Tuesday, May 31, 2016

ALL ABOARD!

It's not always about the writing, you know.

This Sunday, I'll be staffing a table at the annual AMRA Model Train Show at the Claremont Showgrounds. No, I haven't added model trains to my list of hobbies that wouldn't get me kissed by a girl if I was single. Rather, I'm volunteering on behalf of Bricktober, the Lego show I participate in each October, who have a display table at the event for the first time.

Normally, I head down there to see the display by the WA Brick Society, which I have a habit of reporting on each year, but this time, I'll be making with the niceness and the being nice shtick, nicely. Which is why I'm only doing one day instead of the whole three, because come on: who can keep that up for a whole three days?

So come on down, have a gander at the amazing displays on offer-- and even as a non-train-lover, they are amazing-- and say hi to the Bricktober table while you're down there!





Sunday, May 15, 2016

TRUMBO AND THE TRUTH IN BLOGGING: OVER TO YOU, PEEPS

Spent last night watching the dramatised documentary Trumbo, which is based, to a large extent, upon letters written by Dalton Trumbo during the period of his blacklisting. One thing that really shone through was just how literate, wide-ranging and incisive those letters were, and it got me thinking: letters are verging upon being a dead art form, now. They've been replaced by emails, and to a certain extent, weblogs. We've replaced lyricism with functionality.

As for blogging, it's a form I've never used as a true record of my thoughts: I've dabbled with it, been flippant and irregular. As a journal-- as a snapshot of my thoughts, attitudes, and experiences-- it's not been up to scratch for a rather long time.

So, here's a chance to change that. Post a subject below that you'd like to see me discuss, address, or just generally rant about. Once a week, until the subjects run out, I'll dedicate a blog entry to it. I won't lie, or prevaricate, or treat it lightly. I'll give you utter and unalloyed honesty and truth.

What would you like me to talk about?

A CLASSIC, YOU SAY?

Thanks to the lovely Kylie Ding, here's the full text of The Times' review of Magrit.

It's as spoileriffic as all buggery, but how's about that last line?


Saturday, May 14, 2016

I SHALL WRITE TO THE TIMES ABOUT THIS!

Maybe it's the English-Boy upbringing, but there are some images and icons that stand above others as some sort of acknowledgment of hasn't-he-done-well?-ishness.

Running out onto Wembley for the FA Cup final.
Playing the London Palladium.
Doing Hamlet at the Globe.
Appearing in The Times.

The Freaking TIMES.

You know, say, like this:

The Times Children's Book of the Week: Magrit, by Lee Battersby.

The Times, people! The freaking TIMES!

Okay, the majority of the review is hidden by a paywall, but I think the bit you can read gives a fairly decent accounting of what they think of the book.

Did I mention the freaking TIMES? LIKES MY BOOK!

Ahem.

The Times.



Thursday, April 21, 2016

IN WHICH I TALK IN REAL LIFE WITH ACTUAL PERSONS

You might remember: a little while I mentioned being interviewed for writingWA's Cover to Cover program. 


Well, the interview has gone live! 


So if you have a spare thirty minutes, and want to hear me talk about writing Magrit, the fearlessness of children, my processes, and how absurd my children are, now you can watch it all in spectacular Life-o-Vision (tm)!












Sunday, April 17, 2016

GARCING UP THE WRONG TREE

Thanks to a rainy weekend, I managed to put the finishing touches on a couple of GARC* MOCs I've been fiddling about with for a while, and which will (eventually) be part of a display for this year's Bricktober.

So, for your entertainment, here are the Tug and the Silas Greenback.

(* Must have 2 crew members per ship; no weapons; the crazier the colour scheme the better)






















Thursday, April 14, 2016

I HAVE THINGS TO SAY, DAMMIT!

I've been interviewed over at writer Louisa Loder's website. More Magrit talk, plus writing horror, changing things up, and a kiss for an albino snake.

Check it out.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

WORLD'S MOST SPOILERY REVIEW

Just received news of a fantastic review for Magrit in today's Herald Sun.








It's also an exercise in giving away the entire fucking point of the book, so look away now if you don't want a great big ruinous spoiler jammed up your eyeballs......









MAGRIT GETS SOME BRAG

How's this for pretty? It's a brag sheet developed by Walker Books to remind you all that all the cool kids in town like Magrit and you should definitely get yourself a copy so everyone will think you're cool, too.






I mean, really, you really should.


















In other news, I've been interviewed by the delightful Meri Fatin for writingWA's online program Cover to Cover. It'll be available on their YouTube channel from the 20th April, and here's me looking all grown up and respectable while I pimp it:

















Here's the official poster:


























Tune in from the 20th for half an hour of me talking all things Magrit, children's writing, and how difficult it is getting through an entire novel without dropping an F-bomb...



Review: Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories

Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories by China Miéville
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Entertaining set of stories-- when they are, at least, stories-- offset with just a few too many vignettes that start out as stories and go nowhere. The originality of Mieville's voice is never in doubt, here: there are some beautiful ideas floating around, such as icebergs reconstituting themselves in mid-air, a cabal of creatures whose bones have been scrimshawed while they are still alive, and secret playing cards that open up a secret world of playing structures to those who play them. But a template to Meiville's storytelling quickly becomes apparent, which leads to the collection, as a whole, beginning to feel rather samey-- again, and again, stories fall into a pattern of "here is an amazing secret, discovered by a character; here is the character trying to ascertain the universal truth of this secret; here am I, the author/narrator/antagonist, confirming that the searched-for universal truth exists; no, I will not explain how or why."

Taken individually, some of these stories are wonderful. Collected together, they are to similar in narrative structure, and cut through with too many sprinkles of nothingness, to truly astound.

View all my reviews

Monday, March 21, 2016

GHOST TRACKS

Paul sat on the back porch of the motel and pitched stones into the long grass that covered all the visible land between his perch and the broken fence that failed to delineate the boundary between the motel ground and the abandoned railway line beyond. He’d been stuck here for four days, now, ever since his grandfather’s funeral. Four days in a nowhere town of eight streets so far up the bum of the Western Australian wheatbelt that even the grain trains had stopped rolling through town for lack of interest. Four days with no internet, no TV, no video games, barely any phone reception, one café that closed between 1 and 4 pm and after 8pm, three books of which two were snaffled by his Mum and dad and he wasn’t allowed to read the other one because it was ‘too adult’, no kids his age, no kids of any age, no interest from his parents and worst of all, if he stopped to think about it too much—although he didn’t… couldn’t—no Granddad.

One of the best parts of writing Magrit was reading it to Luscious and the kids every evening-- the book started out as a way of giving Master 11 something to look forward to each day to help him cope with the Rumination Syndrome that was destroying his life at the time.  

Now that he's recovered, and Magrit is in print, I've turned my attention to a new kids' novel. That thar is the first paragraph of Ghost Tracks, and just like last time, I'm reading it to the family as we go. 3400 words in as of tonight; there's going to be some lovely nights curled up, finding out what happens next together.


AND ONE OF MY OWN

And, for balance, one of my own.


I started out life as a poet: my first ever sale was a poem, to a University magazine, and over the years, I've published at the length far too infrequently. Good poetry is hard, and I am, far too often, far too lazy to craft and mould a good poem from its initial frenzy of wordplay. I've sold less than a dozen over the 15 years of my professional career, which always feels like a lack on my part: I always wish I could write more, and better.


Poetry, to me, is a proving ground of vocabulary, wit, and rhythm. I hit those scales too rarely for my liking.


Working for a Greener Narrative is one of those times. It appeared in Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine issue 36, back in September 2008. Enjoy.






Working for a Greener Narrative


Every time you say you don’t believe in fairies, a fairy dies.
Therefore, by Disney’s Law of the Conservation of Narrative,
If you say you do believe in them...

I believe in fairies,
pirates, honest politicians, dinosaurs, God, atomic monsters, the division of Church and State, yetis, a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, angels, vampires, Nessie, aliens, the Green Man, terror birds, Prestor John, serial killers, the Midgard serpent, zeppelins, children as the representatives of our future, and Daleks.

But I need to find two hundred and forty nine other true believers
Before I can set up viable breeding colonies.





WORLD POETRY DAY

Today is World Poetry Day, a UNESCO initiative to support linguistic diversity and promote the use of poetry to give native and endangered languages the chance to be heard within their own communities. It's also a wonderful opportunity to highlight the lyrical beauty of poetry, and its ability to articulate an image, theme, or emotion within a compressed, heightened, narrative structure.


And to read poems. Because, frankly, poetry rocks.


So, in the interests of sharing the love, find herein attached my favourite poem, Little Johnny's Confession, from the brilliant Mersey poet Brian Patten, from his collection of the same name.





Little Johnny's Confession
by Brian Patten

This morning
being rather young and foolish
I borrowed a machine gun my father
had left hidden since the war, went out,
and eliminated a number of small enemies.


Since then I have not returned home.

This morning
swarms of police with tracker dogs
wander about the city
with my description printed
on their minds, asking:
'Have you seen him?
He is seven years old,
likes Pluto, Mighty Mouse
and Biffo the Bear,
have you seen him, anywhere?'

This morning
sitting alone in a strange playground
muttering you've blundered, you've blundered
over and over to myself
I work out my next move
but cannot move.


The tracker dogs will sniff me out.
They have my lollypops.








So: what's your favourite poem, and where can it be found?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

MORE MAGRIT PIMPERY, THIS TIME WITH FILLUM!

So, how's about this, then?




Mentioned in the same breath as Seven Little Australians? I'll take that :)

Monday, March 07, 2016

REVIEWS, REVIEW, REVIEWS

And the reviews, they've started to roll in. Here's the first batch:

Thirteen O'Clock calls it "one of those tales that sweeps you away into the beauty of the macabre and leaves you with a pang of sadness in your heart".

Creative Kids Tales pronounces it "A great book for all ages."

Read Plus calls it "a delightfully dark fairy tale, full of Battersby's whimsy and charm." That's right. I have whimsy and charm, so suck it.

Lamont Books says it is "a perfeect story for your year 5/6 girls who like a good supernatural story with a twist," which is remarkably specific.

And My Best Friends Are Books declares "Magrit i a wonderfully crafted story that is magical, unusual, strange and captivating."

Also, Books + Publishing gives it a 5 star review, which I can't link to because it's behind a paywall and I'm cheap, but come on, 5 stars!

So there you go, then. Turns out, it might be quite good......

12 CURLY QUESTIONS

As part of the Magrit promotional trail, I've been interviewed over at Kids' Book Review, for their 12 Curly Questions section.

Go, read, enjoy.

MAGRIT GOT REAL

The dust has finally settled, I've gone back to the real world, and I can finally reflect on a mad fortnight of Magrit-related shenanigans.

First up was a surprise appearance at the Perth Writers Festival-- a surprise to me as much as anybody else, as I was only added the roster 10 days out from the event when Emily Rodda pulled out, long after all the publicity material had been prepared and programmes printed. Even so, an invitation to appear is not one you turn down, so I duly rocked up to the Festival Schools Day on Thursday and spent a delightful 45 minutes talking all things writing with veteran YA author Carole Wilkinson and moderator Deb Fitzpatrick, as well as all the things you usually do on a panel for kids-- pretending to eat the microphone, pulling stupid faces, impersonating Emily Rodda...... you know......

Talking all things kid books with Deb Fitzpatrick and Carole Wilkinson


Friday I rejoined Carol at a session for teachers on inspiring writing in the classroom, chaired by AJ Betts and in the presence of the all-powerful Andy Griffiths, who kindly consented to a selfie and a signed book for Master 11, who was filthy as could be that he was unable to meet his literary hero. Andy was an education-- quiet and internalised off-stage, he came alive in front of an audience, mixing charm, performance and insight, then returning to his quiet, self-contained self at the end. While the session itself was enjoyable, and it was nice to talk about the teaching of writing for a change, exposure to other authors and the way they manage themselves is beyond valuable. Andy and Carole are very different people, and the insight into their working lives was incredible.

Andy Griffith: consummate professional, fantastic showman, and a guy who will turn it on anywhere, anyhow, if it means making a kid happy. An absolute education to work with. 


And then there was Sunday. A solo session, at 9 in the morning, (that'd be Sunday morning), for a pack of kids almost all of whom were expecting Emily Rodda. No pressure, then..... Stuck for ideas, Luscious and the kids jumped on and helped me stuff a bag full of random items from the garage, and while I read sections from the book, the kids used the parts to build a Master Puppet skeleton at my feet. I think they did quite well, too.

Haranguing children while they go into a feeding frenzy at my feet. 
Typical Sunday morning, really.


Pimp my Master Puppet.

The rest of the Festival was a joy, as it is is when you've got an artist lanyard in your hot little hand. Apart from access to the paid sessions for free, it entitles you to access the green room, whereby you can meet the other artists, and comes with an invitation to the opening night party. I bumped into the delightful Melinda Tognini, who I hadn't seen since our first year of University in 1989, Luscious met Jack Heath, which was her entire reason for attending the festival, so much did she love his current novel, and Master 11 got an insight into the professional life of an author. It's one of the reasons I attend every year: I get to breath in the essence of authorship, and realign my compass with the wider literary world beyond the cramped, and increasingly unsatisfying, speculative fiction borders I've inhabited until now.

Also, those big signs they have in the social centre of the Festival?
I may have got a little graffitti-y......

I've three books in my computer, all part-started and all clamouring for attention: another children's novel, a crime novel, and a linked collection of supernatural historical stories. These are the works I need to complete, before I take on anything else. Being at the Festival, exposed to the full range of the literary spectrum, helps me realise how large that literary world is, and how much of it I still want to explore.

Then it was on to Stefen's Books the following weekend, and the official Magrit launch. Stefen has always been good to me, and this occasion was no exception, with a window display, posters throughout the store, and a sell-out crowd that emptied the shop of stock. Some reading, a revival of some of my old stand-up skills (such as they are), and an awful lot of skeletons drawn in an awful lot of books -- a once-only addition to my signature-- and Magrit was officially launched into the world. As is a Stefen's tradition, we then retired to the pub next door for lunch, a drink or two, and much laughter, which is part of what makes his launches so special.

Of course, what that also means, is that you can now get yourself down to Stefen's to pick up a copy of the book, or order it from Walker, or find it at any one of a million billion trillion excellent, good, or utterly dodgy bookstores. Go on. What's stopping you?

The set-up at Stefen's. He knows how to treat an author well. 


I should have knicked this on the way out, I really should have......


Getting my signing on. Those worms weren't all for me-- we passed them through the crowd, just before I read the section where Magrit feeds the new baby by squishing worms through her toes and feeding him the paste. Because what's a reading without sweeties and cruelty?

Let me tell you: a window display never, and I mean never, gets old. 


With Ms 14 and Master 11, who inspired the book and copped 
a dedication for their trouble.


So that's it: Magrit is now out into the world, I've had my annual reminder of what it is to be a real writer, and now it's back to the day-by-day crunch of day job, with a garnish of must-sit-down-and-write-something-today. I've made it know that my next work will be abut a boy who derails a ghost train, so I guess I'd better start adding to the 2500 words I've completed so far, right?.........






Thursday, February 25, 2016

THIS SATURDAY, PEOPLE. THIS! SATURDAY!

In case you haven't worked it out from the title, there's something happening this Saturday......

It's the official launch of Magrit, is what it is!



11am, Stefen's Books in Shafto Lane, Perth.

All the details are on the events page here!

Come on down.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

LDB AT PWF

You're going to be at the Perth Writers Festival, surely.

Well, I am, and if you're in the right place at the right time, you'll get to see me blether in front of a mostly-live audience! Here's my itinerary:

Schools Day
Thursday 18 February
11:15am-12pm
World Building
with Deb Fitzpatrick (chair) and Carole Wilkinson
Romeo Tent

Carole Wilkinson and Lee Battersby know how to bring the extraordinary to life. In this session these two unique storytellers discuss how they combine elements of magic and fantasy to create their characters and worlds.


Friday 19 February
2:45pm-3:45pm
Writing Matters
with AJ Betts (chair), Andy Griffiths and Carole Wilkinson
Ross Lecture Theatre

In this panel discussion, authors talk about the art and craft of writing, firing up the imagination, supporting emerging writers and working to create a writing culture in the classroom


Sunday 21 February
9am-9:40am
Magrit
Tropical Garden

Magrit lives in an abandoned cemetery with her friend and advisor, Master Puppet, whom she built from bones and bits of graveyard junk. She is as forgotten as the tiny graveyard world that surrounds her. Join Lee Battersby as he shares his wondrous new tale about a girl, a graveyard, and an unexpected guest (ages 9-12)

We'll also be building our own skeleton out of random objects collected from around the house, including cricket stumps, a pogo stick, a basketball, and any other mad falderal I can find in the next few days, so you know you want to be a part of that!


For those of you who aren't yet unfamiliar with my upcoming book:
a) Where the hell have you been? Do you even read this blog? and
b) HERE! THE BOOK IS HERE! RIGHT HERE. WALKER BOOKS! HERE!

Other than these sessions, I'll be wandering the grounds with a stupid grin and loud Lego shirt, so make sure you say hi, grab a snap or two with me, and help to exploderate my Instagram account with stupid selfies.

BRING. IT. AWWWWWWNNNNNNN!




Sunday, February 07, 2016

PERTH WRITERS FESTIVAL, HERE WE COME!

So, here's some good news: thanks to a withdrawal, I'm a late invitee to appear at this year's Perth Writers Festival!

I'll be doing a world-building panel on the schools day on Thursday, before hanging out with AJ Betts, Carole Wilkinson and Andy Griffiths on 'Writing Matters' at 2.45pm on Friday, then arseing about by myself at a solo session in the Tropical Grove at 9am on the Sunday, where my ideas so far begin and end with "maybe I can throw a bucket of tennis balls at the kids", so it's bound to be fun......

I'll be at the event for the entire weekend, so if you see me, come and say hi! 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

AWAY, AWAY, WHERE ONLY MEMORY CAN FIND YOU... AND PHOTOS.... AND GPS... AND WHEREIS... AND, YOU KNOW, PRETTY MUCH EVERYONE KNOWS.

I don't know when you started your year, but for me, this is the first weekend of 2016.

For the first time in six years, I've actually managed to have some proper holidays, and while New Year's resolutions are fine and dandy and wonderfully worthwhile things, I'm damned if I'm going to remember what they are when I'm sitting in a Kripsy Kreme at 10 o'clock at night with a vanilla slice doughnut in one hand and a fuck-off-sized banana malt milkshake in the other.

In other news, we spent a week in Melbourne, and yesterday I recorded a 1.7kg gain at my Weight Watchers weigh-in......

Nominally, the trip happened because the kid's grandparents took them away for a week, but it was really a chance for me to exhibit at my 2nd Lego exhibition, the incredible Brickvention, where something in the region of 26,000 members of the public descended upon the Royal Exhibition Building to view the works of Lego artists from all over the country, for Lyn to catch up with her cousin Sue, and for us both to catch up with our good friend Grant Watson. Plus, you know, Melbourne.

Let's start with the Lego, shall we?

BRICKVENTION

I've been niggling abut getting over to this massive exhibition for a couple of years now. Brickvention 2016 took place at the Royal Exhibition Building, a beautiful old building next to the Victorian Museum. The 2-day exhibition is preceded by an AFOL day: an entire day set aside for seminars, mutual admiration, frenzied discounted-sets buying, fan auctions, lectures, drinking and an enormous game of Dirty Brickster. The day started at 9am. We arrived in Melbourne at 6am. It's fair to say that working a full day, then going straight to the airport to catch a red-eye flight, then dropping your exhausted wife off in the middle of a strange City by herself while you fuck off for 12 hours of self-indulgent Lego activity is not a practice I'll replicate next time I do this event.

I have a very loving wife.

The AFOL day itself was a lot of fun. Registration was accompanied by a goodies bag that would be the envy of most of the professional conventions I've attended-- a backpack stacked with free Lego, including an exhibition-exclusive set designed by Australian AFOL Shannon Sproule; branded high-quality water bottle; exhibitor t-shirt; and a range of vouchers designed to make me feel welcome and pampered. Bloody worked, too. Once I'd picked up my goodies and signed up for some of the ore interesting events, I sahayed into the several-thousand square feet building to admire the astonishing skills of the other builders, and meet my co-exhibitors.

Due to distance, unfamiliarity, and weight restrictions, I was making perhaps the smallest contribution of any exhibitor: a 32x32-stud module towards a Micropolis collaborative build. Micropolis refers to a tiny-scale modular City built collaboratively by any number of contributors: the Brickvention version contained contributions from Queensland, South Australia and Victoria as well as my spaceport-in-a-backpack. I placed my little offering at the edge of the city, met and chinwagged with Cherie and Shaun Patrick, Queenslanders who had made the journey down to be a part of the build, then spent the rest of the day wandering around in my own little world, taking photos, going back again and again to the commercial stalls for just one more custom-printed block or baseplate, and generally geeking out like a geeky little geeker geek.

After meeting Luscious for dinner, we both trooped back to the hall to show Lyn the much-more-impressive-than-her-husband's works on display and to finish the night off with Dirty Brickster, a round-table game that involves unwrapping mystery Lego packages and then madly stealing them off each other while the rest of the crowd hoots and hollers in mock outrage. Having picked up a sweet submarine set at 20% off earlier in the day, I set my eyes on a duplicate that was unwrapped late in the game, and came away with it in a state of high glee, the calls of 'Dirty Brickster' loud in my ears as I casually swiped it from the person who'd swiped it from the person who'd swiped it from the person who unwrapped it. Stolen three times, the set was officially out of the game and under my chair: a great part pack of colourful elements that will find their way into a spaceship MOC very soon.

Saturday and Sunday were spent behind our display table, answering questions and chatting to the unending stream of visitors who attended the public exhibition, bar a couple of hours on Saturday when I snuck out to join Luscious at the National Gallery's Hamer Hall to see visiting naturalist Steve Backshall on stage, a pre-paid performance that was a much-anticipated highlight of the trip. And then, after three days of full Lego immersion, it was all over, and I said goodbye to new friends like Damien Saunders and Paulius Stepanius, and old ones like Sue Ann Barber, and headed out into the night for four days in the supposed cultural capital of Australia with Lyn.

Before that, though, we're going to need a gallery:



Brickvention! After 7 hours on a plane, a 45 minute walk from the hotel, and 27 hours since any form of sleep, I make it!



The Royal Exhibition Building is a modest, understated little thing...



Modest. Understated.



It's hard to decide what the design brief for the lights were, but 'giant, fuck-off' seems to have been mentioned... 



40 feet above our heads, someone has folk-arted flowers on the ceiling. Which begs the question: who even decides to haul a Nanna that high, and how do they do it?



My modest little contribution joins the table.



The full Micropolis display, with my module on the right side. 7 contributors from WA, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria, including Sue Ann Barber, Cherie and Shaun Patrick, and Tim Burdon.



Every exhibitor received a brick-built badge consisting of 1x6 bricks with their name and the exhibition year engraved upon them. Here, AFOL Tim Matheson models a multi-year badge that might just have taken the whole concept over the edge......



Scottish builder and author Warren Elsmore takes us through his work.



Dirty brickster.... dirty brickster......



So many displays, even a dedicated NoLSO (Non-Lego Significant Other) like Luscious can find one she wants to be seen with.



A mildly popular event......


And what of the displays themselves? Here is a small (and I mean small) selection of what was on display. Where I know the name of the artist I've denoted it, but nonetheless, mad skills abound. 



Even in brick form, the Lancaster is a thing of beauty.



Ryan McNaught's Titanic. An absolute behemoth about 6 feet high and eight long, with unbelievable detail and narrative moment in every inch. 



He also contributed this. I'm sure he processes tax forms or something equally boring in his spare time...




As if that wasn't enough, Ryan also undertook a live 'mystery build' with patrons over the two days, creating these life-size, wearable and sittable, versions of the classic 886 space set. Talented sod.



Audrey, by Tim Burdon.



A classic space diorama by Donna Mee and family, from Tasmania, that had me drooling in nostalgia lust.

 







SHIP is an acronym that stands for Seriously Heavy Investment in Parts. Any questions?



God, I love spacecraft. 



Classic Space SHIP. I actually heard my inner ten year old squee.






More airborne beauty.



M-Tron. A space series that arrived after I had moved on from my childhood collecting. That colour scheme is insane.



Greebling: the addition of small detail designed to give texture and visual interest. Got it?



 And what of Melbourne itself? Well, that will need a part two, tomorrow.