The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2011

The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror Vol.2I am so delighted to announce that my short story, “Frostbitten”, has been selected for the second volume of The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror, edited by Talie Helene and Liz Gryzb, and published by Ticonderoga Publications. It was the only piece of short fiction I published in 2011 so I feel very honoured to have it included, even more so because I judged the Aurealis Awards for horror last year so I know precisely what a strong field there was to choose from in that genre. There are some truly excellent stories in this volume — including one by a certain Mr Jason Nahrung with whom I have more than a passing familiarity 😉 — and I’m looking forward to delving into the handful from the fantasy end of the spectrum that I haven’t yet had a chance to read.

The anthology is due to be published in July 2012, but you can pre-order your copy right now. Feast your eyes on the following ToC, then just try to resist its darkly fantastical charms:

  • Peter M Ball “Briar Day” (Moonlight Tuber)
  • Lee Battersby “Europe After The Rain” (After the Rain, Fablecroft Press)
  • Deborah Biancotti “Bad Power” (Bad Power, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Jenny Blackford “The Head in the Goatskin Bag” (Kaleidotrope)
  • Simon Brown “Thin Air” (Dead Red Heart, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • David Conyers and David Kernot “Winds Of Nzambi” (Midnight Echo #6, AHWA)
  • Stephen Dedman “More Matter, Less Art” (Midnight Echo #6, AHWA)
  • Sara Douglass & Angela Slatter “The Hall of Lost Footsteps” (The Hall of Lost Footsteps, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Felicity Dowker “Berries & Incense” (More Scary Kisses, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Terry Dowling “Dark Me, Night You” (Midnight Echo #5, AHWA)
  • Jason Fischer “Hunting Rufus” (Midnight Echo #5, AHWA)
  • Christopher Green “Letters Of Love From The Once And Newly Dead” (Midnight Echo #5, AHWA)
  • Paul Haines “The Past Is A Bridge Best Left Burnt” (The Last Days of Kali Yuga, Brimstone Press)
  • Lisa L Hannett “Forever, Miss Tapekwa County” (Bluegrass Symphony, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Richard Harland “At The Top Of The Stairs” (Shadows and Tall Trees #2, Undertow Publications)
  • John Harwood “Face To Face” (Ghosts by Gaslight, HarperCollins)
  • Pete Kempshall “Someone Else To Play With” (Beauty Has Her Way, Dark Quest Books)
  • Jo Langdon “Heaven” (After the Rain, Fablecroft Press)
  • Maxine McArthur “The Soul of the Machine” (Winds of Change, CSFG)
  • Ian McHugh “The Wishwriter’s Wife” (Daily Science Fiction)
  • Andrew J McKiernan “Love Death” (Aurealis #45, Chimaera Publications)
  • Kirstyn McDermott “Frostbitten” (More Scary Kisses, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Margaret Mahy “Wolf Night” (The Wilful Eye – Tales From the Tower #1, Allen & Unwin)
  • Anne Mok “Interview with the Jiangshi” (Dead Red Heart, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Jason Nahrung “Wraiths” (Winds of Change, CSFG)
  • Anthony Panegyres “Reading Coffee” (Overland, OL Society)
  • Tansy Rayner Roberts “The Patrician” (Love and Romanpunk, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Angela Rega “Love In the Atacama or the Poetry of Fleas” (Crossed Genres, CGP)
  • Angela Slatter “The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter” (A Book of Horrors, Jo Fletcher Books)
  • Lucy Sussex “Thief of Lives” (Thief of Lies, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Kyla Ward “The Kite” (The Land of Bad Dreams, P’rea Press)
  • Kaaron Warren “All You Can Do Is Breathe” (Blood and Other Cravings, Tor)



A Thoughtful Review of Madigan Mine

Madigan Mine by Kirstyn McDermottI don’t generally acknowledge or point out a lot of reviews of my work, both because it is generally considered a tad gauche to Respond To Criticism — especially if the criticism is bad — and because I think it places undue pressure on reviewers and critics — even if the criticism is good. Reviewers shouldn’t have to worry about the author looking over their shoulder, although I’m sure most of them have this possibility in their back of their minds when they’re talking about a work. I know I’ve been hyper-aware of it ever since I started The Writer and the Critic podcast. I try not to think about it while we’re recording — or else I would probably say nothing at all! — but I do have stabs of guilt afterwards if I’ve been particularly hard on a novel. Particularly if I know the author. It is a difficult line to tread but a necessary one. And authors need to be able to separate themselves from their work, an even more difficult task!

Anyway. The above tangent is by way of saying, I found this brilliant review of Madigan Mine the other day. (Or Google found it for me. Whatever.)  Tansy Rayner Roberts read my novel as part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge and — spoilers — she liked it very much. But what I loved about this review was this paragraph:

Kirstyn McDermott has done something very clever here, making a male character into the ‘haunted woman’ prototype often seen in gothic fiction.  She has also, in Madigan, created a marvellous monster who wreaks destruction as much when she is alive and human than when she is a ghost, or a figment, or an obsession, of the protagonist.

This echoes some things Tansy said about the book on a recent episode of Galactic Suburbia, and she remains the only reviewer I’ve come across who seemed to really get this particular aspect of Madigan Mine. Interestingly, I have had a couple of people comment in person that they found the protagonist, Alex, to be somewhat feminine — except that when these impressions are teased out through further discussion, they admit that, actually, they simply found him to be very passive. Which he absolutely is, deliberately so. An inversion of a traditional Gothic heroine archetype.

So, then, passive=feminine? Still?

This was one of the themes I was exploring in this book, which is why it tickled me no end to see Tansy talking about it. As well as a lot of other crunchy stuff about the horror genre in general and how it’s much more complex and variegated than it’s generally given credit for. It really made my day!


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  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 . . .


Pssst . . . Melbourne ‘s resident zombie-o-phile, Chuck McKenzie, has just launched Necroscope, an awesome new review blog dedicated to zombie fiction. What? You didn’t know there was enough zombie fiction out there to merit its very own review blog? Oh children, you be missing out! To pad the back catalogue and ensure you can find all your living dead action in the one place, Chuck has linked to a bunch of zombie-themed reviews he’s been doing for HorrorScope over the past few years and is now busily posting new ones to Necroscope in full. So if the creeping undead tickle your decomposing fancy, then shuffle on over and get yourself some braaaaaaiiiiiiiins.