Sunshine, darkness and the people we meet

in sunshine bright and darkness deepThis book arrived in the post yesterday. In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep: An Anthology of Australian Horror collects short stories from 14 members of the Australian Horror Writers Association. “If you are unfamiliar with Australian horror, let this book be just the first step on a long voyage of dark discovery,” the blurb says.

The anthology contains a reprint of my story ‘Triage’, from 2005 — the only reprint in the book. I offered ‘Triage’ because it’s a special story to me, and it had only a limited airing on first printing, in sf-envision, a magazine printed by Fantastic Queensland that came out of the EnVision writers workshop run in 2003 and 2004 in Brisbane.

It was at this workshop that I largely met the people who would form the Writers on the Edge critique group, who remain good friends even though my departure from Brisbane spelled the ultimate end of the critique meetings. Some of us still share stories online.

It was also where I got to know the tutors, and these industry contacts have become friends over the years: like minds, generous spirits.

The message here: go to workshops, improve your craft, never stop learning, meet people. Be kind to one another. Pay it forward.

sf-envision‘Triage’ is also important because it mined the death of a close friend; it tried to give him, on some ultimately inadequate level, what the story’s hero, Nosplentyn, tries to do for the dying patient: a memorial of the heart and mind. Nosplentyn, a name coined by one of my roleplaying game mates and used with his blessing, is a prototype for the Needle in my Vampires in the Sunshine State books. He has changed much, as have we all.

We in the Edge Writers have since lost one of our own. Nea has a story in sf-envision, an excerpt of her then work in progress that, sadly, never saw publication. We hold them in our memories, these ageless loves, and the words take us back to them and the times we shared.

So ‘Triage’ is both sunshine and darkness, a touchstone for bright memories and dark ones. It seemed to fit for the AHWA’s book. Bon voyage.

  • In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep is available* from Amazon.
    * ADDENDUM: the book is officially launched 18 September. Its appearance on Amazon beforehand was to allow contributor copies to be sent out. But, y’know, wishlist away!
     

  • Vampires on the radio

    the big smoke by jason nahrungEarlier today I chatted with ABC Ballarat 107.9’s Prue Bentley about Australian vampires, fast cars — and how freakin’ cold it is!

    Producer Gav McGrath has posted a (stammer-free!) summary of the radio broadcast here.

    It’s taking two of the things I love – the Australian landscape, and vampires and the gothic more broadly – and trying to make them fit together

    Queensland spotlight at Wheeler Centre

    Trent Jamieson reads from  Day Boy.

    Trent Jamieson reads from
    Day Boy.

    I caught the Wheeler Centre’s Next Big Thing: Spotlight on Queensland event on Monday night. It reminded me of those heady days of Queensland Writers Centre’s Wordpool, cramming into a sweaty bar to hear a mix of established and upcoming writers bare their work. Community-building. Great stuff. (see Whispers, Queenslanders)

    On Monday, in the intimate and rather spiffy surrounds of the Moat Bar and Restaurant in the Wheeler Centre’s basement (happy hour: BONUS!), four Queenslanders took the stage.

    Bri Lee reads at the Moat in Melbourne.

    Bri Lee goes a’hunting.

    First off the block was Bri Lee, reading a narrative non-fiction piece published in Voiceworks, about her experirence on a hunting trip. Descriptive, self-aware, highlighting the dichotomies of the experience and the hunter.
    Sally Piper reads from Grace's Table in Melbourne

    Sally Piper shares Grace’s Table.

    Sally Piper was up second, reading from her 2014 debut novel, Grace’s Table (it was great to catch up with Sally, following her profile interview for WQ last year). Sally read two excerpts, highlighting how food — its preparation, serving and consuming — provided a window into the shifting structures of a family. The novel takes place in the course of a meal — a second novel is being shopped around now, so keep an eye out.

    Trent Jamieson reads from Day Boy in MelbourneMy old mate Trent Jamieson brought the vampires to the table, with a suitably chilly section from his brand spanking new novel Day Boy. The short chapter, its cold theme sympathetic to the chilly night outside, was everything you expect from a Trent story: atmospheric, literate, touching. And in this case, just a little spooky, too; it gave me an undertone of Let the Right In One, perhaps a little of that wonderful scene from Wuthering Heights when the ghostly child is seeking entrance. I HAVE THE BOOK! Thanks to Embiggen Books, who were selling copies of the readers’ work. The Brisbane launch is TOMORROW (25 June).

    Sarah Holland-Batt  reads from The Hazards in Melbourne

    Sarah Holland-Batt reveals
    The Hazards.

    Poet Sarah Holland-Batt read from her hot-off-the-press second poetry collection The Hazards, the four poems showing broad subject matter gathered from her travels, an eye for landscape, emotional resonance.

    Excellent curating, highlighting a great mix of talent, who all read well — not always easy with clinking glasses and background conversation to contend with.

    The Wheeler Centre’s Next Big Thing event is held monthly.

    Bush, bitumen and the horror: Bundy WriteFest

    bundaberg writefest logoBundaberg inquisitor Mouse and I had an email chat the other day, ahead of my heading to Bundy for WriteFest on 16-17 May — my second visit! This is a wonderful event, very welcoming and easy going, and the Bundy Writers know how to make a guest feel welcome, yes indeed.

    So I’ll be talking about writing horror and running some wee small exercises in creepiness — there’s more than 10 of us on the program, including Graeme Simsion and my old Brissie mate Peter Ball (both getting their screenplay mojo on, but in different ways), and you really should check out Kat Apel’s hat in her profile picture!

    The Mouse chat can be read here. It was a pretty thoughtful exchange, and I waffled. Sorry.

    At Clancy’s, and Lee’s, and Zena’s

    jason nahrung by kirstyn mcdermott

    Pic by Kirstyn McDermott

    Hm, seems not only am I couch surfing in old Bris Vegas at the moment but online as well;
    this year, I’ve talked to:

  • Clancy Tucker about journalism and writing, and
  • Lee Battersby about writing fetishes (there’s a bunch of us, revealing our fancies, or not — I got hooked on music), and
  • Zena Shapter about writing to music (well, we had to nominate a tune, and I went with a track from Attrition — make a playlist from all 57 respondents here).
  • Fun, visiting! Next, I’m off to Bundaberg. Most excellent.

    SQ Mag: here be nagas

    sq magazine issue 19A little while ago I mentioned nagas here and flashed a pair of cobra fangs for inspiration — well, the first story in this paranormal mythos has struck, over at SQ Mag.

    Will this be the last ‘vampire’ story I write for a while? Probably. Kind of. The next I’m working on in this Make Believe Brisbane has a mermaid front and centre. I’ve got plans to develop these characters, and the world, through a series of shorts, culminating in a longer piece centred on Manasa’s quest to recover the SITI. Anyway, here’s to the first step!

    And the good thing is, if this yarn has you recoiling (sorry, Michelle) in horror, there is a bunch of other yarns in the mag — and it’s free!

    WIP: Fangs for the inspiration

    cobra fangsThese are cobra fangs. They were a Valentine’s gift from my beloved, specifically because I’m writing nagas. They’re slippery suckers.

    I had the idea for these stories years ago, when Amanda Pillar was calling for submissions for her first ‘blood’-themed anthology for Ticonderoga. She’s done two of them now (Bloodlines is due in August), and it has taken me this long — and a lot of reading/research, a lot of note making and scene revising, some brainstorming — to come to grips with the story world. Maybe I’ll finally have something in time for No.3!

    The fact is, I’m still grappling, exploring the urban fantasy’s world and its characters through the stories. And attempting to air these explorations as I go, a little morale boost, with an end result: hopefully, a cohesive novella, perhaps fleshed our or simply complemented with revised, definitive versions of these formative, transformative yarns. I’m lumping them under a banner of BLOODRUNNER, both a nod to that inspiration from Amanda, and to my old mate Shayne Hall who introduced me to the term in a different context.

    I just hope this project doesn’t end up biting me on the asp.