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

Day Boy by Trent Jamieson: this is vampire fiction

day boy vampire novel by trent jamiesonThis is Day Boy (Text, 2015), by Brisbane writer Trent Jamieson. Hot off the press. A hot read, too.

Set in an isolated Australian country town, the story is told by adolescent Mark, entering his final period as Day Boy to the vampire Master Dain. This is in the time after the war, when the vampires rule what’s left of humanity: the Council of Teeth lurks in the bowels of a mountain fortress, casting a long, terrible shadow over Masters and humans alike. There are elements of Trent’s Roil in this, in the flitting, elemental vampires, the evocative descriptions of this place of light and dark and intrigue. Against this backdrop, what comes next for Mark as his tenure as Day Boy approaches its end?

(T)ime is running down. There’s a city calling me, and I’ll see it if I’m lucky but I’m feeling my luck run thin, feeling old too. Choices heaped ahead of me, and I feel so ill-equipped to make them.

From these eternal power brokers to their worship of the Sun to their love of music, the culture is beautifully realised. So too is the town of Midfield, modelled we’re told in the acknowledgement’s on Jamieson’s former rural home town of Gunnedah. Life in the dust and heat and storms goes on, despite the toll of blood and obedience.

But it is Mark’s relationship with Dain that is key here, a paternal exploration, a coming of age story. It is affecting stuff. There are women here, but a few, primarily Mary and her daughter Anne, but this a book about boys and men, their rivalries and cruelties, and the love of fathers and sons. (As the Wheeler Centre on Monday night, Jamieson said he had an idea for a story showing this side of this world. Fingers crossed it might one day see the light.)

The Night Train comes and goes, its cargo unladen, its whistle calling out, and I’m still awake. Still thinking. Thinking. Thinking.

When I tumble to sleep, it’s a lean sort of thing, no meat or fat to the bones, just a gristle of drinks not drunk, of girls not kissed, and a tall man, with a taste for civility who’s disappointed with what he raised.

The larger story unfolds through episodic chapters — ‘nothing happening until it does’ — with some events feeling almost as asides, others showing Mark’s maturation, all illustrating life under vampire rule, the wildness outside of town, that favourite Aussie trope of dangers lurking in the bush.

The structure and format are intriguing: three sections, short chapters, folios restricted to page numbering and even then not on the opening pages of chapters. As though the typography is kept as dry and spare as the land around Midfield.

The story is interrupted by five excerpts, each in the voice of a Midfield Day Boy talking about his Master, just short drops of back story and character, bolstered by equally short and pointed italicised drop-ins from Mark, adding texture to the world.

Jamieson’s prose is not so spartan; it is considered, poetical but not verbose or purple. It is a joy. Day Boy is a joy.

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.

Kevin Matheson, outback vampire, rides again!

Here are the covers for the ‘Vampires in the Sunburnt Country’ duology: Blood and Dust* and The Big Smoke, courtesy of Clan Destine Press.

blood and dust by jason nahrung

the big smoke by jason nahrung


And look what happens when you put them side by side on the shelf — VROOM!

vampires in the sunburnt country books

The books should be hitting the road in paperback and digital in June. That’s not long, is it!

* But what do I mean, Kevin rides again? Well, Blood and Dust was released back in 2012 as a digital-only title, but CDP have ridden to the rescue to make it and its follow-up corporeal as well as ethereal. Sweet.

Dracula, the book that …

dracula by bram stoker, 1916 coverThe lovely folks at The Writers Bloc — great name for a collective! — asked me to tell them about ‘the book that …’ and of course I had to wax lyrical about Dracula. You’re about 16, there’s a storm outside your bedroom window, and the vampire is creeping down the castle wall … You can read more here, and see what these creative folks are up to in furthering the writers’ cause.

Entering Dimension6

dimension6 magazine logo

Keith Stevenson’s Coeur de Lion is launching its new digital magazine Dimension6 in April, and I’m happy to say I’ve got an Aussie vampire story — ‘The Preservation Society’ — in it!

I can’t tell you who else is in there because I don’t know, but Robert Hood, Cat Sparks, Richard Harland, Alan Baxter and Steve Cameron have all been tapped as being in one of this year’s first three editions. Pretty awesome company! These writers are well worth the effort of hitting the download button for.

Dimension6 will be FREE, with a cheap-as-chips end-of-year omnibus edition.

Coeur de Lion brought us the wonderful X6 novella collection a few years back, so I’m dead excited about Dimension6. The first issue is due out on April 4.