Market News: Flash Fiction Story, Journey to the Depths, Included in Oscillate Wildly Press antho.

Pleased that my maritime flash piece, Journey to the Depths, was accepted for the Anemone Enemy anthology, to be published by Oscillate WIldly Press. I love writing ghost stories and so this was a pleasure to write – and as always, a little tougher to work through for sub 500 word fiction. Looking forward to seeing it in print.

Book Review: Riding the Centipede by John Claude Smith

NB. I was provided a copy of this book from the author as a result of a long standing friendship. He didn’t solicit a review.

I’ve read pretty much everything by Smith and for a good reason – he has a unique voice in the dark fiction writing world, and it is very effective. This is his first novel, and certainly one of the things I was looking for when reading it was the transition from short ficiton to substantial length pieces, particularly in terms of theme and style. When completing Riding the Centipede I was not disappointed – it has Smith’s style all over it and then some. It is an excellent work and deserved shortlisting in last year’s Stoker Awards.

Continue reading “Book Review: Riding the Centipede by John Claude Smith”

Market News: Flash Fiction Story, Roland’s Merry Christmas, Included in AHWA Anthology, Hell’s Bells

It is with pleasure that my flash fiction piece, Roland's Merry Christmas, is included with a wonderful group of flash fiction stories by notable and excellent writers – all of whom (myself included) are members of the Australian Horror Writers Association. The theme can easily be determined from the cover:

It is available in ebook format through Amazon and Smashwords.

Maret News: Derelict published in Inner Sins Magazine

Happy to see a home for my short dark fiction piece, Derelict. It is set in the same fictional geography as a story I published in Tico4 years ago, and it was inspired by some thoughts about people who are down and out – what stories do they have? Anyway, glad to see this out and about.

Market News: Old Bones, Young Bones is published in The Refuge Collection

Pleased to have my psychological horror piece, Old Bones, Young Bones published in The Refuge Collection (6.2). It is the second story of mine that got into that great collaberative effort, edited by Steve Dillon.

This story is probably the most disturbing I have written yet, in part because it is inspired, and was partly re-told, from a real conversation I had when I was much younger  – and reality is the most disturbing of all things in this world.

It is currently available as a stand alone ebook, but it will later be incorporated in an anthology. This is the link to the stand alone – support this great cause!

Love the artwork by Will Jaques 🙂


Market News: Gerald’s Memory House is published in The Refuge Collection

Very pleased to have two stories accepted for The Refuge Collection, a long running collaberative venture. Good causes and great company.

The first has been published: Gerald's Memory House – first in a stand alone ebook format, and soon to be added to a print version holding volumes 4 to 6 (this story is in Volume 5).


Market News: ‘Old Bones, Young Bones’ will be published in The Refuge Collection

Very pleased to have my dark short story, 'Old Bones, Young Bones' accepted by The Refuge Collection (ed. S Dillon). Aside from proceeds going to a great cause, I am extremely appreciative of a publisher accepting a story covering very disturbing topics. This was meant to be, methinks. Thanks to Lee Murray for great copy editing.

Details on the project can be found here.

Market News: ‘Gerald’s Memory-House’ to be published in The Refuge Collection

Very pleased to have my weird dark short story, 'The Memory-House' accepted by The Refuge Collection (ed. S Dillon). Aside from proceeds going to a great cause, it is a privilege to be added to an amazing collection of great authors who have already contributed.

Details on the project can be found here.

Book Review: A Mer-Tale by Jan M. Goldie

I should begin this review by saying that as Managing Director of IFWG Publishing Australia, I have published Jan M. Goldie (Brave's Journey – young teen fantasy), but I was not compelled in any way to review this book. I was simply handed it for my personal enjoyment. Which I did.

A Mer-Tale is a Young Adult contemporary fantasy novella, skirting closely science fiction. It primarily tells the tale through the POV of Thala, a young mermaid from an ancient mer-family, facing many personal and collective challenges, including the extinction of her race at the hands of an aquatic, alien race. I'll leave most of the spoilers now – it is worth a read.

I enjoyed A Mer-Tale and am impressed with strong world-building and character development in a relatively short work. At the same time, I feel that the story could have been longer, and there are a few places that are hurried – being a young adult story (as opposed to a young teen tale – middle grade), I think the audience would have appreciated delving a little deeper into the world, the cultures depicted, and most importantly, the characters and their interrelationships. Having said this, this is not a deal breaker – as I have already stated, Goldie has achieved much in a small space, which is no mean feat.

Thala's character is the most developed, which isn't surprising as it is her POV that dominates the story and given its first-person mode, allows the reader to easily slide into her thoughts. She is, above all else, and even beyond her prodigious burgeoning powers, a girl of determination and courage. This is, in my view, the theme that runs through the novella – the power of love and determination. Interestingly, there is a somewhat parallel thread running through the secondary narrative – that of Shiv, the uber-evolved alien (and which I think may have needed more expansion).

An outstanding dimension of Goldie's work is her scene-setting, bolstered by her strong imagination. Mermaid and Selkie tales abound in genre literature and Goldie has been able to knit such a tale with a fresh spin, most notably the concept of an alien/Earth conflict, with almost insurmountable differences, occurring beneath the ocean waves, and with humanity oblivious to it. On the surface this plot-line could appear ridiculous, far from the reach of suspended disbelief, but not in this particular case. It is strong and believable world-building.

I would recommend this one-night read to any lover of mermaid tales or imaginative young adult fiction. Four out of five stars.

Book Review: Evermore by Isobelle Carmody and Daniel Reed

I’ve been a bit remiss in reviewing Carmody and Reed’s graphic novel, Evermore, as I have read it some time ago. Particularly because this book is a treasure.

I am not always an avid reader of fairy tale reboots for adults – probably because getting it right requires a great deal of skill by a writer, but if it is very well constructed, it is an absolute pleasure to read. This is the case with Evermore, and especially when it was wrapped in visual magic.

Evermore is a story written through the point of view of Princess Rose, a teenager confined to a keep by a ruthless King. The language is the English of the fairy tale, archaic in form. The clothing of the princess, and her limited companions are medieval in style, as is much of the architecture of the princess’ home. And yet, from the very beginning, there is the sense of a post apocalyptic setting, and modern technologies are glimpsed or referenced. This is a mysterious juxtaposition, sitting elegantly on the pages, but at the same time forming an uneasiness in the narrative.

Without providing spoilers, Rose discovers her heritage is more complex than she had thought and with her growing conspicuous womanhood, will be the object of suitors’ desires. She learns that it is unlikely she will be wed, but instead, suitors who will battle for her hand will all end in agonizing deaths. She needs to escape her nightmare world to where her mother had originated, across a desolate desert.

I simply can’t say much more about the plot. It would be unfair to you, the reader.

It is my understanding that Evermore was a story that was written before it transformed into a graphic novel. And while there are a scattering of pages that contain reasonably long passages of text, compared to rich illustrations with quantities of text what readers are normally used to, it is not a downside to the work. The words are evocative, strong, and unmistakebly carries the protagonist’s voice.

Daniel Reed’s artistic skills do not expand Evermore’s story – it compliments it. Aside from extraordinary quality of art in terms of rendered characters and depiction of the world settings, it is also fresh and artistic in terms of the way Carmody’s words are woven among the frames. Colour and tone choice is generally dark and tending toward monochrome, adding to the atomosphere of bleakness of a post apocalyptic world, and depressed by tyranny. The words are typed with a derelict typewriter, which has forced the protagonist to add the ‘f’s by hand, as the f/F key is missing – the reader can’t miss it, but instead of being a distraction, it anchors the reader deep into this world. Reed loves to skew images and text in odd, quirky angles, again adding to the uneasiness of Rose’s predicament.

Evermore isn’t a standard sized graphic novel; it is a sizeable 135 pages long. It is a fairy tale but it is fresh and atmospheric, and has a unique backdrop. The story is original, with a fantasy style, but ultimately driving into a science fiction conclusion. We don’t have a helpless princess being rescued by a prince – instead we have a girl growing into a woman, and with the aid of the sacrifice of caring friends and drawing from her mother’s strength of character, a heroine who withstands the greatest of tests, without the need to resort to violence. We have tragedy and palpable evil depicted, but at the same time we have triumph of love and devotion. The conclusion isn’t a classical fairytale ending, as Carmody realistically depicts the price that sacrifice and suffering must reap. And yet the story’s ending is still a fairy tale.

It boggles my mind that Evermore hasn’t been shortlisted in the Aurealis Awards as I am sure it will linger longer in the minds of its readers than the majority of graphic novels produced in Australia in 2015. I’m still scratching my head.

This piece of art deserves 5 stars out of 5.