A collection of grief and mourning, and a love letter to kin and country, This All Come Back Now is the first anthology of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander speculative fiction.
This collection of writers will summon and connect with ancestral spirits, revisit collective grief and investigate potential futures and how the past is always connected.
Curated and edited by Koori and Lebanese writer Mykaela Saunders, she said she was motivated to put the anthology together as it was something she had never read before.
“I just wanted it to exist. I’ve read a few anthologies from Native American editors who put together anthologies in the last decade and I just really wanted one to exist for our own people,” she said.
“I think it was Toni Morrison who said you know, if you’re not reading the stuff that you want to read, you have to get out there and write it.
“And that’s exactly what I did.”
It’s namesake and theme, This All Come Back Now was motivated from the anthology’s opening story.
“The poem is called Muyum: a transgression and it’s written by Evelyn Araluen who’s a Goori poet,” Ms Saunders said.
“I was reading all of the different stories, and I was highlighting different phrases that jumped out at me through all of the stories and that one just kept jumping out at me.
“It’s really hard to summarise an anthology with 21 stories written by blackfellas from all different walks of life, different countries, different age groups, but what really tied it together were these themes that kept coming back again, and again and again.
“It’s all the stuff about ancient history and more contemporary history, all the problems that we have to face today, you know, the violence and the horrors, but also the love and belonging.”
The anthology is the first time Saunders has been an editor. Saunders said she enjoyed the deeper relationship she was able to form with the writers during the editing process.
“For most of the writers we went through this intensive editing process and it was a conversation through the document and I really loved it,” she said.
“I actually became a lot closer to some of the writers through this conversation we were having.
“When you’re editing, you actually get to build a relationship with somebody, someone who wants the best for the story and if you both approach it that way then I think the story can really kind of be brought up a few levels.”
Saunders said the diversity of each writer only strengthened the anthology.
“Just like any Aboriginal community, it’s made up of people from all different ages,” she said.
“There’s obviously a shared life there…but in terms of this being a mini Aboriginal community we’ve got some of our literary elders in here and people who have paved the way for the younger ones and it’s really special to have them in here.
“We’ve got Samuel William Watson who passed a few years ago and he wrote the first Aboriginal speculative fiction novel in the 1990s and his son Wagan Watson also has a story in here.”
Come its release, Saunders said she was excited to begin talking about the book with readers.
“I’m looking forward to getting this book out on the road, this is my first book launch,” she said.
“So I’m excited, a little bit nervous but I’m very excited to talk about it with lots of different people.”
This All Come Back Now comes out on May 3. Saunders and Ellen van Neerven will host a discussion of the book on May 14 at Kyogle Writers Festival.