler voice not so good. Kid asks if I always talk like Darth Vader. I tell him I think it's more like Chewbacca.
*Voice quality: 8

10.45 am: Whilst trying to have a conversation with JC Burke and Steven Herrick, my voice fails almost completely. This bodes very poorly for my 11.30 (Year 10!) session.
*Voice quality: 2-3

11.30 am: _________________
*Voice quality: 0

11.35 am: Seventy-five Year 10s are relocated across the school to invade Steven's session. They have a great time. He's a trooper.
*Voice quality: 0

1.30 pm: My last session is canned, with a promise to come back later in the year to give my remaining author talk then. Much of this discussion is conducted via sign language, whispering, and even a bit of whiteboard action.
*Voice quality: 1

4.00 pm: I arrive home to this review for Max Quigley. I whoop, but silently.

ª(Pig's arse.)

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Narnia poll - the results

Which was your favourite Narnia book? The results might surprise you...

By a narrow margin, two books came out on top. That's right, it was a dead heat, but which were the joint winners?

One of the two shouldn't be a huge surprise - The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. High adventure, a seafaring tale, plus the little guys with only one foot. And Reepicheep, of course, who made all singin', all dancin', all fencin' mice cool long before Brian Jacques started writing the same book over and over. (Oops - did I say that out loud?)

Incidentally, I'm excited to note that Dawn Treader is the next of the Chronicles to be adapted into a movie, with Eddie Izzard voicing Reepicheep. After the disappointment of the Prince Caspian movie (I always felt it was the weakest book anyway) I'm looking forward to the next movie very much.

Back to the poll: the other winner was The Magician's Nephew. I know - I was slightly surprised as well. But I can see why it polled well. In a genre where the quest for a convincing inter-world portal never ends (and where Lewis had to come up with several) I always thought the rings and the Wood Between The Worlds was genius. The moment where Digory realises with horror that he almost forgot to mark their pond... **sharp intake of breath**

For the record, my vote was for The Silver Chair, with Dawn Treader and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in a close race for second.

It's happening already.

Part of the argument against parallel importation of books, at least by some parts of the industry, is the 'cultural dilution' of our language. That is to say, some fear that our kids will read Australian books that have been changed to suit American readers, and thereby become American.

Well, folks, it's here. It's happening. I have clear evidence. This morning one of my daughters congratulated me on a quick bit of mental calculation by saying, 'That's some quick math, Dad.'

'Some quick what?'


'Maths! It's maths! With an S at the end!'

(Daughter rolls eyes.) 'Whatever.'

That is all. No, seriously, it's over. I hope someone from the Productivity Commission is reading this.