River of Bones Released

It’s publication day for RIVER of BONES (aka ELYORA). It’s available now on Kindle UK and Kindle USA, published by Endeavour Press in the UK.

It’s October 1974 and all is not well in the town of Elyora. First the clocks stop. And men in shiny suits turn up offering payment for the inconvenience. Then the phone lines stop working. And finally, the power goes out. The trouble is, no one comes to explain that.

River_of_Bones2Fast forward to December 2012. Jo, Benny and Hal, members of the band Faunabate, have no idea what they’re in for when their car suddenly breaks down on the way to their first gig.

Their nearest town? Elyora. Upon arrival it quickly becomes clear that this is not your normal town. Why are all the magazines dated at 1974? Why have all of their clocks stopped? And where exactly have all the people gone?

There are some towns you don’t ever want to visit. And Elyora is one of them.  Because not everyone gets out alive…

Spawned from a dream about a creepy house and river in August 2010 and based in countless road trips along the New England highway, the original novella entitled ELYORA was originally written during the high octane vibe of the June Rabbit Hole, fueled by a Yacht Club DJ’s mix tape and deftly shaped by my crit partner Dan Powell and emerging editor Lesley Halm for publication in a special December edition of Review of Australian Fiction.

RIVER OF BONES has a brand new opening (for old readers – the characters of Mrs Briggs and Mike are revisited) but it remains the twisted road trip that takes the reader beyond the city to the country, beyond mobile service to an isolation that threatens personal autonomy. To a place where we confront the demons we create in order to save ourselves.

Add RIVER OF BONES to your Goodreads shelf.

Elyora: The Novella That Keeps on Giving

…or how I got caught in the best kind of time loop.

I’m sitting at the outside table beside the pool and thinking it’s a fitting place to write this blog post about Elyora. After all, I penned quite a lot of my novella here, escaping out of the cold of the house and into the bearable winter sun outside across June and July of last year.

Elyora’s news is two pronged, but perhaps I need to back track a little given Christmas preparations subsumed much of the original news regarding it.

JUNE – DECEMBER

I wrote Elyora during the Rabbit Hole in June last year. Review of Australia Fiction picked it up for inclusion in their Rabbit Hole special edition. I was thrilled at the time and buckled down, under the auspice of emerging editor Lesley Halm (of Island Magazine), to tidy up the ugly manuscript in a somewhat mad time frame.

In mid December, after more crazy time-framed revisions, including some very badly timed speed vomiting and the worst case of self-doubt ever, Elyora was released via the Booki.sh platform alongside five other short stories.

In her editorial Lesley wrote:

Each of these were stories that came out of Down the Rabbit Hole. One is even as long as the 30,000 word goal they were trying to achieve. Don’t let that daunt you. “Elyora” by Jodi Cleghorn is a thrilling, unashamedly Australian supernatural thriller, which makes Jodi look like the love child of Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. You will be amazed that Jodi wrote this story in three days.

When I read this I almost vomited. What the hell was Lesley doing saying stuff like that? She couldn’t put my name in the same sentence as Gaiman and King, much less say it was anything like theirs. It was too much. I think that was part of the reason I stayed so quiet about Elyora when it came out – that people might read the editorial and expect more than they were ever going to get!

JANUARY

Sean Wright interviewed in January and in preparation for the interview I sent him through a bunch of my work, including Elyora. His feedback shocked me and yes, at the time I thought he was ‘just being nice’. After the interview he urged me to send Elyora to a paying market, it was not only good enough but I deserved some recompense.

FEBRUARY

On a whim I contacted a friend who is a commissioning editor at a relatively new digital press in the UK. I worked with Richard several years ago and it seemed to be as good a place to start as any, if I was going to seriously consider sending Elyora beyond the shores of Review of Australian Fiction.

In less than 24 hours I had a please send it through. A day later I was asked for a bio and a synopsis. A day after that I was told the manuscript was definitely a good fit for what they were publishing. I just had to do two things:

  • Think up a new name
  • Include a new beginning that made it easier to sell via the digital platforms it would be for sale on

I had a revised manuscript, with a new name and new 1000 word beginning, back to Richard by Monday. Tuesday it got the nod at acquisitions and I had a contract in my inbox by bedtime. That all happened in six days.

Within a fortnight from first touching base with Richard it was signed, sealed and delivered and I ventured out into the world with the good news Elyora had found a digital home with Endeavour Press* as River of Bones**.

BACK TO ELYORA

http://lisahannett.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/aurealis-awards-finalist-for-web.jpgThursday morning I woke to a congratulatory email from Jo Anderton, saying we were finalist buddies and I WAS going to the awards night, wasn’t I?

The Aurealis Awards and me have a bit of a history of missing each other at vital moments, and it seemed it had happened again. This time because I had gone to bed early.

My hands shook as I sought out the press release and found I was a finalist in the short horror section alongside Rob Hood, Kaaron Warren, Felicity Dowker and Jo Anderton. Several days on and I still can’t believe Elyora is there, listed alongside stories from Rob, Kaaron, Felicity and Jo. Really?

I’m not sure when it will sink in. Or when I’ll feel it is a worthy inclusion. I still feel like a beginner on so many levels. The skin of the editor isn’t quite shucked off yet.

With an award nomination and a publishing contract in hand, all I really can think of is all the hard work, of the weeks of darkness when I opened multiple emails to Lesley to withdraw from the Special Edition because it was all too hard, that my writing sucked, the story was terrible and it had all been some kind of terribly mistake. And how I felt so very alone without my usual group of beta readers (and how it was too long to hassle Dan Powell with again – just to prop up my floundering self belief).

Elyora, regardless of what happens next, will always be the ugly duckling that ran on jet fuel, the story that showed me when push came to shove, I was able to rise to the challenge, even when holding a vomit bucket!

*The fact that I’m being published by a press with the same initials as eMergent’s, has not gone unnoticed!

**Release date and cover art to follow shortly – though I have seen draft artwork and it is  amazing!

Author Update #1

Happy Dark Moon. This is the first of what will hopefully be a semi-regular round up of my writing plus the writing and projects of those around me.

A MONTH OF POETRY

February was #postitenotepoetry month. I came out of the month with just under 40 poems—well ahead of the ‘dared’ 28. Unlike the “29 Days of Haiku” last year, I loved every minute of #postitnotepoetry. It became an unexpected and very welcomed outlet for a lot of difficult stuff I faced behind the scenes.

PODCAST

During the January heatwave, I sat down in my air-conditioned writing room to chat with Sean Wright for his Adventures of a Bookonaut podcast. I’ve done a few interviews (including on 4ZZZ) but this was the first time I’d been interviewed as a writer, and it was so much fun. The glowing feedback from Sean came at just the right time, as I sat poised on making the BIG decision to spend a year away from editing and publishing to write. It was also on Sean’s insistence that I sent ELYORA out into the big wide world.  Which brings me to…

ELYORA

My horror novella, published as part of Review of Australian Fiction’s Rabbit Hole special, is out in the wild. It has a brand new beginning, new title and hopefully a new home with the prospect of some financial return. Fingers crossed for good news in the next couple of weeks.

ONE SMALL STEP: AN ANTHOLOGY OF DISCOVERIES

Fablecroft’s next anthology ONE SMALL STEP: an anthology of discoveries is now available for pre-order. The all female anthology will launch at NatCon/Conflux next month. Looking at the ToC, I still pinch myself…that “Firefly Epilogue” sits alongside stories of some of my favourite authors.

FIRST TO A HUNDRED

A story idea for a piece of flash fiction, spawned by Adam’s commentary on cricket and tennis over summer, grew in one afternoon to a 5000 word story (in one sitting – making it the one easy story afforded a year – in the second week of my creative year!). “First to a Hundred” will be my entry in the Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. In a quirk of narrative, the story steps aside from weird spec-fic I’m used to penning and is instead a YA coming-of-age story set on a Victorian beach in the late 1980’s. It’s the story that made all the important men in my life cry!

BIRTHPUNK

I have started on my set of six interlocking birthpunk novellas. I’m currently working on “Sylvie”—the original story that inspired the entire concept of birthpunk. With so many debates going on around the world about women’s corporeal rights (ie. Rights to choose what happens to their bodies) it would appear this is the year to be writing about a world where women’s corporeal rights have been stripped away. Where the Government controls all aspects of fertility and reproduction.

It is hard going at the moment, getting my head around the world building, with some extra distractions going on behind the scenes. The enormity of what I’m attempting weighs heavily on my confidence, despite the small, but dedicated cheer squad who keep telling me it’s awesome and I can do it. I’m hoping to have the first novella completed in the next fortnight.

POST MARKED: PIPER’S REACH

Adam and I have reached the point where we’re acknowledging the end is nigh. But if you think either of us has any idea how it ends, you’d be wrong. It’s not going to be in the next couple of letters, it might be even longer than a few more after that, but it’s definitely on the horizon.

I might not know how it’s going to end, but I do know what I had in mind for the ending this time last year, has been somewhat gutted by the unravelling of events in the last 12 months. There has been discussion that it will end where it started…with a letter from Ella-Louise. We’ll see.

Adam and I are planning to gift print copies of the Christmas Special as a chapbook, accompanied with Jude’s mix tape from 1991. We’re compiling a list of fans and supporters. If you have been a lurker, now would be the time to out yourself.

AROUND THE TRAPS

Joanne Anderton’s debut short story collection, THE BONE CHIME SONG is available for pre-order through FableCroft. I can’t wait to see what is between the pages and looking forward to getting a signed copy at NatCon.

Jessica Bell released her novella The Book in last January and followed up with a short story The Hum of Sin Against Skin last week.

Chris Chartrand unveiled Worth A Thousand Words podcast last month. It is wonderful mash up of photo prompts, writing, podcasting and interviews. I’m currently gestating a story for submission. I’d love to hear something I wrote be narrated by Chris.

Maria Kelly’s story “Parker’s Pygmallion”, a twist on Shaw’s concept, won the Phi Theta Kappa Florida Regional award for Best Short Story—Fiction.

Nicole Murphy released the yearly anthology from In Fabula-divino mentoring project yesterday. It contains a bunch of truly awesome stories, including S.G. Larner’s “Regret” (definitely one of my favourite stories of Stacey’s!)

Emma Newman’s BETWEEN TWO THORNS, the first in the Split Words Trilogy was released by Angry Robot in late February and my copy arrived on Friday. You can purchase at the following locations: UK Edition – US Edition. Em was also the featured author at SFX magazine’s Issue 233 with a corker photo that had Angry Robot’s Marc Gascoigne nominated Em as the next Doctor!

Dan Powell was joint winner of the Carve Esoteric Prize (2013) for “Storm in a Tea Cup” and his short story collection “Looking Out Of Broken Windows” is short listed for the International Scott Prize for Short Stories. You can read an interview with Dan here on the Salt Publishing website about the collection.

Sean Wright sat on the other side of the interviewing desk with Emma Raven of E-book Revolution talking about a bunch of things from attending local writing events to the best use of Twitter and and Goodreads.

The Next Big Thing: ELYORA

The front cover that accompanied Dan's beta reading copy.

The front cover that accompanied Dan’s beta reading copy.

Jo Anderton tagged me last week on The Next Big Thing meme. So without further ado…

What is the working title of your next book?

My upcoming novella is called ELYORA. It is the name it was first born as a short story under and will go to print as.

Where did the idea come from for the novella?

It began with a dream in August last year while we were on holidays in the Bunya Mountains. The dream included a woman called Eylora, a very weird house and a malevolent river. I twisted the woman’s name, and christened the town, central to the novella, Elyora.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s definitely horror, with a smattering of mystery and erotica thrown in for good measure.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I’d be asking my readers this once the novella is released. I’m not a visual person. I have no idea.

Having said that, I did vaguely model the character of Benny on Angus Stone, the musician. It’d be a nice touch of irony to have Angus play Benny in a film adaptation!

And speaking of movies, it is my plan to write a screenplay for ELYORA next year.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Revenge is timeless.

To find her missing band members and make it out of Elyora, Jo must remember who she is and how she came to be there, before they are all sung down to the river.

Will your novella be self-published or represented by an agency?

ELYORA is set for electronic publication in a few short weeks via The Review of Australian Fiction. The novella will be one part of the special Rabbit Hole edition and will be a free download. No reason not to download and enjoy it!

I’m still debating as to whether I submit it elsewhere for print publication or self publish the paperback.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The first draft of ELYORA was never completed. Pressed by a tight deadline, I began the second draft revisions without an ending, in a hope that I’d have worked out how the narrative played out by the time I reached there on the second pass over.

That said, the first 5000 words were disgorged in less than three hours when I came home from holidays. Then it sat. And sat. I took it from 5000 to 19000 words across the Saturday afternoon and Sunday of The Rabbit Hole, then added another 5,000 words to bring me to the point where I wasn’t sure what happened next.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’m not sure I can compare it. I’m only a recent convert to the horror genre, and I read mainly short stories. Reading Kirstyn McDermott’s Madigan Mine definitely had an influence on the way in which I rewrote Jo’s internal dialogue, though we deal with the issue of possession in very different ways.

My beta reader Dan Powell said the original draft had a creeping unease reminiscent of Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, but as I have yet to read it, I wouldn’t be presumptuous enough to compare ELYORA to it (especially as Dan tells me the set up is vastly different to mine).

My partner, Dave, maintains it all sounds like The Cars That Ate Paris, from what I’ve told him of it. Again, I haven’t seen the movie, so I can’t say. They’re both horror, have cars and based in small country towns!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As I said earlier, it was intended to be a short story but at 5,000 words I knew it was never going to be contained to even a long short story. When it was announced on the Saturday of The Rabbit Hole (June) that Review of Australian Fiction were interested in looking at any stories or novellas that came out of the three-day event in June I threw everything else aside and launched back into the world of Elyora.

New layers of ideas grew and melded to the existing narrative on each successive revision (of which there were far too many for the nutty deadlines I’ve been working under).

For example, I specified Ethan’s wife nationality as German on the 3rd rewrite, when I finally came across a folk tale and a monster that fit with the scenario I’d created. That in turned influenced what I named her (Eleanor). The German nationality also became a boon for the underlying premise of the story: ‘just what monster are you creating today’.

I have to give a tip of the hat to the 20-odd people who constituted The Elyora Brains Trust on Facebook. The Brains Trust gave the story Hal’s tattoo (and the accompanying story), the dashboard ornaments, the German terms of endearment and a bunch of encouragement at a time when I was flailing. My Dad helped me out with information on cars, clocks, fuel pumps and petroleum companies. My friend Susan gave me Fauna Bate as a band name when we were talking about it at school one afternoon. Last but not least, another friend, Kerryn, sent me a text message after a movie night we’d all had together saying: what if XYZ happened in your story… and gave me the ending I’d been looking for (but it meant a major rearrangement of the timeline).

What else about the novella might pique the reader’s interest?

ELYORA is set just off the New England Highway—between Armidale and Glenn Innes in New South Wales (the same road we take several times a year to visit my in-laws). If you’re travelling that way this Christmas period, or you know that road well, I dare you to look for the turn off to Elyora! You might want to think twice about taking it though.

UPDATE: ELYORA was released on the 21st December and is available now at Bookish–for free!

My blog feels like the place memes come to die. The idea is to tag five further people, but I am tagging just one (a combination to the age of the meme, the mess the last month has been for me–contributing to a lack of organisation and the time of year!)

Over to you S.G. Larner!

ELYORA Accepted For Publication

The  cover created for the eBook  version sent to Dan.

The hard yards are paying off with writing this year.

The first weekend in June I busted out 21,000 words across a weekend for The Rabbit Hole. I know lots of people poo-poo events such as it (and NaNoWriMo) as “novelty events” with no discernible benefit, but I beg to differ.

Last night I got word my novella, Elyora, written during The Rabbit Hole, will be published in Review of Australian Fiction‘s special December Edition Down the Rabbit Hole.

I’m ecstatic.It’s the first longer piece I’ve attempted and completed as an adult. It’s also the first at the novella length and my debut outing writing horror. And well, there’s the great honour of being considered publishable by RAF.

When indie-rock band, Fauna Bate, break down on their way to Brisbane they seek help in Elyora, a derelict town scrubbed off the map by the Government and populated by locals suffering a disturbing kind of amnesia. When the schism between band members widens and the repeating history of the town encroaches, Jo must remember who she is and find her fellow band members before they are all sung down to the river. ELYORA BLURB

There’s still much work to be done. While the story in itself is tight, the writing in place is appalling. Not even 40+ hours slaving over it in the week leading up to the deadline, could iron out all the bad writing, spelling and grammatical mistakes. A two month break from it will put me in good stead to review and rework it. I’m itching to get back among Elyora’s characters and landscape. I’m also looking forward to sitting on the author side of author-editor relationship. It will be a welcomed sea change to the last five years.

Many thanks to the folk on Facebook who became the Elyora Brains Trust in late July, providing me with rich details I could never have dreamed up in a million years; to Susan who named the band and sparked what became the brains trust; Adam who cheered from the sidelines; Dan who made it the best work possible; my Dad who provided details and dates for cars, petrol bowsers and clocks; my oldest mate Ty who joined the party with a volley of insightful questions; John Banbury on Flickr who provided me with up close photos of petrol bowsers; Laura and Alan, who offered an Evil Plan B should the original publishing options not work my way; and my Mr Ds who allowed me to slink off into my cave for a week.

More proof in this day an age that an author benefits from not existing as an island.

As this goes live, the younger Mr D is wandering around the house after the older Mr D giving him a break down of  ELYORA (told him it’s about what happens when you bully and ostracize people) ie. the watered down, appropriate for an eight-year-old version, but still mentions the body in the garage. I need to get him on the PR bandwagon.

Come In, Have A Seat… No Really, Please

Inclusion as a staff writer at the Write Anything in 2012 was dependent (in part) on committing to and being publicly accountable for a year long writing project. The philosophy behind Paul’s decision was simple: it ensured all contributors were actively engaged in writing.

At the start of the year the actual idea of committing to writing was pretty horrific. I’d just been spat out the other side of another bout of depression and, for all intents and purposes, my creative space was shattered, my confidence at all time low and my belief in accomplishing anything… pretty much zero.

I had one burning desire though: to fall back in love with writing. To experience the kind of intense character interaction that compelled me to write. To get lost in the timelessness afforded by the actual physical act of writing.

Knowing that, I chose two projects: the first to write the letters that would become Post Marked: Pipers Reachwith Adam Byatt (something fun, requiring me to turn up at the page once a fortnight, doing something I had always enjoyed) and the second, to complete my birthpunk novella.

Today the second, of three, project updates is live at Write Anything.

Written in conversational style (because I just couldn’t bring myself to write a report card on myself!) I offer up virtual cake and tea, while I chat about Elyora, Byrthed and Pipers Reach, including some tasty morsels not seen elsewhere (and well if you are a Write Anything subscriber – you would have got me accidentally letting too much go about Pipers Reach in your email this morning).

Everything this year has been about forward progression and I’m looking forward to the final three months of the year, and seeing the pay off for all the energy put into these projects.

What are you currently working on?