The Momentum Blog
Posted November 9, 2012 by Anne
Second podcast! We’re totally on a roll. In this episode we discuss the epic Genre versus Literature battle to the death in the wake of the inaugural GenreCon Australia, then we make fun of Joel for being such a gadget nerd. Also Mark outnerds himself in the recommendations. Enjoy.
Topic 1 - What we read: Genre v Lit
Arthur Krystal’s Easy Writers: Guilty pleasures without guilt in May in The New Yorker laid down the theory that the divide between genre and literary fiction is becoming less clear, and some genre fiction is now being afforded “literary” status.
Lev Grossman in Time April 2012 responded with an article entitles Literary Revolution in the Supermarket Aisle: Genre fiction is disruptive technology, challenging the idea that literary fiction should be regarded as “superior” to genre fiction. He basically lays down the theory that literary fiction is itself a genre with certain tried and true tropes that every book identified as such follows.
Krystal then responded to Lev Grossman with It’s genre, not that there’s anything wrong with that! in October, which had Joel absolutely apoplectic with rage, and convinced us that it was worth discussing.
Interesting look at horror in The Guardian recently with Horror: a genre literally doomed to hell?
*note – The Ian McEwan novel that was released the year before he won the Booker for Amsterdam was Enduring Love, not On Chesil Beach (which was actually released a decade later). To my enduring shame, I completely forgot about Enduring Love, which is actually one of my favourite McEwan books. Golf clap.
Topic 2 - Devices: how we read
Joel got his new Paperwhite last week and now that he’s had enough time to fall completely and utterly in love with it, it is probably time to talk about reading technology.
Mark’s Recommendation Star Wars Expanded UniverseAmazon, Arthur Krystal, author, Books, devices, digital publishing, DRM, ebooks, ereading, fiction, genre, iPad Mini, john birmingham, Kindle, Lev Grossman, literary fiction, memoir, non-fiction, podcast, podmentum, publishing, reading, review, romance, star wars, The Silent History, writing
Posted November 1, 2012 by John Birmingham
So, today is the day that Stalin’s Hammer: Rome drops into the e-book shops. Or at least it does everywhere but America. I found out about two weeks ago that my US publisher wants to hold on to the title until January or February next year. Originally they were even looking at holding it back until midyear, but my sad face changed their mind.
It’s still not ideal. When we sat down to plan how we’d approach the e-book market, the guys at Momentum and I agreed that there were a couple of minimum conditions we needed to meet. A price so low there was no barrier to purchase. At $2.99 I think we’ve done that. No DRM so that readers could store and carry their copy of the book however they damn well pleased. Tick. And simultaneous global release, so that somebody sitting on their couch in, say, Kansas City, Missouri, would have no reason to be pissed because they can see the book is available, but not for them. This is one of the main drivers of piracy.
“Well, I wanted to give those assholes my money, but they refused, so…”
To buy Stalin’s Hammer: Rome, click through for your choice of retailers via the book page.authors, digital publishing, digital rights management, DRM, ebooks, ereading, fiction, genre, john birmingham, pricing, reading, self-publishing, Stalin's Hammer, territorial restrictions, writing
Posted August 9, 2012 by Emilia Bresciani
I wrote The Raw Scent of Vanilla as a memoir through the lens of magic realism. In Latin America, where the genre of magic realism originated, daily life is imbued with what many would call ‘raw magic’. It’s all a product of sacrifice and sorrows, Catholic ceremonies, Andean mysticism, Amazonian animism and, an spicy imagination that come to affect daily reality. In the end, the view of life becomes almost multidimensional. Spirits are alive, the dead become companions, curses cause diseases and shamans work their magic. In other words, magic realism is not only a genre of literature, but a way of viewing life. As a writer born in Peru, it is natural for me to also look at life under such colourful lens.
But what is magic realism, the literary genre? It has a number of definitions. For me who learned from Gabriel Garcia Marquez, author of One Hundred Years of Solitude, magic realism is simply realism with a twist. In the genre of fantasy, the world is created with different rules; in realism the world is shaped by conventional wisdom. In magic realism however, one or two elements in the story break the rules and disrupt the fabric of realism. The rupture is the result of imbuing reality with added meaning or symbolism. It also occurs by creating a twist in the reality. How we present the twist is up to the writer as I did with this memoir
It may be that some people believe that a memoir cannot be written with the plume of magic realism because it deals with facts. True, a memoir is a collection ‘real’ moments in life experienced by an individual who has a story to tell. But this factualism can be done through a narrative that reflects feelings, dreams, conflicts and aspirations. Our dreams can add colour to our narrative. Our feelings give meaning to our life allowing us to interpret it. For example, I chose to give meaning to my pain by looking at how my ancestors’ culture dealt with tragedy, and how this view affected my reaction to it. In the process I learned how tragedy was transforming my life. Time of course helped. It was the effect of time that allowed for the transformation to occur. Time provided the distance, and distance revealed the meaning.
Maybe not all of us need to find meaning in life. And that is fine. For me, writing the way I did was beneficial because I could make meaning of my ancestors’ story. Interpreting their story the way I did allowed me to deal with the painful events that took place in my life. At the same time, writing under the lens of magic realism allowed me to unleash my creativity and reach planes I never thought I could. The process filled me with excitement and delight. This, I believe, is the magic of life.
Emilia Bresciani was a television journalist before her husband was tragically killed, and she became the prime suspect in the murder investigation. Her memoir is an account of her life around the tragedy. Read more here.Tagged: digital publishing, ebooks, fantasy, fiction, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, genre, magic realism, memoir, reading, writing
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Posted July 19, 2012 by Anne
I’ve recently become utterly obsessed with old pulp fiction novel covers thanks to this website, and am now on a mission to convince Joel that all of our book covers should resemble pulp novels from the 1950s. So in the spirit of my crusade, here are my purely hypothetical suggestions for some of the existing books on our list.
Okay yes I know this is from the opposite pole but just pretend that polar bear is a penguin.
Thanks to Andrew Nette for the inspiration. You should follow him on twitter, he is tops.Tagged: cover design, covers, digital publishing, ebooks, genre, pulp fiction, pulp novels
Posted May 16, 2012 by Anne
“Are traditional publishers starting to realise that publishing first, and perhaps only, in digital format is a legitimate business practice? Possibly. A few of the big publishers have announced digital only lists recently, usually in genre fiction or wrapped around some kind of self-publishing initiative.
There’s also a good deal of experimentation happening around publishing e-book exclusive shorter novels and non-fiction off-cuts, and of course a welter of digital imprints focused on re-discovering the backlist. But even so these still seem to be exceptions to the rule. The general view seems to be that proper publishers should focus on proper print books, and while they are happy to use digital to reach some other destination (build sales, break a new author, road-test), it is not yet the goal in itself. But a high profile digital list backed by a big publisher with some big titles could radically re-write the landscape.
For starters, removing the safety net of print will sharpen publishers’ digital skills. As Joel Naoum, who runs Pan Macmillan Australia’s digital-only imprint Momentum, suggests in this blog, being digital-only will allow publishers to demonstrate an expertise in an area otherwise dominated by Amazon and those attention-grabbing indie heroes. It will also allow publishers to tap into that growing body of authors who appear to work better in e-book format than print. Most importantly, though, it will demonstrate that we are focused on the content rather than the medium, and the most effective ways of getting that content to readers, rather than how that content fits our perception about how a publisher publishes.”
Sign up to the FutureBook newsletter here.Tagged: digital publishing, FutureBook, genre, self-publishing, The Bookseller
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Posted May 14, 2012 by John Birmingham
I just e-mailed off a draft of the manuscript for Stalin’s Hammer: Rome. That’s the working title I’m going with for now. I got this idea that Stalin’s Hammer will play itself out over half a dozen books, most of which will be set in a different city, hence the subtitles.
I’m not going to get into any spoilers or even much in the way of detail about Rome. It still needs a fair bit of work, being only a first draft, and even more importantly being my first attempt at standalone e-book. It’s been kind of fascinating the ‘challenges’ that the new format has thrown up. Mostly in terms of structure and pacing.
Some things never change, however. Making stuff up and blowing stuff up is always great fun. One of the really interesting things I’ve had to grapple with in this project is ‘the shape of things to come’. Just where have technology and society developed on both sides of the Iron Curtain in the 10 years since the end of the war?
Again, no spoilers from me, but I did see this great piece in Wired the other day about the future of the Israeli Air Force. I’ll clip in the paragraph below:
“Nano drones that an infantryman can pull out of his pocket; helicopters piloted by robots who extract wounded soldiers from the battlefield; micro satellites on demand; large spy balloons in the upper reaches of the stratosphere; virtual training with a helmet from your office; algorithms that resolve pilots’ ethical dilemmas (so they won’t have to deal with those pesky war crimes tribunals); and farming out code to a network of high school kids.”
I can remember when I was plotting out the first part of Weapons of Choice how much time I spent poring over stories like this. It was partly what motivated me to write the book in the first place, the idea of mashing up old and new tech together.
I doubt that will be seeing many nano drones, even in The Zone. Ten years is just a bit too short an horizon to pull off a technological acceleration like that. But given how much military and civilian technology and information came through Manning Pope’s wormhole, and given that the world has had 10 years of relative peace and prosperity to exploit them, I’m fairly confident there would be some quite massive leaps forward over the original timeline. Even if it’s only a leap into, say, the 1970s.axis of time, ebooks, genre, john birmingham, nano drones, technology, weapons, weapons of choice, wired, writing
Posted May 8, 2012 by Simon Brown
Like a lot of my work, the Chronicles of Kydan started with an idea that fermented in my brain over many years before the story itself started to jell. The original idea was to set a fantasy in a society crossing over from the medieval period to the renaissance. This meant including changes especially in learning (the development of evidence-based scientific research), technology (the use of firearms, for example) and politics (the slow evolution from monarchical-style governments to oligarchies and then republics).
I knew it was the first of these that would present the greatest difficulty, since fantasies traditionally include a good wallop of magic, something diametrically opposed to science. The first challenge was to invent a system of magic I hoped would be unique, internally consistent and provide its own narrative drive. Hundreds of fantasy novels have dealt with the cost of magic, but in most cases these had always seemed to be one of two kinds: you pay in karma (or some spiritual equivalent) or you pay physically (usually through exhaustion). Instead, I wanted magic to have a strong emotional cost, and developed the idea that magic users would have to sacrifice something they loved to access the source of magical power – the Sefid. The greater the sacrifice, the greater the power available.
I now had a good basis for a society structured specifically to allow its ruling family – the Kevlerens – access to the Sefid, a structure than institutionalised a form of slavery. It also allowed me to introduce the grammarians, researchers who investigated the Sefid scientifically, which in turn allowed me to introduce academics who were interested in exploring ways the effects of magic might be reproduced naturally through technology, engineering and evidence-based research.
Although not my original intention, as I wrote the Chronicles of Kydan I found myself interested in showing how a relatively free society using science and technology could challenge an empire based on magic and tyranny. The trick was not to preach, but to provide both sides of the conflict with valid reasons for doing the things they do, and to present characters on both sides of the conflict that were sympathetic (if not always likeable) and interesting.
Ultimately, I think the Chronicles allowed me a good deal more freedom to explore issues than I expected – a gratifying result of the societies and magic system created for the story – without losing the energy and pace that should be the hallmarks of adult fantasy.
Chronicles of Kydan, fantasy, genre, writing
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Posted May 4, 2012 by Anne
Head on over to Dark Matter for Nathan M Farrugia‘s thoughts on reading and writing in genre fiction. While you’re there have a look at their competition page – they’re giving away a copy of The Chimera Vector.
“There’s something about crossing genres that scares people. No one knows quite what to do with them, how to sell them, how to market them, how to read them. So it’s strange in a way for me to write The Chimera Vector. It’s a thriller that’s science fiction but isn’t. I guess you could say it’s a techno-thriller that teeters on the edge of sci-fi.”
Read on here.
For more on The Chimera Vector, step this way.Tagged: competition, fiction, genre, reading, techno-thriller, thriller, writing
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Posted April 27, 2012 by Anne
NB would have had Patrick Bateman AGAIN but he’s not a villain he is actually a hero. Or an anti-hero. But not a villain.
Cersei Lannister – A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin
Although her hotness is pretty much undone by the fact that she’s a fundamentally horrible person.
Mara Jade- The Thrawn Trilogy, Timothy Zahn
These Star Wars expanded universe novels feature a foxy redhead Jedi who wants to kill Luke Skywalker.
HAL 9000 – 2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke
Let’s face it, we all find technology a little bit sexy.
Lady Macbeth – Macbeth, William Shakespeare
Hmmm, I do seem to have a type.
Grendel’s Mother – Beowulf
Because she was played by Angelina Jolie in the movie.
Victoria – Twilight, Stephanie Meyer
Effie Trinket – Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
Chopper Read – From the Inside, Mark “Chopper” Read
The Triffids – The Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham
Plants are hot. I’m not weird for thinking it.Tagged: favourites, genre, hottest, Patrick Bateman, reading, romance, villains
Posted April 23, 2012 by Anne
Over the weekend the lovely Stephanie from Read in a Single Sitting posted an interview with our publisher Joel Naoum – all the way from Argentina, no less. We thought it was so comprehensive that it deserves a special mention here.
“Publisher Joel Naoum says that this risk-taking approach is exactly what underscores the imprint’s market position: Momentum provides an opportunity to “try something a bit bold” in an industry that is known for being reactive and risk-averse.
Read more here.
Joel on ebooks and genre:
“But though Naoum emphasises Momentum’s progressive editorial approach, a quick assessment of its current list shows that this approach stems from some solid market research. The imprint’s titles largely fall into genres that have a tradition of strong sales in the ebook market: romance, fantasy, and biography, for example.
“These are all genres that readers actively seek out,” says Naoum. “These aren’t hobbyist readers who might only read a book or two a year.”
Of course, there’s more to it than the bottom line: Naoum is very clear that Momentum is working with projects that it believes in rather than cynically chasing budget dollars.
“Fantasy is something I love, but I’m in the happy situation where it also sells well online,” he says. “We do also have some autobiographies of well-known people–Chopper Read’s books, the Lindy Chamberlain autobiography, but they’re timely and a part of the Australian culture.”
Naoum adds that these books will resonate with the audience, rather than being a book for a book’s sake.
“They’re books that people want to read, so I don’t think we’ll be flooding the market with crap just because we can.”
Momentum is also seeking to fill some notable gaps in the Australian market, with romance in particular being a focus.
“There’s a very vibrant romance writing scene in Australia. At the moment these authors are getting snapped up by overseas romance publishers, some of which don’t even have a presence in Australia.”
Read more here.
Thanks to Damien Kelly for the post title inspiration!Tagged: digital publishing, ebooks, fantasy, genre, reading, romance, workflow