Tag Archives: books

Here’s to Women

I’ve been noticeably absent from my blog – not through choice but rather time constraints – I thought it fitting to return to it today. Just past Women in Horror Month, and it being International Women’s Day, what better time?

I am a woman working in horror, I am a woman writing horror, I am a woman raising a young woman… I am woman.  There are some, though, who don’t approve of that fantastic mix of women and horror (I’m not linking to any of that shite), and refuse to read any horror stories penned by women.  Hell, there are those who won’t read anything written by a woman, and while this might surprise some, it doesn’t surprise me – not in this world we find ourselves in.

Elitism exists in the publishing world, and has long-since been an issue for women who love the horror genre – those who write, read, act, direct, edit, et al ­– have faced criticism, ridicule, anger, disdain for daring to venture into horror. We’ve been mocked, derided, ignored, threatened, doxed, we’ve been made to feel unwelcome, our passion for the genre belittled because we don’t swing that Y chromosome. Get out of our man-cave!

Fury Road

I’m here to tell you that Y chromosome means squat when it comes to writing horror; the X chromosome means squat, too. You see, writing horror isn’t about chromosomes, it isn’t about being a man or a woman or neither of the aforementioned. It’s about writing a good story, a great story. It’s about making good art.

Unfortunately, there are those who believe horror/dark fiction is the bastion of men, and that’s why Women in Horror Month was born; to break down those walls, those prejudices, the ignorance. Women can’t write horror because they don’t know it? We don’t understand fear? Terror? Subjugation? Do my ovaries automatically signal my inability to dissect, disembowel, decapitate, dismember a character? Can I not create a world only to destroy it with impunity? Look away, uterus, there’s gonna be blood…

I’m not the only one who sees the ridiculousness of this. I’m not the only one who sees the disparity of the perceived belief of a woman’s “place” within the horror genre; within any publishing medium. If you think women are fairly represented, then take a look at this video and tell me this is right.

There are women writing amazing horror, women are editing, acting in and directing kick-arse horror movies and programs. Don’t limit your reading and viewing; horror and dark fiction is the greatest genre you can indulge in – a wide variety of voices and styles only enriches us all. Find storytelling from women, people of colour, from diverse backgrounds, from those who identify as LGBTI, from those with disabilities, from all walks of life, culture, religion and the non-religious. Open your scope and take in the wonder of diversity.

So as I sit here writing and drinking coffee from my Wonder Woman mug, here’s a small list of women writers and editors you should be reading:

Lee Murray, Silvia Moreno-GarciaKaaron Warren, Rivqa RafaelChristine Morgan, Nalo HopkinsonKirsten Cross, Sophie Yorkston, Angela Slatter, Octavia E Butler, Joanne Anderton, Catriona Sparks,  Rose Blackthorn, Zena Shapter, Paula R Stiles, Maria Lewis.

The above list only scratches the surface of women writers making their mark, and I encourage you to source more – diversity of voice will open worlds that ignite your imagination and take you to places of wonder.

And really, we’re all welcome in this place of storytelling.

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Book Pimping: The Eschatologist by Greg Chapman

Happy 2016 all!

I’ve been meaning to write a post boring you all with my goals for the year, instead I’ve decided to use my first 2016 post to promote the work of another – something that benefits us all. I firmly believe that putting forward authors whose work you enjoy benefits us all. What better way than to give readers the opportunity to discover new worlds?

the eschatologist

With this in mind, I’d like to pimpity-pimp Aussie author Greg Chapman‘s new novella The Eschatologist,  put out through Voodoo Press. Here’s a little taste from the back-cover blurb:

David Brewer is trying to keep his family alive in a world torn asunder by a Biblical apocalypse. Yet there is salvation, in the guise of a stranger who offers survivors sanctuary. All they have to do is declare their faith in God’s final – and bloody – plan.

He had me at apocalypse.

For those not familiar with Greg’s work, not only is he a wonderful writer but a kick-arse illustrator, too (hogging the talent pool much?). He’s the artist behind the Bram Stoker award-winning graphic novel, Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, penned by Lisa Morton and the late (great) Rocky Wood. 

So if you’re looking for something new to read, check out The Eschatologist, Oh, and take a look at the book trailer – it rocks!

 

Festivus Book Pimping – Greig Beck

Happy Festivus Book Pimping Day! Or night… depending on which side of the world you call home. So with most of the stuff I create, it tends to grow organically, and this series (yes, I’m calling it a series), has also done so. While it will be books I’m pimping, it’s also authors… I’m pimping. Yeah, that sounded better in my head than it reads on the page, but hey, it’s Festivus, let’s roll with it!

Next up on the Festivus catwalk is another Aussie author and best-selling novelist, Greig Beck. Greg has a great number of novels on his backlist, but the two I’m presenting (see what I did there?) today are two books of his I’ve read this year – both of which I gave five stars on Goodreads. I absolutely loved both of these books, and read them far quicker than I wanted. It’s those books I love, the ones where you just have to know how it all ties up but you so don’t want them to end.

Okey-dokey, first up on the catwalk is Return of the Ancients (Valkeryn Chronicles #1), wearing a wonderful red ensemble with a touch of horror and most wonderful splash of Norse mythos. I’ve reviewed the book here, but this is from the website:

Return of the Ancients is the first of a two-part series and tells the story of a future world of great beauty and great horrors, and of two races who fought a war for an eternity. Arnold ‘Arn’ Singer, an average teenager living in Illinois is thrown forward into this world and finds he is the last human alive. The land is populated with mysterious and bloodthirsty creatures – some want him dead, while others see him as their only hope for survival – a return of one of the mysterious and all-powerful ‘Ancients’.

Return of the Ancients

I was enamoured with this story, with Arn and with the ‘creatures’ and world Beck created. I’m a sucker for Norse mythology, and there’s a great deal of it here, blended so beautifully with Beck’s imagination, so much so I earned sunburn from not putting the book down when reading while on holiday.

Now, with as much military flourish as Return of the Ancients can muster, it marches back off the catwalk and prepares for war.

In perfect response, please welcome Valkeryn 2: The Dark Lands to the catwalk in a pretty damn awesome fur and armour piece. War has come to the Wolfen, and the past has waged war on the future. I haven’t yet reviewed this book on my blog (time restraints and all), but it lived up to then surpassed my hopes. Here’s a little something from the website:

The mighty Wolfen of Valkeryn, descendants of the canines of the era of man, have ruled for many millennia. But now their kingdom has fallen to the monstrous hordes and the remaining Wolfen scattered. Arn Singer, perhaps the last human alive on the planet, finds himself cast into this maelstrom of chaos and horror. He seeks answers to the missing Ancients – mankind itself. But back in his time the world continues to destabilise – the portal through which he fell is destroying the plant and must be closed. Special Operations soldiers have been sent, fully armed, into the distant future to bring back Arn… or his body.

Valkeryn 2

I read this book in two sittings, forcing myself to slow as I neared the end – yes, I wanted to know what would happen, but this is a two-book series, so it would end when I so didn’t want it to. And that is the true representation of storytelling.

I thoroughly enjoyed both books, and insisted my children read them as both my kids have a love of mythology, and there’s much of that in here. My son grabbed the first book before my daughter could, and with a teenage protagonist, they will both identify. Yes, there’s some horror, but as a horror writer myself, my kids have kinda grown up around things that go bump in the night. Oh, my son is almost a teenager, and my daughter is a few years in on the teenage years. Me? I’m significantly past my teenage years (phew!), and I loved the books.

As a gift? Well you can’t go past it. The covers are evocative, and will really tease the imagination of the one tearing off the wrapping paper.

Recommended for those who enjoy fantasy, horror, mythology (Norse to be specific), YA (12 and up).

The Gift of Storytelling

With Christmas heading toward us at warp speed (really? Just five weeks away? How’d that happen!?), if you’re anything like me you may struggle a little when deciding what presents you wish to buy friends and loved-ones.

Books and stories really are one of the greatest gifts you can give another. It’s magic you’re handing over, the promise of escape to different worlds, of meeting new people who inhabit those lands and travelling with them through their story. Books ignite imagination, they transport you to universes vastly different from ours yet so real they must exist. They engage the mind, tug at the heart, and make you believe there’s more to this microcosm we call life. You might think that’s a big call, but I’ve read stories that have done just that.

book imagination

So, in the spirit of giving, over the next five weeks I’ll be promoting books – novels, collections, anthologies, comics – covering a range of genres and classifications that would make great gifts for the festive season. Or any season really. Books are wonderful gifts any time… all the time.

Yes, I’ll be promoting my own work (why wouldn’t I?), but I’ll also be promoting other authors’ work – those I’ve worked with and those I’ve read over this past year that really need to make it into either yours or a friends or loved-ones hands. There’s nothing sadder than spaces on a bookshelf.

The books I’ve read will have a little more detail than those on my ‘to read’ list (obviously), and as much as I’d like to take suggestions, that’s too big a project to take on at this stage, especially under tight time-constraints.

And for those of you who’ve read a book, collection, anthology et al that you’ve loved, leave a review for the author – that’s one of the best gifts you can give them.

Stay tuned…

Confessions of a Book Hoarder

Hello, my name’s AJ, and I’m a book hoarder.

They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, but I don’t have a problem, I have books. I have worlds and characters and cultures and magic, and if you go near them I’ll cut you.

Seriously.

Back up.

Now.

So books I have. Lots of them. What I lack is space… and bookshelves. (That faint stream of cursing is from my husband as he trips over yet another pile of books in our home.) I read. A lot. Always have done.  And print is my go to. Why? Well there’s nothing quite like the feel and smell of a print book; that tangible feel of pages beneath your fingers, the anticipation of what’s to come as you slowly, slowly turn that next page… it’s book porn. There, I said it.

imagination

And bookstores are the bastion of imagination – there dwells magic. I have my favourite stores of course: Kinokuniya (the pantheon of bookstores), Galaxy Bookshop (amazing genre floor), and Kings Comics (nuff said) – all of which are in Sydney’s CBD. But for those quick fixes, it’s my local Gleebooks, which has a reading nook at the back of the store; or Berkelouw Books. Hours I can spend trolling these stores, new and used books an intoxicating perfume.

The middle of the year is also when the cons arrive, and I hit Supanova and ComicCon Melbourne this year, where not only did I buy more books, I could get them signed by the authors. And while I was an exhibitor at ComicCon, it in no way stopped me from buying books (it just meant a mad dash from stall to stall – easy as).

I’ve just finished a two-books fantasy series from Donna Maree Hanson, which I picked up at Supanova in Sydney (review of book one here; review of book two to come), and it was decision time for the next book. Easier said than done. I scoured the ‘to read’ mountain beside my bed, then the ‘to read’ stacks beside my desk, the ‘to read’ pile on the floor near one of my bookcases…

books

Panic set in: which one? Do I pick a trilogy? A collection? A stand-alone? Graphic novel? *wrings hands* What about genre? Fantasy, horror, grimdark… Ah, spoiled for choice. So many books… some of which have been in the pile for a while, watching, waiting, as others are chosen before them, their covers screaming: pick me, pick me!

My husband’s suggestion is to not purchase any more books until I finish reading what I already have, but I’m not buying into his kind of crazy. He’s long given up trying to get me to rid myself (and our house) of some of my old books, but I just can’t. I’ve tried. I’ll pick up a book and remember where I was when I read it, what time of my life it was when I journeyed into those pages, and I know they’re not going anywhere. Some are packed away, sure; carefully and lovingly bundled to ensure they’re safe (and easily moved from one house to the next).

So yes, I’m a book hoarder, and I’m okay with that. I’m more than okay, I’m freakin’ great. I’m surrounded by books, by words and worlds, characters and creatures, monsters and mayhem – my happy places. You can’t ask for more than that.

Oh, and the winner of the ‘what to read next’ dilemma? Return of the Ancients (The Valkeryn Chronicles) by Greig Beck.

 

Review: Dying Embers by M.R. Cosby

It’s review time again!! And in light of my previous post, I’ll write it any damn way I please! Huzzah! So let’s try doing this one a little differently. Why? Well… why not?

Imagine if you will that I’m a rather portly town crier who loves the sound of my own mead-thickened voice. Gold brocade hangs by a thread from my dirty red coat and wilted plumage sprouts from my tricorne hat. *burps* S’cuse me. My breeches are more grey than white, and my scuffed boots are in desperate need of a shoemaker and some elves.

The bell tolls… “Hear ye, hear ye! The first book review for 2015 is that of Dying Embers by MR Cosby!”

As I duck the throw of rotten fruit and sidestep the splash from chamber pots being emptied from second-storey windows, I remove the heavily-stained parchment from my back pocket… Where’d I put my bell?

“Disclaimer! Said reviewer has met Martin Cosby once at his book signing. She arrived late and all the wine had been guzzled! She’ll know better next time. She and Martin interact on Facebook, usually in the form of deriding their cock-up of a prime minister and the embarrassment that is their government! Onwards to review!”

Dying Embers

Dying Embers is the debut collection from MR Cosby, published through Australian small press, Satalyte Publishing. Comprised of ten short stories, Dying Embers is the first I’ve read of Cosby’s work and it is fine storytelling indeed.

The horror genre encompasses such a diverse range, and more often than not Cosby’s stories sit well on the side of psychological horror. And he delivers this well.

We begin with The Next Terrace, and this sets the tone for most of the stories within. Here we meet the very staid Robert and his friend, Terry the risk-taker. It’s on a visit to Robert’s grandparent’s home that things take a weird little turn. As with most young boys, a hole in the wall that leads to the adjacent terrace is too difficult an adventure to refuse. That night, Terry cajoles Robert into following him through, but Robert takes a step or two then freezes. It’s what happens afterwards to the two boys that has the reader wondering. Cosby doesn’t quite come right out and tell you what’s going on, but rather leads you through a maze of clues to the denouement (spoiler-free!). I quite liked this story, and it set me up to the style of storytelling Cosby employs.

It’s the use of denouement through Cosby’s stories that work well… but I’m not a fan of it for every story. I, too, have used it, and it’s a great storytelling tool, but it doesn’t work for all stories, and I believe (note: my opinion) that it shouldn’t be for all stories within a collection.

The thing is, the storytelling is bloody good. Cosby either tempts you into the story, or drags you in, but either way you’re living the world of those of his characters. I found this to be especially the case with La Tarasque and Abraham’s Bosom, both of which paint the landscape and surrounds of the story beautifully and works wonderfully as a juxtaposition to the horror.

Both of those stories were in my favourites of the collection, as was In Transit. This story, about a businessman who values his travelling time and expenses as not only a deserved luxury, but a way to spend some time away from his family; not that he dislikes them, mind, it’s just… hey, we all need a break, right? But things, just small things really, start to seem a little off to Pendleton. The demeanour of other passengers, travelling ‘economy’, and a gate that doesn’t exist… but does it? It’s this slow build of tension via the reveal of these little anomalies that had me list this as a fave.

Another favourite was Building Bridges, but this was also tinged with a bit of disappointment. It would have been my pick of the collection had it not been for the denouement. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Brentwood is a man trying to connect with his family (especially his children) after suffering a debilitating illness. A trip to the museum to see the dinosaur exhibit seems a good place to start, but after losing track of his family, or rather being accosted by an odd homeless man, he spends his time chasing after them. But Brentwood finds himself in an altogether different place; there are dinosaurs sure, but not quite like he expected. Cosby works the off-page building of tension here very well, and I was racing along the darkened corridors with Brentwood. And even I knew (like Brentwood) that the “dinosaur expert” he encountered was a little… off. As was the “dinosaur” the expert was waxing lyrical about.

It’s the chase though, toward the end of the story that really had me racing through the words – a sure-fire sign that the tension is done extremely well. And as the monster closes in… ZAP! We’re in denouement. Noooo! I wanted to see that final confrontation, to feel the fear, the terror as it closed in and got all nasty on Brentwood’s arse. Now don’t get me wrong, the denouement works to finalise the story, it just didn’t work for me. Especially after the terrific build.

noooo

And that’s where, for me, the collection didn’t quite pack the punch I was after. As a friend of mine said: “It didn’t hit you in the feels.” Thing is, the stories are extremely well told, and the tension and horror of the situation is conveyed with a lot more skill than others I’ve read. Cosby knows how to tell a tale. For me, though, it’s the visceral side of the horror genre that has its claws sunk into my heart.  Again, this is personal taste, and mine runs to the bloody side of things.

So, overall, this is a very well-written collection of psychological horror that sits well within its genre. If you’re looking to tease someone into the wonders of horror without the splatterpunk most associate with horror, then this is the collection to get them started on their journey of horror-love. For those who like some blood and gore with their horror, this probably isn’t the collection for you, HOWEVER, there are some damn fine tales within that are well worth the look.

On a Goodreads scale I give this a four-star for the art of storytelling.   

4 stars

 

Review: ‘last year, when we were young’ by Andrew J McKiernan

Why yes, it is review time again. Today’s review is brought to you by me, with reading material supplied by Andrew J McKiernan. And I thank him for it. Now before I go on to explain how wonderful these stories are, it’s disclaimer time:

I’ve known Andrew for a good few years, and is part of the awesome Sydney SHADOWS – a mad crowd of Sydney writers who get together for lunch and drinks and shenanigans and drinks (Fat Yak! Ahem. As you were…)

Right then, with the disclaimer out of the way, it’s spoiler alert time…

READ ON AT YOUR OWN SPOILERY RISK. MANAGEMENT IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR SPOILERS IF YOU READ PAST THIS POINT. SERIOUSLY, IF YOU READ PAST THIS POINT THEN BITCH ABOUT A SPOILER, I’LL WHACK YOU WITH THE BOOK.

I love short stories. I love writing them and I love reading them. Collections and anthologies are always a kind of crap shoot – you don’t know quite what you’re going to get, you just hope there’s at least a couple of gems inside. There’s an undeniable skill in being able to tell a complete story within a limited amount of words, and not everyone can do it. Andrew McKiernan is one of those writers who damn well can.

‘last year, when we were young’ is the first short story collection I’ve read this year, and it’s also McKiernan’s first short story collection. Put out through the Australian small press, Satalyte Publishing, this is a collection of extraordinary moments set mostly against the ordinary, where the everyday lives of everyday people, are thrust into the twisted and bizarre.

LastYearSample

The collection contains sixteen short stories, five of which I’d previously read (and proudly published one as co-editor of Midnight Echo, Issue 8 – ‘They Don’t Know That We Know What They Know’ – it’s a cracker of a tale, full of tortuous moments and killer mysticism). There are also two original stories in the collection, and they’re two of my favourites, but I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s start by talking about the writing.

There’s a beauty in the way McKiernan uses words, how he weaves patterns with those words to tell a story, and it’s apparent from the first tale. The Memory of Water is a story of loss, fear, regret and longing, and McKiernan grabs you as much with his wordsmithing as he does with the story itself: ‘The ocean as some intelligent mother from whom we had all crawled – finned and gilled, gasping for air – and for whom we still owed reverence.’   

It would take forever for me to go into each and every story within the collection, so I’m going to go with those that most struck a chord with me. Though it’s difficult to pick a favourite, when I sit back and think on the stories, it’s always ‘Last Year, When We Were Young’, to which my mind keeps returning. It’s one of the original stories, and also the last in the collection; it’s also what the cover art is based on (which is another of McKiernan’s artistic pieces).

This story messes with your mind, in a totally good way. It makes you think, and there’s not much better than a story that makes you sit back and reflect. I so want to divulge the wonder of this story, but this is one best enjoyed without any spoilers. It really is a beautifully sorrowful tale of love, friendship, hope and hopelessness.

Keeping with the religious piety, A Prayer For Lazarus will have you rethinking humanity, religion and what some will do for those they love – not all of which is good, mind. But hey, madness is its own religion, no? Told from a child’s perspective, and in a child’s voice, there’s innocence in the horror, and that juxtaposition is one of the things that sets this story apart.

bloody-cross

The Desert Song is another that resonated with me, and as with a number of McKiernan’s stories, there’s a base of organised religion pitted against the ‘pagan’ and ‘insurgent’ belief systems. Set after an indeterminate apocalypse, a town struggles against an uprising of the creepy that sends most to madness. Definitely one of my top five of the collection.

While I don’t read a lot of sci-fi, The Wanderer in the Darkness, sits firmly within the genre, and dragged me in from the beginning and ignited that wariness, that fear of what lays beyond the stars. And according to McKiernan, it’s some scary, scary shit. There are some very spooky Cthulhu overtones in the monsters he’s created, and that can only be a good thing, right? Right?

The last story I’m going to mention here is White Lines, White Crosses. We’ve all seen those memorials at the side of the road, marking the final spot a final breath was taken – dead or dying flowers and white crosses. McKiernan delves into the story, the legend behind the white crosses that dog a small Australian town. It’s a tough, no-pulled punches tale about the believed invincibility of youth and the truth of reality… two very different realities. It hits hard.

Not all of the stories grabbed me, mind. Calliope: A Steam Romance, left me feeling a little flat, which is odd, as I love steampunk, but… *shrugs*, it just wasn’t for me. But that’s just one story out of sixteen, and if that isn’t the mark of a great collection, I don’t know what is.

On a Goodreads scale, I give ‘last year, when we were young’, five stars.

five stars

Nightmare Art

 The world is but a canvas to our imagination. ~Henry David Thoreau

Woo hoo! It’s art time again! Not mine, because no one needs to be subjected to that, but the art of one who knows his stuff. And by stuff, I mean the things that live in the shadows, the monster under your bed.

Greg Chapman is one of those artists who likes to play in the darkness where monsters live. I first came across Greg’s work a few years back when he illustrated a comic – Allure of the Ancients (Midnight Echo) – written by a friend of mine, Mark Farrugia. I’d seen the comic in its short-story form, but it was one of those tales I knew would transfer mediums beautifully.

The success of such an undertaking falls on the artist, and the writer choosing the right artist for their work. Mark chose right. Allure of the Ancients is the story of Rahkh, a vampire (not one of those sparkly pieces of crap) who has been around since biblical times, and follows his journey through the ages.

It’s a fantastic story, and Greg brought Rahkh to life in spectacular fashion, so much so one of his prints sits on my wall (above one of my bookcases, no less – high praise indeed!). Rahkh is a powerful, blood-thirsty vampire who goes through people like I do chocolate – ravenous and not at all apologetic. Just as a vampire should be.

Rahkh by Greg Chapman
Rahkh by Greg Chapman

 

Greg covers all spectrums of the horror genre, from his famous Halloween jack-o-lanterns, to Poe, Stephen King, Nosferatu, zombies, and all manner of ghosts and ghouls. Every nightmare you can imagine, he can bring to life on a canvas. So much so, he didn’t win a Bram Stoker. Let me explain…

Greg illustrated the highly-acclaimed, Bram-Stoker winning graphic novel, Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, by Lisa Morton and Rocky Wood. The man knows his stuff, but it’s unfortunate that while the writers of the graphic novel received Stoker awards, Greg did not. Which shows me how underrated illustrators are in a medium that relies so damn heavily on art.

witch hunts

Like writers, illustrators aren’t paid anywhere near enough for what they do. It’s been that way through the ages, but that doesn’t make it right. Go into any home and you’ll see artwork on the walls, sure, mine’s a little darker in nature, but barren walls don’t a home make. And I’ve Greg to thank for adding some colour and personality to my walls.

I’ve also had a piece of Greg’s art accompany my short story ‘The Road’ in Midnight Echo #9. It’s a small piece of inner art, but it’s beautiful, matched perfectly, and gave the story that little extra to show the power of the words. Words Greg understands very well.

Persephone by Greg Chapman
Persephone by Greg Chapman

 

You see, Greg’s not only an illustrator, he writes as well. He currently has his debut story collection out: Vaudeville and Other Nightmares (Black Beacon Books), which is another book I need to add to my ‘to read’ pile (which grows ever mountainous). The cover art is all Greg’s, so not only do you get a tonne of great stories, you get awesome art as well.

Greg’s artwork is available for purchase here (he does tees and hoodies as well), and I’m sure you’ll fall in love with some art that will look amazing on your wall. Go on, bring the nightmares home. I dare you.

vaudeville

Supanova: You Be Crazy!

Yesterday, I broke my “convention cherry” (it’s a thing, it really is) at Supanova Sydney. Now before your mind starts taking you places it really shouldn’t, Supanova, for the uninitiated, is a pop-culture spectacular that covers all things geekdom: comics, books, anime, cartoons, gaming, cosplay… the awesome list goes on.

SNova 3

It was my first trip to a convention of this kind, but it certainly won’t be the last. There was much excitement in my household when I told the kids we were heading to Supanova (or Nerdvana, as my daughter happily called it), so much so they were dressed and ready without my usual cry of: “shoes, dammit, shoes!”

After gathering one of my son’s friends, we made the half-hour trek to the Sydney Showgrounds at Homebush. Much excitement ensued as we played ‘follow the cosplayer’ to the arena, but that was just a taste of what was to come. The outfits and costumes donned by some of those in attendance were brilliant, inspired, and the attention to detail in some was amazing.

SNova 1

Everywhere we looked there was something to nab your attention (there’s a bad ADHD joke in here somewhere). There were stalls upon stalls upon stalls of publishers hawking their books; stalls upon stalls upon stalls of comic and graphic novels; clothing of all kinds (including a ghillie-suit that had me do a double-take), collectables, two amazing sword and dagger stalls I tried not to salivate over; and did I mention books?

Two of my writerly mates and Sydney SHADOWS compatriots, Alan Baxter and Andrew McKiernan were there hawking their new releases. I picked up (and demanded) signed copies of Alan’s ‘BOUND’ (Harper Voyager), and Andrew’s ‘last year, when we were young’ (Satalyte Publishing). I also grabbed ‘Assassin’s Aprentice’ by the lovely Robin Hobb, who happily signed my copy then chatted graciously with me.

Books!

My kids (and my spare) were in their element, running from comic stall to comic stall looking for that something special that elicits a smile that lights them up from the inside – it was beautiful to see. And their pure delight at the costumes is something I know will stay with them forever.

I’ve read too much about the elitist and misogynistic crap that sometimes goes on at cons such as this, but I saw none of that, my kids saw none of that. They were happily caught up in the wonder of a community of people who had a love of all things fantastique. And a shout out to all those who happily posed with and for the kids – not once were they turned down; not once were they made to feel as though they were intruding. My daughter, who can sometimes be painfully shy, was hovering near Batman, when she was spotted by the Penguin (now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write), who smiled and beckoned her over, making her feel at ease as they posed. It’s acts such as this that make things right with her world, makes things right with mine.

Cloe and friends

So with my convention cherry well and truly broken, and with tired feet, a tonne of fantastic photos and armloads of books for us all, we bid Supanova Sydney adieu, for we will be back next year, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll have two cosplayers with me.