Summer Solstice/We are all falling towards the centre of the Earth

Greetings on this Solstice day, wherever you are in the world.

I’m delighted to announce that my new short story collection is now available from Wapshott Press and Amazon (paperback and Kindle versions). There is, perhaps, an accidental theme in this book, having (mostly) been written in the years following the death of my Mother and of a close friend. But at least one of the stories is a good, old fashioned horror tale, albeit with contemporary characters and settings. If I was trying to pin down what I do, the closest I could get would be, “feminist/queer/pagan/surrealist/occultist/dark fantasy”. Not necessarily in that order. But should I pin it down? People, including myself, like points of reference, landmarks and suchlike. Ideally, an open mind should be kept about all things – but when was the last time I read a book that wasn’t from my various genres or obsessions?

The cover photo is a detail from the Jhonn Balance Memorial Woodland, Cumbria, England, taken in April 2016. It seemed appropriate to add a green hue when taking the photo; for me, green stands for Life, nature, the environment. The location is extremely relevant to the theme of the book in various ways, and I’m really happy that editor Ginger Mayerson went with this image.

Story notes for all the tales in this book will appear soon.

 

All text and images © Julie Travis and Wapshott Press

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Guest Post: The Devil’s In The Detail by Julie Travis

Guest post by me on horror/dark fantasy writer Priya Sharma’s website. If you don’t know of her work, check out her site and her writing. She’s pretty amazing.

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“Paps! Paps in the landscape!”

Many years ago I interviewed Cheryl Straffon, a Cornish witch, and she was describing the female qualities of the two hills near Land’s End. As a lifelong acolyte of folklore, magick and the supernatural, it felt like an entirely natural thing to be discussing. And it gave a sensual new angle to my conviction that the landscape is a living thing.

I’ve often seen folklore described as something intrinsically linked to the British rural landscape of times gone by. To do so is to underestimate folklore and overestimate one country’s importance. Folklore is universal – every culture, every country on the planet, is rich with it. The urban landscape and the present day are full of folklore. The tradition is as alive as the environment on which it feeds.

The Universe, our planet, nature, the reasons for our existence – are awe-inspiring, frightening things. Humans…

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Darkwor(l)ds

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Darkwor(l)ds appeared in 2002, shortly before I left London. Frustrated with trying to find publishers for my work, I put a few of my stories together in a chapbook. One friend (Chris Wing) did the typesetting and another (Caroline Berry) realised my ideas for the front and back cover. Two of the stories were reprints: Best Wishes had appeared in a wonderful magazine/fanzine called Dummy, put together by a collective of women in 1999 and Perpetual Motion had recently appeared in the last issue of Kimota SF/horror magazine, which had been limited to 100 copies. Of the other stories, In The Clear Light Of Day had been accepted by co-editors Rosanne Rabinowitz and Justina Robson for an anthology of horror by female writers, which sadly never saw publication, the rest were also unpublished at that time.

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I was reasonably happy with the end product. The only real mistake I made was not having them edited – and it gave me the freedom to sell some via the Barbelith forum (political/music website inspired by Grant Morrison’s work) and the Forbidden Planet shop in central London. Eventually all but one of the stories was re-written and published in the independent press or anthologies: In The Clear Light Of Day became Blue (Kzine/Killing It Softly 2), The World Beneath My Feet appeared in Cover Of Darkness (as The World Beneath) and Owl-Blasted appeared in Necrologue: The Diva Book Of The Dead And The Undead. I ditched the sixth story (Silent Drowning) as I wasn’t entirely happy with it.

I don’t know how many copies of Darkwor(l)ds I have left, tucked away in a cupboard, but a recent discussion about the chapbook resulted in some interest. At some point I’ll have to dig them out.

Meanwhile – I’ve been asked to take part in an extremely exciting new project. Details are confidential at the moment, but if it comes off I’ll make an announcement.

 

All images and text © Julie Travis

 

Bass frequencies from other places

Photo: Julie Travis

A few updates on various projects:

Devon band The Morales, who asked permission to use a photo of mine on a forthcoming release, have now changed their name to the Wish Hounds and will release their first EP at the end of May. My photo of Bodmin Gaol should appear in some form on the back cover. I’m really looking forward to seeing this and am delighted for the band. I know from experience how many obstacles can get in the way of these things, so all power to them for persevering.

Wapshott Press are now working on various aspects of the book and I’ve been updating my bio and the Foreword as well as providing some ‘blurb’ for the back cover/Amazon etc. I still don’t know what the cover will look like, but there is now a publication date: 21 June 2018. I could have asked for an earlier date, but it feels right to release We Are All Falling Towards The Centre Of The Earth on the Summer Solstice. An article on folklore and the landscape should appear online a couple of weeks before the book’s publication – I’ll reveal where when it appears!

I’m making slow progress with a new short story, The Plastic Factory, but am currently focussing on lengthening my piece for Birds And Boys. It’s possible I’ll publish the new story here when it’s finished.

All images and text © Julie Travis apart from the title, from a radio interview with PJ Harvey.

 

The Apostles: The Singles And Compilation Album Tracks

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I’m delighted to announce that The Apostles’ singles collection is finally available, as a digital download, with PDF booklet, via Bandcamp. It includes the 7th EP, Death To Wacky Pop, which was the collaboration between my band, The Joy Of Living, and The Apostles.

I’ve always felt honoured to have been involved in one of my favourite ever bands. There is still interest in The Apostles, even after all these years, so hopefully a few old fans will get hold of this album.

There will be more on The Apostles and the record when I get back to the mainland and my laptop – I’m currently on the Isles of Scilly.

Three aircraft in the process of crashing

Photo: Julie Travis

I’m very happy to announce two story acceptances – my piece for Andy Martin’s novel Birds And Boys (not Behind The Bike Sheds as previously reported – my apologies for the error) has been accepted, although the piece needs to be lengthened. Publication date has not yet been set, but it’ll be a while. This morning I heard that Trigger – an immensely personal and painful work twenty years in the making – has been accepted for Vastarien, a new literary journal from North America (North America, again!), founded by fans of Thomas Ligotti’s work and worldview. The first issue of this journal should be available (in physical and electronic formats) this Spring, but it has not yet been confirmed which issue Trigger will appear in.

Frankly, I have been re-thinking my position on submitting stories. Apart from the amazing support offered by Wapshott Press, I’ve spent the last couple of years dealing with endless rejections. Something I’ve considered in the past is to continue writing but to let them gather dust, as it were. In recent times I’ve read of artists who wrote/painted etc purely for their own purposes (mostly magickal) and development and have been much inspired by the concept (although it’s fair to say that I’m grateful that their work was discovered and made available after their death). Since the Winter Solstice I have been energised to write and I’ve felt compelled to submit stories for consideration, but after getting a couple of rejections earlier this year, I felt my energy could be better put into using the stories – upon completion, not just the act of writing, which has always been transformative for me – for more exploratory ‘head’ work. After all, what is the purpose of being published? Validation as a writer/ego undoubtedly comes into it, and perhaps the need for acknowledgment, but I have as much self-belief as I’ve ever had (perhaps more, bearing in mind the nature of what I write about these days) and I’m very aware that the content is never going to be of interest to the mainstream – and I do not wish it to be so. The possibility of payment is also a consideration, the pressure to justify time spent writing in a world where money is worshipped. The most important reason, I think, is the possibility of reaching kindred souls and sometimes communicating with them. A woman once came up to me and told me one of my stories (The Ferocious Night) had made her feel better about the death of her brother. This was more than I could ever have hoped for – for people to think about death as a transformation rather than a complete ending. I want to reach more people in that way but trying to find publishers where my work ‘fits’ (I am not prepared to write to order and it may be that I’m not capable of it) is, for the most part, demoralising.

Perhaps it’s time to stop, at least for a while, even thinking about submissions and publishing; I have a few things in the pipeline (which I’m very happy about) and only one story not currently with an editor/in the process of being published. This could be a time spent immersed in what for me is a transformative/magickal process, of getting into the particular frame of mind I seek for creating and then writing a story, with no thought whatever of a commercial purpose.

 

All images and text © Julie Travis

 

Behind the bike sheds

Photo: Julie Travis

Andy Martin has asked me to contribute to his first novel, Behind The Bike Sheds. It’s not a collaboration as such, more a section written from the perspective of a 14 year old girl in 1968. There is so much material I can use from my own schooldays – although I was 14 in 1981, I don’t think schools, or children, have changed much since the late 60s – the basics of the section are easy in some respects, but I wanted to truly get myself into the headspace of my early teenage years, so I looked up the Facebook page of my old comprehensive school. It has been painful and has reopened some old wounds. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who enjoyed school; my circle of friends has always consisted of misfits and those who question authority, so school was a matter of surviving bullying teachers and ‘fellow’ pupils. I was bullied intermittently during junior school and constantly from the moment I moved up to secondary school to the moment I left, five years later. The research worked – the section’s well on track – but I was so immersed in how I felt as a schoolchild that when a friend expressed a desire to meet up with me I was in a state of confusion and distress as to why she’d want to. I managed to get out of that frame of mind but it’s frightening to realise the appalling damage done to so many children at school – and how these things are still happening.

 

All images and text © Julie Travis