This just went out via Substack, but I’m also cross-posting it here.

Hello fiends

Once again, a long time between emails. Sorry about that. Things have been busy.

I mentioned last time that I was working on two big projects – a novel set in Wollongong and an exclusive Patreon serial set in Tasmania. That has turned out to be an interesting exercise in how I work. The plan was to write a chapter a week or so of that serial and just let it roll. See what happened. And all the while, to continue working on bigger projects and let the serial be a kind of “writing without a net” exercise. It turns out I can’t do that.

I found myself unable to focus on the big project as the serial had started to live in my forebrain. In the end, I accepted that reality and put aside the novel to concentrate on the serial. That became a novella of around 33k words. It’s called The Leaves Forget and I’m really happy with it. It’s a kind of mystery thriller that becomes folk horror sort of thing. I’m still serialising it on Patreon, so if you’d like to read it, head over there.

(On that front, if you can spare a few bucks to help keep me writing, the regular monthly income from Patreon makes a huge difference. Levels start at just AU$2 a month (exclusive fiction including that serial are from AU$5 a month). A few bucks each from a lot of people really helps to keep the doors open on my writing career.)

And I was given an insight into that career with this recent exercise. I’ve said before how I abhor writing rules. I hate it when the subject comes up in any context. There is one rule for writing: you must write. When, how often, how much, what for – all that is gravy. The only rule is that you must write. Everything else is advice, some of which is objectively good and some objectively terrible, but almost all of it is case-specific. If it works for you, it’s good advice. Anyone who says something like, “To be a writer you must…” and then says anything other than “write” is lying to you. You don’t have to do anything.

I don’t only write what I know – I learn about what I want to write.

I don’t write every day – I have a kung fu school to run and a family and a life.

I don’t do any number of things that people consider rules, because fuck the man, I go my own way.

And I learned, for me, working on more than one project at a time is not achievable. I think this honesty with yourself applies to all things in life. You have to actually do the thing you want to do, but how you do it is up to you. Be honest with yourself and figure out the best way that gets you the best results, and then lean hard into that.

Anyway, what else is going on?

If you like reading with your ears, there are two new additions to my Audible library. Sallow Bend is now available, read by the amazing Joe Hempel. He’s done a stellar job of it. And the third Sam Aston Investigation co-written with David Wood, Crocalypse, is also available now, equally well read by the awesome Jeffrey Kafer.

Talking of Sallow Bend, the Aurealis Award shortlists were announced recently and I was absolutely stoked to see both Sallow Bend and The Fall on there, for Best Horror Novel and Best Collection respectively. Especially as The Gulp won for Best Collection last year (my first Aurealis win after 11 nominations!), seeing The Fall as a finalist as well is a real treat. I can’t imagine lightning will strike twice there, but you never know. And to have Sallow Bend recognised in Best Horror Novel is truly amazing. The winners are announced in Canberra on June 3rd, so I’ll definitely be heading down there for that.

And talking of collaborating with Dave Wood, he and I recently ran a workshop on the subject – two one hour sessions across a couple of weeks. People who signed up got to be there live and ask questions, but the recorded sessions are available to everyone on my Patreon if you’re keen.

What I’ve Been Enjoying

I recently caught up on more Star Wars stuff and watched Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+. That was good fun. The young Leia was great, a truly cool child actor. But for me, The Mandalorian is still the best of the new Star Wars serials. It captures both that western in space vibe that’s so much of the core of Star Wars and it’s just the right amount of cheesy to go along with it. Series 3 is being released weekly right now and it’s great fun.

In terms of reading, I recently finished Aaron Dries’s new collection, Cut To Care, and it’s superb. Definitely look out for that. Aaron also has a story in Vandal: Stories of Damage (Dark Tide Mysteries and Thrillers #6) along with Kaaron Warren and J S Breukelaar, and that’s an amazing book of three novellas. I also caught up on an old classic, Robert McCammon’s Swan Song, which is a truly epic post-apocalypse horror/fantasy kinda thing. That was awesome. And I read a bit of cyberpunk in T R Napper’s debut novel, 36 Streets. That was some great and intense cyberpunk gang warfare/crime/thriller action. I recommend all of the above.

Not much else to report at this time, my fiends. I’m back to work on the novel set in Wollongong, so I’d better get on with it. I’m loving it and truly hating the antagonist I’m writing, so that’s a great sign. This is a straight up human monsters book with no supernatural elements at all, which will be a first for me. I’ve written non-supernatural short stories before, but nothing of any length, certainly not a novel. I hope I manage to pull off the story I can see in my head. Only time will tell.

Okay, that’s all from me for now. Be well – go and splash cold water on your face, I promise it’ll make you feel better.

Big love to all.