Damnation & Dames in my sweaty paw

D&DLookit! I got my contributor copy of Damnation & Dames in the post today. It features the story I co-wrote with Felicity Dowker (who you may remember from such posts as the one right before this one). Our story is called Burning, Always Burning and I’m very proud of it. It’s my first published collaboration, and Felicity’s, so it’s a pleasure to not only feature in another Ticonderoga Publications book, but to share that feature with Felicity.

And remember me saying in the previous post about how Ticonderoga are producing some of the best books in Australia at the moment, with some of the best covers? Seriously, check that shit out. That’s another sweet-looking cover. Compared to a lot of stuff coming out these days you could be forgiven for thinking that covers are deemed unimportant and can therefore be bland and unimaginative. But not with Ticonderoga.

I can’t wait to read this book, with sixteen paranoirmal tales from a selection of great authors. It’s available now, from here.

Damnation and Dames (tpb)
[978-1-921857-03-4 ]

edited by Liz Grzyb & Amanda Pillar

The anthology brings you sixteen stories of murder and mayhem, monsters and mysterious femme fatales.

324 pages

  • Lindsy Anderson – The Third Circle
  • Chris Bauer – Three Questions and One Troll
  • Alan Baxter & Felicity Dowker – Burning, Always Burning
  • Jay Caselberg – Blind Pig
  • M.L.D. Curelas – Silver Comes the Night
  • Karen Dent – A Case to Die For
  • Dirk Flinthart – Outlines
  • Lisa L. Hannett & Angela Slatter – Prohibition Blues
  • Donna Maree Hanson – Sangue Sella Notte
  • Rob Hood – Walking the Dead Beat
  • Joseph L Kellogg – The Awakened Adventure of Rick Candle
  • Pete Kempshall – Sound and Fury
  • Chris Large – One Night at the Cherry
  • Penelope Love – Be Good Sweet Maid
  • Nicole Murphy – The Black Star Killer
  • Brian G. Ross – Hard Boiled


Bread & Circuses available for pre-order

B&CMy good friend, occasional collaborator and all-round top wordsmith, Felicity Dowker, has her debut collection of short stories coming out soon from Ticonderoga Publications. It’s called Bread & Circuses and it’s brilliant. I know this for two reasons – 1. Felicity is an awesome writer, so all her stuff is brilliant; and 2. I’ve read all the work included. Yes, even the new, as yet unpublished stories unique to this collection. I know, I’m very lucky. You will be too if you get a copy.

Incidentally, how freaking sweet is that cover? Ticonderoga are producing some of the best books in Australia at the moment and they always have outstanding covers.

Felicity’s work is dark and unrelenting, with delicious stories of revenge and consequence. She mixes the fantastic with the horrific and the mundane with a masterful stroke of beautiful prose. Don’t take my word for it:

“She is one of those rare and talented writers of horror who can creep you out while still making you admire the graceful construction of her prose.” – World Fantasy Award nominee Angela Slatter

“Felicity Dowker is one of the all-too-rare writers who really understands both horror and its appeal. She can show the terrifying aspect of things as outre as enchanted dragons or the zombie apocalypse, or as commonplace as dysfunctional families and the Santa Claus army. To borrow her own words, ‘It hurts, and it’s horrible, and it’s beautiful . . . and we might as well enjoy it’.” – Award-winning Stephen Dedman

The book is available for pre-order now, so go get some. The official launch will be at Continuum in Melbourne in June, so get there too if you can.


I woke up to a Ditmar Award nomination

I woke up this morning to discover that the 2012 Ditmar Award shortlist has been announced. Imagine my surprise when I saw my own name listed under the Best New Talent category. I knew I was eligible and had mentioned that fact here before, but it was still a very pleasant surprise to see myself nominated. It seems strange, given how long I’ve been working at this caper, that I would be listed as a New Talent. Of course, compared to some of the veteran penmomkeys in Australia, I still am very much a noob. But with two novels and close to 40 short stories published over something like seven years, “New” does seem like a strange term.

However, as the rules of the Ditmar Awards explain, Best New Talent is a fairly broad statement. If anything, the name of the award is misleading. From the Ditmar Award wiki:

The Best New Talent award recognises excellence of achievement in any field of the genre by an individual who has not been nominated for a recognised award three or more years before the year the award is held. Recognised awards include but are not limited to: Australian SF (“Ditmar”) Awards, WA SF Achievement Awards (Tin Ducks), Aurealis, Hugo and Nebula Awards. An individual is only eligible for two consecutive years.

So Best New Talent is really an award for Best Thus Far Unrewarded Talent. Or something. Either way, I’m very happy to see my name on the list and it would be great to score a win. I’m up against Joanne Anderton and Steve Cameron in that respect, so best of luck to those guys too!

And remember, this is a popular vote, not a judged award, so it’s down to people active in the scene to help get the results they want. If you’re eligible to vote, you really should. It takes hardly any time at all and the only way give these kind of awards any sort of credibility is to make sure the voting pool is as big and varied as possible, to ensure a result that’s more in keeping with the broader view of the community and fandom, rather than the narrow view of only a handful of active voters.

Congratulations and best of luck to all the nominees!

The full shortlists and all the official voting stuff is below:

The official ballot paper, including postal address information, may be downloaded as a PDF format file from: http://ditmars.sf.org.au/2012/2012_Ditmar_ballot.pdf

Votes will be accepted via email to: ditmars@sf.org.au

However, if possible, please vote online at: http://ditmars.sf.org.au/2012

Postal ballots will be distributed in the near future.

Voting for the Ditmar Award is conducted in accordance with the rules specified at http://wiki.sf.org.au/Ditmar_rules, and is open to members of Continuum 8 (including supporting members) and to members of Swancon 36 who were eligible to vote in the 2011 Award. Voting in all award categories is by the optional preferential system, and each eligible individual may vote only once. All ballots (including emailed ballots) should include the name and address of the voter. If you have questions regarding the ballot or voting procedure, please email ditmars@sf.org.au.

And here’s the full shortlist for all categories:

Best Novel
* The Shattered City (Creature Court 2), Tansy Rayner Roberts (HarperCollins)
* Burn Bright, Marianne de Pierres (Random House Australia)
* Mistification, Kaaron Warren (Angry Robot Books)
* The Courier’s New Bicycle, Kim Westwood (HarperCollins)
* Debris (The Veiled Worlds 1), Jo Anderton (Angry Robot Books)

Best Novella or Novelette
* “The Sleeping and the Dead”, Cat Sparks, in Ishtar (Gilgamesh Press)
* “Above”, Stephanie Campisi, in Above/Below (Twelfth Planet Press)
* “The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burnt”, Paul Haines, in The Last Days of Kali Yuga (Brimstone Press)
* “And the Dead Shall Outnumber the Living”, Deborah Biancotti, in Ishtar (Gilgamesh Press)
* “Julia Agrippina’s Secret Family Bestiary”, Tansy Rayner Roberts, in Love and Romanpunk (Twelfth Planet Press)
* “Below”, Ben Peek, in Above/Below (Twelfth Planet Press)

Best Short Story
* “Breaking the Ice”, Thoraiya Dyer, in Cosmos 37
* “Alchemy”, Lucy Sussex, in Thief of Lives (Twelfth Planet Press)
* “The Last Gig of Jimmy Rucker”, Martin Livings and Talie Helene, in More Scary Kisses (Ticonderoga Publications)
* “All You Can Do Is Breathe”, Kaaron Warren, in Blood and Other Cravings (Tor)
* “Bad Power”, Deborah Biancotti, in Bad Power (Twelfth Planet Press)
* “The Patrician”, Tansy Rayner Roberts, in Love and Romanpunk (Twelfth Planet Press)

Best Collected Work
* The Last Days of Kali Yuga by Paul Haines, edited by Angela Challis (Brimstone Press)
* Nightsiders by Sue Isle, edited by Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)
* Bad Power by Deborah Biancotti, edited by Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)
* Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts, edited by Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)
* Ishtar, edited by Amanda Pillar and K. V. Taylor (Gilgamesh Press)

Best Artwork
* “Finishing School”, Kathleen Jennings, in Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories (Candlewick Press)
* Cover art, Kathleen Jennings, for The Freedom Maze (Small Beer Press)

Best Fan Writer
* Tansy Rayner Roberts, for body of work including reviews in Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus! and Not If You Were The Last Short Story On Earth
* Alexandra Pierce, for body of work including reviews in Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus!, Not If You Were The Last Short Story On Earth, and Randomly Yours, Alex
* Robin Pen, for “The Ballad of the Unrequited Ditmar”
* Sean Wright, for body of work including “Authors and Social Media” series in Adventures of a Bookonaut
* Bruce Gillespie, for body of work including “The Golden Age of Fanzines is Now”, and SF Commentary 81 & 82

Best Fan Artist
* Rebecca Ing, for work in Scape
* Lisa Rye, for “Steampunk Portal” series
* Dick Jenssen, for body of work including work in IRS, Steam Engine Time, SF Commentary and Scratchpad
* Kathleen Jennings, for work in Errantry (tanaudel.wordpress.com) including “The Dalek Game”
* Rhianna Williams, for work in Nullas Anxietas Convention Programme Book

Best Fan Publication in Any Medium
* SF Commentary, edited by Bruce Gillespie
* The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond
* The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
* Galactic Chat, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayner Roberts and Sean Wright
* Galactic Suburbia, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Alex Pierce

Best New Talent
* Steve Cameron
* Alan Baxter
* Joanne Anderton

William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review
* Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene, for “2010: The Year in Review”, in The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2010 (Ticonderoga Publications)
* Damien Broderick and Van Ikin, for editing Warriors of the Tao: The Best of Science Fiction: A Review of Speculative Literature (Borgo Press)
* David McDonald, Tansy Rayner Roberts and Tehani Wessely for “Reviewing New Who” series, in A Conversational Life
* Alexandra Pierce and Tehani Wessely, for reviews of Vorkosigan Saga, in Randomly Yours, Alex
* Russell Blackford, for “Currently reading: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke”, in Metamagician and the Hellfire Club


Emerging Writers’ Festival 2012

The Emerging Writers’ Festival is coming around again from May 24 – June 3. You may remember that I went up to Brisbane last year and took part. I’ll be involved again, this time in Melbourne. It’s a brilliant event and well worth your time whether you’re new and emerging or an old hand at penmonkeying. I’m on a panel again, this time about what happens after you’re published:

Post-Publication, Saturday 3pm, 26th May
Congratulations – you’ve been published! Now what? Our writers share their experiences and advice on what awaits once your work is out in the world. With Ali Alizadeh, Alan Baxter, Emmett Stinson and Stella Young. Hosted by Sam Cooney.

But that panel alone is a tiny fraction of all the awesome stuff going on as part of EWF 2012. There’s loads of information here and a full program of events here.

So much good stuff. And you can keep up to speed on Twitter with the #ewf12 hashtag and by following @EmergingWriters. Be there!


Emma Newman’s Split Worlds

Split WorldsI’ve got something a bit special for you all today. Emma Newman is a great new voice in speculative fiction, and she’s got an intriguing project on the go. If you think you recognise that name, you’re right. A year and a day ago (isn’t that a nicely fairy tale thing to say) I reviewed her debut short story collection, From Dark Places after the publisher asked me to blurb it for her. I was happy to do so – it’s a great collection and you should get a copy. Anyway, now Emma has this very amibitious new thing going on.

Every week for a year (Tuesday November 1st 2011 to Thursday November 1st 2012), Emma is posting a new short story from her Split Worlds series of connected yarns. Each new story is hosted in a different place, and this week it’s my turn. So I’ll stop crapping on and let Emma explain:


This is the twenty-fifth tale in a year and a day of weekly short stories set in The Split Worlds. If you would like me to read it to you instead, you can listen here. You can find links to all the other stories, and the new ones as they are released here.

The Necessary Witness

Martin opened the bottle of beer and passed it to his brother-in-law, studying the bags under his eyes as he did so. He looked awful, and whilst he’d been warned by his sister, he hadn’t really appreciated it until he saw him in the flesh.

“Thanks for coming,” Paul said and took a long gulp of beer from the bottle’s neck. He looked at the kitchen clock, then at his watch. “It’ll be any time in the next hour.”

“What will?”

“The thing I need you to see. The thing I can’t make Helen understand.”

“She said you’re having problems.”

“I think she wants to leave me,” Paul put the bottle down and rested his elbows on the kitchen worktop, letting his head droop. “I don’t blame her. I would leave me, if I could.”


Paul looked over his shoulder at him with bloodshot eyes. “Because I’m a fucking lunatic.”

Martin twisted his own bottle, out of his depth. He was an accountant, not a counsellor. “You um… you want to talk about it?” Please say no, he thought.

“I need to show you,” Paul said, straightening up. “Helen’s away at a conference, and it’s due to happen tonight, I need someone else to be here when it does. I need someone else to see it, because every time I try to talk to Helen about it, I can’t. I… I can’t even tell you.”

Martin put his hand on his shoulder, guided him through into the living room, trying to rein in the mental images of potentially embarrassing things Paul might want to show him, mostly a variety of bizarre growths in the nether regions. He resisted the urge to talk about the football or the latest idiocy the government had come out with, all the comfortable safe topics he usually depended upon with his family. “Something’s bothering you, I can see it,” he said, sitting on the sofa next to him. “Maybe it won’t seem so bad if you just tell me what kicked all this off.”

Paul downed the rest of the beer and dumped the bottle on the coffee table. “It started three months ago. I went for a drink with some friends from work, we’d finished a big project, we were ready for a break.”

An affair, Martin thought. Christ, what am I going to tell my sister?

“We’d been there a while, I’d had a few but not too many, and there was this woman there, she was… God, she was gorgeous.”

Martin began to panic. His sister would be devastated. They’d been together for ten years, married for six of them.

“She came over and said “I know this is a weird thing to ask, but I need a man’s shadow.” And we laughed and she explained she was an art student and that I had the perfect shape for this project she was working on.”

“That’s quite a chat-up line,” Martin said.

“But that’s the thing, it wasn’t,” Paul replied. “That’s not how I saw it anyway. Like I said, I’d had a few, she was hot, I said I’d help. She said the picture had to be taken outside, in natural light, so I left the pub with her.”

“Are you having an affair?” Martin couldn’t help himself, couldn’t listen to the build-up any longer.

Paul’s shock was reassuring. “Good God no! You think I’d do that to Helen? Bloody hell Martin, I’m not the kind of-”

“Sorry,” Martin said, patting the air. “It’s just… that’s what it sounded like. Go on, I’m sorry.”

“She took me to a quieter street, set up this camera on a tripod thing she had with her and arranged me, like a model I suppose. We laughed and chatted about it, it all seemed totally normal. Well, as normal as it could be. Then when she was happy with the way the shadow looked, she pulled out this… I dunno, test-tube full of powder and chucked it all over it.”

“For the picture?”

“That’s what I thought, it was all kinds of colours and it had some glitter in it. She was whispering when she did it, I thought that was arty, then she took the picture, said thanks and left. I didn’t think much of it, but now I look back, I did feel… I don’t know, a bit odd when she chucked that stuff all over the shadow.”

“So has she used your picture for something dodgy?” Martin could see it now; pictures of his brother-in-law all over Facebook, photo-shopped into doing something unspeakable.

“God, I wish she had,” Paul shivered. “Oh no… it’s going to happen soon, I can feel it.”

“What?” Martin gripped the beer bottle as he watched Paul’s eyes snap to his shadow. It was stretched out over the rug and looked completely normal.

“You can see it, can’t you? My shadow.”


Paul jumped to his feet and moved the two lamps in the room to one side, switched them on and turned off the overhead light. “Keep watching it,” he said, pointing at the shadow, now darker and stretched long by the newly focused light.

“Paul, you still haven’t told me what-”


Martin followed Paul’s pointed finger to see the shadow twitch. He glanced back at Paul who was standing still, sweating and pale faced but definitely not twitching. Then the shadow moved, one leg stretching away from the sole of Paul’s shoe, as if pulling itself away from something sticky. Before Martin had a chance to speak the expletives filling his mind, the shadow completely detached, now looking like it was cast by Paul running out of the room, even when he still stood there, shivering violently.

“Did you see that?” he demanded and Martin nodded dumbly. “I thought I was going mad, it’s the… sixth, seventh time it’s happened. I don’t know where it goes or-”

“Let’s follow it!” Martin said, abandoning the beer and heading for the door. A tiny part of himself felt like he was a child getting older again, frantically believing the fantastical at any opportunity as the world became more dull. Then he stopped thinking and burst out of the house into the twilight, his shadowless brother-in-law behind him.

To be continued!

Thanks for hosting Alan!

I hope you enjoyed the story. If you would like to find out more about the Split Worlds project, it’s all here: www.splitworlds.com – you can also sign up to get an extra story and get each new story delivered to your inbox every week. If you would like to host a story over the coming year, either let me know in the comments or contact me through the Split Worlds site.

Em x