The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror Vol 3

years best fantasy and horror 2012Ticonderoga Publications has released the table of contents for The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror Vol 3 (2012), edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene, and I’m stoked to say that my ‘The Last Boat to Eden’, published in the recent Shadows award-winning Surviving the End, has been included.

The ‘best of’ series is a wonderful snapshot of Aussie horror and fantasy. It is due to arrive in July, and is available for pre-order.


The contents are:

  • Joanne Anderton, ‘Tied To The Waste’, Tales Of Talisman
  • R.J.Astruc, ‘The Cook of Pearl House, A Malay Sailor by the Name of Maurice’, Dark Edifice 2
  • Lee Battersby, ‘Comfort Ghost’, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 56
  • Alan Baxter, ‘Tiny Lives’, Daily Science Fiction
  • Jenny Blackford, ‘A Moveable Feast’, Bloodstones
  • Eddy Burger, ‘The Witch’s Wardrobe’, Dark Edifice 3
  • Isobelle Carmody, ‘The Stone Witch’, Under My Hat
  • Jay Caselberg, ‘Beautiful’, The Washington Pastime
  • Stephen Dedman, ‘The Fall’, Exotic Gothic 4
  • Felicity Dowker, ‘To Wish On A Clockwork Heart’, Bread And Circuses
  • Terry Dowling, ‘Nightside Eye’, Cemetery Dance #66
  • Tom Dullemond, ‘Population Management’, Danse Macabre
  • Thoraiya Dyer, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Epilogue
  • Will Elliot, ‘Hungry Man’, The One That Got Away
  • Jason Fischer, ‘Pigroot Flat’, Midnight Echo 8
  • Dirk Flinthart, ‘The Bull In Winter’, Bloodstones
  • Lisa L. Hannett, ‘Sweet Subtleties’, Clarkesworld
  • Lisa L. Hannett & Angela Slatter, ‘Bella Beaufort Goes To War’, Midnight And Moonshine
  • Narrelle Harris, ‘Stalemate’, Showtime
  • Kathleen Jennings, ‘Kindling’, Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear
  • Gary Kemble, ‘Saturday Night at the Milkbar’, Midnight Echo 7
  • Margo Lanagan, ‘Crow And Caper, Caper And Crow’, Under My Hat
  • Martin Livings, ‘You Ain’t Heard Nothing Yet’, Living With The Dead
  • Penelope Love, ‘A Small Bad Thing’, Bloodstones
  • Andrew J. McKiernan, ‘Torch Song’, From Stage Door Shadows
  • Karen Maric, ‘Anvil Of The Sun’, Aurealis #54
  • Faith Mudge, ‘Oracle’s Tower’, To Spin A Darker Stair
  • Nicole Murphy, ‘The Black Star Killer’, Damnation And Dames
  • Jason Nahrung, ‘The Last Boat To Eden’, Surviving The End
  • Tansy Rayner Roberts, ‘What Books Survive’, Epilogue
  • Angela Slatter, ‘Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean’, This Is Horror webzine
  • Anna Tambour, ‘The Dog Who Wished He’d Never Heard Of Lovecraft’, Lovecraft Zine
  • Kyla Ward, ‘The Loquacious Cadaver’, The Lion And The Aardvark: Aesop’s Modern Fables
  • Kaaron Warren, ‘River Of Memory’, Zombies Vs. Robots.
  • Out and about in Ballaratia: books, wine, Thai, movies!

    Friday. Yesterday. Was it really only yesterday? The two-legged occupants of the-house-not-quite-in-the-shadow-of-Wendouree-Tor* took the arvo off. Yee-hah!

    First, the almost mythic Ballaratian bookshop, The Known World. What a fascinating haven this shop is, with shelves filled with old books and bits ‘n’ pieces of memorabilia. Old postcards, a suitcase of Golden Books, cameras. There is a coffee machine and some tables, too, and we saw evidence that coffee IS served. The only sadness was the paucity of speculative fiction, the Stephen Kings tucked away in a horror/thriller nook on the bottom shelf under the cookbooks.

    simply shiraz ballarat brochureFrom there, to the wonderful space — stone walls, corrugated iron roof, these little nooks in the walls perfect for vendors — that is the Mining Exchange where, bless them, a posse of Grampians wine producers had set up a tasting. Simply Shiraz wasn’t true to label — some had the white stuff there, too, and there was a bit of cab sauv in the mix — and oh my, the range of tastes under that shiraz label! From cordial to enticing dusty to something altogether strange and alluring. Grampians Estate had a topaque (that’d be a tokay if the copyright lawyers don’t get ya) to die for. It was shiraz all the way from there, though; others we took home were from Kimbarra Wines, Clarnette & Ludvigsen, Montara and Clayfield. Add in the enticement of a recommendation for Great Western pinot noir and next road trip: sorted. There was also a blue cheese from Campana’s Stockade Cellars to die for — these guys are a Ballaratian institution, we’re told: so good, they don’t need a website.

    We also met Amie Brulee, who has possibly the best PhD thesis ever: comparing attitudes to wine in Australian and France. She also throws period French cabaret shows. Win!

    After about two hours, we staggered up the street to busy Thai Fusion. Mixed results here, with KMcD not as taken as I was with the dishes — pinky in a blanket (prawn in a cocoon of deep-fried stuff) and two stir fries, one of seafood and the other of chicken. Lots of ginger in the chicken made it noms. I have yet to find an Asian-themed restaurant that serves decent coffee, but I will keep looking. Normally I would’ve got a green tea or, surprise, booze, but y’know, two hours of wine tasting …

    To finish the sobriety trip, we ducked into the Regent, a grand ol’ theatre with a cafe — bless the espresso! — and generous members club discounts. We saw Trance, which was a mess — far from entrancing, indeed: my one thought coming out was, there should be more women named Tuppence! — but by night’s end, we’d ticked off a bunch of our Ballaratian ‘must do’s’, with pretty fair success.

    Ballaratia, we are in you!

    * Wendouree Tor is not the mount’s real name, but it SHOULD be! Also, you’d think two writers could think up a half-decent name for the house, wouldn’t you? Mayhaps it must grow into one…

    Chronos awards nominations … nom, nom, nom! (nom!)

    Salvage by Jason NahrungNice, to have three Chronos awards nominations. Very nice indeed: for Salvage, ‘Mornington Ride’ (from Epilogue, from which Steve Cameron‘s story has also been nominated) in short fiction, and for ‘best fan writer’ (there are six of us, all pals, including Mr Cameron again!).

    Salvage is nominated for ‘best long fiction’, a funny old field, all horror stories (!), that includes my novella, a collection (by Felicity Dowker), a novel (by Narelle Harris) and an anthology (Ticonderoga’s Year’s Best).

    And adding to those is the nomination of the Snapshot interview series, in which I played a part, for ‘best fan achievement’.

    See the full Chronos Awards finalists for 2012

    It’s always warming to have one’s work recognised, and the Chronos comes from fandom, so: readers, as well as writers, making it doubly sweet.

    The field might be smaller than last year but it’s packing some punch. Voting is underway, and winners will be announced at Continuum in June. The convention is looking like being quite a hoot.

  • Speaking of awards, the NSW organisers of the Aurealis Awards have announced this year’s ceremony will be the end of their involvement. SpecFaction have done a brilliant job of organising the awards and holding the ceremony. It can only be hoped another group of hardy volunteers will arise to take on the challenge, and make no mistake, it is challenging: not just running the actual awards, but trying to find sponsors and venues for the ceremony as well. The awards are one of my favourite events of the year, a grand, relaxed catch-up as well as a chance to see some brilliantly talented pals recognised and discover new talent, too. This year’s ceremony is on May 18, with Scott Westerfeld as MC. Come join the party!

  • MICF: Lisa-Skye hits the right note in Songs My Parents Taught Me

    lisa-skye melbourne comedianI caught Lisa-Skye‘s Songs My Parents Taught Me at the ‘pop-up’ venue Tuxedo Cat in Melbourne last night — love this town and how it uses these spaces so creatively — and what an enjoyable hour* it was.

    I caught her act last year, and this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival performance showed similar flair.

    Songs My Parents Taught Me is a clever piece of memoir/biography, centred on the 1970s couple Maddog and Bunny. The night’s chat is a fond, second-hand reminiscence passed down by her parents, heavy on the ‘Wogs’ and drugs and booze and partying. The anecdotes serve as a springboard for Skye’s reflections on drugs, sexuality, parenthood … of growing up, however reluctantly and defiantly.

    ‘Some people are sexually attracted to fire,’ she says, summarising teenage proclivities for setting things on fire and masturbating.

    And one can’t help wonder if that was a summary of Bunny and Maddog’s carefree life, both of them having passed away before Lisa-Skye had a chance to know them.

    Lisa-Skye is so personable, her face so expressive, an hour in her velvet-draped pad passes quickly. Her show has some fetching touches: audience engagement, slide shows to help make connections and score some visual chuckles, several wonderfully constructed spoken word pieces set to the ticking of a metronome.

    Southern Comfort lovers may be offended; others might never see a knitting needle again without thinking about a shark making love to a space rocket. (You have to be there.)

    The conversation at Lisa-Skye’s place is engaging, at times confronting, a little loose and undoubtedly entertaining, with some food for thought – and glitter – thrown in. And the punchline – oh so very nicely done.


    * Due to the unfortunate train timetable and the show going a little over time, I missed the last three minutes or so, but Lisa-Skye very kindly sent me the script for that final portion.


    Songs My Parents Taught Me runs until April 21.

    A skull for Kirstyn!

    perfections by kirstyn mcdermottThe Australian Shadows awards were announced last night, and Kirstyn is bringing home a skull trophy for best novel — Perfections! Huzzah!

    The full winners’ list — note the double to Kaaron Warren!

    NOVEL: Kirstyn McDermott, Perfections (Xoum)
    LONG FICTION: Kaaron Warren, ‘Sky’ (Through Splintered Walls, Twelfth Planet Press)
    SHORT FICTION: Martin Livings, ‘Birthday Suit’ (Living with the Dead, Dark Prints Press)
    COLLECTION: Kaaron Warren, Through Splintered Walls (Twelfth Planet Press)
    EDITED PUBLICATION: Surviving the End, ed Craig Bezant (Dark Prints Press)

    For Wilson

    sun through tree, not wilson's treeWe were sat at his wife’s parents’ place, in the front lounge. I was a lot younger then, and there were more of us, so many more of us. I imagine it was hot, because it usually was, there behind the louvres, looking out at the paddocks and the tree line. It was probably summer, because I always think of that house in the summer, creaking in the heat amid that quiet stillness.

    One of those family gatherings. There would’ve been tea, and biscuits, or cake. There was always tea and something to nibble.

    And he got up and grabbed his camera, a black bulk of SLR I should think, because that was his job, taking photos; he and his wife were very good at it, she doing the arranging of the subjects and he doing the technical stuff behind the lens. She was the organiser, and he the quiet one. I think of him and I think of quiet, of reserve, of calmness. I’m sure it wasn’t always the way but that was how I knew him and that is how, in this imperfect snapshot, I remember him; I knew him no other way.

    So he and his camera went out to take a picture of a tree. The singular gum, tall, straight, that regal bearing, standing alone in the brown grass of the front paddock. I have a vague memory of him saying, and here I could be mistaken, but I think he said how he had always wanted to get the perfect picture of that tree. Perhaps his wife told us this as we watched him leave.

    And now he is gone, and I think of him, walking out, camera in hand, in pursuit of the perfect shot. I have no doubt that, if not before, he will find it now, out there.

    Vale, Wilson Thomsen (1937-2013)

    Newcastle Writers Festival truly ex-cell-ent

    newcastle jail courtyard

    Newcastle Gaol courtyard, scene of the crime

    Every writers’ festival should have a jail.

    Especially for a panel on horror.

    The inaugural Newcastle Writers Festival  was a hoot, and pretty darn smooth, too, despite being held over a number of venues and being run by staff who hadn’t really done much like this before.

    They had 60 writers and a whole lot of sell-out panels, with a grand get-together at the art gallery and an opening night speech par excellence from Miriam Margolyes  in a gorgeous theatre, panels in council chambers and the wonderfully scenic Noah’s hotel and a pub and — awesomeness of awesomeness — an old jail!

    Kirstyn and I had a grand ol’ chat with Jenny Blackford about writing and horror and Kirstyn’s necklace and the barbarous destruction of some very old fig trees in a city park, all in the surrounds of a barred courtyard with an old loo in the far corner. Newcastle is Kirstyn’s old stomping ground, and it was interesting to see the evolution of the city through her remembrances.

    Also flying the flag for spec fic was Margo Lanagan — we caught her YA panel. Jack Dann and Janeen Webb and Russell Blackford were also guests, but family commitments meant we got only to see Jack read an amazing homage to Gene Wolfe in a packed pub outing dedicated to Sin. Amidst gay-hating religion and people smuggling and ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ — the poem, not Iron Maiden — Jack and wonderfully, pointedly funny Anita Heiss brought the prose on home.

    Miriam Margolyes’ opening night talk — highly recommended

    Anyway, we loved the atmosphere at the festival — they drove those of us at Noah’s in an adapted tram to the Friday night soiree! — and Newcastle itself is a pretty amazing place, so much going on in not a lot of square mileage given the coal and the coast and river and history and attempts to breathe life into the inner city. Some wonderful artwork on display, for instance, at the Emporium, and some serious cafe action. There’s even a writers’ walk, which we didn’t get to do, but the fact they have one is pretty cool. I felt there was a real hunger there for some spec fic action, too. If even felt like a spec fic convention in one way: the hotel’s bar shut far too early!

    The festival was such a blast the organisers have already announced dates for next year — April 4–6 — and we’re putting it on the calendar now. Even if the festival isn’t using the jail as a venue next year, there are tours. Ex-cell-ent!