Tag Archives: Jo Anderton

Paying for Our Passion – Joanne Anderton

In this series of guest posts, I have asked a number of writers and editors to share the price they pay for pursuing their creative passion or what they sacrifice–whether that is money, time or lost opportunities. It might be how they pay the bills that writing doesn’t, or how they juggle working for a living or raising a family with the time it takes to write or edit. The people who have contributed have shared their personal stories in the hope it might help those new to the scene manage their expectations, or help others dealing with similar things realise they aren’t alone. You can read about the inspiration for this series here, and if you want to be part of it please let me know.

Today we are featuring Jo Anderton; award winning writer. marvellous crafter of short stories, and all round awesome person!

Here’s my life. On the weekdays I get up at 6-6:30 and write 1000 words while I eat breakfast. Then I go to work. I try to stick to my 8 hour day, but sometimes I’m there longer, just depends on how busy I am and what deadlines are looming. When I get home I squeeze in exercise, another 1000 words, dinner, and spending time with my husband. Often, I get to bed late as a result. On the weekends I balance writing time with social time. Sometimes I’m a bit of a hermit. Usually towards the end of a draft.

suited-144dpiI’m not complaining. I really enjoy my job. I get to play with books all day, and am surrounded by lovely, passionate people. It’s challenging and fascinating. One day I’m researching the new Guillermo Del Toro movie, the next I’m looking at sales stats for business titles or paleo recipes. Also, did I mention I get to play with books?

Do I wish I could write more? Oh, absolutely. But I have weekends, and I usually spend my annual leave on writing retreats or writing weeks at home. And while 2000 words a day is nowhere near the amount I wish I could produce, I know that the turtle wins the race. 2000 words a day, every day, adds up. And it doesn’t burn me out, either. That’s important.

I am not sponsored. But I am lucky.

the-bone-chime-song-and-other-storiesI work full time, I have always worked, and I have always written around these working hours. There have even been a few periods in recent history when I was the sole breadwinner in our family. Maybe these periods have given me a renewed appreciation for a good, stable job. One with people who understand my writing. Hell, my work colleagues have come to my book launches! They even made robot-related snack food. Can you get more supportive than that?

I’m lucky because I have this support, and because my family have helped me get into such a financially stable position in the first place. I am keenly aware that not everyone has these benefits.

While I used to resent working a day job, and felt like every hour not spent writing was a waste, I don’t feel that way any more.

Jo Anderton photoI work hard at my job and at my writing, and I believe I can do both well. There are moments when I almost crack, when I wish I could just stay home with my words and dream of all the things I think I could produce if only I had the time. But life is a balance, and there is a right time for everything. One day, I hope to move writing to the front burner and pull back on the day job hours. Even if I got to a point where I could quit work altogether (ha!) I don’t think I’d do it. Not any more. The outside world and the realities of a day job can be grounding. Of course, as I said, I know I’m lucky. A day job you hate can crush your soul. A day job you enjoy is a blessing.

Anyway, the time for such decisions is not now. And that’s really okay. I will continue to write around my day job, and work my arse off, and hopefully do them both well!

Joanne Anderton cooks up speculative fiction stories for adults, young adults…and pretty much anyone who likes their worlds a little different. She sprinkles a touch of science fiction to spice up her fantasy, and thinks horror adds flavour to just about everything. She’s quite addicted to anime and manga (which is all her husband’s fault, and a little movie named Akira) and these are strong influences in her writing.

Her adult science fiction/fantasy novels have been published by Angry Robot Books and Fablecroft Publishing. Debris was shortlisted for the Aurealis Award for best fantasy novel, and the Ditmar award for best novel. Its sequel Suited was shortlisted for the Aurealis Award for best science fiction novel, and the Ditmar award for best novel. Book three, Guardian, was published in 2014. Her short story collection, The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories won the Aurealis Award for best collection, and the Australian Shadows Award for best collected work.

You can find her online at http://joanneanderton.com/

Free John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer Roundup eBook

I love the idea of the “John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer” for two reasons. One, because I am sure it is of great encouragement to the nominees, but also because it give you a an idea of writers to watch out for when looking for something new to read. For those of you unaware of the award, this is from Wikipedia:

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer is an award given annually to the best new writer whose first professional work of science fiction or fantasy was published within the two previous calendar years.[1] The prize is named in honor of science fiction editor and writer John W. Campbell, whose science fiction writing and role as editor of Analog Science Fiction and Fact made him one of the most influential editors in the early history of science fiction.[2] The award is sponsored by Dell Magazines, which publishes Analog.[1] The nomination and selection process is administered by the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) represented by the current Worldcon committee, and the award is presented at the Hugo Award ceremony at the Worldcon, although it is not itself a Hugo Award.[3]

Of course, sometimes it is hard to keep up with what’s happening in the spec fic world. That’s why it is great that Rampant Loon Press have put together an anthology of stories by eligible authors so you can get an idea of who you might want to nominate. And, even better, it is FREE here!

There are a number of Aussies who are eligible for the world, and two are featured in the anthology – Thoraiya Dyer and Nick Tchan. I also have a feeling that Jo Anderton and Patty Jansen are eligible, as well! It would be wonderful to see an Aussie walk away with this, we have so many deserving writers.

Thanks to Alex Kane for the heads up about this – and he is also eligible and would be a very deserving nominee.

Have I missed any Aussies? Feel free to make suggestions in the comments.




Wednesday Writers: Joanne Anderton

The author of an extremely well received, and award nominated, first novel (with an equally strong follow up!), and a writer of delightfully crafted short fiction, Jo Anderton could be forgiven for letting things go to her head a little – especially after walking away with a well deserved Ditmar for Best New Talent. Instead, she remains one of the nicest and humblest people imaginable. I was fortunate enough to have Jo appear on my blog earlier this year, as part of our conversational review of Blink, and I am delighted to welcome her back to talk about a very practical aspect of writing!

DON’T stick your butt in that chair!

I’ve always been hesitant to give writing advice. Firstly, because who am I to offer any? I’m still trying to work out how this whole writing thing works. Anytime I actually think I understand it, the rug gets swept out from under me and I’m back at the beginning! So what could I possibly offer, except for a confused shrug of the shoulders? Secondly, there’s already a lot of writing advice out there. Seriously, the internet is bulging at the seams with it. Surely I shouldn’t try to add to all the noise.

But, you know, I think I’ve been looking at this all wrong. Writing advice isn’t about a group of sparkly professionals dictating a concrete set of rules, or throwing the magic crumbs of ‘this is how to get published and be generally awesome’ for the rest of us to fight over. Writing advice is all about the shared experience. Each writer travels their own journey, and every path is different. We’ve all got our own set of pitfalls, successes, and monsters off the beaten path. And by sharing them, we learn that we’re not alone, and that there is no right or wrong, and that we can do this, all of us, together.

So, this is my little piece of writing advice for the day: DON’T sit your butt down in that chair!

‘What?’ I hear you say. (Well, I imagine you’re saying because it fits neatly with my internal narrative here… just go along with me, ok?) ‘But that goes against one of the shiny golden core writing rules — sit in that chair and write! How can I not do that? That’s what being a writer is all about!’

And here is where I admit to being a little triksy, because what I really mean to say is — don’t sit your butt in that chair ALL THE TIME.

A writer writes, this is true. And when I was but a young thing, all dazzled by the advice of those shiny, ‘real’ authors who knew so much better than me, I took this to heart. A writer writes. They sit down at that desk and they type, and they type and they type some more. But, you know, there’s a key part missing in this equation. They also get up OUT of that chair and move around.

You know why? Because there is nothing more upsetting than wanting to write but being unable to because you are in too much pain.

I have a dodgy back. This is not solely due to my adherence to the sit down and write doctrine. This is a combination of lots of things, including my sedentary hobbies, bad posture habits, and years of hating exercise and doing everything in my power to avoid it. But all of these, added to the failure I felt if I dared get up out of the chair instead of making words, led to a persistent injury.

It starts with a niggle and a tightening around the lower back. It inches up to the shoulders and neck. And eventually, it’s hip pain too, and leg, and then the sciatic nerve kicks in and it’s all over. At its worst, I can’t do anything except lie face down on the floor and engage the services of god’s gift to mankind — the heat pack. This makes typing difficult, to say the least. It can be heartbreaking, when you’re in the middle of a story that’s working — you know that feeling — when the story is everything and everyone and the world can just piss off thank you very much, all that matters is the invisible people in your head. When you can’t do that, when you have to stop, well, that hurts too, in its own way.

You know what, I’m not alone. I’m also very lucky. I know so many writers who suffer their own writing-related injuries. Backs, necks, shoulders, arms. It’s a common theme. But I’m lucky, because I can treat my injury, I can change my lifestyle, and it will improve. Not everyone has that luxury.

This is what I have done. At first I tried to change the way I sat down all day, without changing the actual sitting. New keyboard, back cushion, fancy chair. At work I have a height-adjustable desk, and a saddle seat (unfortunately it didn’t come with its own horse.) But that wasn’t enough. I had to start moving.

Nowadays, I get up out of the chair in between bouts of writing, and move around. Sometimes it’s to do glamorous chores, other times it’s to go for a nice thought-provoking walk. I run. For someone who has spent most of her life convinced that she can’t run more than a few steps without being out of breath, this is a big deal. I go to training. You see, they have these things called weights, and I have been introduced to the joys of lifting them. I have muscles. I’ve never had muscles before!

And you know what, it’s working. I can sit down and write now, without fear of initially creeping and eventually debilitating pain. If I have to, I can sit down all day, and even in bad chairs. Continuum proved this only a few weeks ago. Of course, I’d rather not, but if I have to, I can. Give me the chance and I will shout it to the rooftops — I am not in pain!

In one way, this doesn’t translate to more writing time, because I’m spending more time doing those exercisey things I was just talking about. But I do think it has made a difference to the writing itself. You grow accustomed to constant pain. You don’t realise how draining it is, or the negative effects it can have on your spirit and mind. Now, when I sit at the desk, all I need to worry about are the words and worlds in my head and at my fingertips.

So that’s my experience, and one I’m happy to share. Sometimes too happy — I can talk about this at annoying length. As I said, we’re all different. So this isn’t advice, in that it isn’t a new rule to add to the list. It’s just what happened to me, and what I learned along the way.

Joanne Anderton lives in Sydney with her husband and too many pets. By day she is a mild-mannered marketing coordinator for an Australian book distributor. By night, weekends and lunchtimes she writes science fiction, fantasy and horror. Her short fiction has most recently appeared in Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear! and Epilogue. Her debut novel, Debris (Book One the Veiled Worlds Series) was published by Angry Robot Books in 2011, with book two Suited published in 2012. Debris was a finalist for the 2011 Aurealis award for Best Fantasy Novel, and Jo won the 2012 Ditmar for Best New Talent. Visit her online at http://joanneanderton.com and on Twitter @joanneanderton

A Conversational Journey through New Who – S03E10 – Blink

David is coming to New Who for the first time, having loved Classic Who as a kid. Tehani is a recent convert, and ploughed through Seasons 1 to 6 (so far) in just a few weeks after becoming addicted thanks to Matt Smith – she’s rewatching to keep up with David! Tansy is the expert in the team, with a history in Doctor Who fandom that goes WAY back, and a passion for Doctor Who that inspires us all. We’re also joined today by guest viewer Joanne Anderton, who is also discovering New Who for the first time! We’re working our way through New Who, using season openers and closers, and Hugo shortlisted episodes, as our blogging points. Just for fun!

We would like to thank everyone who nominated our “New Who in Conversation” series for the William Atheling Jr Award – it’s a great honour to be on the ballot! Voting for the annual Ditmar Awards (which the Atheling is included in) is open to all members of Swancon 36 (2011 Natcon – Perth) and Craftinomicon (2012 Natcon – Melbourne), and can be done online.

Last time we looked at Human Nature and The Family of Blood, and now we move on to:

“Blink” – Season three, Episode Ten
Sally Sparrow – Carey Mulligan
The Doctor – David Tennant
Martha Jones – Freema Agyeman


We move straight from the excellence that is “Human Nature / The Family of Blood” into the completely different, but equally amazing, “Blink”. And I want to say it straight up – Sally Sparrow ROCKS. Carey Mulligan, who plays Sparrow, absolutely owns this episode – it’s pretty amazing, for a one off appearance.

She shares very little screen time with the Doctor, as this is a “Doctor-lite” episode, and I wonder if this lets us really embrace her – she IS the focus of the episode. While the Doctor is there, making things happen, he’s not THERE, onscreen, with his dazzling charisma – it’s all about Sally – ordinary Sally thrown into the strangest of events – who really gets the job done. I LOVE her!

Favourite line: “I’m clever, and I’m listening. And don’t patronise me, because people have died and I’m not happy.” Go Sally – Doctor smackdown!

And two episodes in a row we have a gorgeous, strong woman finding the Doctor, and passing him up. Poor Matron Redfern in the preceding episodes really had a hard job of it, but Sally did it splendidly – she recognised the Doctor for who and what he is, and it made her choice easy.

I think Sally Sparrow is the character most requested to return as a companion – and as Carey Mulligan’s star rises in Hollywood it becomes less and less likely. She is playing Daisy in the new Great Gatsby movie opposite Leo DiCaprio!!

Even more than Sophia Myles?? Wow, impressive!

Yes, Sally really is the star of this episode. She has some wonderful lines, and we see the whole range of human emotion in yet another stellar guest appearance. How moving was the scene in the hospital, or how cutting was the “We just run a shop together”? I love the line you mentioned, Tehani, but my personal favourite – “Sad is happy for deep people.” Carey Mulligan has a great screen presence, and I can see why people wanted Sally Sparrow to return. But, as I will no doubt talk about further, I think Sally makes the right decision in the end.

I do love Mulligan in this; her performance is fantastic and it’s one of my favourite Moffat scripts, not for the scary parts so much as the excellent banter, and the economy of words. Nearly every line is packed cleverly with so much character as well as driving the plot forward.

Sally is a wonderful example of someone who can be heroic without necessarily being violent or special. Though she is of course, clever!

I wondered watching this whether they could actually do a whole season (or mini-season) of Doctor Who stories that do exactly this, that show a one off character and their experience with the Doctor from their own point of view rather than that of the Doctor or an Official Companion. Would it work if this was the formula rather than an occasional experience?

Do we love the Doctor too much to appreciate Doctor-lite episodes for a full season? 🙂

They wouldn’t have to be Doctor-lite! Just putting the point of view in the hands of new characters instead of a continuing companion. It could be argued of course that they did this in 2009, but I don’t want to spoil David so I’ll shut up now…

Don’t spoil for me either, thank you very much! 🙂
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