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and Justina Robson for an anthology of horror by female writers, which sadly never saw publication, the rest were also unpublished at that time.
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.
Ellen Datlow, editor of the Best Horror of the Year anthologies, has expressed quite some frustration regarding all the stories she doesn’t get to see. This suprised me somewhat, as I assumed all magazine editors would send her every copy of their publications; stories that get picked or shortlisted must be as good for editors as it is for authors. She does encourage writers to nag editors of magazine’s they’ve appeared in. This makes sense, but grates against my British reserve and enforced modesty. I did contact an editor late last year to ask if they sent their magazine to Datlow, but all I got back was a confused reply. It was as if it had never occurred to them to do so. Something else that I’ve noticed is that, despite being fairly prolific last year, not one of the publications I appeared in seems to have been reviewed anywhere. Kzine got a couple of reviews on Amazon, but the sf/speculative fiction press appears to have ignored it. I’m well out of the loop on this, being so far from a city and having no access to the kind of bookshops that would stock the small press, so I might have missed them, but there’s no links on any of the magazines’ websites to reviews, good or bad. Not that reviews are the be all and end all, it just feels as if many magazines are operating in a void.
I’m working quite obsessively now on Darkworlds pt. 2. Some of the characters from the original story are appearing. It feels as if it’s not really down to me. Like the first part, it’s almost writing itself and I’m just trying to keep up. Unlike the first part, I think the story will be less cynical, less harsh, some (essential) horror interwoven into the dark fantasy. I’m in a different place both geographically and spiritually to where part 1 was written (east London) although it’s necessary for the story to remain based in London. While Horse Rotorvator, Lustmord’s The Monstrous Soul and, as I recall, a bit of Kate Bush provided the backdrop to the Darkworlds that was began nearly exactly ten years ago, the soundtrack to the writing of this part is almost exclusively down to two albums; Matthew Shaw’s Lanreath and Coil’s The Ape of Naples, which inevitably has a slightly incomplete feel to it but is acutely moving, even – perhaps especially – after all this Time.
I finally got hold of Mister B. Gone by Clive Barkerbut 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 Kzinefaring, 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.