Dreaming in the Dark: seeing the light in Brisbane

dreaming in the dark

A reminder, friends: I’m chuffed to be attending the Brisbane launch of the Dreaming in the Dark anthology, edited by Jack Dann and published by UK-based PS Publishing. Still gotta pinch myself when I look at the contributors to this epic tome of Aussie speculative fiction.

So yes, it’s worth a party with contributors (edited to add more — huzzah!) Veny Armanno, Paul Brandon, Kirstyn McDermott, Angela Slatter, Janeen Webb, Kim Wilkins and me in attendance; Paul and Sarah Calderwood will provide some musical atmosphere; Jack will do his thing; the book will be launched and you’ll be able to get your copy signed by a third of the contributors in one fell swoop!

Please join us, at Dymocks Brisbane in Albert St, on Thursday 8 December from 6pm. It’s free, but RSVPs are being taken here.

Dreaming up a story: Eromon No More

dreaming in the darkWhere do your ideas come from, folks ask. Good luck answering that (aisle 3 at the shopping centre doesn’t cut it, I’ve found). But here’s an insight into the making of my yarn Eromon No More, which I’m bloody chuffed to have included in Jack Dann’s anthology Dreaming in the Dark (now available to order) where it rubs shoulders with some truly impressive talents — and is also a rare occurrence of Kirstyn and myself having a yarn in the same book.

So, I can trace the spark of the idea back to a panel at a Continuum convention in Melbourne (happening again June 9-12 2017) where the absence of variety in high/second world fantasy was noted. Not many old people as protagonists, for instance. And I’d been taken with the portrayal of Lamb in Joe Abercrombie’s Red Country, a damaged soldier trying to find some peace.

I nutted out a short yarn, deliberately generic, in which an old coot and a young thing have fled war for the peace and hard yakka of a farm, only war comes to find them — it was meant to be kind of a satire or a critique, but never really got there.

I sent this to Jack for Dreaming. And he said: Give me more.

My story in Jack’s Dreaming Again remains one of my favourites: his faith and commitment to that yarn kept me in the game at a time when I could happily have given it away. Then, as now, he said to give him more. Now, as then, I went looking.

winds of change anthologyThe original skeleton of the yarn remained much the same, but I tapped the feel of a fantastical Australia (most of my yarns are set here, one way or another; I need a very specific reason to not set a yarn in my country) I’d conjured up for another story, Wraiths (Winds of Change, 2011) to breathe life into the setting and add some cultural nuance.

But where did those two characters come from? They’re probably a construct or amalgam of stories read and watched, maybe even some D&D played, their characters assembled consciously and subconsciously … Who knows? Aisle 3 is as good a suggestion as any.

I do know the story title is a nod to the suburban habit of naming houses Emoh Ruo I first encountered in My Brother Jack, and perhaps was a call to George Johnston’s desire to escape that reality that ultimately he didn’t seem able to. Maybe it illustrates the characters’ motivation and ill fate. Or perhaps it had no deeper meaning than a bit of fun wordplay for a dark story that tries to end on (for me) an uncharacteristically lighter note.

Funny, too, how what was meant to be just a bit of scenery, in this case a chicken, came to have a metaphorical role in the story. That idea must’ve been on special in the supermarket that day.

Funnily enough, I’ve still got another iteration of this story in the back of my brain. One with a goose. And even half an idea for another story involving these two characters. Another trip to the supermarket may be required!

  • Dreaming in the Dark has 21 stories from writers including Sean Williams, Garth Nix, Angela Slatter, Terry Dowling … it’s a cornucopia of Aussie writing. Check it out here.

  • The Brisbane launch is at Dymocks, 17 Albert St, on Thursday 8 December from 6pm. There will be readings, live music, drinks, signings and bonhomie! It would be lovely to see a few Brissie pals there! Free to attend, but please RSVP!

     

    Dreaming in the Dark: shining a light on Australian speculative fiction

    dreaming in the darkThis is an exciting anthology of Australian speculative fiction. Back in 1998, Jack Dann and Janeen Webb put together Dreaming Down Under, an anthology that helped shine a light on the speculative fiction talent in Australia. Then, in 2010, Jack revisited the field in Dreaming Again: 35 yarns, of which I was privileged to have contributed one. And now he’s combined with PS Publishing to produce a new taster of established and up-and-coming writers: Dreaming in the Dark. Check out the contributors list below! Here’s the link to order this gorgeous tome. Launches are in the works, but why not get your order in while it’s hot? The signed, slipcased editions are limited to 200 and they look pretty darn fancy.

    Introduction: Welcome to the Golden Age: an Introduction of Sorts
    JACK DANN

    Sing, My Murdered Darlings
    SEAN WILLIAMS

    Falling Angel
    PAUL BRANDON

    Martian Triptych
    JAMES BRADLEY

    Northerner’s Farewell
    RJURIK DAVIDSON

    Midnight in the Graffiti Tunnel
    TERRY DOWLING

    A Right Pretty Mate
    LISA L. HANNETT

    Eromon No More
    JASON NAHRUNG

    Luv Story
    KIM WESTWOOD

    The Luminarium Tower
    SEAN MCMULLEN

    Neither Time Nor Tears
    ANGELA SLATTER

    His Shining Day
    RICHARD HARLAND

    The Liquid Palace
    ADAM BROWNE

    Heat Treatment
    VENERO ARMANNO

    Snowflakes All the Way Down
    ROSALEEN LOVE

    Served Cold
    ALAN BAXTER

    The Dog Who’d Been Dead
    ANNA TAMBOUR

    Fade to Grey
    JANEEN WEBB

    All Those Superpowers and What Are They Good For?
    GARTH NIX

    Burnt Sugar
    KIRSTYN MCDERMOTT

    In Hornhead Wood
    KIM WILKINS

    Moonshine
    SIMON BROWN

    And Then … stake a claim on these adventure stories!

    And-Then-offerAND now for a word from my publisher … who is publishing a massive two-book anthology of ripping adventure yarns. The books are now available for pre-order, and because it’s happening on Indiegogo, there is not just a discount on the RRP, but there are some other fab inclusions as well (the books will come out regardless, but why not grab a bargain?). Says Clan Destine’s Lindy Cameron:

    And Then… The Great Big Book of Awesome Adventure Tales will feature 31 stories of action-filled page-turning adventures.

      No matter your reading preference – crime, fantasy, horror, sf or cross-genre – there will be stories galore in this fabulous collection just for you.

      By helping us you will get the warm fuzzy feeling of supporting a small independent press and our wonderful authors, but there’s also plenty of things you will get in return.

      First and foremost, of course, are the books themselves. And we do mean books. And Then… will be two volumes of fabulous new fiction, published as ebooks, paperbacks and Limited Edition hardcovers.

      So get on board and pre-order your copies. Follow the link below to see the great deals, discounts and other bounty you can score by partnering with us now.

      And please share this opportunity with other book lovers.

      https://igg.me/at/AndThen

      Thank you for your ongoing support of Clan Destine Press.

    The campaign runs till about May 16, so jump on board, me hearties: your future self will thank you!

    Aurealis Awards finalists announced

    aurealis awards logoThe Aurealis Awards for Australian speculative fiction will be awarded on Good Friday, March 25, in Brisbane as part of the national science fiction convention, Contact. Tickets are now on sale (with, apparently, convention members to get a discount).

    It’s a pretty cool event, bringing the community together, and being held as part of the convention should mean extra vibe as well as, one hopes, a packed room. (It’s great to see the awards organisers in WA and the nat con collaborating this way, especially since there is the Swancon convention in Perth also at Easter.)

    The finalists were announced yesterday, with several new categories, one of the most exciting being the Sara Douglass Book Series Award. The list of finalists is here (note: my wife is in there!). There’s a bucket of cold water for the horror novel category — I know, sad! the judges’ comments will make interesting reading on that one!* — but elsewhere a pretty darn strong field of contenders.

    Just making it to the short list is a big achievement, so congratulations all — let’s party!


    *I’m hoping for a tie between Lisa Hannett’s Lament for the Afterlife and Trent Jamieson’s Day Boy because both these rock in their own way. Read them regardless!

    In which Lady Helen leads us on a merry dance

    Lady Helen and the Dark Days ClubLady Helen and the Dark Days Club (Angus & Robertson, 2016), the first volume in a new series by Alison Goodman, is due for publication next year*, but the author kindly threw a launch party in time for Christmas. For those eager for her next work following the New York Times best-sellers Eon and Eona, it was a fine present indeed.

    Having covered science fiction, crime (with a slight SFnal twist) and fantasy with equal aplomb in previous works, Goodman now turns to the paranormal with her Dark Days Club.

    There is perhaps slightly more explanatory text here – summaries of events, an almost telepathy to show the meaning behind the body language – than I remember from previous outings, but the story, more than 400 pages of it, speeds by at an easy pace, driven by the spark of quick-witted Lady Heroine and the deepening dilemmas in which she finds herself.

    How clever to set it in the Regency, for this story is all about veneer and the monsters behind the facade, duty and passion, control and denial. The painting of this period of English history is sensationally wrought, the minutiae of daily life for the Quality (and their window on the lesser classes) effectively grounding the world without dominating it, referencing historical events, people and places, then braiding in the supernatural story.

    Australian women writers challenge 2015Lady Helen, our titular heroine, is 18, her parents lost under despairing circumstances, the ward of her uncle and aunt who are devoted to her social climb, that is, marriage. She has some of her mother’s infamous adventurous streak, however, sneaking into the library to read books, so very unladylike. Of course, she has more than that in common with her mother, and soon her fabulous nature as a potential member of the mysterious Dark Days Club is uncovered.

    The tension between her attraction to adventure, both romantic and physical, and the pressure to conform to social propriety is deft, perhaps best mirrored in the two suitors for her attention, if not affection, in a socially respectable duke and a lord of some infamy.

    This presents the most obvious theme of the story, that “sometimes there is no good choice”. And Lady Helen has some serious choices to make as a demonic world is revealed to her, that and her special place in the fight to contain it. Dark days indeed!

    I’m particularly taken with the humour of sidekick and maid Darby, who had me chuckling with an almost Pink Panther scene in which she tests her mistress’s reflexes with thrown objects.

    Another element I especially appreciate is the slow reveal, allowing us to know Helen and her Regency world, the privilege and the constraints, as mysteries are bled into the opening chapters and then revealed in line with her growing understanding of the secret war of the Dark Days Club.

    This is a world where every choice, every benefit, comes at a cost, and it is this grim reality that helps makes Lady Helen’s story such an enjoyable read.

    * addendum: December 14 in Australia, January 16 UK and January 26 US.

  • This review completes my four-book commitment to the 2015 Australian Women Writers Challenge. Others were Cherry Crow Children by Deborah Kalin, The Dagger’s Path by Glenda Larke, and The Dangerous Bride by Lee Kofman.
  • And Then — a brand new adventure

    Figurehead illo by Vicky Pratt from And Then... adventure anthologyClan Destine Press (publishers of my Vampires in the Sunshine State duology) has announced a new adventure — And Then…. The Great Big Book of Awesome Adventure Tales, a mammoth two-title set of tales featuring dynamic duos.

    So far, 26 writers have been announced — the preliminary list is below — with stories to 15,000 words: ‘old-fashioned rip-snorting action adventures’.
    My contribution takes place in the same world as Night Blooming, published earlier this year in SQ Magazine. As CDP publisher Lindy Cameron says, ‘ooh what fun’.

    Check out that TOC below: that’s some serious firepower.

    Readers can be part of the adventure, too. The books — more authors are yet to join — are to be crowdfunded through Indiegogo, so you can essentially preorder a copy of these rollicking tales and get other cool stuff besides. Stuff such as other CDP ebooks and paperbacks (lots of ’em), notebooks and pens, and themed critiques on 1500 words (fight scenes, erotica, openings, Ancient Rome and MORE!).

    The figurehead illo, by Vicky Pratt, with this post is from the title page of one of the yarns, ‘Come Now, Traveller’, by Amanda Wrangles. It just gets more interesting, doesn’t it?

    AND THEN… PRELIMINARY CONTRIBUTORS

    Peter M Ball ~ Deadbeats

    Alan Baxter ~ Golden Fortune, Dragon Jade

    Mary Borsellino ~ The Australian Gang

    Lindy Cameron ~ The Medusa Code

    Kat Clay ~ In the Company of Rogues

    Emilie Collyer ~ The Panther’s Paw

    Jack Dann ~ The Talking Sword

    Sarah Evans ~ Plumbing the Depths

    Jason Franks ~ Exli and the Dragon

    James Hopwood ~ The Lost Loot of Lima

    Kelly Gardiner ~ Boots and the Bushranger

    David Greagg & Kerry Greenwood ~ Cruel Sister

    Narrelle M Harris ~ Moran & Cato: Virgin Soil

    Maria Lewis ~ The Bushwalker Butcher

    Sophie Masson ~ The Romanov Opal

    Keith McArdle ~ The Demon’s Cave

    Jason Nahrung ~ The Mermaid Club

    Andrew Nette ~ Save a Last Kiss for Satan

    Amanda Pillar ~ It

    Michael Pryor ~ Cross Purposes

    Dan Rabarts ~ Tipuna Tapu

    Tansy Rayner Roberts ~ Death at the Dragon Circus

    Fin J Ross ~ Genemesis

    Tor Roxburgh ~ The Boudicca Society

    Amanda Wrangles ~ Come Now, Traveller