Happy birthday, Kevin the vampire! Here’s a free story to celebrate with

forged in blood vampire storyTo mark the first-year anniversary of the launch of the Vampires in the Sunburnt Country duology, I thought I’d open the window to a secretive event in the life of Kevin’s nemesis, the Hunter Phillip Reece.

The story was written in 2011 as I was coming to grips with Reece’s background. The event detailed in the story, set in 1970s Brisbane, is never explained in either Blood and Dust or The Big Smoke, but is alluded to as Reece looks back at his long history with the villainous Mira.

It was a fun and effective way to explore the characters’ first meeting, even though much of the detail never made it into either book because it simply wasn’t needed. But I like to think it gave those few references emotional depth and, of course, consistency.

Find out more and read the story in PDF here

UPDATE: as of 7 July 2016, free mobi and epub versions of the story are available at the Clan Destine Press website!

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More Aussie vampire deals!

the big smoke by jason nahrungblood and dust by jason nahrungClan Destine Press has extended its 50 per cent off sale through to the end of April. That means half-price books or, if you like, both books in the Vampires in the Sunburnt Country duology for the price of one. $27 for Blood and Dust and The Big Smoke in paperback. Or $6 all up for B&S and TBS in ebook. You might also like to check out the vampire novel from Narrelle M HarrisWalking Shadows (decidedly tasty!).

2 for 1 Aussie vampire deal – last days

the big smoke by jason nahrungblood and dust by jason nahrungJust a reminder that Clan Destine Press is offering 50 per cent off all stock until March 31. That means half-price books or, if you like, both books in the Vampires in the Sunburnt Country duology for the price of one! $27 for Blood and Dust and The Big Smoke in paperback. Or $6 all up for B&S and TBS in ebook. Stake ’em out while you can!

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!

2 for 1 Aussie vampire deal

the big smoke by jason nahrungblood and dust by jason nahrungClan Destine Press is offering 50 per cent off all stock until March 31. That means half-price books or, if you like, both books in the Vampires in the Sunburnt Country duology for the price of one. $27 for Blood and Dust and The Big Smoke in paperback. Or $6 all up for B&S and TBS in ebook. Killer!

In Your Face … and then some

in your face anthology campaignThis anthology will not be an easy read, but it will be a rewarding one.

FableCroft Publishing is putting out the book, entitled In Your Face. The stories, publisher Tehani Wessely says, “will be provocative and/or confronting but with a firm purpose – they are pieces that will perhaps make readers uncomfortable because they are a bit too hard-hitting or close to the bone, but which interrogate these themes and ideas, and make a point about the world we live in”.

Writers in the anthology include Sean Williams, Cat Sparks, Kaaron Warren, Kirstyn McDermott and another dozen or so who are bound to get under readers’ skin — for good effect.

My story, ‘A House in the Blue’, is one of the current selection. It’s a fairly blunt response to the hideous health policy pursued by the soulless Abbott Government, since rejected, but sadly one that seems to still lurk in the shadows of government budgets. It is set in my climate-changed Brisbane, which is really where the speculative element kicks in. I suspect American readers wouldn’t find the rest of it that far fetched, and sadly, the climate element probably isn’t either, given the way our federal government continues to shy away from taking action. It’s possibly the angriest story I’ve written.

The reason for this blog post is to point you in the direction of FableCroft’s Pozible campaign, being conducted through January to take the anthology further.

Says Tehani, “This campaign is designed to expand the number of excellent stories we are able to include in the book from 12-15 to at least 20. As our goal is always to pay our contributors what their efforts deserve, our stretch goal once we reach our target will be to increase the amount we are able to pay per story.”

Check out the Pozible, which essentially allows preorders with other goodies besides. As Tehani has noted, the book is coming, it’s just how many writers get to be involved that hinges on the Pozible.

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.