Figments and Fragments: Dark Stories

Nominated for the Australian Shadows Award “Best Collected Work 2019”.

OUT NOW from IFWG Publishing Australia.

Brutal. Compelling. Sinister.

From wheat farms, roadhouses, caravan parks and beaches to quiet suburban streets and inner-city apartments, award-winning author Deborah Sheldon tells distinctly Australian stories about violence, loss, betrayal and revenge.

Figments and Fragments includes three new stories written especially for the collection.

Publication date: November 18 2019.


This title is available from brick-and-mortar bookshops as well as most online retailers.

Paperback: Amazon US, Amazon AUS

Ebook: Amazon US, Amazon AUS

Book Depository – free shipping worldwide


IFWG released a statement after the contract negotiations for the collection were completed:

“I’m excited by this project,” stated Gerry Huntman, Managing Director of the publishing house, “because we have Deborah’s latest fiction collected in Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories, and this acquisition distills the very best of her earlier dark fiction. We also decided to add a bonus two original pieces. We have an amazing relationship with Deborah and it makes perfect sense to publish the complete continuum of her dark fiction for reader enjoyment.”

IFWG’s press release upon the collection’s launch:

“We are so pleased with this title,” said Gerry Huntman, Managing Director of IFWG, “as it loops back to some of Sheldon’s earlier dark fiction, but also adds new stories – enriching the depth of our catalogue of her short fiction. This book is a celebration of Sheldon’s mastery of the genre.”


Allen James (Goodreads 5/5 stars):– I really enjoyed this collection, unlike others I’ve read all the stories were interesting, well written and engaging, not just one or two.


This is the latest collection from Australian award-winning author Deborah Sheldon. There are about 35 short stories here including some flash fiction (i.e. pieces under 1000 words). Some of the short stories have been published elsewhere, revealing an impressive range of magazines and anthologies in Deborah Sheldon’s CV but there are three new stories written just for this collection as well.
I first came to a Deborah Sheldon novel when I read and reviewed (for the Horror Tree site) her bio-horror novella Thylacines which I hugely enjoyed and so I became a fan of her fiction.
It is always an enjoyable experience to venture into her fictional worlds, conjured up so vividly and so succinctly in these shorter pieces.
These are dark tales, which step into the underbelly of society and the fringes where folk scurry around to make a buck. They are set in hospitals, the outback, (the powerful punch to the gut opening story Basket Trap), on wheat farms, on roads in cars, in caravan parks (the bitter sweet The Sequinned Shirt where the past is a trap and the present is pretty grim too), in roadhouses, in urban offices (the clever twisting Cash Cow where comeuppance is brutal and final) and on the beach.
Deborah Sheldon is adept at drawing you in, writing fast, furious dialogue, making you smell and taste the landscape and the characters’ sweat, taking you on a journey with the lost, the displaced, the broken, the runaways, the misfits and the mad, who populate the pages. Many of her characters are in transition, running away from their dangerous past.
I did say the tone was dark.
This is not always the most comfortable of reads, be prepared to be challenged even disturbed by some of the narratives. There is violence and not many happy endings to be found, though there is some delicious dark humour to be savoured.
But the characters leap off the pages, real, flesh and blood, smoky and smokin’ hot sometimes. You might not want to meet up with them but in these stories you can hang out and still be safe.
My personal favourites – tough call but – the opener Basket Trap, took my breath away; it’s about one woman’s fight for survival in the outback in brutal circumstances, with whole back stories evoked in one sentence. Man with the Suitcase (reminiscent to me, of Donald E Westlake, author of The Hot Rock) in tone, and is a smartly written, slick caper story which reads like a mini movie and pays rereading for its twists and turns and White Powder set around an air plane journey, simply because it was funny and made me laugh. – Alyson Faye


Many of the pieces in this one are, as it says in the title, more along the lines of figments and fragments than entire self-contained stories. Yet they work that way, work very well. They’re evocative, bringing the disquieting feelings across, stirring the mood and emotion, without necessarily needing full resolution, explanation, or answers.
Well, mostly … a few are real teasers, building up and then just leaving the reader hanging, waiting for a what-happens-next that doesn’t; found some of those on the frustrating side, right when I was good and interested, but then that’s all folks. Definitely left wanting more on some of those!
Theme-wise, they span everything from gritty survival/revenge to troubled family histories, some with a whisper of the uncanny creeping in but most all too true to the real world. There are crime thrillers gone awry, neighborhood disputes taking strange twists, problematic relationships and random encounters, murders, schemes, pet cemeteries and prison escapes.
“Risk of Recurrence” was a tough read for me personally, dealing as it does with doctors, cancer, radiation, and other issues I’ve had way too much of these past few years. Between its dismissive arrogant medical professionals, and the stubborn detective determined to find the ‘real’ answers in “The Caldwell Case,” the frustrating tension gets pretty strong.
My favorite of the bunch, “Crazy Town is a Happy Place,” also hit on a personal level; I work residential psych, and have always been fascinated by articles about care facilities masquerading as ordinary little villages, and the unique moral challenges they pose.
Others I particularly enjoyed include “Fortune Teller,” in which a new client proves challenging to some of the usual tricks of the trade, and the haunting nostalgia of “November 9th, 1989.” – Christine Morgan

3 thoughts on “Figments and Fragments: Dark Stories

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