Monday, August 29, 2016

Flies In the Soup - Shane Abbess

Hi All,

I'm back! With interviews! I've decided that rather than letting my interviews languish on my hard drive once they're out of contract, I'll put them up here. So you can expect to see a few of them popping up here from time to time. I've mostly interviewed Aussies, but there's a healthy sprinkling of others in the mix as well. So without further ado, feast your eyes upon my first ever interview with Aussie writer and filmmaker, Shane Abbess, which first appeared last year in Aurealis #79.

Interview: Shane Abbess

By Chris Large


It’s no secret that Australian films struggle to gain traction internationally – particularly in with respect to fantasy and science fiction – but that seems likely to change sooner rather than later.  Australian writer and director, Shane Abbess, has spoken frankly on what is being done to improve both the appeal of Aussie film and its global reputation. Shane is best known to audiences as the director of Gabriel (2007), a film he co-wrote with Matt Hylton Todd, set in purgatory.

Welcome to Aurealis, Shane. Throwing you in the deep end, I’m going to quote you as having said “ of the fundamental flaws in Australian cinema in the past few years is that we haven’t been able to connect with an audience, especially internationally. We shouldn’t be making films to satisfy funding criteria or industry peers, it should be about the audience and what they want...”

I made that remark back in 2008 and it’s interesting to see how it’s all evolved since then. I believe we are actually trying very hard right now – perhaps harder than ever – to broaden our scope and deliver a more appealing range of stories, but the measures of success of a film, and the delivery mechanisms available seem to be the things now that we need to address. The government funding bodies have been doing an amazing job of stepping up and listening to what’s needed and will support filmmakers who show the right kind of initiative or have proven success.

I’m seeing all sorts of films come through now, from very brave genre indies, to larger scale dramas, but the market just doesn’t exist like it used to. DVD/Blu-Ray is forever on the decline, piracy is worse than ever and people want more for less when they hire – especially with the new subscription-based entertainment options. So it means studios go MASSIVE and that floods the cinemas, while the mid-ground films are all fighting for your attention in a very cramped space. So when an Australian film ‘underperforms’ at the box office, I’m always skeptical, because that’s not where the audience is nowadays for films that aren’t tentpoles. They’re at home, waiting for it direct, especially overseas. So I think we’re actually moving in the right direction now. We just need more access here [in Australia] to things like Apple TV etc.

Netflix coming here is great and I also want to see a really short window from cinema to VOD [Video on Demand]. I’m a big supporter of day and date release on everything, which is why I’m pushing for it on Infini. So however you want to experience it, you can. As far as overseas goes, we’re actually kicking ass. You just never read about it here. Movies like Predestination, The Babadook, and Wyrmwood received a mediocre response here but are smashing it overseas. The same thing happened with Gabriel.

With that in mind, and with the benefit of hindsight, how should burgeoning Aussie filmmakers hoping to compete in an international market, go about sourcing investment for their projects?

Do something bold. Fund it yourself. Know the value of every dollar you earned and borrowed to put on the screen. Then you’ll always be able to answer the question: ‘Is this worth doing?’ It’s harder now than ever to be an independent filmmaker in terms of seeking finance but it’s also a wonderful time technologically. Find the medium and go from there. Be very clear on your audience going in, and how you’re going to sell it.

As a writer I identify with the emotional rollercoaster of pushing ahead with a project with no guarantee of a positive outcome at the end of the process. But writers need only motivate themselves. Your job is to herd hundreds of people toward a single endgame. How do you do it?

By relying on people’s pride and passion. Everyone has a reason for doing something, hopefully besides money. Find what it is. If you give people the love, recognition and ultimately the arena to be the best they can be and believe in themselves and their art, you can make magic out of very little. It’s always just people coming together for a common cause and that has to be worth it. No-one wants to play on the losing team. You always have to have a shot at the grand final. 

Your upcoming sci-fi film Infini has proven cause for excitement among fans of the genre. Right now the teaser trailer is all we have to go on. The atmosphere is dark and tense. The characters are far from their happy places. There’s a lot of shouting going on which is generally a sign things are going pear-shaped. It looks for all money to be a film in the vein of Alien, or perhaps Event Horizon, but you’ve said that Infini isn’t a horror flick, that it’s something entirely “unexpected”.

Infini is a beast unto itself, featuring unconventional narrative, high-intensity performances, and an approach which is unusual in the genre. It doesn’t care what you want it to be. It just is. The general response to it is that you don’t know where it’s going to go next and it’s very intense – not scary, but intense – which is how we allowed ourselves to experience it while making it. Some people will like it, some people will hate it, some won’t even understand it and that’s great because it’s trying to do something. It doesn’t play safe at all.

How are you handling expectations surrounding Infini?

I don’t really have any expectations for it – good or bad. I just know that the team and I are really proud of the work we’ve done and are grateful for the opportunity to have been let loose in such a way. As Sam Mendes said in a recent interview, ‘There’s no right or wrong. Just more or less interesting.’ I already know from the test screenings that Infini is a trip for those willing to go on it.

Ultimately I learned not to worry about expectations though after Gabriel, which was slammed on release in Australia but went on to have great success and gain a healthy cult status worldwide. If you know your audience going in and stay true to it, you’ll find them eventually.

There’s a gravity to Infini’s environments which tentpole films seem to lose once they take that flying leap down the CGI slip n’ slide. While there’s no doubt that when done properly CGI can be awesome, do you agree its allure has been tarnished of late through overuse?

I believe the best era of cinema was pre-CGI, so even though I love it, I also love the older principles of filmmaking and not having people say ‘Wow, what a great effect’, when they shouldn’t be aware of any of that. Real, and in camera, is the best way to do it which also gives meaning to the CGI elements because then they’re crucial to the story at that point. Not just there because they can be. 

You’ve said of Infini, “'This movie became like an illness of the mind for myself and many others. We pushed ourselves as hard as we could and at some point in there, I realized we'd crossed a line we couldn't come back from. So we didn't.” Travelling down the same dark paths day after day, physically or emotionally, can leave permanent scars on a person’s psyche. Is that how you feel about Infini?

I do. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever be able to talk about everything that went into creating the energy required of Infini because it’s pretty insane. I think the cast and many of the creatives would agree. We wanted to see how far you could go to find a moment or experience a truth in all of this, and a lot of it isn’t even on the screen. It’s more just baked into the picture’s soul. You think about the reality of the situations these characters are in and it’s terrifying.

In order to make that more than just a word or a notion, you have to expose yourself to truths and moments – the reality of it – which is something we spend our lives running from traditionally. This was an infection of the mind and the soul. It took some of the cast literally months to recover. I’m still not sure where I ended up... I know I’m different though. Happily haunted.

Once a story’s told it no longer belongs solely to the teller, a degree of ownership rests in the minds of the audience.  How do you feel about giving up ownership of something you’ve clearly poured so much of yourself into?

I love it. I give so much of myself to the process, we all do, that by the time it’s done. IT’S DONE. It’s not for us anymore. I love that an audience takes it and the experience is always evolving.

And we can expect Infini to hit screens in Australia…

It’ll be out May/June in theatres worldwide. Hopefully VOD same time too! E1/Hopscotch are distributing here. Dates are locking in now.

You’ve been working hard to add those finishing touches to Infini, but do you have any other projects on the horizon?

We have a high-end television series based on the world of Infini in development. Film-wise it’s down to the wire on three actually, pending casting schedules: one being Lucifer, the next installment in the Angel Saga after Gabriel, 7th Day which has been around for a long time, and another which shall remain nameless!

Hmm, a nameless project. Intriguing. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for that. And an Infini-based television series in development prior to the release of the movie. Clearly there’s a lot of faith surrounding this venture and I for one can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Aussie Spec Fic Snapshot: 2016

Hey, the unstoppable David McDonald interviewed me for the 2016 Spec Fic snapshot. Read about that, and plenty more HERE.

But be warned: once you start reading these snapshots it's difficult to stop.

Monday, April 11, 2016

How to Interview Authors Pt 1 - Interviews Can be Awesome (But Often Aren't)

Author interviews are a dime a dozen, so how many of them are worthy of your time, and how many are just white noise? I'm not saying some aren't worthwhile. There can be something to be gained by reading even an average author interview, but with every hipster and their blow-dried poodle running some kind of author interview/latte appreciation blog, there's just so much emailed-in, beige-carpet dross around, it can be a real splash of ice-water to the face to read a smack-down between two people who genuinely care about their topic of discussion.

Ann Leckie - Ancillary Justice
I've been interviewing authors for a couple of years now (you won't find my interviews here, but in magazines and elsewhere on the inter-webz. I gave up writing for free a while back) and I've learned some really important lessons I'd like to share. The fact is, the difference between a could-find-this-crap-anywhere interview, and a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a really interesting person isn't much, but it takes some commitment from both sides.

Let me make it clear before we go any further, I'm not trying to paint myself as the all-perfect, all-knowing, bard-king of interviewers. Far from it. I've certainly submitted some interviews for publication of the 'dental tug-o-war' variety. The interviews I'm least proud of are the ones in which I've obviously struggled for either continuity, or content. These were - without exception - interviews for which the interviewee had a declined a face-to-face, in favour of an emailed sheet of static questions. Hence:

Lesson 1. An Emailed Interview is Your Last Resort

If you're an interviewer with even the slightest affinity for the subject of your interview, gird your loins and face your interviewee. I learned this lesson very early on from a small-time hack going by the name of John Scalzi. Mr Scalzi is a man who knows what it is to sit on both sides of the table. When I first contacted him about doing an interview he immediately agreed, on the condition it was a Skype discussion rather than an email full of, you know, words and stuff.

John Scalzi - Lock In
He didn't want to dick about writing answers to questions he'd most likely had thrown at him a hundred times before. May as well just cut and paste! I was the interviewer. I was the one getting paid for publication of the piece. Why should he have to write it out for me? All John really wanted, of course, was what any interviewee would want: a genuine discussion about his work. I was terrified. He was only the second person I'd ever interviewed for cash and the man has a formidable intellect and business acumen.

But it was amazing. We nattered for maybe ninety minutes and I loved every second of it. What I didn't realise at time the (but John understood all too well), is that the difference between a written, and a spoken-word answer to a question is the true difference between a very good interview and a very average one. When an author sits down to answer a bunch of emailed questions from all sorts of interviewers who think they're asking cool and interesting questions, but are actually just asking the same questions as everyone else, they do so with a stiff drink and a heavy heart.

When an author talks to an actual person, however - like, face-to-face and shit - even if they've answered a similar question before, you never really know what's going to come out of their mouth. It could be rehearsed, or it might just be spur-of-the-moment gold.

Lesson 2. People Say More Interesting Stuff When They Can See Your Ugly Mug
Jennifer Fallon - The Lyre Thief
Some authors don't do face-to-face. They're either terrified they'll say something stupid and everyone in the writing community will call them Dumb-Dumb for the rest of time, or maybe they resent being asked to climb out of their jim-jams to talk to someone who might just be a dick. Who knows? Who cares? You can't control that.

What you can do is ask the author to participate in a Skype interview. They can only say no, right? Actually - not true. They can also say yes, and most often do. When they say yes it's awesome because it provides you with the chance to get a really good interview. People (authors are people) interact with human faces much more readily than they do with computer screens full of words, or a tinny voice emanating from a small telephonic device covered in earwax. Authors hear enough voices as it is!

If the interviewee can see you smiling at something they've said, or nodding in agreement, or simply making a gesture of acknowledgement of some kind, they will take that as a cue to provide more information of that type. Sometimes you don't even need to ask a question because you've guided your subject to the topic simply by offering visual encouragement. You're not being tricky, or deceitful. You're employing the tools you would subconsciously use in normal conversation with anyone you might encounter in your day-to-day life.

Lesson 3. Don't Ask Dumb-Ass Questions
Should be a no-brainer, right? Remind yourself before the discussion begins that you're unlikely to be the first person ever to interview this particular author. If you Google their name with the word "interview" after it, and get two or more pertinent hits, it's probable questions like, "When did you first start writing?" or "What inspired you to write?" aren't going to generate original answers.

John Flanagan - The Ranger's Apprentice
The answers to those kinds of zombified, could-literally-be-asked-of-anyone questions will already be available to any twelve-year-old with access to the internet, probably on a half-baked blog called 'Book Blogs R Sus' or some such. You are styling yourself as an intelligent interviewer. There are hundreds of people out there, just like you, also styling themselves as intelligent interviewers. The author's publicity agent has provided you with a free copy of their client's book - a free copy of a year or more's worth of hard toil on the part of their client.

Aim to repay that investment by at least attempting to avoid the dumbest of dumb-assed questions, while at the same time asking yourself what it is your audience would really like to know about this awesome person. Leave the brain-dead questions to others. Ask your author about the things that set their work apart. What was it about their writing that inspired you? What made you feel whatever it was you felt while reading their work?

Don't be confrontational but try to push them for the story behind each answer. Don't pause after each answer to read out your next question. Keep the momentum of the conversation going by being as fluid as you can. If an author shoots off on a tangent, taking the discussion in a completely different direction than you envisaged, let them go. Follow them into that deep, dark forest. Authors can be pretty messed-up individuals. Chances are they're about to launch into a topic they're passionate about, which will be fantastic for your interview, and your likelihood of selling it to a publisher.

In short, keep cool, try not to fanboy, and don't be a dick. While you may be giving the author an opportunity to promote their work, they're giving you their time, and the potential to sell your interview for money. Be respectful of their work, even if you didn't enjoy it. Remember that your opinion might not be shared by your readership so examine as many angles as you can. Most of all, try to have fun! It will shine through if you can.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Aurealis Explodes Across the Globe

Aurealis #87, the first to contain a story from a non-Aussie author, is out and it's a fantastic first issue for 2016. Just ask Tangent's Christos Antonaros, who raved about each and every story.

This latest issue is packed with stuff you won't find anywhere else. Stuff like:

"The Root Bridges" by Sean Monaghan
"Elven Blades" by Ian Bell
"Across the White Desert" by Deborah Sheldon

I was lucky enough to interview bestselling Aussie fantasy author Trudi Canavan for this one and she has some great insights into world-building and working with chronic pain. Gillian Polack examines the work of Nevil Shute (and it's awesome), and there's more Secret History of Australia and book reviews.

The bar has never been higher for Australia's oldest and best SF/F/H magazine. Whether you're a reader or a writer you need to be a part of it. Get it here.

Sunday, November 22, 2015


I wrote the following post for Aurealis Xpress last year. With the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens imminent, I thought I'd re-post it here. So excited!

It’s long been known that Star Wars: A New Hope contains examples of some of the worst marksmanship in the history of cinema, particularly with respect to the Emperor’s ‘elite’ forces. But how bad were they really? Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a statistical measure of exactly how astonishingly bad imperial stormtroopers were at hitting their mark?

Well, fortunately, there is. In the United States, where police forces undergo rigorous (well, at least annual) firearms training, statistics are kept, and made available for, exactly the type of public scrutiny in which we are about to indulge.

But first to the question of “How can we calculate the number of shots fired and hits scored by stormtroopers in Star Wars in order to make a valid comparison with real-world figures?” The answer is simple. I counted them. Yes, I did. No, I’m not shitting you. Inspired by the purchase of a brand new TV boasting no less than 55 inches of HD LED OMFGoodness, I took it upon myself to re-watch Star Wars: A New Hope. And just for fun – because that’s how I roll – I decided to count each and every shot fired by stormtroopers in the name of generating an accurate hit-rate for comparison with figures issued by the NYPD. Before we get to the nitty gritty of raw statistics, I’ll briefly touch upon some potential excuses given by simpering Empire apologists for the atrocious stormtrooper hit-rate, and deftly debunk them all.

Empire Apologist: “It’s difficult to see out of stormtrooper helmets.”
In Star Wars: A New Hope Luke disguises himself as a stormtrooper, making the comment: “I can’t see a thing in this helmet,” and you know what? I could almost buy that excuse, if not for the fact that when clone troopers (properly-trained, 1st generation Jango-Fett clones) wearing similar helmets, were ordered to slaughter the Jedi in Revenge of the Sith, they basically mowed them down without missing a trick.

Empire Apologist: “Stormtroopers were under orders to miss.”
Empire sympathizers argue that, at various points throughout episodes 4-6, Vader wanted to either capture the heroes alive, or that he allowed them to escape on purpose. I would like to point out to those sith-loving sycophants, that at the time the heroes were fighting their way out of the Death Star, a certain little droid was carrying the Death Star’s blue prints inside its ‘rusty innards’. Blue prints I’m reasonably certain the Empire (with the benefit of hindsight, or without) would rather the rebels didn’t get their hands on. So no, the ‘ordered to miss’ argument holds no water whatsoever. A previous commenter pointed out that the rebels were allowed to escape the Deathstar, sure. But stormtroopers were trying to kill them at least until they jumped into the trash compactor, because if R2 hadn't blocked the command to crush them...

Empire Apologist: Psychologically, it’s easier to shoot a faceless, dehumanized drone, than a living, breathing person.
Sith-loving sycophants argue that the above catch-phrase completely explains the fact that an untrained hillbilly farm-boy was able to blast numerous faceless stormtroopers into clone oblivion, while said faceless stormtroopers were unable to even wing the untrained hillbilly farm-boy. I’m calling mindless, incoherent, psychobabble on that. A soldier is trained to kill his enemies regardless of the moral implications of his actions. It’s his freaking job for crying out loud. 

So modern technology is a wondrous thing, and in the right hands it can be used to achieve some truly outstanding outcomes. In my hands, however, it has been used to produce a hit-rate for imperial troops vs. rebel heroes in Star Wars: A New Hope. For comparison, I have also produced a hit-rate for rebel heroes vs. imperial troops. The PlayStation 4 has a super-slow-mo function which allowed me (and two helpers whose identities will remain safely anonymous) to keep tallies of: shots fired by stormtroopers, shots fired by rebels, hits registered by stormtroopers, and hits registered by rebels – for each and every encounter. The results are now in. Drum-roll please…

Stormtrooper Shots Fired: 440
Stormtrooper Hits Scored: 11
Rebel Shots Fired: 247
Rebel Hits Scored: 58

The above figures give us an overall hit-rate for Imperial Stormtroopers of 2.5%, based on shots fired vs. hits registered. The rebel forces, meanwhile, including soldiers, princesses, smugglers and untrained hillbilly farm-boys alike, manage a far more respectable hit rate of 22.6%. So how do these figures compare to real-life law-enforcement? Well, the NYPD’s historical hit-rate comes in at approximately 10%. In more recent times the NYPD have had a little more luck. Figures released several years ago, detailing statistics of encounters between 1998 and 2006 show an improvement in hit-rate to 18% once animal shootings and suicides are removed. Of course the NYPD don’t like to examine figures purely in terms of hit-rates. It looks kinda bad. They prefer to look at it this way:

NYPD Annual Firearms Discharge Report 2011 - Page 63 (PDF 81)

Officers shot and killed by subjects 119
Subjects shot and killed by officers 1049
Kill Ratio 1:9

Officers shot and injured by subjects 661
Subjects shot and injured by officers 2399
Injury Ratio 1:4

Extrapolating to A New Hope
Stormtroopers shot and killed by rebels 58
Rebels shot and killed by Stormtroopers 11
Kill Ratio: 5:1

Immediately apparent is the utterly horrendous number of shootings occurring in New York City, although it should be noted that those figures were collected over a 40 year period. Another incredible statistic is that there are no stormtrooper injuries. I mean, literally none. It’s a bizarre, and long overlooked fact, that Imperial forces simply do not suffer injuries. Every single encounter is a life or death equation for a storrmtrooper. Injuries are not an option. A zero injury rate also means, of course, that the Empire would not require field medics for its forces. Happy days for Palpatine.
Digging a little deeper into the numbers, if you were a criminal involved in a shootout with police in New York City, whose law enforcement boasts a modest 18% hit-rate, you could potentially dodge a few shots, but you would also be nine times more likely to die in the exchange than you would be to kill a single police officer.

If you were a rebel involved in an altercation with stormtroopers, on the other hand, you could reasonably expect to take out up to four of them without any problem at all. With two or three friends you could probably take on around 12-15 imperial troops safely. And no need to worry about injured troops inconveniently regaining consciousness and rejoining the fight. When a Stormtrooper goes down, he goes down permanently.

To put the above figures into context, B.P Hughes (1969) estimated that during the Napoleonic Wars (specifically at Albuera, 1800s), British infantry managed a hit-rate of around 5% from a distance of 100 yards. There was a common saying among musketeers of the era that “To kill a man required expenditure of an amount of lead equal to his weight.” Okay, so lead is heavy, but still… dat a lot o’ lead. To add even further context:

  • ·         French soldiers during the Napoleonic Wars were said to be so hastily trained that they “couldn’t hit a cow’s ass with a banjo”;
  • ·         misfire rates of up to 20% were common;
  • ·         lead shot was not fitted tightly to the barrel of muskets resulting in unpredictable trajectories;
  • ·         plumes of gun-smoke sweeping the battlefield made it impossible to tell friend from foe;
  • ·         and to top it all off, line infantry had no idea of the range of their weapons, and most were not even taught to aim before firing.  
     Yet, astonishingly, imperial stormtroopers managed only half the hit-rate of British infantry fighting under such conditions. I mean, it’s just totally mind boggling that anyone could possibly be that bad. To put it another way, elite imperial forces achieved a worse hit-rate than untrained laborers wielding weapons which were difficult to load, impossible to aim, and which misfired 20% of the time. Quite a feat. In fact, had I not witnessed it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it possible. At the very least it shows that for most stormtroopers, their hearts simply aren’t in the job. But are they the most incompetent gun toting villains in the Star Wars universe?

Unbelievably, the answer is no. They’re not. The guy with the worst aim in the Star Wars universe is this guy, who couldn’t hit a stationary target from a distance of two feet. Proof positive that all the technology in the galaxy can’t help you if you’re just that bad.  

I wonder how Redcoats in the Napoleonic Wars would have fared against the French had they been provided with laser blasters. At least 2.5% better than stormtroopers I guess, but then, that’s not really saying much now is it?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Awesome Interview News

One thing I've really enjoyed about 2015 has been talking with a bunch of writers at the top of their game. I genuinely get a kick out of chatting with guys as talented, engaging and passionate about what they do as the likes of Shane Abbess and John Scalzi.

Most recently I had a chat with Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C.Clarke award winning author Ann Leckie. It was just prior to the release of her new book Ancillary Mercy and I think I was almost as excited for the book's release as she was.

Ann can be unexpectedly hilarious though, and we took  a couple of winding diversions in the interview which really surprised me. I think sometimes interviewees get sick of answering the same questions over and over, so if something a bit different pops up they really run with it. You can find the full interview in Aurealis #86.

Also, not sure I fully pimped my interview with Thoraiya Dyer. I think of it as her origin story, since it's a tale of the heartbreaking setbacks that have forged a future champion of Australian Fantasy. You can find that interview in Aurealis #84.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Also -This CSFG Publishing Thing Happened...

CSFG Publishing provides Aussie spec fic writers with a semi-regular outlet for the expression of some pretty awesome ideas. Earlier this year I learned that one of my stories would be appearing in The Never Never Land - their latest anthology. They made me work for it though. And that's something I really appreciated about this process.

A lot of publishers out there are happy to accept or reject your work, and a few will even offer a bit of free advice, but there aren't many who'll take the time to bring a slightly under-par story up to scratch. The reason for this is that working with authors can be difficult. We're a tricky bunch and some of us are protective of our babies.

I'll be honest and come right out and say, I'm not. Frankly, I'll do anything to make a sale (within reason). Aside from writing something offensive, I will make any changes requested if a publisher shows even a skerrik of interest in my work.

So that's the tale of my contribution to The Never Never Land. Long live CSFG Publishing and editors willing to give up their weekends to work with artistic types.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Award Win! - SciFi Film Festival

Some of my short horror and YA sci-fi has received honourable mentions in various year's best anthologies, but so far as I'm aware I haven't ever received an award.


Drum roll please: 

badabadbadabadabadbadabadaba Ta-Ching!

Earlier this month my story Future Me, Future Her, a young adult time-travel tale was highly recommended by the SciFi Film Festival in NSW and I was awarded a cash prize. Okay, so it didn't win. It looks like it came second or third (Robert N Stephenson also got a highly recommended gong) but I received an award and that's important to me. Thanks to Keith Stevenson for judging and Coeur de Lion/Dimension6 for funding the award, and thanks to the SciFi Film Festival for just generally being awesome!

Click here for the full list of award winners for film and writing.
And Click here to read my story.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Aurealis #83 - Best Issue Ever

My story, Perfect Kills, is out now in Aurealis, Australia's coolest SFFH magazine. I've had a fair bit to do with Aurealis this year, mostly through my author interviews (check out the September issue for my chat with the unbelievably determined and incredibly amazing, Thoraiya Dyer), but I am really excited to have some fiction published in this month's issue.

There's also a great story from Tracy Washington, and Terry Wood's interview with Peter F. Hamilton. So go get it by clicking here.

It's fully as awesome as it looks.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

New Aurealis #81 and #82

Aurealis #81 and #82 are out and contain some great fiction from equally great authors - and a bit of banter between me and a certain Mr John Scalzi.  Check them both out for the very reasonable price of $2.99. Not bad for Australia's longest running spec-fic mag!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Communing with the Writing Gods

A while ago I decided I loved John Scalzi's books. First I read Old Man's War and it was awesome. Then I read Redshirts and that was awesome too. The kids and I were going on a driving holiday so I bought the audiobook of Agent to the Stars, read by Wil Wheaton, and you guessed it, it was awesome.

By the time I read his latest book, Lock In, it was just too much. I needed to speak to this man so I emailed him and we caught up on Skype, just like that.

John Scalzi is a great guy and an absolute dream to interview. Once he starts talking it's like a freight train of ideas blasting toward you. We discussed writing (obvs), world-building, feminism, awards, stormtroopers, redshirts and lightsaber cross-guards. If writing, world-building, feminism, awards, stormtroopers, redshirts or lightsabers interest you in any way at all, you do not want to miss the June and July issues of Aurealis.

Yes, that's right. This interview is so big it cannot be contained in one issue. So big in fact we had to split it into three, some of which may end up on the website just so we don't miss anything.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Aurealis #79: Interview with Shane Abbess

Aurealis #79 is out now and contains my interview with Shane Abbess, the writer and director of upcoming SF flick Infini. The movie has generated a lot of excitement among fans and Shane has some really interesting thoughts on making and distributing Australian films. There's also fiction and stuff...

You can get it HERE.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Why it's better than... Everything.

Seems like everyone reviewing Dragon Age: Inquisition is using Skyrim as the yard stick, and while I have a lot of respect for Bethesda’s do over of Oblivion, I still feel that Oblivion was the more complete game. Sure Skyrim looked better, but Oblivion played better and that counts for a lot in my book.

But none of that matters a damn anymore, because neither of them can hold a candle to BioWare’s latest offering, Dragon Age: Inquisition (DAI), which looks and plays better than both of them (on PS4). BioWare have established themselves as the masters of game narrative through their hugely popular Mass Effect series.  And while previous Dragon Age games have snared the franchise a loyal following, it’s never been regarded as genre-defining in the way Mass Effect has – never until now, that is.

I <3 Sera
What follows isn’t a critical review of DAI, it’s just me opening my brain and going blerggggghhhhhhhhhhh onto the page and ranting on and on and on about this game being the best goddamn RPG I’ve ever played and the fact that I haven’t been this excited to sit down and play a video game since Wizardry debuted on the Mac Plus back in 19 something something about a billion years ago and about how I fell in love with Sera, even though she rebuffed my advances and professed to only liking girls and how when I killed my first dragon I jumped up and down on my couch in my boxers shouting “Take that you bleeping bleep bleep piece of bleep!” and how I hated Corypheus so much I just wanted to cut off his bleep and shove it so far up his bleeping bleep he wouldn’t be able to bleep for a month and how I spent about half the game crafting weapons and armour to defeat individual dragons and spent the other half of the game collecting the materials to craft weapons and armour to defeat individual dragons and spent the other half of the game just talking to my party and finding out their histories and loves and motivations and spent the other half of the game kicking ass on all the bad guys and spent the other half of the game getting my own ass boss kicked and...

The gang. Go team Inquisition!

Well, I guess you get the picture. There’s more than one game here.
But all of them are good.

The ball's in Bethesda's court now.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dear Internet...

What the hell internet? I get an honourable mention in Ellen Datlow's Year's Best Horror 6 and you're only telling me now? In 2015? ... the fuck is wrong with you!

News like this should be delivered on a silver platter, accompanied by a giant cake with a girl jumping out of it and champagne and clowns and trumpets and all that kind of shit. Not hidden away in a dark corner for me to find in an exceedingly random way one night when I'm having trouble sleeping.

Why didn't you tell me my name was on a list with a bunch of cool people's names. I mean the words Chris Large appear right next to the words Joe Lansdale for Chrissakes! Not just any Joe Lansdale, JOE R. FREAKING LANSDALE!!! You didn't think I'd like TO KNOW ABOUT THAT??? Sure, the order of the names might be just a quirk of the way letters are arranged in the alphabet, but you know me internet. You know I'd want to see that list.

What's wrong with you? I used to trust you to bring me all the information I thought I'd ever need. Now I find you've been hiding things from me. I feel betrayed. You've cheated me out of a whole year's worth of feeling smug and superior and vindicated. There's no excuse. Sure, I've been neglecting you lately. I had a lot to do this year. But you had no right. I need to think about this, internet. I need to seriously reconsider our relationship. When I've worked I what I need from you, I'll be in touch.


Friday, November 14, 2014

It's A Funny Old Life

To be honest, my writing has suffered of late. I've had a few articles appear here and there and a few stories a while ago but nothing substantial in terms of fiction. So I message a US mag who accepted a story of mine last year but hasn't done anything with it, and they say YES, it will be published, it's just taking longer than anyone expected.


Simultaneously another publisher has been in touch and have been working through another story with me.


Then I get notification that yet another story is on a shortlist and will be decided shortly.


All without having written a word (of new fiction) in the past three months. It just goes to show that patience in writing is an important part of the process, and just because you don't have a lot out there at any given time, doesn't mean nothing's happening.