Tag Archives: kaaron warren

Festival Muse 2019

2019banner4.jpg

Festival Muse has become a Canberra Day long weekend tradition, and although I didn’t get to attend as many events as I would have liked, I did get to attend one very good one.

Creating Worlds

After a little silent reading picnic, a couple of friends in my fantasy book club and I decided to finish off the afternoon with something very on-theme. Horror and speculative fiction author Kaaron Warren chaired a discussion with other local authors Sam Hawke and Leife Shallcross on what goes into creating worlds.

From left to right: authors Sam Hawke, Leife Shallcross and Kaaron Warren

The event began with readings by each author of a passage from one of their books. Shallcross read a passage from her novel “The Beast’s Heart”, a retelling of classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. Hawke read a passage from her epic fantasy novel “City of Lies” and Warren read a passage from her book “Walking the Tree”. One of the most striking differences between the three novels was the size of the worlds. Where Warren’s book takes place on an island and Hawke’s in a city, Shallcross’ world is much smaller and takes place (for the most part) within the confines of a single house.

The authors talked about finding a balance in how much detail to provide the reader. Hawke said that as a writer, it is a game she plays with readers deciding how much description to give them and how much to let them imagine for themselves. They also compared writing different points of view, and the difference it makes to what characters notice and focus on.

Warren then asked the authors how they found coming up with names and words when writing speculative fiction. Warren said in her own book, she drew on botanical names to name her characters. Hawke said that she focused a lot on food that she wanted to eat, however she was careful not to exhaust the reader with too much new vocabulary. She said that she struggled quite a lot with names, and in fact wrote a third of her book with [name] in place of her main character’s name.

Hawke also gave us a little behind-the-scenes insight into a tool that she uses to come up with new fantasy words. She explained Vulgar, an online tool that generates fantasy languages which, if you’re a fantasy writer, you may wish to check out yourself. She said that she had been reluctant to adapt existing languages because she didn’t want linguists asking her why she called a lady “Chamberpot” or something!

Shallcross said that she drew a lot from Germanic names, and used names from a map, but did receive critique from a cartographer friend who pointed out that all the names she had used had the same rhythm. Warren said that she had received criticism from the same cartographer when she first drew a map of her world. She said that it had been terrible, because it was basically just a big circle, and the cartographer said that people living in her world on the edge of an enormous tree would think of themselves as being connected to other communities in a line rather than in a circle.

The writers agreed that when worldbuilding, you need to get the parts that you’re focusing on right and everything else can be fuzzy and allow readers to use their imagination. Hawke said that unlike many people, she was not particularly visual and when she imagines things, she tends to focus on touch, smell and other sense. She said that as long as you get the little things right, readers will trust you.

Warren then explored how the writers felt about actually knowing a place. Shallcross said that it was challenging, not having traveled to France, and instead she used meticulous research of maps and historical photographs to understand place. Hawke said that she had not traveled much growing up, and what she lacked in personal experience she tended to make up for with imagining her own worlds and research as she went along. Warren then shared about a short story she is working on about the demolition of the Northbourne flats. She said that after seeing all the steel, brick and glass as she drove by, she was drawn to visiting them in person to see how they felt and to get the smell of them as inspiration for her story.

The talk then opened up to audience questions. There were quite a few speculative fiction buffs in the audience and it was really great to see so many different takes on what goes into to building fictional worlds. Although unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to catch all the other great events of Festival Muse this year, this one was definitely a great way to round off a long weekend.

5 Comments

Filed under Literary Events

The Grief Hole

Award-winning modern horror on everyday evil

Although this might not seem like a Christmas book, I first bought it from the author when she was selling her books at the Beyond Q Christmas book sale that they held a couple of years ago when they were based in Curtin. I bought a copy of this book from the author, which came with a super cute little handmade Christmas cracker and a bookmark made out of stamps, and it sat on my shelf for far too long before I finally read it. Just this year though, I interviewed the author about writing horror for a Halloween special episode of my podcast, and so it was definitely time for me to give this book a read.

20181215_142052-1850329199.jpg

“The Grief Hole” by Kaaron Warren is a horror novel about a young woman called Theresa who works as a domestic violence social worker. Theresa has a special but macabre ability: she can tell how you will most likely die. Increasingly haunted by the spirits of future death that surround her clients, she decides to start taking fate into her own hands with disastrous consequences. Traumatised, she moves away and takes up a job offer from an estranged relative whose daughter recently committed suicide. When the talented young artist’s death begin to emerge, Theresa is determined to prevent history repeating itself. However, when she discovers who exactly she is up against, Theresa is forced to examine her own motives.

This is an eerie and disturbing story that uses a thin overlay of the supernatural to explore good and evil, selfishness and selflessness in an otherwise very realistic world. Warren turns the themes of power and control inside out to examine questions of how much we determine our own futures and how much we must passively accept. She also asks whether our intentions can ever truly be pure, and whether we can ever truly know what the impact of our actions will be. Warren has a real knack for dialogue and for taking the everyday and making it horrifying. She maintains a palpable sense of unease throughout the entire book.

However, this book won’t be for everyone. Although it’s not blood-spattered, stereotypical horror it is very disturbing in its own way. I found quite a few parts of the book confronting and uncomfortable, and this is a book that lingers after you have read it. It is intentionally ambiguous and the reader will often feel like they are walking through a heavily rainy landscape unable to clearly see where they have been or where they are going.

A unique and unsettling take on the horror genre by a local Canberra author, it is not surprising why this book won so many awards and if you’re looking for something a little darker than normal, this would be a great book to check out.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Leave a comment

Filed under Australian Books, Book Reviews, Horror

Lost the Plot – Episode 29 – Halloween Horror Special

Halloween Special featuring award-winning author Kaaron Warren speaking about writing horror fiction

Support Lost the Plot
Become a Lost the Plot Patron for as little as $1 an episode
Subscribe, like and comment on SoundCloud
Subscribe and leave a review on iTunes
Follow Tinted Edges on Facebook

Show Notes

“The Adventurous Princess and other Feminist Fairy Tales” by Erin-Claire Barrow
Lost the Plot – Episode 18 – Feminist Fairy Tales
Erin-Claire’s Kickstarter Page
Erin-Claire’s Website

“Capital Yarns: Volume 2” by Sean Costello
Lost the Plot – Episode 25 – Short Stories
Sean’s Pozible Page
Sean’s Website

Sisonke Msimang talking about “Always Another Country”
Sisonke

Australian Reading Hour
Website

Australian Reading Hour

What other people were reading:

  • “The Psychology of Time Travel” by Kate Mascarenhas
  • “The Woman Who Fooled the World: Belle Gibson’s Cancer Con” by Beau Donelly and Nick Toscano
  • “Beneath the Mother Tree” by D. M. Cameron
  • “No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus prison” by Behrouz Boochani.

Dickson Library Works
Lost the Plot – Episode 26 – Book Disasters
Dickson Library Facebook post
Dickson Library website

Indigenous Literacy Day
Website
Great Book Swap

Reading in Timor Leste
National Library of East Timor
Xanana Gusmao Reading Room
Reading in Timor Leste

Man Booker Prize 2018 Shortlist
Man Booker Prize website

“Matilda at 30”
The Guardian article
Quentin Black website
Penguin Books website

“The Helpline” Trailer from Text Publishing
Youtube channel

“My Brilliant Friend” Trailer
Vulture article

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Nagini Controversy
SBS article
Vanity Fair article
Pottermore article

Lifeline Book Fair Theft
ABC article
The Riot Act article

New Harry Hartog at the Australian National University
ANU media release

Man wins bookstore in raffle
The Guardian article

Grimms’ Fairy Tales
Wiki page

Snow White and Rose Red
Wiki page

The Snow Queen
Wiki page

The Little Mermaid
Wiki page

“Trying to Save Piggy Sneed” by John Irving
NY Times full essay

“The Grief Hole” by Kaaron Warren
IFWG Australia

Lostprophets
Wiki page about lead singer’s arrest

World Fantasy Convention 2018
Website

Australian Gothic

Windmill Story
I’m not 100% sure, but it may be “Windmill at Magpie Creek” by Chrisobel Mattingley. If anyone knows, send me a message! 

The Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum
Facebook page

“Tiger Kill” by Kaaren Warren
CSFG 

Kaaron Warren’s Website
Click here

The Black Tides of Heaven
My review

Frankenstein of Baghdad
My review

3 Comments

Filed under Lost the Plot