Guest Speaker Recap: Andrew Macrae, Editor/Speculative Fiction Writer

No shenanigans today; no last minute room changes, inadvertent Tom O’Connell faux pas, or suicidal Kookaburras, either. Today was just a good, solid, no-nonsense (well, besides the sentient killer trucks … I’ll get to that) guest speaker talk delivered by multiple-hat-wearing (but mostly ghost writer, musician, editor and spec. fiction writer) Andrew Macrae. Even Andrew’s presentation meant business, with its comparatively singular focus and extended question time. Just as well, as previous guest speakers Pepi Ronalds’ and Lauren Williams’ sprawling presentations were harder to recap for a cheap-suit-and-scuffed-shoe-wearin’ amateur journo like me. Going to do my best to keep it concise this time. Here goes!

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It was an unseasonably warm autumn afternoon when the bespectacled, shaven-headed Andrew Macrae spoke to our Writing and Publishing class. Andrew, who has an MA in English and a Ph.D in Creative Writing, opened by sharing his adage: ‘It’s important to have multiple income streams’. Clearly, Andrew lives by example, for he is a self-employed business owner whose income stems from a combination of editing work, non-fiction writing, ghost writing gigs and book royalties. His website, Magic Typewriter, is his base of operations, and a quick visit there reveals that many of his past clients come from government and corporate sectors – sectors with fastidious standards of professionalism. Andrew previously worked in a governmental capacity, and was in the fortuitous position of bringing some past clients with him while embarking on this career change. (By the way, if any of my past Crazy Clark’s Discount Variety Store co-workers want to pay me to edit their shit, I’m available. Very available.) Andrew’s entrepreneurial skills are impressive; it pleases me that someone is making a comfortable (if strenuous) living from their written endeavours.

Andrew’s debut novel Trucksong, published by Twelfth Planet Press in November last year, formed the focal point of his presentation. The novel, which is dystopian speculative fiction, was born from Andrew’s love of the noir, cyber-punk and western genres, and an unlikely fondness for trucks. Andrew kindly took us through the process of writing his novel and the challenges he encountered on the road to publication. Continue reading

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Review: ‘The Coma’

106373Alex Garland’s claim to fame is The Beach, a Thailand-inspired cautionary tale. While The Beach is a layered ensemble novel, The Coma strives for the opposite. The biggest drawcard here is the concept: a man’s perception of reality is warped following his emergence from a coma.

Look, I won’t beat around the bush. Although I consider this a short, worthwhile read, this book carried an unshakeable feeling of insubstantiality. Its narrative is a thin mechanisation, an exercise in cleverness. There’s no sense that Garland wants to immerse or entertain the reader. This is not a fully realised novel, but a vehicle for the author to explore his interest in the subconscious mind. Continue reading

Review: ‘Good on Paper’

9780980740547Good on Paper is the debut novella of Melbourne writer Andrew Morgan. According to his bio, Morgan was a recipient of an Australian Council Varuna Writers’ Centre mentorship and won the prestigious Melbourne Lord Mayor’s Creative Writing Award, and so, guided by word of mouth and those impressive credentials, I sought this out. It’d been awhile since a book had tickled my funny bone, and this looked primed to do it. Continue reading