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YBAF&H versus YMCA

I'm delighted to share a TOC with Angela, and many, many other lovely Aussie writers, in the third YEAR'S BEST AUSTRALIAN FANTASY & HORROR, with yet another glorious cover.  I suspect that, despite her august academic credentials, Angela Slatter may be ever so slightly misguided in stating that you *should* sing YBAF&H to the tune of "YMCA" - it's a bit tricky doing YBA very convincingly in the space that the wonderful Village People just do Y - but I hope that she will show us all how, in the bar at Conflux 9.

Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene have again searched near and far, high and low, for strange, wonderful and terrible Aussie tales:

  • Joanne Anderton, “Tied To The Waste”, Tales Of Talisman

  • R.J.Astruc, “The Cook of Pearl House, A Malay Sailor by the Name of Maurice”, Dark Edifice 2

  • Lee Battersby, “Comfort Ghost”, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 56

  • Alan Baxter, “Tiny Lives”, Daily Science Fiction

  • Jenny Blackford, “A Moveable Feast”, Bloodstones

  • Eddy Burger, “The Witch's Wardrobe”, Dark Edifice 3

  • Isobelle Carmody, “The Stone Witch”, Under My Hat

  • Jay Caselberg, “Beautiful”, The Washington Pastime

  • Stephen Dedman, “The Fall”, Exotic Gothic 4, Postscripts

  • Felicity Dowker, “To Wish On A Clockwork Heart”, Bread And Circuses

  • Terry Dowling, “Nightside Eye”, Cemetary Dance

  • Tom Dullemond, “Population Management”, Danse Macabre

  • Thoraiya Dyer, “Sleeping Beauty”, Epilogue

  • Will Elliot, “Hungry Man”, The Apex Book Of World SF

  • Jason Fischer, “Pigroot Flat”, Midnight Echo 8

  • Dirk Flinthart, “The Bull In Winter”, Bloodstones

  • Lisa L. Hannett, “Sweet Subtleties”, Clarkesworld

  • Lisa L. Hannett & Angela Slatter, “Bella Beaufort Goes To War”, Midnight And Moonshine

  • Narrelle Harris, “Stalemate”, Showtime

  • Kathleen Jennings, “Kindling”, Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear

  • Gary Kemble, “Saturday Night at the Milkbar”, Midnight Echo 7

  • Margo Lanagan, “Crow And Caper, Caper And Crow”, Under My Hat

  • Martin Livings, “You Ain't Heard Nothing Yet”, Living With The Dead

  • Penelope Love, “A Small Bad Thing”, Bloodstones

  • Andrew J. McKiernan, “Torch Song”, From Stage Door Shadows

  • Karen Maric, “Anvil Of The Sun”, Aurealis

  • Faith Mudge, “Oracle's Tower”, To Spin A Darker Stair

  • Nicole Murphy, “The Black Star Killer”, Damnation And Dames

  • Jason Nahrung, “The Last Boat To Eden”, Surviving The End

  • Tansy Rayner Roberts, “What Books Survive”, Epilogue

  • Angela Slatter, “Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean”, This Is Horror Webzine

  • Anna Tambour, “The Dog Who Wished He'd Never Heard Of Lovecraft”, Lovecraft Zine

  • Kyla Ward, “The Loquacious Cadaver”, The Lion And The Aardvark: Aesop's Modern Fables

  • Kaaron Warren, “River Of Memory”, Zombies Vs. Robots

In addition to the above incredible tales, the volume will include a review of 2012 and a list of highly recommended stories.

The Year's Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2012 is scheduled for publication in July 2013 and can be pre-ordered at indiebooksonline.com. The anthology will be available in hardcover, ebook and trade editions.

For further information please contact Russell B. Farr, Ticonderoga Publications, editor@ticonderogapublications.com
I was prodded into blogging by my rather thrilling acceptance of a poem by Westerly yesterday – and now I'm compelled to add the publications and acceptances that I've shamefully neglected to mention: three poems and a fairy horror story actually published, and several exciting forthcomings. Er, I seem to have been more prolific than I felt I was.

Three stories:

  • My hommage to H. G. Wells' marvellous "The Door in the Wall", called "A Moveable Feast", came out late last year in the fabulously bloodthirsty Bloodstones, October 2012, edited by Amanda Pillar (Ticonderoga Publications).

  • Just as excitingly, I've just had an acceptance from Penumbra eMag (part of Musa Publishing). My story loosely based on H. G. Wells' mordant "The Trouble with Pyecraft", called "New Miracle Celebrity Weight Loss Diet", will be in Penumbra's H. G. Wells theme issue in June  2013. Oh, I do love H. G. Wells.

  • Meanwhile, I'm thrilled that Liz Grzyb has accepted my story about the beautiful Tammuz's (Dumuzi's) less beautiful older sister, "The Quiet Realm of the Dark Queen" for Dreaming of Djinn (Ticonderoga Publications).

Four poems:

  • A long poem, "The Duties of a Cat", was published across a double-page spread in the February 2012 Orbit edition of the NSW School Magazine, with glorious illustrations.

  • "Learning How to Be a Cat" (yes, another cat poem, with a touch of Bradbury hommage) was published in the wonderful Underwords YA science fiction anthology Futuredaze, February 2012.

  • "Liquid Pleasure" (a sorrowful poem of lost nymph love) was published in the 2013 Spring Equinox edition of the lovely, pagan Eternal Haunted Summer, and you can read it now, for free and everything, here. (It's perhaps a touch NSFW or for the young, like the poem of centaur love in the Pedestal last year.)

  • "Engine of Strange Delights" (a poem for librarian-scholars) is forthcoming SOON in the revered spec fic poetry magazine Dreams & Nightmares.

Futuredaze-cover-final   bloodstones

Westerly has just accepted a cat poem!

OK, I know I've been a Very Bad Blogger. Life has been a bit tricky lately.

But I got a newsworthy email from Westerly this afternoon. They're taking "Roughly Spherical, and covered in dead leaves" for their next issue. It is, of course, about the Ragdoll in Winter.

(For any non-Aussie visitors to this blog, Westerly is an august literary journal from WA - a companion to Southerly and Meanjin, either of which I would kill to get into.)

And quite coincidentally, I asked Russ to take some updated author pics, because my old one was getting a bit distant in time - so here's a new photo of my muse and me. Felix isn't quite spherical yet, but he will be by June.

Felix and me 2013

The Next Big Thing blog hop

This is my contribution to The Next Big Thing blog hop, a branching pyramid-of-prose for authors to discuss their latest release or WIP. I was tagged by the amazing Shauna Roberts, another lover of history and a fellow Hadley Rille Books author. (Her deeply historical HRB novel Like Mayflies in the Stream, set in ancient Sumer, was published shortly after my The Priestess and the Slave, which was set in ancient Greece.)

I'm going to talk about my major WIP: an unsanitised life of Medea, full of sex and sorcery.

What is the working title of your book?
Medea: Dark Sorceress

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Years back, intrepid Aussie authors Donna Hansen and Nicole Murphy put out a call for submissions for an anthology of paranormal fantasies on a theme of sacrifice. I'm a passionate classicist by training, though I spent 20 years in IT; (literal) sacrifice was very big in ancient Greek religion, and women were always making terrible (metaphorical) sacrifices in Greek myths and legends. Medea sprang to mind – she made terrible sacrifices for her love for Jason. There was a short story, but it wasn't enough. Medea demanded a novel. And now it looks a lot like the first third of a trilogy.

What genre does your book fall under?
Dark Sorceress is a historical fantasy that walks on the dark side.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
That's a hard one. Keira Knightley did a wonderful job of obsessive love and madness in A Dangerous Method, and I can imagine her shining golden like Medea. But I'm not sure what male actor could pull off Jason's self-centred uncertainty, with a dash of not-quite-successful swaggering heroism.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Bronze Age princess and sorceress Medea is no match for the goddess Aphrodite, who binds her with an ancient spell to love and protect self-serving Argonaut Jason; Medea must defy her terrifying father, flee her home and murder her beloved brother Apsurtos to win the Golden Fleece for ungrateful Jason.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
HarperCollins has the manuscript right now. Whether they say yes or no, I'd love to have an agent.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I've been writing it, on and off, since 2009. There has been a lot of research, to get the Mycenaean Greek background right, and a few stops and starts along the way.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Tricky. I guess I'm aspiring to Mary Renault's realistic but wild retelling of the Theseus legend, which I've already mentioned.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The glories of Mycenaean Greece, and ancient Greek playwright Euripides's subversive and tragic play Medea. Just read it. I'll never forget the shock of reading it for the first time, decades ago, and discovering that, by the end, I was totally on Medea's side, ready to excuse her for the apparently unforgivable crime of murdering her children to take revenge on Jason. So many ancient Athenian women at the theatrical festival of Dionysus, and even some men, must have felt the same way. It would be hard to feel Medea's suffering, and not to hate self-centred Jason's self-serving guts. How could he abandon her, and their children, after all she'd done for him, just so that he could marry a namby-pamby local princess half her age?

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Medea's magic, and the gods, are real, but the book is nothing like a generic fantasy. And then there's the sex. Lots of sex. Medea was that sort of girl.

Now, I tag these authors to answer these same questions next Wednesday:

  • My wonderful husband Russell Blackford, spec fic author, critic and philosopher (whose big new book is non-fiction – not that there's anything wrong with that).
  • Fabulously multi-talented Aussie photographer, editor, designer and award-winning author Cat Sparks.
  • Keira McKenzie in exotic Perth, WA, another fabulously multi-talented photographer, artist and author.

I Know What I Saw

My nasty little poem "Mirror" - first published in Midnight Echo 4 (thanks, fabulous editor Lee Battersby!) and reprinted in the Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2010 (thanks, fabulous horror editor Talie Helene!) has now been reprinted in I Know What I Saw, a spooky collection of horror poems from Needfire Poetry (thanks, fabulous editor Barry Napier)!!!

Anyone who has read my poem will know why I sent it to Barry as soon as I read the call for submissions. Yes, I do know what I saw. And it can't have been real... (Read more about what I might or might not have seen, in Talie Helene's interview here.)

The e-book is available from Smashwords or Amazon. It's full of strange objects in the night sky, shadowy creatures spied from the corner of your eye, things from out of this world going bump in the night…


Rights and wrongs - the interview

Russ will be interviewed tomorrow at 9:10 am by Jill Emberson, on ABC Radio (Newcastle 1233), about Freedom of Religion and the Secular State.

Freedom of religion and freedom of speech in modern Western democracies couldn't be more topical if it tried.

Rights and wrongs

Russell's recent book - Freedom of Religion and the Secular State - couldn't be more topical if it tried. (Have you looked at the news lately?) It's a calm, measured, philosophical look at a VERY important issue, and part of the Blackwell Public Philosophy series. AC Grayling said, "This is a must-read: Blackford has given us a forceful and persuasive book that will have a big impact on the debate it addresses."

Freedom of religion cover

A centaur poem in The Pedestal Magazine

Just to keep you all on your toes, I'm reporting publishing news that's not a cat poem.

I'm delighted that the current issue of The Pedestal Magazine includes my longish Bronze Age Greece poem, "Their Cold Eyes Pierced my Skin", with centaurs (and no cats). Here's a link to the poem - and there is much more spec fic poetry goodness there, from David Kopaska-Merkel, Alexandra Seidel and other wonderful people, all chosen by spec fic poetry editors Marge Simon and Bruce Boston.

To make up for the unusual absence of cats in the poem, here's a photo of Felix as an oldish kitten, lurking in the blueberry pot.



It's been under embargo, and I've managed to avoid even hinting about a sekrit - but now it can be told. I will have a long cat poem, with a bit of a Ray Bradbury twist, in the amazingly wonderful YA sf anthology Futuredaze, edited by Hannah Strom-Martin & Erin Underwood, from Underwords. Here's a link: http://underwordsblog.com/2012/07/30/futuredaze-authors/
And here are the authors so far, though the final details of the TOC aren't absolutely decided yet:


E. Kristin Anderson
Jenny Blackford
Cathy Bryant
Sandi Cayless
Alicia Cole
John Grey
Evelyn Lumish
Brittany Warman
Neil Weston
Anna Della Zazzera


Steve Alguire
Camille Alexa
Stephen D. Covey
Danika Dinsmore
Gregory Frost
Nancy Holder
Alex J. Kane
Rahul Kanakia
Miri Kim
Rich Larson
Dale Lucas
Alex Dally MacFarlane
Jack McDevitt
Sandra McDonald
Jennifer Moore
Katrina Nicholson
Chuck Rothman
Mark Smith-Briggs
Leah Thomas
Llinos Cathryn Thomas
Lavie Tidhar
William John Watkins

My poem's called "Learning How to Be a Cat". And, of course, I need to give you a picture of my Feline Muse. I call this photo "Stil Life in Fruitbowl". And, yes, Felix is sleeping on a pile of fabric remnants I'd stored there to work on later. Sigh.

Still Life in Fruitbowl

Greek is good!

Just woke up two days in a row to acceptances - today of a long poem to The Pedestal Magazine, and yesterday of a story to the School Magazine. The poem is set in a fantasy version of Bronze Age Greece with real centaurs, and the story is in a purely historical Classical Greece (Piraeus, the port of Athens, during the Peloponnesian War), though it involves a cat (extremely rare at that time). I'm pretty sure that this is the first time that this has happened (to me).
     Also, I have galleys for a story the Year's Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2011. And Russell's cooking lamb chops ;)