J. Ashley Smith is a British–Australian writer of dark fiction and co-host of the Let The Cat In Podcast.
J.’s first book, The Attic Tragedy, won the Shirley Jackson Award. Other stories have won the Ditmar Award, Australian Shadows Award and Aurealis Award. The Measure of Sorrow, his first short story collection, is due for release in 2023 from Meerkat Press.
J. was born in Cambridge, UK, and spent his childhood hiding with imaginary companions in the foundations of an Edwardian townhouse. He studied film and creative writing, then lost fifteen years to the British indie music scene, clothed in unfashionable sweaters, releasing unpopular records. He now lives with his wife and two sons in the suburbs of North Canberra, gathering moth dust, tormented by the desolation of telegraph wires.
J. haunts the internet as @SpookTapes and can be contacted at spooktapes[at]gmail[dot]com.
COMING SOON FROM MEERKAT PRESS – JUNE 2023
The Measure of Sorrow, draws together ten stories of dark speculative fiction, including both new and previously acclaimed works. In these pages a black reef holds the secret to an interminable coastal limbo; a father struggles to relate to his estranged children in a post-bushfire wilderness; an artist records her last days in conversation with her unborn child; a brother and sister are abandoned to the manifestations of their uncle’s insanity; a suburban neighbourhood succumbs to an indescribable malaise; teenage ravers fall in with an eldritch crowd; a sensitive New Age guy commits a terminal act of passive-aggression; a plane crash opens the door to the Garden of Eden; the new boy in the village falls victim to a fatal ruse; and a husband’s unexpressed grief is embodied in the shadows of a crumbling country barn. Intelligent and emotionally complex, the stories in The Measure of Sorrow elude easy classification, lifting the veil on the wonder and horror of a world just out of true.
WINNER OF THE DITMAR AND AUSTRALIAN SHADOWS AWARDS!
Nathan Ballingrud – “Intimate, whip-smart, and relentless.”
Simon Strantzas –“Deftly blurs the lines between real and nightmare.”
Lynda E. Rucker –“The kind of oblique, unsettling fiction I’m always looking for.”
J.S. Breukelaar – “A nuanced and numinous rock ’n’ roll Gothic.”
WINNER OF THE SHIRLEY JACKSON AWARD!
Kaaron Warren – “A chilling, devastating story.”
John Langan – “Fiction of the highest order.”
Sarah Read – “Full of heart and darkness.”
Brian Evenson – “A beautifully written book.”
The magnificent Meerkat Press are releasing my first collection of short stories in June next year. The cover is just blowing my mind! Meerkat have more details about the collection over on their site, as well as a gorgeous video – inspired by the short story The Moth...
ICYMI: Aaron Dries, Dan O'Malley and I had the great pleasure of spending a dark and very stormy Halloween night talking horror and all things scary at the Woden library. And even if the rain kept you at home, you can catch it all on the video below (courtesy of...
So we went on a road trip—Kaaron Warren, Aaron Dries, Robert Hood, Cat Sparks and I—to Beechworth Asylum and the inaugural AsylumFest…
I was lucky enough to join a group at Conflux this year giving readings from recent stories. I read from The Tub and maybe got a little too into it... (photos by Cat Sparks.)
Goodbye, #conflux16! Thanks for an outstanding weekend. Had the best time hanging with my peeps, making new friends and talking myself hoarse. This community is absolutely the best. ❤️
So Ariadne, I Love You won best novella at the Ditmar Awards on Saturday. Absolutely bonkers when you look at the books it was up against. I managed to pull it together enough to give a semi-coherent acceptance speech – this time not just a long list of happy...
We found the tub in the wastes out back of the Kwik Fit tyre place. A dark overgrown no-man’s-land of dirt and weeds between the back gardens and spiked fences of Richmond Road, and the mountains of bare, burst or burnt-out tyres in the Kwik Fit yard…
Surprised and delighted at the news ARIADNE, I LOVE YOU won a Shadows Award.
Ariadne, I Love You and The Attic Tragedy double book launch: In both 2020 and 2021, I released books into the wilderness of social distancing and lockdowns. Though we held some excellent online events to celebrate at the time, nothing compares to the vibe of a reading in a room full of people…
Huzzah! The top secret project is revealed!
I’m a great devourer of audiobooks, so loved every moment of making this. Thrilled it’s now out in the world.
If you like creepiness injected directly into your ears, then check out this audio extract.
Sooooo… aw jeez. I’ve been hiding out all day in a state of shock and bewilderment because The Attic Tragedy won a frickin’ Shirley Jackson Award!
I was in a very particular headspace when I wrote Ariadne, I Love You. Keen to explore a very particular kind of supernatural occurrence: one that could be easily justified in rational terms, without being entirely explained away. At the same time, I was obsessed with the idea of inheritance, of the scars the past leaves on the present, and a particular kind of gothic sensibility that arises when a character worries over the same fixation for decades.
So grateful to The Next Best Book Club blog for letting me hang out and read an extract from Ariadne, I Love You.
Ariadne, I Love You – Blog Tour Silence, Pripyat, Margot, and some favourites from the just-read pile. This was a very enjoyable interview. Check it out here. Then go follow B for Bookreview on Twitter at @BookreviewB.
Ariadne, I Love You – Blog Tour It’s a joy and a privilege to answer thoughtful and intelligent questions by someone who’s read your book. This interview was a pleasure from beginning to end. Thank you, Tomes & Tales! Check out the interview here...
Let The Cat In is the podcast in which three horror writers and their guests riff on objects, inspiration, and those ideas that scratch at the door, miaowing to be let in.
Canberra-based authors Kaaron Warren, Aaron Dries and J. Ashley-Smith have been meeting up to drink wine and talk shit for ages. At a book launch in 2020, they started a conversation about stories hidden in objects, which took on a life of its own. They recorded a panel for StokerCon 2021 – Let The Cat In: three authors drinking wine and talking shit about objects and whatnot. Attendees of the Con enjoyed it so much that Kaaron, Aaron and Joseph recorded a whole bunch more, opening the conversation out to some of their favourite writers, poets and artists; inviting these creative folks to share what's inspiring them, and what they do when that cat is scratching at the door.
Season 1 guests include JS Breukelaar, Isobelle Carmody, Brian Evenson, Kathe Koja, John Langan, Dan O'Malley, Garth Nix, Lynda E. Rucker, Melinda Smith, Paul Tremblay, Sean Williams and more!