Blood and Dust on the Christmas tree

blood and dust by jason nahrung

You can’t get much more Christmassy than outback vampires spreading mayhem in a Monaro, can you? That’s what publisher Xoum thought, too, and they’re spreading some Blood and Dust at tinsel time, just to keep it real.

Read an extract from Blood and Dust

Blood and Dust is now available digitally, at Amazon, iBooks … all over the place.

Also out: Kirstyn’s Perfections, at the Xoum website and Amazon(and all the rest)!

And of course, Salvage is still available in paperback ($17.50 inc postage) and for Kindle.

The Next Big Thing

Angela Slatter tagged me in this Next Big Thing writerly chain thing, in which we answer the questions below before sending the same queries off to five of our pals. Blood and Dust is my next ‘big’ thing, to be released soonish in digital format by Sydney publisher Xoum. Let’s get started.

blood and dust by jason nahrung1) What is the working title of your next book?
Blood and Dust.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
The story began more than 10 years ago in a role playing game I was running while living in Rockhampton. Add in my dissatisfaction with the watering down of vampire as monster and metaphor, plus my love of Australian stories, and this yarn finally emerged. It originally moved from the outback to the big smoke, back to the outback, so I’ve cut the yarn into two standalone novels. Blood and Dust happens mostly in rural, regional Queensland; The Big Smoke — still a work in progress, and uncontracted — happens primarily in Brisbane.

3) What genre does your book fall under?
Let’s call it a supernatural thriller in which bad things happen. Does that qualify as horror?

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I’ve not thought that far ahead, but it would be exciting to see so many opportunities for Aboriginal Aussie actors to go crazy! It’d be a multinational cast, too: Eastern Europeans, English, Asian-Australians, yobbos. The sequel brings in serious Western European and US action. Get me the casting agent, stat!

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Bad things happen when an outback mechanic gets caught in the crossfire of an outlaw vampire motorcycle gang and a big city vampire gang.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Blood and Dust was sold to Xoum by my agent, Selwa Anthony.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
The first draft took probably more than a year to pull together. That was in the late 90s.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Based on hearsay, because I still haven’t read the sucker, maybe 13 Bullets or, in terms of nastiness and based on the disappointing movie version, 30 Days of Night.

I like to think of it as Anne Rice meets Mad Max.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
This is a little like Q2, but let’s run with it and say Bram Stoker. He’s the chap who crystallised my love of supernatural, Gothic literature with Dracula. You’ll find references to it, Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot and a few others besides, in Blood and Dust: little homages to the greats of vampire lit. How would vampires survive in the Sunshine State? This story is one answer.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
If this were a DVD, it’d have warnings on the cover for coarse language, violence, adult themes, drug references, sex. But, y’know, it’s got a big heart, too.


That’s it from me. I direct you to my five victims to find out about their Next Big Things!

  • Cheryse Durrant
  • Chris McMahon
  • Charlotte Nash
  • Patrick O’Duffy
  • Scott Robinson

  • Short stories in the wild

    anywhere but earthAnywhere But Earth, Coeur de Lion’s door-stopping anthology of science fiction tales, is now available in digital format. It includes my space vampire story, ‘Messiah on the Rock’. You will notice Adam Browne’s spectacularly inventive novel with the massive title (short version: Pyrotechnicon) is also available.


    years best australian fantasy and horror 2011Ticonderoga is shipping the Year’s Best Australian Dark Fantasy and Horror 2011, which includes my (vampire-free) fantasy short story ‘Wraiths, originally published in Winds of Change.

    Sure, I’m biased, but these two titles offer very fine tastes of Australian speculative fiction, and I’m quite proud to be in both of them.

    Salvage launches — tomorrow night!

    salvage by jason nahrungA gentle reminder — well, more of a whoop, really — that Salvage is about to be launch. A bottle of red cracked across the bow and sent out into the stormy waters of the marketplace for your — I hope — reading pleasure.

    Tomorrow night’s launch at Continuum 8 in Melbourne is part of the Twelfth Planet Hour: a party to celebrate not just Salvage but the latest titles in the rather awesome Twelve Planets range of collections by Australian women writers: Kaaron Warren’s Through Splintered Walls and Margo Lanagan’s Cracklescape. You can schmooze with some of the other TPP authors, too. If that wasn’t enough there’s cupcakes, a juggler and a surprise announcement from the press … oo-err! The party kicks off  at 7pm; entry to the convention is by gold coin donation today.

    Can’t make it to the party, nor the convention but still want some seaside love-on-the-rocks with added vampire? Order Salvage at www.twelfthplanetpress.com, and/or enter the Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win a copy.

    At Continuum, I’ll be:

    • Launching fellow TPP author Narrelle M Harris’s sequel to The Opposite of Life, Walking Shadows, published by Clan Destine Press, at 6 o’clock tomorrow night
    • Discussing Backyard Speculation — Australian settings in fantastic fiction — on Saturday 10-11am
    • Reading, probably from Salvage, on Saturday 2-3pm alongside Cheryse Durrant, Alison Goodman and Margo Lanagan
    • Discussing e-books: what are they worth? on Sunday 11am-noon
    • Chatting with guest of honour Alison Goodman on Sunday noon-1pm
    • Discussing Vampires: From Horror to Heart-throb on Monday 10-11am
    • Discussing the Awards Debacle on Monday from 2-3pm.

    It’s gonna be a grand weekend!

    Salvage launches on June 8!

    salvage by jason nahrungThe time has been confirmed! Salvage will join the Twelfth Planet Press flotilla being celebrated in Melbourne at Continuum at 7pm on Friday 8 June. And the good news: the convention is entry by gold coin donation on Friday. Also on the hot release list: Kaaron Warren’s Through Splintered Walls and Margo Lanagan’s Cracklescape, two of the latest Twelve Planets series by Aussie women writers. Twelfth Planet is a dynamic press with a real commitment to quality: it’s a pleasure to be working with them on Salvage. Come join us: there will be books and there will be … cupcakes!

    You can read more about Continuum here!

    Meanwhile, I’m down for four panels — Australian settings, vampires, awards, e-publishing — a reading and an ‘in conversation’ with Aussie guest of honour Alison Goodman.

    Other launches to keep an eye out for: fellow TPP author Narrelle M Harris’s sequel to The Opposite of Life (I’m launching Walking Shadows, published by Clan Destine Press, on the Friday night — busy and wonderful!), a belated Ishtar party, Felicity Dowker’s collection and an ASIM 10th birthday party bash.

    It’s also pleasing to see time set aside to remember our recently lost Paul Haines and Sara Douglass.

    If that wasn’t enough, Kelly Link is international guest of honour, and Lucy Sussex gets to practise for her guest turn at next year’s Swancon by being an invited guest this year. It’s gonna be HUGE.

    ‘Salvage’ cover unveiled!

    salvage by jason nahrung

    My novella Salvage, a seaside Gothic, is available for pre-order in paperback from Twelfth Planet Press for $15 plus postage.

    The novel was primarily written on, and is set on a fictional version of, Bribie Island, over a three-year stretch of writing retreats.

    About Salvage:

    “Seeking to salvage their foundering marriage, Melanie and Richard retreat to an isolated beach house on a remote Queensland island.

    “Intrigued by a chance encounter with a stranger, Melanie begins to drift away from her husband and towards Helena, only to discover that Helena has her own demons, ageless and steeped in blood.

    “As Richard’s world and Helena’s collide, Melanie must choose which future she wants, before the dark tide pulls her under … forever.”

    Up a tree, with vampires

    kathleen jennings illo of Jason Nahrung up a tree

    A belated note to acknowledge that the wonderful Dr Brains have picked my grey matter for ruminations on things writerly and vampiric over at their Lair — if the wonderful Kathleen Jennings illo is anything to judge by, I’ve truly gone out on a limb! (Because the Brains, aka Angela Slatter and Lisa Hannett both host — a kind of left and right brain thing, perhaps — I’m linking to them both!)

    For those who haven’t seen the blog that this illo riffs off, Goths Up Trees is not only photographically interesting but comes with the kind of endearing snark one would expect — great fun.

    ‘Salvage’ available for preorder

    My novella Salvage, a seaside Gothic, is available for pre-order in paperback from Twelfth Planet Press for $15 plus postage.

    salvage by jason nahrung

    “Seeking to salvage their foundering marriage, Melanie and Richard retreat to an isolated beach house on a remote Queensland island.

    “Intrigued by a chance encounter with a stranger, Melanie begins to drift away from her husband and towards Helena, only to discover that Helena has her own demons, ageless and steeped in blood.

    “As Richard’s world and Helena’s collide, Melanie must choose which future she wants, before the dark tide pulls her under … forever.”

    Stake Land: getting its point across

    stake land vampire movie poster

    This is the apocalypse with fangs, indie-style, as envisaged by director and co-writer Jim Mickle. Stake Land tracks young Martin, orphaned by a ravaging vampire, who is taken under the wing of solitary hunter Mister (co-writer Nick Damici). Shotguns, arrows, spears and stakes (no fire) are their arsenal against a zombie-like plague of vampires who have turned the USA and, it is suggested, the world, into a wasteland. The pair have a plan — to drive to New Eden, an idyllic, vampire-free zone (once again, the American fascination with Canada as a haven is front and centre).

    Along the way, they pick up passengers including a nun, a pregnant singer and an ex-marine. The group scavenge food and fuel on their way north via a series of fortified towns, which try to maintain the conventions of society amidst the carnage.

    A map of America reveals a number of zones of control, each posing dangers to travellers, and none moreso than the realm of the Brotherhood: a fanatical bunch of religious nutters who not only think the vampire plague is a sign of the apocalypse, but revel in it, seeking to make it worse, not better. Rape and murder are their tools of trade and they pose the greatest obstacle to the travellers.

    The story meanders a bit, struggling to find a high level of suspense and direct conflict. This is largely due to it being a road journey linking various separate set action pieces which don’t always serve the plot. The characters do make some overly stupid mistakes towards the end. However, it does carry a mood of melancholy and desperation you’d hope to find in such a bleak scenario, and is pleasantly understated — there isn’t too much chatting and the performances are restrained.

    Stake Land is a gritty, realistic film where the vampires are very much monsters, essentially zombies with a vulnerability to sunlight and dicky tickers, if you can get a hunk of wood through their reinforced rib cage. The actual rules by which the vampires are created remain obscure, and this does weaken the credibility of the premise a little. While a degree of confusion about the origin of the plague is to be expected in a world gone to hell, and it isn’t necessary within the context of the film, I’d have liked a clear indication as to how the vampirism spreads so I could better appreciate the threat to the characters, who do engage in a lot of hand-to-hand combat.

    There is a suggestion that there are different generations — some are too tough to stake and can only be stopped by a stake to the back of the head, for instance — and indeed there is mention of mutations of vampire — some are capable of higher thought, most seem to be little more than animals. But yet, a bite appears to be a likely way of making a vampire, which suggests vampirism as contagion.

    But this movie is not about the vampires; in fact, a zombie plague would’ve worked just as well, and there is little difference between the two as depicted here.

    No, the sharp end of the flick is aimed at the religious right as Mickle tests society’s thin veneer when it’s brought under stress, and vampires were just a handy critter for some cool effects and fight scenes. All that blood, and there is something cool about an ornery mysterious stranger riding into town and popping a bag of extended canines on the bar, isn’t there?

    In some ways, the story has the mood of The Road, but that slice of post-apocalyptic America has far more intensity. Stake Land does, however, deliver a well-acted, good-looking and above-average adventure where the humans can be just as inhumane as the monsters. Tasty, but not overly filling.