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Pre-order SHORTCUTS | Track 1 in paperback and win!

Paper Road Press is pleased to announce that the first six SHORTCUTS novellas will be released as a paperback collection this November.

The cover of SHORTCUTS: Track 1, by Christchurch artist K.C. Bailey
The cover of SHORTCUTS: Track 1, by Christchurch artist K.C. Bailey

Writing on the theme of strange tales of Aotearoa New Zealand, seven Kiwi authors weave stories of people and creatures displaced in time and space, dangerous odysseys, and even more dangerous discoveries. Originally published as standalone ebooks, these novellas explore New Zealand with new eyes, finding the uncanny in the familiar and shining a light on some things we might prefer to pretend were unfamiliar.

SHORTCUTS | Track 1, which collects together the six novellas we published in 2015, is now available to pre-order. In recognition of the tyranny of distance postage fees we face as a publisher based in the south of the South Pacific, we are offering two contests for readers: one for New Zealand orders, and one for international (…and New Zealand) orders.

Click here to make a New Zealand pre-order
Click here for international and ebook pre-orders (Amazon)

New Zealand pre-order contest – $50 book voucher

New Zealanders, pre-order your copy (or copies?) of the softcover SHORTCUTS collection through the Paper Road Press website before 1 November and be in to win a $50 Booksellers voucher – just in time for your Christmas shopping! (Assuming you haven’t already completed your Christmas shopping by, to pick an option entirely at random, pre-ordering a certain anthology sure to be delivered to your doorstep well in time for the holiday…)

Pre-order now for New Zealand delivery.

International pagerazzi contest – $50 Amazon voucher

Parcel post fees from New Zealand to, well, anywhere else on the globe can get pretty steep. We know that you probably don’t want to pay more for postage than for the book itself, so for our international readers, the SHORTCUTS collection is also available for pre-order through Amazon, and will ship immediately on publication in print and ebook formats.

To be in to win a $50 Amazon voucher, simply Tweet (@paperroadpress) or email us a snapshot of you* with your copy of the paperback or ebook before 15 December 2015.

Click here to pre-order through Amazon.

*Since we know not everyone wants to show their mug to the internet, for the purposes of this competition, ‘you’ can mean, for example: your hand; your cat; an exciting rock; luminous spheres.

Terms and Conditions

All entries for both competitions will be assigned a number based on when we receive their entry, and winners will be chosen by random number generator. The random number generator’s decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into, except with the winners, to find out where to send their stuff.

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At the Edge of a big announcement …

The deadline for submissions to our upcoming sff anthology At the Edge has now passed, and editors Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray have made their selections for the book’s table of contents. All authors whose stories have been chosen for inclusion in the anthology have now been contacted, and an official announcement of the Table of Contents and cover reveal is coming soon.

We received 80 manuscripts in total from authors across New Zealand and Australia. Dan and Lee were impressed by the high quality of submissions, and the wide range of styles and structures explored by authors. They were intrigued to see the diverse interpretations of the At the Edge theme from both sides of the ditch, including some deliciously dark tales – which they love.

Stay tuned for a cover reveal and the full table of contents later this month!

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Free excerpt: MIKA | Lee Murray & Piper Mejia

We hope you enjoy this free excerpt from Mika, by Lee Murray and Piper Mejia, the first in our SHORTCUTS series of novellas.


New York, 2058

The rain is coming down hard now, pummelling the windscreen in grey, almost horizontal sheets. Mika frowns. Taking one hand from the wheel, she rubs at her eyes. It’s been a long trip and she’s tired. She can barely see ten metres in front of her.

The waka rolls violently. Mika purses her lips and shifts the vehicle to a lower gear, struggling to control the vessel in the surging waters. A vehicle bumps her from behind, the waka lurches, and Mika is thrown forward.

‘Tangaroa!’ she whispers under her breath, calling on the sea god of her ancestors for protection. The waka pitches again. Mika yanks at the steering, pulling hard to the left to get out of the queue. In the choppy water, the waka is slow to respond. Mika can do nothing more. She holds her breath, her eyes straining to penetrate the wall of rain. Another jolt. The larger transport crowding her from behind. She’s in danger of being sandwiched in, her waka crushed between two hulls.

Come on!

She didn’t travel first the Pacific, and then the Atlantic, to be shipwrecked arriving on the dock. She has a meeting to make. Biting back her frustration, Mika guns the accelerator. The prow of her waka touches the transport in front, the way a bull might caress the bullfighter’s cape as it thunders past. Mika exhales as the waka pulls clear. The manoeuvre has prevented a goring, but she’s going to have to head straight to the ramp now. Determined, she squeezes her prow through the traffic, pushing to the front like the smallest kid at a tuck shop queue.

Coming through, people.

At last, the waka’s hull touches home. Quickly, Mika changes transmission, and drives the little transport up the ramp onto the land.

The Ellis Island entry point is in chaos. What Mika can see of it, in any case. Gale-force winds and driving rain have reduced visibility to next to nil.

Is this the immigration point? Mika opens the window and is immediately soaked.

A man in a flapping yellow raincoat peers in, his face ruddy from the rain. Even with the wet, Mika can smell the engine fumes. She shivers in her wet clothes, but only partly from the cold. She waits for the officer to scan her pupil.

Please don’t make me go back.

The man shakes his head. ‘The bio-scanner is down. Cybernetic reader, too. The console was hit by flying metal. We’re back to working like cavemen. Where are you from?’

‘New Zealand.’

Someone behind sounds a horn. Raincoat man pulls away from the window and roars into the wind. ‘Hold your damn horses, why don’t you? I’ll get to you when I get to you.’ He turns back to Mika. ‘Where did you say?’

‘New Zealand. It’s an island—’

‘Staten Island? You’re a local? You do know you’ve landed at Ellis? Day like today, you should’ve taken the expressway, not the shortcut across the Bay. What kind of idiot are you? I suppose you wanted to see how your home-made transport handled a storm.’ He shakes his head in disgust.

‘No, no, you misheard me. I’m from—’

But huddled deep in the hood of his plastic raincoat, the official either doesn’t hear, or doesn’t care to hear. ‘All we need. Locals wasting our time, coming through the immigration line. Drive on,’ he grumbles, gesturing impatiently. ‘You’re holding everyone up.’

‘I—’ But raincoat man has already turned his attention to the next vehicle in the line. Mika shrugs. If he’s going to make it this easy to get in, who’s she to argue? Sliding up the window, she shifts the waka into gear.

He shouldn’t have called her an idiot.

‘For your information, mate,’ Mika mumbles to herself, ‘this isn’t just any old home-made transport. It’s a waka. And her name is Torua, if you care to know.’ Mika revs the engine, giving the man a good whiff of Torua’s engine fumes, and speeds into the gloom.

The rain hasn’t abated any as Mika takes the bridge to the mainland. On the road, the visibility is even worse. There are transports everywhere. Their lights glare, the milky beams multiplying in the gloom. Mika slows, getting an earful of honking and tooting from the traffic backing up behind her.

Keep your hair on.

She turns on Torua’s GPS system and, doing her best to keep her eyes on the road, punches in the rendezvous point.


The message had said it wasn’t too far from the bridge. Mika doesn’t want to miss the turn-off, or she could end up miles out of her way. She can’t afford to miss the guide.

‘Left turn approaching.’

Mika peers ahead, but can’t make out the intersection through the fog of lights.

‘Left turn approaching in … twenty yards.’

‘But I can’t see anything!’ she wails.

Finally, the intersection fades into view. Hang on, there are two lefts. Which one is she supposed to take: the hard left or veer left?

‘Left turn approaching…’

‘Which lane?!’

The middle, take the middle.

The lights change.

Mika guns the engine to get across the gap.

A vehicle screams towards her.

Oh my god, oh my god.

She stomps on the brakes, but already she knows it’s too late. As the two vehicles plunge towards each other, like jousters in a medieval battle, Mika stretches her mind across the ocean to Aotearoa, to her sister.



The voice is weak and thready. Mika’s heart clenches. Huia needs her. Needs her to get to Vegas. She has to—

There’s an agonising crunch, followed by a whine that starts in Mika’s teeth and settles in her bones. Torua spirals out of control. Mika is flung sideways, her head glancing off the side of the waka, before she’s thrust upright again in a brutal whiplash. Soundless now, torque and momentum carry the vehicle through the intersection in a slow-motion blur, the front left corner trailing something with it. Obligingly, the object allows itself to be dragged along, throwing up silent sparks and shedding debris. Resisting the urge to cover her face, Mika grips the steering wheel and gently turns Torua into the curve. But the waka has power yet. It hurtles through a barrier, barely slowing. Losing the foreign object, it slides another twenty metres before coming to a stop on a huge traffic island.

‘Right turn approaching in twenty yards—’ Mika switches off the GPS, and hunches over the steering wheel, panting. When her pulse has slowed, she takes a deep breath and checks herself over. A few bruises. A bump the size of a small kūmara on her elbow, but otherwise all intact.

I’m okay. Alive.

Mika’s heart leaps again. But what about the other driver? The other vehicle?

Flicking the compression, Mika flings open the hatch, pushing hard against howling wind. She climbs out of the waka, the hatch slamming shut as soon as she lets go. Mika squints through the rain. The bull bars, two rows of thick bars that encircle the waka, have been scraped back to the metal, the barnacles and rust of the ocean voyage sloughed off like dead skin. But, not built to withstand playful whales and floating garbage, the other vehicle hasn’t been so fortunate. Glancing off Torua’s bull-bars, it has struck a tree, and is a mess of broken branches, twisted steel, and glass, the driver door buckled inwards where the two vehicles collided. Instinctively, Mika knows it can’t open. Boots crunching on broken glass, she clambers onto the hood. The windscreen’s gone, leaving a glass-encrusted frame. The driver is slumped forward over the dashboard, oblivious to the rain thwacking at his back. Probably concussed when his head hit the windscreen.

‘Hey! Hey there! Can you hear me?’ she screams over the sound of the storm. She pushes her hair out of her face. ‘I’m coming. Hold on.’

Using her boot, she breaks a branch underfoot, clearing the way so she can skirt around to the other side of the vehicle, then yanks on the passenger door, which, to her surprise, opens easily.

Oh thank god.

Climbing into the cab, she brushes away the glass on the seat with a dripping sleeve, then scoots over and gently pulls the man backwards by his sweatshirt.

‘Can you hear me?’ But he can’t hear her because he’s dead, a branch buried deep in his eye socket. Mika jumps back, relieved when the man slumps forward again, the grisly eye no longer looking at her blankly.

What have I done?

Leaning back in the passenger seat, Mika lets the rain wash down her face. Then she bursts into tears.

Subscribe to SHORTCUTS for NZ $3.33/month | Purchase at Amazon | Purchase at Kobo (Available 3 April 2015)

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Introducing SHORTCUTS

shortcuts banner_1-2-3

Paper Road Press aims to bring you ‘books from beyond the beaten track’, but just for now we’d like to lead you down one path in particular. Take a shortcut to strange worlds past, present and future with our new series of science fiction and fantasy novellas inspired by Aotearoa New Zealand.

Interdimensional forests, atomic ghosts and future tech gone horribly wrong abound in SHORTCUTS | Track 1, the first story of which will be launched this Easter. Keep an eye out on Amazon and Kobo, or subscribe now to receive the ebook direct to your inbox when it goes live.

The first book in the SHORTCUTS series is Mika, by Lee Murray and Piper Mejia. Tomorrow we’ll be posting an excerpt from the start of Lee and Piper’s story of one woman’s strange American odyssey.

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Supporting children’s literacy with Duffy Books in Homes – update

We at Paper Road Press are lucky enough to have grown up in homes where books were plentiful, but we know that this isn’t the case for many New Zealand children. To help support children’s access to books, and promote literacy and a love of reading, Paper Road Press donates 90% of profits from our award-winning collection Baby Teeth: Bite-sized Tales of Terror to Duffy Books in Homes.

With 2014 behind us, it’s time to report on our fundraising progress so far:

Baby Teeth fundraising for Duffy Books in Homes

2013: $650
2014: $651.09
Total money donated: $1301.09

2015 and beyond…

Baby Teeth: Bite-sized Tales of Terror won multiple awards in 2014, and we were all more than pleased to see the fundraising total double over the year from 2013. Whether that keeps up in 2015 is anyone’s guess (I’ve yet to hear of any awards for ‘creepy/funny horror story collections published two years ago’, but you never know), but we’ll let you know whatever happens.

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Call for Submissions: SHORTCUTS Track 2: The Lit Track

Paper Road Press is pleased to announce a call for submissions for Track 2 of our SHORTCUTS novella series. Again, we are specifically looking to publish fiction of between 10,000 to 20,000 words, but this time we’re keen on all genres and types of stories. Accepted writers will work with some outstanding New Zealand editors to bring their stories to publication, including Thomasin Sleigh (author of Ad Lib), Rosabel Tan (editor of The Pantograph Punch) and Rachel O’Neill (author of One Human in Height).

The curator for Track 2 is Matt McGregor.

Please send submissions as .doc or .rtf attachments to with ‘Submission: SHORTCUTS Track 2: [Title]’ in the subject line.

Deadline 1 June 2015.

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BABY TEETH editors talk Shadows; BABY TEETH audiobook talks to you

Thanks to the hard work of Chris Barnes at Dynamic Ram Audio Productions, the audiobook of Baby Teeth: Bite-sized Tales of Terror is now available to purchase here on the Paper Road Press website. To celebrate, we talked to Dan, Lee and Debbie about their recent Australian Shadows Award wins…

Shadows AwardPaper Road Press was well represented at the recent Australian Shadows Awards, which recognise excellence in the Horror writing field in Australasia. Two of the top awards were taken away by Paper Road Press authors: Debbie Cowens won Best Short Story for her creepy-kid tale “Caterpillars”; Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray won Best Edited Work for Baby Teeth: Bite-sized Tales of Terror.

Debbie Cowens
Debbie Cowens

Debbie Cowens, whose winning story appears in winning collection Baby Teeth, missed the initial announcement due to the time difference between New Zealand and Australia. “To be shortlisted for a AHWA Shadow award was far beyond my expectations and to be included alongside an impressive line-up of fantastic Aussie writers as well as fellow Baby Teeth SpecFicNZ writer, the talented JC Hart, was flattering and surprising. When I woke up to discover that I had actually won, the language with which I conveyed my astonishment would not be printed in a respectable publication such as this!”

Dan Rabarts

Dan, who was the FFANZ delegate to Continuum X earlier this year, was similarly blown away by the results. “I think I speak for all of us when I say that I was in a state of shock when we won this award, and a state of euphoria when Debbie won Best Short Story. This state – shocked euphoria – was rather confusing, but I think I’ve come out the other side now. Settled into just being quietly stoked. For a little book from New Zealand to have come from such humble beginnings and to win not one but two categories in a major Australian award is fantastic, and we can all be proud to be a part of that.

“I’d like to thank the AHWA (Australian Horror Writers Association) for running these awards, and for making it open not only to New Zealanders but also to all Oceania residents. In a time when the SF/F/H community is crying out for more diversity in genre fiction, respecting and inviting the contributions of our wider Pacific community in a highly-esteemed awards program like the Australian Shadows is a big step forward in this direction. Good on you, AHWA.”

Lee Murray

Co-editor Lee agrees. “If you could just write ‘we’ everywhere Dan has said ‘I’ because his comments are a fair representation of how I’m feeling. ‘Humbled’ is another word that comes to mind.”

Baby Teeth: Bite-sized Tales of Terror was Paper Road Press’ first release, published at Halloween 2013. A horror collection with a difference, Baby Teeth features 37 snappy short stories about the creepy things kids say and do – and all proceeds from sales of the book are donated to Duffy Books in Homes. Creepy stories about kids, supporting kids, but definitely not meant to be read by kids – it’s a strange niche, but with an Australian Shadows Award and a Sir Julius Vogel Award under its belt and several prize-winning stories between its covers, one that seems to have struck a chord with horror fans.

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Two skulls for Baby Teeth at the Australian Shadows Awards


From left: skull, Dan Rabarts, Lee Murray, Debbie Cowens, skull

Happy Friday 13th, everyone – Baby Teeth came away from last night’s AHWA Australian Shadows Awards with the gongs for Best Edited Work and Best Short Story (“Caterpillars”, Debbie Cowens).

Congratulations to Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray for their excellent work as editors, and to Debbie Cowens for that creepy, creepy little story.


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