NEW ANTHOLOGY IN 2020 – The Art of Being Human

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/NGA

The world in 2020 has been tipped upside down and shaken in ways we could barely have imagined, except perhaps in the post-apocalyptic and dystopic worlds of story. Amidst pandemic illness and death, political machinations and despair, one of the casualties has been, at least in a financial sense, the Arts. Governments across the world have slashed funding, galleries, theatres and entertainment venues have closed amid lockdown restrictions, money is being carefully metered with jobs more uncertain than ever, meaning our creatives across all industries are suffering. And yet, more than ever, we are turning to art to stay sane in lockdown, to keep our spirits up in isolation, and to remind us that despite the hardship, there is beauty in this world. 

To that end, FableCroft is coming out of hiatus in this year of social distancing and staying at home, to call for submissions on a brand new original anthology, The Art of Being Human. Co-edited by Tehani Croft and Stephanie Lai, this anthology seeks to remind readers of the hope and beauty of the Arts, and the way our engagement with writing, music, film, theatre, artworks in all media, and craft of all kinds are at the core of our humanity.

Stories should be between 2,000 to 20,000 words long, and not previously published. Poetry of any length is also welcome. Works are invited from all over the world, but must be primarily in the English language.

Stories must contain speculative elements – science fiction, fantasy and horror and their sub-genres are all welcome, but we recommend researching FableCroft’s past projects for an idea of the sort of stories we publish. Generally, no erotica or splatterpunk is desirable. Please query the editor before sending stories outside those limits.

Submissions open: September 1, 2020

Submissions close: December 1, 2020

Anticipated publication date: May 2021

Payment will be AUD$100.00 for stories of up to 10,000 words (payment for poetry and longer stories accepted will be negotiated with the author) and a contributor copy of the ebook.

I would also like to include artwork to support the stories, and illustrators are invited to send appropriate samples (previously published work welcome for this element) – payment to be discussed. 


Last chance to order a posted copy of The Tallow-Wife!

Pre-orders for pickup at Conflux have now CLOSED but for ONE MORE WEEK you can still order a copy for delivery to your door anywhere in the world! This limited edition hardcover collectible is a must have for any Angela Slatter or Kathleen Jennings fan, and is both a wonderful reading experience and a gorgeous package. Availability ends FOREVER on Friday September 29, 2017.

About the book:

Return to the dreaming streets of the cathedral-city of Lodellan, where a new generation of characters face fairy tales and nightmares. Cordelia Parsifal has an enviable life, hard won, but the ghosts of the past are soon to remind her that no sin or omission goes unnoticed.

A darkly mannered narrative of a family facing its downfall, and the hidden secrets within. Deftly told in Slatter’s seemingly effortless prose, “The Tallow-Wife” is unexpected and shocking, with depths to be explored. Paired with vignettes from the same world, and featuring an essay by illustrator Kathleen Jennings.

On Maps and Authorial Authority in Fantasy (guest post)

Should fantasy novels have a map?

No, for three reasons. First, almost every fantasy author lacks the necessary geographic skills. Not only do you need to understand the interaction of tectonics and geology with climate, vegetation and the distribution of fauna, you also need to grasp historical and contemporary migration, settlement, trade and cultural patterns. You even have to know something about toponymy and the way this varies within and between cultures. Unless you’re an expert (and even with a Ph.D. in geography, specialising in cartography. and a lifetime of academic teaching and research behind me, I often feel out of my depth) you’re going to look silly in the eyes of an expert, as evidenced by these recent discussions.

Second, your story should be self-contained. If it needs to refer to a map, surely that’s evidence of poor writing. And if it doesn’t refer to it, what use is the map? In fact, shouldn’t we be moving away from those tired old epic fantasies where you need a map to work out where the hell you are?

Third, and most important, due to western hegemony, maps have become instruments of colonial and capitalist oppression. While their makers have convinced us they’re neutral, objective and value-free scientific documents, maps have been used to dominate, divide and deceive. Maps are gendered, constructed using masculinist language. They are coded in the language of the military, as all ‘base’ mapping is funded initially for military use. Why else is the British mapping agency called the ‘Ordnance Survey’, and their chief cartographer the ‘Surveyor-General’? Their subject matter is what makes money or controls people, and they have been imposed by the West on other cultures as a grid to straighten them out – in many cases literally, as with the north/south and east/west road grids slapped on to indigenous lands around the world, obliterating indigenous places and names. Go read up on the Radcliffe Line and come back to this discussion after you’ve dried your eyes.

So, as I was saying, every author needs to draw a map. Was I saying that? I was, really. Even if your map doesn’t end up in the book, if you’re creating a secondary world or a modified earth, you need to keep your story spatially straight. Even though you’re unlikely to ever become an expert, if you’re creating a secondary world you should understand enough geography to convince a reader they can trust you. Forget about the experts: they’ll always find a flaw in your work because they refuse to suspend their disbelief. You’re aiming at enough verisimilitude to get readers to trust you.

And here’s where a good map can work wonders. There’s a gazillion books out there. Who’s a reader to trust? You can signal to your reader by means of a well-conceived, thoughtful and comprehensive map that you’re one they can commit their time to; or you can put in a cursory map and convince them to go somewhere else. If your map’s not above average, please don’t include it. Or consider getting a professional to assist you.

Frontispiece map from the author’s current work in progress.
This is a thematic map of a secondary world showing earthquake frequency. It forgoes all the pointy-witches-hats and faux-medieval dressing, serving as an artifact for the story, having been drawn by one of the characters.

Sounds like a lot of work? If you’re writing in a secondary world you’re already doing the work required, or you should be. You’ve had to think about all the pesky geography I listed above. You’re on top of the all-important minutiae lending your story moment by moment believability. You’re striving for consistency and verisimilitude. A map is a visible expression of this.

But shouldn’t your story be self-contained? Sure it should. So let’s not put a cover on a book either, or a blurb on the back. These are devices for short-cutting the reading process, after all; to give the reader some idea of what’s coming, of the flavour of the experience in store for them. As is a map. In fact, your map plays an important role in keeping your story self-contained. Imagine a Lonely Planet guide without maps. You want to explore a new country, but you have to go somewhere else to get that necessary spatial overview. Defeats the purpose of the book, right? In the same way, if you don’t give readers the opportunity to pop their heads above the canopy of your story and get a look at the terrain – to see how far they’ve come in both a literal and metaphorical sense – the may well get lost in the forest of your words.

But my fantasy story doesn’t involve travelling! It takes place entirely inside a person’s clutch-purse! Do I need a map? Well, does the purse have geography? Do you have competing social organisations? Are there territories? Do they have conflict? Are the boundaries and liminal zones important? Would it benefit the reader to see these? Would it help establish the ‘otherness’ of your story in their minds? I bet it would.

And what of the notion that maps are devices to dominate, divide and deceive? Ah, here we have a chance to do what we authors do best: to subvert the hegemonic discourse. By all means, use the language of oppression, but remake it. Co-opt it! You don’t have to draw a pointy-witch’s-hat faux-medieval map. You can draw an oblique perspective. You can fill your map with misdirection. You can scrawl annotations over it and make it an actual artifact of your story. You can make geological maps, three-dimensional cutaways, cartoons, whatever suits your story. In fact, I await the day when authors realise they can be as creative – and subversive – with their maps as they are with their text.

I wish I’d thought this through when I began writing my fantasy trilogies in the 1980s. But now I have, and I’m hard at work on something I hope will subvert fantasy cartographic tropes. If enough of us do this, remaking the language of maps, perhaps maps will become relevant again. They still have plenty to offer us.

Dr. Russell Kirkpatrick is a New Zealander currently living in Canberra. His two fantasy trilogies are published by HarperCollins and Orbit (UK and US). Until 2014 he lectured in Geography at the University of Waikato, specialising in cartography. His atlases have won prestigious awards, including from the British Cartographic Society.

The pretty little book is at the printer!

I have just uploaded the files for Angela Slatter’s The Tallow-Wife to my printer – always super exciting! Because it’s a hardcover production, printing times are a little longer than on paperbacks, so we’re now on the countdown to printing deadlines.

If you want to collect your copy at Conflux, for the discounted price of AUD$35.00, you absolutely MUST pre-order now! While we will have a small amount of unallocated stock at the convention, we can make no guarantees of how long they will last, so reserve your exclusive copy now (to be signed on site by the author!). I will be placing the stock order for Conflux early in September, so don’t miss out.

If you are not attending the convention (interstate or overseas), we will be dealing with those orders a bit differently, so you do have a little more time. However, the book is ONLY available during this window between now and Conflux, and will not be available for general sale, so if you want it, hit that pre-order button now!

This beautiful book contains Angela’s darkly mannered novella “The Tallow-Wife”, along with “Fragments from the Citadel”, and an exclusive essay on the art of the world by Kathleen Jennings.



Announcing a brand new Angela Slatter boutique gift book!

To celebrate her invitation as Guest of Honour at Conflux 13 (Grimm Tales), FableCroft is delighted to announce an exclusive project with multi-award winning writer Angela Slatter. Produced as a limited edition chapbook, The Tallow-Wife is a gorgeous hardcover boutique gift book, lavishly illustrated by the incredible Kathleen Jennings, and only available for purchase for a very short time.

This beautiful book contains Angela’s darkly mannered novella “The Tallow-Wife”, along with “Fragments from the Citadel”, and an exclusive essay on the art of the world by Kathleen Jennings.

Pre-order your copy now, for the special pre-order discount price of AUD$35.00 (plus postage if not collecting at Conflux)! A very limited quantity will be available to purchase at full price at Conflux, but for the next month only, until September 21, 2017, we will take pre-orders for pick up or post anywhere in the world.

(Books pre-ordered now for collection at Conflux will be signed by the author.)


Congratulations Ditmar Award winners!

A slightly belated congratulations to all the winners of the Ditmar Awards, presented on Sunday evening in Melbourne as part of the Australian Natcon, Continuum. We were absolutely chuffed to see Kate Forsyth’s wonderful book The Rebirth of Rapunzel win the William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism and Review, and Cat Sparks take home the Best Short Story prize for “No Fat Chicks” from In Your Face, alongside many other fantastic winners.

Photo from Cat’s phone, taken by Shauna!


Big congratulations as well to the Snapshot 2016 team for winning Best Fan Publication in Any Medium! This makes a double for Snapshot with the Tin Duck Award too. Well done to everyone involved!

A post shared by Katharine (@thiefofcamorr) on


Congratulations to the Ditmar finalists!

The Ditmar (preliminary) shortlists were released today, and we’re delighted to see lots of FableCroft faces listed. Congratulations to all the finalists!

Best Short Story

  • “No Fat Chicks”, Cat Sparks, in In Your Face, FableCroft Publishing.

Best Collected Work

Best Fan Publication in Any Medium

  • 2016 Australian SF Snapshot, Greg Chapman, Tehani Croft, Tsana Dolichva, Marisol Dunham, Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Stephanie Gunn, Ju Landéesse, David McDonald, Belle McQuattie, Matthew Morrison, Alex Pierce, Rivqa Rafael, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Helen Stubbs, Katharine Stubbs and Matthew Summers.

William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review

The full ballot can be found here. Voting will take open sometime soon.

NAFF Voting by Paypal

If you would like to vote for NAFF (see post here for details), please select your preferred candidate from the dropdown.


Choose your preferred candidate!
Jason Fischer $5.00 AUD
Talitha Kalago $5.00 AUD
Fe Waters $5.00 AUD
Jay Watson $5.00 AUD

Finalists in the Aurealis Awards!

Super excited to discover yesterday that we have FOUR shortlistings for In Your Face in the 2016 Aurealis Awards! Huge congratulations to Thoraiya Dyer, Claire McKenna and Shauna O’Meara on their short story shortlistings in the Fantasy, Science Fiction and Young Adult categories, respectively, and to ALL the contributors, as the book itself is also shortlisted for Best Anthology!

We are in excellent company on the shortlists – well done to all the creators recognised this year, it’s a wonderful list.