alan baxter headshot

alan baxter headshot

Written by: Alan Baxter

Publishing has never been a straightforward business, but in the old days it was less confusing. The avenues to publication were restricted and everyone had to follow more or less the same procedure. The “gatekeepers” established the rules and we had no choice but to dance to their tune. These days, more opportunity than ever exists to get published, but more isn’t always better. More opportunity can be better if you arm yourself with knowledge. I’m certainly no expert – in all honesty, no one really knows all there is to know about publishing any more – but I do have a wide range of experience, spanning all kinds of deals over some fifteen years. My takeaway from it all? Hybrid is best.

I’d had some moderate success in the small press with my first two novels and with some short fiction in the early years of my career. I’d also dabbled in self-publishing, initially with my first novel, then that got picked up by a US-based small press, and I subsequently self-published a novella and a non-fiction book.

Then, in 2013, I signed a three-book deal with HarperCollins under the Voyager imprint here in Australia. That’s my “Big 5” legacy publisher series. Since then I’ve signed a variety of deals with a variety of publishers of differing size, most recently a third book deal with Grey Matter Press in the US. I plan to continue chasing Big 5 deals, I will continue to publish with the small press, and I have other self-publishing plans for the future too.

There are dangers and benefits of building a career with all these methods, but I think the biggest danger is building a career with only one of them.

As a caveat, this is of course all based on my personal experience and observing the business going on around me. Other people will have vastly differing experiences and opinions and they’re probably not wrong. I’ve screwed up and I’ve got lucky, as have many. It’s good to remember that old adage: If you can’t be a role model, be a warning to others. It’s always been a truth of publishing that there are no hard and fast right ways of doing anything. People have seen success and failure with a plethora of approaches.

What decisions should you make and why? Breaking into the Big 5 can be really hard. Staying in with the Big 5 can be equally hard! There are a literal metric fucktonne of publishers out there in the small to mid-sized indie playing field. Some of them are kicking goals and building fantastic author careers. Some of them… are not. Then there’s self-publishing with all its inherent problems and benefits.

So how do you figure out where to go with your precious word baby? It partly comes down to what you’re willing to do, and what you’re willing to accept. If you plan to hold out for the Big 5 deal no matter what, good for you. Best of luck! If you’re keen to be an entrepreneur and business-person as well as an author, self-publishing might rock your world. If you want your work out there but can’t crack the Big 5 and don’t want to do all the business and technical side, building a name in the small press might be the route for you. Over the years, as your career and your back catalogue builds, you might find yourself like me, with a finger in all those places.

When it comes down to it, the only thing that will give you a career is people talking about your work. That leads to people reading it and buying more and talking about it some more, and the feedback loop is under way. This is why I exhort people to always talk up books they’ve enjoyed. Word of mouth from enthusiastic readers is worth more than any marketing budget most of us will ever see. If you’re trying to get noticed in the online marketplace, that’s a sea of noise to navigate. You need other voices to amplify your own. A lot of books either aren’t noticed at all or they flare young and die, rather than bursting onto a scene and growing. All the books you know about are the ones which did well. All the others, and there are SO many, well, you don’t know about them, do you?

So really, any career in writing is about getting noticed. Think about the options, learn about the different paths you can take, and the pros and cons of them all, then make informed decisions that best suit you. You’ll make mistakes, but learn and move on. The only single truth of any publishing route is this: The successful ones didn’t quit.

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tmclark headshot

tmclark headshot

Written by: TM Clark

What do Hannibal Lecter, Cruella de Vil, Darth Vader, The Sheriff of Nottingham, The Joker, Norman Bates, Bellatrix Lestrange and Gollum have in common?

Answer: All villains.

But they are so much more than just villains. They’re Supervillains. Amazing villains. Despicable and atrocious villains. Characters we hate.

Or is it that we can’t help loving them a little as well and despite all their flaws, and despicableness, we want them to turn from the ‘dark side’ or die as retribution for being who they are? Or maybe not…

What makes a villain so appealing to our readers, that they keep coming back for more, book after book?

Hannibal Lector is the villain in four thrillers: Red Dragon (1981), The Silence of the Lambs (1988), Hannibal (1999), and Hannibal Rising (2006). Throughout these books, we get to know him as more than just a cannibal. He’s intelligent, he’s manipulative, a charming character, an enigma in our civilized society, and we try to understand why such a man became a monster … and in doing so, we want Starling to catch and stop Buffalo Bill even more. Villains are so much more than just a figure put in to make your hero look good.

Villains – anti-heroes – are characters created by writers.
CREATED… sometimes there might be a grain of truth in the characters, but mostly, they spring from the imagination of the writer.

Any writer can create them.

The trick is to learn how to create them well.

Make no mistake, in films adaptations, the actors who portray a villain and bring them onto the big screen help these characters to become legends. After all, Thomas Harris might have penned Hannibal Lector from his mind and onto the page. But, it was Anthony Hopkins who made Hannibal a household name when he added his own interpretation to the character in the movie. Thomas Harris had to not only imagine Hannibal but live with him inside his head for the duration of writing all four of the Hannibal books. He had to create him for Anthony Hopkins to take on the role. When I began this article, I had to look up the name of the author. But I knew the character.

My point?

People remember the characters. They fall in love with them or learn to hate them.

“A census taker tried to quantify me once. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a big Amarone. Go back to school, little Starling.”
― Thomas Harris – Silence of the Lambs

Who wouldn’t be terrified when confronted with this type of monster anywhere other than inside the covers of a book?

All things considered, it’s the amazing ability of a good writer to create a character, who will endure, in the reader’s imagination, long after the book is closed.

As a writer, you strive to create an amazing anti-hero, a character strong if not stronger, than your hero. So that in the pivotal moment, the villain can hold the hero’s life close to damnation, and your reader’s heart will flutter.

Learning ways to improve the characteristics needed for a scrumptious villain in the world you create, is pivotal to moving a book from average, to beyond great – to memorable.

___

To learn how you can write villains that are memorably terrifying, come along to QWC’s workshop, Create the Perfect Villain on November 16. Don’t miss out – book your tickets now!

B._Michael_Radburn_Photo cover shot

B._Michael_Radburn_Photo cover shotI turned the milestone age of 60 this year, which caused me to pause and consider the three ages of writing that I’ve lived through in that time. A metaphorical archaeological dig uncovered the Bic Age, the Remington Age and, of course, the recent IBM Age.

As a youth in the 70s, my 5-cent Bic pen scribbled many a rambling tale for friends and family, enough to know that I wanted to be a writer. Then, through the 80s and 90s, I moved up to a Remington typewriter used to sell my first short story to a Melbourne newspaper (oh how I miss that intimate thup of each key stroke), and I’ll have you know that in those days, “cut and paste” was not a figurative term. But it was in this IBM Age, with its inbuilt dictionary, thesaurus and grammar checks, that allowed me to streamline the process by progressively editing and amending as I wrote. And oh how I wrote …

Short stories in the wider speculative marketplace (particularly Horror and SF) became my initial forte which also led to pockets of journalism, seeing more than 100 stories published since, a format I still treasure and practice today whenever the opportunity arises. Unknown at the time, but the disciplines refined back then would eventually assist when writing my first novel, The Crossing, in the early 2000s (soon to be a major motion picture by BAFTA Award winning director, James Khehtie).

I believe exploring the darker side of fiction in those early days helped me with the transition to crime later in my career, not such a quantum leap when you consider that both genres explore our fears in one form or another. Writing to a strict wordcount meant being clear on one’s structure and content, which in turn meant identifying what was deemed “relevant” to the story, a key subject I highlight in my writing workshops. It’s too easy to write one’s self into a corner or extend the required wordcount without adding these tools to your writing toolbox. I recall advice from Stephen King when we were both panellists at the World Fantasy Convention in Canada back in 1984. “Less is more when it comes to scaring your reader. Let their own imaginations do the work”.

These skills would also guide the transition of novelist to screenwriter when James contracted me to write The Crossing’s screenplay (to be released as Dark Sky Island). Transforming a 400 page novel into a 90 minutes script meant that focus on the synopsis and most relevant book passages was crucial, and again the disciplines learnt writing short stories came to the rescue.

So, you see, I owe a great deal to the humble short story, without it’s teachings my novels The Crossing, Blackwater Moon and The Falls would not be the books they are today. Nor would the forthcoming 2020 releases of The Reach from Pantera Press, or Subterranean from Atlas Productions. And for that, dear reader, I remain forever grateful.

Pamela Rushby Blog Post Feature Image

Pamela Rushby Blog Post Image


So here’s the situation.

You’re at a writers’ conference. Or a literary festival.

Let’s say you’re lining up for coffee. Or you step into the lift. And there, right beside you, is the publisher, or agent, or editor of your dreams. They’re at your mercy. There’s no escape. Now, you have a big opportunity. You have one minute – or less – of their attention to deliver a pitch that will, you hope, result in those magic words ‘Please send me your manuscript’.

Are you ready? When they say ‘tell me about your book’, are you totally prepared? Do you have words lined up to trip off your tongue? Or will you say something like, as I have done, and I freely admit it,

‘Well, it’s a story about a well, you know, a boy and a horse – only it’s not his horse actually – and well, they go off to war and all this stuff happens – oh, and did I say it’s in World War 1, and they’re both wounded in this really famous battle, but it’s sort of OK because they both recover, but then it’s really, really sad at the end …’

And the poor publisher is left totally, totally confused except for the fact that this is probably a Book They Do Not Want …

This is not what you want to happen. And it needn’t.

You can learn to develop a short, succinct, effective and riveting pitch that tells your target about your book and why your book is unique – in only 3 or 4 sentences.

Just be at the Queensland Writers Centre on Saturday 2 November between 10.30am and 1.30pm – and all will be revealed.

And while you’re there … you will also learn to develop a longer pitch. This is for those situations when, for example, you’ve booked an appointment with that publisher of your dreams at a writers’ festival or conference. You will have about 15 minutes of their time. Now, Dream Publisher will have already read the material you’ve sent in, and will be prepared to talk about it.

But there may be That Awkward Moment when Dream Publisher hands back your manuscript and says, ‘No, that one’s not for us’ Long pause. ‘But what else have you got?’

Are you going to waste this opportunity? You are not. Because you have a Plan B. A longer pitch about your other work in progress (or two, or three) – already prepared. And you can tell Dream Publisher all about them.

Again, you can learn how to do this: how to effectively present the most important, different aspects of your book. The unique characters. The interesting setting. The theme. Your carefully crafted plot twists. The amazing ending that no one will ever see coming. All in ten minutes or less.

And guess what? You can learn to do this at the Queensland Writers Centre on 2 November as well!

Do come along. And bring your works in progress.

(See The Perfect Pitch with Pamela Rushby for bookings.)

M J Tjia Blog - Feature Image

M J Tjia Blog Image

Written by M J Tjia

This year my third Heloise Chancey novel, The Death of Me, will be released in October. With each book, I’ve found I am getting to know and care about the characters more and more—both Heloise and Amah Li Leen, but also the characters who surround them in each novel. I enjoy the space a series gives me as a writer to explore their lives. I always intended for these books to be part of a series, and I have purposely drip-fed Heloise’s backstory to the reader, through both her memories and through Amah’s recollections. Mostly, I developed her backstory from what I have read of actual 19th century courtesans, and their experiences. In The Death of Me, Amah finds herself back in Liverpool, and we learn a lot more of Heloise’s childhood. In future books we will find out more about how she came to be a sex-worker and how she fought her way to her relatively elevated position.

I have found that one of the many attractions of writing neo-Victorian crime fiction lies in its capacity to explore the often missing dimensions of 19th century historical works—namely working-class women and the culturally diverse. When I was researching the Victorian female detective, I came across both fictional and documented literature regarding women of the time working as professional detectives. I think perhaps their main role was to spy; disguised as maids, nannies, seamstresses and so forth. In the case of my Heloise Chancey crime novels, I try to ‘re-imagine’ or ‘re-tell’ the lives of Eurasian women in London in the 1860s. As a successful courtesan, Heloise has attained a level of wealth and independence other working-class women could only dream of, but I have tried to be thoughtful as to how Heloise can also represent social and sexual restrictions placed upon young women, then and now.

Of course, when writing historical fiction, writers need to be careful that their work is not too prescient. However, I would argue that, in some cases – such as Heloise’s tendency towards feminist thoughts and the portrayal of Asian Londoners – what might appear to be prescient might actually hold some accuracy. This is where research becomes a crucial part of writing historical fiction. By writing these excluded characters back into the story of Victorian London, I hope not just to give them voices and acknowledge the existence and experience of people like them, but also I want to shift negative representations that have grown out of mainstream narratives, such as the ‘sinister Oriental’. Fiction plays a large part in creating these negative perceptions and representations, and it can play an equally large part in shifting and remaking them.

Be sure to catch M J Tjia as a guest speaker at GenreCon

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Quinn Eades BodyShot - Feature Image

Written By: Charlie Hester

Quinn Eades BodyShot

On Saturday the 28th of September, Melbourne-based trans poet, author and philosopher, Quinn Eades brought his ‘Writing the Body’ workshop to the Queensland Writers Centre. While Quinn’s vast theoretical knowledge was evident throughout the workshop, what was most impressive was his ability to speak personably about these theories and with clarity, to break them apart, reconstruct them, and bring them to life. Quinn encouraged us to perform what he coins, Écriture Matière, which translates to ‘material writing’. This idea is an extension of Hélène Cixous’s Écriture Féminine, a feminist theory from the 1970s that called for women to bring their own bodies into literature, especially through experimental forms of writing. With Écriture Matière, Quinn instead calls for ‘all bodies to write themselves’.

Throughout the day, I had the chance to engage in a number of writing activities, including writing to photographs and music. The group explored the power of sound and visuals to open possibilities for new perspectives, ideas and moods in our writing, but also as a means of simply bringing playfulness into our writing practice.

Quinn talked about the variety of ways we can write trauma with the concept of ‘writing the body’ never far from mind. With Quinn, we considered a diversity of perspectives to write from, ranging from the individual who experiences trauma, to a community that experience trauma, to the witness who observes trauma. I learned that trauma is never necessarily ‘finished’ or able to be fit into a cohesive narrative, and Quinn stressed how our writing can reflect this, and that there are many ways and modes in which to tell these stories. For example, I was introduced to the concept of ‘fragmentation’; a loose writing style that uses poetic language and form to represent the fragmented, incomplete and often disjointed nature of trauma. This, alongside many other writing techniques, was discussed as a way to write past the limits of language.

Of course, using these theories and techniques with our own ideas and stories also takes skill. So, Quinn suggested a number of his personal favourite productivity techniques (or ‘writing hacks’). He mentioned the Pomodoro technique and attending writers’ groups where you can meet and share ideas with people outside of your usual circles (a la QWC’s Writing Friday!), and the notion of being a ‘life writer’ and bringing your lived experiences to your next writing session. My personal favourite ‘hack’ was the idea of overcoming writer’s block by leaving sentences unfinished – a way to naturally kick your brain back into gear – I’ve already started putting this one to good use (possibly even in the composition of this blog post!) and it has worked wonders so far.

Overall the workshop was a highly valuable experience. It was a great opportunity for me to engage in the open and inclusive dialogue with Quinn, to greatly further my knowledge of literary theories, and simply have a great day in the company of other passionate writers looking to broaden their minds and develop their craft in new and exciting ways.

lee_cover picture

lee_cover pictureGenreCon: There are heaps of conventions, many of which offer literary programming, so why choose GenreCon? What do you hope to achieve by attending?

Lee: Hi, and thanks for inviting me! It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of literary conventions, and for a number of reasons. Firstly, they’re a fantastic way for writers to refresh their creative well, allowing us to step away from our desks to travel to a new location where we can immerse ourselves in workshops and panels intended to inform and inspire our work. There’s nothing quite like it for improving productivity. And there’s no doubt that GenreCon’s programming is top-notch, offering world-class presentations, panels, and readings from award-winning writers, sessions intended to help you develop skills, explore current trends, and get the skinny on new markets and opportunities. If you need proof, just scan the programme: there’s horror’s superstar Kaaron Warren presenting her famous Found Things workshop—an absolute must-do—as is Aiki Flinthart’s Fight Like a Girl session, perfect for action thriller writers who want their work to be well-paced and believable. I’m hoping to get to the breakfast session hosted by State Librarian and CEO Vicki MacDonald along with Dr Anita Hess, who’ll be discussing languages and the importance of language and story in the International Year of Indigenous Languages. I attended a presentation by Dr Heiss last year when we were both speaking at New Zealand’s National Writers’ Forum, and I found her incredibly approachable and informative, particularly with regards to cultural sensitivity, so this session has to be excellent way to start the day. But in spite of all the wonderful sessions on offer, the main reason I’m looking forward to GenreCon is for the networking that occurs in and around the margins of the convention. I can’t wait to reconnect with incredible colleagues I’ve met before, people like Alan Baxter, Angela Slatter, Rob Porteous, Carleton Chinner, and Kaaron Warren. However, the antipodean dark fiction community is small and close knit, so there are many more Australian genre writers who I’ve have the privilege of editing, or I’ve appeared in an anthology with, or perhaps we’ve worked together on a committee or judging panel, and there still some others who I know only through reading their work. Imagine my excitement at being able to finally meet these wonderful writers, GenreCon providing the perfect opportunity to connect with them on a personal level and find out what they’re working on now. For newer writers, who haven’t attended a conference before, GenreCon will help you discover like-minded folk who are as weird as you are. People to help you celebrate and commiserate your writing efforts. It offers a safe space to discuss challenges, and work on solutions. A place to find your tribe.

GenreCon: Where can attendees find you?

Lee: Look for me at the Sunday panels, specifically the Report Back from the World panel featuring Sam Hawke, Kaaron Warren, Sarah Williams, Carleton Chinner, where we’ll be giving people some insights on international genre conventions and how to make the most of them. I’ll also be joining Alan Baxter, Aiki Flinthart, Rivqa Rafael, Angela Slatter, Kim Wilkins on Overcoming the Monster where we’ll discuss our favourite fictional monsters and how to beat them. Otherwise, stop me in the corridor and say hello. I’d love to meet you!

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Conxiety Blog Feature Image

Conxiety Blog Image

By: Andrea Baldwin

Conxiety: feeling nervous about attending a convention, conference, or any large gathering where there’ll be noise and bustle, and high levels of intellectual, emotional and social stimulation. If you struggle with conxiety, you’d probably be surprised how many others do too. It’s totally a thing. But it doesn’t have to be, especially at GenreCon. You probably already know these seven tips for transforming conxiety into concomfort, but please accept this as our permission to use them as much as you need.

  1. Getting there. Make it as easy as possible on yourself, whether that means asking for a lift, catching public transport, taking an Uber or driving. Allow plenty of time so you’re not stressed. If necessary, do a practice run ahead of time. It gets miraculously easier when you’ve done it once.
  1. Getting around. We’ll do our best with signage, and GenreCon will be littered with volunteers eager to help you get where you’re going. Don’t be shy, rock up and ask – that’s what we’re there for.
  1. Quiet space. GenreCon has a dedicated Quiet Space for when you need some time to sit, think, relax, rest and process. Also feel free to make use of the lovely green spaces around the State Library and along the riverbank.
  1. Other people. Sometimes they’re the stressor, but often they’re the support. Enlist a genre-curious friend to sign up for your events and come with you. Or connect with acquaintances ahead of time and arrange to meet up at the Con. Sometimes it’s nice just knowing a familiar face will be at the same event, even if you don’t hook up with them.
  1. Familiar things. There is nothing weird about lucky socks, your favourite water bottle/ notebook/ desk troll or whatever touchstone makes you feel at home. Actually weird is perfectly fine. It’s GenreCon — a celebration of creativity and imagination, especially yours. If you feel at your best in a Star Trek officer’s uniform, go for it.
  1. Grounding rituals. It’s amazing how comforting a simple ritual can be, whether it’s taking a sip of water or a slow breath, tensing and relaxing muscles in sequence, colouring in or counting backwards from threes. You know what calming strategies work for you. Have a secret weapon in mind, just in case things start to feel overwhelming.
  1. GenreCon is fun! Come along expecting to enjoy it and you will. Sure, there’ll be moments between venues with lots of people around, and some events (like the Night Market) will bustle with energy. Pick and choose what you want to see, hear and experience. Take care of yourself and remember the volunteers and organizers are keen to help with whatever you need. We’re all friends here and we want everyone to feel included and inspired.

Have a concomfortable GenreCon!

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shadows blog feature image

shadows blog image

I learned to tell creepy stories on a farm in South Africa. There was nothing better to the five-year-old Carleton than joining the barefoot village children on the earthen floor of a mud hut. Old Xhosa women would spin us marvellous tales of river serpents, brave warriors, and white-painted, clay-clad women who returned from the dead. My favourite was always the Tokoloshe, a mischievous, small, hairy man who would sneak into naughty children’s bedrooms to bite off their toes.

I’ve always got a kick out of making others squirm in delicious terror and delight in finding others who share my twisted enjoyment of the macabre. Friends haven’t always been so understanding of my tastes. Back in the days of land-line home phones, I told a group of friends a ghost story in the middle of a violent thunderstorm. It was the perfect setting with the wind moaning and sobbing around the lonely beach house we had shacked up in. On the spur of the moment I spun up a tale of a telephone repair man who had been killed by lightning while working on the phone lines. How his body had burned away leaving his soul nowhere to go but the phone lines. “and sometimes,” I ended. “You will still hear the phone ring in the middle of a thunderstorm.” Five pale faces stared at me in the dim firelight saying nothing until the silence was broken by the sound of the telephone ringing in the hallway.

We are all a product of our environment and upbringing; horror writers even more so. I spent my teens in the eighties, which was a whirlwind decade as anyone who has watched Stranger Things can tell you. It was the time of slasher movies and nasty urban legends that sometimes turned up as incoherent warning messages on the office fax machine. Times have moved on since those then. Lately I’ve become fascinated by creepypastas, the internet version of the urban legend. I love the way this underground web phenomenon has spawned a whole new generation of monsters like Slender Man, Momo, and Ted the Caver. Like all good contemporary folklore, creepypastas are all the more terrifying for the kernel of truth they contain. They are the dark twin of the internet meme, the creepier tales that end with an undertone of horror instead of filling your inbox with rainbows and kittens.

Perhaps your taste isn’t for the gruesome, but more for deeply unsettling psychological horror; or maybe you prefer to create disturbing monsters such as outrageous kaiju beasts and eldritch Lovecraftian horrors. Whatever your taste, Genrecon is bringing together some of Australia’ finest horror writers. Come, join me in the shadows. The conversation is bound to get interesting.

Tips on crime writing blog (feature) image

Tips on crime writing blog image

Crime fiction is riding a wave of popularity. But how do you go about it writing it? To help you figure it out here’s five tips from debut novelist, Sarah Thornton, author of Lapse, the first in a series of crime thrillers featuring blockbuster heroine, Clementine Jones.

     1. Start with the hero
It doesn’t matter how clever you are with clues or plot twists, if your lead character is boring or unrealistic or somehow off-putting, you’re going to struggle. I had a very clear sense of Clementine Jones before I began writing—she virtually insisted that I not only bring her alive on the page but push on to the end to complete her story. Your protagonist will be someone you feel strongly about and feel comfortable ‘living with’ over the weeks and months you spend writing them into existence.
Handy exercise: think of the type of person you like reading about, whether fictional or real life (politics, sport, business, the arts etc) and build your protagonist around that type.

    2. Know and live your setting
Most good crime novels create a sense of place that resonates, ratcheting up the suspense as the reader is drawn “inside” the story. This should come easily if you’re setting the drama in a place you know well but if not then I recommend a mobile writers retreat. Don’t Google ‘writers retreat’, Google ‘campervan hire’—actually go to your chosen setting for a few days and absorb the landscape, the flora, the fauna, the rhythm and beat of the place, writing slabs of sensory description for use later on.

     3. Give the hero an ally
For me, it made things easier to consciously create allies—people who inhabit your MC’s world and who open up possibilities for plot or action elements but also for dialogue in which key character or story features can be developed. This may be obvious for those writing police procedurals where detective and cop work together to solve the mystery, but for private eye or amateur sleuth novels, I think it bears mentioning.

     4. Avoid stereotypes
Crime is hugely popular but this makes it all the harder to make your story stand out from the rest and whilst genre writing has certain stable attributes, you still need to create a unique space for your story. It may be the choice of hero, like Emma Viskic’s deaf detective Caleb Zelic or, in my case, Clementine Jones, a female football coach (anything other than the alcoholic detective). Or perhaps it’s something unusual or distinctive about the setting, the villain or the circumstances of the crime—vive la difference!

     5. Start with a dead body
Readers need to understand that the stakes are high (someone died / has been kidnapped etc) just as much as they require a satisfying ending (the bad guys lose). I didn’t do this initially and it created no end of stress. I think I successfully dealt with it in the end (you be the judge) but in book two of the Clementine Jones series I will be making life a bit easier for myself and delivering to the reader that staple of crime novels: the much-in-demand, bog-standard page one corpse.

Happy writing and let me know how you go!

Sarah Thornton Books

Quinn Eades - Queensland Writers Centre
Quinn Eades - Queensland Writers Centre

Quinn Eades

By Quinn Eades

I am a queer trans poet, writer, researcher, editor, and performer (not always in that order), and am currently on a 3 year research fellowship at La Trobe University, Melbourne, where I am developing a creative digital lab called Making the Margins in collaboration with Dr Son Vivienne, Associate Professor in English Anna Poletti, and writer, performer, and educator Leah Avene.

My writing, research, and editorial practice is focussed on how we might write ‘bodies of difference’ in order to create social change by increasing the numbers and types of stories engaging with embodied experience in the public sphere. My first book, all the beginnings: a queer autobiography of the body was also my PhD project and was published in 2015, and my poetry collection, Rallying, was awarded the Mary Gilmore Award for best first book of poetry in 2017.

I’ve run the ‘Writing The Body’ workshop in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, London, Utrecht, and Amsterdam, and am thrilled to be presenting this material for the Queensland Writers Centre on September 28th this year.

My teaching practice is founded on principles of accessibility, inclusion, and is always student/participant led – our first task of the day will be to find out what attendees would like to explore during our time together, and every workshop is different as a result. Some of the topics we explore are the ethics of life writing, trauma and the body, feminist theories and philosophies of the body, and writing productivity techniques­ (specifically Shut Up and Write–a form of timed writing practice).

Most importantly, this workshop is structured so that participants have the time and support to write. We will experiment with writing to music, writing with specific prompts, and writing from/with images provided by award winning photographer Jamie James.

All kinds of writers have attended this workshop, from those who write for themselves to well-published authors who work in a range of genres. In order to support this range of abilities, and to allow participants to work with material that can be challenging, private, and produce a range of emotions, no one is asked to share or read their writing aloud. This frees us up and lets us explore the stories of our own bodies without worrying about who might read the writing we produce.

Queensland Writers Centre Pencil and shaving on paper
Queensland Writers Centre Pencil and shaving on paper

Queensland Writers Centre Pencil and shaving on paper

 

With Charlie Hester

On the weekend I had the pleasure of attending Karen Foxlee’s ‘Writing Young Adult’ workshop. It was a great opportunity to meet with and learn from not only such an experienced and accomplished writer but also such a great teacher and super lovely person. Karen began by giving an overview of the genre, its history and definitions, and with statistics stating that as high as 55% of YA novels are now also being read by adults, she gave us a real appreciation and sense of the significance of the burgeoning genre – and with that, we got right into writing!

As all the writers in the workshop were spread across a wide diversity of genres and writing backgrounds, we were really provided with a chance to bounce off one another’s strengths and passions. Karen’s presentation made plenty of allowance for a wide variety of styles and approaches to writing, and the whole atmosphere of the workshop was comfortable, conversational and supportive.

Throughout the workshop I got the chance to explore many aspects of the YA genre, like building layers of character to create complexity and ‘verisimilitude’, the merits and pitfalls of writing in first or third person, methods of approaching story structure, and completing short writing exercises from prompts Karen supplied.

One of the things Karen talked about during the workshop that really resonated with me was the concept of ‘loving your story to life’. It’s an idea that I think stands true for all forms of writing (and especially in the YA genre, where having engaging and vivid characters is critical) – transferring your author’s passion for these characters, places, and their stories onto the page is what will ultimately bring them to life for your readers. Karen was vocal in encouraging us not to shy away from big issues we care about, to believe in what YA means to us, and that we as individuals, with our own emotional ‘well’ of experiences, can be the most powerful resource for creating a distinctive voice for our characters and our work.

One of the main through-lines of the workshop was the importance of ‘voice’ in YA fiction; a unique tone, an angle or perspective, an emotional mood – something that makes your writing stand out from the crowd.

Karen read out a bunch of samples that showed how quickly and effectively a ‘voice’ can be established. John Green’s “if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane” in Looking for Alaska, MT Anderson’s “we went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck” in Feed for example. She then gave us some really valuable ideas and approaches for finding our own voice; free writing and stream of consciousness writing, experimenting with perspective until finding one that fits, embracing our own ‘inner teenager’, and many more.

All in all, Karen managed to condense so much valuable information into the short space of six hours – I really felt like I made huge leaps and bounds with my writing and ideas. At the end of the day, I was left with plenty to think about, great ideas to embed into my writing and writing practice, and most importantly, with inspiration and confidence to continue my efforts in creative writing and the YA genre.

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