Tag Archives: New Zealand fiction

JAAM 33 – Small Departures

3 Jan

On New Year’s Eve, one of my best friends introduced me to one of his other friends as “a philosophy major, and a writer of short science fiction stories”. It struck me how weird it is that we do that – that we categorise people, choosing a few attributes and defining them as a combination of those things. Probably they were the most interesting attributes he could think of (you don’t want your friends to seem boring, do you?), and I guess it would have taken him too long to list everything he knew about me… “She’s 165cm tall, which you can see, she prefers peanut butter without added salt or sugar, she’s allergic to the powdery stuff on the skin of grapes…” Luckily our friends also miss out the embarrassing stuff when they categorise us for the benefit of a stranger.

Where was I going with this? Oh yes. I apologise for the small departure from the real topic of this post, which is my newest publication. My poem ‘Across so much water’ has just been published in JAAM 33, Small Departures.


It’s a very non-sci fi poem, based upon my experience as a child when my mother told me she was leaving our family and moving to the United States to be with an unknown man whom she’d met on the internet (which was a lot less common over twenty years ago). This was a traumatic part of my life – and I spent nearly two years off school, recovering. The poem means a lot to me – as my poems nearly always do. Writing them is a whole different experience to writing my speculative fiction stories, which are more about the weird ideas I have in my mind, rather than the feelings and memories I want to try and make sense of. If you’d like to have a read of this poem, here’s a link to bookshops that sell JAAM’s publications.

I received my copies only a few days ago, and haven’t done much more than flick through their pages. But I’m thrilled to see my name alongside some of New Zealand’s great writers.



The Box – SpecFicNZ Shorts

31 Oct

A month or so ago I wrote a post about the spooky bookshop short story competition, run by SpecFicNZ to coincide with NZ Bookshop Day and Halloween – both falling on the same day this year, that day being this very one (Happy Halloween!). I decided to enter the competition myself, and was chuffed to find out that my story The Box came third place. Piper Mejia came first with her story The Shelver, followed by Jane Percival with her story The Bookshop – and you can read all about it here.


The three stories have been packaged up into a free e-book. Apparently Amazon haven’t actually quite set it to $0.00 just yet, but Kobo has.  If, like me, you don’t have an actual real-life e-book reader, they are easy to download. The free e-book reader I downloaded makes everything look a bit naff, but it does the job.

Each story is less than 2000 words. Click on either of the links above to download your free (or not quite free) copy.

Shortcuts: Track 1

8 Sep

Throughout this year Paper Road Press has been publishing a series of novella sized e-books, one of which was my very own Pocket Wife. In November the full collection will be coming out in print, titled Shortcuts Track 1.

Meanwhile, it’s now available to pre-order. Pre-ordering is an excellent thing to do because (a) it’s a bit cheaper, and (b) there’s only going to be limited print run made – so get in quick and order your book! HERE!

Paper Road Press are also running two pre-order competitions. Either pre-order the book through Paper Road Press directly (that was the “HERE!” link above) or pre-order from Amazon and be in the draw to win a $50 book / Amazon voucher.


I can’t wait to get my own copy of this collection as I’m very eager to read the other stories, written by some of New Zealand’s best speculative fiction authors. I also think the cover art is fantastic, and am stoked to see the pile of legs beneath the “Madam Bellarina’s” sign – which are taken from my story.

And here’s the full collection that will be published in this book:

brees-dinosaur_cover-drafts ghost-of-matter_cover_med landfall_cover_2 mika_cover the-last_coverpocket-wife_cover_medium_web


Books, Music and Wine (Tofu Horse Plays Again!)

1 Sep


I’m very excited about two things. Firstly, my good friend Holly Painter is publishing her book Excerpts from a Natural History this week. Secondly, because of this she’ll be back in Auckland for a few days and I get to perform at the book launch. (Wait, isn’t that three things to be excited about?)

The launch will also include a comedian, and two other books from people I have yet to meet (this month really is shaping up to be exciting): Carbon Shapes by Stephanie Christie, and The Burnt Hotel by Olivia Macassey.

DATE: Thursday 17th September

TIME: 5 – 8pm

PLACE: Alleluya Cafe, St Kevins Arcade, Karangahape Rd, Auckland Central

I’m performing as one half of Tofu Horse, the other half constructed of the very talented Darryn Paterson-Harkness. Somehow we manage to sing, play guitar, bass, drums and kazoo between us, and make a heap of noise.

And to tie into this (loosely)… here is a picture of me performing at Vitamin S only last night (photographed by Derek Tearne).



Short Story Competition

13 Aug

SpecFicNZ, for those who don’t know, is an association for New Zealand writers, creators, and fans of speculative fiction. I found them a few years back, after having been told (by a respectable member of the New Zealand literary community) that there wasn’t really a market for speculative fiction in NZ, that no one published it, and that I’d have a near-to-impossible time going down that road at all. (Doh!) Really, all it took was a quick search on-line, and I found a whole community of not only NZ speculative fiction writers, but publishers too. It does exist, thank you very much.

I’ve been a member of the organisation pretty much since I learned about it, and as of last month am now also a member of the core committee, and the current treasurer. (You gotta love a good spreadsheet.) Writing can be a rather lonely journey – just you and your characters (who sometimes aren’t that nice) – and so being part of an organisation with other like-minded people can make you feel a little less like the straggly, dried leaf-in-your-tangled-hair outsider that you really are. Plus, you get to hang out an conventions, learn about writing opportunities, and receive info about competitions such as:


SpecFicNZ’s Spooky Bookshop Challenge.

Halloween this year falls on NZ Bookshop Day, so the aim of this competition is to write a 1000-2000 word story that both incorporates Halloween (or general spookiness) and bookshops. There’s a small cash prize, and the three winners’ stories will be published together as an e-book.

Deadline: September 30th.

To enter, you’ll need to be / become a member.

Pocket Wife

30 Jun

I am extremely pleased to now be able to announce that my novella Pocket Wife is now available to purchase on-line as an e-book.

Published through Wellington’s indie Paper Road Press, it is the fourth edition of SHORTCUTS, a series of six locally-written novellas, coming out each month. You can buy mine at both Amazon and Kobo, or subscribe to get the whole the series for only $3.33 NZD per month.



Carl’s work requires him to travel extensively, but he and his wife Jenny stay connected through their Tinys – four-inch-tall replicas of themselves which, when turned on, transmit whatever sensory information they are receiving directly into their living counterparts’ minds. Through his Tiny, which Jenny keeps close beside her in Auckland, Carl can see his wife, speak to her, even feel her touch. But when Jenny’s Tiny malfunctions and she can’t turn herself off, Carl has a major problem. He’s having an affair, and he’d rather his wife wasn’t around.

And if that’s not enough to convince to go running (er, through the internet) to your nearest e-book emporium, why not read this  free excerpt?

I also want to make a shout out to the artist Irene González Frizzera for the awesome cover art. It’s kinda freaky, no?


I had a fisty cuff with my micro fiction

7 Jun

I have a love-hate relationship with micro fiction.

I am a sucker for the competitions. No matter what project I’m currently working on, or how important the project is to me, I will throw it aside in an instant (I couldn’t bring myself to say “in a flash”) to spend the day writing – and then filing down – a micro-fiction. I think this is mostly because I’m a shameful procrastinator. I’ll do the dishes, clean the toilet, water the plants, rearrange the cupboards, write lists, budgeterise, plan trips, (write blog entries…) – anything instead of actually sitting down to work on whatever project I’ve set for myself. So if a micro-fiction competition sidles into my peripheral vision I GRAB hold of it and yank it directly to the foreground. I can then happily procrastinate while convincing myself I’m honing my art.


The problem is, I’m not very good at writing them. I send them off, waving enthusiastically as they wander down the street all by themselves, and only a few weeks later I get the inevitable rejection letter.

So I decided (tonight – when I should, ahem, have been doing something more productive with my time) to figure out where I’m going wrong. To good ol’ Google I went, with my sincere question: “how to write good micro fiction?” I found contradicting advice, some dos and don’ts, some practical tips on keeping the word count low. I’ve chosen to use David Gaffney’s (author of Sawn-Off Tales) six simple instruction on how to write micro fiction, because they make intuitive sense to me.

You can read the full article by clicking on the link above, but in a nutshell he says: (1) Start in the middle; (2) Don’t use too many characters; (3) Make sure the ending isn’t at the end (ie avoid the twist/punch-line/“drum roll and cymbal crash” ending); (4) Pick a good title; (5) Choose an excellent last line that leaves the author thinking and even struggling to understand what the hell it’s all about; and (6) Write a longer story then cut it down.

Here is one of the three unsuccessful micro-fictions I recently submitted to Micro Madness, a national micro fiction competition running throughout June. It is exactly 100 words long.


It looked too small to be a boat, but it moved at a phenomenal speed. Brian watched it from the shoreline until he realised it was a huge fin. He took out his phone to get footage. Could even be a Great White.

It circled round and started heading towards the shore. Like it had noticed him. Brian smiled at himself, shook his head.

It kept coming. What was it doing? Trying to beach itself? Phone still in hand, Brian took a cautious step backwards.

As it hit in the sand, Brian turned to run. He only got three paces.

I’ll now go through David Gaffney’s steps one by one and see if I can improve this story.

(1) I believe that this story starts in the middle. I haven’t bothered explaining who Brian is, or why he’s walking on the beach. So I think it’s passed step #1.

(2) I only have one character.

(3) Oh dear… egg on my face. This story clearly ends at the end. Brian dies / is eaten by some weird oceanic creature. But this has got me wondering: do I stop the story before he is attacked? That would be boring, and would miss the point. The alternative is to carry on with the story after he’s been attacked. But as the story is told in a “close” third person point of view (that is, we see Brian’s thoughts) it seems impossible to carry on after he’s being eaten or at least horrifically dismembered. I’ll try writing it from an omniscient perspective and see if I can stretch it out further…

(4) I hate choosing titles (especially for flash fiction, when the title is arguably more important). I’m a very lazy title-creator. I’ll concede that the title isn’t that great. It probably leads people to believe the creature is in fact a shark.


(5) Since I have to change the ending (so it’s not the end) I’ll have to change the last line anyway.

(6) You know, with this story I didn’t actually twiddle it down much. Which probably means there’s more story I could have told.

Here is my second attempt. Since the guidelines specified the story had to be 100 words or less, I’ve maintained that restriction.

Over 1 million hits on YouTube

It looked too small to be a speedboat. Brian watched it from the shoreline until he realised it was an enormous fin. He took out his phone to get footage.

It circled round and started heading swiftly towards the shore. Phone still in hand, Brian took a step backwards.

Later, the police found what appeared to be hurried footsteps heading away from the shoreline and abruptly ceasing. The boy’s phone was found three days later, damaged beyond repair. A video went viral on YouTube, showing a great, angular beast erupting from the water. Critics dismissed it as an amateur prank.

Comments are most welcome! Here’s a link to the Micro Madness page – it’s worth checking out!