Aurealis Awards Shortlists

The Dark, Issue 10, November 2015The shortlists for the 2015 Aurealis Awards have been announced and I’m delighted to see that a story of mine has been included in the Best Horror Short Story category. “Self, Contained” was published in The Dark last year and you can read it online here.

The awards will be announced on Friday, 25 March 2016, during a ceremony at the Hotel Jen, Brisbane. More information can be found at the Aurealis website. I’ll be there, attending Contact 2016, so please say hello if you run into me either at the ceremony itself or during the rest of the convention. Hot tip: I’ll probably be spending a lot of time in the bar.

The shortlists as a whole make a might fine — if ambitious, considering the number of titles! — reading list. I will just say that I’m more than a little sad, and somewhat perplexed, about the lack of a shortlist for Best Horror Novel. The judges report for that category will make for interesting reading, methinks.


  • A Week Without Tuesday, Angelica Banks (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Cut-Out, Jack Heath (Allen & Unwin)
  • A Single Stone, Meg McKinlay (Walker Books Australia)
  • Bella and the Wandering House, Meg McKinlay (Fremantle Press)
  • The Mapmaker Chronicles: Prisoner of the Black Hawk, A.L. Tait (Hachette Australia)


  • The Undertaker Morton Stone Vol.1, Gary Chaloner, Ben Templesmith, and Ashley Wood (Gestalt)
  • The Diemenois, Jamie Clennett (Hunter Publishers)
  • Unmasked Vol.1: Going Straight is No Way to Die, Christian Read (Gestalt)
  • The Singing Bones, Shaun Tan (Allen & Unwin)
  • Fly the Colour Fantastica, various authors (Veriko Operative)


  • “In Sheep’s Clothing”, Kimberly Gaal (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #61)
  • “The Nexus Tree”, Kimberly Gaal (The Never Never Land, CSFG)
  • “The Miseducation of Mara Lys”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “The Heart of the Labyrinth”, DK Mok (In Memory: A Tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett, Sorin Suciu)
  • “Blueblood”, Faith Mudge (Hear Me Roar, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Welcome to Orphancorp, Marlee Jane Ward (Seizure)


  • “Bullets”, Joanne Anderton (In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep, AHWA)
  • “Consorting with Filth”, Lisa L Hannett (Blurring the Line, Cohesion Press)
  • “Heirloom Pieces”, Lisa L Hannett (Apex Magazine, Apex Publications)
  • “The Briskwater Mare”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “Breaking Windows”, Tracie McBride (Aurealis #84)
  • “Self, Contained”, Kirstyn McDermott (The Dark, TDM Press)


  • “Night Shift”, Dirk Flinthart (Striking Fire, FableCroft Publishing)
  • “The Cherry Crow Children of Haverny Wood”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “The Miseducation of Mara Lys”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “Wages of Honey”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “Sleepless”, Jay Kristoff (Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, Penguin)
  • “Ripper”, Angela Slatter (Horrorology, Jo Fletcher Books)


  • “The Giant’s Lady”, Rowena Cory Daniells (Legends 2, Newcon Press)
  • “The Jellyfish Collector”, Michelle Goldsmith (Review of Australian Fiction Vol. 13 Issue 6)
  • “A Shot of Salt Water”, Lisa L Hannett (The Dark, TDM Press)
  • “Almost Days”, DK Mok (Insert Title Here, FableCroft Publishing)
  • “Blueblood”, Faith Mudge (Hear Me Roar, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • “Husk and Sheaf”, Suzanne Willis (SQ Mag 22, IFWG Publishing Australia)


  • “Lodloc and The Bear”, Steve Cameron (Dimension6, coeur de lion)
  • “Defy the Grey Kings”, Jason Fischer (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Firkin Press)
  • “Broken Glass”, Stephanie Gunn (Hear Me Roar, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • “The Flowers that Bloom Where Blood Touches the Earth”, Stephanie Gunn (Bloodlines, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • “Haunting Matilda”, Dmetri Kakmi (Cthulhu: Deep Down Under, Horror Australis)
  • “Of Sorrow and Such”, Angela Slatter (


  • “2B”, Joanne Anderton (Insert Title Here, Fablecroft)
  • “The Marriage of the Corn King”, Claire McKenna (Cosmos)
  • “Alchemy and Ice”, Charlotte Nash (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #61)
  • “Witnessing”, Kaaron Warren (The Canary Press Story Magazine #6)
  • “All the Wrong Places”, Sean Williams (Meeting Infinity, Solaris)


  • “Blood and Ink”, Jack Bridges, Prizm Books
  • “The Molenstraat Music Festival”, Sean Monaghan (Asimov’s Science Fiction)
  • “By Frogsled and Lizardback to Outcast Venusian Lepers”, Garth Nix (Old Venus, Random House)


  • The Abandonment of Grace and Everything Thereafter, Shane Jiraiya Cummings (Brimstone Press)
  • Striking Fire, Dirk Flinthart (FableCroft Publishing)
  • Cherry Crow Children, Deborah Kalin (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • To Hold the Bridge, Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Fading, Carole Nomarhas (self-published)
  • The Finest Ass in the Universe, Anna Tambour (Ticonderoga Publications)


  • Hear Me Roar, Liz Grzyb (ed.) (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2014, Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (eds.) (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Bloodlines, Amanda Pillar (ed.) (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Meeting Infinity, Jonathan Strahan (ed.), (Solaris)
  • The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 9, Jonathan Strahan (ed.) (Solaris)
  • Focus 2014: highlights of Australian short fiction, Tehani Wessely (ed.) (FableCroft Publishing)


  • In The Skin of a Monster, Kathryn Barker (Allen & Unwin)
  • Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club, Alison Goodman (HarperCollins)
  • The Fire Sermon, Francesca Haig (HarperVoyager)
  • Day Boy,Trent Jamieson (Text Publishing)
  • Illuminae, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Hush, Skye Melki-Wagner (Penguin Random House Australia)


No Shortlist Released


  • In The Skin of a Monster, Kathryn Barker (Allen & Unwin)
  • Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club, Alison Goodman (HarperCollins)
  • Day Boy,Trent Jamieson (Text Publishing)
  • The Dagger’s Path, Glenda Larke (Hachette Australia)
  • Tower Of Thorns, Juliet Marillier (Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Skin, Ilka Tampke (Text Publishing)


  • Crossed, Evelyn Blackwell (self-published)
  • Clade, James Bradley (Penguin)
  • Illuminae, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin)
  • Their Fractured Light, Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Allen & Unwin)
  • Renegade, Joel Shepherd (Kindle Direct)
  • Twinmaker: Fall, Sean Williams (Allen & Unwin)


  • The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin [The King’s Bastard (2010), The Uncrowned King (2010), The Usurper (2010), The King’s Man (2012), King Breaker (2013)], Rowena Cory Daniells (Solaris Press)
  • The Watergivers [The Last Stormlord (2009), Stormlord Rising (2010), Stormlord’s Exile (2011)], Glenda Larke (HarperVoyager)
  • The Lumatere Chronicles [Finnikin of the Rock (2008), Froi of the Exiles (2011), Quintana of Charyn (2012)], Melina Marchetta (Penguin Random House)
  • Sevenwaters [Daughter of the Forest (2000), Son of the Shadows (2001), Child of the Prophecy (2002), Heir to Sevenwaters (2009), Seer of Sevenwaters (2011), Flame of Sevenwaters (2013)], Juliet Marillier (Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • The Laws of Magic [Blaze Of Glory (2007), Heart Of Gold (2007), Word Of Honour (2008),  Time Of Trial (2009), Moment Of Truth (2010), Hour Of Need (2011)], Michael Pryor (Random House Australia)
  • Creature Court [Power and Majesty (2010), Shattered City (2011), Reign of Beasts (2012)], Tansy Rayner Roberts (HarperVoyager)

“Mary, Mary” makes the Year’s Best

The Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2016Lovely news! My short story “Mary, Mary” is going to be reprinted in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2016, edited by Paula Guran. It’s looks to be fantastic anthology this year, with a stellar line up that include some of my favourite Australian authors — Angela Slatter, Lisa L. Hannett and Kaaron Warren. I’m already slavering to read this book!

“Mary, Mary” is based on the life of Mary Wollstonecraft who was among the first avowedly feminist authors in England and who would also give birth — in tragic circumstances — to a little girl who would grow up to be Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein. Both Marys were smart, fiery, passionate and utterly fascinating women but it always saddened me a little that the work of Mary Wollstonecraft has been so overshadowed by her daughter’s legacy. “Mary, Mary” is one of the best stories that I’ve written recently and was first published in Cranky Ladies of History from FableCroft Publishing. My deepest thanks to both Tehani Wessely and Tansy Rayner Roberts, my most UNcranky editors, for giving me the both the inspiration and opportunity to bring it into being. It’s not a story I would have even thought of writing without them.


Perfections and Madigan Mine go digital (redux)

Perfections and Madigan Mine by Kirstyn McDermott

It’s been a little while since ebooks of my novels Madigan Mine and Perfections have been available but the good folks at Twelfth Planet Press have now released them back into the wild. So if you haven’t yet snagged yourself a copy or if postage costs were putting you off the print book (I know, believe me, I know), then your time is now.

If you are one of the super-wonderful people who have read and enjoyed one or both of the novels already … first of all, THANK YOU, but second of all … can you do me a really big favour? Head on over to the relevant Amazon page from the links below and leave a quick review. It doesn’t have to be terribly long or terribly erudite and if you have already reviewed the book(s) somewhere else please feel free to copy that straight on over. On Amazon, books live and die by reviews and I’d love to see these two get their second wind. (And I hate asking for favours like this, which should tell you how very important it is.)

Digital versions can be purchased via the following links:

Buy Perfections at Twelfth Planet Press (epub and mobi)
Buy Perfections at Amazon (mobi)
Buy Perfections at Kobo (epub)

Buy Madigan Mine at Twelfth Planet Press (epub and mobi)
Buy Madigan Mine at Amazon (mobi)
Buy Madigan Mine at Kobo (epub)


In Your Face!


It might be the holiday season but, over at FableCroft Publishing, Tehani Wessley has been busy wrangling a new anthology that aims to showcase a whole bunch of Australian writers at their provocative best. And believe me, us Australians can certainly be a confronting bunch, even when we’re not specifically asked to be so!

In Your Face will be made up of original and reprinted speculative fiction stories that deal with very provocative themes but with a firm purpose – they are pieces that will perhaps make readers uncomfortable because they are a bit too hard-hitting or close to the bone, but which interrogate these themes and ideas, and make a point about the world we live in.

FableCroft is running a modest Pozible campaign during the month of January to increase the payment made to the writers from 3 cents per word up to a pro-rate of 6 cents. There are some lovely rewards available, including discounted pre-order pricing for In Your Face, so if you have some funds to spare please head on over and support what promises to be a great anthology.

My piece, “Accidents Happen” was rattling around as an idea in my pocket for years, sparked off by a funny but embarrassing anecdote related to me by a friend. (Not that she, or anyone else, will likely recognise it in the story as it now stands … which is perhaps a very good thing.) In all that time, I never came up with an ending that was in any way satisfactory, which is why it remained unwritten for so long.

When Tehani asked me to consider contributing a story, I had several bright-and-shiny first thoughts, none of which I really had time to research and write at short notice. Besides, I began to feel as though I was trying to think up something just to be confronting for the sake of it … which wasn’t what I wanted to do and clearly wasn’t what Tehani was after either. So I pretty much wrote this off as yet another cool antho to which I wouldn’t end up submitting. Such is life and all that jazz.

Then I went to a  laid-back gig in Fitzroy one night and, while I was sitting back, listening to live music and happily drinking cider, this old idea of mine came slinking up out of my pocket. After sitting on my shoulder for a while, chatting amiably, it developed a story and a narrator and an ending. And it was a nasty little piece, in a subtle, passive-aggressive and downright petty kind of way. I wrote it over the next three or four days, which is damn fast for me but still too long to have had that particular narrator living inside my head. Mental hot showers, I needed several.

Oddly, the headlining band that night, the one I had gone to see, had among their members the same friend who had told me the original anecdote all those years ago. Or perhaps it’s not so odd. Connections spark, synapses fire, cycles come full circle. And, happily or otherwise, accidents happen.



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.