Friday Night Fictions: November 2013
Howdy again, and hope you enjoy the final edition of FRIDAY NIGHT FICTIONS for the year*. This NOVEMBER issue, we’ve got high-pumping action, a fair smattering of YA, short stories galore and literary fiction to blow your mind. I love the mix that comes in each month…
I also did a recent debut author profile of Mr September, Michael Adams, about his genre-bending novel, The Last Girl (that slips between YA and lit fiction). Coming up soon is Tracy Farr (whose Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt featured in the OCTOBER edition).
AND my pick of the month this time is Laura Jean McKay’s Holiday in Cambodia. I’ve heard great things about this debut, and it continues a Cambodia thread that I seem to be following… I look forward to talking to Laura Jean and finding out more about her book.
I’m really excited to hear what all the FRIDAY NIGHT FICTIONS authors have been up to. Many are getting coverage on blogs and in mainstream newspapers. A big thanks to the writers who have started commenting on, and writing about, other writers’ work. I’ll be posting reviews and comments as they come in.
Sharon Kernot has done a wonderful review of Margaret Merrilees’ The First Week (see the Reviews section at the bottom of the OCTOBER edition). Even now, with a few reviews under my belt, I know how exciting it is to see someone engage in a meaningful way with the book (and finding out another writer’s views can be especially stimulating!).
If you’re new to FRIDAY NIGHT FICTIONS, you can find out more here, read the AUGUST, SEPTEMBER and OCTOBER editions + read my author profile of Nina Smith (Hailstone).
If you’re a debut author who’s been published in 2013 (or 2014 as it comes), and would like to contribute, read the guidelines and contact me.
*FNF will take a few months’ break (I’m hoping to spend a bit more time offline) but will be back at the end of February. Have a great Christmas and New Year, relax, read, and write (if that’s what you’re planning)…
SCOTT BAKER, The Rule of Knowledge
Faith, history, science and love collide in this fast-paced action adventure. High school teacher Shaun Strickland is shocked when he receives a last-minute invitation from Cambridge University to deliver a paper on the relationship between space and time, something he has been studying for years. It’s the break he’s been longing for.
But as he speeds through the cold Carolina night, his car slams hard into something surging from the bushes; an old and tattered hobo, carrying an ancient package whose mystery is irresistible. But there is something else, a book, sealed airtight for millennia, written in modern English, and predicting the exact moment it will be found.
Relentlessly pursued, Shaun must immerse himself in an ancient world to uncover something bigger than he could have possibly imagined.
What he finds is that much more than his own fate is at stake…
‘Indiana Jones’ meets ‘Back to the Future.’
In stores now. Buy the book online.
KASPER BEAUMONT, Elven Jewel
This sword and sorcery fantasy begins when the magical continent of Reloria is threatened by cruel, scaly invaders called Vergai from the wastelands of Vergash. These invaders are barbaric and are intent on destroying the protective elven forcefield and conquering peaceful Reloria.
Halfling friends Randir and Fendi and their bond-fairies are the first to discover the invaders and they embark on a quest to save the threatened Elven Jewel.
They leave their peaceful farm village with their fairies and race against time to stop the invaders. They join forces with dwarves, elves, men and a mysterious dragon, and call themselves the Hunters of Reloria.
The quest is perilous, with numerous encounters with the ruthless Vergai. The Elven Jewel is stolen and the quest becomes a race to the portal to retrieve the jewel before it can be taken to Vergash.
Online extract and YouTube clip.
Buy the book at Smashwords, Amazon.com and Writersweb.com.au.
FELICITY CASTAGNA, The Incredible Here and Now
Something terrible happens the summer Michael turns 15.
But The Incredible Here and Now is not about tragedy. It is about his place, the West, where ‘those who don’t know any better drive through the neighbourhood and lock their car doors’.
But Michael knows it intimately and lets the reader in: to the unsettled life of his family, the friends who gather in the McDonald’s car park at night, the one girl who will acknowledge he’s alive, the white Pontiac Trans Am that lights up his life like an omen.
It is here that he finds an escape from his mother’s growing silence and the absence of his brother Dom, who could charm the whole world with his energy and daring.
Michael’s stories are about love and joy and wonder, felt in the company of friends, and in the place he lives in.
Read an extract from the text.
Buy the book.
Meet Felicity at her website and on Twitter.
ELIZA CREWE, Cracked
At 17, Meda Melange is already an experienced serial killer. It’s not her fault, she doesn’t do it because she likes it (though she does). Meda eats souls, and there’s really only one place to get them — and it’s not the Piggly Wiggly. Then Meda learns she’s not the only soul-eater, she’s part demon, and the other demons are out to get her.
Fortunately, Meda finds the perfect place to hide — in a school for demon-hunters. The modern Knights Templar are dedicated to fighting demons and protecting Beacons, people marked by God as good for mankind. Because the demons are determined to kill her, the Templars are convinced Meda is a Beacon trying to fulfill her destiny.
Meda’s goals are far less saintly. She just wants to find out why the demons are out to get her and, well, that’s easier to do with back-up — even if her back-up would kill her if they knew the truth.
Meet Eliza at her Website + Twitter.
Buy the book:
Worldwide (except India): The Robot Reader (E-book).
AU: Booktopia + Readings.
UK: Amazon + Book Depository + Waterstones.
US: Amazon + Barnes and Noble + Indiebound + Powell’s.
Canada: Amazon + Chapters + Kobo.
LESLEY DIMMOCK, Out of Time
Life is about to get really complicated for Lindsay ap Rhys ap Gruffud as Queen Elizabeth the First lands in her garden.
Not only does Lindsay have to try and find a way to get Elizabeth back to her own time …
… but she also needs to avoid the thing she dreads most — falling in love — as Lindsay’s best mate, Meg, enlists librarian, Kate Spencer on the quest to send Elizabeth home before a sixteenth century plot to seize the throne can succeed.
Time is running out … for Elizabeth I and Lindsay ap Rhys ap Gruffud
Read an excerpt.
Buy the ebook at Amazon, iTunes and Lulu.
Meet Lesley on Facebook and Twitter, and at her blog.
NICOLE HAYES, The Whole of My World
Desperate to escape her grieving father and harbouring her own terrible secret, Shelley disappears into the intoxicating world of Aussie Rules football. Joining a motley crew of footy tragics — and, best of all, making friends with one of the star players — Shelley finds somewhere to belong. Finally she’s winning.
So why don’t her friends get it? Josh, who she’s known all her life, but who she can barely look at anymore because of the memories of that fateful day. Tara, whose cold silences Shelley can’t understand. Everyone thinks there’s something more going on between Shelley and Mick. But there isn’t — is there?
When the whole of your world is football, sometimes life gets lost between goals.
“A poignant coming-of-age tale with a fresh, original angle. No matter what your feelings are about AFL, this novel is bound to have you cheering by the end.” – Junior Books + Publisher
Buy the book at bookshops, at Random House, Booktopia and Bookworld, as an e-book at all the major outlets in Australia, and in the USA and the UK, where you can also buy the paperback.
Read the first chapter here. Find Teachers’ Notes at the Random House Website and an interview at Hypable.
Like The Whole of My World on Facebook and visit Nicole’s website for more information. Or follow her on Twitter @nichmelbourne.
AMANDA HICKIE, AfterZoe
Zoe’s not completely happy with the way her life has turned out but she’s even less impressed with her death.
She is blindsided by an afterlife of perpetual contentment arranged by paternalistic angels. Most of heaven’s population enjoy their eternity with the aid of an elixir which ensures they forget their loved ones, but Zoe doesn’t want to forget.
She joins an underground resistance group and starts to explore the might-have-beens with an old lover.
Zoe’s insistence on her right to absolute memory becomes more complex when her husband shows up.
This alternative heaven explores the nature of relationships, the possibility of identity without memory and what it would take to be happy for eternity.
The book is available in paperback and on Kindle, Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks and others.
Find out more and read an extract here.
JANIS HILL, Bonnie’s Story: A Blonde’s Guide to Mathematics
A Young Adult/New Adult chick lit tale told by Bonnie, a smart self-imposed blonde hairdresser with an attitude and cynical outlook on the life of science she grew up in.
The first time I met Rogan, he was wandering down my street taking pictures of the street signs with his phone.
His name wasn’t really Rogan, it was Josh, but due to the crowd he hung around with and the quirky sense of humour science geek types have, he’d become Rogan Josh. Rogan for short.
Still, this wasn’t something I learned until a lot later.
Since meeting him, I’ve not just learnt this little soliloquy; I’ve visited the Moon, watched life begin, and discovered the true depth of mathematics. I can tell you now; maths really isn’t as boring as you’d have thought.
Click here to read the full sample and for details on how to purchase the book.
HEATHER KINNANE, A Faery Dream
Ever had a dream you wished would come true?
Melissa is blessed, or cursed as she most often feels is the case, with the ability to dream true; an ability she knows was passed down from the mother she never met.
Now in her 30s, and plodding along in her failing relationship with Tom, Melissa is having dreams she wishes were prophetic.
Tall, strong and sexy Kellen lives in the forest, clad usually in nothing but a loin cloth. Though he makes her heart flutter, and is the man of her dreams in more ways than one, Melissa knows this dream is too far from reality to ever come true.
So when Kellen does turn up in Melissa’s life, with secrets from her past and plans for her future, can Melissa trust that this dream isn’t too good to be true?
Buy the book.
Read an excerpt.
KIRSTEN KRAUTH, just_a_girl
Layla is only 14. She cruises online. She catches trains to meet strangers. Her mother, Margot, never suspects. Even when Layla brings a man into their home.
Margot’s caught in her own web: an evangelical church and a charismatic pastor. Meanwhile, downtown, a man opens a suitcase and tenderly places his young lover inside.
just_a_girl tears into the fabric of contemporary culture, a Puberty Blues for the digital age, a Lolita with a webcam, it’s what happens when young girls are forced to grow up too fast. Or never get the chance to grow up at all.
““Krauth’s debut is alive with ideas about isolation and connection in the digital age, particularly the way the internet raises the stakes of teenage rebellion.” – Jo Case, The Australian
“It’s about porn/love, isolation/connection, sexualisation/justification, misogyny/mentality, Facebook and the face-to-face. It’s about our world, right now, and it’s a little bit brilliant.” – Danielle Binks, ALPHA READER.
Read an extract. Book Club Notes are available.
Buy the printed version at Readings, Booktopia or Amazon. The ebook is available at Amazon.com.au and iBooks.
International readers please contact me direct…
See reviews of just_a_girl here.
Contact Kirsten at Goodreads, her blog (Wild Colonial Girl), Facebook and Twitter. You can see her read from her work at the Sydney book launch, along with Emily Maguire (who introduced it).
LAURA JEAN McKAY, Holiday in Cambodia
Beyond the killing fields and the temples of Angkor is Cambodia: a country with a genocidal past and a wide, open smile. A frontier land where anything is possible — at least for the tourists.
In Holiday in Cambodia Laura Jean McKay explores the electric zone where local and foreign lives meet. There are tender, funny moments of tentative understanding, as well as devastating re-imaginings of a troubled history.
Three backpackers board a train, ignoring the danger signs — and find themselves in the hands of the Khmer Rouge.
Elderly sisters are visited by their vampire niece from Australia and set out to cure her.
A singer creates a sensation in swinging 1969, on the eve of an American bombing campaign.
These are bold and haunting stories by a remarkable new talent.
“Polished, Hemingwayesque snapshots, vivid and atmospheric” – Steven Carroll
“Subtly encompassing — these unostentatiously wrought stories look at the residual effects on their characters of the low, persistent fallout of catastrophe.” – James Tierney, The Australian
Buy the book.
Read an extract.
Read reviews in The Australian, Crikey and Artshub.
GERALDINE MEADE, Flick
Felicity Costello, aka Flick, is like any other 16-year-old — except for one difference. A difference she doesn’t want anyone to know about. A difference she hardly admits to herself.
Flick tells the story of a girl struggling with the secret of her sexuality and who goes to great lengths to hide the fact that she’s a lesbian.
In her efforts to conform to what she and her peers think is ‘normal’ Flick’s life spirals out of control until she sees no escape.
Will Flick succumb to the darkness? Or will she find the courage to realise that you can’t help who you fall in love with?
“Flick is the sort of book I wish I could have read in my teens. It never talks down to the reader but still manages to shine a light on some of the darkest and most confusing moments of becoming an adult.” – Graham Norton
Shortlisted for The Reading Association of Ireland’s Children’s Book Awards 2013.
Read an extract of Flick.
Order Flick here.
Buy e-book or paperback here too!
Follow Ger on Twitter or on Facebook.
Meet Ger at her website.
SKYE MELKI-WEGNER, Chasing the Valley
Escape is impossible. Escape is their only hope.
Danika is used to struggling for survival. But when the tyrannous king launches an attack to punish her city — echoing the alchemy bombs that killed Danika’s family — she risks her life in a daring escape over the city’s walls.
Danika joins a crew of desperate refugees who seek Magnetic Valley, a legendary safe haven. But when she accidentally destroys a palace biplane, suddenly Danika Glynn becomes the most wanted fugitive in Taladia.
Pursued by the king’s vicious hunters and betrayed by false allies, Danika also grapples with her burgeoning magical abilities. And when she meets the mysterious Lukas, she must balance her feelings against her crew’s safety.
Chasing the Valley is the first book in an epic trilogy of magic, treachery and survival.
Buy the book at Random House.
Read an extract.
Watch the book trailer.
Get in touch with Skye at her website, Twitter and Facebook.
ANGELA MEYER (editor) AND WRITERS, The Great Unknown
The imaginative stories in The Great Unknown take inspiration from vintage American TV programs such as The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits — and their contemporaries and successors — paying tribute to the cultural influence these shows have had on lives ‘down under’.
Episodes of these programs were often metaphors for equality, justice, the nuclear threat and other issues, while being memorably spooky and fun.
Editor Angela Meyer wanted to see what themes might seep into the writing of contemporary Australian writers working with the spooky, the strange, the eerie, the fantastic, the speculative, the macabre and the absurd.
Authors include Paddy O’Reilly, Ali Alizadeh, Chris Flynn, Carmel Bird, Ryan O’Neill, Marion Halligan, Krissy Kneen, AS Patric, Damon Young, Chris Somerville, PM Newton, Deborah Biancotti and Kathy Charles, and the winner of the Carmel Bird Short Fiction Award, Alex Cothren (with his first ever published story).
Find out more about the book at Goodreads and Facebook.
Available in December (and on pre-order) from Readings, Booktopia and Fishpond.
FELICITY VOLK, Lightning
Amid the chaos of sweeping bushfires, Persia gives birth alone at home with tragic consequences. Traumatised and grieving, she travels north, and encounters Ahmed, a refugee fleeing deportation and his past in Pakistan.
So begins a road trip to the dead heart of Australia, a journey that transcends the limits of ordinary experience. In Persia and Ahmed’s world, ancient winds wreak havoc across generations, lightning ignites flames that both destroy and rejuvenate, and water drowns then delivers. Hearts break, days are leavened with loss, laughter kills and cinnamon preserves.
Lightning is an odyssey across continents and centuries that explores identity and connection, and our yearning to reveal ourselves even when cloaked in crippling grief.
A moving meditation on finding hope in the rubble of our lives, Lightning celebrates the way our stories and their telling keep us alive when all else is pulling us under.
Lightning can be found at most book retailers including Pan Macmillan, Booktopia, Bookworld and Amazon.
Read an extract.
Meet Felicity at her website and Facebook.
For reviews of Lightning see her website and, specifically, in The Weekend Australian. Read the story behind Lightning.
Wow! What a line up, Kirsten. I wish I had more time to read – especially a book (Janis Hill) that says maths is not boring! Now THAT must be fiction 🙂
LOL. I wish I could imbibe all the books in FNF through a straw. But I like having it as a reference point, to return to… Maths. I tried. I really did.
It is indeed fiction and, as the Sacramento Book Review put it ‘No maths required’. 😉
I’ve got Holiday in Cambodia on my summer reading pile. Looking forward to it even more following your endorsement, Kirsten. Felicity Volk’s debut sounds great, too.
Here’s to more FNF in 2014!
Yes, I didn’t even know about Felicity’s book until FNF! Sounds amazing… Holiday in Cambodia appears feisty and accomplished. Thanks, Angela!
Wow Kirsten! This is a great collection of books! 🙂 Thank you so much for including mine – I thought I must’ve missed the cut off date being so late in the month! Was so excited to see it there! 🙂 And now to add several more books to my reading list…
That’s wonderful, Heather! Yes, I managed to squeeze it in – otherwise it would have missed out for a few months…
Absolutely loved ‘The Whole of My World’ and I’m not even a football fan! Great book about growing up and finding your place in the world.
That’s the mark of a good book, isn’t it, when it covers a topic you’re not really into and grabs you from the beginning. Paul Carter’s Eleven Seasons is like that too – about AFL – but it looks at the culture of Melbourne suburbs too.
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Just started reading The Whole of My World. I like books like this that fall into that blury area between adult and YA that Michael Adams spoke about in his feature on this website. The prose is clean and sophisticated and I think (so far) that it can be read on many different levels.
Yes, this is fascinating genre. I love those blurry edges – my book fits somewhere in there too. It’s a slippery place to market…
Ah yes! The problem is marketing. I had that problem with my first book too. Do you put a collection of short stories about travel in the travel writing section or the fiction section? Genres are becoming more blurred all the time. It is a huge part of contemporary fiction but we still haven’t worked out how to market these new kinds of texts or where even to put them in a bookshop.
I read Laura Jean McKay’s Holiday in Cambodia recently and was pretty blown away. She’s an amazing writer, and the stories were really thought provoking. I couldn’t stop thinking about how incredibly brave she was to take on writing from such varied perspectives. I think it’s almost become a taboo in a lot of ways to step too far away from our known worlds as writers – especially when tackling stories from the POV of people from different cultures. It really made me think about empathy, and the way when I travel sometimes I don’t really allow myself to imagine what it might be like living the lives of the taxi drivers etc that I encounter, and not just because it’s too much hard work, but because something about my white-woman-privilege makes me feel as though leaps of imaginative empathy are somehow off-limits. As though I don’t have the right. After reading Laura Jean McKay’s stories I found myself really examining this premise. McKay has lived in Cambodia and clearly has a deep understanding of the culture there, but I still felt it was such a brave and holistic way to really examine another culture; to so wholly step into the lives/voices of the people there. I began to wonder whether this feeling I have – that I don’t have the right – was just a unhelpful hindrance to deepening my understanding. It’s something I feel quite conflicted about, and McKay’s book really made me ponder such things.
She also has quite a chilling and incredible story in this collection told from the perspective of a man and his mates picking up Cambodian girls in a bar. It’s hard to explain, but she manages to get across this quite nuanced sense of the man’s lack of comprehension around what he was doing. It’s a knock-out. I really haven’t read anything quite like it.
Thanks, Jessie. It sounds amazing! I’m really looking forward to catching up with it, and interviewing her too. Have you been to Cambodia? It’s such a complex and unforgettable place – I’m intrigued to see how she grapples with it.
I haven’t been to Cambodia, and I have to admit that I’m not usually that interested in traditional travel writing either, so this book really spoke to me because rather than it being a whole array of anecdotal observations by a travellor, it was someone taking me into all these first person worlds. It required me to step inside, rather than just view from the outside. But yes, Cambodia sounds like an amazing place!
I finally got to reading After Zoe, by Amanda Hickie, and I loved it! Such an original idea, and yet one that seems so logical when you think of what heaven must be like to be a place always of peace and joy. Will write a review soon for my blog. 🙂
And my review is up! 🙂 http://heatherkinnane.com/2014/01/16/after-zoe-amanda-hickie-first-book-for-awwc-2014/
Thanks, Heather. And good luck with the AWW2014 challenge. Keep me in the loop…
Will do, Kirsten! 🙂
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Thanks, Heather, for the review of AfterZoe, is was exciting to see. Thanks also to Kirsten for this great forum for us new writers.
Heather’s review inspired me get on and comment on Felicity Volk’s Lightning, and I have put a review on my blog: (http://www.reviews.gormand.com.au/2014/01/lightning-by-felicity-volk.html).
Hi Amanda, thanks to you (and Heather) for getting into the swing of things, and engaging with others’ work. I’m enjoying reading the reviews that are coming in. The Australian Women Writers Challenge is also a great incentive for reading and reviewing, and many are interested in looking at the reviews. I have just finished The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt – and it is really wonderful.
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