About owlwoman

Writer of Surrealist/Occult/horror/dark fantasy short fiction, widely published in the sf/horror/speculative fiction independant press in Britain and North America. Pagan. In previous lives has been: a skateboarder, bass guitarist (in The Joy of Living and, briefly, Rubella Ballet), political activist, writer for the gay press, union worker. Inspired by the darker side of nature, the paranormal, dreams/nightmares, unquiet skulls, the big skies of Cornwall. Element: stone, preferably in circles. See 'Welcome to Levanthia' for more.

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.

 

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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

Contacting the living

A recent interview by Fiona Mcvie. It feels incredibly self-indulgent to take part in something like this, but it’s also a privilege to be heard.

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Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.

 

Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?

Greetings! I’m Julie Travis and I’m 50 years old.

Fiona: Where are you from?

London. I spent 35 years there, first in the north-west of the city, then in the east, before moving to Cornwall in 2002.

 Fiona: A little about your self (ie,  your education, family life, etc.).

My education – such as it was! – was abysmal. Bullying was the order of the day, not only amongst the children but meted out by the teachers and even the dinner supervisors as well. Quite common in the late 1970s/early 80s. I passed a few exams but my main success was in surviving the experience.

 Fiona: Tell us your latest news.

Wapshott Press, based in Los Angeles, is…

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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.