Why I’m Pleased I Didn’t Win The Shadows Award

I think awards are very nice! I would like to win one! And I was pleased and honoured to be on the Australian Shadows Awards Long Fiction short list. But since I think of Guardian of the Dead as more urban fantasy than horror*, I was fairly sure it wasn’t going anywhere near the trophy on this one.

On mentioning this to my agent, he told me to have more confidence in myself.

I told him that I had plenty of confidence in myself! I just didn’t think the book had much of a chance.

“But how can you be sure?” he asked me.

And then I fatally said:

“Barry, I bet I won’t win. In fact, if I do, I will dress up like the trophy.”

You see, the Australian Shadows Awards do not go for geometric shapes or a simple plaque, or even the Hugo Award’s hilariously phallic silver rocket.

They go for full-on, full-figured dark fantasy lady awesome. Check these out:

While I do not know what this year’s trophy looks like, I dearly hope it also features a lady with a sharp object, and maybe some black wings of DESTRUCTION.

About a week before the awards were to be announced I bumped into my lovely Publisher E at the House of Onion. It seems that Agent Barry had told everyone at the Children’s Book Festival at Bologna that I might possibly be wearing several strips of fabric and brandishing a scythe, thus ensuring I COULD NOT BACK OUT.

I ask you, is this good agently behaviour? Surely his mission is to ameliorate my foolishness!

Fortunately, the honour went to Bob Franklin, for his short story collection Under Stones. I am certain he made no such foolish bets.

Congratulations, Bob! And thank you very much.

* Although other people think differently, and I am totally cool with that! But although I know it exists, I have a blind spot to the book’s horror appeal. I have hypothesised that it’s because I knew what was going to happen to the characters. For me, it lacks the suspense that I think is essential to a really good scare**.

** Good scares: I’ve just finished Dia Reeves’ splendidly gory Bleeding Violet and Dan Poblocki’s The Nightmarys, which I couldn’t read after dark because it freaked me out so much. Recommended!

The Unbearable Lightness Of Noms

I am waiting for my first ever bread to bake (please be delicious, bread, I have plans for you that involve a lot of honey) and I am quite cheerful about that.

Also I am cheerful from killing the first person in Mysterious New Novel today. Well, second, but the protagonist got better.

ALSO I am cheerful because I was watching Adam Hills in Gordon St Tonight, which featured the awesome Hannah Gadsby, on whom I have an inappropriate crush, and the voice of Josh Thomas, on whom likewise.

This prompted some thought.

Karen’s Inappropriate Crushes On Australian Comedy/Analysis TV People:

Josh Thomas of Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation

Reasons for Inappropriate Crush:

– Tall, gangly, chatty.
– Hilarious.
– Adorable, unplaceable accent.

Why Crush is Inappropriate:

– Has boyfriend.
– He’s not into girls.

Hannah Gadbsy of Adam Hills in Gordon St Tonight

Reasons for Inappropriate Crush:

– Short, curvy, laconic.
– Hilarious.
– Hella sharp dresser.

Why Crush is Inappropriate:

– I’m not into girls.

Todd Sampson of The Gruen Transfer

Reasons for Inappropriate Crush:

– Tall, gangly, chatty, brunet.
– Regularly skewers immorality of certain ads during panel discussion.
– Adorable accent.
– Co-created Earth Hour. Co-created Earth Hour.

Why Crush is Inappropriate:

– Married.
– With kids.
– Two of them.

Prior commitments and non-compatible sexual identities, why must you get in the way of certain true love?

Oh well. Bread will always love me!

The Shattering Cookie: Keri and her mum.

Hello, internets! For your next The Shattering cookie you said you wanted Keri hanging out with her family, and you shall have it!

Mild spoiler warnings, of course.

I got home just as Mum was leaving for work. “Morning, Keri. How was dinner?”

“Good,” I said. “The snapper was good.”

“Oh, lovely. Is Janna’s friend nice?”

“Yeah. Bit flash, maybe. He’s staying at the Chancellor.”

Mum nodded, a gesture that might have meant she wasn’t paying attention, but could equally have meant she was taking it all in for use at some later date. “Your dad called while you were out. He sends his love.”

Dad was at a major roadwork site three hours into the center of the island, on one of the mountain passes. It was too far away for easy commuting, so he and his mate Hone were staying in Hone’s RV.

“Oh. Good.”

“And I said hello from you.”

“Won’t you be late?” I said, making motions toward the door. All this conversation was starting to wake me up, and I had plans to sleep for another hour. I sure didn’t want to do any more lying on my back and looking up. I’d already memorized the position of every glow-in-the-dark star.

Mum patted her French roll and gave me a professional smile. I didn’t like the face she put on for work: smooth foundation, pale pink lipstick, and carefully arranged dyed hair. With her laugh lines and crow’s-feet neatly concealed, she seemed much less my mum and more a construct of some sort — a champagne-blonde Chancellor cyborg.

“Keri, love . . . are you sure you don’t mind about Christmas?”

No Christmas this year, she’d said when Nanny Hinekura asked us about it after the burial. No, I can’t do it, no.

“I don’t mind.” This was sort of a lie. I understood what it was to want everything to stop, but even if we didn’t have a tree in our own house, we couldn’t avoid Christmas, because it was everywhere else. The streetlights had their tinsel decorations, and the hotel lobbies all had massive displays, and all the trees along the waterfront were strung up with lights. Christmas came up every time we turned on the TV or the radio or stepped into a shop. We’d even gotten two days into our own home Advent calendar, opening the little cardboard doors for the chocolates inside.

One for me. One for Jake.

After we got back from the tangi, I took the calendar into my room and ate every piece, including the big chocolate manger behind the door for Christmas Day. It made me sick, which felt right. The crumpled calendar was the only piece of Christmas left in the house, and it was lying under my bed like a piece of trash.

“I hadn’t gotten around to getting presents anyway,” I added, and that was completely the truth.

“Me, neither,” she said, which I knew for a fact wasn’t true at all. “But I mean . . . you can still go down to your grandmother’s, if you like. It’s not too late. All the cousins would be happy to see you.” Mum and Nanny Hinekura did not see eye to eye, so this offer was a big deal.

But now I had to stay to find out who’d murdered Jake. Even before, I hadn’t wanted to go. I couldn’t think of anything worse than being surrounded by all those family members, so conscious of the one who was missing.

“Nah, it’s okay,” I said.

“Well . . . I’m working on the twenty-fifth.”

“But you had the day off.”

She checked the fold at the back of her collar. “It’s triple time. We could use the money.”

She didn’t meet my eyes, and I thought, Whoever did this to my mother is going to pay.

Guardian of the Dead Paperback Cover!

Internets, I am so happy!

As you know, I think I have had excellent fortune with covers; although I love some more than others, I think they are all beautiful, and none horrify my social justice sensibilities. Neither of these things are guaranteed in the world of publishing, and I am very lucky to have had excellent designers and ethical publishers working on these books.

This is all preamble to say that Little, Brown decided on a new cover for the paperback of Guardian of the Dead and I LOVE IT FOREVER.

[Image transcript at end of post]

It is so creepy and sexy and strong. This is no vacillitating damsel in distress, this is a lady STARING DIRECTLY INTO YOUR SOUL*. Every single person I have showed this to said “Oooh!” or “Oh my God. Wow.”

Actually, one person said “Is that the font from the Angel title sequence?” but 1) she is a typeface geek and 2) I love both Angel the TV series and that font, so I interpreted that as “Oooh!”

It may or may not have the silver Morris medal on it when it hits stores, and I am fine with that either way. I am just so very in love with this cover!

* Who is the lady? It is a mystery! Although probably not to those who have read the book.

[Image transcript: A head/neck/bare shoulders shot of a woman with bronze/brown skin and dark hair scraped back, is facing forward, unsmiling, at the viewer. Her eyes are in complete shadow. Superimposed on her forehead is the title GUARDIAN OF THE DEAD. A silver medallion is superimposed over her right shoulder, reading WILLIAM C. MORRIS DEBUT AWARD FINALIST. At the bottom of the image a blurb reads: “‘Creepy, funny, sexy, smart’ – Libba Bray, author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine.”]

NEW The Shattering Cover!

NOTE: THIS ENTIRE POST IS LIES. Which I mention because apparently a bookstore contacted my publicist to see if the cover had really changed.

Hi Interwebs! I have a confession to make.

You see, after a lot of discussion, Allen and Unwin decided to go with a new cover design for the Australian version of The Shattering. They went with a new designer, RC Fleming, and a really different take on the book.

I’ve been sitting on this for a while, DYING to let you all see. And today, I finally get to unveil the new cover design to you!

This design really speaks to the lighter side of the book, and these typefaces are elegant and fun at the same time. I totally love the mystery of the shopping bag. What’s in there, Interwebs? We don’t know! Who do those legs belong to? Could be anyone!

Not gonna lie, I really liked the old cover too, but the more I look at this one, the more I think it’s even better.

Anyway, today is my publishing anniversary! One year ago, Guardian of the Dead was officially released, and my goodness, I might do some reminiscing on that tomorrow.

But today you get a cookie. And in celebration of this anniversary, I am going to give you the scene from The Shattering referred to on the new cover!

Sione stared at the girls, wondering if his face might explode from blushes.

“Heyyyyy Sione,” Keri slurred, waving a wine bottle at him. “How’s it gooooing?”

Janna jumped off her bed and grabbed his hand, yanking him into her room. “With my mum out of town and my sisters away at friend’s places, I thought tonight would be the perfect night for a shopping session and then a sleepover!” she said perkily.

“But… our brothers?” Sione asked, trying not to look directly at her. Janna’s outfit was very brief, and her voice wasn’t the only thing that was perky. “I thought we were going to find the killer tonight? Um, deeds of daring, great magic, that kind of thing.”

“Killers schmillers,” Janna said.

“Killer schmillers willers,” Keri giggled. “SIONE have a drink.”

“I don’t drink,” Sione said. “but okay!”

“JELLY SHOTS! JELLY SHOTS!” Keri shouted, and Sione downed 12 – no, 24! – shots and didn’t throw up because he is a hard man.

“Let’s play Spin the Bottle!” he said. “That is the best game!”

Sione spun the bottle, but it shattered!!!

“Oh no!” Keri gasped. “Look at all this shattering! Why, it reminds me of my shattering heart!”

“And the peace of our hometown that is soon to be shattered!” Janna remarked.

“Girls, the important question is, who do I kiss?” Sione asked questioningly.

“I want to kiss Sione!” Janna insisted determinedly. Her eyes were enormous sapphire ovals, and her lithe, opaque nose twitched like the cutest bunny rabbit you’ve ever seen. “He’s a hard man, and soooo confident.”

Keri shook her head shakily. “No, me! Sione’s the best,” the wild wench winsomely wheedled.

Sione felt a smile crawl across his face like a Very Hungry Caterpillar crawling to the next leaf. “Now, now, ladies,” he said, like that guy in the towel who gives you tickets to that thing you like. “You can BOTH kiss me.”

They did. It was the best night ever! And no one died!

COOKIE END.

What do you guys think?!