I don’t publish everything I write. An overwhelming majority of things, really. They’ve been sitting in a folder and I wanted to get them out there. It’s not because they’re bad: some are bad fit for anywhere paying and I don’t know what to do with them; some were written for a weekly fiction competition I enter and have been sitting in a forum archive that’s hard to point people at; some of them were written for a specific publication and rejected, but I’m still proud of them and wanted to put them out there. This site exists for all my other fiction to exist in one place: the fiction that didn’t quite make it, that I still love.
For many of us, comp titles are one of the hardest parts of pitching. You’re trying to find titles that: Match aesthetically with your MS Match thematically with your MS Are popular enough that the agent has heard of them Aren’t so popular that you look like you don’t know what you’re doing And that’s hard. So I’m going to break this down into two parts: The Great List of Swamps, wherein I go through all the things you shouldn’t do with comp titles. The Little List of Lights, where I talk about the rationale behind making good comp choices. But before we begin, the most important thing to remember: Rule #0: any rule mentioned in this article may be broken, but breaking it must[…]
I can’t believe I forgot to put this on the blog. I got a bit swept up in all the madness of it, but my debut novel The Dawnhounds came out in November 2019 and it’s … actually selling. I’m still a little bit speechless. I expected it to just drop off the world, but—much like its protagonist—it refuses to die pretty. I’ve written about it (and Gideon the Ninth, and others) for The Spinoff, and there’s an upcoming review in Landfall for y’all to look forward to. If you’re in NZ, you can order it much cheaper and faster from Unity or Arty Bees, but Amazon is available for international readers. Readers have described as “Ankh Morpork meets Ambergris”, “Disco Elysium meets Ambergris”, and[…]
My mate’s Charlie’s dad grows truffles and magic mushies out in the Moutere. He’s a tall guy, big-boned but skinny: got a head shaped like a tissue box. Charlie looks like his old man, but writ small—he’s got that flick of delicacy about him. Anyway, there’s an old place out on his block that we used to smoke weed in. Now most places like that are covered in graffiti, filled with rigs and dirty undies, but this place was fucking pristine. A perfect 20s farmhouse, preserved in amber, not even rust on the kettle. One time, me and Charlie are blazing up and we hear—I swear to fucking god mate—jazz. Coming from inside the house. It was maybe 9pm, middle of summer, sun still refusing[…]
Really it’s more of a ramp Every day I walk down the same steps as Katherine Mansfield; the asphalt zigzag where the fennel grows wild or I did until I realised I could shave five minutes off my commuteby going through the carpark, behind the skips.My mother was born here, when the fennel still grew. She read me Mansfield when I was too young, andcould not understand. I know better than to reference better poets; you call their name, you welter in their shadow, so insteadIt is mild today. A tui watches from the power lines. A tradie eats a six dollar pie. Steak and fennel. It is a three dollar pie, but moreso. Nevermind the world is ending A tradesman on smoko, an old supermarketa certain not-today-ness. Let us talk[…]
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Umbrella Academy is really fucking good. A loose adaptation from My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way’s comic series of the same name, it follows the Hargreeves siblings: a group of seven kids who are adopted by a cold and eccentric scientist after being born simultaneously, all over the world, to women who weren’t pregnant. He tries to train them as a superhero team, but it ends in calamity. The gang breaks up and goes their separate ways. Years pass, then they get a message—their adopted father is dead. One by one, they return home to mourn, rage, or steal his silverware. It’s hard to avoid comparisons to infamous bomb Suicide Squad: it’s a comic book movie about a team of antiheroes who must overcome their[…]
I don’t know whether I’m a millionaire. It’s a disgraceful state of affairs. This might take some going back through time. 18-21 were rough years for me. I was a bogan nerd, newly moved to Wellington, who wanted to be a writer and was struggling to admit to himself that he also liked boys. I drank. I initially drank rum because I thought it made me seem like a cool pirate, then I moved onto $10 red wine when I realised that I couldn’t keep up a respectable sustained BAC on anything that cost $40 a bottle. I was a Kiwi at uni, which meant I could lie to myself that my drinking was a personality and not a disease. I don’t know whether it’s[…]
CW: this piece discusses depression, and the suicide of a friend. It’s coming up a year since my friend Andre died. Hindsight can be cruel: I knew he suffered from depression and chronic pain, and in the weeks leading up to his death he became increasingly combative and withdrawn. I knew he was having a hard time, I just didn’t realise how bad it really was; it felt like a stepping back, but not an end—he’d been working on a new manuscript and we’d been going over his opening chapters together. It didn’t seem like something you’d do if you wanted to die. I know from personal experience that it’s more complicated than that—people rarely plan these things. The black dog is a persistence hunter:[…]
Just popping in to say: I got my first full MS request yesterday. Even if it turns out to be a dead end, it’s the confidence boost I needed right now. Keep chipping away at that mountain, fam.
There’s a genre of opinion piece infesting the darker creative corners of the internet, where an unsuccessful artist lashes out and writes a diatribe about how the system is broken, and everyone is garbage, and how they’re striking out on their own. We all look at those petulant flameouts, and we shake our heads and wonder what drives somebody to that. I know I did. Now, four months into querying without a single partial, I get it. Every unanswered submission on my spreadsheet burns. Every form letter makes me feel worse about myself as a writer and as a person. Querying is a sandpaper whirlwind rubbing down my soul; querying is a little man with a big hammer gently tapping out an arpeggio at the base[…]