The Ferocious Night: undelivered

The Tales From The River Vol 2 horror anthology should have been published today on Kindle. ‘Definitely’. But Dark River Press has suddenly closed, as
I found from looking at their website a few days ago. My email to the editor, asking for an explanation, came back as ‘delivery failed’. Not only has the publisher closed their doors, but they’ve shut down their own email address. I can only assume this is to avoid quite justifiable queries from authors, hopeful buyers and anyone else with an interest. It’s not the first time a publication I’ve
been involved in has folded: money runs out, personal lives take a turn for the
worst. Things happen. But the courtesy of a heads-up and an apology should be the least contributors should receive. And in the case of DRP – where I even
had a contract – there had been two previous publishing dates that were not
honoured. Several months of my life have been wasted on this. The one comfort I have is that my instincts were right: I smelt a whiff of bullshit when the first publication date came and went. I hung on because the first volume contained some good stories and I wanted to support, and be included, in another UK based publisher. A good editor is almost priceless, a bad one is simply a millstone. Onwards – the trawl for a new publisher for The Ferocious Night will continue. Happy Samhain!

If it goes any faster there’ll be an astral disaster

Rough Tor with Showery Tor in the foreground, Cornwall

Tales From The River Vol 2 has sadly not yet been published, despite its anticipated release date of 22 September. Enquires are being made as to when the anthology will be available. Volume 1, I’m told, contains some extremely good stories, so I’m being patient. Storylandia 7 is now on sale, both in physical and Kindle formats. Initial feedback is very positive (although I’ve yet to see the magazine myself) – The Falling Man has been compared to Edgar Allan Poe’s stories, which is a huge compliment. I suppose its setting does lend itself to the Gothic horror I read as a child, although that was not my conscious intention when I was writing it. I’ve had a proper look through Angel Wing, which must be fifteen or more years old, and have found two useable paragraphs; the ending may prove to be a suitable beginning to what is probably going to be a horror-archaeology story. This is something I know M R James specialised in, and I won’t pretend to be anywhere near his academic breeding (despite my obsession with musty, old reference books!). More a modern, working-class take on a profession which has become a little more accessible since James’ day. And I’m thinking of doing a couple of interviews (for what or whom I don’t yet know), the first in many years. The interviewees – an artist and an ambient musician – haven’t yet been approached and may well decline, but I feel each has a lot worth sharing. I was tempted to interview Coil back in 2002 and felt somehow not worthy. The chance of course has now gone forever and I don’t want to make the same mistake again.

Someone recently asked me whether my totemic animal was the tiger, after seeing my first tattoo (a colourful Chinese tiger) and I had to admit that it wasn’t – the tattoo was picked instinctively, and began life as a panther before Kevin the tattooist added the stripes and colours freehand. It would seem to me, that the starling would fit the bill of totemic animal: several incredibly powerful dreams involving huge flocks of the bird would point to this. Two dreams on consecutive nights, however, have pointed in a different direction; after seeing a documentary about how the asteroids that hit Earth millions of years ago possibly contained ice, and therefore brought water – life – to the planet, the connection to the stars that Cosmic Geomancers believe in makes even more sense to me. The first dream had me in a wood, looking across at the moon, which was so close to the Earth that I could see it in detail as it rotated. I was lifted above the trees and began to circle around them, and was offered the Universe to travel around. This – which I assumed was Death – was too huge a prospect and I refused and was lowered to the ground. The next night I was asked the same question. More prepared, I accepted, and hurtled towards the stars at incredible speed. Is this what awaits me when I die? I hope so.

Julie Travis, West Penwith, Autumn Equinox 2012 CE

Deviation from the customary: women who write slipstream and Weird fiction

Rock labyrith, St Agnes, IoS

This update was supposed to include an excerpt from the Cornishman’s ‘full review’ of the Penzance Literary Festival. However, the paper’s idea of this was a couple of paragraphs and no in-depth coverage at all. This corresponds, I suppose, with the press and local radio’s complete lack of publicity for the smaller names at the Festival. Given this, I was happily surprised that anyone at all turned up for Slip Into Something Uncomfortable (Wednesday 25 July). After nearly being trampled by the sell out crowd leaving Patrick Gale’s opening remarks and reading, a small but very keen audience arrived to hear Rosanne Rabinowitz and myself. I’d had some serious concerns about either not being heard or having my throat seize up, so I was relieved to see microphones being set up. Chair Rachel Vinney gave us a great introduction and – ironically, given the fight we’d had to include the words ‘slip’ and ‘slipstream’ – said the title of the event was by far the best of the festival. I read first (from The Ferocious Night), then Rosanne read from her novella Helen’s Story. I was interested to hear an audience member describe my work as very visual – many years ago sound designer/engineer and legendary Queercore musician Mike Wyeld had described my writing as ‘cinematic’ and I had wondered if that was still the case. Ex-March Violet, now Vampire compere Rosie Lugosi was mentioned, who I’d seen perform once in London around a decade ago. It was good to hear she’s still around. In all, it felt like it went very well and it was good for me to see/hear the sort of people who read horror/slipstream fiction. And I spend much of my life in near-complete seclusion, operating in something other than a void made quite a change.  I certainly think I would do a reading again at some point. But did the lack of publicity/inclusion of our blurb and profiles on the festival website only at the last minute show that we weren’t being taken seriously? Or was it just a matter of gleefully promoting the performers who’d appeared on television at the expense of almost everyone else? Probably the latter. Many of us who appeared at the festival are involved in distinctly minority sports.

Pieces was rejected by the fantasy magazine I’d submitted it to but something about it niggled. I re-read it and found a section I wasn’t quite happy with, so I’ve re-written it and now it’s the story I wanted it to be. I’ll be submitting it to a British ‘urban horror’ anthology, as its content and north London setting is just right. And publication of Tales From The River Vol 2 has been delayed until 22 September 2012.

The manifestation of a divine being to a mortal

Lots of news. Yesterday I had an email from Dark River Press, a UK based outfit, accepting The Ferocious Night (an extract from which I’ll be reading at the Penzance Lit Fest) for their next anthology, Tales From The River Vol 2. It’s due to appear around August 1st on Kindle. The Falling Man, of course, should be published in Storylandia in October(ish). So that’s two stories out late summer/autumn. I’m happy to now have everything that is in a fit state to publish either in print or accepted. I’d left Pieces – the tattoo story – aside for a while as I wasn’t completely happy with the opening line but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. That has now fallen into place and after one more read through it will be heading off to a very gay-friendly publisher. As for Darkworlds Part Two, its current title is Theophany. It may change again! It’s now in novella territory, having more or less hit the 10,000 word mark and a long way from finished. Ideas and imagery are just pouring out and I need to focus and make sure it all gets written down. It’s tempting to stop writing longhand and just rip through a lot of it on the computer, but I’m sticking with pen and paper for as long as I can.

Tickets for Slip Into Something Uncomfortable are now available, and hopefully the site will include some information about both Rosanne and myself. I’m reading the extract as often as I can bear to, and I’m getting a bit better at it. As a wise man said to me, “It’s about the words, not you.”

Midsummer seems to be passing without me noticing it as much as I should (and I’d certainly never be able to do so as eloquently as Phillip Carr-Gomm did a few days back). Jim Causley (a very talented Devon folk singer) played in town this week and I was too ill to attend. Tomorrow is Mazey Day – the climax of the Golowan Festival – and I’m not sure how much of the day I’ll see, but if I can get to one of the processions, then I’ll be happy. I’ve lost a little of my enthusiasm for it since two of the local witches were banned from appearing. More fool the Golowan powers that be: part of the witches’ task is to get good weather for the day!

Apart from some newish folk music (King Creosote’s John Taylor’s Month Away and June Tabor) I’ve been re-connecting with Coil circa the Hellraiser period. Many of the tracks on the vinyl release of The Unreleased Themes to Hellraiser did not appear on the cd release and I’ve been trying to hunt them down. There’s also some pieces on Stolen and Contaminated Songs that are from the era, one of Coil’s best.