New Signing: Last Year, When We Were Young by Andrew J McKiernan

IFWG Australia is very pleased to announce the acquisition of Andrew J McKiernan’s collection of dark short stories, Last Year, When We Were Young. This work was first published in 2014, and with this signing, we will be supplementing what is already very good with additional stories and rich illustrations by the author.

The collection will be published in late 2017 or early 2018 – over coming months we will narrow down the release period.

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Andrew J. McKiernan is a writer and illustrator from the Central Coast of New South Wales. First published in 2007, his stories have since been short-listed for multiple Aurealis, Ditmar, and Australian Shadows awards, as well as being reprinted internationally and in a number of Year’s Best anthologies. His short story collection, ‘Last Year, When We Were Young’, was awarded the 2014 AHWA Australian Shadows Award for Best Collected Work. “The Message” was recently optioned to be produced as a short film by award-winning Australian director Tom Spark. www.andrewmckiernan.com

The Grief Hole Illustrated: News and Pre-Orders

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The Grief Hole Illustrated: An Artist’s Sketchbook Companion to Kaaron Warren’s Supernatural Thriller, by Keely Van Order will be released next month. Those who ordered it as part of the Limited Edition offer for The Grief Hole are locked in for shipment as soon as the book is printed, but we are offering an excellent preorder price for Australian readers only right now: $36.95 including shipping and GST. This offer will cease in early February 2017.

Kaaron Warren’s novel, The Grief Hole, is fast becoming a dark literary classic, and it was enhanced by internal illustrations, and cover art/design by Canberra-based artist, Keely Van Order.

This art portfolio traces Keely’s passage to the final illustrations and designs, including variations on themes, mood sketches, and pieces of art that were worthy of publishing, but just didn’t quite make it the limited number required for the final product. Keely provides notes on her journey and includes excerpts from The Grief Hole that enables the viewer insight into the direct sources of inspiration for the art.

Keely Van Order’s art and design for The Grief Hole, compiled in this beautiful book, is an apt companion volume to the novel, and captures the spirit of Kaaron Warren’s masterpiece as a stand alone work.

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The Grief Hole Illustrated is 74 pages in length with premium colour printing and paper. It is hard cover with matte finish lamination. To showcase Keely’s work, the book is 280 x 216mm in size (11″ x 8.5″).

CLICK HERE to preorder Keely’s magnificent work for AU$36.95 (Australia only, GST and Shipping included)  It will retail in Australia for $39.95 (GST include, not shipping).

Nick Stathopoulos, the eminent Australian artist, has the following to say in the Introduction to this art portfolio:

NEVER SEEN THE SAME BY ANY TWO PEOPLE

Where teenagers would go to suicide

                         …this was the picture I started with and took the project from here.”

And so begins Keely Van Order’s harrowing journey illustrating Kaaron Warren’s disturbing and dark fantasy The Grief Hole.

This was no ordinary commission.

But then this was no ordinary story. In this portfolio we follow Keely’s creative journey; her conceptual explorations with styles, with techniques, with fonts. Here we have sketches, detailed notes, cover variants, final art, and work rejected due to printing concerns. We get a sense of what she was feeling as she worked through the book. We share her determination to reveal the face of the charismatic, shaman-like Sol Evictus, to unmask him, to deny him being reduced to a mythological archetype. To make him real. And this is where the value of an illustration can override a reader’s imagination.

Throughout publishing history we have great collaborations between writers and artists. Can you imagine A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh without the fragile delicacy of E. H. Shepard, or Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland without the slightly psychotic John Tenniel, or John Marsden’s The Rabbits without the politically savvy Shaun Tan? And now we have Keely Van Order’s dark, brooding, melancholia. Kaaron Warren is a fortunate author indeed.

I’m one of those people who watches all the extras on a blu-ray disc. Partly because I enjoy that insight into how visual effects are created, and what they decided to leave on the (now digital) cutting room floor; and partly because I always harbored ambitions to work in the film industry myself.

Despite knowing the magician’s tricks, I can still draw a distinction between the behind-the-scenes details, suspend my disbelief, and enjoy the movie—not as some technical exercise—but as a piece of pure story-telling. Although I did work peripherally in the film industry, most of my career was directed towards graphic design and illustration. Which means this portfolio is like one of those blu-ray extras for illustrators.

Very few people realize or appreciate how much effort an artist puts into creating work for a book. What makes this a particularly unusual and challenging project is that this story involves an artist sent to capture the faces of dying teenagers—who in doing so dies in a ‘grief hole’. And in taking this project on, Keely has in many ways become that artist, taken on that persona. This is not a happy head-space.

When illustrating a manuscript, an artist doesn’t casually read it. They diligently scour every word to find those key pivotal moments that have the highest emotional and visual impact. As you turn every page of this portfolio, you can see Keely immersing herself in Kaaron’s bleak world, where each word takes on a deeper meaning, evoking a mood, stimulating the possibility of a visual interpretation. This level of engagement makes for great art.

On a purely artistic level, despite Keely’s distinctive, idiosyncratic style, do I detect echoes of an Eastern European aesthetic—perhaps Czech? I’m now thinking of those bizarre Polish and Czech movie posters that have nothing whatsoever to do with the films they are meant to be spruiking, yet remain intriguing works of art on their own terms. Do I sense the influence of cover artists I grew up with – Richard Powers, or Bruce Pennington—hovering around Keely like the ghosts Theresa sees? Perhaps. Or perhaps that’s just me making connections with the artists who served as my inspirations. But then again, like the grief holes themselves, these things are “never seen the same by any two people”.

So look carefully. I’m trusting that after dutifully examining each sketch, each note-to-self, each final illustration, you might glean just what an extraordinary collective work of art Keely Van Order has created. In this case, knowing the magician’s tricks enhances Kaaron’s world.

And a personal thank you to Gerry Huntman for having the foresight and wisdom to connect Keely with Kaaron—a true symbiotic relationship—and for publishing this portfolio. It’s not often we are granted the opportunity to take a peek into an artist’s process, especially in such a handsome format.

 

Cover Reveal: The Grief Hole Illustrated

We are pleased that Keely Van Order‘s art portfolio collection of the illustrations contributing to The Grief Hole are well underway and will be available for sale in December (with preorders coming out in the next week or two).

In the meantime, the following is the working cover at this time, for your viewing pleasure.

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eBook Preorders: The Grief Hole by Kaaron Warren

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Preorder channels are now open for the ebook formats of Kaaron Warren’s upcoming masterpiece, The Grief Hole. Available channels are as follows:

Amazon Kindle
Apple iBook
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

Books will be downloadable from 26 to 27th August 2016, depending on your geography.

Of course, if you want to preorder the more tangible trade paperback or clothbound editions, click here – you won’t be disappointed as Keely Van Order’s illustrations truly jump from the pages.

Finally, if you are interested in preordering the signed limited edition clothbound version of The Grief Hole, stay tuned for an announcement very soon – you will also be given the option for preordering the hardcover artist’s portfolio related to the project – something special indeed.


There are many grief holes.

There’s the grief hole you fall into when a loved one dies.

There’s another grief hole in all of us; small or large, it determines how much we want to live.

And there are the places, the physical grief holes, which attract suicides to their centre.

Sol Evictus, a powerful, charismatic singer, sends a young artist into The Grief Hole to capture the faces of the teenagers dying there. When she inevitably dies herself, her cousin Theresa resolves to stop this man so many love.

Theresa sees ghosts; she knows how you’ll die by the spirits haunting you. If you’ll drown, she’ll see drowned people. Most often she sees battered women, because she works to find emergency housing for abused women.

She sees no ghosts around Sol Evictus but she doesn’t let that stop her. Her passion to help, to be a saint, drives her to find a way to destroy him.


 “It takes a writer of Kaaron Warren’s talent and imagination to unflinchingly convey the horrors of the real world. The Grief Hole is one of the most effective and affecting ghost stories I’ve ever read.”

– Jeffrey Ford, multiple international award-winning fantasy author

Print Preorders: The Grief Hole by Kaaron Warren

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Kaaron Warren’s masterpiece of dark fantasy and horror, The Grief Hole, will be released and launched on 27 August 2016 (Australian Eastern Standard Time). IFWG Publishing Australia had offered preorders for both the Trade Paperback and Cloth Bound versions.

Trade Paperback offer has expired wef 20 September 2016 Australian Eastern Standard Time. Orders can be made from release day – 27th September 2016 Australian Eastern Standard Time.The Cloth Bound offer has expired wef COB 20th August 2016 Australian Eastern Standard Time. Orders can be made from 27th August 2016 Australian Eastern Standard Time.


There are many grief holes.

There’s the grief hole you fall into when a loved one dies.

There’s another grief hole in all of us; small or large, it determines how much we want to live.

And there are the places, the physical grief holes, which attract suicides to their centre.

Sol Evictus, a powerful, charismatic singer, sends a young artist into The Grief Hole to capture the faces of the teenagers dying there. When she inevitably dies herself, her cousin Theresa resolves to stop this man so many love.

Theresa sees ghosts; she knows how you’ll die by the spirits haunting you. If you’ll drown, she’ll see drowned people. Most often she sees battered women, because she works to find emergency housing for abused women.

She sees no ghosts around Sol Evictus but she doesn’t let that stop her. Her passion to help, to be a saint, drives her to find a way to destroy him.


 “It takes a writer of Kaaron Warren’s talent and imagination to unflinchingly convey the horrors of the real world. The Grief Hole is one of the most effective and affecting ghost stories I’ve ever read.”

– Jeffrey Ford, multiple international award-winning fantasy author

Read the first review of The Grief Hole by Ginger Nuts of Horror.