This year I entered the Sisters in Crime Australia Scarlet Stiletto Awards for the very first time. The awards, hosted by Sisters in Crime and a number of generous sponsors, are for crime stories written by Australian women and with female protagonists.
I am absolutely thrilled to have received the Body in the Library first place with my ghost story, ‘Jane’.
An Australian Literature research student meets a ghost in a state-of-the-art private library on a remote bush property. She tries to unravel the mystery of the ghost’s origins while the dangers of the present, both human and natural, loom.
The awards night was fabulous! Most of the 26 shortlisted authors (out of 186 entrants) were there, some coming from interstate. Jane Clifton was a marvellous MC, and did a fantastic interview with the ever-lovely Sigrid Thornton (with whom she co-starred in the iconic TV series Prisoner).
Congratulations to all my fellow short-listed authors, and category winners! Huge thanks to Sisters in Crime and the award sponsors, especially the fabulous Athenaeum Library!
A big thank you too to Lindy Cameron, who looked me in the eye when I told her I’d never written for the awards and instructed me, in no uncertain terms, that this year I had to enter.
There were two writers who absolutely set me on fire in 2011. One of those was Suzanne Collins and her brilliant (and traumatising) trilogy The Hunger Games. The other was the fabulous Mary Borsellino, with The Devil’s Mixtape. Mary Borsellino sets me on fire every year, actually, although her work is much less widely known than Collins’s. (Her series The Wolf House has been rereleased, if you like your vampires and your punk rock simultaneously.)
Where these two wonderful little literary arsonists meet is in The Girl Who Was on Fire, a fabulous set of essays about themes and ideas in The Hunger Games books, including Your Heart is a Weapon the Size of Your Fist, by Borsellino.
“Everything in this book either brings elements I was aware of into sharp focus or reveals new themes and interpretations to me. With each essay, though, I responded with variations of “Yes! Exactly! YES!”
Now I have (courtesy of Mary Borsellino) two copies of the collection to give away, plus a copy of the first book in the trilogy.
The trick with a Hunger Games-related competition, of course, is to think of a competition that is engaging but not too difficult, but which doesn’t cheapen the themes and ideas which I find so moving and thought-provoking. So – no Hunger Games recipes, no suggestions for what your last meal would be, nothing as obvious as that.
Instead, I would love for people to write to me to tell me who your favourite character was (in any of teh three books) and why. Did you love or hate them? Did they move you? Did a character change the way you thought about something, open your eyes to a new idea, or did they inspire you to try something new (like archery, or baking?)
So that’s it.
Write and tell me in 300 words or less which character from The Hunger Games made the most impact on you and why.
The top entry will receive the Movie Edition of The Girl Who Was on Fire, which contains extra essays.
The second best entry will receive teh standard edition of The Girl Who Was on Fire.
The third best entry will get a copy of The Hunger Games
PLEASE DO NOT REPLY IN THE COMMENTS!
Conditions of entry:
It is a condition of entry that I may use your answer or part thereof (quoting you) in my blog, which will be online indefinitely. I’m happy to attach an alias to any quotes, but you need to let me know both your real name and preferred alias in your entry.
The competition will be open for two weeks, from Wednesday 4th July to Wednesday 18th July 2012.
I will select the winning entry that week and post the result, along with extracts from all entries, on Monday 23rd July 2012.
A few blogs ago, I talked about the secrets we have. They’re not necessarily scurrilous or smutty or illegal. They’re just the parts of our lives we keep segregated from other areas, maybe because we think other people will laugh.
In the Outland TV series, the characters are all out and comfortable with their sexuality, but they are very much in the closet about being SF nerds.
The fact is, many nerds working in a more mainstream environment prefer to keep their nerdery to themselves. I used to, but mostly I don’t much care what people think about my nerdery these days. On the other hand, my lovely geek friends can be less than understanding about my enjoyment of shows like Glee.
A friend of mine refuses to use the term ‘guilty pleasure’. Either you like someting or you don’t, and there’s no point in feeling guilty about the things you like. (Well, unless they’re unethical, maybe.)
Or, in the words of Andy in episode 3, “You probably think there’s some grand reason for all this, but the truth is, Rae, people like what they like. Don’t complicate it.”
In the spirit of ‘you like what you like’, thank you to everyone who entered the competition for a copy of the Outland DVD. I hope you continue to like what you like, and can do so openly without fear of scorn or ridicule from people who almost certainly have their own secrets.
Among the entries, Philip admitted that “my secret passion is homoerotic romances, cause I like to be a private person”, and fair enough.
Jason shared: “While at High school I was captain of the Rugby team and Head Boy of my school. Little did most people know my secret… That I was a HUGE science fiction nerd, read scientific journals and all, oh and yea also I am gay… I think I would have got more crap over being a sci fi nerd than gay – lol!”
But the winner of the competition is P, who tells the following story.
“My secret isn’t that I’m a nerd and a geek. I’m very open about that – I even have Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica posters over my desk in my classroom (I teach primary school). My secret is that I like to read trashy romance – of many different subgenres. *Really* trashy stuff. I generally hide this from most groups in my life.
I’ve very selective who within my geek circles knows, as Trashy Romance is seen as the lowest of the low by many of the people I know into who are into books. Telling people I enjoy reading the Anita Blake series or the Sookie Stackhouse series ’cause of the sex and romance earns me funny looks from many geeks, who think I should be reading stuff of ‘higher literary value’. Yes, even geeks can be snobs.
And then there’s my geek friends who are also feminist and feel strongly about romance novels. Some of them might has a few issues with the geek-themed stuff, but they can go on for hours about Mills & Boon/Harlequin style romance novels. I consider myself feminist too, but my own brand of it allows to take guilty pleasure in reading trashy romances with many things I shouldn’t be enjoying, but some other people’s standards, again. It’s kind of like eating fast food; you know it’s not terribly good for you, but it tastes so good you’ll do it anyway.
On top of that, there’s me being a teacher. No way can I admit publicly to my passion for word porn at school. We teachers are supposed to be good, pure, straight, monogamous and asexual remember? No way can we admit we might be reading books full of raunchy stuff. Especially since as well as the Geek romance and the Mills & Boon, I like the queer trashy romances as well. Two guys in love, getting it on? Hot. As. Three guys getting it on? Even hotter.
I can’t tell a lot of my family either. I have a lot of Very Uptight Religious family members and it’s just best they don’t know. I can admit to the mystery novels, or the science fiction novels. If I said I liked Twilight people wouldn’t look at me as weird… but if I admit I like romances heavy on the sex? I’m the weirdo.
And that’s my secret.”
Your secret is safe with us, P, and I promise I won’t judge you. I’m not a huge fan of the romance genre usually, but I recently discovered Anne Gracie (recommended to me by smart, feminist geek-type readers) and I love her work.
Perhaps we should all pledge ourselves to the principle that we may not like to read the same things others like to read, but we will defend to the death their right to read it!
I have a theory that everyone has a secret second life. It’s not necessarily criminal or hideous: it’s just that I think almost all of us have a parts of our life that we like to keep separate.
For example, I was, for a short while, a secret nerd. People at school didn’t know about my fannish proclivities. Then, people at work had no idea about fanfic, conventions, my love of Blake’s 7 or my tendency to costume up for events.
Who am I kidding? I doubtlessly outed myself as a nerd within a week, and the older I get, the less I care what people think of my nerdery. I am out and proud.
But, my own singular lack of ability to separate my life into compartments, I know that other people keep sections of their life discrete. There are all sorts of reasons for this, not all related to shame, but let’s face it, it’s a choice that most of us can relate to.
In early 2012, the ABC TV comedy series Outland debuted on Australian television. The show is about people who are out and proud about their sexuality, but rather more in the closet about their nerdiness. The six-part series watches five queer nerds stumbled through life, love and SF references both popular and obscure, trying to find a place to belong.
It’s a story for everyone.
I’ve been part of the Outland story since its first manifestation as a short film, shot for $500 over two weekends in 2006. For this incarnation, I went along for the filming of the final episode to be part of the crowd scene set at the Mardi Gras (you can catch a glimpse of me in my corset during the final scenes!)
I love the result: the wit brought to bear on creating visual, musical and dialogue tributes to SF, fantasy and horror shows and films while maintaining humour, drama and a cast of characters who I actually cared about.
Outland was co-created and primarily written by John Richards, who happens to be my brother-in-law. Still, as I’m fond of saying, just because I’m biased, it doesn’t mean I’m wrong. I’m predisposed to love Outland because I love John, and because he and I have a similar sense of humour. But I also love Outland because it’s fabulous. It’s warm, funny, smart, cheeky and clever.
Outland’s six episode run is over, but now it’s out on DVD with interviews, deleted scenes and other special features.
To celebrate Outland’s release, and the very fact it was made in the first place, I have a copy of the DVD, signed by John Richards, for someone to win! To win the DVD, tell me what your secret passion is. Do your friends know about your secret knitting habit? Does anyone at work know you collect commemorative plates about the monarchy? Do your SF nerd friends know you have a passion for football? Or Glee?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell me your secret, and why it’s secret, to be in the running. Note that I would like to use your answers for a future blog, so tell me if you’d like me to use an alias to keep your secret safe!
Note, too, that Outland is a region 4 DVD, which plays on Australian or multi-region players. This means that people from outside Australia are very welcome to enter, but if you win, you may not be able to play the DVD.