Bec Stafford

Bec Stafford has a Masters of Philosophy from the University of Queensland. She also blogs and interviews for the Escape Club and edits content for The Spotlight Report.

Jamieson_Day Boy CoverAurealis award-winning author, Trent Jamieson, is one of the brightest lights on the Australian speculative fiction scene. Set in Brisbane, his brilliant Death Works series received widespread praise, firmly establishing his reputation as an engaging and original storyteller. His latest release, Day Boy, is a Young Adult rites-of-passage tale that makes for a page turner from start to finish. In this reimagining of the vampire myth (though it’s much more than that), Jamieson assembles an intriguing cast of memorable characters. The central protagonist, Mark, is a Day Boy, assigned to a Master, the mysterious Dain, whom he protects and serves. Mark’s life in post-apocalyptic Midfield is tough – he’s a plucky, defiant boy caught up in a complex web of fearsome, unpredictable immortals and often even more treacherous mortals. Along with his fellow Day Boys, Mark must navigate his way through an unforgiving present towards an uncertain destiny; and, under Dain’s unlikely apprenticeship, Mark’s character is further shaped.

The story is finely written and filled with a combination of gritty reality and nail-nibbling suspense. Jamieson breathes life into his characters with the deftness of someone at the top of their game. The dialogue is a delight – authentic and engaging. The boys’ banter is filled with the hallmarks of adolescent exchanges: brash challenges and snappy retorts. And Mark’s own internal dialogue is used to propel the narrative forward with sure-footed control. His world view is shaped by strong principles, great empathy for his fellow townsfolk, and an inner fortitude that occasionally seems to surprise even him. Facing perils at every turn, Mark displays great integrity, whether facing off against another Day Boy, ministering to Dain, or being confronted by the terrifying (and chillingly named) Council of Teeth following an indiscretion in the City in the Shadow of the Mountain.

Jamieson demonstrates a great gift for expressing his characters’ emotions. He beautifully captures, for instance, the tender feelings Mark harbours for one of his allies, Anne, with a sweetness that never strays into schmaltz. Observing her playing the piano, he notes, ‘I never know what it is she’s playing and the names wash off me to forgetfulness when she tells me, but I know the beauty that is the perfect expression of nature’s gifts and effort, and I hear it in her playing, and that’s enough.’ Although compact and unpretentious, the writing is tinged by a touching lyricism. When at one point he finds himself at the end of a machete, Mark describes feeling ‘its longing, the yearning to sink into flesh, to cut and carve its frustrations’ into him.

Finally, what makes Day Boy such a pleasure to read – and for my money, this is Jamieson’s most engrossing and emotionally resonant work to date – is its artful presentation of a range of philosophical questions and reflections to consider while we’re being entertained. What constitutes the monstrous? What does it take to become a man? What are the consequences of our choices when it comes to love, destiny, and duty? This is a story for adults as much as it is for a younger audience. Existing fans of Trent Jamieson’s writing will feel richly rewarded by this novel, which is also guaranteed to win him many, many new readers. Highly recommended.

Paperback, 309 pages

Published June 24th 2015 by Text Publishing (first published 2015)

ISBN13 9781922182838


Thrilled to say that Margo Lanagan and Trent Jamieson have dropped by to share a little something about their new and upcoming books.


Yellowcake bears a family resemblance to my previous three short story collections – White Time, Black Juice and Red Spikes. There are ten stories in it, and all but one contain some magical or fantastical element; ‘Heads’, the war story, is the only fully real-world story.

This collection’s different from the other three, though, in that only one of the stories, ‘Into the Clouds on High’, was written especially for the collection. That story, about a woman being assumed into Heaven (as, in my Catholic childhood, I was taught Jesus’ mother Mary was), I wrote because one of my editors thought the collection as a whole was fairly dark, and asked if I’d mind providing a story that lightened things up a little. So I guess, if you’re wanting a laugh a minute, perhaps Yellowcake is not the cake you want to be eating!

The remainder of the stories were published in various places from 2006 to 2009. One of my favourites, ‘The Point of Roses’, came out as an extra in the UK edition of Black Juice – I’m very pleased to be able to bring the soft-toy dog in that story, Pumfter von Schnitzel, to new readers. Several of the others came out in anthologies that were only published in the US, and three were published only in Australia – one, ‘The Golden Shroud’, in a book for the educational market.

The variety of stories is as great as I could make it, given that I wasn’t writing them with a collection in mind. There are a couple of retellings, ‘The Golden Shroud’ extending the Rapunzel tale, ‘Night of the Firstlings’ putting a new slant on the Passover story. The snide wizard’s-vengeance story, ‘A Fine Magic’, was a whole lot of fun to write, I remember. ‘Ferryman’, about Charon’s daughter, I didn’t realise was as sad as it was until I read it aloud to a conference-full of librarians in New Zealand and nearly made myself cry. ‘Heads’ probably takes the cake for bone-crushing depressingness, but, oh dear, nobody gets out of ‘An Honest Day’s Work’ untroubled, either, and dozens of characters end up dead.

Most of the Yellowcake stories were written while I was working on my novel Tender Morsels, which came out at the end of 2008 (in Australia and the US, 2009 in the UK). They were a way to refresh my brain and my writing, during the longer slog of the novel. I love how it only takes a tiny spark to set the idea for a short story alight. However dark the content, in comparison with a novel it feels very playful to me to set a short story running and see where it takes me. I hope people enjoy reading these ten short runs through the wilds of my subconscious as much as I enjoyed writing them. — Margo Lanagan


Roil is part one of the Nightbound Land Duology. It’s my monsters and Steampunk book. I love monsters and I love the accoutrement of steampunk, and I’ve loved them both since I started reading Michael Moorcock as a child. If I’ve done my job well, these books should be dark and fast: a smoking, shuddering rollercoaster at midnight.

Shale is a world drowning in a monster-haunted darkness called the Roil. It’s a place where everyone has been pushed to breaking point.

There’s David Milde, addicted to the drug Carnival, and survivor of a political coup. All he wants is to save his own skin, and maybe score some more Carnival. Then there is Margaret Penn out to destroy the Roil for what it did to her family and her city. Vengeance is her only goal: get in her way and, well, you don’t want to get in her way. The Old Man Cadell may be the greatest monster of his age, guilt and weird hungers drive him, but he holds the key to Shale’s salvation (possibly). And then there is Kara Jade pilot of the Roslyn Dawn. She’s proud and loyal. But where do her loyalties lie? If any of them are to survive they may need her most of all.

That’s not even mentioning the cruel Mr Tope, or the single minded and murderous Mayor Stade whose chief regrets are not killing his closest friends earlier.

Night will fall, but who will fall with it? — Trent Jamieson

When your good friends have books come out, it’s almost as exciting as if it’s your own. Especially, when you’re in a writer’s group with them and have been connected with the book since the raw manuscript stage. That’s certainly the case with Trent Jamieon’s new series for Angry Robot books. Roil was the first story Trent brought to ROR and we all fell instantly in love with his brilliantly realised world. It’s been through a few incarnations since then and I can hardly wait for the final version. Anything Trent writes is a gift, but this series is extra special.

And it resonates beautifully with another Angry Robot series that’s not far away. Jo Anderton’s first novel Debris is going to be out in October next year. If you’re at all enamoured with the steampunk genre it’s in that ballpark but  … different and unique.

So while I’m waiting for these two, I’ll have Margo Lanagan’s latest collection to be gobbling up. Though the stories in this one are not ones I’ve been involved in work-shopping, I always feel close to Margo’s stories, because her work is her. Not the content … but the incredible depth of intelligence and poetry. But hey … everyone knows that!


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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