March 4th, 2008


Because I'm an Influential Sort

Back in April 2005 Ben Peek, on his weblog The Urban Sprawl Project, undertook to interview as many Australian speculative fiction writers as he could and to publish those interviews over the course of a week. Each interview was only short, some five questions in all, and was aimed primarily at getting a brief look at the author's latest work, what they were currently working on, and what they thought of the then current state of the speculative fiction field in Australia. He called it the "2005 Snapshot".

In August 2007, the ASif! (Australian SpecFic in focus) crew, along with a guest or two, decided to follow Peek's lead and came up with their own 2007 Snapshot. They finished up interviewing 83 authors, up from the 43 in Peek's original.

At the end of 2007, Karen Chisholm (of the Aust Crime Fiction weblog), Damien Gay (of Crime DownUnder) and Perry Middlemiss (of Matilda) decided a similar snapshot of Australian crime fiction was required.

Over the past couple of months these three have conducted a number of small, five-question interviews with a wide variety of Australian crime fiction writers and will begin publishing them across the three weblogs, starting Monday March 3, 2008.

If you are at all interested in the current state of Australian crime fiction, you'll find this series very entertaining and, hopefully, illuminating.

Neat, hey?

Follow the links and learn about some crime fiction.
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Two New Author Hoaxes

In “Love and Consequences,” a critically acclaimed memoir published last week, Margaret B. Jones wrote about her life as a half-white, half-Native American girl growing up in South Central Los Angeles as a foster child who ran drugs for members of the Bloods, an infamous gang. The author’s biography on the back flap says she graduated from the University of Oregon.


Ms. Jones, a pseudonym for Margaret Seltzer, actually is all white and grew up in Sherman Oaks, in the San Fernando Valley of California, with her biological family. She graduated from the Campbell Hall School, a private Episcopal day school in North Hollywood. She has never lived with a foster family, nor did she run drugs for any gang members. She is still a few credits short of a diploma from University of Oregon.


Ms. Seltzer added that she wrote the book “sitting at the Starbucks at the corner of Crenshaw and Stockyard. People would come in and say, ‘What are you doing?’ because I would be sitting there all day every day. I would talk to kids who were Black Panthers and kids who were gang members and kids who were not gang members.”

Link one.

THE author of a bestselling autobiography that told the story of a young Jewish girl saved by wolves while hiding from the Nazis in wartime Europe has admitted that most of the story was made up.

Misha Defonseca's book Survivre avec les Loups is known in English as Misha, a Memoir of the Holocaust Years and has just been made into a successful film.

She said she had invented an alternative story to make up for her painful real experiences.


Defonseca's book told the story of a 7-year-old Belgian Jewish girl who journeys across Europe after her parents were arrested by the Nazis during World War Two.

For much of the time she sleeps in forests, fed and protected by wolves, like Rudyard Kipling's character Mowgli in The Jungle Book.


Her lawyer, Marc Uyttendaele, wrote to Belgium's Le Soir newspaper saying while the book may be improbable in places, it was a "message of hope".

"In other words, it matters little whether the account is real or partly allegorical, it is the product of absolute good faith, a cry of suffering and an act of courage. In that it is the product of absolute good faith, a cry of suffering and an act of courage. In that it deserves only respect," he wrote.

Link two.

What impresses me about both these hoaxes is how obvious it seems to me that they're fake. A seven year old girl is protected by wolves, and a half Native American girl runs drugs for the Bloods, then sits in Starbucks and writes a book about her experiences. Fuck, call me shocked that they turned out fake.

The story for both of them is the same, of course: now that the truth has been revealed, there is a sense of betrayal, of being deceived, and that will alter the way the book is seen, but, in both these cases, you have to wonder what the publishers and editors were thinking when they took these books. Just hearing about them makes me wonder if they're true, and if they need to be verified, and I perhaps wonder if it's not the case of editors and publishers--especially in the case of Love and Consequences--existing within ivory towers that shelter them from a healthy dose of reality in the case of these books and authors. For example, the half Native American, half White girl who runs drugs and lives in foster homes is not, suddenly, at the age of thirty, going to turn around and write a book. Oh, sure, it can happen--I don't mean to dis any ex-drug running, foster raised half Native American and Half White people who are out there reading this blog, but the truth is, someone raised and living in such an environment is not, in my opinion, going to naturally turn to the publishing world to tell their story.

Of course, I might also have blinked when I saw that my Half Native American, Half White author looked like this:

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