I’m close to completing a first draft of new story Dark Fire. I’ve decided to stick with this title; it’s an alchemical term that describes an intense fire which consumes itself. The title of a painting by Ithell Colquhoun, I thought it perfect for the story. Or, perhaps, for the way I’m feeling at the moment. Either way, it works. David Bowie’s Blackstar and Coil’s Astral Disaster have been played repeatedly while I’ve been writing this story. Both albums have an otherworldly air to them and have induced some profoundly altered states of mind, which will be clear to anyone reading the story! It did at one point become too strange/frightening to continue with, but I want to explore this kind of thing further.
It’s possible I’ll finish the draft before I head off to Cumbria in around ten days – it’d be a good place to leave the work for the time I’m away. The trip is in part a sad pilgrimage in memory of Ian Johnstone, to visit some of the places he loved, including of course, Jhonn Balance’s memorial at Bassenthwaite Lake. There is still a lot of storm damage in the county, but hopefully life is getting back to normal for most of the residents there. For me, the whole world has changed since I was last there eighteen months ago but I still hope to find some beauty there.
Anachron Press’ horror anthology Urban Occult is currently at the copy-editing stage, with publication now set for March. I’ve finished working on the proof of my story for it (Pieces) and it’s back with editor Colin Barnes for the final okay.
After a few quiet weeks I’m back working on From The Bones. I now have the rest of the story sketched out and while the tone feels light compared with most of what I write, I don’t know if it will be perceived by others that way. There’s certainly less of a sense of evil in this one – I’d call it a fantastic (or fantastique, which might be more accurate) modern fairy tale. I did do a small experiment with the story this week – I tried writing with the radio on in the background. I usually write with music playing or in complete silence (apart from the gulls screeching outside the window) and I wondered if any music would do. An hour’s work resulted in a couple of badly constructed paragraphs and a lot of frustration. In contrast, I put on Coil’s Astral Disaster (an expensive purchase, but, given the magickal nature of the recording [deep underground in London during Samhain 1998] and of the musick, well worth it) yesterday and the story just flooded out. Perhaps not hugely surprising results but it did confirm how certain music stretches the mind while others stunt it.
Astral Disaster is a strange album, though, even for Coil, and it received some mixed reviews on release (or its two releases: first on vinyl and then on cd). From first listening I had mental images of South America, a continent I’ve never visited, and I didn’t know why until I saw a documentary on a pre-Inca civilisation in Peru; it was clear to me that AD would have provided a perfect accompanyment to the ancient cliffside burial chambers, incredible feats of architecture and huge sacred sites on mountain plateaux.