|Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 02:03 pm: |
Firstly, thank you NS for providing this space, and thank you Jeff for letting me in. So here are the walls, and here are the crayons...
I've recently published my first novel, The Etched City (Prime Books, Feb 2003). In my opinion it's a fantasy and, essentially, a comedy; but people have said it's dark, decadent, grim and disturbing. So I feel like I'm doing good in the world.
I've put info about it, including an extract, on my website here:
Apart from that, I'm working on another novel, and I occasionally write short stories. I'm pretty excited because recently I made my first US story sale to Album Zutique, which is coming soon from the Ministry of Whimsy (and is how I got to be here on the NS message boards).
The story's called Maldoror Abroad. I read Maldoror at an impressionable age - it was recommended to me by a lecturer who dutifully warned me of the possible dangers - and a few years later I found 'Isidore', a fictional biography of Isidore Ducasse, Maldoror's author, by the poet Jeremy Reed. If anyone knows of any other Maldoror or Ducasse-related literature, I'd love to hear about it.
|Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 02:23 pm: |
Hi! I didn't know about the Reed book--that sounds excellent. I'll have to check that out.
|Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 02:39 pm: |
I enjoyed it. It's nothing like Maldoror to read, which is fair enough, considering that it's supposed to be by Ducasse (I should have said 'autobiography'), not Maldoror himself or even Lautreamont. But it's very well written, and the opening scene where Ducasse is interviewed in the Sahara for some reason makes me think of Jerry Cornelius. In fact, I see Maldoror as a Jerry-like character who could be resurrected and sent out into all sorts of escapades. I see him with his own cartoon show, something like The Maxx or Aeon Flux. But that's just me.
|Posted on Friday, February 21, 2003 - 06:03 am: |
KJ: I really enjoyed The Etched City. Are you working on another novel now?
|Posted on Friday, February 21, 2003 - 08:44 am: |
I'm 100 pages into Etched City and I think it's a great first novel. I'm also supremely psyched by the thought that in Album Zutique we're publishing "Maldoror Abroad," which is just a brilliant story.
|Posted on Friday, February 21, 2003 - 08:45 am: |
I picked up Etched City on a whim and was most impressed.
|Posted on Friday, February 21, 2003 - 10:48 am: |
Thanks for the support, folks. I'm working on another one - another two, actually - but both are on hold while I finish up a rather long story that I'm submitting to an anthology. I'm a slow writer.
The stuff I'm working on is still fantasy, but it's different from Etched City. A little more surreal, and quite a bit less violent. I'm trying to let myself just experiment and not worry too much about what people say when it's finished. That isn't arrogance, I hope; I feel I need a bit of time to play around and learn, and accept that sometimes I'm just going to make a mess.
I'm still turning somersaults about Album Zutique :-)
David: Etched City hasn't been out for very long, so you might be my first 'whimsical' reader. Thank you for having taken the time to read it.
|Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 09:27 am: |
Hi there, KJ! :-)
I am so intrigued with your work now that I am definitely getting ETCHED CITY as soon as I can get some money together. Glad you are with Prime Books, they are definitely good folks!
|Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 03:22 pm: |
BTW--you knew this question would be asked eventually. How do you like the Crocodile Hunter being the Australian cultural envoy to the world?
|Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 03:38 pm: |
Jeff, I'm resigned to it. First it was Crocodile Dundee, then it was the Crocodile Hunter. For the next incarnation, I think it ought to just be a bloody crocodile. I have the greatest respect for crocodiles, and I only hope that, when the human race destroys itself, the lack of human flesh does not too greatly incommode the crocodiles of the world.
On a more serious note, I wish a bit more international recognition would go to dropbear hunters, who actually do useful work.
|Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 03:43 pm: |
Okay--what are dropbear hunters? And what is a dropbear?
|Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 04:32 pm: |
A dropbear is a marsupial, related to the koala. It is larger, more agile, and not nearly as cute. If you've seen pictures of a Tasmanian Devil, think of a very big one of those. Dropbears are carnivorous. In fact, I think they're the only non-extinct carnivorous marsupial. (Back in the days of the megafauna there were giant carnivorous kangaroos, but they died out with the other big animals when the land dried out at the end of the last ice age.)
Anyway, dropbears are aggressive buggers who will go for anything, including people. They drop down from the trees, land on their prey and get to work. They don't kill many people, but they maul plenty every year. They might be as much of a danger to campers here as bears are in America.
And dropbear hunters hunt them. They're usually the guys who hunt feral dogs and cats, and as dropbears are not a protected species these guys hunt them too. They are just one of the delightful creatures we have here in Oz, along with the stinging jellyfish, the blue-ringed octopus and all the poisonous snakes and spiders. (And the crocodiles.) It's no wonder most of us live in cities.
|Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 05:41 pm: |
Wow! A malevolent marsupial that I know nothing about! (Discounting, of course, the apparent bad intent of our sole American marsupials - the 'possums - that seem intent on causing automobile accidents as they amble across busy streets, like lethargic kamikazes.)
After some preliminary research, I discovered that Vegemite is the only proven dropbear repellent. Could not find any information on what brand to use, how much to apply, and where to apply, however. Even with the dubious security of a Vegemite layer, I may just have to curtail my next trip downunder.
There was a rumor also that playing Men at Work on one's "outback-blaster" can help to keep the beasts at bay. Is this true?
|Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 07:06 pm: |
Peter, I am glad to see someone taking the dropbear problem seriously. Tourists come here, thinking it's all going to be fun and frolics with the jolly Aussies and the amusing animals, and then there's international tsk-tsking when we have to send young Hans or Maria's gnawed, bleached bones back to the parents in placky bags.
Regarding Vegemite: Your research is solid. Vegemite was first developed as a dropbear repellent. Its edibility (about which there is, in fact, still some doubt voiced by a small rabble of unprogressive weaklings who believe food should taste pleasant) was only discovered by accident. There is only one brand, so no confusion there. Do not ever imagine that marmite or some other inferior foreign clone product will work. The Vegemite must be smeared all over the body, in a layer no less than half an inch thick. Do not neglect the scalp, eyelids, ears, nostrils, genitals, and the soles of the feet. The inside of the mouth may be left bare, as long as the mouth is shut (which it will be, to keep out the flies.)
Clothes may then be worn on top, or not, as you like. No dropbear has ever dropped, either maliciously or by accident, onto a person thus besmeared in Vegemite. And when you have left the dropbear-infested area, you can scrape your Vegemite off, spread it on toast, and enjoy the bracing flavour, which some have likened to a mixture of salt and No-Doz.
Regarding the playing of Men at Work on one's outback-blaster: Whoever initiated this rumour is a dangerous lunatic. First of all, you might wake up a sleeping dropbear. You never want to do that. Second, dropbears hate Men at Work. When dropbears hate something, they want to destroy it and anyone who aids and abets it, which would be you. They won't just see you as food. They'll see you as an enemy to be killed even if they're not particularly hungry. Finally, playing Men at Work may well drive away other people who might otherwise have been around to rescue you in the event of a dropbear dropping.
|Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 07:16 pm: |
If, in addition to dropbears, anyone would like to learn more about Australia's only quite recently extinct megafauna, there is a nice page with pictures here:
N.B. The echidna they describe as 'very large' was only as big as a sheep, in case the description inspires visions of a cute ball of spiny joy the size of a grand piano.
|Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 09:59 pm: |
I realise that some of the comments I made about Vegemite could be considered unpatriotic. In fact, I love Vegemite. For real. And none of this wussy spread-it-thin-with-lots-of-butter crap. Vegemite should be smeared, in abundance, directly onto the tongue and left to dissolve in the mouth.
|Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 10:59 pm: |
>No dropbear has ever dropped, either maliciously or by accident, onto a person thus besmeared in Vegemite.<
i imagine that smearing yourself in vegemite will keep you safe from a world of things... perhaps even death itself.
you're totally right about the way to eat vegemite though. eat it like nutella or peanut butter. use the spoon and sit down with the jar in front of the telly.
it can even be used during sex. quite the aphrodisiac. (and it doubles as a safty net if you're afraid of dropbears getting you while having sex in the woods, naturally.)
|Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 11:37 pm: |
>i imagine that smearing yourself in vegemite will keep you safe from a world of things... perhaps even death itself.<
Mummification? Maybe the unguents the Egyptians used were in fact the earliest form of vegemite?
Maybe it'd work as a wrinkle cream. Buy up big jars of V, put a bit of perfume in to take the edge off the smell, and sell it in pretty pots for a hundred times the price.
Wrinkle cream, aphrodisiac, dropbear repellent and embalming fluid all in one. I hear it's good for tinea and bedsores, too. We are indeed the lucky country.
I am even inspired to versify...
O mine eyes have seen the glory of a jar of vegemite,
It's the black thing in the cupboard that absorbeth all the light,
It tastes like motor oil and we eat it day and night,
Our spoons keep digging on...
|Posted on Thursday, March 13, 2003 - 02:35 am: |
i refuse to versify about vegemite...
'It's like the country is searching for oil,
But more than that they say it cures a boil,
Just slap it on our Mothers said and sit in the soil
But make sure it's the kind that's black day and night,
Kin to the Vegemite...'
|Posted on Thursday, March 13, 2003 - 01:32 pm: |
Finally I am beginning to get the big picture.
And I now realize that Yeats had some inkling of the existence of the dropbear, but was -- alas! -- unable to really get it right in his oft-quoted poem, "The Second Coming". I've taken the liberty of fixing it for him:
Surely some mutilation is at hand;
Surely the Fatal Descent is at hand.
The Fatal Descent! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Eucalyptan grove
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the outback sand
A shape with koala body and the head of a demon,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is climbing tall boughs, while all about it
Slide shadows of the indifferent goannas.
The darkness fast descends; and I know at once
That 'twas not Vegemite I slathered on this morn,
But marmite, which vexeth Dropbear to ire,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches toward Sydney, tourist-ward?
What is it about 'Strilya that so stirs the poet's soul? (Someone needs to fix that last line, though)
And though you've made an ample case for the celestial substance Vegemite, well, I'm hoping the anticipation of sampling some of this wondrous substance will be sweet enough to make the eventual tasting a letdown.
Thanks KJ and ben: you made my day!
P.S. Is Vegemite the same as "Midnight Oil"? Given the black/oil references above, you've got me wondering...
|Posted on Thursday, March 13, 2003 - 03:23 pm: |
Peter, your correction of Yeats' poorly expressed vision of a dropbear is a great service to literature, history and simple fact.
Re the last line:
I can't think of one about dropbears, though I can offer this for vegemite:
And what rough yeast, its hour come round at last,
Ferments towards vegemite on the lawn?
(vegemite is made of fermented yeast extract. I don't know why it is on the lawn. But vegemite is as likely to be on the lawn as anywhere.)
I don't think it's related to Midnight Oil, though it sometimes gets called the Black Gold.
Ben might know more, though...
|Posted on Thursday, March 13, 2003 - 06:14 pm: |
er... isn't midnight oil a band? (well, were a band. they broke up recently.) i don't think i've heard it called it that, though i've heard people call it black gold, though usually not seriously.
my knowledge of vegemite is pretty limited though. i eat it, i can sing 'i'm a happy little vegemite,' and i know that, like the cockroaches, it will survive the bomb.
|Posted on Thursday, March 13, 2003 - 06:34 pm: |
Midnight Oil are another band you probably shouldn't play within the hearing of dropbears...
But I always assumed they got the name from the idea of 'burning the midnight oil.'
I don't know if vegemite burns. I'm going to go and find out right now. Nope. I couldn't set it on fire. It might have caught light eventually, but it was getting pretty stinky, so I stopped trying.
Add 'possible fire retardant' to V's list of properties.
|Posted on Thursday, March 13, 2003 - 09:15 pm: |
Would you be prepared - ex tempore, I know - to dilate on the differences between vegemite and marmite? [vander]Meermite? Echidnmite? That anything like Monkey Butter?
|Posted on Thursday, March 13, 2003 - 09:39 pm: |
Vegemite is the dark matter that holds the universe together. Marmite is a sandwich spread.
When you gaze into the VanderMeermite, it gazes back at you, though it has no eyes.
Echidnamite is a nostrilian parasite that looks just like an echidna but is small enough to get right up your nose (and into your yummy, yummy brain).
I don't know nothin' 'bout no Monkey Butter.
|Posted on Saturday, March 22, 2003 - 04:33 am: |
Intrigued by your post regarding The Hearing Trumpet at Jeff VanderMeer's board, I bought a copy and finished it just now. Wow, what a fun! Thank you very much for the tip.
Later I found it was already translated into Japanese in late 70's (yes, I'm Japanese), and it would be reprinted this July after a quarter of a century. Good books survive.
|Posted on Sunday, March 23, 2003 - 09:58 pm: |
Glad you enjoyed it, Montmorency. It's nice to think that good books survive. The other day I was in a secondhand book shop, a little place absolutely crammed full of old books, and I wondered how many of these were good books that I would never read. I wondered who, if anyone, would eventually buy them... and well, I did buy a few.
|Posted on Monday, March 24, 2003 - 05:04 am: |
I can confirm. Vandermeermite is like staring into the abyss.
KJ, good to see you here.
|Posted on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 12:06 pm: |
Re the dropbears--do they come in packs, pods, squadrons, schools, prides, or...? (If this important question has already been answered, my apologies.)
|Posted on Saturday, February 21, 2004 - 11:29 pm: |
They come as single spies, Jeff... but on the rare occasions that they form parties, the party is known as a mob. (In Aboriginal English, the word 'mob' is used for 'group'.)
|Posted on Saturday, February 28, 2004 - 08:22 am: |
Package arrived. Funny timing, since a couple of days ago I took out Etched City (I'm the only person left on the planet who hasn't read it). Except then I took out Haunting of Hill House to read first. Etched City will follow.
|Posted on Monday, March 01, 2004 - 07:53 pm: |
I found all that signing quite a soothing way to pass a few hours. It was work, but it didn't involve thinking, which was rather nice.
I haven't really read Etched City, either! I'm going through the manuscript for the revised edition now, but I can't just sit down and read the thing.