Meanwhile, ‘Mornington Ride’ is a finalist for an American award

epilogue - tales of hope after the apocalypseI was riding the rattler when the news broke, so I’m a little slow broadcasting this, but hey, it’s pretty darn cool even four days later: ‘Mornington Ride’, my post-apocalyptic yarn that rolls the Seekers and ‘Waltzing Matilda’ into a kind of hopeful drover’s tale, kind of, as published in Epilogue, is up for the Washington Science Fiction Association’s Small Press Award for Short Fiction.

That’s quite a mouthful, huh. See, still excited!

Which tells me a few things. 1, if you keep at it, if the chips fall the right way, someone may eventually like your stuff; and 2, it’s worth going with a publisher who will champion your story and get it out there where folks might actually see it. That means copping the costs, and spending the time in research and postage, of getting it out to awards and quality review sites. Not easy for a small press, so I tips me lid to Tehani at FableCroft for not just publishing ‘Mornington Ride’, but getting it out there.

It’s the first of my short stories to garner an award nomination, and the first to win one: the Chronos, in both instances. This new pat on the back is the cream.

The award is announced in December ; here’s the full list of finalists. I’m still pinching myself.

  • ‘Astrophilia’ by Carrie Vaughn, published in Clarkesworld Magazine, edited by Neil Clarke (July 2012).
  • ‘The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species’ by Ken Liu, published in Lightspeed Magazine, edited by John Joseph Adams (August 2012).
  • ‘Bottled Spirits’ by Pamela K. Kinney, published in Buzzy Mag, edited by Laura Anne Gilman (June, 2012).
  • ‘Coca Xocolatl’ by Lawrence M. Schoen, published in ReDeus: Divine Tales, edited by Robert Greenberger and Aaron Rosenberg (Crazy Eight Press 2012).
  • ‘Good Hunting’ by Ken Liu, published in Strange Horizons, edited by Brit Mandelo (October 2012).
  • ‘Mornington Ride’ by Jason Nahrung, published in Epilogue, edited by Tehani Wessely (Fablecroft Publishing June 2012).
  • ‘The Six Million Dollar Mermaid’ by Hildy Silverman, published in Mermaids 13: Tales from the Sea, edited by John L. French (Padwolf Publishing Inc. December 2012)
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    Cradle Mountain: it reigns

    Cradle Mountain Lodge, Tasmania

    Cradle Mountain Lodge, Tasmania


    It rained. A lot. And it was perfect. The weekend was designed as a laid-back getaway, and that’s what we got at Cradle Mountain Lodge.

    The Lodge sits just outside Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, an area of such awesome natural beauty and value it’s World Heritage listed.

    Sun shone on the English fields of sheep and cattle on the two-and-a-bit-hours drive from Launceston, but as the altitude climbed, the clouds came over, until we were winding through misty-rainy moor and edging sheer gullies choked with eucalyptus forest.

    The clouds never left for the duration of the weekend, even threatening to snow at one point. But the rain showed mercy, breaking long enough for us to not only appreciate the bounty around us, but work up an appetite: there was the half-hour Enchanted Walk, with its duckboards running beside a fast-flowing stream and taking us from open grass paddocks to moss-covered forest; and there was a wee taste of the Dove Lake track, with a side trip to “the boatshed”, down to Lake Lilla. There was even a brief rainbow on the return trek!

    More pictures of rainy Cradle Mountain

    Our accommodation, a sprawling estate run by Peppers, was ideal for the stay: next door to our friends, spacious with an airlock to keep the dripping wet out and the warmth in, no television, a gas fire. The staff were uniformly friendly, too.

    A short stroll to the lodge — it’s made out of a lot of timber — yielded close encounters with wombats and pademelons. In the no-fuss bistro, there was wood-fired pizza and other pub grub; in the restaurant, more elegant fare, including a walk-in wine cellar.

    A buffet breakfast was included, and it offered a pleasing range of hot and cold tucker, and all fresh.
    A lower bar, for guests only, had one of the best wood fires to dry out beside.

    Our excursions included a joint win at the bistro’s short and sweet trivia night, and a little more romantic, and included in the accommodation price, a tour of the nearby Tassie Devil sanctuary, where the besieged critters are, along with two kinds of very cute quoll, available for viewing.

    We dodged rain to see the cute little dudes fed pieces of wallaby, and didn’t they get stuck in. Devil screeches are something to be heard, especially in the dark and rain.

    It’s great that there’s hope for the species, at least once the population suffering from lethal tumours has died out.

    Boat Shed, Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain

    Boat Shed, Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain

    There was sun on the way home, of course. On the way in, we stopped at Sheffield for honey and fudge — the fudge did not make it home — but on the way out, it was a straight run back to Launceston for lunch at Blue Cafe — noms the sweet corn fritters — before flying out.

    What really impressed, other than the landscape and sheer comfort of the resort, was the ease of access. A short flight from Melbourne, a short and very pleasant drive, a wilderness-embedded resort with its own walks, and the whole national park at the doorstep.

    A fly, a drive, a walk, a feed, wombats (!), even an afternoon nap. Just lovely, rain or shine.

    Honourable mentions by Ellen Datlow

    best horror of the year volume 5 edited by ellen datlowEditor extraordinaire Ellen Datlow has released the LOOOOONG list — and it’s true to label, appearing in two pieces (Alexandra to Johnstone, Jones to Yolen) on her blog — to go with the short list of honourable mentions of short stories from 2012, anchored by her Best Horror of the Year Volume 5. The short list appears in the book; the long list doesn’t. Despite the collapse and sale of publisher Night Shade, the book’s listed as available on Amazon.

    So why am I mentioning this? Because Datlow has seen fit to list three of my yarns in the long list — ‘The Kiss’ from Tales from the Bell Club, ‘Last Boat to Eden’ from Surviving the End, and ‘Breaking the Wire’, from Aurealis #47 — and ‘Eden’ made it through to the short list.

    There is a whole posse of Aussie talent in the lists, and stories by Margo Lanagan and Terry Dowling made it into the collection.

    To get a pat on the back from anyone is always a warm and fuzzy moment; to get it from someone with Datlow’s pedigree, and knowing just how widely she reads to compile these lists, well, that’s very nice indeed.

    It’s especially cool to see ‘The Kiss’ get a mention: writing in the voice of a turn-of-the-last century Austrian suffragette was quite fun, and one of the first yarns I’ve written involving historical figures. If you go to the link above, you can read the little sucker in the ‘look inside’ feature!

    Ticonderoga’s recommended reading list: we have squee!

    years best fantasy and horror 2012Just a wee note to say, yay, ‘Mornington Ride’ from Epilogue and ‘Breaking the Wire’ from Aurealis #47 have been included in the recommended reading list from Ticonderoga Publications’ forthcoming Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2012. ‘Last Boat to Eden’, from Surviving the End, is included in the volume (I blogged the full contents of this packed volume here). My ego aside, it’s a good place to start if you’re looking to take the pulse of short Aussie dark fiction. The book is available for pre-order.

    The Burial: uncovering some natural talent

    the burial by courtney collinsThe Burial is the debut novel from Courtney Collins, and it has been received well enough – short listings for the Stella Prize and the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, a long-listing for the Dobbie – to earn her a place in Australia’s literary delegation to the UK.

    The voice is a large part of its appeal, one suspects. Narrated by a dead baby who’s been buried in the earth, it might not surprise that a large part of the story concerns relationships with the earth: a part-Aboriginal stockman cum tracker, a city-trained policeman with his own destructive obsessions, and the heroine of the piece: outlaw Jessie Hickman.

    Jessie is based on a real person, one who had a vague legendary status in the area of NSW where Collins grew up. Few details of her life were available, but there were police records and a mug shot.

    Jessie was a circus rider, a wild child, a horse thief.

    Her life in 1920s Australia, as imagined by Collins and recounted by Jessie’s dead child, is one of displacement and discomfort, of trying to find one’s place. For Jessie, that happiest place seems to be on horseback.

    Backgrounding the tale is life in the rural back blocks, still a frontier post-World War I, with broken soldier settlers eking out their livings in the wild country, the law mistrusted by all, and women – those hardy few – getting the rough end of the stick.

    It a place where Jessie is indentured to Fitz, whose brutal hold on Jessie sets up the core of the story: a protracted pursuit that gathers pace as the tracker and the copper get their act together, drawn together by their mutual history with Jessie, who wants only to be free — even if she isn’t entirely certain what that freedom might entail.

    australian women writers review challenge logoThe story of Jessie’s flight into the high country is interspersed with flashbacks of her journey to these straits, and insights into why these two men pursue with such persistence.

    But it is the bush that is the major backdrop and a key character, shaping these lives on the edge of civilisation, offering both threat and succour.

    Collins’s prose has a cadence, with drawn-out sentences clopping along with conjunctions to offer a folkloric, lyrical atmosphere. The sense of the tale being narrated in an otherworldly fashion is enhanced by the use of italics for dialogue, rather that punctuation marks. The story could have afforded to lose a few extraneous scenes, but overall it draws the reader on as pursuers and pursued head to their inevitable resolution.

    There is, however, no historical conclusion to The Burial; with the focus on the environment and adapting to it, its conclusion possibly owes a debt to Picnic at Hanging Rock and that fascination with civilisation vs nature, that throwing off of social binds and embracing the environment. Certainly, The Burial is a worthy companion to that section of Australian literature that examines our place in this environment. I wonder what the Poms will make of it.