A sky of ice

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Killing It Softly 2 has apparently been doing well, appearing in various ‘best of’ lists and making it to #2 in the anthology section of the Critters Workshop ‘Preditors and Editors’ Poll. Reviews are also good, although they inevitably talk about the book as a whole – with 38 stories, it’s going to be difficult to be read, let alone picked out, but I’m glad the anthology’s doing well. The publishers (Digital Fiction) have certainly worked hard promoting it. I finally got hold of a copy of Fast-Clean-Cheap. It won’t make anyone’s ‘best of’ lists and probably won’t get any reviews, as it’s far too experimental, but to me it looks like a fine publication and some of the criticism of it that editor Andy Martin has received – about the odd typeface in some of it, and the fact that some of it’s in German – are some of its most interesting points, in my view. But – as I remember from my fanzine writing days – the use of imagination and pushing the boundaries doesn’t go down well with many people.

Tomorrow, When I Was Young was submitted a couple of weeks ago to an online magazine and has just been rejected. No reason was given. Many editors choose not to bother giving any kind of explanation these days, which aggrieves me somewhat. Having spent countless hours writing and re-writing a story and having chosen their publication to submit to, a few words as to why they don’t want the story is not too much to ask. I usually take rejections on the chin – I’ve had many in my time – but this one concerns me. I suspect the reason may be the content, which involves a certain amount of genderblurring. I’ve suspected unpleasant reasons for story rejections before (one was almost certainly down to me not being able to contribute much to a crowdfunding campaign), but of course nothing’s ever provable. This is where I just have to keep faith and keep going. The other new story I’ve mentioned previously, The Cruor Garland, has is now in its third draft and, with any luck, I’ll be submitting it to a horror anthology by the end of the month.

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Finally, Unit appear on Godspunk Volume Eighteen. In the cd’s booklet, their double page includes a photograph taken by me of West Kennet Long Barrow, from my trip there last May. Many thanks to Andy Martin for using the photograph. I had no idea he was going to do this, and I was extremely happy to see it there.

All text and images © Julie Travis.

By far the worst is the hamburger lady

As part of its Halloween week, BBC 6 Music asked for listeners’ scariest songs, and Hamburger Lady by Throbbing Gristle was played – a massive surprise in itself, as the station isn’t as radical as it likes to think it is. I’d heard the track a couple of times before, but this time the volume was up high on my stereo and I was sitting directly in front of the speakers, so it was a very different experience. A pulsing began in the dead centre of my forehead, where the Third Eye is located, of course, and it felt as if my head was expanding. I managed to get hold of D.O.A.(the album which includes the track) at a very reasonable price and played Hamburger Lady again at high volume. It made my Third Eye feel very sensitive, almost ticklish, this time and my head feeling disconnected from my body.

Both experiences – which may have been purely physical rather than spiritual – have been unsettling but very interesting and I want to go further with this. The subject matter of the track – a woman horrifically burned on most of her body but somehow still alive in hospital, in the utmost, endless agony – is nightmarish, the worst existence anyone/thing could suffer, I think, and the ‘music’ on the track, along with Gen’s vocals, which gently read out the woman’s terrible suffering, makes me feel nauseous. Which it should, of course. To me the track seems compassionate, with sympathy for the poor woman (who I hope died sooner rather than later), which is what makes me able to listen to it.

The whole of D.O.A. is strange in that there is a familiarity about it. I’ve heard a few tracks from it over the years, but I can’t remember having heard the complete album, although perhaps I did, some decades ago, during my time hanging around the Stoke Newington squatting scene. But it feels as if this album’s been returned to me, somehow. I’m playing it frequently – as you can imagine, it’s very good for writing to.

I’ve recently been in communication with Cosey Fanni Tutti. Her autobiography is fascinating for many reasons, but I wanted to acknowledge her honesty in writing about her relationship with an abusive person and her strength in not only surviving it, but not being completely ruined by it. She emailed me back within a couple of days. I won’t quote what she said here, but she was kind and supportive. My respect for her just grows and grows.

All text © Julie Travis apart from the title.