Darkwor(l)ds

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Darkwor(l)ds appeared in 2002, shortly before I left London. Frustrated with trying to find publishers for my work, I put a few of my stories together in a chapbook. One friend (Chris Wing) did the typesetting and another (Caroline Berry) realised my ideas for the front and back cover. Two of the stories were reprints: Best Wishes had appeared in a wonderful magazine/fanzine called Dummy, put together by a collective of women in 1999 and Perpetual Motion had recently appeared in the last issue of Kimota SF/horror magazine, which had been limited to 100 copies. Of the other stories, In The Clear Light Of Day had been accepted by co-editors Rosanne Rabinowitz and Justina Robson for an anthology of horror by female writers, which sadly never saw publication, the rest were also unpublished at that time.

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I was reasonably happy with the end product. The only real mistake I made was not having them edited – and it gave me the freedom to sell some via the Barbelith forum (political/music website inspired by Grant Morrison’s work) and the Forbidden Planet shop in central London. Eventually all but one of the stories was re-written and published in the independent press or anthologies: In The Clear Light Of Day became Blue (Kzine/Killing It Softly 2), The World Beneath My Feet appeared in Cover Of Darkness (as The World Beneath) and Owl-Blasted appeared in Necrologue: The Diva Book Of The Dead And The Undead. I ditched the sixth story (Silent Drowning) as I wasn’t entirely happy with it.

I don’t know how many copies of Darkwor(l)ds I have left, tucked away in a cupboard, but a recent discussion about the chapbook resulted in some interest. At some point I’ll have to dig them out.

Meanwhile – I’ve been asked to take part in an extremely exciting new project. Details are confidential at the moment, but if it comes off I’ll make an announcement.

 

All images and text © Julie Travis

 

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At the death of 2013CE

UNIT cd cover

As 2013 – a year where utter disaster has rocked myself and almost everyone around me – shudders its last, a few plans are showing progress. First of all, as the photo above shows, UNIT’s new album, The Colours of Life, has just been released. It includes the reworked version of The Wasteland mentioned here a while back, a track which appeared on The Apostles/The Joy of Living e.p. Death To Wacky Pop, which appeared back in 1986, plus the bird photographs that I have recently taken for the band.

I am currently in the process of conducting an interview by email of Ellyott Ben Ezzer, which may appear in Curve magazine. The feature will focus on Ellyott’s impressive solo album, 5772, released in May 2013. The article is already part-written, as I have been familiar with Ellyott’s work for many years, and I’m looking forward to completing it. As far as fiction is concerned, Rebecca Shadow is being extensively re-written in order to base it closer to home (in every respect) – fantastique things happening in the deprived ex-industrial heartland of Cornwall is more exciting and relevant to me than having them happen a step away from the world (or this one, at any rate).

Penzance at 4.51 pm, Winter Solstice 2013

Penzance at 4.51 pm, Winter Solstice 2013

Back in 2002, I attended an event by most of the anarchist punk band Crass at
the South Bank, London. For the sake of completion, I have included a link to Barbelith Webzine, which published the review I wrote just after the event.

Defiling ‘The Art’: writing for money

Roughtor, Cornwall

Roughtor, Cornwall

Horror writer and now columnist for Black Static magazine Lynda E Rucker recently wrote about hearing Clive Barker make a speech back in the 1990s about The Art of writing and how sacred it was, presumably arguing against writing any old rubbish in order to make money. Rucker dismissed Barker with a very realistic wave of the hand – nearly all writers have jobs of one sort of another in order to survive, and if that included writing for money rather than Art then it was just practical.

I have to agree with both of them. The odd payment for a piece of fiction is very much appreciated but doesn’t usually cover more than the cost of printer ink. I’ve had various jobs over the years, all in the public sector for political reasons, but for the last decade or so I’ve been declared unfit to work due to having had several nervous breakdowns. I still managed to keep my head above water financially, writing bits and pieces for the gay press when I was living in London and have got used to poverty, going without shiny things (apart from the odd cd and book) as a matter of course and actually not wanting or needing much, but the vicious welfare cuts by the Tory government now means I’m in an untenable financial position. Not yet Foodbank poor, but certainly picking-pennies-off-the-pavement poor.

However, Barker is right in that I have been striving to write fiction that grabs you and propels you Elsewhere, that makes you think about the darkness of Life, that celebrates the Other, the misfit, the weirdo (and sometimes this simply means having a story centred around female characters). Whether or not I achieve that is arguable, but that’s what I aim for. Anything less is a waste of trees. The articles I wrote for the gay press were all things I was passionate about: political activism, debt, mental illness, self harm, interviews with bands, performance poets and legal activists. But now things are so bad I’m remembering what my dear, departed mother kept telling me to do: write crap. That I could turn my hand to light fiction that might be meaningless to me but could make me enough money to allow a bit of financial breathing space. It was something I always refused to do – writing is an Art, and trees are not to be wasted – but my principles won’t pay the rent. So I’ve begun some light fiction for a magazine that, shall we say, appeals to Middle Englanders (if that term means anything at all). I’ve read some of the fiction in the magazine and was bored almost to tears. Light is an understatement. Still, it gave me the feel of what was needed, so I’ve sketched out a story and am working on a first draft.

The submission guidelines state: nothing upsetting or frightening, nothing supernatural. It took a couple of weeks to get into that kind of headspace (bearing in mind I’m also still working on a dark fantasy story), but I’m there and will give it my best shot, submit it and see what the reaction is. The discipline needed to write in a completely different genre is good for me and I’ve got years of writing experience – I should be able to give it a good go. I’ve changed genres before, to a limited level, writing slash fiction (about TJ Hooker!) on the Barbelith forum and my articles for The Pink Paper and Diva magazine were based on their house styles. Should I get something published in this magazine (and I know it will be far from easy to do so), I will bless the money that comes with it, but I don’t know if I will ever forgive myself. And the trees certainly won’t.