2020 Snapshot: J C Hart / Nova Blake

Cassie was raised on a healthy diet of horror, science fiction, and fantasy, and despite many attempts by various English teachers has refused to budge on her position that these are the best genres ever. She publishes under J.C. Hart and Nova Blake and has been a finalist for both the Sir Julius Vogel and Australian Shadow Awards. In 2018 she was selected as one of six emerging Māori writers to participate in the Te Papa Tupu incubator programme, where she worked on her novel, Butcherbird, a supernatural suspense set under the watchful gaze of Mount Taranaki. 

When she’s not raising her horde of wonderfully creepy children, or dreaming of the day she’ll have an army of ninja kittens, she’s writing, reading, or playing games. 

  1. Tell us about your recent publications/projects?

I recently signed a publishing deal with Huia for my novel Butcherbird, which was the best thing to happen to me during lockdown! It’s a supernatural suspense book, and the novel of my heart, set on a fictional version of my grandparent’s farm under Mount Taranaki, so I’m really excited to know it’ll be coming out through Huia.

I was also part of the editing team for the charity anthology Black Dogs, Black Tales, which came out recently. There are lots of amazing stories, both reprints and new, and I’m really proud of the work we did on that, led by the wonderful Tabatha Wood, for a charity I really support: The Mental Foundation of Health NZ.

Recently I’ve been working on a huge range of projects at various stages – across both my pennames, and a number of genres. What can I say? I like to write a lot of different things! They are all speculative in nature, many of them include small towns, and creepy elements, as those are some of my favourite to write. Remnants is small town modern fantasy set in Ngaruawahia, and Hexes and Vexes is a fun witchy novella set in my hometown of Okato – both will be out later this year.

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

I’d have to say the Slack group that I’m part of. It’s my safe place, a harbour for such a diverse crew of writers, who I adore. When social media gets too much I can fall back to Slack and still get my fix of the good stuff. Aside from that I recently did some work for a game company of a nature I cannot disclose (I love an NDA!) which was a real thrill and one of the highlights of my career to date.

Another one was being asked to submit a story to Cthulhu: Land of the Long White Cloud. For this I wrote the story “Te Ika”, which was also included in the first Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction & Fantasy anthology. Oh, and I just remembered that it also made the longlist of Ellen Datlow’s recommended reading list too! That was epic.

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

There have been SO many amazing things coming out of NZ recently. You could check out the longlist from our Sir Julius Vogel awards as a good place to start. I’ve particularly enjoyed Andi C. Buchanan’s From a Shadow Grave, and many of the stories in Black Dogs, Black Tales such as Mel Harding-Shaw’s Synaesthete, and Tabatha Wood’s Night Wolves.

I have many more books on my shelves to read, but the year has been a bit of a challenge for print reading for me – just means I have heaps to look forward to though!

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