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Hideout is in the FAB awards!

Voting is now open for the Booktopia Favourite Australian Book award 2020, and I was delighted to see Hideout on the long list! If it wins, or even makes the top ten, the extra visibility will help Blake devour - excuse me, discover - lots more readers.

So if you have an email address and the ability to click a mouse - even a one-armed, four-fingered Texan could do it - please spend a few seconds showing your support for the series!
Vote Now
If it wins, I promise I'll cave to the pressure and ... *deep breath* ... finally, with great reluctance, put the answers to all the riddles on my website.

Thanks to everyone who gave Blake such a great month.

Readers, booksellers, reviewers, librarians, teachers - there are way too many of you to name, but I wanted to express my gratitude anyway. I've been overwhelmed by the great reviews, the messages from enthusiastic Hangfans and the socially-distanced signing queues. Hideout has been my biggest release so far, and there's no way it would have happened without y'all.

Free flash fiction!

I can't remember if I showed you these stories already (as always, unedited and written in seven minutes before a live audience.) Hopefully at least one of them is new:
Gregor ducked, just in time. The rock whipped over his head like a shooting star and slammed into the mud right behind him.
'I'm here to help you!' he bellowed.
The creature flicked its tail, sending another huge stone hurtling towards Gregor. He dived sideways, tripped over a half-buried bone, and hit the dirt.
The creature snorted as it approached. Its huge paws sent vibrations through the ground, turning Gregor's guts to jelly. He tried to scramble away, but his foot was still tangled in the sunken skeleton, as if the creature's last victim wanted company.
Soon he could feel its hot breath right behind his head, and smell the rot in its matted fur.
'Don't make me do this,' Gregor said.
The creature snarled, its amber eyes shining in the moonlight. One mighty paw crushed Gregor's chest as black lips peeled back, exposing jagged teeth. The creature's jaws dislocated, ready to swallow Gregor whole.
Gregor reached up with one gloved hand. He closed his eyes and reached inside himself, feeling that chip of ice inside his heart. The cold flowed through his arm, a blast of negative energy that--
'Huh,' Davina said.
'Huh,' the cube repeated.
She examined it from all sides. The titanium surfaces looked polished, even though she hadn't touched them. In fact, the deep scratches from the mishap with the electrodes seemed to have disappeared.
Healed, she thought, then cast the word away like seaweed thrown overboard, so ridiculous it was almost disgusting.
A faint stink of ozone filled the attic. The air grew warmer. She reached towards the cube, then thought better of it. Even through her leather gloves, she could feel that it was already too hot to touch.
'What are you?' she muttered.
'What are you?' the cube repeated, through speakers she couldn't see.
Whatever it was, she had to get it out of here. AIs were strictly forbidden, and while this probably wasn't technically an AI - she didn't think it was even a computer - the Sanctioners were sure to come down hard on Davina if they found it. And if she told them how it had come to be - that she had just been fiddling with a setting block and the innards of a robot vacuum cleaner, and it had floated out of her hands - they might realise who she was. Then she wouldn't just be fined. She would be thrown into the Deep Freeze, with all the journalists and refugees and dissidents.
She checked her smart watch. There was just enough time to get to the refuse centre before curfew.
'OK, follow me,' she told the cube.
'OK, follow me,' it said, and, somehow, obeyed.

More soon.

The Missing Passenger, Stunt Kid Seriously Stacks It and 200 Minutes of Mystery are all coming between now and April, so stay tuned! Thanks for subscribing. Oh, and Happy New Year!
Copyright © 2021 Jack Heath, All rights reserved.

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