This is Lili's OLD WEBSITE! Go to for the shiny, better, more up-to-date, awesome version.

26 October 2008

Tender Morsels

Reading one of Margo Lanagan's short stories is like running across sizzling tarmac and then plunging into a deep pool of clear, cold water. It's an enormous shock to the system, but it's wonderful. Except by the time you've acclimatised to the cold, you have to haul yourself out of the pool and sprint across the tarmac again before you can jump in the next pool and start all over again. It's an amazing experience, reading a book like Black Juice or Red Spikes. But it takes work.

So I admit I was a little nervous about Tender Morsels. I thought it would be hard work. I knew it would be beautiful - it's Margo, after all, and she is one of the greatest writers in Australia. But I thought it would be one of those books you had to push yourself through.

I was wrong.

Tender Morsels sucked me in from the opening sentence*, and kept me held tight until it rather cruelly spat me out at the end. It is gripping and sad and beautiful. The language is breathtakingly stunning. The characters are real and wonderful. It takes old and tired elements of fantasy - magic, medieval villages, wolves, bears** - and reinvents them, new, glittering, fascinating.

I cannot recommend it highly enough, even if (especially if) you are one of those frankly unenlightened people who thinks they don't like fantasy.

It's published here as an adult novel, in the US and UK as YA. I think it's both. It's crossover. There are... controversial bits.

Read more in this interview with Margo, which includes a lolsome fictional grilling from Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert. Here's a sample:

Well, after Jon/Stephen had mentioned all Tender Morsels' sexual content and general weirdness and darkness, and waved the book around and asked "What is in the WATER down there in Australia, that your young people read this sort of story?," I would say:

"This book sits right on the upper edge of the YA category, and in fact in Australia it's fallen right off the fence and is published as an adult book. But, categories-schmategories, Jon/Stephen - this is just a story. I'm going for a sense of story that may be hardwired into us, or at least is laid down when we're very young, and never goes away. If you've ever enjoyed being creeped out by a campfire story, or enchanted by a fairy tale - or in fact if you've ever had an imaginary refuge that you go to in your head, a mountain cave or a sunlit forest glade - you'll like Tender Morsels. This story is the kind that pushes everyday life out of your head completely."

JON/STEPHEN: And replaces it with fornicating bears?

MARGO: Well, bears have gotta do what they gotta do, no? And I have it on good authority, from one grown-up female reader, that some of these bears are dead sexy. There's a lot of bad sex in this story, but the bears get some of the good stuff.

She's right. The bears are totally hot.
*For those of you who have read the book: yeah, that pun was intentional.

**The BEARS. Oh, Margo! The BEARS. I loved them so very much.

22 October 2008

Spring Things

The splendiferous Brigid Lowry is in The Residence over at insideadog, and is encouraging a creative spring clean. And lists! I love lists.

Things That Would Make Me Happy
  • a night at home eating chili and watching the West Wing
  • a title for my crusades book
  • an Obama presidency
  • about 700 years to catch up on reading
  • for Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels to never end
  • making all my Christmas presents this year

Things I am Prepared to do Without
  • Australian Idol
  • for that matter, television-on-television (DVDs is different)
  • alcohol on weeknights
  • books about dead girls in country towns
  • the twelve political blogs I'm currently reading (i could prolly cut it down to eight)
Relax, Trust, Surrender.

18 October 2008

'Whaddya mean, no adverbs?' asked Tom swiftly.

I've said here before that adverbial dialogue tags are a bit like bay leaves - you put 'em in at the beginning to get the flavour right, but you gotta take 'em out before you serve up.

But if used in a safe, controlled environment, adverbs can be fun! As evidenced by the existence of the Tom Swifty. Those of you who follow me on Twitter will have already seen these, but for the rest of you, here are my attempts:

'I just closed my eyes for like, FIVE SECONDS,' protested Little Bo Peep sheepishly.

'Do you hear the people sing?' asked Les miserably. 

'You call this a seafood platter?' said Melissa crabbily. 'Where's the lobster?' 

'You know there's a reason why nothing rhymes with orange,' she told the redhead gingerly. 

'You know, there's something missing from this bouquet,' muttered Jo lackadaisically. 

'This one is really loud - it goes up to eleven,' said Jacob amply. 

'You see, I am a professional linguist,' he said cunningly.

'And stay down!' squeaked Piglet overbearingly.

'One for you, and one for your little dog,' clanked the Tin Man heartlessly.

'Here, why don't we swap gloves?' said the kitten intermittently. 

Lili padded up to the edge. 'What is that frog sitting on?' she pondered wetly.

Your turn!

17 October 2008

Video Friday: Election Special

Here is Hayden Panatierre talking about John McCain:

And here is the entire cast of Gossip Girl talking about John McCain.

And finally and most lolsomely, here is Martin Sheen giving Paris Hilton some advice on her fake Presidency.

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

14 October 2008

An Announcement, Cybils and Human Rights

1. Oddly enough, I don't really talk much about books on this here blog. Mostly because I didn't want it to be a book reviews blog. But I think I'm going to start talking about books a bit more. Not every book I read, but the ones I have something to say about. Stay tuned.

2. I'm going to be a Cybils judge this year! The Cybils are the premier web awards for Children's literature, and I'm a judge for the YA section, along with some hugely awesome people. And there's still time to submit your nomination!

3. And finally, here is a beautiful animation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 

13 October 2008

Diminishing the Intellect of Cab Drivers

Dear Anonymous,

I'm writing to respond to your comment to my blog post of last week about a taxi driver that had never heard of Google.

Here was your comment:

Anonymous anonymous said...

The Internet is an elite organisation; most of the population of the world has never even made a phone call.- Noam Chomsky

Does it make you feel good to diminish the intellect of a cab driver for not meeting your standards?

So, two things.

1. Noam Chomsky was wrong. Or at least he is now, I'm not sure when that statement was made. As of 2007, half the population of the planet own a mobile phone (you can read more about it here), and billions more have used one (or a landline). Furthermore, the digital divide in Australia has all but ceased to exist. Some people may choose not to use computers, but almost everyone in Australia has access to one, if not at home then at schools or public libraries.

And this wasn't the deepest depths of the outback. This was Launceston. A city. I visited a few of the public libraries in Launceston, and I assure you they had plenty of free computer terminals. With Google and everything.

The cab driver wasn't stupid. He seemed to have a pretty good grasp of the taxi's GPS (which is, in fact, a computer, but I didn't really want to get into that), and could hold his end of the conversation. But he was anti-intellectual, racist and narrow-minded (I won't repeat the things he said about the Indian family that had recently moved in near him - but they were unsavoury). That wasn't what the post was about. Which brings me to...

2. You're the one who inferred that my post was about "diminishing intellect". It wasn't. The anecdote was about how all adults who don't know anything about children's literature automatically and instantly compare all childrens/YA authors with Harry Potter. Even people who have never heard of Google still know about Harry Potter. And still think it's okay to imply that you're a failure because you don't have a castle in Scotland.

Sorry I didn't contact you in person to say these things, but you forgot to leave a name in your comment. But if you have any further questions/comments, you can either leave them below or email me at lili AT


Lili Wilkinson

11 October 2008

The Secret Life of Bears

So ages ago I bought this book, called Bears by Kent Rogowski. It's bears, inside out. I just love it, because while I am very fond of bears, the saccharine-ness (saccharinicity?) of teddy-bears is a bit grating. And I love the idea that inside every cuddly teddy, there's a rather strange monster inside, waiting to get out.
And I meant to do my own version, and bought a lonely bear from the Salvos. And then I forgot about him for a year or so, and rediscovered him this morning.

So here he is, my inside-out bear.

And here he is with a friend:

09 October 2008

YA for Obama

It's interesting how YA authors don't talk about politics.

Sex, drugs, rock n roll, rape, incest, self-harm, even occasionally religion. Fine. Bring it on!

But politics? Irresponsible. Swaying the impressionable minds of the young. Just Not On.

But this year it's different. Here's Scott Westerfeld:
Since we've started YA for Obama, a few folks have asked, "How dare we?" As in, how dare we muddy our special duties as tribunes of youth with something as icky as politics.

We answer: "But our books are all about sexuality, racism, the future, who's got money and who hasn't, and figuring out your place in the world. What could be more political than that?"

They say: "Yeah, but those are all pleasantly fuzzy moral issues, which teens should be thinking about. But YA for Obama is about real politics---like, it contains the names of actual politicians. And that's just too . . . specific!"

YA for Obama* is a social network for authors of Young Adult literature, and their readers. It provides information about the candidates, strategies for helping out, and opinion essays from authors such as Judy Blume, Scott Westerfeld, Meg Cabot, John Green, Lauren Myracle, Cecil Castellucci, Sara Zarr, Gossip Girl's Cecily von Zeigasar and Maureen Johnson, the mastermind behind the site.

The idea behind the site is - just because you're under 18, doesn't mean you can't make a difference. And it seems to be working. The site has nearly 1300 members, all contributing tips and strategies, from transporting seniors and people without cars to polling booths on election day, to letter-writing campaigns, to (shock horror) talking to your family about how they will use their vote.

You don't have to be an author to join. You don't have to be a teenager. You don't have to be American. You just have to care. And it also helps if you think that the free world shouldn't be run by a zombie and a moose-hunting beauty queen who can see Russia from her house.

Here's Scalzi on whether or not authors should talk about politics. And here's Paolo Bacigalupi. And here (in case you were wondering on where I stand on this issue) is a video of John McCain referring to his fellow Americans as his "fellow prisoners". That slippery Freud!

*for those who are curious: yes, there is a YA for McCain. It has five members.

06 October 2008

Overheard in a Taxi

The Scene: Four authors pile in to a taxi outside a suburban Launceston school. Lili, Penni and Kirsty squeeze into the back. James is in the front.

Taxi Driver: Are youseall teachers, then?
James: No, we're authors.
Taxi Driver: You're what?
James: Authors. We write books for teenagers.
Taxi Driver: *suspicious* Fair enough, then.

The conversation drifts towards issues of intellectual property (does anyone every try to pinch your ideas?) and the Fifth Beatle. James makes a comment about being able to look stuff up on Google.

Taxi Driver: What's a Google?
James: *blinks* Google. The search engine.
Taxi Driver: Sorry, mate.
James: The internet?
Taxi Driver: Never used a computer. Is it like Windows?
James: *stunned silence*

There is a Pause, while we all look out the window and contemplate being in the presence of a true Digital Virgin.

Taxi Driver: Kids' books, eh? Like Harry Potter? Have youse been on TV?