You are viewing catsparx

catsparx

Recent Entries · Archive · Friends · Profile

* * *

Originally published at www.catsparks.net. You can comment here or there.


Writing Speculative Fiction

Tutor: Robert Hood
When: Sunday 4 March-10am-4pm

Whether dealing with angels or demons, past or future, aliens, post-humans or artificial intelligences, stories of alternate realities, imagined futures and fantastical impossibilities have been a never-ending source of fascination for writers and readers for as long as humanity has told stories. But once you leave the everyday world behind, once you embrace worlds where the impossible happens, how do you make your writing believable? How do you make the impossible possible?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags:
* * *

Originally published at www.catsparks.net. You can comment here or there.

Ticonderoga Publications is delighted to announce the forthcoming publication of a short story collection by the multi award-winning writer Cat Sparks.

The collection, tentatively titled The Bride Price, is scheduled for publication and launch at Conflux – the Australian National Science Fiction Convention in April 2013.

“Cat Sparks has produced a large number of critically acclaimed stories in the last ten years. This collection will focus on bringing together the best of her short science fiction.” Ticonderoga Editor Russell B Farr said.

“As of one of the major Australian SF voices of the past decade, a collection is long overdue,” Russell B Farr added.

Cat Sparks first rose to prominence as the founder of the acclaimed Agog! Press, publishing ten titles from 2002 to 2008. As a writer, Sparks is a graduate of the inaugural Clarion South workshop, a Writers of the Future winner, a multiple Ditmar and Aurealis Award winner, and the author of close to 60 published stories.

The contents will include the award-winning titles “All the Love in the World”, “Seventeen”, “Hollywood Roadkill”, “Last Dance at the Sargeant Major’s Ball” and the acclaimed “Arctica”, and “Home by the Sea”.

The Bride Price is scheduled for publication in April 2013. The collection will be available in limited edition hardcover, trade hardcover and paperback, and ebook editions.

To keep up-to-date with this project check www.ticonderogapublications.com

Media Contact: Russell B Farr, mob: 0427198841

Tags: ,
* * *

Originally published at www.catsparks.net. You can comment here or there.


The plastic doll is a Solar Queen – when light strikes the cell on her handbag, she waves. The card at her feet says STOP TALKING, a souvenir from Margaret Atwood’s class.

Anyone who doesn’t know a Moomin when they see one shouldn’t be reading this blog.

* * *

Originally published at www.catsparks.net. You can comment here or there.


In all the excitement of cracking my head open, I neglected to write a post thanking the Vandermeers who made me a welcome guest in their Tallahassee home for three days. Aside from being constantly amused by their four hilarious cats, we packed a bunch of stuff into the brief time: a Mayan apocalypse party in a Tiki bar, a day trip to Apalachicola where an impromptu oyster festival was in progress, mid-morning at a wildlife sanctuary where the visiting animals on display were — of all things — emus! An accidental encounter with outre folk artist Mary Proctor in her jam packed gallery showroom en route to the gun show at Tallahassee mall. Other stuff too but distance blurs… I’m writing this post mid air via Gogo… just because I can.

Thanks Ann and Jeff — it was a blast!

Tags: ,
* * *

Originally published at www.catsparks.net. You can comment here or there.


Today a trip to the London Transport museum with Rachael & Graham. Climbed on and off a slew of big red buses, trains and other things. Lunch, then off to the Moomin shop where Rachael bought me a bunch of cool stuff as a belated Xmas present. Then we did the Tintin shop.

Oh dear – my luggage was teetering on the far side of bloated when I got here. Might have to throw away all my clothes… who needs pants and shoes when you’ve got plastic Snowys and plushie Moomins anyway?

I travelled solo to Embankment, crossed the Jubilee Bridge, then met up with one of my favourite people — the utterly awesome Rob Shearman — outside the British Film Institute. He took me to a pub called The Mulberry Bush where we proceeded to drink diet coke and tea respectively and talk shop (read bitch about writers, writing and the writing community) for five hours solid.

Back at R & G’s house now, knocking off the dregs of yesterday’s pomelo, eying off that luggage of mine, attempting to guestimate its mathematical incongruities. It’s all gonna fit. It has to fit. What was I thinking when I packed 3 pairs of shoes and all those cardigans anyway?

Tags:
* * *

Originally published at www.catsparks.net. You can comment here or there.


I decided to take my week in London easy on account of the whole head injury thing. Every morning I set out on a Tube expedition from Wood Green & so far every evening I’ve returned to my sister’s place without incident (touch wood). Not only have I not been lost once, I haven’t been late for any of my dates either! It’s been cold and grey — but not too cold and grey.

Wednesday I met old school friend Alison at Stratford Westfields, the biggest megalopolis of a shopping centre I’ve ever seen in my life. The Olympics is being built beside it. You could probably fit every Westfields in Australia inside. We had sushi, then went to see Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, which I enjoyed, despite it not being faithful in any way to anything Sir Arthur ever writ. Most definitely the gayest Holmes & Watson ever. I do hope they’re making a third.

Yesterday, after pizza and coffee with Guthrie, I managed to catch the awesome Joanna Lumley live in The Lion in Winter at the Theatre Royale, Haymarket. Walked in off the street 2 minutes before the show started. The theatre – a work of art in itself, all painted gold, bas-relief fat-arse cherubs hanging off everything — was packed in 3 tiers, yet I scored a seat 7 rows from the front, dead centre!

Bought a pomelo on the way home. Yum!

Today, a trip to Old Spittlefield Market where I bought a groovy jacket and a couple of t-shirts after having lunch with Al & Yasin (pictured). Then onwards to St Pauls, past the miserably-huddled Occupy movement encampment. I took some snaps and then a perky young guy wanted me to be in a photo he was taking of masked protestors. Carrying my shopping, Pan Am shoulder bag and my sister’s camera, I’m guessing I was included to represent capitalist excess, or something.

I crossed the Millennium Bridge, then went to visit the Tate Modern with Gus. Best things glimpsed: A couple of scary Max Ernst forests, one of which had to have at least vaguely inspired H R Geiger’s Alien. The Handsome Pork Butcher by Francis Picabia and some truly miserable black and white photos of what were purported to be Italian children’s holiday camps. Shudder. Gus and I walked to Waterloo along the Thames. I will never get over the bigness of this city.

Bought another pomelo on the way home. You can never have too many. Snaps here.

Tags:
* * *

It’s a quarter way through the 8-hour crossing from Dallas Forth Worth to Heathrow. I’ve eaten my dinner, snubbed my nose at the meagre cinematic offerings and settled into a light doze when something suddenly wakes me. My own body heat. I’m burning up and I feel terrible so I get up and fumble my way to the bathroom just beyond the plane’s midriff exit door. Lights are dim, passengers all sleeping. Next thing I know, I’m on the floor, disoriented, head hurting, blood all over my hair and hands.

Apparently I must have fainted, hitting my head on some sharp corner on the way down. I sit there like a stunned mullet, then get my act together, staggering up the back of the plane where flight attendants swarm. I show them my bloody hands. They hop to it, clean me up, give me a bag of ice for my head and make me a bed out of the (thankfully) empty last row of the plane. They offer to try and find me a doctor but I tell them I’m OK. Kudos to them for not treating my blood like rancid biohazard. My busted head throbs as I doze on and off, vaguely fretting about my potentially leaking brain. As the plane approaches Heathrow I return to my seat. Flight attendants keep checking on me until we land.

The customs line is the longest in living memory. My sister Rachael meets me at arrivals and we catch the tube out to the end of the Piccadilly line where she lives.  She finds my bleeding head story more worrisome than amusing and eventually she and her husband Graham convince me that we need to get my head checked out. So off we drive to North Middlesex University Hospital’s AEU where we plant ourselves down for the long haul. I’m called up almost immediately by the triage nurse, then sent down a corridor of grey smudged ivory linoleum to a lilac-walled section where some patients are receiving treatment and others are waiting. R & G get to wait alongside me. The scuffed walls are lined with mismatched chairs. Directly opposite, a tubercular-looking black guy hoiks up blood into a wad of hand towels. Nearby, another in a bright red shirt twitches, hooked up to an oxygen machine.

Meanwhile, a grazed bruise is blooming down my spine. Looks like I managed to slam that bit of me against a jagged bulkhead too. I’ve been interviewed twice at this point but no one has examined the actual damage.

Patients are wheeled past on squeaking gurneys. The place fills up as we edge into nightfall. Cops escort a young white guy getting patched up after a street fight.

I start fretting about my own story. A night flight with everyone asleep. Nobody saw anything. The triage nurse had made a big deal of the unconscious part. Nobody knows how long you were out. You can’t even be sure. Those flight attendants should have called an ambulance.

The lilac room gets fuller and fuller. More chairs are brought, more gurneys sail past on rattling wheels. When the doctor finally sees me, it’s in a store room as all the treatment cubicles are full. An imposing, grey-haired man with serious Balkan eyebrows. Nurse takes samples of my blood and piss. Delivers an EEG and tetanus shot. But as I’m not vomiting, headachy or babbling any more than usual, doc reckons I’m free to go. After we glue your head, he adds. No stitches, thankfully, because the nurse with the craft kit and hands like an orangutan makes the glue feel like acid gel. So sorry, she keeps saying, but the gash is like an L and I’m trying to push the edges to stay together.

I’m OK. The Head Injury Advice Card they gave me says I mustn’t booze, play rugby or take tranquilisers. The Wound Closure Advice Cardsays I can’t wash my hair for some time. Which means I’ll be wearing this unfortunate knitted beret for the rest of the week. Good thing my camera broke way back in Tallahassee!

Tags:
* * *


Back row: Kelly Thompson, Vanessa Blakeslee, Corey Ginsberg, Denton Loving, Lauren Hamlin, Sabra Winteer, Alva Moore, Cat Sparks. Front: Spencer Perry, Margaret Atwood, Claire Sherchik, Alexandra Tilson. Missing: Jacquira Diaz


They say you should never meet your heroes. This time they were wrong.

I was frightened of this workshop. Scared that Margaret Atwood would be a monster and I’d be the worst incarnation of my oftentimes overbearing self. Worried that the group would not cement. That we might not have much to offer each other.

The workshop was different to others I have done. She grew into us as a group. Distant at first, softening each day as it became apparent that there be no monsters here.

She excavated our opening pages, line by line, unravelling intention, unpicking  sentence seams. She gardened our stories. Pruned and weeded. Cleared their roots. Slashed and burned our choking undergrowth.

Novels germinated around that Key West wicker table. Characters evolved, thick and fleshy, fresh apocalypses were reined in or unleashed. When she finally sent us packing, it was with the blessings of pollination and flourish.

Without ever playing the celebrity card, she posed for our photos, signed our books, shared historical phantasmagoria, each snippet as priceless as plunder from the deepest galleon’s hold.

I remain in awe of her wit, intelligence and grace.

* * *

Originally published at www.catsparks.net. Please leave any comments there.

The Germans in the B&B have gone, replaced by Japanese. Across the road a hen and her brood of chickens wanders down the sidewalk. Apparently free roaming chickens are protected here. The rooster who’s been crowing since day one is still hard at it.

The Key West Literary Seminar is held annually at the San Carlos Institute, a large solid establishment on Duval street that looks like a relic from the motherland transplanted. The stage is fringed with red velvet curtains, the curve of a white balcony above my head. Walls proudly displaying glossy photo banners featuring sentimental sepia-tinged images of the motherland: Oriente, Camaguey, Las Villas, La Habana.  Enough spotlights to stage a rock show. Set design I’d describe as steampunk packing crate.  I overheard three women discussing their last trip to Cuba. “I’m not going back until he dies,” said one. I presume she meant Castro, not her husband.

Read the rest of this entry »

* * *

Originally published at www.catsparks.net. You can comment here or there.


Greetings from the porch of the Duval Gardens B&B, a twee establishment crawling with German tourists. My room contains a quilted 4-poster bed, white wicker furniture and not much else. Wifi but no kettle. I guess you can’t have everything. Believe it or not, I was woken by a rooster crowing this morning! Chickens wander about the streets, despite this being a modern American town.

* * *

Previous · Next