Blood and Bone — Editor's Note

There are a lot of writing competitions out there, but there are none I know of that function quite like this. That actively support and develop editors as well as writers. I think it’s an important point to mention because the fates of writers and editors are always twinned. For the author, experiencing the insights of a good editor in the early stages of their career simply makes them better writers. An editor can assist them in training their own eye and, vitally, can support them by being an inquisitive first reader whose interest in the narrative eclipses all other considerations.

 As for the editor, it sounds like kind-of an obvious point, but it’s only through the generosity of writers that we can become good at what we do, or in fact have this gig at all. I’d like to thank my author, Daniel Davis Wood, for the willing spirit with which he embarked on this project, as well as Alice and David for magicking this initiative into being and for recognising in a bigger sense that our publishing ecosystem needs to change.

There was a remarkable range and scope in the submissions we received this year. Some of the stories were terrific but much too large – too conceptually large – for the novella form. Others pulled me along happily for a while before casting me adrift. Daniel’s story stood out right from the start due to its economy and restraint. There was a confidence about it, and as I read on, the growing feeling that I was going somewhere unfamiliar, somewhere exciting.

What sort of a book is it? Is it a Gerald Murnane—Cormac McCarthy lovechild? It’s a little bit that, although it seems impolite to pigeonhole a writer in such a way; really, every author exists in his or her own beautiful orbit.

It’s a book that inhabits the speculative peripheries of the historical record. One of the reasons I love it is because it’s stridently anti-pastoral. It takes our colonial history and extinguishes all traces of the romantic. Which is to say, in many ways Blood and Bone is a violent and lonely book. But don’t worry! Daniel treats his reader carefully.

Here’s the blurb:

Blood and Bone is the tale of a man haunted by the violent truths of his ancestry. Through his attempt to document the remarkable childhood of his great aunt Abigail, we are thrown into life at the Whangie, an austere outpost at the colonial frontier.

With the death of her mother, eleven-year-old Abigail must learn to fend for herself against the cruel stewardship of her father. At war with the local Aboriginals and intent on staking his claim on the land at any cost, what occurs between the two is a stunning powerplay that exposes the limits of the human imagination.

I believe in this book, and I encourage you to buy it alongside the other novellas in the series. Blood and Bone’s prose is both eloquent and dangerous. It reveals itself cinematically, it reinvents what we think we know.

Emily Stewart

Blood and Bone by Daniel Davis Wood
14.95

Winner of the 2014 Viva La Novella Prize

With the death of her mother, eleven-year-old Abigail must learn to fend for herself against the cruel stewardship of her father. At war with the local Aboriginals and intent on staking his claim on the land at any cost, what occurs between the two is a stunning powerplay that exposes the limits of the human imagination.

Inhabiting the speculative peripheries of the historical record, Blood and Bone is an uncompromising exploration of Australia’s dark history and its legacy.
 

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