The Penzance Literary Festival is shaping up, albeit with a few hitches and bumps. I’ve seen a draft programme and have been working with Rosanne Rabinowitz – a far more prolific and successful writer than I am – on the title and blurb for the event we’re taking part in. It’s still possible that writer and political activist Emily Apple will also appear. I hope so. The festival seems to be growing year by year and is attracting bigger names. Sennen based author and very out gay man Patrick Gale is opening and doing a reading. His novel The Cat Sanctuary is my favourite of his; a beautiful tale, although he’s probably more known from Notes on an Exhibition, which was picked for, of all things, Richard and Judy’s Book Club a few years back. But having a queer author on mainstream tv is as good as having a female horror writer on mainstream tv.
Ravens is progressing nicely. I’m still trying to keep up with myself to get most of it down. I know how it ends but there’s a gap in the second half of the story that still needs to be filled. It will come by the time I get there. I’m still deciding whether the story should leave London, but since much of it is about cynicism and greed, then London’s the perfect setting. I write nearly everything longhand – it’s slower than writing straight onto the computer but lets my thoughts settle properly and I’m less likely to miss things out. It also means I can write anywhere but these days I tend to stay close to where I can play music. Although I’m realising that it’s time I wrote at a sacred site again. I’ve not been getting to these places as much as I’d like recently, apart from a short trip to the womb-like holy well at Sancreed, where it’s said that you can enter a trance state if you sit right inside it for half an hour or so. I have not spent that much time there. It would be interesting to try it. The only similar experience I have was visiting Carn Euny some years ago early one frosty February morning. I had the place to myself, until I was leaving the beehive hut in the fogou. I hit my head on the granite lintel and as I staggered out a cat appeared. It sat next to me for some time while I recovered and then made its way elsewhere. I’d always assumed the cat was real but perhaps should be a bit more open minded about it!
Ellen Datlow, editor of the Best Horror of the Year anthologies, has expressed quite some frustration regarding all the stories she doesn’t get to see. This suprised me somewhat, as I assumed all magazine editors would send her every copy of their publications; stories that get picked or shortlisted must be as good for editors as it is for authors. She does encourage writers to nag editors of magazine’s they’ve appeared in. This makes sense, but grates against my British reserve and enforced modesty. I did contact an editor late last year to ask if they sent their magazine to Datlow, but all I got back was a confused reply. It was as if it had never occurred to them to do so. Something else that I’ve noticed is that, despite being fairly prolific last year, not one of the publications I appeared in seems to have been reviewed anywhere. Kzine got a couple of reviews on Amazon, but the sf/speculative fiction press appears to have ignored it. I’m well out of the loop on this, being so far from a city and having no access to the kind of bookshops that would stock the small press, so I might have missed them, but there’s no links on any of the magazines’ websites to reviews, good or bad. Not that reviews are the be all and end all, it just feels as if many magazines are operating in a void.
I’m working quite obsessively now on Darkworlds pt. 2. Some of the characters from the original story are appearing. It feels as if it’s not really down to me. Like the first part, it’s almost writing itself and I’m just trying to keep up. Unlike the first part, I think the story will be less cynical, less harsh, some (essential) horror interwoven into the dark fantasy. I’m in a different place both geographically and spiritually to where part 1 was written (east London) although it’s necessary for the story to remain based in London. While Horse Rotorvator, Lustmord’s The Monstrous Soul and, as I recall, a bit of Kate Bush provided the backdrop to the Darkworlds that was began nearly exactly ten years ago, the soundtrack to the writing of this part is almost exclusively down to two albums; Matthew Shaw’s Lanreath and Coil’s The Ape of Naples, which inevitably has a slightly incomplete feel to it but is acutely moving, even – perhaps especially – after all this Time.