Fast-Clean-Cheap

 

Photo: Fast-Clean-Cheap front cover

I’m very happy to announce that Fast-Clean-Cheap is now available from Lulu. Editor Andy Martin has put together what sounds like a strange and wonderful assortment of writing and images by what he describes as ‘free-thinkers’. How my three stories (Cross-Bound, A Fairy Ring and Humans Remain) will sit with this lot is a real unknown for me – I don’t yet have a copy of the book to see how it all balances – but I look forward to getting hold of it as soon as I can. Obviously, I’m delighted when any of my work is accepted/published, but this one is a real highlight; to collaborate with Andy Martin again is an honour, and two of the stories that appear in the book were probably the hardest, emotionally, I’ve ever written (see Story Notes 2 for full details in the near future).

I now have the proofs of We Are All Falling Towards The Centre Of The Earth to go through and approve, so work is progressing as planned on this book. Meanwhile, I’m now working on two new short stories – Tomorrow, When I Was Young and The Cruor Garland. The first is possibly a less dark fantasy than usual and the second is the result of having watched an M R James adaptation on television recently! My original intention is for it to be somewhat Gothic, but what it’ll end up as is anyone’s guess.

I’ve been intruiged and amused to find that the record I played bass guitar on back in 1986 has been fetching quite silly prices on Ebay and Discogs. It’s currently on sale for £34 – £55. Wonderful for my ego but the more I think about it, the more irked I am. The record was always supposed to sell for 99p. The musicians who played on the record have never received a penny in royalties for it. We were happy with the deal we got – we paid for the recording but not for any other costs associated with releasing an e.p.. The people selling the record now are making an absolute fortune (in terms of percentage profit on what they paid for it) from our work and we still get nothing. Of the four musicians who worked on the record, at least two are suffering severe financial hardship. What I’d like to see – both as an artist and as someone who’s paid high prices for cds when buying direct from the artist hasn’t been possible – is a bit of the sale price being given to the artist. Having been a poor musician and now being a poor writer is not in the slightest bit romantic!

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Several times I heard footsteps behind me, but when I turned around the lane was empty

Frosty Leaves

Photo: Julie Travis

The title of this piece was inspired by a walk I did yesterday, along quiet lanes and bridleways overlooking ancient field systems. It made me think I could be in an M R James story.

New story Dark Fire (working title) is progressing well. I can’t see where it could possibly be placed – any Occult magazines I’ve seen have been very academic, and the story just won’t fit into any other category or genre. Of course ‘slipstream’ is supposed to cover a lot of the uncoverable, but that just doesn’t seem to extend to what I write these days. The one chink of light has been reading Sleep Has His House by Anna Kavan; her utter belief in the power and reality of her dreams makes me feel somewhat vindicated in what I do.

 

All images and text ©Julie Travis unless otherwise stated.

Quis est iste qui venit

Self Portrait Sept 2013 1

Self Portrait, September 2013

In a much appreciated act of faith, Andy Martin has accepted A Fairy Ring for his forthcoming anthology even before it’s been written. Therefore I’ve been spending as much time on the story as possible to get it finished before January’s deadline and it’s progressing amazingly well. Anyone who reads this blog will be aware that Andy’s band, UNIT, have used some of my bird photographs on their album covers. Untied & United Vol 6 continues this link with a track entitled Jackdaws For Julie Travis, a reference to the Jackdaw family who continually squabble and fight on the roof, a few inches from where I write. This instrumental, a cool prog-type piece, has recently been played on Aural Innovations, an American ‘space-rock’ radio station, who describe UNIT as ‘veteran wild men’, a compliment if ever there was one!

A couple of other projects are on the cards for the beginning of 2016 – I’m considering starting a Facebook page in order to contact more writers and I hope to be writing an article on a forthcoming film. More details will follow if I get the job.

I came from dust, I shall return to dust

Penzance graveyard

From The Bones is now in its third draft and becoming more cohesive. The changes I’d needed to make to the story – altering a character’s gender for some balance and the addition of a hint of the central idea of the story early on (it not being the type of tale that needs a major twist at the end, more a slow revelation) – are helping to make it what it’s meant to be. Isn’t that the meaning of ‘good art’? To get across to the reader the point of it all; they may not like what that point is, but if it’s there, then the job is done. One of the points of the story, the source of conflict, perhaps, is the clash of science and academia against spiritual beliefs and fairy tales (many of which may have their roots in real events anyway). This has been done, no doubt, in many stories (M R James’ O Whistle And I’ll Come To You, My Lad springs immediately to mind) but I’m approaching this from a different angle, I think: science and spirituality can happily coexist. The more I learn about the Universe, for instance, the more weight my spiritual interests (such as in Cosmic Geomancy) seem to hold. But the other question that From The Bones intends to ask is the one that archaeology always brings up for me: what gives us the right to dig up ancient graves and burial places, to steal bones and grave goods? It’s the same discomfort I feel when I see birds, seals and polar bears trapped or sedated and tagged. It’s always claimed to be about extending knowledge and, with the latter especially, about conservation issues, but the human obsession with interfering grates, to say the least. And who knows what consequences there may be?

For the first time that I can remember, I have no stories being read or considered by editors. There are various reasons for this – one story is over 14,000 words long and so too big for most magazines and anthologies, another is waiting for submissions to open for a new horror anthology, edited by Ellen Datlow, and (in an update to the above) From The Bones may actually be finished but I need to put it aside for a while before I’m sure – but it’s an odd situation to be in. Not unpleasant, I’d add; a pause in waiting for responses is not a bad thing and perhaps helping me ensure that I’m writing for myself. Publication – the possible pleasing of other people (and I do want people to like and appreciate my work) – should always come second to being true to what I’m doing.

In other news, I happened to mention on another website (Bristol-based, for Queers, Drag Queens/Kings and general weirdos) that I’d seen the documentary She’s Real, Worse Than Queer, directed by Lucy Thane, a British woman living in San Francisco in the mid-1990s, and that I had some involvement in the London Queercore scene. The website has expressed interest in doing an interview with me, so I’ll be putting some notes together about that time. Luckily it’s a period that I have a lot of documentation on and I knew and interviewed a fair few of the major players, some more than once. It would be good to pull these things together and pass these stories – our history – on, so I’m looking forward to the interview.

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