Tuesday 7 July 2015

My Radio Reel

I've been in radio for my whole adult life.

A couple of times I've strayed away from the industry, but I'm always drawn back to it. There is an energy and intelligence in radio that I love.

The first half of my career was spent writing and voicing commercials. But then I began working for ABC Local Radio, where I've done just about every job they have to offer.

Here are some highlights.

For the most part I'm a Producer and Presenter, which means that I organise programs, interview people, and go out into the field with a microphone to record reports.

I am also the creator of an ABC podcast called Nerdzilla, which is made by nerds for nerds. It's all about comics, computers, cosplay, sci-fi, superheroes, geeks, and games.

I make it with my friend Andrew Hogan and we're quite proud of it. It's very silly and a lot of fun.

And I sometimes make more scripted stuff.  I was the Producer for a terrific Radio National series called Blogdaddy. And I made this series called Tech Mate, which is about explaining technology. (Like I said, I am a nerd.)

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Sunday 5 July 2015

Review - "Half a War" by Joe Abercrombie

Joe Abercrombie's Shattered Sea trilogy was written for younger readers, but I didn't notice that when I read it.

The books are immediately engrossing, thrusting you straight into danger and intrigue.

I love that - when a writer has the confidence to just kick you screaming into their new world. And if they have this level of skill, you are swept along effortlessly.

Part of Joe's plan for making this series work for teenagers is reducing the number of characters.

His first series, The First Law, has dozens of them. Each one must be described, developed, and set into the plot - and that's before they actually do anything.

But the Shattered Sea series concentrates on only a few.

Book one Half a King follows Yarvi, who goes from prince to Slave, then must fight to find his way home.

Book two Half the World is about a pair of young warriors who travel across the planet to find allies for their besieged kingdom.

And book three Half a War gives us a Princess from a failed kingdom, a dog of war who can't choose which collar to wear, and a clever boy who would advise kings.

With fewer characters, the pace accelerates. Because you spend less time setting them up and more time moving the story forward. And Joe Abercrombie does that, relentlessly.

The world of the Shattered Sea is beautifully complete. You can feel the weight of history, the clash of cultures, and the breadth of the continents.

But it never slows down to lecture you. The story thunders along, allowing you to catch glimpses of the background from the corner of your eye.

I have enjoyed all of Joe Abercrombie's books, but this trilogy is a real highlight.

It's as dark, violent, and well-realised as his previous works. And it's got a fantastic unstoppable pace.

Highly recommended.

Joe came to Australia in 2015 and I had a chat with him on ABC Local Radio about writing these books. He's a very interesting bloke, have a listen.

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Chick Magnet

An assassin on the trail of a quarter-million in stolen drugs.

A thief who'll kill anyone in his way.

A gang war brewing, because the sharks can smell blood in the water.

And the mystery of the chicken who appeared on the assassin's pillow.

Chick Magnet by Joel Rheinberger is a fast-paced crime caper about a number-crunching hit man with the wrong bird in his bed.

If you're in Australia, I can send you a copy for $20 including postage - just message me through Facebook.

If you're elsewhere in the world or you prefer an ebook, you can get it from:
Still not convinced? Here's a sample - the first chapter.

Mick Jeffrey was the book-keeper for a Sydney company that imported cheap electronics.  His meticulous spreadsheets were full of speaking toys, no-name motherboards, mobile phone chargers and tiny speakers.

Smith & Wang bought the stuff cheaply from Asia, mostly wholesaling it to two-dollar shops around the country.  Though Mick's boss Smitty also ran a profitable little stall at Paddy's Markets, so sometimes they would take a punt on a new gadget, buy a crate of them and see how the buyers reacted.

A slender 26 year old with a neat appearance and excellent posture, Mick carefully cultivated blandness.  His mousy hair was neither too short nor too long.  He chose good quality clothing without obvious branding or bright colours.  He drove a grey Toyota Corolla and never broke the speed limit.

On a Thursday in November, he arrived at the Marrickville warehouse by 8:20am in order to make coffee before he was due at his desk.

Mick was the quiet one at work.  He was well respected as Smitty's second in charge, but his reserved manner meant that he usually ate his lunch alone.  After nodding and murmuring greetings to a few people, he went into his office and pulled the door not-quite-closed.  It was the same signal as his body language – you can speak to me if you need to, but if you don't, then don't.

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