- Through Splintered Walls, my series of stories inspried by the Australian Landscape. Part of the Twelve Planet series.
- Mistification. Marvo the magician learns all he knows from the stories people tell him. Shortlisted, Ditmar Award.
- Slights, published 2009. Winner, Australian Shadows Award. Shortlisted Aurealis Awards Best Horror Novel. Winner, Ditmar Award for Best Novel. Winner, Best Fiction, Canberra Critics awards. Starred review, book of the week, Publisher’s Weekly
- Walking the Tree, published 2010. Shortlisted, best novel, Ditmar awards.
- The Grinding House short story collection, published by CSFG Publishing. Winner of two Ditmar Awards, Winner of the Canberra Writers’ and Publishers’ Award for Fiction.
- The Glass Woman short story collection, published by Prime Books
- Dead Sea Fruit, short collection from Ticonderoga Publications. The cover was shortlisted for a Ditmar award, and the book itself shortlisted for the Aurealis award for Best Collection. It won the Canberra Writers’ and Publishers’ Award for Fiction.
- This is my story about Suva in The Guardian Weekly.
- You’ll find my story about macabre Fiji in this issue of The Hub.
These are some of the places my stories have appeared, along with the first paragraph of each story.
- THE GAZE DOGS OF NINE WATERFALL
Rare dog breeds; people will kill for them. I’ve seen it. One stark-nosed curly hair terrier, over-doped and past all use. One ripped-off buyer, one cheating seller. I was just the go-between for that job. I shrank up small into the corner, squeezed my eyes shut, folded my ears over like a Puffin Dog, to keep the dust out.
- THE EDGE OF A THING
The British Fantasy Society asked me for a story for their members’ only anthology.
The killing block fascinated Paul. An obelisk-shaped stone, it was half-buried on his wife’s ancestral land so that it poked out of the dark earth like a sentinel. There was a semi-circle of darkened stone stained into the top edge, the blood of hundreds of victims. This was where they placed their necks, and here the blood spilled.
- BUSTER AND CORKY
I wrote this almost-true story for Scary Food, the charity anthology edited by Cat Sparks.
Some people may not find this story scary. Me, for example. I think it’s very funny, but I can’t admit that when my aunt is around.
It’s not a human food story. The only recipe which could possibly accompany it would be one which involves bones. Beef stock, perhaps, or Osso Bucco. Something with marrow.
- THE CENSUS-TAKER’S TALE
I wrote this story for Dirk Flinthart’s Canterbury 2100, a much-underated and under-read anthology imagining the Canterbury Tales retold in the year 2100.
The middle-aged man (life expectancy in modern day England being 65 for men, 68 for women) listened, nodding his head, writing carefully in a small notebook.
“You listen very well,” one of his fellow passengers said, “and yet you have nothing to say. What are you writing in that book of yours? Are you a spy, looking for secrets to take to Londonstan?”
- SEEING EYE DOG
You can read this story online at Amazon Shorts.
Hound’s gang rolled like a pack of dogs, the dust rising around them. He pulled his shirt up over his nose, trying not to breathe it in, but he hadn’t had new plastics in months and his stink made him choke. His rollers smoothed along the road and that was something. They had shouldered a position off the dirt.
- DEAD SEA FRUIT
I have a collection of baby teeth, sent to me by recovered anorexics from the ward. Their children’s teeth, proof that their bodies are working.
One sent me a letter. “Dear Tooth Fairy, you saved me and my womb. My son is now six, here are his baby teeth.”
- THE GRINDING HOUSE
My first short story collection, The Grinding House was published by CSFG Publishing with the help of a grant from the ACT Government. The title story was inspired by the bone growth spurs, and also by the aggressive nature of some the people collecting for charity in the streets of Canberra, Australia.
It was a strange migration. The birds were walking, not flying. Hundreds of them walking, pecking, pecking at dead birds along the way, walking on.
“Shouldn’t we call a vet or something? Someone to take the dead ones away?” Sasha asked. They stood in front of the concrete block of flats they called home.
- IN THE DRAWBACK
The American edition of my short story collection, published by Prime Books, is called The Glass Woman. There was one new story in the book.
The imagery of the beach is a long-time source of ideas for me. I love the way things are revealed when the water draws back.
If he flared his nostrils and breathed deeply, the drummer boy could catch the deep salt tang of the ocean, its seaweedy stink hinting at vegetation and food. He glanced down to where a group of men were collecting firewood. They worked in silence; no voices reached him. But they were companionable. Compatible. The drummer boy knew that if he joined them they would be agitated. “Be quiet,” they’d say. “Stop your fidgeting,” and they’d ask him to fetch something from the caravans, something difficult to find and unneeded.
- GHOST JAIL
Living in Fiji, I’ve found plenty of new things to write about. This story, which appeared in the Twelfth Planet Press anthology of near-future Science fiction 2012, is set in some now-demolished government flats.
Rashmilla arrived early at the cemetery, knowing she would need to battle the other beggars for a place not too close to the grave of the much-loved leader, not too far away. Cars stretched for a kilometre, spewing exhaust as they idled, waiting to park.
- HIS LIPSTICK MINX
I wrote this story wanting to create the feeling of eating a tube of lipstick. The working environment was inspired by the call for stories from Ticonderoga Publications for their anthology The Worker’s Paradise.
Mike’s lipstick minx sat on his shoulder, twitching and waiting with her lipstick brush. She was a good one, bred small through natural means. She came with her family’s growth chart, each generation smaller than the last. She wouldn’t have children. Her womb was too small and Mike didn’t want to risk tearing her apart. Though something in him wanted her baby. It’d be tiny. So tiny. Its little fingertips on your mouth would take an hour, filling each pore with a tiny plug of lipstick. You’d rarely need to reapply.
This is the story I sold at the first paragraph! Cat Sparks took it for her Agog! Press Terrific Tales. Even I think this story is weird. I rarely write from dreams, but the central image, of the bone-dog, came in an almost-asleep daze.
In the porn industry, models don’t usually get to choose the venue for photo shoots. I guess “Fat Slits” has to be a bit more flexible than other magazines; some of us just can’t get too far from home. They agreed to send the photographer to me, agreed to my price; their attention brought tears to my eyes.
- THE GIBBET BELL
This story is one of the rare ones because I wrote it in one sitting and made very few changes along the way. It appeared in the Australian magazine Borderlands, and I also read it aloud on The Writing Show.
The dead woman’s house stank of smoke. The reek of it seeped through the dusty fly screen door, waves of stale cigarette fumes assailing Jane as she knocked on the wire door again. The whole frame shook but the rattle seemed muffled.
- GUARDING THE MOUND
This is one of my favourite stories. I wrote it desperately; I can remember stirring spaghetti sauce with one hand, writing with other. Pushing the pram, writing with my book resting on the pram hood. Writing while rocking the cradle, while humming songs to my children, just wanting to get it onto paper. It appeared in the CSFG anthology Encounters.
One of the boys came back a man, his arms marked, his feet cut and bloody.
Din looked on as the boy, now a new man, showed the stone he had sharpened and used to kill the meal they would all share. Nobody noticed Din.
“I’ll go out next,” Din said. “I’m old enough.” He said it loudly and often until the new man noticed. “Din, you stay with the women. You cannot be a man when you are the size of a child.” Everybody laughed, slapped Din, slapped the new man. Din crouched down and crawled through their legs to get out into the night air. Someone smacked his arse and said, “Hi ho little Din,” and he turned to snarl but no one noticed, no one cared.
- STATE OF OBLIVION
My sister came up with the setting for this story at the same time as I was coming up with the people of lived there She thought of it while flying above the clouds, and wondering what life would be like to live there. I read about the Rampaugh Mountain Peop, a rumoured group of families who lived undiscovered in New Jersey. I was fascinated by the idea of people living so close to others yet having no communication with them. It was published in the CSFG anthology Elsewhere.
We all have things which make the bile rise to our throats. For me it’s the smell of cooking meat. More specifically, that moment when it burns.
When it’s too late to take the meat out of the fire.
For Leon, loud noises. He gags sometimes, the shock is so great. He tends to spit out the mouthful of vomit, rather than swallow it back down like I do.
- A POSITIVE
Bearcage Productions produced a short movie of this story. It’s creepy and nasty, so I think they got it right! The film received the prize for Best Australian Short in a recent horror film festival. The story appeared in the Australian horror magazine, Bloodsongs.
Not long after my father killed my mother, I removed him to a special home.
“I’m taking you somewhere nice, Dad. They’ve got big TV and lots of food.”
“Why can’t I stay with you?” I thought of the shit in the seams of his trousers, the smell of him. He was so helpless. Such a child.
- WOMAN TRAIN
I wrote this story to be read aloud, trying to capture the rhythm of the train, woman train woman train. It was published in the CSFG anthology The Outcast.
Woman train, the woman train, takes me to the home of women. Takes me home to all the women. Across the aisle my sister sleeps, her eyes half-open, missing nothing. I slowly bend and grasp her bag. Click the locks, gently though, so she can’t hear. Fold back the flap to find revealed her lunch, her book, her watch. I take the watch for later use. I read the book, flicking through it, the pages fan and cool my face. The book is dull, just like the girl. I eat the food.
- THE GLASS WOMAN
CSFG published a flash fiction/cookbook called Gastronomicon. I used an excerpt from my story The Glass Woman, which was performed by Shades Theatre in Sydney in February 2009.
Feeding time. The Glass Woman in her glass box swallowed tomato soup, home-made, bright red, and we watched as it travelled to her stomach where, when she moved gently, it swayed like liquid in a wave machine.
- COOLING THE CROWS
Eneit Press were very clear in their guidelines for the story they wanted from me for their anthology In Bad Dreams. They ordered the book into seasons, asking me to cover winter, and each story needed to mention a crow. Combine this with the self-defence lesson we received before we came to Fiji, and the memory of a burnt-out pub after the Canberra bushfires, and you have this story.
Geoff made two errors of judgment in his life, both in the middle of Winter. Three, if you count the ex-wife, but that wasn’t life-threatening.
His first should have taught him, but it didn’t.
He was cooling a place down South, a big nightclub with a clientele mostly underage and uneducated. Management wanted to go up market, start charging fifteen bucks for a beer, using glasses for the mixed drinks rather than plastic. That kind of thing. Maybe get a band in sometimes, have the kind of promotion which didn’t involve ‘chicks drink free’.
- DOWN TO THE SILVER SPIRITS
It took me a couple of years to write this story. I wanted to capture the desperation of childless couples who wanted children, and I wanted them to be sympathetic characters. The city of Cairness was very clear to me as I was writing. When Senses Five Press called for stories for their Paper Cities antholog, I knew that was the place for Down to the Silver Spirits.
The looks of pity were bad enough but it was the advice we grew sick of. Eat this, take that, go there, buy this. And the don’ts, as well: don’t have hot baths, don’t drink tea or coffee, don’t take anti-depressants. All this from smug women with babies on hips.
- THE TELL
I’ve loved Edgar Allan Poe since I was about twelve and received an illustrated collection. When Ellen Datlow asked if was interested in submitting to an anthology, called Poe, celebrating the 200th birthday of the man, I jumped at the chance.
Through her hotel window, the men seemed to be crying. It was the rain, Siri thought, an illusion. But the image stayed with her as she prepared for her day of meetings. Three men, arm in arm, painted onto a car-park wall. Color lost to pollution; all three were grey. Siri squinted, squeezed her eyes. She felt a deep ache across her shoulders; she hadn’t been that tense, had she?
- THE CAPTURE DIAMONDS and GREEN
I’ve had two flash-flash fiction stories published in the interactive, CDRom anthologies Black Box and Shadow Box from Brimstone Press. I don’t want to say too much about either of them, because they’re only a hundred words each. The anthologies are full of music and imagery and are entrancing.