DROP BEARS AND TANIWHA (Australian & New Zealand Horror News) – August 2020

[This column originally appeared in the HWA‘s monthly newsletter (August), and is republished here with permission.]

The Australasian Horror Writers Association is simmering along so there’s no new update from them this month, other than a reminder about the Robert N Stephenson Short and Flash Fiction Competition, which is now open to submissions. Full details can be found at: https://australasianhorror.com/competition/ (and don’t forget, the winning entries get published in Midnight Echo magazine!).


The winners of the 2019 Aurealis Awards were announced in late July. Congratulation to all the winners, and a huge thank you to the judges for the hard work they put in! For the horror category, we had:

Best Horror Short Story: “Vivienne and Agnes”, Chris Mason (Beside the Seaside – Tales from the Day Tripper)

Best Horror Novella: “Into Bones Like Oil”, Kaaron Warren (Into Bones Like Oil)

Bes Horror Novel: The Rich Man’s House, Andrew McGahan (Allen & Unwin)

The full list of winners can be found at: https://aurealisawards.org/2020/07/25/2019-aurealis-awards-winners/


There’s lots of interesting news out of the Well this month… Things in The Well publisher and editor Steve Dillon has announced the closure of his Australian based publishing company. Dillon has been extremely busy over the years publishing quality anthologies and collections, picking up awards in the process, but more importantly, raising money for vital charities along the way. The spec-fic industry will miss him (but see TiTW items later in this column, as Dillon isn’t quite done just yet).

Steve says “This is my last hurrah as a publisher, I’m afraid. But to celebrate the imminent closure of my literary well, trapping forever these things within, I’m giving away a 28-title paperback bundle of books… Check out the competition at the TiTW Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/569845047020503



Claire Fitzpatrick reports that her latest project is ‘A Vindication Of Monsters’, a non-fiction book about Mary Shelley. Claire says, “I’m inviting 9 authors to contribute 1500-2000 word essays on her work (not limited to Frankenstein), and her life. This can also include others in her life, for example her mother Mary Wollstonecraft, or her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, and how they influenced her work. I am also looking for internal artwork related to the theme (I’m hoping for 5 pieces to accompany the chapters).

“Payment will be $50 per essay and per artwork, respectively. This will be a book similar to ‘The Body Horror Book’, in that I will compile and edit each chapter. Submissions are open now, and close October 1st; the book will be published in December. Contributors will receive an ebook and paperback copy. Please send any inquiries and submissions to claire.fitzpatrick1991@gmail.com.”



New Releases

Recall Night (Eli Carver 2) by Alan Baxter (Grey Matter Press), was released August 25th. This is the sequel to the highly acclaimed Manifest Recall, and is available from: https://www.amazon.com/Recall-Night-Carver-Supernatural-Thriller/dp/1950569055/

“Eli Carver is back with a vengeance! That’s bad news for some but good news for readers. RECALL NIGHT is brutal, gritty fun and a phenomenal follow-up to MANIFEST RECALL.” — Brian Keene, author of The Complex.

Back from self-imposed exile in Canada where he fled to avoid the law following the blood-stained events in Manifest Recall–the first installment of award-winning author Alan Baxter’s latest supernatural thriller series–Eli Carver returns to the states with thoughts of starting over. But an accidental encounter on a train with a mysterious woman, one he soon learns has her own dangerous past, threatens to unravel his well-intended plans.

Upon their arrival in New York, the duo quickly find themselves entangled in an ongoing war between two rival crime syndicates. And with the ghosts of his own past continuing to torment him, Eli finds himself taking the darkest of turns as he’s drawn down a perilous path into a world of ancient religion and deadly occult rituals.


Pre-orders are now being taken for Outback Horrors Down Under, the latest anthology from Things in the Well! Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08FD74XPK

Eleven new stories from some of the best horror writers in Australia and New Zealand, including GM Hague, Robert Hood, Lucy Sussex, Dan Rabarts, Chris Mason, Tabatha Wood, and more!

Originally intended for launch at the Worldcon 2020 in New Zealand, the anthology presents an array of stories that can only really be set here in Australia/New Zealand. Written by authors who are either born or live here, providing an authentic view of some really scary scenarios…

Edited by Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author and Things in the Well series editor, Steve Dillon.


The Savage Coloniser Book by Tusiata Avia (VUW) – available for pre-order now from https://vup.victoria.ac.nz/the-savage-coloniser-book/

‘The voices of Tusiata Avia are infinite. She ranges from vulnerable to forbidding to celebratory with forms including pantoums, prayers and invocations. And in this electrifying new work, she gathers all the power of her voice to speak directly into histories of violence.’

‘Avia addresses James Cook in fury. She unravels the 2019 Christchurch massacre, walking us back to the beginning. She describes the contortions we make to avoid blame. And she locates the many voices that offer hope. The Savage Coloniser Book is a personal and political reckoning. As it holds history accountable, it rises in power. ‘

The Lost Sea by Toby J Nichols (Severed Press) came out on the 15th July, and is available from: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08D66CQLY

A routine helicopter muster in Queensland becomes a fight for survival 65 million years in the past.

Finding dead cattle during the muster was the first sign that something was wrong. The trees and lake were the second and third. But instead of going home, Jessie Hall, his nephew, stockman, and a neighbor investigate.

Jessie feels safe in the helicopter but when something large knocks him out of the sky and he’s forced to ditch into the water, he realizes while they might still be in Queensland they have ended up in the past when the Eromanga sea existed, pterosaurs rules the skies and what lives in the ancient forest is even worse.

To get home they’ll have to cross the prehistoric sea where the Kronosaurus hunts.

The Better Sister and Other Stories by Piper Mejia (illustrated by Ariel Skippen) (Breach) was released July 31.

Covering fantasy, science fiction, Shakespearean tragedy, Greek myth and a strong focus on Pacific and Maori points of view, this collection of stories looks at the complexity of the sister-trio relationship in worlds where women struggle for a voice, a place to stand and peace in themselves.

Featuring the 2018 Australian Shadows-shortlisted “Planned and Expected”.

Available from https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08D9G4G1K/


Extinction Plague by Greig Beck (Momentum) – released July 28 and is available from https://www.amazon.com/Extinction-Plague-Matt-Kearns-Novel-ebook/dp/B088883SHH/

Around the world entire towns are being wiped out, a trail of boneless bodies left behind from a plague of terrifying creatures risen from deep in the Earth.

Professor Matt Kearns, paleolinguist, and a team of scientific and military specialists, rush to decipher the hidden secrets of a pair of ancient stones that prophesize the next great extinction on Earth.

In a heart-pumping adventure that begins in the hold of a sunken German U-boat, Matt Kearns travels to the lost Nazi treasure tunnels in Poland and dives deep down to sunken caves below Easter Island. Matt is fighting for his life, the ones he loves, and the existence of the entire human race.


Red New Day and Other Microfictions by Angela Slatter (Brain Jar) – released September 7.

This is ‘a chapbook collection of 16 vignettes and microfictions from one of Australia’s finest authors of dark fantasy and sinister horror.’ Available for pre-order now at your favourite bookstore, or order direct from Brain Jar Press and get $4.99 off the print book price: https://www.brainjarpress.com/product/red-new-day-other-microfictions/



Little Sneaky Bits

Rose Carlyle’s first novel, The Girl in the Mirror, has created quite a stir, with a bidding war between six American publishers resulting in a six-figure deal with HarperCollins. Not only that, but the thriller novel has been sold into four other languages, with a major Hollywood movie deal already signed. Keep an eye out for it on October 20.

Lee Murray has made history by becoming the first New Zealander to ever appear in Weird Tales (established 1923) with her Asian-NZ grimdark fairy story ‘The Good Wife.’ Keep an eye for the tale in Weird Tales 364! Congrats, Lee!!

The audio debut of ‘The Masque of the Red Death’ took place during Words Out Loud, a special podcast released July 30 as part of the Melbourne Spoken Word Festival Online (which ran until 9 August 2020). The Masque of the Red Death’ is an arrangement of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, originally published in 1842. This interactive composition rendition features spoken word performed by Jason Nahrung, with voice recording by Kirstyn McDermott, and music and sound design by Talie Helene. Listen in here: https://wordsoutloudballarat.com.au/

Aurealis #132 was recently released and is available from https://aurealis.com.au/store/aurealis-132/. This all-New Zealand issue was in celebration of CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention. There are short stories by New Zealand’s top science fiction and fantasy authors, articles on the history and current state of NZ speculative fiction, and reviews of 26 recently-released books by New Zealanders that should be on your reading list!

Wakefield Press has announced their October 2021 short story anthology Hometown Haunts: #LoveOzYA Horror Tales, which will showcase established and new voices in YA. Better still, there will be an open call-out across Australia for YA horror stories, with 4 slots available. Check out the full submission details at https://www.wakefieldpress.com.au/blog/2020/07/submission-guidelines-hometown-haunts/

Snapshot 2020 features short interviews with 220 (!!) spec-fic writers from Australia and New Zealand, and was put together by Tehani Croft in one heck of a stellar effort. It’s well worth checking out: https://austsfsnapshot.wordpress.com/2020/08/02/and-thats-a-wrap-2020-snapshot-is-done/

‘Australia’s premier genre film festival, Monster Fest, will return to Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth & Adelaide from Thursday 29th of October to Sunday 1st of November for 2020: MONSTER FEST – WELCOME TO THE APOCALYPSE. Once again in partnership with CINEMA NOVA & EVENT CINEMAS, 2020: MONSTER FEST will see all five cities play host to four days of diverse and highly imaginative film programming and we are pleased to reveal our first wave of programming.’ Full details, including tickets, are available at https://www.monsterfest.com.au/

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