Day Boy and the Courier Mail 2016 People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year Award

I’m terrible at self promotion. We’re supposed to be good at it, but I really suck. Still, I’m going to take a deep breath, and…

Day Boy is up for the Courier Mail 2016 People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year Award.

The prize is $10,000 and it’s decided by vote (and you don’t even have to be a Queenslander to vote) so if you’d like to vote for the book please follow the link.

I’d really like you to.

Think of it as a Kickstarter where you don’t have to put any money in.

$10,000 buys a lot of fancy writing time. I work pretty much full time (in a job I must stress, that I love) so that money would open up a nice window of me typing away in the new year: a big fat, writerly window.

I’m working on a new book (maybe my best book, ever) called The Stone Road, but I’d also like to finally finish off that Death Works novel, you know, the one with the killer clowns, and the Death Dimensions and all the technicolour deathishness*.

I reckon that $10,000 would let me do that, maybe even finish a really cool book I have mostly done about magicians, Northern NSW,  unicorns, alternate dimensions, and the real reason that speed cameras were invented. Oh, and there’s a novella about a girl and giant, and another one about a female vampire in the Day Boy world, and, and, and…

I’m sure all the other wonderful authors (and they really are wonderful writers) on the list have projects they’d like to complete, too, so if you like one of them more, please vote for them

And if you do vote, and I do win, well, I reckon you’ll see at least one major Death Works project out me in the next year. Why, if I was to win I may even publish a nice chunk of it here (just as a taster: a killer clown, dimension destroying taster).

The link’s below.


*maybe you don’t.

(It’s called the Carnival of Death)


it’s been a while between posts, and it will probably be a little while between this and the next. But I have been working.

I’ve a draft of a new novel – set in the same world as Day Boy with a few tangential characters appearing, and mostly female characters, because I always wanted to address that in whatever I wrote next in that world.

I’ve a stack of new short stories just waiting for polishing. I got all whimsical and these stories are about dragons, giants and vampires.

And, finally, next to my bed is a draft of the next Death Works novel (that’ll be number 5) – it’s a short novel, but it is definitely a novel – and it kind of works. As soon as it more than kind of, and if it’s up to scratch, and if certain editors will ever forgive me for taking so long – I’ll let you know.

A writing career is noisy and quiet, and right now it’s quiet. Which means, in theory, work will get done, which makes me happy. I’m enjoying that steady, incremental work that is drafting and rewriting. It’s slow but it gets results.

And that is about that.



Novels are a Long Road (Well, Day Boy was, Anyway) Part One (Yeah, I go on a bit).

Jamieson_DayBoy2We live in a culture that shapes lives into narratives, and those narratives become an inevitability. As though there could only be one way forward, our lives as precise and obvious as Newtonian Physics. We live in a culture built on the idea of hard work, of endless trackable progress, of failure just being a pit stop to success, but that success or fulfillment is also an unreachable horizon, tracking away from us as fast as we move towards it. We don’t let ourselves pause because there is always onwards and upwards, even as our bodies tell us otherwise (and they always do late or early in our lives, but they always do).

We tell ourselves these stories even if we don’t quite believe them. We exist inside our aphorisms because they possess a certainty that life doesn’t. We know, deep down, that life is much more nebulous, uncertain, painful, and given to fits and starts and all the unreasoning assaults of the world.

But we do it to stay sane, I guess, to quiet the world. Or maybe we don’t; maybe it’s just me.

Every book I write is written in that uncertainty.

Looking back there seems a certain inevitability to Day Boy’s publication, but, really, there was nothing of the sort. My hard-drive, the many, many notebooks I have lying around, attest to the brevity of my literary enthusiasms (though I do tend to finish things, that finishing can take a long, long time – I reckon seven years for most books, though that’s spread amongst many projects so it never seems that long)


In 2006 I quit my job to write full time. To be honest, I was in part talked into it by Diana – because she is ridiculously supportive (and was probably tired of my whining). I’d published a lot of short stories, written a couple of novels, won an Aurealis award, edited a magazine and a novel (both of which won awards, well, the magazine’s stories did and that novel was a sublime thing that I really think was beyond my abilities to do anything but limit the amount of harm I did to it) but felt like I wasn’t making any progress. I’d decided after about ten years of short story writing that what I really wanted to write were novels, and not just write them but convince someone to publish them.

I thought I was pretty good at it (that writing thing), but I’d let my career aspirations slide. If you’re going to be a novelist, you should really try and make a decent fist of it. (Now, this is me looking back seven years: memory really is a dodgy recorder of motives, it loves to rewrite everything. Maybe I just liked the idea of napping in the afternoons).

In that first flush of free-time I finished yet another draft of Roil, a bit of what was to become Death Most Definite, but was then called Walking Talking (what a horrible name, but I could never get the title quite right on that one) and (predictably enough a bunch of short stories one of which was Day Boy). So that is roughly nine years ago.

Day Boy began as that short story, part of which is a bit of a scene in one of the later chapters of the book. I was also working on a short story called Cracks. Both Day Boy and Cracks were me playing with a particular sort of voice, and both (believe it or not) are set in the same world. Day Boy had hints of a father son relationship (but it wasn’t all that developed) and Cracks was about mothers and daughters. Both were about very dysfunctional relationships of course (functional holds less narrative promise). And both were published in 2008. Cracks in that wonderful and early to the party YA E-magazine Shiny – and it won an Aurealis Award. And Day Boy in the magazine Murky Depths – and it was shortlisted for an AA as well, though it didn’t win.

Both shorts felt pretty self-contained and like they could be built into novels. Day Boy was the least developed of the two, which is part of the reason I felt so attracted to it as a novel – I’d left myself room to immediately move (Ha! Look at the above date, NOTHING immediate about it).

I wrote a first chapter for Day Boy (which is now about the third or fourth chapter) and started dreaming about the world which made me think I was onto a good thing – not that I needed to think it, I knew it in my gut, in that strong and extremely fragile way writers know things about their books, but which none-the-less sustains them for the weeks, months, and years it takes to finish a book.

But then I sold Death Most Definite to Orbit, and I sold it as three books. Which meant I had to work on rewrites of DMD, and produce the other two. About a year later I sold Roil and Night’s Engines to Angry Robot and I was writing and planning and so on three books at the same time set in different worlds, I was also working at Avid Reader Bookstore (more about that wonderful place later) and teaching at QUT. We moved house as well at this time. And then my wonderful, supportive wife got very ill – that’s another story altogether, and one central to this as well – but lets stick to keeping a relatively simple through line. What it came down to was this – it was crazy.

But you do what you can to pay the bills – or as many as you can pay.

What it meant was I’d achieved a major dream, but Day Boy was put on the back burner.

Death Works 5 – Carnival of Death is getting all Carnivally.

Hey, I know the last Death Works story came out in February, but I promise that the next will be finished soon. Might be a while until it’s out – and the lovely folk at Momentum might hate it – but I promise it will be worth the wait. I’ve finally found my rhythm with this story, and, yes, it will be longer. And, there will be a little intro story that goes with it – think the Thing meets It.

If you haven’t read the last Death Works story, there’s a link to the right where you can buy it in whatever format you wish – except the Trent reads it to you while you lie in bed format (That costs extra).

The new one has killer clowns, a vast cosmic circus, conspiracy theories, and a deeper exploration of the new arc, which this is kind of nudging into the middle of. I’ve written about 300,000 words all up of Steve and Lissa’s story, and I reckon I have around another 200,000 (ish) words to go. I love these guys and I want to tell their story until the bitter(sweet) end, and, as long as I don’t get hit by a truck, I reckon I will.

Also, if you’re interested in a taste I do have an author page on Facebook.

10 Rather Arbitrary Rules for Writing

So, yes, I’ve finally finished the new draft of Day Boy, and in the gap between edits I’m working on the next Death Works novella (which looks like it will be twice as long as the last, but we’ll see). Hey have you bought the last one yet? I’m talking to you person in the back row? You can buy it here, for about the price of a coffee – and it will last longer, unless it’s one of those really big mugs, but they never taste as good as a cup (am I right?)

Anyway, here are my rather arbitrary, and somewhat insufficient rules for writing.


1. Be Crazy.

Seriously, tap into your crazy. The part of you that is different to everyone else. Writing’s an exercise in empathy, but it’s also an expression of individuality, and as individuals we’re all pretty odd.

2.Start at the End.

Obviously if you start at the end, then the end is the beginning, and so there is no end, and this arbitrary statement implodes in a cloud of logic.

3.Do the Good Stuff first.

See 2. Obviously the ending is the best bit. Write the stuff that fascinates you first. Those bits are the density of a story, and it’s what the rest of the stuff (the connective tissue) will clump around. Our bones are interesting; flesh is just kind of gross unless it’s wrapped around them.

4.Write like no one gives a shit.

Seriously, no one does. Say this three times. Enjoy the liberation it brings and write.

5.Write every day except when you don’t, and never feel guilty about not writing.

We’re all big bags of guilt anyway, why make writing a source of guilt for you.



Fucking obvious. Read lots.


7.Capture a Star.

I don’t know, it just sounded good. You tell me what it means, you’re all writers – or masochists (which is another term for writer).


8.Engage all Engines.

Throw yourself into your writing, climb to the top of your word mound, and roll down it. Crazy is energetic. It’s the churn that binds everything together.


9. Shut up.

Give yourself to the quiet*, and try and write from there. It’s better than alcohol.


10.Be Cunning.

Remember writing is a game: play it like you don’t intend to lose.


11. Rules about writing are kind of crap.

Make up your own rules.

No, you make up your own rules.

Don’t tell me what to do.


*I write listening to music, but it creates a quiet place in my skull.


And here’s a picture of my new Tat. Yes, I love Tolkien – it’s not like that’s a surprise. Beat that CGI Smaug!




On Writing A Series: Endings.

I read a really interesting review of Memory of Death over at certain review place (I know, I really shouldn’t, never good for the ego, because all we want is the LOVE), and like all reviews, whether they liked or hated the story, (beyond the simple – this sux, type) it was utterly correct. For the reader the Death Works stories finished with book three, they loved the ending, and thought that that is where it should end. I agree totally.

The moment I publish a story (after it’s edited, poked at, prodded, questioned, and my many punctuational faux pas corrected – any that are missed are MY fault!) it belongs to the readers. They’re free to build the rest of the story: they have to. Beyond the basic economics of it, what it boils down to is no reader, no story.

The story ends for each reader where they decide to end it. The fact that someone loved my first series enough to put this one away makes my heart swell (and break) a little. The fact that they feel they can talk about it, or address it, or argue with it, is the most awesome thing in the world for a writer.

Writing is an act of love for me. I doubt I will ever make a serious living out of it, but I scramble for time and space to make these stories, because I love doing it. Each one marks out a little more of the territory of my mind and my heart, and each is an invitation for reader-engagement with my absolute understanding that engagement will truncated at some point, that the reader ultimately chooses the ending.

I find that thrilling.

The first series split readers down the middle. Those that loved the ending or those that hated it (I think endings are important, I think they’re the thread that runs through a book – ok, maybe I’m stating the obvious).

I’m curious to see how people respond to this next arc. I like my twists, I like them big (sometimes ridiculously so) in this series, and I kind of like to think I’m heading in an at least slightly unexpected direction.

When I started the first book, seriously started it(I don’t count those missteps that took me several years of stumbling) I had a definite ending in mind (it’s written in one of the black notebooks behind me – no peeking!).

That ending flows through all of these stories, I’ve written it, I know where it is going. One day you might join me there, and we can look back and laugh, or frown. But this ends where you end it; I merely scribble it down. Everything after (if I am lucky or skilled enough) is a blessing or a curse from you, and both are an honour.


PS I am still a little feverish, hope this makes sense. (Hmm, maybe that should be the title of this webpage).

The Memory of Death

One of the important things not to do when a new story or book is being released is to get very sick. Otherwise the release sort of passes you by. So, here I am clammy with the last of a fever (well, it better be the last) and a new Death Works tale out. I’ve also been interviewed over at the Qwillery (thanks Sally!).

There should be more Death Works stuff presently. As I’ve said before (and hinted at here) last year was a bit of train wreck for various family health reasons, but what it did do was provide the seeds for a lot of writing that is to come. Whatever doesn’t kill you, right?

Thanks again to all the people that pushed and poked and prodded more Death Works stuff into being, and to those that have already bought the new one. These stories are meant to be fun (a dark, messy sort of fun, but fun none-the-less) I’m so glad that others feel the same way about them.

Now, I’m about to fall off this chair, but, new Death Works story: Yay!

A Short Taste of the Memory of Death

My new publishers, Momentum, have just released the first chapter of The Memory of Death over at their website. You can read it below, but I do warn you, there are spoilers.

This scene is almost as old as the last Death Works novel. I was planning to get into it straight away, but, as they say, there’s many a slip betwixt the cup and the lip (or shit happens).

This story finally resolves things, and, if everything goes to plan, the next arc of these character’s story will extend across a few interlinked novellas. What can you expect? Well, we get a bit more of Lissa’s point of view. You’ll get a broader sense of what is going on in the world beyond pomping (wait till I get to the knot workers – I’m planning on giving those folk their own stories at some stage). It’s all dark fun wrapped up in my sense of humour. I love this world, and I love playing in it. Hopefully I’ll get to play around in it for a long while yet.

Now, here it is…


The Memory of Death: Death Works 4 is a novella set in Trent Jamieson’s Death Works universe. It’s available for $3.99 from 11 February 2014 where all good ebooks are sold.  


My head strikes the ground, hard, and I bite my cheek; taste blood, get a lungful of water and I’m jerked backwards.

I cough. Roll over, and my knees click as I stand: bone scraping bone. There’s colour. Stabbing light, lending a hangovery intensity to my headache. And then there’s something that I realise is air. Its touch is such an unfamiliar sensation. So damn soft.

I try for breath, cough and try again. And this time my lungs billow. I can breathe. Ha!

A wave knocks me forward again onto my knees, and my fingers dig into the ground. Sand. Beach. A kid laughs somewhere, or screams (laughter and screaming, I know them both, laughter and screaming, screaming and laughter), and I cough up my guts, which amounts to not much more than a thin trickle of grey spit.

I squint, now on all fours, and try to take everything in. There’s too much.

Too much light. Motion. The world’s grown big again.

Gulls wheel in the sky. Beautiful, but the daylight burns. I drop my gaze from the sky to the shore.

One parent drags a curious child away from me, the kid’s heels leaving long trails in the sand. And then the kid spits at me. You’d think something monstrous had risen from the waves – and maybe it has. I snap my eyes shut. All I can smell is the sea. My lips sting, they have cracks the size of canyons; I could slide my tongue into them, if I could move my tongue properly. I taste salt, and bile. Water strikes my shoulders, pushes me forward yet again. Last time, it dragged me away, and there’s no guarantee that it won’t change its mind.

I have to keep moving or the sea will yank me back. And I don’t want that. Not with everything in front of me.

I heave myself to my feet, open my eyes again and shade them with my wrinkled hands. Half the beach watches me like I’m some sort of cautionary tale. No one offers to help.

Why would they?

My coat, the one that once belonged to my father, is heavy against my shoulders: stiff as lead. Dad had passed the coat on to me as a boy, and how I had yearned to grow into it. I was all grown up and working as a Pomp before it really fit, and even then it never fit me well. The last time I’d worn this coat I was so much more. I was the Orcus Entire: the Hungry Death incarnate. I’d wielded the stone scythe Mog. Something I’m sure my father would never have suspected (nor dared hope) I’d achieve. Yeah, I’d not really shown much desire for an executive position at Mortmax Industries; actually I’d barely shown a desire to put in more than the minimal amount of work there. Nor would he have even begun to imagine that I’d use Mog to sever the head of his best friend, Morrigan – a man who had become a god.

I’d been on a beach then too. And afterwards I’d leant on that scythe, weary from battle, and realised that I’d won. We’d won: my Pomps and me. We’d defeated our ancient enemy, the Stirrers, and their dark god. I’d felt pretty good about it all. Hey, I’d just averted a Global Apocalypse. But it didn’t last.

When you’re Death you know nothing lasts. But I never expected to lose everything so damn quickly. That was then.

Where the hell am I? Actually, I’m not in Hell at all, unless they’ve spruced the place up an awful lot. Hell’s all red skies, a giant Moreton Bay fig and the spirits of the dead glowing blue and forlorn.

This beach isn’t the beach of that last battle. No, that was on the Gold Coast. Different time, different light. And I’d been dragged from that victory to the deep dark Hell of the Death of the Water. We’d made a deal, to save the world, and he’d been unbending in his part of it. Mog, my powers, my life: all of it gone. And the world moved on.

Where’s Lissa?

Of course she’s not here.

She wouldn’t be. She thinks I’m dead. I thought I was dead. And yet I’m standing here. Get Out of Hell Free. Except no one gets out of hell free.

I’d learnt that the hard way when I’d performed an Orpheus Manoeuvre, with the help of Charon, and brought Lissa back from the dead. It was almost our first date. Lissa had returned the favour. I’m sure no one has done that to me this time. My memories were of death, but nothing after. And now, this too-bright beach, I focus on my boots, the leather as cracked as my lips, but at least they don’t sear my eyes.

I stumble towards the shore, a few more shuffles, and pause. I get the feeling if I take another step, I’ll cross some threshold. The world seems to stop. Holds its breath with me. The water’s white around my boots.

‘Mr de Selby?’

I look up. A guy in a cheap grey suit, lips a thin slash across his face. Nose broken more than once. He’s dry, a metre from the foamy dregs of the waves, holding a towel over one arm. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be dry, and clean, and not crusted in salt.

‘Yes, yes.’ The words come thickly from a mouth still remembering how to shape them.

‘If you could just take a couple of steps forward, sir. Out of the water. I can’t help you, unless you get out of the water. I’ve no jurisdiction there.’

I blink.

He frowns. ‘The water, Mr de Selby.’

He’s right. I can’t stay here forever, and I’m not going back.

I take a few unsteady steps towards him. The waves suck at my boots.

There are too many gaps in my mind. Holes you could drive a ute through, while it’s doing donuts, wheels throwing up stinking smoke and further obscuring everything.

Then I’m out of the water, onto wet sand. A wave hisses away behind me. I half imagine I hear it call my name.

‘Close enough,’ the man says, yanking the coat from me; it drops to the beach with a slap, and I feel about ten kilos lighter. He drapes the towel over my shoulders. The humanity of that movement, the touch of another hand, makes me cry: a single sob that threatens to build to a weeping.

Until he presses the gun into my spine.


This has been a very peculiar year, but then all years are peculiar. Being 40 (which is nothing but one of those thinky sort of milestones) and all, having had Bell’s Palsy (which I forget about until my eye starts hurting, or I see a photograph of me – my Uni ID photo looks awful lopsided this year), and feeling a little down about the whole thing has made me even quieter here.

But it doesn’t mean that I have stopped writing, in fact I have finished two drafts of things in the last month, one a book that has haunted me for nearly five years (actually six, which is rather alarming, but there you go), and the other a Death Works novella (which I am polishing now, more on that later, but it has been a wonderful thing to write, and it’s turned out a little longer than I was expecting – let’s just say that people’s lives – and deaths – didn’t get any less complicated after the Business of Death).

There’s been some teaching as well – my poor students having to put up with my slurry voice – and more writing.

I don’t think I’m the most prolific writer.

I’m not a churner, even if it occasionally looks like I am. But I sit down as often as I can, and I try and write, because even when it’s bad it’s good. Writing is the constant in my life, and has been since I could write a story (or try to write a story). And it’s a goad and a comfort, and it’s interesting, and it’s sunk into my bones and my marrow, and when I take that away I feel kind of hollow.

I might clump and clunk, but it’s still me. And I always hope to get better, and even when I don’t, there’s always room for more hope.

That is all, except you can now get this which is a really rather grand anthology and my story The Lighterman’s Tale is in it. As are some truly wonderful stories by some of Australia’s most wonderful SF writers. Worth a buy.


Tate, Hope, The Unliked, and Cicatrix City

So, while I’m buried deep in a new book (and still partially facially paralyzed). I thought I’d revisit the last books. I don’t know if I had a lot of time for reflection while writing them. So here are some notes and thoughts on bits of the Night Bound Land and Death Works books. If they’re a bit mixed up, I’m sorry. I’ll be splitting them up and putting them on their respective book pages some time down the track.

The City of Tate.

Tate was always a city that loomed. In my mind, and hopefully on the page.

I kind of imagined it as that first real classic cinematic fantasy city The Emerald City* in The Wizard of OZ, but a darker version of it.

Tate was less a part of the landscape than something forced on it, visually, politically, environmentally. In the time of the Night Bound Land the city not only loomed it fumed with a dark and terrible energy and heat. – despite its frozen walls and roads.

I originally described it as a looking like a wedding cake. But then I picked up Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines. And there was his description of his city looking like a great big old wedding cake. So scratch that. (But it still does, dammit.).

Tate is ultimately a city at war with its landscape. A war that it cannot hope to win.

People often draw similarities between this and William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land and the Last Redoubt. I was aware of the book, I even have a copy somewhere, but I haven’t read it -well, I tried, but let’s say that I didn’t get very far. That said, the sense of creeping horror, of a force monstrous, relentless, and slowly winning is very much part of the SF DNA.

I got to destroy a lot of cities in the Night Bound Land, but Tate’s destruction was the most fun. Tate was the Metropolis most prepared, and the most set up for failure. It set the tone of the books.

Tate – she looms and fumes.

I also have the beginnings of a novella set in Tate from a Sweepers perspective. I’ll get to it soon, I promise.

*Metropolis is there, too. But Metropolis is far more like Mirrlees-on-Weep. It’s also part of the SF DNA.


All of my books are hopeful. I’m really not that much of a pessimist. I don’t see any of these books as being absent of hope. But I do like to undercut humour with tragedy and vice versa. The one thing I hope I never do is write books that are pompous. My books are about frailty.


Characters being not particularly likeable.


I like to write about people that I don’t necessarily like. Steven, for example, contains a lot of the elements of my personality that I dislike. He starts off as a somewhat selfish slacker who thinks he’s funnier, brighter, more rebellious and a better worker than he actually is. He is terribly flawed, and as the books progress he shifts from folly to understanding his flaws, to actually doing something about them – even if those actions are directed through the prism of his flawed characteristics. He’s not exactly a hero, or an anti-hero (he’s never quite cool enough for that, there’s too much of the klutz in him) just a flawed individual who steps up and tries to do their best.

Hell, we’re all fragile and prickly. We’re all a bit broken, a bit annoying, a bit foolish. It’s those elements that make characters fun to write about – and read.

You could say the same about David, I guess. All David wants is peace and quiet. And he never really gets it. David, Margaret, Medicine Paul, Mayor Stade, Mother Graine and Kara Jade, all of them live in a world toppling into destruction. They’re doing the best they can in the face of impulses of despair, hedonism and doubt. The world of Shale itself is somewhat punch drunk. I wanted the first book to shudder, to feel almost uncertain of its own narrative, the second book was about action in the face on uncertainty. Of course, Roil being one of my first books I don’t quite think I managed to pull it off, but then again, I wouldn’t change it. You’re meant to feel as if the world is shaky that it’s crumbling, and that your guides aren’t quite what they should be. I kept snipping back the beginning of the book (and the backstory) because one, I wanted to start in the action of the story, and two I wanted it to feel as if there was a chasm of knowledge behind the reader. The histories in each chapter opening were deliberately contradictory. They were supposed to obfuscate as much as illuminate.

This by the way is no defence of the books, just an observation of my intent (which is constantly mutable during the writing of a book). The reader’s just as entitled to the throw the book against the wall and yell – that totally sucks shit. Are there things I would change about the books? Yeah, but not much.

Shale is as real to me as the Brisbane in the Death Works books. These characters still stomp around in my brain. I really do adore them.



Cicatrix City

This is the ultimate urban space of the Pomp. The blood of a Pomp will send a Stirrer back to their city in the Underworld. It’s the lock on the door that a dead body presents to the undead. Cicatrix City is the lines on the palm of a Pomp, the scars that produce a map of their pomping career.  Scars are a mark of the living, of a life lived. Look  at your own flesh and you and you will see this. Every scar is a story.

Look at a Pomp’s hand and you will see this.

You won’t see that on Google Maps.

So, my Urban Fantasy, is contained in a hand which has seen the sketch marks of a Pomp’s blade.

I’m working my way through other elements of the books, so there’ll be plenty more of these over the next few weeks – with added lame drawings.

And, yes, there are plans for new stories in both of these worlds.


Finally you can buy my books from Avid Reader here

Amazon here (while you’re at it, why not write a review. Night’s Engines could do with a few – hey that rhymes)

and Angry Robot for DRM free versions of the Night Bound Land here