Monday, September 26, 2016


It's almost upon us again: Saturday 8 and 9 October marks the third annual -- and my second appearance at -- Bricktober, Perth's premier Lego display and exhibition.

The Blue Meanie. One of the ships I'll be displaying.

Who doesn't love the Classics?

This year, I'll be part of two displays-- my own, individual display is a six-foot long depiction of a spaceship race, with nine large ships racing across a rocky moon surface; and I've organised a group exhibit in the building style known as Micropolis, where everything is at a scale of one stud per three feet: in short, everything is teeeeeeensy tiny. 

The baseplates for my spaceship display,
set against the bloated corpse of a beach whale
for comparison.

Micropolis. Where trees are trees, and
fire trucks are adoooorable.

Roooaaarrrr. I is tewwifying!

Bricktober takes place at the Canning Showgrounds from 9am-4.30pm, 8 and 9 October. Apart from 2 halls of displays by 40 exhibitors, there are Build-In-The Bag, Rapid MOC and Speed Build competitions; a brick pit for free play; stop-motion brick films; Lego vehicles to drive; costumed characters; and a host of other activities.

The Silas Greenback.

The Toadstool.

You can pre-book tickets for timed entry slots online. Tickets are $8.30 each, or $26.20 for a family of four: a plate of Chinese and a drink would cost more. Full details can be found on the Bricktober website, or visit the Facebook page.

Comin' at ya this October.

Monday, September 19, 2016


Last weekend was that most wonderful reminder of why I got into this writing gig: the guest appearance at a Writers Festival. In this instance, I was flown across the country and put up in a hotel in my favourite City of them all, the beautiful city of Brisbane. 

It's never real until the tag arrives.

I've always loved Brisbane, especially the South Bank, where the Festival was located. It's superbly picturesque, and a thousand blessings to the person who had the imagination and foresight to place so many cultural and artistic nodes within such proximity to each other. The Gallery of Modern Art, State Library, Museum, State Theatre, Griffith Music Observatory, performance bowl and others stand shoulder to shoulder along the sculpted lawns, so that every morning I walked an 800 metre corridor of art between the hotel and the Festival. No surprise that I arrived each day in an uplifted, happy mood, ready to work. 

Art. Just standing there, being all arty and stuff,
like it can just be all... arty. (Sigh) I love Brisbane.

Mind you, the fun had started almost from the moment my heels hit dirt. Checking into the hotel was going swimmingly, until the man serving the couple next to me looked at his screen and went "Oh." See, the screen had changed colour, without him touching it, and it should'na oughta done that. He pressed a key. It did the same thing. The woman serving me said, "Oh." The man came over. They looked at her screen. Then they looked at his. I smiled at the nice couple. They smiled at me. The hotel staff pressed buttons. They came back to my screen. The man looked at me, then at the couple, then at me.

"Um," he said. "You're not married, are you.....?"

See, when you're talking literary Battersbys in this country, there's me, and then there's the stupendously lovely and talented Katherine Battersby. And we'd never met. Until that moment. And then we discovered that we share the signing tactic of offering kids a choice of coloured pen to sign with. And then I managed to sneak a graffiti note into her pencil case that she didn't notice for a day and a half, and well, frankly, meeting her would have been reason alone to love the Festival, if I hadn't also caught up, and had such joyous and happy responses to my lurking presence, with a series of old friends, each of whom treated me like some sort of lost prodigal: meeting Trent Jamieson, Angela Slatter and Kim Wilkins again was like an extended gathering of the clan, and getting to see Kate Eltham-- someone Luscious and I genuinely hold very close to our hearts-- was like catching up with family.

Slatter and Jamieson. Comics at large.

Sweet, pretty and talented. It's a Battersby thing. 

To have that, and to meet new friends like Katherine and Yassmin Abdel-Magied; and work with delightful and warm-hearted peers like David Burton, Amie Kaufman and Jaclyn Moriarty, was a visceral and wondrous reminder that my community is a lot wider than I think of it, and that my horizon is a lot broader. But the Festival was about more than just hanging out being a writah-dahling (although I can do that like a fiend). It was about work. 

And work I did. 5 presentations, a panel and a Masterclass across 4 days -- which is exactly what I love to do at these events: I'm not one for propping up the bar when I could be geeking. And the volunteers, particularly Green Room co-ordinator Kristy, were some of the loveliest people I've ever worked with (to give you an idea, one of them-- the entirely-too-sweet Olivia-- realised one of my signings was going so long it was beginning to impact upon my arrival time at my next presentation, so ran up to the Green Room and filled a box with lunch so I'd get something to eat). 

Getting my work on.

And the kids I worked with were incredible. Kids are usually pretty damn fearless when it comes to art, much more so than adults, but even so, I was blown away by how many had actually read the book, and how many had taken the time to formulate intelligent and critical questions about the text. Every session began with an introduction speech given by a student, and taking the time to chat to them helped me realise just how much some of these kids were prepared to work just to get there. In my very first session, I was chatting to Michaela, my MC, who came from a school called 'Chinchilla'. (No spoiling it for the others, those who know where that is).

What's the name of this thing, again?

"Cool school name," I said. "Where is that?"
"Four hours away," she replied.
Four hours. To attend a 9.45am session. Turns out, thee kids had boarded a bus at 5am, just to get to Brisbane in time for my session. They were seeing me, and one other 45-minute session, then trooping back on the bus for another 4 hour journey home.

Brisbane. Where even the seagulls are front-rowers...

Yeah. I'd come from Perth and it had only taken me 90 minutes longer. Faced with that, how can you do anything but work yourself into the ground to try and give these kid something worthwhile for their dedication? It seemed to work: by Friday morning, the Festival's stock of Magrit had sold out, I was the 3rd highest-selling author for the day, and I'd resorted to signing school hats, casts, programmes and water bottles-- frankly, anything the kids pushed across the table at me. What else can you do?


After spending so much time entertaining kids, I finished the festival with a 3-hour Masterclass on the subject of short fiction, in which I managed to pack about 4 hours of theory-based ranting and half a dozen writing exercises, and a panel on YA Survivalist fiction for which I was eminently under-qualified, but managed to survive through a combination of smart-arsery and monkey-boy dancing-- which, incidentally, is pretty much how I intend to survive the actual apocalypse.

Short Fiction Masterclass: Work, you dogs!

And then it was over. Like a cheesy Hollywood movie-- think of me as a fat, hairy Renee Zellweger-- my last act was to walk alone through a deserted library, nod goodbye to a single, uninterested security guard, and step out into the failing light and pouring rain of an evening thunderstorm. Seriously, even I could hear the rising strings. I did not, however, break out into song, Brisbane did not need that. Nobody needs that.

When it was sunny, South Bank was a riot of outdoor dance
floors, buskers, and music venues. I took this
picture when it was pissing down: ironically, not one person singing.

So, I miss it. I miss Brisbane. I'd forgotten just how much I loved the City-- it's been several long years since my last visit. And it all came back in such a rush of goodwill and graciousness that I've been in an extended funk ever since I returned to Perth and to the day-after-day dreariness of my long-soured day job. So, all I can do is recover my pen, get back to work, and try to make my next visit of the permanent variety.

Tally ho. 

Then there was this :(


Stop me if you've heard this one: a Festival invites a famous author to deliver the keynote speech. The author represents the Festival. There words are the distillation of everything the Festival stands for; every prism through which the public, the media, and the other authors will view each other. Even if that author has a personality so large, so iconic and even inconoclastic, that their personality is a large part of their delivery-- still, even then-- they will take the audience on a journey of discovery that will leave all present examining their own points of view through the filter of the Festival and the artistic aims for which it stands. Picture Lenny Bruce's "Nigger, Nigger, Spic" routine. Picture Graham Chapman's carrot-clad non-speech to the graduation class at Cambridge.

Picture me at the back of Lionel Shriver's Festival keynote speech, watching Yassmin Abdel-Magied leave in tears, seeing Alexei Sayle's face turn a peculiar shade of thunder, waiting for this speech of derision, and contempt, and utter entitlement to turn, to twist, to get to Bruce's self-turned finger and single word, "Yid".

Picture me walking out, between the doffing of the sombrero and the Q&A, not able to be in the same room anymore, feeling diminished by the act of witnessing a speech that was not only the antithesis of the artistic creed of enlightenment and community, but was a sweeping dismissal of any notion of those concepts.

The internet has since lit up with argument and counter-argument. Yassmin was the first, her blog post subsequently picked up by the Guardian and other markets (Don't read the comments. Never read the comments). Since then it's gone viral, with both sides throwing mud, shit, sputum and ancestry at each other in the hope that something will stain.

I am not so affected as others. I can get up any day, any place, and write whatever I like, comforted by the fact that I'm white, male, prosperous, politically unhindered, sexually validated, and my fucking voice doesn't have to fight anybody because it' already won. So, this:

There's appropriation, and then there's exchange. There's riding in like Vasquez, and then there's approaching a culture with respect. Shriver not only claimed that it was not necessary to approach another culture with respect, she claimed it was our right as artists to strip-mine anything we set out eyes on, and if we did a bad job, well, too bad so sad, because at least we had a go. It was unapologetically imperialist thinking at its worst.

Lionel Shriver betrayed the BWF, who asked her to speak on a specific topic, by agreeing to do so, then wilfully and gleefully going off-topic from her first word and leaving the organisation looking complicit with her views. 

She betrayed her fellow artists by using a high-profile moment to throw us under the bus by portraying any who didn't conform to her extreme views as ignorant weaklings.

And most disgustingly of all, she betrayed those that we artists should be standing beside-- the weak, the disenfranchised and the voiceless-- by openly telling them that their status was deserved and that their only value was as narrative grist for those better placed.

It was a loathsome piece of punching down by someone intelligent enough to be better. We should all be better.
So that was a shitty way to end a blog post.
Have a picture of the curve of the sky to cheer you up. 

Monday, August 29, 2016


Only 8 days until I jet off to Brisbane, and a bunch of appearances at this year's Brisbane Writers Festival. I'll be appearing across both open and kids' 'Word Play' programs, as well as presenting a short fiction Masterclass, so I'll be plenty busy. Catch me here, if you're so inclined:

Let's Get Spooky (Word Play)

Writing exercises for kids to explore the bumps in the night and get them down on the page. Book here.

Auditorium 1, State Library of Queensland
Wednesday 7 September

Wednesday 7 September
This is an online session: if you're interested in registering, you can find more information here.

The Edge, State Library of Queensland
Thursday 8 September

Maiwar Green, State Library of Queensland
Friday 9 September

Goma Cinema A, State Library of Queensland
Friday 9 September

Short Fiction Masterclass

A three hour masterclass on the art of writing short fiction, featuring such necessities as Unicorn Physics, Reversing the Polarity, and Battersby's One-Size-Fits-All Guide to Destroying a Made-Up Person's Life. 

The Edge Lab
Saturday 10 September

Love YA! Survival Kits- A Writer's Guide

with David Burton, Amie Kaufman and Jaclyn Moriarty. We talk apocalypses, survival, and just what we'd pack in our backpack on the day.

Brisbane Square Library
Saturday 10 September

And that's it: I'm on the plane back to Perth first thing Sunday morning, so catch me as catch can.


Bricktober is six weeks away, and I'm slowly getting my act in place and piecing together my display for this year.

Will it be big? What do you think? (Hint: I'm 5ft 10)

This year's promising to be even bigger and better than 2015, so come on down to the Canning Showground and have a fun day for the price of... well, something not very expensive at all.

You'll find all the details under the poster:


Last week, Luscious, the kids, and I met up with our good friends Kris and Kim, and moseyed on up to the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre for their spooky night of ghost stories. Lyn and I had entered stories in their ghost competition, and had been informed that we had both been shortlisted and would we like to come along and read? Of course we would. The KSP is one of the loveliest and most atmospheric Writers Centres I've ever seen, and it's always a real pleasure to head up there. So we hooked up with Kris and Kim for dinner in Midland, paused to let Master 11 get into costume (prizes for dress-ups!), and toddled off, stories in hand.

Master 11 takes his zombies seriously. 

And, well, we did all right. A prize for Master 11 for his zombification, the announcement of Luscious' brilliant story Cross Words as the second prize winning story, and then -- after clearing the room of under 18s and telling everyone that the organisers had been forced to refine the running order of the evening specifically because of the graphic nature of the winning story-- my own tale, The House of Jack's Girls, a lyrical little thing about men bringing their sons to a haunted brothel specifically to have sex with Jack the Ripper's victims, was announced as the 1st prize winner.

Lyn silenced the room with her reading of her tragic and powerful story.

A good night for the ego, and a good night for the sense of fun. KSP organiser Tabetha was overwhelmed by the sheer weight of attendees, so here's hoping it makes a reappearance again next year. You can read all about the night, including judge's reports, from the KSP perspective here.

Not a bad night's work......

Friday, August 19, 2016


Tomorrow night, Luscious and I will be up at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre, scoffing curry puffs and drinking hot chocolate -- and incidentally, reading fresh new works -- as part of the KSP's Spooky Stories Night. It's a fundraiser for the KSPs residency program, and both Lyn and I have been shortlisted in their ghost story competition. I'll be reading my entry, The House of Jack's Girls, and I will say that it's one of the harder-edged horror stories I've written in a little while: if you've fond memories of my Aurealis-award winner Pater Familias from a few years back, well, it's in that sort of territory-- the kids will be sent to another room while I'm reading....

Winners of the competition will be announced, there' a dress-up competition, warm food, marshmallows for toasting over a fire, and if you've got a scary story to tell, a chance to scare the bejeebus out of everyone in the best possible setting.

Tickets are cheap as chips, and it's shaping up to be a fun old night, so come on down. You can find more details here.

Monday, August 01, 2016


Two months since my last post. All of June and July, and not a peep. 

Yeah, there's a reason for that.

Suffice to say, things did not go well for a while. It's a little vaguebooky, but I'll talk more about it in later posts. 

For now, here I am, on the last day of a two week break away from the world, where all I've done is lie in bed, watch a lot of Top Gear, get addicted to Pokemon Go, and noodle about with a Powerpoint for my upcoming appearance at the Brisbane Writers Festival in September.

I'll be playing about in the kids stream with a presentation called Let's Get Spooky, all about how to write shivering stories for kids. And I'll be knuckling 20 or so writers under my lash in a short fiction Masterclass as part of the main program, to boot. Head on over to the BWF website to see the full program. 

I've also managed to successfully apply for a writing residency in 2017. The organisation has not yet announced it, so I'll stay schtum on the who, where and when for the moment, but expect some announcements semi-soon.

And I'll also be crawling out from under my bed in early October to display some of my Lego creations at this year's Bricktober. Once again, it will be at the Canning Showgrounds, and promises to be an absolutely fantastic day out. I'll be displaying more of my spaceshippy goodness, as well as coordinating a table dedicated to a Micropolis group build. Once again, more details as we get closer.

So, for the moment, here I am: still swimming (just), still keeping my head above water (just), still getting involved (double just with chips). Luscious and I have had some big (tm) conversations recently, and we will be making some enormous life changes over the next 18 months. I'll be talking about them as they arrive, but for now, this much contact is just enough.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


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


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?


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


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!


The Times.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


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


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'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


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......


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


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, 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.


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


So, how's about this, then?

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