Postcardia-cum-Poetica #34

Made for my darkly beautiful Owl-Sista, it takes from the Elyora baggie and a picture cut from an old WQ magazine. It continues with the dark gothic feel that infused most of May’s poetry. 

Giveaways and Special Offers


Yes! It’s on. There are five copies of Elyora to give away worldwide.

You can register here.


Any readers and reviewers participating in The Australian Women Writers Challenge who buy a copy of Elyora, I’ll pop something extra into the post with the novella as a thank you. Just write ‘AWWC’ in the buyer’s notes when you pass through PayPal.

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.

Westminster, 1634

Ramsey dropped the half-quatern sack on the grass of the Abbey’s cloister and waited for Lilly and Scott to join him, his mood darker than the London evening and twice as cold. He had sought Lilly out, several weeks earlier at his house on the Strand to discuss the matter at hand. Though he thought he had impressed on the astrologer the need for secrecy in their endeavour and the importance of securing the services of someone familiar in the employment of the mosaical rods, (someone of rank, definitely of experience) and even though Lilly had nodded gravely, given his word he knew of such a man, it appeared he did not. Lilly had arrived at the appointed hour with John Scott,  the former page of Lord Norris, mocking Ramsay even as Scott stuttered his way through questions regarding his experience and the integrity of his knowledge. Opening the door for the two of the, Ramsay swore under his breath at his stupidity in trusting someone like Lilly. The seriousness nature of this investigation, which came with the blessings of both Dean Williams and that of the King, appeared to have been lost on up-start astrologer and his half-wit accomplice.  Within minutes of arriving the first of the uninvited observers found their way into the cloister and Ramsay’s hunt turned into an evening of entertainment for Lilly and his cohort.

Ramsay ordered the six labourers to wait at the southern end and none objected. The mad Scotsman had promised them each a month’s wages regardless of what was found. The walkway was warmer than the damp air of the grassed square, the floor covered in rushes and a low fire stoked for them to huddle around. There was silence as none dared speculated within earshot of the royal clockmaker what compelled him to dig in the Abbey at night.

From a satchel, Ramsay produced a grid map on a sheet of rough paper and took unnecessary time and effort in flattening the folds and reviewing the grid references it in the light of Lilly’s lantern.

“We will work in a systematic manner from North to South, East to West, taking measured steps,” Ramsay stated, his thick brogue crystallising in sharp ivory puffs. He made no effort to modulate the volume. There was no point in trying to keep anything a secret. “You understand, Scott? Methodical. This is not the hocus pocus of your mentor.”

The young man flushed under Ramsay’s stare, but nodded. The hazel rods trembled in his gloved hands. Lilly’s face twitched for a moment and he executed a dramatic sneeze to cover the full extent of Ramsay’s debasement. Whatever illusion of friendly partnership remained, froze with the grass beneath their feet.

The trio walked to the north-east corner, their foot steps carving imprints in the lawn. Lilly took the lantern from Ramsay and raised the wick in both. They moved slowly, Scott with the hazel rods held lightly before him, Lilly with the lanterns at head height throwing as much light before them as possible and Ramsay counting under his breath and notating the map as they went.

The moon climbed high above them, the sliver doing little to illuminate their progress. More lights sprung up in the arched windows of the cloister. The weather and late hour had kept all by the hardiest and most curious of onlookers away but still Ramsay scowled. This was not a public performance, though Lilly had obviously gone to great lengths to ensure it was despite his word to keep their visit to the Abbey a sworn secret. Animated chatter stole across the square. Wagers being taken. Stories compared. By tomorrow evening a furious trade in phantasical tales would be had in all the pubs in Westminster and beyond.

Halfway across the cloister Scott complained of the cold and Lilly of cramps. Ramsay called a halt, checked the time on his pocket watch and drew a silver flask from his satchel, offering it only to Scott.

“Uncover what the Abbey hides, laddie, and you’ll not be grovelling for whims over Lord Norris’s chamber pot.” The young man nodded and fumbled the flask, almost dropping it. “Now that, laddie. That would be a true crime.”