The Defying Doomsday Anthology

Tsana Dolichva and Holly Kench are two amazing bibliophiles and activists, of the literary kind. They are also all things speculative fiction crazy.

They have come up with an idea that makes you wonder why it hasn’t been done yet.

Together with Alisa Krasnostein of Twelfth Planet Press they are planning an anthology of dystopian speculative fiction… with the main characters in each story being disabled/differently abled, neuro diverse or suffering from a chronic or mental illness. What better way to highlight the fact that people have agency and are capable than setting it in a post-apocalyptic context?

Intrigued by this, I volunteered to be part of the blog tour and they kindly answered my questions via email.


 

MARISA

     Where did the idea come from? When did you first notice the lack of agency for differently abled/disabled and chronically ill characters in apocalyptic and dystopian fiction?

DOLICHVA & KENCH

      The idea came to Tsana when she was reading a book set in a Nazi concentration camp (Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein). After initially thinking “Well I wouldn’t survive that!” when reading about some of the low-level torture, she got to the part of the book where most of a group of medical experimentees survives the concentration camp despite their impairments. It made her think, “Gosh, if this happened in real life, why aren’t there more stories of disabled/chronically ill characters surviving bad situations in fiction?” And so the idea for Defying Doomsday was born.

MARISA

     How many stories do you plan to have in the anthology? What are the word limits?

DOLICHVA & KENCH

       We are aiming to acquire 80,000 – 100,000 words (around 14-18 stories, depending on length). We’re still finalising our open submission guidelines, but at this point we’re planning to call for stories between 3000 – 7000 words in length. We’ll have more information going up on the Defying Doomsday website once the Pozible campaign funds.

MARISA

      Who is eligible to submit stories?

DOLICHVA & KENCH

       Anyone! The more the merrier. We’re excited to get stories from a diverse range of voices. If you have an apocalypse story with a protagonist who is disabled, chronically ill, mentally ill or neurodiverse, we’d love to read it!

MARISA

      What plans do you have for the anthology post publication?

DOLICHVA & KENCH

      We’re hoping it will reach a wide audience and inspire people to think more sympathetically about the challenges faced by disabled and chronically ill characters.

MARISA

      What are your favourite apocalyptic/dystopian scenarios? What do you hope to see in the submissions?

DOLICHVA & KENCH

      The great thing about apocalyptic scenarios is that the sky’s the limit. One of the things that has had us really thrilled by some of our early submissions is the range of scenarios we’ve seen – from classic apocalypses such as alien invasions and impending comets, to apocalypse scenarios we’d never contemplated before. Just as we want range and diversity when it comes to the characters in Defying Doomsday, we’re looking for a range of post/apocalyptic scenarios to help make the anthology even more exciting.

MARISA

      What has been the reaction so far to the idea?

DOLICHVA & KENCH

         We’ve had a lot of positive responses since we first announced the project. People have been excited and that makes us even more excited! We get the impression that a lot of people feel similarly to us about not seeing characters like themselves in fiction and are welcoming this chance. There are a LOT of people with disability and/or chronic illnesses out there (disabled people alone are the largest minority in the world, including 15% or about a billion people), and people seem to recognise the need for this to be reflected more in fiction.

MARISA

       Who is funding the publication? If you can tell us?

DOLICHVA & KENCH

        Defying Doomsday will be published by Twelfth Planet Press in 2016, but we’re crowdfunding the anthology right now (from 1st April -1st May 2015). We decided to crowdfund this project so that we could pay authors a professional rate (7c per word), and we’ve also been lucky enough to receive a Crowbar grant from Arts Tasmania to help with production costs.

MARISA

      After this publication, do you have any other similar projects planned? Or are there any that you think should be organised even if not by you?

DOLICHVA & KENCH

         We’re really keen to see SFF continue to expand and embrace diversity. This is one of the main reasons we are so excited to have Defying Doomsday published by Twelfth Planet Press, which has also published diverse anthologies Kaleidoscope and Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction 2013, both edited by Julia Rios and Alisa Krasnostein. It’s great to find a publisher so invested in diversifying the genre.

       Any projects that support the idea that there’s room for everyone in SFF are projects we want to see more of.

MARISA

      How did you wrangle the editor positions for this project?

DOLICHVA & KENCH

      We talked a lot about the potential of this project concept and wrote up a proposal of our ideas. At the time Alisa Krasnostein had just successfully funded Kaleidoscope, so we hoped it might be the sort of anthology she would be interested in publishing. We’re really passionate about Defying Doomsday and luckily Alisa felt the same way.


To get involved you can: 

- support the project via Pozible at:  http://pozi.be/defyingdoomsday up until May 1, 2015

- submit a story after submissions open on May 1 at http://defyingdoomsday.twelfthplanetpress.com

Ten years of Kottu

Earlier this week, the Sri Lankan blogosphere’s main blog aggregator/planet/definitive index Kottu turned 10.

No one seemed to notice – I certainly didn’t know till Cerno and Yudhanjaya posted about it online.

So let me explain something to my non-Sri Lankan readers:

I started blogging in 1998. Sometime in what must have been say 2005 or so though I barely remember when I found this fantastic place online that pulled the RSS feed of every Sri Lankan person who was blogging online be it via Xanga, WordPress, Blogspot, Blogger or Livejournal. It was a blog aggregator or as anyone who is a geek wants to call it, a planet. You can see my love for planets of the blogging variety here.

In three different languages: English, Sinhala and Tamil. They could have called it achcharu, every minute or so, new posts coming in, new flavours all in a pickle.

But in a stroke of genius they called it Kottu. Kottu is a street dish made from a pancake thing called Godhamba roti with a variety of meats/egg, vegetables and spices added to it. It’s cooked on a hot metal surface with massive metal choppers that slice and dice it. Everyone loves it.

Kottu (c) Dailynews.lk

And so for ten years, sliced and diced snippets and excerpts of posts about people writing stories to people expounding opinions on politics, to people whinging about their day turned up on the never ending feed like clockwork. If a post was popular it got more chillies in the chillie rating and got spicier. It was a way to keep track of what the mad crowd of bloggers was saying without needing to comment or follow. You could lurk, you could jump right in, you could hover between the two. But if you wanted to find a fellow Sri Lankan blogging, you went to Kottu.

Kottu kades (stalls) are somewhat nigh ubiquitous in Sri Lanka. They stay open late as well so instead of a curry this is our option if we have  to have a post drinking binge.

And that’s why while I am annoyed at myself that I did not realise that Kottu had turned ten, I am also not surprised that many didn’t either. Like all good blog aggregators, planets and other such tools, it works in the background and is invisible.

So much so that I have forgotten to re-add my feed to it after moving servers before. I am pleased to note that I average about two chillies which means that even those not a fan of spicy food can handle my posts.

It does the job it is meant to do. When we stop at the stall we don’t think too much about what it means to work those long hours serving people by the roadside with all sorts of traffic and clientele. We don’t stop to think about the team that came up with the idea of Kottu and set it up.

According to Yudhanjaya at readme.lk, Facebook came in and flattened it and after a while good content often got lost under stuff that was republished from elsewhere and it became harder to sift through things.

It still has its uses. It is the definitive index of Sri Lankan blogs, and if you dig through the rubble you find some real gems – old blogs being dusted off briefly, or new writers with passion and flair. Still, it’s nowhere what it was before. Kottu now lives mostly as a list.
Yudhanjaya Wijeratne, readme.lk

But we are grateful. Or at least I am, Hence why despite it seeming rather odd to say, I do want to say thanks to Indi and the rest of the crowd. Because it took foresight and effort and it helped a lot and it still as Yudhanjaya points out, has some useful function as the definitive list of bloggers.

So my thanks to Mahangu for the name (because it has paid off if only so I have a hook to write this post a decade on), to Indi for setting up and running it and to Janith for taking over as the main chef in 2011 and all the others who have been involved since.

So thank you for recognising that there was a need for it before most of us realised that yes there were enough other Sri Lankans blogging, gossiping, ranting online that it would be useful. Thank you for kickstarting friendships and in some cases, feuds too but more friendships than enmity.

One day, one day I will have a five chillie post rating on Kottu. One day. This is my new life goal. Facebook and Zuckerberg be damned. I am old fashioned, give me chillies over likes any day. ;)

In the meantime, thank you for keeping those wheels turning in the background and the effort and time you have spent unpaid and often out of pocket to keep it going for us.

So THANK YOU and HAPPY BIRTHDAY Kottu. :) Even if I am a few days late. (What do you expect – I am Sri Lankan. We always show up late, fashionably so.)

And if you are Sri Lankan, write about Sri Lanka or want to wade through it all to read Sri Lankan bloggers, you can find Kottu here: http://kottu.org.

Introducing In Conversation With

As many of you know I am involved with the project Australian Women Writers and am responsible for herding the reviews by those reading non fiction, short fiction and poetry.

For a long time, Elizabeth Lhuede who started the project has wanted to experiment with video. Of course I was keen on helping out with this.

We are now starting a series of video interviews with Australian female writers. They are held informally over a Skype call and are edited and uploaded fortnightly. We hope to get better at this as we go but we also have audio and text only versions of the interviews for those who aren’t keen on the videos.

So I put out a call on Twitter for Australian female authors who wanted to be interviewed and got a lot of responses but also a lot of queries. Please retweet if needed:

Here are the facts in a nutshell:

The goal:

The goal has always been the same: to ensure that women’s writing in Australia gets promoted more and becomes more visible within the country and internationally. 

We also want our authors to have something that if they choose to, they can use to promote themselves. And if they have fans, that the fans can get excited over.

Who do we interview?

You should:

  1. be Australian and of any heritage whatsoever (we really aren’t bothered so long as you are a citizen/permanent resident)
  2. have published or performed work that the audience can then go check out, in any genre, including non fiction and in any form including slam poetry, plays, essays, sort and flash fiction. Essentially this means a link to view/read work or to buy it.
  3. be female or female identifying including cis, trans and those who are gender non conforming/genderfluid and occasionally consider themselves to be female identifying.
  4. have a great webcam and be willing to be filmed and then subjected to my hopefully not too amateurish editing skills.
  5. have a great landscape shot of yourself for the video thumbnail and the blog post.

What do you need to do next?

If you are keen you need to send me an email with the following:

  1. A bit about yourself and what you write/perform etc
  2. A copy of your latest work (pdf preferably) or links to it
  3. An idea of when you are free to be interviewed and, if you are releasing/launching work at a set date in the future then the date of the release/launch and if you want your interview to go out at the same time. So that’s two dates: RECORDING DATE & RELEASE DATE. See below for release dates for videos.
  4. Your landscape image of yourself so that I can at least do a review and set up part of the blog post beforehand.
  5. Contact details so I can send you questions beforehand, Twitter and FB accounts so I can tag you and ask your fans to submit questions and your Skype details.

Upcoming release dates for videos:

Videos come out fortnightly on a Saturday on the Australian Women Writers website and our Youtube channel unless I fall into the pit of doom known as life. As much as possible I try to record way ahead of time.  Please check dates below if you have work coming out that you want the interview to coincide with and try to get the one closest to or right after your launch date.

Date                                       Taken?

28 March 2015                  Yes; Robin Bower

11 April 2015                      Yes

25 April 2015                      Yes

9 May 2015

23 May 2015

6 June 2015

20 June 2015

4 July 2015

18 July 2015

1 August 2015

15 August 2015

29 August 2015

12 September 2015

26 September 2015

10 October 2015

24 October 2015

7 November 2015

21 November 2015

5 December 2015

19 December 2015

 

I am not a writer but I am a fan so what can I do to be involved?

You can:

  1. Nominate an author to be interviewed and if you want take on the role of chief nagging officer to get them to agree.
  2. You can, once they agree, suggest questions and spread the word.
  3. You can spread the word once the interview video is released.
  4. You can join the Australian Women Writers challenge and read and review work by your author for the project, be it via Goodreads or your blog or a publication.
  5. You can convince everyone you know to buy the author’s work(s).
  6. If you are involved in mainstream media, you can build on our work by showcasing the author.
  7. You can nominate them for all sorts of prizes and top best ___ lists and so on.

As always thank you to the writers who agree to be involved and thank you to the AWW team who are fantastically supportive. :)

Marianne Delacourt’s Sharp Shooter

I think often about what it means to stand in a spot in one place and to take it all in. To live in a place long enough to be someone who understands how life works its way through that spot’s particular urban or rural landscape.

And how it feels like saying hello to an old friend when you pick up a book to find yourself in a place that is both that place you know and also perhaps for the sake of the work, not quite that place either.

But that’s just the start of what surprises you about the Tara Sharp series by Marianne Delacourt, pseudonym of Marianne de Pierres. It’s set in Perth and some places you can nod your head and go “Ah yes, I know that street, that neighbourhood, I know what you mean when you talk about classes and cliques dictated by history and geography.” and then others you realise, you know are shorthand. Shorthand for places perhaps not present in Perth in the same way but if they were that’s what their names would be, that’s what they would like.

On top of that is this zany character Tara Sharp who finds herself solving mysteries and crimes and, since Marianne has one foot permanently planted in all things sci-fi, she does so with the aid of reading body language but also this innate talent of seeing auras.

Perth. Former basketball player. Auras. Crime. They seem disparate but they come together. And you do find yourself relating to Tara, she does not play it safe and she knows this about herself but nevertheless bounding off into danger she goes without anything to protect her. Into the criminal underworld of drugs and… given that it is Perth, mining.

The best thing about this book I find is the unashamed honesty. From the writing style to the characterisation – the book tells it like it is. And the reason you want to continue reading is because well, damn it, you want to know what happens. You want to know who is following her, who is kidnapping her pet birds, and why she has to chase burglars over her neighbour’s fences sans pants in the first place.

It’s madcap mayhem, mystery and my word, Nick Tozzi hello there you dark horse you. There are two more after Sharp Shooter and Tara Sharp 4 is apparently on its way to release. And once you are done with Tara there is Parrish, in futuristic Australia, to devour as well.


 

Marianne Delacourt (aka Marianne de Pierres)'s Sharp Shooter
Marianne Delacourt (aka Marianne de Pierres)’s Sharp Shooter

Author: Marianne de Pierres also writing as Marianne Delacourt
Title: Sharp Shooter
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: 2009
Genre: Crime fiction


 

Character creation: Champika

NOTE: Written originally on 2 January 2015

It was late in the day and I needed food and so off I went to ____ down the road from me and up I went to the cashier thinking “Hey, there’s no one here, this should be a breeze.”

After initial confusion over what I wanted so much so that I had to pull the menu out and point because the girl doesn’t know what is served, she asks me if it is takeaway.

“Yes.”

She rings it up and I pay. Then I ask “Ok, what do I do – do I wait here? Do you give me a number and call me?”

“It will take twenty minutes.”

I blink – ok, not what I asked but ok. “So I just sit down then?”

She does a half nod, half shake. I sit down and after a couple of minutes of wondering whether I should go over and say something like “Patiya, darling, I am new to this – you need to tell me how this works here.”, I decide to concoct a fiction.

Champika, for that is indeed her name, and I know it because it’s on my bill but she would be shocked if I were to address her, not making the connection – Champika is young, fresh out of school, maybe from Colombo but she lives with her parents and she catches the bus home everyday from work. She didn’t do well enough to get into university but the work gives her cash which is wonderful for her. She spends it at Majestic City, House of Fashion, Liberty Plaza and smaller boutiques on very glittery, bright and cute things like a butterfly slide for hair in a garish pink or some flat slippers with bright red sequins on the straps and she wears them with her jeans and t-shirts outside of work.

She wants to vote for Mahinda because Namal looks nice and they won the war and he has built things but she sometimes wonders if that’s right as she hears customers walking past her to Arpico or arguing loudly over their meals about things going wrong and accusations of corruptions and words that she realised are to do with economics but that don’t make sense to her and she recognizes the other names scattered in the chatter: Ranil, Hirunika, Maithripala, Chandrika.

She thinks that she understands that building new roads is good but she only knows money moving from her purse to a cash register and from a bank account to her purse. Anything bigger and they are no longer numbers belonging to her. That she can understand completely. There are things that don’t belong to people like her and she knows this. Big numbers would bother her anyway. So maybe she will not vote for the UNP. She understands roads – he built a road and now if she had the money she could go to Galle faster. That is a good thing. And Namal is good looking.

At least one of her friends is married, despite being just eighteen or nineteen, and she feels a bit happy that she has a job (where she gets to operate a computer and handle cash – it’s very important) and is an adult now. She is a romantic and she crushes on Shah Rukh Khan or another male member of the Khan family and possibly a cricketer though she won’t know anything about the game.

She dreams of a boy with a square jawline and good hair who will come in one day to have lunch while she is at the register and he will have a motorbike and a job, a good job, in a business somewhere, where he has just started but he will work his way up – maybe even in public service. Since she can’t take him home, they will meet after work in Viharamahadevi Park, just around the corner, walking and talking, maybe even in Independence Square after he treats her to an English movie in 3D – something from Pixar for kids and maybe he will treat her to a burger from Burger King as well. And one day he will propose and they will get married, maybe even at a hotel somewhere with a sari from India and he will give her a gold chain. I think he would be called Navin.

It would not be a bad life.

But until he walks in for lunch that fateful day, perhaps she will save her money to watch Bollywood movies (illegal copies burnt onto discs, encased in plastic bags, sold in tiny barely room to turn around shops dotted randomly down the sides of Galle Road heading towards Mt Lavinia) and to ask an astrologer when the day will be.

And she will be street smart as she walks to the bus stop in the evening but clueless and naive enough not to realise what sort of dodgy jokes her male co-workers make, her cash handling skills enough for her to concentrate on, freezing up when customers ask questions.

And completely clueless that a tired, starving stranger is making up a life for her while waiting for her food.

I like Champika – I think I will keep her. I just won’t order from her again. :)

(c) 2015 Marisa Wikramanayake

Surviving university as a journalism student

  1. Stay away from the guild. No guild I have ever known has been without its share of drama. You don’t need to recreate high school all over again. Be aware of what they do as story ideas abound but maintain distance.
  2. Find a viable university paper or magazine that drama free or not is likely to run continuously without a hitch for the duration of your degree and join it. Even if isn’t at your university. See if you can wrangle your way in.
  3. Start a blog. Especially on the one part of journalism that you want to practice. Go big with a domain name that matches your real name. By the time your degree is done you will be the first search result on Google for your blog topic and your name.
  4. Learn social media inside and out especially how to use programs to monitor it and to set up marketing campaigns and to analyse stats.
  5. Start freelancing. Anywhere and everywhere. You are building your resume from NOW. Also your survival skills for lean times in the future AND THERE WILL BE LEAN TIMES.
  6. Take classes at university or elsewhere so you learn radio, TV, print and photography. Then take classes that teach you the ins and outs of various beats/niches/genres and then the classes on media laws and ethics.
  7. If it’s not in your degree offering but patches up a hole in your journalism knowledge, check online for free courses or find a class or course you can take elsewhere.
  8. If you have space for electives, make sure you take a world history class, a politics class, a cultural studies class, an economics class, an environmental studies class and a communications/media theory class. Why? If you want to be a journalist these classes will give you the basics you need to know so you can hit the ground running when you go out to cover the big stories of today. These classes will help you figure out why and how things are happening and where to start asking questions and about what. Can’t take these in your degree? Brush up on them online.
  9. Join your union. Seriously. Do not underestimate the opportunities and the contacts you will make.
  10. Take all the internships and work experience you can even in your first year, through the university or not. Talk to your lecturers and professors about this.
  11. Buy a copy of the Writer’s Marketplace/ Writer’s Market and contact everyone in it. Pick their brains for advice and submit stories.
  12. Save your money for a camera, a recorder and tickets & fares to the media conferences. Yes I know you are excited about alcohol and partying but if you are so super keen you will be hanging out with professional journalists, learning lots you wouldn’t learn otherwise, networking and they will be so impressed they will buy you drinks and take you out. To me that beats the frat parties any day.
  13. Learn to wake up early or at least practice it and make your peace with it so that by the time you graduate, it’s one less thing that takes you by surprise.
  14. Go to all the networking meetings you can. Get au fait with city council meetings. Sit in on parliament sessions (state or federal) if you can. Print business cards with your name and details so people can find you. It doesn’t matter that you aren’t out of university or employed yet.
  15. Ask everyone you meet for a story idea no one else knows about. You never know when you will find one even if you have to wade through a few horrendous ones first.
  16. If you can, listen to the radio on your phone during your commute so you are easily up to speed on the news.
  17. Stop coffee and soft drinks. Swap them for water, coconut water, fish, tomatoes, spinach and bananas. Seriously. The sooner you eat more of these the better you will feel.
  18. Get the license but forget the car unless you are trapped somewhere in the US where no one has done anything about transport upgrades since FDR. The car is a money pit and you need the cash for other things.

writer, journalist & editor