2020 Snapshot: Tabatha Wood

Tabatha Wood lives in New Zealand and writes weird, dark fiction and uplifting poetry. Despite her obsession with the strange and unusual, she considers herself “mostly harmless.”

A former English teacher and library manager, Tabatha’s first published books were nonfiction guides aimed at people working in education. Her debut collection Dark Winds Over Wellington was nominated for a Sir Julius Vogel award in 2020 for ‘Best Collected Work,’ and she has had stories published in a number of Things In The Well anthologies, plus the antipodean horror magazines ­– Midnight Echo and Breach.  She now teaches from home while writing in her spare time. 

You can read stories and articles, and keep up to date with her upcoming projects, on her blog at ‪https://tabathawood.com.

1. Tell us about your recent publications/projects?

It has been a mixed year for me. One thing I am very passionate about is the concept of writing for wellness, and at the end of 2019 I started working on the charity anthology Black Dogs, Black Tales to help raise money and awareness for the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand. Lots of fantastic authors and artists were involved, including my brilliant co-editor Cassie Hart, and it was completed and released by Things In The Well in May.

I’ve had a reprint from Dark Winds… published in Infected, Volume 1, with a new story due to come out in Outback Horrors Down Under (both edited by Steve Dillon, Things in the Well.) And as a massive Aliens fan, I was thrilled to have a reprint of my essay “Who is Ellen Ripley?” feature as the lead article in The Digital Dead magazine.

In August, I will be releasing a post-apocalyptic creature-feature horror novella All the Laird’s Men, with a new collection – Beach Glass and Old Bones – coming out some time in November.

2. What has been the best publishing or SF community experience of your career so far?

The first time I had a paid story acceptance was with Midnight Echo magazine, and I have to say I was completely unprepared for the emotions it would bring me. I first published my nonfiction books fifteen years ago, but that always felt more like work than passion, and I’d put off submitting my fiction for so long mostly because of imposter syndrome. Receiving that validation from my peers was really affirming to me as a “new” writer, and I felt seen by the community.

But I think my absolute best experience so far has being finding so many amazing, talented people in the community who wanted to work with me on Black Dogs. I am very proud of the anthology and all the stories, poems and art included, and even though it features so many different voices it is always going to be an incredibly personal collection for me. My aim was always to try to do something good, to honour the people in my life who have been hounded by their own black dogs, and in some cases have been led away by them. And with the support of the speculative-fiction community, I think I’ve done that.

I think it’s also worth mentioning that we have (to date) donated almost $1000 to the charity from book sales, and that support from the community is ongoing.

3. Which recent Australian/NZ work would you recommend to international fans interested in expanding their Antipodean spec fic knowledge?

There is just so much excellent work out there to choose from. In terms of horror, I am a huge fan of Matthew R. Davis, Kaaron Warren and Alan Baxter, all of whom have a wealth of brilliant books to choose from. I always thoroughly enjoy anything that Melanie-Harding Shaw releases, and Greg Chapman is a multi-talented writer and artist.

I have to give a special mention to Steve Dillon and J.C. Hart who were two of the first people to help and guide me when I started writing again, and they are both exceptional authors and editors. I highly recommend their books.

Recently, I’ve been reading more stories by authors closer to home: Octavia Cade (The Stone Wētā), A.J. Fitzwater (The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper), Andi C. Buchanan (From a Shadow Grave), and Sascha Stronach (The Dawnhounds). All of these have pride of place on my bookshelves.    

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