The Tallow-Wife


A reminder for anyone who is at Conflux in Canberra this weekend: tomorrow (Sunday) at 2.30pm is Angela Slatter’s Guest of Honour speech, after which this very limited edition book from FableCroft publications, set in the World-Fantasy-Award-winning Bitterwood Bible world, will be available for sale, and for signing by Angela and me:

The Tallow-Wife, by Angela Slatter, illustrated by Kathleen Jennings

A limited edition, exclusive hardcover…

Return to the dreaming streets of the cathedral-city of Lodellan, where a new generation of characters face fairy tales and nightmares. Cordelia Parsifal has an enviable life, hard won, but the ghosts of the past are soon to remind her that no sin or omission goes unnoticed.

A darkly mannered narrative of a family facing its downfall, and the hidden secrets within. Deftly told in Slatter’s seemingly effortless prose, “The Tallow-Wife” is unexpected and shocking, with depths to be explored. Paired with vignettes from the same world, and featuring an essay by illustrator Kathleen Jennings.


Cover Art: The Rebirth of Rapunzel


Boxes of books have arrived at my house! A delivery for Fablecroft Publishing for Contact2016 (the national convention, this weekend).

This is the cover, with my art, for Kate Forsyth‘s The Rebirth of Rapunzel, the PhD exegesis which accompanied her novel Bitter Greens. It will be launched at Contact, here in Brisbane, this weekend.

Rebirth of Rapunzle

Both the main and background illustrations are originally scratchboard designs. Here’s a progress shot.


We were going for an old-school pamphlet/midcentury letterpress poetry vibe, and I really like the font Fablecroft chose.



One Small Step Anthology – Ella and the Flame

Ella Sketch

Sable jumped to her feet. “Let me be the dragon!” she cried. “Look!” And she cast great shadows with her arms so that they looked like jaws.

“It looks like a dog!” exclaimed Ella, scornful.

“It’s a wolf-dragon,” said Sable. “Go on!”

Outside, there was a roar of voices, and then a hissing, a whispering.

“Go on!” said Anne urgently. “A great dragon?”

“No, three dragons!” revised Ella, suddenly gleeful… So Anne cast a demure dragon upon the wall, and Mary a reluctant one, and Sable moved her sleeves against the light like beating wings…

I do sometimes write stories – the sort that have lots of words in them and no pictures at all! So (because I can’t help myself) here, above, is a page of my notebook with some scribblings for my little story “Ella and the Flame”, which is not quite so pleasant as these selections from it appear. It is in Fablecroft’s latest anthology, One Small Step, which is now available to order and will be launched at Conflux in Canberra on Friday 26 April.

It is also available in a giveaway on GoodReads (open until 20 April).

The anthology has a striking table of contents, including a foreword by Marianne de Pierres and stories by Joanne Anderton & Rabia GaleDeborah BiancottiJodi CleghornRowena Cory DaniellsThoraiya DyerKate GordonLisa L. Hannett & Angela Slatter, Penelope Love, Michelle Marquardt, DK Mok, Faith Mudge, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Barbara Robson, Cat Sparks, Suzanne J Willis (and me).

To Spin a Darker Stair – cover art

I have a little list of authors whose work I would like to illustrate one day, editors I would like to work with, and so on. So when I was asked to illustrate To Spin a Darker Stair from Fablecroft Press, I almost fell off my chair, because I like working with the publisher (I did a few illustrations for Worlds Next Door in 2010), Catherynne M. Valente was one of the unattainable heights on my list (I mention her occasionally) and I realised, after reading Faith Mudge’s story, that the only reason she wasn’t on the list was that I hadn’t read her writing before.

The book is a collection of two short stories – fairytales retold from the witch’s perspective. Valente’s “A Delicate Architecture” is a bitter confection, as suits “Hansel and Gretel”, while Mudge’s “Oracle’s Tower” traces the rise and fall of a witch and her power over her charge.

Here are the cover roughs:

To Spin a Darker Stair - thumbnails

It was harder developing a design for a two-story book than it is for a collection. We wavered between B and C, and the publisher decided to go with C, but as a wraparound image. I’d still like to make a dress with painted panels as in G. From there, I drew a final pencil sketch, probably (I hope) emailed it for approval, inked it, scanned it and added colour in Photoshop Elements.

To Spin a Darker Stair - cover

I also drew two internal line illustrations for each story, but those will wait for another time. Or, buy the book!