Cons, Awards & Interviews

IMG_2210Queens Birthday Weekend 2017 saw me and the family making a road trip to Taupo, so I could attend LexiCon, New Zealand’s SFF Natcon which I had had a part in bringing about. Despite some fairly heavy personal goings-on, I managed to have a fun, productive time at the Con, helping keep things ticking over, catching up with old friends, making new ones, too many good people to even try and start naming here for fear of forgetting someone, and all that good stuff.

Sunday night also saw the SJV Awards, and I’m stoked to have jointly won another pointy trophy for Best Collected Work for At The Edge. Our humble little antho also took the SJVs for Best Professional Artwork for the cover art, and Best Short Story, for AJ Fitzwater’s stunning apocalyptic tale of disintegrating identity, Splintr. My partner in darkness, Lee Murray, also took away the Best Novel category for her sphenodon-horror Into the Mist, as well as recognition for all her hard work in the form of the SJV for Services to Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. Congrats Lee, AJ, and all the other winners, including Octavia Cade who won the SJV for Best Novella which I was also in the running for. Couldn’t hope to lose to a nicer person.

IMG_2272Hot on the heels of what felt like a sweep of the Awards, the AHWA’s Greg Chapman hunted us down for an interview, which we were more than willing to provide. Because we do like getting ourselves some interview-type attention, us writers. You can read that over on the AHWA site.

But that’s not all my weekend was about. Over the month leading up to this, my paternal grandmother had been in a state of serious decline in her health, and we had been making the trek from Wellington to Hamilton to spend some time with her for the previous weekends, as well as slipping in some time during and after LexiCon. We drove home on Tuesday, and got word on Wednesday morning that she had passed away in the night. After a weekend of amazing positivity and inspiration, I was already on a good wave for making positive changes and getting things done, and while the passing of a loved one always has the potential to break one’s spirit, my Nana shuffling off her coil has served to remind me that life is short, utterly finite. This on the back of my mother recently having medical issues which saw me travelling to Australia to spend time with her and support her, and a growing sense over the past twelve months or more that I’ve been slightly overwhelmed by life, work and everything. Driving back and forth up and down our beautiful country, shimmering in its autumn glory, also gave me lots of time to actually sit and talk with my better half, something we don’t seem to get much opportunity to do in this frantic world we live in.

And it all comes crashing down home, how we only have so much time on this earth with the ones we love, and how we should always be striving for the things that make us want to be alive; the things that make us glow with passion. I haven’t been doing that a lot over the past couple of years, despite what it looks like. Many things have been getting me down and it sometimes takes a kick in the guts to get me to admit to that. So I’ll be making a few changes in the coming months. Without being financially irresponsible, I’ll be turning my attention to applying even more of my “spare time” (yes, I say that with a sad little cough and a laugh that verges on tears) to writing projects with a sound business model behind them. A determination to keep driving this thing I’ve got going on with words on the page and whip it until I can stand on its back like some demented beastmaster, thrashing sentences to do my bidding.

So yeah, some things will be changing. Because change is thrilling, and beats the snot out of slowly suffocating on the blood of your own paralysis.

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2017 SJV Finalists Announced

smBack-v5The Sir Julius Vogel Award Finalists for 2017 have been announced, and it’s a fantastic line-up of top quality people and works.

I’m excited to see my partner in darkness, Lee Murray, is in the running for Best Novel with her Taine McKenna adventure, Into the Mist, and also to see her many contributions to the writing and fan community recognised with her being up for the Services to Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror category. Lee pours a huge amount of time and effort into promoting Kiwi speculative fiction and supporting writers and writing organisations. Congratulations and best of luck, Lee!

For my part, I’m excited to have two novellas competing in this category, a format which is becoming increasingly popular and harder-contested with changes in the publishing world. My two finalist works are Spindle, a dark SF story published in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, and the Australian Shadows Paul Haines Long Fiction Award-winning Tipuna Tapu.

Also, At The Edge (Paper Road Press, 2016), co-edited with Lee Murray, is up for Best Collected Work, and several of the stories from the anthology are also up for Best Short Story. Congratulations to AJ Fitzwater, Eileen Mueller, Alicia Ponder and Michelle Child for their contributions!

So, fingers crossed, and best of luck to all the finalists!

To vote in the SJVs, you need to either be a member of SFFANZ, or a paid member of LexiCon, this year’s Science Fiction and Fantasy National Convention. Eligible voters will be able to download a voters pack including the majority of the finalist works.


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Children of the Tide on Tales to Terrify

TTT-15-COVER2-500x647My story Children of the Tide, which won the 2013 Melbourne Zombie Con Short Story Competition and was originally published on the Midnight Echo website, has found a new home on the Tales to Terrify podcast, episode 272.

The story has been wonderfully narrated by Matt Dovey. Matt is a writer of fantasy & science-fiction, a Golden Pen winner for WotF32 and was shortlisted for the James White Award 2016. He is very tall and very English and is probably drinking a cup of tea right now.

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Tipuna Tapu wins the Paul Haines Award for Long Fiction

Tipuna Tapu artIn 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.

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New Diane Awerbuck Narration live at Tales to Terrify

diane_awerbuckOver the past couple of years, I’ve been quite privileged to be the first port of call for narrations on the Tales to Terrify podcast that require an Antipodean voice, which has meant that just recently I’ve been reading stories by one of my new favourite authors, South African writer Diane Awerbuck. Awerbuck has a dark, understated style that draws out the horror just below the surface of our reality, from a uniquely South African perspective. I’ve really enjoyed reading and narrating her work, the first of which is now live at the podcast, with another due to drop in a few weeks.

You can listen to my reading of Duiweltjie (Day-vil-kay), free as always, on Tales to Terrify.

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And… Here’s 2017

RDSP logoWell, 2016 was quite a year all round, wasn’t it? Good with the bad and all that. The highlight for me had to be signing a two-book deal for The Path of Ra series with Raw Dog Screaming Press, and Lee and I will be busy over the coming months writing the second book to follow Hounds of the Underworld, due out this year.

Sir Julius Vogel Time

It’s SJV nomination time again, and I have a couple of eligible works that you might like to consider having a look at and maybe nominating if you think they deserve it. They are:

At The Edge – an anthology of dark Antipodean short fiction, published by Paper Road Press, edited by myself and Lee Murray; About half the stories in At The Edge are also eligible for the SJVs, just as the other half are eligible for the Aurealis and Ditmar Awards, and most the stories are eligible for the Australian Shadows Awards, so please do take a minute to nominate those stories you think are deserving of mention. I certainly will be.

Spindle – a science fiction horror novella published in ASIM #63

Tipuna Tapu – a dieselpunk adventure novella published in And Then… Volume 1

I’d also like to recommend the cover art for At The Edge, by Emma Weakley, as it is quite a stunning piece of work.

FB bannerTipuna Tapu available in And Then…

And Then Vol 1My post-apocalyptic dieselpunk novella Tipuna Tapu has been published in And Then… The Great Big Book of Awesome Adventure Tales Volume 1, from Clan Destine Press in Australia. And Then… is available in paperback and ebook, and Volume 2 is not far away.

New Narration Online

You can now hear my narration of Cameron Trost’s Redback Jack over at the Tales to Terrify Podcast, in the episode released on January 6th.


So that’s 2016 done and dusted, put to bed. Bring on 2017, I say. Heaps to look forward to, including LexiCon, the national SF convention in Taupo in June, which I’m helping organise, and writing another book with Lee Murray. Full steam ahead!


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FFANZ Announce New Delegate


The Fan Fund of Australia and New Zealand (FFANZ) are very pleased to announce that the race for Melbourne has been won, and we are excited to have Lynelle Howell as our new delegate.

Lynelle has been a tireless champion of the New Zealand science fiction community for many years, and now she will be heading to Melbourne in 2017 to meet and greet with Australian fandom and share her knowledge and enthusiasm across the ditch.

Thanks to everyone who voted for Lynelle, and to all those who have otherwise supported or signal-boosted the fan funds. It is much appreciated.

If you would like to help in our mission to promote New Zealand and Australian fandom and writing and continue to strengthen the bonds between our communities, please contact the fund administrators, Dan Rabarts in New Zealand or David McDonald in Australia, to see how you can help. We’re always open to donations which can be auctioned at cons, or any other creative means of raising funds and raising awareness and keeping good things happening. We can both be found on Facebook or Twitter.

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New Narration live at Tales to Terrify

dow-patreon-cover1Head over to the Tales to Terrify website to check out my latest narration, Memoirs of a Teenage Antichrist, by Shane J. Cummings.

While you’re there, you might like to consider supporting the show by becoming a Patron through Patreon. The District of Wonders podcast family has been delivering quality fiction for free for over ten years now, and relies on donations to keep going. So if you subscribe and enjoy the podcasts, you can donate as little as $1 a month to keep the Tales to Terrify cabin in cobwebs and candles.

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FFANZ 2017 Candidate Announced: Lynelle Howell!

FFANZ logo2 copyThe FFANZ administrators are very pleased to announce that we have a candidate in the running to attend Continuum 13, in Melbourne, 2017:

Lynelle Howell!

The Fan Fund for Australia and New Zealand was created to strengthen the ties between Australian and New Zealand fandom.  FFANZ assists fans with travel to the Natcon of the other nation, and assists with as many of the attendant costs of travel as practical, as well as facilitating connections between fans.

This year’s FFANZ race is a westward bound one, facilitating travel by a New Zealand fan to the 56th Australian Speculative Fiction National Convention, Continuum XIII – Triskaidekaphilia, to be held in Melbourne, Victoria, over Queen’s Birthday Weekend, 9th-12th June, 2017. It is expected that after the trip the winner takes over as administrator of the fund, engages in fundraising for the fund, and that they promote links between the two fandoms via a trip report or other means.

This year there is one candidate. They have provided a statement to support their candidacy.

Lynelle Howell

Hi, my name is Lynelle Howell and I’m a fan. I’ve been involved in fandom for over 20 years, being involved where I can, when I see something that needs doing. I’ve chaired two natcons, was on the concom for another and helped set up SFFANZ (the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand). I have been a sitting member of its board since its inception in 2002 and administered the Association’s premier awards, the Sir Julius Vogel Awards (SJVs), for more than 10 years.

When not working at a national level, I’m working with my local club, Phoenix Science Fiction Society, based in Wellington. I am the co-editor (with my husband) of the club magazine, Phoenixine. I’m proud to say that since we took over the publication of the ‘xine in 2006 we’ve won a number of SJVs for best fan publication and services to fandom.

I’m running for FFANZ because I’ve met a number of Australians during my 20-plus years of organising and attending events and I’d love to meet more. I am also keen to see how NZ conventions differ from those across the Tasman.

 Nominated by Norman Cates (NZ) and Donna Maree Hanson (Aus).

All members of Australian and New Zealand fandom are eligible to vote. The voting process contributes to the fundraising, so in order to vote you must pay $5NZD, $5AUD or $5USD. If you wish to pay via direct deposit or Paypal, please make contact with the administrator, Dan Rabarts, via email [rabarts AT gmail DOT com] with a completed Voting Form (download from here). Postal votes can be sent to FFANZ, c/- 63 Albatross Close, Whitby, Porirua, in New Zealand or to David McDonald, FFANZ c/- PO Box 32, Blackburn, Melbourne 3130 in Victoria, Australia. Cheques should be made out to the administrators, David McDonald in Australia or Dan Rabarts in New Zealand. Ballots may also be handed directly to any of the Administrators in person.

You may also choose to vote ‘Hold over funds’ if you think that a delegate should not be selected this year.

If you vote by PayPal there is no need to return a completed Ballot Form. To donate and vote, you can PayPal your donation (minimum NZ $5) to e-mail address at: [rabarts AT gmail DOT com], indicating in the comments field which voting option you support.

Voting concludes Sunday the 9th of October, 2016.

The Voting Form can be downloaded here.

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Hounds of the Underworld

RDSP logoMy partner in darkness, Lee Murray, and I are thrilled to announce that the first book in our collaborative novel series, Hounds of the Underworld: Book 1 of The Path of Ra has found a home with Raw Dog Screaming Press, to be released in 2017.  For more details see the Raw Dog Screaming press release here. With a dual protagonist structure, Hounds of the Underworld is set in a future New Zealand, and is speculative fusion of horror, detective noir, and black comedy:

On the verge of losing her laboratory, her savings, and all respect for herself, Pandora Yee lands a contract as scientific consult to the police. And with seventeen murder cases on the go, the surly inspector is happy to leave her to it. Only she’s going to need to get around, and that means her slightly unhinged little brother, Matiu, will be doing the driving, whether she likes it or not. But something about the case spooks Matiu, something other than the absence of a body in the congealing pool of blood at the warehouse, or that odd little bowl.

Matiu doesn’t like anything about this case, from the voices that screamed at him when he touched that bowl, to the way his hateful imaginary friend Makere has come back to torment him, to the fact that the victim seems to be tied up with a man from his past, a man who takes pleasure in watching dogs tear each other to pieces for profit and entertainment. He wants to protect Pandora from this, but the deeper they get, the more he realises that they’ll have to fall into hell before they have any chance of walking away. And hell is a long way down.

Raw Dog Screaming Press is an independent American publisher dedicated to putting into print the highest quality literature from the fringe. If it’s dark, deviant, off-kilter then they will sniff it out. And they do, with not one but two Bram Stoker Awards collected by authors Lucy A Snyder and Maria Alexander this past year, and a great stack of fiction in their stable, all of which “foams at the mouth”. We hope that Hounds of the Underworld fits that description!

Jennifer Barnes of RDSP says of the acquisition: “In addition to being excited about the book, we’re excited about the prospects of bringing genre work from New Zealand authors to the U.S.”

We’re excited too, and Lee and I already at work on the second book, to be released by Raw Dog Screaming Press in 2018.

(And thanks to Lee for letting me steal her web post and change the names…)

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