The Work of Jack Dann
I am currently working on the second edition of the bibliography and guide for the work of Jack Dann, an American Authhor who lives in rural Victoria. Jack is probably best known as science fiction writer, but his fiction which includes nine novels and over 100 short works spanning a wide range of genres.
His best known novel, The Memory Cathedral, is a work of historical fiction and alternate history -- imagining two years in Leonardo da Vinci's life that are little known from surviving historical documents and a reality where he actually built and put into practice the designs he is famous for.
Jack is also very active in the science fiction community and as one of the most respected editors in the business, having taken an active interest in finding and promoting talent in the field across several decades.
A detailed, annotated bibliography of his work forms the core of the book and it is divided into sections such as Books, Short Fiction, Public Appearances and Non Fiction. The first edition was published in 1995 and Jack has remained ever active in the following 15 years, which left a lot of citations to find for commentary and reviews of his work during that period.
I can't imagine what this job would have been like 15 years ago when little was available online. Fortunately I have been working in universities over the past two or three yeras and was able to find the majority of the information I through access online bibliographic databases such as ProQuest.
With the bulk of the bibliographic work completed about 18 months ago I have since been working on a new introduction and a series of essays about aspects of Jack's work with a view to create a fairly comprehensive guide for readers.
The Devil's P.A. (Blog)
This was an online writing journal with a focus on my early development work on the Devil's P.A. novel. It ran from 2006-2007 and I took it offline in 2008.
The concept was to write online as if I was writing in my own writing journal. This meant that posts were often musings, drafts of articles, fragments of ideas and even notes. There were also many complete articles on a range of daily experiences, my progress with developing ideas an early drafts for the novel and other writing issues. I also wrote a few posts about the day-to-day life in the desktop publishing department of a major investment bank, where I was working at the time.
You can read a selection of the posts below, as hosted on Scribd. In a number of cases they are more fully developed and edited versions of the original posts, which were afterall supposed to be drafts in a journal rather than fully realised pieces.
Great Crimes of Twentieth Century Literature - Susan Pevensie:
A rant about the unfair treatment of Susan Pevensie from the C.S. Lewis Narnia books who was left behind in the 1950s when her entire family was whisked off to Narnia heaven by Aslan, the talking lion god of that world.
Lend me Your Ears:
A humour piece about the importance of finding a decent set of earphones to my writing process.
Vignettes about Life on a South London Housing Estate
Big Freddie: A character tale of a lost soul who wanders a South London housing estate where I was living in 2006.
The Furniture Graveyard:
Musings on a patch a ground in the middle of the estate where residents dump their old furniture.
Dangerous Desks Act (2005):
What happened when a silly email with a mysterious diagram in it was sent to the desktop publishers in a major investment bank
Mrs Doubtfire – A tale of Microsoft Office, Investment Banking and Tatties and Neeps: A humourous description of, and homage, to the technical support staff in the desktop publishing departments of major investment banks
The Special Concerns of Gentleman (and other varieties)
Life, The Universe and Everything:
My Trousers Hate Me:
Your Balls are Bigger than Mine:
The problems of two men sharing a seat on public transport
A Whale of a Time:
Why I Don't Watch Television:
Literati Online Magazine
Renee Sigel is a South African Poet, Author and Businesswoman living in Northern Italy. I first encountered her online in 2004 and we later worked together on several literary projects prior to my return to Australia. This included Literati Online Magazine and some preliminary work towards establishing a associated small press publishing company.
I spent some time as Submissions Editor for Fiction for the online magazine in 2004 and wrote individual readers reports for short stories submitted to the magazine. While my contributions to Literati were fairly minor and largely conceptual and technical, I did write a review on Rainy Day Women by Jane Yardley in the same year. It was published in the magazine but as the publication is no longer accessible online I have linked to my own electronic copy as hosted on Scrib.
Part of the Literati project was a prospective small press publishing company. Myself, Renee Sigel and Roger Humes contribted to this project. We visited the London Book Fair and had a stand at the Book Expo America. This was an interesting insight into the publishing business. Sitting negotiating with a distributor for example and listening in horror as he spoke about how - with the right deal - he could arrange for reviews to be written on the publications in appropriate magazines. The guy looked like an old Californian hippy but had a barracuda mentality under the hood.
As part of my Bachelor of Arts degree, in 1994 I undertook a thirteen week part-time professional attachment in the fiction department of this publisher, based out in South Melbourne. The organisation no longer publishes fiction.
I spent the majority of my time writing readers reports for both Non Fiction and Fiction typescripts given to me by the Managing Editor. Whether my reports were ever taken that seriously I have no idea, but I put a lot of effort into them. I have some of the readers reports still, but readers reports don't typically make for exciting reading and are largely about unpublished work of writers so it would not be ethical to published them here.
I also spent some time trawling through what publishers call the slush pile. In this case it was a table in a forgotten corner of the office covered in typescripts that generally seemed to be viewed as some kind of aberation in the landscape or location with a bad odour, approached only when absolutely necessary. I discovered some of the reasons why while reading through the submissions; there were typescripts with no margins, letters with cocky introductions, typescripts covered in spelling mistakes and the quality of the writing was generally not of sufficient standard to be serious and sucessfully submitted for publication.
Not that the slush pile was entirely ignored. Once a month they would go through the pile and pull out any submissions that came from reputatable agents, were recommended by public figures or related to current publishing trends. The rest went back into their return envelopes unread.
I also got to see some editted typescripts of novels that were to be on the publication list in following year. A typescript by a well known Australian literary author had probably a couple of dozen mark ups, almost all of them typographical. At the time Wild Swans had made books about China popular and so the publisher was prepared to substantially edit a related typescript. Parts of it were practically rewritten.
I started working on Wikipedia articles in early 2009. Not having done any academic work since completing my BA I was interested to brush up those skills with a view to writing some non fiction. I had access to the La Trobe University library through my 'day job' which made it relatively easy to source material for the articles, but I also found Google Books partial previews very useful - often you could see a few pages that had useful discussion in them you could use for references.
Much as I have enjoyed my work on Wikipedia over the past couple of years, it can be a very frustrating medium to write in, as the policies have a tendancy to make it difficult to write an informative article. A good example of this is the articles on television programmes written by very knowledgeable fans, who are in all probabilty the foremost experts in the world on the subject, yet they have had their articles ripped apart because they did not use 'reliable' sources. As a result the fans went off to write their own fan wikis, but the articles were left devalued, incomplete and often of little value to Wikipedia readers as a result.
Wikipedia is a non attributed medium, so it would be silly for me to claim articles as my own, even if some of them are almost completely my work, however I can say I made substantial and sometimes almost complete contribution to following articles.
A Princess of Mars
The Chessmen of Mars
The Magician’s Nephew
Thuvia, Maid of Mars
War of the Worlds
Articles on Writers
I have never worked specifically as a technical writer, but periodically have ended up doing this in my proffesional life. I find technical writing quite soothing at times, especially comparied to fiction writing, as it is so systematic and logical, you can enjoy.
La Trobe University, School of Nursing and Midwifery
Administration Officer to Head Undergraduate Studies, Systems and Processes (2010)
Division of Nursing and Midwifery Clinical Placement Manual (2009)
Draft Policies for Police Check, Working with Children's Check, etc. (2008-9)
Template Training Guide (2002)
Editing of Global DTP Staff Manual (2001)
Merrill Lynch (RIP)
Complex Graphing guide for Pharmaceuticals Team (2000)
Iedex Pty Ltd (RIP)
Desktop publishing and Print Manual and processes (1999)
City of Stonnington (1999)
Transition from Windows 3.1 to Windows guide