Thursday, June 21, 2012


A couple of weeks back, The Perth Adult Lego Society set up their umpteen-million-miles long display at the annual Perth Model Railway Show, and as it's pretty much the only decent Lego show that Perth has, I grabbed the kids and we gave Lyn a day's peace while we bogged off and had a gander. Along with every other Dad west of Adelaide.

Frankly, it was stunning, and not even having to cram past crowds six-deep at times to get close enough to see anything could dampen my enthusiasm. It was all very much beyond my limited capabilities-- the complexity of each build, the way they were then collected together into clever and at times highly witty displays, and the grasp of narrative and architectural techniques boggled me, but I came away even more determined that my little corner of the State, so far away from the PALS HQ that making their regular meetings is just not feasible, should get their own LUG. It was, for a growing fan like me, a day of aspiration.

But a report ain't a report without pictures, so have an eyeful of this lot.


There's something very cool about seeing builds that contains part and figs you have yourself. So much Space Police stuff in this set. I became, perhaps, more excited than a 41 year old man should...

A space shuttle, with adult human for scale. Gojiiiirrraaaaaa!!!!!!

A touch of Perth, with working TV screen inside the nightclub. Weirdly, I worked in the building behind its real-life counterpart, and watched it being constructed. I would have loved to have 'collected the set' by watching this one take shape, too.


It just ain't Lego if an adult doesn't build a castle. Thousands of dollars worth of bricks, signs printed on copy paper worth 6 bucks a ream. I got yer priorities right here, pal!

Stormtroopers. Chasing chickens. 'Nuff said :)

Beautiful work on the rolling waves. It's skill like this that makes me very envious.

Stunning detail on a Japanese castle. I couldn't get my little phone close enough to take a good shot of the interiors, but the details were unbelievable.

I saw this volcano as the first ten or twenty bricks were being snapped into place by Braith, on my only visit so far to the PALS HQ. I felt like rubbing its hair and saying "Haven't you grown?" like a distant aunty at a Christmas do.

A meccano Red Arrow. Just because it's cool.

There were over 60 different model train tables as well, and whilst I enjoyed them, there was one for which I felt a strange and compelling affinity. I can't, for the life of me, work out why....


It was a grand day out, and I'll be back again next year, and hopefully, I'll be taking notes for my own LUG...


Now, what about the rest of you?

If you’re the kind of old-fashioned fuddster who’d prefer to hold a real, live, dead-Brazilian-rainforest copy of the book, well, you probably think the Earth is one of God’s old silicon implants gone rogue and that women look pretty damn hot in a bustle and scold’s bridle.

Or you just like books. It’s all cool.

So: what do you have to do to get your greedy little hands on a paper copy of the greatest book ever written by a fat bearded bloke called Lee who lives in Mandurah?

Take a photo.

Okay, take a photo and send it to The Corpse-Rat King email address

Okay, take a photo on one of three themes. Have a guess what they are (Hint: there are three words in the title of the book). Then send your photo as an attachment to the Corpse-Rat King email address.

Make sure you do the following:

  • ·         Use either the word 'Corpse', 'Rat' or 'King' in the subject line, depending on which category you’re entering.
  • ·         In the body of the email, give me your name and postal address
  • ·         If you're under 13, this may not be the book for you, in which case snap up a YA book from sister imprint Strange Chemistry to help ease the pain of missing out. Possibly one with unicorns. Or robots that change shape. Or unicorns that get caught in the gears of a robot as it changes shape...
  • ·         Only send me one photo per email, and don’t send me more than one for each category.
  • ·         Don’t get all smartarsey with photoshop or paintbox or or anything like that. People who use those things are never half as clever as they think they are. Just take a photo, and be clever and amusing and funny and all that without getting all digital and downloady about it.
  • ·         Make sure  the photo is a jpg and keep it under 1M in size. Better still, compress it down to document size, so that I don’t have to when I post them.
  • ·         Keep in mind that judging is extremely subjective, and I’ll pick the ones I like, rather than the ones that might represent the best use of the technology blah blah blah. So be original. Funny is good. Sensewunda is good. "Fuck me, get a load of that!" is very good.
  • ·         Decisions are final, and any attempt to lobby or influence me may result in demands for cash, money, cup final tickets or Lego, depending on what I feel like on the day, and how close you live to a Lego theme park, and whether Forest ever make another Cup Final. Let's be honest, we couldn't make the finals of the Johnstone's Paint trophy right now. Let's be honest, we'd probably struggle with the FA Trophy. But I digress. And depress myself.
  • ·         Send your entry in before midnight, Saturday 18 August, Western Australian time (GMT + 8).

One Sunday 19 August I’ll post my 3 favourite photos from each category here and on my Facebook author page. Voting will remain open until Sunday 26 August. 

The entry in each category with the most votes will win a signed non-renewable-resource copy of The Corpse-Rat King. Copyright remains always with you, and all entries will be shitcanned deleted after the close of the competition, so rest assured I shan’t use them for any nefarious promotional, exploitative, unauthorised or onanistic purposes.

Except maybe for one or two of the Rat ones.

Any questions?

Sigh. Yes. The categories are: Corpse. Rat. King. Got it?

Good. On you go, then.


So, what we really need to do is give away some free copies of The Corpse-Rat King, don’t you think?

Here’s what we’re going to do:


If you'd like to win a copy of the e-book version, log on to my Facebook author page and ‘like’ it. 

Every couple of days from here until September 1 I’ll put out a shout. Be the first person to shout out a page number between 7 and 395 and I'll post an excerpt from that very page of the novel. 

Two randomly selected posters will win electronic copies of the book come September 1st, so don't despair if you're not the first to post-- put something up anyway and you'll go in the draw to win the e-books.

In fact, we’re already doing just that, so, in the interests of catching you all up, have the first couple of excerpts, courtesy of people who already had the sense to follow my page.

The still.

It was the only object in the room. Marius reached out a hand and pushed against it, wincing as the hot wood seared his palm. The heavy cask refused to move. Marius closed his eyes. That much liquid, in a barrel that solid, must weigh almost two hundred pounds. It was his only recourse. There was no time to think about it. Marius frowned, recalling the ease with which the dead warrior had lifted him from the ground. He must weigh nearly as much as the barrel, yet the soldier had hefted him without an ounce of effort. The dead had their own strengths, the soldier had said. And he was dead, was he not? At least, his body was. It bore all the hallmarks of being so. Perhaps it had the same strengths.

Page 54, thanks to Matthew Tait

They lay on opposite sides of the fire, listening to the rain thunder against the rock shelf outside. Marius stared out the dimly-lit entrance, willing on a sleep he felt neither necessary nor welcome. Anything to avoid another conversation. Then Gerd spoke once more, and the hope was shattered.

“You know, this reminds me of home.”


“This. It reminds me of being at home.”

Marius contemplated the hard rock beneath his hip, the wind and spray chilling him from outside.

“How? You grew up in a village.”

Page 69, courtesy of Daniel Simpson

The old man cleaved the stickleprick bush without stopping, stick arms waving like a pair of spindly black machetes, cutting a path through the bushes at a pace that would have impressed a charging elephant. Marius watched him disappear into the gloom of the forest. Within moments the man was out of sight, but the sound of breaking vegetation continued for several minutes. Marius listened to the crashes of destruction fade into the distance, then turned back to the mule. They stared at each other. Marius’ gaze slipped down to the sand at his feet. No footprints spoiled the ground between the cart and the forest.

“Well,” he said. “What do you make of that?”

Page 75, as per the Books, Crafts & Pretty Things Blog 

There’s another shout-out happening almost immediately, so don’t you think you’d better be getting to it?


The first official review of The Corpse-Rat King is out, and I think it’s fair to say The British Fantasy Society is impressed.

The whole review is here, and if I can quote my Angry Robot stablemate (and fellow Lee-at-large) Lee Collins, I am revelling in chuffery.


I had all sorts of different takes on what I was going to write on this image, but I think what I’ll do is just present this stunning piece of art without comment and let you make your own minds up.

Make with the clicky to follow the picture back to The Brothers Brick, where I first saw it, then from the comments to the full Flickr gallery. Mike Doyle, the artist, has a massive reputation in AFOL circles, by all account. Not hard to see why.


Are you aged 18 to 25 and living in Queensland? Decided to live a life of unparalleled luxury, with a team of underwear models following you around licking freshly-made margaritas off spare parts of your body and doing things to your naughty bits that would instantly turn your mother into one of those strange Born-again types who shout at people in shopping malls?

Well, you’re shit out of luck. I’ve been waiting thirty years, and if I’m not getting it, I’m sure as hell going to make sure you don’t get it.

On the other hand, you could enter the Queensland Young Writers Award, if you’re  aged 18 to 15, live in Queensland, and can tear yourself away from Mass Effect 3 long enough to write a suitable short story before July 13.

You could win $2000 and a whole bunch of career opportunities. After all, isn’t that all we really want in life?

Because maragaritas are sticky, and make your pubes look like Jedward. 


A massive raise of the glass to one of the loveliest people in the Australian literary industry, Kate Eltham, who will be leaving her role as CEO of the Queensland Writers Centre in October to take over the reins as Director of the Brisbane Writers Festival.

The QWC is a fantastic organisation: in my honest opinion, the best writers organisation I’ve worked with, and they’ll survive Kate’s departure with aplomb. But Kate is a very good friend, and this is just the sort of challenge that she can take on and make her own. Kate’s got an unbelievable set of skills, knowledge and charisma, and the BWF is going to be that much more rewarding an experience for bringing her on board. It’s a real coup for them.

Friday, June 08, 2012


Wanna win a free e-copy of The Corpse-Rat King?

Course ya do.

Here's the thing:

Every four days between now and the release date of September 1st, I'm going to put out a call on my Facebook author page. Simply 'like' the page, then be the first person to shout out a page number (in the comments, people. Don't just sit there at your computer shouting at it like you expect it to answer you. That's what old people do.) and I'll treat you to an excerpt from that very page of the novel.

That way you can be the first on your block to get a sneak peek of all the Hellestastic action, in just enough words to get you all erect and itchy-in-the-pants-area, but not enough that you have to sneak your undies into the wash before your Mum finds them and asks you some really awkward questions.

You don't get the last 2 chapters: spoilers, sweetie. But pick a number between 7 and 395 and shout away.

If you're not the first to post, don't despair. Post something anyway-- be witty, erudite, articulate, or just a normal Facebook user. Because come September 1, two randomly drawn posters will win an e-copy of The Corpse-Rat King for their very own.

You can't ask more than that, can you?

Okay, a million dollars, a Lamborghini and unlimited oral from the three supermodels of your choice. You could ask for that.

But 2 electronic copies of the book. Let's just focus on that, shall we?

First shout is out. Go. Post. Quickly now!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012


Adam Browne's book, Pyrotechnicon, Being the Further Adventures of Cyrano de Bergerac Among the States & Empires of the Stars by Himself (dec) moves ever closer to its release date of September. I've extolled the virtues of this wonderful book to you before, having been lucky enough to beta-read it, and you can do worse with a few minutes of your time than head over to Adam's blog and see for yourself some of the illustrations that will accompany the book. And if that doesn't make you salivate with anticipation, then I cannot help you, sirrah.

Word up to the froody Mr Wes Chu, latest member of the Angry Robot Waiting Club to score himself a big-ass publishing deal with the Robot Overlords. Wes' book The Lives of Tao is full of mad space opera skillz, and will be on my pile come publication time in spades!

Also word up to Aurealis and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, two of the finest Australian SF magazines to ever grace the readerverse, who both reached 50 issues in the interim. No mean achievement, especially in a country like Australia where the potential reader base for niche magazines is small, and the financial support can be non-existent at best. Props, my friends, props.

A belated and sadfaced RIP to Maurice Sendak, the children's author whose wondrous Where The Wild Things Are was such a happy part of my childhood, and which has been a shared part of my life with my children as well. The wild rumpus has ended, and we are the poorer for it.

Lastly, on the personal front, I've finally weakened and been persuaded to buy a dog. So welcome to the household, Rory the ball-of-fur-with-eyes. Yes, you are adorable, and I will progressively weaken to the point where I'll talk to you in silly baby words just like everyone else.


Every couple of years, the Australian SF Snapshot series of interviews gears up and pins a cross-section of the Australian SF scene under its glare with a view well-placed questions.

I've been lucky enough to have been questioned in each of the previous incarnations, back in 2005, 2007 and 2010, and this year I've come under the relentless Gene Hunt-like attentions of David McDonald. You can read the interview over on his blog Ebon Shores, and eventually all the interviews will be archived on the Australian SpecFic in Focus website.

Until then, engage in some link-hopping at the bottom of the interview and pick your way amongst the gems. It's a huge enterprise, and there are always some excellent surprises to be had.


Damn, but whilst I've been off lounging about the beach crapping about with artists, but people have only gone and bought stories and the like from her Lusciousness and myself.

Where, I hallucinate you asking? Funny you should bring it up....

This friendly little fellow is the cover to Midnight Echo 7, unfortunately harmless. He's the official magazine of the Australian Horror Writer's Association, and undoubtedly the nastiest little read you'll read this year, at least until issue 8 comes out. It contains my short story Ghosts of You, which is quite unpleasant, and I say that with all the love in my heart. 

Purchase ye here.

Next to him... the nasty Year's Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2011. His tiny fangs cause creeping ulcerations of the skin, and his pages contain Europe After the Rain, a story originally published in Fablecroft Publishing's After The Rain anthology and which I thought had disappeared with a dull whoomph of disinterest, so I'm pleased to see it up and about and being appreciated. 

YBAFH11 can be found at Ticonderoga Publications.

And coming soon... my prize, ASIM 56. Isn't she lovely? And so deadly. Her pages contain twice as many Battersbys as that of other magazines. You see, her contents include The Blind Pig, that is to say a modern fable of the depression by my beautiful wife Luscious as well as my own Comfort Ghost, and eventually... oh sod it, i can't keep that up.

Everyone knows ASIM is a ripper of a magazine. Their website is here, and I'll let you know when the issue is due to come out. The Blind Pig is the best short Lyn has ever written, and if you know Lyn's writing, you'll know what that means: you want a copy of this magazine, and you want it ASAP.

And if that isn't enough to make you wonder at just how many people you can fool all of the time, be sure to check out Bete Noire in July, where my poem Three Messages will appear. 


“I’m going to be sick.”
            Just look at the basket.”
            “I mean it. I’m going to be sick.”
            “Dead men don’t vomit, Gerd.”
            “Don’t care.”
            “Just look at the basket. Nothing else exists. No cliff, no sky. You’re standing on a nice, flat piece of land, and there’s only you and the basket, nice and close and easy.”
            “You’re a lying bastard and I’m going to be sick.”
            “Just close your eyes. Go on, close them.”
            Slowly, reluctantly, Gerd did so.
            “You have no idea how many things I blame you for.”
            “Yes, I’m a truly terrible person. Now, there you are, on a flat piece of land. You feel it, beneath your feet?”
            “Of course I do.”
            “That’s good. Now, can you see a cliff?”
            “Of course I can’t see the sodding cliff!”
            “It’s not there.”
            “I’ve got my eyes closed, you git.”
            Marius poked him in the ribs. “It’s not there,” he said through gritted teeth. “And there’s no sky. Just you and the basket. That’s all. Open your eyes and all you’ll see is the basket.”
            “How will—“
            Marius took a step back, and to the side, so that he stood directly behind his friend. “Open your eyes.”
            Gerd opened his eyes.
            “Do you see the basket?”
            “Yes, I—“
            “Good. Don’t forget to grab it.”
            He drew his elbows back and pushed Gerd as hard as he could, flush in the centre of his back. Gerd teetered for a moment then, with a scream, pushed off from the cliff’s edge and fell into the basket. It swung out from the cliff with his momentum, swung back to crash into the white stone, then slowly, in diminishing arcs, returned to its original position, twisting this way, then that, around the taut line of the rope.
            “You’re a bastard.”
            “Are you all right?”
            “I’m going to be sick.”
Marius turned to Brys.
            “He’s all right.”

48 500 words in, three beta-readers killed off, two to go, and it’s all progressing rather nicely. Marching Dead comes out in early 2013.


Things are moving along sharpish, now that we’re 3 months out from publication—that’s right, you few remaining Battfans. The Corpse-Rat King goes on sale as of September 1st 2012.

You’ll have seen the cover art, of course, although it’s always nice to see it again, at least, it is for me and it’s my blog so I’m going to put a picture up again:

You want me. You know you want me.

Still so pretty J

I’m compiling a list of possible review outlets, so if you’re a reviewer and you’d like a sneak preview via the loveliness of the Angry Robot overlords, flick me an email and I’ll point you out to he-who-must-send-out-ARCs to have you added to the list. I’m also lining up a bunch of interviews and contra-posts on blogs, so over the next few months I’ll likely be flitting hither and yon about the internet whilst a stream of relative strangers settle into our little armchair-corner-of-the-netiverse to regale you with stories of that one time in college when they were really curious and shared a bottle of crème de menthe with their transsexual history professor….

And, in one of the more enjoyable tasks available to an author on the promo trail, I’ve been pimping for testimonials. And have a listen to what two authors, for whom I have unlimited respect, have said:

“A stunning debut novel, well-crafted and grotesquely inventive. With its madcap story, unforgettable characters and fine balance between humour and pathos, The Corpse-Rat King ticks all the boxes. Fans of Joe Abercrombie will love this.”

- Juliet Marillier, award-winning author of the Sevenwaters series and Bridei’s Chronicles

The Corpse-Rat King is rugged, muscular fantasy, sure to please those who like their adventures rough around the edges, with wit and style to burn.”

- Karen Miller, author of The Innocent Mage and the Godspeaker trilogy.

It’s all shaping up rather nicely, is it not?

So I’ll be around a bit more over the coming months, ringing you all up individually at 3am asking you why you haven’t pre-ordered your copy of the book. But be sure to answer: it’s a pain having to explain to the police why I broke your window and climbed into your bedroom in the early hours.


Been a while.

I don’t normally talk about my day job on this blog. I like to keep my writing world and my employment world separate, for the very good reason that I don’t want the one to affect the other— working in the arts field leaves me too open to accusations of using my employment position to advance my writing career, and it’s a lot easier to simply keep the two things disassociated and avoid the possibility altogether. However, this is one of those rare occasions where I’m going to break that self-imposed taboo, because my day job is the reason I’ve not been around here lately, and I think that deserves an explanation.

I work as the Arts Officer for a local government. Every year we produce a beachside sculpture exhibition called the Castaways Sculpture Awards—50 or so sculptures along our officially-the-second-best-beach-in-the-country foreshore, each one made from recycled materials. It is, without patting myself on the back too hard, pretty bloody specky. You can check it out here, here, and here if you don’t believe me. 

See? Good, innit?

The event has been steadily growing over the past 5 years: apart from the central exhibition we run a week of schools workshops, a separate two-day schools exhibition, a flash opening night and a free public forum featuring a series of guest speakers. We co-ordinate a team of community volunteers to staff our information tent, and many of the artworks are for sale, and we co-ordinate those sales as well. This year, the event expanded to incorporate a poetry competition that received over 150 entries and a photography competition which, at the time of writing, had attracted 140 entries with a few days to go until closing. All this, organised by two people—myself, and the Co-ordinator, my immediate superior.

 Six weeks before this year’s event, she resigned and left.

Since then I’ve been co-ordinating this event as well as taking on the duties of both the Co-ordinator and Officer positions, essentially working two jobs as well as applying for the vacant Co-ordinator job and going through the application & interview process for that, culminating in working a 19-day week during the exhibition and aftermath. The event went off like a bomb. I got the job. It’s all ended pretty darn well. But in the meantime, it damn well ate my fucking life. Things are back to normal now: the beach is back to its pristine self, I’ve had a normal-person weekend, and I’ve got a week off coming up where I've been able to tie my fingers to the keyboard and undertake mass wordage.

But in the interests of catching the hell up, and there are a few things that’ll sound a bit out of date along the way, let’s settle in for a bit of updatery, shall we?