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.

So(u)litude

Photo: Julie Travis

A few weeks ago I was approached by a publisher (who I’ve worked with before) with a very tempting proposal – to write several new stories for a single issue of the publisher’s journal and to edit an issue featuring authors invited by me to submit to it. This was more or less a dream come true, but there was a hitch in that I (and the other writers involved) wouldn’t be paid for what was going to be 18 months’ hard work. After discussing this with friends, I turned the offer down. I just can’t work for free any more. I don’t like to think of my writing in terms of money but on a practical level I have bills and rent to pay. And after discussing this with several friends, I realised that it not only devalues my work but undermines the efforts of other writers to be paid. The publisher meant well – and really cannot afford to pay – but I turned the offer down. It was the right decision. It’s likely that I haven’t made this decision before now because of a hangover from the anarcho-punk scene I was in during the 1980s, where making any kind of money was more or less forbidden. This was taken to ludicrous levels, where I was seen as ripping people off for charging 50p for a fanzine that cost 66p per copy to print! There are so many creative projects that wouldn’t happen if everyone involved was paid, and I’m currently involved in two such projects, but they’re very special, personal projects: The da-Dark Outside (see my previous post for details) and another that I can’t announce yet – another commission to work on an amazing literary/art product. When this will appear is anyone’s guess at the moment – the project was more or less completed before much of the world ground to a halt, although technology is making some things still very possible and I hope the project will be completed in the not too distant future.

Meanwhile, other work continues – the second issue of Dykes Ink is progressing and could in theory be ready to go to print fairly soon, but current circumstances make this impossible, of course. I’ve written a short article about how childhood fears affect and influence my fiction, which will hopefully appear on the Gingernuts Of Horror webzine in June as part of their Pride In Horror month. As for fiction, I’m back working on Sky-Eyes and the story (currently around 9000 words long) is heading towards completion of the first draft.

The da-Dark Outside

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be contributing to The da-Dark Outside’s 2020 broadcast. From their website:

“March 28th will see The Da-Dark Outside returning for another site-specific 24 hour radio broadcast of sounds, words and music that you’ve never heard before.

Why the name Da-Dark Outside ?
Well, the broadcast location this time is in Kurt SchwittersMerz Barn* as part of Aerial

As per the usual Dark Outside terms and conditions, only recordings that have never been heard before outwith , say, a handful of people can be accepted.
It can be anything – 3 seconds of that odd noise you heard when you had your phone out that you managed to record, poetry, stories, music of any genre or genres yet to be invented, remixes that the record label rejected, those tracks destined for a future releases extra tracks, rough mixes, demos, collaborations, an excuse to try something new and different from your usual style, field recordings… absolutely everything. As long as nobody, or very few people have heard it.

There is a pecking order for things in case more than 24 hours gets submitted with things recorded specifically for it going to the top of the pile with things you might be able to use The Dark Outside as a promotional tool for your next release at the bottom.

The deadline for submissions is March the 1st – ish give or take a few days with the broadcast starting on March 28th at noon.”

The contribution I’m making is a live recording of the one and only rehearsal by the penultimate music project I was involved in, back in 1986. The band – New Gold Dream – consisted of Leda Baker (lead guitar), Yvette Haynes (drums) and myself on bass guitar. The track (Hope) is around two and half minutes’ long, instrumental and…well, I’m not sure of the genre. Yvette and I had been in various versions of the same band (The Joy of Living), who wrote mostly basic punk/pop and Leda had some very skilled teachers and it shows on the track (which has only been heard by half a dozen people at most). The band never got off the ground because myself and Leda were invited to join Rubella Ballet and Yvette was already working with another band (A Strange Desire, who appeared in The Dark Outside’s 2019 broadcast). I wish we’d stayed together for a bit longer, as my bass playing had got to a reasonably good level and I think we could have become something rather good.

*Langdale, Cumbria, England

Rising Shadow

Very happy to see this review of Tomorrow, When I Was Young on Rising Shadow. Reviews are very hard to come by so I always appreciate the time taken to do this – whatever the opinion is. I find it interesting, of course, to hear another person’s thoughts on my work and I’ve been moved by some reactions over the years. Essentially I’m writing for my own purposes and often wonder if anyone else will make sense of my stories, but this particular reviewer has really got the essence of the tale, I think. Thanks RS.

Monsters out of the closet

I’m very happy to announce that Monsters Out of the Closet, an LGBT horror podcast, has just released an episode, Wild, that includes my story, The Cruor Garland (at around the 17 minute mark), alongside T R North’s A Mockery of Birds. It’s a very different experience to hear, rather than read a story and I’m grateful to Matt, Eric Little, J M Dow, Meredith Katz, Casey Lucas, Mason Hawthorne and Troy Gardener for providing the voices and narration to the story. The incidental music provides the perfect backdrop, so thanks also Eric Matyas and Kai Engel for composing such atmospheric sounds and a big thank you to podcast editors Nicole Calande and Shriya Vencatesch for having faith in my work.

I’ve also just been interviewed for the MOotC website and I’ll post here as soon as it’s been published.

Contagious Magick Of The Super Abundance

I am delighted to be able to make this announcement:

In May of 2018, I was approached by Mikel Quiros regarding plans for a book about the art of his late partner, Ian Johnstone. As most of you will know, Ian was a friend of mine and an incredibly gifted artist, designing several album covers for Coil and some of their costumes for live performances, as well as a whole host of his own work and performance pieces. Mikel asked if I would be interested in writing a piece, an introduction of sorts, for the book. Obviously, I jumped at the chance and ended up writing an introduction, a short story (This Is How A Star Dies) specifically for the book, and some prose to accompany photos of Ian’s Leg Cutting performance piece at the Norwegian National Opera House. The commission was equally joyous and incredibly difficult, bearing in mind how devastating Ian’s death in 2015 was. The proofs I’ve seen of the book – Contagious Magick Of The Super Abundance – are beautiful, a high quality, wonderful tribute and celebration of an extraordinary man. As well as a huge amount of photos and reproductions of his art, it contains written pieces by friend and collaborator Serena Korda and Mikel himself. The book is now available for pre-order from the publisher, Timeless, based in France. There are two editions – the ‘current edition’ at 33 Euros and a ‘special edition’, which comes with two fine art prints, at 90 Euros.