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.

Salvage, and Blood and Dust, finalists in the Aurealis Awards!

Happy dancing here in the shadow of Wendouree Tor with the word that both Salvage and Blood and Dust are finalists for the Aurealis Awards’ best horror novel of 2012, AND Kirstyn’s Perfections is also in the running! Yes, we’re going head to head!

This is my first short-listing in the AAs — The Darkness Within was highly commended in a year when there was no short-list — so it’s a hell of a thrill to have two, quite disparate titles listed.

The fourth book in the finalists’ list is by fellow Victorian Jason Franks, who I met earlier this year at Oz Horror Con. He’s very cool and very passionate about his craft, so I’m looking forward to tracking down his Bloody Waters — it’s his first novel, following some well-received graphic novels. Nice, eh?

Indeed, the Aurealis finalists make for an excellent recommended reading list.

Another thrill is to see other writers by my publishers Xoum and Twelfth Planet Press making an impression on the lists.

And check out the science fiction novel section — SIX titles in a category usually a bit light on, and offering a whole lot of variety.

Interesting, too, to see self-published works making the short-lists, and the number of multiple nominations — Margo Lanagan, Jonathan Strahan, Jo Anderton and Kaaron Warren in the thick of it, amongst others. Wow, it’s a quality field all over. Congratulations, y’all!

The awards will be presented in Sydney on May 18.

Aurealis Awards finalists 2012

FANTASY NOVEL

  • Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth (Random House Australia)
  • Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff (Tor UK)
  • Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)
  • Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier (Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Winter Be My Shield by Jo Spurrier (HarperVoyager)
  • FANTASY SHORT STORY

  • ‘Sanaa’s Army’ by Joanne Anderton (Bloodstones, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • ‘The Stone Witch’ by Isobelle Carmody (Under My Hat, Random House)
  • ‘First They Came’ by Deborah Kalin (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 55)
  • ‘Bajazzle’ by Margo Lanagan (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • ‘The Isles of the Sun’ by Margo Lanagan (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

  • Suited by Jo Anderton (Angry Robot)
  • The Last City by Nina D’Aleo (Momentum)
  • And All The Stars by Andrea K Host (self-published)
  • The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina (Walker Books)
  • Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Rook by Daniel O’Malley (Harper Collins)
  • SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY

  • ‘Visitors’ by James Bradley (Review of Australian Fiction)
  • ‘Significant Dust’ by Margo Lanagan (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • ‘Beyond Winter’s Shadow’ by Greg Mellor (Wild Chrome, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • ‘The Trouble with Memes’ by Greg Mellor (Wild Chrome, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • ‘The Lighthouse Keepers’ Club’ by Kaaron Warren (Exotic Gothic 4, PS Publishing)
  • HORROR NOVEL

  • Bloody Waters by Jason Franks (Possible Press)
  • Perfections by Kirstyn McDermott (Xoum)
  • Blood and Dust by Jason Nahrung (Xoum)
  • Salvage by Jason Nahrung (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • HORROR SHORT STORY

  • ‘Sanaa’s Army’ by Joanne Anderton (Bloodstones, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • ‘Elyora’ by Jodi Cleghorn (Rabbit Hole Special Issue, Review of Australian Fiction)
  • ‘To Wish Upon a Clockwork Heart’ by Felicity Dowker (Bread and Circuses, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • ‘Escena de un Asesinato’ by Robert Hood (Exotic Gothic 4, PS Publishing)
  • ‘Sky’ by Kaaron Warren (Through Splintered Walls, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

  • Dead, Actually by Kaz Delaney (Allen & Unwin)
  • And All The Stars by Andrea K. Host (self-published)
  • The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Amberlin Kwaymullina (Walker Books)
  • Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)
  • Into That Forest by Louis Nowra (Allen & Unwin)
  • YOUNG ADULT SHORT STORY

  • ‘Stilled Lifes x 11’ by Justin D’Ath (Trust Me Too, Ford Street Publishing)
  • ‘The Wisdom of the Ants’ by Thoraiya Dyer (Clarkesworld)
  • ‘Rats’ by Jack Heath (Trust Me Too, Ford Street Publishing)
  • ‘The Statues of Melbourne’ by Jack Nicholls (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 56)
  • ‘The Worry Man’ by Adrienne Tam (self-published)
  • CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through words)

  • Brotherband: The Hunters by John Flanagan (Random House Australia)
  • Princess Betony and the Unicorn by Pamela Freeman (Walker Books)
  • The Silver Door by Emily Rodda (Scholastic)
  • Irina the Wolf Queen by Leah Swann (Xoum Publishing)
  • CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through pictures)

  • Little Elephants by Graeme Base (author and illustrator) (Viking Penguin)
  • The Boy Who Grew Into a Tree by Gary Crew (author) and Ross Watkins (illustrator) (Penguin Group Australia)
  • In the Beech Forest by Gary Crew (author) and Den Scheer (illustrator) (Ford Street Publishing)
  • Inside the World of Tom Roberts by Mark Wilson (author and illustrator) (Lothian Children’s Books)
  • ILLUSTRATED BOOK/GRAPHIC NOVEL

  • Blue by Pat Grant (author and illustrator) (Top Shelf Comix)
  • It Shines and Shakes and Laughs by Tim Molloy (author and illustrator) (Milk Shadow Books)
  • Changing Ways #2 by Justin Randall (author and illustrator) (Gestalt Publishing)
  • ANTHOLOGY

  • The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2011 edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Bloodstones edited by Amanda Pillar (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year Volume 6 edited by Jonathan Strahan (Night Shade Books)
  • Under My Hat edited by Jonathan Strahan (Random House)
  • Edge of Infinity edited by Jonathan Strahan (Solaris Books)
  • COLLECTION

  • That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote by K. J. Bishop (self-published)
  • Metro Winds by Isobelle Carmody (Allen & Unwin)
  • Midnight and Moonshine by Lisa L. Hannett and Angela Slatter (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Living With the Dead by Martin Livings (Dark Prints Press)
  • Through Splintered Walls by Kaaron Warren (Twelfth Planet Press)

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