Each month, I capture what I can on the Australian-New Zealand horror writing scene and publish it in my Drop Bears and Taniwha column for the HWA‘s monthly newsletter. Surprisingly, these columns regularly grow to 4 or more pages (much to editor Kathy’s delight – haha!), and I know I’m still not capturing all the news out there. It just goes to show what a vibrant scene the horror writing industry is on this side of the world.

I’m not going to replicate my column here, but starting with this post and then on the 5th of each month going forward, I will present a few highlights to help promote some of the cool stuff that’s taking place here in Australia/New Zealand.


January 2020

Two great pieces of news from the Australasion Horror Writers Association (AHWA), with the recent release of Midnight Echo magazine issue 14, and the announcement of the winners of the Flash Fiction & Short Story competition. Both items are close to my heart for reasons I’ll explain in a bit.

Midnight Echo #14 (with the theme ‘things are not as they seem’) was guest edited by Deborah Sheldon, and features all sorts of horrific goodness, from artwork, poetry, and flash fiction, through to short stories and even a novelette.

The magazine is available from Amazon and if you want to read interviews with the contributors, check out the AHWA’s Sinister Reads blog.

Midnight Echo Issue 14

From the Amazon page: ‘Featuring fiction and poetry by Chris Mason, Rebecca Fraser, Liz Simrajh, Erol Engin, Gregory Long, Ian J. Middleton, Robyn O’Sullivan, Tabatha Wood and Matthew Morrison. The issue is guest-edited by Deborah Sheldon. The issue also includes the artwork by Greg Chapman, Brian M. Quinn and Denny Marshall plus AHWA Short and Flash Fiction competition winning stories from 2018 by Renee De Visser and Hari Navarro.’

The winners of the AHWA’s 2019 Flash Fiction & Short Story Competition were also recently announced, so congratulations to Stuart Olver for his short story THE MIDNIGHT SONG, and Alissa Smith for her flash fiction piece LITTLE SPOON.

The winners will receive a pretty cool paque and will see their stories published in the next issue of Midnight Echo magazine.

Like I said, both bits of news are dear to me because I had a hand in creating them over a decade ago, when I was President of the AHWA (we started the competition in 2005, and Midnight Echo in 2008). It’s been a rough and bumpy ride, but the magazine and the competition are still here – and I sincerely hope they’re here for a long time yet. Bloody well done to the AHWA for your efforts over the years in keeping them going and for providing such opportunities for horror writers.


Something else that caught my attention recently was In Conversation with Margaret Atwood, which is taking place in Wellington on the 10th of February and Auckland on the 11th of February 2020. ‘The publication of The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985 and the current, Emmy-award winning television series have created a sweeping global cultural phenomenon, as ‘handmaids’ have become a symbol of women’s rights, standing against misogyny and oppression. 

‘In Conversation with Margaret Atwood is a New Zealand premiere literary event spanning the breadth of Atwood’s remarkable career, her diverse range of works and why, in the Booker Award winning The Testaments, she has returned to her seminal story, 34 years later.’

Join this ‘unmissable evening of conversation, discussion and Q & A with one of the most vital authors of her generation, as Margaret Atwood shares her signature insight, humour and intellect.’

Full bookings details are at: https://www.ticketmaster.co.nz/margaret-atwood-tickets/artist/757852.


My pal Geoff Brown received notification recently that Asylum Ghost Tours – Beechworth is featured in Lonely Planet’s 2020 Australia guidebook, a curated inclusion solely based on merit.

Geoff’s been running this for a few years now and with his team, they’ve been doing an awesome job. If you’re ever down that way (Victoria), I can’t recommend taking one of his tours strongly enough. They’re brilliant. The history of the old insane asylum alone is worth the trip, but if you get to do a sport of ghost hunting along the way – or a writers’ retreat there – then hell, it’s just the best.

And when he’s not out wrangling ghosts, Geoff also runs Cohesion Press, which has had a fair bit of success in recent years, too. Their latest release is SNAFU: Last Stand (Dec 2019). With a foreword by Hollywood director/producer Tim Miller (Deadpool, Terminator: Dark Fate, and Netflix’s Love, Death & Robots, in which many SNAFU stories feature), you know you’re in for one hell of a ride!

Check it out at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZBY3GKQ

SNAFU: Last Stand

Don’t forget, if you’re an Aussie/NZ writer, editor, publisher, artist, film-maker or who know what or horror, please get in touch if you want your latest news included in my next Drop Bears and Taniwha column in the HWA newsletter. It’s free marketing to over 1000 people! Just email me at martyyoung2002 [@] yahoo.com before the 10th of each month.


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