Dreaming of Djinn cover revealed

dreaming-of-djinn-webCheck out that beautiful cover art, revealed yesterday by Ticonderoga Publications for the new Arabian Nights inspired anthology Dreaming of Djinn, edxited by Liz Grzyb. I am never disappointed with the cover art from Ticonderoga, and they’ve excelled themselves once again. I’m especially pleased as I have a story in this book, due out around April. People are always talking about not judging a book by its cover and, ironically, that applies to pretty much everything except books. It’s right to not judge people by their appearance, for example, or the quality of a home by the building it’s in. But people do, quite rightly, judge books by their covers. That’s what covers are for. They’re the first port of call for a prospective buyer. If the cover looks good, they’ll pick up the book and read the back cover blurb. If that grabs them, they’ll maybe thumb through a page or two. Then they’ll buy the book. If they’re buying on recommendation anyway, the cover is less important, but bad covers still do put people off.

In this day and age of mass production and awful, homogenous graphic art that makes all books look the same, it’s great to see something with some real artistic value and quality design going on. In this case, the artwork is from Ukraine artist, Nadiia Starovoitova, and the design is by Ticonderoga’s own Russell B Farr.

My story in this one is about a young woman with challenges in her life, not least of which being a father who won’t let her grow up. Then she meets someone connected with the Djinn. My story is called On A Crooked Leg Lightly and I’m very proud it was accepted for this book. Look who else is in there:

  • Marilag Angway “Shadow Dancer”
  • Cherith Baldry “The Green Rose”
  • Alan Baxter “On A Crooked Leg Lightly”
  • Jenny Blackford “The Quiet Realm of the Dark Queen”
  • Jetse de Vries “Djinni Djinni Dream Dream”
  • Thoraiya Dyer “The Saint George Hotel”
  • Joshua Gage “The Dancer of Smoke”
  • Richard Harland “The Tale of the Arrow Girl”
  • Faith Mudge “The Oblivion Box”
  • Havva Murat “Harmony Thicket and the Persian Shoes”
  • Charlotte Nash “Parvaz”
  • Anthony Panegyres “Oleander: An Ottoman Tale”
  • Dan Rabarts “Silver, Sharp as Silk”
  • Angela Rega “The Belly Dancing Crimes of Ms Sahara Desserts”
  • Jenny Schwartz “The Pearl Flower Harvest”
  • Barb Siples “The Sultan’s Debt”
  • Pia Van Ravestein “Street Dancer”
  • DC White “A Dash of Djinn and Tonic”

Dreaming of Djinn features 18 incredible tales of romantic Orientalism. The book will be available in April and you can pre-order it here.

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Bloodstones contributor copies arrived

BloodstonesLook at this beautiful tome. It’s the Bloodstones anthology from Ticonderoga Publications, edited by the awesomely talented Amanda Pillar. You can tell she’s awesomely talented because she picked one of my stories to be in this book. And all the others, of course. Bloodstones is an anthology of short fiction using unusual creatures, myths and legends in dark, urban fantasy settings. And let’s be honest, that kind of brief is right up my flagpole. My story is called Cephalopoda Obsessia and it’s my little cephalopod overlord homage. I won’t say any more than that.

The book has a great line-up of authors (I’ll post the full list below) and boasts a broad range of subject matter. From the back cover blurb, we’re told we’ll encounter ancient Greek monsters, lamia, gorgons and kraken, as well as the Malay toyol and dukun, Chinese xiannu, Haitian voodoo, ghosts, Cthulhu, selkies and (get this!) the Philippino Alan. That one really has me interested. I mean, I’ll be honest, I have no fucking idea what half the stuff on that list is. But there’s a monster called an Alan? Sign me up!

The forward is by the very talented author, Seanan Maguire, and she says really lovely things about the anthology. Things like, “There was not a story in this book that did not surprise and delight me…” and “…a map to a whole new realm of horror.” Shit, yeah, I like the sound of that. So I can’t wait to get my teeth into this one. You can get your copy from indiebooksonline.com, or all the usual Amazon type places.

Here’s the full list of 17 stories:

  • Joanne Anderton, “Sanaa’s Army”
  • Alan Baxter, “Cephalopoda Obsessia”
  • Jenny Blackford, “A Moveable Feast”
  • Vivian Caethe, “Skin”
  • MD Curelas, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”
  • Thoraiya Dyer, “Surviving Film”
  • Dirk Flinthart, “The Bull in Winter”
  • Stephanie Gunn, “The Skin of the World”
  • Richard Harland, “A Mother’s Love”
  • Pete Kempshall, “Dead Inside”
  • Penny Love, “A Small Bad Thing”
  • Karen Maric, “Embracing the Invisible”
  • Christine Morgan, “Ferreau’s Curse”
  • Nicole Murphy, “Euryale”
  • Kat Otis, “And the Dead Shall be Raised Incorruptible”
  • Dan Rabarts, “The Bone Plate”
  • Erin Underwood, “The Foam Born”

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Wild Chrome by Greg Mellor – review

TITLEGreg Mellor is a relatively new voice in Australian science fiction, but his debut collection from Ticonderoga Publications places him firmly in the upper echelons of SF writers at work today. Wild Chrome is a collection of 21 short stories, ten of them new and original to the collection and the other eleven reprints from such august publications as Clarkesworld, Cosmos, Aurealis and more.

Mellor has a background in astrophysics and is one of those writers who can dream big ideas and back them up with believable and potentially realisable science. His stories play mostly around the ideas of the post-human singularity, the arguably inevitable conjoining of humanity and technology, which opens up all kinds of questions about mortality and our place in the universe.

Mellor manages to keep an entirely human aspect in all his work, however big or deep the subject matter. That is, unless it’s one of his stories from the point of view of an alien species, and then he manages to write a very convincing non-human.

Not every story in this book hits the mark dead on, but all the stories are imaginative and entertaining, really nailing the excitement and wonder that we should expect from science fiction. And some of the stories are nothing less than brilliant. I’m looking forward to anything else Greg Mellor writes, but he’s set himself a high bar with this collection.

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A Killer Among Demons (featuring me!) cover reveal

A Killer Among DemonsAs if the announcement about the new CSFG anthology, Next, wasn’t enough, there’s also this. Check out this freaking awesome cover by the amazingly talented Vincent Chong.

This is the cover for the Dark Prints Press anthology, A Killer Among Demons, which is coming out around April next year. It features ten tales of paranormal or supernatural noir and will contain my story, The Beat Of A Pale Wing. Check out the table of contents:

Stephen M Irwin – ’24/7′
Angela Slatter – ‘Cuckoo’
William Meikle – ‘Truth Decay’
Alan Baxter – ‘The Beat of a Pale Wing’
Marilyn Fountain – ‘The Intruder’
Greg Chapman – ‘A Matter of Perception’
Chris Large – ‘New York, New York’
SJ Dawson – ‘The Tape’
Madhvi Ramani – ‘Angel’s Town’
Stephen D. Rogers – ‘Grievance Visitation’

Seriously, how cool is that selection of names? And if you’re not familiar with them, pre-order this book now and I guarantee you’ll get ten stories that are just awesome (even if I do say so myself!) You can pre-order the book now right here.

Go on, get yourself some dark, spooky, supernatural crime action.

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“Next” anthology – table of contents announced

I’m a very proud member of the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild, better known as the CSFG. I’m proud for many reasons, not least among them the fact that I’m a two and half hour drive from Canberra, but they’ll still have me. Living in the country like I do, it’s difficult to get involved with anything like a writers’ group, so it’s nice that the CSFG extend their welcome to people like myself.

The CSFG is a great and supportive group of people, with regular gatherings, short story and novel crit groups, a very active mailing list and more. And they also have a publishing arm, through which they produce regular anthologies of short fiction. All the anthologies are managed by a slush wrangler, so all the submissions are read blind by the editors, which means there’s no favouring friends or Guild members, as the submissions are open to everyone, Guild or not.

The latest project from CSFG Publishing is the “Next” anthology. Here’s how they pitched the anthology theme:

Sequence. Succession. Cause and effect. Show us what happened. next.

Next suggests ‘change’, perhaps, but it doesn’t have to invoke change, it can simply be an account of cause-and-effect. Soemtimes it’s the absence of change, the sense of inevitability, that gives the story its terrible power and its resonance. Or it might be a rite-of-passage; of invention and exploration; of the testing and transgression of boundaries; or a story laden with doom or hope or just the inevitability of inescapable repetition. Yup, this theme is a theme for all seasons; it’s a cut and come again theme that can mean pretty much whatever people want it to mean.

Today, the CSFG announced the table of contents for the book and I’m very happy to say that my name is among them. It’s going to be a big book, with 30 stories from established names and newbies alike. Here’s the full ToC:

Next Table of Contents (in alphabetical order):

Kris Ashton: ‘The Midway Hotel’

Daniel Baker: ‘Stories in the Square’

Alan Baxter: ‘Quantum Echoes’

Adam Browne: ‘Animal the Colour of Waiting’

David Coleman: ‘Gambler’s Blues’

Craig Cormick: ‘Ned Kelly and the Zombies’

Elizabeth Fitzgerald: ‘Phoenix Down’

Ross Hamilton: ‘When Money Talks’

Richard Harland: ‘Here’s Glory For You’

Edwina Harvey: ‘Next, cried the Faun’

Rik Lagarto: ‘The Wild Hunt’

Chris Large: ‘Girl Finds Key’

Martin Livings: ‘Cause and Effect’

Tracie McBride: ‘Wooden Heart’

Chris McGrane: ‘The Cat and his Zombies’

Ian McHugh: ‘Vandiemensland’

Claire McKenna: ‘The Ninety Two’

Shauna O’Meara: ‘The Dream Tracker’

Robert Phillips: ‘A Dream of Something More’

Gillian Polack: ‘Someone’s Daughter’

Angela Rega: ‘Almost Beautiful’

Nicky Rowlands: ‘On the Wall’

Leife Shallcross: ‘A Little Warning’

Daniel Simpson: ‘Those Days’

Steve Simpson: ‘The Electrician and the Circus’

Helen Stubbs: ‘Casino Five’

David Versace: ‘Imported Goods—Aisle Nine’

Janeen Webb: ‘Hell is Where the Heart Is’

Catherine Whittle: ‘The Room’

Suzanne Willis: ‘Of Starfish Tides’

Editors: Simon Petrie & Rob Porteous

It’s a great cross-section of authors, and there are several names there I’ve never come across before, so it’ll be good to read their work. Out of those 30, there are 11 CSFG members, including myself, which is a good result for the Guild.

The book is scheduled for release at Conflux 9, which is next year’s Australian NatCon, so that should be a lot of fun. When there’s a cover reveal, I’ll let you know.

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