Linkington Manor

Random Alex and I joined Jonathan Strahan for an Australia Day podcast on Wednesday. We discussed the nature of Australian identity, the discomfort of patriotism and colonial guilt, the relationship of people to landscape, cultural cringe and trying to overcome decades of assumption that Everything British is Better, and managed somehow to tie all of that into speculative fiction, and the concept of an Australian literary voice. We talked about how some parts of the genre more easily/comfortably convey their Australian origins (deep space opera, for example, or otherworld fantasy) but managed to come up with some examples that did. We also got a bit squeeful about some upcoming Australian spec fic for 2011. Probably left lots out (I even forgot about my books until Alex mentioned them, duh!) but we did our best.

One thing that really interested me was that we all had childhoods where we felt isolated from the rest of Australia – one in Perth, one in Darwin, one in Hobart. It’s an oddity about Australia that there are so many overlapping ‘us and them’ attitudes to geography. No wonder it’s hard to pin down the Australian Voice!

Mostly, of course, we just talked! If you enjoy Galactic Suburbia you might enjoy giving it a listen.

Malinda Lo, author of Ash and Huntress, talks here about the lack of diversity in YA book covers. She puts forward quite a moderate view, but some very eye opening points about books in general. I was fascinated to hear that the lesbian aspect of the storyline of Ash was entirely invisible on the UK cover, and that this invisibility may have improved her sales, when that was what I perceived as the main selling point. It was certainly why I picked up the book. Lesbian Cinderella retelling!

Sarah Rees Brennan writes marvellously about the limitations some books put on their awesomeness, and how more modern attitudes towards sexuality, disability, race, etc. can reduce those limitations. I always enjoy what Sarah has to say, and she often conceals quite devastating cleverness behind banter and mockery. In particular, I’ve appreciated her regular discussion on Twitter about the comments she receives/hears about her characters, and how gendered that can be – where male characters are adored for their perfections and imperfections quite equally, and female characters are often despised for both. It’s particularly indicative when she compares the comments she receives about the sexual/romantic attitudes of her male and female protagonists (so far in her published novels she has one of each) and how hard readers find it to forgive a girl hero who kisses more than one boy.

Finally, a comprehensive post on the biggest mistakes authors make when querying agents.