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events, Long Fiction, Writing

Bluebells Book Launch

Conflux 16- Speculative Fiction Conventions from October 1 -3 will be hosting my book launch for Bluebells. After several hospital admission interruptions, I’m looking forward to properly launching my debut novella from Black Hare Press.

Tickets for Conflux 16 are essential. Book here.

Bluebells has its belated official launch on October 2nd at 12:30 pm AEST.

Long Fiction, Writing

Reimagining Norse Myths

One of my projects I’m working on at the moment is a reimagining the Norse Myths and involving my favourite Trickster folklore. I’m focusing on the god Loki and the events recounted in the myths leading up to Ragnarok.

I’m also fascinated by the roles of Odín and his selection of the best warriors fallen on the battlefield and how Freyja, goddess of desire takes the other half the best fallen warriors and is a leader of the Valkyries.

My love of Trickster folklore and legends includes one of my favourite Australian Trickster figures, Crow. Together with Loki, there’s a new story added to those known in the Norse myths.

In remaining ragnarok in a new way, I’ve ncorporated Icelandic and Australian-esque natural landscapes to create a new version of a mythos of ice and fire with tales from the Australian Alps to the desert heart.

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The Twisted Ones

Publisher’s Description:

When Mouse’s dad asks her to clean out her dead grandmother’s house, she says yes. After all, how bad could it be?

Answer: pretty bad. Grandma was a hoarder, and her house is stuffed with useless rubbish. That would be horrific enough, but there’s more—Mouse stumbles across her step-grandfather’s journal, which at first seems to be filled with nonsensical rants…until Mouse encounters some of the terrifying things he described for herself.

Alone in the woods with her dog, Mouse finds herself face to face with a series of impossible terrors—because sometimes the things that go bump in the night are real, and they’re looking for you. And if she doesn’t face them head on, she might not survive to tell the tale.


Review:

I recently read horror novel The Twisted Ones by US author T. Kingfisher.

The Twisted Ones follows the protagonist Mouse who is given the unfavourable task to clean out her holder grandmother’s house after her death. It is no surprise to Mouse that no one liked her grandmother, especially not Mouse. The only person Mouse shared any similarity with was her step-grandfather Cochrane.

While cleaning out the house Mouse finds her grandmother’s hoarding was far beyond anything she had expected. The only room in the entire house that hasn’t been filled with junk is Cochrane’s room. What she does find is Cochrane’s journal which contains the madness of a man falling into dementia and the sane writings of a man who believed in folklore of white people he’d known about in Wales and the standing stones associated with something he calls the twisted ones.

Pretty soon Mouse encounters the terrifying reality of the things Cochrane had been describing. And even sooner, she is drawn into a world that cannot exist and the monsters called the twisted ones. Accompanied by the neighbour from the hippie commune, Mouse and her dog venture into the madness of Cochrane’s world and hope to escape it- knowing that he did not.

Final Thoughts:

The Twisted Ones is skilfully written, enjoyable and terrifying. An intriguing combination of folklore and horror with the right amount of gore, terror and mystery to create just the correct balance to make it fast paced and exciting. Kingfisher writes with a talent that makes it seem easy, the characters are all unique and secrets revealed with perfect timing.

Conclusion:

A fantastic read for anyone who enjoys horror, folk horror, dark fiction and a good character driven story. Highly recommended!

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Burnt Sugar

Publisher’s Description

Decades after the incident in the woods, Gretel has forged a good life in a small village, running a bakery and taking care of her brother and the stray, bedraggled women who find work as her apprentices. Business is good, and when it’s not, Gretel took more from the witch than a knack of making sweet treats and gingerbread, just as her brother returned home forever changed by the torture he experienced.

The book of magic hidden beneath the stairs has kept Gretel and her household comfortable for years, but it also calls to Gretel in the night, demanding she return to the woods and replace the witch they killed. For years, she’s been resisting, determined to keep Hansel and her apprentices safe.

Then Hansel’s drinking goes too far and Gretel realises her brother is dying. Finally, the seductive call of the book’s magic might be too strong to deny…


Review

I read Burnt Sugar (Never Afters, #1) by Australian author Kirstyn McDermott.

Burnt Sugar follows the well-known Grimm fairytale characters Hansel and Gretel in the decades after their abandonment in the forest, and stumbling on the witch’s cottage. The tale of Gretel’s servitude to the witch while Hansel rotted behind bars. That is where the familiar tale we know ends and a new reimagined one begins.

Gretel is now an older woman and her brother Hansel a town-thug and drunkard. After what they both endured in the Witch’s cottage, the siblings have gone down two very different paths in life. Gretel manages a bakery and is haunted by memories of burning the witch alive so she and her brother might escape. Stranger still is the book of witchcraft she stole from the cottage and the gems that frequently appear. In a town that is hard on the poor and wretched, Gretel adopts those she can and provides handouts for those she can’t – the memory of being a starving unwanted child one that is still fresh.

Final Thoughts

Burnt Sugar is an intriguing “what if” novella that offers a conclusion to the tale of Hansel and Gretel. There are some aspects which are unanswered – such as the hands that push at Gretel’s back – reminiscent of the witch’s own ending. Whether this is deliberately unexplained or not it is unclear. Regardless, this is a deeply emotional and thought provoking idea of what might have happened once two children expected lost to the forest, stumbled back to their village and how their lives would have altered from the experience.

Conclusion

A fascinating literary reimagining of the Grimm’s fairytale of Hansel and Gretel. Definitely worth reading for those who enjoy a historical fantasy. A solid fairytale reimagining for those curious to know what might happened after Hansel and Gretel escaped the witch and the forest.

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Malice

Publisher’s Description

Once upon a time, there was a wicked fairy who, in an act of vengeance, cursed a line of princesses to die. A curse that could only be broken by true love’s kiss. You’ve heard this before, haven’t you? The handsome prince. The happily ever after. Utter nonsense. Let me tell you, no one in Briar actually cares about what happens to its princesses. Not the way they care about their jewels and elaborate parties and charm-granting elixirs. I thought I didn’t care, either.

Until I met her.

Princess Aurora. The last heir to Briar’s throne. Kind. Gracious. The future queen her realm needs. One who isn’t bothered that I am Alyce, the Dark Grace, abhorred and feared for the mysterious dark magic that runs in my veins. Humiliated and shamed by the same nobles who pay me to bottle hexes and then brand me a monster. Aurora says I should be proud of my gifts. That she . . . cares for me. Even though a power like mine was responsible for her curse.

But with less than a year until that curse will kill her, any future I might see with Aurora is swiftly disintegrating—and she can’t stand to kiss yet another insipid prince. I want to help her. If my power began her curse, perhaps it’s what can lift it. Perhaps together we could forge a new world. Nonsense again. Because we all know how this story ends, don’t we? Aurora is the beautiful princess. And I—

I am the villain.


Review

One of my recent reads was Malice (Malice Duology, #1) by US author Heather Walter.

Malice follows the protagonist Alyce, one of the Briar kingdom’s Graces- mortals born with weak Fae heritage with blood able to produce eilixrs. The other Graces have golden blood which bestows beauty, charm and wit. Alyce, or the ‘Dark Grace’ as she is known, is part-Vila, one of the Dark-Fae and her green blood reviled for bestowing curses not charms. Yet, like all the Graces, Alyce is unable to leave the Kingdom of Briar – bound to serve in Grace Household and earnings leveraged to the Briar crown.

In the Kingdom of Briar, Alyce is despised for being part-Vila, the Dark Fae who were too powerful for the Light Fae Etherians to destroy until they allied with the mortals. The alliance forged between the Etherians and the Queens of Briar resulted in the establishment of Briar.
In Briar, Alyce is considered a symbol of past hatred and fear. Only the heir to the Briar crown, princess Aurora finds companionship and understanding with Alyce. All heirs to the Briar throne bear the curse from a powerful a Vila to die before their twenty-first birthday if the curse isn’t broken by their true love. Despite this history, an unlikely relationship is forged between Alyce and Aurora. But Alyce has kept her secrets from Aurora when she allies with a mysterious prisoner from the destroyed Vila kingdom with promises to unlock Alyce‘s true power.

Final Thoughts

Malice was an exciting read, a unique twist on the Sleeping Beauty fairytale that was both satisfying as an epic fantasy in its own right, an queer romance, and a fairytale retelling. It was the combination of these aspects which made Malice something more than a genderbent version of a fairytale – it made it a reworking of a classic into an epic fantasy in its own right. Expertly done.

Conclusion

A highly recommended retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale. A unique epic fantasy that will satisfy readers of fairytale retellings, dark fantasy, queer romance and truly excellent worldbuilding. A great read!

Writing

Announcing the 2022 Aurealis Awards Judging Panels

I’m thrilled to be part of the judging panel for the 2022 Best Collection/Anthology. Enjoyed judging in the 2021 Best Horror Novel/Novella. Can’t wait to join the amazing Aurealis Awards teams again this year and see what great Australian speculative fiction is submitted!

Read the full post from the Aurealis Awards Committee below!!!


We are very pleased to welcome our 2022 Aurealis Awards judging panels. We had a massive response to our call out this year, and are delighted to …

Announcing the 2022 Judging Panels
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You’ve Lost A Lot Of Blood

Publisher’s Description

“Each precious thing I show you in this book is a holy relic from the night we both perished-the night when I combed you from my hair and watered the moon with your blood.

You’ve lost a lot of blood . . .”


Review

I recently read Eric LaRocca’s second independently published novella You’ve Lost A Lot of Blood.

You’ve Lost a lot of Blood is a fictionalised presentation of the writings from Martyr Black and recorded conversations with his partner Ambrose Thorne. Martyr Black was accused by authorities of the serial murders of gay men whom he’d lured into relationships before killing them.

The story-within-a story is a novella supposed written by Martyr Black, focuses on Tamsen and her younger brother Presley, when Tamsen takes a job debugging a famous virtual reality game. Inevitably, things go terribly awry and the darker truth behind the mysterious game designer and the game becomes clear.

The final passages of You’ve Lost a lot Blood conclude of the linear storyline of Martyr Black’s infamous life and the plagiarism of various works from his victims throughout the years of his killing spree.

Final Thoughts

I was immersed in the beautiful and striking prose immediately. You’ve Lost A Lot of Blood has been described as being like an art installation and it’s certainly the feeling I had. The snippets of conversations between Martyr and Ambrose, the poems and novella, combine with a memoir-like passages by Black are all presented as a fictionalised volume itself. It’s an intriguing read, brilliantly written and a clever design.

Conclusion

You’ve Lost a lot of Blood is highly recommended for its literary skill, the unique presentation of writing ‘voices’ to reflect the different fictionalised authors is expertly done. Horror readers won’t be disappointed either with some truly distributing dark fiction aspects. An absolute must read!

Writing

2022 Ditmar Awards

The Ditmar Awards are awarded at the Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy National Convention each year

My eligible works for 2022 Best Short Story:

◦ “A Trail of Corpselights”, Leanbh Pearson [QLD], in New Tales of Old 1, Black Ink Fiction.

◦ “ Serket’s Curse”, Alannah K. Pearson [ACT], in Scorpio: Speculative Fiction Inspired by the Zodiac, Deadset Press.

◦ “Talismans”, Leanbh Pearson [QLD], in Revolutions, Deadset Press.

◦ “The Dark Harpist”, Leanbh Pearson [QLD], in New Tales of Old 1, Black Ink Fiction.

◦ “The Dark Horseman”, Leanbh Pearson [QLD], in Legends of Night, Black Ink Fiction.

◦ “The House of the Cat-Si”, Leanbh Pearson [QLD], in 13 Lives of Alice, Black Hare Press.

◦ “The Monster”, Alannah K. Pearson [ACT], in Gluttony, Black Hare Press.

◦ “The Queen of Crows”, Leanbh Pearson [ACT], in Over the Rainbow: An LGBTQ+ Fairytale Charity Anthology, Black Ink Fiction.

◦ “The Yule Trolls”, Leanbh Pearson [QLD], in Eerie Christmas 2, Black Hare Press.

◦ “Them”, Alannah K. Pearson [ACT], in Wrath, Black Hare Press.

◦ “Three Tasks for the Sidhe”, Leanbh Pearson [ACT], in Stories of Survival, Deadset Press.

◦ “The Spreading Rot” in Haunted: An Anthology, Specul8 Publishing, 2021

◦ “Poisoned Fruit, Poisoned Reign” in Reign (Five Hundred Fiction, #7), Black Hare Press, 2021

◦ “The Haunted Ones” in Haunt (Five Hundred Fiction, #6), Black Hare Press, 2021

◦ “The Bones of a Dead God” in Bones (Five Hundred Fiction, #4), Black Hare Press, 2021

◦ “The Eldritch Woods” in Watch (Five Hundred Fiction, #3), Black Hare Press, 2021

◦ “The Hero of Silversmiths” in Avenge (Five Hundred Fiction, #2), Black Hare Press, 2021

My eligible works for 2022 Edited Collection:

Revolutions, Austin P. Sheehan [VIC], Grace Chan [VIC], and Leanbh Pearson [QLD], Deadset Press.

Scorpio: Speculative Fiction Inspired by the Zodiac, Austin P. Sheehan [VIC], Neen Cohen [QLD] and Alannah K. Pearson [ACT], Deadset Press.

Vote for your favourite works for the 2022 Ditmar Awards here

research, Writing

The Skogsrå

The skogsrå is one of the important genii loci, the spirit of the Forest from Scandinavia. She will appear to hunters mostly but also to some travellers through the forests of her domain.

The Skogsra is often described as human-like being, but with something uncanny about her. She’s often very beautiful but will have a tail or a back formed like a (rotten) tree trunk. The first morph (a tree trunk back) is common in Denmark, mid- and southern Sweden, but the tail is common in western and northern Sweden and Norway. Normally, the Skogsra has a a cow’s tail, but she can sometimes have a fox tail.

The Skogsra sometimes doesn’t appear to forest travellers as a young woman, but as an old and ugly hag. But these appearances are quite rare.

The Skogsra often approaches and tries to seduce men by various ways.

In folklore material, two types of men were most often approached by the Skogsra – charcoal-burners and hunters. Both of these groups of men were alone in the forest for long periods at a time.

In exchange for sexual encounters, a man might actually became her lover and the Skogsra could help him and grant rewards – like making sure his rifle never missed, and waking him if the charcoal stack was about to burn down. Both these are blessings made possible by the Skogsra and when the men are within her forest.

References

https://folklorethursday.com/folktales/skogsra-and-huldra-the-femme-fatale-of-the-scandinavian-forests/