A New York State of Mind

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I’m busy painting today so I will make this quick: I’ve put up a public album on Facebook of the house in progress. So much greenery has popped up this summer it looks lush. Yes, a lot of it is weeds, but pretty weeds. The semester started with a bang and an almost 12 hour day as I have a grad class on Monday nights. Trying to acclimate and get back to work, but it’s a challenge. There’s so much to do; at least I’ll be busy. But I miss Dundee and the ones I love there…

I’ll try to write up my con experiences before I forget them.

Con-Eire FREE!

Con-Eire_covIn honour of Shamrokon and LonCon3, my short play Con-Eire from today through Monday will be completely FREE! It’s appropriate for this season as it’s a love letter to the hard-working folks behind the scenes putting the madness all together:

It’s three days before the start of Con-Eire, the best Irish-themed science fiction and fantasy con in the tri-state area, when a phone call sets the entire Convention Committee into panic mode. Is Big Name Writer going to pull out at the last minute? What does Very Famous Artist have to do with that decision? And what do the fairies have to say about all this? Follow the hilarious mishaps as the committee members work desperately to salvage months of planning and hard work, all of which are about to be undone by a well-known prima donna.

This half-hour radio play for voices features a cast of six and little in the way of props and sound effects, making it suitable for impromptu or amateur performances.

Don’t just listen to me: it has a bunch of great reviews, too. Here’s a snippet of a five star review from someone I don’t even know:

Before I was 4 pages in, I was laughing out loud, and before I was done, I thinking, “I know some of these people…don’t I?” Great fun! Read it!

Powerscourt and Glendalough

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The Beckett Bridge and a reflected light, so it looks like Patrick McGoohan is being pursued down the Liffey by that big bubble…

Lovely day out with Debi in the fantastically opulent gardens of the Powerscourt Estate and then the remnants of the monastery in Glendalough. A bunch of my own peculliar style photographs can be found in a public Facebook album (it’s just easier than uploading them all here).

It’s just sinking in that I will not be going home to Dundee after this con, but instead to NY so I am feeling a bereft. Maybe it’s just as well that I don’t have a lot to do at Shamrokon. And even less as my publisher’s pup is unwell so we can’t meet for dinner tonight, alas. Hope she gets better!

Glasnevin Cemetery & National Botanical Gardens, Dublin

2014-08-20 12.24.05I’ve put up a bunch of photos on a (public) Facebook album. I’ll catch up on con news when I get back stateside. Just to let you know that WorldCon is the kind of place where you can be chatting with Liz Hand over a cuppa and mention Corey Doctorow, only to have him walk past a minute later. As they say, *result*!

Writer Wednesday: After the Marathon

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I’m heading down to London today for the first of two conferences with my pal Debi. It signals the end of my sabbatical and all the writing it has engendered. More importantly, it means I have to leave Dundee and those I love here, but I’m going to stick to talking about writing here (if you see me sniffling on the train down to London, you’ll know why).

When you get a great opportunity of time to write, it can be a bit overwhelming at first. I wrote about my first writers colony experience in the same vein. Like most artists, we fight to find the time to create, carving out time here and there. When we’re suddenly presented with extra time — whether it’s an unexpected day off or a week’s holiday or, yes, a year’s sabbatical — it can at first be overwhelming: I must do ALL THE THINGS!

But I learned from that first writers colony experience to give in to my natural tendency to idle. As Jerome K. Jerome reminds us, “It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do.” So yes, I have idled a great deal as well as accomplished much (a small selection of recent publications):


But when the big marathon of writing and idling comes to an end, how do you go on? That’s where I am now. For a few days I’ll have LonCon and ShamroKon to entertain me and then I’ll be back in NY and the semester will be roaring to a start and acclimating will take up most of my energy — and then I’ll feel that pit of despair open up below me. You got too used to all that free time, the voice will whisper, you’re not going to get anything done now. I know better, yet I will hear that whisper and be tempted to give in to despair. Why? Because the truth is plain.

I won’t write as much.

That’s not a reason to despair; I need to remind myself of that, too. I’ll still write a lot. I have learned how to do that and life is too short to moan over what I don’t have (or where I’d rather be). My writing has brought me the wonderful life I have now. There’s every reason to believe that my writing will continue to make my dreams real (and help me deal with the inevitable sorrows of life). Writing is how I live in the world.

Most of all, I will remind myself that it’s all about having fun. And that will keep despair at bay.
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LonCon and ShamroKon Schedules

LONCON 3 The 72nd World Science Fiction Convention 14-18 August 2014


Tove Jansson’s Moomins: Their Legacy and Influence

Thursday 12:00 – 13:30, Capital Suite 13 (ExCeL)

It’s 100 years since the birth of Finnish author/artist Tove Jansson, the award-winning creator of the beloved Moomins. Moomins appeared in novels, illustrated books, comic book strips and today are celebrated with their own theme park called Muumimaailma (Moomin World).

Why did Jansson’s Moomins capture the attention and affection of the panellists, and how do Moomins continue to fire the imagination of new generations despite being nearly seventy years old?

What is the legacy of the Moomins, and how do they continue to influence European comic books today?

K. A. Laity (M), Lynda Rucker, Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson, Mary Talbot, Karrie Fransman

You can watch the BBC documentary ‘Moominland Tales: The Life Of Tove Jansson’ here: http://youtu.be/tSZKzLHI5wg. There will be a showing of this documentary at the convention in the Capital Suite 17, at Thursday at 17:00.

Medieval Influences and Representation in SF/F

Thursday 15:00 – 16:30, Capital Suite 6 (ExCeL)

Three academics each give a 15 minute presentation. These are followed by a 30 minute discussion jointly held with the audience.

Constance G. J. Wagner, “FRODO AND FARAMIR: Mirrors of Chivalry”
K. A. Laity, “The ‘Old Weird’: Recognising the Medieval Roots of the ‘New Weird’”
Julie Hofmann, “The Year of the Fruit Bat, the Middle Ages, and the Long 19th Century”
Shyamalika Heffernan (M)

Fantasy and Medievalism

Friday 13:30 – 15:00, Capital Suite 7+12 (ExCeL)

High fantasy is almost invariably set in invented worlds inspired by medieval Europe. Can we put this down to the legacy of Tolkien and to genre works being in close conversation with each other? Or is there something about the place that medieval Europe occupies in our imagination that makes it a perfect companion for tales of epic striving and larger-than-life Good versus Evil? Either way, does this help or hinder the genre?

K. A. Laity (M), Gillian Polack, Robin Hobb, Marieke Nijkamp, Lynda Rucker

The Weird on Screen

Friday 16:30 – 18:00, Capital Suite 13 (ExCeL)

In their introduction to their anthology “The Weird”, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer describe the form as “unapologetically transgressive, imaginative, and strange.” Where can we find the weird on screen? What differences are there between the written weird and the weird on screen?

K. A. Laity (M), Dominick Grace, Robyn Talbot, Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson, Jaq Greenspon

Vox Populi: the new voice of comic book criticism?

Sunday 10:00 – 11:00, Capital Suite 3 (ExCeL)

Anyone with a blog or social media presence can send their opinion directly to comic book creators. How is this affecting comic book criticism?

Is this the death of the old stuffy regime of taste-makers, or the rise of a new type of creative pressure? How is the closer connection between creator and audience affecting the work?

And what happens when the collective force of a fanbase focuses upon ‘punishing’ critical voices?

K. A. Laity (M), KT Davies, Emmeline Pui Ling Dobson, Marcus Gipps, Didi Chanoch

What does Ireland have to offer?

Sunday 11:00 – 12:00, Capital Suite 2 (ExCeL)

Ireland is distinctly different as a nation and its people posses a unique identity. How does this work through the creative fiction of modern times? Has the mighty weight of Irish Mythology that have permeated fantasy had an impact on modern writers in Ireland? Where is the new fiction coming from, and what issues of interest are explored?

Liz Bourke (M), Susan Connolly, K. A. Laity, Ruth Frances Long, Bob Neilson

Full programme here. If yo know Debi, you know she’ll be everywhere and she’ll cajole me into going to more things than I would on my own. I hope to see a lot of friends, but there will be thousands of people there O.O so I’m glad some folks like Maura McHugh will also be heading to Dublin –

SHAMROKON 22-24 Aug 2014

European Focus: Missing Medieval Women

Friday 15:00 – 16:00, B. Lansdowne (Double Tree by Hilton Dublin Burlington Road)

Women farriers, Viking Shieldmaidens, Court Poet Christine de Pizan… there were lots of women who weren’t damsels in distress or burnt at the stake. So why don’t we see them in high fantasy?

Liz Bourke (M), Susan Bartholomew, K. A. Laity, Gillian Polack

As you can see, I won’t be too busy in Dublin, so I will likely be catching up with friends (I hope including my publisher Kem from Tirgearr) and reacquainting myself with some of the finer pubs around the city. On Sunday morning (24th) I will be NY bound as classes begin on the 25th. So much for giving myself more leeway…

Full programme here.

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And I’ll be missing Dundee