Dead Red Heart available to pre-order

dead red heart australian vampire anthology

Ticonderoga has announced that its mammoth collection of Australian vampire stories, Dead Red Heart (including my rural gothic yarn ‘Children of the Cane’), is now available to pre-order online. It is due to hit shelves in April-May. It will also be available through online bookstores including Amazon.

I noticed that the forthcoming paranormal romance anthology, More Scary Kisses (with my first published foray into erotica, ‘Resurrection in Red’), also due out in April-May, is also available to pre-order. This is the first time that Kirstyn and I have had stories in the same original anthology — hers is much creepier!

Dead Red Heart and More Scary Kisses: books with bite!

more scary kisses cover

Here is the cover of More Scary Kisses, Ticonderoga’s anthology of paranormal romance stories due out in April. The table of contents is here.

And Ticonderoga’s Australian-themed vampire anthology, Dead Red Heart, has had its table of contents announced, and it’s a monster: 32 yarns, more than 130,000 words, due out towards the end of April.

I hope this means both will hit the shelf in time for Swancon, Perth’s annual spec fic convention which this year is also the national science fiction convention.

It’s particularly exciting to have a couple of stories coming out this year after such a long hiatus.

after the rain ebook edition

There’s also a story of mine, a cyberpunk one just in contrast to the New Orleans hot-and-sweaty of MSK and cane-and-dust vampire action of DRH, in Fablecroft’s forthcoming After the Rain anthology, also due out in time for Swancon. A special e-edition of ATR is available with proceeds going to the Queensland flood appeal. More than $1200 has been raised so far. Awesome!

For me, after the rain should probably be after the drought, it’s been so long since I’ve written a short story. But last year, after much kicking around and failing to succeed with novel-length manuscripts, my subconscious apparently found a window for some short stuff. Dark Prints Press’s Surviving the End anthology started the ball rolling — that book’s due out in 2012, and I quite like the story of mine in it: a dirty, post-apocalyptic Australian Gulf-country yarn.

I’m back in drought mode, now, but it sure feels affirming to have been able to dredge out some yarns!

Kill your darlings aka I’ve got you now, you bastard (I think)

crime scene gifThere’s an axiom in the writing fraternity: Kill your darlings. It might have started with Faulkner or Twain or someone else entirely, but it’s a splendid piece of advice. It’s about not being precious, about letting the text be true to itself and keeping the author’s ego and cleverness the hell out of it. It’s about trimming the fat.

I killed a darling last night. It was the original scene that inspired a short story. It took four days, on and off, to realise it had to go. Four days of staring at a two-thirds finished yarn and wondering how it should end — who was doing what, how should they get what they wanted, who was stopping them, what did it all mean? And the final answer, delivered after numerous endings (amounting to more than 1500 words) had been written and discarded, was that the story had become bigger than that original scene. The pretty prose, the atmosphere, the spiffy dialogue: all surplus to requirements. Gone (or, at least, I confess, some tucked away in the glory box for a possible outing in another, more appropriate story).

And doesn’t it feel good? A bit like dieting like crazy (but, you know, healthily) and finally being able to fit *that* set of clothes.

Funny old game, this writing biz. After not having so much as looked at writing a short story in a couple of years, I’ve knocked over three in the past month with five or six others making wee blots on the drawing board. The first came after a day spent bleeding words over something else: 6000 thousand words downloading in a glorious rush in one day, needing not much more than some tinkering and polishing to reach a state I was happy with. Still haven’t got back to the abandoned idea, and maybe I never will. And since then, two more, squeezed with all the ease and joy of shitting razor blades: a thousand words excised from the overblown second (and I’m still not totally convinced it’s done) and this pesky third one still needing a damn good bit of work to make it shiny. But it’s there — I know how it ends (I’m fairly certain). It makes sense (I think). I’ve got you now, you bastard (I think).

It’s a joyful thing, isn’t it, to take that bare idea — a line of dialogue, a character, a situation — and explore it, tease it out, find out just what it’s all about and if it’s really worth sharing. At least, it is when it’s flowing. Not so much when it’s treacle, an idea that just won’t condense into a usable form. I have pals who hate editing, they find it boring because they already know the story; this is fine, as long as they still do the editing. I enjoy the editing because, whether the story popped out near right or had to be teased and goaded and agonised over, I love watching the raw form take a shape that’s (hopefully) pleasing to the reader’s eye. Even if it means killing your darlings. And maybe, *especially* if it means killing your darlings.

Speaking of short stories…

While I’m banging on about short stories, some folks who can actually write the darn things *really* well are scoring some serious recognition. Check out:

Ticonderoga going large on collections: Lucy Sussex, Felicity Dowker, Sara Douglass and Lezli Robyn slated for future release, with collections from Angela Slatter (one of two from this awesome writer out this year — over-achiever!) and Kaaron Warren being launched in only a few weeks!

Twelfth Planet Press is adding to its enviable catalogue with a collection from Marianne de Pierres.

And Cat Sparks is due to see a hot collection of her shorts entitled The Bride Price on the shelf this year!

These are just some to arrive in my inbox recently; Australia is a hotbed of writing talent at the moment and there are small presses popping up all over the place championing those with the chops. Expect to see plenty of them taking a bow at Aussiecon, where not just collections, but a bunch of drool-worthy anthologies are also slated to be launched.

And now for the long stuff

And while I’m at it, I direct your attention to the Queensland Premier’s literary awards, where spec fic from the likes of Justine Larbalestier and Scott Westerfeld makes a big impression in the YA section, and my former workmate and all-round good guy Noel Mengel has been shortlisted in the emerging Queensland author section. w00t!

The Girl With No Hands

the girl with no hands by angela slatter

Heads up! Here’s a collection of stories to keep an eye out for, most likely at Aussiecon, which will be a cornucopia of Aussie titles. Angela Slatter is a tale-teller of note, and this book contains a bunch of her best. With a divine cover, to boot. Ticonderoga is releasing this trade version and also a limited edition hard cover, alas not till September. Put it in your diary and grab a copy.

Writing notes, and a nod to Ego Likeness

It’s one of those windy, now rainy and chilly, days in old Melbourne town, and I’ve been tapping away at adding new flesh to old bones fuelled by copious amounts of coffee and the new album by the superb Ego Likeness. The clip is of a tune from the album, Breedless, distinctive and easy on the ears while the rain patters on the roof.

  • Emerging writers might like to check out the awesome manuscript workshop collaboration between the Queensland Writers Centre and Hachette Livre which is now open.
  • Like some passion with those fangs? Ticonderoga Publications want your paranormal romance short story for their follow-up anthology, More Scary Kisses.
  • On a sad note, Australian small press Brimstone reports it won’t be publishing Australian Dark Horror and Fantasy 4, nor will it be continuing with the series.
  • But in good news, Ben Payne has released issue 1 of his new, free, online mag, Moonlight Tuber.
  • Right then. Back to the bones.

    ticonderoga lives!

    Ticonderoga is a small press in Western Australia that has done some brilliant stuff in recent years, anthologies and collections mostly. It went on a wee hiatus but now it’s back with an online presence at ticon4.com. You’ll find short fiction and book reviews there; it’s worth keeping an eye on.

    Dreaming Again

    Dreaming Again

    And in other online news, the HorrorScope has provided a recommended list of the year’s best dark fiction. Good to see so many from Dreaming Again included, and very good to see my story, Smoking, Waiting for the Dawn, among that number. A friend described it as a “melancholy vampire story” – I like that 🙂