Category Archives: Writing

Galactic Chat – Kaaron Warren

In my latest interview for Galactic Chat, I interview one of Australia’s finest writers – Kaaron Warren. We talk about everything from ghost hunting to baby teeth, and you will get to hear me rendered speechless, a very rare thing indeed!

You can listen to the interview here. For more information about Kaaron’s work her blog can be found here, and you can read a free online story here.

Karron Warren


‘Tis the Season – for Award Nominations!

Right now, nominations are open for two of the Australian awards in speculative fiction, the Chronos Awards and the Ditmar Awards.

Ditmar Nominations Open

Nominations for the 2014 Australian SF (“Ditmar”) awards are now open and will remain open until one minute before midnight Melbourne time on Sunday, 20th of March, 2014 (ie. 11.59pm, GMT+10). Likewise, postal nominations must be postmarked no later than Sumday, 20th March, 2014.

The current rules, including Award categories can be found at:

You must include your name with any nomination. Nominations will be accepted only from natural persons active in fandom, or from full or supporting members of Continuum 10, the 2014 Australian National SF Convention. Where a nominator may not be known to the Ditmar subcommittee, the nominator should provide the name of someone known to the subcommittee who can vouch for the nominator’s eligibility.

While online nominations are preferred, nominations can be made in a number of ways:

1. online, via this form:

2. via email to; or

3. by post to:

6 Florence Road

So, basically if you are someone who is active in the Aussie spec fic community, you are eligible to nominate. And, you should! Why? Because, even more so than with the international awards, the more people involved in the awards process, from nomination to voting, the greater the legitimacy they possess. I have only been around a few years, but even in that short time I have seen the Ditmars cop what I consider unfair criticism. The more people who participate in the process the less ammunition there is for critics.

A very comprehensive (but by no means exhaustive) list of eligible works can be found here

Also open are the Chronos Awards – the Victorian version of the Ditmars.

The Chronos Awards celebrate excellence in Victorian Science Fiction, and will be presented this year at Continuum 9. Nominations will be accepted now in all categories – just email your nominations to For more information about the awards (including categories and key dates) please see the website, or email with any queries. Nominations close Sunday, 16th of March.

Another very comprehensive (but by no means exhaustive) list of eligible works can be found here and, again, if you are eligible to nominate or vote, please do so! It really does make a difference.

Obviously I have eligible works in both sets of awards, but I don’t expect anyone to nominate, or vote for, me. If you do that’s wonderful, of course! But, you can stop reading here and just take away the core message of this post -nominate and vote the works you believe deserve it! The reason I say this is because the more people who nominate and vote, the more credibility these awards have, which can only be good for the Australian speculative fiction scene as a whole.

However, if you are interested in seeing what I have in the mix then read on:


Best Novella or Novelette

“Set Your Face Towards the Darkness”, David McDonald, in Tales of Australia: Great Southern Land, Satalyte Publishing

Best Short Story

“Homecoming”, David McDonald, in ReDeus: Native Lands, Crazy 8 Press.
“In Foreign Fields”, David McDonald, in ReDeus: Beyond Borders, Crazy 8 Press.
“Shadows from the East”, David McDonald in The Shadow of Judex, Black Coat Press.
“The Lesser of Two Evils”, David McDonald in Tales of the Shadowmen 10: Esprit De Corps, Black Coat Press.

Best Fan Publication in any Medium

Galactic Chat Podcast, Sean Wright, Alex Pierce, Helen Stubbs, David McDonald, Mark Webb and Sarah Parker

William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review

David McDonald, Tansy Rayner Roberts and Tehani Wessely for the Reviewing New Who series.


Short Stories

“Homecoming”, David McDonald, in ReDeus: Native Lands, Crazy 8 Press.
“In Foreign Fields”, David McDonald, in ReDeus: Beyond Borders, Crazy 8 Press.
“The Lesser of Two Evils”, David McDonald in Tales of the Shadowmen 10: Esprit De Corps, Black Coat Press.
“Shadows from the East”, David McDonald in The Shadow of Judex, Black Coat Press.
“Set Your Face Towards the Darkness”, David McDonald, in Tales of Australia: Great Southern Land, Satalyte Publishing

2013 Aurealis Awards Finalists Announced

The finalists for this year’s Aurealis Awards have been announced and the quality of the entries is a testament to the strength of the Australian spec fic scene.

Being a judge for two of the categories has given me a whole new appreciation for how difficult a task it can be, and for the sheer amount of amazing work being produced by Australians.

I can’t wait for the ceremony itself, it’s going to be a great night – almost like a minicon. Hope to see you there.

Good luck to all the finalists!

Savage Bitch by Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr (Scar Studios)
Mr Unpronounceable Adventures by Tim Molloy (Milk Shadow Books)
Burger Force by Jackie Ryan (self-published)
Peaceful Tomorrows Volume Two by Shane W Smith (Zetabella Publishing)
The Deep Vol. 2: The Vanishing Island by Tom Taylor and James Brouwer (Gestalt Publishing)

Kingdom of the Lost, book 2: Cloud Road by Isobelle Carmody (Penguin Group Australia)
Refuge by Jackie French (Harper Collins)
Song for a scarlet runner by Julie Hunt (Allen & Unwin)
The four seasons of Lucy McKenzie by Kirsty Murray (Allen & Unwin)
Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan (Hachette Australia)
Ice Breaker: The Hidden 1 by Lian Tanner (Allen & Unwin)

“Mah Song” by Joanne Anderton (The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories, FableCroft Publishing)
“By Bone-light” by Juliet Marillier (Prickle Moon, Ticonderoga Publications)
“Morning Star” by D.K. Mok (One Small Step, an anthology of discoveries, FableCroft Publishing)
“The Year of Ancient Ghosts” by Kim Wilkins (The Year of Ancient Ghosts, Ticonderoga Publications)

The Big Dry by Tony Davies (Harper Collins)
Hunting by Andrea Host (self-published)
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Allen & Unwin)
Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near (Random House Australia)
The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn (University of Queensland Press)

“Fencelines” by Joanne Anderton (The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories, FableCroft Publishing)
“The Sleepover” by Terry Dowling (Exotic Gothic 5, PS Publishing)
“The Home for Broken Dolls” by Kirstyn McDermott (Caution: Contains Small Parts, Twelfth Planet Press)
“The Human Moth” by Kaaron Warren (The Grimscribe’s Puppets, Miskatonic Press)
“The Year of Ancient Ghosts” by Kim Wilkins (The Year of Ancient Ghosts, Ticonderoga Publications)

The Marching Dead by Lee Battersby (Angry Robot Books)
The First Bird by Greig Beck (Momentum)
Path of Night by Dirk Flinthart (FableCroft Publishing)
Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near (Random House Australia)

“The Last Stormdancer” by Jay Kristoff (Thomas Dunne Books)
“The Touch of the Taniwha” by Tracie McBride (Fish, Dagan Books)
“Cold, Cold War” by Ian McHugh (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Scott H Andrews)
“Short Circuit” by Kirstie Olley (Oomph: a little super goes a long way, Crossed Genres)
“The Year of Ancient Ghosts” by Kim Wilkins (The Year of Ancient Ghosts, Ticonderoga Publications)

Lexicon by Max Barry (Hachette Australia)
A Crucible of Souls by Mitchell Hogan (self-published)
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Allen & Unwin)
Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix (Jill Grinberg Literary Management)
Ink Black Magic by Tansy Rayner Roberts (FableCroft Publishing)

“The Last Tiger” by Joanne Anderton (Daily Science Fiction)
“Mah Song” by Joanne Anderton (The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories, FableCroft Publishing)
“Seven Days in Paris” by Thoraiya Dyer (Asymmetry, Twelfth Planet Press)
“Version” by Lucy Stone (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #57)
“Air, Water and the Grove” by Kaaron Warren (The Lowest Heaven, Pandemonium Press)

Lexicon by Max Barry (Hachette)
Trucksong by Andrew Macrae (Twelfth Planet Press)
A Wrong Turn At The Office Of Unmade Lists by Jane Rawson (Transit Lounge)
True Path by Graham Storrs (Momentum)
Rupetta by Nike Sulway (Tartarus Press)

The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2012 by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (Eds), (Ticonderoga Publications)
One Small Step, An Anthology Of Discoveries by Tehani Wessely (Ed) (FableCroft Publishing)
Dreaming Of Djinn by Liz Grzyb (Ed) (Ticonderoga Publications)
The Best Science Fiction And Fantasy Of The Year: Volume Seven by Jonathan Strahan (Ed) (Night Shade Books)
Focus 2012: Highlights Of Australian Short Fiction by Tehani Wessely (Ed) (FableCroft Publishing)

The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories by Joanne Anderton (FableCroft Publishing)
Asymmetry by Thoraiya Dyer (Twelfth Planet Press)
Caution: Contains Small Parts by Kirstyn McDermott (Twelfth Planet Press)
The Bride Price by Cat Sparks (Ticonderoga Publications)
The Year of Ancient Ghosts by Kim Wilkins (Ticonderoga Publications)

The full press release and details about the awards ceremony can be found here.

Another review of Great Southern Land

Yes, it has been quiet around here. However, life continues apace and I am busily engaged in a  few secret projects that will hopefully be ready to announce soon.

In the meantime, I stumbled across another lovely review of Tales of Australia: Great Southern Land. The reviewer had some great things to say about the anthology, and was particularly kind about my story.

“Set Your Face Toward the Darkness” by David McDonald, told in journal style, also hit the spot for me. It’s a dark gothic story that re-imagines the fate of explorers Burke and Wills. While touching lightly on social commentary about the invasion of the country, the tale also shows the characters’ growing understanding about the natives’ “connection to the spirit of the land”, with descriptions of the harsh terrain emphasising the growing terror and isolation they feel. A great sense of place, well-developed tension and all-round, a good story.

It’s a very nice feeling when someone “gets” your story, and seems to understand what you were trying to achieve. I am new enough to all this to be unused to reading people’s thoughts on my stories, and I am thrilled. You can follow the link above for the full review and read about the other awesome stories in the anthology.

And, if you so desire, you can buy both paper and electronic copies of the anthology here!

GSL Cover




Obligatory New Year’s Post

One moment you are making lists of all the things that you want to achieve by the end of the year, and the next thing you know you are dissecting the Hobbit and setting off party poppers to welcome the New Year.

Looking back over 2013 it was a pretty good year, but I have to admit I didn’t achieve all the things I had hoped. Of course, that just gives me some more goals for this year!

Some of the highlights:

Some of the disappointments:

  • Still haven’t cracked that pro sale
  • Not catching up with New Who in time for the 50th anniversary special
  • Not submitting to all the markets I had planned to through procrastination

So, what does 2014 hold, other than plugging away with the short fiction?

  • Another tie -in anthology which I can’t announce yet
  • A  sci fi novel which already has a few nibbles of interest
  • Revising my completed first draft of another novel (fantasy) with a view towards shopping it around
  • A YA novel in collobaration with a US author
  • Another conversational review series
  • Loncon and hopefully another con in the States!

I’ve come to realisation that the only thing holding me back is me, and that I need to develop a better work ethic and stop procrastinating. While I am setting myself some high expectations, there is no reason why 2014 can’t be an even better year than 2013.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me over the last 12 months and I look forward to celebrating all your successes over the next year. May 2014 be a wonderful year for you all! :-)

The Trophy

The Trophy

Review of Great Southern Land

I don’t know about other writers, but I really struggle to judge the quality of my own work so I usually just assume it is terrible! So, it has been nice this week to get some great feedback on a couple of stories. It was an especially pleasant surprise to come across a review of Tales of Australia:Great Southern Land by the industrious Aussie reviewer, Sean the Bookonaut. He covers most of the stories in the book, and has some very kind things to say about mine:

The collection finishes on David McDonald’s Set Your Face Towards the Darkness and having read his work before, this story is a bit of a departure from his normal style.  It is written in journal format – the secret journals of explorer John McKinlay, who was sent to find Burke and Wills.  McDonald does a good job of capturing a reserved 19 century style in these entries written to McKinlay’s sweetheart, Jane.  I think the most challenging thing in writing fiction in journal and letter form, is building and maintaining tension and McDonald does this in his interesting mix of alternative history and pop culture horror trope. If you like Australian gothic horror and reading between the lines of historical journals you’ll appreciate Set Your Face Towards the Darkness.

You can read the complete review here.

And, if you want to pickup a copy of the anthology, either directly from the publisher, or from Amazon. At only $4.99 for the ebook you can’t go wrong!

GSL Cover

Show Them the Money!

It’s easy to become a bit cynical about crowdfunding. Like charity door knocks there seems to be a new one every day, and when you only have a finite amount of money it can be hard to decide who gets your cash. And, while there are lots of worthwhile causes, sometimes it seems that there are people who see crowdfunding as a bit of a shortcut.

But, then there are projects that are so exciting that you want to find the money for them, and that tick all the boxes of what crowdfunding should be all about.  Right now there are two projects in particular that I have absolutely no hesitation in spruiking because I think they not only deserve to succeed, but they represent things I want to see more of. Hopefully their success will breed more success for others.


The first is the upcoming anthology Kaleidoscope, from Twelfth Planet Press. From the website:

Kaleidoscope is an anthology of diverse contemporary YA fantasy stories, which will be edited by Julia Rios and Alisa Krasnostein, and published by Twelfth Planet Press. Too often popular culture and media defaults to a very narrow cross section of the world’s populace. We believe that people of all kinds want to see themselves reflected in stories. We also believe that readers actively enjoy reading stories about people who aren’t exactly like them. We want see more stories featuring people who don’t always get the spotlight, so we’re gathering a wonderful variety of:

* YA fantasy stories
* Set in the modern world
* Featuring teen protagonists from diverse backgrounds

There are lots of reasons to be excited about this anthology. The first is that Twelfth Planet Press have consistently released books of the highest quality that have transcended  Australian boundaries, finding international acclaim and being nominated for, and winning, major awards. Secondly, Alisa is an editor and publisher of incredible vision, and when you add Julia Rios (who I only know by reputation, but it s a stellar one)  to the mix you know you are going end up with an amazing selection of stories. If this isn’t one of the stand out anthologies of the year I will eat my hat.

And, thirdly, any project that encourages diversity in this fashion deserves our support. If this project succeeds it will breed more projects of a similar nature. Everyone deserves a chance to read stories that are about people like them, not just the standard demographic, and anything that makes that a reality is something I want to support.

You can contribute here.

SatalyteWhile Twelfth Planet Press has established itself as arguably Australia’s premier press, Satalyte Publishing is closer to the beginning of that journey. However, they have already announced some very exciting projects.

Satalyte Publishing is a brand new venture from an Aussie team, who want to see Australian works back on Australian bookshelves. Being an author and designer (as well as husband and wife), we have been involved in the process of book design for some years, and now looking at helping authors achieve their goal of seeing their words published.

I had the pleasure of working with Steve on a story in the Great Southern Land anthology and I was really impressed with both his passion and his professionalism. It was clear to me that his priority was doing the right thing by his authors, that to him they were not commodities but collaborators. Whether it is the percentage of royalties in the contract, or the level of support provided, Satalyte seem determined to ensure that the author is the focus, not the publisher.

That’s why I have no doubt that the funds that are raised by their Pozible campaign will directly benefit the authors, and be ploughed back into making the press the best it can be. As a writer I am thrilled to see a publisher that cares so much for its contributors, and as a reader I am very excited about what they have in the pipeline. Their success is not just going to be good for them, but for the Australian writing scene.

You can donate here.

My writing space

Over at her blog, the indefatigable Zena Shapter has been running a fun series of posts called #WhereWritersWrite. As the name would suggest, she is posting a series of pictures of the writing spaces of a number of authors. As a writer, I find it fascinating to get a peek at how other authors work so I’ve been following it with interest, and you should go check it out.

Zena has also opened up her Facebook page for anyone to post pictures of their writing space, so I took advantage of that and posted a pic of mine. After a few questions I added an annotated version. I have to say, I am usually a bit neater than this. Enjoy!

My writing spaceAnd in its annotated glory!


Great Southern Land available for preorder

I am still readjusting to mundane life after an amazing trip to Texas for LoneStarCon (details to follow!), and it has been a struggle. It’s hard coming back to the day job!

But, some news today that put a smile on my face..

GSL6-2EBFrom the website:

Journey into visions of the Great Southern Land by eight Australian authors.
The novelettes of this series will take you along arcane paths into fantastic Australias of the imagination.

Disciple of the Torrent by Lee Battersby
This Corner of the Earth by Dean Mayes
Acts of Chivalry by Sean McMullen
Bobby, Be Good  by H.M.C

Dreams Didgeridoo by Salwa Samra
After the Red Dust by Charmaine Clancy
Jaylin by A. Finlay
Set Your Face Toward the Darkness by David McDonald

 * Featuring Aurealis and Ditmar Award winning authors, along with some surprisingly fresh new writing.

Foreward by author of Savage Tides and Rotten Gods, Greg Barron.
“…These stories are compulsively readable…”

I am really excited to be working with the names on that list, and to be involved with Satalyte Publishing. They are a new press with an exciting vision, and Stephen has been a pleasure to work with.

Coming in at just under 12,000 words, Set Your Face Toward the Darkness is my longest piece yet, and a bit of a stylistic experiment for me. Hopefully, it has worked and you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

Great Southern Land is now available for pre order here

Native Lands….lands at Shore Leave!

It’s been very quiet on the blogging front of late. Part of of it is that I am slack, but there is also the fact that we are going through a restructure at work, it’s finals time for winter cricket and I am secretary of the association, and I am under the pump with some deadlines. But, just so you know I am alive and working hard, some exciting news..

From the Crazy8 Press website:

One nation under God…no more!

With the return of the old gods, the modern world came to a virtual standstill.

Around the planet, deities whose names had no more meaning than as characters out of myth and history were suddenly revealed to be real…and once again demanded to be worshipped by the people of Earth. And, in an instant, the borders set by man were erased and the world reshaped to conform to their divine plans.

But what of North America? When last its native gods walked the world, their people occupied the lands from the Alaskan coast through the Gulf of Mexico. But war, disease, and colonization severely reduced the tribes’ numbers, and their presence. Now, with the number of Native American worshippers significantly diminished—and drastically outnumbered—the Spirit Chief, Coyote, Raven, and the rest of that proud pantheon are desperate to regain and then maintain their hold over so vast a territory.

This third volume of the critically acclaimed ReDeus series features fifteen brand-new tales of a distinctly American nature by Lorraine Anderson, Kevin Dilmore, David Galanter, David R. George III, Robert Greenberger, Robert T. Jeschonek, Paul Kupperberg, William Leisner, Steven Lyons, David McDonald, Scott Pearson, Aaron Rosenberg, Lawrence M. Schoen, Lois Spangler, and Steven H. Wilson.

Native Lands was launched at Shore Leave over the weekend, and I am delighted to be a ongoing part of the series – to be working with writers and editors of the calibre involved is a wonderful opportunity..

My story, Homecoming, involved a fair bit of research into Native American cultures, and I was amazed by what I learnt, even though I am sure I barely scratched the surface. I hope that my story reflects the respect I feel for the cultures I have written about, and encourages you to learn more about them. And, of course, that you enjoy the read!