WINNER OF THE SHIRLEY JACKSON AWARD!
Sylvie never called them ghosts, but that’s what they were—not that George ever saw them herself. The new girl, Sylvie, is like a creature from another time, with her old-fashioned leather satchel, her white cotton gloves and her head in the clouds. George watches her drift around the edge of the school playing fields, guided by inaudible voices.
When George stands up for Sylvie, beating back Tommy Payne and his gang of thugs, it brings her close to the ethereal stranger; though not as close as George would have liked. In the attic of Sylvie’s father’s antique shop, George’s scars will sing and her longing will drive them both toward a tragedy as veiled and inevitable as Sylvie’s whispering ghosts.
Praise for The Attic Tragedy
Publishers Weekly – “Ashley-Smith debuts with a gorgeous, melancholy coming-of-age novella about girlhood and ghosts. … This eerie, ethereal tale marks Ashley-Smith as a writer to watch.”
Aurealis Magazine, #129 – “A tale of loss, trauma and identity, masterfully told. Horror and thriller elements underpin an unsettling coming-of-age story … Ashley-Smith’s style is gripping, his structure clear and considered. The Attic Tragedy’s multifaceted nature and effective storytelling has far-reaching appeal.”
Brian Evenson, author of Song for the Unraveling of the World – “A beautifully written book about desire, pain, and loss, haunted by glimmerings of the supernatural. The Attic Tragedy manages to do more by intimation and suggestion with its 53 pages than most novels manage to accomplish over their several hundred.”
Kaaron Warren, award-winning author of Into Bones Like Oil and Tide of Stone – “J. Ashley-Smith doesn’t put a foot wrong in this chilling, devastating story. The Attic Tragedy is hard to read in the best possible way.”
Alan Baxter, award-winning author of Devouring Dark and Served Cold – “Lyrical and melancholy, The Attic Tragedy is a dark and poignant study of what it means to love and to be loved, to lose and to be lost. Ashley-Smith conjures a compelling, haunting tale that will stay with you like a ghost long after the last page is read.”
John Langan, author of Children of the Fang and Other Genealogies – “J. Ashley-Smith’s stunning The Attic Tragedy follows the friendship between two young outcasts, Sylvie and George, as they navigate the treacherous years of high school and after. With piercing, clear-eyed sympathy, Ashley-Smith depicts a relationship centered on the secrets of the living and the dead. Sylvie knows and voices the histories of the spirits attached to the objects in her father’s antique shop; George wrestles with the emotions raging within her and which find their outlet on her skin. Acutely observed, frequently surprising, this is fiction of the highest order.”
Sarah Read, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Bone Weaver’s Orchard and Out of Water – “The Attic Tragedy is full of heart and darkness, both endearing and terrifying. These pages open like a raw wound. You don’t read this story. It bleeds into you, and it leaves a scar on the way in.”
Eric J. Guignard, award-winning author and editor, including That Which Grows Wild and Doorways to the Deadeye – “The Attic Tragedy is beautifully engrossing, elegant, and lavish in the traditions of ornate architecture: J. Ashley-Smith’s exquisite words are its sculpted stone blocks; his layers of resonant emotions their subtle coloring treatments; his backdrop of ghosts those detailed flourishes that drive all expressive design to be admired for impression and refinement.”
Lee Murray, three-time Bram Stoker Award nominee and author of Into the Ashes – “Softly shrouded in smoke and shadow, Ashley-Smith’s The Attic Tragedy cuts close to the bone. Startling, pointed, and powerful.”
Aaron Dries, author of House of Sighs and A Place for Sinners – “With The Attic Tragedy, J. Ashley-Smith proves himself an elemental writer of great talent. Emotions are bushfires. Foggy mountains shadow streets where violence festers. Dust, the microbes of otherness, settle over empty rooms that are never as empty as you think they are. This attic is a place of patchwork-detail where characters are forced to question their legacies, and I was held captive by their frightening revelations. A moody, melancholic read that I can’t recommend highly enough.”
Seb Doubinsky, author of Missing Signal and The Invisible – “J. Ashley-Smith’s short novella, The Attic Tragedy, is a sharp and delicate jewel that both shines beautifully and cuts deeply. Focusing on the friendship of two girls, it slowly unveils a deep sense of strangeness and dread, both puzzling and fascinating. Masterly crafted, it will please all lovers of Shirley Jackson, who will be thrilled to find again this mix of humanity, beauty and cruelty.”
Shirley Jackson Award winner!
Sooooo... aw jeez. I've been hiding out all day in a state of shock and bewilderment because The Attic Tragedy won a fricking Shirley Jackson Award! I watched the ceremony with my youngest, who sat there with fingers crossed and insisted I do the same - though I told...
Angela Slatter interview
Honoured to be invited over to Angela Slatter’s blog for a virtual cup of tea and a (slightly one-sided) natter. We talked The Attic Tragedy, literary heroes, and my mortal terror of General Woundwort. Good times! Check out the interview here. Then go follow Angela on...
Unnerving Podcast interview
Had a blast chatting with @GenerousEd on the UnnervingMag podcast. We talked about dreams, burning your darlings, and how a kid reading Herbert, Hutson and King grew up to write The Attic Tragedy. Check it out below. Then go follow the podcast here.
Online launch: The Attic Tragedy
talking teen angst, attics, Ancient Greece, and the birth of a podcast about the stories in objects... I had a blast hanging with Kaaron Warren and Aaron Dries in Kaaron's gorgeous book room, to discuss my debut novelette, The Attic Tragedy. Check out the videos of...
Suzy Turner interview
The Attic Tragedy – Blog Tour Had a great time being grilled by Suzy Turner over at her blog. This turned out to be a much more personal interview than I was expecting (or, frankly, intending), and is all the better because of it. Thank you, Suzy! Check out the...
Australian SF Snapshot project interview
Stoked to be included in this year's Australian SF Snapshot. This is a fantastic, long-running archival project and it's an honour to be involved. Check out the interview here. Then go read all the rest of their awesome interviews at austsfsnapshot.wordpress.com.
She’s Alive! Or… Can a character really take over your story? (Horror Tree)
The Attic Tragedy – Blog Tour I once read an interview with crime writer James Ellroy, who spoke bluntly when asked if his characters were flesh and blood. He said it was disingenuous for writers to say they had no control over their creations. The choices about their...
Seven Attic Tragedies
The Attic Tragedy – Blog Tour Long before Shakespeare littered the stage of the Globe with stabbed and poisoned corpses, and filled the hearts of his audience with a rampant black despair, the Ancient Greeks were performing tragedies of such bleakness and power they...
The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea (TNBBC)
The Attic Tragedy – Blog Tour As a student, way back in nineties Sheffield, I had an obsession with thrift store book finds. I was studying film and creative writing and had a voracious, directionless reading habit, fuelled almost entirely by random discoveries on the...
Writing Forums interview
The Attic Tragedy – Blog Tour Next stop on the blog tour – with thanks to Writing Forums. Loved this conversation about drafting (**shudders**), axolotls, and recent reads that have blown my mind. Check it out here. Then go follow them on Twitter at...