Book Launch: The Grief Hole Illustrated by Keely Van Order

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Keely Van Order‘s sketchbook companion to Kaaron Warren‘s masterpiece of dark fiction, The Grief Hole, is a unique work – as Nick Stathopolous stated, “It’s not often we are granted the opportunity to take a peek into an artist’s process, especially in such a handsome format.” And handsome indeed – the artwork is extensive and includes concepts left out of Kaaron’s book for space reasons, as well as variations and continuums of those that ended up in. 78 pages of it. Nick states, “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.”

We are proud to announce that Keely’s magnificent book is to be finally Launched at Conflux in Canberra, at 5.30pm on Sunday 1st October. If you are in the area, or attending, we would recommend you to come along. The book will be for sale, as well as artwork direct from the artist. Refreshments will be available.

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The map to the Grief Hole

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Interview with Kaaron Warren

Join author, Kaaron Warren, in a wonderful interview where she lists her favourite books (revisited from our post on our IFWG Publishing International site).

Link to The Grief Hole page.

Enjoy a free reading of the first chapter of her newest book, ‘The Grief Hole.’ Thanks to Alex Weaver for the audio recording.

Reading of Chapter 1 of The Grief Hole

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News: The Grief Hole Wins Best Horror Novel Category in 2016 Aurealis Awards

We in IFWG are over the moon on just now finding out that Kaaron Warren‘s The Grief Hole has won the Best Horror Novel category in the 2016 Aurealis Awards. Congratulations to all the winners, all the short listed work, but special congratulations to Kaaron on her award.

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The judges stated that The Grief Hole “…is an intelligent, haunting and exquisitely horrific novel that unanimously and unequivocally impressed the entire panel in all areas of the judging criteria, and which will no doubt become a highly regarded touchstone of Australian horror.”

Again, we would like to also thank the book’s editor, Sophie Yorkston, and artist, Keely Van Order, for the significant contribution to the product as a whole.

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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The Grief Hole: Special Limited Edition Offer

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Kaaron Warren’s masterpiece novel, The Grief Hole, was released on 27th August 2016 in hardcover format, followed by the trade paperback a month later. Notably, IFWG Publishing Australia also produced 100 limited edition copies, signed by Kaaron Warren and Keely Van Order.

The cover and internal artwork is created by the very talented, Canberra-based artist, Keely Van Order.

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

You can still purchase this signed, limited edition through our order system, below, as long as stocks last.

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Kaaron Warren

From “White Bed”, her first published story, which appeared in a feminist horror anthology in 1993, Kaaron Warren has produced powerful, disturbing fiction.

With four novels and six short story collections in print, and close to two hundred short fiction sales, Warren’s award-winning fiction tackles the themes of obsession, murder, grief, despair, revenge, manipulation, death and sex.

Kaaron has won many awards such as the Shirley Jackson, Aurealis, Ditmar, Australian Shadows and ACT Writers and Publishers Awards for her novels and short fiction, including Slights, The Grinding House, Through Splintered Walls and the novella “Sky”. She’s lived in Melbourne, Sydney and Fiji and now in Canberra with her family.

The Grief House, published by IFWG Publishing Australia, is, using Kaaron’s own words, “my best yet”, and going by commentators in the industry, this is the case. IFWG Publishing chose to include her novel as part of their masterpiece series, Dark Phases.

The Limited Edition Offer:

  • Limited to 100 copies.
  • Hardcover Book: 6.00″ x 9.00″ (156mm x 234mm), cream paper, plain cloth binding with spine imprint, and matte cover sleeve.
  • Six internal illustrations by Keely Van Order, including a frontispiece.
  • Each book has a signature page (also illustrated/designed by Keely Van Order), signed by Kaaron Warren and Keely, and numbered from 1 to 100. The sequence number provided will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, although some numbers are reserved for purchasers of the first Dark Phases limited edition. There will never be any other signed limited editions produced for sale, beyond this 100.
  • This limited edition is the second of the elite, Dark Phases title series, and this allows those who ordered Peripheral Visions the option of obtaining the limited, signed editions of future Dark Phases titles, with the same sequence number.
  • Each purchaser will also receive a small, hand-crafted gift by Kaaron Warren.
  • Special optional offer: IFWG was so impressed with the significant number of quality illustrations that formed the ‘mood work’ and options leading to the final product that they decided to print for a limited time a hardcover ‘coffee table’ portfolio book, of approximately 75 pages of high bond colour pages. This book contains all the illustrations Keely Van Order created, with notes on her journey to the Grief Hole, as well as excerpts from Kaaron Warren’s novel. This is a very special work, worthy to accompany the Limited Edition The Grief Hole. This work is also available

Orders (click links):


For Australian shipping addresses, the price for limited edition The Grief Hole only, is AU$59.95 (including shipping from September 2016).

For Australian shipping addresses, the price for the limited edition The Grief Hole plus the complementary art portfolio, is AU$98.95 (including shipping from September 2016 – and the portfolio from December 2016)

For Other countries shipping addresses, the price for the limited edition The Grief Hole, is US$69.95 (including shipping from September 2016).

For Other countries shipping addresses, the price for the limited edition The Grief Hole plus the complementary art portfolio, is US$94.95 (including shipping from September 2016 – and the portfolio from December 2016)


The limited edition The Grief Hole will only be available until 100 numbered copies are sold. In September 2016 all orders up to that month will be shipped, and further shipments will be made every two months until the 100 copies are sold. Keely Van Order’s portfolio will be shipped from early 20167separately, and after that date, will be ordered immediately following the option being purchased, but will always be shipped separately.

All transactions will be processed through PayPal. Click the option above.

  1. Ensure your shipping information will be current for September 2016.
  2. You will receive an acknowledgement, with sequence number, by email, in addition to a PayPal receipt.
  3. If you want a particular number, mention it/them in the notes section of the PayPal order – noting that if they are not available, you will get the next available, starting from 1.

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