This month over at the Australasian Horror Writers Association, the Australian Shadows Awards are in full swing. This award was forged in a fiery debate over fifteen years ago now – one that fortunately took place behind closed doors!

Authors who are AHWA members and Australasian (Australia, New Zealand and Oceania) are encouraged to submit their works before March 31. For more details:

Judges (of which I’m one) will unveil a short list in May, with the winners of the Novel, Long Fiction, Short Fiction, Collected Works, Edited Works, Graphic Novel, Non-Fiction and Poetry to be decided at Continuum 16 in Melbourne in June.

It’s great to see this award still going strong. Back in 2004/2005 when I was president of the then-Australian Horror Writers Association, the late Robert N Stephenson approached me with the idea of a brand new award to celebrate Australian horror fiction. Back then, it was only one award – the best work of horror fiction, regardless of length.

Robert even went so far as to pay for the first five years worth of awards out of his own pocket – the now famous (or infamous!) ‘nekked’ lady awards designed by Brom and supplied by the Franklin Mint – and boy, could I tell you a story about the furore that set off when Robert first offered those statues.

There was a huge blow up between people who were prominent in the Australian horror genre at the time, debating the relevance of an award depicting a barely clad female. Was that portraying a cliched image of the horror genre, and one that wouldn’t help the genre gain the respect it deserved? Were the awards sexist?

All certainly very valid points to discuss. In the end, a wide section of the genre – both male and female – were approached and asked for their opinion, and the result was that the statues were very well received. Thus, the Australian Shadows Award was born (the name was suggested by Robert’s son). Over the years, the award itself has changed multiple times until we reached the horned demon head we now have (I reckon this is freakin’ awesome!) – but which, again, has attracted controversy…

Unfortunately, Robert passed away in August 2019, but it’s wonderful to see this part of his legacy living on.

Australian Shadows Awards
One of the infamous ‘nekked lady’ statues originally used for the Australian Shadows Awards.

In other Antipodean news, there are some exciting books coming out in the near future by some of the best Aussie writers in the business. These include:

The Heart is a Mirror for Sinners and Other Stories by the multiple-award winning Angela Slatter, to be published by PS Publishing in March 2020. Full order details, including a limited signed edition, can be found at:–other-stories-hardcover-by-angela-slatter-4987-p.asp

“Enviably original, and told in prose as stylish as it’s precise. Not just disturbing but often touching, her work enriches and revives the tale of terror.” Ramsey Campbell

Ticonderoga Publications will be publishing Lisa Hannett’s collection Songs for Dark Seasons (previously known as Little Digs) in April this year. Pre-orders available from:…/songs-for-da…/.

‘With a twang in its heart and a song for luck on its tongue, Songs for Dark Seasons takes readers back to the lonesome dream counties introduced in the World Fantasy Award-nominated collection, Bluegrass Symphony.’

Both books will be well worth purchasing, as Slatter and Hannett are wonderful story tellers.

And it would be poor form of me not to mention my pal Dave Schembri. Dave was recently involved with designing and producing the promo posters and images for an exciting horror film called Homecoming. Based on the short story of the same name by Stefan Taylor (originally published in Sick Little Puppies by Simon J Green and Stefan Taylor), Taylor adapted his story for film, with Jaz Wickson directing. Homecoming is free to watch over at YouTube.

Homecoming by Stefan Taylor

Don’t forget, if you’re an Aussie/NZ writer, editor, publisher, artist, film-maker or who know what of 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 [@] before the 10th of each month.

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