Thursday, December 6, 2012

Brett Bruton's Hidden Things, Lost Things #guest

First a news update for those of you wondering what the status of this year's Bloody Parchment short story competition is. November was my reading period during which I graded the entries and made up the selection that went through to the judges. 

What were my criteria? First off, I had to ask myself whether the story could fit the bill for horror or squeak through on the tailcoats of dark/urban fantasy. And you'd be surprised at how many authors clearly ignored the fact that horror/dark fiction was the theme. (No. Really.) Then I looked at originality. Torture porn, stories that were derivatives of movies/TV series that are currently popular, or stories that had absolutely no point, these didn't pass muster. Perhaps the most telling reason for rejection was stories that technically still needed a lot of work (as in, if you use ampersands instead of the humble "and" and structurally need a lot of work mastering the mechanics of writing).

That being said, I think the judges are going to have a tough time this year. I'm overwhelmed by the high quality of writing. The judges will be sending in their scores by the first week of January, by which time I'll be sending out the rejection letters... And will be mailing the lucky 13 who'll make it through to the anthology.

And now, without further ado, I'd like to welcome the author of the current anthology's title story, Brett Bruton.

So, Brett, tell us a little about yourself.

Born and raised in the Eastern Cape. Studied fine art, English and modern fiction at Rhodes University. Played in one rock band, then another. Occasionally, I blog. Am currently living in Cape Town, South Africa, and working in advertising. It was the only industry that offered me free beer.

Tell us a little about the background of your story.

I have a love/hate relationship with sci-fi. Much like pulp fantasy, too many authors use sci-fi as an excuse to get away with wildly improbable scenarios. Character stuck on a roof surrounded by ray-gun toting goons? Suddenly his boots have jet-boosters and his belt doubles as a gyroscopic stabiliser, because fuck logic, this is science fiction.

Good sci-fi, however, makes logic work for it. It carefully and subtly layers the sciences involved until you’re forced to look at it and go, “Yeah, that’s plausible.” It takes small bits of things you know and carefully reorganises them to create something that is both familiar and yet entirely alien.

That’s what I tried to do with Hidden Things, Lost Things. Rather than write a scary story built on everything the reader didn’t know (‘horror of the unknown’ and all that), I wanted to create something so familiar that, when he or she sits down to watch television, or curls up next to a loved one, they can’t help but wonder. I didn’t want to tell readers that monsters exist; I wanted to suggest how they could.

Are there any interesting anecdotes relating to its creation?

Nope. Sorry.

What do you like about horror as a genre?

The characters. The horror genre is built on good characters, people in the story that you can empathise with. The simplest story can be made terrifying with the right players, and if you can convince your reader that your character is scared, you’re far more likely to scare your reader.

What scares you?

Taxes. Death I’m kinda okay with.

Where can people find you online?

You can read my humour blog, These Creases, although it’s in desperate need of an update.
You can also follow my private ranting on Twitter at @BrettRexB.
You’ll have to decide which is scarier.

Purchase Bloody Parchment electronically at Amazon,, and Kobo or in print at the Book Lounge.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Bloody Parchment Event 2012

Join us for this year's SA HorrorFest Bloody Parchment event when a selection of Cape Town's top local authors thrill and spook us with their horror-themed drabbles (a short story of exactly 100 words). Contributors include Sarah Lotz, Lauren Beukes, Dave Chislett, Louis Greenberg, Cat Hellisen, Joan De La Haye, Maya Teresa Fowler, Toby Bennett and others. Dress up like your favourite ghoul and join us for cupcakes and thrills at the Book Lounge (71 Roeland Street, Cape Town), on Friday, October 26, 5.30pm for 6pm.

RSVP with the Book Lounge at and, if you have any questions, feel free to email

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Except for Bryan... Austin Malone's vision #guest

Today I welcome another of our Bloody Parchment anthology finalists, Austin Malone, who's the man responsible for the chilling tale, Except for Bryan. So, Austin, tell us a little about yourself.

I'm a new writer with a lifelong love for speculative fiction. A native of New Orleans, I live in Texas with my wife and daughter. I enjoy chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, Belgian ale, and my favorite color is purple.

Tell us a little about the background of your story.

As a child of the 80s, raised by parents who are devout horror fans themselves, I've been increasingly dismayed by the current trend to oversaturate the genre with zombies and torture-porn. I saw this anthology as an opportunity to reclaim horror for the genuinely creepy and disturbing tales that kept me awake at nights as a kid.

Are there any interesting anecdotes relating to its creation?

Well, my job is such that I spend about six hours a night listening to podcasts. Some of my favorite ear-candy is the old time radio dramas from the 40s and 50s. While pondering what to write about, I came across an old episode about a woman who transfers the souls of her enemies into marionettes, and in listening, I rediscovered a fundamental fact: Puppets are creepy. I was also annoyed by the Xmas decorations that were popping up like fungus all over town in mid-October, and suddenly Krampus decided he wanted in on the story. For those unfamiliar with Santa's demonic little helper, Google is your friend.

What do you like about horror as a genre?

In real life, the things that frighten us on a day-to-day basis are largely intangible. Unless presented with a direct threat, we tend to exist in a state of perpetual anxiety, unable to confront the things we fear. Not so in horror fiction. There, we always have the chance to face our fears. Even when the odds are stacked hopelessly against the victims, they can at least point to a tangible source and say, "There. That's the bad guy, right there. Overcome this, and we all get to live happily ever after, or at least until the sequel comes out."

What scares you?

Once, while in a veterinary waiting room, I saw an elderly woman with a rabbit on her lap. She was feeding the rabbit strips of bacon, and I found myself unaccountably unsettled by this. So. Yeah. Little old ladies who keep carnivorous bunny rabbits... Brr.

Where can people find you online?

Like most writers, I keep a trunk full of misshapen mutant brainbabies who have never seen the light of day. This trunk can be found at I'm also on Facebook, if folks want to drop by and say hi there.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mico Pisanti and Fluoride in the Water. #guest

Today I welcome Mico Pisanti, who shares a little about his world and his story, Fluoride in the Water which is part of the current Bloody Parchment anthology. G'day, Mico, tell us a little about yourself.

I am a child of the eighties, and therefore I count myself privileged to have grown up listening to radio first. Television followed later. This for me allowed the theatre of the mind to develop, and this was re-enforced by my mother who loved books and passed that on to me. Stories remain, in whatever format or medium, my first love.

Tell us a little about the background of your story.

All I can remember about the genesis of this story was hearing laughter from a distance and thinking how lonely that sound can be if you’re in a certain state of mind. From there on the story grew organically, and I dare say, heavily influenced by writers such as John le Carre and Brett Easton Ellis. I had a fun with the detached narrative way the protagonist/antagonist’s thought processes worked.

Also, this story was my way of  making sense of the senselessness of crime in our country, and maybe we all needed a shot of fluoride, like that Korova milk they serve in The Clockwork Orange.

Are there any interesting anecdotes relating to its creation?

All my friends and family thought I was unhappy in my marriage: which I wasn’t. It’s like Stephen King says, sometimes you write the worst case scenario of your deepest fears to draw a magic circle around yourself, so that it will never happen.

What do you like about horror as a genre?

I think horror allows a person, whether they’re reader or writer, to encounter their fears. Facing them head on can be therapeutic, even a rush. Also, as a genre, horror does not limit you.

What scares you?

Losing the people I love.

Where can people find you online?

Facebook, I guess.

* * * *

Submissions are open for this year's anthology are open until October 31. Find out more here, or feel free to direct any questions to

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Joan De La Haye and Death Express #guest

Today we welcome South African author Joan De La Haye, one of the contributors to this year's anthology. So, Joan, tell us a little about yourself?

Joan De La Haye
JDLH: I'm one of the very few South African authors living in Pretoria. Most SA authors seem to live in Johannesburg or Cape Town, heaven only knows why. My focus as a writer is predominantly on horror, but I have been known to also write some very twisted thrillers. I also spent most of my childhood living in Germany and Austria, beautiful countries. My writing tends to be rather dark and my sick and twisted sense of humour has a habit of making it's way into my stories.

Tell us a little about the background of your story.

JDLH: I wrote it quite a long time before I heard about the Bloody Parchment anthology. The story sat on my laptop waiting for me to figure out what to do with it. It was rather patient with me, I have to say. I wrote it just after I got divorced, which is probably why it's so dark. Anyway ... the story is about a couple who go to an amusement park in Johannesburg. They go on a scary new ride that no one will talk about and scary things happen.

Are there any interesting anecdotes relating to its creation?

JDLH: I wrote it shortly after I'd had a conversation with a woman who'd had an affair with a married man. What got to me, was the woman's absolute stupidity in thinking that the guy was going to leave his wife for her and that they would live happily ever after. I got home and Death Express was born.

What do you like about horror as a genre?

JDLH: I love that there are no hard and fast rules in horror. I can let my dark side out to play and that is rather liberating and lots of fun.

What scares you?

JDLH: Stupidity! And the thought of being burnt alive.

Where can people find you online?

I can be found on my blog:
And Twitter:

This year's competition submission deadline is October 31. Find out more about the submission guidelines and this year's anthology here.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lee Mather, the man behind Masks #guest

Today we welcome one of this year's anthology contributors, Lee Mather.

Tell us a little about yourself.

LM: I'm a 34-year-old writer and business graduate from Manchester, England. I have works published in horror, urban fantasy and science fiction. My fiction tends to have a dark heart.

Tell us a little about the background of your story.

LM: Masks is my contribution to the anthology. The story features a celebrated actor who is terminally ill. He receives a series of cryptic notes that hint at a terrible choice coming his way, a choice that might lead to a cure. I wanted to write something that touched upon our various faces, and how better to portray this through an actor.

Are there any interesting anecdotes relating to its creation?

LM: I wrote this story on my honeymoon of all places! I'm not much of a sunbather, and rather than read by the pool, I decided to write. It's pretty weird to see the outcome, which is a horrid little tale, and think that it started life in the Malaysian sunshine. I had a pen in one hand and an ice-cold Mojito in the other…

What do you like about horror as a genre?

LM: To be honest, I like any story that makes me feel, irrespective of genre. Horror doesn't have to be something that is shlocky or full of cheap thrills, but it should leave you with that raw, punched in the solar plexus feeling. Horror is best done when, as a reader, you have a reason to care about the outcome of the story. Pain and fear and grief are very real, very potent aspects of our lives. With a horror story, you hopefully get to experience these emotions from a safer place.

What scares you?

LM: Pain, physical or mental, inflicted in my loved ones, and me helpless to protect them. Oh, and spiders. I hate the little bastards.

Where can people find you online?

Anything you might want to know about me can be found at

Read up more about the current issue of Bloody Parchment and the submission guidelines here.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Toby Bennett's world of horror #guest

The Mother City of Cape Town has had horror quietly going about its business in the shadow of the Hoerikwaggo in the shape of Toby Bennett, one of last year's Bloody Parchment short story competition finalists.

A born-and-bred Capetonian, Toby says: "I was born in Cape Town back in 1976 and loved stories from an early age. I’m not sure if my relationship with horror was always a good one since I can remember some pretty strong nightmares as a child. My first memories actually involve a couple of scenes from the original The Amityville Horror, I was too young to really understand what I was seeing at the time (my parents had taken me into the drive in as an under two) but that didn’t stop the bloody hand prints sticking, if you will forgive the pun. It took a viewing of The Omen 2 and an increase in vocabulary before my parents actually realised that I was sure there was a coven owls waiting to pluck out my eyes while they slept.

"So that was the start anyway, since then I have written six novels and various short stories. I’m not keen to be tied down to one particular genre but I’m a definite fan of the supernatural and unusual. I hope that comes across in my work, I certainly consider my job done if I can take people out of their own world, even just a little, and give them a glimpse of something new."

The background of Toby's story treads some familiar ground for those who love the genre. He says: "I think the inspiration or at least context for the story should be familiar to anyone who has a passing acquaintance with HP Lovecraft. I’ve always thought that the monsters you don’t, or can’t, see are far more terrifying than the ones you can. A werewolf is just a big dog and these days, god help us, vampires sparkle in the sun; real fear lurks in an empty room where you are completely alone but don’t feel it. You look into the mirror and ask, 'is this me?' or turn suddenly in the hope of catching a glimpse of what might be watching you, worlds away, but somehow tickling the corner of your senses and running tentacles lightly over the back of your neck. The unseen and the unknowable are at the heart of true terror, everything else we have made up to fear, ghosts, goblins or gods, are just ways to give shape to something more profoundly disturbing to us: the emptiness and the unknowable things that might dwell within. A few withered leaves is an attempt to tap into some of that fear and a question I have always asked myself, 'If I could turn round quickly enough what might I see following in the wake of my shadow?'"

As for what Toby loves about horror as a genre, he says: "Like I said human beings have a need to quantify and catalogue the things that go bump in the night. Horror taps into something primal and can be so many different things for different people. The one thing I think we all have in common is that no matter how terrifying something gets we don’t want to look away. Perhaps it’s similar to the way that some people take a morbid interest in serial killers. Once you’ve read a story or understand the ‘rules’ of a monster it seems less frightening, so horror really does offer us a kind of catharsis and ironically even a defence against our deepest fears. That’s the cerebral answer, another way of looking at it is that it can be fun to create a character and then five minutes later come up with a reason why something might want to eat them."

And in answer to the million dollar question most horror authors can give some pretty creative answers--What scares you?--Toby says: "Mice so depraved that they wear red shorts held up by suspenders! Also being asked to provide pictures of myself. Otherwise I’m fine… when I’m awake."

Check out Toby's website at

The majority of his written works are available at Amazon, but he's also on Facebook.

Find the Bloody Parchment anthology here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

#guest Paul Blom, SA HorrorFest organiser

Paul Blom and Sonja Ruppersberg
Picture: Thomas Dorma

Today I welcome Paul Blom who, with Sonja Ruppersberg, is responsible for bringing the South African HorrorFest to us each year. He's stopped by for a little Q&A. And if you're curious about our SA HorrorFest Bloody Parchment anthology, do go check out issue one (a free download off Goodreads) or our latest anthology, brought out with eKhaya (links on RHS, click through on cover art).

For submission guidelines for this year's short story competition, go here.

ND: Does horror have a place in a country where so many horrifying things happen on the news daily?

PB: It does indeed, because horror, fantasy and sci-fi is entertainment, not reality, and self-appointed moral judges far too often blur this line for their own benefit. Some people prefer to be invigorated by their entertainment. Suspense, scares and (benign) peril in a movie theatre or in front of your home entertainment system can actually have a beneficial cathartic effect, exorcising the demon of everyday life and the real horror out there (as opposed to regurgitated soap opera themes, people airing their dirty laundry on reality shows or dreary politically driven drama in a South African context - these all have their place, but one needs a diversion).

ND: How has SA HorrorFest grown over the years?

PB: The South African HorrorFest started as a big idea on a small scale. There is no Halloween tradition in South Africa, and Horror culture is not in the foreground. As movie-makers and musicians leaning towards the alternative end of the spectrum, we felt compelled to create this event for the other neglected fans out there. It started as a weekend film festival at The Labia Theatre in Cape Town, and has expanded to a 10 day event with feature- and short films submitted from around the globe (far too many to fit into the schedule). It has expanded to have our Shadow Realm, Inc. on-line literature chapter Bloody Parchment materialize into a live fiction reading event, short story competition and short story anthology releases. The live movie soundtrack performance to a classic silent film by The Makabra Ensemble is also one of the unique highlights. From the start we encouraged local movie-makers to create something exciting and utilize this sole platform, and have inspired many to pick up a camera. Each year the awareness of the event grows exponentially.

ND: What can folks expect from SA HorrorFest this year?

PB: Another batch of rare, strange, exciting and outrageous movies and short films they won't get to see in any SA cinema; the return of the Alternative Market we test-drove last year; we'll again be linking up with the Cape Town Zombie Walk; (if enough sponsors come on board) we're flying a prominent writer / producer / director in from the USA; and there are a few plans in the works which we can only announce once they've been confirmed - all updates can be found at the official website or at the Facebook group.

ND: What sort of submissions would you like to see, both in film and fiction for this year's fest?

PB: We like diversity. The great thing about the horror genre is you can tag it to any sub-genre, from comedy to sci-fi. Innovative, fresh and original ideas get the most attention, and while a mere re-hash of well-trodden ground is not preferred, timeless themes and techniques are still relevant.

ND: Where do you see the fest going in the foreseeable future?

PB: The Makabra Ensemble has reached beyond Cape Town by playing two of the live movie soundtracks at the 2009 and 2010 Oppi Koppi festival, but we plan on expanding the entire event to other parts of the country - this is dependent on logistical execution and sponsorship expansion. Nosferatu has been released on DVD with its new soundtrack, but we also plan on releasing all of those enhanced classics, and aim to release Shadow Realm DVD collections of the best short films submissions from around the world across the festival's history (incl. local productions).

Thursday, July 12, 2012

#guest Louis Greenberg on Bloody Parchment 2012

Louis Greenberg

To those of you active in the horror circles, Louis Greenberg requires very little introduction. As one half of the SL Grey partnership, with Sarah Lotz, that brought us The Mall, it's also thanks to his involvement with eKhaya, the digital imprint of Random House Struik, that we now have the Bloody Parchment elevated to the status of a paying market.

Louis's stopped by to chat about horror fiction in general, so, without further ado...

There're a lot of doom/naysayers who say that horror's golden age had its boom, and that the genre's now dead. Your thoughts?

LG: I suppose one reader's golden age is another reader's poxy selection of rip-offs. Whatever you grew up with, I suspect, you'll consider the golden age. But there's always something fresh, along with a lot of derivative stuff, being produced in any given cycle.

Any advice to writers of horror? What's the best way forward in such a competitive industry that's mutating so fast?

LG: Don't try to catch a wave, because you'll be too late. Stay honest; keep your integrity; work on your craft; write what moves you. Well crafted, honest writing has more chance of lasting a bit. (And don't confuse honesty with realism.)

How do you think digital publishing will affect the horror genre? Who are the new gatekeepers now that the playing field has been levelled?

LG: I think publishing will find its level. After the boom and bust of the fly-by-night publishers who are just looking to cash in, we'll hopefully be left with those publishers who care about vision and quality. These include both traditional publishers who know their business very well and upstarts who will be able to use the flexibility of new media to enter the field. The medium doesn't matter; the writing and quality of production does.

Anthologies... How do you feel about them?

LG: It takes some creativity to make an anthology more than just a loose collection, one that works as a whole. But at the very least, anthologies are usually a great showcase of emerging and existing talent that you may not have encountered before, and great motivation for beginning writers to carry on.

Are there any Bloody Parchment stories that particularly jumped out at you?

I'm not going to highlight any favourites, because that would be unfair, but I looked with interest at how each writer uses local, specific detail in their stories. I'm drawn to stories in which the action is imbued with local flavour and is set in specific rather than generic locations. Even if the plots are fantastical, I like them when they're hung on real places. They have so much more effect that way.



Sunday, July 8, 2012

Volume two unleashed, plus opening of short story competition

Wow, time really flies, and we're back to third annual Bloody Parchment short story competition. This year also saw the very exciting development that we now have eKhaya, an imprint of Random House Struik, on board as the publisher of this year's anthology, which contains stories from last year's competition. Well done to the authors.

I'm proud to announce Bloody Parchment: Hidden Things, Lost Things and Other Stories 

So, feed your reader, tablet or smartphone with a varied collection of some of the best dark fantasy and horror stories. From the downright creepy to surreal and somewhat humorous to uneasy, these tales offer a fine selection from a range of authors from around the globe. Once again, well done to Brett R Bruton, Jenny Robson, Mico Pisanti, Lee Mather, Stacey Larner, Toby Bennett, SL Schmitz, Austin Malone, Benjamin Knox and Joan De La Haye. You guys are fabulous and I hope to see you enter again this year.

Speaking of entries, I'm happy to announce that submissions for this year's competition are once again open. Details below. Feel free to mail me at if you have any queries. Other than that, please follow the below submission guidelines. Closing date for this year's entries is October 31, 2012.

The first prize includes one round of professional editing of a novella or novel-length work. Bloody Parchment will publish an anthology of the top 13 finalists, to be released in anticipation of the 2013 SA HORRORFEST.

Submission guidelines:
Email your entries to as attached .rtf or .doc files and place : “Submission: Bloody Parchment 2012 – [insert author name]” in the subject line. Standard manuscript format applies (Times New Roman, 12pt font; indented paragraphs; double spacing). Please include your contact details (full name, pen name, email address and telephone number if South African resident). This competition is open to South African and international entrants.

Please be a darling and read our rules and regulations for the finer details. The competition is open until October 31, 2012. Winners will be notified by e-mail, and announced on the HORRORFEST websites:

Submission guidelines:
Impress us. We do not claim to know what makes the perfect story, but as we are the judges and we get to choose the winner, it's only fair that we give some idea what we are looking for. In short, we are going to give the prize to the story that impresses us most and irritates us least. We don't think we're particularly irritable but with a stack of submissions to narrow down to a few winners, any small thing is likely to condemn a story to the larger pile. It's much easier to describe what will irritate us than what will impress us, so we've done that below.

More importantly, what will impress us is a narrative-based story with strong characters and an interesting plot. We know that's what everyone says and that desspite the huge amount that has been written on the subject, it still defies definition. We're not going to try to define it here because we're looking forward to reading entries that show us what it means. If you're looking for a concise description no more than a click away, we recommend

Genre. As this is part of the SA HORRORFEST, we are looking for stories of horror or dark fantasy. We are not going to be prescriptive about what that means as our definitions are fairly broad. A horror story need not contain a supernatural element, nor must a dark fantasy story give us nightmares. All we really ask for is the sense that the story belongs on the dark side.

Having said that, simply inserting an element associated with the darker genres will not be enough. A romance story about a tall, dark handsome vampire is still a romance story. A crime story about a demonic detective is still a crime story. Which leads on to the list of things that will irritate us.

Things guaranteed to count against you...
Bad usage. We are not going to throw your story out for one spelling mistake but we are all in love with the English language and we don't like to see her abused. Besides, repeated mis-spellings and grammatical errors are guaranteed to irritate.

Fanfiction. Any characters or settings still under copyright are likely to get us sued if we publish them. The idea of being sued irritates us so much that if we're in any doubt, we're not going to touch it even if the story is brilliant. As a general guide, anything published by Project Gutenberg ( is in the public domain.

Bigotry. Your characters may be as bigoted as you like but we're all pale-livered liberals and will be irritated by the sense that a story is derogatory toward any particular group of human beings. We don't mind stories derogatory toward imaginary beings.

Derivative stories. Between us, we've read quite a few books and seen quite a few films, and if any of us think a story is a rehash of one of them with slightly different characters, we are likely to be irritated. That's not to say that a story can't share ideas with other stories or films, and in fact it's practically impossible not to, but retellings nearly always have the sense of being second rate.

Twilight knock-offs. Need we say more?

Things that may irritate us if not handled carefully.
Gratuitous sex. There's nothing wrong with a bit of sex in a story, but the competition is part of the Horrorfest, not the Sexpo, and we are not looking for erotica.

Gratuitous violence. As with sex, violence may be an essential part of the story and we enjoy a good punch-up as much as the next reader, but pornographic descriptions of violence get boring very quickly.

Excessive gore. We are not particularly squeamish and we are asking for horror stories, but gore is another element that gets boring when overdone.

Exposition. There are probably things that we need to know in order to care about the characters and understand the setting, but conveying information is a way that makes us feel we are being given an orientation briefing by the author is not conducive to a good narrative.

Tropes such as vampires, werewolves, serial killers, etc. These are staples of horror and dark fiction and we believe they have a lot of life in them yet. However, the fact of their being tropes also means that a lot has been done with them so a story that uses them will need to do something new.

Trying to shock us. We believe we are immune to being shocked. It may be interesting to be proved wrong, but depending on shock value to the exclusion of narrative and characters will not give us the impression that we are reading a good story.

* * * *

Rules and regulations:
1. The entrant confirms that s/he is the original author of the work and has full copyright of the submitted work and that it is not subject any publication restrictions as a result of prior obligations (including, but not limited to previous publication) or disputes.

2. The entrant confirms that the work s/he submitted does not violate the trademarks, copyright, and/or rights of others and that any liability that may arise from their work will be solely theirs.

3. The entrant accepts that by entering this contest no obligation (direct or implied) exists for the submitted work to be published and/or any compensation accruing to the entrant.

4. The entrant will retain copyright of the submitted work. In the event that the work should be selected as a finalist in the contest, the entrant agrees upon submission that the contest organisers may publish in hardcover and electronic format an anthology containing their work (properly attributed to the author).

5. The entrant accepts without reservation that the decision of the contest judges are final and that no further correspondence will be entered into.

6. The contest is open for submissions from midnight on (July 7, 2012) until midnight on (October 31, 2012).

7. The contest is for short original fictional work written in UK or SA English within the theme of Halloween, horror, urban fantasy or dark fantasy. No fan fiction will be accepted. Work that is not narrative-driven and/or containing explicit and gratuitous violence, sex or any form of bigotry will be rejected.

8. The submitted work must not exceed (3 500) words in length and must be a complete work, not an extract from a longer piece.

9. A submission must be in the following format (or it will be rejected without correspondence to the entrant): an email attachment, saved as a rich text file (.rtf), only the title (without the author’s name, which will be recorded according to rule 10 below) and the text, no images or graphics, Times New Roman, 12pt font, double line-spacing, with page numbers in the right bottom corner of each page. The author's name should not appear in the attachment since the judging process relies on the majority of the judges not being aware of the author’s identity—those works that are selected as finalists will be reunited with the correct author name before the finalists are announced.

10. Submissions must be sent to the following address only: with the subject line: “Submission: Bloody Parchment 2012 – [insert author name]”.

11. The entrant accepts that once a work has been submitted it cannot be updated/edited in any way whatsoever by the entrant, other than changes that may be recommended by the judges of the contest. Resubmissions of works already submitted will be ignored.

12. The entrant undertakes not to withdraw a work once it has been selected as a finalist (barring cases where the contest organisers become aware of a violation of these rules or any other serious transgression involving the submitted work).

13. The contest organisers do not have the administrative capacity to enter into correspondence with entrants and will not confirm receipt of entries; entrants are advised to utilise the “request delivery receipt” function available with many email applications.

14. The entrant acknowledges that any violation of the letter or spirit of the above contest rules will lead to the immediate disqualification of his/her submission.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Bloody Parchment anthology has a home!

eKhaya, the digital imprint of Random House Struik, is delighted to announce the publication of Bloody Parchment: Inferna and other stories.

Bloody Parchment is the literary component of the annual South African HorrorFest held in Cape Town, South Africa, each October. The Bloody Parchment short story competition was established in 2010. Edited by prolific Cape Town writer and editor Nerine Dorman, Inferna and other stories is the collection of the winning story from the 2011 edition, Inferna by Christina Vincent, runners-up by Brett Bruton and Jenny Robson, and finalists by Mico Pisanti, Lee Mather, Stacey Larner, Toby Bennett, SL Schmitz, Benjamin Knox, Austin Malone and Joan De La Haye. The authors of the collection represent a fine international mix of writers from South Africa, the United States, the United Kingdom, Botswana and Australia.

With the success of films like District 9 and Lauren Beukes’s novel Zoo City, the burgeoning South African genre scene is coming to hungry international attention. eKhaya believes that the Bloody Parchment short story competition is the ideal hothouse to nurture new international genre voices and to encourage cross-pollination between emerging South African and overseas talent, and ultimately develop and encourage indigenous horror stories that appeal to a broad international market.

Bloody Parchment: Inferna and other stories is the sort of cutting-edge book eKhaya is looking to publish in its savvy, electronic format and we look forward to a productive association with the South African HorrorFest.

Bloody Parchment: Inferna and other stories will be released on 1 June 2012 at a recommended retail price of just R70. It will be available as a PDF and ePUB from South African online retailers and, and from internationally.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

2012 Bloody Parchment anthology winner and finalists announced

After having navigated chaos, sickness and a festive season’s madness, I’m pleased to announce that the Bloody Parchment judges have finished reading the stories entered into last year’s competition, and that we have the results. We received more entries this year than before, and it was difficult narrowing down the stories for the final selection that went through to the judges—who were then tasked with choosing the winners.

In first place, we have Christina Vincent (Inferna). Congratulations, Christina. You have won a comprehensive round of edits for a novel-length work. Our runners-up are Brett R Bruton (Hidden things, Lost Things) and Jenny Robson (Healing Hands), who have each won an assessment of their first chapter of a novel or a short story.

Our other finalists are Mico Pisanti (Fluoride in the Water), Lee Mather (Masks), Stacey Larner (Duck Creek Road), Toby Bennett (A Few Withered Leaves), SL Schmitz (The Woman Who Sold the World), Benjamin Knox (Wither), Austin Malone (Excerpt for Bryan) and Joan De La Haye (Death Express).

We will now be entering the editing process with the aim of bringing out the anthology in a few months’ time (barring chaos). Release date to be announced!

Then, a big thank you to the Bloody Parchment judges, who contributed their time and expertise. This year the likes of Cat Hellisen (author, When the Sea is Rising Red), Joe Vaz (editor, Something Wicked magazine), Shaun Swingler (editor, Jungle Jim magazine), Sarah Lotz (author, The Mall – one half of SL Grey) and Carrie Clevenger (author, Crooked Fang) cast their beady eyes over the entrants.

Once again, I must thank Paul Blom and Sonja Ruppersberg-Blom, the organisers of the SA HorrorFest, for all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into the fest. The SA HorrorFest is the only horror-focused event of its kind in South Africa, and each year it grows in scope, offering a variety of films, music, literature and more.