I was asked yesterday what I’m looking forward to when I get back home. I answered, “cricket, warm weather, and seeing my family and friends”. But, obviously, not necessarily in that order. It occurred to me today that I’m also looking forward to not being so busy or surrounded by so many busy, busy, busy people.

New York’s just like that. You invite people to a party here and a bunch of them won’t even respond: they won’t say they’ll be there, they won’t say they can’t make it, and then they won’t show up. It’s not because they hate you. It’s just because they’re busy, overwhelmed, drowning. And when I’m here I wind up just as busy, just as behind with everything, unable to get all my work done, see all my friends, do all the cool things that I’ve heard rumours can be done in NYC.

It’s not that we’re not busy in Sydney. I’m a feelancer. My workload’s pretty much the same wherever I am. It’s not that I don’t have lots of busy friends there—hey Kate! It’s just that, I don’t know, busy is bigger in New York City. Wider. Denser. Hungrier.

Sydney’s slower, calmer, and much more relaxing. I can’t wait to get back there.

My World Fantasy Con Schedule (updated)

Only two panels, so there’ll be heaps of time to hang out in the bar. Woo hoo!

Thursday 2:00-3:00PM
Gender-Bending Fantasy (Capitol A)
Inhabitants of fantastic worlds typically disregard the laws of physics, and frequently re-cast societal norms to fit an un-earthly reality. This panel will discuss recent fantasy fiction that challenges assumptions of sex and gender.
Terry A. Garey, Ellen Klages, Justine Larbalestier(M), Diane Martin, Jill Roberts

Friday 12:00-1:00PM
Images of Women in Fantasy Literature (Capitol A)
The home of WisCon, Madison is the center for feminism in fantasy and science fiction. We will discuss the roles women have had in fantasy since Tolkien. Fantasy has become populated with women, finally, but are they realistic women who provide good role models? Can modern feminist ideals be successfully inserted into a medieval story? What are the best examples of a feminist character in fantasy?
Kate Elliott, Anne Harris, Graham Joyce, Justine Larbalestier, Jane Lindskold

Update: Turns out that Megan McCarron’s WFC schedule is way cooler than mine. I’m so jealous! (Except for the Clarion one. Never went to Clarion, me.)

I’m so miserable

I can’t do this. I can’t do freezing cold weather. I can’t. We just walked four blocks through icy wind and some sleet and it makes we want to curl up in a ball and cry and cry. I’m never ever ever staying this late in the Northern hemsphere. From now on at the very very most it’ll be June to September.

As Elvis is my witness I will never be cold again!

Yummy Yuba

Last night I tried fresh yuba for the very first time and it were sublime.

photo swiped from this site

I also ate the best edamame I’ve ever had (fresh and smoky), sake (unfiltered milky goodness), and chestnut icecream (words fail me).

The meal ended twelve hours ago, but I’m still in heaven just remembering all the flavours: eel stuffed with fresh tofu, skirt steak cooked in miso with enoki mushrooms, black sesame ice cream.

Food is good. Life is good.

Move along, people

There are no pictures of Daniel Vettori posted on this blog, with or without his shirt on. So all you folks googling “Daniel Vettori no shirt” or “Daniel Vettori sexy” can just move along to say here. And really, people, Daniel Vettori is not sexy. Michael Holding or Keith Miller now that’s sexy.


Marrije asks what a mangosteen is. No words can convey the glory of the mangosteen. Instead I offer you this photograph:

which I swiped from dunnowhere ages ago stupidly forgetting to get the photographer’s name. Whoever took this: it’s © you.

Writers are the Best Whingers

Just read and giggled all over this post by Diana Peterfreund in which she wittily whinges about all the work she has to do (and skewers Star Wars). It struck a chord cause I was just about to whinge about the pageproofs of Daughters of Earth which just landed in my life with a very heavy thunk.


Diana (I’m taking liberties referring to her by first name, I don’t actually know her, but I read her fabbie blog, so I feel like I know her) starts by referring to a harder working writer who has family on top of it all, whereas Diana just has her sailor boy and a full-time job. I’m going to lower the bar still further: I have neither children nor pets nor a job (other than writing).

And yet I feel my case is worse than either of theirs because I am suffering (horribly) from post-paradise-adjustment syndrome (or ppas). Just days ago I was in Mexico living an admin-free existence: no shopping, no housecleaning, no dishwashing, no cooking, no laundry, no paying bills, no nothing—except writing. Luz Barron did all that for me, not to mention telling me excellent stories, mending my clothes (!), and taking me out to all the best fun bars in San Miguel. Luz made me food like this:

Mushroom-stuffed chillies on tomatoes & onions served with plantain & pomegranate & garlic rice.

Now I’m back in reality, but where is the counselling and social services team to help me through my ppas? No where! How am I supposed to cope without Luz? How am I supposed to live in the real world where I have to finish Magic! Magic! Magic! Oi! Oi! Oi, the third Magic or Madness book, go through the staggeringly long Daughters proofs, finish the great Australian mangosteen cricket Elvis fairy book, write the proposal for this jaw-droppingly brilliant idea I just had and do all that adminy stuff!? How is that possible?!

You know I used to have no sympathy for rich folk like Paris Hilton et al, what with their silver spoons wedged firmly down their throats. Rich bastards, I used to think, but now I know the truth: without their staff they’re helpless. Look what happens when someone like Paris takes dressing into her own hands. Not pretty, is it? Imagine her trying to get it together to make her own coffee. Or figure out how a washing machine works. Wow. Her life is really, really hard. Not quite as hard as mine given that she’s still in paradise and not in the land of ppas. But how much worse will it be for poor old Paris when her fall comes? How hideous will her ppas be?

Makes ya think, don’t it?

ball go fast

One of the freebie books I picked up in Atlantic City is The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers. In the intro it mentions that one of the interviews was conducted at a cricket match. So what did I do next? I leafed through every interview until I found that one, which turned out to be Adam Thirlwell talking to Tom Stoppard. But, here’s what a cricket tragic am I—once I got to the interview I skimmed impatiently through discussions of how Stoppard conceives and writes his plays, of Ionesco and Sappho and 9/11 and blah blah bloody blah, trying to find where they talk about the cricket being played in front of them.

I was beginning to think very poorly of Thirlwell and Stoppard. Very poorly indeed. How could you be at a match and discuss all sorts of arty farty blather, but not the actual cricket? How is that possible? For the love of Keith Miller!

Fortunately after pages of blather they finally get to the point, Stoppard applauds—“Oh that’s a just beautiful shot”—but then, horrifyingly fast, they reveal themselves as non-Cricket tragics. Thirlwell fails to discuss said cover drive and Stoppard says that:

Cricket seemed more or less pointless to me if you weren’t actually a wicket-keeper . . . It’s partly to do with the fact that every ball is frightening, if you’re keeping wicket, because there’s a good chance that you’ll have to deal with it if the batsman doesn’t. And, as you know, when it comes to catches being offered, probably three out of five go to the wicket-keeper, generally. So you feel that there’s a lot of responsibility on you, and one is constantly frightened of publicly shaming oneself—by dropping an easy catch or missing an easy stumping—which of course happened to me all the time, but nevertheless that’s what I liked doing.

While I, too, am fascinated by the wicketkeeper, I’m shocked that anyone could disparage all other fielders. I mean to say! What about the slips cordon? Silly mid on? Long leg? I’m not sure I feel quite the same way about Tom Stoppard now . . .

I heart Peter Roebuck

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned how much I adore cricket writer, Peter Roebuck. Mostly it’s cause his over-the-top metaphors and similies crack me up. He funny (and I can never tell whether it’s on purpose or not).

I’m frequently asked why I love the game of cricket so much. It’s a hard question to answer because there are so many answers. One of them has to do with the complex and fascinating history of the game and the countries it’s played in, which Mr Roebuck sums up in his latest piece for the Sydney Morning Herald in a satisfyingly overblown way:

In many respects, cricket is the most unruly of games. Consider its component parts. Ten teams play Test cricket. Two of them have been at loggerheads and sometimes war for 50 years. Two have suffered massacres ignored by the rest of the world, the victims being Ndebele and Tamil. One nation has been bankrupted by a wicked Stalinist, another is ruled by a military dictator. One country is emerging from centuries of racist rule, another lives on the breadline. The West Indies does not even exist. Endlessly frightened Australia is fighting an illegal war and passing disturbing legislation. England is torn between Europe and isolation. Until last week, New Zealand was a haven of sanity.


Oh, and if anyone can tell me why New Zealand is no longer a “haven of sanity”—I’m all ears. Bonus points for anyone who can identify all of the countries mentioned.


So, last night we got to hang out with the smartest group of folks I’ve hung out with in an age (and I hang with much smartness, let me tell you). At the Teen section of Elizabeth Library, New Jersey, we read a little bit, we told anecdotes, got asked very smart and very funny questions, I got to talk Spanish, and afterwards we got to eat great pasta and drink good wine and enjoy more ace conversation.

I read from my great Australian cricket mangosteen Elvis fairy novel, which I feared would tank with the seventeen-year-olds, but they laughed harder than the Brooklyn audience. Yay! I finally wrote something that cracks people up. And some of them knew about cricket. One guy plays it with his Pakistani neighbours. How cool is that? And many loved basketball and knew about the WNBA, not just the NBA! Heaven.

Scott read from Pretties which kind of tanked, and then from Peeps, which went over huge guns. He read about toxoplasma and there was much speculation about who has the parasite and who doesn’t. (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Then you’ll have to read the book, won’t you?) So many of them had read at least one of Scott’s books. One had read all of them and was full of smart questions. I made Scott do his Donald Duck voice and it slayed them best of all (he can harmonise with himself—next time you see him, just ask—he loves to perform on command). There was a queue of people wanting to have their photo taken with Scott. How fab is that?

And at the end, the library gave everyone a copy of one of my books (they had a choice of Magic or Madness or Magic Lessons—yup, Penguin genorously gave them a whole stack of galleys) and one of Scott’s many books. Though some tried sneakily to take two of Scott’s books. The competition over copies of Peeps was intense. We signed for all of them and thus got to talk one on one to everyone. Great idea, no? It was fabulous fun and I want to do it again.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love libraries? And librarians? And people who love libraries and librarians? No? Well, I really, really, really do.

Atlantic City? No, thanks. (updated)

I don’t want to rubbish a whole city, especially when I was only there for a few hours, but Atlantic City is an erky perky bleah of a place. Friends warned me it was a shithole—I had no idea they were being kind. It’s ugly, full of the most hideous buildings ever built and populated by zombie gamblers, who are served by an army of twelve-year-old incompetent staff. Once you’re inside one of the casinos it’s almost impossible to get out again. All signs lead to more gambling areas. I’m convinced that hell will be nothing but Atlantic City casinos.

This is heresy for an Australian, but, I hate gambling. I love cards and I’ll bet on them, but not with money. Never for money. Betting with money turns people into glassy-eyed zombies, and call me old-fasthioned, but I prefer my zombies in Romero films, thank you very much.

So why were we in Atlantic City? To attend the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers book fair, which other than its location in a hellspawn casino, was a lot of fun. We met the fabulous Penguin reps, Holly and Todd, who looked after us excellently well and told great publishing stories; we hung out with fellow YA writers, Maureen Johnson and Melissa Kantor; we both signed a bunch of our books, Peeps and Magic or Madness, and we snaffled up many free books. The gems of my pile—other than Maureen’s and Melissa’s books—were:

Small Steps by Louis Sachar, which is the sequel to Holes! Woo hoo! I have the sequel to Holes and you don’t! Ha! Ha! Ha!

The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery. I adore Flannery. He’s frequently interviewed back home about science and enviromental issues and is the smartest, most interesting, and clearest explainers of such issues I’ve ever heard. He also writes really, really well. I can’t wait to read this one, not least because I know it’s going to help me understand what happened with hurricane Katrina.

Today, we go back to New Jersey:

Elizabeth Main Library
11 S. Broad St., Elizabeth
New Jersey

We’ll probably read and we’ll definitely chat and generally be our entertaining selves. We’ve only done one library event before but it was fabulous, so I’m really looking forward to this.

Oh, and if you’re from Atlantic City? My condolences.

Update: I am very stupid. I wrote a blog entry about casinos, but my spam filter is set to nuke any comments that contain the word “casino”. I apologise to anyone who had their comment nuked. You can post now. Though given the vast tide of casino spam I get your comment will go through to moderation, which I truly rooly honestly will check. Rooly soon.

Another late night post

On account of tomorrow we is off to Atlantic City for the book fair and then to Philadelphia to stay with the fabulous Liz Gilbert this is another hasty late night post. Not that it’s so very late, it just feels like it on account of Scott and me did our debut Brooklyn readings tonight at the Barbes Bar. Many of our friends came (yay them!) and there were actual total strangers (yay them, too!). Twas a blast. For the first time ever I actually enjoyed reading. How bout that? Scott read great in his Texan accent and Bennett Madison was most funny, too.

Highlight of the night: the youngest member of the audience coming up to me to tell me that she loved the bit I read from my as-yet-unfinished great Australian YA cricket fairy mangosteen novel. She told me what her fairy is and those of various members of her family. Then when I said I didn’t have a fairy, she said, “Yes, you do! You have the good-story fairy.” Isn’t that lovely? I was so touched I almost got teary. Sadly, I was too over-energised from reading to remember her name, but if you’re reading this: thank you! It meant a lot to me.

Back in the US of A (briefly)

After a month of no motorised transport there was a vast deal today. Cars, planes, taxis. We went from San Miguel to Mexico City to New York City. We are tired. Tomorrow there will be trains: to Brooklyn and back (see previous post). The day after that buses to Atlantic City. It’ll be broom broom broom all the time. I will pine for walks on cobble-stoned streets.

Since I promised Cherie that I’d blog every day once I left Mexico. I’m blogging at this late hour despite fatigue. How good am I? Say thank you, Cherie. Also tomorrow seems to be too chockers for blogging so I thought I’d sneak it in early.

Things that i achieved in San Miguel:

photos of hummingbirds
grew actual fingernails
50 thousand words of final Magic or Madness book
Scott and me arranged mercy killing of one tiny, tiny, very hungry, very lame kitten (I’d tell you more but I’d start crying)

Things that have happened in the world in my absence that aren’t horrible and tear-inducing:

Australia thrashed the World XI in one-day fixtures and look well placed in one-off six-day test, mostly on account of the glories of the spin twins Warne and MacGill

My sister had her time working on King Kong extended—Yay!!!

I’m sure there were other things but I’m too tired to think.

Sleep now.

Teen Read Week

Next week is Teen Read Week and me and Scott will be doing a bunch of readings and signings around the traps.

First up, the very day after we get back from Mexico, so expect us to be full of Mexican cheer (I plan to wear my Mexican cowboy hat and may do the entire reading in Spanish):

Sunday 16 October, 6:00PM
Justine Larbalestier
Bennett Madison
Scott Westerfeld
Barbès Reading Series
376 Ninth Street (at 6th Ave.)
Barbès Bar
Park Slope, Brooklyn
New York

I’ll be reading from Magic Lessons the sequel to Magic or Madness in a way that gives absolutely nothing away if you haven’t read the first book. I’ll also read a wee bit from a brand-new novel I’ve been working on. Scott will read from Peeps in his authentic Texan accent.

Monday 17 October
New Atlantic Independent Bookseller Association Trade Show
The Tropicana Resort & Casino
Brighton & The Boardwalk
Atlantic City
2:30-3:00: Scott signs 75 copies of Peeps in the author autographing area table #3.
They’ll also be giving away copies of Magic or Madness at the Penguin booth #204. Yay! Free books! I plan to snaffle up many (though not my own book, obviously).

Tuesday 18 October, 5:30-7:30PM
Scott reads at Books of Wonder
18 West 18th St
New York

Wednesday 19 October, 7:00–8:30 p.m.
Author Event:
Meet Scott Westerfeld and Justine Larbalestier
Elizabeth Main Library
11 S. Broad St., Elizabeth
New Jersey

So, it’s quite the busy week for us. Hope we get to see some of you.


We went out to San Miguel’s botanical gardens, a large and beautiful cactus preserve. There have been many changes since the last time we visited in February 2004. First up there are new dunnies. La Bond and Mr Rowe will appreciate the difference. Eighteen months ago there was just one: a tiny tin shed without dunny paper or the ability to flush convincingly. Now it is a thing of splendour. Behold:

Also it comes complete with lovely guardian dog.

Last time we visited it hadn’t rained in months. This time it was autumn after much rain.



And the cactus is in bloom:

Remind me why we’re leaving again?

hummingbird or hoax?

I finally did it. I finally got a photo of a hummingbird. Hell, I got two. What kind of a genius, am I? And it required no patience or planning at all. I just happened to be in the kitchen with the camera.

You see it? There in the centre right of the photo, just behind the pale purple flowers.

No? Well how about in this photo:

This time look just left of the pale purple flowers.

Okay then, here’s the first photo again, but this time cropped with the hummingbird dead centre:

And the second, also cropped and in the centre:

See it? Isn’t that cool? You don’t see it? Look closer, damn it! See the grey blur? See the wings? That’s the hummingbird. Bloody hell, those buggers move fast! More than a gazillion wing beats per minute, I reckon.

And you know what? I don’t care if you can’t see the hummingbird. I know it’s there. That’s all that matters. I have achieved the one thing I came to San Miguel to achieve: I have taken a photo of a hummingbird.

I loves them. I do.

P.S. Top of my current want list? A decent digi camera. You know, with a zoom and stuff.

Little Gift

This morning a hummingbird hovered outside the window directly in front of me for more than ten seconds. I got to see the tiny bits of green mixed in with its grey and brown. I got to see just how fast its wings vibrate. How much slower the tail feathers move. How long and thin its beak. How tiny it is: smaller than the palm of my hand.

Patrick O’Leary is right, you cannot think ill of a hummingbird. I withdraw my earlier comments.

Everything here in San Miguel continues good and well. We continue to eat way too many pastries, particularly the ones with pecans. We continue to write many, many words. I think Scott’s book is his best YA yet. And I remain happy with my own.

I shall be sad to leave.