Writerly Updates

Lots of exciting news.

The cover for my issue of Midnight Echo is released. Photography is by Tammy Ruggles, a highly talented artist. I wanted to capture the idea that Sinister exists in real life as well as in the imaginary world, and Tammy’s work does that beautifully.

I was reminded of this concept on the weekend, when I visited the Monte Carlo Homestead in Junee. Fascinating old place, with plenty of ghost stories to share. The scariest moment came, though, when we were talking to the owner. We asked if she was scared of the ghosts, and she said, “I always say you should be more scared of the living than the dead. The dead can’t actually hurt you.”

Gave me goose bumps.

Also, the first guests are announced for Genrecon in Queensland, and I am one! Absolutely thrilled, and cannot wait to get there.

Another exciting upcoming event is the new Noted Festival in Canberra. James Doig and I will be leading a writing workshop as well as reading ghost stories in one of Canberra’s scariest locations. Excellent fun!

Speaking of workshops, I’m running my Dream Workshop for the ACT Writers Centre this year. I first ran this workshop for Geoff Brown at the wonderful Aradale Asylum ghost hunting retreat and I am really looking forward to playing with people’s minds again!

Midnight Echo shortlist

We had a large number of submissions for my Guest Issue of Midnight Echo, and there were a number of stories that stuck with me, and a number of writers I was seriously impressed by. I’ve read stories by many of them before, but others were new to me. In the end, I decided to publish a shortlist before I made my final choices, because I wanted to publicly annnounce; there is good stuff happening in Horror fiction, and these are some of the writers who are making it happen.

From the Midnight Echo blog:

“The submission period is over, the stories are read, and I am suitably disturbed. There are some seriously sinister horror stories in my pile.

In fact, there are so many good ones we’ve decided to publish a short list. This may not be the ordinary way to do things, but Midnight Echo is no ordinary outlet for horror.

In the end, I’ll only be able to choose five or six stories. But in the meantime, check out these authors. Talented, every last one of them.”

The List

Anthony Wright

Daniel Nathan Horn

Ben Pienaar

Janine Langley Wood

Alistair Rennie

Vincent G McMackin

Lars Kramhoeft

Vivian Trask

Patrick Lacey

Evan Purcell

Ben Stewart

Jarod K. Anderson

Mark Farrugia

Josh Donellan

Greg Chapman

Marija Elektra Rodriguez

Sean Mulroy

Melia Donk

Tara Calaby

Lawrence Salani

Nick Hartland

Angela Rega

Shauna O’Meara

Jackson Creed

Claire Fitzpatrick

Kyla Ward

Deborah Sheldon

Emily Craven

C S Hughes

Trevor Mason

David McDonald

Stephen Dedman

Cthulu: Deep Down Under

Cthulu: Deep Down Under is a new anthology, filled with stories inspired by the Lovecraft world of monsters. Every story is illustrated, full-colour. It is a beautiful book.

My story is “In the Drawback”, about what happens when the tide goes out and never returns. Chris Roberts, AKA Dead Clown Art, illustrated my story, with a layered, disturbing and heart-tugging depiction of my monster.

I want this book to happen.


So to support the crowdfunder at Indiegogo, I am offering something I have never offered before, and will probably never offer again.

For a short time only, I will change a name in my story “In the Drawback” to your name if you buy into this perk. There are five only, and the perk only runs until December 5. NB I have only one named female character, so will need to adapt female supporter’s names!

This is is your chance to appear in one of my nasty, creepy, skin-crawling stories, as a nasty, creepy, skin-crawling character.

Go! Do it! There are some other great perks, too.


Thursday Night will find me launching the exciting new novel from Rebecca James, Cooper Bartholemew is Dead.

6pm at Electric Shadows in Braddon.


Then I’ll be in Melbourne this weekend, attending Armageddon Expo on the Saturday. I’m there for the crowdfunding launch of CTHULHU: DEEP DOWN-UNDER, an incredible anthology of fiction and art, featuring my story “In the Drawback”, which is illustrated by one of my favourite artists, Chris Roberts. Prints of many of the illustrations will be available at our Booth (number 74, I believe).

This anthology was edited by Christopher Sequeira, Steve Proposch and Bryce Stevens. Steve bought one of my very early stories, A Positive for his Bloodsongs Magazine, and I credit that sale and his response to my work as an inspiration at the beginning of my career. So it’s very cool to have sold him another!

Also in the book are writers Stephen Dedman, Geoff Brown, Janeen Webb, Lucy Sussex, Robert Hood, Jason Franks and lots more, with art from Nick Stathopoulos, Jan Scherpenhuizen, Shauna O’Meara and of course Chris Roberts.

The crowdfunding site is here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/cthulhu-deep-down-under

One of the many, many highlights of Conflux was the Literary Beer I shared with a group of vibrant, funny, interesting people. I don’t like beer so I drank Sloe Vodka and lemonade. The sloe vodka infusion is made in-house at Rydges Capital Hill. Worth a visit just for that!

Here we are, enjoying ourselves. Thanks to Cat Sparks for the fantastic photo!


Refreshing the Wells 25

Art and Mortality, a Symposium at the Centre for Art History and Art Theory at ANU.

My research/novel Fellowship with the Australian Prime Ministers Centre at Old Parliament House is all about art, death, secrets, truth, discovery and power, so this symposium was a must-see for me.

It was fascinating. Some quick notes (mostly written in the dark due to slide shows!)

The symposium was opened by Professor Paul Pickering, who told us all about Jeremy Bentham. At the mention of the name, the audience responded, so I guess they’d heard of him. I hadn’t. Had you? He believed in the concept of the Auto Icon, meaning he thought that great people (men, let’s face it) should be preserved at death. Turned into statues. He willed this to happen to his body and it still sits (head at one time between the feet, apparently) in University College London. He suceeded in his quest; he is remembered.

Rebecca Scott Bray is a crimonologist. She spoke about ‘artists who work in the aftermath of fatal violence’. This was absolutely fascinating and I’m listing some of the artists mentioned. All of them sparked ideas and thoughts.

In Muri di piombo (Walls of Lead) Eva Frapicinni took a series of photos at the same time of day and same time of year at the site of murders.

Stephen Chalmers took on exhaustive research to identify the ‘dump sites’ of murder victims. He took photos of the sites and these are universally serene, with no evidence left of what occured.

Angela Strassheim photographs houses were people were killed. Sometimes inside, sometimes out. These again mostly have a serenity about them, but she titles them with the weapons used, bringing the violence to us quite shockingly.

Teresa Margolles creates visceral works that Rebecca Scott Bray describes as ‘stinking’. These pieces actually reek of the violence, because they ARE the violence. In one, the blankets that executed men were wrapped in. In another, the water bodies were washed in is dripped onto a hotplate.

The next speaker, Joanna Gilmour, had some interesting things to say about the National Portrait Gallery. Did you know that they mostly only show portraits painted while the subject was alive? Very few posthumous portraits. Burke and Wills are notable exceptions. Of course now I want to see an exhibition that is ALL posthumous portraits.

I was a bit vocal when Joanna showed us a photo of the death of Joe Byrne, one of Ned Kelly’s gang. There was Julian Ashton, one of the people I’m researching for my project, in the foreground! I gave a little yip of excitement, and this was interesting; others in the audience made noises, too. I don’t think they knew why. They were following my lead. Fascinating.

Patrick Pound collects photos and things and displays them in the most curatorial way. Just gorgeous stuff. He has a collection of photographer’s shadows. A collection of people holding things up to show them. A collection of things with holes in them, photographed. A collection of ‘people who look dead but probably aren’t.”

The symposium ended with a paper from Geoffrey Batchen, speaking about photography and faith but really about the nature of time and how it is captured in photographs. Photography captures the absolute present at the moment the photo is taken, but also the past. What’s gone. This gives photos a certain melancholy, because what’s gone is gone and cannot be recaptured. He talked a lot about Roland Barthe’s “Camera Lucida”. I’m going to track down a copy of that.

Lots of inspiration there. My wells are truly refreshed.

On Saturday, I found the most perfect award statues for the ‘horror slam’ the Australian Horror Writers’ Association is running at Conflux.

From the announcement at Sinister Reads: “The Australian Horror Writers Association is hosting an open mic short story competition at Conflux 2014. The comp will be held at 7pm on Friday 3 October following the opening ceremony.

We’re looking for horror stories up to 500 words or a maximum of two minutes in length. Entry is by gold coin and all funds raised will go to the AHWA.

Winners will be chosen by Kaaron Warren, Rob Hood and the discerning audience.”

So yep, the horrifying Rob Hood and I will be judging this competition. We want nasty, horrible, creepy, disturbing. Some great prizes, and here’s a sneak peek at the statues I found:

nasty statue 1

nasty statue 5nasty statue 3

Nasty! So come along on Friday night with your flash fiction. We wanna hear as many as possible!


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