Bec Stafford

Bec Stafford has a Masters of Philosophy from the University of Queensland. She also blogs and interviews for the Escape Club and edits content for The Spotlight Report.

Jamieson_Day Boy CoverAurealis award-winning author, Trent Jamieson, is one of the brightest lights on the Australian speculative fiction scene. Set in Brisbane, his brilliant Death Works series received widespread praise, firmly establishing his reputation as an engaging and original storyteller. His latest release, Day Boy, is a Young Adult rites-of-passage tale that makes for a page turner from start to finish. In this reimagining of the vampire myth (though it’s much more than that), Jamieson assembles an intriguing cast of memorable characters. The central protagonist, Mark, is a Day Boy, assigned to a Master, the mysterious Dain, whom he protects and serves. Mark’s life in post-apocalyptic Midfield is tough – he’s a plucky, defiant boy caught up in a complex web of fearsome, unpredictable immortals and often even more treacherous mortals. Along with his fellow Day Boys, Mark must navigate his way through an unforgiving present towards an uncertain destiny; and, under Dain’s unlikely apprenticeship, Mark’s character is further shaped.

The story is finely written and filled with a combination of gritty reality and nail-nibbling suspense. Jamieson breathes life into his characters with the deftness of someone at the top of their game. The dialogue is a delight – authentic and engaging. The boys’ banter is filled with the hallmarks of adolescent exchanges: brash challenges and snappy retorts. And Mark’s own internal dialogue is used to propel the narrative forward with sure-footed control. His world view is shaped by strong principles, great empathy for his fellow townsfolk, and an inner fortitude that occasionally seems to surprise even him. Facing perils at every turn, Mark displays great integrity, whether facing off against another Day Boy, ministering to Dain, or being confronted by the terrifying (and chillingly named) Council of Teeth following an indiscretion in the City in the Shadow of the Mountain.

Jamieson demonstrates a great gift for expressing his characters’ emotions. He beautifully captures, for instance, the tender feelings Mark harbours for one of his allies, Anne, with a sweetness that never strays into schmaltz. Observing her playing the piano, he notes, ‘I never know what it is she’s playing and the names wash off me to forgetfulness when she tells me, but I know the beauty that is the perfect expression of nature’s gifts and effort, and I hear it in her playing, and that’s enough.’ Although compact and unpretentious, the writing is tinged by a touching lyricism. When at one point he finds himself at the end of a machete, Mark describes feeling ‘its longing, the yearning to sink into flesh, to cut and carve its frustrations’ into him.

Finally, what makes Day Boy such a pleasure to read – and for my money, this is Jamieson’s most engrossing and emotionally resonant work to date – is its artful presentation of a range of philosophical questions and reflections to consider while we’re being entertained. What constitutes the monstrous? What does it take to become a man? What are the consequences of our choices when it comes to love, destiny, and duty? This is a story for adults as much as it is for a younger audience. Existing fans of Trent Jamieson’s writing will feel richly rewarded by this novel, which is also guaranteed to win him many, many new readers. Highly recommended.


http://www.trentjamieson.com/

Paperback, 309 pages

Published June 24th 2015 by Text Publishing (first published 2015)

ISBN13 9781922182838

 

Reviewed by Bec Stafford


Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones
– by Bryan Cogman (with Preface by George R. R. Martin.)

Published by  Gollancz on 27 September, 2012.

192 Pages. ISBN 13: 9780575093140 ISBN 10: 0575093145

A feast for the eyes, this lushly bound guide to cable’s highest-rated series has been released *just* in time for Christmas. If I didn’t already have a copy in my hot little hands, it’d most definitely be on my wish list. At 192 pages, this padded, debossed hardback is a substantial, comprehensive guide to the smash small screen adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s popular A Song of Fire and Ice series. Martin, in fact, provides the insightful preface, describing the initial reservations (and subsequent delight) he felt about the ambitious TV production.

Written by scriptwriter, Bryan Cogman, Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones offers a riveting behind-the-scenes view of the blood, sweat, and tears that go into the making of this lavish series. And it seems fitting that such an epic production would be accompanied by an equally extravagant companion publication.

Organised into five major sections, based on geography (namely: The Wall; Winterfell; King’s Landing; Westeros, and Essos), the book features gorgeous photos, set and costume design, concept art, and facts about key characters. Fans of the series will delight in the first-hand information provided by cast, crew, and executive producers, including D. B. Weiss and David Benioff.  Among the book’s most satisfying elements are the candid and revealing character interview snippets from the producers and cast members (including, pleasingly, some of the intriguing minor players). There are some truly beautiful costume sketches (I would’ve personally liked to see even more of these) and details about location choice and set design. If your mind isn’t blown by all the detail and insider info, the incredible action shots, stills, and behind-the-scenes snaps will seal the deal.

There’s even a fun section at the back of the book, entitled ‘A Game of Pranks’ that details some inside jokes the producers pulled on a couple of central cast members. Aside from the enormous effort and vision that it took to achieve this stunningly successful series, the book gives you a real sense of the cast, crew, and creators’ sense of playfulness and creativity. For anyone in need of clarification of the various houses, there are also handy, illustrated guides to each, including lineage, home kingdom, motto, and a brief history. Finally, all the info and imagery has been presented in extraordinarily lovely typography, design, and binding. If you have a Game of Thrones fan in the household, I can heartily recommend Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones as a stellar gift idea that will provide hours of blissful escapism. Book Depository’s current price tag of only $30-odd is a steal, to boot.

My redesigned Burn Bright website is soon to be unveiled. Not only is the design perfect (Austin Designworks yet again) but I’ve got an amazing team of talented writers helping me out on it, to whom I am very grateful.

Bec Stafford is my site manager and manages all the editing and helps me choose direction and ideas. She also blogs and reviews and does the Big 4 Interview series.

Then comes Belinda Hamilton whose funny, fresh quirky view on life provides me with endless entertainment. Bec and I look forward to her column (By the Bel) every week.

To support that, are talented writers Jamie Marriage and Amy Parker, and soon to come on board Max Smith and Cecilia Jansink. We are looking for quality and variety in our reviewers, so that you get fair coverage .

This week Belinda has written a blog entitled Ten Tips For dating Zombies which begins a series. So if you have teen relatives or friends, or you are young at heart then pass it on. It is SO much damn fun that I had to link to it from here.

Awards

davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 

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