Last Day of 2011 (Updated)

This is my annual post where I sum up what happened in my professional life in that year and look ahead to what’s going to happen in 2012. I do this so I can have a handy record that I can get to in seconds. (Hence the “last day of the year” tag.)

This was not a fabulous year for me but it was a whole lot worse for so many other people around the world that whingeing would be tacky. I’ll focus on the good:

Finally, finally, finally we were able to announce, Sarah Rees Brennan and I, that we wrote a book together, Team Human, which is all about how having your best friend fall in love with a vampire SUCKS.1 We had to keep that secret for well over a year and it nearly killed us. It comes out in July in Australia (with Allen & Unwin) and in the United States of America (with Harper Collins). Oh, and it’s totally a real book and not a hoax despite what that lying minx Maureen Johnson says. See, actual real people have read it!

Sarah Rees Brennan has been crazy busy. Not only did she write a book with me but she also sold a whole new trilogy. The first book, Unspoken, will be out in September 2012. (Yes, she has two books out within three months of each other. Yes, she has superpowers.)

It’s SRB’s best book so far. I loved her Demon trilogy2 but Unspoken is even better. I cannot wait for more people to read it so we can all talk about the fantastic things she does with all those delicious Gothic tropes. Seriously, it’s wonderful and I’m convinced that SRB is going to start a Gothic revival.3 In fact, SRB’s made me want to write my own Gothic, which obviously I will have to dedicate to her. It will have an insane house that . . . oh, actually, I think Shirley Jackson wrote that book. Hmmm. I guess I should update that list of writing goals to include Gothic.

Books out this year

There were no new books by me in 2011. It was the first time since 2005 that I went book-less. Turns out I am no longer capable of a book a year. And to think I once attempted two books a year. It is to laugh! From now on it’s more likely to be a book every five years. Maybe.

Books out in 2012 and 2013

Well, except that I will have a book a year for the next two years: Team Human and Team Human: The Sequel of Awesomeness.

Thank you, SRB, for being the best and hardest working and paitentest collaborator a writer could hope for. Without you it would have been an eighteen year gap between my last book, Zombies versus Unicorns in 2010—another collaborative book—you do all see how my lovely writer friends are saving my career, right? Thank you, Holly Black—and my next solo book in 2028.4


Often after a new post from me I get a few people saying, “OMG! You’re writing again! You’re all cured! That’s awesome!”

To which, thanks! It’s really lovely to know that my online jibberings have been missed. But, sadly, no, I am not cured. Still with the RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury). Alas and alack. I’m pretty much where I was when I wrote about it a year ago.

What I’m doing is managing the RSI. Figuring out how to get the maximum amount of writing done with the minimum amount of pain, which involves a lot of time and money. I swear I practically have my own staff: physiotherapist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, masseur, trainer, pilates instructor.5

I am extremely grateful to all of them while also resentful of the time it takes to buy me a few hours of writing. It does get me down. On the days when I don’t type I have virtually no pain at all. On the days I do type, even if only for a short while, there’s pain. For some strange reason feedback like that is more conducive to lying in bed feeling sorry for yourself than it is to writing.6

Don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely fortunate. There are plenty of people who have neither the time nor the money to be able to deal with the ailments that are making their life hellish. Whose ailments are far worse than mine, whose symptoms cannot be managed. I know writers who write with multiple sclerosis, while recovering from strokes, with serious heart conditions, with cancer and so forth.

There are people out there getting all sorts of amazing things done despite the most horrendous obstacles in their way. I admire each and every one of them.

Other Things I am Asked About

Q: How’s your 1930s book going?

A: I am still at work on my 1930s novel. Slowly but surely. I even read a small section of it at the lovely Sirens conference I attended this year. The reception was most pleasing. If you ever have an opportunity to go to Sirens—Do. A smarter, more interesting crowd of readers and writers does not exist.

But, no, the 1930s novel is not any closer to being finished. Best, really to forget I ever mentioned it. Instead watch the wonderful new US tv show SRB said I had to see: Revenge. The heroine is a wicked Nancy Drew, who’s in the Hamptons to revenge her unjustly imprisioned father and she has ninja super powers and the people she gets revenge on are, like, hedge fund managers. I love her so much!

Q: How’s your garden?

A: My garden is doing great. Thanks!

Well, there was the small matter of the accidental drought when the battery went on the irrigation system. But most of the plants survived. It was kind of amazing. All the native violets laid down and died and then the second they felt sweet, sweet water they sprang up and were green and flowering again. Life, I tell you, it’s a miracle.

Those few plants that died I replaced with passionfruit. Because, well, yum. Also it turns out that passionfruit are like triffids. They move when you’re not looking and grow REALLY fast. Though, so far they have not attempted to eat me.

And the drought made my poor freaked out where-has-all-the-water-gone Tahitian lime tree fruit for the first time. Fruit! On a tree! In my garden! Um, yes, I am excited.

And I am starting to win my battle against the slugs. Apparently, they love corn meal. EVEN THOUGH IT KILLS THEM. Mwahahahahah!:

What? They totally deserve it. They were killing my basil and my poor benighted flowering eucalyptus! I have to KILL THEM ALL. NO OTHER PUNISHMENT IS ENOUGH. And, no, I’m not channelling Emily Thorne/Amanda Clarke from Revenge because she would think that merely ruining the slugs was sufficient. SHE WOULD BE WRONG. THEY MUST ALL DIE.7

Slugs and accidental droughts aside, my garden is one of the great pleasures in my life. We use the herbs daily. Currently, thyme, rosemary, mint, bay leaves, majoram, oregano, kaffir lime leaves, sage, basil and parsley. There are native bees and rainbow lorikeets sipping from our grevillea flowers. It looks and smells amazing. Every time I get stuck I walk out there breathe deep, kill a few caterpillars, smell a few flowers, chew on some mint and everything is just fine.

Happy new year, everyone! Here’s hoping 2012 will be what you want it to be.

Update: I forgot to put my usual disclaimer at the bottom of this post, which led a few folks to write and suggest I use voice recognition software. So here it is:

This post brought to you by demonic voice misrecognition annoyingware. Apologies for brevity, wrong word choices, weird syntax and occasional incomprehensible swearing.

  1. Pardon the truly terrible pun. []
  2. Because, well, Sin and Mae and Jamie and Nick. And SRB even got me to start liking Allan by the end of the final book. []
  3. Yes, that was another bad pun. []
  4. Which is when the next total eclipse that can be viewed from Australia takes place. Clearly, it will be the best year ever. []
  5. I will say this: Damn, am I fit! []
  6. Crap. I said I wasn’t going to whinge. Sorry! []
  7. Also, Emily/Amanda is way too classy TO SHOUT IN ALL CAPS. []


  1. Books Before Boys on #

    Congrats! I can’t wait for Team Human. (Will it be an ebook?)

    [Deleted because it referred to an earlier version of this post that accidentally published because the stupid voice misrecognition annoyingware is stupid. My apologies, Books Before Boys.]

  2. Justine on #

    Books Before Boys: Yes, there will definitely be electronic versions of Team Human across all the platforms.

  3. tricia sullivan on #

    It’s lovely to see you post, even if only once a year. Nobody does footnotes like you.

    Wishing you health and happiness even through the frustrations of your situation. LIAR was an amazing, subtle novel. Whenever the new book is done, I’ll be keen to read it.

  4. Justine on #

    tricia sullivan: Thanks. I really appreciate it.

    Hope you have a wonderful year and continue to conquer crazy obscure mathematical things. (For me that means anything more complicated than arithmetic.)

  5. Laini Taylor on #

    I LOVED the 30s excerpt and cannot wait for more, and in the meantime: Team Human. Yay! It was lovely to finally meet you this year and I look forward to hanging out again, perhaps in another lovely place. Happy New Year to you and Scott!

  6. Sarah Rees Brennan on #

    I focus on the most important part – yay you are watching Revenge! Now all I have to do is check that you want the correct couple to get together…

    No, seriously, this was a lovely post to read, distracted me from feebly coughing up my lungs. 😉 Happy New Year, Justine! Next year will be better, I think.

  7. Justine on #

    Laini: Thanks! It was fabulous meeting you and Jim and Clementine. Hopefully next time we meet there will be no snow. Cold. I am against it.

    SRB: Erm, I want whatever couple you want to get together to get together. *cough* Let’s just say I cannot tell the two supposed romantic interests apart. Rich boy and boat boy. Seriously, they look EXACTLY THE SAME! They are both so boring. *gag*

    Get well soon! Happy new year!

  8. Eli Jones on #

    I’ve heard that used coffee grounds scattered around plants also drives away slugs & snails.
    I forget and just tip them in the compost but if you have a coffee habit it may be a way to get extra mileage from the beans.

    Best wishes for the New Year and good luck fighting the RSI.
    It is a pain I have dealt with every day for years.

  9. Donna on #

    Its a shame that you can’t use voice recognition software so that you could write more frequently, if thats what you are wanting to do

  10. Justine on #

    Eli: Good luck to you too!

    No coffee in this household. Nasty stuff.

    Donna: I do use voice misrecognition crapware. This post was written with it. My account of my battles with it is here.

  11. bridgette on #

    Yay! Blog Post! I missed your blogging, BUT I would rather have you not in pain (this doesn’t mean I hope you stop writing all together, I would cry if you stopped writing books.) I don’t want you to be in pain AT ALL and be able to write however much you want to write. This isn’t making sense. I hope that you are not in pain and happy!

    Cornmeal you say? This kills the evil slugs? THANK YOU! I shall use your amazing War Tactic Against the Evil Slugs come Spring here in PA, USA! They need to die!

    Can’t wait to read Team Human!

    Happy New Year!

  12. Madigan on #

    I’m so excited for Team Human! Yaaaay!

    My mother used to kill slugs with beer. You set out a shallow bowl of beer, and they climb in and drink until they die of alcohol poisoning. At least they die happy!

  13. Justine on #

    Bridgette: Thank you.

    The corn meal has been a middling success. What’s worked the best has been going out at dusk armed with a torch (flashlight) and jar of biodegradable lightly soapy water. I pick them up and drop them in the jar where they drown. I wear surgical gloves cause I can’t stand touching slugs. *shudder* When I’m sure they’re dead I simply pour the mixture back on to the garden and mix it in with the soil.

    Madigan: Hope you like Team Human.

    I have had only middling success with beer traps. I suspect my slugs are teetotallers. 🙁

  14. elockhart on #

    Just read this post today. Nice to hear your voice on the blog. Thinking of you!

  15. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little on #

    I am looking forward to finally getting to read Team Human like woah. My super-sekrit fantasy (because a gal’s gotta dream) is of listening to an audiobook director’s cut version with special features you can turn on to hear you and SRB talking about The Making Of And Other Hilarities in between the chapters, because I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed as hard as I did during your joint panel at Sirens. (The words “Waves! Crashing!” send me into fits of giggles even now.)

    Seriously, you’re wonderful and made of win. I’m looking forward to devouring every new thing you write forever.

  16. Justine on #

    Nicole: Thanks so much. We’re hoping to take the “Waves! Crashing!” Team Human show on the road in July.

    We would LOVE to record such an audio book!

  17. Julie on #

    Sorry to hear you’re less able to produce as many books as libraries around the world want you to. Hope technology comes up with a gizmo to help you out soon.
    Rare Books Library @ the University of Sydney

    ps. Thanks for the cornmeal idea. I used to crush eggshells to tiny particles to use as a snail barrier around my herbs. Unfortunately the herbs didn’t like it scattered around their base and refused to thrive.

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