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Wednesday, July 01 2015 @ 10:46 PM EST
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NEWS: Australian Shadows Win

So, I wrote this long blog post about how the AHWA 2014 Australian Shadows Award winners were announced over the weeked. I mentioned how my short story collection, "Last Year, When We Were Young", won the Australian Shadow for Collected Word... well, I might have more than mentioned, I might have gushed a little.

 

I wrote how we writers all like to say how awards really don't matter that much... and then I wrote how much of a lie that was, and how great it feels to have such recognition, and ultimately vindication, for all the hours and emotion that we put into our work.

 

I like to think I said these things with grace and gratitude: to the judges, and all the readers, beta-readers, editors and publishers who have picked up my work at some stage over the past eight years.

 

But, I guess I'll never know, because this website chewed up my post and I lost it all!

 

So, to cut a long story short, and because I can in no way try and reproduce what I wrote the first time... man, am I happy or what? Yes, I most certainly am.

 

It really is an honour to have my collection selected in such a way. I'm grateful and humbled and it inspires me to work harder at the one thing I love doing... which is writing: a thing that, eight years ago when my first story was written and published, I never imagined I'd would lead to a collection, let alone an award.

 

So, thank you to the judges, congratulations to all the other winners. It really is an honour to have won.

Here are the judges' comments:

 

"Our judges chose not to create a shortlist this year because in their eyes there was one clear winner. And that winner is.... Last Year, When We Were Young by Andrew J McKiernan - A Masterful collection of supernatural horror and dark fantasy. The horror tales are disturbingly close to home, with vivid characters and a distinctly Australian tone. The atmospheric tales of fantasy take you to terrible other worlds."

 

And, a full list of the winners...

 

COLLECTED WORKS:

Last Year, When We Were Young by Andrew J McKiernan

 

EDITED WORKS:

SQ Mag #14 edited by Sophie Yorkston

 

SHORT FICTION:

Shadows of the Lonely Dead by Alan Baxter


NOVEL:

Wolf Creek Origins by Aaron Sterns and Greg McLean

 

PAUL HAINES AWARD FOR LONG FICTION:

Dreams of Destruction by Shane Jiraiya Cummings

 

LAST YEAR, WHEN WE WERE YOUNG

 

 

(Australian Horror Writers Association: Australian Shadows Awards website)

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NEWS: Guest Blog Posts

A quick catch-up on a bunch of guest blog posts I've been part of over the past few months...

FIfty Shades of Lit. - Over on Alan Baxter's Warrior Scribe blog, I get down and dirty with the Genre vs Literary debate. (http://www.alanbaxteronline.com/fifty-shades-lit-guest-post-andrew-mckiernan/)

 

Angela Slatter interviewed me over on her blog (http://www.angelaslatter.com/last-year-when-we-were-young-andrew-mckiernan/).

 

I contributed to David McDonald's Paying for Our Passion series -- guest blog posts from a variety of authors, on how they pay and what they sacrifice for their creative passions. All of the posts are worth a read. (http://www.davidmcdonaldspage.com/2015/03/paying-for-our-passion-andrew-j-mckiernan/)

 

And Lee Battersby asked me about my writing fetishes, over on his Friday Fetish series of posts, wherein you'll get to meet my ever-enthusiastic writing companion The Dude... (http://battersblog.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/fetish-friday-andrew-j-mckiernan.html)

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Last Year, When We Were Young

My first collection of short stories, "Last Year, When We Were Young" has been released into the wild by Satalyte Publishing, and getting some wonderful reviews.

"McKiernan is a magician. He performs magic tricks in every story, spinning us around, making us believe one thing before showing us we were wrong all along. His stories are pure magic, staying with you like an echo long after reading." - Kaaron Warren, author of Slights & Walking the Tree

 

"Last Year When We Were Young, is proof yet again of the incredible writing talent that can be found in Australia and further still, proof that horror can have a meaningful voice that goes well beyond blood and gore." - Greg Chapman, Thirteen O'Clock

 

"A troubling collection of weird and twisted tales. Sometimes funny, sometimes horrifying; always clever, always disturbing. Highly entertaining!" - Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of CODE ZERO

 

"The sixteen tales in the collection draw inspiration from a variety of genres and styles, with the magically humorous juxtaposed against the frightfully repulsive, but each story has something in common: they are all hauntingly clever." - Alayna Cole, www.mariannedepierres.com

 

As you can imagine, I'm immensely happy with the reception so far.

 

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The Stain On the Lake - New Image

 

 

Just added to the Black & White image gallery, my illustration for The Stain On the Lake by Matthew J Morrison, for a forthcoming issue of Aurealis Magazine.

 


Click on the image for the full size view.

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Into the Storm's Domain - New Image

 

 

Just added to the colour gallery, my cover illustration for Into the Storm's Domain, the first novel in Ged Maybury's new YA Steampunk trilogy coming soon from Satalyte Publishing.

 


Click on the image for the full size view.

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NEWS: Last Year, When We Were Young

Click for larger version.
I am very pleased to publicly announce my forthcoming short-story collection, Last Year, When We Were Young, coming mid-2014 in paperback and e-book formats from Satalyte Publishing. The tentative details are below, as well as pre-order links.

The cover and table of contents might change a little over the next couple of months, but I'm really happy with where things are headed and how helpful and professional Stephen and Marieke Ormsby at Satalyte have been to me.

Also, a very big thank you to Anna Tambour for letting me use her wonderful photo on the cover. And lastly, a thank you bigger than I could actually give without bursting to Will Elliott, who took the time to read an early version of the manuscript and wrote the most amazing Introduction for me.

Here are all the details as currently know...
 
Last Year, When We Were Young
 
The debut collection from multi-award nominated author Andrew J McKiernan brings together 14 of his previously published short stories and novelettes, plus two brand new tales unique to the collection.
 
Often defying conventions of genre and style, these stories range from fantasy and steampunk to science fiction and horror, but always with an edge sharper than a razor and darker than a night on Neptune.
 
From the darkly hilarious "All the Clowns in Clowntown" to the heart-breakingly disturbing title story, the collection pulls no punches. Delving deep into what scares us most, McKiernan's tales are by turns heartfelt and gut-wrenching.
 
With an Introduction by Will Elliott, Last Year, When We Were Young is a collection of horror and dark fantasy from one of Australia's finest new authors that should not be missed.
 
Table of Contents (tentative)
  • The Memory of Water
  • All the Clowns in Clowntown
  • White Lines, White Crosses
  • Love Death
  • The Dumbshow
  • Daivadana
  • The Message
  • Calliope: A Steam Romance
  • The Final Degustation of Doctor Ernest Blenheim
  • Torch Song
  • A Prayer for Lazarus (new)
  • The Haunting that Jack Built
  • They Don’t Know That We Know What They Know
  • The Desert Song
  • The Wanderer in the Darkness
  • Last Year, When We Were Young (new)
Paperback - $29.99 AUD - Satalyte Pre-Order
E-book - $5.99 AUD - Satalyte Pre-Order
 
Biography
Andrew J McKiernan is an author and illustrator living and working on the Central Coast of New South Wales. First published in 2007, his stories have since been short-listed for multiple Aurealis, Ditmar and Australian Shadows awards and reprinted in a number of Year's Best anthologies. He was Art Director for Aurealis magazine for 8 years and his illustrations have graced the covers and internals of a number of books and magazines. 

 

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The Writing Process blog chain

My good mate Alan Baxter tagged me for this Writing Process blog-chain. You can read his post on the subject at http://www.alanbaxteronline.com/writing-process-blog-chain/. The idea is that writers answer four questions that talk about their work and their process and then tag three other writers to do the same. Here are the questions and my answers to them, as best as I can articulate something that is often a quite often so nebulous for me...

 
1) What am I working on?
 
Spending most of my time on my crime novel, A Quiet Place, because I've sold it to Satalyte Publishing for publication in early 2015 and haven't even half finished writing it yet! 
 
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
 
That's kinda hard for me to say, because I started writing it before I'd really read much crime fiction. I've devoured a lot more over the past six months and discovered what I do and don't like. I'm not even 100% sure that it IS a crime novel. Sure, there's criminals and criminal activity, but it's not a Mystery, or a Whodunit, or a Police Procedural. But, you know right from the start the situation and I think it's more like seeing a bad situation and knowing things are just going to get worse and worse from there. Hopefully it is written in such a way, and I've made the characters engaging enough, that readers will really want to hang around until the bitter, violent end and see how things turn out.
 
Closest I've found in my recent reading -- and I'm no way saying I'm anywhere near as good as these guys (I've got a LONG way to go), but they've become favourites -- are Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men, or the work of Daniel Woodrell and James Sallis, and increasingly Nic Pizzolatto... but with a more distinctive Australian setting and feel. Aussie Existentialist Noir? Bogan Noir? I don't know, but it's certain there aren't too many good guys or gals and, a lot like real-life, not everything has to happen for a reason. It's more important to me how the characters react to their situations than anything else.
 
3) Why do I write what I do?
 
First, I'll try and answer this one: Why do I write? Because I don't really have much choice. I think you'll find a lot of other writers give this response too. A lot of times, writing is hard, really hard. When you add together all the time you spend writing, all the research, all the worrying you do about a story, the fact you barely get paid a dime, all the highs and lows and the self doubt you put yourself though, it would make logical sense to just give it up... but I can't. The words and stories and characters just get stuck in my head and if I don't let them out, I'd explode! I get cranky and irritable if I don't write. My wife will look at me and say, "You haven't written for a few days, have you? Can you go and write something, because you're not much fun to be around at the moment." And she's right! I'm not really me unless I write.
 
So, why do I write what I do? Again, it's not really a choice. I didn't choose to write mainly Horror short stories (with the odd Fantasy or Science Fiction tale thrown in). I didn't choose to start writing a crime novel. Words and ideas and images just come to me and I feel compelled to follow them and see where they take me. I've never really planned to write any particular type of story, or use any particular style, or that I had to write something with a certain message or moral behind it. The only answer to why I write what I do is, because that's just how the words come out. A bit glib? Maybe, but it's the truth. I know no other answer.
 
4) How does my writing process work?
 
Chaotically. Spasmodically. Painfully. Meticulously.
 
Most times, my writing starts with a title or an opening sentence. I don't plan things out, I'm not a plotter. I just take that title or opening sentence, let it slosh around in my brain for a week or so, and eventually the next few words or a sentence will present themselves. Once I've got a paragraph or two right in my head, I'll get to a stage where I have to sit down at my desk and transfer them from brain to paper (or risk losing the lot to short-term memory loss). If I've picked the right time to start, the rest just flows on from there, revealing the story to me as I go.
 
The actual writing part takes a long time though. I know a lot of writers (most?) who just get the first draft done. Don't worry about it, they say, as long as your moving forward you can always fix it in subsequent drafts. It's the second and third draft, they say, where the real magic of bringing a story to life happens! I can't work that way. I obsess over ever paragraph and sentence and word, and sometimes I can't move on until I feel I've got things just right. It's never perfect, and beta-readers and editors always pick up on things I missed or make suggestions that improve things. But, just powering through that first draft and thinking I can fix it later? Nope, can't do it.
 
In the end, writing to achieve a finished product probably takes me the same amount of time as any other writer. The difference is, while they've reached the end of their first draft and are perfecting the story with second, third or even fourth drafts, I still haven't even reached 'The End'. By the time I do get to those terminal words, I've already done those second and third drafts. I just do them as I go.
 
I don't know if that's a good way to go about things, but it seems to work for me.
 
---
 
Next week (Monday 10th, March) you can check out the writing processes of three more authors, who've agreed to keep the blog-chain going:
 
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Emerging from Hibernation

It's been a long time between drinks for my poor old author website but, despite the long silence, things have been happening. Exciting things! Like a cicada emerging from it's shell, I'm back and updates will become more frequent.

Over the next few days I'll be posting about the following developments in more detail...

  • The sale of my short story collection, Last Year, When We Were Young, to Satalyte Publishing (for publication mid-2014).
  • The sale of my crime novel, A Quiet Place, also to Satalyte Publishing (for publication early 2015).
  • The unveiling of a new full-colour cover illustration, the first for a forthcoming trilogy of YA Steampunk novels by author Ged Maybury.
  • And, tomorrow, my post as part of a blog-chain on writing processes.

Author Alan Baxter tagged me in the Writing Process blog-chain last week, and to get yourself up-to-date before tomorrow, you can go and read his take here: http://www.alanbaxteronline.com/writing-process-blog-chain/.

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The Next Big Thing

THE NEXT BIG THING is a chain of book and author recommendations. One author tags five others, who then each tag five others. The idea is that we all help people out there learn about all the good stuff that’s just out or coming soon.
 
Every Wednesday, the tagged authors post the answers to five questions on their blog or website. Yeah, I know today is Thursday. So, I'm running a bit late and we're just going to pretend today is Wednesday instead. Okay? I mean, what are you going to do? Call the Time Police on me?
 
Anyway, Alan Baxter tagged me on over on his blog after he was tagged by Angela Slatter, and now it's my turn in the hotseat. Here we go...
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2012 Spec-Fic Snapshot - Interview

In what can most probably be best described as a blurry polaroid alongside the crisply focussed and brightly lit portraits of other wonderful authors and editors, I have been interviewed by Kathryn Linge as part of the 2012 Australian Spec-Fic Snapshot...

http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com/139821.html

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