Thursday, December 28, 2006

Rounding out a good year

December with all of its Christmas cheer has been a great month for me, writing-wise. I made my first US sale with my short story Decky's Plight set to appear in the special monster issue of Black Ink Horror (September 07), my story Knightsbrea was one of the 4 finalists in the December competition at Spinetingers and will be published on their website on January 1st, and... I completed the final edit of my novel! Finished it yesterday, actually, witing the words 'THE END' at about 7pm last night.

Then I indulged in a couple of glasses of wine :)

I spoke about my novel to me wifey on the drive home from Newcastle on Christmas evening, and we devised a - what I believe - brilliant story arc, one in which I can develop a number of books, not necessarily sequels but linked adventures in an interesting world. The idea is based around a blend of science fiction and horror, so I'm pretty excited about starting work on the next book...

For now, make sure you check out Spinetingers on January 1st for my story, Knightsbrea.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Nothing Beats the Classics!

I've managed - somehow - to watch a number of old, classic sci-fi/horror movies during the past week without really trying, and it's been great!

The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) was on tele over the weekend, and y'know, for an old flick, it was pretty darn good. Then Invasion of the Body Snatchers was on, only this wasn't the original but the 1978 version with Donald Sutherland - still pretty cool. A work colleague lent me Forbidden Plant (1956), so that was Monday night's viewing and again, pretty enjoyable for an old movie. This was followed up with The Day of the Triffids (1962) last night (Tuesday), and although this differs somewhat from John Wyndham's book, it wasn't too bad. I think I'm a fan of the 1981 TV series more so than this film, though.

I wonder why no one has remade The Day of the Triffids?

A fellow writer friend of mine just informed me that next week on the ABC, we've got Invaders from Mars (1953) on Tuesday, then The Thing from Another World (1951, remade as The Thing by John Carpenter in 1982), followed afterwards with The Body Snatcher (1945, starring Boris Karlof). The Body Snatcher isn't related to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but it should make for some great late night viewing!!

Bring on the classics, I say!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Hurtling towards the End

Darkling Muse is dragging me on, hauling me towards the end without regard to my welfare. All he can see is the finished book, now only 34 pages away. We've scaled 83,000 words thus far, and the dark fellow has assured me of a few more before we're done...

He is an extremely hard man to please, demanding the best and then demanding even better. When I think we've reached the stage where things cannot possibly be improved upon, he thrusts English Grammar books at me and threatens all sorts of meanies if I don't take heed.

You are never good enough, says the Sideshow Fellow. And who am I to argue? He controls the visions, the views of this dark world; I am merely his outlet.

One day I'm going to get one over on him. One day, he's going to get his come-uppance....

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Drawing to a close...

I'm still here, not yet gobbled up by those shifty shadowy things sitting just out of reach of the circus lights, though let me tell you, I've seen a few of the carnival folk muttering about me as I wait for my muse to finish whatever it is he does when he's not directing my hand... (I've never quite had the confidence to ask him either. The way I figure it, so long as he provides me with the stories and keeps me out of the actual planning, then we can carry on living happily together)

The novel is racing towards its climax - 65 pages left to edit. I'm so deep within that stage where it takes up all of my thinking; it's the only thing I want to do, even when I'm at work staring down a microscope, all I'm thinking about is catching up with my muse as soon as I get home.

Me wifey thinks my muse is code for mistress, but I keep telling her it's not... I'm not that mad...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

...and now the Confidence Game...

So you sit and wait, lurking about your inbox like spam, hoping for that email from the editor of such-and-such magazine or anthology you recently sent a story to -

And then one day it's there... your heart lurches as you recognize the sender, and you get a cold flush when you read the subject line and see "Re: 'story name'..."

You open it, almost unable to read the words as they appear, but you do, and then you see it. One single word stands out above all else and it is like a kick in the nether-regions.

'blah-blah-blah, BUT blah-blah-blah...'

Sometimes, 'BUT' is changed with 'UNFORTUNATELY,' but regardless, the overall message is the same; your story will not be published this time.

And that's something you need to cling to - THIS TIME. Your story won't be published this time, but perhaps NEXT TIME it will. You have to cling to that because otherwise you'd buy a gun and go postal on all editors...

Writing is a horrid thing, but I love it and cannot give it up. So I have to push aside the rejections and move on, send those stories back out there.

I got 2 rejections this morning, one from an international magazine and one from an anthology, but it was the anthology I was really bummed about. Damnit! I really dug that story. I thought it was a really good tale, one that would suit their vision of the anthology - but I was wrong.

It IS a good story but one that wasn't right for them. So I've had a look over the story and then sent it out there right away. Good luck little buddy, go make us proud. And if you end up home again, no worries, I'll fix you up and get you out there once more.

You have to persevere in this game. You have to believe in yourself and have the dedication and determination to succeed. I finished my PhD in mid-2005 and it was only then that I was able to completely give myself over to my fiction writing; in that time, I've had 5 short stories published and 1 article coming up, which is a pretty good start.

At times like these, you need little moral boosts like that. I've also been fortunate enough to have had a couple of good reviews written about my few stories, so I go back and read them to remind myself that I can write and I do know what I'm doing.

Then I roll up my sleeves and get stuck into the story I'm working on, more determined than ever before to make it shine...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Playing the Patience Game

I'm currently slugging it out with my novel and finally have it on the ropes... 212 pages finished, polished gold, ready to go, leaving another 82 to pick through and make sure the dots are connected and no loose ends remain. This is the last edit...

It's pretty exciting but quite spooky as well. It's hard enough to send a short story out into the world, let alone a full length novel. Writing for me is very personal, and only when I'm absolutely sure of a story will I send it out into the world, knowing it is going to have to undergo intense scrutiny even before it gets published. Criticism abounds out there, but that's all part of the game. And besides, you can't please everybody so there is no point in trying. So long as you're happy with it, that's all that matters.

The novel is going to take me to new levels of anxiety. Already, I have back up copies and copies of back up copies, one of which is always with me no matter where I go. Dr Paranoid Freak at your service. But then again, this is the result of a year's worth of work, and I'm pretty proud of it.

I've been trying to fit in writing short stories around the novel but they seem to be piling up in my head faster than I can finish them. I put aside Friday's for writing short stories, which is why I only have 5 submissions out there with editors at the moment. I'd really like to increase that to about 15 or 20, but that's not likely until I finish the novel.

Two of those short stories were submitted in January 2006, nearly a year ago now. One magazine has at least been in touch to say the story is slowly making its way through the slushpile, but I've not heard from them for over 2 months now. The other one, well, I'm sure that magazine has gone belly up as there has been no replies to any of my emails. So I think it's time to cut and run, time to take that story elsewhere. Time to find a new home for it.

Okay, intermission is over. Get back to it.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Does it Take More to Shock Us Now?

I was watching the news tonight and there was a wee bit about Saw 3, saying how it has taken over 40 million dollars on its opening weekend and has been at #1 on the US charts for 3 weeks. It's looking set to overtake the first two installments in the Saw franchise.

It's interesting... I watched Saw and thought wow, what a movie. But I also cringed and winced and hid behind my hands a few times (you're such a wuss, Marty). I haven't yet managed to watch Saw II. Whenever I'm at the video shop hunting for something to watch, I pause before Saw II and then move on, likewise with Hostel and The Hills Have Eyes. I just can't bring myself to watch them.

I did manage to watch Wolf Creek, but that was the last of these "pseudo-snuff" or "horror-porn" films I've watched (I heard those terms branded about somewhere recently and thought, yeah, that kind of describes them). 'Head on a Stick;' man, what a frightening and cold scene that was.....

I like my horror hidden in shadows. I prefer the more atmospheric movies rather than the shotgun ones. The Others, or The Blair Witch Project - movies where your imagination gets to play in the darkness.

But hey, these explicit films are drawing the crowds. Perhaps this is because our society has become desensitized to violent acts, and it takes more to scare or unsettle us now.

I'm building up to watch The Hills Have Eyes remake though. I remember seeing the original back when I was young; I brought my small tele into the lounge because I was too scared to watch the flick by myself in my bedroom. So I sat the tele on a chair, plugged my headphones in, and scared myself silly! Boy oh boy, that was an experience.

I've heard the remake is pretty good, so I'm determined to see it. I can always hide behind my wife :)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Oh the horror, the horror...

I've had no chance over the past two weeks to indulge in any writing due to this rather chaotic event called marriage... I exchanged vows and rings with me wifey on the 20th October, and then had the family staying with us up until the 27th, so life as I'd known it had become rather disrupted, quite insane and incredibly sleep deprived...

After dropping them off at the airport yesterday morning at 6am, I stumbled back home and curled up in bed until noon - that was the first time I've slept in like that since my mad university days. But oh boy, did I need to! I was in bed by 9:30 last night too, so me wifey's comments ('you're just an old married man, now) were sure ringing true yesterday...

But today is different. My fingers are itching to type, my head is buzzing with images and my novel is calling - screaming - out at me to pay it some attention. I intend to lock myself away in my (recently reclaimed) study and lose myself in my novel this weekend. My aim is to finish the thing before the end of the year and I'm on track to do so (I've only got 100 pages to go over in this final edit before I'm ready to send it to a publisher).

I've also got Macabre - the New Era in Australian Horror to deal with, and Angela and I intend to finalise the line up of contributors very soon and get cracking on the editing. I can't wait for that anthology to come out because I think it's going to be a ripper.

So let the Ringmaster signal the curtains down and the house lights up, and we'll take a short intermission between acts. The bearded lady and that shifty shadow man need a drink before the next act begins...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The day after... (or actually two days)

I remember having the poster of Saturday the 14th up on the wall of my bedroom when I was growing up - I had a lot of horror movie posters pinned up on those walls back then, courtesy of my dad working at a video shop - but that one poster stood out because it appealed to my sense of humour. I can't actually remember if I saw the movie or not, but judging by the reviews on IMBD, I can safely say that my sense of humour has 'matured' since then. Now, one of my all time favourite movies is The Rocky Horror Picture Show; it's astounding, it really is...

(hmm... maybe Dr Frank N Furter is the reason I did a PhD, so I could also be called a Dr...)

I don't have any real reason for bringing this up; thinking about World Horror day made me remember that mad poster is all. It's amazing what jogs your memory. All of the Friday the 13ths I've lived through, and this is the only time I can remember actively thinking about that movie.

I guess this has been my most active Friday the 13th, though.

World Horror Day - what a momentous day! Hopefully this is only the first in an annual event, because it is a brilliant idea. The day was pretty successful from the AHWA's point of view, and therefore from an Australian horror writers perspective. We managed to get some good media attention from Robbie Buck's show on Triple J, ABC 612 in Brisbane and 774 ABC in Melbourne, plus the Village Voice newspaper in Sydney. Not to mention the readings that took place to a full house at Fantastic Planet in Perth.

So well done Shane Jiraiya Cummings for getting together the media releases and sending them out to various media outlets.

Horror Day really did capture the attention of everyone involved or with an interest in the horror genre, and this is exactly what is needed to help bridge the great divide that seems to exist between 'the mainstream' and the horror genre. My hat goes off to all of those who organised events or did their bit for the genre.

(I often wonder how many people have heard of the Horror Writers Association, the Bram Stoker awards, the International Horror Guild, Cemetery Dance publications... the list goes on - the horror genre is thriving, yet there is little or no awareness of it outside of its imediate family).

It takes a year or two before people start to realise that you are serious and won't be going away, but with the professionalism, motivation and dedication shown by so many on Friday, I don't think it will take long for this day to have an even greater global audience.

As for the AHWA, we launched our all new website on Friday the 13th, and the change-over seemed to go pretty well. The new site looks absolutely fantastic, and there is huge potential for the continued growth of the organisation and for Australian horror writers. My second big thanks of the day goes out to Andrew McKiernan of Kephra Design for developing the website and for getting us up and running for World Horror Day!!

Okay, I have to go now because the shadows are calling, and I know who lurks within those darkened places...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

World Horror Day of Action

Don't forget about World Horror Day this Friday 13th!! It's a great chance to help horror gain a bit of recognition. People always assume that horror has to be full of blood and guts and dismemberment, but that's a misconception that is hurting the genre.

Horror is an emotion; it's a feeling of dread, terror, a feeling of fright, and you don't need a bucket full of blood and a chainsaw to elicit those responses from the reader. Just think of movies like The Others, or The Sixth Sense, The Blair Witch Project - they are good horror movies and with minimal bloodshed.

I remember when I was a kid out camping, we'd sit around the campfire telling spooky stories. That was fun -and freaky!!! But those stories were not all violent and disgusting.

So c'mon, give the horror genre a break...

Here's the Media Release the AHWA put out:

Friday the 13th October has been designated the 'Horror Day of Action'.

Horror Day is a call to arms for all fans of dark fiction to buy a horror book, give away a horror book, buy or rent a horror movie, or read ghost stories to the kids. In short, it is a day to raise awareness of the genre.

The Australian Horror Writers Association (AHWA) has sent a media release to many Australian newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and TV stations, to encourage awareness of horror literature. AHWA committee members and some prominent Australian horror authors will also be participating in media interviews to further promote Horror Day.

So please support Australian dark fiction (and dark fiction in general) by spreading the word - and remember to pick up a book or DVD on Friday 13th.

Events to look out for:
Richard Stubbs from 774 ABC Melbourne will be interviewing AHWA's Vice President Kirstyn McDermott at 1:10pm this Friday.

The Village Voice newspaper (Sydney) will be publishing an article on World Horror Day and will be interviewing local horror writers to add local flavour.

Brimstone Press is sponsoring a Horror Day reading at Fantastic Planet bookstore (Shafto Lane, Perth) at 6pm, Friday the 13th. The reading will feature many prominent WA dark fiction writers, including Stephen Dedman, Lee Battersby, Lyn Battersby, Shane Jiraiya Cummings, and Carol Ryles. The event will be MCed by Shadowed Realms and Brimstone Press editor Angela Challis.

Robbie Buck from Triple J will be talking with Angela Challis about World Horror Day during their Drive Time show.

Head on over to the Articulate website on Friday for a "recommended reading" list by Australian horror writers/fans. And while you're over on that side of town, check out Gary Kemble's blog for a whole range of horror-related interviews and features.

The World's Fastest Compiled Anthology, edited by Martin Livings and Stephanie Gunn, will be available from 12:01am Friday the 13th (GMT+1200) to 11:59pm Friday the 13th (GMT-1200) on

Australian author Rob Hood has added a Horror Day page to his website, full of stories, quizzes and lots of prizes. Check it out at

Further info on Horror Day is available at

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Let the show begin!

Welcome to my brain; there's a full carnival of oddities lurking about up here, dancing and spinning across my imagination... The one in charge is a dark fellow, more comfortable within the shadows and the hiding places of night, but he is my muse and I haveto listen to him; his are the ideas that my eyes see and my hands type onto the screen.

I'm a writer of horror, and the one responsible for setting up the Australian Horror Writers Association ( I also draw a little and write awful poetry, which I'm sure you'll encounter in the depths of this blog...

Anyway, feel free to join the carnival, we're all slightly mad here :)