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Matt Cowens
18 July 2013 @ 06:59 pm
Last weekend at the NZ National Science Fiction and Fantasy convention (Au Contraire) Debbie & I won two Sir Julius Vogel Awards:

* Best collected work (Mansfield with Monsters)
* Best new talent

Huzzah!

http://www.sffanz.org.nz/sjv/sjvResults-2013.html
 
 
 
Matt Cowens
11 October 2012 @ 09:38 am
Mansfield with Monsters (Steam Press, 2012) has been reviewed a fair few times both online and in print (in some high profile publications!). Here’s a quick roundup of what’s been said and where:
Simon Litten got the ball rolling with a fantastic review of an advance copy of the book for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand:
“…If Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a one note song then Mansfield with Monsters is a choral piece of depth and vibrancy. This is a book that should adorn the shelf of every lover of fiction: master works by a master of short fiction. Mansfield is that good.”

9 out of 10 positive reviews, many glowing? Nice...Collapse )
Mansfield with Monsters has yet to be reviewed or rated on Amazon – we are very curious to see what ebook readers have to say!
 
 
 
Matt Cowens
21 September 2012 @ 09:33 am
This week is SpecFicNZ blogging week - a week where members of SpecFicNZ go on a bit of a blogging spree. This year people were asked to volunteer as interviewers and interviewees, and there have been some interesting interviews so far!

http://www.specficnz.org/?page_id=3367 - an index of all the posts
And I am currently writing some answers to some wonderful questions from Cat Ford. Happy times!
 
 
 
Matt Cowens
29 July 2012 @ 08:24 pm
Having a classroom which is currently decorated with a mix of movie posters, movie banners and student work, I decided to investigate the cost of making a Mansfield with Monsters poster. Actually, to be honest I found myself wanting a customised pen to sign books with at the book launch so I visited vistaprint.co.nz and made a pair of matching Mansfield with Monsters pens for Debbie and I for the princely sum of $12.50. They didn't arrive in time so we used some awesome MAGNATANK pens (2 for $3 in NZ $1,2,3 stores). But whilst at the site I saw that they do cheap vinyl banners.

I've made several - one collage of photos of my son with his name, one for school with the same idea but saying Media Studies, and a Mansfield with Monsters poster, on vinyl and all big. Total cost was something like $50, with free shipping, courtesy of a coupon code vistaprint emailed me. They send a lot of emails (5 a week?) with various deals if you sign up for them.

The banners are nicely printed (at 75dpi) on tear resistant vinyl. I walked on one without doing it any harm. I'd say they'd be very useful for conventions, hanging in classrooms, that kind of thing.

Photobucket
 
 
 
Matt Cowens
11 July 2012 @ 03:10 pm
Mary McCallum has reviewed our book, and she had some very nice things to say!

"It's a lot of fun, it's very weird... you get the original language and then in and out come these creatures... often, to my mind, the resolution involves the supernatural in rather stunning and wonderful ways... I will never see the little lamp in the same way again... it's rather gorgeous how that builds up... there is enormous fun to be had. I think secondary school students will love this to bits..."

http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/2524771/book-review-mansfield-with-monsters
 
 
 
Matt Cowens
06 July 2012 @ 12:21 pm
Our book launch is tomorrow (Sat 7th July, 2012) at the Kapiti Coffee House, kicking off at 3.30pm. In the lead up we've been interviewed a couple of times - once for print and once on youtube:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/local-papers/kapiti-observer/7223496/Mansfield-zombies-and-werewolves

 
 
 
Matt Cowens
31 March 2012 @ 07:00 pm
Steam Press has announced details of their second book (following on from the excellent Prince of Soul and the Lighthouse) and it's a book which Debbie and I had a hand in writing! It is Mansfield with Monsters, a set of adapted Katherine Mansfield stories, based on our interpretations of the early drafts uncovered by literary historian Marcus Walker.

It's coming out in July. Awesome!



“With the publication of this book, we must now reconsider the ways Katherine Mansfield's own monumental modernism is nothing less than a significant breeding ground for the development of the truly weird and the frightfully monstrous.” – Associate Professor Carl H. Sederholm, Brigham Young University 
 
 
 
Matt Cowens
16 January 2012 @ 05:10 pm
I've been drawing artwork for back episodes of the Drabblecast podcast lately. It's fun, I can listen to the BBC iplayer whilst colouring stuff in, and there's a great sense of satisfaction at finishing a project. Here are the first two drawings, with links to the stories they depict. I may do more later in the year...


http://www.drabblecast.org/2008/12/28/drabblecast-95-on-dasher-by-jonathan-c-gillespie/ - a Christmas tale


http://www.drabblecast.org/2007/04/25/drabblecast-10-a-little-black-death/ - a tale of childhood and spiders
 
 
 
Matt Cowens
25 September 2011 @ 11:04 pm
I plan to re-record this story of mine.  Parts of this recording are at close to my normal speaking speed, and thus are very hard to follow.  Other bits are at a more measured pace, but even I find parts of it hard to understand! It's about 3:30. Should probably be 5 minutes.


 
 
 
Matt Cowens
25 September 2011 @ 12:27 pm
It's NZ Specfic blogging week (ending today). It has inspired me to write a quick plug for the Wily Writers website, which is packed with excellent short stories available for free in text and podcast formats. Many of the stories are by NZ authors!

Here's some of the kiwi flava tales:

“The Derby” by Ripley Patton - http://www.wilywriters.com/blog/?p=141
“The Salt Line” by Grant Stone - http://www.wilywriters.com/blog/?p=1015
“The Tunnel” by Matt Cowens - http://www.wilywriters.com/blog/?p=1631
“Upon a Star” by Debbie Cowens - http://www.wilywriters.com/blog/?p=2218
“Crucible” by Dan Rabarts - http://www.wilywriters.com/blog/?p=2268

Check them out. They're well worth your time :-)
 
 
 
Matt Cowens
I had a look at the closed captions which were auto-generated for Dominic and the Last Ocean. The Youtube robot made a valiant attempt to understand my accent but fell short on a few key phrases:

* dominic had a dream about a magic of adventure visiting defrost c indian talk defiance
* the penguins were pretty funny on the land underwater they were as craigslist with extra kingstown
* if we can protect the raw seeding maybe one day his dream can come true


Video and full transcript...Collapse )
 
 
 
Matt Cowens
11 August 2011 @ 05:16 pm
With apologies to any Australians offended by my terrible accent.

 
 
 
Matt Cowens
10 August 2011 @ 05:48 pm
 Our first entry into the Last Ocean Online Film Contest (there's another, sillier one coming).

 
 
 
Matt Cowens
17 July 2011 @ 03:26 pm
My new flu is way cooler than yours. Srsly, my flu has blisters. Hands, feet, inside the mouth, my flu is awesome. It kicks all the other flus I've had square in the protein sheath. It may be a kiddy-flu, and the blisters may be small, and sure, it hasn't actually made me feel that unwell (beyond a sore throat) but its name is awesome - Hand Foot and Mouth Disease.

That's right. It's a disease. Not just a virus or flu, it's a disease. Told you it was the best.

In non-disease related bragging, I took a photo of some books Debbie and I have stories in:

Photobucket

Neat, huh?  And I replied to an email about including one of my stories in another anthology today.  And I'm working on a secret project which is shaping up very nicely.  In fact, I should be working on it now, blistered hands and all.
 
 
 
Matt Cowens
21 June 2011 @ 09:04 pm
It's been a while since I updated here, but life has been trucking on. My son has possibly-maybe fractured his first bone (left leg, just above the ankle) and is in a cast. School is busy but fun. I've been eating healthful foods of late with no unhealthful snacks. Y'know, the usual.

Some cool stuff has been happening too. Along with AJ Fitzwater I was interviewed on Radio New Zealand's Arts on Sunday (mp3). We talked about Tales for Canterbury, the fundraising anthology that's jam-packed with excellent fiction and available RIGHT NOW in paperback and ebook. It wasn't a great phone line but it was a good interview. It turns out I need to give myself the same advice in speaking as in writing - avoid unnecessary adverbs. I dropped a 'moderately' into my final comment which somewhat undermined the sentiment.

Ho hum.

Debbie's short story 'Upon a Star' has just gone up on Wily Writers. It's a fae/noir story featuring the PI Robin Goodfellow. It's a cracking tale and the podcast artist, one Philip Pickard, has an excellent voice and accent for the story. I've only listened to the beginning (too much marking to do!) but have loaded it up on my phone for the walk to school tomorrow. I highly recommend checking it out.

I'm looking forward to the school holidays and planning a sustained burst of short story writing. Fingers crossed for no broken bones or illnesses to disrupt plans :-)
 
 
 
Matt Cowens
24 March 2011 @ 07:12 am
Preorders are now open for Tales for Canterbury, an anthology to raise funds for the Red Cross and their efforts in Christchurch.  The list of contributors blows me away, and I'm looking forward to reading the stories next month when it comes out.  Being someone who enjoys playing with microphones and editing software I made a wee (30 second) promo video for the anthology:

 
 
 
Matt Cowens
03 March 2011 @ 06:05 pm
This year the inaugural Tessa Duder Award is going to be given out to an as-yet-unpublished YA author from NZ.  The award is part of the annual Storylines awards and includes some cash money and an offer of publication by Harper Collins.

I was delighted to learn over the weekend that the manuscript I submitted made the short list!  I won't be winning the award but it's fantastic to have made it to the final 5.  I am very curious about who the winner is - and will buy and read their book when it comes out next year.  In the mean time I am much inspired to finish the YA manuscript I started (and got about 30,000 words into) last year.  I think the next school holidays are going to be writing-intensive :-)

On a Christchurch fundraising note, have you heard about Tales for Canterbury?  It's an upcoming anthology to raise money for Chch.  I understand Neil Gaiman has a story in the anthology (a reprint), and I've heard many exciting authors' names mentioned in behind-the-scenes conversations*.  Check it out - they have a facebook page too. 

*Conversations with myself, mostly.  I think 'speculation' would be a generous term for it.
 
 
 
Matt Cowens
23 January 2011 @ 08:41 pm
The lovely Ripley Patton is collating a list of Sir Julius Vogel eligible stories and people for the SpecFic NZ website. She also asked whether Debbie or I were thinking of seeking nomination for an SJV for Best Newcomer. I replied that we're both a bit light on publications to date, but it did get me thinking. As a result I have compiled the following list of publications with links - and it's a lot longer than I expected it to be. This is largely due to me taking a while to realise that I've been quite busy recording and publishing podcast fiction, have had a few short stories published including two in anthologies, and have a bunch of rpg scenarios online too.

The surprisngly long list of publicationsCollapse )
 
 
 
Matt Cowens
15 November 2010 @ 07:28 pm
11mb, 45 minutes (or thereabouts), 2 short stories - Miramar is Possum Free, read by the author Richard Barnes, and The Future of the Sky by Ripley Patton, read by Angel Leigh McCoy.

You can download the podcast here:

http://mattcowens.podbean.com/2010/11/13/a-foreign-country-new-zealand-speculative-fiction/

You can also rate it and/or leave comments if you like :-)

The embeddable Podbean player sometimes works - I'll include it here for those browsers it likes:
 
 
 
Matt Cowens
18 October 2010 @ 08:38 pm
Over the school holidays I indulged in some podcast recording. I volunteered to read something for Star Ship Sofa, which was a longer undertaking than I had anticipated but was good, classic SF fun. I also recorded a number of very short stories for Every Day Fiction. Starting last week a series of 6 podcast stories is appearing on EDF, each Monday night (NZ time). The second story has just gone live. It's a podcast of the site's all-time highest rated story, Snowman by Shaun Simon.

The podcast version is here:

www.everydayfiction.com/podcast-edf036-snowman-written-by-shaun-simon-read-by-matt-cowens/

The original text version is here:

www.everydayfiction.com/snowman-by-shaun-simon/

And a list of upcoming podcasts is here:

www.everydayfiction.com/features/podcast/

EDF is always looking for volunteers to record podcasts of their stories, and being flash fiction they're all short.  If you're thinking about giving podcasting a go and want to dip your toe in I'm sure they'd love to hear from you :-)
 
 
 
Matt Cowens
07 October 2010 @ 06:21 pm
Philippa Ballantine's Geist is coming out at the end of the month, and to celebrate she's giving away Chasing the Bard in pdf and epub formats (until the end of October):

http://www.pjballantine.com/2010/10/04/chasing-the-bard-for-free/

And here's the trailer for Geist (made by Tee Morris)



Meanwhile Helen Lowe's The Heir of Night was released in NZ and Australia today.  It's the first in a trilogy and it has a fantastic cover:

Heir of Night Cover

There's a giveaway today on Helen's blog, and guest posts by SF/F authors for the next week:

http://helenlowe.info/blog/2010/10/07/the-heir-of-night-launched-in-australianew-zealand-today-im-celebratin/

I'm looking forward to reading both books!
 
 
 
Matt Cowens
17 September 2010 @ 03:08 pm
This is a music video that I strongly approve of :-)  The strobing stops after the first few seconds, so it shouldn't induce too many seizures.

 
 
 
Matt Cowens
14 September 2010 @ 08:16 pm
Over the past couple of weeks I have greatly enjoyed dipping into A Foreign Country, an anthology of New Zealand speculative fiction from Random Static Press. It’s been fascinating to see the range of material and the kiwi flavour coming through in the stories.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with New Zealand short literary fiction. There’s a long tradition of the introspective, rural story. Characters grow up on farms. They dawdle down small town streets, consider the significance of an empty cicada skin or bleed from freshly broken noses into slow-moving streams whilst contemplating their loss of cultural identity. Cats grow sick and die. Casual racism shatters dreams of emerald cities. The elderly descend into poignant senility and curse their offspring. As an English teacher I love some of these stories, but many of them seem to speak to a lifestyle that’s rooted in the rural past. Partly that’s because NZ’s classic short fiction is, being classic, from the past. Even then, a lot of it is retrospective fiction – characters in the eighties reflecting on their fifties and sixties childhoods. The corpus of popular NZ literary fiction tends to paint a narrow portrait of what it means to be a New Zealander.

A Foreign Country has been a refreshing read, with many of the authors in the collection looking at other sides of NZ. Of particular note in this regard were Simon Petrie’s Portia Goes A-Hunting, Lee Murray’s Consumed and Miramar is Possum Free by Richard Barnes. Astute readers who check the contents page will note that all these stories are in the first half of the anthology. I’m reading it in order, and am about half way through J

Portia Goes A-Hunting is a playful, richly developed story of environmental destruction, reclamation and exploration preceding a threat of total planetary annihilation. The point of view is split between a scout making planetfall and gathering intelligence and a sort of scout leader in charge of a group of exploring children. The sense of unexplored freshness, of unspoilt terrain and the children who are poised to inhabit it was wonderful. There was a feeling for me of reaching back into New Zealand’s past, to its pre-human state. The fact that the land had reached this state through being pushed to the brink of destruction then terraformed back into its original condition was a lovely detail that encapsulated great sadness and hope within the possibilities of technology. The connection with New Zealand’s natural past as an isolated island nation lacking in mammalian predators was distinctly kiwi, and was something I loved in the story.

By contrast, Lee Murray’s police procedural heist story Consumed focussed on a very different side of Aotearoa. In a dystopian future of dwindling resources and increased lawlessness New Zealand’s status as an isolated island paradise is strained but not lost. The appearance of familiar places, trans-Tasman rivalries and palpable desperation borne of need was an interesting mix. It was fascinating to see a futuristic crime drama play out in a New Zealand setting, to observe my own fondness for the places mentioned, and to see a high tech, modern view of NZ.

Miramar is Possum Free is a title that triggered a few alarm bells for me. Possum hunting is a traditional hobby for New Zealand’s rural youngsters, combining marksmanship with environmental protection. Some of my friends hunted possums when I was growing up. It’s probably a fairly common experience among rural New Zealanders and their friends (and suburban kiwis close enough to a patch of bush), but it is one of those experiences that combines adolescence, a growing propensity to question received morality, and the heady mix of death and birth that’s a potent trigger for teenage musings (and possibly an introspective poem or two) as teenage boys revel in the killing of adult possums, perhaps find themselves killing baby possums when their mothers have been torn to pieces by dogs, then have all the time in the world to reflect on their actions, sometimes with regret.

Richard Barnes has written a story that features possum hunting. It deals with over-zealous cruelty to possums, and doubt about the morality of exterminating a species. It’s also a story that I love. The reason is elegantly simple. SEVEN FOOT TALL MUTANT POSSUMS and MACHINE GUNS. Set in the future in the gated suburb of Miramar, two plucky possum hunters (one an Australian immigrant, the other a Brazilian) stalk a giant possum that has kidnapped a billionaire. It’s a tongue-in-cheek romp of a tale that takes an aspect of New Zealand culture and turns it up to eleven, and I love that.

So, there’s a lot that I love about New Zealand fiction and it’s very refreshing to see even more of our culture explored in new, speculative, ways. I can’t wait to finish the anthology!



This post is part of New Zealand Speculative Fiction Blogging Week
 
 
 
Matt Cowens
03 September 2010 @ 07:44 pm
SpecFic writer answers disturbing questions

By MARGARET IRVINE

Kapiti Observer, Thursday 26th August, 2010

Worlds where strange creatures roam the hills of Miramar, desperate survivors cling to the remains of a submerged country and the residents of Gisborne serve alien masters are portrayed in A Foreign Country, a new volume of speculative fiction by New Zealand writers.

Read more...Collapse )

Reproduced with kind permission from The Kapiti Observer.
 
 
 
Matt Cowens
01 September 2010 @ 08:04 am
The book launch for the Random Static Press anthology A Foreign Country was great fun, and I am thoroughly enjoying the book.  My story No Hidden Costs is up third on the table of contents (which can apparently abbreviated to TOC), just after Simon Petrie's Portia Goes A-Hunting and before Lee Murray's Consumed.  It's a beautifully put together book and it's an honour to be included.

The local press (Kapiti Observer) article about the anthology and my contribution was neat too - and a good interview to do.  I'm not a huge fan of talking on the phone but when the person on the other end is an SF fan who's genuinely interested in Speculative Fiction and the NZ SF scene it's a pleasure :-)