Conflux 13 Header Art

This is the art for the Conflux 13 convention that I was commissioned to do on the theme of Grimm Tales (read, dark fairy tales and fairy tale reimaginings). If you head over to the Conflux page, you can see it at work and even buy your membership to the con if you are a spec fic person looking for a fab trip to Canberra (alternatively, you can click on the pic and it comes up full size).

For this art commission, I tried a technique I haven’t used before: this one was all drawn on black cardboard (with lots of ruler measurements to keep the symmetry) and the parts not meant to be black were cut out and the rest just scanned onto the computer. I think the incising made the blacks nice and sharp and gave the work a neat dark feel that I felt was appropriate for this particular project. I used Photoshop to fill in the rest of the colours and viola. The cool thing about this was that it was only about 14 hours of work from concept to completion and so I was able to knock it off while listening to audiobooks – all in all, a productive and happy art day.

I’m pretty proud that my artwork gets to play a part in a spec fic convention whose guests of honour are Ellen Datlow (squee!) and Angela Slatter (also squee!). Can’t wait to catch up with everyone at the con.

This artwork complements the art I’ve designed for the Conflux 13 convention cover (my usual ink drawn style):

Hope you like it.

S

 

 

 

Aurealis Awards

I’m chuffed to announce that my very dark YA story No One Here is Going to Save You from Fablecroft’s In Your Face anthology has been shortlisted as a finalist in the 2016 Aurealis Awards. Getting an Aurealis nomination has long been on my writer’s journey bucket list so it’s awesome to finally have that one ticked off (I still have some years to go before I get an asteroid or some species of spider named after me, but the rock-face is conquered but one ledge at a time …)

Here is the link.

Thank you, Tehani Croft at Fablecroft, for the chance to get this story out there. It came not from the sparkling wells of inspiration but from a dark corner of experience. And congrats to all the other nominees – you are all awesome writers.

x

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Picture I took of Nelsons Falls in Tasmania, February 2017.

 

 

 

Couch, With a Labrador

My science fiction short story Couch, With a Labrador is finally out over at Sci Phi Journal. It explores the companion-animal, agricultural and ethical implications that might come into play, should we ever devise a way to talk to the animals and hear them in return.

Is it possible to use a creature to your own ends once the language barrier is broken?

The story is part of the magazine subscription line though, so you would have to chip in a couple of bucks to read it. My animal welfare peeps in particular might find it a thought-provoking story.

 

Lackington’s Magazine Issue 12 Artwork

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I was fortunate enough to have the chance to create artwork for Rhonda Eikamp’s story – Zoopoiesis, With Mountains –  in Lackington’s Magazine Issue 12. It is an amazing story and I hope I did it justice. You can pick up an e-copy for $2.99 on the Lackington’s site.

 

 

My First Foray into Food Art

This is some art I did to add a little extra to a review for Shorty’s Bar in Canberra. It is of their famous deep-fried Golden Gaytime dessert.

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And here is the fan-art version of that dessert, inspired by a character on one of their walls.

shortys-cool-canberra-bar

These pieces took about 3-4 hours from pencil sketch to full colour.

My portfolio is here and I am on Twitter at @OMearaShauna

 

 

 

Othello – Bell Shakespeare at Canberra Theatre Centre 2016

The other night, I had the pleasure of attending the 2016 Bell Shakespeare production of Othello at the Canberra Theatre Centre. I love my Shakespeare but had not had the chance to learn anything about Othello and so went in cold. I am so glad I did because without spoilers this play was able to grip me in the by-turns delighted, shocked and horrified way the Red Wedding episode in Game of Thrones did for viewers who had not read the book. By the end, I was sitting with my mouth open, unable to tear my gaze away. I half expected to hear the Rains of Castamere play as the curtain closed on the final act.

Spoilers for the rest of the play – don’t go further if you want to go in fresh.

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Othello is brutal and its themes go deep into the nature of misogyny and racism, with expectedly sad and tragic consequences. Its subject matter makes it a timely piece and I would have to say that because of this, it resonated far more powerfully than many other Shakespeare plays I’ve seen to date. There are conversations between characters (e.g. the discourse between Desdemona and Amelia regarding the commonalities in the nature of men and women) that would not be out of place in modern forums. The ultimate death of Desdemona, Othello’s wife, as the seemingly “inevitable result of Othello’s jealousy” rings true in so many discussions around domestic violence. It’s visceral and shocking stuff. And, to use a film term, there is no cut to black in this production – you will watch a female character fight for her life, you will see her overpowered and murdered in a scene that seems to go on forever and you might, as I did, find yourself thinking of all those behind-closed-doors tragedies you’ve seen on the news. The decision “to show” is a bold choice for director Peter Evans and it is an important one, in my opinion (be warned, however, that it may hit too close to the bone for some and thus it could be triggering).

As far as the performance itself, I found the acting and choreography top notch. I’ve read other reviews saying that this version missed elements like a clear definition of setting, clear indication of the military ranks of the main characters, that it was either over or underacted and that it belaboured the use of the “honest Iago” refrain (which is not in the play, apparently) and these things could well be the case for connoisseurs who have seen several versions of the play and know it inside and out. As someone who went in cold, however, it hit me intellectually and emotionally and, thus, I felt it delivered.

All of the actors did an amazing job. Othello is played by Ray Nee Chong, who superbly takes his character from loving, rational and soft-spoken general and husband to a man rendered brutal and unhinged from envy. His monologue of how Othello wooed Desdemona is worth the price of admission alone. Yalin Ozucelik’s Iago is utterly mesmerising, all Petyr Baelish cunning and Machiavellian sneer and strategy, a snake charmer of a man, who is both snake and charmer. Desdemona suffers a little from not having as much stage time, which is a pity as the tragedy is ultimately hers, however  Elizabeth Nabben imbues her with a third dimension and a gravity that centres this play and makes her death, when it comes, truly sad.

A couple of the scenes also bear mentioning:

Cassio’s drunken bender is amazingly played out – at one point all of the revellers pause while an empty goon-bag floats slowly out into space. For me, this was Cassio’s balloon rising and bursting, his reputation deserting him.

The haunting Willow song Elizabeth Nabben sings as Cassio and Roderigo clash makes this scene not only riveting, but seem to close in on itself as Iago’s duplicitous villainy bears its first bloody fruit.

The slow build-up of the bedroom scene that culminates in Desdemona’s death is masterfully done, the actors and setting combining to create a rising sense of dread. The set is a single sheet, draped over two lines to mimic, in three-dimensions, a marriage bed; a space that is bare and green (the colour of envy – Othello’s fatal flaw); and the stark brilliance of a single, rectangular light, like a cat’s pupil, creating both mood and exposure of the crime. The light draws the eye and, as an audience member, it is impossible to look away.

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My impression of this scene. In retrospect, Othello might have been barefoot at this point.

In summary, Othello is a fine achievement and definitely worth checking out as it tours Australia. It is on in Canberra until the 22nd of October (I would totally love to see it again, but I am saving up for Richard III and Merchant of Venice in 2017).

S

Twitter: @OMearaShauna

 

 

 

 

 

The Fuzzy Lolly Theory of Story Creation.

A thought from Conflux 12 (courtesy of Sean Williams):

A single good idea is not enough for a story. You need to let it sit and then, like a lolly left under the bed, it gathers concepts like fuzz. Eventually, that fuzz reaches critical mass and things begin to grow out of the lint and dustbunnies – ideas link up, worlds and characters appear and a narrative forms and that is the start of Story.

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