Welcome to the very first column on all things down under—although it’s not, really. This is a rebirth of the column Stephen Dedman used to pen several years ago, so I hope to do it as much justice as Stephen did.
We’ll be covering all the happenings in the Australian/New Zealand horror genre, as nebulous a genre as that is. Also included here each month or every second month will be updates on the two main organizations catering for horror writers, the AHWA and SpecFicNZ (starting in the next column). We’ll cover conventions and gatherings, book releases, and more. This mad hatter kangaroo collection of oddities will grow as all dark things are wont to do, so fingers crossed it takes us interesting places!
Anyway, to kick things off, Greg Chapman, the President of the Australasian Horror Writers Assn. (AHWA), provides an update on all things AHWA (incidentally, Greg and the committee have done an outstanding job bringing the AHWA back from the brink after a few unsteady years, so well done, team!).
“The Australasian Horror Writers Assn. (previously known as the Australian Horror Writers Assn.) was formed in 2005, and currently has over 100 members across Australia and New Zealand. Our membership includes authors, artists, and screenwriters, and we’re proud to say that more than half of our membership is female.
“Each year the AHWA runs a number of programs for its members, including the Mentorship Program, Short and Flash Story Competition, and the Australian Shadows Awards, which recognises works in the horror genre in a number of categories, including Best Short Fiction, Best Novel, Best Edited Work, Best Graphic Novel, the Paul Haines Memorial Award for Long Fiction and The Rocky Wood Memorial Award for Nonfiction. The Association also publishes a fiction magazine at least once a year—Midnight Echo Magazine, with a guest editor taking the reins with each edition.”
[Interrupting Greg for a second to say that Midnight Echo 13 (the most recent issue) was published on December 31, 2018, and features fiction, nonfiction and poetry by David Schembri, Marty Young, Natalie J Potts, Rue Karney, DC Davidson, Claire Fitzpatrick, and Eileen Mueller. Guest editor this time around was Paul Mannering, with co-editors Helen Stubbs and Isobel Blackthorn through the AHWA Mentorship Program. Also included were the AHWA Short and Flash Fiction competition-winning stories from 2017 by Chrisi Reardon and Xanthe Knox. Midnight Echo 13 is available at https://www.amazon.com.au/Midnight-Echo-Issue-Paul-Mannering-ebook/dp/B07MKTKRNT]
Back to Greg:
“We also host a second Web site called Sinister Reads, where we publish short interviews with members about their upcoming works.
“The AHWA has, in fact, recently closed submissions to the Shadows Awards, with judges now pouring through hundreds of submissions. The Awards will be presented at a ceremony during the 2019 Continuum Convention in Melbourne from June 7-10. Previously, the Shadows were presented via Facebook, but after the AHWA held a very successful awards ceremony during the 2018 Continuum, it’s now become a much-anticipated event.
“There are a number of AHWA members who are also members of the HWA, and we hope this will continue well into the future.
“For more information on the AHWA, please visit us at http://www.australianhorror.wordpress.com
“You can also follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter).
“Some members’ recent releases include:
Train Wreck and Other Stories by Noel Ouslandi
Devouring Dark by Alan Baxter
Anthony Paul Ferguson’s story, “Blind Date,” will appear in an upcoming issue of Breach Magazine.
Do You Want to Live Forever? by Robert N. Stephenson
David Schembri recently released a collection of short stories called Beneath the Ferny Tree.
Claire Fitzpatrick recently announced that IFWG Publishing Australia will release her short story collection, Metamorphosis, later this year.“
In other news, Geoff Brown of Cohesion Press has something exciting to tell us: “In 2017, Cohesion Press entered a visual rights agreement with Tim Miller‘s Blur Studio and Netflix. We worked closely with Tim and Blur throughout the production process, and are damn proud that we can finally talk about the original SNAFU short stories that are featured in this exciting new series LOVE, DEATH + ROBOTS, screening on Netflix March 15. At this point, we can’t name authors or individual stories, as the creators of the series want the content to remain a surprise, but if you like action/horror/sci-fi stuff, make sure to watch out for our tales when the series hits screens. It’s rare for any small press to sell screen-rights to anyone, let alone to Netflix and world-class director Tim Miller, but again, Cohesion has exceeded what most presses desire to achieve.”
“Also, our next release, SNAFU: Last Stand, has Tim reading all the final stories and writing an introduction for the antho. The ‘last stand’ concept is his suggestion.”
SNAFU: Last Stand opens to submissions on April 1. The anthology will be edited by the experienced team of Amanda J Spedding, Matthew Summers, and Geoff Brown, with an introduction by Tim Miller. Pay rates are AU5¢/word, and full submission details can be found at https://cohesionpress.com/snafu-submissions/.
In award news, the 2018 Aurealis Awards Shortlist was recently announced. The Aurealis Awards is Australia’s longest running genre awards, established in 1995 by Chimaera Publications, the publishers of Aurealis Magazine, which itself is Australia’s longest running small-press genre magazine.
With 15 categories, the full shortlist is too long to include here, but it can be found at https://aurealisawards.org/2019/02/20/2018-aurealis-awards-shortlist-announcement/?fbclid=IwAR3p3S4QDQdrjFaDp547DWAJ9zrZlmt8LMlqTBlGfe0BAhh2gezz5tADkHs
Of particular interest to a column on horror are the three horror categories:
BEST HORROR NOVEL
The Bus on Thursday by Shirley Barrett (Allen & Unwin)
Years of the Wolf by Craig Cormick (IFWG Publishing Australia)
Tide of Stone by Kaaron Warren (Omnium Gatherum)
BEST HORROR SHORT STORY
“The Offering” by Michael Gardner (Aurealis #112)
“Slither” by Jason Nahrung (Cthulhu Deep Down Under, Volume 2, IFWG Publishing Australia)
“By Kindle Light” by Jessica Nelson-Tyers (Antipodean SF #235)
“Hit and Rot” by Jessica Nelson-Tyers (Breach #08)
“Sub-Urban” by Alfie Simpson (Breach #07)
“The Further Shore” by J Ashley Smith (Bourbon Penn #15)
BEST HORROR NOVELLA
Andromeda Ascends by Matthew R Davis (Beneath the Waves – Tales from the Deep, Things In The Well)
Kopura Rising by David Kuraria (Cthulhu: Land of the Long White Cloud, IFWG Publishing Australia)
The Black Sea by Chris Mason (Beneath the Waves – Tales from the Deep, Things In The Well)
Triquetra by Kirstyn McDermott (Tor.com)
With This Needle I Thee Thread by Angela Rega (Aurum, Ticonderoga Publications)
Crisis Apparition by Kaaron Warren (Dark Moon Books)
There will be some familiar names on that list, but the complete shortlist is worth checking out if you want to see just how rich and diverse the spec-fic scene is here in Australia.
Winners will be announced at the Aurealis Awards ceremony taking place in Melbourne on Saturday, May 4, 2019.
HWA members will also be aware that the 2018 Bram Stoker Awards® Final Ballot was likewise recently announced and doing us Aussies and Kiwis proud were Lee Murray and Kyla Lee Ward!
Kyla’s short fiction tale “And in Her Eyes the City Drowned” (Weirdbook #39, Wildside Press) is up against Lee’s “Dead End Town” (Cthulhu Deep Down Under, Volume 2, IFWG Publishing International) for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction.
Lee has a double shot at Stoker glory with Hellhole: An Anthology of Subterranean Terror (Adrenaline Press) up for Superior Achievement in an Anthology.
It really is wonderful to see a Kiwi and an Aussie on the Final Ballot! Long may that continue!
There are a number of conventions happening this March-April, too. Speculate, the Victorian speculative writers festival, ran March 15-16 in Melbourne. This literary festival is “for writers of speculative fiction from any and all backgrounds.” Guests included Jay Kristoff, Trudi Canavan, Alan Baxter (one of Australia’s busiest writers), and more.
Supanova 2019 kicks off in Melbourne on April 5-7, then moves onto the Gold Coast April 12-14. Other cities have to wait until later in the year for their turn. Alan Baxter (he’s everywhere!), Gerry Huntman, Christopher Sequeira, and Nancy Holder, among other luminaries, make appearances.
Meanwhile, Swancon 2019 takes place in Perth, April 18-22. Swancon is “Australia’s longest-running science-fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction convention, and is the premiere event in Perth for fans of all forms of speculative media.” International guests include Charlie Jane Anders and Annalee Newitz, with Jonathan Strahan as the Australian Guest.
And finally, because Dave Schembri paid me the most (yes, I do take bribes), here’s a little more info on his latest release:
Beneath the Ferny Tree by David Schembri (Close-Up Books)
Dig into the cold earth, pull away the damp leaves and burrow deep down to uncover true darkness …
Face the horror of war-torn Germany with Edmund as he fights to rescue his family. Confront the same overwhelming dread as Cody, in the midst of a futuristic prison, is haunted by his past and desperate for a chance at redemption. Discover true monsters aboard a slaver’s ship on the high seas and witness a more twisted side to Christmas.
Uncover these and other bleak mysteries in Beneath the Ferny Tree.
‘Til next time, watch out for drop bears, and stay safe!