Applauding the best and darkest

I have finally completed my duties as an Australian Shadows Award judge. Today, the Australian Horror Writers Association released the list of finalists and honourable mentions. Congratulations to the well-deserved nominees! Our judges reports are also online and worth the read for anyone interested in the horror field from 2007.

I enjoyed judging for the Australian Shadows Award with Gary and Mark (and Kirstyn hovering in the background). So much, in fact, that I’ve agreed to a second year in my judging tour of duty. I’m not sure who the other judges will be (Mark has completed the second year of his ‘tour’).

Today also heralded the discovery of not one but two reviews for Angela’s Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror 2007 edition (featuring my story “The Garden Shed Pact”).

Chuck McKenzie’s review at HorrorScope is here.

Martel Sardina’s review at Dark Scribe magazine is here.

Although Martel doesn’t mention my story, Chuck says of “The Garden Shed Pact”:
‘The Garden Shed Pact’ by Shane Jiraiya Cummings deals with spiders. Or, to be exact, one very big spider. What could well have become a standard big-bug shocker in the hands of a lesser writer here is elevated by the author’s focus on the human element – loss, guilt and redemption – plus the niggling suspicion, raised through the way in which the author presents his protagonist, that there may be more than a whiff of mental illness involved here.

Thanks Chuck! Both reviewers have nothing but praise for the antho, which I feel (as someone who co-edited the first but not the second) is a superior product to the first volume.

While on the subject of brilliant reviews, my story “The Cutting Room” in Apex Publications’ Gratia Placenti anthology, has scored tremendously well with the reviewers.

Michele Lee at Dark Scribe said:
“The Cutting Room” by Shane Jiraiya Cummings easily surpasses its sex and gore façade. In this tale of a bizarre incident in an autopsy room and a corpse who isn’t quite done with the living, Cummings shows not only an innate knowledge of what happens after death but also an ability to twist a story around a reader like a deadly trap. Playful and sexually-charged in all the wrong ways, this tale of dead love puts the stories of necrophiliac morticians to shame.

Norm Rubenstein at Horror World mentions in passing:
Shane Jiraiya Cummings’ The Cutting Room is a very different, graphic, and entertaining take upon an autopsy, not necessarily the easiest of combinations to pull off.

At Fear Zone, Steve Vernon didn’t quite take to the story, while Gabrielle S Faust loved the anthology but didn’t go into specifics.

Still, I’m hard pressed to be disappointed by any of the above.