ANNOUNCEMENT: Table of Contents for One Small Step

I am so very pleased to announce the draft table of contents of the forthcoming anthology One Small Step: an anthology of discoveries. I can’t wait to share these stories with you, as they are amazing!

“Sand and Seawater” by Joanne Anderton & Rabia Gale

“Indigo Gold” by Deborah Biancotti

“Firefly Epilogue” by Jodi Cleghorn

“The Ways of the Wyrding Women” by Rowena Cory Daniells

“The ships of Culwinna” by Thoraiya Dyer

“Shadows” by Kate Gordon

“By Blood and Incantation” by Lisa L. Hannett & Angela Slatter

“Ella and the Flame” by Kathleen Jennings

“Original” by Penny Love

“Always Greener” by Michelle Marquardt

“Morning Star” by DK Mok

“Winter’s Heart” by Faith Mudge

“Cold White Daughter” by Tansy Rayner Roberts

“Baby Steps” by Barbara Robson

“Number 73 Glad Avenue” by Suzanne J Willis

Look for the book in early 2013!


Book Giveaway Competition: Stories, edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio

Last week I received the advance print copies of Worlds Next Door (and it looks beautiful!). This week, I finalised the lineup for Australis Imaginarium and am delighted to announce it!

“Once a Month, on a Sunday” by Ian McHugh
“Night Heron’s Curse” by Thoraiya Dyer
“Hunter of Darkness, Hunter of Light” by Michael Pryor
“A Pig’s Whisper” by Margo Lanagan
“Stealing Free” by Deborah Biancotti
“Suffer the Little Children” by  Rowena Cory Daniells
“Virgin Jackson” by Marianne de Pierres
“The Claws of Native Ghosts” by Lee Battersby
“The Jacaranda Wife” by Angela Slatter
“The Dark Under the Skin” by Dirk Strasser
“Red Ochre” by Lucy Sussex
“Passing the Bone” by Sean Williams

I’m sure you’ll agree it’s an intriguing and totally awesome lineup 🙂

To celebrate Australis Imaginarium being (almost) ready to go to print, we’re giving away another book!

This time, it’s an original anthology of imaginative short fiction edited by bestselling authors Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio – Stories is pretty to look at and packed with awesome authors and their work.

Publisher’s Weekly says: “This collection of 27 never-before published stories from an impressive cast — Roddy Doyle, Joyce Carol Oates, and Stuart O’Nan, among others — sets out to shift genre paradigms. The overarching theme is fantastic fiction, or fiction of the imagination, with fantasy being used in the most broad-sweeping sense rather than signaling the familiar commercial staples of elves, ghouls, and robots.”

Interested? Want a chance to win? Here’s how! We’re celebrating Australian stories in Australis Imaginarium, so in the comments here, simply tell me your favourite Australian novel or short story (or both!) and why you love it. It doesn’t have to be speculative fiction, simply Australian in some way. And yes, it is somewhat ironic that I’m celebrating Australian fiction with the reward of a non-Australian book – I can if I wanna! 🙂

Open to all (happy to post internationally if needs be), winner to be chosen at random from eligible entries. Entries close Sunday July 18, 2010.

Judging a book by its cover

I’m fortunate to have the wonderful, award-winning Amanda Rainey designing book covers for FableCroft. The cover for Worlds Next Door is fabulous and has received some great feedback already. We think a lot about covers and there’s been lots of cover discussions in the blog-o-sphere in recent times too. From the very cool YouTube clip of the creation of a Gail Carriger cover to the issues with representative covers, people clearly care a lot about covers.

It’s one of the oldest sayings around: “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” – a great adage to remember when dealing with people, but to be honest, I’ve never understood it in relation to books! As a teacher librarian, I can tell you that the cover of a book is possibly the most important thing required to “sell” a book to a reluctant reader. Or even a great one. We are visual creatures – if it doesn’t look good, we are less likely to pick it up. The artwork and design of a book cover are its primary selling point, in a library and a bookshop – if the design doesn’t appeal, it is harder to sell, especially an unknown or newish author.

And it’s not just about being eye-catching. There has been quite a lot of discussion about the diversity of book covers. Controversy recently raged over Justine Larbalestier’s book Liar (released in Australia with an attention-getting and completely inoffensive cover, pictured). This book was originally slated for a North American release with a light-skinned cover model, despite it being clear in the book that the protagonist is African-American. Larbalestier used the power of the Internet to let her publisher know this was an unacceptable whitewashing of her cover, and, with the support of her fans and outraged supporters, managed to get the cover changed. This storm was followed by a second (from the same publisher) over Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore, which also resulted in the cover being changed. Looking at book covers over time shows us that the portrayal of women and other-than-white cultures has not been a shining light of publishing history, but it has now become an issue that readers are beginning to have a real say about, and be heard by publishers.

It’s true though that many readers do not notice these politically correct or otherwise portrayals on covers – they simply notice what appeals to them. Orbit Books released a clip showing how a book design comes together which has had over 90,000 hits on YouTube, demonstrating that book covers are fascinating to many of us. Publishers are also quick to pick up on popular covers and duplicate them for other books. See, for example, the new HarperCollins versions of Wuthering Heights, which imitate Twilight. UK author Brett Weeks also talks about this in relation to his own books, saying, “… you want people who enjoyed the Night Angel books but can’t even remember my name to be able to identify that these new books are Brent Weeks books. At the same time, you want to let people know that this is a new series, that the feel of these books is new and different, and basically … appeal to the greatest audience possible. This is made harder if every Tom, Dick, and Harry now has a cover with a hooded man with a sword. (Orbit appears to have started a small trend with my last covers.)”. This was illustrated to me when I saw the covers of Aussie author Rowena Cory Daniells’ new trilogy “King Rolen’s Kin” (due out as monthly releases this year) – there are obvious similarities to the covers of Weeks’ first trilogy, and I love them! Peter V Brett’s covers are also reminiscent of the Weeks ones, so it’s a definite trend!

For my mind, book covers should reflect the contents, theme or ideas of the book they are representing, in a way that is evocative, beautiful, striking or arresting in some way – books battle for attention in bookstores and on library shelves and any advantage is a bonus. 2009 Aurealis Award winner for Best Young Adult novel Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld is a perfect example. It practically cries out to be picked up, caressed, and then devoured. The artwork is symbolises the story, depicting it in a gorgeous and captivating way that appeals both to its target readers and adults (who are frequently the book buyers for that young adult audience), and it’s simply one of the most appealing books of the year.

Other 2009 Australian releases that hit my buttons for great covers included Mirror Space by Marianne de Pierres , Scarecrow by Sean Williams and Full Circle, Pamela Freeman . What’s most interesting about these covers is that not only are they beautiful in their own right, but they also manage to act as a cohesive whole with the other books of the series they are part of. While each is unique, each also holds design elements in common with its sister books, which makes it even more appealing to the avid reader.

And the 2010 book I was MOST looking forward to is Power and Majesty (Book 1 of the Creature Court trilogy) by Tansy Rayner Roberts (released in June from HarperVoyager). Tansy has long been a favourite author of mine with her short stories and her Mocklore books; Power and Majesty is not only already receiving rave reviews – promising to be one of the hottest fantasy novels of the year – but it has the most gorgeous cover, ensuring it will fly off bookstore shelves.

Not all publishers get it right. Some covers make a great book look drab and boring, others completely misrepresent the story being told (I’m thinking particularly of books like Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth, a YA zombie novel that is nothing like Twilight, despite what the cover tries to insinuate!). But others get it very very right, and these are the covers that draw us in and carry us away. You really can’t judge a book by its cover, but the cover sure helps!