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Review: Herotica, Volume 1 by Kerry Greenwood

HeroticaKerry Greenwood may be best known for her Phryne Fisher and Corinna Chapman series, but she has written far and wide, including SF, fantasy and her Delphic Women trilogy, retelling the stories of Media, Cassandra and Electra.

The fabulously diverse and busy Ms Greenwood also takes great delight in romance, including queermance, and has just launched two books of Herotica – that is, ‘heroic erotica’

Clan Destine describes the first volume of Herotica as ‘tales of love and lust between heroic and adventurous men across the ages from Ancient Egypt to a future in space’. Kerry Greenwood describes it as ‘wonderful stories of gorgeous gay men shagging each other senseless in impeccable historical settings’.

Both descriptions are delightfully accurate, and it’s a wonderful thing to read so many stories of men falling in love and getting a happy-ever-after (with an occasional ‘happy-for-now’) ending. I love a happy ending and given the mainstream’s habit of presenting queer stories full of punishment and pain, these stories were an especial joy.

Greenwood has cleverly – and quite charmingly – followed storytelling conventions of the eras in which the stories are set. In tales set in classic ancient cultures, men tend to meet, declare their undying love for each other on the instant and then dedicate themselves to one another thereafter. Stories in later eras have the protagonists generally taking a bit of time to get to know each other, before, bless them, declaring thir undying love and dedicating themselves to one another for life.

The 36 stories start with two men conducting a symbolic battle between Horus and Set and the evacuation of Atlantis; they end with spaceships, androids, heavenly beings and earthy, loving humans. In between are Romans, Greeks and Welsh druids; there are time travellers and summoners of demons; there’s Leonardo Da Vinci, William Shakespeare and Noel Coward; Holmes and Watson and King Arthur’s Court; wars and peacetime, humour and drama; and above all, love.

It’s inexpressibly charming that all the stories and their couples having happy endings (though some are a little bittersweet). Most of the do indeed have these ‘gorgeous gay men shagging each other senseless’, but their communion is rarely explicit, full of the sweetness of love as well as passion.

Favourite stories include… well, all of them. But that’s not especially helpful, so I’ll single out a few.

  • The Library Angel is a love story for booklovers. The Angel presides over an afterlife where all the storytellers and those who loved, and saved, knowledge find their rest, along with all the lost books. This is where our heroes from the burning library of Alexandria find themselves, and it sounds like paradise to me.
  • Aqaue Sulis is one of the stories that ends with notes indicating the story was built on little hints from real life (in this case, an unusual grave from the borders of Roman Bath). In the story, two people have been pulled through time to the Minerva Pool from their respective futures and forge a new life in their new shared past.
  • The Devil’s Bargain sees a scholar summoning a demon to ask for love. Of course, demons can’t be trusted, but things don’t turn out quite how either the summoner or the demon predicted.
  • Salai and Mentzi  is the story of two of  Leonardo Da Vinci’s household and the last days of the Great Master’s life. Salai is the name given to the man who was the model for Da Vinci’s last great painting of John the Baptist.
  • The Secret Diary of Dr John Watson, MD is of course a story after my own heart, with its reading of Holmes and Watson as a love story.
  • Do Not Despair is not likewise a Biggles story, but it’s Biggles-esque and full of derring-do as well as heroic love.
  • I Never Got the Hang of Thursdays is a space opera of a story: it’s a lot of fun and pays tribute to a lot of humorous forebears, including Douglas Adams and The Princess Bride. A sexy space pirate is always good value.
  • Spaceships Other Planets has an awkward genius and his longsuffering best friend finally working their secretly-in-love selves out. I love this sort of thing better than chocolate!

These are particular favourites, but all the stories are a delight – and for all that the theme is consistent, they each have a fresh story to tell, proving Kerry Greenwood has hundreds of stories yet to tell us.

Which is by way of saying that I need to get my hands on volume 2!

Buy Herotica Volume 1

“For sale: Baby shoes, never worn” – a happy ending

babyshoesThere’s a story that does the rounds that Ernest Hemingway once wrote the shortest, saddest story every told, for a $10 bet.

For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.

I first heard that six word story when Mary Borsellino told of how she had found it so terribly sad that her friend, artist Audrey Fox, decided to subvert the gloominess of it. Since they both enjoyed monster stories, Audrey used that as an inspiration to illustrate the story in a way that gave it a happy ending (a version of which you can see here – Audrey redrew the picture for my blog!).

Of the picture, Audrey says, “I was really just using my imagination and thinking about what else the story could mean that wasn’t ‘sad baby tragedy’.”

That story, and the story of Audrey’s illustration, made it into one of Mary Borsellino‘s Wolf House books, from memory, but I’ve always loved that whole story-in-a-story

Now, the saddest part of this whole thing is that the Hemingway part of it isn’t true. Ernest Hemingway’s writing of the tragic six-word novel is an urban legend.

A very similar story actually dates at least to Hemingway’s own childhood, when a newspaper classifieds section titled Terse Tales of the Town published the item, “For sale, baby carriage, never been used” in 1906. Similarly worded stories popped up again every few years in newspapers.

Whether the bet with Hemingway ever happened (and if it did, whether Hemingway quoted this story deliberately) is unclear – but that version of the story is ascribed to literary agent, Peter Miller, who first told it in 1974 – after Hemingway’s death – and then published it in a 1991 book. It was just the latest in a long line of stories about that story, but it’s the one that stuck.

The idea of writing something so perfectly pithy over lunch is an appealing legend, but the perfection and pithiness of the six word ‘novel’ remains, whatever its origin.

I don’t think it spoils the tale to note that Hemingway didn’t create it. I love the fact that this little notion first popped up in 1906 (if not earlier) and proceeded to grow, little by little, acquiring embellishments as it rolled down the years, until it grew to the story of a dinner party and a bet and a writer of terse words.

Or until it grew to the story of terse words, a sad friend, and an artist who decided to turn the whole thing on its head.

It’s a great reminder that many stories never stop being told, and never stop growing in the telling. It’s a reminder that stories can mean different things to different generations and that sometimes, if you look at an old story in a new way, it can grow into a whole new meaning.

Sometimes with tentacles.

You can find some of Audrey’s art, and other art that she likes, on her Tumblr.

 

New release: Encounters edited by Jessica Augustsson

EncountersKindleCoverIn my mid-year review I mentioned a new SF anthology, Encounters, in which my story Show and Tell would appear – and now Encounters has been released into the wild!

Ever since Robinson found a stranger’s footprint on his solitary island, literature—and especially Science Fiction and Fantasy literature—has been fascinated by meeting the Other. In Encounters, the second speculative fiction anthology by JayHenge Publishing, you can find out what happens when different species, populations, times—or even objects—meet.

My story, Show and Tell, is about the most exciting Show and Tell day EVER, which comes about because Mandy has taken a cursed mummified hand to school for the event. (Dadda didn’t say she couldn’t; mostly because Mandy was much too wise to ask first.) The question is, who is more at risk? Class 1B, or the hand?

Encounters is available in paperback as well as e-book format from all the Amazons, of which these are a few:

If you get the book, it would be great if you could leave a review as well!

Writing short stories vs novels by Amanda Pillar

Graced Ebook High ResThis week, Amanda Pillar is my guest! Amanda’s new novel, Graced, has just been released, but she’s  written mainly short stories until now.  Today she talks about the difference between the two.

I began writing back to front. Rather than tackle the shorter and more attainable short story, I started with a novel. I spent hours tapping away at my 386 computer, painstakingly crafting a derivative and unimaginative first person fantasy that thankfully never saw the light of day. In fact, it was several (short) novels later that I wrote my first short story.

Looking back, I’ve been writing short stories for longer than I initially realised. Whenever we had creative writing at high school, I’d use my 500 word essay to write about vampires or witches or something magical, much to the annoyance of my year 10 teacher, who wanted me to write something else. But I persisted. In fact, one of my high school essays became one of the first short stories I ever had published.

It was at this point that I realised I needed to put the novels aside and work on my short fiction. I’d gone about getting published the wrong way; at least that’s what I thought at the time. I’d shopped my second novel around to publishers (agents, what were they?) and had received good feedback, but I was missing something. What, they couldn’t say, and I didn’t know. So I decided to refine my craft.

Writing short stories taught me that they were hard. In a novel, the reader is a bit more forgiving if you take a few pages to flesh out the character; in a short story, you have a couple of paragraphs. And yet, my novel writing had taught me how to develop a character, how to learn all their ins and outs. So this helped. I approached short stories with fully formed characters.

Short stories also taught me that the first sentence is paramount; the hook really is vital. Just as important as the following paragraphs. Every word in a short story has to count. Superfluous words are the enemy; there’s more lenience in novels for that kind of thing. That’s where your adverbs and ‘filter’ words really hurt.

And then I tried to write flash fiction. If anything, that is even more difficult. 1,000 words or less to make a reader 1) care about your character, 2) develop a plot and 3) have a conclusion. 1,000 may sound like a lot, but when you start out writing novels, 1,000 words is nothing. It’s often less than most opening chapters!

I then began editing as well. This helped my writing more than some might realise. It’s easy to pick out the errors in other people’s work, but it also made me realise some of the very common issues I kept noting I was guilty of, too. And so I began to look at each short story of my own more critically.

Then I went back to writing novels.

The hardest transition between the two is for me is pacing. And yet writing short stories means that every chapter I write in novel hopefully begins in a punchy way and ends with a conclusion of some sort, whether it be cliff-hanger or resolution. Every word in my novels now counts in a way it didn’t previously.

So for me, I think my roundabout way of going from novel writing to short stories and back again has taught me more about character development, plotting and word use than I may have achieved going from short stories to novels, but then, I’ll never really know. I just know that I love writing both.

About Graced:

City Guard Elle Brown has one goal in life: to protect her kid sister, Emmie. Falling in love – and with a werewolf at that – was never part of the deal.

Life, however, doesn’t always go to plan, and when Elle meets Clay, everything she thought about her world is thrown into turmoil. Everything, that is, but protecting Emmie, who is Graced with teal-colored eyes and an unknown power that could change their very existence. But being different is dangerous in their home city of Pinton, and it’s Elle’s very own differences that capture the attention of the Honorable Dante Kipling, a vampire with a bone-deep fascination for a special type of human.

Dante is convinced that humans with eye colors other than brown are unique, but he has no proof. The answers may exist in the enigmatic hazel eyes of Elle Brown, and he’s determined to uncover their secrets no matter the cost…or the lives lost.

Buy Graced:

About Amanda:

Amanda_small-1Amanda Pillar is an award-winning editor and author who lives in Victoria, Australia, with her husband and two cats, Saxon and Lilith. Amanda has had numerous short stories published and is working on her eighth fiction anthology. Graced is her first novel. By day, she works as an archaeologist travelling around Australia.

Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer. Find out more about her books, smartphone apps, public speaking and other activities at www.narrellemharris.com.

Storyteller: Flash Fiction

Storyteller NGVI’m not much into fashion, but I do like wearable art and the ways in which clothing and outerwear can express (or conceal) aspects of personality. The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibiton at the NGV in Melbourne is all about this, in fact, and was fascinating to see.

La Trobe University, which has an education partnership with NGV (and with whom I’ve been working on some related projects, including this blog post), had the 1dentities photo booth up on Friday nights. There, you had your photo taken while you said a single word you thought encapusalted your identity. The word I immediately chose was ‘Storyteller’.

A project to work with the university using these pictures and flash fiction didn’t quite come together, but I hated to abandon the sample stories I’d written. I can’t use the photos, except for my own, but here are some little stories inspired by the labels people chose for themselves as part of The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: from the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at NGV.

Storyteller

Some labels are windows and some are doors. Some are shields and some are prisons.  Every label tells a story, though it’s not always a true story. Or maybe the label is just someone else’s truth.

I’m a storyteller. I invent truths all the time. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that my writing attempts to wrap types of truth up inside fictions, inspired by the world I see. The 1dentity stories I tell aren’t true stories about real people. But maybe they will be true stories about being human.

Then again, maybe you’ll just learn true stories about me, wrapped up in the fiction of someone else’s label.

Resourceful

Everyone wants to be McGyver-resourceful: to cobble together a rubber band, three toothpicks and a wind-up toy into a terrific device to save the world.

Okay, so maybe some people want to be Jackie-Chan-resourceful: doing fast, clever things with chairs, pool cues, even a karaoke machine, to bamboozle the bad guys. Or Bear-Gryllis-resourceful. That’ll be how to survive the zombie apocalypse!

But there’s an everyday kind of resourceful, where you look at the world with wide-open eyes, and see each thing free of labels, not only as itself, but what it was, and what it could be.

Forget what it says on the tin. Crack open your notions. Reshape and revive a thing, an idea, maybe a whole life.

Go ahead. Be resourceful.

Enough

Katie wished that people would be more accurate with their words. “It’s enough,” they said, as though that meant that it was only just enough. Merely adequate.

But enough was more than enough. Enough was full and plump and replete with potential. Enough was ample and it was abundant. It was sufficient and also to the degree required for satisfaction.

So Katie knew that she was hopelessly human, that she was flawed and had so much still to learn about life; and she also knew that her flaws and the gaps in her knowledge didn’t make her less. She had strength enough, and heart enough, and brain enough to take on the world, if she had to.

Enough meant equal to what is needed, and Katie knew she was equal to any challenge.

Curious

Benjamin was curious, in all senses of the word. He wanted to know everything about the world. He wanted to open every lid, peer into every shadowed corner, lift every rock and know every secret. He wanted the universe to be known.

Mind you, he wasn’t bothered by the fact that the universe wasn’t known. Asking the question was the important part.

As a result, Benjamin’s friends sometimes thought he was other kinds of curious. As in singular. As in unconventional and offbeat. As in The Curious Incident of the Benjamin in the Nighttime, when he’d spent a night on a rooftop with a telescope and tracked a distant comet for hours and hours and hours instead of going to the post-match booze-up.

Benjamin just wanted to know what the comet looked like, burning across space and time (time, he explained to his brother later, because by the time the light reached his eye, the comet had long passed them; it was a kind of temporal trick, the speed of light).

Benjamin is curious about everything. Why do flavours have flavour? Why are smells nostalgic? Where is the love? But it’s okay that he doesn’t have the answers yet. The joy is half in the asking, and half in seeking the answer.

Unbelievable

“I don’t believe it.”

Rae’s mouth softened in what might have been a smile, though it was a curve made of irritation and challenge too. “Believe it or don’t. No skin off my nose.”

“You’re really a mechanic?”

“I said I was a mechanic when I was a kid. I worked in my dad’s garage all through university. I suppose you could say I still am a mechanic; I still have the skills, but of course I design machines these days. Well, aircraft to be precise. I’m an engineer.”

“My god, really? I don’t believe it!”

Rae sighed. “You really need to do something about your rigid belief systems.”


Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer. Find out more about her books, smartphone apps, public speaking and other activities at www.narrellemharris.com.

Lost and Found 8: Journey

Lost and found earringEveryone thinks Journey is a bit dizzy, a bit flaky, a bit of a hippy. (Her name doesn’t really help.) They think this almost like it’s a bad thing.

People like her, it’s true – in that abstract way that most of them like summer, or a glass of water when they feel quite thirsty, or a starlit night sky, which they only look at once in a while and think it’s pretty but then go on with whatever they were doing before they looked up into the diamond-studded infinite.

People like Journey almost like it’s a habit, and one that refreshes, but doesn’t linger for long. She seems apart from them somehow. She seems like she knows something that they don’t. She acts like she has the key to uncomplicated happiness.

Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe the people who like her are a bit jealous. They don’t know how to let go of worry. They’re never quite content with who they are and where they are; all too busy being distracted by the concern of what now? what next?

It’s not like Journey radiates an over-the-top, sing-in-the-street, look-mum-I’m-dancing joy. She just seems content with her lot, though distracted in thoughts of, not what next, but this right here right now is kind of lovely.

Journey likes natural fabrics and fresh, organic food and jewellery of pure silver that jangles when she walks. She likes the way cats purr and the vibration travels from their tiny bodies right into her hands when she strokes them and calls them sweet little kitty. She likes how bees are fuzzy and how oranges sometimes squirt you in the eye when you bite into them and the sound of horse hooves on the tarmac of the city street and the ding of the tram bell and the squeal of kids running through the fountain in front of the casino in summer.

She likes rain on her arms and wind in her dark hair. She likes the sun on her face, and that her dark brown skin doesn’t burn.

Journey likes walking everywhere. She likes stopping to smell the flowers in a very literal sense. She’s been known to stop and smell grass.

And she likes all these things in a low-key way. She’s not all manic-pixie-dreamgirl about them, despite her name and the tinkling silver jewellery. It all simply makes her calm and mindful and content.

Here’s a secret.

It’s true. Journey does know something that other people don’t know.

She knows what comes next. Came next. Will be next.

Grammar is difficult when you are living in your own past; when you’re a grain of the future stranded back in the time Before (but you are still the Yet To Be for the environment you inhabit, for the acquaintances who like you but don’t know anything about you).

Journey knows a lot about quantum physics and the machine powered by an entire sun that sent her back to gather data. Her understanding of climate change is very good too – all the survivors, rather belatedly, have a good understanding of the stupidity humanity did to itself.

The machines in Journey’s head and skeleton interact with the ones she wears on her body to send vital data through space and also time. Earrings and bracelets of silver (and many other things) make her whole body a transmitter to her lost future as they try to work out how to save the little of the world they still have. (In the meantime, the survivors have transplanted to the moon, a staging place before they take themselves to other barren landscapes further from the sun if they can’t work out how to get the drowned Earth back.)

Six years after arriving through a tunnel of improbability and bent light, the transmitter is still transmitting.

The receiver broke, though, six months after her arrival. A man wanted to take something she wasn’t interested in giving, and he grabbed her and insisted on having what he wanted.

Journey broke his arm in three places, four of his ribs, and his neck. The parts of his body were weighed down and went into the river. Journey feels a little bad about the death, but where she comes from, he and everyone around her died hundreds of years ago, so it doesn’t bother her too much.

Journey is surrounded by ghosts, in many ways. Some of these fleshly ghosts are awful, frightening things. Some are sweet or kind or funny. None of them know their fate, but Journey does, so mostly she is willing to offer the benefit of the doubt. She’ll live and let live because they’re all dead, but they don’t know it yet.

Journey didn’t realise the receiver had been snapped from her ear in the struggle until later, and then she couldn’t find the missing piece. Perhaps she could have repaired it, but she decided not to. It was so much more peaceful not to listen to the commands, the directions, the directives. To the envy and the anger and the railing against the people who appeared all so unwittingly in her transmissions, who were partly at fault for the Death of the Earth by Flood and Fire.

Journey knows that each individual couldn’t do much to stop it, and she knows that collectively, humans are a bit thick.

She has been inhabiting her past, creeping towards a future she won’t live to see again, and she likes it here.

Journey likes that she can’t go home. She likes that she’ll never hear those strident voices through the receiver again. She likes that she still sends them data – it’s a relief that it was not the transmitter that was lost – but she loves that they cannot summon her home.

Good luck to them, if they think the data will save them somehow. She’s sad for the future, of course – for what they’ve lost and what they’ll never have, living on their island of rock, gazing down at the blue ball that used to be humanity’s home.

She used to be like them, salvaging hope from the away teams that go (went, will go) to salvage scraps from the ball of water and wasteland that once housed a trillion life forms. The fraction that remain are all caged in some way. Animals and insects in the great Moon Zoo – too many slowly dying off because the gravity and the air are all wrong. Plants in greenhouses, and no-one can predict yet which will thrive and which will fail.

Not to mention the people. In their domes and in their environment suits that don’t always work. Humanity is ingenous at survival but also, it seems, at self immolation. The individual will to live is nothing like the collective lunacy that convinces people that someone else will fix it.

But here, in the past full of ghosts, Journey already knows that no-one fixed it. She already knows the limited life that awaits the survivors.

So Journey goes through her ghost life, enjoying every simple pleasure before it’s burned or drowned, and she breathes the open air and is content to just be in the moment.

After all – what could she possible do? She’s just one woman. She can’t change the future alone, and collective humanity won’t listen to her if she tries.

Because if it were possible, surely she’d have done it.

Lost and Found is an irregular series of posts about random items I find abandoned on the streets and the stories I make of them.

Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer. Find out more about her books, smartphone apps, public speaking and other activities at www.narrellemharris.com.

Lost and Found 7: Peaceful

Lost and Found 7In late December, while the world carried on in its usual mad dance, peace came to Altona.

It didn’t look much. Mistaken for a pendant, peace manifested itself as a small brass symbol, tiny and easily overlooked. A glint on the concrete, a shape made of lines and spaces.

A modest peace, its effect was localised and felt in tiny ways along the beachfront and in the park, along the streets and among the trees.

This little peace made the sound of gulls less of a strident, frustrated demand and more a cry of endless, beckoning horizons. The cry of a gull, for a time, was a response from the great blue sky that answered isolation and made the world less lonely.

It made the cold, rough waters invigorating rather than daunting; it made the child gaping wide-eyed at the never-ending sea wonder at adventures on other shores instead of fearing the waves, and she body-surfed back to the beach with the feeling that she could fling herself at the motion of the world and never be afraid.

The people who stepped over this unseen symbol on the footpath felt for a moment that all was well or, if not currently well, that it soon would be, or could be. Some of those whose feet hovered above it for that moment felt the urge to forgive a wrong, to take a kindlier view, to judge less harshly.

Some of them forgave not others but their own selves for frailty and perceived failure, and saw that it was in the striving to improve rather than in failing at perfection that their better selves could be brought to light.

In the park, a grandfather, ill-tempered with aches and disappointments, halted an impatient snarl and instead looked at the leaf presented by a small grandchild, and recognised the leaf as an offering and a request, even if the child didn’t know it. The world is huge and fascinating, Grandpa, and it’s so so new to me, show me, show me, show me how to grow in it, oh please.

This modest peace was not a place of stillness. All the world is ceaseless change, much of it unconsidered and reactive, at the whim of chance and resistance, violence and cacophony. But some change happens in the quiet, in the momentary peace, in the pause between breaths.

The change of peace is gentle, a flow that is soft and yet profound, like rain on stone, like roots in the soil. It is a way to tilt the world, to see old things anew; it is the contemplative moment in which the familiar is rearranged and new patterns bloom with potential.

Nobody knows how many little peaces exist in the world. Nobody knows if they bring the peace with them or manifest spontaneously in hushed moments. This tiny symbol is no longer in Altona. Perhaps it was seized upon by a child, or a magpie, or a street sweeper. Perhaps it dissolved on the sea air.

Perhaps in a warm and silent moment, someone will manifest it out of their own brain, and like rain on stone, like roots in soil, a small but significant change will bloom.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year, and that something good will bloom for you in 2014.

Lost and Found 7 (2)

Lost and Found is an irregular series of posts about random items I find abandoned on the streets and the stories I make of them.

Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer. Find out more about her books, smartphone apps, public speaking and other activities at www.narrellemharris.com.

Lost and Found 5: Plot Bunny

Plot BunnyShe is small, to hold so much rage in her. Small and ferocious and so, so tired. She had to dig her way out again, and her with no bones, no muscles, just cotton and stuffing, weeping all the while.

Dig she did, though, and she found the sky again, and now she seeks something more. It will take a long time to find it (to take it) she has no doubt.

But revenge is patient, yes it is. Revenge has time enough. A dish best served cold, they say. Has no use-by date, they say.

It is a long way home, but that’s all right. That will give her time to think, to plan, to plot.

The days and weeks and months she’ll spend wending homeward will provide so much careful, burning time to decide which of them to punish – or punish first, at least – and how best to share with her enemies how it felt.

How it felt to be seized in hot, hard jaws and taken away.

How it felt to realise that Beloved Little One didn’t raise a squeak of protest, being too enamoured of the splash of low-breaking waves on the sand to notice or care that the Beast was in motion, Bunny in its mouth.

How it felt to hear Uncaring Adult say in a bored, peeved tone ‘No, Cheezle, put Bunny back; bloody dog,’ as ineffectively as a cat protesting, with no real interest, the closing of a door.

How it felt that no-one came to her rescue.

How it felt that nobody cared, and that Older Bully only laughed when she saw Cheezle carrying Bunny away on the beach.

A heart of cotton and stuffing (but a heart all the same) can still break when it understands the words: ‘I’m not digging my way up and down the beach to find that bloody rabbit. Amelia has plenty of toys at home. Forget it. It’s starting to rain. Let’s leave.’

Bunny, down in her damp and sandy grave, buried there by Cheezle (jealous Cheezle, vicious Beast) was afraid, and then bereft, and then forlorn, and then outraged, and then enraged, and then, oh then, so full of fury and fire and hatred that despite the softness of her unboned limbs, the tatters of her stuffing heart, she began to dig.

Rabbits dig, you know. Even the soft ones. Even the ones made of cotton and polyester and tagged with washing instructions, they can dig, if properly motivated. Usually they burrow into little hearts, making a kindly warren of comfort and safety; days of play and nights of comfort, and those tunnels and dens make memories that keep old hearts gentle down the long, long years.

Bunny’s burrows of love and comfort have been blasted and filled with stones, this day. Instead, Bunny dug up, up, up from the pit where Cheezle (filthy Cheezle, the Beast who will know what it is to be sorry) buried her.

A moment’s pause by the sea, by the vast desert made of millions of pulverised bones and stones and dead things, and then Bunny will be off to fulfill her purpose.

Bunny will take whatever time and effort it takes to retrace her steps; to follow the path that the Metal Toybox on Wheels took to bring her to this cold and loveless shore. She will return to the home she knew and lay waste to Older Bully and Uncaring Adult and Cheezle the foul Beast and even Beloved Little One, faithless tiny bitch that she is, and Bunny will know what it is to be drenched in blood as well as sea and sand.

And they, the family that spurned her, will know what it is to be mauled and buried and left unmourned to be swallowed by the sea.

Oh yes, they will.

Lost and Found is an irregular series of posts about random items I find abandoned on the streets and the stories I make of them.

Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer. Find out more about her books, smartphone apps, public speaking and other activities at www.narrellemharris.com.

The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2012

years-best-fantasy-and-horror-v3-slideI am so excited and pleased to announce that I have a story in Ticonderoga Publications’ upcoming The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2012, edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene.

Stalemate, first published in my collection Showtime by Twelfth Planet Press, will appear alongside some of Australia and New Zealand”s very best writers of horror and fantasy.  The  collection contains 34 stories and poems:

  • Joanne Anderton, “Tied To The Waste”, Tales Of Talisman
  • R.J.Astruc, “The Cook of Pearl House, A Malay Sailor by the Name of Maurice”, Dark Edifice 2
  • Lee Battersby, “Comfort Ghost”, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 56
  • Alan Baxter, “Tiny Lives”, Daily Science Fiction
  • Jenny Blackford, “A Moveable Feast”, Bloodstones
  • Eddy Burger, “The Witch’s Wardrobe”, Dark Edifice 3
  • Isobelle Carmody, “The Stone Witch”, Under My Hat
  • Jay Caselberg, “Beautiful”, The Washington Pastime
  • Stephen Dedman, “The Fall”, Exotic Gothic 4, Postscripts
  • Felicity Dowker, “To Wish On A Clockwork Heart”, Bread And Circuses
  • Terry Dowling, “Nightside Eye”, Cemetary Dance
  • Tom Dullemond, “Population Management”, Danse Macabre
  • Thoraiya Dyer, “Sleeping Beauty”, Epilogue
  • Will Elliot, “Hungry Man”, The Apex Book Of World SF
  • Jason Fischer, “Pigroot Flat”, Midnight Echo 8
  • Dirk Flinthart, “The Bull In Winter”, Bloodstones
  • Lisa L. Hannett, “Sweet Subtleties”, Clarkesworld
  • Lisa L. Hannett & Angela Slatter, “Bella Beaufort Goes To War”, Midnight And Moonshine
  • Narrelle M Harris, “Stalemate”, Showtime
  • Kathleen Jennings, “Kindling”, Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear
  • Gary Kemble, “Saturday Night at the Milkbar”, Midnight Echo 7
  • Margo Lanagan, “Crow And Caper, Caper And Crow”, Under My Hat
  • Martin Livings, “You Ain’t Heard Nothing Yet”, Living With The Dead
  • Penelope Love, “A Small Bad Thing”, Bloodstones
  • Andrew J. McKiernan, “Torch Song”, From Stage Door Shadows
  • Karen Maric, “Anvil Of The Sun”, Aurealis
  • Faith Mudge, “Oracle’s Tower”, To Spin A Darker Stair
  • Nicole Murphy, “The Black Star Killer”, Damnation And Dames
  • Jason Nahrung, “The Last Boat To Eden”, Surviving The End
  • Tansy Rayner Roberts, “What Books Survive”, Epilogue
  • Angela Slatter, “Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean”, This Is Horror Webzine
  • Anna Tambour, “The Dog Who Wished He’d Never Heard Of Lovecraft”, Lovecraft Zine
  • Kyla Ward, “The Loquacious Cadaver”, The Lion And The Aardvark: Aesop’s Modern Fables
  • Kaaron Warren, “River Of Memory”, Zombies Vs. Robots

Look at my name right there, surrounded by the likes of Isobelle Carmody, Alan Baxter, Stephen Dedman, Margo Lanagan, Jason Nahrung, Tansy Rayner Roberts and Felicty Dowker. Just look! I’m in a  book with Kaaron Warren, people! And Terry Dowling! And all those fine, fine writers! LOOK! (Can you tell I’m excited, and proud, and pleased as punch? Can you?)

Alongside these stories, The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2012 will contain a 2012 round-up and a list of recommended reading.

The book is due out in July in hardback, paperback and ebook editions, and you can pre-order it at Indiebooks Online.

And so, in conclusion: SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer. Find out more about her books, smartphone apps, public speaking and other activities at www.narrellemharris.com.

It’s Showtime!!

This week on International Women’s Day (8 March), Twelfth Planet Press announced the official release of my new short story collection, Showtime!

I’m so excited to be part of TPP’s Twelve Planets series. I’m also excited to bring you four domestic (but not domesticated) horror stories.

  • Stalemate
    – a kitchen ghost story
  • Thrall
    – a Hungarian vampire finds the 21st Century doesn’t agree with him, and all he has to help him remedy the situation is a dowdy middle aged mum. With allergies.
  • The Truth About Brains
    – a teenage girl’s little brother gets turned into a zombie, and she’s trying to fix him before mum finds out.
  • Showtime
    – Gary the vampire and Lissa the librarian from The Opposite of Life go to the Royal Melbourne Show. Lissa is annoyed to discover vampires up to No Good at the Haunted House. Terrified, but mostly really annoyed.

US Author Seanan Maguire wrote a magnificent introduction to the collection that makes me feel amazed that someone could like something I wrote so much, and see so much in it.

An e-version will be available in due course, but in the meantime buy Showtime from Twelfth Planet Press.

Some bookstores stock TPP books, too, including Embiggen Books on Little Lonsdale Street and Notions Unlimited in Chelsea, so check with them. If you want your own local bookstore to order it in, the details are: Showtime by Narrelle M Harris, published by Twelfth Planet Press, ISBN 978-0-9872162-0-5.

The official blurb:

Family drama can be found anywhere: in kitchens, in cafes. Derelict hotels, showground rides. Even dungeons far below ruined Hungarian castles. (Okay, especially in Hungarian dungeons.)

Old family fights can go on forever, especially if you’re undead. If an opportunity came to save someone else’s family, the way you couldn’t save your own, would you take it?

Your family might include ghosts, or zombies, or vampires. Maybe they just have allergies. Nobody’s perfect.

Family history can weigh on the present like a stone.  But the thing about families is, you can’t escape them. Not ever. And mostly, you don’t want to.

It’s a beautiful collection of pieces, each one utterly classic and completely new at the same time… In Narrelle’s hands, everything old is new again, and everything new has the weight of age.  There’s magic in that, and in this book. — Seanan McGuire

These Australians give me hope for the future of female, and even feminist, writers in SF. – Gwyenth Jones

Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer. Find out more about her books, iPhone apps, public speaking and other activities at www.narrellemharris.com.