Deviation from the customary: women who write slipstream and Weird fiction

Rock labyrith, St Agnes, IoS

This update was supposed to include an excerpt from the Cornishman’s ‘full review’ of the Penzance Literary Festival. However, the paper’s idea of this was a couple of paragraphs and no in-depth coverage at all. This corresponds, I suppose, with the press and local radio’s complete lack of publicity for the smaller names at the Festival. Given this, I was happily surprised that anyone at all turned up for Slip Into Something Uncomfortable (Wednesday 25 July). After nearly being trampled by the sell out crowd leaving Patrick Gale’s opening remarks and reading, a small but very keen audience arrived to hear Rosanne Rabinowitz and myself. I’d had some serious concerns about either not being heard or having my throat seize up, so I was relieved to see microphones being set up. Chair Rachel Vinney gave us a great introduction and – ironically, given the fight we’d had to include the words ‘slip’ and ‘slipstream’ – said the title of the event was by far the best of the festival. I read first (from The Ferocious Night), then Rosanne read from her novella Helen’s Story. I was interested to hear an audience member describe my work as very visual – many years ago sound designer/engineer and legendary Queercore musician Mike Wyeld had described my writing as ‘cinematic’ and I had wondered if that was still the case. Ex-March Violet, now Vampire compere Rosie Lugosi was mentioned, who I’d seen perform once in London around a decade ago. It was good to hear she’s still around. In all, it felt like it went very well and it was good for me to see/hear the sort of people who read horror/slipstream fiction. And I spend much of my life in near-complete seclusion, operating in something other than a void made quite a change.  I certainly think I would do a reading again at some point. But did the lack of publicity/inclusion of our blurb and profiles on the festival website only at the last minute show that we weren’t being taken seriously? Or was it just a matter of gleefully promoting the performers who’d appeared on television at the expense of almost everyone else? Probably the latter. Many of us who appeared at the festival are involved in distinctly minority sports.

Pieces was rejected by the fantasy magazine I’d submitted it to but something about it niggled. I re-read it and found a section I wasn’t quite happy with, so I’ve re-written it and now it’s the story I wanted it to be. I’ll be submitting it to a British ‘urban horror’ anthology, as its content and north London setting is just right. And publication of Tales From The River Vol 2 has been delayed until 22 September 2012.

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