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.

A ‘God’ grave

Photo: Julie Travis

Photo: Julie Travis

2016 begins in interesting fashion – Penlee Gallery in Penzance is about to host a new exhibition – Ithell Colquhoun: Image and Imagination, the first in a public gallery since the Occultist/Surrealist’s death in 1988. Colquhoun lived locally, in Lamorna Valley, but little seems to be spoken about her. Having read one of her books (The Goose of Hermogenes) and seen some of her art, I’m extremely keen to see the exhibition. The café’s a friendly place, too!

Andy Martin has accepted A Fairy Ring for his (as yet untitled) anthology with much enthusiasm, which is some relief. And I’ve begun work on a feature about a forthcoming film, Rebel Dykes, (about the lesbian punk/activist squat scene in London in the 1980s) which will hopefully appear in print somewhat later in the year. As usual, these things can never be guaranteed, but I had a very inspiring phone conversation with one of the producers yesterday and I’m hopeful about it all working out.

The title of this piece is something which appeared in a recent dream. It’ll be worked into a story, no doubt, and describes an ancient burial ground in the side of a huge mountain, possibly the Himalayas.

 

All images and text ©Julie Travis unless otherwise stated.

Whishtful thinking

Sancreed Branches

A page for Ian Johnstone has now been added to the site. It is probably the most difficult piece I’ve ever had to write. I just hope it does him justice. Tomorrow morning I’m heading to Dartmoor for a week of peace, hopefully, before making a start on some new fiction. Again, hopefully!

Wake up: time to Live

Teresa Boscawen-Un 17 July 2015

T at our memorial for Ian Johnstone, Boscawen-Un stone circle, 17 July 2015

After what has been a long break between posts, it’s time to do an update. Writing fiction has been almost impossible since Ian’s passing, as it was after my mother passed away, so I have been concentrating on re-drafting Pig Iron, to the point where I think it’s now ready to go for publication. The Man Who Builds The Ruins – the story inspired by Ian and his partner Mikel’s agroforestry project in Northern Spain – has been rejected yet again. I read it through, prepared to ditch the story if necessary, but instead I think it’s one of the best stories I’ve written, so I’ve made a few changes to the prose and am hanging fire on what to do with it next. It does have a very occult/’out there’ feel to it, so perhaps horror/dark fantasy publications are not the right places to send it (although it was nearly placed in two publications).

On a very different note, I’ve been chasing Penguin Books for eight months for an interview with Sue Perkins, but have just been turned down due to her ‘full schedule’ (her memoir, Spectacles, is out in early October). This was to be for Curve magazine in the United States and they are as disappointed about this as I am, I think – Sue has some forthright opinions and would, I think, make the subject of a good article. I’ll be writing to Sue direct in a final attempt to arrange this – if she doesn’t want to do the interview, I’ll accept it and move on. But I do need work that might pay as much as anyone else does!

Otherwise, I’ve been working on Ian’s page for this website. As you can imagine, it’s been a difficult task – plenty of material to choose from, but very emotional to put together, but it’s nearly there. I’ve also been putting Ian’s texts and emails into a document for my personal records, which has proved even more difficult to do! But out of all this grief has come some positive things: contact from some Russians who corresponded with Ian and are constructing a site in his memory, and an email from Phil and Layla Legard of the Hawthonn project, based around Jhonn Balance, grieving, and a journey from Balance’s home in Weston to his resting place at the hawthorn tree near Bassenthwaite Lake. I thank them all for their kindness and generosity.

Three rings of atoms: writing update

Chun Quoit

I have it! I have the book.

I finally got hold of Mister B. Gone by Clive Barker but have allowed myself only to read one page. It has a smattering of humour but no trace of whimsy – yet. I’m halfway through Daughters of Fire and must finish it. It’s very different to the fiction I usually read (and any fiction is different to what I usually read). I’d say it was lighter, but much of it concerns pre-Roman Britain and some very spiritual stuff concerning Celtic beliefs regarding death and the soul. So perhaps the style is lighter (and therefore much more commercially successful) but the subject matter is not. It seems Barbara Erskine experienced quite a spiritual awakening while she was researching/writing it. I haven’t interviewed anyone for years now but if she were to visit Cornwall I think I’d make an exception and join the queue on the phone line to her agent.

After a couple of days away from Everything amongst the sand dunes on the other side of the peninsular, I’m organising myself to hopefully continue the momentum that’s built up over this year. I’m almost finished on a final run through of The Falling Man – more tweaking than I thought still to do – because I want to get it out to a magazine this week. My newest story, Pieces, is changing as I write it. Not in the general premise, but some of the detail needs to be more… apocalyptic. Blame the presence of a new Barker book in the house for that, plus Coil’s Winter Solstice: North continually playing in the background. And after some thought and encouragement from various people, I’m going to start work on part 2 of the Darkworlds story (currently on this website’s ‘Short Story’ section). My life is very different to when I began writing the original, so I’m not totally convinced of how successful it will be, but it feel like the right thing to do to try.

And how is Kzine faring, I wonder? I have no idea how popular Kindle is, either with writers or readers. The price of buying the magazine is certainly extremely good value although I notice version two of Kindle is already available.

A look at the outside world has me remembering some of the things that I miss about London. Strange events happen here but we don’t have Daniel O’Sullivan leading a procession of bricks made by Serena Korda out of the dust of dead folk. This is just the kind of thing I’d have gone to were I still ‘living’ there. And I’m not sure where he’s currently located (Spain, perhaps?) but Ian Johnstone is doing new work and performances. I dearly wish I could be present at something of his.

Another refugee from Myspace finds a home

A few blog posts from M*****e that I wanted to save:

6 Jul 2011: Writing Update/Scatter My Ashes Around A Stone Circle

Cross Bound has been undergoing a transformation. I was happy with the story to a reasonable extent, but after hearing a constructive, objective view I could see that it needed some work. So, to a soundtrack that includes Lustmord’s The Monstrous Soul and the mind-bending Queens of the Circulating Library by Coil, I have been pushed to think further, to take a few leaps of imagination and vastly improve the story, I think. As always, the wild Cornish weather makes a difference to what frame of mind I’m in: the wind has been buffeting my little attic, and the music is calming but induces all kinds of thoughts. It’s like not being in the world as I usually know it at all. Escape or just a different state of mind? Or both? It’s a similar feeling to Monday’s visit to Chapel Carn Brea, a sacred site near Land’s End. Some of the stones there are supposed to be a gateway to the Otherworld. The whole hill is amazing and enhanced by the house nearby, which has a huge and beautiful painting of a dragon on one side. A very special place.

3 June 2011: Jhonn Balance Memorial/Writing Update

Finally, after a ludicrous amount of search engine time, I’ve found artist Ian Johnstone’s website. Johnstone was Jhonn Balance’s partner at the time of Balance’s death and collaborated with them on various projects, including the cover to the Ape of Naples album. More than that, he seems like a really interesting bloke and chose the place where Balance’s memorial woodland will be. I’m planning a trip there, possibly not for a year or so, but it feels necessary.

The Kzine [which has accepted a story of mine] website is shaping up. It might be much later in the year when the first issue arrives, but the artwork is looking good. And now my other current stories have been finished, I can concentrate fully on The Falling Man. I’m very pleased with it so far, and it’s quite different in that the central character is male. It’s right for this story. I won’t call it a short story because it’s already over 6,000 words long. I think novelettes are just what I’m meant to do.

5 May 2011: Writing Update: ‘The World Beneath’ Sees The Light of Day

Cover of Darkness, the horror anthology from Sam’s Dot Publishing, is now out, with The World Beneath included in its large array of stories. It’s even listed on the front cover. A first, I think. I’m very pleased to see it – this was one of the stories I wrote some time ago when I lived in London and hadn’t really sent it out to editors. The tightening up has turned it into a good story, I think. It’s based on some of London’s sleazier places.

Meanwhile, I’ve barely written more than a couple of paragraphs in the last ten days due to being laid low by flu. I’m getting better now, though, and will probably take The Falling Man away with me to the Isles of Scilly when I go there next week. The islands are jammed full of cairns, entrance graves and assorted sacred sites. It will put my head into a different space so who knows what it’ll do to the story. The other tool I’ve used recently is Salt Marie Celeste by Nurse With Wound. The album is a reworking of the backdrop to an exhibition by Stephen Stapleton and David Tibet at the Horse Hospital in Bloomsbury in 2002, which I went to a couple of times. The whole thing was fascinating, including the gallery itself, which really used to be a horse hospital. It’s one of the few things I miss about London. Oh, and I’m talking to the local BBC radio station about a possible interview. More if/when that progresses.

And to Poly Styrene – enjoy those higher places that you’ve gone to. Your loss is greatly felt here.

14 Apr 2011: Writing Update/More Astral Dreaming/The Ape of Naples

First of all, Cross Bound has been sharpened up and is nearly ready to send to a lucky editor. I’ve started on another new story, The Falling Man, which is going well. To base a story around the great London cemeteries is quite a pleasure. For many years I lived opposite one of them and it was an awe inspiring place, a true city of the dead. At this stage I can’t say how long it will turn out to be, but it’s nearly 3,000 words now and there’s plenty more to go. Meanwhile, in dreamland, I need to check out some information I got in an e-mail that relates to the dream I had about Saturn. A few nights later I (dreamt I) was on a stone bridge over a stream, at night time at the edge of the world. In front of me, two massive spheres took up the horizon – on the left was the Sun, next to it Mars. Magma floated in the air, so hot it lit up in beautiful multicolour. Later, I walked along streets covered in cooling magma that had turned white. It was still night time.

I’ve finally heard Coil’s last album, The Ape of Naples. At first listen three of the tracks stand out – Fire Of The Mind, Tattooed Man and Going Up. Fire especially sounds like a man struggling in his death throes. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for Sleazy to complete the album. I’ll try listening to it again, but it’s terribly sad and I don’t know whether I can. Then again, if he could finish it, the least I can do is listen to it.

24 Mar 2011: Writing Update/Astral Dreaming

Cross Bound is getting there at last, although it’s now 13,000 words long (as predicted) and, since I think one of the characters needs a bit of sharpening up, it’s going to finish above that amount. I’ve done a bit of cutting some unnecessary bits and pieces out, but the whole of the story needs to be told, so major cuts are not an option. There’s some eco-awareness in the story, but mostly it’s about one of Britain’s (England’s, to be more exact) more shameful chapters coming back to haunt us. Once it’s finished, I want to have a look at one, perhaps two old stories that were never properly completed and submitted anywhere. And then it’s time to get going on more new stuff.

A few nights ago I dreamt I was looking up at the night sky. The moon was full and absolutely huge. Next to it, equal in size, was Saturn. Its rings were made, not of dust, but of a metal tube, with bizarre designs on it. The rest of the sky was crammed full of incredibly bright stars. It was one of those amazing super-dreams that almost make up for the horrific nightmares I usually have. One of those dreams where I woke up wondering whether I’d done some travelling during the night.

8 Mar 2011: Writing Update: Kimota on Kindle

The Kimota Anthology is now available from Amazon. I don’t know if there are graphics inside but the cover certainly looks good, and you get a hell of a lot of stories for your £1.71. I’ve had a quick skim through my contributor’s copy, and it seems to read okay, but I’ll proof read it properly over the next day or two. I’ll also be submitting The Ferocious Night to Aeon Press’ Box of Delights horror anthology this week.

8 Mar 2011: Unkle Sleazy Crosses The Threshold

My Internet connection’s been weird for a while, so I’ve been unable to post a message of condolence on the Threshold House website for Peter Christopherson, who died on 25 November, so here it is: so sad to hear of your passing, Sleazy. Your music has been the inspiration and backdrop for my writing for over twenty years. Thank you so much. Blessed Be.

His passing at such a young age (55), along with fellow Coil activist Jhonn Balance (42) is one of those things I wonder about. Fate? Were they both doomed to short stays here? Who knows. All I can say is that the world is a quieter, sadder place now.

25 Oct 2010:Story Accepted! And Wise Words From Genesis P-Orridge

Much excitement just now when I read an email from Tyree Campbell, accepting The World Beneath for the May 2011 magazine Cover of Darkness. Looks like it’s an issue specially dedicated to darker fiction. Go to http://www.samsdotpublishing.com for info. I am buzzing! Meanwhile, I have also managed to download a couple of PTV tracks and Coil’s Scatology. This isn’t available from Peter Christopherson or Threshold House, only on cd from greedy individuals making a fortune out of Jhonn Balance’s death. So what I’ve done is, as payment for the download and to thank Balance and Coil for their amazing and endlessly inspiring work, is make a donation to the Balance woodland memorial. Donations are payable until December, so go for it.

In the Hayward Annual 1979 there’s an interview with Genesis P-Orridge, then of Throbbing Gristle/Coum, where he talks about how he never worked alone and that to do so is arrogant and unrealistic. Other people, he said, provide ideas and interaction and are essential for any art. I started by disagreeing with this; part of the reason I write is in order to work in isolation – I used to be a musician and found working with other people impossible in the end. Perhaps Gen would say that I was simply working with the wrong people. And there could well be some truth in that. It’s a similar dilemma to the one I had when I first began describing myself as a Pagan. Could I do that whilst at the same time wanting as little to do with the human race as possible? How could that provide the balance Pagans often speak of? I still don’t have a full answer to that question, apart from the notion that the human race has sidestepped and turned its back on nature so much that we aren’t a part of it any more and don’t deserve to be (although some people are becoming a bit more enlightened and are changing a little in that respect). I feel a great connection with the sacred sites I often visit, but there are a lot of things going on in those places; the human element is just one of them. But, as far as writing goes, I don’t actually work in complete isolation. I don’t collaborate as such on fiction but many, many things influence me. Most stories come about as a result of events or dreams (which I believe can be much the same thing), certainly as a result of interaction with many things. And part of the reason I’m on Myspace is to try and connect with other writers of dark fiction (not that I’m getting very far with that, but I think that’s mostly down to my ineptitude on the site and the Internet in general). So, yes, input from other humans is important. Just at a distance.