So it’s been a little while.

I’m still here!

But I haven’t had a lot of energy for social media over the last couple of years. Or, to be honest, creative stuff generally. I’m good – nothing terrible has happened to me or mine. And I am still chipping away at my novel projects and the odd short story. But my day job has had a big focus in COVID-19 response over the last 18 months and it’s been… exhausting.

Every now and then, though, someone gets in touch with me through this website to let me know they’ve read my book and that it meant something to them. Which. Well. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.

So if you’ve read The Beast’s Heart and it brought you joy or comfort or perhaps a moment of escape, and especially if you’ve taken the time to reach out and let me know, then thank you. These flowers are for you. I read your message and I’m so glad I made something that brought your pleasure.


Image by Юлия Зяблова from Pixabay

Cya 2020

This post is mostly just to provide evidence I survived 2020. What a horrible year. The less said about it, the better. Hopefully 2021 will be better to all of us, but 10 days in it seems like we’re still shaking off some serious 2020-style bad juju.

I did sell 2 short stories in 2020. The first, Bruises black and blue can be found in the new CSFG anthology, Unnatural Order, which was published in the final death throes of 2020, on 31 December. It’s – appropriately – an anthology of the monstrous, and you can order it here. Bruises black and blue is a mashup of a couple of different fairy tales (see if you can guess which), and features another take on my favourite monster of all, Jenny Greenteeth. The second short story is (yet!) another fairy tale, The Aunties, and should be available in March 2021 in the Australian Fairy Tale Society’s first anthology of Australian-inspired fairy tales, South of the Sun. This anthology will be illustrated by a bunch of my favourite fairy tale artists, including Kathleen Jennings, Lorena Carrington, Erin-Claire Barrow and Spike Deane, so I already know the physical book itself will be a thing of beauty even before you get to the treasure trove of stories it will contain.

I am still working away on a couple of novel projects, and one of them is so close to having a finished draft ready to shove under the noses of some generous critiquing partners. It’s probably worth acknowledging that 2020 was a terrible year for many creatives – both because it is unsurprisingly hard to be creative when the world is a raging trashfire, but also because a lot of paying work across most creative industries simply evaporated as the world ground to a halt due to the pandemic. So I’m trying set a good example and not beat myself up too much for not being as productive as I would have liked. Hey, I’m still here, I’m still writing and things are moving, just slowly, that’s all.

Looking back on my 2019 wrap up, I’m glad now that I totally overdosed on conventions that year, because that was another thing that just didn’t happen in 2020. I did a lot of staying in touch over online platforms like zoom & Discord (and honestly, I am so grateful for the sanity that connection offered!) but I did step back somewhat from public-facing social media.

My 2020 coping mechanism was mostly reading copious amounts of fanfiction, and specifically fic for the C-drama The Untamed. If you haven’t fallen down that particular rabbit hole yet, I can recommend it as a good place to go for pure escapism.

Some fave reads from this year were:

(Boyfriend material by Alexis Hall; Loveless by Alice Oseman; Harrow the Ninth by Tamsin Muir; Godblind by Anna Stephens; Slippery Creatures by K J Charles; Fence: Striking Distance by Sarah Rees Brennan; The Murderbot Diaries; by Martha Wells; The Perfect Assassin by K A Doore.)

So far 2021 has been been a bewildering mix of hopeful and terrifying. I’m still repairing various kinds of damage from the last year myself (even if it’s just the damage of disrupted routines and abandoned healthy habits, for example). At a minimum, though, this time last year I was lucky if I could see 300 metres for all the bushfire smoke, and so far this year we’ve had clear blue skies happily interspersed by an actual reasonable amount of rain.

So… I hope 2021 will be a year when we can all pick up the threads of our lives that have been unravelled and trampled on by the last 12 months, and that the coming 12 months will be better to you & yours than the last 12. Here’s to keeping on keeping on.



I’m writing up this 2019 retrospective having just spent about an hour on Twitter freaking out over posts about just how fucking on fire Australia is right now. So I’m feeling a little grim about our future. Currently, there are 4000 people from a little country town called Mallacoota huddled on a beach (or they’re probably actually in the actual ocean at this point) trying to escape an insane fire front.


That’s not the only beach people are huddled on. Here’s another place called Bateman’s Bay. (I’ve holidayed in both places, both as a kid & with my kids.) To give you an idea of the scale of the fires, Mallacoota and Bateman’s Bay are about 280km apart. That’s about the same distance as between, say, London and Paris, or Los Angeles to Las Vegas.



And just in case the plight of actual people doesn’t do much for your heartstrings, here’s a fun article on the plight of the Mogo Zoo, just outside of Bateman’s Bay. It’s square in the path of the fire front. They can’t evacuate the animals (lions, tigers, giraffes, otters, meerkats, rhinos…) They’re all locked in their cages with sprinklers on. Bit more context: it’s also an exceptionally hot, dry summer for us this year. It’s currently 37.5 C where I am (that’s 99.5 F). 

I could write pages & pages on how frustrated I am at the climate change deniers, at exactly how catastrophic this situation is, at how incandescently angry I am at the obstinate inaction from the people whose job it is to deal with this shit for the whole of the Australian community. But this is supposed to be a retrospective post. I just thought it was relevant to outline the context of my view of 2019 from where I’m standing on New Year’s Eve. 

So, onto the happy stuff. Highlights for me for this year? 

  1. The Beast’s Heart published in the US! (Along with the audiobook, read by the inimitable Jim Dale!) With that exceptional cover by the extraordinarily talented Lisa Perrin. Plus it picked up a nomination for a Ditmar award (these are Australia’s fan-nominated SFF awards), for which I was deeply honoured. 
    Book cover: The title "The Beast's Heart" is written out in ornate writing surrounded by rambling red roses. At the bottom of the image they are in bud, a little further up in full bloom, and at the top, bare branches. Above the words, and surrounded by bare winter branches is a picture of a fairy tale castle.
  2. I got to go to Worldcon in Dublin!
  3. I also got to travel around the UK & France for a bit eating delicious food.
  4. This year was a bit of a convention-bonanza for me. In addition to WorldCon, and the usual Conflux (in my hometown of Canberra) I also got to go to Continuum in Melbourne and Genrecon in Brisbane. Possibly I exceeded my con budget for the year, but it did mean I got to hang out with my writing tribe more than usual and that is always golden.
  5. I read some fantastic books. 🙂 Here’s a few of my faves:
  6. 2019 was also the year I started properly getting into graphic novels! Here are my faves so far…

  7. And 2019 has been the year I truly discovered fanfic! I know, I know, you were all reading it before it was cool. But It’s given me many moments of uncomplicated joy this year, so consider me a convert.

I didn’t finish any novel drafts this year, sadly. But I (mostly) feel like I’m in a good place for the two major novel projects I’m working on. One is sitting on about 70K words and the other behemoth is currently weighing in at a hefty 158K. *scared face* 

I also didn’t publish any short stories, but I will confess that a big part of this year was spent recovering from a bit of burnout from last year and trying to contain my extra-curricular activities to a level that has allowed me to start really focussing on writing again. This has meant I’ve actually started working on some short stories again, so I’ve got my fingers crossed for being a bit more demonstrably productive in 2020.

Anyway, that’s me for the year. I hope there have been some good parts of 2019 for you too, and that 2020 makes good on some promises of hope and good things. Here’s to hanging in there. 

Continue reading “2019…”

Conflux is coming!

Conflux is next weekend – huzzah!

I’m having a slightly lower key con than I usually do. I’ll only be on 2 panels & helping launch my lovely friend Donna M Hanson’s paranormal Victorian duology Ruby Heart and Emerald Fire. Here’s where you can find me!

Saturday, 12.30 – Launching Donna’s books.

Sunday, 1.30 – The place of Aussie SFF in the US & UK, with Keri Arthur, Thoraiya Dyer and Freya Marske

Monday, 2.30 – Jane Austen in SF and Fantasy, with Donna Hanson & Freya Marske.

So, if you’re in the ‘Berra over the long weekend, I hope to see you there!

Continuum 15

Here’s where you can find me at Continuum 15, next weekend in Melbourne!

Saturday, 10am: Mothers! In! Space!
I’ll be moderating this one, and the panellists are Kate Elliott (gasp!), Liz Barr & J S Breukelaar

Sunday, 5pm: Happily Ever Afters
I’ll be on this panel with Laura, Lyss Wickramasinghe & Andi Buchanan.

Monday, 11am: Regency SFF
I’m on this one with a bunch of dear friends and fellow Regency romance tragics, Kathleen Jennings, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Devin Madson, & Freya Marske.

I gotta say, their program is looking very, very fine.

Looking forward to Continuum 15!

Continuum 15.png

Are you going to Continuum in Melbourne over the June long weekend?

If so, hopefully I’ll catch you there!

I found out what panels I’ll be on, and subject to last minute tweaking, you should be able to find me talking about Mothers in SFF on Saturday morning, Happily Ever Afters on Sunday afternoon & Regency-inspired SFF on Monday morning. I’ll post more details when they’re finalised, but I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS!!!!

Happy indulgence weekend

I hope you’ve had a lovely long weekend, whether you celebrate Easter or Passover or Chocolate or just days off or anything else significant to you. (Our main celebration was my son’s 15th birthday this weekend, so there you go.)

I have been kinda self indulgent this year, catching up on back episodes of my new fave podcast, Be The Serpent, a podcast of extremely deep literary merit. It is fun, and intelligent, and exactly the right balance of enthusiastic and analytical, *and* they include discussions of fan fic as well, which adds a whole other dimension I’m enjoying. #addicted (And it’s also just been nominated for a Hugo Award, so it’s actually objectively awesome.)

Full disclosure, it features my lovely friend, author Freya Marske, alongside fellow red-headed fantasy authors Alexandra Rowland and Jennifer Mace. Freya is Australian, Alexandra American and Jennifer British. This makes for a particularly satisfying balance, but especially in episode 3, in which they discuss apocalypses and the various apocalypse-like natural disasters they’ve prepped for that are prevalent in the geographical locations they’ve lived in. BTS_header_smaller

Now I just have to find more time in my life to listen to all the podcasts I want to catch up on. Sigh. Who needs sleep anyway?

Ditmar ballot joy!

The Ditmar preliminary ballot got released today and, holy freaking hell, I’m on it!

The Beast’s Heart has been nominated for Best Novel, A Hand of Knaves has been nominated for Best Collection, and I’ve been nominated for Best New Talent!

giphy goat

The Ditmars, in case you’re not familiar with them, are Australia’s fan-nominated awards, so I am more than thrilled to find myself on this list. Just to give you an indication of the kind of company I’m in, when I showed my partner the list of other names The Beast’s Heart is up against to take out the gong, he laughed. Any day I find myself on a list with the likes of Sam Hawke for City of Lies, Kaaron Warren for Tide of Stone, Alan Baxter for Devouring Dark, or Amanda Bridgeman for The Subjugate, is a good day.

And, not only has A Hand of Knaves been nommed for Best Collected Work, but the obscenely talented Shauna O’Meara has bagged a well-deserved nomination for her exquisite illustrations.

It’s immensely satisfying to see so many other good friends receive nominations. It’d probably be just as easy to re-post the entire list rather than list them all individually, but I’m particularly pleased to see the noms for Rivqa Rafael & Tansy Rayner Roberts’ anthology Mother of Invention (including a nom for Best Artwork for it’s stunning cover by Likhain) and for Elizabeth Fitzgerald for Best Fan Publication for her review blog on Earl Grey Editing, especially given she’s just announced she will be winding that up in the near future (sad face).

Happily, I have already booked my ticket to Continuum in June (where the awards ceremony will take place). I’m really looking forward to sharing a drink with the others on the ballot and toasting the winners. So thank you from the bottom of my heart for the nominations, and congrats to all my fellow nominees. See you at Continuum in June!

The darkest hour

Today is my last day of leave after taking a couple of months off my day job. Technically I guess I still have the weekend, but Monday will see me up and showered and back in the office at an unconscionable time of day, instead of stretched out on my couch in my pyjamas with my laptop or a book…

I have very conflicted thoughts about what I’ve achieved since the end of January.

I never EVER get as much done on these sabbaticals as I want to.

I don’t have a finished first draft.

In fact, in some ways I’m much further off a first draft, having completely torn apart the first 50,000 words of the first draft I’d previously created.

And it’s a constant struggle to balance out the voices of doubt and self-sabotage with an objective, let alone positive, dialogue with myself about what I have or haven’t achieved. For example, you may notice I haven’t put up any blog posts in the time I’ve had off. Why? Because it feels incredibly dishonest to be be blithely blogging about doing a thing when I’m deeply questioning if I am actually even doing that thing. Have I written enough? Have I spent enough time brainstorming/world-building/deepening character/developing backstory? Do I have what it actually takes to write a novel? I mean, sure, I’ve done it once, but what if it was a fluke?

About the only thing I draw hope from is that SO MANY writers seem to go through exactly this kind of mess, and it seems like the only thing you can do is trust in the process and keep going. “Trust in the process” is a big ask, though, because it’s very difficult to see what there is to trust. Literally all I’ve got is that some of the authors I most admire are honest about passing through this phase of the creative process.


So, partly by way of doing some self validation and partly in the hope this might act as breadcrumbs for someone else wandering around in this horrible, uncertain, formless grey space, here’s some stuff I have done, to balance out the abject lack of completed first draft sitting in my documents folder.

  • Loads of character backstory. Some of my characters have changed dramatically. They’ve deepened, become more interesting and more whole. Some of them were mere ciphers and are now awesome.
  • I have actually written some scenes I am actually pretty happy with, actually.
  • I have nutted out a plot. It’s not completely fleshed out, and my ending is still hellishly hazy. But I have a lot more structure to this story than I previously did. And, TBH, that’s actually the main thing I wanted to achieve with this time off. It’s really easy to downplay the sheer amount of thinking/dreaming/brainstorming time that goes into creating plot (at least for someone like me – I am not a plotter) and one of the reasons I took this time was so I could have just days and days of staring into space and trying out ideas and abandoning them and trying out other ideas… Discarding so many ideas. Oh yeah. *sighs wearily* It’s all part of the process.
  • I’ve made huge headway into my TBR pile. “Wait. What?” I hear you say.* “That’s not writing! Why are you reading when you should be typing words???!” But reading is super important. Especially reading stuff you enjoy and that feeds your muse. When I am all dried up and wrung out and exhausted by my lack of progress and jaded with my lack of creativity and sick to freaking death of my stupid WIP, reading reminds me what I love about stories, and about what kind of story I want to write. Falling in love with other people’s characters and marvelling at other writers’ clever plot twists and getting lost in other authors’ magnificent world-building helps me rekindle those exact sparks in my own work.

So, there you go. Not a lot of wordage. No shiny first draft yet. (In fact, right now, I’ve retreated from the idea of even producing a first draft at this point, and embraced the concept of a zero draft, as outlined in this fab thread from Fonda Lee, author of Jade City)

But in so many respects I’m way further along than I was back in January and starting to fall back in love with my story again, I think.

Just gotta keep trusting in this amorphous thing called The Creative Process and … keep on swimmin’.**


* When I say “you” I mean “me”.

**And buy lotto tickets. So many lotto tickets.

Out now in the US!

Book cover: The title "The Beast's Heart" is written out in ornate writing surrounded by rambling red roses. At the bottom of the image they are in bud, a little further up in full bloom, and at the top, bare branches. Above the words, and surrounded by bare winter branches is a picture of a fairy tale castle.

Happy book birthday to me!

The Beast’s Heart is now available in the US, thanks to my lovely editor Anne Sowards and the fabulous team at Berkley Publishing.

Just in case you’re eager for more of me talking about my Beast, writing and all things fairy tales, here’s a few places to read or hear more:

Ink Feather Book Reviews: Me chatting to the delightful Lauren on the Ink Feather podcast

A Pure Fandom book giveaway (US only) with a link to an interview I did with them

A guest post over at Bookish, with some book recs for fairy tale tragics like me who can’t get enough poison apples and glass slippers

Professional Book Nerds: Me chatting to  Adam on their podcast (and cackling a lot because he made me laugh)

Jean Book Nerd interviewed me about writing and The Beast’s Heart and what’s coming next.