Five Qs with Dr Angela Slatter

Angela3You guys have heard me talk about Angela Slatter plenty before. She’s a good friend of mine, but more than that, she’s one of the best writers I know. Specialising in dark fantasy and horror, she’s the author of the Aurealis Award-winning The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales, the World Fantasy Award finalist Sourdough and Other Stories, and the Aurealis finalist Midnight and Moonshine (with Lisa L. Hannett). And that’s just a fraction of her bio. She’s the first Aussie to win a British Fantasy Award too. Check out all about her publications and awards here.

Angela has a new chapbook out from Spectral Press called Hearth and Home. It’s a great read and I’ve asked her five questions about it and about horror and her writing in general. The questions are below, but before you read them, go and get the chapbook, as it’s limited edition and there aren’t many left. You can send an email to spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com or maybe get one of the last ones from Angela herself by emailing me[at]angelaslatter[dot]com

You won’t be sorry. So, on with the Qs:

1. What’s “Hearth and Home” all about and why did you write this story?

Well, it’s about a woman whose teenaged son has come home after a lengthy trial. He was found innocent but things are not as they should be, life doesn’t return to ‘normal’. Basically it’s the story of Caroline’s journey through figuring out just how far from normal things are. I wrote it because Simon Marshall-Jones from Spectral Press had said ‘Sooo, hey, how about a chapbook story?’ And I’d seen the work he’d done with other authors such as Gary McMahon in the chapbook series and thought ‘Yep, get me some of that!’

2. What’s the real draw card for you with horror?

I don’t mind gore if it’s well used and cleverly placed for maximum effect, but I really, really hate explicit shock for the sake of shock. It has a numbing effect after a while and that is not the point of horror for me. Horror is about the creeping shiver that becomes a full-blooded scream … I enjoy the psychology of that journey, that’s what wraps me up in a good horror story.

Home & Hearth Front Cover3. Chapbooks are still cool. Why?

I think they’ve never really gone out of fashion in particular, i.e. genre, quarters, and they’re now riding the wave of small press resurgence. I think that’s because small presses are in a unique position to create books that aren’t your traditional trade paperback with the imperative to sell millions. That’s not to say they don’t want to make money, but there’s definitely a place for books are collectable artefacts that remains even in an age of e-books and the throwaway paperback.

I also like to think that you can see the craft in them, they don’t necessarily look like something that’s from a cookie cutter … there’s an individuality to them that feels very human and person-made.

4. If you could organise one of those haunted house murder mystery dinners, who would you invite? And who would be the killer?

Oooooh. I’m going to ask the living and the dead, the real and the imagined! Angela Carter and Tanith Lee, Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Shearman and Lisa Hannett, Mark Gatiss and Christopher Lee, Helen Marshall and Helen Mirren. And Neil Gaiman, who would be the killer and whom no one would suspect coz he always seems so nice.

5. What’s next for Doctor Slatter?

Dr Slatter has three books out this year: The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings (from Tartarus Press), Black-Winged Angels (from Ticonderoga Publications), and The Female Factory (written with Lisa Hannett and coming out from Twelfth Planet Press). No matter what anyone tells you, I am open to working with publishers that don’t start with the letter ‘T’.

I currently have a novel called Vigil doing the rounds; I am finishing my novella for Spectral Press, which is called The Witch’s Scale; and I’m finishing up my collection The Tallow-Wife and Other Tales, which is the result of my Queensland Writers Fellowship year; I’m working on another novel called Scandalous Lady Detective, and going back to an old novel called Well of Souls to finish it off.

In between I am occasionally offering an editing and story development service, but it’s starting to feel like a bit of a time-squeeze at this point!

Find out more about Angela here:


Suspended in Dusk anthology, ToC revealed

My story, “Shadows of the Lonely Dead”, is coming out in the Suspended in Dusk anthology (Books of the Dead Press, due mid-late 2014) and the editor, Simon Dewar, has just released the full list of contributing authors and their stories. It’s a stellar bunch:

Alan Baxter – Shadows of the Lonely Dead
Angela Slatter – The Way of All Flesh
Anna Reith – Taming the Stars
Armand Rosamilia – At Dusk They Come
Benjamin Knox – The Keeper of Secrets
Brett Rex Bruton – Outside In
Chris Limb – Ministry of Outrage
Icy Sedgwick – A Woman of Disrepute
J C Michael – Reasons to Kill
John Everson – Spirits Having Flown (Reprint)
Karen Runge – Hope is Here
Ramsey Campbell – Digging Deep  (Reprint)
Rayne Hall – Burning (Reprint)
Sarah Read – Quarter Turn to Dawn
Shane McKenzie – Fit Camp (Reprint)
S. G. Larner – Shades of Memory
Tom Dullemond – Would to God That We Were There
Toby Bennett – Maid of Bone
Wendy Hammer – Negatives

That’s alphabetical, of course. The final order of stories and a cover reveal are apparently coming soon. I think this is going to be a great book. A few of those stories are reprints, but the majority are original, and all follow the theme of “suspended in dusk” to some degree. Should be well worth a read. And can I just point out that I’m going to be in a book with Ramsey Campbell. Achievement Unlocked!

More news as it comes to hand.


SQ Mag 14 out now including my story, The Darkness in Clara

sq-may-2014-cover-with-text1Issue 14 of SQ Mag is out. It’s the Australiana Special Edition and includes loads of great stuff like new stories from Kaaron Warren and Sean Williams, lots of other top stories and features, and my novelette, The Darkness in Clara.

I’m really proud of this story and I hope other people like it too. I was honoured to learn that it inspired the cover for this issue.

The best thing about SQ Mag, apart from the stellar content obviously, is that it’s all free to read online. Here’s the opening to my story:

The Darkness in Clara
by Alan Baxter

Michelle saw Clara’s feet first, absurdly suspended a meter above the ground, toes pointing to the carpet, ghostly pale and twisting in a lazy spiral. The rest of the scene burst into her mind in one electric shock a fraction of a second later; Clara’s wiry nakedness, limp arms, head tilted chaotically to one side. Her tattoos seemed faded against ashen skin. Her so familiar face grotesque and wrong, tongue swelling from her mouth like an escaping slug. And her bulging eyes, staring glassy and cold as Michelle began to scream. Light from the bedside lamp cast Clara’s shadow across the wall like a puppet play, glinted off the metal legs of the upturned chair beneath.

I bought her that belt, Michelle thought, as she stared at the worn black leather biting deep into the blue-tinged flesh of Clara’s neck, and she drew breath to scream again.

Read the rest here.

And be sure to explore the rest of the issue too. I’d love to hear what you think.


2014 Ditmar Award ballot released – featuring me!

I got a wonderful surprise on Saturday when a few messages started coming in saying something along the lines of, “Congratulations on your Ditmar nomination!” I hadn’t realised the Award shortlist had been released, but it only took a moment to see social media alive with the news (at least, spec fic related social media in Australia.) It turns out that my story, Not the Worst of Sins, published in issue 133 of Beneath Ceaseless Skies magazine, has been noninated in the Best Short Story category. Thanks so much to everyone who voted for that, it’s a real honour. The Ditmars are an Australian national award decided by popular vote. Anyone active in the SF scene and fandom can nominate works, then anyone who was at the previous year’s NatCon (National SF Convention) or has a full or supporting membership for this year’s NatCon can vote for the winners.

This year, the NatCon is Continuum X in Melbourne in June. The awards ceremony will be held there. If you went to Conflux in Canberra last year, or you’re going to Continuum this year, you can vote in the Ditmars. I really recommend that you do vote, as the more people who get involved, the more the winners will reflect the opinion of the wider community. If you’re not going to the cons, but you want to vote, you can buy a supporting membership for Continuum X for just $35, which gives you several benefits including voting rights. And you can vote online in a matter of minutes. Couldn’t be easier! Voting is open now until one minute before midnight AEST (ie. 11.59pm, GMT+10), Wednesday, 28th of May, 2014.

I’ll post the full list of nominated works in all categories below, but here are a few relevant links:

You can vote for your choice of winners (as per conditions above) online here.

You can learn all about Continuum X and get your membership here.

You can read my nominated story free online here at BCS. (If you like it, I’d love to get your vote.)

So please do get involved. My own inclusion notwithstanding, I honestly think this is one of the strongest Ditmar Award ballots for years, in every category. You could do worse than getting hold of everything on this list (and anything on the Aurealis Awards list from last month) and you’d be set up with some fantastic reading of Aussie spec fic.The AAs and now the Ditmars are showing very clearly that Australian spec fic is stronger than ever.

So, get your membership and get voting (or if you went to Conflux last year, just get voting!) and if you’re going to NatCon this year in June, I’ll see you there!

Here’s the full list of nominations for the 2014 Ditmar Awards:

Best Novel

* Ink Black Magic, Tansy Rayner Roberts (FableCroft Publishing)
* Fragments of a Broken Land: Valarl Undead, Robert Hood (Wildside Press)
* The Beckoning, Paul Collins (Damnation Books)
* Trucksong, Andrew Macrae (Twelfth Planet Press)
* The Only Game in the Galaxy (The Maximus Black Files 3), Paul Collins (Ford Street Publishing)

Best Novella or Novelette

* “Prickle Moon”, Juliet Marillier, in Prickle Moon (Ticonderoga Publications)
* “The Year of Ancient Ghosts”, Kim Wilkins, in The Year of Ancient Ghosts (Ticonderoga Publications)
* “By Bone-Light”, Juliet Marillier, in Prickle Moon (Ticonderoga Publications)
* “The Home for Broken Dolls”, Kirstyn McDermott, in Caution: Contains Small Parts (Twelfth Planet Press)
* “What Amanda Wants”, Kirstyn McDermott, in Caution: Contains Small Parts (Twelfth Planet Press)

Best Short Story

* “Mah Song”, Joanne Anderton, in The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories (FableCroft Publishing)
* “Air, Water and the Grove”, Kaaron Warren, in The Lowest Heaven (Jurassic London)
* “Seven Days in Paris”, Thoraiya Dyer, in Asymmetry (Twelfth Planet Press)
* “Scarp”, Cat Sparks, in The Bride Price (Ticonderoga Publications)
* “Not the Worst of Sins”, Alan Baxter, in Beneath Ceaseless Skies 133 (Firkin Press)
* “Cold White Daughter”, Tansy Rayner Roberts, in One Small Step (FableCroft Publishing)

Best Collected Work

* The Back of the Back of Beyond, Edwina Harvey, edited by Simon Petrie (Peggy Bright Books)
* Asymmetry, Thoraiya Dyer, edited by Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)
* Caution: Contains Small Parts, Kirstyn McDermott, edited by Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)
* The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories, Joanne Anderton, edited by Tehani Wesseley (FableCroft Publishing)
* The Bride Price, Cat Sparks, edited by Russell B. Farr (Ticonderoga Publications)

Best Artwork

* Cover art, Eleanor Clarke, for The Back of the Back of Beyond by Edwina Harvey (Peggy Bright Books)
* Illustrations, Kathleen Jennings, for Eclipse Online (Nightshade Books)
* Cover art, Shauna O’Meara, for Next edited by Simon Petrie and Rob Porteous (CSFG Publishing)
* Cover art, Cat Sparks, for The Bride Price by Cat Sparks (Ticonderoga Publications)
* Rules of Summer, Shaun Tan (Hachette Australia)
* Cover art, Pia Ravenari, for Prickle Moon by Juliet Marillier (Ticonderoga Publications)

Best Fan Writer

* Tsana Dolichva, for body of work, including reviews and interviews in Tsana’s Reads and Reviews
* Sean Wright, for body of work, including reviews in Adventures of a Bookonaut
* Grant Watson, for body of work, including reviews in The Angriest
* Foz Meadows, for body of work, including reviews in Shattersnipe: Malcontent & Rainbows
* Alexandra Pierce, for body of work, including reviews in Randomly Yours, Alex
* Tansy Rayner Roberts, for body of work, including essays and reviews at

Best Fan Artist

* Nalini Haynes, for body of work, including “Defender of the Faith”, “The Suck Fairy”, “Doctor Who vampire” and “The Last Cyberman” in Dark Matter
* Kathleen Jennings, for body of work, including “Illustration Friday”
* Dick Jenssen, for body of work, including cover art for Interstellar Ramjet Scoop and SF Commentary

Best Fan Publication in Any Medium

* Dark Matter Zine, Nalini Haynes
* SF Commentary, Bruce Gillespie
* The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond
* Galactic Chat Podcast, Sean Wright, Alex Pierce, Helen Stubbs, David McDonald, and Mark Webb
* The Coode Street Podcast, Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan
* Galactic Suburbia, Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts

Best New Talent

* Michelle Goldsmith
* Zena Shapter
* Faith Mudge
* Jo Spurrier
* Stacey Larner

William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review

* Reviews in Randomly Yours, Alex, Alexandra Pierce
* “Things Invisible: Human and Ab-Human in Two of Hodgson’s Carnacki stories”, Leigh Blackmore, in Sargasso: The Journal of William Hope Hodgson Studies #1 edited by Sam Gafford (Ulthar Press)
* Galactic Suburbia Episode 87: Saga Spoilerific Book Club, Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts
* The Reviewing New Who series, David McDonald, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Tehani Wessely
* “A Puppet’s Parody of Joy: Dolls, Puppets and Mannikins as Diabolical Other”, Leigh Blackmore, in Ramsey Campbell: Critical Essays on the Master of Modern Horror edited by Gary William Crawford (Scarecrow Press)
* “That was then, this is now: how my perceptions have changed”, George Ivanoff, in Doctor Who and Race edited by Lindy Orthia (Intellect Books)


2013 Aurealis Award winners announced

Saturday was a big day. I drove down to Canberra, took part in the Conflux Writer’s Day minicon, where I did a highspeed “Social Media for Authors” presentation, then went for a quick change of clothes in order to attend the Aurealis Awards ceremony. Nicole Murphy, who organised everything that day, did a truly amazing job. The writers day and awards ceremony were both superb. We caroused and drank and laughed, and fantastic Australian fiction scored very well-deserved awards.

Here are all the fantastic nominees and winners. If you want a sampler of excellent recent Aussie spec fic, here’s your huckleberry:

(The winners are separated at the top of each list of nominees.)

Best Science Fiction Novel

  • Lexicon, Max Barry (Hachette)

  • Trucksong, Andrew Macrae (Twelfth Planet)
  • A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists, Jane Rawson (Transit Lounge)
  • True Path, Graham Storrs (Momentum)
  • Rupetta, Nike Sulway (Tartarus)

Best Science Fiction Short Story

  • “Air, Water and the Grove”, Kaaron Warren (The Lowest Heaven)

  • “The Last Tiger”, Joanne Anderton (Daily Science Fiction 5/17/13)
  • “Mah Song”, Joanne Anderton (The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories)
  • “Seven Days in Paris”, Thoraiya Dyer (Asymmetry)
  • “Version”, Lucy Stone (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #57)

Best Fantasy Novel

  • A Crucible of Souls, Mitchell Hogan (self-published)

  • Lexicon, Max Barry (Hachette Australia)
  • These Broken Stars, Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (Allen & Unwin)
  • Newt’s Emerald, Garth Nix (Jill Grinberg Literary Management)
  • Ink Black Magic, Tansy Rayner Roberts (FableCroft)

Best Fantasy Short Story

  • The Last Stormdancer, Jay Kristoff (Thomas Dunne)

  • “The Touch of the Taniwha”, Tracie McBride (Fish)
  • “Cold, Cold War”, Ian McHugh (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 6/13/13)
  • “Short Circuit”, Kirstie Olley (Oomph: A Little Super Goes a Long Way)
  • “The Year of Ancient Ghosts”, Kim Wilkins (The Year of Ancient Ghosts)

Best Horror Novel

  • Fairytales for Wilde Girls, Allyse Near (Random House Australia)

  • The Marching Dead, Lee Battersby (Angry Robot)
  • The First Bird, Greig Beck (Momentum)
  • Path of Night, Dirk Flinthart (FableCroft)

Best Horror Short Story

  • “The Year of Ancient Ghosts”, Kim Wilkins (The Year of Ancient Ghosts)

  • “Fencelines”, Joanne Anderton (The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories)
  • “The Sleepover”, Terry Dowling (Exotic Gothic 5)
  • “The Home for Broken Dolls”, Kirstyn McDermott (Caution: Contains Small Parts)
  • “The Human Moth”, Kaaron Warren (The Grimscribe’s Puppets)

Best Young Adult Novel (Tie)

  • These Broken Stars, Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (Allen & Unwin)
  • Fairytales for Wilde Girls, Allyse Near (Random House Australia)

  • The Big Dry, Tony Davies (Harper Collins)
  • Hunting, Andrea Host (self-published)
  • The Sky So Heavy, Claire Zorn (University of Queensland Press)

Young Adult Short Story

  • “By Bone-Light”, Juliet Marillier (Prickle Moon)

  • “Mah Song”, Joanne Anderton (The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories)
  • “Morning Star”, D.K. Mok (One Small Step)
  • “The Year of Ancient Ghosts”, Kim Wilkins (The Year of Ancient Ghosts)

Best Collection

  • The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories, Joanne Anderton (FableCroft)

  • Asymmetry, Thoraiya Dyer (Twelfth Planet)
  • Caution: Contains Small Parts, Kirstyn McDermott (Twelfth Planet)
  • The Bride Price, Cat Sparks (Ticonderoga)
  • The Year of Ancient Ghosts, Kim Wilkins (Ticonderoga)

Best Anthology (Tie)

  • The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2012, Liz Grzyb & Talie Helene, eds. (Ticonderoga)
  • One Small Step: An Anthology of Discoveries, Tehani Wessely, ed. (FableCroft)

  • Dreaming of Djinn, Liz Grzyb, ed. (Ticonderoga)
  • The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Of The Year: Volume Seven, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Night Shade)
  • Focus 2012: Highlights of Australian Short Fiction, Tehani Wessely, ed. (FableCroft)

Best Children’s Fiction

  • The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie, Kirsty Murray (Allen & Unwin)

  • Kingdom of the Lost, Book 2: Cloud Road, Isobelle Carmody (Penguin Group Australia)
  • Refuge, Jackie French (Harper Collins)
  • Song for a Scarlet Runner, Julie Hunt (Allen & Unwin)
  • Rules of Summer, Shaun Tan (Hachette Australia)
  • Ice Breaker: The Hidden 1, Lian Tanner (Allen & Unwin)

Best Illustrated Book/Graphic Novel (Tie)

  • Burger Force, Jackie Ryan (self-published)
  • The Deep Vol. 2: The Vanishing Island, Tom Taylor & James Brouwer (Gestalt)

  • Savage Bitch, Steve Carter & Antoinette Rydyr (Scar Studios)
  • Mr Unpronounceable Adventures, Tim Molloy (Milk Shadow)
  • Peaceful Tomorrows Volume Two, Shane W Smith (Zetabella)

The annual Aurealis Awards ceremony took place at the Great Hall, University House, Australian National University, Canberra. All the details of the awards can be found at the Aurealis Awards website.

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees!