Tag Archives: Kirstyn McDermott

Galactic Chat – Kirstyn McDermott

In the latest interview from Galactic Chat, I have the pleasure of interviewing one of Australia’s most talented spec fic authors – Kirstyn McDermott. From the show notes:

David McDonald returns this week with another interview from Continuum 9.  In this episode he talks to Kirstyn McDermott, award winning author of Perfections and the recently released  Caution: Contains Small Parts, and co-host of the Writer and the Critic Podcast (fear not, this is a Mondy free zone).

In this episode they discuss the challenges of transitioning between short and long fiction, and the comeback of the novella. Kirstyn shares her thoughts on the changing face of the publishing industry and discusses her experiences with the ebook only release of Perfections. And, we hear Kirstyn’s tips on how you go about reviewing the work of people you know.

You can purchase Perfections from XoumAmazon or Kobo
 Caution: Contains Small Parts will be available from Twelfth Planet Press

Author Website: http://kirstynmcdermott.com/

Author Twitter: @fearofemeralds

You can follow this link to listen!


AWWC 2012 – Madigan Mine

Disclaimer: Aussie Spec Fic is a very small world, so in most cases I know the writers whose books I am reviewing. And, these will all most likely be very positive reviews, as I find it very hard to get motivated to go to the trouble of writing a review for a book that didn’t excite me. So, while you won’t get an impartial review, you will get the reasons why I loved a particular book, and why I genuinely believe it’s worth your time. This review was written as part of the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge, to find out more go here.


 When Alex meets Madigan again everything changes. His childhood sweetheart is beautiful and impulsive, but there is something wrong with her. Something dangerous.

Then she commits suicide.

Now Alex can’t get Madigan out of his head. Is it all in his mind, or is she communicating with him?

To save himself and those he loves, Alex must uncover the sinister reason why Madigan took her own life – and why she won’t lie still in her grave.

When Madigan Mine came out it was nominated for a number of awards, and received a great deal of critical acclaim. When you read it, you will see why. Madigan Mine works on a number of levels, and I was able to enjoy it immensely both as a reader and a writer.

A gripping tale of psychological disintegration, Madigan Mine deals with grief, obsession and how love can be used against someone. It’s not for the faint hearted; visceral and confronting, it pulls no punches as we see exactly how far someone can fall.

Kirstyn is clearly an author at the top of her game, and as a writer I found myself full of admiration and no little envy at the skill evident in this book. The prose is haunting, the images painted with words rather than merely described. Some of them will stay with you for a long, long time. I found the way that flashbacks were handled particularly clever, done in a seamless manner that carried me along with the timeline of the story. While reading this, I assumed (wrongly, I believe) that she must have been born and bred in Melbourne, because she writes about this city the way Stephen King writes about Maine, with an intimate knowledge not only of its geography, but of its soul. Any Melbournian will nod knowingly at the descriptions of familiar places, landmarks and inhabitants, but it is not so heavy handed as to limit the books accessibility to those not fortunate enough to call this city home.

But, as beautifully written as it is, that would mean nothing if the story was all style over substance. However, this is where Madigan Mine truly excels, with a compelling narrative that drags you along, not wanting to see what is going to happen, but unable to look away from the carnage as the protagonist loses control of more and more of his life, almost everything he has of value stripped away. There were more than a few scenes that left me genuinely upset, and it doesn’t follow a safe and predictable formula – all bets are off as things continually escalate. There is a real sense that anything could happen, that you shouldn’t get attached to anyone or anything. I actually found myself dreading turning the page at times, scared of what I was going to find next. There is no sentimentality on the author’s behalf, she is more than willing to put the characters through the ringer in service to the story.

The true horror in this book comes from the knowledge of how cruel someone can be to another person, and in that regard it paints a picture scarily faithful to real life. We see how love can be used as a weapon to possess and compel another, and how hard it is to actually let go of someone you’ve lost. Just like the protagonist, you will find yourself unsure whether there is anything supernatural going on, or whether all this is happening in his mind.

It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you want to read a book that will haunt you for days after reading it, and that is an example of how Australia produces work every bit as good as (if not better than) anything coming from overseas, then Madigan Mine is for you.

Australian Women Writers 2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge

Rabid Animals

I generally avoid blogging on certain topics, not because I don’t think they are important, but because I don’t feel qualified or knowledgeable enough to comment, or because I simply don’t feel I have any right to do so (cowardly of me? Perhaps. You know, I actually found writing this a bit scary*). But sometimes you read things, and they make you feel so sad or mad or depressed (or all of the above) that you simply must say something.

Amidst the furore created by Christopher Priest’s comments on the Arthur C. Clarke Awards were a number of excellent posts, one of which by Catherynne M. Valente really stood out for me, where she discussed how Mr Priest could get away with a lot more by virtue of being male. It is an excellent and thought provoking piece, and I suggest you read it, but it is actually her follow up post that really hit home for me and made me want to write this post.

You really should read the whole thing. But there are bits that leap out at you and grab you by the head and shake you.

The fact is, to be a woman online is to eventually be threatened with rape and death. On a long enough timeline, the chances of this not occurring drop to zero.

This is not exaggeration for the purposes of making a point. It is simply a fact. It’s one of the main reasons why I don’t read below the comment line on many blogs because the amount of hatred and vitriol make my stomach churn, and, while it gets directed at men too, it is undeniable that when it comes to women it goes up a whole other level.

Chris Priest can say what he says not only because he is a giant in his field (Sady Doyle is barely less prominent in hers, and while I do think that harsh criticism goes down better when it’s not the authors in the field at hand who do it, both Sady and Requires are not SF authors of any stripe) but because he is a man. And we respond to it with some anger, but mostly reasoned philosophical or humorous posts, macros, examining what it means, the value of juried awards, defending the authors and jurors but mostly accepting what he said as either a sad gesture by an old man, a hilarious and miserable rant, or valuing that at least someone cares that much–even wishing someone would go equally ballistic about a different award. There is a marked lack of viciousness–and what he said was every bit as bad as some of the stuff that gets Requires Only That You Hate a fever pitch of loathing and seething fury just about every time she posts.

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