Archive for July, 2013

The Gate Theory

When Geoff Brown, of the newly-established Cohesion Press, approached me for a novella electronic reprint, I jumped at the chance to send him The History Thief. Edited by Gary McMahon for Visions Fading Fast, this is a story I consider one of my saddest.

It’s only 10,000 words, though and Geoff (who loved it) asked me if I’d like to submit four previously published stories, and make an actual collection.

I sent him four more.

He loved them.

This is all happening in a matter of hours, mind you, a pace almost unheard of.

Each of the stories explores loss and pain, the horrors of human behaviour, body image, obsession, love and despair.

As we worked towards a title, I read A Concise Encylopaedia of Psychiatry (see Refreshing the Wells 22) and came across the term The Gate Theory of Pain.

I knew I had my title.

As Geoff quotes on the Cohesion Press website, ‘We’re all in pain. We try to keep the gates closed by falling in love, travelling, avoiding responsibility, getting drunk, taking drugs… anything to lose ourselves. But the dull ache remains in each of us.
These stories are about the gates opening.’


AJ Spedding, a talented writer I mentored through the Australian Horror Writers Association, will write the introduction. I’m thrilled about this; I know she gets me and my stories. There will also be a link to an online story, written by AJ for this release. It’s a great initiative from Geoff Brown and Cohesion Press, with the intention of bringing readers to newer writers.

Wonderful stuff!

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A Concise Encyclopaedia of Psychiatry

First published in 1972, this book is a testament to how things change, and how a powerful belief in one decade can become possibly horrifying, certainly different, in the next.

This is part of the description of a detention centre for ‘junior offenders’. “Officialy described as ‘brisk and firm’.

Narco-analysis was ‘a form of treatment used extensively in the war neuroses of the second world war’. They describe this as ‘slow intravenous injection of a short-acting barbituate’ and say that ‘deaths in some patients have been reported.’

It’s also full of brilliant story starters. Terms like Belle Indifference, hypnopompic phenomena, Latah and Effort Syndrome.

Fascinating stuff.

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Shirley Jackson Awards

At one of my favourite conventions, Readercon, the Shirley Jackson Awards were announced. I’m thrilled to say that my story Sky won, in the best novella category.

As usual, the shortlist provides a brilliant reading list.


The winners for the 2012 Shirley Jackson Awards are:


Winner: Edge, Koji Suzuki (Vertical, Inc.)


  • The Drowning Girl, Caitlín R. Kiernan (ROC)
  • The Devil in Silver, Victor LaValle (Spiegel & Grau)
  • Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn (Crown Publishers)
  • Immobility, Brian Evenson (Tor)


Winner: “Sky,” Kaaron Warren (Through Splintered Walls, Twelfth Planet Press)


  • 28 Teeth of Rage, Ennis Drake (Omnium Gatherum Media)
  • Delphine Dodd, S.P. Miskowski (Omnium Gatherum Media)
  • I’m Not Sam, Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee (Sinister Grin Press/ Cemetery Dance Publications)
  • The Indifference Engine, Project Itoh (Haikasoru/VIZ Media LLC)


Winner: “Reeling for the Empire,” Karen Russell (Tin House, Winter 2012)


  • “The Crying Child,” Bruce McAllister (originally “The Bleeding Child,” Cemetery Dance #68)
  • “The House on Ashley Avenue,” Ian Rogers (Every House is Haunted, ChiZine Publications)
  • “Wild Acre,” Nathan Ballingrud (Visions Fading Fast, Pendragon Press)
  • “The Wish Head,” Jeffrey Ford (Crackpot Palace, William Morrow)


Winner: “A Natural History of Autumn,” Jeffrey Ford (Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July/August 2012)


  • “Bajazzle,” Margo Lanagan (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “How We Escaped Our Certain Fate,” Dan Chaon (21st Century Dead, St. Martin’s)
  • “Little America,” Dan Chaon (Shadow Show: All New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury, William Morrow)
  • “The Magician’s Apprentice,” Tamsyn Muir (Weird Tales #359)
  • “Two Houses,” Kelly Link (Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury, William Morrow)


Winner: Crackpot Palace, Jeffrey Ford (William Morrow)


  • Errantry, Elizabeth Hand (Small Beer Press)
  • The Pottawatomie Giant and Other Stories, Andy Duncan (PS Publishing)
  • Remember Why You Fear Me, Robert Shearman (ChiZine Publications)
  • The Woman Who Married a Cloud, Jonathan Carroll (Subterranean Press)
  • Windeye, Brian Evenson (Coffee House Press)


Winner: Exotic Gothic 4: Postscripts #28/29, edited by Danel Olson (PS Publishing)


  • 21st Century Dead, edited by Christopher Golden (St. Martin’s)
  • Black Wings II, edited by S. T. Joshi (PS Publishing)
  • Night Shadows, edited by Greg Herren and J. M. Redmann (Bold Strokes Books)
  • Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury, edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle (William Morrow)

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The Aurealis Awards were held in May, and I was thrilled to receive the award for Best Horror Story for my novella “Sky”. I’ve only won one Aurealis Award before, though I’ve been nominated a number of times, so this was a particular thrill.

I spent a second weekend in Sydney at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. I knew Lauren Beukes was in town and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to catch up. Lauren and I published our first novels together, exactly four years ago, with Angry Robot Books. It was wonderful being surrounded by avid readers, and the buzz in the book sales room was heartening indeed.

I’m teaching an online horror fiction course with John Langan, Jeffrey Ford and Gemma Files, to raise money for the Shirley Jackson Awards. I love these awards and what the represent and am very proud to be on the shortlist this year. I’m talking about using history and landscape in your fiction and I plan to discuss the Throw Mama from the Train concept of idea sharing!


I received my copy of Cemetery Dance with my reprint story “The Left Behind”. I’m very fond of this story and love the magazine, so very happy about this one.

Two events happening in September for my friend, the author Anne Ostby, to discuss and promote her novel Town of Love, from Spinifex Press. It’s an important book and Anne is coming all the way from Norway for these events, one in Melbourne, one in Canberra. Anne and I shared an event when we were both in Fiji, because, while we write very different material, we do explore the same themes and have a similar way of approaching our work, and a similar way of absorbing the world around us.

I’m reading Captivated, by Piers Dudgeon, about the du Mauriers and J. M. Barrie. One of the most fascinating books I’ve read, partly because of my adoration for Daphne du Maurier. Once I’m finished I will read every one of her books again. It explores the nature of power and control, and of the ‘secret’ of the du Mauriers which meant that Daphne and her grandfather George could create the fiction they created.

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