Aurora Australis

Aurora Australis: The Future Looks Bright for Children’s Lit

Welcome back to Aurora Australis, a monthly round-up of publishing news and highlights from Australia and New Zealand!

Tehani here for one last time, and in Australia, where everything will kill you, it seems the yowie is alive and well (and only “just down the road” from my place!), the prawns are mutating, the koalas are pole dancing, and cattle can cause havoc in state parliament. Luckily, our spec fic creators are a bit more sensible (most of the time)…

First up, it’s fantastic to see spec fic on a major literary award shortlists! In a quirk of eligibility period, Bren MacDibble’s recently released middle grade SF novel How To Bee has been shortlisted in the Griffith University Children’s Book Award category of the Queensland Literary Awards! Also shortlisted is 2016 Aurealis Awards finalist The Road to Winter by Mark Smith in the Young Adult category.

It’s also brilliant to see local creators on the international stage; Kathleen Jennings has co-illustrated the 10th anniversary edition of Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones from Simon & Schuster. The book has new cover art, more than thirty interior illustrations, and six new full-page color portraits!

Some interesting commentary going on around the place. A Guardian piece by Dr Tyson Yunkaporta looked at the creative response of Indigenous Australians to the end of the world and the pending future dystopia, and an article on map-making and authorial authority in world-building by Kiwi-residing-in-Australia fantasy novelist Russell Kirkpatrick.

Lots of big announcements in the past few weeks for deals and things to look out for:

Coming in early 2018, Dark Moon Books are producing A Primer to Kaaron Warren, which looks pretty cool as a project idea and a showcase for Kaaron’s work.

Exciting news for Juliet Marillier: a deal has been sealed between her agent and Penguin Random House USA for her Warrior Bards trilogy, a new series about an organization of elite operatives—MI6 in a medieval-style fantasy world—who use magic, song, poetry, weapons, and combat skills to solve crimes and protect the public.

In other big signing news, Hardie Grant Egmont has signed a six figure multi-book YA deal with Sydney debut author Jeremy Lachlan, pitched as being “Narnia meets Mad Max”—sounds good to me!

And Scholastic has acquired historical and YA author Kelly Gardiner’s new middle-grade fantasy trilogy. The Fire Watcher Chronicles is a time-slip series set in London, with the action taking place in World War II, at the time of the Great Fire of London, during the ninth-century Viking invasion of Britain and in Roman London during the era of Boudica.

It’s a good month for younger readers, with the forthcoming launch of Lian Tanner’s new children’s novel. The first book in the Rogues trilogy, Accidental Heroes tells the story of two children, Duckling and Pummel, who are caught up in a plot to kill the Heir to the Faithful Throne. It’s a vividly exciting fantasy-adventure set in the same world as the best-selling Keepers trilogy, with characters you will love and characters you will loathe. Launching on Saturday October 7th at the State Library of Tasmania.

Great to see hybrid author Mitchell Hogan signing a two-book deal with 47North for A Dark Background books I and II, an epic fantasy series about a demon summoned by a desperate sorcerer and bound to serve against his will. Hogan has sold audio rights for the duology in a separate arrangement.

One of Kate Forsyth’s new books is now available for pre-order: Vasilia the Wise and other tales of brave young women is coming in December from Serenity Press. In other media, Kate has signed a contract for a film/TV option for The Impossible Quest five book middle-grade fantasy series. Fingers crossed for the process of seeing it through to the screen! In related news, Adam Browne is crowdfunding on Pozible to support the making of a short film based on his 2014 novel Pyrotechnicon.

Some pretty fantastic cover reveals recently. Tor showed us the gorgeous cover for Sam Hawke’s City of Lies, coming 2018, and Amanda Bridgeman has revealed the details of her new science fiction novel The Time of the Stripes (out November 2017).

Also in November, we’re looking forward to Jaclyn Moriarty’s forthcoming middle-grade fantasy novel The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone (Allen & Unwin)—well-known for her young adult fiction, this is Moriarty’s first foray into the younger readership.

The FRANKENTASTIC audio narrative, read by Tansy Rayner Roberts for Twelfth Planet Press, has launched its first episode. More than simply a stretch goal for the recent Mother of Invention Kickstarter campaign, this regendered audio retelling is an important comment on the genre and the way men have traditionally been centred in science fiction.

It’s been a busy period for Tansy, who continues to produce amazing serialised narratives at her Sheep Might Fly podcast, and currently has two ebook collections available for pre-order, The Bromancers and Please Look After This Angel.

Grey Matter Press has announced the table of contents for Suspended in Dusk II, edited by Simon Dewar and featuring a stellar lineup of work by international and ANZ authors.

Finally, some new releases hitting the shelves and elibraries. Like a Girl is an anthology to raise money for PLAN, which helps fund education in countries where girls are denied it through poverty. New Orbit Magazine celebrates its October launch by offering $5NZD off the already discounted pre-sale price of a year’s subscription to all members of the SpecFicNZ community. Issue 01 features work from Lee Murray, Don LePan, Phillip Mann, and more. There’s a new issue of Andromeda Spaceways Magazine out, with a line up that includes some great emerging voices in the field. And Ecopunk! from Ticonderoga Publications and The Tallow-Wife by Angela Slatter premiered at the Conflux SF convention this past weekend, where international guest Ellen Datlow was (as always) a big hit.

And that’s the month. Thanks so much for having me for the last few round ups—Alex is back on deck for the November column!


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