yearsbest2015

My bittersweet (and Ditmar Award-winning!) post-revolutionary fairytale “A Hedge of Yellow Roses” has been selected for the 2015 Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror! The book is edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene and is available for preorder now from Ticonderoga Publications.

It has a great cross-section of current Australian writers, and if you’re looking to get a survey of what’s happening here then it’s not a bad place to start!

  • Joanne Anderton, “2B”
  • Alan Baxter, “The Chart of the Vagrant Mariner”
  • Deborah Biancotti, “Look How Cold My Hands Are”
  • Stephen Dedman, “Oh, Have You Seen The Devil”
  • Erol Engin, “The Events at Callan Park”
  • Jason Fischer, “The Dog Pit”
  • Dirk Flinthart, “In the Blood”
  • Kimberley Gaal, “In Sheep’s Clothing”
  • Stephanie Gunn, “The Flowers That Bloom Where Blood Touches Earth”
  • Lisa Hannett, “Consorting With Filth”
  • Robert Hood, “Double Speak”
  • Kathleen Jennings, “A Hedge of Yellow Roses”
  • Maree Kimberley, “Ninehearts”
  • Jay Kristoff, “Sleepless”
  • Martin Livings, “El Caballo Muerte”
  • Danny Lovecraft, “Reminiscences of Herbert West”
  • Kirstyn McDermott, “Self, Contained”
  • Sally McLennan, “ Mr Schmidt’s Dead Pet Emporium”
  • DK Mok, “Almost Days”
  • Faith Mudge, “Blueblood”
  • Samantha Murray, “Half Past”
  • Jason Nahrung, “Night Blooming”
  • Garth Nix, “The Company of Women”
  • Anthony Panegyres, “Lady Killer”
  • Rivqa Rafael, “Beyond the Factory Wall”
  • Deborah Sheldon, “Perfect Little Stitches”
  • Angela Slatter, “Bluebeard’s Daughter”
  • Cat Sparks, “Dragon Girl”
  • Lucy Sussex, “Angelito”
  • Anna Tambour, “Tap”
  • Kaaron Warren, “Mine Intercom”
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Illustration Friday: Unicorn

A little pencil and watercolour fantasy for this week’s Illustration Friday topic, in between book covers.

In other news, here is a post Kim Smith wrote about the experience of modelling for illustrations (not this one): A guide for creating #awkwardreferencephotos.

Illustration Friday: Natural - roses

If there is one thing that I have learned from fairytales, it is that roses are naturally bad for you.

Nettles, on the other hand, may be what saves you.

Illustration Friday: Natural - nettles

Illustration Friday: Beginning

Some initial capitals, in scratchboard with digital colour, for this week’s Illustration Friday topic, “Beginning“. They are, as usual, test pieces for another larger project, but I chose the letters based on what I thought were the first letters of some recent poems. I managed to get one completely wrong.

Last week, Terri Windling held a winter poetry challenge on her blog. Below are three of my contributions. The first, on bears, I posted with the last Illustration Friday picture. One other is not here because it turns out it did not start with the letter “I”. So I have a spare capital and a poem to post later. If you are a fan of poetry, illustration, myths, fables or fairytales, I recommend checking out the posts – there are many more poems in the comments.

BAVARIA

(Theme: Snow White, and a memory of first encountering a landscape out of fairytales)

hen apple trees scrabbled to view,
Above a wall, boughs half-unleaved,
Heavy with portent and truth,
All bronze and pewter, I believed.
When garnet, pomegranate fruit,
Struck at my heart, I almost grieved.
(The castles only ever were
Sprung from some wild dream-aquifer).
Snow falling from the mirrored sky,
Softened the blow. But then when I
Saw winter forests spider-grey
All webbed and knotted out of view,
(So little space to struggle through),
I knew the stories all were true.

CUSTOM

(Theme: Deer in Fairy Tales, Folklore and Myth, which fit with recent research on legends of white deer for another project)

BeginningWDeer

e do not say we saw a deer. We saw
The starlight slanting through rain-silvered leaves
The mist lift off the lake, owls through the trees
Glide white and silent. This, and nothing more.

We do not say we saw a figure pale
Among the rushes, long-limbed, loitering.
We saw the rushes only, rustling,
The thin frost freezing to a glassy veil.

We do not speak of tracks that, seen too near,
Appear to change from hooves to naked feet.
We do not speak of strangers whom we meet –
Such questions only ever cost too dear.

We keep an older law:
These two have always been
Separate: What you have seen
And what you say you saw.

ROBIN’S FLIGHT

(Theme: The Wild in Myth, Folklore and Fantasy)

ut of rumour and night,
Blood and bone,
Something knotted and gnarled
Had sprouted and grown.

A tree climbed out of a heart.
It may have been
Oak or ash or elder,
Or else from a dream –
Not evergreen.

When the crown of gold and scarlet
Tarnished to grey
The branches clutched at sky.
Something had flown away.

Hemming

I’ve been learning to stitch a rolled-hem for two shawls I’ve wanted to make for some time. A few people have asked for the designs, so I’ve made them public on my Spoonflower page.

The first is the cover art for Midnight and Moonshine (print it centred across two yards):

Midnight and Moonshine cover

The other is “Round Eternal”, one of the pieces for the art show last month (print it centred on one yard for a square scarf):

Round Eternal

Melisande, or Long and Short Daleks

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for E. Nesbit’s short fairytale of wishes and mathematics, “Melisande, or Long and Short Division”, which is available at several locations online (here’s one) but is best read with all her other wonderful tales of princesses and lift operators, kings and treacly sea-serpents, plagues of yellow houses and bell-people, and towns in libraries (in towns in libraries).

In other news: Oh look! A new Dalek drawing and more to come! Also, I’m taking part in a fairytale art exhibition in Brisbane in August, and the organisers are fundraising on Pozible, should you wish to obtain an art print or other rewards (and support the Make a Wish foundation).

Alas, Eclipse Online has closed, but the stories are still available online! And they are such very good stories. January’s illustrations were as follows:

First, The Advocate: a small-scale, lovely little story of interplanetary politics and the false privileges and real responsibilities of an unusual position of trust, by Genevieve Valentine.

I wanted to capture a little of the hopes and plans of the story, so went with the fourth sketch.

Genevieve Valentine Sketches

We tried a few colourways, but in the end decided on the red tone, to capture a little of the red Martian light which is so present in the story although it takes place on earth.

 

Genevieve Valentine Web
The second story for the month was F. Brett Cox’s The Amnesia Helmet – bitter nostalgia, part science fiction, part wish-fulfilment (and its consequences).

We went with the illustration involving helmet itself (constructed from a hair dryer), on the right, but I remain fond of the girl on the left, with her bobby socks and borrowed tools.

F Brett Cox illustration