Welcome to Elyora

cover-finalTo celebrate today’s launch of Elyora I’ve compiled a list of facts about the novella, the writing it and other associated tidbits.

#1 Elyora began as a dream featuring a misshapen house, a woman and sirens in the river.

#2 Elyora was the name of the woman in my dream, not the town. It’s pronounced el-yor-ah.

#3 The first draft of Elyora was written during a June 2012 Rabbit Hole event run by the Queensland Writers Centre – 30,000 words in 30 hours.

#4 The original sex scene was written as a word count filler and was intended to be edited out of the final draft. The ending precluded that from happening.

#5 Elyora was edited by Lesley Halm (for Review of Australian Fiction) and if it weren’t for her commitment to the story she saw in the rough, it might never have been finished, much less published.

#6 Elyora was short listed in the Aurealias short horror category in 2012 – two days after the contract was signed to sell it as River of Bones to Endeavour Press.

#7 The a cappella scene was intended to have Suzanne Vega’s Tom’s Diner at the centre of it but words failed to bring it to life at the time. The new edition features Vega’s classic.

#8 The 2nd draft was almost complete before I knew what the menace in the river was. It was an accidental find after months of dedicated searching.

#9 Knowing what was in the river, and its folk history, added a new layer to the story, a new iteration of claustrophobia and fleshed out the backstory of Eleanor and Ethan Lazarus.

#10 Brigadoon, the town that appears for one day every hundred years, was one of the inspirations for Elyora, though my partner, insisted it sounded more like the town in Peter Weir’s The Cars That Ate Paris.

#10 Elyora is not based on the township of Ben Lomond. Ben Lomond has 3 churches and is on the wrong side of the road.

#11 FaunaBate almost hailed from Sydney. The Hume Highway between Melbourne and City was the intended setting. But a road trip in 2011 discounted it.

#12 It was only after Elyora was published that I visited Hal and Jo’s hometowns of Woolomin and Nundle. GoogleEarth was my friend prior to that.

#13 Sometimes it’s okay to read reviews! The new edition has small alternations to the flora and fauna based on Chris-from-Ben-Lomond’s Goodread’s review.

#14 Elyora was my first attempt at horror and I wanted to write something that would scare me stupid. My son managed to accidentally jump-scare me during a late editing session of the final garage scene.

#15 The hardest scene to write was the conversation between Ethan and Stanley. Nailing Stanley’s vernacular and articulation pushed my skills to their limits.

#16 In addition to the dream, two strong visuals components were musts for incorporation: the cars in the back of the garage and the tow hook on the old dodge truck.

#17 One reviewer said she would never again take a bath after reading Elyora. #sorrynotsorry

#18 Petrol actually was 13c/l in 1974. It was one of the facts I collected as part of my research. I also read the original research paper from the FBI Body Farm.

#19 Searching >Elyora< on Spotify will bring up the play list of songs mentioned in the novella. There’s 16 of them.

#20 The number of plays  logged for Yacht Club DJ’s ‘The mostly come at night, mostly’ hour-long mixtape – 82. It was on almost perpetual loop during Elyora’s writing and editing.

#21 Lesley’s original editorial stated that Elyora could be the lovechild of Gaiman and King, consequently, when it was first released, I told no one it had been published.

#22 River of Bones languished in relative obscurity until an Australia Day promo pushed it to #1 on the Amazon (Aus) horror charts and into the general Top 20.

#23 Most of the quirky details, from dashboard adornments to tattoos, were based on suggestions from The Elyora Brains Trust on Facebook during the 2nd draft.

#24 The third edition of Elyora (the 2nd by its intended name) is the only paperback edition. Only one was intended to be printed (as a reference for writing a script) but the idea of a worldwide paperback release refused to be ignore.


When Jo, Hal and Benny arrive in Elyora the absence of takeaway coffee is the least of their problems. At each other’s throats and without transportation, phone service or somewhere to stay, they accept the hospitality of the enigmatic Lazarus at the original Elyora homestead.

As day turns to night, the sanctuary of the rambling house becomes a terrifying alternate reality of memories peeling back onto themselves to expose secrets and paranoia dating back to 1942.

To escape Elyora and return to 2012, Jo must remember who she is and find Benny and Hal before they succumb to  the same fate as those who came before them.

 

Haven’t got a copy of Elyora yet – no stress. Just click here.

Want to add it to Goodreads. Easy! Just click here.

Coming on 20th February – a Goodreads giveaway. More closer to the date.

Into The Wild

Front CoverI’m so excited (and relieved!) to release The Heart is An Echo Chamber into the wild today. Proof that good things are worth the wait and amazing friends will always stand by you.

Many thanks to the authors — Adam, Tom, Kristin, Stacey, Ben, Lois, Helen and Rus — for their patience in letting me see this through in my own time, at my own pace. A double thank you to Stacey who debuts as a cover artist who also earns special stripes for being the ultimate motivator in getting-shit-done. Thanks to Rob for his proof reading prowess and Kim for being sanity at the end of a text message. Last, but not least, thank you to my Mr Ds who travelled the ever-so-bumpy road that ran parallel to the publication of the chapbook these last two years.

The collection is available as a limited edition, hand number chapbook ($12) or an ebook (pay what you want), each bundled with a digital copy of the companion collection No Need to Reply.

More information can be found here.

 

 

Introducing, The Heart is an Echo Chamber

Wednesday, 10th August, I’ll finally be sharing with the world The Heart is an Echo Chamber.

In October 2014 I released No Need to Reply. A chapbook by that name begged a reply. The Heart is an Echo Chamber is that reply, or more aptly, eight replies.

This tiny collection has traveled some pretty rough times with me. Every time I’ve almost finished it (the editing, the typesetting, the cover….), life has thrown a curve ball. And another. Not only has the collection traveled with me through this, but so have the eight writers who signed on back in October 2014. Thank you.

I think it is safe to say, it may never have come to fruition had it not been for Stacey (S.G.) Larner, who debuts as a cover artist. Thank you, Stacey! For your extraordinary illustration and cover design, and for being there to encourage me when I didn’t think I could face it again.

Below is more info on the chapbook and how to pre-order.


Front Cover

Every story carries a second side, sometimes heard, more often not. Or a beginning, purposely or accidentally unmentioned. An ending left out because to include it would make it all too hard.

Until now.

These eight stories echo the heart of another.

Revisited are a jar of olives, a sentient tarot deck, a redemptive poem, an international hotel room, a piano accordion, an anonymous text, an abandoned pair of shoes and a list of things.

**Available in multiple digital formats and as a limited-edition chapbook.**


 

“You know what it means to want the presence of someone, to want that ghost of a feeling that if you turn around slowly enough, squint your eyes tightly enough, you’ll slip into a different world that brings that lost soul back to you. How things should be.”

 


 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

The Heart is an Echo Chamber – Lois Spangler
It Couldn’t Be – Tom Dullemond
Untethering – Adam Byatt
Letting Go – S.G. Larner
Pits – Kristen Erskine
The Princess of Swords – Helen Stubbs
Starless – Ben Payne
Emerging, Closure – Rus VanWestervelt

 


PRE-ORDER

Buy the limited edition chapbook

$12.00 includes postage wherever you are in the world and free digital copies*.

(PayPal allows for you to leave a message–whether this be for a personalised message or to nominate someone other than yourself to have the book signed for.)

Chapbook Bundle

$17.00 includes postage wherever you are in the world, physical and digital copies* of The Heart is an Echo Chamber and No Need to Reply.

*No Need to Reply will immediately download. The Heart is an Echo Chamber will be forwarded to you upon release.

 

 

Release Day: No Need To Reply

It’s been a little over three years since I last embarked on a brand new publishing project (From Stage Door Shadows). It’s been 18 months since I last published a book through eMergent (The Machine Who Was Also A Boy). So today breaks quite a few droughts.

It’s somewhat fitting that my 13th publication is my first solo work.

Thank you to every who helped along the way–from those who got their hands dirty in the text or trained eagle eyes on the graphic design, to those who cheered from the sidelines. Even though this is a solo collection, it as always, feels like a team effort.

I hope you enjoy No Need to Reply.


“I used to think there was an unexpected freedom in unread letters. To know at the end of writing I’d be the only one intimate with the contents. Now I think it’s the worst kind of invisibility…that I’m disappearing slowly with each word.”

No Need To Reply new1Experimental in style, structure and form, the eight stories explore the pain and euphoria of finding your voice. From a man confronting the price of a lie and a woman wrestling with the legacy of her mortality, to a young girl lost in a war of misunderstandings, the collection delves into conversations that define the struggle to be heard.

ADD TO GOODREADS


TABLE OF CONTENTS

No Need To Reply
It Could Be
Squeezebox
Holding On
Olives
Shuffling
Wishing, Happily Ever After
Closure


Pay What You Want for the eBook
(PayPal will allow you to put in the amount beginning at $0.01)


Buy the chapbook
$12.00 includes postage wherever you are in the world and a free eBook.
PayPal allows for you to leave a message–whether this be for a personalised message or to nominated someone other than yourself to have the book signed for.

A Very if:book Week

I highlighted the exciting work of if:book Australia in my Snap Shots interview last month. This week I’ve been lucky enough to be part of two of their projects.

The n00bz

In July the word was put out on Twitter for digital innovators to blog their projects and have a chance to be part of the revised edition of The N00bz: New Adventures in Literature. This coincided with the opening weeks of the #6in6 weeks challenge and I was encouraged to write about it as an example of establishing digital communities. It didn’t seem terribly revolutionary to me, as I’ve been doing it since 2009 but this was the first time a community spontaneously sprung to life.

My tiny snippet of an article ‘#6in6: A Look at Accidental Community’ made it in and I can now claim (rather sheepishly) to share a table of contents with authors the likes of Sean Williams, Carmel Bird, and Benjamin Law.

From Simon’s preface:

… The intersection of technology and publishing is full of contradiction, competition, and conflict. Technology today exists in a kind of attention-deficit hyperspeed: products inspire anticipation, passion, adoption, familiarity, and finally boredom in an increasingly fast cycle. The book is drawn into this amped up environment—write, publish, write more—even as it clings to an authoritarian and timeless gravitas that may or may not still be relevant.

For writers in such an environment, the possibilities are as intoxicating as they are bewildering. Telling stories is a craft that adapts and changes to meet the technology of its time and writers are a generally curious bunch.

It was with such thoughts in mind that if:book and Editia pitched the idea for The N00bz to the writers collected in this volume.

We challenged twelve Australian writers[1] to step outside their comfort zone and try a new professional experience – something related to their craft that they had never tried before, whether it was a tool or a technique at the cutting edge or whether it had been around for centuries. It only had to be new to the writer.

The n00bz launched on Tuesday in Sydney and is available here as an eBook ($9.99) or paperback ($23.99).

Open Changes

https://i0.wp.com/open.futureofthebook.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/LTC.jpg

Open Changes is a flash-fiction/remix project from open to all writers, artists, musicians and film makers and is part of the Lost in Track Changes project for 2014.

This week my story ‘Poppies Grew Scarlet From Her Tears’ is one of four stories up for remixing as part of week three of the project. I was inspired by the line: Somewhere in there lay her true name, buried beneath the rubble she’d left behind a long time ago from Omar Sakr’s story ‘Redback. Tiny. Queen Of Spades. Deserter.’ I threw ideas around with Dave Versace until his comment about a ‘sin eater’ filled me with the dark delight of what I could create.

Here is a little snippet of Poppies…

Somewhere beneath the rubble her true name lies, the syllables torn from each other and buried in the foundations millennia ago. All attachments to herself severed to step from the shadows of personhood into immortality. To abide forever in a delicious nothingness, freed from pain and disappointment. From longing, grief and uncertainty.

And the anticipation builds as to whether any of lines or imagery grab the next round of remixes, and what might come of it.

The deadline for the next round of remixes is this midnight this Sunday, AEST. Get to it!

PS: If you are a fan of Tiny Owl Workshop, the very lovely Sue Wright has a story, ‘Tulips’ in the Week Two remixes.

From Short Story to Short Story Collection (and all stops between)

An interview with Dan Powell

I’ve known Dan Powell since mid-2009. We stumbled across each other between Constantine Markide’s Fourth Fiction and the inception of #fridayflash. We were both relatively new to writing and wrote shoulder-to-shoulder through much of the second half of 2009. I greatly admired the scope and versatility of Dan’s writing. There seemed to be no style or genre he couldn’t turn his hand to with style and efficacy. In time we fell into a critiquing partnership that has endured the birth of children, moving countries, breakdowns, work pressures, time pressures, and all other things life can, and does, throw your way.

DanAuthorPicI’ve had the honour to publish three of Dan’s stories (‘This Be The Verse’, ‘Driver and the Beautiful Highway’, ‘Perfect Light’). He is an editor’s dream. In 2012 I had the opportunity to adapt ‘Driver and the Beautiful Highway’ for a short film script.

Behind the scenes I’ve had the joy of watching so many of Dan’s story grow and evolve and go on to find homes in magazines, anthologies and on prize lists. I tell in my editing seminars, in the section on beta reading, how Dan once sent me a story which was just an opening and closing. In the middle was a note: [something goes here. Do you have any ideas what it might be?] Those days are long past for Dan!

Dan’s work is uncompromising and at times uncomfortable in its exploration of taboo subjects or hidden ‘domestic’ situations. I have been disturbed and delighted by the characters and stories Dan has penned. In 2010 I (jokingly!) said to Dan: no more shit stories. Read ‘Soiled’ and ‘Did You Pack This Bag Yourself’ and you’ll understand the comment in context of a stay-at-home Dad going through toilet training!

Dan is one of my writing heroes: his dedication to the writing communities he belongs to (in the early days of the Friday Flash community he read and commented on every story, even when the list blew out to 70 odd stories), his dedication to the craft (his commitment to the Short Story a Day challenge back in 2010 was one of the catalyst in the evolution of his stories IMO), his dedication to Flash Fiction as a form (he has reviewed and shared countless stories from sites such as Metazen) and his work ethic (write, sub, and keeping subbing).

Then there is the huge investment Dan has made my work over the years as my crit partner. He knows my work inside-out and has consistently challenged me to write learner, harder and deeper. His editorial stamp is on so many of my stories, including Elyora/River of Bones.

Today it’s my pleasure to look across my desk and see copies of Looking Out of Broken Windows sitting there… and to grill him about the process of creating a short story collection.

Lou Reed said: I can’t do anything I want to. I mean, I can’t have my own TV show. I can’t have my own movie. But within my little world, no body tells me what to put on the album. It made me think of how writing stories is not too different to writing songs.

bookondeskThat is exactly what I love about writing. I write exactly the stories that I would love to read. That level of control is unique to the prose writer. Every other type of story-telling requires collaboration and as such means you relinquish some of that control, some of that freedom. I’ve written comic scripts and I love collaborating with artists and watching the words come to life in a kinetic fashion, but you cannot beat the raw freedom you get faced with a blank page about to be filled with prose.

I am genuinely excited by what I am writing about at any given time. You can’t beat that feeling of writing exactly what you want to write. Seeing that work go on to be accepted for publication and enjoyed by readers is particularly thrilling. It justifies all those choices, both conscious and unconscious, that you make during the crafting of the piece.

David Byrne said that sometimes there is an unconscious thread that runs through the songs on an album. The same could be said about writing short stories; that as writers we are drawn to tell certain types of stories and or give voice to certain types of characters. How indicative is Looking out of Broken Windows of the types of stories/characters you are drawn to and how did those stories influence the inception of the collection?

This collection is absolutely indicative of the kinds of stories and characters I was interested in exploring over the last four or five years.

I am drawn to the broken and damaged parts of people. In those aspects of character lie the real stories. All of the characters in these stories are a little broken, a little damaged and struggling to deal with the events and actions that have made them that way. This thread emerged in an unconscious process. Once I began filtering the stories during selection, it was very clear that a certain core group would provide the spine of the collection.

Being broken is a major part of the human experience. If you’re lucky you pick yourself up and carry on, hopefully with the help of others. This collection explores that side of being a person.

From that inception point, what was the process of creating Looking Out of Broken Windows? What was the hardest part and what was the easiest part of the process?

The short stories are the backbone of the collection. Once I had that group it was a matter of selecting the flash fictions that best complimented the stories.

The hardest part of the process was realising that certain stories just wouldn’t make the cut for the collection. I knew early on that a good few stories that I really loved, that I thought were good enough to include, just didn’t fit the overall theme and feel of the collection.

Looking at the collection now I can see that I absolutely made the right choices over what to include. And of those that it really hurt to cut, a good two or three have a firm place in the next collection, which they are perfect for, so it all worked out. Conversely, the easiest part was probably the removal of those stories that weren’t quite good enough.

LOoBW has 27 stories in it. How many stories did you have the pool and how did you choose what went in and what was held over?

I pulled the very best stories from the last five years or so of my writing to make up the collection. From a total pool of around 26 stories and 32 flash fictions I ended up with the 27 pieces in the collection. So by that reckoning, I trimmed away just over half of the stories that might have earned a place.

Most of those were cut because they simply weren’t good enough. Others were kept back for my next collection as they simply did not fit the emerging theme of this collection.

The real turning point for selection came with the writing of the title story (which was the last story to be completed in the collection). I knew as soon as I typed the final words that the collection had a story that would act as its figurehead. Once I had that, I had a title for the collection and the rest slotted into place.

Many of the stories in LOoBW were published previously in journals, magazines and anthologies. How does including previously published stories impact on the logistics of putting a collection together?

LOOBW lower res coverThat side of things was all very simple. All the stories were published at least a year ago and therefore out of any exclusivity that their previous publications claimed. For all of them I have copyright so that side of things was not an issue.

All of the stories that appeared previously elsewhere are mentioned in the acknowledgements of the collection, along with my sincere thanks to all the editors who championed my work by putting it online and in print. Their support was a crucial stepping-stone to this collection being accepted for publication.

Do the previously published stories appear as the fans of your work will remember them? Or did some require re-working to fit the overall feel of the anthology?

All the stories appear pretty much as they were originally published. The exception is ‘Did You Pack This Bag Yourself?’ which you will remember appeared in Chinese Whisperings interconnected short story anthology The Yin and Yang Book as ‘This Be The Verse.’

It was a story I absolutely needed to include, as no character of mine is more broken than poor old Calvinsweetheart. The rewriting was not about making the story fit the theme in this case, but taking the story back to its core, removing the elements that tied it in to the world of the Yin and Yang books, so the story could stand on its own two feet amidst my other work.

In the past when I’ve configured anthology ToCs I’ve been very mindful to place each story so it’s position amplifies the narrative but also builds the stories around it. Who decided on the final ToC order and how do you think your stories are altered/experienced differently in having them together in a single collection?

The final order of stories was totally my own decision. Salt are happy to trust their authors to shape their books. I think they believe that no-one knows the book better than the author and as such they give you a great deal of freedom regarding which stories you include and in what order.

I think my stories all stand up as separate pieces of fiction but hopefully, when read together like this, the reader will see the connections and resonances between the many narratives squeezed between the covers.

Hip hop artist Mos Def says all his albums are snapshots of where he is artistically. How is Looking Out of Broken Windows a snap shot of you are both as an artist and a person?

It is definitely a snapshot of me as a writer between 2008 and 2013.

All of the stories were written during that period and as such can’t help but reflect where I was at that time both as a writer and a human being. Many of the stories focus on the domestic, which is probably a direct result of my being a househusband and full-time-father during that time. It’s why there are so many stories about pregnancy and babies in the book, why there are so many stories about marriages, so many stories about parent and child relationships.

Are there any hints at what might be in your next collection?

My next collection is already taking shape. I have five or six stories for it already. This one is going to be all about the idea of masculinity in the 21st century.

It’s creative process is quite different as I have a clear idea of the general feel of this collection from the off and I am consciously writing stories that have something to say about that idea. Hopefully this will mean that this one won’t take so long to complete. The first of these stories, ‘Rip Rap’, has just been short listed for the Willesden Herald Short Story Prize. With luck some of the others will start appearing in publications and prize shortlists very soon.

– – –

Dan Powell is a prize winning author whose short fiction has appeared in the pages of Carve, Paraxis, Fleeting and The Best British Short Stories 2012. His debut collection of short fiction, Looking Out Of Broken Windows, was shortlisted for the Scott Prize in 2013 and is published by Salt. He procrastinates at danpowellfiction.com and on Twitter as @danpowfiction.

Dan is giving away a signed copy of Looking Out of Broken Windows to one reader of the blog tour; he will post to anywhere in the world. To win just leave a comment on this post or any of the other LOoBW blog tour posts appearing across the internet during March 2014. The names of all commenters will be put in the hat for the draw, which will take place on April 6th.

Looking Out of Broken Windows (Salt Publishing) hits the shelves Saturday 15th March. You can pre-order at the following locations:

The Salt store
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Book Depository

BOFF2 Australian Blog Hop: Stacey Larner

To celebrate the launch of Best of Friday Flash Vol. 2 (or BOFF2), the tiny Aussie contingent is doing a Blog Hop (otherwise known as “the blop”). I’m hosting S.G Larner, who talks about her melancholic offering, “The House Cemetery”.

If you hop (skip or jump) over to Jason Coggin’s site you can read about my story “She-Hero”. But more importantly, stop in on the way and buy BOFF2 here and join the Facebook online release party.

“House Cemetery” – S. G. Larner
(Brisbane)

“Some handle it better than others. I tend to dwell on things, to make them seem much worse than they really are. Harold is an eternal optimist; it irritates me how he’s so cheerful all the time. Always putting a positive spin on it. Like there’s some good in being cut in half and abandoned on the side of the road.”

My memory of the inspiration for House Cemetery is a bit like a dream, all muddled and incoherent. There are fragments of the truth in what I remember though.

There is a memory of forlorn looking houses for sale in a lot by the motorway, somewhere north of Brisbane. I once lived in a house that was destined to be cut in half and taken to a place very much like that. I’ve seen houses on the backs of wide trucks that drove slowly with lights flashing and WIDE LOAD displayed. Cars banked up behind them, frustrated by the delay.

And finally, my partner saying something like, “Imagine if the houses were alive, and it was like a graveyard for them.”

Sentient houses abandoned in a used house sales lot, slowly rotting. Wow, what kind of torture would that be?

Friday Flash

House Cemetery was actually my first #fridayflash story, prior to that I was doing [Fiction] Friday, and then I took a bit of a hiatus to concentrate on other writing. I have to credit Jodi Cleghorn with getting me over to [Fiction Friday], the forum which prodded me to start writing regularly. I resisted Twitter for a long time because I am time poor, but when I joined I jumped into #fridayflash. After a while I decided to prioritise submission pieces but I still like to participate in #fridayflash where I can.

S. G. Larner (@StaceySarasvati) is an overachieving mother-of-three. Her sleep deprived haze isn’t enough to keep her away from the delights of the written word. A denizen of sunny Brisbane, Australia, she revels in exploring the dark underbelly of the world in her works. She has several stories published, has been called a proofreading goddess and grammar juggernaut, and contributes to a collaborative sound/image/text project called The Included Middle with her partner.

Aussie Blog Hop participants:

Adam Byatt
Tim Collard
S.G. Larner
Jason Coggins