So whatever I said about you, 2019, I take it back. I always thought there was something ominous about the way you looked at me in the rear view with your staring eyes and squiggly sideways eyebrows, and, well here we are.
Apart from feeling sad all the time, I’m one of the okay ones. I live in Sydney and healthcare is good and we’re staying indoors, mostly…. my teaching at both Western Sydney U. and U Sydney has moved online, so I still have a job. I’m one of the lucky ones. Apart from feeling sad all the time, I sometimes remember to hope, to wonder what it will be like when we all emerge? What the world will look and feel like, and how long it will take us to stop mourning those who didn’t make it, to stop grieving for the very normalcy that helped get us here in the first place.
Don’t let the door kick you on the way, out, 2019.
The last few months of last year were pretty average with a number of relatively minor health set-backs that prevented me from finishing the novel in as timely a manner as I needed to. Like, um, concussion from running into a tree. A big old chest infection. People I love suffered much worse, and I suffered for them. There was and is some serious illness in my family. Some friends whose lives fell apart. My dear friend and agent who lost his wife, the unforgettable Lenora Lapidus, after a long illness. Australia struggling through the worst fire season on record, whole swathes of the coast, the mountains destroyed, loss of human and animal life and habitat. There was Trump. From now, there will always be Trump.
More than anything, there was the passing of my pal, Marvin, who rode shotgun on 20 years of family life, and often just took the wheel. The grief was intense for all of us, but different for all of us too. For me, it was pretty insurmountable – after he died he was still everywhere and nowhere, and if he was then so was I. A couple weeks with extended family in NZ got me in a space where I was able to appreciate the pain as a never-ending reminder of who I’d lost and get some clarity on what lay ahead.
Honored then to announce, unofficially, that Meerkat Press will publish my next novel, and will announce this shortly. It’s called The Bridge, and it’s the shortest novel I’ve written yet, at just under 70k words, and I’m looking forward to the hustle as it unfolds. But first the editing, which, knowing the clinical Tricia Reeks, will be a masochistic joy.
The pretty extraordinary folks at The Outer Dark, Scott Nicolay and Anya Martin have invited a bunch of us to the annual Symposium of the Greater Weird, so after some soul-searching and money-grubbing, that’s where I’m headed in March. I did a podcast with them a few months ago, and you can listen to it here. I loved Anya’s collection, Sleeping With the Monster. We read together in Atlanta, at Eagle Eye books, last year as part of my Collision tour, and the more I learn about this crew, the more in awe of them I am, and the more excited I am to be a part of this unique gathering of kindred spirits, and to transform some already fertile online friendships into hugs, drunken banter, and who knows, maybe some world-changing collaborations. There are already one or two on the table that it’s still a little too early to talk about.
I’m still running my wonderful pub group at the Shakespeare Hotel, and have inherited another group from my friend, the writer Sarah Klenbort, which is a memoir, or creative non-fiction group, and I’m psyched for that.
In other news, can’t wait to get to February and begin serious work writing and editing a new short story collection—weird, dark tales set in the world of Rogues Bay and beyond.
Thrilled to announce that my new flash fiction story, “Lifeline,” will be published some time next year by Catapult Press.
Very grateful for this starred review of Collision: Stories by Paula Guran at Locus Magazine.
Whether her name is familiar or not, her debut collection, Collision: Stories, should be on your “must read” list. Breukelaar, an American living in Sydney, Australia, writes in a clean, incisive style with razor-sharp opening hooks, while blending the literary, the speculative, and the weird. The earliest of the 12 stories was published in 2011 and there are three originals. All are unsettling. If any themes tie them together, it may be that the real and the unreal can and do coexist and that, however dire life may be, there is usually at least a modicum of optimism to be found. Another unifying factor is that the characters are all so normal and knowable while also being completely abnormal and unpredictable.
Writing this post for David Gutowski’s Largehearted Boy was as close to my heart as it gets. I got to write about the music that fueled Collision. I got to say “Like a Bat out of Hell” and “Like Ripples on a Blank Shore” in the one sentence, almost. Meatloaf in collision with Radiohead. Almost ten years of music pared down to 23 songs, same as the number of positions in a one night stand.
In the next couple of hours/days I’ll be posting some reviews, interviews and just general stuff about Collision, my new collection of stories and a novella out from Meerkat Press. For now though, thanks are due to Meerkat Press, especially Tricia Reeks, who is as smart and unstoppable as they come. Matthew Bialer, I literally wouldn’t be here without you. Seb Doubinsky, Angela Slatter, John Langan, Stephen Graham Jones, Kathe Koja, thanks doesn’t cut it. To author/illustrator Keith Rosson for the illustrations. Thanks to editors of some of the early stories and editors everywhere.💐 Thanks to early reviewers and podcasters for letting me ramble. But readers, thank you above all. You’re the ones I do this for. And to my first readers, John Breukelaar Troy Palmer, Isabella Breukelaar, Jack Breukelaar, endless love. 💘
You can purchase Collision: Stories from the usual places. Or click on the banner above for more options.
Here is a teaser.
Townsend Walker over at NY Journal Of Books had this drop today – 15 February EST, the day Collision: Stories is unleashed on the world. Needless to say, I’m honored, stoked and you know, overwhelmed.
“J. S. Breukelaar is a writer of obvious talent, demonstrated over and over in this collection.”
The 12 stories in this collection feature horror, fantasy, and weirdness. The stories and the author are promoted as such. But the reader will probably find the more realistic stories to be her best, and many are quite fine— “Union Falls,” “Fairy Tale,” “Fixed,” and War Wounds.”