Friday, July 19, 2019

We'll Stand in That Place and Other Stories Book Launch

We'll Stand in That Place and Other Stories Ed. Michelle Cahill, which includes my latest story "The Do" will be launched at the gorgeous Readings Book Store in the Victorian State Library in Melbourne. Wish I could be there, but it's the usual tyranny of distance issue.

Thur 1 Aug 2019 at 6:30 pm. 
Readings State Library –State Library Victoria, 285-321 Russell St, Melbourne 3000, Victoria

Hope it's a wonderful celebration of the genre and a fabulous night for all who attend.

Current Read: A Maggot by John Fowles

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Book Launches for The Sky Falls Down: An Anthology of Loss

 The Sky Falls Down: An Anthology of Loss Ed. Gina Mercer & Terry Whitebeach will have its first launch at Fullers Bookshop on the 26th June at 5:30pm in the editors' home state of Tasmania.

And then if you're in Melbourne, Carrie Tiffany will be launching the anthology at Readings in Hawthorn on the 13th July, 2pm.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Sky Falls Down: An Anthology of Loss Ed. Terry Whitebeach & Gina Mercer

I have a story in The Sky Falls Down, a compendium of fiction, memoir and poetry revolving around the theme of loss.

There's a crowdfund from the Australian Cultural Fund to raise a little more money for the writers. My own story is a reprint, so I've donated to the fund, but there are many pieces in the anthology that are seeing print for the first time. No pressure, just spreading the word. The link's below:

Current Reads:

Recently finished We'll Stand in That Place and Other Stories ed. Michelle Cahill. I'll disclose I've a story in it, but regardless, I loved the anthology.

I'm fascinated by the variety of style and voices that the short form can exhibit, and We'll Stand in That Place and Other Stories is a fantastic exemplar of that power. All stories within are layered and, in my opinion, deserve a second reading. I discovered something to enjoy and admire in each and every narrative.

And I'm currently reading the historical fiction Restoration by Rose Tremain.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Cover Reveal: We’ll Stand in That Place and Other Stories Ed. Michelle Cahill

Latest Story News

My latest story 'The Do' will feature along side what's a fab lineup of Australian writers in We’ll Stand in That Place and Other Stories Ed. Michelle Cahill. MRP has revealed the gorgeous cover designed by Susan Miller. 

Previously Shared Homes (trivia): I always love seeing if I've shared previous homes with writers. This time around Claire Corbett tops the list as it's the third publication we've been in together; and it's the second with Mark Smith. Sincere apologies if I've missed out on any of the other writers. 

Editor and Author Bios (from Margaret River Press Website):

Michelle Cahill‘s short stories, Letter to Pessoa won the UTS Glenda Adams Award, the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for New Writing and was shortlisted in the Steele Rudd Queensland Literary Awards. She won the Hilary Mantel International Short Story Prize and was shortlisted in the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Prize. She was a Fellow at Kingston Writing School, a Visiting Scholar in Creative Writing at UNC, Charlotte and a Fellow at Hawthornden Castle. She is an award-winning poet and critic. Her essays have appeared in the Sydney Review of Books, Southerly, Westerly and The Weekend Australian.
Emily Brewin is a Melbourne-based author and educator. Her first novel, Hello, Goodbye, was released in 2017 with Allen & Unwin. Her second, Small Blessings, came out in February 2019 with the same publisher. She has been awarded an Australian Society of Authors mentorship for her fiction writing, and undertook a Bundanon Trust artist residency and a Moreland writers’ residency in 2018 to develop her third novel, The Piano. Emily’s short stories have been short listed for a number of awards, including the 2019 Margaret River Short Story Competition. She has written for Feminartsy, Meanjin, Kill Your Darlings and Mamamia.
Claire Corbett has had stories, essays and journalism published in journals including Picador New WritingSMHThe MonthlyGriffith ReviewOverlandSoutherlyAntipodes, Science Fiction Film and Television and Best Australian Stories 2014 and 2015. Her first novel, When We Have Wings (Allen &Unwin), was shortlisted for the 2012 Barbara Jefferis Award and shortlisted for the 2012 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction and published overseas. Watch Over Me, her second novel, was published by A&U in 2017. She is writing her third novel. She teaches Creative Writing at UTS, is on the Board of Varuna, the National Writers’ House, and is the new fiction editor of Overland Journal.
Darryl R. Dymock enjoys writing short fiction, is a winner of the Roly Sussex Short Story award, and has been published elsewhere including in Griffith Review and most recently in the anthology, Within/Without These Walls. He is also the author of five narrative non-fiction books, including Hustling Hinkler and The Chalkies. In his other life he is an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at Griffith University, Brisbane. Darryl lives in Brisbane with his wife and his laptop, and says that in any writing the challenge is always the beginning, the middle and the end.
K. W. George is a writer from Brisbane. She has been published in a number of journals including MeanjinGoing Down Swinging, and The Big Issue. This is her fourth appearance in a Margaret River Press Anthology, which she believes is a record of some kind—but who’s counting?
Justine Hyde is a library director, writer and critic who lives in Melbourne. Her fiction, essays and reviews are published in The AgeThe
AustralianThe Saturday PaperKill Your DarlingsThe Lifted BrowMeanjin and Seizure.
Jenni Mazaraki is a writer and visual artist based in Melbourne, Australia. She is currently working on her first novel, an extract of which was shortlisted for the 2017 Deborah Cass Prize. Her poetry has been highly commended in The Bridport Prize 2018 and her short stories have been shortlisted for prizes including the Write Around the Murray award 2017. Her poetry is included in the anthology #MeToo: Stories from the Australian movement published by Picador in May 2019.
Rachel McEleney‘s short fiction and nonfiction has appeared in SeizureGhostly StringyBark AnthologyAeternum: The Journal of Contemporary Gothic StudiesandAn Alphabetical Amulet Anthology. Her poetry has appeared on the UWA Poets’ Corner in Perth. Rachel lived in several countries before settling in the southwest of Western Australia. The southwest landscape has inspired her writing and she likes to spend a lot of time in the bush, particularly in spring so she can search for orchids. She is a PhD candidate at Edith Cowan University’s South West Campus.
Audrey Molloy was born in Dublin and grew up in rural Ireland. She now lives in Sydney, where she works as an optometrist and writer. Her poetry has been widely published, most recently in Meanjin, Cordite, Overland, Australian Poetry Anthology, Rabbit, Southerly, The Moth, The Irish Times and Magma. Her short fiction has been shortlisted for The Southern Cross Short Story Competition and has been published in The Blue Nib. Audrey’s work has been nominated for the Forward Prize and she is one of Eyewear Publishing’s Best New British and Irish Poets 2018.
Catherine Noske is a lecturer in Creative Writing and editor of Westerly at the University of Western Australia. Her research focuses on contemporary Australian place-making. She has been awarded the A.D. Hope Prize, twice received the Elyne Mitchell Prize for Rural Women Writers, and was shortlisted for the Dorothy Hewett Award (2015). Her first novel is forthcoming with Picador.
Since 2011, Perth writer, Anthony Panegyres, has had works featured in The Best Australian Stories 2014The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2011, The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2015Overland 204 (a story short listed for the Aurealis Award), Overland 214, Meanjin Vol.3 2013, The Guardian, Dreaming of Djinn and several other homes,  including the award winning anthologies Bloodlines and At the Edge. He is currently a doctoral candidate at UWA.
Emily Paull is a writer, blogger, editor and former bookseller from Western Australia. Her work has appeared in Westerly as well as two previous Margaret River anthologies. Her debut collection of short stories will be published by Margaret River Press later in 2019. You can find out more about Emily at
Kathy Prokhovnik is currently working on her second novel and a narrative non-fiction history of Sydney. She blogs in two threads: ‘Sydney snaps’ and ‘At the farm’. Awards for her short stories include: highly commended in the 2018 and 2017 KSP Short Fiction Awards; runner-up in 2016. Winner of the 2016 Joyce Parkes Women Writers Prize and the 1988 Olga Masters Short Story Competition, University of Queensland Press Award. She has had short stories published in the Seizure ‘Flashers’ series, in Certifiable Truths (Allen & Unwin, 1998), MeanjinWesterly and Hecate.
K.A. Rees writes poetry and short fiction. Her poems and short stories have been included by Red Room CompanyRochford Street ReviewYalobusha ReviewReview of Australian FictionAustralian Poetry and Cordite Poetry Review, among others. In 2012, Kate was the CafĂ© Poet in Residence at the State Library of NSW. She was shortlisted for the 2016 Judith Wright Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of the 2017 Barry Hannah Prize in Fiction and runner-up in the 2018 Peter Cowan Short Story Award. She is a 2019 Varuna fellowship holder for her manuscript of short fiction. Kate lives with her family in Sydney.
Mirandi Riwoe’s novella The Fish Girl won Seizure’s Viva la Novella V and was shortlisted for The Stella Prize. She is the author of two crime novels and is prose editor for Peril Magazine. Her work has appeared in Best Australian Stories, Meanjin, Review of Australian Fiction, Shibboleth and Other Stories and Best Summer Stories. Mirandi has a PhD in Creative Writing and Literary Studies (QUT).
Kit Scriven has been published in Island and short story anthologies. He won the Olga Master Short Story Award in 2016 and 2017, and the SALA Short Story Prize in 2016. He has been highly commended or shortlisted in several other short story competitions.
Mark Smith lives on Victoria’s Surf Coast. His debut novel, The Road To Winter, was published in 2016. The sequel, Wilder Country, won the 2018
Australian Indie Book Award for YA. Mark is also an award winning writer of short fiction, with credits including the 2015 Josephine Ulrick
Literature Prize and the 2013 Alan Marshall Short Story Prize. His work has appeared in Best Australian Stories, Review of Australian Fiction,
The Big IssueThe Victorian Writer and The Australian.
Andrew Sutherland is a Queer writer and theatre practitioner working between Western Australia and Singapore. Theatre works include Poorly Drawn SharkUnveiling: Gay Sex for EndtimesBaby GirlChrysanthemum Gate, and Ragnarok. He was awarded Overland‘s Fair Australia Poetry Prize 2017 and selected as a poet for Westerly’s Writers’ Development Program 2018. His poetry and prose can be found in various publications including Visible InkSuburban ReviewMuse/ABosie, and From Whispers to Roars.
Jem Tyley-Miller is a crime writer from Bacchus Marsh who sees life through a magical realist lens. A 2018 Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellow, Jem works casually directing extras to fund her very serious writing habit and co-organises the Peter Carey Short Story Award in her spare time. You can read more of her writing in Spike, the Meanjin blog.
Lynette Washington is a writer, editor, publisher and teacher of creative and professional writing. Her stories have been published widely and performed at events such as Spineless Wonders Presents and Quart Short Literary Readings. In 2014 she edited the story collection, Breaking Beauty. In 2017 she co-edited the story collection, Crush. Her debut, Plane Tree Drive, was Highly Commended in the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and shortlisted for the MUBA.

Currently Reading: Year's Best Fantasy Ed. David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer This dates back to 2001. David G. Hartwell unfortunately passed away in Jan 2016, so I regret not reading the anthology earlier. I have read the Michael Swanwick and George RR Martin's stories before (strong works as expected); and I can't wait to read Nalo Hopkinson's story as I regard her short work as sublime. Sadly, the fantasy and speculative fiction short story form doesn't always receive the critical acclaim it deserves. The best work in the genre is truly impressive, and if more people read the genre they would discover that it's predominantly not 'high fantasy' (it's not all medieval dwarves, elves, goblins, warriors and wizards - although they have a place too), but rather the genre consists of a vast range of settings, characters, ideas and styles, and the narratives are intelligent, well-crafted, and character-driven. 

And I'm also reading Song of Solomon by the legendary Toni Morrison. Morrison is one of those writers who makes me embarrassed to put pen to paper. 

Reprints: And 'Submerging' (Overland Literary Journal 214 & The Best Australian Stories 2014) will now find its 3rd and 4th homes in June. One is an Australian compendium exploring the theme of loss: The Sky Falls: An Anthology of Lossand the other is an American climate change anthology called Changing Tides. The latter is unpaid. I'm all for paying the writer, but all proceeds from Changing Tides go toward environmental conservation, which I'm passionate about.  In this case it's the Coral Restoration Foundation; a nonprofit organisation in Key Largo, Florida, which focuses on restoring coral reefs, creating offshore nurseries, and educational outreach (it's the world's largest non-profit marine-conservation organisation). Sounds like a very worthwhile cause to me. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Publishing News 2019: New Story

New Story: "The Do"

Nice news to hear that all 19 short listed stories from the Margaret River Short Story Competition will be published again in an anthology out later this year. For more info see this linked post from Margaret River Press.

Congrats to all involved. I'm really looking forward to reading all the stories, but especially Mark Smith's as I loved his work, "Sugar Bag Dreamin' Country" in Best Australian Stories 2014  

I have pasted an excerpt from MRP post below along with a little from the editor, poet Michelle Cahill (from MRP).

Editor Michelle Cahill had this to say about this year’s shortlist:
‘Reading through the longlist for this year’s Margaret River Press Short Story Competition, I was struck by the many stories inflected by contemporary concerns: climate change, the need for queer spaces and voices, cultural inclusiveness. And yet, equally, the stories that impressed me most succeed in realising complex emotions that we sometimes fail to honour in our daily lives and in our close relationships. It has been a privilege to judge this prize; my warm congratulations to the shortlisted writers and the winners.’
Congratulations to Kit Scriven, who took out first place with his short story ‘We’ll Stand in That Place’, and to Catherine Noske, whose short story ‘Thylacine’ won second place. Rachel McEleney’s short story ‘The Day the Rain Stopped Dancing’ is the winner of the Southwest Prize.
Of the nineteen stories chosen, there are six writers from Victoria, five from Western Australia, four from New South Wales, three from Queensland and one from South Australia.
Emily Bewin  – A Twist Of Smoke
Claire Corbett – Aftertaste
Darryl R. Dymock – A Tough Little Bird
K.W. George – Three Dog Night
Justine Hyde – Emotional Support
Jenni Mazaraki – Somebody’s Baby
Rachel McEleney – The Day the Rain Stopped Dancing *Southwest Prize*
Audrey Molloy – Thirty Sacks
Catherine Noske – Thylacine *Second Prize*
Anthony Panegyres (Phillips) – The Do
Emily Paull – A Moveable Farce
Kathy Prokhovnik – Still life
K.A. Rees – Butterscotch
Mirandi Riwoe – Cinta Ku
Kit Scriven – We’ll stand in that place *First Prize*
Mark Smith – A Concreter’s Heart
Andrew Sutherland – The Children
Jem Tyley-Miller – The Monster in the Lake
Lynette Washington – Mycorrhizal Networks

Friday, January 11, 2019

Reading Review 2018

Starting with the very small down side, only a couple of reads truly disappointed: by the time I read the The Warlord of Mars, the pulpy road's gloss of the initial novel in Burroughs' Mars Trilogy had worn very thin; the other disappointment was Aleppo, which had my favourite historian resort to chapters that were entirely primary source extracts. Mansel might have been under a tight timeline or intense publishing pressure as Aleppo is not a smidgen of the quality of his other works. His usual narrative edge is also sadly absent.

Books Read in 2018 
     (happy to discuss any)

Great Apes Will Self

Revolutionary Road Richard Yates

Northern Lights Philip Pullman (YA)

Pastoralia George Saunders (novella from Pastoralia)

Burr Gore Vidal

The Glimpse of Truth Ed. David Miller (anthology)

Lincoln in the Bardo George Saunders

Pastoralia George Saunders (collection)

Bobcat and Other Stories Rebecca Lee (collection)

The Genius of Birds Jennifer Ackerman (natural history)

CivilWarLand in Bad Decline George Saunders (collection)

Tenth of December George Saunders (collection)

Yellowcake Springs Guy Salvidge

In a Sunburned Country Bill Bryson (travel/memoir/expository)

The Gate of Angels Penelope Fitzgerald

Bounty George Saunders (novella from CivilWarLand in Bad Decline)

The Count of Monte Cristo  Alexandre Dumas)

Semplica Girl Diaries George Saunders (novella from Tenth of December)

House of Lost Dreams Graham Joyce

Pulse Julian Barnes (collection)

A Cabinet of Byzantine Curiosities Anthony Kaldellis (History)

The Invisible Man H.G Wells (novella)

Princess of Mars Edgar Rice Burroughs

Asimov’s Science Fiction Nov/Dec 2017 

The Woman in White Wilkie Collins

The Inner Life of Animals Peter Wohlleben (natural history)

The Gods of Mars Edgar Rice Burroughs

Wimmera Mark Brandi

Magrit Lee Battersby (childrens’s novel)

Splintered Walls Kaaron Warren (collection)

Sky Kaaron Warren (novella)

Who Fears Death Nnedi Okorafor

Divergent Veronica Roth (YA)

Mars Trilogy Edgar Rice Burroughs

Aleppo Philip Mansel (history)

Heroic Adventure Stories Ed Mike Ashley (anthology)

The Warlord of Mars Edgar Rice Burroughs                                                                            

Novel Highlights 

Keeping the extended commentary to two, but as mentioned earlier there were plenty of great reads. Great Apes and Revolutionary Road, although vastly different, are easily up there with the best books I've read. My next two favourite reads were Northern Lights (a delightful and unashamedly British steampunk adventure), and Gore Vidal's Burr (an historical fiction about a man who was much more than simply the 'arch-villain' who killed Hamilton). 

As expected, George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo was excellent; and Yellowcake Springs impressed as a local dystopian novel. It was also nice to read a thoughtful Australian children's novel: Magrit by Lee Battersby is rhythmic and unique. I could go on and on... 

Great Apes by Will Self

Great Apes is a brilliant absurdist satire with Will Self at the peak of his game. Symon Dykes awakes from a drug-infused psychedelic night out to discover himself as a human entrapped within a chimp's body in a world of chimpanzees. And what's more, his girlfriend is a chimp perfectly self-accepting of her own chimpunity. This parallel world of 'Planet of the Chimps' functions much like ours with cars, universities, arty-farts, academics, and more, yet the chimpanzee's 'primate nature' still reigns supreme. Self's favourite clinical psychologist, Dr. Zach Buzner, is a chimp past his prime but still perilously clinging on to his Alpha Male status. For once Buzner (a reoccurring character in many Self stories) is sympathetically portrayed. We are endeared to him with his drive to save Simon and restore Simon's sense of 'chimpunity', while simultaneously dealing with his own clan; dealing with other males aiming to topple his reign; and dealing with the overly ambitious world of academia in general – all with ample and admirable cunning. 

The novel is incredible at a micro level, where Self's wit constantly delights. And with Great Apes, Self manages to do more than produce his usual cutting satire, he also manages a warm and empathetic connectivity with the reader in relation to the entire cast of main characters. This element of connectivity was what I felt Where the Dead Live, although very good, did not quite achieve. Through the exploration of our chimpunity, Self strikes a deliberate unique chord with our exploration of our own humanity. 

Great Apes is Self at his irreverent best. Perhaps the ending was forced, but the journey is not only forever witty, but also thoughtful and hilarious. Self always overdoes it in one or two scenes, but these stretches are also what makes Self a brave individual in a world that often rewards a mundane or conservative approach to prose. The literal brown-nosing metaphor at Oxford was a point of overkill for me. That aside, I pant-hoot to this work's great merit. I submissively pant-grunt, bend low and offer my fragrant backside to Self, a true genius.

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

I'm a huge fan of Yates' shorter work, in fact I've read all of his stories, but I had delayed reading Revolutionary Road and his other longer works – perhaps I didn't want them to take the shine off his short stories. But I was blown away, once again, by Yates. Although I should note that my book club was far less enthusiastic about RR. 

Frank Wheeler imagines (at times...) that he is above the urban and cultural uniformity of the American burbs. His wife April, would like to regard him that way too (Once again – at times...) In their dream, they are a pair of thinkers and philosophers being stymied by the American way. The reality is that Frank, rather than subversively 'role-playing' in urban America, is only fantasising for his and April's benefit, and is as much a player in the monotonous American way as his neighbours. 

On the surface, Frank and April are the new mid-1950s American Dream: both are attractive with a good house in the suburbs with the world at their feet. Dig just a little though and their relationship is no more than a doomed downward spiral built up on false foundations and illusions. The idea of moving to France is April's solution for them both; a means to something more unique and far more artistic than what the American burbs can ever offer. And with this dream in debate, Frank gradually unveils his layers of falsity. 

Sounds  all gloom and doom...and it is... but it's a truly sublime novel. 

Yates, as usual, not only portrays the urban disillusionment and urban discontent, but also the cultural buy-in of it all. He also makes some wonderful narrative turns and captures the human condition here like no other writer can. I also love Yates' prose. It entails a purposeful mix of telling and showing that rolls the story along without it every being a drag, or at the other end, without ever evolving into a thin fast-paced romp. 

The small array of characters works well, especially when the sole 'truth-speaker' in RR is a man who visits under the careful eye of his folks as an outing from the lunatic asylum.

Frank's self-regard and fatuous inclination to assert his own masculinity will make you want to throttle him at times. April wants Frank's lofty self-regard as a creative thinker to be real and hopes that France will bring out the 'authentic submerged' Frank. Frank likes that April still sees him  as this figure (at times...) – one above the mass manufactured suburban American. 

RR is full of irony and dark humour but it is also compassionate. Only at the very end does it resort to melodrama - which, by that time of the novel, works a treat. 

And the little afterward is one of the neatest endings I have read. 

Collection Highlights

All three collections that I read by Saunders were a riot, with Pastoralia my own personal favourite. 

And at the other end of the spectrum, in a more controlled, realist manner, Rebecca Lee's Bobcat and Other Stories is wonderful. It may be a little too centred around university and academia at times, but the controlled rhythmic prose is Munro-esque, as is Lee's insight into relationships. 

   Expository Texts 

And very briefly for nature lovers, The Genius of Birds is a treat. 

And for travellers or Australians, In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson is also great fun, although the initial cliched hyperbole about how dangerous Australia is is dull and disappointing, especially when compared to gun-toting America. But after the opening, Bryson's warm and humorous voice will win most readers over. It did me.

Favourite Films seen in 2018

I had two personal faves that I saw on screen. Firstly, the quirky and powerful exploration of a polarised American identity: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; and secondly, the celebratory biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which also rocked me.