Friday, June 10, 2016

Australia week 1: Blue Mountains, Galaxy Books, Epic & Grimdark Friends, and the Vivid City

We've been in Australia a whole week now and I'm finally over my jetlag. Or at least, I'm no longer drooping and exhausted at only 8pm! This is why we always visit for at least 3 weeks, so we can have a proper set of adventures after we've adjusted to the time zone. But jetlag hasn't stopped us from having plenty of fun with family and friends this past week. After an initial two days of intense rain and wind--which was amazing to see, as this type of weather never happens in Boulder!--we enjoyed a lovely day in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney:

The iconic Three Sisters. Rock climbing is no longer allowed on them, but years ago before the ban, my husband and I climbed the Second Sister. These days we have to be content with just admiring them from the various trails around them, but that's still pretty cool.

Blue Mountains vista
Katoomba Falls in fine flow after the recent winter rains
Next we headed into the city for a real treat: meeting New Zealand fantasy author Helen Lowe in person for the first time! I love Helen's Wall of Night series, which is grand-scale epic fantasy with a really neat sf-nal twist to the backstory. I just finished the 3rd novel, Daughter of Blood, and am already counting down the days until she publishes the fourth and final book. Helen and I have been "internet friends" for a while now, so I was delighted that she was able to fly over to Sydney for a brief visit during our stay here.

Helen and I after a lovely lunch beside the Opera House in Sydney
Two epic fantasy authors and an epic fantasy tree...couldn't you see this tree in Lord of the Rings? 
Then Helen and I headed over to the excellent Galaxy Bookshop--oh Sydney-siders, you are so lucky to have a bookstore like this in your city! Immense SFF selection combined with friendly and knowledgeable is reader heaven. Helen and I signed Galaxy's stock of our books, and I provided them with two precious print copies of The Labyrinth of Flame, so now Galaxy is the only bookstore in all of Australia (or probably even the entire eastern hemisphere) that has two full signed Shattered Sigil trilogy sets.

Helen and I with Craig and Allison, the awesome Galaxy Books staff
That night, Helen and I met up with local (and awesome!) epic fantasy author Ben Peek, Adrian Collins of Grimdark Magazine, and reviewer/writer Durand Welsh at the infamous Spooning Goats bar. That was really fun too, as Ben, Adrian, and Durand are all fascinating people and it was great talking with them about books and publishing and all kinds of other adventures. Adrian is gearing up for running his Kickstarter for the Evil is a Matter of Perspective anthology (which I have a story in, yay!)--the launch is June 15, so stay tuned.

Me, Ben Peek, Adrian Collins, Durand Welsh, Helen Lowe
And after spending a fun-packed day taking the kiddo to the Maritime Museum (he LOVES going on the WWII-era ships there) and the Darling Quarter playground, we saw some of Sydney's Vivid festival. This is a 2-week night-time extravaganza in Sydney's central business district where all kinds of light shows and light-based art installations are available for free viewing. The projection shows on the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Opera House were particularly stunning:

For the full effect, you'd need a video...the flow of "paint" on the building is constantly changing
The projections on the Opera House "sails" constantly change,'s really beautiful
The Harbor Bridge, alight
Overall a terrific week, and this weekend we head off to the Whitsundays for snorkeling and a 3-day sailing adventure on a tallship. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather!


  1. Hey Courtney, it was so great to meet up with you in person. :) I'd forgotten the epic fantasy tree (a Moreton Bay fig, I think)but would love a copy of that photo, in due course.

    I also love your photos of Vivid Sydney (so much better than mine!)and am gald the weather held for you. Shall keep all digits pretzelled that it continues to do so.

    1. I'm happy to send you all the photos of us! Will likely have to wait until we're back from the Whitsundays if not back in Boulder, but if you haven't gotten anything from me by end of month, just poke me.