New story: The Wonderful Stag…

Once, not so long ago, a marvellous stag lived in the forest at the foot of our mountain, on the other side of the little bridge you must still cross when you leave our village…

My (very) short story “The Wonderful Stag, or The Courtship of Red Elsie” has just been published on Tor.com — with this gorgeous and luminous illustration by John Jude Palencar.

Art by John Jude Palencar

That lit crescent of its antlers! The strange wise oddity of its face! The texture of its fur! The ears!

A fun fact about this story is that it actually began as an illustration — one of the earliest of the ink-and-gold Inktober fairytale illustrations I did in 2019.

A silhouette of a man in medieval garments offering a gold ring to a stag with rings on its antlers.

The story I imagined behind this illustration was a little different (although it survived as one of the narrator’s asides about possible origins). It was prompted by a @fairytaletext tweet “Before long, the suitor fell in love with a mischievous stag.”

A silhouette of a stag with gold rings on its antlers leaping

I couldn’t shake the image of a stag running through the forest, hung with rings with which it had made off. When I sat down to write that, however, the consequences became rather deeper-reaching, and George-the-Wolf emerged to listen to the rumours, and Red Elsie flickered into being, and all the courtship arrangements of the isolated village…

But you can read all about that here: https://www.tor.com/2021/09/01/the-wonderful-stag-or-the-courtship-of-red-elsie-kathleen-jennings/

“The Heart of Owl Abbas” reviews

Here are two reviews I missed for my (Eugie Foster Memorial Award-shortlisted) short story “The Heart of Owl Abbas” (and an excuse to post Audrey Benjaminsen‘s beautiful illustration for it again).

art by Audrey Benjaminsen (I love it)

Charles Payseur: Quick Sips – Tor dot com April 2018

“Framed as a bit of history, part anecdote and part fairy tale or myth, the piece is quietly moving and archetypal, sweeping and sweet and dark all at once…. It’s a piece that looks very much at the almost accidental power of small good things.”

Iseult Murphy: The Heart of Owl Abbas by Kathleen Jennings

“not only does it produce a literary treasure, it’s also a story very much about music, and she somehow manages to incorporate its movement and emotional resonance into the narrative as well.”

You can read the story for free on Tor.com, or buy it as an ebook at the usual online locations.

Undine Love: Reprint, new art

A big week for writing news! In addition to the new piece, my short story “Undine Love” has just been reprinted on Tor.com!

It’s a story of promises and hospitality, set in Australia (or something like it), and I’m still rather fond of its heroine and her not-entirely-absent family.

Ever since doing the cover for The Border Keeper I keep thinking it would be a great idea to cut out strands of wire.

This is the first publication of Undine Love since it appeared in ASIM in 2011, and although Tor.com doesn’t usually illustrate reprints, I wanted to do a fresh set in the style of the silhouettes in Flyaway.

But you’ll need to go to https://www.tor.com/2020/06/11/undine-love-kathleen-jennings/ to see more…

Writing news: story to Strange Horizons

2020-03-08-KJenningsLinoMouse

My quite short story “The Present Only Toucheth Thee” has been bought by Strange Horizons!

It will come out in a few months and I will definitely tell you about it again then. (What I can tell you now is that I had to include a caveat in the cover letters for this story that it’s not in faux-Elizabethan! The title is an allusion.)

This will be my first publication by Strange Horizons as a writer, and I’m thrilled. They’ve brought out some lovely pieces, and I recommend checking out their text and audio issues: Strange Horizons.

“The Heart of Owl Abbas” – now on Tor.com

My very odd short story “The Heart of Owl Abbas” is now up on Tor.com!

The story kind-of-sort-of-maybe exists in the same world (or continuum of worlds) as “Kindling” (in Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear and Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2012) and “Skull and Hyssop” (Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet #31 and Prime’s Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015).

Huge thanks to Ellen Datlow, editor for Tor.com, and Angela Slatter, story doctor extraordinaire, for all they contributed, and to publisher and art director Irene Gallo who let me have Audrey Benjaminsen’s beautiful art. I think it’s the first time a story of mine has been illustrated by someone else and I think it is remarkable. I keep staring at all the little details. Thanks also to Noa Wheeler, copyeditor, who gamely catalogued all the careless inventions and copy-edited with an ear for the weird structures, and to Jodi Cleghorn who kickstarted me into writing this particular project when I was focussed on drawing.

Also, a word to the wise: baroque stylings exponentially increase editing difficulty. Thanks here to C.S.E. Cooney who is the sort of person you want on your side to find replacement words that slot into a particular matrix of sense, feeling, alliteration and anachronism. And also to Amber Gwynne, who diagnosed me with semantic exhaustion.

 

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Hedge of Yellow Roses – Year’s Best

YearsBestTiconderoga

The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2015 is out, and includes my short story “A Hedge of Yellow Roses”, which was originally published in Hear Me Roar, and also won a Ditmar!

“A Hedge of Yellow Roses” is the story of Vermeille, a vagabond knight (perhaps), who bears three messages out of a kingdom torn by revolution, and on the way stumbles across an old farmhouse and its enchanted, enchanting residents.

The Year’s Best also has all these other most excellent reasons for buying it:

 

  • 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”

 

 

Skull and Hyssop, or: A New Story and Some Old Drawings

Surrender: Illustration Friday/February header

Did I mention I have a new story out in issue 31 of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet? I do! It is called “Skull and Hyssop” and is an airship adventure, introducing the would-be-dashing Captain Moon, an enigmatic Weatherfinder, and Eliza Blancrose (who always wears a very smart hat). I say “introducing” because I have started a story about Eliza’s arrival in Poorfortune, and What She Found There.

Here is the full table of contents:

Fiction

Jessy Randall, “You Don’t Even Have a Rabbit”
Goldie Goldbloom, “Never Eat Crow”
Kathleen Jennings, “Skull and Hyssop”
Owen King, “The Curator”
Sarah Micklem, “The Necromancer of Lynka”

Nonfiction

Nicole Kimberling, “Crazy-Sexy Agriculture = CSA”
About the Authors

Poetry

Lesley Wheeler, “Four Poems”

Cover

Ursula Grant

The two pictures in this post are older drawings which date from the early drafts of the story, when I was still trying to work out the look and feel I wanted – from recollection it spun off a glimpse of the figurehead of the Cutty Sark, a girl with whom I used to work, and the idea of “steampunk but blue”.

Illustration Friday: Heights

In Which (10) Terrible Fates Await

The worst:

  • I had a horrible moment on Saturday night in which I actually found cultural-studies-speak useful for explaining something. Took me a while to get over.

Some less confronting but still disconcerting moments of the week

  • A friend telling me, “I am in ur bed, nibbling ur toes”. Seriously, what the? Is there anyway I can *not* misinterpret that?
  • Considering costuming choices for next year’s Supanova. Aimee may go as Rose and/or Howl as both require the same hair. I can’t remember who I am going as.
  • A line-up of people telling me my story was wonderful. I’d find it easier to accept if someone would criticise it.
  • My carefully honed ability to become ill when confronted with pet scatology letting me down at the moment of truth.
  • Realising my answers to Woman’s World’s questions ran over 5000 words (though, to be fair, they asked an awful lot of questions). So, yeah, there’s a lot of context surrounding that article.
  • Finding scrawled in my notebook the question “Was Men in Black a reworking of Horton Hears a Who?” Discuss.

Not so terrible but still somewhat disturbing:

  • Kidnapping, Cannibalism and Singing Telegrams: Darkhorse Presents presents an 8 page Wondermark comic. Always odd.
  • Mama’s little darlin’ loves‘…: A short story from Martin Livings which has changed the way I think about presents (from his series of Tuesday short stories).

And not disturbing at all (in a negative way – in a positive way it has ruffled my equilibrium delightfully) but relevant because the title of this post is from one of his books:

  • A new Shaun Tan book is coming out! Tales from Outer Suburbia! If the scattered pictures I have seen are from it, it promises to be beautiful in a way only a book in which a waterbuffalo giving directions captures perfectly a certain suburban serenity can be. And I was right – I did see his name in the Horton credits. He was involved “at an early stage” so I won’t hold the movie against him.

Rodrigo! Rodrigo! Save me!

I make a point of reading everyday, and sometimes on weekends when I don’t want to read a book I associate with bus travel and coffee in McDonalds, I pick up odd volumes at home – Labyrinth manga, histories of King John and bound volumes of Windsor Magazine. As a result of which I am left cold by internal inconsistencies, fascinated and frustrated by introductions to books that keep sinking down in the pile of Books to Read and calling friends and saying “Oh. My. Word!”

Oh. My. Word.
This last is because the story I read this weekend was just the sort of story that Anne Shirley and Katy Carr and The Story Girl and Jo March and their friends-and-relations read and wrote and swooned over and learned through the trials of life not to write anymore. Exactly.

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