Gazing back at 2015, I feel a bit like Scuttle in The Little Mermaid, flipping the telescope to look through both ends. What is near weirdly seems so far off and then — bam! — what was well away in the distance is brought instantly close. All of a sudden it’s New Year’s Eve, the day when time stretches and contracts in strange and unsettling ways, and you simultaneously can’t believe how quickly the year has flown past and also how slowly it trudged, how long it took you to get here.
Writing-wise, 2015 has been an awesome year. I say this now and mean it, but realise I’ve been so preoccupied with (a) work, (b) travel, (c) the next project and the next and the next that I haven’t really taken the time to appreciate how great this year has been. (This is something I should remedy for 2016. Not a resolution, but a fact.)
- Lament for the Afterlife was published by the always excellent CZP. It was launched in Adelaide, Brisbane, and New York, and has received great reviews from Kirkus, i09, Publisher’s Weekly, and a bunch of other places, including this in-depth review by Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond on The Writer and the Critic podcast.
- The Female Factory, which Angela and I wrote together, won the Aurealis Award for Best Collection 2014!
- And I’ve had more short fiction published or reprinted this year than I have had in ages:
- ‘Heirloom Pieces’, Apex Magazine, February, Issue 69: read here. This story has been included on the Stoker Award Reading List for 2015.
- ‘A Shot of Salt Water’, The Dark, May, Issue 8: read here. Lois Tilton recommended this story in Locus magazine, it has been included on the Nebula Reading List, and on A.C. Wise’s “Favourite Short Fiction of the Year” list, amongst other places.
- ‘Sugared Heat’, 2nd Spectral Book of Horror Stories, ed. by Mark Morris (Spectral Press). This piece appears alongside some giants of horror!
- ‘Endpapers’, Beyond: Postscripts 34/35, ed. by Nick Gevers (PS Publishing)
- ‘For So Great a Misdeed’, my story about Hallger∂r Hóskuldsdóttir, appeared in Cranky Ladies of History, ed. by Tehani Wessely and Tansy Rayner Roberts (FableCroft)
- ‘Smoke Billows, Soot Falls’, was published as a lovely chapbook by Spectral Press
- ‘Consorting with Filth’, Blurring the Line, ed. by Marty Young (Cohesion Press)
- ‘The Canary’, The Dark, November, Issue 10: read here. This story has also been made into a wonderful audio version, read by Kate Baker!
- ‘Rapacis X. Loco Signa’, my contribution to Ann VanderMeer’s beautiful Bestiary, which has been produced as a gorgeous collector’s item, but can also be purchased (for a limited time!) in e-version via the VanderMeer Story Bundle.
- ‘Vox’, from The Female Factory (written with Angela Slatter): reprinted in The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2014, ed. Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene
- ‘From the Teeth of Strange Children’, from my first collection, Bluegrass Symphony:reprinted in Blood Sisters: Vampire Stories by Women, ed. Paula Guran
- ‘Forever, Miss Tapekwa County’, also from Bluegrass Symphony: reprinted in Mermaids and Other Mysteries of the Deep, ed. Paula Guran
- ‘The Beat that Billie Bore’, from Review of Australian Fiction, Vol.11, Issue 1 2014: reprinted in Imaginarium 4: The Best Canadian Speculative Fiction (ed. Sandra Kasturi and Jerome Stueart, 2015)
- Receiving the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Early Career Researchers (which included a stipend that helped fund further research);
- Convening and teaching my favourite topic, ‘Vikings and Anglo-Saxon Literature’;
- Collaborating with Kim Wilkins on our “Vikings” monograph; giving our joint paper at the medievalism conference in England; filling the well of inspiration in Dorset (along with lovely Kate Forsyth, both pictured left);
- Undertaking research at the University of Toronto, and conferencing at the University of Leeds, and the University of Lincoln;
- Having my paper about burial sites in the Íslendingasögur appear in Viking and Medieval Scandinavia;
- Successfully applying for study leave for Semester One next year, which means I will do nothing but write for several months, completing my next collection of short stories, The Homesteaders, and polishing my next novel!
2015 has been the biggest year of travel I have ever known.
My favourite trip — and the most outstanding one I have ever taken — was the first big journey of the year, when Helen and I went to Norway. We hiked so many gorgeous mountains, we rode Icelandic ponies, we canoed through the fjords, and we visited Viking sites and museums that all gave me so much fodder for my novel-in-progress, that I can only wish my book will be half as amazing as the place that inspired it.
The picture on the right is the view from the first mountain Helen and I climbed upon our arrival in Isfjorden — no filters, just pure mind-blowing beauty.
After Norway, I headed to the UK for a couple of conferences, some research, and too many memorable things to list here — but a few that top the charts were spending the weekend in Dorset with Kim and Kate; going to Lindisfarne with Erin (and walking where the Vikings landed!!); and holding an owl at Leeds.
From there, I undertook a Literary Arts Writing Residency at The Banff Centre — a wonderful place for all creative artists to take time for their work, to breathe in the fresh mountain air, to pause, to think. I HIGHLY recommend this residency to any and all writers (as well as visual artists and musicians — each morning and evening I heard opera singers practising, brass bands playing, violins tuning up… It was like a dream.) The Centre is within walking distance of Banff town, and also many gorgeous hiking trails of varying degrees of difficulty (after Norway, though, these mountains felt like foothills! Although, climbing Sulphur Mountain sure got the heart pumping!) While in Banff, I also had the pleasure of spending a few days (evenings, really, since I was writing during the day) with my older sister and her sweet family!
In September, I headed back to Canada to undertake some research at the University of Toronto — the libraries there! Man oh man. I barely made a dent in the collections, but enjoyed the time I had there. Then, midway through the research trip, I made a quick jaunt up to Ottawa for my younger sister’s wedding — a joy of joys! — before heading back to Toronto for another week.
Finally, I headed up to Brisbane in October for GenreCon and for the launch of Lament before my dear Angela and I went overseas to New York City for the first time! After an appalling flight that saw me missing our joint reading in Times Square (WAH!), we went to Saratoga Springs for the World Fantasy Convention — which I’ve already posted about so won’t rehash in detail here — and I’m still SO PROUD of Angela and Helen for tying for a WFA!! We had a great time visiting with the folks at Tor, seeing Ellen Datlow, and having dinner with Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman — so many great memories in such a short trip!
So what’s in store for 2016? Writing, writing, and more writing.
I’ve got a couple of new stories already slated for publication — my first Lovecraftian piece will be in Paula Guran’s Cthulhu anthology, and a strange little piece about harpies will appear in Jack Dann’s newest Dreaming anthology — and a couple of pieces solicited that I have yet to write. Then, of course, the next novel(s) will be polished off before I turn to The Homesteaders — a collection of stories returning to the world of Bluegrass Symphony — and and and, so many projects!
For now, I’m going to spend the next few hours looking back, lifting a glass of something bubbly to the Year That Was, and drinking in The New.
And here’s to you all! Hope next year is safe, happy, healthy, and that it outshines this one in every way possible.