Conflux 12 – what a great con!

conflux12headerrgbI’m home from Conflux 12, my first as an official Guest of Honour, and what a wonderful con it was. I haven’t missed a Conflux in years, because it’s always great and has long been my favourite Aussie convention. So of course, to be the GoH there was a double treat. So much happened, I won’t be able to record it all, but here’s a bit of a run down on my experience of events.

img_4538The MC was the awesome Sean Williams, and the international guest was David Farland (he of the Runelords series and so much more, who you may also know as David Wolverton, the name he uses for his science fiction novels). The picture to the left there shows (left to right) Sean Williams, David Farland and myself, taken at the con banquet on the Saturday night. Both Sean and David were brilliant. I really enjoyed David’s interview, conducted by Tim Napper. David has been in the business for a long time and is a really heavy hitter (he’s the reason Harry Potter got as big as it did). His insights and experiences were fascinating.

There were numerous panels over the four days, covering a wide variety of topics. The theme of the con, based on the year in Chinese astrology, was Red Fire Monkey, so a lot of stuff was based around that. A lot of Asian-influenced SF was discussed, which is great because it’s a largely un-mined source of great fiction in the west.

One of the real high points for me was the launch of my first collection of short fiction, Crow Shine. The amazing and completely lovely Kaaron Warren was kind enough to launch for me and she said such great things about the book. I made some souvenir “moonshine” for the event that we all used to toast the launch and I sold a bunch of books. Hopefully people will enjoy the read. The book is officially released (in hardcover and ebook along with the paperback you see below) in November, so watch here and my social media for details as they come about. Here’s Kaaron and I right before things got under way.


Another high point for me was my Guest of Honour Q&A, with horror master Robert Hood interviewing me. It was a really interesting hour, where Rob’s questions had me interrogating myself and my ideas around horror and dark fiction quite deeply. I enjoyed it a lot. And when Rob opened the floor to questions, he insisted that anyone with a question take Eric the Monkey (a plushy toy monkey with an evil gleam in its eye) and try to hit me with it while I was answering. One shot got through, with Ian Nichols tossing a monkey with more velocity than I expected it capable of! I saw the shot coming and got a hand to it, but just deflected it into my own head due to the unexpected pace. The pic below shows me and Rob mid-discussion. That bastard monkey, Eric, is just out of shot to the left, waiting for his moment to shine.


And I think the other thing that really deserves a mention is the Sci Fi Tai Chi! As part of his MC duties, Sean Williams devised a new short form of “tai chi”. Most tai chi styles have moves with poetic and descriptive names, so Sean decided to develop a science fiction version, with each move referencing some SF or fantasy movement known to all fans. He taught a few moves at each significant con event, and I had the obliging Dave Versace video the final lesson from the closing ceremony, where Sean demonstrated the last three parts. I joined him in learning and demonstrating the “Sean Williams Sci Fi Tai Chi Form” and here it is on YouTube. For reference, the moves are:

Rimmer Salute Part 1
Jedi Mind Trick
Vulcan Salute and Nerve Pinch
Grab the Gungan’s Tongue and Bop Him on the Head
Neo Shakes Off the Dust
Marty McFly Checks His Watch
Know Where Your Towel Is
Venusian Aikido
Get Away From Her You Bitch
Slayer Strike Right
Slayer Strike Left
Thunderbird Walk
I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing
Rimmer Salute Part 2


So that’s my short wrap of Conflux 12. Already, I can’t wait for Conflux 13 next year. As ever, Cat Sparks was roving around all weekend with her camera and her full photoset of the con is on Flickr here. If you can ever get to Canberra in early October for a Conflux, you won’t regret it.


Conflux 12


I’m still coming to terms with the idea that I can be a Guest of Honour at a convention, but it’s true. I’ll be the GoH at Conflux 12 in Canberra this weekend. It’ll be heaps of fun and there’s loads of good stuff happening. We’ll be launching my collection, Crow Shine, with the inestimable Kaaron Warren. The book isn’t officially published until November, so it’s a good chance to get your hands on an early copy.

I’ll be on a bunch of panels and doing my Write the Fight Right workshop too, along with plenty of other stuff. And there’ll also be a whole bunch of fun stuff that doesn’t involve me! The full program is on the con website here. And the rest of the time, of course, I’ll be in bar. So please come along and join in the fun. All the details are on the con website. Four days of SFF fun in Canberra. Can’t wait! Hope to see you there.


Newsletter prize pack

So you know I have an irregular newsletter, right? It’s a great way to keep up with new releases and stuff like that, because you might miss announcements on the blog here. And I share other stuff too, like what I’ve been reading lately, short story news, appearances and stuff like that. Every now and then I include a free short story just for subscribers, and other bits and pieces as they occur to me. You won’t be bombarded either – I only send a newsletter every couple of months at most. I try to make it monthly, but I’m crap at remembering. You get a free ebook just for signing up, and there are often other giveaways too. For example, with the last newsletter that just went out, there’s a chance for people to win a copy of Blood Codex, a copy of the Balance Omnibus, or a copy of Crow Shine.

But don’t worry if you missed that, as I have a new giveaway organised for next time, and it’s a corker. If you sign up in time for the next newsletter, which will come out sometime around mid-December, you’ll learn how to win this prize pack:

IMG_4209Copy of Murky Depths #16 which includes my short story “Mirrorwalk”

Copy of M-Brane SF #13 which includes my short story “Trial Not Required”

Copy of Seizure #4 which includes my short story “Deep Sea Fishing”

Copy of my supernatural noir novella “The Darkest Shade of Grey”

Copy of my collaborative horror novella with David Wood, “Dark Rite”

Copy of my first Balance novel, RealmShift

Copy of my second Balance novel, MageSign

Copy of the anthology I helped put together, Dark Pages

Pretty sweet, right? A lot of that stuff isn’t in print any more, and it’ll all be signed. If you win and you want it personalised, no problem. And it won’t be a very difficult to win either. The giveaway is planned around the international release of Bound: Alex Caine #1, and will be themed on that. But to learn more, you need to be a newsletter subscriber. So sign up now, get your free ebook, and wait for the next newsletter in mid-December. Signing up is easy – I’ll never share your email address with anyone else. You’ll find the sign-up form at the bottom of the homepage (just click Home above and scroll down) or right there in the sidebar. (If you’re on a mobile device, the sidebar appears right at the bottom after all the posts, so keep scrolling down.)


Short story writers I recommend

I recently did a video Skype chat with the wonderful Joanna Penn, of The Creative Penn website. Jo is also an accomplished thriller writer, but in this interview (which I’ll link here when it’s posted to YouTube in a few weeks) we were talking about the art and craft of short stories. When Jo asked me who I’d recommend people read to get a good taste of short fiction, I rattled off a bunch of names, then said, “You know what? I’ll blog a list and you can link to that.” Because there are just so many. And this is that blog post. It’s certainly not exhaustive. I know damned well I’m going to miss people who should absolutely be included, but I will come back and periodically update it. (If I’ve made any egregious omissions, especially friends, mea culpa! It was hard to gather all these into one place.) And, given it’s my list, it’s unashamedly weighted to the SF/F/H end of things, but not entirely.

crow-shine-book-pageI’m going to make the list in three parts. First of all, the old classics – stuff from before the turn of the century that people really should check out (some of them still writing today). Then I’ll list the great Antipodeans – that’s writers from Australia and New Zealand – and then I’ll list everyone else. It’ll be mostly a long list of names, but where I’ve particularly enjoyed an author’s short fiction collection, I’ll put that beside their name. Though be sure to read all you can by all these authors.

Before the list starts, it’s my blog, so I get to plug me. My own collection of short stories, Crow Shine, is being published by Ticonderoga Publications in November. I’m so excited to finally have my own collection coming out! It’ll be published in paperback, hardcover and limited edition hardcover (limited to 100 signed and numbered editions), and ebook. The pre-order page for the three print editions is up now, so if you want to get in early, especially if you’re keen for a limited edition, go here for pre-orders.

And now, the lists (alphabetical by surname):

The Old School – the greats from before

Clive Barker – all volumes of The Books of Blood are essential reading.

Algernon Blackwood

Ray Bradbury

Ramsey Campbell

Raymond Carver

Roald Dahl

Philip K Dick

Harlan Ellison

Robert Howard

Shirley Jackson – The Lottery and Other Stories

Stephen King

Sheridan Le Fanu

Ursula K Le Guin

Stanislaw Lem

Thomas Ligotti – Songs of a Dead Dreamer

H P Lovecraft

Richard Matheson

Edgar Allen Poe

Peter Straub

The Antipodeans – Australian and New Zealander short story writers of note

Joanne Anderton – The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories

Peter M Ball

Deborah Biancotti – Bad Power

Jack Dann (American, but he’s an Aussie now!)

Felicity Dowker – Bread and Circuses

Paul Haines – The Last Days of Kali Yuga

Lisa L Hannett – Bluegrass Symphony

Robert Hood – Peripheral Visions

Deb Kalin

Margo Lanagan – Black Juice

Martin Livings – Living With The Dead

Kirstyn McDermott

Andrew McKiernan – Last Year, When We Were Young

Greg Mellor – Wild Chrome

Jason Nahrung

Garth Nix

Dan Rabarts

Angela Slatter – Sourdough and Other Stories

Cat Sparks – The Bride Price

Kaaron Warren – Dead Sea Fruit

Kim Westwood

Sean Williams

Kim Wilkins

The rest – All the great modern short story writers from elsewhere around the world

Dale Bailey

Nathan Ballingrud – North American Lake Monsters

Laird Barron – The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All

Ted Chiang – Stories of Your Life and Others

Ray Cluely

Brian Evenson

Jeffrey Ford

Eugie Foster

Gary Fry

Neil Gaiman

William Gibson – Burning Chrome

Ted E Grau – The Nameless Dark

N K Jemisin

Stephen Graham Jones

John Langan

Tanith Lee

Kelly Link

Ken Liu

Usman Tanveer Malik

Nick Mamatas

Gary McMahon

Willie Meikle

China Mieville

Sunny Moraine

Lisa Morton

Haruki Murakami

Sofia Samatar

Clark Ashton Smith

Michael Marshall Smith

Lucy Snyder

Wole Talabi

Steve Rasnic Tem

Tim Waggoner

Alyssa Wong

There really are so many great short story writers out there and I know this isn’t close to all of them. I also know I’ve missed some that I would like to include, and as they occur to me, I’ll come back and add them to this list. There are many not included simply because I haven’t read their work yet, though I’m sure they’re amazing. Everyone above is a writer I’ve personally read and loved, so I’m sharing that love. I’m sure you’ll find authors here that will blow your mind, so get to it!


The Alex Caine Trilogy Launch wrap-up.

Man, what a night I had! We launched The Alex Caine Series in style on Thursday 30th June at Galaxy Bookshop in Sydney, so now all three books in the series (so far!) are out in the wild and on bookstore shelves across Australia and New Zealand. And Galaxy have a bunch of signed copies of all three if you’re quick. I’ve also just learned today that the series took out the 1, 2 and 3 spot in Galaxy’s bestsellers for last week, so that’s just fucking fantastic. The US, UK and everywhere else will start to see their release from December this year, so hang in there, you guys! Meanwhile, I thought I’d post here wrapping up everything that’s accompanied the launch so far.

Here I am crapping on about something while Garth Nix watches thoughtfully.

Galaxy Bookshop were fantastic, and with the publisher, HarperVoyager, they put on a great event. Garth Nix was a superb MC and official launcher, and a decent crowd turned out to make an absolutely stellar night. I’m so lucky and so grateful to everyone involved that I could enjoy such a great event. This post will collect everything in one place, starting with a video of the launch itself. It’s about 20 minutes and records the Q&A with myself and Garth, then questions from the audience. Massive respect to Alice Wood from Voyager, who I asked to film it and who stoically held my phone steady for the entire time! Also, apologies for anyone getting motion sickness watching this – I honestly had no idea how much I sway when I’m standing around talking.

After the video will be a link to a huge photoset on Flickr, thanks to the amazing Cat Sparks for that. She’s truly the Aussie SFF paparazzi master. After the link to the photoset will be a series of links to all the guest posts about the series so far, where you’ll find interviews with me, with Alex Caine, posts about fighting, writing, psychopaths and more. So enjoy, and thanks again to everyone who made all this possible. This is what it feels like to be living the dream.

Video of the launch, with myself and Garth Nix:

Here, Garth asks me all kinds of questions about the series and its origins, and I talk about favourites, paths to publishing, manuscripts under toilet doors, and more.

Photoset of the launch and the dinner afterwards, with huge thanks to the amazing Cat Sparks:

Blog tour posts:

I’ll list the interviews first. They’re all a bit different, so well worth having a squizz at them all, even if you just skim the questions for things you might be interested in.

Interviewed at Smash Dragons:

Interviewed by the wonderful Angela Slatter:

Interviewed by the also wonderful Peter M Ball:

Interviewed by David McDonald:

Interviewed by Annie Mitchell:

Interviewed by Ian McHugh – this one is just slightly spoilery.

Robert Hood interviews Alex Caine himself!

And the guest blog posts:

At Speculating on SpecFic I talk about why I write dark fiction:

At Book Frivolity I explain that I’m really not a psychopath, honest:

At Kaaron Warren‘s blog, I talk about the spark that started the Alex Caine fire:

And at the Voyager blog, I talk about fighting as a metaphor for life:

Signing books, living the dream.
Signing books, living the dream.