Jul 31, 2014

Snapshot 2014 – Michelle E. Goldsmith

SnaphotLogo2014You have been quietly working away, getting published in genre magazines and in anthologies, is there any current story or collection that you were/are excited about?

I have only really been writing and being published for a couple of years, so every sale is still very exciting to me. Actually, I still get a little thrill with every promising new story idea or whenever I finish the first draft of anything.  

Selling my first published story ‘The Hound of Henry Hortinger’ was super exciting because it was so unexpected. I’d always written bits and pieces and intended to aim for publication one day but I had never really finished anything before and it was the first time I had submitted a piece. At the time I had taken leave from university due to a chronic illness and was bored and frustrated at home. I saw a call for subs that happened to match my story idea and decided to write and submit it. I assumed that it would be rejected, but that I might get some useful feedback. To my surprise my rejection email was actually an acceptance. Cue much rejoicing. However, it did ruin my plans of procrastinating for a few more years by telling myself I wasn’t ready to write anything publishable yet.

That said, when I look back at my previously published works I’m obviously proud of them, but I am also usually looking at them through the lens of a significant portion of my ‘career’. So I often see the areas where I could improve or where I’ve learned since and might have done something a bit differently if I was writing that story now. I’m not quite sure if that is an early career thing, a symptom of youth (I probably am a little bit younger than most published writers I’ve met), or if it is universal to most writers.

This often means that the most exciting stories at any given time are the ones I’m yet to write; the ones that have the potential to excel above anything I’ve written before. I’m pretty sure that my best work is still to come and that is exciting in itself.

'The Hound of Henry Hortinger' was also translated into Russian recently and is appearing in a special edition of SNOB magazine, along with five other stories from the original anthology it was published in. One of the other stories is by my mentor, Kaaron Warren. The whole thing was a really exciting and unexpected development that was arranged by the people at the magazine in association with the British Council of the Arts. I just got a surprise email from Jared (the original publisher), signed a contract and then he kindly worked out the details from there. I believe this involved complicated administrative procedures where the necessary rights went from me to him, then to the British Council, then to Russian translators, then to SNOB. Vice versa for the payment. 

I can't wait for my contributor copy to arrive even though I won't be able to read it.  


2. As well as a short fiction writer you do (or did) also review speculative fiction.  How do you think being a reviewer contributes to your fiction writing?

I used to write a lot of reviews although I rarely do anymore. I started reviewing when I was working as a bookseller. My favourite part of the job was experiencing new books and sharing them with others. Online reviewing was a way to expand that beyond the scope of one smallish bookstore. It was also a way to do something productive, be involved in a community and to interact with people who shared my interests while I was too ill to go out much and was feeling a bit isolated while most of my friends were at uni or work.

Now that my last operation appears to have worked I finally feel a fair bit healthier and have to balance my own writing, a job and a Masters degree (all the while attempting not to neglect my partner, family, friends, pets and other general responsibilities of life). Unfortunately, this means I have less time to write reviews, especially not the detailed essay length type that I favour. I still write shorter ones occasionally to promote books I love and recommend books to people in other ways, but maintaining a regular reviewing schedule with people relying on me just isn’t a viable option at the moment.

I think reviewing was an invaluable step to improving my own writing and getting published. It forces you to think critically and identify exactly what within a story works and what doesn’t. It made me pay a lot more attention to technique. I also think that critically evaluating works and interacting with authors really helped me build confidence and reaffirmed that writing was not some strange magic achievable only by a select few and requiring a communion with unimaginable higher powers and possibly the sacrifice of your firstborn child. It’s a craft and a skill that you need to work at. I also met some great people through reviewing. Possibly most importantly, as a reviewer you read a lot of books and, in my opinion, the more you read the better for your own writing.


You write short fiction (and technical writing as the day job), is there a particular market that you would like to crack or do you have a longer work as an end goal?

I have so many goals! Any specific ones of course are secondary to the primary goal of continuing to write and to keep improving.

I really enjoy writing short fiction. I also enjoy reading it and have never thought of it just as a way of gaining publication credits to help me sell longer works in the future. You do hear people express that view of short fiction now and then and I don’t really understand it. I think a short story and a novel are very different art forms in many ways. I imagine I will always continue to write short stories because some stories and ideas are just suited to a shorter form while some require more space.

In regards to short fiction goals, I’d love to break into the pro markets and I want to have stories appear in my favourite journals and in anthologies from my favourite small presses (eg. Twelfth Planet Press, Ticonderoga, Clarkesword, Shimmer and many more). I’d love to have a story reprinted in a ‘Year’s Best’ anthology, whether Australian or international. I would also like to write a themed cross-genre short story collection focusing on human parallels to and interactions with other species and the wider natural world (that’s the zoologist/evolutionary biologist in me coming out). I’d also love to edit an anthology at some stage.

As you can probably tell, I do tend to dream big. I find that even if I don’t think I’m likely to achieve something anytime soon, sometimes it actually works out.

Keeping that in mind, I also have longer works planned. I have some novels that I’m working on, and the first one (a secondary world fantasy, possibly with some elements of weird fiction) is pretty much fully plotted out. I intend to start working on them seriously again soon, once I’ve cleared some of my short story backlog. I put the longer works on hold for a little while because as a writer, my skills and confidence are still developing. I know this is always the case, but when I first started working on the longer works (straight after selling my first short) I never got anywhere because by the time I finished a few chapters I would realize I’d learned a lot more and would want to rewrite the entire thing to go in a completely new direction. I think I have the whole thing more settled in my mind and have learned a bit more discipline now and am almost ready to give it another go. This time I intend to finish the entire first draft before I start hacking at it.

Technical writing and editing pays the bills, comes with its own sense of achievement and I believe it has taught me greater self-discipline (I’m paid by the hour so I can’t sit there procrastinating, I have to jump straight in and write). It’s a different type of writing but it still relies on stringing words together to achieve a specific purpose.

Also, there is nothing like writing thousands of words about valves or fibre optic cables to put you in the mood to switch your brain to a slightly more imaginative frequency and write 6000 words on, for instance, a girl who has a crow’s head or can only relate to jellyfish.

Overall, I have no ultimate goal because that would require an ‘end’ in sight. I don’t intend to stop writing anytime soon. I tried not to write and to forget the stories once and it didn’t work out for me.


4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

Ha! So many great works are coming out of Australia at the moment, many of them thanks to the work of smaller presses. No doubt I will forget heaps and then feel a bit guilty later.

Anyway, here are a few of my recent favourites:


  • Trucksong by Andrew MacRae
  • Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
  • Salvage by Jason Nahrung
  • The Etched City by K. J. Bishop

Short Fiction:

  • The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories by Joanne Anderton
  • Caution: contains small parts by Kirstyn McDermott
  • Dead Sea Fruit by Kaaron Warren
  • Bluegrass Symphony by Lisa L. Hannett
  • The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (eds.)


Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?

Well I haven’t been around long enough to really change the way I work in response to any changes. However, trends in the current publishing environment (or even the perceptions thereof) no doubt influence most writers in some way.

There seems to be an increasing focus on promotion and the author as a persona, which (without launching into one of my recent uni research projects) can be both a good and a bad thing for authors and writing. On a personal level, realising this made it clear to me that most people can’t write, submit and then sit around waiting for readers to find their work anymore.

Hopefully in five years time the future will seem a little less murky for authors, editors and publishers. Personally, I hope to be writing more than ever and hopefully helping to edit and publish worthy works and bring them to an audience. In addition to writing my own fiction, I get great satisfaction from helping others improve their own work and helping it reach its potential. I hope that we will see greater diversity in the field and exciting new writers will come through while established names continue to put out good work.

On a wider scale and over a longer timeframe, the future of writing and publishing is exciting, intimidating and probably mostly unknowable. Many different factors will undoubtedly come into play and many of them will probably come from left of field.

Nevertheless, more work is being published than ever before and I believe that as long as the human race exists there will always be people telling stories. Therefore I think publishers and editors will exist long into the foreseeable future. Their roles may change a bit, and the traditional ‘gatekeepers’ may act more as content filters to help readers choose in a market overwhelmed by choice, but publishers will still exist in some form or another and still fulfill their primary role of adding value to works.

Some developments in the publishing world can be a bit worrying for writers and the wider book industry and often there is reason to worry. I’m not sure it will become easier for writers to make a living in the foreseeable future, so I won’t give up the day job. There will almost certainly be ups and downs but while I used to be more fatalistic the more I learn the more I believe that eventually, barring complete disaster, we will emerge to a industry with a greater number of options available.  

While we may worry about certain things (like too much power invested in single companies) the industry will most likely adapt and in the end developments making publishing easier (as evident in the rise of self-publishing and the small presses) may be good for authors as the larger publishers are forced to innovate and offer them more.

We have seen ebooks become more widespread but they are not following the traditional pattern of a disrupting technology that would suggest they will completely replace physical books. I believe that paper books will still exist to some extent (different formats will probably end up holding different market shares for different types of books) for a long time to come. This seems even more likely when various innovations continue to make producing paper books easier and due to the fact that when you look at the production costs of a book, the physical binding and distribution don’t actually make up that large a percentage of the costs for most decent sized print runs.

I don’t think that reading ebooks on a single purpose device mostly restricted to one retailer will be the way most people read books in decades to come. That model seems like a ripe target for disruption. The device we read ebooks on will probably become one that fulfills multiple functions in the near future.

Of course, this is all just educated speculation and I could be wrong on any or all counts. Perhaps the human race will be overrun by amphibious, caffeine-fueled lake creatures any day now. On that note, I might finish up. I hear the song of my people calling me. Thanks for having me!



DSC01398Michelle E. Goldsmith is a science graduate (majoring in Zoology/Ecology) and author whose writing often inhabits the shady borderlands between genres.

Her life science background and particular fondness for the stranger aspects of the natural world often inform her fiction. Therefore, as she tries to write in a wide range of styles and genres, steps must sometimes be taken to prevent her from working mandibles, cilia and/or tentacles into unlikely places (on the page).

Among other things, she has worked as a bookseller, a book reviewer and an English and Biology tutor.

She currently lurks in Melbourne, Victoria where she works writing and editing articles for a number of technical magazines, is undertaking a Masters in Publishing and Communications and is a member of the SuperNOVA writers group.

She has fiction published in such places as Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Use Only as Directed (Peggy Bright Books, Australia) and the Dickensian weird anthology Pandemonium: Stories of the Smoke (Jurassic, London).

Her work has also appeared on the recommended reading list of The Year's Best Australian Fantasy and Horror (Ticonderoga) and she was shortlisted for a Ditmar award for Best New Talent in 2014. 

This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and collating the links at SF Signal. You can find other interviews in this series at the links below:

Did you enjoy this post? Would you like to read more? You can subscribe to the blog through a reader, by Email or Follow me on twitter.

Jul 30, 2014

Snapshot 2014- Russell Blackford

SnaphotLogo2014 Your latest project is a co-edited collection of essays with fellow Australian science fiction author Damien Broderick called, Intelligence Unbound: The Future of Uploaded and Machine Minds.  Some may claim that one role of science fiction is to point us towards the possible, to engage us in thinking ahead.  Are there topics, conundrums, possibilities contained within Intelligence Unbound that you are not seeing being echoed in fiction?

I don’t think the roles of fiction and non-fiction are the same with something like this. Science fiction can explore the possible social consequences of technology, highlight metaphysical and moral conundrums, bring out how events might impact on people. Through story, world-building, and character, it can consider the impact of innovations and ideas in ways that might go beyond what is doable in “straight” science or in philosophy. Still, it can’t do what scientists do when they actually conduct observations and experiments or even what philosophers do when they try to analyse concepts and anxieties in a rigorous way, when they examine the formal cogency of arguments, etc. So it’s not so much that there are issues that are unexplored in fiction. I suspect that most of the issues discussed by the contributors to Intelligence Unbound have, indeed, been explored in fiction, e.g. in the work of Greg Egan. But the various kinds of exploration – seen in fiction, in science, in philosophy, etc., are not substitutes for each other.


Earlier in the year you had Humanity Enhanced Genetic Choice and the Challenge for Liberal Democracies, published. It tackles many of the moral and ethical objections to human enhancement.  When you look at popular culture and the infiltration of science fictional themes into the mainstream, do you see these science fictional products as engaging in important ideas or are they largely conservative, pushing the "What if something goes wrong?" point of view instead of the "What might be possible?"

There’s a strong element of technophobia running through science fiction as a genre, though this varies from time to time and place to place. Certainly, much science fiction is technophobic when it comes to genetic technologies. Still, one feature of the sf mega-text is its essentially ambivalent attitude to technology. Even in a work with strong technophobic elements, technology may at the same time have alluring, pleasant, liberating aspects. In individual works, more cautionary, fearful attitudes to technology may prevail, but there is usually some aspect that subverts this to a degree. And even highly technophiliac works – including those of the Gernsback era and the Golden Age – often show dangers in new technology. I think that looking for this kind of ambivalence in individual sf works is often a great way to understand them more deeply. At a larger level, I think it’s a key to understanding the genre as a whole.


Your recent works have tended toward the academic and philosophical, is there a fictional outlet that you want to pursue, some idea that you don't believe has received adequate treatment from the field? Or is what we are on the verge of experiencing more immediate or important?

I can’t see myself writing fiction for the foreseeable future, and if I did it would probably be something more for fun and entertainment than something earnestly exploring genetics or Artificial Intelligence, or the like. For example, it would be a lot of fun to write a sequel to The Tempting of the Witch King, or perhaps to “The Sword of God”. Really though, I find that writing fiction and writing non-fiction prose just don’t mix for me. I need to be obsessed with whatever I’m working on at a particular time, and I find that the two different kinds of tasks put me in completely different mental zones. I can imagine working simultaneously on two novels or on two philosophical books, but not some mixture.


What Australian works have you loved recently?

I’ve read a lot of Australian speculative fiction recently in my role as a juror for the Norma K. Hemming Award. I loved many of the books, though some did not seem to be especially relevant to the award. One example of that was Max Barry’s extraordinary thriller Lexicon. The winning book, Nike Sulway’s Rupetta, was superb. I love Jo Spurrier’s sword ‘n’ sorcery work, though her newest book in her current series seemed less on-topic for the award than the first one (where depiction of the life of a wounded and disabled warrior was central). I recommend Janeen Webb’s new collection of her short fiction, Death at the Blue Elephant, which includes some new pieces that are mindblowingly good.


Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?

The short answer to the first question is “not yet” – I suppose my only concern so far is that the ease of self-publishing has put a lot of books of dubious quality on the market, which can undercut high-quality books, especially from academic presses where the marketing strategy involves relatively small print runs and high unit costs. Still, those presses will continue to sell strongly into academic libraries. The problem is probably not so much lost sales as a certain amount of confusion about what books really are reliable, intellectually cutting edge, etc.

I have a list of books that I want to write and/or edit, so if I can maintain my current reputation with some good publishers I’ll be working through that list. These are all non-fiction books, I’m afraid. I’m not currently in the mental zone to be writing fiction. Again, I find the two kinds of writing don’t really mix for me. I would, however, like to get back soon to writing more material that discusses fiction – and narrative and literature in general – in a serious way. These things are important, there’s much to explore, and I miss having the time to write more about that.


RussellDSC03054 Russell Blackford is a philosopher, writer, and literary critic who grew up in Newcastle, where he recently returned after 30 years in Melbourne. He is a Conjoint Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle. Russell’s most recent books include 50 Great Myths About Atheism (co-authored with Udo Sch√ľklenk; 2013), Humanity Enhanced: Genetic Choice and the Challenge for Liberal Democracies (2014), and Intelligence Unbound: The Future of Uploaded and Machine Minds (co-edited with Damien Broderick; 2014). His fiction and literary criticism have won him a number of national awards, including the William Atheling Jr. Award for Criticism or Review on three occasions. As a creative writer, he is perhaps best known for his award-winning, and frequently reprinted, fantasy story “The Sword of God” (1996) and his tie-in trilogy for the Terminator franchise, Terminator 2: The New John Connor Chronicles (2002-2003).



This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and collating the links at SF Signal. You can find other interviews in this series at the links below:

Did you enjoy this post? Would you like to read more? You can subscribe to the blog through a reader, by Email or Follow me on twitter.

Snapshot 2014 – Jodi Cleghorn


You wear so many hats: poet, publisher, fiction writer in both long and short forms. Is there one project that you are currently excited about that you might like to share with us?

Sean, you are evil, you know this? You list all those hats and then ask for one project.

I have just signed on for the collaborative element of Ben Walter’s digital residency, which aims to join writers from the mainland with writers from Tasmania. At this point, I think I’ve got myself a partner. What we do remains to be seen as I guess we discover where our commonalities are (I hope my partner likes dark weird shit!). I have never collaborated with a total stranger so I’m in the place I relish most of all: a little excited, a little terrified.

I’m also in the throes of getting my flash fiction collection No Need To Reply ready for publication. In true me style, I’ve decided to do something collaborative with it but at this point I’m not sure of the exact details and parameters of the participatory element. The possibility of opening my work up to reinterpretation without boundaries is a little bit exciting and a little bit terrifying. This tells me I must be in the right place!


This year I heard you talk on a panel about interactive storytelling and you mentioned the Chinese Whisperings anthologies, which allowed the respective authors to play around with shared narrative arcs. Over the last couple of years you have also experimented with epistolary fiction. The Piper's Reach narrative co-authored with Adam Byatt told a story through letters where you actually sent real letters to each other as part of the writing process. Where does this desire to play or facilitate manipulation of narrative come from?

I want to be able to point my finger and say: that one, as the one defining moment to encapsulate a neat, simple answer for you, but I can’t.

I know movies such as Sliding Doors and Run, Lola Run had a lasting impact on me even though I wasn’t writing at the time. They gave me a taste and an appreciation for non-linear narratives and the possibilities they created.

Originally I guess I wanted to create an anthology that forced readers to read every single story—a book more like a novel than a collection of short stories. And I wanted to see if it was possible for ten writers to write ten interconnected stories—because! Okay, because that’s the way my brain works.

But it was also spawned by a desire to facilitate shared creative spaces for writers. When we began working on the first Chinese Whisperings anthology in 2008/9 those collaborative opportunities were remarkably few and far between.

I’ve been lucky that with each project incarnation I’ve been able to push a little further beyond the boundaries and the authors involved have all stepped up to pull it off. I’m still awed that Chinese Whisperings: The Yin and Yang Book works (parallel airport universes that share an epilogue and prologue, characters and events, but written by 22 different authors). I’m also chuffed to have international authors such as Emma Newman, Dan Powell and Richard Parker in there.

I’m known as doing things very differently in publishing, and authors trust me, despite the wacky things I throw at them. But I’ve had to learn to trust in the authors, step back and let go. You cannot micro manage a shared space. But ret-conning is your best friend as an editor of a collaborative work, in making everything eventually fit together the way it always did.

Writing Post Marked: Piper’s Reach is as close to perfection as I think I’ll ever get in a project: literally, a once in a lifetime opportunity.

In short (now we’ve taken the scenic route): maybe I’m a frustrated explorer who in a different age might have pursued crazy adventures of a different way, like the Nellie Blys of the world did.


You surprised yourself this year by stumbling into Poetry and earning a return spot at Brisbane SpeedPoets. Will we see more poetry from Jodi Cleghorn or is your muse too hard to pin down?

Oh gosh, poetry!! I feel like an absolute imposter on the poetry scene. To win my first open mic (I’d only gone along to read and support Stacey!) was a cruel twist of fate in as much as I am now forced to write enough poems to fit an eight-minute set in November for the finals.

Poetry writing is at best erratic. Poetry likes to wait for an invitation to cosy-up whereas stories are like loud, whinging kids that turn up at the most inopportune time. I’m yet to turn my hand to speculative poetry as I’m still finding my voice. For now I’m sticking in my comfort zone: the only-slightly-more-grown-up shoes of the angsty teenage poet I once was… now with bigger words and adult concepts.


What Australian works have you loved recently?

I have no qualms in admitting I am a huge fan-girl of Kirstyn McDermott. I read Caution: Contains Small Parts on the way home from NatCon this year and it was everything (and more) of what I expected and wanted from her stories. ‘Horn’ and the title story, ‘Caution: Contains Small Parts’ were for me, Kirstyn at the top of her game. Stories that stop at all stations on the way to creepy town. Required packing: extra-large box of tissues. As always, in reading Kirstyn’s work I found ‘fixes’ I wasn’t intentionally looking for in my own work.

I met Danny O’Malley at GenreCon 2012 and this year I finally got around to reading The Rook. It’s very, very clever (but not too clever), laugh-out-loud entertainment, with a dark edge that defies classification. Can’t wait to see what Danny does in the next adventure of Myfanwy (pronounced like Tiffany rather than it’s Welsh antecedent.)

Wiki says three different nations claim Michel Faber so I’m claiming him as Australian to mention Under The Skin. Such an apt name for a book that crawls under the dermis and stays there, with it’s myriad of themes circling like sharks waiting for an unwary moment to bite you (again!) months after reading.


Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?

The Internet continues to make things interesting in terms of bringing ideas and people together. And while I adore what the Internet auspices in terms of opportunities, having strong roots within the local community remains imperative for me.

I began writing in 2007 and I knew one other writer in Brisbane. All my writing contacts were online and overseas. That has changed dramatically and it is shaping what happens next for publishing for me. I want to showcase and celebrate my corner of the world in a global market place. I also want to, where possible, make best use of the business opportunities (in terms of grants etc) provided locally.

The next anthology eMergent publishes will be unashamedly Brisbane in flavor and orientation. It doesn’t herald the end of what came before, more a branching out that builds on our existing ethos of supporting new voices and innovation in storytelling. In my head there are at least eight new projects waiting to be unleashed but life has taught me in the last two years that ideas don’t come with expiry dates and patience (unbelievably) has pay offs.

From an operational viewpoint, eMergent will continue to bundle paperbacks with eBooks (with no extra cost for the eBook) and I’m keen to see more publishers embrace the and/and approach to publishing rather than the predominant either/or. There’ll be new editors coming on board as I work to evolve eMergent not just as a platform for new concepts and voices but for new editors and the projects they are passionate about. And there will be projects that extend across storytelling mediums.

I’m greatly inspired by the work of IF:Books Australia (and their contemporaries in the UK and USA). I am intrigued by how other creatives push boundaries to make stories happen, and how other publishers innovate and the knock-ons from those innovations.

For example, my flash fiction collection No Need to Reply was written as part of Roast Book’s competition to launch and publicise their new publishing platform Bookimbo. Those eight stories would not have been written without that new platform.

The small press to keep an eye on is Brisbane-based Tiny Owl Workshop who are doing truly interesting mixed media projects, reshaping what it means to publish and be published. I can’t wait to see where they go in the next five years, especially with their long-term world-building project The Lane of Unusual Traders launched in the middle of the year.

In a nutshell, all I can be certain of in five years: I will still be stupidly in love with short stories, in and out of love with editing and publishing, and my to-read pile will involve me taking out another lifetime to finish it.

sidewaysBW JODI CLEGHORN (@jodicleghorn) is an author, editor, poet, small press owner and occasional workshop facilitator with a penchant for the dark vein of humanity. Elyora/River of Bones, her debut novella, was short-listed for an Aurealis in 2012. Her current writing projects involve clockpunk, birthpunk and when she’s feeling courageous, dares from her son for stories without violence, sexual references and frequent, coarse language.






This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and collating the links at SF Signal. You can find other interviews in this series at the links below:

Did you enjoy this post? Would you like to read more? You can subscribe to the blog through a reader, by Email or Follow me on twitter.

Jul 29, 2014

Snapshot 2014 - Sue Bursztynski



1. You have been involved heavily in ASIM and edited issue 60.  What trends have you noticed in submissions?  What's changed over the years of your involvement?

Do you mean what has changed in what we're buying or what we're receiving? I can only go by the slush I've read, but I do seem to have seen a fair bit of Steampunk recently. We get a lot of fantasy too. We do like humour if we can get it, but we don't receive as much as we'd like and probably our readers would lose interest anyway if that's all or most of what we published.

I tried to have a balance of SF, fantasy and horror; there aren't as many Australian pieces in issue 60 as I would have liked, but I could only choose from what was available. I admit I had more space-themed stories than some other issues, but just couldn't resist whenever a great space story came my way. I did still publish historical fantasy, stories based on mythology and one very unusual vampire story.


2. You work as a Librarian, and you are one of this year's Aurealis Judges for the Children's section?  YA is becoming increasingly popular  and more widely read by those of us who are age rich. But for those readers who limit themselves to adult Speculative Fiction, which authors and books do you recommend and what specfic stories are engaging the younger fans among us?

I don't read a lot of adult books; the best spec fic I've read is YA, such as Michael Pryor's Steampunk Laws Of Magic series. However, I recommend the classic writers - you can't go wrong with the likes of Harry Harrison, Poul Anderson, Gordon R Dickson and such. There's an ebook republishing scheme called SF Gateway which has a lot of the classics. More recently: Lois McMaster Bujold, Stephen Baxter, Connie Willis, Juliet Marillier, Margo Lanagan, Harry Turtledove,who also writes YA, Kate Forsyth, ditto, Terry Pratchett... Actually, so do Juliet Marillier, Terry Pratchett and Margo Lanagan. I have plenty of other favourites, but they're all YA writers.

Younger fans, in my experience as an old teacher librarian, are reading and loving dystopian and vampire romances(I have a hard time persuading our girls to read anything in which the vamp is a bad guy.). In my library, the Ranger's Apprentice series(John Flanagan), and others are big fans of Garth Nix's books. Interestingly, the very girl-centred Old Kingdom books have an all male fandom at my school.


wolfborn_ARTWORK:Layout 1

3. You write fairly broad fantasy, historical fantasy and mythic retellings - what can we expect from you in the future? 

I do write a lot of historical fantasy, as a lover of history and mythology, because that's what I know about. I also write a little straight historical fiction, two published so far and working on a third, though not sure yet if it will sell. If it doesn't, I might have to rework it as a fantasy.

I sold a lot of children's non-fiction, including education books, though there's no market for it now unless you're one of a company's stable of writers. If there's another opportunity to do that, I will try it. I can't do hard SF because my knowledge of physics and chemistry is minimal, but I'd like to have a go at borderline SF, which I can research without having physics qualifications(in fact, I sold one a few years ago, a children's chapter book called Grey Goo). SF is what drew me to spec fic in the first place, "sensawunda" - look at the cover of ASIM 60 and you'll see what I love. And I read New Scientist regularly for ideas.


4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

Recently, as in the last few months, Ambelin Kwaymullina's The Interrogation Of Ashala Wolf and The Disappearance Of Ember Crow - wonderful dystopian fiction, can't wait for the next one, though I'll have to; like me, Ambelin Kwaymullina has a full time day job! Some books by Kate Forsyth, including her recent Two Selkie Stories From Scotland from Christmas Press. The last of Juliet Marillier's Shadowfell trilogy.


5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?

These days it's much harder to sell anything to large press, which is cutting back and taking fewer chances - the last thing I sold to a big publisher was my novel Wolfborn and before that even came out, my publisher from the Woolshed imprint of Random House lost her job and Woolshed no longer does spec fic, so I couldn't sell them another fantasy novel in that imprint.

Small press is now the way to go and thank heavens we have some wonderful small press publishers in Australia! I'm reading (and submitting to) both small and large press, but I mostly stick to small press for my fix of SF and big press for YA and children's books(though the fabulous Ford Street is supplying me with YA as well).

Five years - who knows?

photo (1) Sue Bursztynski is a Melbourne writer, author of ten books for children and teens. Her short fiction has appeared in anthologies from Ford Street Publishing, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Pearson, Peggy Bright books, Specusphere and Fablecroft. She blogs at The Great Raven about YA, children's and genre fiction and is a member of the Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Maazine team. Her YA novel Wolfborn was a Children's Book Council of Australia Notable Book. Her story for younger readers, "The Sheepdog In The Stable" will be published in November in Christmas Press's forthcoming anthology, Once Upon A Christmas Annual.




This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and collating the links at SF Signal. You can find other interviews in this series at the links below:

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Snapshot 2014: Craig Hildebrand-Burke


1. Most of us in the Speculative Fiction scene will have come across your work with Momentum Publishing as a blogger & commentator. You also write fiction. What current creative project do have on the go that you might want to share?

I'm working on a novel, one that I've recently resuscitated after running into a dead-end a couple of years ago. It's somewhat of a haunted house/ghost story but set in an old boarding school - kind of the antithesis to Hogwarts, where the school is the danger rather than the haven. There's aspects which echo the gothic tradition of ghost stories, but I've also looked a lot to things like 'Salem's Lot, which managed to take the old and put it in a newer, contemporary setting, while also focusing the story on a small, insular community. There's something wonderfully inescapable and claustrophobic about boarding school communities, that makes them ripe for this kind of story. I hope.

2. You blog lists a couple of short fiction publications Watch, which appears in Etchings, Issue 12 and A Way to Go in Tincture Journal, Issue 1, does your work contain the same speculative fiction flavour that your non-fiction is based upon or do you like writing in a number of genres/modes?

On the surface, no. Watch is actually taken from the abandoned manuscript I mentioned above, but I took all the speculative flavour out of it to make it stand on its own, and A Way To Go was inspired by a story in the papers I read about two teenagers that ran away from home. Ideally, I'd love to write more short fiction that does play comfortably with genres - particularly horror, which I think can be a perfect genre for short stories - but it's hard to find places and publications for these. However, Canary Press is publishing a genre-only issue later this year, which perhaps is a sign that there might be more room for this in short fiction.

3. You are an English teacher by day, but in terms of you writing fiction or non fiction what goal are you headed towards?

I try to balance the two. I've been writing for Momentum now for about a year, and that's made the work-life-writing balance even harder to manage, but it's settled into a good pattern lately. First plan is to get this manuscript finished, and then we'll take it from there. I think most people realise that solely writing fiction for a living is difficult, so sharing the load with teaching - where I still get to engage with books and writing on a daily basis - is a pretty good deal for me.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

I do go on a bit about Steven Amsterdam's books - Things We Didn't See Coming and What The Family Needed - and though they've both been out for a while I still heartily recommend them to anyone I can find. I've recently read Angela Meyer's collection of flash fiction Captives, which was just wonderful, as is The Great Unknown which she edited, a collection of different writer's work taking inspiration from shows like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.

I'm also judging the horror entries for novels and short fiction for the Aurealis Awards, so I'm gearing up for a lot of good local reading in the next six months.

5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?

Well I wouldn't be doing this, to begin with. There's been this wonderful democratising of the whole thing, where writers, publishers and readers are all occupying the same space and having the same conversations. And I know the divide hasn't always been there, but I think for someone who's coming from just being a reader and someone who wanted to write, it's a lot less daunting and there seem to be no artificial hurdles anymore - it's just about the writing. Having worked that out in the last couple of years for myself has given me a real kick to finally deal with this backlog of fiction that I've got in my head, which I can hopefully start to produce with a bit of regularity.

Craig Hildebrand-Burke is a writer and teacher from Melbourne. He currently blogs for Momentum, contributing on books, writing, film and television. His short stories have been published both in print and digital, and writes reviews, opinion pieces, and other bits of writing in a variety of places and publications.
He teaches English, Literature and Creative Writing to secondary students, and has been a participant in both the Digital Writers' Festival and the Emerging Writers' Festival discussing genre fiction in the digital age, and the future of teaching writing to students. He tweets from @hildebrandburke and can also be found at www.craighildebrandburke.com

This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and collating the links at SF Signal. You can find other interviews in this series at the links below:

Did you enjoy this post? Would you like to read more? You can subscribe to the blog through a reader, by Email or Follow me on twitter.

Jul 28, 2014

Snapshot 2014: Adam Browne



1. Your latest major work to come out was "Other Stories’ and Other Stories through Satalyte publishing.  What's currently in the works for you or what's engaged your interest(distracting you from writing)?

Yes, it was nice to release a collection; partly because I've long wanted to use that title; also because I got to write an original story with my daughter, Harriet - some say it's the best story in the book. My father was urging me to rerelease my short stories, and I dedicated the book to him for the sometimes anxious support he's given me over the years. One of the stories is now up on an audio magazine - might be there no longer by the time this is published - the one I wrote with Harriet will be there in August too: here's the link: http://farfetchedfables.com/ - also, we recorded some readings by Francis Greenslade - such an amazing actor.


pyrotechnicon1-199x3002. Pyrotechnicon was you first novel (and deliciously baroque) and you've released a collection of shorts. Where to in the future, more adventures with Cyrano?

Currently, I'm working on a book about the mid-19th Century christian mystic Jakob Lorber, illustrations and commentary on the animals and plants that he was given to know about by God, especially those that live on the planet Saturn. It's a chimeric book. The head is the introduction, some sort of dry arthropod, the body gets wobbly and ornate - a mollusc like one of those lurid nudibranchs - dunno about the hinder parts yet: I think there'll be hooves, but they're of the fabulous sort - belonging to a unicorn, maybe. (BTW, I learned the word for the unicorn's horn the other day - alicorn - salutary in ointment form against leprosy...) Thomas Edison features in the book too. I've wanted to write an Edisonade for a while. I stole quite a bit from Thomas Edison Conquers Mars, an unauthorised sequel to War of the Worlds.

Also working on a novel. Slowly. Sort of in the same universe as Pyrotechnicon, but set in the far future. On an otherworld Venice, the galaxy suffering a carnival plague. About 30000 words after more than 2 years.


3. What Australian works have you loved recently?

OtherStoriesweb-500x523A few Australian novelists have stood out even so. I value intelligence and novelty above all in my fiction, for which reason  Andrew Macrae's novel Truck Dreaming is a must.  I always read whatever Lee Battersby publishes for the same reason - Jack Dann too - I'm looking forward to his latest; I reckon the output from the small publishers Satalyte and Couer de Leon is worth a look as well. 

But always and above all it's Anna Tambour. She has an exquisite intelligence, a raw sensorium, a febrile imagination, a naturalist's eye and a Renaissance breadth of knowledge. One of her short stories once gave me the feeling that a new sulcus, if that's the word, was opening in my frontal lobes. A gaping not entirely pleasant vertiginous sense that an entirely new Category had been added to the world. Which sounds figurative and hyperbolic I know, but it's true. It was literally the case. Over my career as a reader of sf, there have been times when I've almost given up on it.  PK Dick rescued me once. Gibson on another occasion. Tambour is my current saviour.


4. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?

The Internet and Facebook have changed my reading patterns.  I still read a lot but it's online stuff: the Web is a  wunderkammer.


Adam Browne was born in 1963 and lives in Melbourne, Australia with his daughter, Harriet.  His stories have been published widely.  He received the Aurealis Award for best Australian short story in 2002, and the Chronos Award for best Victorian short story in 2009.  His story ‘Space Operetta’ was adapted as an animated film, Adjustable Cosmos, in 2010.

His illustrations have been exhibited in Australian galleries.  Pyrotechnicon (Being a True Account of Cyrano De Bergarac’s Further Adventures Among the States and Empires of the Stars) is his first novel and published through Coeur De Lion.

He has recently released ‘Other Stories’ and Other Stories. through Satalyte Publishing.

You can find Adam at his Blog.

You can find other interviews in this series at the links below:

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Snapshot 2014: Kate Forsyth

SnaphotLogo2014I’d like to welcome Kate Forsyth to kick off my run of 2014 Snapshot interviews and thank her for taking the time to answer my questions.


1. You are about to lead a writing workshop in the Cotswolds. What were the factors in choosing this location and what do you think taking writers out of their everyday surrounds can do?

When I was asked to run a writers retreat overseas, the organisers left it up to me to choose the setting. They already had a retreat in Paris, and they wanted something different ... something magical and full of history and romance and atmosphere. I thought about where I'd most like to go ... and the idea of Oxford & the Cotswolds came into my mind. I mentioned it to the organisers and they loved the idea! It took a while to find the perfect Cotswolds village - luckily for me, part of the research was to travel through the Cotswolds checking out pubs and restaurants and pretty little villages. I think we're found somewhere amazing in the beautiful old village of Broadway - it's called the Jewel of the Cotswolds.

I think travel is very important for writers. It shakes us up, gives us new perspectives and new ideas, and allows us a space of time in which to dream, imagine, and play. A writers' retreat amplifies this experience. My plan is to have a 3 hour class every morning, and to leave the participants free in the afternoons so they can write or  explore as they wish. The workshops will be all about finding new ways to think about writing; about opening up the imagination and the creative mind.


bitter-greens 2. I have loved your two most recent adult books, Bitter Greens and The Wilde Girl and I love hearing you talk about the adventures you have while researching. In this digital age with a lot of information at our fingertips, how important was it to be physically present in some of these locations?

For me, its very important. I can see what it looks like from a photo or website, but I cannot FEEL the place. Writing is all about what lies within. When I travel to a certain setting, I have been living inside my character's skin for months and so I stand there, feeling what they may feel ... it opens up the story to me in new and very interesting ways.


3. I note that you have a transmedia event called The Impossible Quest, being launched internationally in September. Can you tell us about the project and what you hope to achieve with it?

It's such an exciting project! Basically, I have written five fast-paced,action-packed, fantasy adventures - old-fashioned narratives in which the reader will hopefully be totally absorbed into the story. Separate to the stories but intimately linked to them is the website, which contains a locked vault where all sorts of treasures lie - games and quizzes and thousands of dollars worth of prizes ... the secret codes to unlock all this treasure are hidden within the books. The only way to find them is to read the stories closely ...


the-wild-girl 4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

'The Caller' by Juliet Marillier

'Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy' by Karen Foxlee

'Evergreen Falls'by Kimberley Freeman

'The Sequin Star' by Belinda Murrell (disclosure needed: she's my sister!)

'The Winter Bride'by Anne Gracie

and I'm now reading 'Burial Rites'by Hannah Kent


5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be writing/reading in five years from now?

The international publishing industry is changing fast and I think its important to be aware of the changes, and the opportunities they bring. The transmedia project 'The Impossible Quest' is an example of me and my publishers playing with new ways to publish books. I'd like to do more with new technologies, seeing how far we can push the boundaries - I have lots of ideas! However, I still think that readers want a totally immersive reading experience which new technologies can disrupt. So I'll be looking at ways to use new technologies to enrich the reading experience, but not to disturb it too much. I'll also be looking at ways of using new technologies to help in the marketing & promotion of books, to reach out to a global audience without having to spend half my life in airport lounges.


Kate H-S sml Kate Forsyth wrote her first novel at the age of seven, and is now the internationally bestselling  & award-winning author of thirty books, ranging from picture books to poetry to novels for both adults and children. She was recently voted one of Australia's Favourite 20 Novelists, and has been called 'one of the finest writers of this generation'. She is also an accredited master storyteller with the Australian Guild of Storytellers, and has told stories to both children and adults all over the world.

Her most recent book for adults is a historical novel called 'The Wild Girl', which tells the true, untold love story of Wilhelm Grimm and Dortchen Wild, the young woman who told him many of the world's most famous fairy tales. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, 'The Wild Girl' is a story of love, war, heartbreak, and the redemptive power of storytelling, and was named the Most Memorable Love Story of 2013. 

You can read more about Kate at her official website: www.kateforsyth.com.au


This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and collating the links at SF Signal. You can follow interviews daily from the following:

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Jul 27, 2014

Let the Snapshot begin

SnaphotLogo2014 The Australian Speculative Fiction Snapshot has taken place four times in the past 10 years. In 2005, Ben Peek spent a frantic week interviewing 43 people in the Australian spec fic scene, and since then, it's grown every time, now taking a team of interviewers working together to accomplish! 

In the lead up to Worldcon in London, we will be blogging interviews for Snapshot 2014, conducted by Tsana Dolichva, Nick Evans, Stephanie Gunn, Kathryn Linge, Elanor Matton-Johnson, David McDonald, Helen Merrick, Jason Nahrung, Ben Payne, Alex Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Helen Stubbs, Katharine Stubbs, Tehani Wessely and Sean Wright. Last time we covered nearly 160 members of the Australian speculative fiction community with the Snapshot – can we top that this year?

To read the interviews hot off the press, check these blogs daily from July 28 to August 10, 2014, or look for the round up on SF Signal when it's all done:


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Jul 24, 2014

Get the rest of the Year’s subscription to Aurealis free

image003 Yes.  You did read correctly.

As part of Aurealis magazine's upcoming celebration of 25 years of continuous publication, they are offering  ABSOLUTELY FREE HALF-YEAR SUBSCRIPTIONS for 2014. To get your free subscription to the last 5 issues of the year (Aurealis #72 to Aurealis #76), go to their Subscriptions Page.

Hurry, the offer is only open until the end of July!

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Get Ben Peek’s Godless with Free Shipping from Booktopia


It doesn’t come out until the 1st of August, but Booktopia have Free Shipping until midnight Tuesday 29th of July. So if you want to pre-order The Godless Just go here, purchase and type WINTER in the appropriate coupon code box at the end of checkout.  You can of course use this coupon with any other book on the website. 

I just happen to be reading an ARC of The Godless and really starting to enjoy it.the-falcon-throne

But why stop there, also coming out towards the end of August is a new epic fantasy from Aussie Karen Miller called, The Falcon Throne (also waiting in my review pile).  Here’s the low down:

Nobody is innocent. Every crown is tarnished. A royal child, believed dead, sets his eyes on regaining his father’s stolen throne. A bastard lord, uprising against his tyrant cousin, sheds more blood than he bargained for. A duke’s widow, defending her daughter, defies the ambitious lord who d control them both. And two brothers, divided by ambition, will learn the true meaning of treachery. All of this will come to pass, and the only certainty is that nothing will remain as it once was. As royal houses rise and fall, empires are reborn and friends become enemies, it becomes clear that much will be demanded of those who follow the path to power.

Sound interesting?

I have read the first couple of pages and its suitably dark and gruesome.  The Falcon Throne can be pre-ordered with the same Free Shipping here.


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Jul 9, 2014

Book Review – City of Masks by Ashley Capes


I have reviewed Capes’ work previously, notably his free verse collection Stepping Over Seasons.  I also admire his skill in the Japanese forms of Haibun and Haiku. And it’s not just me, one of his poems was selected by John Tranter for The Best Australian Poems 2012.

He’s a skilled poet.

City of Masks isn’t poetry though, it’s not even realist/literary fiction.  It is, however, a damn good example of fantasy fiction and a great first novel.

So what does a debut novelist(or any novelist) want to do with a fantasy novel?  Entertain us, give us a mix of something new as well as giving us something familiar and entice us back for more.  On the first count Capes is good, City of Masks is a slick read, a mixture of political intrigue and thriller paced action.  The main cast of characters is wrong footed from beginning to end and Capes drip feeds the clues to the mysteries at the right points to allow the reader to keep slightly ahead of the characters. 

So structurally, for a first time novel, I think it beats some more established writers.

Warm light fell on a large writing desk and chairs arranged before crackling flames in the fireplace. Above the mantle, set in a specially crafted setting, rested her father’s Greatmask. Argeon’s ancient face of bone stared down at her and she shivered. Impossible not to think of the mask as watching her. He was not a typical mask by any stretch. A presence, a life, lurked within Argeon’s dark sockets.

On the choice of setting, Capes gives us a port city settled by the Anaskari, a vaguely Italian/Venetian culture whose secret police, the Mascare, wear carved bone masks and ominous red cloaks. It’s a place ripe for secrecy and political manoeuvring. Several noble families jostle around an increasingly infirm King for favour and power.  So yes, robed secret police, politicking and vaguely Venetian settings have been done before but I was intrigued about the Greatmasks; bone masks of power passed down through families that are imprinted with the wearer’s thoughts and personalities. 

I also like the addition of a dispossessed people, the Medah, a desert people who used to occupy the land the city was built upon.  They were defeated in a war with the Anaskari and consigned to a nomadic lifestyle in the desert wastes. They yearn for revenge and to oust the invaders. It will be interesting where Capes takes this plot thread as they are presented not unsympathetically.

Capes balances this familiar setting, with cool additions with likeable and well rounded characters.  There are two chief protagonists, with a secondary cast backing them up.  Sofia, is a scion of House Falco who are charged with the protection of the crown. Sofia’s father will, however, be succeeded by her elder brother and she is resigned (not entirely enthusiastically) to carving Mascare masks and eventually producing more of the Falco line.

Until certain events place her at the centre of things.

Now as one of the main protagonists I did feel at times that she lacked agency, though to be fair she was faced with older and more skilled opponents at almost every turn, so my discomfort is perhaps more one of annoyance at a central figure being constantly frustrated in their efforts, than her being a damsel in distress.  I hope that we will see her grow in competence as the tale progresses.  I think Capes is walking fine line between pushing against suspension of disbelief and having a kick arse central character.  He got me invested, I just wanted to see her get some runs on the board.

The second main protagonist is Notch, a veteran and hero of the  war against the Medah. We are introduced to him first, imprisoned on account of a murder he can’t remember. He’s slightly worn, a little jaded and cares little for subtlety.  He’s not stupid but he tends to want to act before thinking - a failing that probably curbs any advantage of experience he might have held over Sofia, as even he is outclassed by the villains of the tale.  Major supporting roles are filled by Flir, the fair skinned Renovar woman who wields inhuman strength, Seto a mysterious crime lord who bank rolls much of their response and Luik the cook.

The Medah, represented by Ain the pathfinder, charged with finding a way through the desert wastes to the homeland of his people and to destroy the Anaskari invaders, pilots a secondary plot for much of this tale and while his actions do influence the action in the city, I feel he will become a much larger part of book two.

I hate cliff-hangers in trilogies and thankfully City of Masks doesn’t have one.  The novel has a satisfactory resolution but leaves some plot threads open for us to pick up on in book two.  Capes has sketched a compelling world, given us two likeable leading characters and kept me entertained for the entire and engaged the entire novel.

A very successful first outing, I am surprised that he wasn’t picked up by one of our large local publishing houses but has been instead snapped up by Snapping Turtle out of New Zealand who publish Jennifer Fallon's books.

You can purchase the novel through links here.

This e-arc was provided by the author.  Quotes may not reflect the final text of the novel.

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Book Review – Unwrapped Sky by Rjurik Davidson


It’s hard to categorise Davidson’s Unwrapped Sky in more than a general sense (as Fantasy) and this is a good thing. 

It’s vivid and evocative descriptions belie the origins of a world that began in the realm of short stories (several of Davidson’s earlier published short works are set in this world) where your words must do much heavier lifting.  Consequently Unwrapped Sky feels very richly realised to me, dirty, gritty, tangible.  In places this might slow the ride a little but when Davidson is directing our attention at something, the direction is not wasted.

The tale follows the fortunes of three principal characters: Kata, a philosopher assassin and agent of House Technis who is increasingly at odds with her employer’s world view;  Maximillian, a self taught thaumaturge and seditionist who dreams of confronting the Houses with their own magics; and Boris, a former tram worker who begins a quick(and perhaps unmerited) rise to power in House Technis.

If I must be forced to categorise it, Unwrapped Sky contains elements of Greek myth, industrial fantasy, post apocalypse and subtle weird horror.  It is also very definitely a novel that shows power and the powerful to be corrupt and corrupting.  The storyline features workers uniting against ancient houses after their calls for better working conditions are ignored, fallen godlike beings and the Elo-Talern - decrepit and decaying powers behind the throne.

Comparison’s have been made to China Mi√©ville and I can see that on account of the weird horror elements and the sympathy Davidson generates for the working classes.  It’s by no means message fiction, more a refreshing change of perspective from conservative fantasy that sees us sympathising with characters that seek to return the world to the “natural order of things”  whether that be a quaint shire or the return to a benevolent monarchy under a protagonist who is the rightful heir.

This progressive take on the fantasy tale and its unnerving horror elements are the two standouts that I take away from Unwrapped Sky.   The flickering horse skull vision of the Elo-Talern, Alien monstrosities that appear odd and whole one moment then decayed and skeletal the next, is an enduring image.

If you are after fantasy that does something different with all of those aforementioned categories, I recommend Unwrapped Sky. Its perspective also sets some unique possibilities to diverge from the standard fantasy trilogy plotline.

This book was provided by the publisher.

Unwrapped Sky should be available in all good bookstores and can be ordered online from Booktopia and Bookworld.

An ebook version is also available through Bookworld.

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Jul 7, 2014

City of Masks giveaway at Goodreads


Just another heads up for what could be my favourite fantasy read of the year.  I know Ashley through his poetry work and this novel displays his skill at writing very slick commercial fantasy fiction. Well paced, intriguing storylines and great characters that I care about.

I am about half way through City of Masks at the moment and I think it’s pretty good, so jump on this giveaway now.

Click here to enter.  It’s available to multiple countries,






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Book Release – Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier

razorhurstI had been interested in the release of this book for some time, I like the era and was most let down by Underbelly: Razor.  Now while this isn’t historical fiction per se, I do trust Larbalestier to bring the period to life as well as add some good speculative fiction elements.

If you are already interested, Booktopia have a free shipping deal on until tomorrow midnight (just type TELSTRA in the coupon box at the end of checkout).   Click here to get Razorhurst for $14.95.

Note: Free shipping can be used on any book.

So while I am waiting for my copy to arrive you can read the blurb below:

Kelpie and Dymphna are accustomed to the mean streets of 1930s Sydney, but this is a day that will test their courage, their loyalty, and their ability to survive both the ill-intentions of the living and the ever-presence of the dead.

The setting: 1932, Razorhurst. Two competing mob bosses - Gloriana Nelson and Mr Davidson - have reached a fragile peace.
Kelpie knows the dangers of the Sydney streets. Ghosts have kept her alive, steering her to food and safety, but they are also her torment.
Dymphna is Gloriana Nelson's 'best girl'. She knows the highs and lows of life, but she doesn't know what this day has in store for her.

When Dymphna meets Kelpie over the corpse of Jimmy Palmer, Dymphna's latest boyfriend, she pronounces herself Kelpie's new protector. But Dymphna's life is in danger too and she needs an ally. And while Jimmy's ghost wants to help, the dead cannot protect the living.
Gloriana Nelson's kingdom is crumbling and Mr Davidson is determined to have all of Razorhurst - including Dymphna. As loyalties shift and betrayal threatens at every turn, Dymphna and Kelpie are determined to survive what is becoming a day with a high body count.


Here is Justine talking about research that she did for Razorhurst:

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