Posts from the ‘Tarran Jones’ Category

Guest Post – Deborah Sheldon

Guest blog post – Australian fauna in horror

Animals and the horror genre are a perfect match. Australia has no end of killer creatures – sharks, crocodiles, snakes, and spiders, just to name a few common ones – but I try to utilise the more obscure species in my stories.

My latest release, the novella Thylacines (Severed Press), is about the Tasmanian tiger, hunted to extinction some eighty years ago, and brought back to life via genetic engineering. Like a weird mash-up between a dog, cat and kangaroo, the thylacine was a carnivore that, ironically, the Australian state of Tasmania boasts on its coat of arms despite its citizens having killed every single last one of them.

The idea for Thylacines came to me while I was researching de-extinction science. A group of real-life scientists in Sydney, headed by Professor Mike Archer, came within a hair’s breadth of resurrecting the thylacine by cloning DNA from a preserved specimen. Their sample of DNA was too degraded – but not mine! My thylacine pups are born, yet something went wrong during the process. They are more like monsters than thylacines. A group of animal activists hears about the litter and decides to set them free. The result? Havoc. It’s a horror story, after all!

My collection Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories (IFWG Publishing Australia) features monsters of all kinds, including those that are particular to Australia. The story, “Species Endangered”, is about a couple driving through Far North Queensland who decide to pull over and take a dip in the ocean. Out of the scrub emerges a cassowary, a giant bird that stands about two metres tall, armed with claws that can disembowel. The idea for this story came from my desire to write about a deadly Australian animal but not the “usual suspects”. If you take just one look at the cassowary, you’ll believe that dinosaurs evolved into birds!

Another story in my collection, “Stagecoach from Castlemaine”, features the yowie. This mythological ape-like creature is Australia’s version of Big Foot or the Abominable Snowman. I wanted to write an historical tale – “Stagecoach from Castlemaine” is set in 1880 in Melbourne and its surrounds – so an ancient terror as my antagonist seemed appropriate. This is perhaps one of my personal favourites in the collection. The research was exhaustive and painstaking, but I think I managed to capture some of the feel of the era and the Australian bush with its vast empty tracts, isolation, and creepiness.

My novel Devil Dragon (Severed Press) is about a monstrous lizard from Australia’s Megafauna age, a time when the animals were huge, with ducks the size of emus and wombats the size of hippos. I stumbled across this giant lizard, called Varanus priscus, while hunting for inspiration and researching deadly Australian animals. Devil Dragon was supposed to be a short story, but the creature was just too fascinating – and big! – to be contained.

I have a “parochial” approach to fiction because I believe that Australian writers should be free to write Australian stories. There is a push from some quarters of the publishing industry for books to have “universal appeal”, which is a kind of shorthand for American or European settings. This smacks of “cultural cringe” to me. Writers from the United States, in particular, are proud to document their culture in books and films, and I think Australian writers should be encouraged to be similarly passionate. I love reading stories that are firmly rooted within an authentic time and place, especially if the setting is completely foreign to my experience. Bringing a story alive with verisimilitude is, in my opinion, what makes a story universally appealing.

And that’s why I’ll return to Australian settings, characters, animals and monsters again and again in my fiction. My next project, a novel, includes various Australian creatures – sorry, no clues as to which kind! – but it will be 2019, at the very earliest, before the finished product hits the shelves. Thankfully, I’ll have no shortage of killer Aussie animals to choose from.


Deborah Sheldon is a professional writer from Melbourne, Australia. Her latest releases, all traditionally published, include the horror novella Thylacines, the horror collection Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories, the romance-suspense novella The Long Shot, and the horror novel Devil Dragon.

Upcoming titles in 2018 include the dark literary collection 300 Degree Days and Other Stories, and the horror novel Contrition. A retrospective dark fiction collection is scheduled for release in 2019.

Her short fiction has appeared in many well-respected magazines such as Quadrant, Island, Aurealis, SQ Mag, and Midnight Echo, as well as in various anthologies. Her work has been shortlisted for numerous Australian Shadows Awards, and included in “best of” anthologies. Other credits include TV scripts, feature articles, non-fiction books, and award-winning medical writing.




Guest Post – Gillian Polack ‘The Places of My Novels’

Today I have a special guest post by Gillian Polack.

Gillian is going to be touring us through the wonderful places that her novels are set in. Get ready to travel!

The places of my novels

Gillian Polack

I love novels where place is a character. Where I can walk the street in my mind and see what the other characters are seeing. This means that I try my best to write that kind of novel myself.

In The Wizardry of Jewish Women, this was a bit harder than usual, for there were four places and they were all important.

Sydney was the home to one of my major characters, Judith. It was where she had moved when she had to run away for her own safety. I had to build the Sydney that a woman with a child would remember and then build a new life on. Judith is someone who built new lives for herself and for others, so her Sydney is inner city and she works close to home. She and her children have favourite places, and I chose just one of them to represent all of them.

sydneyTo build her Sydney and to create her home, I asked my Sydney cousin for help. She knew that part of Sydney, even to how loud one had to be to be heard upstairs and how narrow a house became towards the back.

How well did we create this locality? A couple of years ago I visited some Sydney friends and stayed with them. As I walked down the street I recognised it. It was a street I half-remembered and had used for Judith’s story. A cosy street, close enough to the city and the university and to Newtown for a feminist to live and grow and create a new life. They didn’t live in the same house as the one I created for my characters, but in one just down the road. I walked up their stairs and felt “I got this right.”

Canberra was easier. I live in Canberra. I had to give it a character that fitted two of my major characters, however, not one. They don’t live near each other and neither of them live in my corner of Canberra.


There were three tricks with writing Canberra.

The first is to make it come to life. Canberra has its own stereotyping in Australian culture, and it’s regarded as a dead city. Boring. A blemish on the face of Australia. Pretty, but dull.

I’ve said often that Canberra is a palimpsest city. It has so many stories and colours underneath that plain surface layer. What I do when I write Canberra, then, is look under the surface and bring out what lies beneath. It’s only boring if the characters find it boring.

The second was to avoid what I’d written in other novels. I’ve based several novels in Canberra and am likely to use it again, because its palimpsest nature makes it wonderful as a setting. I can be true to it and still make the Canberra in each novel quite different to the Canberra in the novel before. I do this by looking at my characters and seeing how they would live in Canberra and what aspects of that palimpsest they would interact with.

The third was writing the big events. So many of the Canberra parts of the story used real events. I had to be careful to be accurate and not to hurt the people who’d suffered from some of them. I had to make sure that the events themselves were seen from inside and not from a newspaper’s report.

Melbourne was easier. It was seen through the eyes of one character. Her Melbourne was the place she left when she ran. This means she experienced a city from about fifteen years ago, through the eyes of someone who’d seen it fifteen years before and whose memory was laden with tears. The character of Melbourne pretty well wrote itself for this novel.



The last place was Ballarat. I built this city’s personality bit by bit.

I’ve never lived there, unlike the other places. I visited there often when I was a child, and my mother and I did a research trip to see it as a potential setting. I have a photo album that I used, and a lot of history that I’ve read over the years. It was all done externally, however. I examined a range of things: streets, buildings, archives, statues, stories about the city and had to ask myself “What character does this place have? How can I get my characters to see it?” The answers to these questions led to the part of the story set there. It’s not the Ballarat I remember as a child. It has its own flavour. This is what I was after. It’s what I’m always after when I write places into my fiction.

Gillian Polack writes, edits, researches and even teaches in in Canberra, Australia. The Wizardry of Jewish Women, Ms Cellophane (both novels) and History and Fiction (definitely not a novel) have been shortlisted for awards. The Wizardry of Jewish Women is being re-released by Book View Cafe in August 2017. She has edited two anthologies (one of which was also shortlisted for an award) and has seventeen short stories published (one of which actually won an award and four others of which were listed as recommended reading on international years’ best lists).  She has a PhD in Creative Writing and one in Medieval History. URL: Facebook: Gillian Polack Twitter: gillianpolack

All photos are copyright of Gillian Polack

New Tara Sharp Novel ‘Sharp Turn’ Released

Award-winning author Marianne Delacourt has just unveiled the new look for her action-packed crime series Tara Sharp and a rewrite of the gripping second novel Sharp Turn. Under the crime imprint Deadlines, this version of Sharp Turn is published by Twelfth Planet Press, an advocate of women’s voices in science fiction, fantasy, horror and crime genres and a natural home for Delacourt. The re-release offers new and revised material for fans of Tara’s exploits, but retaining the humour, peril and paranormal flavour of the original release.

The latest in her series of ‘funny, sexy, smart crime novels for men and women’, Sharp Turn sees Tara’s unconventional PI business evolving, and she’s attracted some interesting customers.  With her dryly humorous take on the world, Tara is expected to both charm new audiences and delight old fans this winter, as she confronts a shady job in the high octane world of the motor cycle industry. Luckily, Tara is better equipped than most, with the uncanny ability to read people’s auras. Armed with a vanilla slice and backed up by her pet galah, Tara is about to come head-to-head with some very dangerous characters.

Book One in the Tara Sharp series, Sharp Shooter was the 2010 winner of the Davitt Award for Best Crime Novel and nominated for the Ned Kelly Award 2010 Best First Crime Novel. Expect the release of Book Three Too Sharp and Book Four Sharp Edge in early 2017.

Author MARIANNE DELACOURT says, “Tara is a protagonist who really grows with her readers. To begin with, she’s an outgoing Australian girl who’s never really taken responsibility for herself. Her unusual gift puts her in some risky situations and through her tenacity and resourcefulness she comes out on top. The series shows her learning how to find a meaningful way to use her gift, while trying to maintain normal relationships with the people around her. She’s just trying to make a living, stay alive, and keep her sense of humour.”

Praise for the Tara Sharp series:

“Australia’s Marianne Delacourt delivers the laughs and action with her sassy, unorthodox PI Tara Sharp…” The Herald Sun

“Tara Sharp is a gust of fresh air in the local crime fiction scene. While it is wonderful that our more literary crime writers are finally getting the attention they deserve, there’s still plenty of room for fast-paced commercial female-oriented Australian crime fiction. And Marianne Delacourt (aka sci-fi writer Marianne de Pierres) has certainly nailed that brief.” The Australian Bookseller and Publisher

“Delacourt has invented a Stephanie Plum character who is just as ballsy and loveable but this one lives in Perth and has two pet Galahs instead of a hamster. An easy read with multiple story layers, Sharp Turn will keep you guessing till the end, pick it up this summer if you like Janet Evanovich and Val McDermid’s Blue Genes.” She Said

Sharp Turn is available now from Twelfth Planet Press. Book One Sharp Shooter is available from Twelfth Planet Press and from Amazon.

Author MARIANNE DELACOURT is the alter ego of award-winning, internationally published Science Fiction writer Marianne de Pierres. Renowned for dark satire in her Science Fiction, Marianne offers lighter, funnier writing under her Delacourt penname. As Delacourt, Marianne is also the author of Young Adult fiction series Night Creatures (Burn Bright, Angel Arias and Shine Light). She is a co-founder of the Vision Writers Group and ROR – wRiters on the Rise, a critiquing group for professional writers. Marianne lives in Brisbane with her husband and two galahs.

Australian Publisher TWELFTH PLANET PRESS is a Perth-based publisher, seeking to challenge the status quo with books that interrogate, commentate and inspire. While showcasing the depth and breadth of Australian fiction to a wider audience, Twelfth Planet Press aims to and provide opportunities for fiction written by female writers, raising awareness of women’s voices in science fiction, fantasy, horror and crime genres.

Guest Post – Deb Sheldon – Devil Dragon







Today on Tales From The Scribe, I have author Deb Sheldon as a guest. Deb is dark fiction writer from Melbourne. Her latest book is called Devil Dragon and it looks fantastic! If you are interested in horror, monsters, and of course Australia – then this is the book for you. Give me a message if you would like to review or host an interview with Deb on your blog.


From to inspiration to completion: how I wrote Devil Dragon

devil-dragonBack in late 2014, I was making headway into the horror genre after a few years of publishing crime fiction. I had just learned that Kaaron Warren, guest editor of Midnight Echo magazine, had accepted my short story, Perfect Little Stitches, for publication. That sale boosted my confidence tremendously. Perfect Little Stitches had supernatural elements; for my next story, I wanted to feature a real, flesh-and-blood monster set in Australia. But what kind? The obvious subjects – sharks and crocodiles – didn’t interest me.

So I delved into our natural history and explored the Megafauna age. Prehistoric Australia was occupied by huge beasts like something out of a nightmare. Ducks the size of emus, the precursor of the emu three metres tall and weighing over half a tonne. And then the apex predators, chief among them Varanus priscus: a huge Komodo dragon.

Hooked, I decided to write a short story set in modern-day Australia starring a living Varanus priscus.

Except that the more I researched, the more plot possibilities I found. This was by far the most research-intensive tale I’ve ever written. I jumped from one fascinating piece of information to another. The learning curve was so steep as to be almost vertical: I spent weeks learning the ins and outs of hunting, firearms, Komodo dragon biology and behaviour. I discovered that the Australian bush teems with dangerous, feral animals. How could I resist including wild boars in my story, when they can grow to over 200kg and would kill you as soon as look at you? By December 2014, Devil Dragon had asserted itself as a novel.

The plot centres around Dr Erin Harris, a scientist who has an unscientific obsession: to find a living Varanus priscus. Cryptozoologists call it the Devil dragon. This giant Australian reptile became extinct some 12,000 years ago but like Bigfoot or Nessie, there are occasional sightings. Spurred by a credible witness, Erin cobbles together an expedition party consisting of herself, the witness, and his deer-hunting neighbours. They travel into the unexplored heart of a national park. Erin, believing the Devil dragon to be a larger version of the Komodo, is confident she can outwit a specimen. However, the monster that lumbers out of the bush is a savage and unpredictable predator the size of a campervan. Erin must transform herself from genteel university lecturer to die-hard survivalist.

Though I loved every minute of the writing process, creating the Devil dragon itself was the most fun of all. There is scant information on the actual Varanus priscus, so I created my own monstrous version. However, I wanted it to be as realistic as possible within the novel’s fantasy framework. I turned to various experts, including herpetologists, who checked my manuscript for technical accuracy and offered valuable suggestions.

The novel has suspense, action and gore, but it is Erin’s character arc and her relationships with the three members of her expedition that tie the story together. Thematically, Devil Dragon is about intellect versus physicality, ambition versus humiliation, rationality versus fear, and humanity versus the brute force of nature.

Erin will do anything – risk everything – to find a living specimen of the reptile that has been her enduring fixation. She knows that finding the Devil dragon would be more important than the discovery of Archaeopteryx (a dinosaur with feathers), the missing link that bolstered Darwin’s theory of evolution. New species are found all the time – insects and fish, in particular – and no one but experts gives a damn. But the entire planet would go crazy at the discovery of a living, breathing 10-metre killing machine with a mouthful of teeth like butcher knives. Erin wants fame, immortality, to rewrite a chapter of reptile palaeontology – and to put to rest, finally, the ghost of her dead father, a mean drunk who begrudged her any success and gloated at her failures.

But things don’t turn out the way Erin wants or expects…


Deborah Sheldon is a professional writer from Melbourne, Australia. Her short fiction has appeared in well-respected magazines such as Quadrant, Island, Aurealis, Midnight Echo, SQ Mag, and Tincture Journal. Her work is also found in various anthologies. Upcoming titles include the crime-noir novellas, Dark Waters and Ronnie and Rita, the horror collection, Perfect Little Stitches and other stories, and the contemporary crime novel, Garland Cove Heist. Other writing credits include television scripts such as Neighbours, stage plays, magazine articles, award-winning medical writing, and non-fiction books for Reed Books and Random House Australia.

Visit Deb at Sign up for her monthly newsletter and receive a free ebook of literary short fiction, 300 Degree Days and other stories.




Greek Stew – Gigantes Plaki – A must have recipe

I was watching the Food Network last night when a cooking show called Donal in Ikaria. A young Irishman who goes around the world cooking and finding recipes. As the title suggests Donal was in Ikaria, a region in Greece which is known for it’s long lived citizens. One of the recipes that Donal was shown was a Greek stew called Giantes Plaki – A giant bean stew. You can find the original recipe HERE

I thought it looked amazing so I decided to give it a go tonight for dinner.

It. Is. Mouth-Watering! I will be making this all the time from now on.

I changed some of the ingredient but here is my version of this wonderful dish.


    • 1 onions, finely sliced
    • 1 cloves garlic, finely sliced
    • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 can, butter beans
    • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
    • 1 1/2 cup pumpkin, thinly sliced
    • Half Sweet potato, thinly sliced
    • 1 cup of cubed zucchini
    • 1 cup spinach, shredded
    • 1/2 cup kale, shredded
    • 23 ounces tomato sauce or Greek passata
    • Handful fresh oregano
    • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
    • 1¼ cups chicken stock


Preheat the oven to 200˚C.

Add the onions and garlic to a bowl, pour in 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with the salt and pepper.Massage the onions until they begin to soften.

In the base of large  baking dish, arrange the butter beans. Arrange spinach, kale, and zucchini over beans then place the carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato on top, pour over the tomato sauce and spread out evenly.

Arrange the onion mixture across the top, and press the herbs roughly on top.

Pour over the stock and place in the oven on the middle shelf to cook for 40 minutes.

Serve warm from the oven with steamed rice.

Silk Road Memoir

I am sharing this post with permission from David Farland


You may have heard about the Silk Road scandal in Time magazine, Wired magazine, or any of a hundred other places.

Curtis Green took a job working for a company called Silk Road, where (unknown to Curtis) his boss, nicknamed “Dread Pirate Roberts,” was trafficking drugs over the internet.

When the FBI and the DEA got wind of it, they set Curtis up in a sting operation, staging a drug bust using planted evidence.

When Curtis’s boss found out about it, he hired a hit man to cover his trail, but the FBI found out about it and staged Curtis’s assassination. The Dread Pirate Roberts got two life sentences for his crimes, but the story wasn’t over.

The FBI and DEA agents that were investigating the crimes decided to steal millions from Silk Road.  Now they’re also in prison.

Curtis wants to tell his story and clear his name. He needs your help!

Please watch the  Youtube Video Curtis has created all about his book ‘Silk Road – A Memoir.

The webpage to help is HERE


Dance of The Gods – Preview

Today I am releasing a preview of one of the stories in my Tales From The Scribe collection. It is from the story called – Dance From the Gods. I hope you enjoy.

Tales From The Scribe: A Collection


Ryukan hurried through the forest, his breath coming faster. He needed to find the holy water before he made his way home. Tonight was an important night for him as Ryukan was making his debut and his mother would never forgive him if he failed to show up without the water gift. The hunter knew he was getting closer, the trees had mossy sections on their trunks, that only water could provide. The sunlight flittered through the canopy of leaves that made the ground seem like it was swirling. Taking a few steps forward, careful not to break any branches or disturb the holy place, he stopped, tilting his head to the side. Very faintly the sound of trickling water could be heard.

Ryukan lifted a tree branch gently and ducked under it, making his way to the sound. Glancing around this area of the forest he smelled the scent of water again, this time slightly stronger. The smell was sharp, with a clear tone that was invaded with the musty and deeply pervasive scent of earth. He took a deeper breath, something inside him loosening in contentment. He could stay here forever. The flap of a wing and the shadow flying towards him on the ground was his only warning of the swooping Magga Bird.

Ryukan swore and ducked, but not quick enough to avoid losing a few strands of hair. Slight pain lanced through his scalp, Ryukan looked at the slight smudge of blood on his hand from where he touched his head. It was no use shaking his fist at the Magga Bird, it only tilted it’s head and stared. The hunter knew it had been a sign from the Gods to get moving, he couldn’t stay here forever. It would be dark soon and he needed to be back for the Great Festival.

Giving the Magga Bird a nod of gratitude, he changed direction and followed his nose and as the trees thinned out he could make out the sound and then shine of the river he sought. Ryukan pushed through the foliage and stopped as he came across a vision he had never seen before, one that could get him into a lot more trouble than just being late.

If you would like to find out what Ryukan sees, then you can get the collection at these places.


Amazon (Kindle & Paperback)


Book Depository

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