Here With The Shadows by Steve Tasnic Tem – review by Mario Guslandi

mid_shadows1Here With The Shadows

by Steve Rasnic Tem

Swan River Press 2014

First Edition Hardcover, 165 pages

A review by Mario Guslandi

Here’s a short story collection by an American writer, published by a small British imprint, reviewed by an Italian reviewer and posted on an Australian website. Globalization has reached the world of dark fiction and this is a good thing because the present volume deserves to be enjoyed by as many readers as possible.

Steve Tem is a very prolific author of  “quiet” horror in its various shades, probing the secrets hidden in the human heart, which is the very source of any real horror. In his work you’ll hardly find monsters, gore and violence; you’ll find the sad, disquieting side of the horrors that affect our daily  life.

This particular collection is devoted to ghost stories, but, again, you won’t find here howling spectres lurking in old castles, but disturbing shadows lingering at the corners of our towns and cities. And most of those shadows are images of a past that still haunt our souls.

Among the fifteen tales assembled in the book, most are really outstanding examples of how good Tem is at his best.

The title story “Here with the Shadows” is a delicate, insightful piece where an old man lives his last days surrounded by a crowd of shadows, the shadows of the dead, while “A House by the Ocean” is a mesmerizing ghost story full of sorrow and despair, featuring two sisters separated for too long.

In the gentle  “G is for Ghost”, the main character is the ghost of a child, while in the subtly unnerving “Telling” the hidden secrets of a haunted house are finally disclosed.

“Back Among the Shy Trees” is an enigmatic, disturbing tale where a man returning to his now abandoned family house discovers some sinister facts about his long forgotten childhood.

“Seeing the Woods”, a story of intense lyricism, portrays an old semi-blind lady living in a cabin in the woods. Here the ghosts are those of her beloved trees burned down during a fire.

The nostalgic, melancholy “Smoke in a Bottle” depicts how the past is a ghost haunting our present and “Est Enim Magnum Chaos” is yet another great story about life and death, loneliness and old age, where people, as in the lyrics of the famous song “Ol’ Man River” are “tired of living but scared of dying”.

All great stuff.

-Review by Mario Guslandi

Genre Community Open Day : Seeking Exhibitors

[From Notions Unlimited Bookshop]

In keeping with the Notions Unlimited Bookshop philosophy of building Community – both around the shop itself, and putting our customers in touch with the wider Australian genre community – we’re looking at holding a Genre Community Open Day at some point over the next month or so, where our customers can meet with people representing genre-themed products, businesses and events, and learn more about what going on out there.

So: if you’re involved with organising an upcoming sci-fi convention, or are in the process of marketing a short horror film, or publish fantasy fiction, or are making and selling dragon figurines in your spare time, we want to hear from you! Once we have an idea of numbers of potential exhibitors, we’ll be able to let people know about dates, times and costs*.

Contact Chuck at info@notionsunlimitedbookshop or on (03) 9773-1102.

* Costs are likely to be minimal, with a token amount payable by exhibitors to cover hire of tables for the day, etc. Full details will be made available asap.

Caution: Contains Small Parts by Kirstyn McDermott – review

smallpartsCaution: Contains Small Parts

by Kirstyn McDermott

ISBN 978-1-922101-05-1

This book is a collection of four short stories by award-winning author, Kirstyn McDermott. There are themes here of gender and sexuality, damage and rehabilitation, but those themes never overpower the stories. It’s an excellent collection and well worth its recent Aurealis Award nomination.

McDermott is a powerful writer, evoking a great sense of place with all her work and her characters are well-drawn and fully realised. I found the writing in this collection to be a little less poetic than some of her other work, like the novel, Madigan Mine, for example, but no less impactful for that difference. And she retains her masterful use of language, the occasional phrasing that’s just so electrically right.

The four stories here are all bordering on horror and reality, skating that thin line between the real and the fantastic.

What Amanda Wants follows the trials of a counselor who has fluffed her way through actual qualifications because she has a supernatural ability to see to the very heart of people’s issues and actually, physically relieve them of those burdens. Until she is presented with Amanda, a troubled young woman whose walls are so solid, the powerful counselor can’t see anything through them.

In Horn, we have an unusual narrative broken into parts – regular storytelling, interviews, excerpts from academic papers – all slowly building the picture of a writer who hit the big time with a big fat fantasy series about warring unicorns and the problems that’s brought him. Very interesting asides into fantasy gender tropes in this story, but the format didn’t quite work for me as well as I might have hoped.

The title story, Caution: Contains Small Parts, is a poignant and disturbing horror story about a man haunted by a toy dog. He tries to get rid of it and can’t, it keeps coming back and will clearly continue to do so until he stops and works out what it wants. This is a very sad story, and powerfully written.

The final story is a long one, novelette length, I think, called The Home For Broken Dolls. This is a truly disturbing story about those realistic sex dolls that many people collect and truly obsess over. It’s told form the point of view of Jane, a woman horribly disfigured and traumatised in a moment of domestic violence, who has found peace in refurbishing damaged dolls. This story received a nomination for Best Horror Short Story in the Aurealis Awards as well as the collection as a whole getting a nod in the Best Collection category. You can see why. This is by far my favourite story in the book. McDermott does a great job in normalising the fetishes of these people, as of course, their fetish is entirely normal to them. It’s also very much on the border between literary/fantastic fiction and horror. It’s not a horror story like you’d expect, the darkness subtle and almost hidden behind the fantastic and the allegorical. But it is a truly excellent tale. And quite disturbing.

This is a great collection and a testament to McDermott’s skill. Highly recommended.

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The 2013 Bram Stoker Awards Final Ballot

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) is pleased to announce the Final Ballot for the 2013 Bram Stoker Awards®. The HWA (see www.horror.org ) is the premiere writers organization in the horror and dark fiction genre, with over 1,200 members. HWA has presented the Bram Stoker Awards in various categories since 1987 (see http://www.horror.org/stokers.htm).

“We are proud to present a particularly notable slate of nominees this year, showing the horror genre is strong and popular,” Rocky Wood, the HWA’s President, said.

The nominees are:

Superior Achievement in a Novel

Joe Hill – NOS4A2 (William Morrow)
Stephen King – Doctor Sleep (Scribner)
Lisa Morton – Malediction (Evil Jester Press)
Sarah Pinborough and F. Paul Wilson – A Necessary End (Thunderstorm/Maelstrom Press)
Christopher Rice – The Heavens Rise (Gallery Books)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

Kate Jonez – Candy House (Evil Jester Press)
John Mantooth – The Year of the Storm (Berkley Trade)
Rena Mason – The Evolutionist (Nightscape Press)
Jonathan Moore – Redheads (Samhain Publishing)
Royce Prouty – Stoker’s Manuscript (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel

Patrick Freivald – Special Dead (JournalStone)
Kami Garcia – Unbreakable (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Geoffrey Girard – Project Cain (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Joe McKinney – Dog Days (JournalStone)
Cat Winters – In the Shadow of Blackbirds (Harry N. Abrams)

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel

Ed Brubaker – Fatale Book Three: West of Hell (Image Comics)
Caitlin R. Kiernan – Alabaster: Wolves (Dark Horse Comics)
Brandon Seifert – Witch Doctor, Vol. 2: Mal Practice (Image Comics)
Cameron Stewart – Sin Titulo (Dark Horse Comics)
Paul Tobin – Colder (Dark Horse Comics)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

Dale Bailey – “The Bluehole” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May/June 2013)
Gary Braunbeck – “The Great Pity” (Chiral Mad 2, Written Backwards)
Benjamin K. Ethridge – “The Slaughter Man” (Limbus, Inc., JournalStone)
Gregory Frost – “No Others Are Genuine” (Asimov’s Science Fiction, Oct./Nov. 2013)
Greg F. Gifune – House of Rain (DarkFuse)
Rena Mason – East End Girls (JournalStone)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction

Michael Bailey – “Primal Tongue” (Zippered Flesh 2, Smart Rhino Publications)
Patrick Freivald – “Snapshot” (Blood & Roses, Scarlett River Press)
David Gerrold – “Night Train to Paris” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Jan./Feb. 2013)
Lisa Mannetti – “The Hunger Artist” (Zippered Flesh 2, Smart Rhino Publications)
John Palisano – “The Geminis” (Chiral Mad 2, Written Backwards)
Michael Reaves – “Code 666” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, March/April 2013)

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay

Fabien Adda and Fabrice Gobert – The Returned: “The Horde” (Ramaco Media I, Castelao Pictures)
Brad Falchuk – American Horror Story: Asylum: “Spilt Milk” (Brad Falchuk Teley-Vision, Ryan Murphy Productions)
Bryan Fuller – Hannibal: “Apéritif” (Dino De Laurentiis Company, Living Dead Guy Productions, AXN: Original X Production, Gaumont International Television)
Daniel Knauf – Dracula: “A Whiff of Sulfur” (Flame Ventures, Playground, Universal Television, Carnival Films)
Glen Mazzara – The Walking Dead: “Welcome to the Tombs” (AMC TV)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology

R.J. Cavender and Boyd E. Harris (ed.) – Horror Library: Volume 5 (Cutting Block Press)
Eric J. Guignard (ed.) – After Death… (Dark Moon Books)
Michael Knost and Nancy Eden Siegel (ed.) – Barbers & Beauties (Hummingbird House Press)
Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. (ed.) – The Grimscribe’s Puppets (Miskatonic River Press)
Anthony Rivera and Sharon Lawson (ed.) – Dark Visions: A Collection of Modern Horror, Volume One (Grey Matter Press)

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection

Nathan Ballingrud – North American Lake Monsters: Stories (Small Beer Press)
Laird Barron – The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All and Other Stories (Night Shade Books)
James Dorr – The Tears of Isis (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing)
Caitlin R. Kiernan – The Ape’s Wife and Other Stories (Subterranean)
Gene O’Neill – Dance of the Blue Lady (Bad Moon Books)
S. P. Somtow – Bible Stories for Secular Humanists (Diplodocus Press)

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction

Barbara Brodman and James E. Doan (ed.) – Images of the Modern Vampire: The Hip and the Atavistic (Fairleigh Dickinson)
Gary William Crawford (ed.) – Ramsey Campbell: Critical Essays on the Modern Master of Horror (Scarecrow Press)
William F. Nolan – Nolan on Bradbury: Sixty Years of Writing about the Master of Science Fiction (Hippocampus Press)
Jarkko Toikkanen – The Intermedial Experience of Horror: Suspended Failures (Palgrave Macmillan)
Robert H. Waugh (ed.) – Lovecraft and Influence: His Predecessors and Successors (Scarecrow Press)

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection

Bruce Boston – Dark Roads: Selected Long Poems 1971-2012 (Dark Renaissance Books)
Helen Marshall – The Sex Lives of Monsters (Kelp Queen Press)
Marge Simon and Sandy DeLuca – Dangerous Dreams (Elektrik Milk Bath Press)
Marge Simon, Rain Graves, Charlee Jacob, and Linda Addison – Four Elements (Bad Moon Books/Evil Jester Press)
Stephanie M. Wytovich – Hysteria: A Collection of Madness (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

HWA’s voting members will now vote on this Final Ballot, with voting closing on March 31 (only Active and Lifetime Members are eligible to vote).

The Bram Stoker Awards® will be presented at the 27th annual Bram Stoker Awards® Banquet held during the World Horror Convention 2014 in Portland, Oregon, on May 10th. Purchase of tickets to both the convention and the banquet are open to the public. The awards will also be live-streamed online for those who cannot attend in person.

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2013 Aurealis Awards finalists announced

AA-logoAfter a record number of entries, the finalists for the 2013 Aurealis Awards have been announced.

The Aurealis Awards are Australia’s premier speculative fiction awards. The ceremony will take place April 5, 2014 in Canberra. The venue is the Great Hall, University House, Australian National University.

Doors open 7pm for drinks, ceremony begins at 8pm. Details here: http://www.aurealisawards.com/

Congratulations to all the very worthy nominees!

The 2013 Aurealis Awards Finalists are:

BEST ILLUSTRATED BOOK OR GRAPHIC NOVEL

Savage Bitch by Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr (Scar Studios)

Mr Unpronounceable Adventures by Tim Molloy (Milk Shadow Books)

Burger Force by Jackie Ryan (self-­‐published)

Peaceful Tomorrows Volume Two by Shane W Smith (Zetabella Publishing)

The Deep Vol. 2: The Vanishing Island by Tom Taylor and James Brouwer (Gestalt Publishing)

BEST CHILDREN’S BOOK

Kingdom of the Lost, book 2: Cloud Road by Isobelle Carmody (Penguin Group Australia)

Refuge by Jackie French (Harper Collins)

Song for a scarlet runner by Julie Hunt (Allen & Unwin)

The four seasons of Lucy McKenzie by Kirsty Murray (Allen & Unwin)

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan (Hachette Australia)

Ice Breaker: The Hidden 1 by Lian Tanner (Allen & Unwin)

BEST YOUNG ADULT SHORTFICTION

“Mah Song” by Joanne Anderton (The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories, FableCroft Publishing)

“By Bone-­‐light” by Juliet Marillier (Prickle Moon, Ticonderoga Publications)

“Morning Star” by D.K. Mok (One Small Step, an anthology of discoveries, FableCroft Publishing)

“The Year of Ancient Ghosts” by Kim Wilkins (The Year of Ancient Ghosts, Ticonderoga Publications)

BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

The Big Dry by Tony Davies (Harper Collins)

Hunting by Andrea Host (self-­‐published)

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Allen & Unwin)

Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near (Random House Australia)

The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn (University of Queensland Press)

BEST HORROR SHORT FICTION

“Fencelines” by Joanne Anderton (The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories, FableCroft Publishing)

“The Sleepover” by Terry Dowling (Exotic Gothic 5, PS Publishing)

“The Home for Broken Dolls” by Kirstyn McDermott (Caution: Contains Small Parts, Twelfth Planet Press)

“The Human Moth” by Kaaron Warren (The Grimscribe’s Puppets, Miskatonic Press)

“The Year of Ancient Ghosts” by Kim Wilkins (The Year of Ancient Ghosts, Ticonderoga Publications)

BEST HORROR NOVEL

The Marching Dead by Lee Battersby (Angry Robot Books)

The First Bird by Greig Beck (Momentum)

Path of Night by Dirk Flinthart (FableCroft Publishing)

Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near (Random House Australia)

BEST FANTASY SHORT FICTION

“The Last Stormdancer” by Jay Kristoff (Thomas Dunne Books)

“The Touch of the Taniwha” by Tracie McBride (Fish, Dagan Books)

“Cold, Cold War” by Ian McHugh (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Scott H Andrews)

“ShortCircuit” by Kirstie Olley (Oomph: a little super goes a long way, Crossed Genres)

“The Year of Ancient Ghosts” by Kim Wilkins (The Year of Ancient Ghosts, Ticonderoga Publications)

BEST FANTASY NOVEL

Lexicon by Max Barry (Hachette Australia)

A Crucible of Souls by Mitchell Hogan (self-­‐published)

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Allen & Unwin)

Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix (Jill Grinberg Literary Management)

Ink Black Magic by Tansy Rayner Roberts (FableCroft Publishing)

BEST SCIENCE FICTION SHORT FICTION

“The Last Tiger” by Joanne Anderton (Daily Science Fiction)

“Mah Song” by Joanne Anderton (The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories, FableCroft Publishing)

“Seven Days in Paris” by Thoraiya Dyer (Asymmetry, Twelfth Planet Press)

“Version 4.3.0.1” by Lucy Stone (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #57)

“Air, Water and the Grove” by Kaaron Warren (The Lowest Heaven, Pandemonium Press)

BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

Lexicon by Max Barry (Hachette)

Trucksong by Andrew Macrae (Twelfth Planet Press)

A Wrong Turn At The Office Of Unmade Lists by Jane Rawson (Transit Lounge)

True Path by Graham Storrs (Momentum)

Rupetta by Nike Sulway (Tartarus Press)

BEST ANTHOLOGY

The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2012 by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (Eds), (Ticonderoga Publications)

One Small Step, An Anthology Of Discoveries by Tehani Wessely (Ed) (FableCroft Publishing)

Dreaming Of Djinn by Liz Grzyb (Ed) (Ticonderoga Publications)

The Best Science Fiction And Fantasy Of The Year: Volume Seven by Jonathan Strahan (Ed) (NightShade Books)

Focus 2012: Highlights Of Australian Short Fiction by Tehani Wessely (Ed) (FableCroft Publishing)

BEST COLLECTION

The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories by Joanne Anderton (FableCroft Publishing)

Asymmetry by Thoraiya Dyer (Twelfth Planet Press)

Caution: Contains Small Parts by Kirstyn McDermott (Twelfth Planet Press)

The Bride Price by Cat Sparks (Ticonderoga Publications)

The Year of Ancient Ghosts by Kim Wilkins (Ticonderoga Publications)

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$30,000 FELLOWSHIP TO SUPPORT NSW WRITERS

MEDIA RELEASE: Thursday 6 February 2014

$30,000 FELLOWSHIP TO SUPPORT NSW WRITERS

Minister for the Arts, George Souris, today called on NSW-based writers to apply for the 2014 NSW Writer’s Fellowship, worth $30,000.

Mr Souris said the fellowship would support a program of professional development for established or mid-career professional writers of fiction, literary non-fiction, children’s and young adult literature, poetry, scripts for performance, literary digital and new media work, and graphic novels.

“This fellowship is being offered as part of the NSW Government’s ongoing support for the professional growth of NSW-based writers,” Mr Souris said.

“The fellowship will provide the writer with new opportunities to progress in their writing career. The money can be used to support national and international travel, mentorships, internships, residencies, short-term workshops, courses and training, research and the creation of new work.

“This is an exciting opportunity for NSW’s talented writers. I particularly encourage writers living in regional communities to apply for the fellowship.”

Mr Souris said the fellowship winner will also have the opportunity to participate in one of two residencies on offer from the State Library of NSW and the City of Sydney.

“The State Library of NSW is offering a residency for up to 12 months including a dedicated desk in the Fellow’s Room, as well as introductions to the Library’s collections experts to assist in their research. The writer will undertake a public engagement about their work during or after the residency, and contribute an article to the Library’s SL Magazine on an aspect of their project.“

The City of Sydney is offering a residency for up to 12 months including studio space and access to places to work in its extensive library network. As part of this residency the writer will undertake a public engagement, such as a talk, reading, question and answer session, workshop or blog.”

The 2014 NSW Writer’s Fellowship is offered by Arts NSW. Applications close on Monday, March 17, 2014. An independent peer assessment panel will assess the applications. The winner of the fellowship will be announced in May 2014.

Further information on the Fellowship can be found at www.arts.nsw.gov.au

Media contact:Hugh Cavill 0408 235 997

A STATE OF FEAR – “HORROR AT THE METCALFE”

Horror writers and librarians from Australia and beyond will get together at the NSW State Library this March, to brainstorm new ways of connecting with readers.

Every year, the NSW Readers Advisory Working Group in collaboration with the State Library of New South Wales runs a seminar on a different literary genre, as part of their Public Library Services. These events are attended by librarians from all parts of New South Wales. They aim to enhance their ability to advise and assist readers who are interested in that kind of fiction.

This year, it’s horror, and attendees have been asked to read at least one horror story, with suggestions encompassing the classics as well as more recent works by Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman and Kelly Link. “I was surprised to find that I’d already read more horror than I’d thought,” says co-coordinator Ellen Forsyth.

The State Library has liaised with the Australian Horror Writer’s Association to provide an intriguingly varied program. Kaaron Warren, multi-award-winning author of the likes of Slights and The Grinding House will prove that horror writers are quite nice people really, with serious things to say about the world. Author, actor and long-time State library member Kyla Lee Ward will discuss how libraries and horror writers can assist each other, and the work of the AHWA and its American counterpart.

With local stalwart Keith Whelan presenting on writing horror and Becky Siegel (author of The Readers Advisory Guide to Horror) skyping in from Illinois, this promises to be a lively and surprising day, with the potential to create ongoing links between writers and what is now more than ever, the vital gateway of the library.

Horror at the Metcalfe
Public Library Services
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM (EST)
Sydney, NSW

Attendance is limited to professional librarians, but AHWA members interested in putting themselves forward for library visits are asked to contact Kyla on kylaw [@] tabula-rasa.info

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