Some writing updates: The Man Who Builds The Ruins has been with a couple of editors and was rejected immediately by both. It’s always possible that the story just isn’t up to scratch but after a lot of revision I’m extremely happy with it – perhaps it’s time to put it aside for a month or so and come back to it more objectively. If I’m still happy with it I know it will find a place somewhere. But possibly the ‘problem’ is that the piece doesn’t fit to any genre. I had to describe it for one magazine and chose ‘horror+fantasy’ (there was a list), although I’m not sure it would sit comfortably in that place. There’s a small element of horror in the story, but it could also be described as Weird/dark fantasy/slipstream. Someone once said I wrote ‘bloodstream rather than slipstream’ fiction. If one has to put a label on these things… I came up with the term ‘transgenre’ whilst working with performance poet Joelle Taylor in London – with many of the lesbian community at that time beginning to describe themselves as transgender, it seemed appropriate and supportive at the same time.
As for Rebecca Shadow and the Winter House (a title that may well change) – I’ve done a lot of work on it recently and the first draft is almost finished. The last, fairly hefty section of it, needs to be typed up, then it’ll be in a fit state to begin rewriting. After not touching the manuscript for three months while I wrote TMWBTR, I’d forgotten the pages and pages of longhand that I’d done. It’s in a much better state than I’d thought. I’ve read a lot lately about writers playing music while writing, and there’s a fair few that think that only silence will do – that perhaps it’s as much of a ‘false’ influence as writing while drinking or on drugs. I respect their choice; silence certainly has its place. Having the window open and hearing the repeating pattern of the chaffinch singing outside has its place, too But state of mind-changing influences of various kinds can unlock doors, if done wisely. It won’t create an imagination where there isn’t one.