Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Singing Mountain by Anne E. Summers

The Singing Mountain, by Western Australian author, Anne E. Summers, is now available as an e-book from Solstice Publishing.

Stories about the clash of mythical characters or the Fae in their many incarnations with our world are not unusual but in The Singing Mountain the juxtaposition of the magical world with Wales in the between the war years 1918-1940 adds another and unexpected dimension where myth and reality collide in the story of Megan, a miner's daughter who marries out of her class, and who becomes the catalyst for events that shake her world.

Anne was one of the founding members of Karrinyup Writers Club where I learned much of my writing craft. She is also one of those without whose encouragement I might well have given up long ago so I am delighted to see The Singing Mountain published.

I've followed the development of this novel from its early beginnings but had not read it in its final form until now. I downloaded it yesterday and I'm about halfway through it. It's an easy read and I'm enjoying it. In fact I'm off to finish it as soon as I finish this post.

You can buy it either by going to the Solstice Publishing website, which is a little tricky to navigate - you need to go to the bookstore then scroll down to the New Releases section to find the book - or direct from

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Russian Meteor and a Wake Up

I'm shocked and my heart goes out to the Russian people who have been injured or have had property destroyed by the meteor that exploded over the Ural Mountains on Friday. With around 1,200 people injured, mostly by flying glass, and an estimated 100,000 homes damaged, all in the middle of winter where temperatures have been as low as -20 C, it's a miracle that no-one died. The damage bill is estimated at $US30 million with broken windows accounting for a large part of the damage and the injuries. Given the freezing temperatures, they are working urgently at repairs.

While major meteor damage is relatively rare - if I remember correctly the Tunguska event was the most recent one to cause severe damage and I'm not suggesting that we should live in fear of it happening again - it does shake one's faith a little as to our security sitting here on our blue planet. Well, at least it does mine. After all, even if we happen to find and track a large bolide or even an asteroid hurtling towards us, what exactly are we going to do about it?

Together with all the other natural disasters that have happened (and still are happening around the world) - and recent deaths among my family and friends - this has led me again to a review of my life. There's an awful lot I want to do and experience and, like most of us, I let all the little and routine things get in the way of my doing them. There are, of course, often very real obstacles - lack of money, ill-health, commitments that we don't want to abandon for all sorts of reasons - but, more often than not, it seems to me that it comes down to not being prepared to take a risk. This is something I find very difficult. I like to plan and cover all eventualities but I can see there are problems with being so unwillingly to take a chance.

I don't know if I will succeed but I am making a conscious decision - right now - to examine my life and to try to live each day as if it was going to be my last. I know, it's easier to say than to do but if I don't even try I'll never know if I could do it, will I.

Anyone else up for the challenge?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Portrayal of Mixed Race People in Fiction

The awesome Aliette de Bodard (herself of mixed race) has some scathing things to say about the portrayal of mixed race people in fiction. She points her finger at lazy writers who use tired tropes where mixed race is a shorthand for any number of maladjustments.  That this is simply offensive should be no surprise to anyone but apparently it is. Why anyone would assume that being of mixed race will inevitably lead to alienated and damaged people from malfunctioning families is hard to believe.

Racism certainly can be a problem - and we obviously have a long way to go before that nasty aspect of humanity is overcome - but why not acknowledge that mixed race can be just as much a positive as a negative? The truth is that writers who use mixed race in this way are writing characters who are little more than caricatures, cardboard creatures they do not allow to grow and develop. People are complex beings and any characters, to be satisfying, should be the same.

We've all read stories where we have the stock standard range of characters - the jock, the nerd, the beauty queen, the wall flower, the brooding hero etc. These characters never truly grow but these are stories working to a formula where the reader knows what to expect and would be disappointed if they deviated. I don't think we should pretend there's not a place for these stories. Many folk like reading them and they don't claim to be anything other than what they are - a piece of wish fulfilment.

But if you are looking for more as I am - a deeper exploration of the human state and understanding of people, what makes them what they are and how they can change as they learn from their experiences - then you must move beyond stereotypes and lazy tropes.

BTW the comments are also illuminating and worth looking at.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

The Next Big Thing

This has been going around the writing world for a while. A fellow writer tags you to blog the answers to a series of ten  standard questions about your current work and you, in turn, tag others. I've been very remiss in getting to my post - Laura E. Goodin tagged me some time ago - but real life got very much in my way and I'm just starting to lift my head after dealing with everything connected to a family member with a terminal illness and their subsequent death.

But, following the "better late than never" principle, here are my answers:

What is the working title of your book?

Xanita's Children

Where did the idea for the book come from?

I was doing a writing marathon at my writers' group. I can't even remember the trigger now but I found myself writing a description of a horned creature walking across a forest clearing towards a girl of about thirteen and kneeling front of her while her terrified older sister looked on unable to intervene. I had no idea where it was going but every trigger in the session added to the story. By the end of the day I had an almost complete short story which eventually became a chapter in the novel.

What genre does your book fall under?

It's speculative fiction, specifically fantasy, but there's no magic or mediaeval trappings and I did try not have anything that violates the laws of science when using natural laws. A belief in telepathy is desirable, however.

Which actors would you choose to play your character in a movie rendition?

Not being much of a movie goer I have no idea for most of them except I think Denzel Washington would be ideal to play Zareth. I do have a very clear image of the two sisters in my mind. Although the inhabitants of the world are ethnically very mixed, these girls are unusually fair-skinned with very pale silvery blonde hair and pale blue eyes but I don't know who in the current crop of talented young actors would fit that description.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Even on a planet subject to world wide natural disasters that decimate generation after generation, escaping from slavery should change everything but when two sisters find shelter with the leader of a telepathic herd the past still haunts them and each has some difficult lessons to learn before they overcome its legacy and can be truly free.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Tricky question! I'd love to be represented by an agent and published traditionally but with the publishing industry in its present state of flux I would not rule out anything.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Hmm, that's a hard one because originally (eight to ten years ago) I wrote a series of short stories about this world and the same characters having no thought of them being the part of something else. I eventually realised they were all part of a bigger story and they were incorporated in slightly different form into what is now the novel over about two years.

What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?

That's hard too but I suppose Anne McCaffrey's Pern novels, CJ Cherryh's Foreigner series or Robin Hobb's Rainwild novels because they also involve relationships with a non-human "other" and look at the difficulties inherent in such a situation.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The ethnic cleansing in Rwanda and the murderous rule of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, where much of a generation was wiped out, and the effects this has on a society, were very much in my mind when I started writing this story. Some of my family had visited Cambodia not long after the fall of the Khmer Rouge and noticed how few children there were from the time of their rule. Then Calli, Terris and Corion arrived in the writing session and I realised their story was about the other effects that might flow from such a disaster as well.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

I've had great fun in creating my world - and it seems to be one others enjoy too to judge from the  response of my beta readers. I love playing with ideas and I'm a sucker for the lure of "what if". It draws me in and the next thing I know my characters have yet another calamity to work their way through. Let's face it, though, what else can you expect on a world that is as deadly as it is beautiful.

Although Xanita's Children can stand alone it's also part one of a planned trilogy, Xanita's Tears. Currently I'm working on Swordmaidens (working title only), the sequel to Xanita's Children.

This where I should tag some other writers but I'm short on link information at the moment so they will have to come later.