Book Launches Featured Work In the News Kiwi Writers Publication News SpecFicNZ 

Dunedin Author Kura Carpenter : The Kingfisher’s Debt (Urban Fantasy)

Dunedin author, Kura Carpenter’s Debut novel The Kingfisher’s Debt is available on preorder until the 10th August 2018 via publisher IFWG. The title will be on sale in Australia, UK and New Zealand on 28 September 2018.

The Kingfisher’s Debt is an Urban Fantasy set in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Magic isn’t real, right?

Within the small coastal city of Dunedin, local translator, Tamsin Fairchild has a reputation she hates. People think she’s psychic…

Always hovering around and interfering in Tamsin’s life, part father-figure, part thorn in her side, Detective Jackson, is an old-school cop. Childhood friend to her deceased mother, Tamsin wonders  could her mother have let an outsider in on the truth?

Newcomer, rookie cop Scott Gale is forced to team-up with Tamsin when they investigate the disappearance of a newborn baby and a bizarre crime scene—satanic ritual or hoax?

More and more the blame starts to point towards Tamsin…

Tamsin must uncover who’s framing her, find the baby before it’s too late, unravel the mystery behind her elder brother’s disappearance, and stop Scott from entering a world not meant for human eyes.

But Scott has family secrets of his own and Tamsin doesn’t know who to trust.

But can you trust Tamsin? What if the person who saved your life is about to frame you for murder?

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I’m running an Anthology for reprints. I’m offering a free copy and a book cover to anyone who gets in. Ideal for indies who have to budget for book covers. You can check out what I’m looking for here. It closes in October and goes to print in November.

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Featured Work In the News 

Engine of Lies: Reforging Book 2

Engine of Lies: Reforging Book 2 by Barbara Howe

He never promised happily ever after, but Lucinda is still dismayed by how quickly reality intrudes on her fairy tale. Assassination attempts and lightning strikes disturb her honeymoon, but the return home brings no peace of mind. When the discovery of a magical conspiracy shakes her faith in everything she trusts, she vows to expose the Fire Warlock’s most shameful secret and see justice done.

As a hot summer draws towards a violent end, Lucinda teeters between terror and rage. She’d be less angry about risking her life if she didn’t suspect her husband—her hero!—intends to step aside and let her die.

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Launch – SpecFicNZ Cultural Wiki

For those living far far away from New Zealand, our country may sound distant, peculiar, full of mountains, tattooed Māori warriors, hobbits, rugby players and… what else, again? Stereotypes thrive out there, especially when writers look for Kiwi inspirations–only to find the same generic information over and over again. SpecFicNZ wants to change that, and you can help!

We are proud to announce the launch of the SpecFicNZ Cultural Wiki, a game-changing feature capable of influencing authors worldwide and, of course, making sure Kiwi speculative fiction writers showcase their work. What? How?

Fair questions.


The SpecFicNZ Cultural Wiki will be a go-to asset for writers everywhere. We’ll compile an in-depth glossary of socio-cultural references, impressions, feelings, and perspectives usable by young local writers, curious authors abroad or anyone interested in understanding New Zealand, instead of just looking at pictures and saying “wow, that’s awesome”. We’ll fuel stories and dreams all over the world!


The first phase of SpecFicNZ Cultural Wiki is all about data gathering. We count on you to share some perspectives only you can have about events, places, and people in/from New Zealand. Then, we’ll organize all that info into a very nice looking Wiki page within our website, and, of course, make sure authors around the globe get to access it and use it in their stories. Different than generic wikis or reference sites, SpecFicNZ Cultural Wiki will credit every entry – if everyone helps with a few entries, we’ll have plenty in no time. We hope this will allow visitors to reach out to that specific author to get more info, therefore fostering relationships and a broader professional network.

Our other goal is to inspire more people to write about New Zealand. Everyone knows the horrible way in which Stephanie Meyer “researched” her setting for Twilight. In case you don’t know, she used Google Maps to visit Forks, Washington, and trusted it blindly. Needless to say, to this day, locals dread her inaccuracies and other misrepresentations. Do we want that to happen to New Zealand? Of course not!

So our Cultural Wiki will go beyond boring lists, bland references, and more stereotypical information. We’ll focus on gathering the feel, the mood, the soul of places and people, what it means to walk the streets, visit the sights and understand the country.

And who better suited to present it as awesomely as possible other than a bunch of speculative fiction writers? But remember, this is supposed to be a reference guide, not an experimental entry-oriented short fiction contest for non-Kiwis. People must understand, feel hooked and want to know more!

Since many of you have glossaries of your own and may feel inclined to amplify them a bit and share with the project, we’ll gladly accept heftier submissions.

How can I help?

This form has all the info we are looking for at this first stage. Click it, answer the questions and you can even volunteer to be one of the Cultural Wiki’s editors. Just let us know.

Hope you all like the idea and join us. We will all benefit immensely from this asset, and SpecFicNZ will grow so much with it!

Kia ora!

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Featured Work In the News 

Aftermath: Hathe Book Three

“Aftermath: Hathe Book Three” by Mary Brock Jones

War or Peace. It doesn’t matter. There is always an enemy.

Jacquel des Trurains, acclaimed hero of the resistance, has been charged with overseeing the restoration of Hathe after the Terran occupation. But it won’t be easy. Years of oppression have left their mark on
every dirtsider who stayed behind. And what of the Hathians who fled to the moon? The greed of a few for the sparkling jewel of the colonial worlds could destroy everything when they return.

So, Jacquel’s bosses decide he needs some help, and they send him Rheia asn Postrova. Rheia spent the war embroiled in twisted diplomatic games to protect the secrets of Hathe from the Terrans. Now she’s been sent to teach a stubborn man how to play nice with his fellow Hathians.

Together, they must find a way to heal their home.

But Rheia has secrets of her own, and Jacquel soon discovers that diplomacy is just a subtler war with a wiser enemy.

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AGM June 10, 2018, 2pm – Agenda and Venue




You must be a current financial member to attend. Please follow the link to the webform if you wish to join or renew.




Confirmation of the Previous AGM Minutes

Business Arising from the Previous AGM

Chairman’s Report – Grace Bridges

Treasurer’s Report – Paul Mannering

Election of Officers

President – currently one nomination: Grace Bridges

Treasurer – currently one nomination: Paul Mannering

Secretary – position vacant, no nominations

Webmaster – position vacant, no nominations

Publicity – position vacant, no nominations

Core – three nominations (up to 8): Grant Stone, Darian Smith, Piper Mejia

Ratification of Life Membership Policy

General Business



Appendix: DRAFT DOCUMENT: 20/11/2017

For SpecFicNZ Ratification



1.0 Criteria for Nomination and Selection of Life-Time Membership in SpecFicNZ

1.1.1    In recognition of services to Speculative Fiction within New Zealand and internationally, it is proposed that nominated persons be offered a life time membership status in SpecFicNZ.


1.1.2    Persons can be nominated by any current financial or life-time member of SpecFicNZ


1.1.3    Nominated persons will be assessed by the current SpecFicNZ core committee, or a panel of persons selected and appointed by that committee.


1.1.4    Nominated persons do not have to be current members of SpecFicNZ.


1.1.5    Primary nomination criteria are that the nominee has made a contribution to speculative fiction in New Zealand (or internationally) that is considered to be of exceptional value or has a lasting impact on the development and support of speculative fiction.


1.1.6    If a person or persons nominated and reviewed by the committee are granted life-time membership status they will be advised in writing and their name and brief biography will be added to the SpecFicNZ website.


1.1.7    A suitable graphic, or certificate may be designed and produced for presentation to the life-time member to acknowledge their status and contribution.


1.1.8    Life-time membership can only be revoked by a unanimous decision by the current SpecFicNZ committee. Criteria for revocation will be determined by that committee.


1.1.9    Life-time membership shall be granted for the life-time of that member.


1.1.10  All actions relating to the selection and or revocation of a life-time membership are to be documented by the current selection committee.


1.1.11  Announcements of selected life-time members will be made at the SpecFicNZ AGM and communicated to members in writing within 30 days of that AGM.


Benefits of life-time membership will include:

2.1       Gratis membership in SpecFicNZ for as long as the member wishes.

Inclusion in a published list of life-time members published on the SpecFicNZ website.


2.2       Life-time members may be honorary, and all life-time members are not required to accept membership or provide support or endorsement of SpecFicNZ or any services, products, and events sponsored or facilitated by SpecFicNZ.

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Attack on Dragon's Realm by Eileen Mueller Featured Work 

Attack on Dragon’s Realm

Attack on Dragon’s Realm by Eileen Mueller.


Three unlikely heroes must save their village from tharuks: a flight-sick dragon rider, a failing wizard and a fainting warrior. Pulse pounding action and adventure for readers 10-12 years.  Choose your hero in this 3-way interactive fantasy adventure.

Join dragons, riders, wizards and warriors as they battle against invading beasts in Attack on Dragon’s Realm.

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In the News 

Notice of AGM – 10 June 2018, 2pm

Notice of SpecFicNZ 2018 Annual General Meeting

Members are advised that the SpecficNZ Annual General Meeting will be held online at 2pm on Sunday 10 June, 2018. Key items on the agenda include ratification of the lifetime membership policy, and election of officers. All financial members are eligible to vote for incoming core and executive roles. Our current President, Grace Bridges, and Treasurer, Paul Mannering, have advised they will stand again for re-election, as will existing core members Grant Stone, Paul Mannering, Piper Mejia, and Darian Smith. Vacancies exist for the roles of secretary, publicist, and webmaster. Any nominations or further agenda items should be forwarded to the secretary at The agenda will be sent out to members in advance of the meeting.

The meeting will be held online via a chatroom which will be available on the society’s website. All current financial members welcome. For joining information, please follow the link here: (You will need to hover over the word ‘here’ to find the form.)

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Anthologies Kiwi Writers SpecFicNZ 

Te Kōrero Ahi Kā – Daniel Stride

Te Kōrero Ahi Kā – An Extract from the Diary of Peter Mackenzie

By Daniel Stride
An Extract from the Diary of Peter Mackenzie (which originally had “with the permission of the Hocken Library” in the title!) was born out of a desire to write a monster story. Not just any monster story: I wanted something with a decidedly New Zealand flavour, which immediately suggested the involvement of a taniwha. The big issue then was deciding where (and when) to set the piece. I did a fair amount of research on the traditions of the Whanganui River for that purpose, until I stumbled upon a completely useless little bit of trivia: there were plans over a century ago to expand the (now-closed) Kurow Branch of the New Zealand Railways inland. Those plans came to nothing, and the Branch terminus remained at Hakataramea… which inspired my idea of using a Waitaki taniwha to “explain” this mysterious failure.
Having a background in academic History (and old-school horror) did the rest, so you end up with editorial commentary, “permission” from the Hocken Library (I’m a Dunedinite), and the allusion to Seacliff Lunatic Asylum – itself a creepy little bit of Otago history that I might do something with at some point. There is also an historical in-joke in the form of the horse being named Sir John (it is up to the reader to decide if the reference to the legendary Minister of Lands is affectionate or mocking). I went with a diary format because I felt a comparatively archaic mode was a good fit for the late nineteenth century, a time period not quite alien in its psychology, yet not quite modern. And it’s a horror story, damn it: a diary – the literary equivalent of a found-footage film – is a perfect way of covering a doomed protagonist.
After that, the story rather wrote itself.
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Featured Work 

Mystic Portal – You Say Which Way

Mystic Portal – A You Say Which Way Adventure by Eileen Mueller.

Mystic Portal is no ordinary bike trail. Adventure awaits you.

They say each new jump leads to another world. You and your friends can’t wait to try it! Will you ride a camel? Fight bandits? Meet Bog the ogre? Or end up in an underwater city? Whatever you choose, watch out for mad genies, suspicious merchants and one-eyed creatures with orange fur.

In this book, every choice YOU make changes the adventure.

Adventures are waiting, so jump on your bike and ride the Mystic Portal.

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Anthologies Kiwi Writers SpecFicNZ 

Te Kōrero Ahi Kā – Darian Smith

Te Kōrero Ahi Kā

By Darian Smith

I’ve been thrilled to be able to participate in the creation of Te Korero Ahi Ka, and am very proud to show this collection of excellent New Zealand speculative fiction to anyone who might be interested in seeing what our country has to offer in the realms of fantasy, science fiction, and horror.

There’s something unique about the voice of this section of the world and I love being part of it.

The story I contributed was a reprint which had won a competition SpecFicNZ in conjunction with a few years ago. It’s one I’m particularly proud of and blends a multi-hued pasifika-style setting with the concept of magic as its own entity.  In this story, magic is an almost living thing – the star cloak –  that seeks the right person to wield it. The main character is a man who once wore the star cloak and controlled its magic but lost it. I wanted to explore the concept of power corrupting and that many of our best lessons in life are learned from loss and failure.

(As a little bonus “Easter Egg” some of the character names in the story have relevant meanings in the pasifika languages they’re borrowed from.)

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Anthologies Flash Fiction Kiwi Writers SpecFicNZ 

Te Kōrero Ahi Ka – Matt Cowens

Te Kōrero Ahi Ka: The Iron Wahine

By Matt Cowens

I love the idea of giant bugs. The Mist by Stephen King is among my favourite stories, and I fondly remember a post-apocalyptic science fiction roleplaying game where the rag-tag gang I was part of was lead by a twelve-foot-tall cybernetic praying mantis. Te Papa’s recent Bug exhibit was a total delight. Closely behind the giant bug for entertainment value is the giant robot, the sword-wielding, flying, humanoid defender of humanity. From classic anime to recent blockbusters the giant robot has also been a source of joy for me.

When SpecFicNZ put out the call for New Zealand science fiction, fantasy and horror stories for an anthology I knew immediately that I wanted The Iron Wahine to be part of the collection.

The giant bugs of the story are peripheral, existing only in my head. We meet a boatload of refugees who have fled the ravages of the unmentioned giant bugs. They are thrown headlong into the threat of a swarm of kraken. Between them and a watery grave lies the eponymous Iron Wahine – one of a network of Iron Wāhine.

This story was originally written, edited and submitted to Flash Frontier in a single evening. The idea of wahine toa had gripped me in a story about five Ngati Waewae women warriors who did the wero at the opening of Tuhuru. The idea of the karanga and the wahine toa coalesced into a story of giant female robots standing guard on Aotearoa’s misty shores.

The version of the story in Te Kōrero Ahi Kā is slightly extended, though still short. I hope that The Iron Wahine packs a punch.

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Grace with a copy of Te Korero Ahi Ka Anthologies Kiwi Writers SpecFicNZ 

TE KŌRERO AHI KĀ – A Dream Long Held

by Grace Bridges

For a number of years now, I have dreamed of making a SpecFicNZ anthology showcase. Although I’ve been on the Core committee for almost 6 years, and president for most of those, the time was not yet right to launch the project – so I honed my publishing skills and worked on other anthologies such as Aquasynthesis, Avenir Eclectia, and Alter Ego as well as editing dozens of novels in the intervening years.

Last year, when we discussed the idea, the Core was enthusiastic and committed to standing behind our members in this new, shared use of our assigned Publishing Grant fund. And so began the task of getting people into place. An early reshuffle meant that I was unexpectedly but not unwillingly handed the project management as a whole. Lee Murray stood ready, an ever-professional and reliable backup on the editing team; and Paul Mannering volunteered to herd the cats i.e. administrate the submissions and handle the financial side. It only remained to choose a mentee editor from the applicants, and for this Aaron Compton got on board.

Somewhere around here was when we chose the title together as a group, running it by some kaumātua to make sure the use of the phrase was appropriate. Originally, we came up with “speaking fire” as a metaphor for speculative fiction; we then learned that the concept of home fire is strong in Māori culture, leading to a more robust meaning than we had imagined. To speak of where we come from; to keep the fire lit. Ahi Kā.

It was extremely exciting to announce the project and see members send in their stories. After consideration, we then allowed the Core and editing team to contribute stories without pay, to ensure impartiality, but also to draw in a balanced selection of work from all of our members without excluding any who are active in the community. Most of the unpaid works were reprints, donated gladly for the chance to participate.

After submissions closed, Lee, Aaron and I put our heads down and read madly, coming to various opinions on the stories, poems and artwork. We each had our particular favourites (nope, not telling!) and this gave extra weight in the final decisions as well. Once the list was set, Paul got to send out notifications and contracts while I juggled the story order for the best flow from beginning to end.

With the stories set into place, the manuscript built from its component parts, it was time to edit. The three of us each ran through it during December, then I went back and combed it again in January before we returned the edited stories to the authors for approval and discussion. While they worked on their parts, I experimented with formatting to find the best look for the interior, and set up the pages, tweaking the stories one by one as the authors returned their feedback. There were a lot of sleepless nights during this time – but I promise, it’s not insomnia. Just some kind of madness, a fire burning, perhaps a home fire. Ahi Kā.

Finally we had our Advance Review Copy, which we sent to a few strategic readers; meanwhile, after a few days’ break, it was head down again for the proofreading (many thanks also to Celine Murray for a fresh set of eyes!) – very necessary, as we caught and fixed a number of potentially embarrassing typos even after so many edits.

A last liaison with our fabulous cover artist Eve Doyle to add Lee’s lovely back cover text and create the custom spine width matching the page count, and it was off to the printers – a short run from my local providers at BookPrint, and uploading to CreateSpace and Kindle. It was a challenge to pick only five keywords for a book so very diverse, but soon that too was done. Design some postcards along the way, and set up a download page for reviewers – why not?

When the local print run was ready, Lee and I split the task of sending out the contributor copies just before she took off to Stokercon to wave some copies around and put them in the hands of those who could best use them.

Finished? Not quite! At this point appeared News Ninja Eileen Mueller with her track record for media releases and press contacts, and together we constructed the documentation to be sent out to newspapers, magazines, radio, distributors, and libraries. Laboriously, Eileen inducted me into the mysteries of Amazon advertising and we began a campaign that continues to this day (Hmm, I wonder how that’s going – whoops, I better check it!).

Orders began to flutter in from bookstores, libraries, and even schools, distributors added us to their catalogues, and media representatives requested review copies. Articles appeared in several local newspapers, headlined in each case by the contributors from that area. Then Lee kicked off the blog series here at SpecFicNZ, and it’s been awesome to read the inside stories behind the creations. And now you’ve seen a bit behind the scenes of the overall project.

Work continues on marketing and fulfilling orders; in many ways it will never stop now that it’s begun. But we’ve launched our book-baby into the world with the stringent quality checks that are so important in indie publishing. I would like to thank all of the team and the contributors for their hard work – I believe we have a product we can truly be proud of, and we couldn’t have done it without you.

You are the home fires we speak of. You are Ahi Kā.

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Anthologies Kiwi Writers Reviews 

Te Kōrero Ahi Kā – A Review


edited by  Grace Bridges, Lee Murray and Aaron Compton

Review by Simon Litten

Te Korero Ahi Ka is a collection of works by members of Speculative Fiction New Zealand. The collection is of both new works and reprints, but the new works predominate. This is neither a themed anthology nor a collection of one particular author, rather it is a showcase of the variety of short stories (and occasional art work) produced by the members of Speculative Fiction New Zealand. To that end the collection is a very mixed bag with science fiction, fantasy, horror, poetry and even to my eye at least a non-genre work. Given that breadth of content what can one say about such a collection?

Did I enjoy it? Yes, I did. There was the odd piece that was not to my taste but that is no surprise with thirty plus written works.

Would I recommend it to others? Yes, I would.

Could I remember any of the stories? Yes, there were several pieces that stuck in my memory. Chief among them were:

  • Gatekeeper, what toll? by Mike Reeves-McMillan was an intriguing story about the price that can be set on fame, fortune or revenge.
  • Dance, tiny particle, dance by Sean Monaghan was an excellent piece about time dilation in the seconds before death.
  • The Mysterious Mr Montague by Jane Percival was a delightful bit of horror. And
  • Dancing west to east by Simon Petrie and Edwina Harvey was a story about hope after disaster.

As a showcase of talent Te Korero Ahi Ka has more than achieved that aim. All I can say is that if you enjoy short fiction, buy this book.

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