Mandy Wrangles

Amanda Wrangles has never moved far from where she grew up on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula near Melbourne. An active member of Sisters in Crime Australia (winning their 2009 Scarlet Stiletto award for short story writing), she delights in books that dare to cross the lines in genre – particularly between crime and the paranormal world. Follow Amanda’s food and writing blog.

 

The Davee LadyThere’s some exciting stuff happening over at Australian publisher, Clan Destine Press.

Going back a few months ago, Lindy Cameron (head honcho at CDP) sent out an invitation to a number of Australian genre writers to a brand new anthology she was putting together.

Lindy’s idea was to collect a bunch of adventure stories for a Great Big Book of Adventure Tales. The kind of stories that have the reader flipping pages fast, dying to know what happens next, what dire straits would the author throw their characters into, and how would they overcome it. How would they find the stolen artwork, the missing space ship, the ancient relic hidden deep beneath the island grotto in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle while swinging from a bi-plane?

So, the title And ThenThe Great Big Book of Adventure Tales was born. Along with the invitation came some guidelines. Clan Destine wanted not one, but TWO main characters. Not a hero and sidekick kind of deal, but two real protagonists; best buddies, comrades, siblings or colleagues. The characters didn’t have to be human, but they did have to be equal. The stories also had to have an Australian flavour to them.

Lots of writerly folk got excited. Lindy was encouraging writers to think outside the box, to write away or within or between their ‘usual’ genres. She wanted the authors to play. She also offered them far more words than is usual in a short story anthology to tell their stories in – five to fifteen thousand. Fifteen thousand! That’s novella size, rather than short.

And Then... bannerI was lucky enough to be one of the writers invited. My story, Come Now, Traveller is actually one of the shorter tales to be accepted in And Then… While I generally write crime, or, more recently science fiction, this time I got to delve into a nautical steam-punkish kind of world, with some fantasy thrown in for good measure.

Come Now, Traveller is the story of a ship – The Davee Trader – her captain and the next in line. There’s a surgery scene, opiates, fights, jealousy and lust. There’s the Davee’s own brand of history, mythology and family dysfunction. But most of all, it’s about The Davee Lady, the carved timber figurehead that leads the Trader through the sea, told by the two who love her.

Of all the short stories I’ve written, this one was the biggest challenge for me personally. It’s also (now) my favourite world to play in. So…I’d love to see it in print.

And that’s where all the authors, Clan Destine Press and Lindy need your help. You see, when writers are given a huge maximum word count like fifteen thousand words, we generally use it. So LOTS of the invited writers have written big adventure tales for this big book. In fact, so many of us did just that – there’ll now be two gorgeous volumes to sit side by side in your shelf (or e-reader).

But here’s the thing: Clan Destine has to pay us. We didn’t quite come in under budget. So they’re running an Indiegogo campaign to get things moving. For contributors to the campaign, there’s SO many goodies as reward, including of course, the two huge paperback volumes with stories from over thirty of Australia’s ‘finest genre fictioneers’ for only $50. Yep, serious. Fifty bucks for two bricks of books.

Lindy has also enlisted the services of fabulous illustrator, Vicky Pratt. You can see here the utterly gorgeous work she has done of my own Davee Lady Figurehead. She’s so perfect, I must admit the first time I saw her, I might have shed a tear. Every story in the collection will have its own illustration and title page. And, just check out this Table of Contents and the authors involved. There’s some huge Australian names in there:

 

Peter M Ball – Deadbeats

Alan Baxter – Golden Fortune, Dragon Jade

Mary Borsellino – The Australian Gang

Lindy Cameron – The Medusa Code

Kat Clay – In the Company of Rogues

Emilie Collyer – The Panther’s Paw

Jack Dann – The Talking Sword

Sarah Evans – Plumbing the Depths

Jason Franks – Exli and the Dragon

James Hopwood – The Lost Loot of Lima

Kelly Gardiner – Boots and the Bushranger

David Greagg & Kerry Greenwood – Cruel Sister

Narrelle M Harris – Moran & Cato: Virgin Soil

Maria Lewis – The Bushwalker Butcher

Sophie Masson – The Romanov Opal

Keith McArdle – The Demon’s Cave

Jason Nahrung – The Mermaid Club

Andrew Nette – Save a Last Kiss for Satan

Amanda Pillar – It

Michael Pryor – Cross Purposes

Dan Rabarts – Tipuna Tapu

Tansy Rayner Roberts – Death at the Dragon Circus

Finn J Ross – Genemesis

Tor Roxburgh – The Boudicca Society

Amanda Wrangles – Come Now, Traveller

Alison Goodman – The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies

Sulari Gentill – The Stranding

Lucy Sussex – Sabah

Cameron Ashley – Dogs Leave Home to Die

Evelyn Tsitas – Stealing Back the Relics

 

So, head on over and check out the Indiegogo campaign. Contributions can start from as little as $5.

Hope you can join us on this wild adventure ride!

Mandy Wrangles

Amanda Wrangles is a Victorian based writer and previous Scarlett Stiletto winner.

anderton_Guardian-coverI was thrilled to learn FableCroft Publishing had picked up Book Three in Jo Anderton’s Veiled World Trilogy – Guardian.

I’d already read and loved books one and two– Debris and Suitedand was really looking forward to finding out how Anderton would manage to tie up such a complex storyline. But before I begin, a little disclaimer–I’m intentionally vague with this review. Being the last in the series, it’s all too easy to drop spoiler-bombs for the first two books, and these stories are far too good for that.

The Veiled World trilogy is big. I don’t necessarily mean in page numbers (though they’re all decent sized books, just not door-stops), I mean in the sheer scope of story. I’ve mentioned before that Anderton is a master world-builder, and she well and truly proves it here in the final instalment when protagonist Tanyana begins to slide across the veils–or through the doors–to even more worlds: worlds that are still connected to the one she shares in Movac-under-Keeper with Kichlan and her Debris collection team–Tanyana’s home.

As with Suited, Jo Anderton kicks this novel off with a deft recap of the last book. Rather than a “Previously…in The Veiled Worlds” type of summary, she manages to give the reader swift and unique catch-up by means of a report from a character whose thoughts we don’t usually get much of. Not only is this a clever tool to jog the reader’s memory, but it places the story smack into what we once believed was nothing more than the mythology of the Veiled Worlds.

In my review of Suited, I wrote about the fantastic character development from book one to two. So many novels with complex world building drop the ball when it comes to giving the reader characters they can really care about. Anderton has again pushed further than I expected. I felt comfortable with both Tanyana and her supporting cast–maybe too comfortable–and loved the way I was propelled forward alongside the characters as they were forced to keep moving, keep fighting, with little more than hope to keep them going. The Veiled World trilogy is written at a frantic pace, and the character development keeps up with the plot. These are people who can’t be unchanged for what they have seen and endured, both mentally and physically (oh, the physical!) Even after a long break between reading books two and three, I slipped straight back into an emotional investment in Tanyana and…and I’m so not going to say who else (I did say no spoilers).

Tanyana herself undergoes the biggest changes, and it is her strength and growth of character that impressed me most. Over the course of three books, she has grown from a talented and privileged member of society (though maybe a little too privileged?), to scraping the bottom of that same culture, to becoming the strong and deserving champion.

I felt Guardian was more science fiction than fantasy, and definitely more cyber than anything else. This is a little change from the first two books, though the mythological elements still hold this story together at the end of the day. Jo Anderton slips the reader information like jellybeans (or Lindt chocolate–whichever is your poison), only the smallest morsel at a time, which makes it hard for the type of reader who likes to problem solve ahead of time. I found the author to have great control over what she wanted us to know and when we could know it.

My single frustration with Guardian was with the evil Puppet Men. As antagonists, I found them to be a little too nebulous–though that could well have been Anderton’s intention, as I’m sure Tanyana felt the same.

There’s tragedy, relief, and still plenty of ‘a-ha!’ moments. I’ll give fair warning…there will be tears, so have the tissues handy. After three books, it’s impossible not to lose it a little when a story like this comes to an end. For this reason, even though Guardian could possibly be read as a stand-alone novel, to get the most from it, I recommend reading Debris and Suited first if you haven’t already done so.

 

Guardian

Book Three of the Veiled Worlds Trilogy

By Jo Anderton

Fablecroft Publishing 2014

ISBN – Print: 9780992284442 (RRP: $16.99)

ISBN – ebook: 9780992284459 (RRP: $7.99)

 

 

 

 

 

Reviewed by Mandy Wrangles

SUITED is book two in Jo Anderton’s The Veiled Worlds trilogy and is the follow-up to Debris.

“The bitter war between the sinister Puppet Men and the nebulous Keeper for the control of the ancient city of Movoc-under-Keeper has intensified. For Tanyana, imprisoned within her extraordinary suit and cast down as a lowly debris collector, choosing a side should be simple. But when even her own suit becomes aggressive against her, Tanyana must weigh some very personal issues against her determination to serve the greater good.”

Suited picks up just after Debris left off – a handy little recap of book one in the form of conversation between two experimenting Puppet Men gives the reader an excellent grounding to where the situation now lies. I, for one found this particularly helpful; Anderton has built an extremely complex world with multiple characters, and this Analysis Of Past Events is a clever way of reminding the reader where the story is at. It also gives us a chance to settle in to a world literally made and held together by pions before chapter one – when wham! the action hits hard and fast.

As with Debris (you can read my review here), Anderton expects the reader to keep up – although she writes a rich, layered world, there’s no mucking around with over-explained or too-luscious details. Instead, we’re thrown into the deep end of world that sits somewhere between fantasy and science fiction, dotted with steampunk elements. In book one, it was the world-building that really blew me away. Suited capitalises on Jo Anderton’s talent here, but with more detail in passing. We’re privy to more history, politics and mythology than last time – but only as protagonist Tanyana herself finds this information.

The biggest difference with Suited – and where it really comes into its own – is the character development.

Tanyana Vladha spent much of Debris bound up in her own search for why and who made her fall from grace, both literally and figuratively. She has lost any trace of being a victim (though Tan didn’t exactly play that part as well as the Puppet Men would have liked her to…) and is now taking far more action regarding her situation. Tanyana was never a passive character, but in Suited, she is no longer helpless, beginning to take control of both the mysterious metallic suit that is now part of her and her own destiny. There is more at stake in Suited – it’s not just about Tanyana, but about the survival of their world and the people she cares about. Tan is more empathetic; her relationships with her debris collecting team have grown along with her own sense of belonging. Her romantic relationship with Kichlan is never ‘icky’ or out of place and helps to move the plot along. Kichlan’s brother Lad is still the most interesting character of this series next to Tanyana, even with the introduction of a whole bucket-load of new personalities. The intrigue and mythology surrounding the Keeper himself made a lot more sense, and I found myself having plenty of ‘a-ha!’ moments.

My only disappointment with Suited came in the form of the deception – after the betrayal in Debris, this one was a little too easy to see coming, however it didn’t detract from the storyline itself. I found it to be more of a case of wanting to scream at Tanyana and her friends to watch their backs, look over their shoulders.

Suited is a more emotional book than Debris. I’m not sure if that’s because as a reader I’ve come to know and love this cast of characters more, or if Anderton has set out to deliberately push buttons, to make us care about their fates and the world of Movoc-under-Keeper. There were places where I had to catch my breath with the simple (but oh, so well done) horror of a single moment: ‘…The debris came away from her body. Most of her stomach came with it…’ and then there were the moments where I had to stop and reach for the tissues. Seriously. Suited doesn’t suffer from Flat Middle Book Syndrome – while it can’t stand alone without Debris, it moves the overall arc of the trilogy along at a great pace. If you enjoyed Debris and haven’t yet got your hands on Suited – what are you waiting for?

Published by Angry Robot

ISBN – 978-0-85766-157-9

Paperback – 458 pages

Also available as an ebook via www.angryrobotbooks.com

Awards

davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 

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