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April 11th, 2005




Publishers have released three of Sean's books recently: The Resurrected Man, The Blood Debt, and Geodesica: Ascent, co-written with Shane Dix. Check the end of the interview for cover images and links to impulse buy. Sean also has a site where you can find many things, including free fiction.



1) After 18 novels, 3 short story collections, 60 short stories, and even a stage play, how do you view your body of work as a whole? Are there connecting themes? Is it held together only through genres? Or is it not connected in any way, other than it being the work of Sean Williams?

Themes and connections come and go. Some I'm aware of, some I'm not. Because I often work on two or more books at once, sometimes similar things will creep from one to another. There's a recurring plot-point at the end of both The Unknown Soldier and Metal Fatigue , for example, and (to cite something more recent) The Books of the Cataclysm and Geodesica both deal with themes of changing worlds and grief through very different lenses.

I'm terms of story ideas, I particularly like giving old tropes a bit of a spin, without being too experimental (hence the title of my collection New Adventures in Sci-Fi). Familiar settings include the Australian outback and deep space. Two themes I keep re-visiting are those of parenthood (with particular reference to fathers) and post-humanity.

I've no idea how this is all perceived from the outside. Sometimes I think I should have simplified things by using pseudonyms to separate the various genres, at least. But I seem to be in a minority there. So let it be lumped us one oeuvre under "speculative fiction"--or even "Sci-Fi & Fantasy"--and all will be well.

2) What do you look for when you approach a new project? What has to be there to inspire you, and have those things changed over time?

A friend once accused me of selling out. I said: "No way. I like Star Wars. This will be fun. Come back to me the day you hear I've signed a Star Trek contract and say the same thing. Then you'll be right on the money."

A new book has to be fun, otherwise I won't want to write it, and it'll become even harder work than it already is. Also, I have to feel that I'm doing something new--not necessarily for the genre, although I do aspire to that, but definitely for myself.

There's still so much left to learn. Two projects--a "gothic space opera" and a technothriller--that I'm hoping to write next year score highly on both scales. If they don't sell, there are other projects. There are always other projects...

3) Given the amount of time you've spent in connection to the local scene, what's your impression, both pro and con, of its current condition?

Vastly expanded compared to when I became aware of it (around 15 years ago) and very healthy indeed. I couldn't begin to put a firm number on it, but there must be over a hundred people scattered across the country who'd call themselves practising SF writers, artists, editors, or publishers. And most of us get on. How amazing is that?

A sense of community is immensely important to a niche area like SF. We support each other and are stronger collectively and individually for it. That may sound like some weird kind of political statement, but it's not intended as such. It's what I see--the up side of game theory, hurrah.

4) You're dead. You should never have gone to the circus. You should never have teased the knife throwing midget about his pony. Still, you're dead. You go to Heaven (assuming you believe, so on and so forth) and there's God. You say?

I'd probably say "fuck" a lot, because: (1) I got it all wrong; (2) my father got it all right; and (3) getting it all wrong means an eternity of torment. That's gotta be worth cussing over.

5) Favourite swear word?

Cock.





The Blood Debt, by Sean Williams.






The Resurrected Man, by Sean Williams.






Goedesica: Ascent, by Sean Williams and Shane Dix.

Chris Barnes, author of short fiction.




Chris Barnes was recently nominated for an Aurealis Award. His work is currently appearing in Daikaiju!, edited by Robert Hood and Robin Pen.



1) You're a new writer on the scene. What would you say your goal is with your fiction, and why does that mean people should bother hunting out Chris Barnes' work?

I get a big thrill out of people enjoying my stories. I guess that's hardly a rare thing for any writer. But in particular, a lot of my stories seem to have a feel-good quality (not that I consciously plan them to). They're not especially dark and gritty. I'm trying to learn how to get more edge into the writing without losing that 'feelgoodness', or heart, that many people have commented on. Also, I want to come up with better plots, e.g. twists and surprises. I love stories where you figure out what's going on just as the story ends, but lack of knowing hasn't stopped you being pulled all the way through. I want to write stories like that.

Those are my goals for the moment. I guess people should hunt out my stories to see how I'm faring with that.
Of course, it could be that people will now read my stories and say 'Heart? Who's he trying to kid? This didn't make me feel good at all!'

2) What's your long term plan, and do you plan to jump round into editing and publishing?

Long term: finish my current novel, start the next one, possibly write a series of linked stories based on a character and world that I'm developing. So, write novels and keep producing short stories and one day be able to live off that.
No, I have no intent to edit or publish any anthologies or magazines. Maybe someday, but I can't see it at present.

3) Your honest opinion of the quality of the local scene, it's positives and negatives.

I think the local scene is building up a head of steam. US editors are aware of us (e.g. Hartwell and Datlow coming over for Clarion South has put us much more on their radar). Prime is setting up in Sydney and has taken on local writers (Geoff Maloney's efforts have helped there). There seems to be a growing bunch of 'emerging' writers here now, and growing confidence that our best work is as good as anything anywhere.
And our best work is the equal of the US or UK or anywhere else. There's plenty of Agog stories, for example, that I reckon are better than many stories I've seen in the professional US markets.

Negative? Well, it can be rather incestuous, and it doesn't pay much. There's a lot of ordinary stuff being published. But that's true also of the bigger scenes (i.e. US and UK). We're just a small marketplace, that's all, so it's harder to pay top rates and it's inevitable editors and writers will come from a small pool of people. Overall I think the Oz scene is shaping up very well.

4) You're dead. Boom. Thirty five impossibly fat people drop from the sky and squash you. You go to heaven (assuming there is, blah blah, you know the drill) and God is there, waiting. What do you say?

'Oh, hi. Thanks for having me over, especially after that whole agnosticism thing. Which way to the Temple of All Knowledge? And by the way, what was with that hail of lard-arses? Don't you do rains of fire, or toads, anymore?'
(Well, if it really happened I doubt I'd be so cool. I'd probably actually gibber and stammer a lot while God waited patiently for me to calm down.)

5) Favourite swear word?

'Fuck' and 'cunt' are about equal. I use 'fuck ' a lot more, but 'cunt' is reserved for extra oomph (and for lesbian feminist poetry). They're both good, guttural verbal explosives, good for personal stress relief. Fuck has lost a lot of power in most circles. Cunt is still pretty potent though.

And for amusement value, I like 'bollocks'. (Note how the use of quote marks is so crucial to that sentence.)

Cat Sparks, Publisher of Agog! Press




Cat Sparks is the owner of Agog! Press. She also edited and published the Ditmar nominated Agog! Smashing Stories from Agog! Press and has just released the giant monster anthology Daikaiju!, edited by Robert Hood and Robin Pen, and featuring cover art by Bob Eggleton.



1) In Australia, Agog! Press has been, to all appearances, quite the success. Your anthologies have been critically well received, been embraced by readers, and provided a venue where new authors can emerge. From a business standpoint, however, what are the realities that are faced for each project?

Nobody ever got rich running a small press. Nobody ever stayed sane either. The main problem faced by small presses is distribution: how to get your books out there into the marketplace. Distribution companies take 70% or more of the cover price. Small presses simply can’t afford to use them. This means we have to hand-sell our books to individual store managers who, if they agree to take them, will usually take a handful on consignment basis. A print run of 1500 books doesn’t actually cost all that more to produce than a run of 500 due to the different printing processes involved (offset for 1500, digital for 500). But the problem then becomes how to shift 1500 books from out of your lounge room without a distributor?

Seriously, if I could find a distributor that would do the job properly, I’d go the bigger print run and pay the 70% just to see the books on the shelves. But there are so many horror stories. So many small presses have gone up against the wall by doing just this. I can’t afford to risk it. I don’t have the cash.

I got into the small press game with my eyes wide open. I knew several small press publishers and I asked them all for advice first up. Most of them tried to talk me out of Agog before it even got off the ground. But I persisted with it despite the economic realities because the anthologies I wanted to read were not being produced in Australia. I plan to keep on doing it till it’s not fun any more and then I’ll stop.

2) How much time do you spend with the design of a book as an object,and what goes into consideration here?

I was a graphic artist long before I was a writer or editor. Just as I had a clear vision of what I wanted the stories in the Agog! Anthologies to be like, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted the books to look like too. Crappy design, layout and cover art is all too common in the small press universe – and there is no excuse for it. If a book doesn’t look shit hot then its not going to be able to compete. No one will pick it up, let alone part with cash for it – and, indeed, why should they?

After Agog! Fantastic Fiction came out, I took into consideration the opinions and advice of booksellers as to where the title lettering on the jacket should go for maximum readability on the shelf. My favourite of my covers is Terrific Tales. I loved the idea of a giant face staring out at the readers looking – well – agog!. This is the cover I have had the most favourable response to. For Smashing Stories I wanted something scientific in a dodgy kinda way. I love weird science. And I love my Agog! covers.

3) What kind of work do you think is being embraced and what work has a more difficult home to find in the Australian scene these days?

I believe there is still too much substandard material being accepted for publication – and by substandard I mean boring stuff, regardless of its subgenre or classification. This is not because the good stories aren’t out there. I think it is because of editorial inexperience in some cases, and the use of committees in others. I really don’t believe in art by committee. You always end up with something more boring than it might have been. It is not always a matter of saying yes or no to a submission. Sometimes you have to work with an author to make a story shine.

There are many more highly skilled and qualified editors than me out there, but I believe my strength is my taste. I reckon I can spot the good stuff. I don’t always choose stories that I personally like for publication -- sometimes I pick a story because it’s well crafted, or clever, or powerful. Four of my least favourite stories in Smashing Stories have been nominated for awards. Go figure.

4) You're dead. Oddly, you were murdered by children who gave you poisoned milk. Anyhow, you go to Heaven (assuming you believe, blah blah) and you see God. You say?

Oh wow. Who’d have thought… truth is stranger than… and thanks for letting me in!

5) Favourite swear word?

Most definitely fuck, only I don’t think of fuck as being a swear word as such. I use it as an indicator of passion to punctuate my sentences. Some sentences fucking need it, you know? Sometimes you just can’t get your fucking point across any other way.

Recently I have become attracted to the term “arsy cunt” to describe a particular kind of person. Arsy cunt. I love it. Gonna put that one on a t-shirt.




Daikaiju!, edited by Robert Hood and Robin Pen.




Geoffrey Maloney is the author of the Ditmar Award nominated collection Tales from the Crypto System. He also has fiction appearing in the latest Aurealis.



1) With a publishing record that begins in 1989, what is it that you would say unifies your body of work as a whole (or doesn't), what interests you, and what it takes, sixteen years later, for you to begin a piece?

I don’t know if there is anything that unifies it as a whole. Like many writers in Australia, I don’t tend to stick to any particular sub-genre and I’m quite happy to write the occasional space opera, albeit with a twist, as I am to write a dark fantasy or a future political history. If there is a unifying angle in there, it’s probably that I prefer the offbeat to the adventurous, the weird to the well-known and characters who realise that they don’t know all the answers. I’m always keen to put my characters into odd situations and see how they deal with it. Basically, they need to suffer or at least be terribly confused by what is happening to them. I’m also fond of happy endings although a lot of people wouldn’t see them ending that way. I put lots of dark humour in my stories too, but it’s rare that people see it.

Beginning a piece of work is probably easier than it ever was – there are ideas all over the place that need exploration. Right now my work is focussing on relationships viewed through a dark fantasy lens. There’s a lot more erotic and magic realism elements emerging. Which is exciting, but at the same time I’m probably narrowing down the markets to I can publish in. In fact, I think the story I’ve just finished writing “The Miracles of Sister Psychosis” has no virtually no market at all, despite the fact that I think it’s one of the more polished stories and I have written. But, yes, it is somewhat – should I use that word? – avant-garde, possibly surrealistic, although it uses a standard narrative flow as all my stories do.

I find that the hardest part now is finishing the things I’ve started. The internal editor has grown sharper and more critical over the years – particularly as a result of having taken on editorial projects at times – and it often passes harsh judgement before I’ve even given a new piece a decent chance. I’d like to think the stories that do get finished are the better ones, but it could just be that the internal editor decided to take a holiday when I wrote them. But I also think that if I could get the internal editor to take a holiday more often, I might be able to produce shorter less complex stories that might have wider appeal.

2) You've recently been publicly associated with helping new authors find a publisher for their collections, and with the organisation of anthologies such as the Devil in Brisbane, with Serbian writer, Zoran Zivkovic. What is it that attracts you to do this?

Quite simply, I’m interested in seeing Australian speculative writing get more recognition outside of the country. And I’m keen to see writers who have clearly got the talent get some early recognition; they shouldn’t have to wait fifteen years before somebody says, “Gee, I didn’t know they’d written so many good stories.” So having had my own collection (this is the plug) “Tales of the Crypto-System” published by Prime Books in late 2003, I was keen to use that connection to help others get a foot in the door. That said, I haven’t actually done all that much. I read most of Lee Battersby’s and Paul Haines’s stories and helped them choose a selection of the best on which we could base a pitch to Prime. But both these guys are so good that their work sells itself. Which at the end of the day is why Prime picked them up.

Some people also thought that I helped Trent Jamieson’s with his collection. But that’s not the case. Trent already had strong connections with Prime through editing the magazine Redsine with Garry Nurrish and the editorial work he did on my own book and Kirsten Bishop’s too. The only thing I did was send Trent badgering emails every so often encouraging him to put his own collection together, which I’m please to see he finally did. Trent’s an exceptional writer whose work definitely deserves a wider audience. Like Battersby and Haines, he’s a great example of a writer who is consistently good, and published stories in so many places that it’s almost impossible for a reader to keep track of. His collection, “Reserved for Travelling Shows” should remedy that. And I did encourage Kirsten Bishop to send “The Etched City” to Prime after she couldn’t find a publisher in Australia for it. It was a case of knowing that the book was simply too good to sit gathering dust and the Australian publishers had obviously got it wrong. Surprise, surprise, surprise!

My involvement with “The Devil in Brisbane” was largely because of my friendship with Zoran Zivkovic who I’d had some contact with before he visited Australia for the Brisbane Writers’ Festival last year. Zoran had also been published by Prime Books in the US. It was a fun project to do and the opportunity to play assistant-editor to a writer of Zoran’s standing was just too good to miss. It came about as a result of Zoran running a writers’ masterclass while he was in Brisbane. He based the class around one of his own devil stories which had just been published in Argosy, and was surprised at how accomplished the writers were who attended. So “The Devil in Brisbane” was born from the stories commenced in the masterclass. There’s also a bunch of other stories Zoran and I requested from a few others, all around the theme of the relationship between the devil and writers. Which to may not sound so interesting to some, but it’s pretty amazing what people have been able to do with that theme.

3) Your opinion of the Australian scene, both pro and con?

There’s a lot being published in the short fiction market, which is good thing, but you get the sense that it’s all so fragile, and any minute everyone could just decide that it’s all too hard and pack up and go home and find something better to do with their lives. This is largely because it takes lots of dedicated individuals, with next to no money, to make it work. It’s a pity that there’s not more interest shown by the big publishing houses in the good stuff that’s being written. I mean you don’t actually hear of anyone getting a book contract in Australia because they’ve got a proven track record in publishing short stories in any of the local magazines. Yet advice to young writers starting out is that they should always try to get some short stories published first. I don’t think that advice applies in Australia, but I’ve heard that it helps in the US. Personally, I like short stories, but if I was a person who really wanted to write novels in Australia, I wouldn’t go anywhere near the short story market. There’s very little money in it and the time it takes to write several short stories would be much better spent on writing your next novel, or better still writing your next Young Adult novel because that seems to be the place where you can actually sell them. Which suggests in Australia, of course, that speculative fiction is somehow juvenile.

Certainly at the big end of town the market is very conservative in terms of what is supposed to sell, but I also think that we’re pretty conservative in the small press short story market as well, largely publishing more traditional style stories than say the small press publishes in the US. A little bit more experimentation wouldn’t go astray. Ticonderoga Online with its self-proclaimed gonzo image is probably worth watching on that front.

And it’s also worth noting that CSFG publishing is about to put a collection out by Kaaron Warren who is certainly one of the more interesting and exciting writers around. People really need to read her story “The Glass Woman”. It’s exceptional. I think this is a great step for the CSFG and I’m happy that I was part of it when it first started.

4) You're dead. The milk really was off, and that was razor blades in the chunky parts. Still, can't complain, being dead. You go to Heaven (assuming you believe, and so forth) and you see God. You say?

“Sweet fucking Jesus! Is that really you? Looks like you could with some help in the Middle East and is true what they’ve been saying on Earth, that you really like George W.Bush?”

5) Favourite swear word?

I prefer Elizabethan insults. “Beetle-brained Jolthead” I think is a beauty. However, if I must have a swearword than “damn” it is, although I’m quite fond of “oh, poop!” which I think I got from my wife and “smelly old bumhead” which came from my kids. If anybody needs some good Elizabethan insults, I can provide them with an Elizabethan Insult Ready Reckoner which I found on the web one night. Hours of fun for everyone.



Deborah Biancotti's Ditmar Award nominated story 'Number 3 Raw Place' appears in Agog! Smashing Stories. She also has work appearing in Mitch? 4: Slow Dancing through Quick Sand.



1) How would you describe a typical Deborah Biancotti story, and how do you think it's changed, or is changing?

A friend cruelly introduced me at a party recently as a 'writer', which always leads to the question 'what do you write?' I hate that question. I don't know how to answer it. I ended up saying 'fantasy' & then when the friend-of-friend looked at me pityingly, I carried on at great length reminding them that, well, Shakespeare used fantastical elements in his stuff, no one told him to write more mainstream, and what on earth did they imagine Gulliver's Travels to be, etc, etc, and so on. After name-dropping a few of the literary big wigs, I moved on to mention that Stephen King & J.K. Rowling were two of the richest writers in the world. (I did this in case their pity was directed not at my supposedly juvenile interest in bedtime stories, but had more to do with the impossibility of ever being a "successful" -- in the capitalist sense -- writer.)

I ended by telling them I write the kind of thing Mary Shelley wrote, except I am also able to make use of the entire literary canon to this point. I left them with the thought that 'the most interesting stuff is always at the fringes' and at that point they decided to change the subject. 'Bout time.

As to changing, my stuff's getting bigger. Just 'bigger'. More ambitious, more broad, more thoughtful, just more. IMHO.

2) How do comments about your work being obscure influence your decisions to push your personal boundaries?

Hmm, yeah, I have had that accusation a couple of times, though not as often as your question implies, Ben!

I'm like that bald guy in LOST -- "Don't tell me what I can't do." Comments on obscurity make me want to firm up my grasp on narrative. Maybe not for every story, though. Sometimes I'll still want to write my surreal, personal stuff *as well*. But if the understanding of story is a mountain, I intend to get to the top of it.

Apologies, is my answer maybe a little too surreal, there? In this instance, I am happy to answer more straightforwardly *grin*.

3) If the local scene is to grow, how is it to do this? And do you think this is a question that has been addressed in the last ten years?

Eh, I dunno. The scene (by which I take it you mean the number of active participants working in local artistic endeavours) seems pretty healthy to me. What I'm really interested in is expanding readership for what-we-currently-call 'genre'. It's purely a laziness thing. I'm tired of explaining myself at parties. ;)) I'm bored with the division between mainstream & genre. Look, if it was good enough for Mary Shelley, it's good enough for everyone, I say.

I like when I go into a bookstore (like, say, Better Read than Dead in Newtown) & the new release tables have _all_ kinds of books lying cover to cover. China Mielville is right there between a book on the politics of Rwanda and something being described as 'a new Australian literary classic'.

'Has it been addressed in the last ten years', well, a lot of people say that the 'ghetto' of spec fic is what allows us to grow & to do challenging work without mainstream or financial interests shutting us down. I guess they have that whole mushroom theory -- things grow better in the dark, when nobody's watching. And hey, they could be entirely right.

Me, I think if we can get out of the ghetto we can run this town.

4) You're dead. It was a beautiful funeral, but the fact that you made us all donate to cover the costs has meant we're kinda pissed. But what do you care. You're in Heaven (assuming there is, blah blah) and you're in front of God. What do you say?

Sooooooo, funny bugger, hey?

5) Favourite swear word?

Cunt. I'm a traditionalist. Also a feminist. When I say cunt I mean it with respect.



Jonathan Strahan is the co-editor (with Charles N. Brown) of The Locus Awards: Thirty Years of the Best in Fantasy and Science Fiction. He is also the reviews editor at Locus, and edits 3 kinds of Year's Best series with Karen Haber. More in the comments.



1) You are, by no means, an unknown figure on the international scene of speculative fiction. It is a reputation that continues to grow with your own Year's Best series (some co-edited with Karen Haber) and it now looks like you have a flow of original anthologies arriving under your own editor skill. Still, there's a sense, from comments on your blog, that there isn't much financial security offered by this work--and I'm curious to know how those realities and the desires to produce a project interact when your making choices on what to pursue?

I'm not sure whether Notes from Coode Street really gives you a clear insight into my decision-making processes when it comes to new projects. You're certainly correct that freelance anthology work doesn't give much financial security. While you can make money doing it, the only people I can think of who make a living are Marty Greenberg and the people at Tekno Books, so you really need other reasons for doing it.

What are mine? Well, it comes down to how much fun it seems, how excited I get about the book that could be done, and who I'll get to work with. I'll sometimes come up with an idea, think it seems okay, then begin to build it up in my mind. This could happen, there could be that kind of story, so-and-so would be perfect for the book (could I get them to write for it?), and then that would mean maybe someone else would get involved. And as this happens, I get more and more excited, more passionate about the book, it becomes more solid in my mind's eye. When I know it could be a real book, a good one, and one that seems a lot of fun to work on, then I ask the killer question: would anyone publish it? If the answer is yes, then I'm almost certainly going to do it.

Although you don't expressly ask it, another question implicit in your question is whether the money is a decisive factor. It's not. I've published eight anthologies, am working actively on three more, and have other projects in development. Of the eight published, I didn't get paid at all for two, made less money per hour on five others than I would have got working at McDonald's, and did okay in the other one. Of the other three, two will pay ok, and one I'm doing for free. All of them, though, are books I love the idea of, that I really wanted or want to do. It's a whimsical thing, but it's fun.

2) In the '90s you were a prominent figure on the Australian scene, but it does feel that by the end of those years, that you were making a conscious decision to step back from that to follow International options. Was it as conscious? And how much does growing a reputation for your work outside Australia rely upon your work leaving it (though not necessarily with you moving)?

It really wasn't conscious at all. To be really honest, I haven't planned anything that I've done in the science fiction field. I was almost completely unaware of the Australian SF scene back in 1990 when Eidolon started, didn't know anyone and hadn't heard of many Australian writers at all. What happened was I attended a convention with some friends, we got excited, and decided to do a 'zine. Some of the others had a desire to make it about Australian SF, and I thought that was cool. Between 1990 and 1993 I was completely focussed on it, working on it all the time, and really loved it.

In 1993 three of us went to WorldCon in San Francisco, which changed my life. I met my future wife there, who was the managing editor for Locus. We corresponded, I travelled there, and eventually spent a year living in the Bay Area in 1997. During this time I was still working on Eidolon, and did the two volumes of The Year's Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy with Jeremy Byrne. In 1997, though, while living in the US, I became a reviewer for Locus, which I did for about a year. During 1997/1998 my energies were being split between Eidolon and the Australian SF scene and Locus and the international scene. I thought that would change when I came home in early 1998, but it didn't. I'd spent all of my spare time for about eight years working on Eidolon, knew most everyone in the Australian SF scene, and had made some wonderful friends, but I was eager for new challenges, to work with some of the international writers whose work I loved too. That didn't fit. I got married in the US in early 1999 and left Eidolon when I got home.

In terms of neat historical benchmarks, Aussiecon 3 in Melbourne was decisive. I'd left Eidolon six months earlier, and when I was in the US to get married I'd agreed to try reviewing for Locus from Australia and to do some editing work for them. That seemed the new focus for me. I worked pretty actively on Terry Dowling's ANTIQUE FUTURES, which was published for Aussiecon and that was about it.

I spent 1999 - 2004 working for Locus and getting in a position where I could edit anthologies (though that was a pretty organic process too). What I find now is that, having been out of the scene for nearly six years, I'm really eager to do some Australian stuff. There are new writers whose work I don't know so well and, at first glance, an energy to the scene that is exciting.

I don't think I could have achieved what I have if I'd maintained a solely Australian focus, though. The scene is good, but it just doesn't hold the world's attention constantly. It was important to do other stuff, to work with other people. The nice thing now is that I can bring Australian writers into my projects, see them published in the US, and hopefully get a whole new audience. The way I feel about it now is that I've moved from being an Australian introducing Australian writers to Australia, to potentially being an Australian introducing Australian writers to the world. It sounds pretentious, I know, but I hope it works that way.

3) Short fiction wise, what is it that you would like to see more of?

It's not really how I see things. I'm not looking for more of this, or less of that. I'm looking for something that excites me, even if I don't really know why all the time, something with energy and vitality (the 'juice' as one friend always says). Perhaps more helpfully, something with strong narrative, solid endings, and something that shows the writer has an idea who they are. I don't need more drippy derivative stuff. I want something that make the writer I'm reading interesting and individual. That's what's important to me.

4) You're dead. Angry, angry jugglers. It wasn't pretty. Anyhow, you go to Heaven (assuming there is, blah blah) and you see God. You Say?

George W. Bush. Please explain.

5) Favorite swear word?

Bugger. It's a classic, it doesn't get in me strife over the kids learning words they shouldn't, and it covers every possible situation. It might even be the real answer to (4) above.