News and reviews

Congratulations to Joanne Anderton whose collection The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories is shortlisted for the Silver Falchion Best Single-Author Collection category. Also appearing on the shortlists is our friend “Livia Day” with her book A Trifle Dead from Twelfth Planet Press. Other Aussies on the list are Max Barry with Lexicon and Amie Kaufman (and Megan Spooner) for These Broken Stars. Well done all!

Speaking of Jo Anderton, she answers Three Questions over here at Maggie’s Blog.

I noticed this lovely review of “Flower and Weed” by Margo Lanagan on Goodreads – thanks Figgy!

To Spin a Darker StairAnd this comprehensive and wonderful review of To Spin a Darker Stair by Intellectus Speculativus, in which he says: To Spin A Darker Stair is an excellent example of how fairy stories can be told in a revisionist manner, and come out of the process truly fascinatingly. 

As Tansy and I are working away on Cranky Ladies behind the scenes, Alex Pierce proves it’s never too late to talk about favourite Cranky Ladies, blogging about Alexandra Kollontai this week! Don’t forget you can catch up on all the posts in the Cranky Ladies blog tour here.

Have some #FakeCon fun with Photoshop!

On Friday night a little fun started on Twitter amongst us poor sad plebs (aka Team “Not At Loncon3”), with the hashtag #FakeCon getting some traffic. It’s certainly cheered ME up, and we’d like to spread the love! FableCroft (“official” sponsor of the #FakeCon Dealer Room…) is giving away FIVE FableCroft ebooks to the best (most fun) #FakeconPhotos you can come up with! You’ll be up against tough competition. Kathleen Jennings has already given us “photos” of the #FakeConCom…

To enter, just tweet your images with the hashtag #FakeConPhotos, or upload and tag as #FakeCon on Flickr!

#FakeCon is FREE to attend, so join in the conversation!


I’m a bit under the weather, and I’m watching jealously as so many friends are making their way to Loncon3, this year’s Worldcon, so I’ve decided to express my pique with FREE BOOKS!

For the duration of Worldcon, the following FableCroft ebooks are ABSOLUTELY FREE to all readers! Go! Fetch them! 

Worlds Next Door (anthology)

Focus 2012: highlights of Australian short fiction (reprint anthology)

Splashdance Silver (Mocklore Chronicles #1) by Tansy Rayner Roberts

The Aware (Isles of Glory #1) by Glenda Larke

“Flower and Weed” by Margo Lanagan

“Sanction” by Dirk Flinthart

Disclaimer: I’ve made the discounts on Smashwords only for the top four items (all formats available here!), but these will probably filter through to Amazon etc via price matching, if that’s your preference. “Flower and Weed” and “Sanction” are only available on Amazon, and the free pricing will kick in tomorrow for five days! 


Snapshot 2014: Daniel O’Malley

Dan O’Malley graduated from Michigan State University and earned a Master’s Degree in medieval history from Ohio State University. He then returned to his childhood home, Australia. He now works for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, writing press releases for government investigations of plane crashes and runaway boats. His first novel, The Rook, was released in 2012 by Little, Brown and Company.

108367281. Your first novel, The Rook, won the Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 2012 – that’s one heck of a debut! What can you share about your journey to publication?

Thank you, winning the Aurealis Award really was a tremendous honour. I’m so delighted that people have been enjoying The Rook.

I’ve followed a fairly traditional route in publishing – write a story, approach agents, suffer rejections, tear hair out in despair, somehow luck into finding an agent (an outstanding one!), work with her to  improve the book, submit it to publishers, get accepted by a publisher (an outstanding one!), work with editor (an outstanding one!) to improve the book, watch the book emerge into the world with a sense of astounded and joyous disbelief.

It doesn’t seem overly complex (heck, it fits into a grammatically worrisome single-sentence paragraph), but people who are interested in getting their work published traditionally are often startled and disappointed by how long it takes. First you have to write the whole book. You really do – it’s not enough just to have an idea. Then, you have to put it out to the industry. I always recommend that people seek out agents rather than publishers. I tried approaching publishers directly with an earlier book, and while I had some interest, it was never going to pan out. With an agent, you’ve got someone knowledgeable, on your side, hustling for you, pushing your book and chasing it up, rather than letting it fester it away in the slush pile. Plus, my agent did a phenomenal amount of work on the book, helping me to make it better before she put it before people.

But even once you’ve got a publisher, it still takes time. My saint of an editor worked with me on The Rook for months. She identified parts that needed to be cut and parts that needed to be expanded. She gently pointed out places where I’d made assumptions, and that I’d used the word ‘freakish’ several hundred times.

And then, when you finally reach the final version, it may be months before the book actually comes out. So, it was a lot of work and a lot of time.  And, yes, a big emotional investment.

2. I understand you are working on the sequel to The Rook – can you tell us anything about it?

Surely! So, I had originally written The Rook as a book that could stand alone. I’d hoped that it would be published, but I didn’t quite dare to hope that people would want to read a sequel. As soon as I’d finished it, I began working on some different projects, but eventually I realised that there were people who actually would like a sequel and, you know, immediately, if at all possible. Which I was more than fine with. Not only did I have a ton of ideas that I’d never had the time or space to include in The Rook, but I was very keen to explore what happens after the last page.

Book Two is titled Stiletto. It follows on a couple of months after the end of The Rook, and explores the ramifications of that book’s ending. For those who have read The Rook, you’ll know that significant changes are being made to the Checquy. (For those of you who haven’t read The Rook, you totally should. The author is extremely tall, handsome, urbane, and impressive.) Stiletto really explores those changes, and how different people deal with them. Rook Myfanwy Thomas is a main character in this book, but she’s not the main character. There are two new protagonists, thrown together by duty, and they have every reason to loathe each other. So I’d characterise Stiletto as a story of hatred, supernatural diplomacy, and very expensive hats.

3. Are you focussed entirely on novels or would you venture off into short storyland at any time?

You know, I’ve never been very much about short stories. I always want more! More detail, more description, more of everything. I love big books, and I love long series. I have read some great short stories (I especially enjoyed China Mieville’s collection Looking for Jake), but I always find myself wishing they were longer. And when it comes to writing them, well, I haven’t written anything like that since highschool. But it might be entertaining to give it a try.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

I always have several books on the go, and currently a goodly number of them are from Australian authors. I’m mid-way through Dirk Flinthart’s Path of Night, which is keeping me chortling, gasping and flinching. I’m re-reading Kerry Greenwood’s Death by Wicket, which I love, even though I am not at all a cricket man (when I was made to play as a child, I asked if I could take a book to the outfield. They were not impressed.) Also, I’m re-reading Sulari Gentill’s Rowland Sinclair series, in preparation for the next one in the series. And I’m revisiting the classics of my youth, so I’m currently hip-deep in Victor Kelleher’s Green Piper which is as terrifying now as it was in Year 7.

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

As everyone is always remarking, we’re seeing significant changes in the publishing industry. However, those developments haven’t changed what I’m reading or writing, or how I’m reading or writing it.

Self-publishing and e-publishing weren’t as big a thing when I was starting out (or if they were, I wasn’t aware of them), but even now, I’m not at all certain that I would pursue that route. I’m willing to invest my time in writing and editing – that’s what brings me pleasure and satisfaction. I’d do it even if I weren’t getting published. The logistics of design, publishing, marketing – to me, that’s time that I could be writing and editing. I like having experts who will guide me in those areas, and who I can be assured will be doing their best.

Of course, there are further changes, not just in the way that we read books, but in how publishers, authors, readers and booksellers are interacting. It’s extremely complex. For instance, my American publisher, Little Brown & Co, is part of Hachette and, at the moment, they are in protracted negotiations with, which is using various forms of leverage. As a result, at the moment, if you buy my book in hardcopy from, you’ll have to wait 1 to 3 weeks, whereas another website will ship it immediately. The position of the individual writer in this sort of situation is difficult. The publishing industry is evolving, and I don’t know enough about it to say where it will lead, but I like having experts who will guide me here too.

Hopefully, in five years, I’ll be working on a variety of projects, including more Checquy books. I also hope that there will be a couple more Dan O’Malley books already out there by then, and that people will be enjoying them. And while I think the growth of eBooks is cool, my love for hardcopy books means that I hope that my work will be on people’s shelves. For me, a book on paper is more real.

Plus, in a pinch, you can use it to beat someone to death.

Or so I’ve heard.

SnaphotLogo2014This 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 archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at:

Snapshot 2014: Gitte Christensen, in memorium

Gitte C
Image from Gitte’s blog


By Steve Cameron

I didn’t know Gitte anywhere near as well as I would have liked. She lived in country Victoria and I didn’t, which meant we rarely saw each other. Even though, within the Australian Spec-Fic Writing scene I knew her better than most.

I can clearly remember the first time I met Gitte, and read her work. We were at a Sean Williams’ workshop, and Gitte had submitted an extract from a longer piece. It was a stunning scene that described the docking sequence of a burnished ceramic spacecraft, crewed by a long-lived spacefaring race. I remember the picture she painted using only words. It had a beautifully measured pace, but was highly descriptive, rich and decadent in imagery. Gitte told me it was part of a space-opera trilogy that needed re-structuring and editing. I’m saddened we shall never see it.

We stayed in touch. We emailed each other and managed to steal the occasional half-hour to chat at conventions and workshops. It didn’t matter what was happening in her life, and none of us knew much about her illnesses, she was always cheerful and optimistic.

Whenever I made a sale she would quickly email me to congratulate me. If I posted about a rejection, she was just as quick to commiserate and encourage. Her own blog was as honest as she was. At the end of each month she would post statistics on how many stories she’d completed, how many had sold, how many had been rejected, and how many were out in the wild.  She wrote about her writing, her dreams, goals and self-doubts. She also wrote of her life; the ongoing battle with the doof-doof neighbours, the imagined adventures of her wayward chooks, her ‘arvo’ job and the writing she managed on her commute, life in her local neighbourhood, and her great love of horses and riding the trails with her sister.

She was proud of her Danish heritage and culture. She loved visiting Walhalla in Victoria, and its connection to its Viking namesake. She recommended Danish movies stories. She loved writing. She was delighted by her achievements, her sales and her reviews. And she had some fantastic credentials. Andromeda Spaceway Inflight Magazine, Aurealis, The Tangled Bank, the Bram Stoker nominated Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations, Aliens: Recent Encounters as well as her inclusion inThe Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2010. Despite all these, and others, she was largely unknown in Australia. She was a quiet achiever.

She wrote to me after one rejection in which the editor informed her he loved her story, he loved the writing. I doubt I could describe her work any better.

“Yours is one of those stories that, if I had more room in the book, would definitely be in. I found this to be very thoughtful, atmospheric, and it held my interest to the end. As always, you have proven yourself a talent for creating descriptive and emotional prose”

Her response:

“You win some, you lose some 🙂 There were more, nice comments, but that paragraph summed it up best – I almost sent him an email telling him not to worry, that I’m okay with it, but of course it would be unprofessional to respond to a rejection.”

Gitte, as always, was more concerned about the feeling of others than the rejection, of how this editor must feel in not selecting her work. And then she signed off with her characteristic optimism.

“Onwards and upwards.”

I knew she was having health issues, but she would never go into details. I would ask how she was going, and she’d always tell me things were improving, that she’d had some issues, or some surgery, or some pains, but they were pretty much passed now, and she looked forward to being clear of the illness and getting back to work and more serious writing time.

Here’s what she wrote to me in November, 2012:

“I’m well enough – my brain is working again and returning to old habits now that it’s not drugged, but I’m still low in the energy department, and a lot of what I have gets used up at the Arvo Job.  But I’m slowly getting there, thank you, and the writing is picking up again, thank goodness, though I constantly have this horrible feeling that I’ve fallen behind by not getting much done this year. Behind what, I’m not sure. Just behind.

Mostly I’m just hanging out for 2013 and hoping THAT will be the year it all comes together :)”

What I only found out recently is that around this time she was told she wouldn’t see Christmas.

In April of this year her blog fell silent. I knew something was up when the end of the month passed without her stats update. Emails were unanswered, and although I knew roughly where she lived, I had no other way of contacting her. I even questioned whether she wanted to be contacted, being as private as she was. I finally managed to get a message to her sister and learned Gitte was having more surgery, was weak, but there was hope she’d be up and about a few weeks later. But, as usual, Gitte didn’t want anyone to know what she was going through. I asked that my thoughts be passed on to her.

A week later I received word that Gitte had little time left. Her life support had been switched off and it was only a matter of when. Determined as always, Gitte vowed that despite the doctors’ prognosis she would continue to fight. She had aggressive cancer. Gitte passed sent me a message of thanks for my thoughts, and congratulated me on a minor success I’d written about. Even at that point she was supporting, encouraging Gitte. Only two months before this Gitte attended Supernova convention, and around the same time went horseriding.

On the 13th June 2014 at 2.15 a.m., Gitte passed peacefully. “Typical Gitte,” said her sister, “waiting for Friday 13th.”

Since then Gitte has sold at least three stories. Her blog will be updated by family from time to time as these become available.

Her writing is still on my shelf. I have our emails filed away. She will not be forgotten by those of us who love her. She’s no longer here on Earth, but Gitte the brave, Danish warrior now feasts in Valhalla.

SnaphotLogo2014This post is part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at:

Snapshot 2014: Paul Collins (Ford Street Publishing)

Paul CollinsEMPaul Collins has written many books, mostly for younger readers. He is best known for his fantasy and science fiction titles: The Jelindel Chronicles and The Quentaris Chronicles (co-edited with Michael Pryor). Paul has edited many anthologies which include Trust Me!Metaworlds and Australia’s first fantasy anthology, Dream Weavers. He also edited The MUP Encyclopaedia of Australian SF&F.

Paul has been short-listed for many awards and has won the Inaugural Peter McNamara and the A Bertram Chandler awards, both of which were for lifetime achievement in science fiction, and the Aurealis and William Atheling awards. His current adult horror novel, The Beckoning, is available from

Other than his writing, Paul is the publisher at Ford Street Publishing, publishing everything from picture books through to young adult literature, and he manages Creative Net, a speakers’ agency.

Paul’s websites are: and

The Beckoning _Draft1. I’ve noticed some fantastic picture books from Ford Street in the past couple of years – what do you find are the challenges and opportunities in producing picture books as opposed to novels for the press?

The first step is choosing them. It’s so much harder than selecting novels. With novels you can soon tell whether the writing is good, bad, medium, or whether it’s salvageable with good editing. Picture books have few words, so it’s more the concept a publisher looks at —  certainly more so than the writing, in my opinion. There’s no room for telling not showing. Every line must contribute to the overall book. Text must work in conjunction with the illustrations, too. So for example, there’s no point in saying, Sally was wearing a green dress, because the illustration will show this. Another challenge is changing the text once the illustrations come in — sometimes the illos replace the text. Another focus for me is multi-layered plots. Metaphors are great in picture books — the teachers’ notes can alert librarians/teachers to deeper meanings behind what seems an easily read picture book. Having said all that, our picture book sales far outweigh our novels.

2. Ford Street is producing around ten titles per year at the moment – how do you decide which books to take a chance on?

First of all, for me, it’s the writing. And then the plot. A great writer can get away with a lot — a poor writer with a great plot can’t. It also seems to me that straight out SF/fantasy doesn’t sell as well as contemporary novels. Fantasy is fine if you have a marketing department to get behind that genre, but without that extra push it appears Ford Street’s genre fiction is lagging behind. I also take note of authors who are good self-promoters. If you have someone who can’t public speak, for example, they won’t be good ambassadors for their books. I once had a fear of public speaking, so went to Toastmasters for two years to overcome it. Appearing there at first was quite traumatic, but I knew I had to get over that lack of confidence were I to promote my books as publishers expected me to.

3. On a personal note, your Maximus Black series   wound up last year – what’s next on your writing horizon?

TOASTINATOR COVERMacmillan NZ just published my latest book, The Toastinator. I also have a couple of chapter books from Macmillan Aust in the Lucy Lee series. That will bring that six-part series to its conclusion. I also had an old horror novel of mine publisher by Damnation Books US. The Beckoning actually crept up on Stephen King’s latest novel —just six spots behind him on the Top 10 occult list. I do have a Jelindel novella sitting here, but I’m not sure what to do with it. It could be published as a sampler to The Jelindel Chronicles, or it could be part of a short story collection, an addition to the quartet.

As for what next, I’m not sure. The publishing, speakers agency event managing have all taken their toll on my time. Since February I’ve been renovating a warehouse/office, too. So once I’m in there I will have slightly more time to ponder writerly stuff. Satalyte Publishing is releasing a book I compiled 30+ years ago, though. It contains perhaps A Bertram Chandler’s last piece of unpublished writing. I approached him and many others to write an episodic novel called The Morgan Pattern. It’s a humorous novel for adults, now around 90,000 words. Many of Australia’s biggest names from the 80s are in it, including Jack Wodhams, Wynne Whiteford and David Lake. Later contributors include Sean McMullen, Russell Blackford and Patricia Bernard. So that will be my next “book”, although I only have a chapter in it.

4. Last time we chatted for Snapshot, you told me almost all your reading was for Ford Street – have you had a chance to read any other Australian works recently?

None at all, if I’m to be honest. As you know, I juggle many balls, and as it is these past few months I’ve dropped a few. I daresay if I took time out to read I’d drop many more.

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

The main changes are of course the e-book/POD phenomenon. I haven’t gone down the print-on-demand route as yet, and certainly won’t contemplate it unless I lose mass distribution. Right now I have Macmillan Distribution Services and INT Books. I can still comfortably print 1200 copies of every book I publish, and gradually see all of them sell. As Ford Street’s brand name gets better known, I’ve seen sales climbing gradually. I’m guessing that I’ll be pretty much sure that my publishing MO won’t change during the next five years. With luck, if sales keep climbing, I’ll be able to employ staff. I think this is the next step I need to take.

SnaphotLogo2014This 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 archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at:


Cover teasing

This is me, teasing you with snippets of the gorgeous covers we have coming up for Insert Title Here and Phantazein. Full cover reveals soon!

ITH snip1
Design by Amanda Rainey
Design by Amanda Rainey
Design by Amanda Rainey
Art by Kathleen Jennings
Art by Kathleen Jennings
Phantazein Unicorn
Art by Kathleen Jennings