Fablecroft’s Focus 2014: highlights of Australian short fiction

fablecroftFablecroft Publishing have released the ToC for their Focus 2014: highlights of Australian short fiction and I’m very happy to say that my story, “Shadows of the Lonely Dead” from the Suspended In Dusk anthology, is getting another outing, and in excellent company.

This is the third in Fabelcroft’s Focus series, which each year collect an elite selection of work which has received acclaim via national and international Awards shortlisting. My story won the 2014 Australian Shadows Award for Best Short Story. So you know that every yarn in this book will be great. In fact, I’ve read most of them and I know they’re great!

Here’s the contents:

St Dymphna’s School for Poison Girls by Angela Slatter
Wine, Women and Stars by Thoraiya Dyer
Vanilla by Dirk Flinthart
The Legend Trap by Sean Williams
The Seventh Relic by Cat Sparks
Death’s Door Café by Kaaron Warren
The Ghost of Hephaestus by Charlotte Nash
The Executioner Goes Home by Deborah Biancotti
Signature by Faith Mudge
Cookie Cutter Superhero by Tansy Rayner Roberts
Shadows of the Lonely Dead by Alan Baxter

Focus 2014 will be available in September in all e-book formats.


I won an Australian Shadows Award!

This year has been very kind to me with award nominations. Bound was a finalist in the Ditmar Award for Best Novel, The Darkness in Clara was a finalist in the Ditmar Award for Best Novelette or Novella and Obsidian was a finalist for the very prestigious Aurealis Award for Best Horror Novel. I didn’t win any of those, but it is genuinely awesome to have been shortlisted. And then the Australian Shadows Awards shortlists were announced and I saw both Mephisto and Shadows of the Lonely Dead shortlisted for the Best Short Story Award. And then last night I won the award, for Shadows of the Lonely Dead. I’m still Snoopy dancing, it’s such an honour!

The Australian Shadows Awards are annual literary awards established by the Australian Horror Writers Association (AHWA) in 2005 to honour the best published works of horror fiction written or edited by an Australian/New Zealand/Oceania resident in the previous calendar year. Here are all the 2014 Shadows Awards winners, along with the judges comments:


Last Year When We Were Young by Andrew McKiernan

A Masterful collection of supernatural horror and dark fantasy. The horror tales are disturbingly close to home, with vivid characters and a distinctly Australian tone. The atmospheric tales of fantasy take you to terrible other worlds.


SQ Mag #14 edited by Sophie Yorkston

Sophie Yorkston’s edited work showcases some of the best dark writing coming out of Australia today. Many of the stories are powerful and haunting, all of them are original. SQ #14 gives us a collection that is unified by its Australian voices and at the same time wonderfully diverse. It’s threaded with nonfiction pieces that have a firm grip on the pulse of Australian genre writing.


Shadows of the Lonely Dead by Alan Baxter

A nicely developed story with lots of (dark) emotional depth, and with a message that does not leave us untouched.


Wolf Creek Origins by Aaron Sterns and Greg McLean

As the character of Dean Winchester said in the hit series Supernatural, “at least ghosts had rules, but people were just plain crazy”. In Wolf Creek Origin, the horror lies in the depths of depravity of Mick’s mind. The murderous streak in Mick emerged early in life with the murder of his sister, and takes the form of a ‘dark passenger’ much in the vein of Dexter Morgan from the TV series Dexter. A prequel to the two popular movies, this book excels in its gory detail and does not hesitate to even mention bestiality. A superb novel that would make an excellent movie, I had John Jarrett in mind’s eye as I read this book.


Dreams of Destruction by Shane Jiraiya Cummings

In what was a relatively small and even field, this was a rollicking romp with Australiana written all over it.

So there you have it – I’m a Shadows Award winner! All the previous shortlists and winners can be found on this Wikipedia page. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees, and Woohoo!


Obsidian nominated for the Aurealis Award for Best Horror Novel

I honestly couldn’t be more happy about this! I’ve been on a Snoopy cloud since the Aurealis Awards shortlists were announced on Friday night and I discovered that Obsidian: Alex Caine #2 has been nominated for Best Horror Novel. The Aurealis Awards are Australia’s premier SFF awards and it genuinely is an honour to be nominated. I’m up against Greig Beck’s The Book of the Dead and Justine Larbalestier’s Razorhurst. That’s some damn stiff competition. But the nomination really is reward enough – so exciting. And it’s a tremendous list of nominations from top to bottom, with some of my pals getting all kinds of nods, and some people I don’t know, who I’m clearly going to have to read now.

Congratulations to all the nominees!

Here’s the full list of finalists in all categories:

2014 Aurealis Awards – Finalists


Fireborn, Keri Arthur (Hachette Australia)

This Shattered World, Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Allen & Unwin)

The Lascar’s Dagger, Glenda Larke (Hachette Australia)

Dreamer’s Pool, Juliet Marillier (Pan Macmillan Australia)

Afterworlds, Scott Westerfeld (Penguin Books Australia)

Daughters of the Storm, Kim Wilkins (Harlequin Enterprises Australia)


“The Oud”, Thoraiya Dyer (Long Hidden, Crossed Genres Publications)

“Teratogen”, Deborah Kalin (Cemetery Dance, #71, May 2014)

“The Ghost of Hephaestus”, Charlotte Nash (Phantazein, FableCroft Publications)

“St Dymphna’s School for Poison Girls”, Angela Slatter (The Review of Australian Fiction, Volume 9, Issue 3)

“The Badger Bride”, Angela Slatter (Strange Tales IV, Tartarus Press)


Aurora: Meridian, Amanda Bridgeman (Momentum)

Nil By Mouth, LynC (Satalyte)

The White List, Nina D’Aleo (Momentum)

Peacemaker, Marianne de Pierres (Angry Robot)

This Shattered World, Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Allen & Unwin)

Foresight, Graham Storrs (Momentum)


“The Executioner Goes Home”, Deborah Biancotti (Review of Australian Fiction, Vol 11 Issue 6)

“Wine, Women and Stars”, Thoraiya Dyer (Analog Vol CXXXIV nos 1&2 Jan/Feb)

“The Glorious Aerybeth”, Jason Fischer (OnSpec, 11 Sep 2014)

“Dellinger”, Charlotte Nash (Use Only As Directed, Peggy Bright Books)

“Happy Go Lucky”, Garth Nix (Kaleidoscope, Twelfth Planet Press)


Book of the Dead, Greig Beck (Momentum)

Razorhurst, Justine Larbalestier (Allen & Unwin)

Obsidian, Alan Baxter (HarperVoyager)


“The Executioner Goes Home”, Deborah Biancotti (Review of Australian Fiction, Vol 11 Issue 6)

“Skinsuit”, James Bradley (Island Magazine 137)

“By the Moon’s Good Grace”, Kirstyn McDermott (Review of Australian Fiction, Vol 12, Issue 3)

“Shay Corsham Worsted”, Garth Nix (Fearful Symmetries, Chizine)

“Home and Hearth”, Angela Slatter (Spectral Press)


The Astrologer’s Daughter, Rebecca Lim (Text Publishing)

Afterworld, Lynnette Lounsbury (Allen & Unwin)

The Cracks in the Kingdom, Jaclyn Moriarty (Pan Macmillan Australia)

Clariel, Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin)

The Haunting of Lily Frost, Nova Weetman (UQP)

Afterworlds, Scott Westerfeld (Penguin Books Australia)


“In Hades”, Goldie Alexander (Celapene Press)

“Falling Leaves”, Liz Argall (Apex Magazine)

“The Fuller and the Bogle”, David Cornish (Tales from the Half-Continent, Omnibus Books)

“Vanilla”, Dirk Flinthart (Kaleidoscope, Twelfth Planet Press)

“Signature”, Faith Mudge (Kaleidoscope, Twelfth Planet Press)


Slaves of Socorro: Brotherband #4, John Flanagan (Random House Australia)

Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy, Karen Foxlee (Hot Key Books)

The Last Viking Returns, Norman Jorgensen and James Foley (ILL.) (Fremantle Press)

Withering-by-Sea, Judith Rossell (ABC Books)

Sunker’s Deep: The Hidden #2, Lian Tanner (Allen & Unwin)

Shadow Sister: Dragon Keeper #5, Carole Wilkinson (Black Dog Books)


The Female Factory, Lisa L Hannett and Angela Slatter (Twelfth Planet Press)

Secret Lives, Rosaleen Love (Twelfth Planet Press)

Angel Dust, Ian McHugh (Ticonderoga Publications)

Difficult Second Album: more stories of Xenobiology, Space Elevators, and Bats Out Of Hell, Simon Petrie (Peggy Bright Books)

The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, Angela Slatter (Tartarus Press)

Black-Winged Angels, Angela Slatter (Ticonderoga Publications)


Kisses by Clockwork, Liz Grzyb (Ed) (Ticonderoga Publications)

Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories, Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios (Eds), (Twelfth Planet Press)

Amok: An Anthology of Asia-Pacific Speculative Fiction, Dominica Malcolm (Ed) (Solarwyrm Press)

Reach for Infinity, Jonathan Strahan (Ed) (Solaris Books)

Fearsome Magics, Jonathan Strahan (Ed) (Solaris Books)

Phantazein, Tehani Wessely (Ed) (FableCroft Publishing)


Left Hand Path #1, Jason Franks & Paul Abstruse (Winter City Productions)

Awkwood, Jase Harper (Milk Shadow Books)

“A Small Wild Magic”, Kathleen Jennings (Monstrous Affections, Candlewick Press)

Mr Unpronounceable and the Sect of the Bleeding Eye, Tim Molloy (Milk Shadow Books)

The Game, Shane W Smith (Deeper Meanings Publishing)


Bound and Clara nominated for Ditmar Awards

I got a very nice surprise this weekend when the 2015 Ditmar Award ballot was released and I saw my name on there twice. I had to do two Snoopy dances! I’ll list the full ballot below, but a little about the awards first.

The Ditmar Award has been awarded annually since 1969 at the Australian National Science Fiction Convention (the “Natcon”) to recognise achievement in Australian science fiction (including fantasy and horror) and science fiction fandom. The award is similar to the Hugo Award but on a national rather than international scale. They are named for Martin James Ditmar “Dick” Jenssen, an Australian fan and artist, who financially supported the awards at their inception.

So you can imagine how happy I am to be shortlisted for two of them this year. I got nominations for BOUND: Alex Caine #1 in the Best Novel category and “The Darkness in Clara” (originally published in SQ Mag #14) in the Best Novelette or Novella category. You can read “The Darkness in Clara” for free online by clicking above, and Bound is still only around $2 in ebook and available in print in all bookstores. If you’re eligible to vote, and you’ve enjoyed either or both of those, I’d greatly appreciate your vote.

Anyone who is a member of Swancon 40 (including supporting members) and anyone was who a member of Continuum 10 last year (who was eligible to vote in the 2014 Award) can vote in this year’s award. I strongly recommend that anyone who is eligible to vote exercises that right, as the more people voting, the better the views of readers are represented in the winners. You don’t have to vote in every category. Voting has opened, and will remain open until one minute before midnight AWST (ie. 11.59pm GMT+8) on Sunday, 22nd of March, 2015.

If possible, please vote online at:


The online voting system provides a passworded facility to adjust your vote at any time before the close of voting.

Alternatively, votes will be accepted via email to:


An official ballot paper, including postal address information, will be made available shortly, and may be downloaded as a PDF format file from:


The 2015 ballot is as follows:

Best Novel
* The Lascar’s Dagger, Glenda Larke (Hachette)
* Bound (Alex Caine 1), Alan Baxter (Voyager)
* Clariel, Garth Nix (HarperCollins)
* Thief’s Magic (Millennium’s Rule 1), Trudi Canavan (Hachette Australia)
* The Godless (Children 1), Ben Peek (Tor UK)

Best Novella or Novelette
* “The Ghost of Hephaestus”, Charlotte Nash, in Phantazein (FableCroft
* “The Legend Trap”, Sean Williams, in Kaleidoscope (Twelfth Planet Press)
* “The Darkness in Clara”, Alan Baxter, in SQ Mag 14 (IFWG Publishing Australia)
* “St Dymphna’s School for Poison Girls”, Angela Slatter, in Review of Australian Fiction, Volume 9, Issue 3 (Review of Australian Fiction)
* “The Female Factory”, Lisa L. Hannett and Angela Slatter, in The Female Factory (Twelfth Planet Press)
* “Escapement”, Stephanie Gunn, in Kisses by Clockwork (Ticonderoga Publications)

Best Short Story
* “Bahamut”, Thoraiya Dyer, in Phantazein (FableCroft Publishing)
* “Vanilla”, Dirk Flinthart, in Kaleidoscope (Twelfth Planet Press)
* “Cookie Cutter Superhero”, Tansy Rayner Roberts, in Kaleidoscope (Twelfth Planet Press)
* “The Seventh Relic”, Cat Sparks, in Phantazein (FableCroft Publishing)
* “Signature”, Faith Mudge, in Kaleidoscope (Twelfth Planet Press)

Best Collected Work
* Kaleidoscope, edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios (Twelfth Planet Press)
* The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2013, edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (Ticonderoga Publications)
* Phantazein, edited by Tehani Wessely (FableCroft Publishing)

Best Artwork
* Illustrations, Kathleen Jennings, in Black-Winged Angels (Ticonderoga Publications)
* Cover art, Kathleen Jennings, of Phantazein (FableCroft Publishing)
* Illustrations, Kathleen Jennings, in The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings (Tartarus Press)

Best Fan Writer
* Tansy Rayner Roberts, for body of work
* Tsana Dolichva, for body of work
* Bruce Gillespie, for body of work
* Katharine Stubbs, for body of work
* Alexandra Pierce for body of work
* Grant Watson, for body of work
* Sean Wright, for body of work

Best Fan Artist
* Nalini Haynes, for body of work, including “Interstellar Park Ranger Bond, Jaime Bond”, “Gabba and Slave Lay-off: Star Wars explains Australian politics”, “The Driver”, and “Unmasked” in Dark Matter Zine
* Kathleen Jennings, for body of work, including Fakecon art and Illustration Friday series
* Nick Stathopoulos, for movie poster of It Grows!

Best Fan Publication in Any Medium
* Snapshot 2014, Tsana Dolichva, Nick Evans, Stephanie Gunn, Kathryn Linge, Elanor Matton-Johnson, David McDonald, Helen Merrick, Jason Nahrung, Ben Payne, Alex Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Helen Stubbs, Katharine Stubbs, Tehani Wessely, and Sean Wright
* It Grows!, Nick Stathopoulos
* Galactic Suburbia, Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Andrew Finch
* The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond
* Galactic Chat, Sean Wright, Helen Stubbs, David McDonald, Alexandra Pierce, Sarah Parker, and Mark Webb

Best New Talent
* Helen Stubbs
* Shauna O’Meara
* Michelle Goldsmith

William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review
* Reviews in The Angriest, Grant Watson
* The Eddings Reread series, Tehani Wessely, Jo Anderton, and Alexandra Pierce, in A Conversational Life
* Reviews in Adventures of a Bookonaut, Sean Wright
* “Does Sex Make Science Fiction Soft?”, in Uncanny Magazine 1, Tansy Rayner Roberts
* Reviews in FictionMachine, Grant Watson
* The Reviewing New Who series, David McDonald, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Tehani Wessely


On posting award eligibility lists, including mine

It’s that time of year again when all the various awards open for nominations. It’s also that time of year when a bunch of people start bitching and moaning about authors shilling their published work. But fuck those people. Awards are all about talking up the stuff you’ve enjoyed, and that includes your own work. As authors, especially these days, it’s our job to promote our work and try to get as many reading eyes on it as possible. There’s no shame in posting a list of your stuff and saying, “Hey, look what I did last year. I’m damned proud of myself.” And so you should be.

Also, it’s hard to remember everything that was published and the stuff you’ve enjoyed. Sometimes a story or a book just sticks with you, but often it’s not until you see a mention of a story that you think, “Hell yeah, that was awesome!” I really appreciate seeing eligibility lists around this time of year, because I love to nominate stuff that I think is worthy, but I’m also fundamentally lazy. And forgetful. If you make my job easier, I’m happy about that. So if you’re not comfortable making posts like these, just don’t. If you’re okay with it, then great. It’s useful and there’s nothing wrong with it. If you spend the next three months all over social media saying, “Vote for me! Vote for this!” then you’re being a dick. But making a list available and making people aware of that list is fine and dandy. People need to vote for the things they’ve really enjoyed and try to signal boost the good stuff. That’s one of the main functions of awards, in my opinion.

(If you’re an Aussie fan, get started by nominating work for the Ditmar Awards, which are now open. Go here: http://ditmars.sf.org.au/2015/nominations.html (Nominations will be accepted from natural persons active in fandom, and from full or supporting members of the national convention of the year of the award. If you may not be known to the Ditmar subcommittee, please provide a brief explanation of why you are eligible (eg. “Full member of Swancon 40”), or the name of someone known to the subcommittee who can vouch for your eligibility to nominate.))

So, with that in mind, here’s my list. Often, when you’ve had several things published in a year, your votes can be split across several titles, so I’m also going to mention my favourites among my published stuff. Afterwards, I’m going to list some of my favourite books by other people from 2014 and where at least some of my votes will be going. It’s not all about me!


All three of my Alex Caine books were published this year, so they’re all eligible in the novel category of awards. If you’ve really preferred one over another, that’s great and you should vote that way. But if you’ve enjoyed the series in general, I’d really appreciate it if you could direct your vote to Bound, the first in the series.


In the novella/novelette category, I only had one story published in 2014, but I also think it’s one of the best stories I’ve ever written. It’s called “The Darkness in Clara” and was published in SQ Mag #14. It’s free to read online, so head on over and have a look if you haven’t already. I’d love to see this story get some more attention.


In the short fiction category, I had six stories published in 2014:

“Thirty Three Tears To A Teaspoon” – Postscripts 32/33: FAR VOYAGER (PS Publishing, November 2014)

“Autumn of the Greatest” – Superpow! anthology (Red Penny Papers, October 2014)

“Shadows of the Lonely Dead” – Suspended in Dusk anthology (Books of the Dead Press, September 2014)

Upon a Distant Shore” – Dimension6, issue 2 (4th July 2014)

“Mephisto”Daily Science Fiction (23rd June 2014)

“All the Wealth in the World”Lakeside Circus, issue 1 (January 2014)

The ones with links are available to read online. The one I’d really like to see get some more attention is “Shadows of the Lonely Dead” from the Suspended in Dusk anthology. This, I think, is possibly my best short story to date and it’s also an intensely personal story for me. I’m really pleased to see that it’s been getting a lot of positive mentions in reviews of what is a truly brilliant anthology. This story is also the first time I’ve had strangers email me to say how much they enjoyed it. That’s happened with my novels before, but never a short story.

(If you haven’t read it, I really suggest getting Suspended in Dusk. It’s cheap as chips at the moment too. Start looking here for your copy.)

Now, what about other people’s work? I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of great fiction throughout 2014. Some will be Australian and some international, so my nominations will depend on what awards the stuff is eligible for and where I’m allowed to nominate. So far I’ve only started thinking about novels, anthologies and collections. This is not a definitive list, as there will definitely be more added to it, and I haven’t even started looking at short stories yet. As for Aussie stuff, check out the Ditmar Eligibility List here, as that’s a great resource for everything Australian published in 2014. Meanwhile, some of my favourite books from last year include:

The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough (novel)

Fearful Symmetries anthology, ed. Ellen Datlow (anthology)

The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings by Angela Slatter (collection)

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes (novel)

Suspended in Dusk, ed. Simon Dewar (anthology)

Echopraxia by Peter Watts (novel)

Guardian (Veiled Worlds #3) by Jo Anderton (novel)

Last Year, When We Were Young by Andrew McKiernan (collection)

SNAFU: An Anthology of Military Horror, ed. Geoff Brown and AJ Spedding (anthology)

I’ll be adding to this list as I gather my thoughts and get to voting.

Lastly, please nominate and vote on any awards you’re eligible to be a part of. The more people there are involved, the more the awards will reflect the opinions of the reading public rather than the authors who shout loudest or who have the biggest social presence. Awards are very imperfect beasts in any case, but the more people are involved, the less imperfect they become. And if you do vote for me anywhere, thank you! I genuinely appreciate it.