Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2013

The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2013It’s always an honour and a delight to have a story selected for the Ticonderoga Publications series The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror, edited by Talie Helene’s and Liz Gryzb. The 2013 volume contains many fine works of Australian speculative fiction, including my own “Caution: Contains Small Parts” from the collection of the same name. Take a gander at the most wonderful ToC then scamper off to place your pre-order here.

Table of Contents:

Lee Battersby, “Disciple of the Torrent” (Tales of Australia: Great Southern Land)
Deborah Biancotti, “All the Lost Ones” (Exotic Gothic 5 Vol I)
Trudi Canavan, “Camp Follower” (Fearsome Journeys)
Robert Cook, “Glasskin” (Review of Australian Fiction Vol 5 #6)
Rowena Cory Daniells, “The Ways of the Wyrding Women” (One Small Step)
Terry Dowling, “The Sleepover” (Exotic Gothic 5 Vol II)
Thoraiya Dyer, “After Hours” (Asymmetry)
Marion Halligan, “A Castle in Toorak” (Griffith Review #42)
Dmetri Kakmi, “The Boy by the Gate” (The New Gothic)
David Kernot, “Harry’s Dead Poodle” (Cover of Darkness Magazine)
Margo Lanagan, “Black Swan Event” (
Griffith Review #42)
S. G. Larner, “Poppies” (Aurealis #65)
Martin Livings, “La Mort d’un Roturer” (This is How You Die)
Kirstyn McDermott, “Caution: Contains Small Parts” (Caution: Contains Small Parts)
Claire McKenna, “The Ninety Two” (Next)
C.S. McMullen, “The Nest”( Nightmare Magazine)
Juliet Marillier, “By Bone-Light “ (Prickle Moon)
David Thomas Moore, “Old Souls” (The Book of the Dead)
Faith Mudge, “The Oblivion Box” (Dreaming of Djinn)
Ryan O’Neill, “Sticks and Stones” (The Great Unknown)
Angela Rega, “Almost Beautiful” ( Next)
Tansy Rayner Roberts, “The Raven and Her Victory” (Where Thy Dark Eye Glances: Queering Edgar Allan Poe
)
Nicky Rowlands, “On the Wall” (Next)
Carol Ryles, “The Silence of Clockwork”  (Conflux 9 Convention Programme)
Angela Slatter, “Flight” (Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales)
Anna Tambour, “Bowfin Island” (Caledonian Dreamin’)
Kaaron Warren, “Born and Bread” (Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales)
Janeen Webb, “Hell is Where the Heart is” ( Next)

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CCSP Story Notes (Part 4): “The Home for Broken Dolls”

[This the final in a series of four posts concerning my soon to be published Twelve Planets collection, Caution: Contains Small Parts. No spoilers, I promise!]

So, remember back when I submitted my three stories for Twelve Planets and promised Alisa that she’d have the fourth in due course?

Yeah, about that.

Having sold the collection, I pitched Alisa the idea for the fourth story at WorldCon in August 2010, just to make sure she thought it would be a good fit before I started work in earnest. It was an idea that had been will-o-wisping around the less-travelled alleys of my brain for a couple of years — less an idea than the spark of something I knew I wanted to write about in some way. I thought I’d figured out exactly how only a few weeks before.

“Have you heard of Real Dolls?” I remember asking Alisa.

The expression on her face was inscrutable. I couldn’t tell if she hadn’t heard of Real Dolls, or if she had but wasn’t looking forward to hearing my idea involving them, or if she was simply waiting patiently for me to continue. If you don’t know Alisa well, and I didn’t back then, she pulls off inscrutable with aplomb. I’m sure she’d be a formidable poker player. (And if you haven’t heard of Real Dolls, or their ilk, you can look them up yourself. Google is very helpful. No, I’m not going to link.) In any case, I babbled somewhat about real dolls and my story idea for which I still had little more than the title — always a good sign — and the concept. Alisa asked a couple of questions then told me to go away and write it. Excellent, I thought, I’ll have this to her by the end of the year. Early 2011, tops.

Yeah, about that.

Real DollI went away but didn’t start to write. Instead I dove headfirst down a rabbit-hole of research which proved both labyrinthine and bottomless, and from which I did not emerge for another twelve months or more. Normally, I like the research aspect of writing, I really do. Normally, I’m efficient and targeted. I go in, grab what I need in just enough detail to add texture, depth and verisimilitude, and get right back out again. Not so in this case. I bought books, downloaded documentaries, and perused more websites than I care to think about. I drilled down through 50+ pages on Google searches, chasing links. I followed tangents away from the core of my story on the flimsiest pretext. And I bent the ears of way too many indulgent friends and acquaintances with revelations of some of the skeeviest stuff I turned up. In short, I became obsessed with my research … which, when you consider that “The Home for Broken Dolls” is itself concerned with sex doll obsession, starts to get kinda meta. I did stop short at buying a second-hand Real Doll. But only just.

Finally, after one too many jokes from my husband about all the porn sites that would be racked up in my browser history, I pulled myself away. Or, at least, I started to write the story. The research continued almost until the end. At one point, after searching for a particular kind of website which I knew had to be out there, but really hoped was not, I stumbled across a gallery of images that had me sitting in furious, horrified, validated tears on my office floor. It was enough. It was too much. My head was full and I needed to sort through it all and decide exactly what did and didn’t belong in the story.

Story? Try novella, Kirstyn.

I wrote “The Home for Broken Dolls” in fits and starts over a period of twelve months. I kept having to put it aside for various reasons — a novel to copyedit, a promised short story to turn in, a novel to proof, various personal concerns — and in my head it kept getting larger. The word count for the Twelve Planets collections was meant to be capped at 40,000 words. I’d already turned in well over 20,000 with the other three stories. Luckily, Kaaron Warren had included a massive novella — “Sky” — in her collection, which definitely saw it exceeding the cap, so I hoped I could get away with a little extra as well. Still, I wanted to keep the final novella below 20,000. It’s the first time I have ever hit the word count wall with such unmitigated force.

After I’d written around 8,000 words and realised I wasn’t even a quarter of the way through the story, I panicked a little. I couldn’t finish “The Home for Broken Dolls” inside the word count. I had no ideas — and no real time — to write something else to finish the collection. I was screwed. Worse, I’d screwed my publisher who, by that point, had been exceedingly patient with me. I panicked a lot. Then I picked myself up, sat myself down and stripped those 8,000 back as brutally as I could, removing every single word I could get away with and have the thing still make sense. Which became SOP for writing the rest of the novella. I’d write a scene one session, then pare it right back the next time before allowing myself to continue the narrative. At 15,000 words I faced up to the fact that there was a whole third element that wasn’t going to make it into the novella. Which meant, I had no ending. Screwed, screwed, screwed.

Panic. Pick self up. Sit self down. Fix it. Fix it now.

And so, because I’m a fucking grown up writer, I did. I worked out a new path to the ending, a perfect ending for what the novella had become, and I got there. I sent it to Alisa just after New Year’s 2013. She was on her honeymoon and I told her not to read it until she got home. It wasn’t a honeymoon story. Later on, she thanked me.

“The Home for Broken Dolls” is still the most recent thing I have written, what with the six months sabbatical I’m currently enjoying. I have a lot of ideas working over in my head right now, but haven’t committed words to screen just yet. It will be interesting to see what my natural style has evolved into once I start at the end of this month. I don’t think it will be as pared back as the writing in this novella, but I don’t think it will go back to being what it used to be either. One thing about such sparse writing: it gives you nowhere to hide. Which is exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time. I’m keenly interested to see what people make of “The Home for Broken Dolls”, both because it’s new and because it’s a piece of which I’m particularly proud. I love this novella, I love Jane and I love my fierce, beautiful dolls. It was worth every bit of research I did — even the bits I didn’t end up using.

Yet. The bits I didn’t end up using yet. I say that because, six months later, this story is still very much live in my head. The dolls haven’t gone away, haven’t faded as is usually the case once I’ve finished a piece and am on to thinking about Next Things. Maybe this means I’m not done with them, or they’re not done with me. Same difference. “The Home for Broken Dolls” was a short story that became a novella … but what it really wanted to be all along was a novel.

Yeah, I see myself saying one day, about that.

Caution Contains Small Parts by Kirstyn McDermottMy Twelve Planets collection, Caution: Contains Small Parts, will be launched by Talie Helene at Continuum 9 in Melbourne, so if you’ll be at the convention, please come along and help me celebrate :

When: 6pm – Sunday, 9 June 2013

Where: Continuum 9 @ Ether – lower level, 285 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne (check con program for the room)

Naturally, if you can’t make it to the launch, you can always purchase the book direct from Twelfth Planet Press. It’s available right now for individual pre-order or as part of the Twelve Planets subscription.

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CCSP Story Notes (Part 3): “Caution: Contains Small Parts”

[This the third in a series of four posts concerning my soon to be published Twelve Planets collection, Caution: Contains Small Parts. No spoilers, I promise!]

There’s not a lot I can say about “Caution: Contains Small Parts” (the story) without giving the game away. If there is an explicit theme to my Twelve Planets volume, it would be that all the pieces are very much concerned with haunted people. They’re not all ghost stories — which is merely one kind of haunting — but “Caution” definitely belongs to that ilk. A couple of years ago, I went through a ghost story patch: lots of ideas filtering through my brain, a few of the better ones written into stories. A well-established trope of Gothic horror, ghosts remain rich and full of resonance for me — as both a reader and a writer — and there seems no end to the variety of ways in which we can imagine, interpret and interrogate them. They are, quite literally, the past pushing into the present, refusing to sit down and shut up, reminding us of everything we drag along behind us as we live our lives … and as we end them. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of reading really good, intelligent, emotive ghost stories. Ever. And if a particularly good idea drifts across my internal creative landscape, you better believe I’m going to grab it with both hands and do my very best to pin it down.

The idea for “Caution” was one of those. It took me a few months to work out the precise mechanics the story needed — who was being haunted, and why, and for what reason. It was tricky, getting the balance right and making sure of … well, stuff I can’t talk about without the dreaded spoilers. Suffice to say, once you read the story, you’ll most likely appreciate the sensitivities involved. Unlike “Horn” and “What Amanda Wants”, this story was written very quickly once I had the mechanics in place. A week or so of near consecutive evening sit-downs with My Friend the Asus and it was finished. Each night, as I lay in bed with the lights out waiting for sleep to find me, I would plan out what needed to happen in the next scene, and then the next evening I would write that scene. I didn’t get stuck once. Unexpected textual turns threw no curve balls; instead they added depth to the narrative in that spectacular way that makes every writer wonder at some point, “Where the hell did that even come from?”

Sometimes, stories are blessed in that way.

I offered it up to my crit group once it was done, tidied up some copy edits following their suggestions, and then, just as I was considering where to submit it for publication, the Twelve Planets invitation from Alisa dropped into my inbox.

Sometimes, stories are blessed in that way too. 🙂

Toy DogRandom Trivia: I like to ground my stories in the real world, often to to point of obsessive googling and online mapping to get the smallest details right. For me it’s a necessary part of integrating the non-realist element that most of my work includes, and making it as believable as everything else. For “Caution: Contains Small Parts”, I knew I wanted a wooden pull-along dog as the mysterious toy that my protagonist, Tim, is sent at the beginning of the story. I did a quick search on eBay for “wooden toy dog” just to see exactly how they were made and one of the first listings that popped up was perfect — old and battered and kinda creepy looking. I wish I’d downloaded and kept the image from eBay now, but at the time I didn’t think of it, just went back to my story and wrote up a description. Hell, I wish I’d bid on the thing! The photo here is fairly close except that there’s no bell on the tail and this dog just looks too damn cheerful. Oh, and the eyes. The eyes on the eBay dog looked vacant and infinitely knowing all at the same time. Definitely creepy and, as I wrote in my story, I did wonder what kind of person would buy a kid a toy like that. Or what kind of kid would want one …

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CCSP Story Notes (Part 2): “What Amanda Wants”

[This the second in a series of four posts concerning my soon to be published Twelve Planets collection, Caution: Contains Small Parts. No spoilers, I promise!]

In my previous post, I made a remark about how the slow and careful nature of my writing process usually results in my “first” draft really being a “near-to-final” draft. I’ve been telling people that for a while and, while it’s not exactly disingenuous, it does leave a lot out of the picture. I don’t sit down at my writing laptop every day, or even every week. In fact, I’ve given myself six months off for the first half of this year to accommodate buying a house, moving towns, and all that encompasses. I used to beat myself up if I let too many days, let alone weeks, slip by without putting some words. Surely, I’m not a real writer if I’m not a regular writer? Right?

Wrong. So very wrong.

My Friend the AsusIt’s only recently that I’ve come to realise that the majority of my creative process — of my writing process — happens in my head, off the page, in the wings, never to be seen by anyone. I mull over sources of inspiration, letting some slip away, keeping others around for further examination, carrying all the pieces around in my pockets until I know which ones fit together. I tease out character and tone and narrative, seek out the various paths to a story until I find what feels like the right one to take. I do this before I start putting words down, I do this for the whole time — days, weeks, months, years — that a story or novel is “live” in my head. For the most part, I stopped jotting down notes for story ideas over a decade ago, favouring instead a more Darwinian approach, believing the best ideas are the ones that stick around, that keep coming back and prodding me into eventually working on them. The physical writing, the actual of sitting down with my laptop and typing? Sometimes that feels more like record-keeping.

So really, I write and rewrite and rewrite the fuck again just like every other writer I know. I just don’t do all of it — or even most of it — on the page. If I stall on a scene, I don’t take the oft-quoted advice to write through it. Instead, I stop, step away from the laptop and think through it. (Not even always consciously.) I don’t work out the story on the page. I don’t work out character on the page. All that stuff happens in my head. (Not even always consciously.) On the page is where I finally capture what I have corralled in my head and make it sing. Which isn’t to say there aren’t surprises and serendipities and sharp-turns almost every time I sit down with My Friend the Asus — I simply incorporate these into thinking about what comes next. (Not even, say it with me, always consciously.)

Which is all by way of saying, it’s extremely rare that I have to significantly edit a story on a structural level. I’ve done all that heavy lifting well in advance and by the time I have finished — unless I have severely misstepped along the way, usually by ignoring the annoying Fix-It Voice in the back of my head — it’s usually all done bar the shouting. The stories that I don’t know how to fix, that won’t work out in my head no matter what I do with them, those I usually don’t finish. Darwinism, see?

And then we have the peculiar creature called “What Amanda Wants”.

This is a longish story, a novella depending on whose word-count rules you follow, and the title was the first thing the came to me. Which is odd, as titles are often the last thing to fall into place — and sometimes, naming a story is like pulling teeth. But I started with “What Amanda Wants” and quickly knew precisely what that meant, and what shape the story should have. Which is also odd, as it usually takes me a while to feel my way into something new.

I worked on the story solidly for about a month over March/April 2007. I wanted to try out a traditional first-person past-tense “story-teller” voice — not something I’m known for — combined with a second narrative technique which would give the piece a sharper emotional edge. The two voices needed to at once complement and push against each other to provide tension and cohesion. The only problem was that I wasn’t feeling the conventional narrative, and I wasn’t sure whether it was me or the unfamiliarity of the voice I was using.

I finished the story and subbed it to my crit group in May with mixed results. Everybody pretty much had a problem with “What Amanda Wants” — but they were pretty much all different problems. The character was unsympathetic. The mystery wasn’t engaging. The reactions weren’t realistic. Sigh. The story seemed fundamentally broken and I couldn’t see a clear path to repair it right then. I decided to file the crit notes and put “What Amanda Wants” (Draft One) aside for a while. There were other things I needed to work on.

It was around a year later, in mid 2008, that I finally came back to my broken novella. The problem, I decided, was one of emotional tone. For various necessary reasons, I had kept Helen, the primary narrator, somewhat emotionally neutral. It wasn’t working. So I rewrote certain scenes and significantly pared back the formality in her tone. I gave her more emotion, less control. I let the cracks show.

Second time around, my crit group still had mixed reactions. Just … opposite ones. Some people liked the changes but had fresh quibbles, others preferred the story the way they remembered it. I now had so many different opinions on this story, I was finding it difficult to sort wheat from chaff. Crit groups can be like that sometimes. While feedback from clever, creative people can be utterly invaluable, you do need to keep a steady keel and recognise what advice is useful for the story and what should be allowed to float on by.

I made some tweaks here and there and tentatively sent the story out to one of the few markets I could find at the time which would accept its length. It bounced back with an encouraging rejection — this one isn’t for us, please  feel free to send another — and so I put it aside again. Time is perspective, I told myself. One day I’ll figure out how to fix this troublesome thing. Besides, novella markets were few and far between and I had nowhere to submit it to anyway.

Then in early 2010, as readers of this series will know, I sold “What Amanda Wants” as part of my proposed Twelve Planets collection. Alisa loved it. Re-reading the novella 18 months later, I still wasn’t sure about the ending.

Luckily, in October of that year I was booked into a writing retreat with a fine group of people up at Noosa. Unluckily, it proved to be one of the worst weeks of my life. I had an horrendous dose of the flu, complete with infected eardrums and bonus conjunctivitis. I have never been so sick. Ever. But I managed to drag myself out of bed and into a group crit session with “What Amanda Wants” and afterwards managed to stay conscious for my lengthy debrief with Rob Shearman — who in turn managed to ignore the weeping, seeping shell-shocked zombie sitting opposite him, and provide a razor-sharp critique.

In Draft Three, I ended up changing one small but significant detail about the ending of “What Amanda Wants”. It’s a subtle tweak, one of emphasis and tone more than plot, but one that neatly excised a particular line I’d always had trouble with. I thought it needed to be in there, providing an explanation of sorts. Rob Shearman, essentially, told me not to be so bloody cautious. He was right. “What Amanda Wants” is not a cautious story; it doesn’t deserve a cautious ending — and it certainly doesn’t have one now.

Thanks to everyone, and I mean everyone, who had any input into this story along the way and kept me questioning. All the voices helped — including my internal Fix-It Voice, which I stubbornly ignored for much of the writing, and which I fear will be insufferably smug for a long time to come. It always knows. Always.

Dresden DollsRandom Trivia: Back in 2007, the titular character in the novella went by the name of Amanda Palmer. Who was the singer/keyboardist in a then little-known band called the Dresden Dolls who I loved. A harmless little in-joke with myself and anyone else who happened to know the Dolls, with no other real relevance to the story. These days, there probably wouldn’t be too many readers of this blog who aren’t at least peripherally aware of Amanda Fucking Palmer and, while keeping the name would have had some resonance for various reasons, it would have no longer been appropriate for the character. So now she’s called Amanda Fisher, the name change happening somewhere between Drafts One and Two, for reasons which may become apparent when you read the story or may not, and it won’t make a significant difference either way. But at least now you’ll know who her namesake really is. 🙂

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CCSP Story Notes (Part 1): “Horn”

[This the first in a series of four posts concerning my soon to be published Twelve Planets collection, Caution: Contains Small Parts. No spoilers, I promise!]

I’ve decided to organise these posts in chronological order of when the stories themselves were actually written, which isn’t precisely the order in which they will appear in the collection. It makes more sense to me to do it this way, to tell the story of how the entire collection came into being. Which is possibly also the story of how and why I write fiction. Which isn’t something I generally talk a lot about in public. My fiction, that is. Other people’s fiction I can wax lyrical about for hours … but my own work? It feels a bit weird, possibly self-indulgent. But, if you’re happy to indulge me for a while, then let’s begin. With unicorns.

Way back in 2005, my friend and fellow author Andrew Macrae — who is coincidentally about to publish a mind-bending novel called Trucksong through TPP later this year — told me about a strange little idea for an anthology he and Keith Stevenson were planning to edit and publish together. Filtered through a spec fic lens and thematically concerned with ideas of masculinity, it was going to be called, quite simply, Cock. Interesting, I told him, once I stopped laughing. Andy thought I should submit something and I was keen to do so. I was also running on empty after spending the last year or so at the helm of the Continuum 3 convention — the one with Neil Gaiman, Poppy Brite and Robin Hobb as guests; it was kinda huge, logistically — and was trying to get my fledgling dayjob business back on track. I hadn’t written for a while.

cock anthologyBut I had a vague idea about unicorns and their role in fantasy fiction and horns. What horns might symbolise and what purpose they would likely serve if unicorns were a real animal. I started writing, got about two scenes in and stopped dead. Literally, no words would come. I had no idea what the next scene should be, or what the shape of the story even looked like. My idea, I decided, was just a bit of wank. Which was, I guess, kinda appropriate. Anyway, I shelved the file under “Unfinished/Scrap” and forgot about it. The next year, cOck: adventures in masculinity was published by Coeur de Lion, the small press Andrew and Keith started, and launched at Continuum 4 amid a flurry of “hey, will you sign my cock” jokes. It’s a slim volume, but packs a mean punch — with no less than two Paul Haines’ stories contained within its glossy black covers — and I highly recommend it. Yeah, I kicked myself a little for not finishing that damn story but, what can you do? It didn’t want to be written.

Then. It didn’t want to be written then.

Fast forward a handful of years to early 2009. I’m at a writing retreat down on Phillip Island with some members of my crit group. I’m meant to be working on my current novel-in-progress, which will turn out to be Perfections, which will have a bumpy road to publication but which will eventually win a couple of awards, and which I will nevertheless be unable to look at without some small measure of resentment bubbling in my gullet. I don’t know any of that yet. All I know is that, after three days, I have had enough of the Stupid Stubborn Novel. It hates me. I’m pretty sure I hate it as well. At this point, if I was at home, I’d probably jump on the internet for a while, or do some Productive Procrastination with my business, or watch something, or pick up a book. But I’m on retreat. No internet, no business, no tv, no books. And everyone else is tapping busily away on their laptops. So I start to go through files on my laptop, opening old ones and skimming for salvage. There’s this file called “Horn”. Oh yeah, I think, the bit of unicorn wank. I start to read those old words, start to habitually tweak them a little, get to the end and … just keep going. By the end of the day, the last day of retreat, I have another two scenes down and a solid, luminous chart in my head of where the story is going and how it will probably get there.

I finish it that week, locking myself away each evening to eke out the words. As a writer, I’m slow, I’m careful. My first draft is edited and tweaked constantly as I progress and thus it’s also usually the next-to-final draft, apart from some polishing. I’ve never been a blurt-it-all-out-and-worry-about-making-it-pretty-later writer. (This will change. The speed, at least. Not the lack of blurting.)

horn by peter ballFinally, after a gap of many years, the story called “Horn” is done. I’m very pleased. This is the work I should have submitted to cOck. Damn. I send it off to a Big Name Fantasy Market instead. About a week later, maybe more, Twelfth Planet Press announce they will be publishing an original novella by Peter Ball. It has a vicious, disturbing unicorn as a key plot point. It’s also called Horn. Double damn. Soon after this news, Big Name Fantasy Market offers my “Horn” a speedy rejection, something along the lines of liking the writing but not being interested in a story about a bestselling fantasy author. Fine, I think, IF THAT’S ALL YOU RECKON MY STORY IS ABOUT. (Oh yeah, I can do miffed prima donna with the best of them.) Anyway — triple damn. I shelve the story, deciding that the field might not be ready for two icky unicorn works under the same title in quick succession. Plus, maybe mine’s a bit of wank after all — it’s one of my stories where I attempt Interesting Things. Much later, I buy and read Peter Ball’s Horn. It’s great, a hardboiled fairy romp. It’s nothing like my story. Still. For some reason, although I submit it to my crit group for flensing, I don’t send it out again. I’m worried about the title. Change the title, I’m told, it doesn’t matter.

I don’t want to change the title. It does matter. The story remains unsubmitted.

In March 2010, Alisa Krasnostein of Twelfth Planet Press invites me to submit to this series she’s planning to publish. Twelve collections. Twelve Australian authors. Twelve Planets. It sounds fantastic. I have to be a part of it. But I don’t have the four pieces required to submit. (I’m slow, remember, I’m careful.) I have, however, literally just finished a new story with which I’m very pleased, and I have a novella hanging about which I think might be a little broken but not irreparable, and I have … “Horn”. Okay, why the hell not? As I say to Alisa, if anyone if going to publishing another violent unicorn story called “Horn”, then maybe it should be TPP. I send all three, promising a fourth in due course — ha! but we shall get to that in a later post — and the collection is accepted.

“So,” Alisa says to me a couple of years later while we’re finalising things for promotion on the website. “We’re really calling it ‘Horn’ then?”

“Yep,” I say. “I think we are.”

I like “Horn”. The title, and the story. It is about a bestselling fantasy author, though that’s the least interesting fact I can tell you. There’s unicorns (and violence and phallic symbols). There’s explorations of masculinity (and betrayal, and sacrifice, and loss.) If I had finished it back in 2005, it might have found a place in cOck but it wouldn’t have been this version of “Horn” because I couldn’t have written it then. I simply wasn’t good enough a writer to wrangle the words for what needed to be said. And now it fits so well within Caution: Contains Small Parts that I can’t imagine it elsewhere.

Occasionally, time really does make all the difference.

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Caution: Contains Small Parts – A Cover and a Launch!

Caution Contains Small Parts by Kirstyn McDermottVery exciting news today! My Twelve Planets collection is finally done, dusted and off to the printers. It’s called Caution: Contains Small Parts and will feature two short stories and two novellas. As she has done with the rest of the series, Amanda Rainey has produced a brilliant cover that manages to capture the feel of the whole collection, while specifically illustrating the titular story. I love it so much!

The collection will be launched at Continuum 9 in Melbourne, so if you’ll be at the convention, please come along and help me celebrate :

When: 6pm – Sunday, 9 June 2013

Where: Continuum 9 @ Ether – lower level, 285 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne (check con program for the room)

Naturally, if you can’t make it to the launch, you can always purchase the book direct from Twelfth Planet Press. It’s available right now for individual pre-order or as part of the Twelve Planets subscription. I cannot recommend this series more highly and am delighted to note that Kaaron Warren and Margo Lanagan both just won Aurealis Awards for stories in their particular volumes.

As part of the lead up to the launch, I’m planning a series of “Story Notes” type posts in which I’ll talk about each of the four pieces in the collection. These will mostly focus on the background to the stories, with anecdotal discussion of inspiration, process, and so on — no actual spoilers, I promise!  They’ll go up every few days over the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned.

Caution: Contains Small Parts is an intimate, unsettling collection from award-winning author Kirstyn McDermott.

A creepy wooden dog that refuses to play dead.

A gifted crisis counsellor and the mysterious, melancholy girl she cannot seem to reach.

A once-successful fantasy author whose life has become a horror story – now with added unicorns.

An isolated woman whose obsession with sex dolls takes a harrowing, unexpected turn.

Four stories that will haunt you long after their final pages are turned.

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