New collection: Hard Places

In most exciting news, I have a collection out this month. HARD PLACES is a retrospective of my short fiction, plus a brand new novella from which the collection takes its name. I’m so proud of it, and so grateful both to Scarlett R. Algee of Trepidatio Publishing for her amazing work on this book, and to Angela Slatter not only for her very kind introduction but for giving me the timely kick in the pants I needed to get this project rolling.

I wrote the novella “Hard Places” in the second half of 2019 towards the end of my PhD candidature. After submitting my thesis, I didn’t really write any more fiction, or much of anything else, for over a year. Bumping straight out of PhD-land and straight into Pandemic-ville put my creativity on ice for longer than I was planning, so both the novella and the collection in which is made its home mark a clear and interesting demarcation. Most of my contemporary fiction is set in the here and now, tweaked perhaps or knocked off-centre with some speculative element or another, but broadly informed by what is happening in the world. So, while I don’t see myself writing a lot of fiction explicitly about the pandemic, I’m not going to be able to escape its influence on my work and I’m keen to discover what that will look like. I have a feeling that post-pandemic Kirstyn is going to be quite a different writer, for so many reasons.

As a sidenote, it’s perhaps fitting that I am writing this post about a collection of my pre-pandemic fiction from my bed while recovering from COVID-19. After successfully dodging the virus for well over two years, it finally managed to tackle me to the ground this past week. It’s not fun, as too many readers will know, but I could also have it so much worse. Stay safe, people. We’re far from being out of the woods yet.


Cover of Hard Places by Kirstyn McDermott. The image depicts an ominous rural house atop a stony hill beneath a darkening sky.

“Kirstyn McDermott’s prose is darkly magical, insidious and insistent. Once her words get under your skin, they are there to stay.” – Angela Slatter, author of All the Murmuring Bones and The Path of Thorns

Hard Places collects the very best of Kirstyn McDermott’s short fiction written over the past twenty years along with a previously unpublished novella. From unsettling obsessions and brutal body horror to unexpected monsters and ghosts drifting through suburbia, these stories run the gamut of horror and the contemporary gothic. By turns harrowing, provocative and poignant, this collection will haunt you long after the last page is turned.

HARD PLACES will be released on 22 July 2022 in paperback and digital formats and can be ordered from Journalstone.

2 thoughts on “New collection: Hard Places

  1. Just ordered Hard Places, so looking forward to this one. And what a ride we have experienced during the last couple of years, and as you say, Covid hasn’t gone away. Congratulations, Kirstyn, productivity is the way forward, I’m taking a leaf out of your book, so to speak!

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