Frances Mason


Alright, before my usual paragraph I have to say something current and coviddy. Today is Sunday 5 April 2020. Coronavirus is sweeping its scythe across the world. More than a million infections worldwide, and that's only the ones we know about. I'm hiding in my home as much as I can (the more things change the more they stay the same - don't you love cliches?). When I have to go out I'm holding my breath whenever I walk past other people, walking in wide loops around them, looking suspiciously whenever I hear a cough and glaring when someone wanders too close to me. Phrase of the year, 2020: social distancing. Learn it. Do it. Live (or at very least don't kill me - you see how altruistic I am?). When I come home I'm taking my shoes off at the door, and washing my hands more than I ever have in my life. Am I nuts? Probably. But at least I won't get COVID-19. Cough.

Now follows my usual paragraph (mostly).

Frances Mason is a resident of sunny Australia (consequently is too much i' the sun - ok, we're heading towards winter now, so not so much sun), loves great literature, especially Chaucer, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Dawn Powell, Iris Murdoch, Anthony Burgess, James Joyce and Joyce Cary, and is currently writing a fictional life of Shakespeare, fictional lives of a number of other Elizabethan playwrights, a collection of Elizabethan picaresque tales, a fictional memoir (based very loosely on a much loved brother, who's recently deceased and therefore can't sue for libel), and too many short stories to list. Recent hobbies include, avoiding quality time with relatives (successfully), solving the Rubik's cube (slowly), juggling (poorly), and being paranoid about COVID-19 (without stocking up on toilet paper - don't you miss the days of the daily newspaper, when you always had a steady supply with which to print the day's headlines on your bum?).

Smashwords Interview

What are you working on next?
I'm currently working on a life of Shakespeare.
Who are your favorite authors?
Tricky question; there are so many: Shakespeare, of course; Chaucer; Milton; Jane Austen; Dawn Powell; James Joyce; Anthony Burgess (especially his Elizabethan novels); Vladimir Nabokov; Chinua Achebe; Jean Rhys; Flann O'Brien; Gore Vidal (his essays mostly); Italo Calvino (especially If on a Winter's Night a Traveller, and Six Memos for the Next Millennium); Umberto Eco (especially Name of the Rose); Sartre (just his short stories); Joyce Cary (especially the Horse's Mouth; about an artist who will do anything to further his art, without considering trivial things like morality and gainful work; perhaps my favourite book of all time.); Iris Murdoch (especially her first novel, Under the Net, about a ratbag writer, of course); and probably many more that don't immediately come to mind.
Read more of this interview.


Song of Agmar Tales
Tales of magic and adventure penned by the famous bard, Agmar of Seltica.
Price: Free!


COVID-19 and the Ships of the Damned: A Plea for Humanity
Price: Free! Words: 3,310. Language: English. Published: April 2, 2020. Categories: Essay » Political, Nonfiction » Politics & Current Affairs » Current affairs
An essay on the plight of cruise ship passengers and crews in the age of COVID-19. A plea to governments in Australia and around the world.
Tales From the Labyrinth: Volume 1: The Tower
Price: Free! Words: 12,980. Language: English. Published: March 27, 2020. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary, Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
The Tower is volume 1 in Tales From the Labyrinth, a series of bizarre short stories: Atop a burial mound a wall has appeared. Where did it come from? What is its purpose? No one knows but as the local communities gather there many argue. How this will end is anybody's guess.
Novel Coronavirus Mutation: The COVID-19 COVID-20 Apocalypse
Price: Free! Words: 7,240. Language: English. Published: March 6, 2020. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary, Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
Marcus has locked himself in his flat as the mutated Coronavirus rages. But food is running out. His medication too, though he doesn't believe he needs it. Will he prove himself the hero he has always believed he is? Will he confront the madness of the world? Warning: this is only a story. If you are concerned about COVID-19 seek information from reputable sources, not a short story.
Altar of Fallen Gods
Series: Song of Agmar Tales. Price: Free! Words: 51,990. Language: English. Published: June 29, 2019. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
(4.00 from 1 review)
Agmar, bard of Seltica, is one of a band of Selts who have joined the Ropeuan army of the lord Wulfstan as he closes a ring of steel about the city of his forefathers. While the horrors of the siege play out, far beneath the city an ancient power stirs, calling across the centuries to one who might take what it holds and see the destiny of the very gods.
The Madhouse: A Play in Three Arbitrary Acts
Price: Free! Words: 19,410. Language: English. Published: January 21, 2019. Categories: Plays » Australian & Oceanian
If all the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players, what's beyond the edge of the stage? Is anybody watching? Who's the writer? And who's directing this mad show? A play in three acts by the author of Rosemary for Remembrance.
Series: Song of Agmar Tales. Price: Free! Words: 54,210. Language: English. Published: September 6, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Adventure » General
The time of the Cusp nears, when even the immortals might fall and men become as gods. Corin Quick-fingers, young, brash and with a creative moral compass, defies the Thedran thieves' guild. Stealing should be fun, after all. But soon the young thief will find himself drawn into events both fateful and fantastic, as deep within the capital of the kingdom of corruption an ancient evil grows.
Rosemary for Remembrance:The Tragedy of Ophelia
Price: Free! Words: 65,880. Language: English. Published: November 13, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
We all think we know Ophelia’s story. Hers is a tragedy peripheral to the greater tragedy of Hamlet. But what if she were the centre? Imagine an Elsinore where identity and meaning are as fluid as water, where love and loss, life and death, past and present flow together and one woman’s imagination might have the power to transform the hell of madness itself into a kind of beauty.

Smashwords book reviews by Frances Mason

  • Not a Weasel (Beastly People Tales) on July 19, 2019
    (no rating)
    A bit of a lucky dip of short pieces: The fiction is dialogue heavy rather than descriptive, with some interesting representation of dialectal variation. There are some essays written in an arch style. One on Tolkien, blaming him for the scourge of tall, powerful elves in fantasy fiction. An "essay" about a piece of non-existent fiction (or is this humbug real?). A hilarious essay on the absurdities of romance fiction. And much more. Worth a look if you're time poor and want a quick read.