Interview with (and Flyaway art by) Anika Kls / Artventurin

Anika Kls (Artventurin) drew this glowing image for Flyaway as part of her work with the Charting the Australian Fantastic program at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf — she showed it to me when we met in Glasgow, and my print of it just arrived.

Hand holding a print of an illustration: a blonde girl in a red cloak holding up a hand to a Tasmanian tiger on a rock, with sunset in the background

You can see more of her work on her website (and commission her) here: https://artventurin.carrd.co/ and order prints from https://www.inprnt.com/gallery/artventurin/, and in the meantime, I asked her some questions…

  1. Why draw, and what do you love about it? 

Over the years, I found drawing to be a vital tool of self-expression. When I go through my collection of drawings, I can see  whether I was in a good or bad mood as it will affect my colour palette. However, I also just love the challenge of creating something; of finding inspiration in your surroundings and pursuing your own visions in it. Sometimes I get the weirdest ideas for an art piece when looking at something entirely different, so I try to translate it into my own version. 

2. How do you choose a scene to draw?

I am a very visual person. When I read a scene and the images just effortlessly flood into my head, it’s usually a go for me. There has to be something that speaks to me; it’s quite hard to explain. Whenever I have various options, I construct a mental image and ask myself some questions: what would the colour palette be like? How is the scene arranged? Where do I position everything? What are the expressions like? And most importantly, can I pull it off and do it justice?

3. Can you say a bit about how you ended up working with Charting the Australian Fantastic, and the illustrations you do for them?

I initially attended the Charting the Australian Fantastic course, which is lead by Bettina (Tina) Burger and Lucas Mattila. They offered creative tasks every now and then, which was just perfect. The two tasks I chose allowed me to illustrate one scene from Lion Hearn’s Across the Nightingale Floor and re-draw a Shaun Tan piece in my own style. After handing that in, Tina and Lucas, who were conveniently looking for an assistant, contacted me and asked me if I would like a job (needless to say that I did).

The illustrations I did range from simple character/background sketches, logo designs or fully rendered illustrations for books and short-stories. The wildest ones were probably for Alan Baxter’s The Roo. I am not an expert on kangaroo anatomy and I’m quite sure the FBI is keeping an eye on me now for the endless google searches of gore.

Sketches of people playing guitar, and sketching a lamppost in Glasgow
My sketch of Anika and Tina in Glasgow in July

4. Why did you choose to illustrate this scene for Flyaway?

As with every illustration I did for Charting the Australian Fantastic, it was a shared discussion process with Tina and Lucas. We all read the story and needed a very representative image, so we threw some ideas around. It was a trial and error process, but in the end, this scene was the one that had burnt itself into my brain and that worked out well when I did the sketches. 

5. What do you hope to do with your art in the future?

That’s a very tough question. Right now, I’m trying to do as much freelance work as possible next to my studies here in Glasgow since prices are skyrocketing. Fan art is always fun to do, but I recently got into DnD and specifically DnD character designs, so I would like to pursue that more in the future. 

Depending on what comes after my postgraduate, I might even try to focus solely on illustrations if an opportunity presents itself. The biggest goal is still to design a book cover or do in-book illustrations (Bon Orthwick’s illustrations for Empire of the Vampire blew me away, so there is that goal).

Anika Kls illustration of a pastry shop
“Hive of Glass”, from Anika’s portfolio

6. Any other questions you wish I’d asked?:D

Is it hard? Yes, especially when you’re a perfectionist like me and try to meet expectations. 

Do I know what I’m doing? No, but I’m still doing it (trust the process!).

Do you regularly forget to eat and drink while drawing because you’re so caught up in the process and then almost black out? How dare you call me out like that.

Anika Kls Illustration of burning building and figure reaching to giant crow
Anika Kls illustration for Catching Teller Crow (Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina) for Charting the Australian Fantastic

More about Anika

And Flyaway, by me

Ditmar Awards: Flyaway and Mother Thorn

I am delighted and honoured to have received Ditmar Awards for best novella (for Flyaway) and for art (for the illustrations for Mother Thorn, by Juliet Marillier). Congratulations to all my fellow nominees J Ashley-Smith, Alan Baxter, Robert Hood, TR Napper, Keeley Van Order and Rovina Cai, and also to the winners and nominees in the other categories.

If you’d like to know more about Flyaway, there are excerpts, links, interviews and reviews on this page: Flyaway.

I’ve written several posts about Mother Thorn including an interview with Juliet Marillier and process posts about the cover art and internal illustrations.

Ditmar Awards open for voting

The Ditmar Awards are open for voting until THIS FRIDAY 19 NOVEMBER 2021 (one minute before midnight Canberra time, which is 10.59pm Brisbane time). Members of any of the last 5 Australian Natcons are able to vote.

It’s a delightful shortlist, and I’m thrilled to have works shortlisted in three categories (links to more information included):

  • Flyaway (Tor.com and Picador) for Novella
  • Mother Thorn (by Juliet Marillier, Serenity Press), for artwork
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British Fantasy Award — Flyaway for Best Newcomer

I’m hugely honoured to have received the British Fantasy Award (The Sydney J Bounds Award) for Best Newcomer, for Flyaway!

Congratulations to all my fellow nominees — here are their books!

And many congratulations to all the winners:

  • BEST NEWCOMER (THE SYDNEY J. BOUNDS AWARD)Kathleen Jennings, for Flyaway (Tordotcom)
  • BEST FILM / TELEVISION PRODUCTIONThe Boys: What I Know (Season 2, episode 8)
  • BEST NON-FICTIONWomen Make Horror: Filmmaking, Feminism, Genre, ed. Alison Peirse (Rutgers University Press)
  • BEST ARTISTDaniele Serra
  • BEST COMIC / GRAPHIC NOVELDIE Vol. 2: Split the Party, Kieron Gillen & Stephanie Hans (Image Comics)
  • BEST MAGAZINE / PERIODICALStrange Horizons
  • BEST INDEPENDENT PRESSLuna Press Publishing
  • BEST AUDIOThe Magnus Archives, Rusty Quill
  • BEST ANTHOLOGYDominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora, ed. Zelda Knight & Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (Aurelia Leo)
  • BEST SHORT FICTIONInfinite Tea in the Demara Café, Ida Keogh (in “London Centric: Tales of Future London, Newcon Press)
  • BEST COLLECTIONThe Watcher in the Woods, Charlotte Bond (Black Shuck Books)
  • BEST NOVELLARing Shout, P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom)
  • BEST HORROR NOVEL (THE AUGUST DERLETH AWARD)Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Jo Fletcher Books)
  • BEST FANTASY NOVEL (THE ROBERT HOLDSTOCK AWARD)The Once and Future Witches, Alix E. Harrow (Orbit)
  • KARL EDWARD WAGNER AWARD — Alasdair Stuart

Two days left to vote!

Shortlist for The Courier-Mail People’s Choice Award

There are two days left to vote for The Courier-Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year Award! Anyone in Australia may vote, one vote per person, and the poll closes on 16 August. Tell your friends and family!

It is a tremendous honour to have Flyaway included on the shortlist with seven other wonderful titles — and especially with Angela Slatter‘s gothically fantastic All The Murmuring Bones.

The shortlist judges said of Flyaway:

A dazzling gothic fairy tale of rural Australia. The disappearance of Bettina Scott’s family members leads her to uncover truths about her home – the haunting spectacle of small-town psyche expertly sewn throughout the novel. There is a magic rooted in this story that grows more real with every page.

You can see what they said about all the books (and vote!) here:  The Courier-Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year Award.

Shortlist — British Fantasy Awards

A huge honour (and surprise): Flyaway has been shortlisted for the “Best Newcomer (The Sydney J. Bounds Award)” at the British Fantasy Awards!

Congratulations to all my fellow nominees (and links to their books):

The full announcement of the shortlists in all categories is at: https://www.britishfantasysociety.org/news/british-fantasy-awards-2021-shortlists-announced

Flyaway: World Fantasy finalist

FLYAWAY-final3_5x8_2

I am thrilled and honoured that Flyaway has been included as a finalist in the World Fantasy Awards for best novella.

My fellow-nominees are

  • Ring Shout, or Hunting Ku Kluxes in the End Times by P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom)
  • “Stepsister” by Leah Cypess (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May/June 2020)
  • The Four Profound Weaves by R. B. Lemberg (Tachyon Publications)
  • Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi (Tordotcom)

Here is the full list of Final Ballot and Life Achievement Award Winners for the awards, to be announced this November.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT
Megan Lindholm
Howard Waldrop

NOVEL
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury)
Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson (Tor Books)
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (Saga Press/Titan UK)
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey US/Jo Fletcher Books UK)
The Midnight Bargain by C. L. Polk (Erewhon Books US/Orbit UK)

NOVELLA
Ring Shout, or Hunting Ku Kluxes in the End Times by P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom)
“Stepsister” by Leah Cypess (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May/June 2020)
Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings (Tordotcom)
The Four Profound Weaves by R. B. Lemberg (Tachyon Publications)
Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi (Tordotcom)

SHORT FICTION
“Glass Bottle Dancer” by Celeste Rita Baker (Lightspeed, April 2020)
“The Women Who Sing for Sklep” by Kay Chronister (Thin Places)
“The Nine Scents of Sorrow” by Jordan Taylor (Uncanny Magazine, July/Aug. 2020)
“My Country Is a Ghost” by Eugenia Triantafyllou (Uncanny Magazine, January/February 2020)
“Open House on Haunted Hill” by John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots, June 15 2020)

ANTHOLOGY
Edited By, edited by Ellen Datlow (Subterranean Press)
The Valancourt Book of World Horror Stories, Vol. 1, edited by James D. Jenkins and Ryan Cagle (Valancourt Books)
Shadows & Tall Trees 8, edited by Michael Kelly (Undertow Publications)
The Book of Dragons, edited by Jonathan Strahan (Harper Voyager)
The Big Book of Modern Fantasy, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (Vintage Books)

COLLECTION
The Best of Jeffrey Ford by Jeffrey Ford (PS Publishing)
Velocities: Stories by Kathe Koja (Meerkat Press)
Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoka Matsuda, translated by Polly Barton (Soft Skull Press US/Tilted Axis UK)
We All Hear Stories in the Dark by Robert Shearman (PS Publishing)
Nine Bar Blues: Stories of an Ancient Future by Sheree Renée Thomas (Third Man Books)

ARTIST
Rovina Cai
Jeffrey Alan Love
Reiko Murakami
Daniele Serra
Charles Vess

SPECIAL AWARD – PROFESSIONAL
Clive Bloom, for The Palgrave Handbook of Contemporary Gothic (Palgrave Macmillan)
C. C. Finlay, for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction editing
Jo Fletcher, for Jo Fletcher Books
Maria Dahvana Headley, for Beowulf: A New Translation (MCD X FSG Originals US/Scribe UK)
Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, for The Monster Theory Reader (University of Minnesota Press)

SPECIAL AWARD – NON-PROFESSIONAL
Scott H. Andrews, for Beneath Ceaseless Skies: Literary Adventure Fantasy
Brian Attebery, for Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts
Michael Kelly, for Undertow Publications
Arley Sorg and Christie Yant, for Fantasy Magazine
Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, for Uncanny Magazine

Flyaway shortlisted for Courier-Mail People’s Choice Award (voting open now)

Shortlist for The Courier-Mail People’s Choice Award

Flyaway has been shortlisted for The Courier-Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year Award! The winner is determined by public vote, and voting is now open. Anyone in Australia may vote, one vote per person, with polling closing on 16 August 2021.

It is a tremendous honour to be included on the shortlist with seven various and wonderful other titles — and particularly with Angela Slatter‘s gothically fantastic All The Murmuring Bones. I have been working on cover art for the (forthcoming) hardcover of Angela’s novel, and Flyaway wouldn’t have happened without her. So do with that information what you will!

The shortlist judges said of Flyaway:

A dazzling gothic fairy tale of rural Australia. The disappearance of Bettina Scott’s family members leads her to uncover truths about her home – the haunting spectacle of small-town psyche expertly sewn throughout the novel. There is a magic rooted in this story that grows more real with every page.

So if you are based in Australia and willing to vote (according to your conscience!), voting is now open on the State Library website here: The Courier-Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year Award.

Books! Birthdays!

Hey, it’s my birthday! This means I can wave my books around and suggest that, for a birthday present, you could buy a copy for yourself, or a library, or a friend! (Or borrow it from a library — that’s nice too!)

  • Flyaway is a beautiful creepy Australian Gothic novella/short novel, and is for those who appreciate fairy tales and sunlight and night in the trees — there’s a lot about it on this page. It has silhouettes!
  • Travelogues is a chapbook collection of glimpses from train windows. It’s for those who love travel, or trains, or landscapes, or Massachusetts or New York State or England, or the process of filtering all of those through language. You can read more about it in the posts under the “Travelogues” tag. All the pictures in this one are in words — it’s very much a written sketchbook.

Australian Shadows Awards — finalist

Flyaway is a finalist in the Australian Shadows Awards! Congratulations to fellow nominees in the novel category, Venero Armanno, Marty Young, and Matthew Tait — and to all the many wonderful nominees (and quite a few friends including but not limited to frequent co-conspirators and virtual neighbours Angela Slatter, Brain Jar Press, Joanne Anderton, Lisa L Hannett and Kali Napier!) in all the other categories.

List of finalists in "novel" category

The awards will be announced on Friday 11 June.