In 2015, I was invited to write an adventure story for the anthology And Then…The Great Big Book of Awesome Adventure Stories. The publisher was keen to have a New Zealand story in this Australian collection, and I was stoked to be asked. I’d had a story idea batting around for a while, but I knew the scope of it was too long for a short story, and I wasn’t ready to commit to a new novel at that time (I was working on the first draft of what would become Hounds of the Underworld with Lee Murray at the time). So when the brief came through for a novella length tale, I knew that this was the right time to wrestle with the monsters trying to get loose in this tale. Get them out of my head and safely onto the page.
Well, that story got written, got called Tipuna Tapu, it got accepted and published, and then it made it onto the shortlist for the Australian Shadows Awards in the Paul Haines Award for Long Fiction category. And today, one day shy of my 40th birthday, it won that award.
Colour me in shades of stunned mullet. I poured a lot into this story, as I do with all my stories, but this one, as it delved into some pretty dark areas, got extra special attention. I never sat down to write it thinking about awards. I just wanted a well-paced adventure story, with some depth and maybe a little bit of taking a knife to the thin veneer of our humanity and peeling it back, looking at what lies beneath, how our fears keep the flesh clinging to our bones. How our cultures might define who we are, but when those cultures clash, we might find fire and violence, or we might find… something more. Something cold that tastes like drowning, or something bright, warm, and terrifying.
Anyway, it’s an honour to be recognised for this award. I love the works of Paul Haines, which if you haven’t checked out I would strongly recommend if you like your fiction dark and seething and scored with bloody lines of raw humanity. He was also a kiwi writer, so I’m excited to have won this award for New Zealand.
You can find And Then… Volume 1 here.