Archive for the ‘Anthologies’ Category

Last month I went to Lexicon, the New Zealand Science Fiction convention. I loved the location, Lake Taupo, where the air seems to suit my health. My hair doesn’t frizz, my skin feels soft, my lungs feel clear. And with the massive lake, filled with mystery and beauty, and things stick out of the water, I was creatively inspired as well! To be surrounded by that environment, and by clever, funny, creative people…what a great weekend it was.

Grace Bridges is chairing the 2019 Convention, which will likely be held at Rotorua. They asked me to return as a guest and I absolutely agreed!


Lots of exciting things happening during the Conflux Science Fiction Convention which runs Friday September 29 to Monday October 2. I’m lucky enough to be MC for the event, which has two incredible guests: Ellen Datlow! and Angela Slatter! We’ll be doing a one hour event at Muse Bookshop, one of my favourite places in Canberra, on the Thursday night. Conflux is such a good convention for meeting writers, publishers and editors and for finding inspiration in words.



My story “Mine Intercom”, which I consider one of my scariest, appears in the 2015 Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror. Edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene, this book is a beauty with great stories from Australian writers. This story first appeared in Review of Australian Fiction.


years best

Possibly the biggest news is the awards! “The Grief Hole” has become the first Australian novel to win the Aurealis Award, the Shadows Award and the Ditmar Award. Absolutely thrilled! It also one the Canberra Critics Circle Award, and I’m beginning to the think they are the predictors of what’s to come, because they also gave me the award for “Through Splintered Walls” and “Slights”, my other two most awarded books!

Here is the book its awards. Admittedly the Shadows Statue is my one from last year, but I couldn’t wait to post the news!




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Anthology of the day.

I skipped a couple of days due to trip to Sydney to watch my parents’ home be auctioned. Not quite my childhood home, but almost. Very odd experience; savouring the ‘lasts’. Last time in this house. Last time swimming in the pool. Last time walking through the door.

The book I took with me was Macabre: A Journey Through Australia’s Darkest Fears, edited by Angela Challis and Marty Young.

At close to 700 pages, this book is a real study of Australian horror writing, from “Fisher’s Ghost” by John Lang (1836) to stories from the last five years from writers such as Kyla Ward, Martin Livings, and Gary Kemble (recently awarded an Australia Council Grant). There’s a story from Bob Franklin, the comedian, who read two minutes of his story along with a bunch of others at the launch.

My story in the book is “A Positive”, the one which inspired the recently-award winning short movie of the same name. I showed this at a seminar at the Uni of Canberra. Screenwriter Michael Cove, director Chris Bamford and I talked about translating the story to film, including the choice of location.

The film was shot in a country setting rather than a suburban one, which added to the sense of isolation and meant that a certain story element was added.

Michael and I talked about the differences between writing visually and writing on the page. Things like setting the scene; in film, you can set the scene with a single shot lasting a couple of seconds. You can layer the scene with artwork, furniture, wall colour; all of which adds to the mood, and to our impression of the characters. In a written story, you have to make a point of the things you show, and this can interrupt the flow of the narrative. It also can make the point laboured. If you say, ‘the painting on the wall had a gold-edged frame and was a dusty copy of a Victorian Impressionist painting’, you’ve lost the reader at ‘the painting’. So you have to be pretty sure you want to describe that painting. There’s more room in a novel, of course, and that’s part of what I love about novel-writing – the room to move.

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Anthology of the day

Alisa Krasnostein’s Sprawl was released at Worldcon and also showcases a lot of the best speculative fiction writers in Australia. There’s new work from Ben Peek (whose Red Sun world I adore), Cat Sparks (recent winner of the Ditmar award for best short story) and Angela Slatter, my Ticonderoga Publications stable mate.

Alisa says in her intro “True to its name, the book is sprawling – across Australian cities and states and even the Tasman sea, and across genre, form and length.”

I love the fact that Australian writers are producing such broadly different work.

My story, “Loss”, begins this way:

Rhonda lost the power of speech first. Suddenly and painfully, mid-sentence, her tongue burned and she sucked it to ease the hurt.

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Short Stories

Today’s featured anthology is Bill Congreve’s Fifth Annual Volume of the Year’s Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Bill brought this out in time for Worldcon, which was fantastic, because it’s an excellent showcase of Australian writing today.  Kirstyn McDermott’s award-winning “Painlessness” and Paul Haines’ horrific “Wives” are just two of the stories in this book.

My story “The Census Taker’s Tale”, from Dirk Flinthart’sCanterbury 2100′ appears as well. I absolutely loved this anthology for its binding theme and the way it recalled the original Canterbury Tales.

The first paragraph is one that connects it to what’s gone before and therefore not so good as a stand alone. So here’s one from the middle:

The schoolteacher, an ignorant, angry woman who taught only as much as she knew, which was very little indeed, always stood on her step and screamed at passers-by. ‘Look at your wife, her body hanging out,’ or ‘Some learning wouldn’t go astray, Mr Plod.’ Yet my mother knew, through the radiant ghost of a baby which crawled the streets crying for her, that the schoolteacher had more than one child and that she had drowned them all. These are the things my mother learned from the ghosts in her village.

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Short Stories

I do love short stories. Reading them and writing them. I’m a bit slow at it, needing time to get to the meat of the matter. Maybe that’s why I only had a couple out last year, but this year I’ve got heaps! I thought I’d spend the next little while talking about the anthologies I’m in and the stories themselves.

I’ll start with Haunted Legends (Tor), edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas, because it arrived, all shiny and tempting, yesterday. I read the Joe R. Lansdale story first because he is one of my favourite writers, and his “The Folding Man” is no disappointment. Geez, that was creepy and scary.

My story in the book is “That Girl”, one of my Fiji stories. This is the first paragraph:

ST Martin’s was clean, you could say that at least. Apart from the fine mist of leg hair, that is. I watched as Sangeeta (“You know me. I am Sangeeta.”) crawled through the women’s legs, a long piece of thread hanging from between her teeth.  She stroked a shin, a knee, looking for hairs to pluck.

The anthology is all about urban legends and our new interpretations of them.

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Baggage Author

Monica Carroll’s short story “Archives, space, shame, love” in Gillian Polack’s ‘Baggage’ anthology is almost a new genre in itself. I call it “Geofiction” because to me it’s a geographical story about Canberra.

It’s about coming to Australia, and much, much more. Carroll is very good at layering her stories, and her depth of observation means the reading experience is varied. In “Archives”, she talks about the way sitting in a public chair can be sometimes disturbing; airplane seats, doctor’s waiting rooms, bus seats. She talks about the contagious magic of such things.

She found writing to a concept easy because she usually starts that way. She starts from a concept, from a solid idea, rather than from an image or a snippet.

We spoke about how ‘place’ is so important when settling in a new home, and how the experiences of the past effect the way we lives our lives.

The Australian Archives are really quite something. I’d been there the weekend before we spoke, and seen my father’s name, and my grandparents’ there, recorded. Strange how this makes you feel. Monica says of the Archives, “There’s so much stuff, so many lives, so many stories.”

East Block 1929, now home of National Archives of Australia

National Archives Image number A8875, 4

She says, “It’s hard to fathom it all. Put all those stories together and it makes Australia.”

Monica is happy our archives are easy to access. “Habits of bureaucracy and record keeping, thanks to the British,” she says.

Geographically, Carroll moves around Canberra in the story. She features Lake Burley Griffin, our man-made, often algae-filled water feature. In an early story, someone told her to take out the Canberran detail but she didn’t do it and “Special Foldings” was a successful sale.

Ever since, she has been determined to have Canberran detail in her fiction. She names a number of other authors who focus on their home area. Stephen King and Maine, for one.

Lake Burley Griffin, 1966

Australian Archives Image number A1500, K14662

The whole stinking floor after floor after shelf after shelf after box after file after page. I yearn for a great flood to rise the waters of Lake Burley Griffin and wash their letters and signatures and passport sized photographs into each other. One big pulpy mess. That’d shut them up.” From “Archives, space, shame, love”

The story also focuses on Mt. Ainslie. This mountain is a special place for most Canberrans.

Panorama from Mt Ainslie towards Civic, 1926

National Archives Image number A3560, 2113

“At Mt Ainslie’s pinnacle, I looked out. Had I vision, there’d be the stars named for my dead family.

So tired. A husk.”

I missed the midnight life. Living on white toast hearing dog whistle shrieks of something that could exist.” From “Archives, space, shame, love”

As Monica says, “You can stand on top of Mount Ainslie and see the city unfold”.

‘Baggage’ will be launched at Worldcon and can be purchased from Galaxy Books in Sydney.

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Happy Cats!

Nightshade Books have posted a Happy Cat Rating, for those worried about how the cats fare in Ellen Datlow’s wonderful Tails of Wonder and Imagination.

I’m not sure about my rating of five happy cats for Tiger Kill!

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