Category Archives: fiction

Raven Rising, my second novel for 2018, is out.

Raven Rising thumbI’ve published my shortest novel to date. Is that something to brag about? Not sure. I do like Dean Wesley Smith’s philosophy that a story is the length the story needs to be, rather than pushing to hit some arbitrary wordcount. I think I hear that a hundred thousand words is where a novel should aim.

Well, my story, Raven Rising didn’t need a hundred thousand. Or even fifty thousand. More like thirty-two thousand. Too long to be a novella, but still short for a novel.

This might be more like those “Bookshots” from James Patterson. Little standalone books, full of adventure. Though mine is very much science fiction. Not really the thriller, or similar stories in those books. Deep space science fiction at that.

Cover illustration © Philcold | Dreamstime

Blurb: Light years from home, Starship Raven went down in a plunging blazing wreck. Crack investigator Angelie Gunnarson and her team love this kind of impossible mystery. But the Raven might have more secrets than even Angelie can handle. An action-packed short sci-fi novel from the award-winning author of The City Builders.

Coming up soon, a post about just how hard I find it to write decent sales copy. It uses a different part of the brain, I’m thinking.

Anyway, Raven Rising is available from various retailers, (link goes to books 2 read universal page, then on to retailers – still learning about that one too). The print version will be available soon. ebook $5.99, print will be $9.99.

book links image


Asimov’s Readers’ poll.

asimovs-cover-jan-2016Asimov’s Science Fiction hold reader polls each year – where readers get the chance to vote for their favorite story from the past year’s issues.

I’m honored that my story “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles” is a finalist in the short story category. Amazed really.

The full list of finalists, in all categories is on the Asimov’s website.

The story is also a finalist in New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Awards, so I’m doubly honored.

And, triply cool is that the fabulous cover image by artist Maurizio Manzieri for the story is also a finalist in the Asimov’s Awards. I’ll be releasing the story later in the year as a standalone ebook, with an alternative illustration that Maurizio has graciously licensed to me.

Exciting times. Fingers crossed.


As a bonus, most of the stories are available for a limited time to read online for free at the site.

The Billows of Sarto – new short story in Asimov’s

asimovs march april 2018I probably wax on about my teenage dream of getting published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. This month marks the publication of my fifth story there, in the March-April 2018 issue. I’m humbled every time. That my little ol’ story gets such an honor.

Without giving too much away, “The Billows of Sarto” is set in an dormant volcanic crater, teeming with forest life and hotpools, on a far away planet (isn’t science fiction cool – I get such a fun playground). There’s an interview around somewhere with me (I’ll link to it once I find it!), but one of the questions was about my inspiration for the story.

Well, I do like volcanoes. Growing up in New Zealand, they’re all over. On a clear day, with a bit of elevation, you can see two from my hometown – Taranaki and Ruapehu.

I’ve also been lucky enough to visit volcanoes in other parts of the world too, from the volcanic plugs of the Glass House Mountains in Queensland Australia, to Rano Kau on Easter Island to Mt Fuji in Japan (well in the distance from a train).

One of my favourite places is Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. This is a genuine collapse caldera, where part of the mountain has dropped into the magma chamber (if I have those processes right). A smaller cone has even developed inside the caldera.

(photographs by Diana Monaghan – when I was there I was so in love with the place I forgot to take any. Excuse the bluriness – not Mum’s fault: mine. I photographed her photos with my phone. Sheesh).

It was fun to write the story, taking those places and reinventing them, with new ecologies and geothermal systems and, I hope, interesting characters.

Oh, it also turns out that my last story for Asimov’s, “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles”, is also a finalist in the Asimov’s  Annual Readers’ Award Poll, short story category, which is quite an honor. Maurizio’s wonderful cover art is also a finalist in the art category. Feels like that’ll need a longer post soon.

Sir Julius Vogel Award finalist

smFront-v5I’m fortunate enough to have have my short story “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles” on the finalist ballot for New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Awards. I’m honored, and thrilled to be standing with such good company.

Best Short Story
“Earthcore: Initiation” – Grace Bridges, published on
“Syren Song” – A.C Buchanan, published in Kaleidotrope.
“The Stone Weta” – Octavia Cade, published in Clarkesworld, issue 131.
“From the Womb of the Land, Our Bones Entwined” – A.J. Fitzwater, published in Pacific Monsters anthology (Fox Spirit Books).
“Crimson Birds of Small Miracles” – Sean Monaghan, published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Jan/Feb 2017.

Yeah. Look at those other stories, those other names. Sheesh.

Well, it’s nice to be a finalist at least.

Unfortunately other commitments this year mean that I won’t be attending the awards ceremony, but I will be back next year  (whether I’m on the ballot or not).

Good luck to all.

Te Kōrero Ahi Kā – To Speak of the Home Fires Burning

KoreroAhiKa-FrontCoverI have a story the new New Zealand speculative fiction anthology Te Kōrero Ahi Kā –  To Speak of the Home Fires Burning. Edited by Grace Bridges, Lee Murray and Aaron Compton.

This is a wonderful collection, and I’m thrilled to be included. There are familiar names, and some new names, which is always good.

The publisher, SpecFicNZ, exists to promote and support speculative writers in New Zealand.

I haven’t read all the stories yet, but I do like Mark English’s story especially. Despite having been writing for, well, many years now, this is the first time I’ve been in an anthology with so many people I actually know and have met in person, and consider friends.

My own story, “Dance, Tiny Particles, Dance” had an interesting genesis, dating back a couple of years when I went to enter the Gernsback Amazing Stories contest. I wrote the story, then went back to the contest guidelines and realized that, happy as I was with the story, I’d strayed significantly. (I wrote another story, which actually co-won the contest – it’s available to read for free here: “Penny of Tharsis Montes” at the Amazing Stories site).

I’m pleased that the story has found a home, especially pleased that it’s here in New Zealand too. That’s kind of cool.

Te Kōrero Ahi Kā is available directly from Amazon, and other online retailers, and should show up in local bookshops pretty soon.


New year, new challenge, new books.

A great start to the year. Hot weather, lots of writing, new books, and a photo challenge.
With some colleagues at work, I’m participating in a “Photo every day for the year” challenge. I write every day, so why not take a photo every day too?

Most of the others are using Instagram, which I guess is the thing for photos nowadays. Me, not having a phone smart enough to run Instagram, I’m uploading photos to Flickr from computer. A desktop at that. (It turns out, Instagram doesn’t work from PCs).
My page is here: Sean Monaghan 365 Flickr

flickr screenshot.jpg

With about thirty-something pictures so far. I am taking a picture every day, just that with the whole move-it-to-the-computer thing, I’m not managing to post every day. Still, on track to get all 365 images up.
The double challenge might come later in the year with continuing the circle theme.

_ _ _

I also managed to get a couple of short books out in January. Touches Electricity and Unicorn Beluga Play Madison Square Garden. Both available as ebooks and in print.
Setting higher goals for publishing this year. Last year I managed to get out just four novels and a clutch of shorter books. Aiming for ten novels and sixteen other books this year (one every two weeks). Some of those other books will be collections of the shorter works.
I’m enjoying the ability to put up a single work that’s shorter than novel length (Touches Electricity is about 10,000 words, or about forty pages, Unicorn Beluga… is about half again as long). Once I have about five or so of those out at that length, I’ll put them together in a single collection, which will be closer to that novel-length 250-300 pages.

Unicorn Beluga Play Madison Square Garden
Max Deacon, music producer extraordinaire, works with any band with a good idea. Inspiration is more important than the money. Though the money’s good.
But with Unicorn Beluga playing their hits Max might just be out of his depth. Way out.
A sci-fi story with a heart from the author of The Molenstraat Music Festival and Crimson Birds of Small Miracles.

Touches Electricity
Damian feels a tingling surge of electricity. But is it going to help him figure out what’s going on with Carina?
A quirky tale of friendship, mystery and angst, with just a dash of electricity on the loose.

Unicorn Beluga Play Madison Square Garden $2.99, Smashwords, Amazon
Touches Electricity $2.99, Smashwords, Amazon

Unicorn Beluga Play Madison Square Garden $8.99, Amazon, Barnes and Noble
Touches Electricity $7.99, Amazon, Barnes and Noble


If you’ve read this far – thanks. Here’s a free download coupon for Unicorn Beluga Play Madison Square Garden – Coupon Code: DJ77L. Just go to the Smashwords page and enter the coupon code prior to checkout. I hope you enjoy the book.

(p.s. I’ve limited the coupons to 20 – should be plenty, given how many people read my blog but if you get there and the code doesn’t work, my apologies – send me a message and I’ll get you a copy).

3rd and Starlight – new anthology coming, with a Kickstarter

third and starlight
Following two anthologies from the Future Finalists collective – 1st and Starlight (edited by Sky McKinnon), and 2nd and Starlight (edited by Dustin Adams), the esteemed Dr. Robert Finegold has rounded up a gaggle of us Future Finalists to produce a third volume.

THE STARLIGHT ANTHOLOGIES seek to provide readers edgy new voices in science fiction and fantasy. Stories to amaze, delight, and touch the heart.

In 3rd and Starlight you’ll find stories by Hugo and Campbell award nominee Kary English, Aurealis award winner Nick T. Chan, and Jim Baen Short Story award winner Sean Monaghan, and more. All our authors are also winners, finalists, or semifinalists in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest – the tourney field where most of our bards and storytellers first met…”

There’s a kickstarter campaign to promote the anthology, with rewards that include some of my ebook novels – Arlchip Burnout, Athena Setting and Asteroid Jumpers.

There’s also a mini interview with me on the kickstarter page where I spout probably little more than nonsense. Still, thanks for the interview Dr Finegold.


The Future Finalists group is a bunch of us who’ve made headway in the Writers of the Future contest – a mix of finalists and semi-finalists. Some have been in the Writers of the Future anthology as published finalist, and some (myself included) are no longer eligible for the contest having “pro-ed out”, by selling several stories to professional publishers.