The Writer and the Critic: Episode 42

The latest episode of our podcast is now available for direct download and streaming from the website or via subscription from iTunes. Feedback is most welcome!

On this episode of The Writer and the Critic your hosts, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond, begin with the enthralling tale of How Mondy Got Pneumonia on New Year’s Eve, followed by a small rant from Kirstyn about Colleen McCullough and the Obituary That Should Hide its Head in Absolute Shame. The two then move on to discuss awards ballots and eligibility posts, the sometimes uncomfortable practice of self-promotion, and sad puppies in general.

The two books up for dissection this episode are The Bitterwood Bible by Angela Slatter (27:40) and How to be Both by Ali Smith (58:40).


Highly recommended as a companion read to The Bitterwood Bible is the previous Angela Slatter collection published by Tartarus Press, Sourdough and Other Stories.

If you’ve skipped ahead to avoid spoilers, please come back at 1:32:00 for final remarks.

For the next episode, Kirstyn has chosen The Well by Elizabeth Jolley while Ian is recommending Clade by James Bradley. Read ahead and join in the spoilerific fun!


A Poem for Ben on Day 23

The tyranny of the blank page
is a farce
is a myth
is a lie
is what we talk about when we talk
about doubt
about dismay
about the ever diminishing returns

It is not about the page

It is about us
forever balancing desire
with dread:
the jubilant (desperate) need to create
to send some glittering form out into the world
to speak
when our own tongues lie still in our mouths;
the fear that it will merely fumble and stilt
an ugly mimic
clumsy and thick of speech
shunned by sun and moon and stars alike


the page never resembles that truer glimpse
never approaches the ache or the chill
never looks like it
or sounds like it at all

neither does it fully resemble
the glimpse that a reader gleans
their ache or their chill
looks nothing like it
sounds nothing like it
at all

The page is a cipher
(with or without polar bears)
connecting writer and reader
via sparks and filaments
not smoke and mirrors
they will never know what it was you glimpsed
as you will never know what it is they see, they hear
there is only the page

This is the beauty of it
and the terror:
what you made me do?


(with thanks)


PERFECTIONS GoodReads Giveaway for Australian Readers

Perfections by Kirstyn McDermottThe lovely folks at Twelfth Planet Press have announced a Book Giveaway over at GoodReads. Two lucky Australians will each receive a copy of my latest novel, Perfections, in its glorious paperback edition.

The giveaway closes on 17 January 2015, so be quick and get your entry in!

Two sisters. One wish. Unimaginable consequences.

Not all fairytales are for children.


The Writer and the Critic: Episode 41

The latest episode of our podcast is now available for direct download and streaming from the website or via subscription from iTunes. Feedback is most welcome!

On this episode of The Writer and the Critic your hosts, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond, kick things off with a debate about cultural cringe, tall poppy syndrome, big girl pants and why all these elements may have contributed to a dearth of Australian content on this podcast of late. Things, they will be a changing. This episode of The Coode Street Podcast focusing on Australian Science Fiction is mentioned, as is Kirstyn’s love of The Babadook, an Australian film about which she recently talked at length with Terry Frost on The Martian Drive-In Podcast.

The two novels up for dissection this episode are Hild by Nicola Griffith (12:30) and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (58:30).


The reviews, blogs, podcasts and books mentioned during the discussion can be found via the following links:

If you’ve skipped ahead to avoid spoilers, please come back at 1:35:30 for final remarks.

For the next episode, Kirstyn has chosen The Bitterwood Bible by Angela Slatter while Ian is recommending How to be Both by Ali Smith. Read ahead and join in the spoilerific fun!


Fabulous New Review of Perfections

Perfections by Kirstyn McDermottKyla Ward has reviewed the paperback edition of Perfections over at Tabula Rasa. I guess she kinda liked it:

With only a slight shift of perspective, this could be a razor-edged depiction of the worst month in the lives of two sisters. The month one ends a four-year relationship. The month their mother dies. It could be that story; only then readers like me wouldn’t touch it. Readers like me need the gloss, the promise of something beyond. And that is exactly where the horror of Perfections lies.

The full review lives here.

And, of course, it would be remiss of me not to take this opportunity to remind you that copies of Perfections can be snagged over at Twelfth Planet Press in both print and digital formats. :-)



New Story in Review of Australian Fiction

Review of Australian FictionI have a surprise new publication today! Not a complete surprise, obviously, but not one I expected to happen quite this soon. The latest edition of Review of Australia Fiction (Volume 12, Issue 3) features two novellas — my own “By the Moon’s Good Grace” and “The Fate of All Wens” by Tessa Kum. Released fortnightly, the format of RAF is an unusual one in that an established Australian author is chosen by the editor to helm each issue and they, in turn, choose an emerging author to partner with. There are no genre or length considerations, which means there have been many a speculative fiction author grace its virtual pages over the years.

When I was asked to contribute, I knew immediately that I wanted a story from Tessa Kum and was thrilled when she was able to say yes. Tessa is a sharply intelligent, emotionally intense, and extraordinarily mindful writer who, for various reasons, has not published terribly much in recent years. I have never read a piece of hers that I didn’t love and “The Fate of All Wens” is no exception. (I still think about “Acception” from time to time. Still. That story slew me.) Put simply: her voice expands our genre; its absence would only diminish it. I am so very glad that she is speaking again.

For my own part, “By the Moon’s Grace” is the first of the pieces I am writing for my PhD and I’m delighted to see it released into the wild in my first year of candidacy. As some of you might know, I’m working with fairy tale narratives in my research and creative work and this novella takes “Little Red Riding Hood” for its jumping off point. There might be wolves.

Each issue of RAF is available to purchase individually or you can take out a subscription for an entire volume (6 issues). It’s well worth the read and if you haven’t come across it before then this issue is obviously the perfect place to start!


Cranky Ladies of History TOC

Cranky Ladies of HistorySuch exciting news! The Table of Contents for Cranky Ladies of History, due to be published by FableCroft next year, has just been officially announced and it is a corker. I am so pleased and proud to have my story, “Mary Mary” — about author, critic, philosopher, and pre-feminist Mary Wollstonescraft — included in the anthology. It’s a very different story to what I’ve written in the past and I suspect I shall pen a brief blog post about it, and about Mary, at some stage in the non-too-distant future, but for now, let’s all just bask in the glow of all these wonderfully cranky ladies of times past:


Author Provisional Title Cranky Lady A little detail…
Joyce Chng “Charmed Life” Leizu Chinese empress who discovered silk
Amanda Pillar “Neter Nefer” Hatshepsut Egyptian ruler
Barbara Robson “Theodora” Theodora, wife of the Byzantine Emperor, Justinian the first Wife of the Byzantine Emperor, Justinian the first
Lisa Hannett “For So Great a Misdeed”  Hallgerðr Höskuldsdóttir Icelandic woman
Garth Nix “The Company of Women” Lady Godiva Anglo-Saxon noblewoman
Juliet Marillier “Hallowed Ground” Hildegard of Bingen German writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess, visionary, and polymath
LM Myles “Little Battles” Eleanor of Aquitaine French queen & mother of dynasty
Foz Meadows “Bright Moon” Khutulun Central Asian warrior
Laura Lam “The lioness and her prey” Jeanne de Clisson French pirate
Liz Barr “Queenside” Mary Tudor (Mary I of England) Queen of England
Deborah Biancotti “Look How Cold My Hands Are” Countess Bathory countess from the renowned Báthory family of nobility in the Kingdom of Hungary. She has been labelled the most prolific female serial killer in history
Dirk Flinthart “The gift of freedom” Grace O’Malley Queen of Umaill, chieftain of the Ó Máille clan sometimes known as “The Sea Queen of Connacht”
Faith Mudge “Glorious” Elizabeth I Queen of England
Havva Murat “The Pasha, the girl and the dagger: The story of Nora of Kelmendi” Nora of Kelmendi Albanian warrior
Kirstyn McDermott “Mary Mary” Mary Wollstonecroft English writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights.
Thoraiya Dyer “Vintana” Queen Ranavalona I of Madagascar, also known as Ranavalona the Cruel Queen of Madagascar
Stephanie Lai “The dragon, the terror, the sea” Cheng Shih Chinese pirate
Jane Yolen SACAGAWEA SACAGAWEA Lemhi Shoshone woman, who accompanied the Lewis and Clark Expedition, acting as an interpreter and guide, in their exploration of the Western United States
Kaaron Warren “Another week in the future” Miss CH Spence Scottish-born Australian author, teacher, journalist, politician and leading suffragist.
Sylvia Kelso “Due care and attention” Lilian Cooper British-born Australian doctor
Sandra McDonald “Cora Crane and The Trouble with Me” Cora Crane American businesswoman, nightclub and bordello owner, writer and journalist.
Nisi Shawl “A Beautiful Stream” Colette French novelist and performer
Liz Argall “Oodgeroo is Not Yet Your Name” Oodgeroo Noonuccal Australian poet, political activist, artist and educator.



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