This article originally appeared in print in Kill Your Darlings Issue 11, October 2012. For more great articles like this one subscribe today!

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Welcome back friendly readers to another edition of Kill Your Darlings. By now, the birds should be singing, flowers in bloom, and the ghastly winter chill just about gone – hooray, we can start to feel alive again!

This issue leads with Eiley Ormsby’s fascinating – and at times shocking – exploration of The Silk Road, the eBay of the illicit drug world. Delving into this surprisingly regulated and organised online drug store, Ormsby questions the benefits of criminalising the sale and consumption of illegal substances – timely reflections as debate currently rages in Australia about drug reform.

There’s another shock story to be found in Commentary: of the pubic variety. Our favourite gonzo journalist, Benjamin Law, lays everything (and we mean everything) on the line in a quest to investigate male pubic-hair removal. It’s not pretty, and it’s very painful. Luckily for us, it makes for hilarious reading.

Elsewhere in Commentary, Mel Campbell describes the immersive pleasure of sumptuously costumed Downton Abbey, but finds the modern sensibilities about the period clothing start to get on her nerves, while Vanessa Murray visits the Bunyip Agricultural Show in order to discover first-class cakes baked by the irrepressible CWA ladies. Journalist Dianne Dempsey writes about a host of disgruntled educators who went on to become famous writers – from Charlotte Brontë to Stephen King – and asks whether there might be more teachers just waiting for their lucky literary break.

Issue 11 also contains new fiction from Kalinda Ashton and Kate Ryan, whose stories feature characters with skewed realities generating perfectly measured levels of intrigue and discomfit.

Kill Your Darlings speaks with the delightful British novelist Jill Dawson, Orange Prize-nominated author of Fred & Edie and Lucky Bunny, while in Reviews Tim Roberts considers the recent Mesopotamia exhibition at the Melbourne Museum.

There have been a few items of exciting news at KYD HQ lately. Our deputy editor Hannah Kent recently sold local and international rights to her debut novel, Burial Rites, which recounts the final days of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the last woman to be executed in Iceland. A massive congratulations to Hannah from all her friends and colleagues at Kill Your Darlings. We look forward to reading the novel when Picador publishes it here next year.

And in other news and moves, KYD bids a fond farewell to our online editor Estelle Tang and designer Anne-Marie Reeves, who will make this issue their last. Estelle and Anne-Marie were original members of the KYD team, and we thank them sincerely for their hard work, dedication and advocacy of the publication. We will miss them very much, and wish them all the very best with their future projects.