Worldcon approaching!


It is with excitement and no small degree of alarm that I can now say ‘I’m going to Ireland next week!’ and fortunately the Worldcon programme is now finalised, so I can tell you where you can find me!

Of course in addition to these fixed events, I’ll also be wandering around and attending panels and hanging out in the bar for the whole con, and I am very happy for a chat whenever, so please do come and say hello. If we know each other from online, let me know!


16 Aug 2019, Friday 14:00 – 14:50, Level 4 Foyer (CCD)

I will be signing at the same time as many more famous authors than me, so just think how great you’ll feel popping over to see me instead of waiting an hour to see Victoria Schwab or Marie Brennan! I will happily scribble in a copy of my book if you have one, and will also have bookmarks and bookplates if you don’t. Or, hell, I’ll scribble in someone else’s book, if you want.

With Victoria “V.E.” Schwab, Marie Brennan, Sarah Pinsker, Taiyo Fujii, & Mary Turzillo

I will be on the following panels:

Liking problematic things

15 Aug 2019, Thursday 12:00 – 12:50, Liffey Hall-2 (CCD)

What happens when you find out that something you really love is sexist, racist, homophobic, ableist, or similarly problematic – or that a performer, director, or producer whose work you liked a lot is not who you thought they were? Can you still enjoy problematic creations? How do you reconcile your enjoyment with your values? Our panellists have felt your pain and have some tips to share.

With Leo Adams, A. T. Greenblatt, & Sarah Gulde

Introduction to hopepunk

15 Aug 2019, Thursday 20:00 – 20:50, Wicklow Hall 2B (CCD)

Alexandra Rowland coined the term ‘hopepunk’ in a Tumblr post in 2017, saying that: ‘…the opposite of Grimdark is Hopepunk’. Our panel will discuss what the term means and how hopepunk intersects with other speculative sub-genres such as grimdark, noblebright, and solarpunk, as well as offering reading recommendations.

With Jo Walton, Alexandra Rowland, & Lettie Prell


Using SFF as sandboxes for ideas on politics and society

16 Aug 2019, Friday 16:00 – 16:50, Wicklow Room-3 (CCD)

Speculative fiction can offer readers and writers a space, removed from ‘real’ life, to explore and criticise society and politics and offer possible solutions. From the economy of your galactic empire to the status of dwarves in your epic fantasy, it is impossible to separate the political from the fantastical, and SFF is a great place to imagine other ways of existing.

With Nicholas Whyte, Eyal Kless, & Taiyo Fujii

Send in the crones: older women in SFF

17 Aug 2019, Saturday 21:00 – 21:50, Wicklow Hall-1 (CCD)

Very often SFF stories centre on young women, with older female characters being consigned to background dressing at best and cliched depictions of elders and antagonists at worst. Is anyone writing stories that focus on older women? Where are the middle-aged heroines?

With Lauren Roy, Ali Baker, Devin Madson, & Julie C. Day



Melbournians! Come hither!

It’s event season, apparently, because somehow June has snuck up on us without any warning, no polite note slipped under the door, no quick text reminder, just appearing with no notice like the UTTER BASTARD it is.


The good side, when you stop with the existential dread that comes from realising almost half the year is gone, is that it’s Continuum time! I will be in Melbourne for this year’s Continuum 15, and looking forward to hopefully seeing many of you lovely folk there.

The full program is here but you can see me on the following panels:

  • Friday 6pm: Publishing Q&A: Join Abigail NathanAlex AdsettDevin MadsonJack DannDarren Nash and me to ask whatever questions you might have about the murky and mysterious totally transparent and logical world of publishing!
  • Saturday 11am: Animals in SFF: From creating new animals from the bones up to renaming the ones we already have, a look at all things animals in SFF. Porgs, tribbles, thestrals, dragons and so much more. Discussion of the ethics of Fantastic Beasts and how to avoid cultural appropriation of mythical creatures from other cultures most welcome. Join Paula BoerCarolyn DenmanClare Rhoden and me to talk weird and wonderful creatures in SFF
  • Sunday 11am: Sports in SFF: Quidditch! Podracing! Blood bowl! Calvinball! What would you like to see in a speculative fiction Olympics? Join  Freya MarskeKate ElliottDevin Madson and me to talk sports!
  • Sunday 3pm: What makes a hero? What makes someone a hero, not just a protagonist? Why do some people argue that Snape was the real hero of Harry Potter? Join Gillian PolackE. J. BeatonAiki Flinthart and me to shout angrily that Snape is not ‘the real hero’ of anything calmly discuss heroes!
  • Monday 11am: Recommendations panel: This is where TamElizabeth Fitzgerald and I shout at you to buy the books that we love

I will also be at the award ceremony on Saturday arvo, where I am up for 2 categories of Ditmar (best novel and best new talent), and the Norma K Hemming award, and although I have no expectations of winning any of them, I will at least be in attendance this time just in case! 🙂

Come and find me and say hi if you’re planning to be around. If we know each other from the internet, please let me know that we do – I have no capacity to match twitter avatars to actual humans so you’ll have to give me a hint, I’m very old and tired after all.

See you soon!

I won a thing!

So last night was the Aurealis Award ceremony in Melbourne. (For context for my overseas readers, the Aurealis Awards are Australia’s big national juried SFF awards). City of Lies was shortlisted for Best Fantasy Novel but I didn’t go to the ceremony because – well, because of quite a few things; I’d already been to Melbourne in March for Cursed Child and am going again in June for Continuum and I didn’t think I could justify the expense, juggling kids’ activities on weekends is hard for the remaining parent, and honestly, with the mess around book 2 I haven’t really been feeling super positive about my writing and I genuinely didn’t think I had a chance. All solid reasons. I stayed home with my family and sat in bed with a glass of wine to watch the awards on the livestream, happily texting with friends who were there, including my friend and agent sibling Devin Madson (whose excellent ‘We Ride the Storm’ was also shortlisted for Best Fantasy Novel, and which you should absolutely rush out and buy if you haven’t already).

Dev had offered to accept on my behalf if I did win and had asked me to write an acceptance speech for her to deliver for me and I put it off and put it off and eventually told her that I was far too British* to write a speech for an award I wasn’t going to win, it was too embarrassing to think about, and I jokingly said she could say ‘I’m too British for this… *mumble mumble embarrassed thank you*” in the unlikely event that I did.

Which. Uh.

Here is my real time reaction as they read the results (excuse the usual profanity):


But she is fabulous and did a lovely speech which is FAR more than her idiot friend deserves, and holy CRAP I won an Aurealis guys!!  (As did many other awesome writers – special shout out to my pal Maria Lewis whose wonderful The Witch Who Courted Death tied with me to win Best Fantasy Novel, and to other excellent folks including Shauna O’Meara, Joseph Ashley-Smith, Kaaron Warren, Stephanie Gunn, Juliet Marillier and Cat Sparks, as well as so many worthy authors on the shortlists – too many friends and talented colleagues to list here, but check out the full list of the winners and the shortlist)


The moral to this story is,  don’t prepare and rewards will come your way? Uh. That’s probably not meant to be it?

Anyway I did a big gabbly rant thanking people on twitter and FB but obviously, huge thanks to the Aurealis organisers and judges for your time and efforts (and for picking meeeee! 🙂 ), to my agent Julie and my publishing team including editors Diana and Simon (from Tor and Transworld/Penguin respectively), to my hugely supportive husband, children, siblings, parents, extended family and friends – honestly couldn’t do this ridiculous writing gig without you all. Love you to pieces.**

(And hey if you are in the US and haven’t read the book yet, by great coincidence City of Lies is on sale for a measly $2.99 on all the electronic platforms, a price that even my six year old could afford with 2 weeks pocket money if he were so inclined, and if I do say so myself that is a pretty good ratio of hours of entertainment per dollar – no idea how long this will last though so hop to it! Link to US sale.)

I will leave you with my favourite review of City:


and would like to note that this is officially AWARD WINNING GIBBERISH now, mate.

* In spirit, I mean, in the Very British Problems sense, rather than by actual nationality. Some of us Aussies are very British in that sense, I promise.

** Not literal pieces, obviously, what are you *thinking*, these are *GOOD* people

Ripping the bandaid right off

adult art conceptual dark

Photo by Pixabay on

This isn’t a fun announcement to make, so I’m gonna bandaid this sucker and tell you all that I’m sorry to have to say that Hollow Empire is being delayed. Although we all worked really hard to have the book ready for release this year, my editor didn’t feel that the story was as strong as it could be, and we are starting from scratch with a view to publishing the sequel in late 2020 instead.

The good news is that I’m still going to be working really hard to bring you a story that you’ll love. The bad news is that’s just going to take longer than any of us wanted. I absolutely hate having to disappoint the readers, bloggers, and booksellers who loved and supported City of Lies and had been looking forward to Hollow Empire. So many of you took the time and effort to reach out to tell me, to review the book, or tell your friends and family about it; it’s a cliché, but this was my lifelong dream and you all made it feel real. It sucks to have to make you wait. But I promise to do my utmost to bring you something that you’ll love, even if it’s not as timely as planned.

Thanks for understanding.



A bit of an update…

… because I’m aware it’s been awfully quiet over here while I was working on the revisions to Hollow Empire. Those are safely in the hands of my editor at Tor and I am slowly feeling human again!  Turning a 300K behemoth into something a little more digestible was quite a task, but I’m really proud of the revised version and I hope you guys are going to love it.

In other news, City of Lies just made the shortlist for the Aurealis award for Best Fantasy Novel! For those of you outside the country, these are Australia’s major judged speculative fiction awards, and it is a huge honour to be on the list.

The best thing about the shortlist is that it’s full of excellent writers and friends of mine (particular shoutout to my agent sister Devin Madson, whose We Ride the Storm was one of my favourite books of the year, and to the brilliant Maria Lewis, who’s slowly recruiting all members of my family as fans via her excellent The Witch Who Courted Death), so I’ll be happy whoever wins, but it’s an enormous privilege to be sitting by them.

The other major Australian spec fic awards are the Ditmars – these are our fan-voted awards (so sort of like the Australian Hugos). City of Lies is eligible to be nominated in the Best Novel category and since I’ve never done anything before this, I’m eligible in the Best New Talent category, so if you enjoyed the books or me generally, haha, you can nominate via this form. If you are going to Continuum this June, or you’re otherwise active in fandom, you’re eligible to nominate. Full rules here.

I am also finally organising my first newsletter, so if you’d like to hear (very occasional*) updates about what’s happening, you can sign up on the Contact pageI hope to be sending that out in the next couple of weeks so now’s a good time to get on the list.

Now, back to grinning like a wee idiot about this shortlist! 🙂


* So occasional that it has not yet occurred even once… I won’t be regular spamming you is what I’m saying, no matter what my primary school nickname was.

Holiday giveaway!

48373193_10156978899509809_5370928282357202944_nSome of my fellow 2018 debut fantasy authors are getting together and giving away this amazing mega bundle of books, loaded onto a Kindle Fire.* To go into the draw, all you need to do is comment beneath this blog post (or on the equivalent post on FB, twitter or insta) AND sign up to my newsletter

I will host a random draw of entries on 22 December and the winner of that round will win ONE book of their choice from the list of 11 books, plus go in the grand prize draw for the kindle and the whole list.


* International entries are OK but the exact nature of the prize may vary depending on region.

In which Sam seeks a sword…

I woke up this morning to the very exciting news that City of Lies has been shortlisted for the Best Debut category in the 2018 Fantasy Awards, in some absolutely stellar company including Fonda Lee, Peng Shepherd, S.A. Chakraborty and Melissa Caruso, among others, and on a list that I must say is delightfully jam packed with women. I am so thankful to the SFF bloggers who nominated my book in the first place as one of their favourites of the year, and to all of you wonderful people who voted on the longlist. It is honestly such an honour to be there. I’ve never been on an award list for anything I’ve written before!

And I really cannot overstate how cool it is that the prize is AN ACTUAL ENGRAVED KNIFE. LOOK AT THIS BEAUTY!!

I’m not above asking for your help to win that baby. 🙂

Voting on the shortlist is open until Wednesday 31 October and just as with the longlist it is free, easy and requires no sign up. Vote here: 2018 Fantasy Awards. 

But hey, don’t just vote for me!* There are also amazing books in mine and the other categories that are worth your attention and votes, and one of my lovely publishers (Tor) is up for best imprint.  I will say though that TOLKIEN is on the best novel list but guys he really doesn’t need the knife any more, so don’t throw your vote away there. 🙂

Thanks again to Petros and the team at Booknest and everyone who’s participated so far.

* If it isn’t clear, though, I am definitely asking you to in fact vote for me. There are no repurcussions if you don’t, of course, but not a single person who voted for me on the longlist has been eaten by a shark, and all I’m saying is that I like those odds.