The Tallow-Wife

 

A reminder for anyone who is at Conflux in Canberra this weekend: tomorrow (Sunday) at 2.30pm is Angela Slatter’s Guest of Honour speech, after which this very limited edition book from FableCroft publications, set in the World-Fantasy-Award-winning Bitterwood Bible world, will be available for sale, and for signing by Angela and me:

The Tallow-Wife, by Angela Slatter, illustrated by Kathleen Jennings

A limited edition, exclusive hardcover…

Return to the dreaming streets of the cathedral-city of Lodellan, where a new generation of characters face fairy tales and nightmares. Cordelia Parsifal has an enviable life, hard won, but the ghosts of the past are soon to remind her that no sin or omission goes unnoticed.

A darkly mannered narrative of a family facing its downfall, and the hidden secrets within. Deftly told in Slatter’s seemingly effortless prose, “The Tallow-Wife” is unexpected and shocking, with depths to be explored. Paired with vignettes from the same world, and featuring an essay by illustrator Kathleen Jennings.

 

The week just gone

 

From Twitter, etc, this week

From Twitter, etc, this week

  • Paperbacks of The Bitterwood Bible have been seen in the wild! You too can own one.
  • The Archibald Prize travelling exhibition is on at the extremely beautiful Tweed Regional Gallery. Angela Slatter and I drove down this week and I recommend it. Of course, the gallery and in particular the Margaret Olley wing are always worth a visit (the views are like paintings).
  • Content warning: Snakes.
    So the giant carpet snake under our house moved into the neighbour’s tree above their dog kennel, and a couple of times when our neighbour went out at night to empty the bins he felt a light tap against the back of his head. And it turned out it was the snake checking him out.
  • Whether you’re drawing or describing backgrounds or just want to see how it’s done: Tips for Drawing Backgrounds. As usual, I maintain most illustration advice can be translated for written description and storytelling. Dunnett, for example, uses incredibly painterly light effects in her prose. Tobacco-brown light and single tips of gold light. Rembrandt.
  • Walking home the other evening I saw a plane, invisible in the dusk save for its lights, fly across the moon, casting the shadow of wings onto a lower cloud.
  • If you like labelling things: Bat-Labels, a curated and categorised list of labels from Batman
  • A letter from Dorothy Sayers (hand-copied, not the original) to a former lover, who told her he never wanted to marry, then married another:

  • I am currently reading c1970 crime: Westlake’s “The Hot Rock” (1970s New York) and Lahlum’s “The Human Flies” (2010, but set in 1968 Oslo). And let me tell you, there is nothing like a vintage crime novel to make you appreciate your mobile phone.

Leftovers from the week that was

This week's pictures from Twitter etc

This week’s pictures from Twitter etc

  • I spent the weekend (at fairly short notice) in Sydney for a family function, but also caught up with several good friends to talk about podcasts, art, Dorothy Dunnett, comics, freelancing, illustration and stories. It was extremely pleasant, and also I got to hold a real live pet rabbit (it looks just like a rabbit!).
  • As you may be able to see above, the pineapple and raven fabrics arrived from Spoonflower and turned out beautifully – the watercolours on the pineapples printed particularly well. One of my cousins also ordered the pineapple skirt from Redbubble and it is very cute! (Since it’s white knit, you’ll probably wantto wear tights or something under it, as is true for all white skirts).

Pineapple Pencil Skirt

  • Congratulations to all the Ditmar nominees! I’m particularly thrilled to have a story nominated this year – “A Hedge of Yellow Roses” from Ticonderoga Publications’ anthology Hear Me Roar, but since I have interests in so many publications (whether as illustrator, fan or friend) mostly it’s just fun to see some of the many great works of 2015 celebrated.
  • Want to buy (relatively) affordable original art by established and rising stars of illustration? Check out Every Day Original!
  • The opera(!) of Shaun Tan and John Marsden’s remarkable picture book The Rabbits is coming to Brisbane next month!

    • I have finally (thanks to Kate Eltham) started listening to the podcast You Must Remember This, which is indeed epic and fascinating.
    • I want to learn to animate just so I can make book trailers like this gorgeous Isabella Mazzanti Carmilla:

Black-Winged Angels

  • Happy Valentines!

Roses

 

This week: news and matters of note

This week on Twitter etc. (rings by Janet Kofoed)

This week on Twitter etc. (rings by Janet Kofoed)

Alison-Goodman-sketch---not-used

  • The X-Files finally started in Australia (everyone complained about the pop-up ads but I thought it restored the nostalgia which the shock of watching on flat-screen in HD took away). In commemoration, here is the original music video to Bree Sharp’s “David Duchovny” which is so full of wait-was-that? cameos that it bears watching to the very end:

  • If you are into Old Hollywood, You Must Remember This, or Catherynne M Valente’s Radiance, then this long but cumulatively charming article from Brisbane newspaper The Truth, only 100 years ago, is a winsome read: Where Films Are Faked, Fixed and Finished.
  • The rather marvellous talking-to-writers expedition last week included much talk of pens, and it is one of the joys of working in these fields that asking “what pen do you use” tends to result in an arsenal emptied over the banquet table (that was at Illuxcon), while their owners trade virtues and merits. For the record mine are: Hunt Crowquill 102 with Winsor & Newton India Ink (drawing), Pitt Artist Pens (sketching), slim fine ballpoint (for notes, although I haven’t settled on one that is reliably non-blotting).

Hunt Crow Quill

  • Peter Ball’s post on “Prose, Blocking and the Perfect Combination” has a very useful approach to thoughtfully orchestrating the action in your writing.
  • Peter’s post (above), however, also underlines the degree to which storytelling advice translates across media. Illustration, movies, novels: all these contain examples and principles which can be incredibly helpful no matter what field you’re working in. Plus, if you need another incentive to watch Every Frame A Painting, it is 7 minutes of all the Best Bits.
  • Another resource for those trying to make the impossible believable is James Gurney’s Imaginative Realism (that’s James National-Geographic-and-Dinotopia Gurney). It’s also just interesting – my mother made off with my copy to read it. His rather good blog is Gurney Journey.
  • Here’s a less accessible but in-depth look at some myths about classic composition advice – of direct use to photographers and artists but, I would argue, also very useful to writers if you don’t mind doing some heavy lifting with metaphors (and you’re writers, aren’t you?): 10 Myths about the Rule of Thirds
  • The Ship Song Project continues to be beautiful – when I sing it while doing the dishes, this is the version I try to sing:

 

Little bits left over at the end of the week

22-29 Jan on Twitter etc

22-29 Jan on Twitter etc

Bitterwood Bible - spine image

  • A reminder of the long-ago, beautiful happening that was picturebookreport.com – you may recognise some of the names involved! This was where I fell in love with Kali Ciesemier’s vision of Garth Nix’s Sabriel and with Sam Bosma’s art for The Hobbit, and one of the earliest examples that really had an impact on me, of people Not Sitting On Their Hands But Putting Things Out In The World (quote more or less from Karen Beilharz’s original Plan to Take over the World, which was another example at roughly the same time). Putting Things Out In The World is a very important artistic practice!
  • I learned a lot at the time from Sam Bosma’s posts on the process of illustrating The Hobbit – just this week I went back to find his description of working with colour flats to explain them to another artist. But whether you love The Hobbit, beautiful finished artwork, process posts or lots and lots of sketches of goblins, that series of posts remain worth a look.
  • The final episode of Tremontaine has been released! At least, for this season…

Tremontaine episode 13 cover

  • Based on the title alone, I am very excited about the new Serial Box series The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, created by Lindsay Smith and Max Gladstone, and written by Lindsay Smith, Max Gladstone, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Ian Tregillis and Michael Swanwick. The first episode is out and free! (text and audio)
  • Milli and Fink screenprinting workshops are up again (Ipswich, Queensland) – I did one of these a few years ago (post: Screen printing) and it was great: http://www.milliandfink.bigcartel.com.
  • If you ever describe a painting in your writing, the descriptions of art in this article are loving, funny & effective: The Emergence of the Winter Landscape. Also, lots of medieval snowball fights. (h/t Sydney Padua)
  • I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.EB White
  • I have always felt charged with the safekeeping of all unexpected items of worldly or unworldly enchantment as though I might be held personally responsible if even a small one were to be lost.EB White

A few pieces of news

  • I am walking around again and mostly not using a cane! The moral of the story: never mop.

FoilforWeb

“The world Slatter has created feels perfectly poised on the cusp of reality, in the same way that Gormenghast, or the twin countries of Guilder and Florin, might just, might almost, just perhaps, have been real–if you squint at them sideways and imagine that somehow the relevant chapters in the history books got themselves skipped in high school…

…there may be undertakers who talk to ghosts, and pirates, and sorcerers, and badgers that change into people and back again, but the emotion, the people, the relationships, the families, and most of all, the loves and the hates, the revenges, the primal centres of these stories: all of this is profoundly real.”

It’s a very true review with some good thoughts about fantasy and the experience of reading in general, but he also refers to “numerous elegant, humane little illustrations”, which for me was one of those epiphanies: “That! That is what I want to do. Oh wait, he was talking about me!”Dust jacket

Diane, by Kat Weaver

  • Alas, Jedediah Berry’s beautiful Untine, a story told by Twitter poll, is completed (with some post-it-note drawings by me)

Owl Baron - Untine

Flight approaching

Flight foil cover

And this will be coming out later this year from Tiny Owl Workshop: Angela Slatter‘s Flight, with illustrations by me!

More details as they emerge.