The Australian Shadows Award, or why I will soon have a new skull on the mantlepiece …

Australian Shadows Award 2013Wow. Perfections just won the Australian Shadows Award for Best Novel. I have no words . . . well, almost none. Hey, I’m a writer. If I had absolutely no words, it would mean I was dead or something, right? As you can see, though, they are not good words I am having right now. 🙂

The trophy is marvellously macabre this year: a replica of a human skull, emblazoned with the AHWA logo, mounted on a wooden stand and engraved with the name of the winner — all hand made by a Melbourne company by the name of Nightshade FX whose other wares I might have to investigate in the none too distant future. It’s going to look amazing next to my cat skeleton!

It comes as a genuine surprise as well. The announcements were made on Facebook a short time ago — welcome to the future — and I tuned in fully expecting the see either Lee Battersby or Jason  Nahrung announced the winner. (Hoping for Jason, naturally. With all conceivable digits crossed. Sorry, Lee, but I’m sure you understand.) So it’s all quite delightful, really. That’s all I have. Delightful. Gah. I’m sure the all wicked words will come back tomorrow.

The full list of very worthy winners are as follows:


  • Kirstyn McDermott, Perfections (Xoum)


  • Kaaron Warren, “Sky” (Through Splintered Walls, Twelfth Planet Press)*


  • Martin Livings, “Birthday Suit” (Living with the Dead, Dark Prints Press)


  • Kaaron Warren, Through Splintered Walls (Twelfth Planet Press)*


  • Surviving the End, ed Craig Bezant (Dark Prints Press)

* Pro Tip: If you haven’t yet read Through Splintered Walls by Kaaron Warren then you are totally missing out on some of the best — and I mean best — Australian gothic fiction being written today. Get thee to Twelfth Planet Press and procure thyself a copy forthwith. And if you won’t take my word for it, look: the damn book won TWO awards tonight! Go! Procure! Read! You’ll never want to go near candied almonds again, and that’s all I’m saying.



From Newcastle to Ballarat, a Week of First Things!

Jason and I went north this past weekend for the inaugural Newcastle Writers Festival. It was a fantastic event, brimming with many interesting, intelligent, enthusiastic writers and readers. The panels we saw were at times thought-provoking, at times humourous, and the “Nightmare Australia” session — which featured the indomitable Jenny Blackford throwing tricky questions at Jason and myself — was enormous fun. We’re hoping to go back next year just to hang around and catch as many sessions as we can. Jason, of course, has written up the festivalmuch more extensively over on his blog, so do go and have a read. And if you would like to hear the wonderful, snarky, hilarious opening night speech given by Miriam Margolyes, the Newcastle Herald has posted the audio online.

Back in Ballarat, we’ve had our first bit of publicity as Ballaratian authors, rather than Melbournians. The Courier ran a nice little piece about our award nominations with quite a respectable photo of the both of us. Even surrounded by the Fortress of Unpacked Book Boxes — that’s my To Be Read shelf behind us; the only books as yet liberated — it’s starting to feel like we’ve made a proper home here. I can’t wait until we’re finally settled in and actually have time to explore the area. There’s a second hand and collectible bookshop by the name of The Known World — complete with in-house espresso coffee bar! — that I’m just itching to check out. Will report back in due course …

And somehow, sometime soon, I’m going to have to get back to the wordsmithing. My brain, she is bursting.

Jason Nahrung and Kirstyn McDermott

Photo Credit: Justin Whitelock (The Courier)