GASP!!!

Sooooo…

That Aurealis Award I was nominated for a little while ago…

Well, the Aurealis Awards ceremony was last night, and…

20170414_234720

I still can’t quite believe it.

I was happy just to be nominated. Seriously, to have my work rated as being on a par with the likes of Lisa L Hannet and Tansy Rayner Roberts, not to mention my very good friend, the extraordinarily talented Shauna O’Meara, counts as achieving one of my big writing goals, right there. My cheeks still hurt from smiling 24 hours later.

I’m not sure how coherent I was in accepting the award, so I’ll repeat all the eloquent thank-yous I wish I’d made here.

Firstly, thank you to Belladonna Publishing for picking up Pretty Jennie Greenteeth and bringing my strange little story out into the world.

Thank you to the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild for being the most amazing writing community ever and for offering generous and incisive feedback and critique on this story (and many others). It was especially exciting to share the shortlist with so many other CSFG members.

Thank you to my beautiful family for all the encouragement and giving me the space and time to write.

A big thank you to the tireless Aurealis judges for their commitment and energy in the face of a task of massive proportions.

And, finally, huge congratulations to all the 2016 Aurealis Awards nominees and winners, especially (again) CSFG members Tim Napper and Kaaron Warren, who won Best Horror Short Story (The Flame Trees) and Best Horror Novel (The Grief Hole) respectively. I have so many good friends among this list of excruciatingly talented authors, I’m still amazed to number myself among you, let alone have come home with an award.

2016-08-06 09.23.30

 

Advertisements

Going, going, giveaway

2016-08-06 09.23.30

Quick, quick! If you haven’t entered the Strange Little Girls Goodreads giveaway yet, you’ve got just over 3 hours left!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Strange Little Girls by Camilla Bruce

Strange Little Girls

by Camilla Bruce

Giveaway ends April 05, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

Touchstones: the Forest

the_enchanted_woodI’ve been thinking a lot about story touchstones lately. Following on from my post on Sapsorrow’s Dress, here’s some thoughts on another one of my personal story touchstones… 

Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Wood was the first ever chapter book my mother read to me. I remember her sitting down on my bed with this book with a completely intriguing cover, with twisty trees hiding fairy houses, hedgehogs scurrying around between spotty toadstools, and a hovering golden-haired, silver-winged pixie. I remember the anticipation I shared with the three Faraway Tree children as they leaned out their bedroom windows in their new house, and listened to the trees with the mysterious dark green leaves talking together (wisha-wisha) in the wood they so desperately wanted to explore

loved that book.

I’m not sure if The Enchanted Wood is what started my fascination with forests, but it certainly helped shape them in my imagination as places where adventure and magic happens.

Forests are, of course, generally held to be a symbol of the unknown. People entering forests in stories are almost always entering a period of uncertainty and danger. You just have to look at a bunch of fairy tale staples – Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White or Beauty and the Beast. Stepping between the trees is usually an act of desperation or coercion – or foolishness.

And then there’s all the mythic stuff, such as Arthurian adventures like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, or the legendary Forest of Broceliande. The Forest is such a powerful storytelling symbol its use has carried right through from ancient times to the present day – take the great forests of Mirkwood and Lothlorien in The Lord of the Rings, the Forest Moon of Endor in Return of the Jedi or, of course, the Forbidden Forest in Harry Potter, just to name the three most iconic fictional worlds of modern times.

What I love about story forests is that often even the standard rules of danger and malevolence are suspended. They are genuinely ambivalent places. Forests are almost definitely full of hungry wolves and wicked witches and ogres who want to crack open your bones and suck out the marrow. But a forest could equally turn out to be a place of strange sanctuary, or hold an unexpected treasure in its green heart.

Obviously forests represent the wild and the untamed; they stand in stark contrast to other habitats like farms and cities, where the landscape has been subdued and converted to serve a specific (human) purpose. It’s not just the adventure and possibility of danger they represent, though, that makes my heart sing. It’s also the pervading sense of peace that you feel on entering a real-life forest. The different suite of sounds. The smells, the quality of the light, the sense of coming back to a simpler, more fundamental existence that entirely lacks the trappings of civilisation.

mcubbin_lostIf my story brain’s touchstone is a European, fairy tale forest, Australian forests are an IRL touchstone just as potent. My mother took my sister and I on plenty of camping holidays out in the bush as a kid, and I have particularly fond memories of camps without parents in my teenage years, through school, Girl Guides and the Duke of Edinburgh Award. In fact, I think the first time I ever spent a night away from home in the absence of anyone more than a year older than me was on a Duke of Ed camping trip in the Namadgi National Park when I was about 16.

There is nothing quite so magical as waking up to the peace of the early morning Australian bush, when the air is still a bit misty and the sunshine is so new it’s more silver than gold. At this time of day the sun is just beginning to warm up the eucalyptus leaves on the trees and scattered on the ground, and the evaporating dew carries the sharp, clean scent into the air. This feeling, of what it is to be in a eucalypt forest, is the one of the things I tried to capture in my story Adventure Socks in CSFG’s anthology The Never Never Land. The main character is 91-year-old George, who is stuck in a dreary old-age nursing home. His only remaining pleasure is his memories of his wife, and the time they spent living in the Snowy Mountains. (Then George meets Maisie, a new resident who shakes things up a bit.)

He lay in his bed with his mind lost in memories. Hiking through lonely, lovely stands of ghost gums with Rose. Listening to the pure, chiming voices of bellbirds filling the air. Surprising a flock of brilliant rosellas from a tree; or getting a shock themselves when they discovered they were walking amidst a mob of kangaroos resting out the midday heat, stock-still in the shade. The roos had been indistinguishable from the weathered stumps of trees until he and Rose got too close and the nearest ones startled and bounded away.

– “Adventure Socks”, The Never Never Land

(If you’ve never been to the Snowy Mountains in Australia, you should go. It really is some of the loveliest country in the world.) I haven’t written many stories based in Australian forests, though. I’m very conscious that my experience of them (and most of the stories I’ve grown up with about the Australian bush) are predicated on the dispossession of Australia’s first inhabitants, the Aboriginal people. For me, forests are ancient, primal places and the ancient stories of Australia’s forests are not mine to tell.

Just quickly scanning over my files of stories – published and unpublished – there are plenty that are set in or feature a forest. Forests play significant roles in two of my novel projects (so far), and plenty of my short stories. Pretty Jennie Greenteeth, for example, in Strange Little Girls. It’s got a forest and, like all good story forests, this forest isn’t a nice place. It has a nasty secret. I’m trying not to give too much away here, but looking at the metaphorical meaning of the forest that I’ve outlined above, it’s interesting that in order for my protagonist (a 10 year old girl) to resolve the particularly horrifying problem I confront her with, I send her into this forest.

Malevolent secrets. Strange sanctuary. Treasure of a sort. Hmm.

P1010236

Giveaway goodies!

20170314_183941 (1)

Look what arrived in the mail today! Five shiny, brand new copies of Strange Little Girls ready to wing their way on to their new owners on 5 April!

Have you entered? If you won one, what would you want me to write in it?

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Strange Little Girls by Camilla Bruce

Strange Little Girls

by Camilla Bruce

Giveaway ends April 05, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

Strange Little Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Strange Little Girls by Camilla Bruce

Strange Little Girls

by Camilla Bruce

Giveaway ends April 05, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

This Goodreads giveaway opens today! I’ve got 5 copies for Australian readers to sign & put personalised messages in.

(If you’re not in Aus, never fear. Liv & Camilla at Belladonna tell me they have plans for you later in the year…)

Giveaway!

I’m a bit excited! Liv & Camilla at Belladonna Publishing have kindly donated 5 copies of Strange Little Girls for me to give away to 5 lucky Australian readers on Goodreads in celebration of Pretty Jennie Greenteeth’s Aurealis nomination.

I’ll sign all the copies & include a personalised message for the winners.

(If you’re not in Aus, don’t worry, I think there are more giveaways in the pipeline. And the ebook is going to go on special for a limited time, so check back & I’ll post links when it does.)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Strange Little Girls by Camilla Bruce

Strange Little Girls

by Camilla Bruce

Giveaway ends April 05, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

Achievement unlocked: Aurealis Award nomination

HAPPY MONDAY!

No, I’m serious.

The short lists for the 2016 Aurealis Awards went up today and OMG I’M ON IT!!!

My creepy, nasty, strange little story Pretty Jennie Greenteeth from Belladonna Publishing’s Strange Little Girls has been nominated in the YA category!

And because these things are always better shared, I’ve got so many good friends on the short list with me, I’m hard put to count them all. So particular congrats to Shauna O’Meara, Dave Versace, Ian McHugh, Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Kaaron Warren, Tim Napper, Tehani Wessely, Thoraiya Dyer, Simon Petrie, Angela Slatter, Alan Baxter, Sam Murray and Lisa Hannett – and everyone else on the list!

SLG-promo-cover2

How little girls deal with monsters

In celebration of the release of Strange Little Girls from Belladonna Publishing, I’ve put together a board on Pinterest with images I found useful in creating my story, “Pretty Jennie Greenteeth”. I have these boards for quite a few of my works-in-progress, but I usually keep them secret. This is the first one I’ve released. Click on the link below to head over to Pinterest to have a look.

Follow Leife’s board Pretty Jennie Greenteeth on Pinterest.

Pieris rapae
Pieris rapae (Johann Fournier)