Two Months Until the Release of The Eternal Machine.

My first Advanced Reader Copy has arrived from Amazon, and finally this self-publishing gig is starting to feel real. For a few seconds I just stared at the envelope, afraid to open it in case I’d messed up the formatting or not centred the cover properly when I uploaded the PDF. I then bit the bullet and took a peek.

Phew! It looked exactly how I wanted. The cover worried me at first, because on computer monitors it looks quite dark. In real life, however, it not only shines but also shows the mood I was aiming for. And beauty too, in a clockwork dragonfly and the face of the automaton. I’m hoping she looks like she’s plotting something that human minds would not want to know. The dragonfly is also a symbol of hope. Is hope possible in all that darkness? Some of my characters believe there can be, if they fight for it.

A few hours after my book arrived, the following review came in from Aussie steampunk author Richard Harland who had kindly read the mostly corrected epub version for me.

Victoriana comes to Sydney in an alternative 19th Century, bringing dark Dickensian factories and even darker souls. Mages too, practising heart magic and skin magic, along with shapeshifters, demons and automata. Mix in a mad scientist, a touch of romance and a plot to keep you guessing—wild! What’s not to love?

Highly recommended.

~RICHARD HARLAND

Here’s a screen shot of Chapter One. I’ll be posting some entire chapters closer to the launch date, when the final proofreading is has been completed.

The Eternal Machine ebook is currently available for pre order worldwide including Amazon.com, Amazon UK Amazon Australia Barnes and Noble and soon at Kobo. Trade Paperback: 14th January, 2022.

Book News: The Eternal Machine

The trailer is here…

Thumbnail images adapted from images by: 
Jessicahyde (Adobe), frenta (Adobe) & Atelier Sommerland (Adobe)

After nearly 14 years of writing, rewriting, sending out, waiting for rejections, rewriting, sending out, waiting for more rejections, rewriting, sending out, waiting, rewriting, sending out, waiting, forever and ever…

I finally opted to self-publish.

That was over a year ago, and I realised that if this book was to end up being anything worth finding its way into the world I needed to put it through a professional editing process.

Three times: structural, line edit, and copy edit.

Thanks to these two fabulous Aussie editors Pete Kempshall and Amanda J Spedding that process was most enjoyable, especially now everything has been polished up to a standard I am super excited to promote.

Why has it taken me so long to do this? Why did I get so many rejections? Why am I self-publishing? I’ll blog about that later.

Meanwhile, my debut novel, The Eternal Machine, is a steampunk, fantasy/science fictional alternative reality set in an Australian city where magic and science are equally valid disciplines. It is now available for pre-order worldwide at Amazon, including US, Australia & UK. Currently only the ebook is being offered, but there will also be a paperback as soon as I’ve finished my layouts and the cover is ready.

Here’s the blurb

A woman with the strength to rebel.
A shapeshifter who wears the souls of the dead.
Together, they face a lethal enemy.

Em helped create it. Now she must craft its defeat.

In a city owned by industrialists, Em sells her magic to make ends meet. The extraction procedure is brutal and potentially deadly. Desperate for change, she joins an underground resistance movement to weaponize her magic and stop the abuse of workers.

Meanwhile, a mysterious voice wakes Ruk from a decades-long slumber and compels him to become human. He wants to break free but is torn between his shapeshifter instincts and the needs of the soul that sustains him.

On streets haunted by outcasts and predatory automatons, a new danger emerges – an ever-growing corruption of magic and science. Em and Ruk must put aside their differences and pursue it – each for their own reasons.

What they discover will forever change their lives.

Or end them…

Story in Aurealis #145

I’m super pleased to announce my SF/Dark Fantasy short story, “She who Played for Morrocks” is now available here at Smashwords for AUD$2.99.

The story is about two different species of human who both value music and each acknowledges the other’s sentience. Their attempts to respect each other are muddied by preconceptions, misunderstandings and instinct.

And what a beautiful cover for this issue, by Atelier Sommerland.

Story to be Reprinted in Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2013

years-best-fantasy-and-horror-v4-web

My story, “The Silence of Clockwork”, edited by Elizabeth Fitzgerald and originally published in the 2013 Conflux Convention Programme, has been picked up by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene for The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror Volume 4: 2013 which will be released in late November.

This is the first time I’ve had a story in one of these and I’m especially chuffed as this story is written in the same world as my steampunk fantasy novel, Heart Fire, and is told from the point of view of one of the major characters, a centuries-old shapeshifter known as Ruk. One of the problems I had when writing this story was to not give in to overloading it with backstory, while at the same time telling enough of Ruk’s past to make his actions feel logical.

It’s certainly an honour to be part of this impressive 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 G. 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”, Caledonia Dreamin’
• Kaaron Warren, “Born and Bread”, Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales
• Janeen Webb, “Hell is Where the Heart is”, Next

Kisses by Clockwork Cover Revealed

Kisses by clockwork

Ticonderoga Publications have released the fabulous cover for their forthcoming anthology, Kisses by Clockwork, which includes my dark, fantasy romance, “Siri and the Chaosmaker”.

I wrote the first draft for this story in Clarion West 2008 Week 2. I have given it several revisions since, with the final edit while on holiday in France as I was taking the TVG High-speed train from Paris to Avignon. Lovely scenery, nice place to write.

Kisses by Clockwork will be launched in a few weeks at Continuum in Melbourne. Stay tuned for details.

Sale to “Kisses by Clockwork”

My steampunk/fantasy/dark romance, “Siri and The Chaos-Maker, has been accepted in Ticonderoga’s upcoming anthology, Kisses by Clockwork. I wrote the first draft for this story during Clarion West 2008 and have been tinkering with it off and on ever since. It’s set in the same world as my novel, Heart Fire, but in a different country and era.

Contributing to Kisses by Clockwork’s 105,000 words are:

  • Marilag Angway, “Smuggler’s Deal”
  • Cherith Baldry, “The Venetian Cat”
  • Gio Clairval, “The Writing Cembalo”
  • M L D Curelas, “Ironclad”
  • Ray Dean, “Practically Perfect”
  • Stephanie Gunn, “Escapement”
  • Richard Harland, “The Kiss of Reba Maul”
  • Rebecca Harwell, “Love in the Time of Clockwork Horses”
  • Faith Mudge, “Descension”
  • Nicole Murphy, “The Wild Colonial Clockwork Boy”
  • Katrina Nicholson, “Lady Presto Magnifico and the Disappearing Glass Ceiling”
  • Anthony Panegyres, “The Tic-Toc Boy of Constantinople”
  • Amanda Pillar, “A Clockwork Heart”
  • Angela Rega, “The Law of Love”
  • Carol Ryles, “Siri and the Chaos-Maker”
  • DC White, “South, to Glory”

Clockwork Kisses is scheduled to be published in April.

Many thanks to my Clarion buddies and to my novel crit group, Egoboo WA (Satima Flavell, Helen Venn, Joanna Fay, Sarah Parker, Keira McKenzie and Laura E Goodin) for critting this for me.

Pre-World Fantasy Convention 2013

This trip seemed so long in the planning, but here I am at last in Brighton UK, waiting for World Fantasy Convention 2013 to begin. I’ve registered, picked up my load of books and pamphlets, met a few people and looking out at the wet, windy weather, wishing I could bring it back with me during the Perth summer.

Getting to the con has been a month long effort. Phil and I decided to take a holiday in France and Italy, starting out in Paris:

Paris Fromagerie

Before heading down to the fabulous village of Loches, where the sights, history and food kept us busy for a full five days:

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imageThen down to the Luberon:

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Then sur Le pont d’Avignon

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And on to Cinque Terre (Italy)

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And finally Firenze:

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After WFC, we’re touring south England for a few days, before heading to London until mid November.

More photos of our grand 2013 Europe tour with details can be found at Phil’s blog.

Why I Love Steampunk

nanna2This picture isn’t a dress-up. It’s my great-grandfather with my grandmother (his 13th daughter) taken sometime in the late 1890s. I adore their outfits and especially Nanna’s boots, though I wonder how much she enjoyed wearing them at the time.

For me, steampunk isn’t just about dressing up, even though I’m currently finishing off my own costume to wear at the next opportunity. For me, steampunk is also a different way of writing about the now, drawing on the past, present and future with the benefit of hindsight, foresight and a good deal of playfulness. As Eric Rabkin states in The Fantastic in Literature,

“If we know the world to which a reader escapes, we know the world from which he comes” (Princeton University Press, 1977: p.83).

In the theoretical component of my recently completed PhD, Steampunk: Imagined Histories and Technologies of Science and Fantasy, I argued that literary steampunk is not limited simply to texts representing steam-driven machinery, but also includes fantastical texts that rely on pseudo-Victorianism often set in imaginary worlds characterized by anachronism, pseudoscience, technofantasy, magic, hybridity and imagined events inspired by science fictional history as well as real history.

In my PhD’s creative component — my novel Heart Fire — I drew on common steampunk tropes such as automatons, mad science and air ships. At the same time I remained aware that, in the past decade, steampunk has gained increasing popularity as both a literary genre and an aesthetic. As a result I sought to subvert clichés by combining them with fantasy elements that are unusual to steampunk, using them to compare and contrast science with the occult, taking the stance that in Victorian times both were considered to be valid disciplines. In this respect, I do not see my work as crossing genres, but instead as imitating the Victorian worldview.

With this in mind, I combined science and fantasy in Heart Fire, posing the questions: what if the occult were real and how would a world function if magic could either enhance or destroy science-based technology? My aim was to use old clichés in unexpected ways, showing repercussions from the misuse of technology from the perspectives of both the upper and lower classes. This allowed me to follow the steampunk tradition and at the same time aim for originality through tropes that are generally seen to fall outside of what is expected within the genre.

In other words, steampunk allowed my imagination to step outside the laws of physics that dictate purely science fictional texts. In Heart Fire, I created my own laws, part real, part myth and part dream. To make them believable, I explored their repercussions from many perspectives, reinforcing them with realism, detail and the fantasy technique of internal consistency within the text.

This not only added up to a whole lot of fun, but also enabled me to create an imaginary world in which to set new books as well as a handful of short stories.

Short Story Competition Win

My short story, “The Silence of Clockwork”, picked up third prize in the Conflux 9 short story competition. I’m especially pleased about this as the story works as a prequel to my unfinished novel, Heart Fire, by showing some of the history of its male protagonist, Ruk, a bold, daring shapeshifting spirit who plots to escape the human word, but his shifterness prevents him.

Conflux 9 was held in Canberra in late April. It’s theme was steampunk (angels, junk and steam), an added bonus.

I wrote and edited the “Silence of Clockwork” at the same time as I was madly finishing my PhD, squeezing it in before bed over 5 days — the quickest 3000 word story, I’ve completed ever! It was subsequently published in the Conflux 9 Convention Programme book (page 37).

Many thanks to the Conflux 9 judges, Joanne Anderton, Jenny Blackford, Dirk Flinthart,  to Elizabeth Fitzgerald for her fine editing, and also to the convention organizers for putting on such a great convention.