New flash fiction

Greetings from post-blizzard New York City!

I’ve really been getting into writing flash fiction, or micro-fiction, lately. It’s fun to try to give a strong impression of a scene, a story, in few words. And other people seem to like my super short pieces too. Seizure has just launched a flash fiction section of its website, Flashers, and my story ‘My Sweetheart Saw a Child’s Face in the Train Window‘ is the first one up. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Do also check out the submission guidelines.

I also recently had two super-short stories published as part of the London Literary Project. It’s first challenge is based on the London Clock. One of my stories is set at the Green Park Tube Station, and the other features George Orwell. I’m happy to be involved in such an interesting project.

The London Clock submission guidelines are here.

Geek Mook launch; Killings interview

Geeks! My latest published piece is an essay on Ghostbusters, in Geek Mook, to be launched at Bella Union bar, Trade’s Hall, on 13 July. See the invite on Facebook.

Pretty sure I’ll be dressed up and reading a snippet from my essay, so do come along and ask me if you can please see the storage facility Mr Venkman.

More about the Mook (magazine/book), edited by Aaron Mannion and Julian Novitz:

Geek Mook explores the worlds of hackers, gamers, steam punk fashionistas, trekkies, neo-punk trainspotters and obsessives of all the other fixations that give us a reason to stave off death (and quite frequently sex as well). The book explores the ways the ways geek, literary and human have crashed up and mashed up in our lives and imagination. Geek Mook exposes the fleshy heart beneath the robot carapace.

Don’t miss it. And if someone asks if you’re a God, say YES.

Also, there is an interview with me up at the Killings blog today re the ‘A Drink with…’ series. Check it out!

Some of my short stories available as ebooks

I decided to extend the life of some of my short stories that have been published in journals/magazines over the last few years, by publishing them digitally. It’s a bit of a (fairly safe) experiment in self-publishing and the world of ebooks. I’m loving reading on my Kobo eReader, and I’ve made these stories available in a large number of formats by publishing them through Smashwords and Amazon’s Kindle. You can read them on your computer, ereader, iPhone, iPad – pretty much any device – all you have to do is choose the right format. The most exciting thing about this project was getting some incredibly talented friends – artists and designers – to create some amazing covers for me. Aren’t they gorgeous?

I hope you enjoy reading the stories. I made them as cheap as Smashwords and Amazon would let me, without making them free (99c each). I’m going to put a permanent page in the sidebar of the blog here soon, linking my available (digital) stories, so that they’re easy to find. I would also be so grateful to you if you left a review of one or more of the stories, as it will help them be seen by more people.

The stories (which you can also find via my Smashwords and Amazon author pages) are:

You Will Notice That Hallways Are Painted

Ava is locked up in an institution. Her sentence is ‘overt overabundance’. Her new roommate Monty is ‘highly inadequate’. Ava is fond of everyone, but there’s something explosive about the bug-loving, show-tune-singing (and taken) Monty.

They’re not really crazy but they aren’t ‘functional’ members of society either: they drink, feel, touch and love too much. Is it possible to hold onto yourself, and still get out of the institution?

Originally published in Torpedo Greatest Hits (Hunter Publishers, 2010) edited by Chris Flynn.

Cover artwork and design by Kenneth Erickson.

NB. the novel manuscript I’m working on came out of this story.

For epub (ie. Stanza reader), PDF, online HTML reading, LRF (for Sony), RTF and more, click here. For Kindle and Kindle app, check it out on Amazon US, UK and Germany. (In Aus, go to Amazon US.)

Obsolescence

In the rainy city of Bergen, Norway, a tattooed, troll-like figure quietly disposes of ‘the guilty’. But Knut’s instinct-driven mission is becoming more and more complex…

Originally published in The Lifted Brow 6: Atlas, edited by Ronnie Scott.

Cover: artwork by Cecile Raposo-Knight, design by Sonja Meyer.

For epub (ie. Stanza reader), PDF, online HTML reading, LRF (for Sony), RTF and more, click here. For Kindle and Kindle app, check it out on Amazon US, UK and Germany. (In Aus, go to Amazon US.)

Birds

‘It’s just a job. It’s just a day. Everyone does it. People are worse off somewhere. There is nothing wrong. The walls are not closing in. You are fine.’

A near-future story about anxiety.

Originally published in Wet Ink: Issue 14 (2009).

Cover: artwork by Lily Mae Martin, type by Kenneth Erickson.

For epub (ie. Stanza reader), PDF, online HTML reading, LRF (for Sony), RTF and more, click here. For Kindle and Kindle app, check it out on Amazon US, UK and Germany. (In Aus, go to Amazon US.)

I wrote a winning haiku

I’m very excited to announce that a little haiku I wrote one morning is the winner of Australian Poetry’s haiPhone competition. It goes:

Potential faces
In steamy bathroom mirrors
Residue of stars

I’ve been invited to read it out as part of the Emerging Writers’ Festival on 1 June at the Poetry Cafe. G told me I should ‘Shatner’ the haiku – make it last as long as possible.

My other entry was:

Unutterably
charming fellows giving one
another roses

Lots of fun. I’m mainly a prose writer, as you know, but I write poetry in bursts. I don’t often show anyone or send anything off, but I really enjoy it. Some ideas just can’t be anything else. I hope to write a few small pieces while travelling soon. I’ve been encouraged, too, by Ali Alizadeh, a poet and prose writer I admire, after he liked my flash fiction piece on Capsule and we discussed the closeness between flash fiction and prose poetry. According to my rough research, there’s a very fine line between them. Prose poetry is often more abstract and works in the realm of metaphor, while a flash fiction piece will often maintain some semblance of narrative form: beginning, middle, end. But of course that fine line can be crossed. I enjoy working with imagery and mood in these short forms, and I hope to keep playing around with them and getting better.

Thanks so much to Australian Poetry and the Australian Poetry iPhone app. I’m really looking forward to my prize: a one-on-one with the wonderful poet and critic Chris Wallace-Crabbe.

Brief review of The Kid on the Karaoke Stage in this month’s ABR

Just a quick note to say that I wrote an ‘in brief’ review of the excellent short story collection The Kid on the Karaoke Stage and Other Stories, edited by Georgia Richter (Aus), for this month’s Australian Book Review, out now in print and online. Here’s an extract:

‘While the stories in The Kid on the Karaoke Stage vary thematically, they are predominantly realist in style, with plenty of seemingly serendipitous through-lines. Georgia Richter, who has edited the collection superbly, says that she was interested in “the way we turn to writing to crystallise moments of realisation”. The authors all have links to Western Australia, but their ‘moments of realisation’ are refreshingly global, particularly in the later stories.

There are coming-of-age stories, off-kilter stories, sad ones, stories of internal and external landscapes, and a few that are wonderfully strange…’

The issue also features Colin Nettelbeck on Sartre, Brian McFarlane on The Tempest, Jo Case on childhood autism, Morag Fraser on Joyce Carol Oates’ widowhood, Joel Deane on Julian Assange, Colin Golvan on copyright and the internet, the announcement of the Calibre Prize winners and, of course, plenty of reviews. I look forward to getting stuck into it.

Social media marketing & bringing back the letter

Those two things might seem incompatible, but they are two things I have spoken about and written on lately…

Recently I was a guest of the Australian Publishers Association at the Social Media Marketing seminars in Sydney and Melbourne. There were all sorts of speakers – writers, booksellers, publishers, a ‘guru’ and someone like me who sits in the middle of everything, wearing several hats at once. I spoke briefly about LiteraryMinded in the blogosphere and in the social media realm, and then gave some ‘dos and don’ts’, from my own experience, on using social media. Basically I spoke about having genuine conversations, providing insight, and engaging with books and with readers. Charlotte Harper over at the ebookish blog has done a nice write-up of my talk. Check it out here.

My latest publication is in the NSW Writers Centre print magazine Newswrite. It’s called ‘Bringing the Letter Back’. In it, I write a letter to my old Dolly pen-pal Kristal, telling her why I think the letter should make a comeback. I talk about the Women of Letters events, run my Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire; and I mention Beth Sometimes’ postcards, Nabokov’s forthcoming collection of love letters, letters between Miles Franklin and Katherine Susannah Prichard and ideas about the link between letters, zines and vintage. I hope you guys get a chance to read it.

Review of Ali Alizadeh's Iran: My Grandfather up at Mascara

IRAN_my_grandfather(1)My review of Ali Alizadeh’s wonderful book Iran: My Grandfather (Aus, US) has been published in Mascara Literary Review.

You can read the review here.

While you’re there, have a look at the poems, reviews, stories, photographs and translations in this elegant bi-annual which focuses on the work of contemporary Asian, Australian and Indigenous writers

‘Obsolescence’ (an extract)

My short story ‘Obsolescence’ is the story representing the country of Norway (and the city of Bergen) in The Lifted Brow 6: Atlas. There are stories, songs, poems, illustrations and limericks representing every country in the world in this amazing, ambitious issue (book + 2 CDs). I’m so happy to be among contributors like Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Douglas Coupland, Reif Larsen, Christos Tsiolkas, David Foster Wallace – and some of my favourite people and writers Krissy Kneen, Chris Somerville, Fiona Wright, Josephine Rowe, Lorelei Vashti, Benjamin Law, Chris Currie, Ruby Murray and many more. The art and graphics are worth the cover price alone. The works here are creatively celebrating our shrinking, shared world and every fascinating, odd, sunny or dark corner of it (and its past, present and possible futures).

Buy the issue here, now!

Here’s a short extract from my story:

Obsolescence

Knut disposes of the guilty in the city of rain. On Friday, his shadow was thrown across Mrs Brysken’s umbrellas. She heard the clang of the door, felt the rush of ice and cocked her head up from the cache of new stock—white umbrellas with wee black owls. The man was gristly like a troll, rune tattoos over his forearms, visible where the white shirt rolled back. He didn’t seem to feel the Bergen winter. He had on a black leather vest and looked down, his eyes opening her like an item of her stock.

‘I know why you have come,’ she said, swallowed, dropped the owled umbrellas and trembled back from the counter.

Knut had been surprised to find, when he started this business, that the guilty came easily. Each was willing to confess and be punished, their conscience having burdened them too long. So now, without a word, he slipped his forearm through the small, fat lady’s and led her out into the rain. Her hands shook too much to pick up an umbrella.

Knut’s cabin was on the face of Fløyen, one of De syv fjell—the Seven Mountains—that surrounded Bergen. Beside the mountain was a steep fjord which collected day and night the city’s detritus, swept in by the eternal rain. On the rare sunny days, Knut could not conduct his business. He could travel only under the cover of grey.

His cabin was stone, with a grey sky-coloured roof; far from the red, yellow, and blue fishermen’s houses. Unlike them, he would never be long enough away to forget where it was he lived. The woman shivered in her seat by the empty fireplace, the flowers on her dress bumping and grinding, too bright for the room.

‘I ate the whole cake, every day,’ she said. ‘I didn’t mean to. I… felt hungry still.’

After Mrs Brysken’s body had rolled like a barrel down the mountain, a familiar sensitivity crept up on Knut. He had been sent here, to do this, to remove the quivering, false members of this city. But there was always a snag these days, just after the deed was done, somewhere near the front of his shirt. He rubbed the ræið on his chest and decided to focus on tomorrow.

In the heart of the city, facing Byfjorden, Knut is invisible to all but the guilty. But there are so many of them now. The city has its garbled faces, but some are white-round beacons of misdemeanor, depending on how closely they tie themselves to their crimes. He has also noticed, in the years since 1702, when seven-eighths of the city burned and he survived by hiding in the bay, that the nature of their guilt has changed. Once, there were thieves, murderers, rapists, pedophiles, adulterers and the incestuous. Now shone such crimes as gluttony, greed, sloth, and dishonesty. And guilt was even smeared on children’s faces, like Freia Melkesjokolade chocolate. It was on the elderly, for the care their sons and daughters disposed. It glared at him from the doors of Lagunen Storsenter, where shoppers exited with more than they had intended to buy.

He had on his list to watch: a fishmonger, an attendant at the Christmas shop, an artist and the antique dealer. The rain was abundant but the market still busy when Knut approached Wilfred’s table. The man whistled as he sliced and bagged the salmon. Knut could see the guilt weighing upon each shoulder, making the slicing slow. Wilfred looked up, and raised the knife at Knut.

‘I need you to come with me,’ Knut growled. Wilfred’s shoulders lifted a little. He set down the knife, and was led.

Read the rest by buying the world it’s contained in.

N.B. ræið is the name of a rune, old-Norse for ‘ride, journey’.

Through the Clock's Workings

through-the-clockThrough the Clock’s Workings is out! This is the anthology from the Remix My Lit project, edited by Amy Barker. My mash-up story ‘Again, the Healing Tickle (the Way Black Glitters)’ is the very last one in the collection.

Here’s the blurb for this very unique (and interactive) collection:

Through the Clock’s Workings
Edited by Amy Barker
Sydney University Press
ISBN: 9781920899325

A world first! The first remixed and remixable anthology of literature.

This anthology of short stories is not some textual tome, frozen in time and space. It is alive, evolving organically in a constant state of flux. Why? Because each story is available under a Creative Commons licence, giving you rights to share and reuse the book as you see fit.

So how do you use a remixable anthology? Simple.
Step 1 – Read. Thumb your way through the pages at will. Find the stories you love, the ones you hate, the ones that could be better.
Step 2 – Re/create. Each story is yours to share and to remix. Use only one paragraph or character or just make subtle changes. Change the genre, alter its formal or stylistic characteristics, or revise its message. Use as little or as much as you like – as long as it works.
Step 3 – Share. Be part of a growing community of literature remixing. Post your remixes to the Remix My Lit website,
remixmylit.com, and start sharing. The entire anthology can be remixed – the original stories, the remixes, and even the fonts.

Through the Clock’s Workings is Read&Write!

Purchase from the Sydney University Press website, or check out the Remix My Lit website for ebook options.

And there are still several hours to enter the May haiku comp. Win books!

'Birds' – an extract

This is an extract from my short story ‘Birds’, published in Wet Ink issue 14, just out. I share the pages with such wonderful writers as Ryan O’Neill, Michelle Cahill, Matthew Condon (who is interviewed) and others I’ve yet to get to know better (but soon will!) Buy a copy or subscribe here.

wi_issue_14

for Sonja …

Birds and wings and musty feathers. I smell their little bodies and the ribcage within – so pop-able. They flit and flutter – excited, demented. They are shrill. Their notes peck at one another. They jump with my heart. My head whips around at one, and another.

The chest’s blotches are there already and I haven’t even made it to the train. I anticipate the ride now, before the day of work – the clean-shaven scents, the clearing of throats, the eyes catching each other in the window’s reflection as they attempt to hold onto the day outside.

It’s not as though work is bad, either. It’s probably somewhat a breeze. Comfortable. The boss does not bear down upon me. But nor has she told me I am on track, doing fine. I have much independence. I design, I submit, I begin over. Concepts come in, I liase, I email. I refine. I am fine.

Jessa was giving me a massage last night, wedging her thumb into my knots. Those un-birdlike parts that won’t shift. The framework around the bubble where inside things flit and flutter and threaten to break out. She tries to understand. I try to understand. She has cures, after all, for her own problems. The new pills, a bitey taste on her tongue, for her migraines. They found a cure for cancer last year. AIDS is promising too. But for the worrisome, for the quickened ones, there are only horrid things that rob you of sleep and leave you with cotton in your mouth.

‘Why don’t you give them a try again?’

‘No.’

There is nothing more she suggests, just digs those familiar thumbs in deeper. I catch the scent of her hair and turn to her soft face. I press myself in. Here it is warm. We are both girls. Our faces are soft together. Our nails are short but our fingers are long, intertwining.

The train is hard, fast. There are many of them now. Streamlined. One after another. Ensuring we all get to work on time, keep the world going. The older people often look deflated. They miss their cars. They miss a lot of things. It is not simple, I think. But this efficiency is all I’ve known.

I unlock the office door. I am always the first to arrive. My hand is slippery on the key. That sweat, the blotchy chest covered by the neck of my shirt. The nausea creeps in. There is a little unbalance in my toes. I sit at the desk and the chair seems to have swirled me around five times over. I take a deep breath, willing myself not to get carried away. Don’t go into it today. Don’t go into it.

It’s just a job. It’s just a day. Everyone does it. People are worse off somewhere. There is nothing wrong. The walls are not closing in. You are fine.

At lunch I don’t leave my desk. Too many lines. Too many places to choose. I have my sandwich. White bread, tuna, lettuce, tomato. Bit of red onion, and mayo. I minimise my design and float around online. The sense of overwhelm is present there too. But something catches my eye in the news feed.

‘ViagenCo. to trial ‘Positivity Chip’ for anxiety sufferers’.

To read the rest, buy a copy here.