I’m a Finalist in the 2021 Aurealis Awards!

I nearly spat my coffee out when the 2021 Aurealis Award Announcement came through via email last week. My novella ‘The Little One’ is a finalist in the Best Fantasy Novella category!

This amazing news came on the back of ‘The Little One’ making the shortlist for an Australian Shadows Award in the Long Fiction category.

I’m thrilled this dark story of a young girl’s sacrifice for justice has resonated with readers and judges. The shortlist for the 2021 Aurealis Awards is truly outstanding, and I’m so honoured to be on it. These works underscore how vibrant and exciting Australia’s speculative fiction landscape is. You can view the shortlisted works here.

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If you would like to read ‘The Little One for yourself, you’ll find it in my short story collection Coralesque and Other Tales to Disturb and Distract (IFWG Publishing Australia, 2021).

Keep your fingers crossed for me everyone! The Aurealis Awards ceremony will be held in Canberra on May 28th.

Shortlisted for Two Australian Shadows Awards!

This week, I was thrilled (and surprised) to learn I’m a finalist in two categories for the 2021 Australian Shadows Awards.

My novella ‘The Little One’ was shortlisted in the Long Fiction category. ‘The Little One’ first appeared in my short story collection Coralesque and Other Tales to Disturb and Distract (IFWG Publishing Australia) and seems to be a real favourite among readers.

My poem ‘Sonnet for a Scarecrow’ made the cut in the Poetry Category. ‘Sonnet for a Scarecrow’ was published in Issue 1 of Curiouser Magazine, a great new Australian publication showcasing thoughtful and thought-provoking speculative fiction and poetry.

And, in other happy Shadows news, Spawn: Weird Horror Tales About Pregnancy, Birth and Babies, edited by Deborah Sheldon (IFWG Publishing Australia) an anthology featuring one of my stories (‘Beneath the Cliffs of Darknoon Bay’) appears in was shortlisted in the Best Edited Work category.

The competition this year is amazing though, so while the chances of me winning are up there with that idiomatic snowball in hell, it’s an honour to share the shortlist with writers I have the greatest admiration and respect for. You can read the finalists for all categories of the Australian Shadows Awards here.

Winners will be announced at a live Zoom event on the evening of Tuesday April 12th. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Three-book deal signed with IFWG Publishing Australia

I’ve had some happy publishing news to kickstart 2022! I’ve just signed a three-book deal with IFWG Publishing Australia for my middle grade fantasy trilogy, ‘The Irrawene Chronicles’.

The first novel in the series ‘Jonty’s Unicorn’ will be galloping its way towards readers everywhere in late 2023.

Of all the things I’ve penned to date, ‘Jonty’s Unicorn’ was hands down the most fun, free-flowing fully-formed story to write, and I’m delighted to be continuing the narrative over two further books with IFWG Publishing Australia

I hope you’ll all love Jonty’s adventures as much as I do. You can read the official acquisitions announcement from the publisher here❤

Here’s what you can expect:

In the quiet hamlet of Blaxby in the Kingdom of Irrawene, twelve-year-old Jonty Fairskye’s mother is gravely ill. A tonic from Dagatha, the fearsome witch who dwells in the dark heart of the Terrenwild Woods may be her only hope, but everyone knows Dagatha’s cures cost dearly—both in both gold and regret.

Determined to save her mother, Jonty resolves to enter the King’s Annual Horse Race on her beloved horse, Onyx. The prize, a pouch of gold—more than enough to pay Dagatha. When Jonty discovers an injured unicorn trapped in a hunter’s snare during a woodland training session, she is thunderstruck—there hasn’t been a unicorn sighting in Irrawene for over a century. To ensure its safety Jonty knows she must keep the unicorn hidden. She names it Rose, and smuggles her back to her barn to recover.

As the great horse race draws closer, disaster strikes when Onyx suffers an injury of his own. He is barely able to walk, let alone race. Jonty is crushed…until Rose insists that Jonty enters riding her. Jonty is torn—she knows once Rose is seen, it will be the end of her freedom, yet Mamma grows frailer by the day…

The decision Jonty makes will impact the lives of everyone she loves, spreading ripples throughout Irrawene. Danger and betrayal lurk around every corner, and Jonty will learn that the true meaning of kindness and bravery comes down to how much you’re willing to sacrifice.

I’m Proud to be an Australia Reads Ambassador

Australia Reads is is a unique Australian book industry collaboration (between authors, booksellers, libraries and publishers) born of a common passion for, and mutual interest in, championing reading, promoting the many mental health and lifestyle benefits of reading books, and encouraging the next generation of avid book readers to significantly increase book reading by all Australians – no matter the format they read.

When Australia Reads put a call out for creators to apply to become Ambassadors to join them, I enthusiastically put my expression of interest forward. I couldn’t think of a better mission. So now I’m joining a cast of 300 ambassadors all across Australia to help share and deliver the message that reading rocks, culminating in the tenth annual Australian Reading Hour on Tuesday 14 September 2021.

This year’s theme, Stories that Matter, is set to generate a buzz around how the books we read, and write, and talk about, help shape our sense of identity, belonging and understanding – and why these stories matter so much.

Which book will you be reading on 14th September?
Let me know in the comments 

In other literary news, Happy Children’s Book Council of Australia Book Week, everyone! Like last year, book week looks a little different, but there are so many authors, bookstores, and libraries hosting awesome online appearances and readings, everyone across Australia can get involved.

This week I celebrated Book Week by recording two readings for Mornington Primary School as a collaborative effort with members of Peninsula Writers’ Club. This is me getting my cat on for a reading of ‘The Flying Tuxedo Brothers’. I also did a ‘click and collect’ from local independent bookstore legends Farrells Bookshop for some new spring reads I’ve been looking forward to. Happy Book Week, Australia!

Two Writing Wins. Take That, Covid-19. (With apologies to EB White)

E. B. White once said, “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.” I’ve repeated these words to myself often these past eighteen months while simultaneously wondering if E. B. White would have said the same after 215 days of collective hard lockdown sharing writing space with a home schooler. He probably would have!

My reality has been different though. Much to my consternation “Lockdown Life” hasn’t been kind to my productive output, and sometimes it’s hard to shrug off the ‘writer’s guilt’ that accompanies it.

That’s why, when I received two lots of wonderful writing news in as many weeks, it didn’t just come as a welcome surprise…the news acted as a tonic for my deflated writer’s soul!

Firstly, I was delighted to learn I’d won first place in the adult fiction category of Farrells Bookshop’s 2021 Writing Competition for my dark little tale Yelah. The inspiration for the competition drew on the theme of this year’s CBCA Book Week: ‘Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds’, and it was a pleasure to craft a tale under 1,000 words that riffed off a theme ripe for speculation.

My biggest thanks to Farrells Bookstore, local independent bookstore legends here in Mornington. Thank you for your generous prize! You can read Yelah, and all the other fabulous winning stories across the other categories, here.

A week later, I was beyond thrilled to learn my short story Due South had won first place in the inaugural Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor’s Short Story Writing Awards.

Many thanks to the amazing judging panel: Mayor Councillor Despi O’Connor, along with three authors I admire and respect very much: Danielle Binks, Garry Disher and Paul Kennedy, whose collective comments included: “Brilliant! What pace and cracking telling, this author is absolutely a natural storyteller and we predict great, epic sagas in their future. This is quite possibly the next great Australian novel!” I am so honoured and humbled and grateful to the Shire and our local bookstores for their most generous prize package.

I would like to extend my congratulations to all those honourably mentioned, and indeed everyone who entered across all categories. And special mention to Peninsula Writers’ Club – especially President Andrea Rowe – whose vision and collaborative efforts and advocacy helped shape this awesome writing opportunity for the Mornington Peninsula’s vibrant and thriving literary community.

You can read Due South, along with the other winning and honourably mentioned stories across all categories here.

We’re still in Lockdown here in Metro Melbourne, but with fingers crossed for a return to school in Term 4, I’m looking forward to getting back into a settled writing routine. Sending cyber fist bumps of solidarity to anyone whose output has been impacted by Covid. Keep dreaming, keep doing what you can to feed your creative soul, be kind to yourself…and magic does still happen in unexpected ways!

In the meantime, here’s more from E. B. White: “Winter will pass, the days will lengthen, the ice will melt in the pasture pond. The song sparrow will return and sing, the frogs will awake, the warm wind will blow again. All these sights and sounds and smells will be yours to enjoy, Wilbur—this lovely world, these precious days…”

Happy writing, happy reading, and happy days