The mother country

I’m so delighted to be able to announce that Transworld has bought UK/Australian/New Zealand rights to City of Lies and the following Poison Wars novel!

Here’s the Bookseller announcement

I’m thrilled that there will be a local version for my Aussie friends and family and I’m looking forward to changing all my spelling back to the original version, haha. In all seriousness, it’s great to be working with Simon Taylor and the Transworld team. When further info about the new version is available I’ll keep you all posted.

Thanks so much to my US team, led by my wonderful editor Diana Gill, and to Simon and my new pals in the UK, and (as always), the unparalleled Julie Crisp.

As always, thanks for the support and encouragement all of you who bother to read these things!


Review: Art of War anthology

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the anthology from the publisher. Thanks Petros!


This is a mammoth anthology, with 40 (FORTY!) authors and stories. I know I tend toward wordiness at the best of times so I’m not going to set myself some kind of terrible challenge and talk about everything in here. But, in general, it’s worth noting a few things about the anthology as a collection.

First, it is thematically strong, with all bar a few stories really tying in nicely to the exploration of the art of war, but a huge range of takes on that concept within the book (some grim, some funny, some heartbreaking, some heartening). Second, it’s got some great authors you probably already know and love, and they all deliver, but there’s probably some stories in there by people you don’t know that are gonna knock your socks off (there were for me). Third, it’s entirely for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), so your money is going to one of the best causes you could ask for. It’d be a reeeeeeal shame if you didn’t buy this anthology, son. A real shame.

To my mind, there were a lot of enjoyable reads and only a couple that I really struggled with (remarkable, considering the sheer number of stories). Highlights for me were (in order of appearance not rating):

  • Ed McDonald, The Breaking of the Sky: I have Blackwing but haven’t had a chance to read it yet, and now I’m keener than ever – this was a prequel story set in the Blackwing universe and even without any context in the universe it was compelling reading about the beginning of terrible things.
  • Laura M Hughes, Dear Menelaus: This was probably the most unique story in format – a letter from Helen to Menelaus. Sharp and fresh take on an old story.
  • John Gwynne, The Greatest Battle: If you know John’s work you’ll recognise the style and characters, but it stands, I think, as an enjoyable, well placed fragment of a bigger story, with entertaining characters and a typically engaging and well-written battle scene.
  • Timandra Whitecastle, This War of Ours: this one HURT, man. Gut wrenching little tale of the price of violence and war on children. I read it twice. On reflection, likely my favourite story in the whole anthology. Will be keeping a VERY strong eye on the author.
  • Steven Poore, Asalantir Forever: I’ve had a weakness for stories that deal with the particular futility of life in the trenches since Blackadder Goes Forth. This one had strong writing and powerful imagery.
  • Brian Staveley, the Art of War: This one blew me away with the sheer scope and depth presented within such a short space. Thoughtful, beautifully written.
  • Nicholas Eames, Sacred Semantics: I cannot really describe this story except to note that it is bloody hilarious and had me cracking up the whole way through. I was a bit careless about paying attention to who I was reading when but it wasn’t hard to pick this as the same writer who is currently delighting me with Kings of the Wyld.
  • The combined efforts of Michael R Fletcher’s Doppels, The Undying Lands: Sort-of-zombies, colosseums, humour, tragedy and even a bit of romance, all in one package. Very entertaining and kept upsetting my expectations. Excellent.
  • Anna Smith-Spark, The Fall of Tereen: another author whose debut is sitting waiting on my TBR pile. It’s been bumped up in priority after reading this story, which is one of the standouts in terms of quality and uniqueness of prose. The style is probably not for everyone but I loved it. Very dark though!
  • Dyrk Ashton, Valkyrie Rain: A nuanced and interesting telling of the Valkyries’ fall from and return to grace.
  • Miles Cameron, The Storm: An awesome self contained siege story with a lot of character. I really enjoyed this.
  • Anna Stephens, Flesh and Coin: Mercenaries and ambushes and brutal action with emotional punch, surprise, and even a few laughs. This story does a lot. If you haven’t read Godblind you’re going to want to go out and get it after you’ve read this sample of her writing. Loved it.
  • Mark Lawrence, The Hero of Aral Pass: Great finish to the anthology – action-packed, compelling voice, funny and dark. Classic Lawrence.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the stories I enjoyed but they’re the ones that stayed with me. I’d be stunned if you couldn’t find a bunch you like in there. Overall, I found it a delight, and I’ll be getting the paperback with the beautiful art to add to my collection.

Cons, cons, and more cons. Well, con.

This weekend I’ll be at Conflux, Canberra’s annual SFF convention. (Yes, yes, I got excited in the title. It’s only one con). The theme is Grimm Tales and the program, which starts today (for those of us not stuck at day jobs), looks great!

Amazing guests of honour are Ellen Datlow and Angela Slatter – check out their bios here if you don’t know their names already.

If you’re in town and would like to say hi, I’ll be there Saturday through Monday, and you can find me on the following panels:

Striking the write balance – Saturday 5pm

Finding the right balance between writing, day job and family can be tough. Our panellists share their experiences and life hacks.

There I am appearing as more of a cautionary tale than a wise sage full of life-balancing advice, so you may hear a lot from me about things I think I SHOULD do to manage writing with other commitments, and a lot of ways that I fail to do that, too.

Submitting to publishers and agents – Sunday 3.30pm

What to do. What not to do.

On this one we’ll be talking alllllll about the querying/submission process, from the perspective of both sides of the equation, submitter and submittee, writer and gatekeeper. If you’re looking to get into the query trenches sometime soon, or if you’re already there, this should be a great panel. Ellen Datlow is on this panel, people!

Other than that, you’ll find me lurking about, possibly exploring the Vibe bar, and I’ll be at the banquet on Saturday as well. Please say hi if you see me!

I know I’m biased, but…

But seriously, I could not be more thrilled and excited with the a-maaaaazing cover art that Tor has produced for me. The creative genius minds of Irene Gallo, my editor Diana Gill and the spectacularly talented artist, Greg Ruth (you should check out his work – especially if you’re a fan of Twin Peaks: Greg Ruth’s amazing art) have come up with this beautiful, beautiful thing:


My reaction to receiving the early drafts has ranged from this:


Through this:


And eventually, on seeing the final:

giphy (1)

I mean, it’s just criminally beautiful, isn’t it??

Here’s the link to the cover reveal at release

And to my awesome agent Julie Crisp’s blog on the topic: An agent’s take on a pretty pretty cover 🙂

But in all seriousness, guys, tell me what you think! And if you like it, feel free to let Tor know, so you can see more covers in this sort of style. 🙂


Next weekend I’ll be at Australia’s national SFF convention, which this year is Continuum in Melbourne. In its own words, Continuum ‘celebrates creativity across genres and media. Our aim each year is to provide a regional convention where writers, artists, readers and film/TV buffs of all kinds can get together for a weekend of panel discussions, entertainment, and social fun.’  You can find out all the full details at but in short:

  • Guests of Honour are amazing Hugo winning Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant and brilliant artist Likhain
  • Panels! Workshops! All things writery and geeky!
  • Book signings/readings/launches
  • the annual Ditmar award ceremony, which is the fan-voted national awards for SFF.

This will be my first Continuum and I’m really looking forward to it. If you want to say hi, I will be there all weeknd and I’ll be on a couple of panels if you’d like to hear my post-tonsillectomy croaking voice rambling about either of the following topics.

The Art and Science of Publishing – 9 am Saturday

I’ll be on a panel with Tehani Croft, Donna Maree Hanson, Devin Madson, & Robert New to talk Indie, small press or the big four? How do you choose? How do you succeed? What happens if you fail?

Forgotten Mothers of Fantasy 9.30 am Monday

Here I’ll be with Jodi McAlister, Seanan McGuire, Tansy Rayner Roberts & Cat Sparks to talk about the rich and huge back catalog of SFF written by women who seem invisible when best-of lists, history of the genre and influence are discussed, in favour of their male counterparts. 

I’ve never been on a convention panel before so feel free to pop by and give moral support and some lowball questions if I look panicked!

Hope to see some of you there.

Silence in the house

I haven’t updated in a while, mostly because I’ve been busy and haven’t been able to devote the time to thinking of something worthwhile to talk about. That’s still the case, so instead of something worthwhile I will just give a quick update about status at Castle Hawke.

Right now I’m working on the edits for City of Lies, sitting in warm sun in my library, armed with tea, anzac biscuits, and faithful hounds. The boys are out on a friend’s farm with K, having a picnic and patting horses. The house is silent, other than the sound of Gold Dog’s gentle snores. We have 4 days off for the Easter weekend, and looking forward to our family’s competitive hot cross bun bakeoff on Sunday. Providing I get enough done today, I get to go out (like a grown up!) with some writing buddies to follow the Aurealis award ceremony tonight, as many friends are nominated. All in all, a pretty good morning – hope everything is well for you!


GUFF all the way to Helsinki

In which I would love to persuade you to throw a vote my way in the GUFF race, and help me get to the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) next year…


What’s GUFF?

GUFF is the Get-Up&Over (or Get Under)-Fan-Fund, an extremely cool fund which sends a southern hemisphere fan to European conventions, and a European fan to southern hemisphere conventions, on alternating years. It’s run by fans for fans. The trip across the world can be a tricky and expensive one, but it’s so amazing to get people together from the other side of the globe to eat, drink, and enjoy all things SFF together.

Last year the fund sent Jukka Halme to Contact in Brisbane and the year before, Gillian Polack to Loncon – during which she got to (and I cannot emphasise the importance of this enough) HUG DAVID TENNANT. Oh, and do some other SFFish stuff sure sure but seriously, there is photographic evidence of her with the tenth Doctor so I assume all her life goals are now complete.* The GUFF delegate often gets to go to several conventions in the region in the time they have. It’s a wonderful chance to get out from behind our computers and meet each other. This year, it’s a northbound race with the winner getting to go to Worldcon in Helsinki in August. I’m really excited to see that Helsinki is shaping up to be a truly international, welcoming Worldcon, and a genuine chance for fans from around the globe to interact.

So how does this work? Well, you SFF fans out there have voting rights – so you get to decide which one of the nominees for the year gets to go. Anyone active in fandom is eligible to vote on payment of a small contribution to the Fund (which is partly how it pays for the trip): GBP6, EUR7, AUD10, NZD10 (or the equivalent in other currencies) to the fund. You can find voting instructions and details about the preferential counting system and such here on the official race page.

So hello, I’m nominated to go! If you’ve read this far you may be pondering whether the prospect of sending me (or one of the other candidates**) to Finland is worth forking out a tenner or so. I mean, it totally is, because FINLAND. WORLDCON. How brilliant is that? Ahem. More seriously, voting and donating is a really cool thing to do, because you’re helping keep the fund alive and active. And it’s a great fund. A waggy dog of a fund. It helps bring our geographically disparate communities together in our shared love of the genre, and in 2016 (which is a murderous shithole of a year, let’s face it) I know I feel pretty warmly toward doing things that make me feel good about community and positivity. So maybe you’re doing OK and you’ve been to a lot of cons and you’d like to pay forward toward someone else’s great experience. Maybe you’ve never been to a con and you’d really like to – this time round you might be a generous awesome person helping send someone on the trip of a lifetime; next time, perhaps you’ll put yourself up for nomination and do a bit of lifetime-memory-creating of your own. Or maybe you just want a say on who turns up in Finland and tries not to make a goose of themselves. Whatever the reason, if you’re intending to vote you’re very clearly a cool, sexy, intelligent person with really good hair.

Now, why should you vote for me?

If you haven’t hung out here or on my social media before, my bio page will tell you a bit about me. (It’s only a small proportion lies. I really did want to be a zookeeper.) And there is a short pitch we all wrote which you’ll find on the ballot paper here.

But, some elaboration. My pitch on the ballot was only allowed to be 100 words and you know I bled to write anything that short (I’ve probably cracked 100 on footnotes alone in this blog post) and yet still, mine is the only one containing dumb jokes, which probably tells you something. I will not pretend I am not the least experienced of the candidates, all of whom have lots of convention-related creds that I lack. What I am is dumb and silly and I will represent Australian fandom by way of being dumb and silly around sophisticated European fans, and bribing people with Tim Tams. (Speaking of bribes: Timtams for anyone finding me at Helsinki! Forget clothing changes, my suitcase will be stuffed with chocolate goodness.)

To further expand on my little pitch, no I’m not kidding about the Princess Bride, and if you’ve never tried the 3 TimTams in a minute challenge, no it’s not easy, no, seriously, I can see you there thinking it’s 3 biscuits and a whole minute, how hard can it be? Well it can be bloody impossible is what it can be.

First one: easy, down treat, 10 seconds, 15 max.

Second: huh, hey, you know, my mouth’s starting to feel a bit rich and gluggy, haha, no worries, still stacks of time, just work up a bit more saliva and there it goes, still have 25 seconds left, no probl—


Time’s up.

OK I got a bit sidetracked again. Hmm, reasons to vote for me. Hey maybe you’re going and you want to meet up! I would love to meet you! I only went to my first convention – Supernova – a few years ago, so I’m basically a convention baby. But I’ve got at least 3 next year and I’ll hope to squish in a couple more. Sidebar: UK/European peeps, tell me about what else is happening in the general temporal vicinity of Worldcon, as I’d hate to get all the way over there and only manage one. I should say, I’m going to find the money to go to Helsinki regardless, so whether or not I am the GUFF delegate I will be there to hang out with you and have a drink or a chocolate of your choice!

The main reason I would love to be the GUFF delegate is that I really do love other people, and other fans specifically, but… I’m also pretty shy. My main fear is getting all the way over there and then being too nervous to introduce myself to anyone and basically just smearing my back against the perimeter walls all week.*** When I was persuading myself to apply for this opportunity it was with half an eye on tricking/forcing myself into having an actual role and accompanying responsibilities so that I couldn’t just lurk. Once I’ve overcome that initial barrier I never shut up, so give me a job and I’m fine. So, yanno, I’ll be there either way, but unless you’re really fond of walls you’ve got a much better shot of interacting with me if I’m in delegate mode. J

Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that if you’re willing to put in a vote you are cool and sexy and awesome, but if you’re willing to vote for me you’re just objectively even better, and songs will be sung in your honour one day.

In all seriousness, thank you for reading this far. Spending money, even a small sum, to send someone you may never even have met to another country is a really generous and kind thing to do. I would love you to vote but if you can’t or don’t want to, no worries at all. You’re rad just the way you are. 🙂


*  Naturally if you know Gillian you know she has many more ambitious goals than this but she is also cleverer and more accomplished than me and I can’t think any bigger than David Tennant, OK?

** To the extent that I’m here persuading you I will be upfront in saying I have a strong preference for it being me.

*** Anyone doubting my sincerity on this point should ask how I did at the opening mixer for Hardcopy, the professional development program I did in 2014. It was at an art gallery and I literally pretended to study art for a frankly ridiculous amount of time because I was too shy to insert myself into any of the little groups that had formed.