Bloodlines cover and ToC revealed

I was saying on Twitter recently how stories are like buses – none for ages, then three come at once. I mentioned the SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest and Blurring The Line stories in the previous post. Now I can talk about the next one. My short dark urban fantasy yarn, “Old Promise, New Blood”, is in the Bloodlines anthology from Ticonderoga Publications, edited by the amazing Amanda Pillar. I’ve already mentioned this, but now we have a cover too (see below). Pretty damn fine, don’t you think? Designed by awesome artist Kathleen Jennings, who also has a story in the book. Multi-talented! The full Table of Contents accompanies the cover below, followed by some launch information. You can pre-order now right here:

Bloodlines-cover-1aBloodlines, the new non-traditional dark urban fantasy anthology edited by the award-winning Amanda Pillar. These 16 incredible original stories are:

  • Joanne Anderton “Unnamed Children”
  • Alan Baxter “Old Promise New Blood”
  • Nathan Burrage “The Ties of Blood, Hair and Bone”
  • Dirk Flinthart “In The Blood”
  • Rebecca Fung “In the Heart of the City”
  • Stephanie Gunn “The Flowers That Bloom Where Blood Touches Earth”
  • Kelly Hoolihan “The Stone and the Sheath”
  • Kathleen Jennings “The Tangled Streets”
  • Pete Kempshall “Azimuth”
  • Martin Livings “A Red Mist”
  • Seanan McGuire “Into the Green”
  • Anthony Panegyres “Lady Killer”
  • Jane Percival “The Mysterious Mr Montague”
  • Paul Starkey “The Tenderness of Monsters”
  • Lyn Thorne-Adder “Lifeblood of the City”
  • S. Zanne “Seeing Red”

Bloodlines will be available in mid-October 2015 and can be pre-ordered at Bloodlines will be available in hardcover, trade paperback, and ebook.

Attendees of Conflux, in Canberra 2-5 October will be treated to the first look at this book, at a launch on 3 October. The rest of the world can experience this fantastic collection at World Fantasy Convention 2015.

SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest & Blurring The Line

Cohesion Press are a relatively new Australian publisher (a couple of years old now) who are already doing absolutely amazing things. They put out books of fantastic quality, packed to the gills with amazing stories from talented authors. And somehow I’ve managed to get myself included among that stellar company in two new releases out now. One is the next in their line of military horror anthologies, known as the SNAFU series. SNAFU is a military acronym for Situation Normal, All Fucked Up. The latest in the series is SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest (edited by Geoff Brown and A J Spedding), and it includes my novelette, “In Vaulted Halls Entombed”. The other volume out for pre-order now is an anthology of horror stories following the very open theme of Blurring The Line (edited by Marty Young), which is also the anthology’s title. And that one includes my story, “How Father Bryant Saw The Light”.

SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest is out now in print and ebook, including limited edition hardback. Blurring The Line is available for ebook pre-order now and will ship in a few weeks. Print will follow very close behind. Both books have an amazing line-up of contributors, which you can find below. It’s particularly humbling for me to be a in a book with Tom Piccirilli, who died this year after a long war with cancer. Tom is an incredible writer and you really should check out his work. To be in a book with him is a real honour.

Everything you need to know about SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest, including links to buy it, you can find here.

Everything you need to know about Blurring The Line, you can find here – and you can pre-order that on Kindle here. Print, including limited edition hardback, will be available very soon. Watch the Cohesion Press website for that stuff. Keep an eye on my Facebook page or Twitter too, as I’ll post links to all that stuff as it becomes available.

And incidentally, how fucking awesome are both those covers below? I love them. Full Table of Contents for each book follows.

12003146_879319075487621_892517258321694034_nBlurring The Line

Introduction – Marty Young
“Our Doom is Nigh” – Tom Piccirilli
Blurring the Line (non-fiction)
“Woolen Shirts and Gum Boots” – Lisa Morton
“Clown’s Kiss” – Tim Lebbon
Seeing is Believing (non-fiction)
“Empty Cars” – Lia Swope Mitchell
“How Father Bryant Saw the Light” – Alan Baxter
Candlelight and Circles (non-fiction)
“The Good Work” – James Dorr
“Fearful Asymmetries” – Peter Hagelslag
Big Brother is Watching (and Predicting) You (non-fiction)
“1-2-3 Red Light” – Gregory L. Norris
“Miskatonic Schrödinger” – Steven Lloyd Wilson
Monsters Don’t Exist (non-fiction)
“Old Green Eyes” – James A Moore
“A Peripheral Vision Sort of Friend” – Alex C. Renwick
The Undiscovered Supernatural (non-fiction)
“Consorting with Filth” – Lisa Hannett
“Hoarder” – Kealan Patrick Burke
Human Monsters (non-fiction)
“With These Hands” – Brett McBean
“The Body Finder” – Kaaron Warren
Building Frankenstein’s Monster (non-fiction)
What’s A Monster without Resurrection? (non-fiction)
“Salt on the Tongue” – Paul Mannering
“Every Time You Say I Love You” – Charles L Grant
“Honey” – Annie Neugebauer
The Voices Told Me To Do It (non-fiction)
“Distorted and Holy Desire” – Patricia J. Esposito
“Nita Kula” – Rena Mason

snafunotwonojosephSNAFU: Survival of the Fittest

“Badlands” – S.D. Perry
“Of Storms and Flame” – Tim Marquitz & J. M. Martin
“In Vaulted Halls Entombed” – Alan Baxter
“They Own the Night” – B. Michael Radburn
“Fallen Lion” – Jack Hanson
“Sucker of Souls” – Kirsten Cross
“Cold War Gothic II: The Bohemian Grove” – Weston Ochse
“After the Red Rain Fell” – Matt Hilton
“The Slog” – Neal F. Litherland
“Show of Force” – Jeremy Robinson & Kane Gilmour

The Nightmare Marathon

11904083_10152929958092511_5189460925051084452_nOver the last three days I’ve watched seven A Nightmare on Elm Street films. Why? It’s a good question, and I don’t really have a good answer. It’s a pretty dumb thing to have done. It started because I was thinking about horror films I’d enjoyed in my youth and wondering if they held up. I got to talking to some people about one of them, A Nightmare On Elm Street. I remembered loving it, and also really enjoying the third one, Dream Warriors. I knew I’d seen the second one, but couldn’t remember it (turns out that was my brain trying to protect me).

So I looked into getting the DVDs for a rewatch and discovered the sweet box set you see above. All six original Nightmare On Elm Street movies, plus Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. All on Blu-Ray. $40 for the lot. Well, that was easy – I bought it and then subjected myself to them all. I had no idea there were six originally. Regardless, I’d only seen the first three, so I was interested to see how it all shook out, but I was expecting diminishing returns. Oh man, did I underestimate how bad things could get. But it wasn’t all bad.

A Nightmare On Elm Street

Made in 1984 and introducing Johnny Depp! Both of those things surprised me. I thought the series started later. It turns out all 6 original films were made in 7 years, between 1984 and 1991. Churning it out, Hollywood style. But this first one is still a classic. It opens with the introduction of the monster, Freddy Krueger, still one of the best ever horror creations. The first killing is early and unambiguous. The film wears its intentions like a baggy red and green sweater and does everything it sets out to do really well. The horror of being at risk in your nightmares, the fear of falling asleep, the sustained tension and then sudden, horrific violence, without ever being too schlocky. All brilliant. I mean, Depp’s death in a geyser of blood and the first death wiping the girl all over the ceiling while she’s repeatedly stabbed – this stuff is really fucking schlocky, of course. But in context, its all very well put together. It’s horribly 80s, but it remains a great horror film. And still the best of the entire franchise.


A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

It’s instantly clear that this film has a higher budget after the runaway success of the first, but that can’t save it. It moves away from being a purely nightmare film and tries to be a poltergeist film too, but it does both those things really badly. It does find itself a bit, way too late, but regardless, they try to reinvent the core concept, or at least expand it, and they fail miserably. Plus, they’ve done away with the iconic glove and the blades now grow directly from Freddy’s fingers which is lame and makes no sense. And those new blades are all thin and piss-weak. This one really is an atrocious debacle with a completely senseless plot. Terrible.

imagesA Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

I remembered this one well, and remembered really enjoying it. I was hopeful it would hold up. And it really does. They get Nancy back, the main protagonist from the original, for one thing. New lead Kirsten heads a band of sleep-deprived kids, the setup is a clinic with the remaining Elm Street children all suffering from “mass delusion”, which is actually Freddy, of course. They give us a Freddy origin story: the bastard son of a hundred maniacs. It makes little sense, but it’s added depth. It’s a shame they subsequently drench the Freddy mythology in Christian mythology, but even so, this installment is an excellent sequel to first one. There’s another good development, with Kirsten having the power to draw other people into her dreams. That adds great breadth to the story. The best thing thus far is to entirely ignore that number 2 even exists, and just watch 1 and 3 – a great double bill. Incidentally, the theme song by Dokken is a truly awful 80s metal anthem, but that kinda works too. Dream Warriors is not as good as the first, but almost, and a damn good horror film.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

Here’s where things go rapidly downhill and just don’t stop falling. They bring back Joey and Kincaid from Dream Warriors, but use a different actress for Kirsten. That’s already a bad sign. The 80s influence is stronger than ever and there’s a completely horrible karate montage early on. *shudder* Then, for no explicable reason whatsoever, in a dream Kincaid’s dog pisses fire (literally pisses fire) on Freddy’s grave and that brings him back from his holy water banishing. Because why not? Who the fuck cares, right? Let’s just get Freddy back. Fire-pissing dog? Sure! Kincaid and Joey both die really quickly, and then new Kirsten is left to build a new Scooby gang, only to die very quickly too (thankfully, because she was a terrible actor). It turns out the real hero this time is Alice. But here’s the thing – right as she dies, Kirsten gives Alice her power to draw other people into her dreams. There’s no explanation how she can do this – she just kinda lobs it out there like a fucking tennis ball. And it’s the single biggest idiot move of the franchise. Kirsten knows Freddy has run out of Elm Street children. She knows he’s using her power to draw new kids in to cut them up. He finally gets her, but she makes sure that her power survives. The one thing that can keep Freddy in business. This should be called A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: Kirten’s An Idiot. Then Alice starts getting all the powers of the other kids – for no reason – and suddenly she’s a karate master and kills Freddy by making him look at himself in a mirror. Evil, see thyself. Like he wasn’t already completely self-aware. Honestly, this film is so dumb it hurts. And there’s an awful Freddy rap over the end credits. Unforgivable.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child

I’m going to spend less time talking about these films now. But still probably more time than it took to write them. I’m guessing they were written by chimps on LSD. So Freddy literally rebirths himself through Alice’s dream. She dreams of him being born, et voila. Then Alice learns she has to find and free Amanda Krueger’s body (Freddy’s mum). Because why not. Freddy can suddenly do stuff while people are awake, completely inexplicably. Turns out, Alice is pregnant and Freddy is using her unborn fetus’s dreams. Someone kill me now. For some reason, that unborn child manifests as about 6 years old in Alice’s dreams and does more than the rest of the cast put together. Then Amanda shows up, does something, Jacob the unborn son does something and Freddy goes back into Amanda’s uterus, the end. Fucking insane.


A Nightmare On Elm Street 6: Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

Too many colons, guys. You know what? Freddy has been dead since before the first film. That’s the central conceit of the whole fucking series. Whatever, let’s roll. This one is billed on imdb as “”Comedy/Horror/Thriller”. It’s set “10 years from now” where the town with Elm Street has no kids or teenagers left and all the adults are nutbars. The rest of America seems to just be ignoring this. No idea why Freddy is restricted by red lines on a map, but whatever. The comedy here is awful, the plot makes no sense – even less than 4 and 5, which is some going. Apparently Freddy had a daughter before everything went down, so he wants to use her. Somehow he does. They clearly had the finale of this film in 3D and the daughter puts 3D glasses on in the film to tell the audience it’s time! When she comes out of her dream, she says, “I’m still seeing things the way I did in my dream. It’s not over!” DON’T TAKE THE 3D SPECS OFF YET, FOLKS! This is how low they were scraping the barrel here. They eventually use the idea from the first film of holding on to Freddy while waking up to pull him out of the dream (why has this not happened before!?) and then the daughter kills him with a stick of dynamite. At the end there’s a kind of “Thank fuck it’s over” montage of all six films and it ends with a still frame of Freddy with RIP stamped over it. It’s really over, the character is really dead, the dream demons left his exploding body. Thank fuck for that.

So that was it. They decided it was impossible to make a shitter film than the sixth one and it finally died.

Or did it?

No. Just three years later, Wes Craven was back to make:

new_nightmareWes Craven’s New Nightmare

It’s worth bearing in mind that the only good films so far are 1 and 3 – the two Craven wrote and directed. New Nightmare is actually pretty good – it’s almost as if Wes Craven knows what he’s doing. The film is very meta – it’s the actors from the first film playing themselves, and Freddy is crossing over from film into the real world. Craven describes it as the evil being trapped in a story, but when the story ended, when the franchise was shelved and the story died, the evil was set free. Nice little idea. There are good nods to the originals and the tension and horror are ramped up again without the lame comedy. The end is a little bit hokey, but they do a good job of getting some of the series’ dignity back. The only real downer is that they went back to the crappy finger blades like in number 2, instead of the glove, even though a mechanical glove was what started it all off in this new film. Either way, this one was a good film, good production and acting, and a clever plot. After the atrocities of 4, 5 and 6, it was a breath of fresh air.

So, the net result of all this? The whole base concept of A Nightmare On Elm Street is cool, and the original is still the best. If you want the full Freddy experience, a triple-bill of A Nightmare On Elm Street, then Dream Warriors, then New Nightmare is all you need. Everything else is bollocks and you can easily just ignore it. I wish I had.


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.


Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2014, featuring me

years-best-fantasy-and-horror-v5.webI’ve been Snoopy dancing about this for a little while now, and it’s finally public knowledge. Ticonderoga Publications have announced the line-up and cover of the fifth volume of The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror, and it includes my story “Shadows of the Lonely Dead” from the Suspended in Dusk anthology. This is the same story that netted me the Australian Shadows Award for Best Short Story. I do love it when a yarn is so well received.

Editors Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene have compiled an impressive list of fantastic stories first published in 2014, from New Zealand and Australian writers. Just look at the stellar company I’m sharing.

The 28 stories selected are:

  • Alan Baxter, “Shadows of the Lonely Dead” [Suspended in Dusk]
  • James Bradley, “The Changeling” [Fearsome Magics]
  • Imogen Cassidy, “Soul Partner” [Aurealis 74]
  • David Conyers & David Kernot, “The Bullet & The Flesh” [World War Cthulhu]
  • Terry Dowling, “The Corpse Rose” [Nightmare Carnival]
  • Thoraiya Dyer, “The Oud” [Long Hidden Anthology]
  • Jason Franks, “Metempsychosis” [SQ Magazine]
  • Michelle Goldsmith, “Of Gold and Dust” [Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Maga 60]
  • Michael Grey, “1884” [Cthulhu Lives: An Eldrich Tribute to H.P.Lovecraft]
  • Stephanie Gunn, “Escapement” [Kisses by Clockwork]
  • Lisa L. Hannett & Angela Slatter, “Vox” [The Female Factory]
  • Gerry Huntman, “Of The Colour Tumeric, Climbing on Fingertips” [Night Terrors III]
  • Rick Kennett, “Dolls for Another Day” [The Ghosts & Scholars Book of Shadows: Vol 2]
  • Charlotte Kieft, “Chiaroscuro” [Disquiet]
  • SG Larner, “Kneaded” [Phantazein]
  • Claire McKenna, “Yard” [Use Only As Directed]
  • Andrew J. McKiernan, “A Prayer for Lazarus” [Last Year, When We Were Young]
  • Faith Mudge, “Signature” [Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fi]
  • Jason Nahrung, “The Preservation Society” [Dimension6]
  • Emma Osbourne, “The Box Wife” [Shock Totem: Curious Tales of the Macabre & Twisted #9]
  • Angela Rega, “Shedding Skin” [Crossed Genres]
  • Tansy Rayner Roberts, “The Love Letters of Swans” [Phantazein]
  • Angela Slatter, “The Badger Bride” [Strange Tales IV]
  • Cat Sparks, “New Chronicles of Andras Thorn” [Dimension6 Annual Collection 2014]
  • Anna Tambour, “The Walking-stick Forest” []
  • Kyla Ward, “Necromancy” [Spectral Realms #1]
  • Kaaron Warren, “Bridge of Sighs” [Fearful Symmetries: An Anthology of Horror]
  • Janeen Webb, “Lady of the Swamp” [Death at the Blue Elephant]

In addition to the above incredible tales, the volume will include a review of 2014 and a list of highly recommended stories.

The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2014 is scheduled for publication in late-October 2015 and can be pre-ordered at The anthology will be available in hardcover, ebook and trade editions.