Wanna see “The Loved Ones” for Free?

The Loved Ones

Five double passes to see new Australian torture porn flick, The Loved Ones, have landed on my desk and what better time to give them away than now, just a couple of days before Halloween? The passes are valid Mondays to Fridays from 4th November when The Loved Ones will be released nationally.

To win a double pass, simply email and tell me your most beloved horror movie:

kirstynm AT gmail.com

The first five people I hear from get the tickets. Please make sure you send me your name and address (within Australia only) and I’ll get the tickets in the mail straight away. There now, don’t say I never doing nothin’ for ya.

*** ETA: Okay, tickets are all gone now! People’s favourite horror movies include The Thing, Clockwork Orange, The Hunger, Saw and Let the Right One In. Congrats to the lucky winners!

“Brutal, bloody and black as all hell!” – Ed Gibbs, ROLLING STONE

“The best entry to the Aussie horror canon since Wolf Creek.” – Julian Shaw, FILMINK

“Hardcore … The Loved Ones will drill a hole right into your brain and leave you twitching and terrified.” – Nick Dent, TIME OUT SYDNEY


How not to query a literary agent

Slushpile Hell is a very cool new blog which has just been brought to my attention (thanks, Foz!). Written by a “grumpy literary agent” it offers up some hilarious excepts from actual query letters along with the agent’s not-so-tongue-in-cheek response, as well humourous pieces of publishing advice. If you’re an aspiring writer seeking an agent, here is a concise object lesson in what not to do.  If you’re aspiring agent, it will probably make you think twice about your career choice. Even if you fall into neither camp, it’s still bloody funny.

Here are a few of my favourites to whet your appetite:

Thanks for reading my query. Tell me what cha think I’m not going to go back and read it so everything you read was just typed with out double checking.

This is my life as a literary agent, folks. Jealous?

Today is your opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a promising young author’s career. Today is your chance to be the one who lights the wick on the bottle rocket that will carry my name into the upper echelon and today is your chance to grab a ticket on that ride.

No, after reading this, I think that today is the day to take my drinking to a whole new level.

Till the moment your eyes run across this letter, you and I are nothing but “Strangers” to each other. I hope to remove the unsightly strangeness that stands between us so that we might get to know one another better.

Me: creeped out.

With foggy dreams about the graceful future and with beautiful butterflies tangling within my tummy, I write this query email.

Sorry, I just threw up a little bit in my mouth.

I have yet to be published, but that is only because I have yet to try.

And I have yet to win the Tour de France, Nobel Peace Prize, or the Quail Hollow Hog-Calling Contest, but that’s only because…well, you know.

stress reduction kit

Not for the faint of heart, apparently

On Monday night I gave a reading from Madigan Mine at The Wheeler Centre, as part of their “Debut Mondays” series. It’s the first time I’d read that particular section in public, and it’s one of the nastier scenes in the book. There is a knife involved, and quite a bit of blood, and someone getting sliced up (although not fatally). As I was nearing the end of the ten minute reading, I became aware of a commotion in the audience and looked up to see a young man slumping over sideways in his seat. Turns out he’d fainted!

Needless to say, I didn’t finish the reading. The young man came around after a couple of minutes and was perfectly fine, if a little embarrassed. During the impromptus intermission, during which some very decent wine was served, three women crowded over to me to ask how the piece ended. “We have to know what happens!” Later, I chatted with a man who confided that he usually didn’t read that kind of thing, but that he found himself completely engrossed by my reading. So, I guess it all went well. You know, apart from making people pass out.

Me and Chuck Palahniuk, who knew?

In other news, Mother and Father Blackbird have both been working very hard the last couple of days, flying to and fro with food for the new babies. I can’t see them from my vantage, but I’m thinking of setting up at a ladder at a respectable distance just to have a squizz. I’ll wait a couple more days until the babies are older and I am perhaps at less risk from being divebombed from a justifiably irate Father Blackbird. Here are a couple of photos of the industrious pair. I do believe that Father Blackbird is giving me the evil eye!

Mother Blackbird

Mother Blackbird

Father Blackbird

Father Blackbird

Things that go bump in the night


Next Sunday is Halloween! It’s also my birthday! Double Huzzah!

Fittingly, I’ll be at Dymocks Southland for their Halloween HorrorCon on the 31st, eating too much sugar and signing books along with four other might fine local authors of dark fiction — Alan Baxter, Bruce Kaplan, Bob Franklin and the dashingly handsome Jason Nahrung. Come along and say Boo!

Date:  Sunday, 31st October 2010
Time:  12.00 noon – 1pm (approx)
Address:  Dymocks Southland, 3067 Westfield Shopping Centre, Cheltenham, VIC

For those in the mood for a night of spooky Q&A, Continuum 7 is hosting a Halloween Trivia Night next Saturday with none other than the fabulously vampiric Narelle Harris as Inquizator. Costumes are optional but there will be lots of yummy prizes, so don’t be shy about getting your Halloween groove on.

Date: Saturday 30th October
Time: 8pm
Where: Brian Boru Function Room @ The Celtic Club, 316-320 Queen Street, Melbourne
Cost of Entry: $5

The Guardian.co.uk  published their Top 25 Horror Films this past week. It’s not exactly the list I would make, were I in the habit of making such lists — The Hunger is missing for a start — but it’s a fine collections of films nevertheless. There’s a few classics on there I keep meaning to track down — Peeping Tom, Don’t Look Now, Les Diaboliques — so it’s also a timely prompt. Good the see the beautiful Swedish film, Let the Right One In, making it into the top ten.

Lastly, here’s an interesting factoid for you: October 2010 has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays — all in one month. Mathematically, this only happens once in 823 years. Such things amuse me.

ETA: Sadly, this last is not true. In fact, the last time this happened in October was 2004 (six years ago) and the next time it will happen is 2021 (11 years from now). Thanks to Andrew McKiernan for pointing this out for the benefit of a Kirstyn too lazy to google . . .

Of Blackbirds and Currawongs


Evil Currawong

The thing is, I should love Currawongs. I should be on their side. They’re big black birds, ever so distantly related to ravens — an ever so distant relation which definitely shows in their general mien — with bright yellow eyes and a penchant for falling with clumsy grace through the branches of trees. They are also native to Australia, and a protected species at that. I am a Friend of the Crows. I should lurve Currawongs.

But if you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll remember that a pair of Blackbirds have taken up residence above one of our courtyard doors. Right opposite my office where I sit for much of the day. I watched Mother Blackbird and Father Blackbird build their nest from scratch, with twigs and mud and bits of leaf and feather, over the course of just two days. I’ve watched Mother Blackbird sit on her nest for the past week, nestling down snug over her eggs, leaving only on brief forays for food and water.  I felt a bit dirty towards Father Blackbird for not sharing the load, until I spotted him doing perimeter duty on the roof, perching on the TV aerial for better vantage, and seeing off Noisy Miners who came too close.

In short, I’ve bonded with these damn Blackbirds. It doesn’t matter that they are an imported species. Or that my friend Elaine tells me they are considered a pest and a blight on the Australian environment. Or that we won’t be able to use the BBQ in our courtyard until the brood has fledged and flown. My heart cares not for such quibbles and refuses to listen to reason. They are my blackbirds.

Mother Blackbird

Mother Blackbird

All of which goes to explains why I was most distressed to see a Currawong checking out the nest at lunchtime on Sunday. Mother Blackbird stared her down, and Father Blackbird performed aerial manoeuvres, but Currawongs are four times their size and have huge pointed beaks, and so the Blackbirds quickly deemed discretion to be the better part of valour and fled. I stood up by my glass door and waved my arms, and the Currawong promptly fled. After a while, Mother Blackbird came back, very cautiously, with much sounding out of the area before settling back into her nest.

Repeat three times. Currawong arrives, Mother Blackbird flees, Kirstyn shouts and claps her hands like a Mad Thing. Currawong retreats, Mother Blackbird returns, Kirstyn is stupidly proud.

The Currawong made no appearance yesterday and I thought perhaps I’d scared her away for good, but — alas — just in the last half hour she has come back for another attempt at egg-stealing. I did the arm-waving thing to shoo her away and I suspect the recently-fled Mother Black will be back shortly. As ridiculous as it sounds, it’s making me very anxious. I don’t want to leave the office to make myself lunch, which means I am taking my self-appointed guard duty far too seriously. I am also nervous about plans to see a movie on Saturday afternoon, because I won’t be here to protect the Family Blackbirds from the Evil Currawong (who, of course, is not evil at all but merely behaving according to her nature, as so she should).

It doesn’t matter that the Currawong is a native bird and that she probably has nestlings of her own to feed. These are my Blackbirds, damn it, and I was looking forward to seeing chicks hatch and fledge and take to wing. Sadly, it doesn’t appear that this will happen. I can’t be here all the time and Currawongs, it seems, are persistent. And, yes, the rational, reasonable, environmentally-conscious part of me will simply sigh and shrug and say, that’s nature for you, when I inevitably find the nest abandoned and Currawong bellies presumably filled.

But my stupid heart will weep. Because they are my Blackbirds.


Debut Monday at the Wheeler Centre

The Wheeler Centre

I’ll be at The Wheeler Centre next week as part of their Debut Mondays series of new author readings. Joining me will be other debut authors Lara Fergus, Lisa Lang and Anna Krien. It’s a free event, in a lovely venue (with wine!), and books will be available for purchase in the foyer afterwards if you like what you hear.  I’ll be reading from my novel, Madigan Mine.

Date:  Monday, 25th October 2010
Time:  6.15pm — 7.50pm
Place:  The Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000

So if you’re in Melbourne with naught to do, please come along. It’s always lovely to see a bunch of friendly faces at things like these.

The Wheeler Centre is dedicated to the discussion and practice of writing and ideas. They run a truly impressive year-round programme of talks and lectures, readings and debates — the majority of which are free to attend. You can subscribe to their newsletter here.

A Monstrous Manifesto

While we’re on the subject of the magnificent and utterly brilliant Catherynne M. Valente, here is a most wonderful poem she wrote to open the Monsters Ball at StrowlerCon last weekend in Boston, USA:

If you are a monster, stand up.
If you are a monster, a trickster, a fiend,
If you’ve built a steam-powered wishing machine
If you have a secret, a dark past, a scheme,
If you kidnap maidens or dabble in dreams
Come stand by me.

If you have been broken, stand up.
If you have been broken, abandoned, alone
If you have been starving, a creature of bone
If you live in a tower, a dungeon, a throne
If you weep for wanting, to be held, to be known,
Come stand by me.

If you are a savage, stand up.
If you are a witch, a dark queen, a black knight,
If you are a mummer, a pixie, a sprite,
If you are a pirate, a tomcat, a wright,
If you swear by the moon and you fight the hard fight,
Come stand by me.

If you are a devil, stand up.
If you are a villain, a madman, a beast,
If you are a strowler, a prowler, a priest,
If you are a dragon come sit at our feast,
For we all have stripes, and we all have horns,
We all have scales, tails, manes, claws and thorns
And here in the dark is where new worlds are born.
Come stand by me.

You can hear Cat reading the poem over at the StrowlerCon livefeed archives (about a minute from the start of that link). The rest of the archives are well worth watching for some amazing performances by a whole bunch of very creative folk. Makes me wish I’d been there.

And yes, I believe I may just have a small writerly crush on Ms Valente. Why ever do you ask?