Tuesday, July 29, 2014

YARDIE CREEK, CAPE RANGE N.P.

The Cape Range National Park has more than just the coast and the sea to offer visitors. There's also the gorges.






That's my sister middle right, to give an idea of scale. Ospreys were nesting in that gash in the rock (see next pix),  the corellas were hiding in cliff face holes and a single Nankeen Ketrel drifted past...










 We are in the land of spinifex grass, and anthills ...

A riverboat edges its way up the gorge.

We were lucky to spot the Black-footed Rock Wallabies, very rare; this is one of the few places they are found. Unfortunately, although I had a great view through binoculars, the camera shot was difficult as they kept hopping around and disappearing...


Our exploration of Yardie Gorge ended with a picnic lunch at the beginning of the trail, where the lovely Crested Pigeons acted like town pigeons in a park...


Monday, July 28, 2014

Termite mounds




On the way from Coral Bay to Exmouth























Close ups of the exterior of the termite's nest above...














Saturday, July 26, 2014

Coral Bay



 Yesterday my post showed our modest rig on the road. This is what it looked like at one of our numerous stopovers.
 The beds are pulled out at either end. And yes, this time I really am doing that copyedit...





Coral Bay is a pretty place -- mostly camping sites and caravan parks! -- and a dreamy coastline which is all part of the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area.

The snorkelling is supposed to be pretty good, but the wind made it rather unsettled while we were there.


 Still, I love just walking a long the beach and seeing what's to be found.

Like the bits and pieces of the reef washed up on the shore...

Or the variety of seashells, limpets, periwinkles, oysters and such. And by the way, it is no longer considered proper to remove anything from a beach, anywhere -- not just within national parks, even empty shells or stones.

This notice tickled my fancy...

Of course, it was talking about the sanctuary for reef sharks in the sea, not on the sand dunes where the sign was. Black-tipped, white-tipped and grey reef sharks can be sighted here at certain times of the year.

And no, I wouldn't want to disturb them.



Gorgeous stretches of beaches and white coral sands...
















And birds. These were Crested Terns, the huge Caspian Terns and the ubiquitous Silver Gulls.

The interesting thing about the photo though is that long line of white in the distance. That's the rough swell rolling in from Africa to crash against the offshore reefs. The graveyard of many ships.





Of course, I was doing my share of birding. I stopped to snap a couple of young Welcome Swallows on a log on the beach, only to realise they were being fed by Mum & Dad. I then attempted to catch the feeding in the act, only to find that the adults fed the young in flight. That is they flew past shoving the food down the gullet of the young in passing, so to speak. Remarkable dexterity. One of the youngsters then decided that was fun and started flying so he or she could be fed while in flight as well.
Young above and below -- note the open beak of the top youngster!

The grass is Beach Spinifex.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Gnomes and crows...and more copyediting

This above was our first pitstop on the way north, and shows our rig, which was to be our home for the next 3 weeks.
This was a lookout along the highway north, looking across to Shark Bay. You can just see a thin blue line that is the sea around the small camping place of Gladstone. The bird is a crow; as one moves away from Perth, Australian Ravens disappear and one finds instead the Little and Torresian Crows.
You also discover the wierdness of Australian travellers, who seem to have an abundance of garden gnomes they want to rid themsleves of on their travels...
These little guys (above and below) overlook a steep cliff
Those are little green plants are trees, way down on the plains. Those red spots are gnome heads on the cliff edge...
Above: here's a close up of the gnomes
And another pix of me copyediting in the wilderness. 
(Ok, so this one was posed, just to make my editors feel guilty.  Bet that's not successful, though -- editors are a hard-hearted bunch. Ask any poor writer...)
I was indeed working, but mostly in the car while someone else drove.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

One Way to Do a Copyedit


Some of you probably know already that I was away for about 3 weeks travelling up north in the Pilbara region. We covered over 3,000 kms. It's a BIG country.

I will be posting photos of the journey over the next couple of weeks, before I leave for London and the Worldcon.


We started down in the south (we live south of Perth). Our first stop was at a caravan park along the highway north, just an overnighter. Because it was a dark night the Milky Way was spectacular -- brilliant in a way citydwellers never see the night sky. 

The following 2 nights were spent in Carnarvon, followed by Coral Bay (Ningaloo), then Exmouth (Cape Range National Park), Karratha, Millstream-Chichester National Park, Tom Price and Karijini National Park.
Is that a truck ahead? Wow, some traffic!
On the way back, we stopped at Cue. After all, it's a loooong way home...

As we travelled north, I worked in the car -- completing the copyedit alterations of Book Two of The Forsaken Lands. Easy enough on those long stretches of country where the road is very, very straight (i.e. most of the journey, in fact) and often not all that much to see! (Note the blue sky. We didn't see a cloud for two weeks...)
It's a red country. Really, really RED...

Oo-er... Look, some hills!
Copyediting and Termite mounds on a rest stop...
I've always said I can write anywhere, and that ability is a real asset when there's a deadline.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Loncon 3: The Worldcon in London

 I will be attending the upcoming World SF Convention in London in August. This will be my 4th Worldcon -- the first was in Glasgow in 2005. I also went to the one in Melbourne and another in Denver.

I've received my tentative programming, but please be aware that things may change between now and then, and attendees should always check on the day. If there are changes I know about in the meantime, I will adjust here.

I have been scheduled as a panellist on the following 5 panels:

1. Recentering the World Storm: 
John Clute's "Fantastika" and the World

Thursday 16:30 - 18:00, Capital Suite 6 (ExCeL)

In recent years John Clute has argued that fantastika is "the planetary form of story", originating after 1750, "the point when Western Civilization begins to understand that we do not inhabit a world but a planet." But where does this leave fantastika written in non-Western, non-Anglophone traditions? Is Clute's formulation adequate as an understanding of Western fantastika, or is a more explicit accounting of (for example) the relationship between the colonial imagination and the fantastic imagination required? Can readers and critics from multiple traditions identify common ground for the discussion of truly "planetary" fantastika, and what would that ground look like?

Geoff Ryman, John Clute, Glenda Larke, JY Yang, Gili Bar-Hillel

This should be a fabulous panel. John Clute is one of the convention's guests, a Renaissance man if ever there was one. Geoff Ryman is the author of some brilliant novels, including "Air" (a favourite of mine); he's a multiple award winner. Gili Bar-Hillel is a very well-known Hebrew translator, a multi-talented professor. J.Y. Yang lives in Singapore and writes SF; she is a Clarion survivor.

2. I Like My Secondary World Fantasy a Little on the Techy Side

Friday 10:00 - 11:00, Capital Suite 4 (ExCeL)

Some secondary world fantasies, like Brandon Sanderson's "Alloy of Law", Francis Knight's "Fade to Black", and Adrian Tchaikovsky's "Shadows of the Apt", have ventured into industrialisation. To what extent can the kinds of narratives common in secondary world and epic fantasies find a home in these kinds of settings? Is technological development less "believable" in a world with magic?

Django Wexler, Robert Jackson Bennett, Floris M. Kleijne, Glenda Larke, Adrian Tchaikovsky

I actually first read the topic as "on the tetchy side", and envisaged a quite different slant to the discussion ... Belligerent characters? Bellicose nations? No, wait: tech-y. Right.

3. SF/F Across Borders

Sunday 16:30 - 18:00, Capital Suite 9 (ExCeL)

Genre writers such as Vandana Singh, Geoff Ryman, Tricia Sullivan, and Zen Cho are already travellers to other worlds. Many authors write as resident outsiders, and want to write their new homes as well as their old. How does the experience of moving between countries affect the writing of fiction? How can or should writers respond to the varying power dynamics of race, language and culture involved in such migrations? And how should readers approach the stories that result?

Stephanie Saulter, Jesús Cañadas, Glenda Larke, Yen Ooi, Suzanne van Rooyen

4. All the Traps of Earth

Monday 10:00 - 11:00, Capital Suite 8 (ExCeL)

Thinking about the long-term existence of humanity requires us to examine the relationship between our culture(s) and the physical world we inhabit. How have SF and fantasy explored this relationship -- not just in terms of technology and stewardship, but by looking at the grain of daily life and work? What is the place of the "natural" world in SF and fantasy, and how is it linked to, or contrasted with, the human world?

Sam Scheiner, Anne Charnock, Glenda Larke, Amy Thomson, Patrick Nielsen Hayden

5. Amateurs talk tactics; professionals talk logistics

Monday 15:00 - 16:30, Capital Suite 5 (ExCeL)

How are wars and other conflicts won? It doesn't matter how good your troops and generals are if they don't get the resources they need, so the logistics of warfare, and the economics that drive them, play a far larger role than usually appears in fiction. What is the real story from history and how can science fiction get it right?

Phil Dyson, Nigel Furlong, Glenda Larke, Juliet E McKenna

_____________________________

 I am also scheduled for a Kaffeeklatch:
That's a discussion over coffee where readers can book a place at the table to meet writers they'd like to grill chat with about their work, etc.

Friday 13:00 - 14:00, London Suite 5 (ExCeL)

Glenda Larke, James Patrick Kelly

This sounds as though there are two of us sharing. I've never had a Kaffeeklatsch with another writer before, so this should be interesting, especially as Jim Kelly is more a SF writer. He is a Nebula and a Hugo winner, so I will be in distinguished company!

Anyway, if any of you are at Loncon 3, do feel free to hunt me down...

Friday, June 20, 2014

My programme for SUPANOVA PERTH


 THIS WEEKEND!!

Apart from lunch between 1pm and 2pm, I'll be available for chatting, signing, whatever (and as I will be a lot less in demand than the mega stars, there will really be time to chat!!)

And, as well:

Saturday 3.30-4.20pm in the Supanova Seminar Room
Panel Name: Mr or Mrs Smith?
Panelists: Keri Arthur, Glenda Larke, Bruce McCabe and David Henley

Sunday 3.10-4pm in the Supanova Seminar Room
Panel name: Blood on your hands
Panelists: Jo Spurrier, Lara Morgan, Robin Hobb, Scott Baker, Colin Taber

Panel descriptions:
  • Mr or Mrs Smith?: Gender in fantasy & Science Fiction – Was Peter Jackson correct to add a female character to the film adaption of ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’? What causes an author to create a female or male protagonist and does the publishing industry, society or even the fans influence this decision? Come and hear our guest authors take on this contentious topic.
  • ·Blood on your hands: The art of killing, maiming and torturing your favourite characters – Come and see how our guest authors deal with making their characters’ lives a living hell, while still keeping the reader on the edge of their seats and wanting more.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Amazon, Orbit and Me

Dear Readers,

You may have heard of this ongoing war between my publisher (Orbit) and Amazon.

Basically, Amazon is being greedy, trying to punish a publisher who refuses to cave in pricing negotiations. The people who get hurt when elephants dance are always the little guys, in this case, us authors.

I no longer have a "normal" job -- post 65, I found that the work I was doing was a bit beyond me physically: the tropical rainforest is a tough place. In addition I started to have some skeletal issues that tend to plague the aged... Now, of course, I am no longer living in Malaysia anyway. So my only income is my writing.

And let's face it, Amazon.com has become more and more important for selling books. Bookchains -- having wrecked the independents with their price cutting and other tactics -- are now collapsing under their mismanagement and misunderstanding of the industry. So what Amazon does has become more and more vital to authors and publishers. Amazon knows that, and they are using that knowledge to further their greed, indifferent to how the small guy suffers. (At the moment, Amazon.co.uk --at least as far as my books are concerned -- does not seem to have joined in the war.)

What can you, the reader do?

Buy your books elsewhere.

Here are a few alternatives:

WORLDWIDE for HAVENSTAR
Paperback or hardback: Buy from Indiebooks
eBook can be bought through:
Smashwords, which includes a Kindle version
Kobo,
Barnes & Noble;

AUSTRALIA (for other titles of mine)
Fishpond
Booktopia
Dymocks stores  
Click on the links for a list of my paperback books available at any of the above

Or try Independent bookshops such as:
Galaxy in Sydney
Stefen's in Perth
Pulpfiction in Brisbane

In USA
Buy any of my books (listed here) from BARNES &NOBLE
Independent bookstores such as Borderlands San Francisco

In UK
Try Waterstones.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What I'm doing this year...



Here's the latest GLENDA LARKE news.

BOOKS
  • "The Lascar's Dagger", book 1 of a trilogy "The Forsaken Lands" is now out, available as an eBook and a paperback worldwide. If you would like to know more about it, see a couple of author posts I've put up on the www.Orbitbooks.net site. Book 2 has already been delivered and is due for publication in January 2015.
If you want to help out the author, tell your friends -- or write an honest review somewhere or other!
  • "The Aware", the first book of the "Isles of Glory" trilogy, is free as an eBook on all formats (Apple, Kindle, PDF, Nook, Smashwords etc etc)  until the end of the month. I believe it has already had over 2,000 downloads just on Amazon! Of course, this is designed to entice you into buying books 2 & 3... :)
  • "Havenstar" is now available from Tigonderoga Press, Amazon, etc as a hardback or paperback. The eBook is up everywhere except Amazon -- try Smashwords, B&N, Apple, Sony, Kobo...
My other two trilogies, The Mirage Makers and The Watergivers (Stormlord books) are available pretty much everywhere as ebooks and paperbacks.

CONVENTIONS
  • I will be attending three SFF conventions this year.
The first is Swancon over Easter in Perth, Australia.
The second is the World SF Convention Loncon3 in London in August,
and the third is the British Fantasy Convention in York UK in September. If you'll be at any of them, please say hi!

READINGS /SIGNINGS
  • Some readings, chats etc to look forward to:
Charlottesville Virginia at the B&N in 5th April at 6pm
Forbidden Planet in London post Loncon3, with Karen Miller, date to be decided.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

IF YOU ARE IN CHARLOTTSVILLE, VA...



I will be appearing 
at the Barnes and Noble store 
in Charlottesville, Virginia,
Saturday, 5th April 2014
at 6 p.m.

To celebrate the launch of 
The Lascar's Dagger
The Forsaken Lands,
Book One.

If you are anywhere in the vicinity, I'd love to see you.



 I'll be giving a short reading, 
answering questions
and signing books,
(if you have any -- and even if you don't, you are still more than welcome!)


Even better, I won't be alone.
The YA fantasy author
Jodi Meadows 
will be with me doing the same thing.
You can find out more about Jodi and her books here.
 
So ... two authors
 who want to meet anyone who loves fantasy
 or anyone who is just curious... 

And of course, our books will be on sale in Barnes and Noble.
Support your local bookstores!!


Thursday, January 30, 2014

ALIEN ABDUCTION!

I was at the beach near where I live to take sunset pictures, 
and look what happened... 

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Lascar's Dagger: maps


This is a look at one of the preliminary versions of the maps for The Lascar's Dagger, done -- as usual -- by Perdita Phillips, artist. (Take a look at her website here.) 

To see the final expanded versions, you'll have to buy the book...

Coming out March 15th 2014
Ready for pre-order!

Amazon.com.au  (Australia: ebook only)
Book depository (worldwide)



Sunday, January 26, 2014

Final Orbit U.K. Cover of "The Lascar's Dagger"

Less than two months away now, in mid-March, the first book of a new trilogy from Glenda Larke will be on the shelves. It is being published worldwide by Orbit.

The Lascar's Dagger is the Book 1 of The Forsaken Lands.

The idea for this trilogy came to me in a flash one day ...

Er, no. As for all my books, there's no one idea, but dozens, some of them larger than others, and they came from all over the place, and not all at once. 

I suppose the main inspiration originated from my desire to write a book that drew on my experiences living in South-east Asia, something evocative of a period and a place not usually touched upon in fantasy epics. And so this trilogy is set in a fantasy world of two hemispheres, east and west, where western countries are setting out to trade with the other side of the world--and their main desire is to procure tropical spices. Think 17th-18th century Europe; think the rivalry between the British and Dutch East India Companies; think the Spice Islands of Indonesia and the impact of this contact between two hemispheres. And then think: but what if...

What if the Spice Islands had magic?

And so, being a fantasy, it's not just about a clash of cultures, but about a clash in religious/magic systems...The trilogy's protagonists come from both hemispheres.

"Lascar" is a term that is not very specific in its application. The word is Persian/Arabic in origin, meaning guard, soldier or more generally pertaining to military, but later came to mean a militiaman or seaman from the southern Asian region (i.e. not Chinese/Korean/Japanese). 

"Lascars" came to mean those serving on British naval ships under so-called  "lascar" agreements. The first British East India merchantmen sailing to India had lascar sailors on board. 

Many of these lascars never returned to the countries of their birth after their period of service. They became the first wave of Asian migration to Britain. Intermarriage was common. Most of these British lascar's were from the Indian sub-continent--whereas the lascar of my book comes from the tropical spice islands of my fantasy world, a place I call Chenderawasi. 

As a sidebar: My husband's ancestry is, in part, Minangkabau. These people have their origins in western Sumatra, Indonesia. They were often traders and sea-faring folk. It is logical to assume that among my husband's forebears there may well have been one at least who ended up as a lascar!

Watch this site for the maps to come...

Monday, January 20, 2014

Unidentified and flying and ... er, something



I may write fantasy, but basically I am a very scientifically oriented person who believes nothing absolutely until it's proven to be true. And one thing I have always been sceptical about is UFOs. (Another is ghosts). I reckon both are pretty much just people seeing something out of the ordinary and jumping to conclusions -- when in fact there is an explanation that is rooted in science, not the supernatural.

So when I see something that is unidentified and flying through the air, I reckon there has to be an explanation, ok? I just don't know what it is yet...

I do know it wasn't in my head because the person I was with saw it just as clearly as I did.

We were driving out to the airport last night at about 12.30 a.m. It was a clear night after a very hot day (about 36C/98F). No clouds at all. The temperature at that hour was about 25C/77F and there was a gusty wind. We were in a van, one of those ones with a big wide windscreen which gives a great view of the sky, travelling down a 4-lane highway just out of Mandurah. No lights anywhere as we were passing through an area that is a bit rural -- low bush, some trees. There's a wide median strip with very low vegetation, and no cars on the other side of the road at that particular moment, one sedan not far behind us (love to know what they saw).

It appeared as a light. My immediate thought -- and my companion's -- was that it was a shooting star, i.e. a meteor, but we both pretty much dismissed that immediately. Meteors present as streaks through the sky, this was a ball of light travelling more or less parallel to us in the same direction, but getting lower all the time, and didn't give the impression of being in the sky at all, but a whole lot closer.  It kept pace with us (at  somewhere around a 45 angle up), then vanished. And when I say vanish, that's what it did. It didn't pass out of sight, or travel behind something, or fade, or explode. It was an intensely bright white light growing slightly larger over the period it was in view (possibly because our routes were converging and it was getting closer--which was the way it felt)--and then it wasn't there any more. We had it on view for maybe half a minute.

With something like this is very hard to judge just how far away it was. (A huge light a long way off or something the size of a beach ball over the far lane of the highway?) My impression was that by the time it vanished it was less than 50m away, but I could be completely wrong.

My companion suggested (without conviction!) a helicopter searchlight that was abruptly switched off. Well, if that was so, the helicopter was flying without navigation lights, and we certainly didn't hear anything, and I think that, if that's what it was, we would have seen the outline. It would have been close enough. The light did not appear to illuminate anything around it the way a helicopter searchlight would have. It was a light without illumination of anything nearby.

My feeling is that we were privileged enough to see a Min Min light.  And yes, there may be a scientific explanation for them. Doesn't matter: it was an experience I'm so glad I had. I've seen an unidentified flying ... um ... light. A UFL.

Don't you dare tell me it was a helicopter or a weather balloon. I want it to be a Min Min light!
-------------------------------------
 UPDATE: I was sent this link by Barb Holten, and I must admit the photos there -- of the lab-made ball lightning and the accidentally filmed ball lightning in China -- really do resemble what I saw. A lot.
 --------------------------



Monday, January 13, 2014

Downton Abbey--sadistic in its treatment of women?

"Downton Abbey Continues Its Sadistic Streak Against Women" is the title of an article in Slate Magazine by June Thomas, and I'm afraid it annoyed me. Perhaps I'm not qualified to comment, as I haven't seen the latest episodes of that TV series. In fact, I stopped watching about halfway through the second season. 

But I wonder if the reason for the trauma of Downton Abbey women is perhaps this: 

Almost every culture throughout history has been stacked against women. One could argue that the writer of Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes, is just telling it as it was (taking into consideration that any drama is going to up the trauma beyond the norms of most normal lives, for both men and women). 

 Life was often particularly nasty to those women who didn't conform, and to women who were the first to step away from cultural restrictions. If they were backed by money, or possessed power in their own right, or were protected by the power of the men in their life, they could get away with it. Otherwise? There were unpleasant consequences. 

Portraying women in fiction as perpetual victims is annoying, especially if they are always being saved by a man--but we can also go too far if we are critical because fictional women have a tough time. I don't want to see writers making women too powerful and confident to fit their culture and upbringing and influences. I don't want to see writers making the repercussions of rebellion too mild for their historical or cultural setting. I don't want to see writers glossing over how tough it was to be female, how careful you had to be, and how painful if you were unlucky. 

June Thomas ends with these words:
A woman loses a baby, sister, daughter, or husband, or is humiliated in front of her family and friends, and we get to watch them recover. Raping a beloved character is just latest of the show’s experiments in sadism. 


 Er, what? When a woman loses a loved one, isn't someone else usually just as traumatised by the death, like...a husband or a father by the death of a child? And when a husband dies...um, isn't he a man? He just lost his life ...and nothing bad happened to that character? And if a woman is raped--well, you know what? It still happens! 

It seems to me that when we underplay the traumatic events in the lives of women, we are ignoring historical (or present day) truths. Where we as writers can excel is in showing how strong women can be when confronted with trauma. We can portray our fictional women characters as survivors and heroes. But if we downplay the kind of horrors that happen to fictional women simply because they are women, then we are pretending something that's not true in the real world. 

Historically women do have it harder. In many, many parts of the world, even in our own societies, they still do. Let's not gloss over it.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Decorations of the other half...?

 

This is where we had dinner last night:

Fish and chips, while we looked across at million $ yachts...

Mandurah, the area where we live, is a mixed sort of place. People live here because property is cheaper to buy and rent than closer to Perth (which is 50 minutes away by train, and some 70-80 kms by road).

People live here because it'a a lovely place to retire to: cooler in summer, warmer in winter, lovely places to walk, boat, bike, paddle, fish...and there are a load of retirement homes, villages, lifestyle villages for 45+, etc etc.

And some people live here because if you have the $$ you can live on a canal with your million dollar boat on your own personal jetty...

And if you are one of the latter, you can decorate your palatial home for Christmas and then people pay to come and see them on canal boat trips--which is what we did last night.


Which is, I will admit, all rather lovely. I particularly appreciated the folk who took a whimsical approach to their decoration. And thanks to all who took the trouble to decorate their homes and were gracious enough to wave as we went past!

Although I must say, parking your boat in front of the decorations did rather spoil the effect occasionally...
Like this one:

Or this one
Or this one