Tag-Archive for » Australia «

Friday, December 12th, 2014 | Author:


How could I have missed this? … The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2012 anthology, which features my short story ‘Anvil of the Sun’, won the 2013 Aurealis Award for Best Anthology! And where was I at the time? Probably holed up in my home office, tapping away at the keys, studiously ignoring my emails and Facebook messages.

So, I belatedly read the judges’ comments today. There were 17 entries in this category of the Aurealis Awards, and the judges characterised The Year’s Best as “a multifaceted work with extremely broad reader appeal.” They went on to say that the “consistently excellent stories… are beautifully sequenced by the editors. This is a landmark instalment in a highly regarded series.” I am absolutely delighted to be part of such a wonderful anthology, so a huge thanks to the editors Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene for deciding my story belongs in it!

A further note on The Year’s Best 2012: British SF writer and reviewer Peter Tennant has written a lengthy review of it first published in Black Static Magazine #39 and later on his website. Peter begins his review by commenting on the prevalence of women writers and editors in the Aussie genre scene compared to the UK, noting that “last time I did an anthology comparison between the four main English speaking nations, Australia came top of the table with 44% of the stories written by women, with the poor old UK a dismal fourth with 19%.” Hooray for Oz! He then goes on to single out various stories in the anthology, including mine. Describing it as “a harrowing story”, he writes that my words dig “their claws into the reader’s skin and [make] us feel the character’s pain and anger,” while the fantasy setting is used “as a device to shine a light onto abuses in our own world.” I love it.

For those of you who haven’t read ‘Anvil of the Sun’, it is an exceptionally dark tale in which the protagonist is a political prisoner exiled in the final months of her pregnancy to a barren, sun-seared island. The idea for the setting came to me after watching a documentary about Yugoslavia under Tito. The program featured footage of an island in the Adriatic to which Tito banished political dissidents; just as in my story, the island was called the Naked Isle, in reference to its barrenness.

You can buy the Aurealis Award-winning The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2012 here.

Sunday, July 13th, 2014 | Author:


On our way to the Balkans this summer, we stopped off for a week in our former home of Wuyishan in China. It was wonderful to catch up with some of our old friends and to visit our children’s former kindergarten and teachers. I also found myself stunned (I’m not sure why; I should be used to it after 2 ½ years living in China!) by the number of new developments in Wuyishan and San Gu since we were last there. There’s even a polar bear theme park in the making in San Gu — in the subtropics of Fujian Province!

On the downside, it was a little disheartening to see how much Mandarin the girls have forgotten. By the time we left China at the end of 2012, Ekatarina at six years old was speaking like a native. Yet even though they’re both attending Mandarin class for 3 hours every Sunday here in Australia and doing plenty of homework, they scarcely seemed to remember any when we arrived back in Wuyishan. Clearly it’s as easy for children to lose a second language as it is to gain it!

Sunday, July 13th, 2014 | Author:


Gosh, it’s taken me a long time to post this, but here it is…

Below is a link to the video of a public forum I had the pleasure of chairing this February. Jointly organised by RAC (the Refugee Action Committee) and the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, the forum was titled ‘Refugees: What would Jesus do? What should we do?’ The eloquent speakers included leaders from the Anglican, Catholic, Uniting and Baptist churches as well as RAC’s very own Eileen O’Brien, who gave a wonderfully inspiring speech about why our country’s senior citizens need to lead the debate on refugees.

Here is a full list of the speakers:

  • Bishop Stephen Pickard, Executive Director of the Australian Centre for Christianity & Culture
  • Reverend Myung Hwa Park, Moderator Elect, Uniting Church Synod of NSW & ACT
  • Monsignor John Woods, Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra & Goulburn
  • Reverend Chris Turner, Senior Minister, Canberra Baptist Church
  • Eileen O’Brien, Refugee Action Committee, Canberra.

Overall the night was a great success for the refugee rights movement, with the hall so packed we needed to open the folding doors and set up more chairs outside. A huge thanks to all who attended.

Click here to watch a video of the forum.

Click here for text versions of the speeches.

Tuesday, November 05th, 2013 | Author:


A ‘three-star general’ appointed to use military force to stop asylum seekers. A ‘black-out’ on reporting the numbers of refugees arriving by boat. Sending vulnerable men, women and children seeking our assistance to remote detention camps in neighbouring third world countries. Stripping funds for legal assistance for asylum seekers. Eliminating any right to appeal refugee status in the courts. Forcing anyone found to be a refugee entitled to protection to reapply for a Temporary Protection Visa every 3 years, so they live forever in fear of being deported. What’s wrong with this picture? What can we do to change it?

Last week I participated in a public forum at the Australian University organised by the Refugee Action Committee and entitled “What’s Wrong with Abbott’s Refugee Policy?” I was the last speaker, after Senator Sarah Hanson-Young from the Greens and Professor Desmond Manderson, Future Fellow in the ANU College of Law and the Research School of Humanities and Arts. They were both such wonderfully passionate and eloquent speakers that, listening to them, I felt very nervous awaiting my turn. But once I started speaking, I think I managed to control my nerves fairly well and of course, it made it easier that I was speaking from personal experience on a topic about which I feel very strongly. Afterwards, I received a lot of really positive feedback from audience members who told me how great it was to hear a personal story amongst all the facts and statistics about refugees and asylum seekers. More than a few audience members told me my speech made them cry.

If you’d like to watch a video of the forum, you can find it here: https://vimeo.com/78135194. My speech starts about 40 minutes into it.

For those of you in Canberra, there will be a rally for refugees on the grounds of Parliament House on Monday the 18th November. It starts at 11 am with speeches commencing at 1 pm. Speakers will include Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and representatives from various refugee communities. Come along and show your support!

Friday, October 11th, 2013 | Author:


I enjoyed a wonderful new sensation today — the feeling of holding in my trembling hand a hardcover book with one of my stories in it! It’s the first time I’ve had a hardcover publication and it’s a great looking book, if I may say so myself: 488 pages long, with 34 stories and poems selected from amongst the hundreds of fantasy and horror stories published in Australia and New Zealand last year, so I feel very honoured to have a story of mine included. That story, as I mentioned in a previous post, is ‘Anvil of the Sun’, a dark fantasy tale inspired by a documentary I watched about Tito and the Naked Island in the Adriatic to which he exiled dissidents. 

The Year’s Best begins with a Year in Review section written by the editors Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene, in which they give a very detailed round-up of The Year in Fantasy (Grzyb) and The Year in Horror (Helene), covering novels, anthologies, collections, magazines, e-zines, podcasts, graphic novels, illustrated works and other media such as film. They conclude with a round-up of The Year in the Industry. And then it’s onto the stories. I haven’t had a chance to read them yet, but the names of the authors on the contents page is super-impressive: Kaaron Warren (who I once saw give a truly fantastic reading of her short story ‘His Lipstick Minx’); Jason Nahrung and Anna Tambour (I have well-thumbed autographed novels by both authors residing in my lounge room bookcase); plus Angela Slatter, Lee Battersby, Terry Dowling, Joanne Anderton and many more. I can’t wait to read them all!

The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2012 is available to buy here.




Monday, October 07th, 2013 | Author:


Since I am married to a man who arrived in Australia as a refugee, since I am writing a novel about refugees, but most of all since I believe passionately that this world is place of plenty and we all deserve a chance to share in it, I recently joined the Canberra branch of the Refugee Action Committee. RAC is committed to publicising the plight of asylum seekers and disseminating the facts, rather than fear-mongering propaganda, about our government’s policies towards them.

Recently, my girls helped me make this wonderful placard to take to the first RAC protest we attended.

To quote one of the chants we used at the protest: “Say it loud, say it clear! Refugees are welcome here.”

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Wednesday, April 03rd, 2013 | Author:


We are settling into our new life in beautiful Canberra and I am thrilled to report that the family’s Chinese lessons are continuing ‘down under’. We have enrolled the girls in Sunday morning Mandarin classes at the Australian School of Contemporary Chinese and joined the Australia China Friendship Society. The ACFS held a lantern making workshop where we all made paper lanterns prior to the Lantern Festival. And ― big thanks here to the lecturers in Mandarin at the Australian National University ― we have met three lovely international students with the English names of Sandy, Bob and Emma who have very kindly volunteered to tutor the girls in Chinese. So while we’ve accepted the fact that the kids will lose some of their Mandarin now they’re out of their 24/7 Chinese environment, at least they will keep their toes in the water of bilingualism here!


The girls with their wonderful lanterns after the workshop