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.
I’ve been immersed in activities relating to Dead Unicorn Ventures recently. The ‘zine now has a name – DYKES INK – various people are writing pieces for it and we will be interviewing local political rock band The Tribunes on January 19th. A few days before that we’ll be hitting the streets with the start of a fly-posting campaign to promote the gig and to show that the local Queer community is creating something interesting. This has come at the right time, I think; not only are we bored at the lack of a meaningful local scene, the far Right are well on the rise and us ‘Others’ need to be seen and heard.
Fiction has inevitably taken a bit of a back seat but I’m writing again now. Sky Eyes is still progressing and I’m hoping to be able to announce some further good news on the fiction front. There are so many possibilities now that I feel as if I’m attracting good fortune. It’s intruiging to be somewhere other than the wilderness for a while.
Hawthonn’s Widdershins has now been released as part of a Hookland mix.
“Hawthonn – Widdershins Produced & performed by Layla & Phil Legard Spectral hurdy-gurdy by Rory Scammell Mastered by Gregg Janman (Hermetech Mastering).
“Everything is a time machine.” We’ve wanted to record something based on the story ‘Widdershins’ by our friend Julie Travis for some time. The tale, criss-crossing temporal and metaphysical realms, begins with the observation of a girl – the elderly narrator’s younger self – walking widdershins around a rural church, and opening the way for the Bosch-like hurdy-gurdy-playing demon Madame Gargoyle, who is described as “proof of the wrongness of the area where the church stood”. The Hooklandish resonances in Julie’s tale are many, and so we took ourselves to our own ancient church, walking widdershins around it, and recording our own plaintive time-machine dirge. One route to the church takes walkers along the path of the old corpse road, which scythes through a field now owned by property developers and hemmed in by mesh security fences on each side, keeping unruly spirits – both living and dead – to the path. The sound of these fences being rattled and agitated in protest as part of an impromptu ritual conducted while walking the corpse road concludes each of the three sections of the music.”
So much has been happening here that it’s difficult to know where to start, but perhaps I should open with my absolute delight at hearing ‘Widdershins’ by Hawthonn, an amazing ambient/drone duo from Leeds, England. Some time ago Layla and Phil Legard told me they were intending to write a piece based on my story Widdershins, (Storylandia 15). This was recorded recently (with Rory Scammell providing hurdy-gurdy drones), both in the studio and using field recordings and the finished result will be released as part of the Hooklands project on the weekend before Christmas/of the Winter Solstice. The track is an extremely evocative and Otherworldy experience which has me in goosebumps every time I listen to it. More details on the track/release to follow.
Work on the ‘zine for Dead Unicorn Ventures is progressing well – pages of art (a real struggle/learning curve for such a non-artist as myself) and a comic strip are being worked on and we’re hoping to interview The Tribunes (the local band who will be playing Swallow Your Pride in July 2019) soon, as well as plans for some other features that I won’t reveal for now but will be very exciting if they come together. We’ve also been talking to Footprinters, a workers’ co-operative also based in Leeds, who will be printing the ‘zine, about costs and colours and I can safely say that our colour scheme will be extremely distinctive and eye catching! We still haven’t agreed upon a title, but we’ll get there.
Meanwhile, work on my latest short story, Sky Eyes, is inching forward. Fiction is a place I need to go to on a regular basis and of course it requires an entirely different headspace to the ‘zine or anything else I’m doing, but progress continues, however slowly. The project I collaborated on during the Spring and Summer is still marked confidential, and has been delayed, but I am hoping for news soon and an announcement will follow as soon as possible.
I’m delighted to announce the creation of Dead Unicorn Ventures. This is a group of three – Cat Astley, Teresa Knight and myself – who have become tired of nothing of substance happening for the Queer community in Cornwall, and nothing at all happening in Penzance! As will be obvious from our name, we want to make a point without being po-faced about it and I’m hoping people will get the spirit of what we’re trying to achieve. We have spent the last month or so working on our first event, Swallow Your Pride, which will take place at the Acorn Arts Centre in Penzance on 26 July 2019. This event showcases a real diversity of Queer talent and I cannot express how excited I am at the line-up we’ve managed to book: The Tribunes are from Penzance and play punky rock with a Socialist agenda, Jim Causley is one of the country’s brightest folk singers and musicians and Joelle Taylor is an extraordinary performance poet who’s toured many countries but has not, as yet, ever appeared in Penzance. I’ve worked with Joelle twice before – at the inaugural Queeruption festival in 1998 and at The Poetry Society Cafe in 2002 and I’m finally making good on my promise to get her a gig in West Cornwall! There may also be some comedy and a performance/reading of one of my stories and hopefully an art exhibition elsewhere in the town to run alongside the event, as well as the possibility of a programme/fanzine to be made available on the night. A Facebook page is in the process of being constructed to give details of what we’re doing. It feels like the right time to be doing this and I’m happy to bring my punk sensibilities and experiences to this project. May it lead to many wonderful things.
I’m delighted to announce that Tomorrow, When I Was Young has been accepted by Eibonvale Press, for publication as a chapbook in 2019. This is particularly exciting on several levels – a stand alone publication is a big vote of confidence, and Eibonvale Press is a UK publisher – the first in this country, apart from Andy Martin, to publish my fiction for more than a decade. EP’s David Rix was calling for long short stories with an emphasis on magical realism and surrealism and it felt right to send him the manuscript. Thanks to David for having faith in me. If you check out the website, you’ll see how striking and individual the press’ book covers are, so it will be extremely interesting to see what they do for my chapbook.
I’ve now finished all my collaborative projects and am able to reconsider the new story I began a while ago – which has a working title of Sky Eyes. At present, I only have one piece of finished fiction – The Cruor Garland – that hasn’t been placed. As previously stated, I am in no hurry to send any more work to publishers, so it will sit awhile and I will continue to work on it for my own purposes. The Cruor Garland is a fairly Gothic story, hopefully remininscent of 1970s British horror films/tv, but with a far more contemporary attitude, ie the protagonist is of Central or South American origin in a very English establishment setting. Of course, I have to consider what purposes this story will serve. There is usually at least a hint of transformation in most of my work, on various and different levels, and this one features a man being transformed, firstly by the sadness of divorce and then by something possibly far more malevolent. It does, perhaps, reflect the last few years, where much about myself and my life has been changed and some orientation is needed.
We Are All Falling Towards The Centre Of The Earth has been getting some extremely positive reviews and feedback. Author Tom Adams describes it as an “enchanting collection…reminiscent of the best that authors such as Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick or Robert Aickman can offer,” while author Priya Sharma states it has “the same bold surrealness….of Leonora Carrington. It’s utterly strange and beguiling”. Bearing in mind how much of my work has been overlooked by reviewers in the past (with some notable exceptions), it’s certainly been overwhelming to find this reaction. Additionally, Andy Martin has recorded an audio version of Beautiful Silver Spacesuits and uploaded it (in Parts 1 and 2) on YouTube. I think he’s done a grand job – the sound effects give it a very 1970s radio feel – and I’m grateful to him for the effort he’s put into this.
Vastarien has had a good reception, from what I can tell, with Des Lewis stating my contribution, Trigger, is “unique, I suspect”! And I hope to be able to make an announcement about a major project, due in the Autumn, soon.
I’m very happy to announce that Issue 2 of Vastarien has now been published, which includes a story by me. Trigger is much shorter than my usual fare, but is probably the most brutal and intense piece of fiction I’ve ever written. It was distressing to write but it needed to be done – and if it helps even one person to understand certain states of mind, then that would be a wonderful bonus. I’m impatiently waiting for my contributor copy to arrive – I’m very interested in what this journal, dedicated to the work and ideas of Thomas Ligotti, contains. If the front cover is anything to go by, it’ll be dark and beautiful. Vastarien is available from Amazon.