Click on the arrow above to listen to Gillian’s reading.
“Hi my name is Gillian Polack and I’m reading you two short excerpts from my novel Life Through Cellophane which is about a Canberra public servant.
My problem is how best to count down the four more sleeps till I am officially a Free Failure. Do I do it by brutalising my calendar each day with red texta slashes or by eating Tim Tams, or by printing out the Bee Hive’s head from the last office Christmas photo and throwing darts at it? Ten darts a night sounds about right.
Dart One is because a particular person blames me when things go wrong.
Dart Two is because said particular person connived at my package.
Dart Three is because she has never lied graciously and said, “We will miss you.”
Dart Four is because of, “And how is your family? Oh, I am sorry dearie, I forgot you didn’t have one.”
Dart Five is because of the money she wastes on the White Bee Hive.
Dart Six is for the time she didn’t talk to me for a week then blamed me for not doing the work she had not told me about.
Dart Seven is because her laugh tinkles so carefully right down the scale.
Dart Eight is for her telling everyone not to give me Acting so I missed out on higher duties, promotion, and all that jazz.
Dart Nine is for the nine times she carefully sprayed perfume in the air as I walked past.
Dart Ten is for the very fact that she exists when she would do a tremendous service to humanity by curling up her toes most promptly.
A face looked in through the lounge room window. It was capped with a beautifully coiffed beehive of elegant white hair. It scanned the room. No-one was there.
Penelope tried the sliding door. It opened.
She walked into the lounge room and prowled around it, looking at everything. After the first circuit, she picked things up and handled them carefully, touching each, feeling each, owning each. Sometimes she almost smiled, greeting an old friend. When she finished with an object, she placed it very carefully back where it had been. She held on to the glass paperweight for a long time, fondling it and examining it closely. Her last circuit took in the furnishings. She picked up curtains and felt their texture, she ran a finger down the mantelpiece and checked it for dust. She went up to the mirror and peered in.
The mirror peered back. A red wash swept through it, almost too faint to notice. The Bee Hive came closer. Her nose was almost touching the mirror. The mirror crackled. The Bee Hive backed off and gave it a glare of pure hate. The mirror glared back.”
ABOUT GILLIAN POLACK:
Gillian Polack has two novels published (one of which was a Ditmar finalist), fifteen short stories and has edited two anthologies. One of her stories won a Victorian Ministry of the Arts award and three more were listed as recommended reading in international lists of world’s best stories. She was given two fellowships at Varuna and a Ditmar award for her work.
Gillian has a doctorate in medieval history, and is currently undertaking another in writing. She is a reviewer, critic and non-fiction writer and also currently a judge for the Aurealis awards.
Gillian spent three weeks at Varuna with the help of a Macquarie Bank Fellowship and a Blue Mountains Fellowship.
Life through Cellophane, Eneit Press, 2009 (Ditmar finalist 2010)
Baggage (editor), Eneit Press, 2010 (Ditmar finalist 2010)
Illuminations – a novel. Trivium Publishing, USA, December 2002
Masques (editor, with Scott Hopkins), CSFG Publishing, 2009
Passports, In Bad Dreams 2, Eneit Press, (October 2009)
Red Paper, Conflux, October 2009 (runner-up in Conflux 6 Competition).
Horrible Historians Subterranean Magazine, Fall 2006, USA (Hon. mention, Years’ Best SF 2007)
Impractical Magic, short story, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine # 17, February 2005 (recommended reading, Datlow/Link/Grant Year’s Best 2005)
Happy Faces for Happy Families, short story, Encounters, CSFG Publishing 2004 (recommended, Datlow’s Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 2004)
plus nine other short stories
Five Historical Feasts – the Conflux Banquets, Eneit Press/Conflux 2011.
A piece in Storied Dishes, ed Linda Berzok, Greenwood Press, 2010
The Middle Ages, Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited R. Reid, 2008
Articles in Steam Engine Times issues including The appeal of the Short Story (#7), Simon Brown: An Overview (#8), Geoff Ryman’s realities, (#9), Guest of Honour speech from Conflux 5 (#10)
Canberra’s Fire, Stories of Strength ed J Glatzer, 2005
An Exploration of Jewish Fairytales Fables & Reflections #7, 2005
Ten Things That Only Belong in a Speculative Fiction Novel… Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #16, December/January 2004
Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine # 15, October/November 2004
A Medieval French Rosh Hashanah, Kosher Consumers’ Association, 2003
Researching your Family History, The Canberra Writer, May 2002
Women’s History, op ed piece, Canberra Times, March 8 2002
Once and Future: Medieval and Modern Arthurian Literature The Arthurian Association of Australia, Occasional Papers volume 1, 2000 (editor and contributor)
Medieval Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Myths, Legends, Tales, Beliefs, and Customs. Ed. C Lindahl et. al. ABC-CLIO, 2000 (two articles)
VoyagerOnline (HarperCollins) on writing food for fantasy ; Richard III at Vulpes Libris and blogs in the writing industry
Examples of articles for websites:
Feminism and the Past
King Arthur in Our Mind’s Eye (and on our bookshelves)
Languages in Medieval England
Medieval French food for the Jewish New Year
Them’s Fighting Words: Old French Insults
Conceptualising The Past: How Fiction Writers Talk About The Middle Ages, Sheffield-Hallam, Working Papers on the Web v. 9 Dec. 2006, Historicising the Historical Novel
or via Varuna
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