Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pagar Makan Padi -- Malaysian army slaughters and eats hornbills?

Just recently I was up in the north, in the state of Perak, the only place where all of Malaysia's ten species of hornbill can be reliably found, all species totally protected. Once, a couple of years back, my friends and I saw all ten in 24 hours, one of the most glorious days of my birding life; something I will remember till the day I die. Not sure if anyone else will ever be able to do that, because there are people who don't like hornbills, or at least not live ones.

The northernmost part of the state is a state park, where - in theory - all wildlife is totally protected. Unfortunately, the army is also there, obstensibly to protect us from incursions by armed foreigners.

And here below we see the brave soldiers protecting us from ... um ... aerial attack?
Geez, look at the weaponry on that bird!


They were so proud of their success in this endeavour, that they snapped a few shots and put it up on facebook. Then wondered why people got upset. The page was taken down. However, as we all know, once you put a thing up on the internet, it has a habit of haunting you with an eternal life of its own.

I would be very worried if I was them. The fine under the new Wildlife Act, now in operation, for being in possession of a killed hornbill is now a MINIMUM of $RM 50,000 (about 10,000stg or $US 17,000), plus -- if I remember correctly -- a jail sentence of at least a year.

Here's a second snapshot of the facebook page, where the commentary jokes about how wonderful it is to eat rare wildlife, and how the more difficult to obtain, the tastier it is to eat. They make no attempt to hide the fact that they ate this bird. It is a Great Hornbill, one of the most magnificent of our large avian species.

In the enlargement below, you can see that it has blood on its wing, indicating that it was probably wounded first, and then it was slaughtered in the Muslim way, by having its throat cut to drain the blood. This latter wound is a dead give away that it was going to be eaten.

To be quite honest, I feel a bit sorry for these very silly young men. They are so ignorant, they can't see that they did anything wrong, as is obvious from posing for the photo, and then posting it.

They are so ignorant, they can't see a value in wildlife, or in obeying the laws of their own country.

It is their officers I blame. The mature men with rank who don't care to teach their soldiers the law, or their role in protecting their country. Or what love for one's country entails. You can't tell me that their immediate superiors didn't know they were doing this -- and that this kind of thing has been going on for a long, long time. I've been hearing about it for years! And this is not the only photo I've seen. See here for more:skinning monkeys if you've got the stomach for it, taken well over a year ago.

This hornbill incident with the photographic evidence has been reported to the authorities. We are waiting to see what action is being taken. As I have heard nothing so far, I am making this post just to make sure that the issue stays alive. Obviously it would be very, very easy for the army to give the names of these young men to the Wildlife Dept/law enforcement.

As you can see from the photo, the soldiers are obviously starving. They are obviously desperate to cook and eat this bird, so desperate that they stopped to take a photo. I'm not kidding; my source for this info is excellent; a senior army personnel said that these poor young men were starving because they missed a food drop while on rainforest patrol due to bad weather!! They therefore had to kill to survive.  (If you believe that, well I have a set of twin towers in Kuala Lumpur to sell...)
 
One good thing, I suppose. An army officer in Kuala Lumpur was obviously worried enough to lie.

Ask the native peoples who live within the park boundaries about reporting poaching and they will shrug and say sarcastically, 'Who do we tell when people poach here? The army?'


Pagar makan padi. In Malaysia, the fence eats the rice.

____________________________________________
I shall keep you posted as to whether the authorities ever do anything, or whether they allow their government employees to get away with breaking the law ... because they were starving. (Hey, you snatch thieves out there - next time you get caught try that one as an excuse! Your honour, yes, I stole the purse, but I was starving...) 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Recovering from two bouts of euphoria

I had just barely recovered from a bout of euphoria -- caught from the news that Stormlord Rising was an Aurealis Award finalist (for Best Fantasy Novel of 2010) -- when I was hit by another bout, just as serious.

Stormlord Rising is a Ditmar finalist. Now that probably won't mean much to those of you from distant lands, so - briefly - it is Australia's version of the Hugos. In other words, it's a reader/fan award, where people who go to the Australian National Convention (last year's or this year's) are eligible to vote for the works that they like best.

Aurealis is a judged award; Ditmars are a reader popularity vote. And the other rather nice thing about the Ditmars is that the novel award is not divided into SF and Fantasy or young adult, unlike the Aurealis. So a book is up against works in SF and Fantasy and YA works.

So there you are: for the first time, I have a book that is a finalist in both awards.* 
Chuffed? You betcha.
Touched? Oh, yes. This is a reader award. Judged awards are an ego boost, great to have, and I am very proud of my nominations over the years, but reader awards are something else again. Readers liked the book enough to take the trouble to nominate. Some of them will take the trouble to vote. That is very, very special.

So thank you to all those people who nominated the book and bounced it on to the finalist list.

_______________________________________________
*I was a finalist for the Best New Talent in 2004 -- the year K.J.Bishop won in that category.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

So what are they?


Remains of ancient oil jars photographed by a camera lowered into a cave somewhere in the Middle East?

Nope. Each is hardly much bigger than my thumbnail and they are made of mud, by potter wasps. All found during a spring clean of my house.

You never know what you'll find inside your home in the tropics. Apart from the ubiquitous roaches and other sundry insects, I have -- over the years in this house -- found the following either inside or on the verandah:



  • Cobras, grass-green whip-snake,
  • house rats, some kind of native rat with a white belly, shrews, house mice, plantain squirrel,
  • treeshrews (which is not a rodent),
  • three foot monitor lizards, common house geckoes (chichak), another larger gecko with reddish spots,
  • common palm civets,
  • oriental magpie robin, yellow-vented bulbul, white-throated kingfisher, pied fantail, white vented myna,
  •  scorpions, centipedes including the long-legged centipede, millipedes,
  • crickets and grasshoppers, jewel beetles, click beetles, longhorn beetles, rhinoceros beetles, moths larger than my hand,
  • bats,
  • frogs (including treefrogs), horned toads,
  • earthworms, blindworms (not sure what the correct name is),
  • spiders (including jumping spiders, and a huntsman carrying around twenty thousand babies that ran off in twenty thousand different directions)
  • monkeys -- macaques and also leaf monkeys (neither inside the house but up on the roof),
  • neighbourhood cats of all colours and sizes...

I think I'll stop there.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why I am going to Swancon/Natcon

Back in the days of yore...

Ok, back in about 1997 or 1998, my agent, who lives in UK, told me I should start going to science fiction conventions now that I had my first book accepted for publication. I said, 'Conventions? What are they?'

She explained, and it all seemed rather strange and alien. I couldn't imagine me, all alone, rolling up to a place where I knew no one and no one knew me - and not just for one day, either. For several days, and at great expense, seeing as I live in Malaysia where there is no such event.

Yeah, well, I've come a long way since then. Once I got the hang of this thing called the internet*, I investigated and it all seemed intriguing. So I decided I'd give one a try. I timed a visit to Perth to see my sister with the Easter holidays, then twisted her arm to come with me for the first day of Swancon 2004.  Fortunately she's an ex teacher-librarian with a love of SF/F, and she was happy to oblige.

No one knew who I was, my first Oz published books were not long out, but I was welcomed, shoved onto panels, met a whole slew of terrific people many of whom are still friends, and generally had a ball. Tim Powers was the main guest, and was totally delightful. I still remember his GoH speech.

I was hooked for life. I've loved cons ever since. Donna Hanson somehow got me to go from Perth to Canberra for Conflux 2004 immediately afterwards. That was the first time I met Russell Kirkpatrick... The main GoH was Greg Benson.
I went back the next year to another Swancon (Charles de Lint was the main guest).
Even now, I still haven't got over being on the same panel with famous writers.

In 2008 I was totally gobsmacked to be asked to Swancon as their Australian GoH. I was incredibly moved to have my hometown ask me back as a guest. Even more fabulously, the international GoH was Ken McLeod, and writer Rob Shearman of Dr Who fame was a guest as well. What a great con.

So, above you have several reasons to go to a SF Con, especially ones in Perth.

Reason No 1: You have a ball
Reason No 2: They have fabulous guests
Reason No 3: You make lifelong friends
Reason No 4: You can end up on panels -- or attend them

I've been to other Australian conventions since: Continuum 2005 in Melbourne, which had one of the funniest debates I've ever heard -- after all how can you go wrong with Neil Gaiman, Russell Kirkpatrick and Kim Wilkins (Lord, how could ANYONE ever forget her speech???), Poppy Z.Brite and Richard Harland taking sides on the subject of whether humans are creatures natural or unnatural...

Reason No 5: Writers are often also very witty speakers...

Most of that con I actually spent with the Harper Voyager and their authors, including Robin Hobb. I think that was the time I first met author Karen Miller, whom I now count a very special friend.
Then there was Natcon/Convergence in Melbourne in 2007, which was where I first met Dave Freer, who was one of the guests, and was later enticed back to Oz to live.

Reason No 6: You meet some of your favourite authors...

And in the meantime I was also investigating my first Worldcon, in Glasgow in 2005, and my second in Denver in 2008, my third in Melbourne last year.

So, if you live in Oz and aren't going to Swancon/Natcon - the 50th Natcon, by the way - why not? Come to think of it, you don't have to live in Oz to go. I don't.

See here for more info. It's 21st-25th April (Easter) 2011. And I am one of a whole stack of invited guests. Don't miss it.
__________________
.
*I was a very early user of a PC -- Apple IIe anyone? -- but came somewhat late to the internet.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

An odd sort of day...


On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 the best...


Coming in at No. 10:

I've scored another Aurealis Award shortlisting! That makes my sixth. I think I shall give up the idea of ever winning as I doubt it will ever happen; it's much more fun to collect lots of "finalist" logos.
You can see the whole finalist list here. For the Best Fantasy Novel of 2010, Stormlord Rising is up against a book by previous multiple winner, Juliet Marillier.
And against a novel that has been nominated for TWO chances at an Aurealis, by Trent Jamieson.
And against a superb novel by Tansy Rayner Roberts which I absolutely loved and wouldn't mind losing out to.
And the fifth is by someone I'd never heard of -- but I sure have now. I rather think this is the first time a novel that has been so far entirely self-published has been listed for an Aurealis, so that's lots of kudos to Andrea K. Host for a start. Congratulations to everyone!

So one way or another I reckon I won't win this time either -- but who cares? I'm collecting those logos! Thanks to all the organisers and judges. I love you guys.

At Number 9:
Was sitting in my lounge room for half an hour putting the hooks back in washed curtains and counted the wild birds I could hear: Asian Koel, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Oriental Magpie Robin, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, White-vented Myna, Common Tailorbird and Red Junglefowl. Seven species in my garden in half an hour. Made a difference to a tedious job. (Ok, so the junglefowl is technically on the slope on the other side of my back fence...)

 At number 8:

Hey they finally activated our smart card for the satellite TV decoder!! It only took 5 weeks. Or was it 6? I kid you not. It was so long, I can't even remember how long. So we now have TV again after...um...maybe 5 or 6 years. Can't say it worried me over much, but hubby was missing the news...

At Number 5:

My husband sent me an email with the subject line: "SexVideo"He's never done that before, so I scrambled to open it.....but alas, no video clip attached. Just news of more politician shenanigans that everyone is getting heartily sick of here. Sigh.

At Number 2:
That's the top of the palm tree near the righthand archway. It's base was to the left behind those pots.
A palm tree crashed across our driveway and took what looks to be half the garden with it. Sigh.

At Number 1:
 I still have not broadband connection. Of course, it's all my fault.
I forgot to pay the bill. 
 It's been paid now, but reconnection takes time. Dail up is soooooooooooooo slooooooooooow.

At Number 0.
The occupied nest.
The tailorbirds had nest and young wiped out. Not sure why. I heard the female alarming hysterically, went to see what was happened to find the nest was torn apart or had fallen to pieces. There was no sign of the young. There were cats around, alas.
Later on the male kept coming to the area with food, looking for them. Sob.
The only photo of bird at the nest. The dark bits.



.

This is what was left of the inside of the nest: 3" across, after it had fallen into a flower pot. The white bits are kapok from a nearby tree.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What's the connection between fashion, birds, kings and a korakora?

To recap, I have already made three posts on this subject, here, here and here. And I am doing a lot of research as I am starting a new trilogy set in a different world, but one which has its basis soundly grounded in a version of our world around, say, 1600.

Elizabethan times. The beginnings of the Reformation but before the Renaissance, The time when Europeans were poking their noses into the affairs of other peoples, a long way from their own shores.









As far as I am concerned, research is necessary because if you make mistakes that throw the reader out of your created world, then they cease to believe in your writing - and for a fantasy writer that's a disaster.



 Above are two books I am using to familiarize myself with something I will be writing about in the middle book of the trilogy.

The top one is Arena Birds by Paul A. Johnsgard, subtitles "Sexual Selection and Behaviour". It is about birds that use "arenas" -- places where they perform for their mate(s). I'd be inclined to call them theatrical birds myself, having seen some of these performances. (Great Argus Pheasant, Great Bustard...)

 Left is the courtship of one of the birds of paradise.



 The second book is Plumes from Paradise by Pamela Swadling: subtitled "trade cycles and their impact on New Guinea and nearby islands until 1920".

The ladies in the colour plate display the latest fashions of 1830 in the UK, and the black and white pix shows the King of Nepal in 1940 greeting the American Ambassador.
Our worlds have to be believable to make the story believable, even when you are writing about magic and dragons. Everyone knows there's no magic or elves or dragons, so they willingly suspend belief on those -- but they won't be happy if you start telling them in all seriousness that strawberries grow on large trees in the dead of winter, that it's possible to sail a ship without ever tacking when the wind is dead against you, that a horse can happily travel five hundred miles without ever stopping to eat and drink, and so on. 
I'm not using dragons -- just birds of paradise.
And I'm sure you can see the connection between the ladies, the king and the birds...


The ship is a raiding korakora, carrying Indonesian warriors, drawn in 1798. After all there has to be adventure too, right?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Malaysia continues to perpetuate hatred and prejudice...

Yep, we've done it again.

Let's get one thing straight (no pun intended there, my friends) -- put in the simplest of general terms, people are born with their sexuality/gender identity. It's NOT a choice. If you believe it is a sin to practice what nature is telling you is natural, then by all means, don't YOU indulge. THAT is your choice.

But to treat other people with disdain and hatred because of the way they were born is the most disgusting of all behaviours. Even worse is to throw them in jail. If you think their behaviour is sinful, then take heart with the idea that they will be punished by God. If they are not hurting anyone else by being what they were made to be, what the hell business is it of yours? Let God deal with it!

When I first came to Malaysia, I was impressed by the tolerance with which trans people were regarded in a pretty conservative society. Unfortunately, there are people who think tolerance is horrendous, acceptance even worse, and as for not bothering to notice because we are all human -- well that's totally beyond their ability to comprehend.

So what piece of stupidity is Malaysia up to now? Read this, extract below.

Malaysians who tune in to popular stations hear edited versions of "Born This Way" that use indecipherable garble to replace the lyrics: "No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgendered life, I'm on the right track, baby."

AMP Radio Networks, Malaysia's top private radio operator, said the precaution was due to government restrictions against songs that might violate "good taste or decency or (are) offensive to public feeling."

"The particular lyrics in 'Born This Way' may be considered as offensive when viewed against Malaysia's social and religious observances,"  the company said in a statement to The Associated Press. "The issue of being gay, lesbian or (bisexual) is still considered as a 'taboo' by general Malaysians."

I guess that the radio stations are running scared because they think they'll be fined. So what do they do? Blur the words of a Lady Gaga song that is preaching tolerance and acceptance. Because in Malaysian we officially don't believe in those things apparently.

Me? Well I think that censorship of this kind "violates good taste or decency" and such tasteless censorship is deeply offensive to my feelings as a member of the public who has good LBGT friends.

______________
Please note, only English language is accepted in the comments. Anything else is automatically sent to the spam box.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Birds and me


My tailorbirds have hatched!!

See the original photos of the nest here and here
if you didn't see them earlier. They are just a couple of feet away from my bedroom window and the adults are dashing to and from frenetically feeding a bunch of young.
I shall try to get photos of the adults tomorrow through a gap in the curtains,
if I can do so without upsetting them.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Precious gifts

I had three gifts yesterday. 

One was unexpected.

One I knew was coming, but it still blew my mind.

The third I paid for, yet it still is a gift I really value.

Thanks to everyone involved.

The book above is an uncorrected proof, sent to me by the publisher (not by my own publisher) just because the editor there thought I'd enjoy it. I have an idea he's right. It's a reminder to me that I belong to a community of people - writers, editors and readers - who all have something in common. We love books. I am grateful every time I am reminded of that.
This above is a work of love. It is a a 12" (30cm) tile mosaic - not of tiny tiles, but of tiny beads, many of them semi-precious stones. The photo absolutely does not do the real thing justice. It reminds me of the things I love - the outdoors, water and forest, stones and hills and valleys, the intricate ways creation fits tiny pieces of beauty and life together into a coherent, exuberant whole.

There is a story behind it. I belong to a book group, started over 30 years ago, here in Kuala Lumpur, and still going strong. In fact, it's probably closer to 40 years now. I've only belonged for 15 or 16 years. One of the founding members is still part of it - our rock, our mentor, and our friend. Her name is Kay.

One of the many things she does is mess around with beads, making jewellery and so on - recycling bits and pieces into glorious artwork. Knowing this, some time back I hunted through all my clutter to find bits and pieces of mine -- from broken necklaces, for example -- and gave them to her. And forgot about it. Then, one day, she led me into her workroom to show me what she was working on...and told me she was making it for me. I was overwhelmed. The amount of work that has gone into this is staggering. The finished result, which I received yesterday, had me tearing up.

The third gift is something I received because of a regular magazine subscription. No, it wasn't a free gift of shampoo or something that came with the magazine in the mail. It was a gift straight to the heart. And I shall talk more about this tomorrow.

On a related matter: Just remember that this weekend is Raptor Watch at Ilham Resort (Cape Rachado/Tg Tuan) in Port Dickson, and if you live in this part of the world and aren't down there, you're crazy.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

More on research for a fantasy novel

Here are some more books I am using in my present writing. The Wildflowers and the Wildlife books I bought when we were living in Europe, simply because I wanted to identify all those odd things running about or growing ... (so that's what a vole looks like! And oh, I always wondered what a bluebell was!)

Not the kind of things we have in Australia, or Malaysia.

They are proving invaluable for the WiP (work-in-progress) though, in the formation of the religion. And that is all I am going to tell you about that!


 


And then there is this: "Nathaniel's Nutmeg" or How One Man's Courage Changed the Course of History        
by Giles Milton.

Actually the title is a bit of a misnomer. Nathaniel hardly comes into it, and although what he did was indeed very brave and had repercussions that did change history enormously, it is only a tiny part of the gloriously bizarre and remarkable events covered in the book. The title was a selling gimmick; but knowing that doesn't mean the book was not worth the purchase price. Far from it.

It's a history of the trade between Indonesia and (mostly) Western Europe from the earliest contacts up to the present day. The period that has really fascinated me is the 16th to 18th centuries. It has everything: adventure, hubris, vile murder, slavery, betrayal and slaughter, courage and compassion. There are pirates and buccaneers, traders and village folk, sultans and kings. Read it.

Why does it particularly interest me now? Because, I am writing a book with a background that has much to do with trade, not just any trade, but a trade that was devastating in its horrors even as it made untold fortunes and brought people to ruin.

And two of my heroes will have much in common with Nathaniel: courage and a sense of honour at the very least...

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Me, being (un)interesting...

Today I am writing the dreaded final draft project report...ugh. 

So, in the meantime, I give you me, saying stuff elsewhere.

Do go read:

Me answering some really tough not-so-ordinary interview questions at Sequential Tart, here.

And me, talking about being uninteresting, at Gillian's blog, here. And while you are there, do poke around in all the posts, particularly those commemorating Women's History Month.


 

Monday, March 07, 2011

More on research for a fantasy novel...

If you have been reading my blog, you will know that I have temporarily shelved the book I was writing to plan another trilogy instead. I have not yet signed any contracts, so at the moment I am fancy free. Am a writing? Yes. Can't ever stop. And I am researching the story I am writing because it concerns many things I don't know too much about...(and some I know a lot about but want to know more.) No, it will not be set on our earth, but still - I aim for authenticity.

Here are some words to (I hope) intrigue you: spices, the wicked twin, birds of paradise, scurvy, arranged royal marriages, aromatic bark, kora-kora, trade wars, buccaneers, archipelago, witchery, faustian pact, 17th century galleons, bloody flux, pomanders, milliners, trepang, massoy, plumed cloaks, lost heir, deception and mayhem ... need I go on?

Nah.

Needless to say, I am adoring writing this story. Ideas and words are just coming too fast!
The Ship: Retracing Cook's Endeavour Voyage
 So where do I start the research? Shipping plays a big part. And this book is handy, even though it deals with an 18th voyage, rather than a 17th century one, by Captain Cook on the Endeavour.

The book, written by Simon Baker, belongs to me: I bought it, not for this research, but because that voyage was part of my history. It tells a fascinating story, not just of the voyage of the original Endeavour but of a 20th century version of that voyage in a replica ship. It's a wonderful book to own.

Take a look at the map below, dated June 10th, 1770. It shows part of the Endeavour River in Queensland

It was drawn by a young man - he was only 19 when the voyage began - but he was already skilful at chart making. His name was Richard Pickersgill. If he had not sailed on this ship as master's mate, if he had not returned safely to England, I would not have been born.
Don't you love the expression ""repaired her Bottom"?
Many years after this voyage he told some children in his family about his experiences in Australia, and one of those children, my grandfather's father, listened to those stories and much later set sail for Australia himself, to settle. He wasn't much of an ancestor to have - by all reports, he was a drunkard and a gambler - but he's the reason that my mother was born in Australia. Her name was Jean Pickersgill.
Family legend says that Richard died falling in between a ship and the wharf while drunk...
Records state that there is a will belonging to a Richard Pickersgill of the HMS Dolphin dating to 1779 lodged in the British National Archives, but I've no idea if it is the same person.
Anyway, the book is now proving to be a wonderful fund of information about life, health and hardship on board a sailing ship...

If you want to know still more about the harrowing experience of being a British sailor in the 19th century, then try this website. Oh, yuk.

If you want something about sailing ships in general then this is a great website to start on, by a chap called Rob Ossian, one of those wonderful folk who so willingly share their passion.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Women's History Month

Friend Dr Gillian Polack is running a series of guest blogs over on LJ here to celebrate March, Women's History month. So pop over there and read posts from a selection of truly remarkable women, some of whom I have the pleasure of knowing.

Gillian herself -- writer, editor, historian, lecturer, teacher, novelist -- is a pretty remarkable woman, and you can read about her here.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Not for the arachnophobes

This is a pic from my garden looking at the neighbour's house. And that dot in the sky is...
this:
 It's an Orb spider, some times called a bird-eating spider (and yes, they do.) With it's legs outstretched it would cover my open hand, easily. And they are no big deal for humans, so he can stay there as long as he likes. You can read more about it here.

Still haven't managed to catch sight of that cuckoo in the garden, but am still thinking it sounds like a Banded Bay, and that would make sense as we have the brood host, the Common Iora, and there is a fairly wooded area at the back of our house, bordering the golf course.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Doing Research for a Fantasy Novel

Why on earth would one do research for a fantasy novel set in an imaginary world? You make it all up, right?
Well, sort of. But it has to be believable. Which sounds weird, but if the world is not internally consistent, then the reader loses interest. One way to make a pre-industrial society of a fantasy world believable is to know how people used to do things way back when in our world. Actually there I have a head start over many younger writers. I saw my mother make soap/butter/cream/jam/ginger beer/ out of raw ingredients, or gut a chicken, or trim a lamp or darn the heel of a sock or cook over a wood fire. I saw my father skin a sheep, hang a gate, use a whetstone, milk a cow, build a house with only the simplest of tools and so on - all sights most Westerners never see any more.

When I moved to Asia there were other things to see or to learn: using a hand turned grindstone to make flour, winnowing rice, grating coconuts the traditional way, using a loom, weaving mats by hand, using leaves as plates and countless other ways of living with the natural and making do without the manufactured.

However, if I do need information outside my own knowledge, I delve into one of these two books by John Seymour. A wonderful source of info on everything from making a wooden bucket, or an ice house, or a birch broom to what are the contents of a tinder box.

Titles: The Forgotten Arts: A Practical Guide to Traditional Skills (more about farming and building) and Forgotten Household Crafts (about cooking and housekeeping). The fascinating thing about both books is that he wrote about things he himself could do, or he went to people who still knew how to do these traditional arts and asked them.

 I am going to continue this theme in my next post...and show you some more of the texts I am dipping into for my next books.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

I am officially astonished

The other day I noted a vote going on over at the ASIF site (Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus). It was to find the most popular series by an Oz author. They selected all the authors who have a completed trilogy/series, took one of those and asked readers to vote. Looking at it, I was thinking to myself I'd be hard put to choose which one - when the authors were folk like Karen Miller, Sara Douglass, Juliet Marillier, Jennifer Fallon, Trudi Canavan and so on... My God, with a line-up like that, how on earth could one choose? As my Mirage Makers was also up there, I didn't vote, but quite frankly, I would not have known which to pick.

Anyway, the winner was Sean Williams' Books of the Cataclysm, and as he is one of Australia's most talented SF writers, that was no surprise. What did astonish me was that Mirage Makers was second. Wow. Thank you all those that voted for it.

I may be officially astonished, but today I am also officially one very contented author.