Low Winter sun

Castlerigg Plaque

As 2014ce edges towards a close, it seems a good time to do a bit of an update on various writings and projects:

New Zealand based fantasy writer Lynne Jamneck is editing a collection of Lovecraftian stories written by women, to be published as Dreams From The Witch House by Dark Regions Press in 2015, with a clear emphasis on diversity as regards sexual orientation and ethnicity of the authors. This is the kind of thing I really want to be involved in, so I sent her The Man Who Builds The Ruins – probably the closest to ‘Lovecraftian’ writing I’ve done. This weekend I heard that the story passed the first reading round. Still a long way to go, I know, and a couple/few months of awaiting news, but I’m much cheered by this, and reading a bit about Jamneck, who has a huge interest in science and magick/the occult, has made me even more keen to be involved. Writing is solitary – which is partly why it suits me so much – but the isolation, the sense of operating in a complete vacuum, can become overwhelming at times. One shouldn’t write/create to please others, and I don’t, but if someone else is sympathetic or gets what I’m doing, it’s a huge bonus.

The running order for my short story collection in Storylandia #15 has now been set. Coincidentally (or not), the order I put them in turned out to be alphabetical, and also the same as editor Ginger Mayerson had listed them. At her request, I sent her some photographs I took many years ago, and it is quite possible that one of them will be used for the journal’s cover. If so, it’ll be the first photography I’ve had published since some shots (from Highgate Cemetery and a Swiss forest) appeared in Night Mail art fanzine in the early 1990s.

More stories are on the way: In Holes And Corners needs some more adjustments, more in the way of place names than anything else. The story is set in Camborne but I may invent a town name, one that’s a little more lyrical. Pig Iron has now been (very sketchily) sketched out and is progressing well and I have notes on two more stories to work on next year, which don’t have working titles yet, but both ideas are promising. Completion, a story began earlier this year, is on the back burner for now, until the way forward with it becomes more apparent. Ironically, it may never be completed!

Meanwhile, I look forward to the Montol celebration in Penzance on the Winter Solstice. As one of the masked participants gleefully said last year, “All the oddballs come out for this one.” I need to connect, even at a distance, with the more strange elements of the area. It’s reassuring.

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Darker skies over Penzance

Zennor Road landscape

2014CE has begun in the most positive of ways: the literary journal Storylandia (which published The Falling Man a while back and which includes The Ferocious Night in its Spring 2014 issue) is moving to single author issues later this year and seems keen to do one featuring my work. The plan would possibly be to publish the novelette Theophany plus a selection of short stories. I wrote a lot last year and have a couple of stories that I’ve been holding back for… Something. Perhaps this is what I was waiting for. This project is immensely exciting but it’s not a done deal – but whatever the outcome, thanks to editor Ginger Mayerson for having such faith in what I do.

This changes my plans for the next while at least: I want to make sure I’m completely happy with the stories I’ll be submitting and so the two stories I’m currently working on (Rebecca Shadow and another new one, Completion) will have to be put aside for now. The interview with Ellyott Ben Ezzer has been delayed while she organises a house move, but I’ll continue and complete the article as soon as Ellyott’s back in touch.

Stargazing in my part of town is now a little easier: the huge lights that the local supermarket were flooding the area with, all night every night, have now been switched off after the shop closes each evening. After a long while of inertia and assuming that no one ever listens to complaints, I emailed the supermarket’s head office and asked if the lights could be dimmed or, preferably, switched off. Light pollution and wasted energy are two issues this particular supermarket would probably claim to be interested in, ethically speaking, so it’s great to see them backing up their slogans. Such actions are tiny steps but nevertheless worthwhile.

And, inspired by events taking place at the BFI,  I’ve also asked the Penwith Film Society if they’ve any plans to mark the 20th anniversary of Derek Jarman’s death with some of his films. They’re keen to do so, if some are available in digital format – apparently many cinemas no longer own film projectors. I’d love to see a selection of Jarman’s stuff – both full-length and shorts – again. He’s been a huge influence on me over the years and, for the wider world, events like this should not be confined to London.

A festival of optimism in the Age of Worthlessness

My self-enforced low profile has come to an abrupt end, after only around a month. Perhaps Beltane has given me some energy. After some more tweaking I realised From The Bones was now actually finished and so it’s been sent to Grey Matter Press to be considered for their forthcoming anthology of dark speculative fiction Ominous Realities. They seem a very organised bunch of people and as they cite Clive Barker as a big influence then it’s definitely worth seeing if a story of mine would fit. After having information forwarded from Ginger Mayerson, the editor of Storylandia journal, about authors giving talks to book clubs, she asked to see any stories I had for possible inclusion to the mixed-genre March 2014 issue (Storylandia is not usually in the horror/dark fantasy camp). I’ve sent her Theophany (the Darkworlds II opus) and The Ferocious Night. And a new story is on the horizon. I have a title, Widdershins, and have begun making a few notes. My forthcoming trip to Jhonn Balance’s memorial in Cumbria, Hadrian’s Wall and Lindisfarne is bound to provide some different perspectives and inspiration so who knows where the story will end up?

As you can see, a trailer for Urban Occult has been put together by Mark West, one of the anthology’s contributors. It’s a snazzy, professional looking job. Nice one, Mark! I’ve yet to read a review of the book that even mentions my story, but someone once said to me, “Your work will only be appreciated after you’re dead!” so perhaps I should expect nothing else.

Beltane was marked in Penzance/Newlyn by the May Horns procession, which I’ve been lucky enough to see since its resurrection a few years back. The sight of a huge Crowman, several Green Men and Women, and dancing folk dressed in green and white, blowing horns and banging drums, making their way along the seafront, is reassuringly oddball.