Armageddon Wrap-up

Armageddon was awesome! Let me repeat that, just in case I haven’t quite made myself clear: ARMAGEDDON WAS AWESOME!

For those of you who don’t know, Armageddon is a HUGE pop culture expo. Their latest event was held at the Melbourne Showgrounds this past weekend (18/19 Oct).

I was lucky enough to be invited along to do book signings at the Dymocks Melbourne stand, where I got to share the signing table with UK author Robert Rankin and US author Terry Brooks. Both were thoroughly charming people who made the experience so much more enjoyable.

I had a lovely time meeting readers, hamming it up for photos and simply staring with wide-eyed amazement at all the astounding costumes that people were wearing. And being the Doctor Who fan-boy that I am, I went along to the Jenna Coleman’s Q&A session. I was wearing my TARDIS jacket, but as you can tell from the small selection of photos below, there were LOTS of people in TARDIS attire.


To celebrate Armageddon and my Doctor Who obsession, I ran a little Doctor Who giveaway, for a book/DVD/Blu-ray prize-pack containing…

  • Book — Doctor Who, Short Trip: Defining Patterns, edited by Ian Farrington (Big Finish, UK, 2008), which contain my fourth Doctor story “Machine Time”. [This book is out of print and not all that easy to get a hold of.]
  • DVD — Doctor Who: Deep Breath [First ep of Series 8.]
  • DVD — Doctor Who: Scream of the Shalka [The animated 40th anniversary webcast starring Richard E Grant as the Doctor.]
  • Blu-ray — Doctor Who: Spearhead From Space [The only classic series story to be released on Blu-ray.]

Every one of my books sold by Dymocks over the weekend came with a raffle ticket into the draw. And the winner was Kathy Faichney.

Congratulations to the Armageddon organizers for a superb event. And many thanks for inviting me to come along. :-)

The next big event for me is INSIDE STORY, an international children’s book event to be held at bookstores in Australia and the USA. I’ll be appearing at the Victorian event at Readings in Hawthorn on Saturday 1 November. More about that soon.

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Armageddon and the Doctor Who giveaway

Two exciting announcements to make (well, they’re exciting to me)…

I’m going to be at the Melbourne Armageddon Expo on 18/19 October. I’ll be at the Dymocks stand most of the weekend. Dymocks will have my You Choose series and Gamers trilogy in stock, and I’ll be ready with an assortment of pens and stamps to deface purchased books. Mind you, I’m happy to sign mostly anything — programs, posters, photos, other authors’ books… about the only thing I won’t sign is a blank cheque. I did that once, and it got me into all sorts of trouble. ;-)

So, check out all the info at the Armageddon website.

To celebrate being at Armageddon, I’ve decided to do a little bit of a Doctor Who giveaway. Why Doctor Who, you ask? Well, here are my reasons…

  1. I’m a Doctor Who fan and I’ll grab any excuse to share the love. :-)
  2. Jenna Coleman is a guest at Armageddon.
  3. There’s at least one Doctor Who reference in each of my Gamers and You Choose books.
  4. I review Doctor Who DVDs and Blu-ray discs on my Viewing Clutter blog.
  5. I’ve written essays about Doctor Who for a number of pop culture books.
  6. I once wrote a story for a collection of Doctor Who short stories.
  7. I own a TARDIS jacket. (see above photo)

Enough justification? Yeah! Now, to the important stuff…

What do you get?
A Doctor Who book and a bunch of DVDs and Blu-ray discs. The giveaway pack contains:

  • Book — Doctor Who, Short Trip: Defining Patterns, edited by Ian Farrington (Big Finish, UK, 2008), which contain my fourth Doctor story “Machine Time”. [This book is out of print and not all that easy to get a hold of.]
  • DVD — Doctor Who: Deep Breath [First ep of Series 8.]
  • DVD — Doctor Who: Scream of the Shalka [The animated 40th anniversary webcast starring Richard E Grant as the Doctor.]
  • Blu-ray — Doctor Who: Spearhead From Space [The only classic series story to be released on Blu-ray.]

How do you get it?
Any of my books purchased at the Dymocks stand at Armageddon, up to 4pm on the Sunday, comes with a ticket into the draw. Buy one book, get one ticket. Buy ten books, get ten tickets. :-) And we’ll draw the winner just after 4pm on Sunday. You can come and watch the draw, if you like. Of course, that’s likely to be exceedingly boring if you don’t have a ticket. So… buy a book, get a ticket, then come and watch the draw.  Or maybe… wait! This is becoming too much like a hard sell. [switch to soft focus lens]

Feel free to stop by the Dymocks stand and simply say ‘hi’, even if you don’t want a book or a ticket. I promise not the sign anything unless you actually want me to. :-)

And I will be wearing my TARDIS jacket all weekend!

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Weird Things and Cool Stuff

As an author you’ve got to be prepared for the unexpected because… stuff happens! Cool stuff! Weird things! Odd requests!

A few weeks ago I had what is probably the oddest writing request I’ve ever received. It was from a team competing in the annual GISHWERSGreatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. It’s an annual charity scavenger hunt that has been growing in popularity and gathering Guinness World Records. One of the treasure hunt items this year was — “Get a previously published Sci-Fi author to write an original story (140 words max) about Misha, the Queen of England and an Elopus.” Misha being actor Misha Collins, who runs the whole GISHWERS thing. An Elopus being the half elephant, half octopus GISHWERS mascot. And the Queen of England… well, she’s fairly self-explanatory.

Apparently this particular treasure hunt item resulted is a little bit of controversy, with some rather poor behavior. Some well-known authors were inundated with requests. Some were even harassed. Some politely declined to participate. Some weren’t so polite about it. Some authors complained about being asked to write for free. Lots of people got upset. You can read about it here and here.

Me? I just got the one request from a FaceBook friend. [Waves to Bron.] It sounded like fun. It was raising money for charity. I had a bit of time. So I decided to participate and write a story. It’s not exactly a masterpiece, but it was fun to write. In case you’re interested, here it is…

Royal Command

“Save the Elopus,” commanded the Queen of England.

“By your command,” responded Misha Collins, renowned actor and part-time MI5 operative, jumping into his Aston Martin and heading straight for the secret lair of Dr Rottenham, evil genius.

Fighting his way into the heavily guarded lair, Collins confronted Rottenham.

“Release the Elopus!”

“Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin.” Rottenham stroked his goatee. “It is essential to my plan for UK domination, which I shall put into action now, by placing this mind-control helmet on my head.”

The helmet was connected to a machine at the core of which lay the Elopus, encased in circuits, punctured by needles, slowly having its living essence extracted.

With the Eliopus-fuelled mind-control helmet on his head, Rottenham took command of Collins, using him to assassinate the Queen and take over the UK.

Odd story requests aside, the weirdest authorly experience I’ve ever had was one of recognition. Generally speaking, authors don’t often get recognized on the streets when they’re out and about getting on with everyday life (well, maybe JK Rowling does — but I don’t). But there have been a couple of occasions, usually after a school visit in my neighborhood, that I’ve been recognised. Just last week, I was recognised on a paddle-steamer cruise in Echuca. But there was one occasion which was… well… odd to say the least.

I had taken my eldest daughter to an open night at a local high school. Rooms were set out with demonstrations from the Year 12 students in a variety of disciplines, from Arts to Economics. In the science room there was one girl dissecting a rat. As she was slicing away at the innards of the rodent, she looked up, made eye contact with me, looked down at her rat, looked back up and stared at me. “You’re that writer guy, aren’t you? George Ivanoff?” I nodded. And she went back to slicing up her little whiskered friend without further comment.

Yep! All sorts of things can happen to an author. You’ve just gotta be prepared. ;-)

Posted in Life, Writing | 2 Comments

The best Thank You

As an author, I do lots of appearances — school visits, writing workshops, library talks, lit festivals and bookstore signings. Sometimes, I’ll get a thank you gift from the organisers. I’ve been presented with all manner of interesting and generous gifts — from bottles of wine, to boxes of chocolates; from coffee mugs, to Turkish Delight; from fancy varieties of tea, to certificates written with beautiful calligraphy. These are lovely gestures and are always very much appreciated. But the very best type of thank you gifts are the ones that come from the kids— drawings, cards and thank you notes.

A couple of weeks ago I conducted workshops at the Scotch College Junior Literary Festival organised by Ford Street Publishing. In those workshops, I got the kids to help me plan out stories on the whiteboard as a way of demonstrating story structure. In one class, the kids planned out a story involving a Kung-Fu Master and Ninja throwing stars. At the end of the session, one of boys presented me with a folded paper throwing star. How cool is that?

On 24 August I did a talk and signing at the Eltham Bookshop, after having gone to see Doctor Who: Deep Breath at the cinema (new season; new Doctor; VERY exciting!). I wore my TARDIS jacket to the screening and decided to keep it on for the bookshop gig. As I stood talking, one of the audience members sketched me and presented me with the drawing at the end.

A couple of weeks ago I attended another Ford Street Publishing Literary Festival, this time at the Tucker Road Bentleigh Primary School. It was a fun event at which I conducted three workshops, followed by an hour or so of signing autographs. I had the opportunity to share my Doctor Who obsession with the kids, many of whom were also fans. In fact, one of the kids even drew a picture of the 10th Doctor and his TARDIS, which he presented to me at the end of the day.

It was a surprising thing… but really lovely! At that same festival, another student presented me, completely out of the blue, with a set of drawing pins decorated with various flags of the world. It was a pre-loved set, with a few missing pins… which somehow made it that much more personal and special. :-)

And to top it all off, a week later I got a parcel of thank you cards and letters. It left me speechless. But it gave me such a nice warm glow.

Kids tend to be more honest with feedback than adults. That grown-up filtering system hasn’t kicked in yet. I get all sorts of interesting comments. During question time after one session, I had a boy emphatically tell me that my books would be a whole lot better if I included fart jokes in them. :-)

So when I get compliments and positive feedback from the kids, I know it’s heartfelt and genuine. It’s one of the reasons I love writing for kids. I certainly don’t mean to sound ungrateful for the gifts I’ve gotten from organisers (it really is very nice to be appreciated)… but while a box of chocolates from the organisers is wonderful, a parcel full of hand-made cards, drawings and letters from the kids is pure GOLD!

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Ice Bucket Challenge

You probably all know about the Ice Bucket Challenge. It started off in America as a way to raise money for and awareness of ALS (also known as MND — Motor Neurone Disease). Lots of people, all over the world, have been doing it — including lots of famous people like Benedict Cumberbatch and Matt Smith. The Ice Bucket Challenge has also made it to Australia, with people donating to Motor Neurone Disease Australia or one of its state branches as part of the challenge.

Over the weekend I was nominated to perform the challenge by my good friend Beky Tully-Gibbens. So here’s the video to prove that it happened…

Thanks to my Ice Bucketers: Nykita (my eldest daughter), Jaime, Dylan, Lauren, Nirav, Lachlan and Lexi (my youngest daughter).

It was chilly! And as my mind was rather numbed, I did make a few little mistakes — so I thought I should correct them here. It was not my step grandfather who had MND, but my step grandfather-in-law. And it’s not the Motor Neurones Disease Association of Australia as I keep calling it in the video, but simply Motor Neurone Disease Australia.

Anyway, after watching the vid, please consider making a donation. I already have. :-)

And check out the Ice Bucket Challenge page on the MND Australia website.

Please Note: The water for this challenge was sourced from a rainwater tank. No ice cubes were harmed in the making of this video.

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Libraries & Bookshops

I’ve had lots of speaking and signing gigs lately — school visits, library talks and bookshop events. National Bookshop Day was particularly fun with the morning spent working the register at Dymocks in Collins St, Melbourne, in support of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation; and the afternoon spent meeting readers at Ulysses Bookstore in Sandringham.

I’ve got more events coming up. You can see a full list here, but I wanted to draw attention to a couple of public events coming up over the next couple of weekends.

First up, this Saturday I’ll be speaking at Beaumaris Library…

You choose your own path

I’ll be talking about my teenage obsession with Doctor Who and Choose You Own Adventure books, and how they led me to write my own series of interactive books for kids, You Choose. I’ll also show participants how to write their own interactive stories.

Saturday 16 August, 10.30-11.30 am
Beaumaris Library, 96 Reserve Road, Beaumaris — Melways 86D6
Contact — Jennie Masters 9591 5909
COST: $5 — Bookings essential, only 25 spaces  BOOK HERE
Suitable for ages 8 and up

Then, on the following Sunday I’ll be way on the other end of town at Eltham Bookshop.

You Choose… a Writing and Thinking Workshop

I will talk about the inspiration behind the You Choose books and explain how I planned them. This will be followed by an interactive session where I will show participants how to write their own adventure.

Sunday 24 August, 3.00pm-4.30pm
Eltham Bookshop, 970 Main Road, Eltham
COST: $20.00, which includes one signed copy of a You Choose book, the writing workshop and afternoon tea.
All accompanying adults pay $5.00 each.
Prepaid bookings are essential: 9439 8700 or elthambookshop@bigpond.com
Check out the FaceBook event page.

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Time to choose again!

It’s official!

It is with much excitement that I get to make this announcement: there will be another two You Choose books. :-) Not one… TWO! That’ll bring the total series count up to SIX! :-) Now all I’ve gotta do it write them.

Actually, I’ve already started work on book five, tentatively titled Carnival of Creepy Clowns. As with the other books, I’m planning things out on a white board. The pristine surface will soon be covered in cards and arrows. But this is how it begins…

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Studio 3 Web Special Interview

Another Studio 3 interview… this time WITHOUT CREAM PIES!

I little while back I appeared on ABC3’s Studio 3 programme, talking about my You Choose books while being slammed in the face with cream pies (check it out here). It was a fun interview but there were so many pies I could hardly stop laughing. I think the producer felt a little sorry for me, because after I got cleaned up, she organised a second non-pied interview. That interview is now on the Studio 3 website as a “Web Special”. Check it out…

Posted in Appearances, Interviews, You Choose series | Leave a comment

Whose Doctor?

Okay… if you’re a regular visitor to my little corner of Cyberspace, you undoubtedly know about my little Doctor Who obsession. I watch it often. I buy all the DVDs. I collect the sonic screwdriver toys. I put Doctor Who references into my books. And, whenever given the opportunity, I write about the show.

Last year, I had an essay included in the academic anthology Doctor Who & Race. It got shortlisted for the William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review. :-)

This year, I have a piece of writing in a new eBook about Doctor WhoWhose Doctor? Reflections on a Time Lord. Edited by Adam Ford, this Aussie essay collection includes contributions from:

  • Screenwriter/podcaster/playwright John Richards (Outland, Splendid Chaps, Songs for Europe)
  • Feminist commentator/founder of Cherchez La Femme live talk show Karen Pickering (the Guardian, the Age, Crikey, New Matilda)
  • Comedian/podcaster Ben McKenzie (Dungeon Crawl, Ben McKenzie is Uncool, Splendid Chaps)
  • Author/playwright/poet Emilie Collyer (The Good Girl)
  • Librarian Philip Ashmore
  • Academic LJ Mayher (Deakin University)
  • Writer/performer Jules Wilkinson (Meanjin, Dude, Where’s My Girlfriend)
  • Author Adam Ford (Man Bites Dog)

Each piece is based on work performed live at “Not Quite the Big Finish: An Evening of Doctor Who Spoken Word”, an event organised by Melbourne Library Services last year. Mine is a letter — a letter to Steven Moffat, to be precise.

Whose Doctor? Reflections on a Time Lord is a bargain at just US$5 and is available in multiple formats from Tomely and Smashwords. It even has its own Twitter hashtag — #WhoseDoctor

You can also check out my original performance. It’s not a fabulous quality vid, but it is watchable…

While we’re on the subject of Doctor Who (and when aren’t we?), I’ve gotta tell you about something really cool that happened during a recent school visit. I presented three sessions at the Dromana Secondary College Readers and Writers Festival. A group of Doctor Who fans stuck around for a chat after the final session. One of them happened to be a music student. And there just happened to be a piano in the vicinity. Suddenly, he was playing the 11th Doctor’s theme… the music echoing around the auditorium foyer, like a time traveller bouncing around the space/time continuum. Sadly the TARDIS did not materialise as I was hoping it might. But it was still a REALLY COOL moment!

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