Awards and a Few Thank Yous but Never Enough

Over the weekend I won two Aurealis Awards, one for best Horror Novel and the other for best Fantasy Novel. It was completely unexpected – particularly the Horror win. Unexpected enough that I may have had a glass of wine too many to accept particularly coherently.

You never really know if anyone is going to like the book you’re writing. You just do the best you can. Publication itself is wonderful and hard (and I was so lucky that Text decided to take Day Boy) and anything else, reviews, shortlistings or awards are just generally so unlikely that you can’t even factor them into the equation – and you certainly wouldn’t want to. Sometimes I think you’re just amazingly lucky if you even get time to write, let alone anything else.

But, somehow, I managed to snag two. I am still in a state of quiet shock.

Thanks to the judges who actually liked the book, and to the awards folk who put on a good night, and the Contact people who ran a great convention (I admire them all, and their hard, hard work) – it was a delight to catch up with old friends and to meet a few new people. We’ve such a rich and vibrant SF community and it was great to feel a part of that when I haven’t (through no fault of anyone but me) for a little while. I’m proud to be part of my tribe, they are generous, hard-working and kind – and, maybe, the nicest writing community in the world

And it gave me a chance to thank my then agent Sophie Hamley for getting the book out of me in the first place, and Diana who had to put up with me writing that book, and Mandy Brett who was the editor that beat it into shape. Without these three people this story of angry boys in an angry melancholy world would never have been written.

You write a book alone, but it’s never in isolation – a vacuüm produces nothing.

If you’re interested in the winners, check out the details below. It’s a pretty fine reading list, as are the shortlisted titles.

I don’t believe I will ever be so lucky again, and if it had to be a book, then I am glad it was Day Boy.

And thanks to Ron and the crew at Pulp Fiction – I believe they sold out of copies (which, as a bookseller in charge of returns,  makes me very happy indeed).

Aurealis Awards 2015 Winners

BEST CHILDREN’S FICTION

A Single Stone, Meg McKinlay (Walker Books Australia) 

BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL / ILLUSTRATED WORK

The Singing Bones, Shaun Tan (Allen & Unwin)

BEST YOUNG ADULT SHORT STORY

“The Miseducation of Mara Lys”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press)

BEST HORROR SHORT STORY

“Bullets”, Joanne Anderton (In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep, AHWA)

BEST HORROR NOVELLA

“The Miseducation of Mara Lys”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press)

BEST FANTASY SHORT STORY

“The Giant’s Lady”, Rowena Cory Daniells (Legends 2, Newcon Press)

BEST FANTASY NOVELLA

“Defy the Grey Kings”, Jason Fischer (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Firkin Press)

BEST SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY

“All the Wrong Places”, Sean Williams (Meeting Infinity, Solaris)

BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVELLA

“By Frogsled and Lizardback to Outcast Venusian Lepers”, Garth Nix (Old Venus, Random House)

BEST COLLECTION

To Hold the Bridge, Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin)

BEST ANTHOLOGY

Bloodlines, Amanda Pillar (ed.) (Ticonderoga Publications)

BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

In The Skin of a Monster, Kathryn Barker (Allen & Unwin)

BEST HORROR NOVEL

Day Boy,Trent Jamieson (Text Publishing)

BEST FANTASY NOVEL

Day Boy,Trent Jamieson (Text Publishing)

BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

Illuminae, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin)

SARA DOUGLASS BOOK SERIES AWARD

The Watergivers [The Last Stormlord (2009), Stormlord Rising (2010), Stormlord’s Exile (2011)], Glenda Larke (HarperVoyager)

THE CONVENORS’ AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE

Letters to Tiptree, Alexandra Pierce and Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)

Reading in the Nude at the QPF

A couple of months back, one of my dearest friends, Krissy Kneen told me she was going to be reading poetry naked at the Qld Poetry Festival. Diana told her that we were definitely going to come along. I was a bit… uncomfortable, I think I’ve been nude in front of a handful of people in my entire adult life.

It was a nude open mike event. The wonderful David Stavanger was hosting – I was happy enough (sorta) to be nude – but, at the door he said to Diana and I: You’re both reading, right?

Diana nodded enthusiastically, and I answered: No chance in hell.

We stripped in a room full of poets, all of us, quietly and at the same time.

And within a few breaths it was wonderful, discomfort fell away, and we waited to hear the poems. Still, when the call went out for readers there was a slight hesitation. Diana looked at me, took a deep breath, and got up to read. First.

She read about the source of her scar, the Intensive Care Unit where she lived (so close to death) for weeks after her liver transplant, and she made me cry: even though I had heard the poem several times before. I have never felt so proud. There was my wife reading in front of an audience for the third time in her life and she was doing it nude.

Then we had more readings, and Krissy, who we were all there to see, read beautifully from a new work (you can read it, and about her experience, here). It was a room filled with love, and laughter.

So, I thought what the hell. I got up and had a go too. Might have been better if I had prepared something – the two poems I recited I managed to forget lines even though they were brief pieces, which really seems to prove that reading in public is more nerve-wracking than nudity.* But I was so nicely heckled that I didn’t mind.

Regardless, it was a fabulous event, at a wonderful poetry festival, and one I will remember for the rest of my life.Fill a room full of nude poets and writers and readers and what you get is supportive and gentle and far more lovely than I would have believed. Angela Meyer described it as an Unforgettable Festival Moment and I completely agree.

Thank you Krissy, and David and everyone else involved in giving us the chance to do something really wonderful and frightening, and to discover it really isn’t (nor should be) that frightening at all. We gave each other the gift of our vulnerability and it was a powerful and fabulous thing.

 

*Also, proves the first law of readings. If there is a chance you might read HAVE SOMETHING READY!

 

(AND BECAUSE I AM VAIN HERE ARE THE POEMS AS THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN READ

 

COLONEL GEORGE PYROMANIAC

Colonel George with the bulging eyes,

liked to stare at ladies’ thighs,

he yearned to find what lay within

but never did, it was sin,

to see, to touch, to love and learn

so, instead, he liked to burn.

And that he did, dressed like a clown,

he set alight the whole damn town.

 

POCKET-SIZED EPHIPHANY

 

Epiphany

Nifty

A pocket-sized epiphany

to fit inside your pocket.

 

 

 

 

 

Day Boy – Chats, Reviews and Sundry things.

So the book’s out, but I’m still busy at work, however, I’ve been a few places on the internets this week.

There’s a few bits of me below:

Here’s me writing about Day Boys and Vampires over at the excellent Readings blog. It’s a good one if you want to know a bit more of the thinking that shaped the book.

Matt interviewed me over at Smash Dragons – and they were great questions.

And here I am at Fantasy Book review interviewed by Fergus.

And Jason Nahrung wrote this incredibly generous review. Any review that ends with this line would make a writer’s heart swell:

Jamieson’s prose is not so spartan; it is considered, poetical but not verbose or purple. It is a joy. Day Boy is a joy.

 

And the fine booksellers at Book Bonding had me as a staff pick. Thanks Braiden for this:

“There’s something truly magical about this novel”

So glad my little book is getting some love.

 

 

Novels are a Long Road (Well, Day Boy was, Anyway) Part Two (Yeah, I go on a bit).

In a period of about three years after never selling a novel – I had five books simultaneously published here and in the UK, and the US by two of my favorite publishers. Things were a bit busy. And it wasn’t like I wasn’t working at the same time – usually two jobs. I don’t think I really stopped from 2009 to 2012. I worked, wrote, worked and made books, but not a lot of money. I was living the dream, but as dreams often go, I never really had time to appreciate it.

I love those books (if you’re not familiar with them and fancy buying one – or all 😉 – there’s links to the left) and some of them had existed in partial form for years before this (just as I have around seven novels in various states of development now) but those years were me putting the pedal to the metal. Sadly none of them did particularly well – despite generally positive reviews, and a few stinkers – and me doing my best to promote them.

To say I fell into a bit of funk is putting it mildly. The books’ relative failure (and I don’t really see them as failures, every one of them fed my creativity, every one of them gave me at least some pleasure, and taught me something) and me working so hard at everything, hurt badly. It was no-one’s fault. I still think they’re great.

Part of it was the slump in publishing at the time (Borders collapsing didn’t help, but people were still selling ok). Part of it was me so focused on getting the next book written I perhaps didn’t work hard enough to selling the ones I had out (but there are only so many hours in the day). And part of it was, despite all the working, I never really had any money to go to cons or travel and push the books. Honestly, maybe none of these things contributed much. It’s a lottery. Books find an audience, or they don’t. And I feel honored that these books have found an audience at all.

As much as we’re encouraged as artists to make mistakes, and to fail. Few like to admit failure, not really. And I felt like a big old failure. I’d had my shot. And there are often few chances to have another. And there’s nothing like writing books that you’re contracted to write and seeing them fail despite your best efforts and the best effort of those around you, while you’re still writing them.

Throughout my short story writing career I had never felt a failure (sure, I’d occasionally feel a bit jealous of those fancy novelists) but every sale to any market, no matter how big or small felt like a win, like I was connecting with a readership. Novel writing was different. For the first time I felt that I’d stuffed up that the mere act of producing something wasn’t enough, unless it found a big enough audience. And I’d failed at that, and in doing so I’d let a lot of people down.

I don’t feel that way now. I am happy with those books and worlds created. Maybe it took a bloody nose or two to make me grow up. You do your best, and you move on.

But it took me a while to get there. And while I was thrashing around (see those seven partial manuscripts all waiting there turn) I really had no idea what to write next. But one of those manuscripts was biting into me more than the others.

I showed Day Boy to my then agent Sophie Hamley along with a bunch of other partials, and it was Day Boy that Sophie responded most to. Actually she responded this way.

 

I love Day Boy! Can’t wait to read the rest.

That is all.

 

And she did read the rest. I think sometimes you just need someone to tell you it’s ok to write, and that you’re onto a good thing.

Sophie pulled that novel from me. I sent it to her chapter by chapter. And I can’t tell you what a privilege it was to have someone there (who wasn’t family, whose relationship was mainly a work one) enthusiastically demanding the next bit of the book.

I was back on the writing horse. Putting word after word, scene after scene. I didn’t feel like such a failure.

And then I turned forty. A week or so later*, I started to get a terrible ear ache, oh such horrible, hideous pain – all while Diana and I were on holidays. Then, one morning, I woke up and half my faced was paralyzed.

 

*Obviously it was entirely unrelated**

**Obviously. Right, Universe?

IMG_8355
It’s not all gloom and doom, and look at what’s arrived!

 

Day Boy’s Launch is Looming and it will be at Night at Avid

Day Boy is going to be launched on June 25 by the wonderful, amazing Isobelle Carmody. If you’d like to help me celebrate feel free (and it will be a free event) to book and come along to Avid Reader. (If that link doesn’t work let me know)

I’m thrilled to have Isobelle launch the book, not least because she is so busy at work getting Red Queen out into the world – this is the final in the Obernewtyn series! – so thrilled/guilty to be honest.

It’s all starting to feel a bit real.

If you’d like to see the real thing, book for the launch, and watch me get all emotional* on the night.

 

*emotional in this sense does not mean drunk – not until after the launch anyway.

Not Long Now – and some vague bookish rambling.

Day Boy is heading to printers in a little over a week, and it’ll hit the stores late June. Finally finding time to breathe. Between this book and work I’ve barely had time for anything else, but it’s almost done. And I can think about it (and soon I might actually get started on the roughly novel-length next Death Works MS that’s sitting next to me on a table and giving me dirty looks).

This is my quietest book. It’s not about saving the world, and there are no grand quests or races against the clock.

It’s about a boy raised by a monster, and the feuds of old men, and the monstrosity of boys, and the hope that there might be more. And it’s about small country towns and the rhythms of a year that will see an end to childhood. I grew up in a small country town in North Western NSW called Gunnedah – it wasn’t tiny, but it you could walk its edges – and my childhood was a good one, so all that is there, but towns, like hearts, have a darkness too, and that is there as well.

It’s also my most beautiful book the seasons swing through it, the trees turn, and my little Day Boy grows older and maybe wiser.

I hope you like it.

Jamieson_DayBoy2

Haunting

I think for me, as a writer, what I’m really wanting is to haunt the reader. Sure, I want to entertain them at the very least. I want to capture and entrance, to chart the heart and the mind’s triumphs and failings. I want all of those things, or part there of.

But above all, I want to haunt.

I want to have a reader inhabit a book of mine and then find that it has somehow inhabited a part of them.

A good book never leaves you, even as its specificity fades. A good book looks at you from behind your eyes. A good book haunts you.

And that’s what I want my books to do*.

*(Doesn’t mean that I actually do that, but a fella’s gotta have an aim.)

March

How did it get to March already? Edits for Day Boy are soon to drop, there’s a release date – July.  I’ve seen the cover, and it’s glorious – six books in and that still hasn’t gotten old. (You’ll all see it soon enough.)

And I decided to tidy up this overly busy webpage.

If you see anything missing (except commas) let me know.