Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Glenda, ranting because she needs feeding...

Subtitle: Why Australian Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews would never make a novelist

What am I doing at the moment?

1] Waiting for some feedback from UK or S.Africa. An email from a reader. An Amazon review. Any review. Something. I am - as I have remarked before - a typically pathetic author in need of sustenance in the form of connection to readers... My progeny is out there and I want to know how it's doing.

2] Making graphs and tables and analyses of interesting stuff like how much the average birder spends on his hobby, or whether birding tourists care about things like air con in their rooms and bars with beer (I kid you not).

3) Shaking my head over an inane statement by the Australian Immigration Minister.

When I was last in UK, attending the Worldcon in Glasgow, I took along my phone and bought a pre-paid SIM card for it so I could keep in contact with my friends in among the 5000 or 6000 people attending the con. When I left UK, I hadn't used up all the credit on the card so I left it behind for a friend.

That simple action could have landed me in jail.

After all, that's all it took to put an Indian doctor in custody in Australia for 3 weeks. When he left the UK, he made the mistake of giving his SIM card to his second cousin, who apparently had some connection to the Glasgow airport bombing. It seems one is now responsible for the actions of your old SIM card?

Then I read something about how they were looking at photos the doctor took of highrise buildings on Australia's Gold Coast. Wow. Real criminal activity, that. Of course, it's actually a bit hard to take photos there without getting the buildings, but still...

They were having a hard job making a case against the doctor, so they cancelled his visa. That way you can hold him on the grounds that he is in the country illegally.

Anyway eventually they had to admit here was no evidence the doctor had done anything at all illegal and they had to release him.

So let me ask you - what would you have done then, if you had been in a foreign country under those circumstances? Think about that for a moment. Seriously.

I know what I would have done. I would have hightailed it out of the country as fast as I could buy a one way ticket back home.

The doctor even had an added incentive - his wife just had a baby he hadn't yet seen.

So what does the Minister for Immigration say as the doctor leaves? He remarks that his behaviour is suspicious. "If anything, that actually heightens rather than lessens my suspicions," says the Minister.

Good God.

The minister could never write a novel. A writer has to get the connection between motives and action.

And Australia should stop traipsing down the same path American is trampling along. If you take away basic freedoms, then what the hell are you trying to protect? Throw away what you've always believed in, then at the end of the day, you may have a hard time trying to see the difference between yourself and the people attacking you.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

For South African and UK readers of fantasy...

Heart of the Mirage will be available at a bookstore near you in a few short days, if not right now. It is already available on amazon.co.uk here

For those of you in Capetown, there's a bookstore called READER'S PARADISE which is having a two-month long "Fantasy Feast" for you over at 71A Kloof St. (My mouth is watering - I wish a bookseller here would do that...) You can buy Heart of the Mirage complete with a signed bookplate.

And if you do read it, please feel free to let me know what you thought (and remember, I shan't blast you if you didn't like the book!!). Or write review on Amazon...

Yesterday I went to a reading by some Malaysian authors and was impressed by the level of talent. Damn, but there are some good writers out there. And courageous ones too, who aren't afraid to stand up and say: this is what I am and you can't change it with your threats or your self-righteous religiosity...

How easy it is sometimes to control people with fear. You don't actually have to do anything; a threat is enough.

I am reading "The Lizard Cage" by Karen Connelly, set in Myanmar. What a tour de force this book is, a portrait of the soaring of a human spirit within in prison in a nation built on fear, where they don't just threaten, but construct an edifice of inhumanity to try to contain what can never be truly caged. Read it. A writer who can tell a tale of such horror and yet leave you feeling hopeful about mankind is a true artist.

Friday, July 27, 2007

I live in a zoo, I swear...

The civets fight and squeal in my ceiling. [I'm told they make very good coffee, as my Orbit editor, Darren Nash, took care to point out to me. He has since decided never to accept a cup of coffee from me.]

The house geckoes and the spotted geckoes fight over the choice places next to the lights, and I have to fight the tree frog for the right to use my shower.

And today, a treeshrew (which does not live in trees and is not a shrew, or a squirrel, or in fact any kind of rodent), set off the burglar alarm by scampering down the passageway after entering through the back window.

Oh, and if you want to know about the coffee, check it our here.

The pix of the treeshrew is from Mamalia Semenanjung Malaysia by a special friend of ours, Mohd Momin Khan, the best book for Peninsular Malaysia mammals, and was drawn by another pal of mine Teh Yew Kiang.

Dig those crazy toenails.

The pix of the frog is from my bathroom.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Proud to be Malaysian

Today I was in the MPH bookshop in Midvalley. I wanted to buy the book "The Gift of Rain" by Malaysian Author Tan Twan Eng, a novel set in war-torn Penang. It is published in UK, and has been reviewed, reasonably favourably, by the Times Literary Supplement. Seems like an author that Malaysia can be proud of, right?

And the bookstore was hung with posters saying: "Proud to be Malaysian". It was a "Buy Malaysian and get a discount" promo...

Now I know I am clueless. All I could remember was that it was by someone surnamed Tan, and I thought Eng was in his personal name. And I couldn't remember the name of the book, but I knew what the story was about and that it was published in UK recently. Should have been enough for them to recognise what book - surely Malaysian bookshops would want to promote that rare commodity, a Malaysian getting overseas attentions and kudos. How many have we had over the past 10 years? Enough to use all the fingers on one hand? And this was a 2007 publication. All told, I asked 4 assistants and they consulted 2 computers - nope, never heard of him or his book.

I eventually found it myself. And I scolded the shop assistants for not living up to their own promo. Tan, I hope they listened.

And we all know the iconic Malaysian hornbill, don't we? Sarawak calls itself "The Land of the Hornbills". The top photo shows a stylised one in front of Mulu National Park with its huge and distinctive curling casque.

The next two photos show the birds at the Mulu Rainforest Lodge, which is the upmarket hotel just outside the park gates. Two more hornbills, right? To show that we are proud of our birdlife. Yeah. Only trouble is, they are toucans. Found in South America.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New Review

I wrote the last post late last night, and first thing this morning a whole lot of emails dropped into my box telling me I had been reviewed by aurealisXpress (the monthly ebulletin for subscribers of Aurealis magazine). Thanks, guys.

And the review is lovely.

Says Stuart Mayne, co-editor of Aurealis:
The final book in Glenda Larke's second fantasy series is a fitting end to a superb creator of new worlds. Once again Glenda Larke has shown the fantasy fan that she is a writer of subtlety and depth.

And he ends the review thus:
The Mirage Makers has been a captivating read. Glenda Larke's plotting is tight and complex; she loves to keep her readers guessing. Perfectly constructed to keep the reader turning the pages. I loved this series.

Hmm. Maybe "creator" in that first quote should read "creation"? :-)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I continue to be over the moon about the reaction to Song of the Shiver Barrens. All my agonising and re-writing evidently paid off, and in the end I must have managed to produce a good book.

I think my favourite comment has to be this one from Fi the Webgoddess:

...she has a wondrous way of zigging when other authors might zag which makes for really refreshing reading. I inhaled this book -- couldn't put it down. I wish there were more...

But then there was Barb, who said:
How did you manage to reduce me to tears not once, not twice but THREE times from page 328 onwards...?

And Tsana who wrote: so many moments where I thought "No! That can't happen!" How do you do it, Glenda? It was heart-wrenchingly brilliant.

So now that I am content with one launch, what do I do? Start worrying about the next one, of course! Heart of the Mirage in the UK ... two weeks ... bite nails ... will anyone buy it? ... they've put the cover up on Amazon ... I've sent off book plates to South Africa ... will anyone over there buy it? ... aaargh ....and if they buy it, will they like it?

I hate waiting.

Monday, July 23, 2007

When outward appearances mean more than a good heart and an honest soul

There were two related articles in this morning's paper that made me wonder about values.

It seems that, to some of us, all that matters is only skin deep. In fact, these people would condemn others - perhaps even condemn them to hell if they got the chance - on the basis of superficial appearance and the clothes they wear.

I can't even describe my distaste for such prejudice and bigotry; there are no words polite enough for this blog. We are supposedly a modern nation, but some of us have the attitudes of a medieval witch hunter. We are supposed to be educated, but some of us are appalling ignorant. Unfortunately, often they are the ones who think they are clever enough to lead the rest of us, even when they lack compassion, as well as learning and understanding.

What has got me so riled?

Article One (from The Star), written by someone who is both wise and compassionate, Chong Sheau Ching:
She writes about tolerance of transsexuals in Thailand and goes on to say this about an incident in Malaysia some time back at an international seminar. "I was enlightened by the doctors' medical explanation about transsexuals. A few local transsexuals gave their personal accounts about the discrimination they faced - being rejected by medical personnel, unable to get employment, and fearing arrest.

"To the transsexuals dismay, a Malaysian woman who holds an important position, openly condemned them and told them to be more religious..."

Hmm. I wish someone had suggested to that bi--, er lady, that she be a little more pious herself, and practise tolerance and understanding and compassion.

A little further on Chong writes how a transsexual and her friends, having tea at home last year were arrested in a raid and some thrown into jail for cross-dressing. Geez - people can't even dress the way they want in their own homes now?

Second was a news item.

The Higher Education Minister was quoted as saying that "soft" men (his words) would not be recruited as teachers, and their application to pursue a degree in education may also be rejected. Later on he made it clear that he meant hetero men who behaved like, wait for it, women (horrors!!). He hastened to say that the move was not meant to discriminate against "soft" men (no? You could have fooled me!) but "was an approach to help them realise that they have deviated from the original path in life."

Huh? What the hell is one's original path in life? And how is discriminating against them - and yes, Mr Minister, it is discrimination - supposed to help them change anything? And why should they change, even if they could? What about the really important things, like integrity and honesty and kindness and intelligence and ability to impart knowledge - aren't they the things we should look for in a teacher? What the hell does it matter if they dress differently or move differently?

I guess he believes being "soft" is contagious. And deviant, of course. Sigh.

[And here's me sitting here in a pair of trousers, wearing one of my husband's T-shirts. You know what, it must be about the only arena in life where women (sometimes) have it better than men. We can cross-dress and still be regarded as normal.

My father - born back in the 19th century, mind you - would have looked at the sarong or sampin worn by the Minister on occasion and asked what on earth the silly fellow wanted to wear a woman's skirt for? How's that for irony?]

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Another fantastic woman interview up


I have just read the second in this Godspeaker series. It is called The Riven Kingdom, and I am still thinking about it - the sign of a great read. It's not out yet, but you can buy Book 1 (above) in Australia. I think Karen Miller is one the most amazingly versatile writers I know - sf media tie-ins, classic fantasy, classic swords & sorcery, comic fantasy - she can and does do it all, and very well indeed. Remember her name.

Drop in here for another Fantastic Women interview by Karen, this time of Rachel Caine.

And now I guess the world is beginning to recover from the Potter hysteria epidemic. Somehow I have been left with a nasty taste in my mouth and I have been trying to analyse why. Instead of celebrating the launch of a long awaited book, we seem to have been deluged by tales of venality, gleeful spoilers, and cynical greed. And depressing accounts of how the whole Potter mania has not added up to a growing readership for books. It seems that for most, it's just a cool thing to do because you can talk/SMS/blog/argue about it afterwards, not because reading a gripping story is satisfying of itself, and something you will want to do again and again with other authors. That is so sad.

Here in Malaysia, the big book chains, who have delighted in undercutting the independent book sellers for quite some time, found themselves the target of similar price cutting. The hypermarkets - so unsporting of them - suddenly announced the day before that they were giving huge price cuts of book 7 . And here they don't usually sell books at all!

So the book chains got together and refused to sell Potter to anyone who hadn't pre-ordered. Nice. I am not sure who I am miffed at here, but somehow I think the consumer will suffer, along with authors, in the end.

And was I out there buying the book? No. Fraid not. They are exactly the kind of book I would have loved to read when I was a kid, but I am not a kid any longer, and there is just so much more out there that I prefer and time is so precious...so I did read the first two, to see what all the fuss was about, and stopped. I am finally grown up...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

On being three.

Something more cheerful today. Yesterday was SO not good. [The car is costing me $RM1,000 today...]

A photo from my grandson's 3rd birthday in Virginia, with his parents. And in just under a month, I will be seeing them all again. Yay!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Malaysia's 50th birthday coming up...

Today I drove the car up to K.L. for a project meeting. And I came home sitting in the cab of a tow truck, bouncing along (no seat belt) in the breeze (no windows) in the sun (no sun visors).

And had real trouble getting anywhere in my housing estate because all the mosque and surau-goers regard the streets as one big parking lot at lunchtime on Friday. They would rather triple park and block the road than walk a few metres. Too bad if you have an emergency - or a towtruck towing a car behind it. We couldn't get anywhere near the workshop where I wanted to leave it. [I am actually quite used to this; they will even block my gateway on occasion.]

And why was this necessary? Because my car screamed every time I went near it.
Something to do with the alarm system or the electricals, I suppose. What is certain, there will be money involved in the repair thereof. Sigh.

More distressing was something in this morning's paper.

After 50 years of independence, we still throw a kid as young as thirteen in a "boy's prison" in Kajang for as little as - allegedly - stealing a handphone. We don't actually know if he did, of course, because there has never been a court case. He won't get sent to a boy's home, or freed, until there is a court case, but the courts are too busy hearing cases of folk who have lawyers and money and who jump the queue.

A boy in the boy's prison won't go to school. Or get out. The family being too poor to pay the bail, he'll just rot, spending what should be the best months - years? - of his life behind bars, uneducated... There are 400 boys in this situation under remand. In other words, they have never been found guilty of anything at all! And even if they were, should we be leaving them in a place that relies on good-hearted volunteers to care for their educational, medical and emotional health? Where is responsible government in all this? I don't blame the prison authorities - they probably do their level best, but they - along with the boys - have been dealt a rotten hand by the system we have given them.

Of course, there are wonderful folk (the paper highlighted an NGO called Shelter Home,) who step in and do their level best to provide some classes and training, dental and medical care and counseling, and will even try to provide bail, legal help and such.

But why should this be necessary?

Shame on you Malaysia!
After 50 years of nationhood this is how we treat our wayward youth? What are we trying to do - turn them into resentful, angry adults without the wherewithall to get a decent job as adults?

Next time you get robbed, ask yourself what it was that helped to shape the nature of the thief's boyhood. Perhaps it was your indifference.

Happy birthday, Malaysia.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Orbiting...read the first chapter

Orbit have started promoting Heart of the Mirage here. They have also put up the first chapter here in an easy-to-read type. If you are from the UK, you can now pre-order, or look out for the book in your local bookstore in about two weeks time. If you are from the US, you can order it from Amazon.co.uk, or wait until Amazon.com gets their act together and puts it up.

Here are some extracts of reviews of the Australian edition:
Scott Moore,
The Adelaide Advertiser: "This skilfully written work may be fantasy, but the issues at its heart - political expediency, cultural imperialism and intolerance - are shamefully real." He ends the review with: "Bring on part two."

Donna Hanson, Specusphere:
On the writing: ...so vivid and solid that at times it leaves me breathless or just plain green with envy.
On the main character: Ligea is fearless, bloodthirsty, vicious, sexy and determined...
This character’s conflict and transformation was entirely convincing and satisfying to read.

On the world: ... has aspects of Havenstar’s inventiveness, with an interactive landscape that is highly imaginative and entertaining.

Jason Nahrung, Brisbane Courier-Mail.

Glenda Larke…has again managed to add a thoughtful twist to the fantasy genre.
Larke provided a refreshing approach in her previous Isles of Glory trilogy, and her new release, Heart of the Mirage continues to engage.
At the end of the review he adds this:
Larke presents an examination of the ethics of imperialism and disenfranchisement. It is no accident the story is dedicated to Australia's Stolen Generation and the Disappeared Ones of Argentina.

Mark Timmony, Galaxy specialist bookstore, Sydney:

Larke has granted the reader a near-perfect escape into a breathtaking adventure. Heart of the Mirage is so real, your pulse will race and your breath catch...
The review ends with this: To my mind, Larke’s self-assurance, insight and guts - much in the tradition of Robin Hobb, Carol Berg and even Elizabeth Moon - firmly places her on the list as one of the very best Australian writers of fantasy fiction.

Lucy Sussex, The Melbourne Age
For those jaded with genre fantasy, Larke provides fare that is fresh, strange and intriguing.

So, what are you waiting for? Go order it! (And don't forget to tell me what you thought afterwards...)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Reminder of times past...

Right: Dr Mohamed ElBaradei and my husband, question time at the lecture...

My husband was once the Deputy-Director General of the UN International Atomic
Energy Agency (AIEA), and so today he found
introducing one of his former staff at a lecture hosted by the National Academy
of Science here in Kuala Lumpur. That gentleman went on to be the present Director-General of the agency, winning the nobel peace prize (joint-winner with the IAEA), for for their work producing evidence for some very dumb politicians - only to have them disdain to believe what they were told and shown. You know the ones I mean: their popularity ratings have sunk rather low of late. Unfortunately too late for the security of the world and the thousands upon thousands of people who have died and who are still dying.

Dr MohamedElbaradei gave an excellent speech on the dignity of nations and the future for nuclear power. Yes, as an environmentalist, I do support nuclear power.

It's a lousy photo of my husband giving the introduction...
The last two photos are of a couple of friends talking to Dr ElBaradei - Dato' Salleh Nor, whom I know very well because he was president of the Malaysian Nature Society for many years, and who is now Secretary of the Academy, and in the last photo, Tan Sri Halim who was the Malaysian Ambassador when we were in Vienna, whose kids were at school with ours, and in whose lovely home (in the 18th Bezirk, if I remember correctly) we had many an enjoyable evening.

Ah, nostalgia. Would I could go back to Wien, for a visit. In winter, walking up Beethovengang behind our house just after a snowfall ... magic. Or in the spring when everything comes alive with astonishing suddenness. Or in summer, riding a bicycle along the Donauinsel with the insects rising from the grass like mist in the sun. Or in autumn when the leaves change colour and the fogbound mornings turn cold, and shops stop selling icecream and put out the Krapfen instead ...

Wie geht's, jetz?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

High in Orbit....

Well, that's the way I feel. Honestly.

Late last night my husband came in from Kota Kinabalu and brought with him the Orbit (UK) edition of Heart of the Mirage, book 1 of The Mirage Makers. It had been sent to our apartment there, but I was already back here in Selangor. So I had to wait until he flew in and I could get my hot little hands on it.

Isn't it just BEAUTIFUL?

There's a great quote from Kate Elliott, one of my own favourite authors, on the front. And they have done a really neat thing too - they have put a tiny image of the cover of Book 2 on the back.

In just two or three weeks time, all you folk over there in the UK should be able to buy it in your local bookstores. You can order it right now, in fact. You are the wonderful readers who put Havenstar on the Amazon bestseller list for a couple of weeks back in 1999, so how about giving this one a try too?

Here's what someone wrote after reading the Australian edition of Heart of the Mirage for the second time:
Anything that is so compelling it keeps me awake until all hours when I ALREADY KNOW WHAT HAPPENS is darn good reading imo!

End of promo.

Just go order the thing, and when you have read it, don't forget to put me out of my misery and tell me what you thought - good, bad or indifferent, it doesn't matter. I am a writer who believes in the wisdom of listening to all feedback.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Going home to Swancon 2008

I lived the first 24 years of my life in Australia; Western Australia to be exact. Since then, the longest time I have spent in Oz was about 7 months or so, which I have done a couple of times.

I have lived, all told, about 29 years in Malaysia (18 months of that in Borneo); almost 7 years in Vienna, Austria; and two years in Tunis, Tunisia.

That's no less than 4 continents and a very large island... So where is home?

Well, I think I found out when the West Australian Science Fiction Foundation (WASFF) invited me to be a guest at the next Swancon 2008 (which in 2008 also happens to be the Australian National Convention for science fiction and fantasy).

Quite frankly, I'm delighted to be invited to be a guest at any sff convention, but the idea that my home town issued the invitation just bowled me over.

It is especially meaningful on a number of levels:
  1. W.A. is where I grew up. It is "home" in that special way that no other place can ever be.
  2. They invited me in a year when Swancon is also a national convention.
  3. Swancon was the first sff con I ever went to, back in 2003. I attended knowing no one, in trepidation, thinking I would be out of place, or lonesome, or something. I was made welcome, met some fantastic people, was made to feel as if I belonged. I realised right then that I was a con junkie. If I had the money I'd go to one every couple of months...
  4. Because I am from West Australia, the invitation seemed to be an acknowledgment to a local "made good", a tribute from the home team. [They may not have meant it, but that's how it feels...don't disabuse me, will you?]
So you folk from W.A., I am looking forward to being a guest at Swancon. Very much. Thank you for the invite. I can't wait for Easter March 20-24! Besides, I get to meet Ken Macleod and Paul Cornell.

How cool is that?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Counting words

Exploring Malaysia on this avitourism project was tremendous fun, even if I did lose pints of blood to leeches and ruin two pairs of trekking shoes and a pair of sandals, not to mention my knees. Trouble is, after the fun bit ends, you have a project paper to write. A huge project paper, sort of along the the lines of a BFF*. Ok, well maybe not that big, but still.

As I am sick of entering birding tour itineraries (for people who have WAAAAY more money than I have) into a database on a Sunday afternoon, I shall proceed to play with that lovely word-counting thingimijig. As this can't be of interest to anyone but me, you can stop reading now.

This is for Drouthlord, first book of the Random Rain Quartet.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
147,000 / 180,000

Wow, its 81% DONE.
Nah - it lies in its wormy bronze teeth...

As I had not looked at it since 2002, I am going through it rewriting as I go. And if you look at how much I have done of that, the little thingymijig doesn't look so healthy...

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
13,002 / 180,000

Does anyone but the author concerned really want to know all this?

*Big Fat Fantasy

Recycle your plastic bags

Here's how they do it in Merudu, Sabah.

These flying objects are not birds, they are plastic bags on strings, flying in the wind over the ricefields to keep the pesky seed-eating birds away from the ripening grain.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

No complaints from me!

Over at Pubrants, the site of a very sensible and entertaining literary agent, Kristin from Denver says in part:

Tip of the Day: In the course of your publishing career, know that one or all of these things might happen to you at some time.

1. A Bad cover
2. A low advance
3. A book that doesn’t quite reach its projected sales potential
4. Writer’s block while on a deadline
5. Another author being jealous or spiteful of or to you
6. An editor leaving
7. A contract cancelled

I have been receiving some commiseration about the fact that I have not signed a new contract for a new book, so I think I ought to say this - I am not upset or worried or alarmed. In the publishing world things often happen slowly. I can remember Trudi Canavan mentioning to me at one stage how she was without a new contract ... and just a month or two later she was signing a 4-book contract that would make any writer's bank manager swoon in delight.

Bad things do happen on a regular basis to authors and their books. They are just as often balanced out by the good things, as Kristin points out in her blog post.

I have an excellent series coming up with The Random Rain Quartet. It will sell.
Next month, The Mirage Makers comes out in UK with Orbit Books.
I have The Isles of Glory trilogy coming out in trade paperback in France soon.
Russian readers seem to love my stuff even if the publishers do seem capable of wildly inappropriate covers.
In Australia, the feedback coming in on the Song of the Shiver Barrens seems 100% positive.
I have more than enough positive feedback from all over the world to know that I write good books that readers love.
Hey, with all that, I'm over the moon! Who wouldn't be happy?

I loved Kristen's list, though. Let's take a look at it from the perspective of my personal history...

  • Bad cover
Oh, boy, yes... Bad in the sense that it gives the reader the wrong impression about the kind of book they are buying (chicklit swords and sorcery anyone?), or just plain dull (Havenstar cover).
But I've had terrific covers too. Just wait till you see the Orbit ones...

  • A low advance
Yep, also had that one.

  • A book that doesn’t quite reach its projected sales potential
Yep, all the time...but I am patient.
Besides, not every author can say that they have had some of their out-of-print mass market paperbacks selling for over 110 US$ on the US market and more than 92 pounds sterling in UK!!

  • Writer’s block while on a deadline
No, I can't say I've ever had writer's block exactly. But I have had a book that just wouldn't come out right until way past the deadline.

  • Another author being jealous or spiteful of or to you
No, I can't say I've struck this one yet. Maybe because I haven't been successful enough? Generally, I've found other authors to be tremendously helpful and kind and generous and fun. I've stayed in their homes (thanks Trudi!) and had numerous invitations to do so that I haven't yet taken up. I've had them publicly praise and/or promote my work for no reason except that they liked my writing (Karen Miller, Russell Kirkpatrick, Kate Forsyth, Jenny Fallon, Alma Alexander, Juliet Marillier, to name a few. Thanks guys!). I've had them write blurb for my books with genuine delight (Trudi Canavan, Kate Elliott).
I have heard cases where authors were less than generous to others, regarding them as competitors rather than colleagues, but my experience tells me that is rare, rather than common.

  • An editor leaving
Yes. The publisher of Havenstar had a perfect rash of editors leaving.
And an editor's departure is why my German translation of Isles of Glory is languishing.

  • A contract cancelled
Hmmm...not yet. I am wondering what will happen with the German translation, though. Keeping my fingers crossed it will be rejuvenated.

Getting published is a wonderful up and down ride, never dull. I'm not complaining.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Converting the reader who hates fantasy

As I have said before, I belong to a book reading group that has been around, continuously, for more than 40 years.

The only member who has been there since the beginning doesn't like fantasy. She has, however, as a special concession to me, been reading [struggling through?] my books. She didn't much like the first, Havenstar. "I didn't understand what was going on," she said after reading it. "What's with all that magic stuff? It's not real!" Each successive book has been nibbling away at her resistance.

Nine years further down the line, she has just finished book number seven, Song of the Shiver Barrens. As usual, she approached it with trepidation. She told me that she was still saying to herself, as she sat down to begin, "Oh dear, not another fantasy I've got to read..."

Eight pages into the book, she found she was right back into the story and enjoying it. She reached the end, as she described it, "with tears in my eyes. Glenda, with talent like that, I think you could write anything at all."

One of these days I will get her to admit that she likes fantasy. Another four or five books should do it, I think...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Song of Shiver Barrens reviewed

I have just seen the first review of Song of the Shiver Barrens. It is up on Specusphere, and you can read it here. Thank you, Satima! I think I will write a post some time on the point she made about using vocab from real cultures. She has a very valid point and I have been giving a lot of thought to addressing this issue more carefully in The Random Rain Quartet.

Mostly the review is balm to a writer's soul...

In this, Glenda Larke’s seventh book, the author shows us yet again what a magnificent gift she has for world-building.....Larke has demonstrated in previous books that she not only has one of the best imaginations in the business but that she also has a strong social conscience and this is shown as clearly as ever in the latest opus.

And later the paragraph I like best:

This premise looks like the start of still another all-too-unsurprising coming-of-age novel, but Larke has given the situation such twists and turns that by the end of the book the trope is almost completely turned on its ear, and Song of the Shiver Barrens is a better book by far because of it. Like Arrant’s powers, it is completely unpredictable and readers can expect to be glued to their seats until the final page is turned.

:-) I love surprising readers.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

When you can't get a drink of water...

I am now working on my next book, DROUTHLORD. I am hoping to have it completed by the end of the year. [Where does one get those nifty counter/percentage completed thingies that other writers seem to put up on their blogs??] Okay, so I am not starting from scratch. I started it back in 2002, but it was shelved in order to work on books that were contracted for.

So far, everyone who has read it thinks it's the best thing yet - but I haven't sold it anywhere. Ironies abound in my life, especially when it comes to my writing life...

It is all about the magic of water and the pain of not having enough of it, so I guess I am a bit sensitive to anything about water at the moment. As a consequence, when I was sitting in Nando's in MidValley the other day, ordering lunch, I ended up fuming.

I asked for plain tap water. What I got was mineral water in a bottle. I refused it. I loathe the waste of resources that go into packaging water in this fashion, then delivering it, when we have perfectly good, treated water coming out of our taps. No one who cares about the proper use of the world's resources should buy mineral water unless it is necessary.

So I said, No - I'll take tap water.
[The waiter then assumed I was a tourist as everyone does to my constantly repeated frustration. No, not everyone with a white skin is a tourist, mate.] Anyway, he said, In this country we can't drink water from the tap. Not safe.
Now that is a lie.
Whether he knew he was lying and just wanted me to pay for water, I don't know.
I got mad and told him what he said was not true. He was denigrating the public services of his country.
He went away, but he didn't get any water. He sent the manager instead, who told me quite bluntly that they would not give me tap water. I could buy it in a bottle.

I went without a drink.

And I decided I will never eat in Nando's again - and I am asking you all not to eat there either, at least until they change their policy of refusing their customers water.

And here, to whet [wet?] your appetite is the first paragraph in the first book of The Random Rain Quartet. Who knows, it may be the only paragraph you ever get a chance to read..

It was the last night of her childhood.

Terrell, unknowing, thought it was just another busy evening in Mattie’s Snuggery. Crowded and noisy and hot, the rooms were hazy with the fumes from the keproot pipes of the addicted and thick with the smell of the resins smouldering in the censers. Smoky blue tendrils curled through the archways, spreading conviviality as they blurred the air.

Everything as usual.

Terrell's job was to collect the dirty plates and mugs and take them back to the kitchen, in an endless round from sunset until the blackness of night dissolved under the cold fingers of pre-dawn. Her desire was to be unnoticed at the task.

Her dream was to escape her future as one of Mattie’s girls.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

More from Mulu - the Melinau River

Rapids and still waters. Sun sparkles on the surface. Glimpses of distant mountains, close encounters with limestone cliffs. Penan children splashing in water so clear you can see every pebble on the river bottom. Remoteness, the river a lifeline in a land without roads.

Egrets and Lesser Fish-eagles flap away from the boat, and I have never seen such magic dragonflies, flashing colour like fireworks as they catch the sun....

Mulu. Go there.

Monday, July 09, 2007

May in Mulu...

Remember, you can click on the photos to make them larger.

Apart from telling you that I am basking in the knowledge that the final book of the Mirage Makers trilogy, Song of the Shiver Barrens in now number ten on the bestsellers list in the speciality bookshop in Sydney, Galaxy, I am not going to mention writerly stuff.

Instead I am going to return to May when I went walkabout in Mulu. Mulu is a World Heritage Site and a national park in Sarawak, East Malaysia, and it has been having a hard time recently because the airlines serving it don't seem able to get their act together, which is a real shame because it is a breathtaking spot... [One flight we took had 4 passengers and we had to distribute ourselves around the plane to balance it!] Mulu is famous for its caves and its bats, but really it could be just as well known for its scenery and its rivers and its forests. The birdlife wasn't half bad, either. We saw the rare Hose's Broadbill on a fruiting figtree, along with well over 100 other species.

The first photo shows where we stayed inside the Park, at a reasonable amount in great comfort. the last is an Agamid lizard, and yes, that stick like bit it its tail. It was about 40 cm [15"] long from tailtip to nose.