The Anglo-Saxons had this awesome concept called “wyrd”. So say it like “weird” (cos that’s where the word comes from: Shakespeare adopted it for his witches in Macbeth) but flatten the “e” sound and harden your “r” a little. Wyrd is a heathen concept, and is often translated simply as “fate” but it’s more complicated than that. It comes from the verb “weorthan”, which means both “to become” and “to happen”. And somewhere between those two words (which hint at both personal agency and random-shit-you-can’t-control) lies the meaning. Wyrd refers both to universal destiny: the uncontrollable factors around us that we are caught up in and can’t ever really escape; and personal destiny: the actions we take in every moment to become what we are going to be next. So wyrd is both woven for us and by us.
The best analogy I can think of is this: you’re out at sea on a sailing boat. You have no control over the weather, and there’s no point pleading with the sky not to storm because the sky won’t listen and wouldn’t care anyway. But what you can do is set your sails the best way possible to get through the storm: those actions you take shape what will become of you. Wyrd is the same idea, but applied to Life.
I like this idea so much I had it tattooed on the inside of my left fore-arm yesterday. The lettering is an early medieval scribal form used for Old English manuscripts like Beowulf and The Exeter Book (the “w” looks a bit like a “v” with a tail). It’s my first, and will probably be my only tattoo. I still feel quite giddy that I did it. Fear me!
So, that’s quite a complicated and long-winded explanation and I’m not going to repeat it. If people ask me what it says, I’ll direct them here. Or maybe I’ll just tell them it says “pwnd”.
Thanks to Scott at Wild at Heart for being so kind to this cleanskin n00b. Here are pictures:
1997: more hair, more lace
In July 1997, I launched my first novel, The Infernal, at the University of Queensland bookshop on campus at St Lucia. The launcher was Frances Bonner, who was one of my teachers (she’s now an Associate Professor and she supervised my PhD); my bestie Kate Morton did a short reading for me (she’s now a super-famous internationally bestselling author and still my bestie); and my MC was Norman Doyle (he’s now a well-respected and busy actor). I was a third-year undergrad, and utterly clueless as to how publishing worked. But, yeah, I was pretty excited.
And I’m pretty excited all over again because, 13 years later, Ticonderoga Press has launched a limited edition signed & numbered hardcover of The Infernal. I received my copies today, and they are beautiful. To commemorate the occasion, I’ve included below the text of the foreword to the new edition. Every word is true and heartfelt.
It has been thirteen years since this, my first novel, was published. I look back on the story now with a mixture of fondness and embarrassment (all that sex and swearing!), but can’t deny that its publication was an event that changed my life. Up until The Infernal was published, I was a working class girl with dreams too big to come true. Afterwards, nothing seemed impossible anymore. The Infernal opened many doors for me, but the most important door was the one into the Australian speculative fiction community. I was received, and continue to be received, with such warmth and enthusiasm; I found “my people” and that is worth more than any financial success or critical acclaim. In the first edition of the book, I thanked many individuals, some of whom I’m still thanking twenty books later. But for this special edition I would like to simply thank the writers, readers, publishers, and thinkers that make up the Australian SF community, people who I am privileged to call my friends.
When it’s all working, writing a book is the Best. Fun. Ever.
You know that feeling when you’re in the middle of reading a really good book, and you’re thinking you’re going to diiiiiiiiiiie when it finishes but at the same time you can’t stop flipping the pages? It’s that times a gazillion.
You know that feeling when you’re at a dinner party or some such and you’re cracking one-liners and dropping intelligent witticisms like fucking Oscar Wilde but with better hair? It’s that to the power of infinity.
You know that feeling when you’re thinking about somebody you know who is teh awesome and you’re half in love with and then you realise that person is a fictional character and the lines just got a little blurred? It’s that turned up to eleven.
You remember that feeling when you were a kid? All of it? It’s that, but without the bad stuff where they called you Bucky Beaver and said Rick Springfield would never lerve you.
It’s sunshine on rain. I fucking love it.