Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Siren, launched

I asked Aaron what he might be doing today as his novella, The Siren, takes flight. He suggested that with his story set in the East Coast heat and written in the cool of Dunedin, it might be best celebrated in the Otago Museum Butterfly House, as below (add your own Papilionoidea), with the trail of thought: "the release of butterflies … a long run or bike ride, too … while considering the launched fiction sailing through cyberspace…"

Photo by Lara Liesbeth
 It's been a privilege to make such close reading of Aaron's words and intentions, to see a rich, engaging mind at work, and to publish this exciting new writing.

Here it is: The Siren, live.

Cover design by Caroline Jackson

You can buy The Siren here for 3 USD.

Aaron's brand new website is live, too — tailored by Doug Lilly of Arts Net, who also administers the Rosa Mira Books site. Visit Aaron Blaker here.

What's next? I ask Aaron. He writes, "I have several stories competing for attention at the moment, all set in Dunedin, all likely to be longer pieces. They are in varying stages of completion. I am at the stage in my writing where I want to experiment with rhythm and composition. This next batch of stories will reflect that experimentation, I think. At some point, the plan will include publishing material that I am happy with, but the focus as of now is on the writing and editing."

Amen to all that. And cheers, Aaron!

May The Siren gleam like polished stones; flourish like a well-cloched-staked-manured-and-watered tomato; take flight and fly true to its most receptive readers.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The next 10k and feijoa ice-creams

I was afraid Ratty had scarpered. His relevance has been under question. Anyway, it seems he and Lily-the-Pink have been cooking up a second litter of ratadilloes. These two are only three days old but already they've discovered the joys of feijoa ice-cream, which is a good job since the fragrant fruit are littering the park and garden edges of suburban Auckland where they're spending these first, formative hours of their lives. Sorry about the sunglasses; they don't do much for our PR rat, but his eyes were looking peculiarly raisinesque so covering them seemed kinder.

Of far greater pertinence just now is the fact that The Siren is entering its final stages of preparation for publishing. Author Aaron Blaker spoke with Emily Duncan on Arts Hub, Otago Access Radio in Dunedin last week. He spoke about his wander through Spain in the footsteps of Laurie Lee, his writing, his experience of Rosa Mira Books and more. He also read a fine and moving short story, 'Spiral Staircase, Tiger Tea'.  You can listen in here. (Go to 4th April 2013, minutes 23 to 56.)

Tim Jones of Books in Trees has written an enticing piece about The Glass Harmonica in his first 'Book Watch' column for the New Zealand Herald.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Another photogenic Rosa Mira author

I don't think you've met Aaron yet — Aaron Blaker, author of the forthcoming 10k ebook, The Siren. Here he is: green-fingered and stocking-footed in a photo that someone close to him suggested could gain him a wide-ish readership. I'm sure you'll agree. This and his writing, of course. A sample of which follows.

Photo taken by Lara Liesbeth and squashed by Blogger.
Here he makes a tasty meal out of a few stock questions from the Rosa Mira question file:

RMB: Aaron, would you say a little about writing this short novella — the time, place, and any anecdotes associated with it?

AHB: The physical setting and the lives of the characters in The Siren are loosely based on my experiences living in a small township on the East Coast of the North Island, a few years ago. The outlandish beauty of the place was quite unsettling, as was the isolation and the socio-economic reality. The fictional events of The Siren arose from my combined sense of discomfort and euphoria.

 RMB: Are there writers whose work or way-of-being you draw on for encouragement or inspiration?

AHB: The English writer Laurie Lee once inspired me, with his autobiographical As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, to walk through Spain. At the time I was just swept up in the romance of sleeping outdoors, getting heatstroke and drinking red wine that cost ten pesetas. Reading it again recently, I recognised more clearly his allusions to that disjunction between raw (including corporeal) beauty and human unkindness, and the lunacy that might result. That aside, Lee’s poetic prose has always made me want to experience life deeply and write about it in colour. Lately, Annie Proulx and Jeffrey Eugenides have been lighting my fire. Their stories are alive, ­like a Van Gogh painting. All motion and pluralism and resisting conclusions. This suggests to me a writer’s, a person’s, obligation to be alive, and aware of the sensual data in constant flow. Difficult for a writer to harness it of course, but those two manage to. I love that.

RMB: What are your current challenges?

AHB: Not being swept away in the tidal wave of my daughter’s obsession with painting and role-play. Finding a wee bit more time to write. (Not unique.) 

RMB: Current delight?

AHB: Rehabilitating my knee to the point of being able to play association football again. Learning how to build rammed-earth tyre-houses, Mike Reynolds style. Getting kind comments on the Goethe-Institut site. The pre-publication process for The Siren.

RMB: What's up ahead for your work in 2013?

AHB: More fiction. Tending toward longer pieces. My wife wants me to write a novel. Possibly. Will depend, as always, on having the consistent blocks of time to squeeze things out and set them down. I might have to give up role-playing…

Aaron comes from the East Coast of the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand, but currently lives and writes in Dunedin. His fiction has been published in Takahē and Best New Zealand Fiction and online by the Goethe-Institut New Zealand.
Talking of pears, there's some peachy news this week: our first 10k author Sue Wootton (The Happiest Music on Earth) has just been (very) short-listed for the 5000-pound international Hippocrates Prize for a poem that touches on some aspect of medicine. Her poem is caled 'Wild' — congratulations, Sue!