The official launch of the new edition of my short-story collection Creeping in Reptile Flesh took place today. It was a virtual launch and in reality consists of the initial marketing push. Here’s a nice big scan of the cover. Seriously, click on it to view it even larger and in exquisite detail. That image by Cat Sparks is dynamite stuff — and I like the textured text a lot.
For those who don’t know the book, check out the earlier Backbrain announcement of Morrigan Books’ re-print of the collection. More information can be gleaned from the Morrigan Books website and Smashwords website, from which you can buy the e-version. A Kindle-friendly e-version and a print edition available through Amazon will be announced soon.
Those who already own the Aurealis Award-nominated book in the form of the first Altair Australia edition should note that while the same stories appear in it, there has been some effective editing done (supervised by Morrigan editor Kari Wolfe and senior editor Amanda Pillar) and an additional story has been added as a bonus (one that reflects on, and takes place in the same “world” as, the title novella). If you liked the first edition, you’ll love this one — and at US$3.95 why not pick it up again for the bonus content.
As part of the launch, I was interviewed by editor Kari Wolfe. My response to a question about the stories in Creeping in Reptile Flesh is reproduced below, but you can read the whole interview here.
What is your favorite story from this collection? Is there one that stands out for you, the most inspired, the one that you’re most eager to share with your readers?
RH: Well, they’re all my babies and I love them all for different reasons, even when in hindsight I see the flaws. I have a great affection for ‘The Slimelight, and How to Step into It’, for example, for its bizarre and somewhat gooey humour, its origins in my experiences in amateur theatre and its rather naive romanticism — something I don’t do all that much. I love ‘Rotting Eggplant on the Bottom Shelf of a Fridge’ for its surreal extravagance, the way it creates meaning on a level beyond plot and how, in order to “get” it, readers need to grasp its oddball absurdity — in which lies, I think, the underlying nature of human existence. I love the creepiness of many of the stories, from the gross-out of ‘Heartless’ and the Cthulhan tentacle horror of ‘The Black Lake’s Fatal Flood’ to the subtle eeriness of ‘You’re A Sick Man, Mr Antwhistle’, and the unexpected menace of the last two paragraphs of ‘Getting Rid of Mother’ (which, of course, only work because of what comes before). I love the dark introversion of ‘Groundswell’, the quirky pessimism of ‘Rotten Times’ and the wistful melancholy of ‘Casual Visitors’. ‘Dreams of Death’ is classic Hitchcockian noir — a sub-genre I adore.
But the stand-out for me is the title story, ‘Creeping in Reptile Flesh’. It’s a long story and one that took me a long time to get right. I think its complexity, in terms of both plot and thematic impact, represents some of the most successful writing I’ve ever done. I don’t think it’s an easy read, not if you want to get full value out of it. It demands attention at a level we don’t always give to works within the genre, yet it has all the right ingredients: horror, suspense, humour, politics, interesting characters, startling imagery, symbolic layering — even a zombie or two — and a plot with some hopefully unexpected turns, all forming a theme that I as author find profound and compelling. It’s about Australia in a way that may not be obvious, exploring how ferality becomes an indigenous reality of its own — and it’s about the transcendent bestiality of human nature. It’s also fun. It was fun to write — and reading it now, I still find it wildly entertaining.
But maybe that’s just me.
Order a copy today — and also go to the book’s Facebook page and “Like” it. If you’ve already read the book, leave a comment. If you buy it now and read it for the first time, let me know what you think.
Above all, enjoy.