An ossuary, a final resting place for human skeletal remains

Bodmin Gaol

Bodmin Gaol

COLLUSIONS, COLLABORATIONS AND UPDATES: The Urban Occult horror anthology should be published on 25 March 2013. Interest has been stirring amongst horror bloggers about this book and it will be interesting to see how it is received. Pre-release order packages are still available from Anachron Press.

I’ve begun a writing experiment with Lloyd Pettiford, original singer of The Joy of Living and author of texts on Central American politics and football. This is my first joint fiction project and while neither of us have definite plans to get it published – it may well end up as a personal project – the discipline of working with someone else will be a good experience. I have also been back in touch with Andy Martin of London avant-garde/prog outfit Unit, and it’s likely a couple of my stories (Darkworlds and The Falling Man) will be republished on the band’s website in the near future. He also invited me to return to London to do some recording with the band, and had I kept on playing bass guitar I would probably have accepted his kind offer, but I couldn’t now do the band justice.

Meanwhile, Rosanne Rabinowitz, who I shared a stage with at last year’s Penzance Literary Festival, has had her novella (Helen’s Story, from which she read at the festival) published by PS Publishing. She also now has a website up and running.

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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.

Slip Into Something Uncomfortable: update

Carn Euny Village, near Sancreed

The Penzance Literary Festival is nearly here, and the festival website now includes profiles and some information. There’s still some uncertainty as to who will be chairing, but hopefully this will be confirmed shortly. My father will be taking photos, so some may appear here when I do a PM on the event.

“Short-story writers Rosanne Rabinowitz and Julie Travis will read from and talk about their genre.

Slipstream fiction describes writing that crosses the boundaries of the science-fiction / horror / fantasy / speculative genres.   Some also call it weird fiction. Many women write this kind of fiction, but their stories are more likely to be seen in the independent press or on the Internet than in mainstream book shops. Influenced by all or none of the above genres, their stories are dark, disturbing, imaginative and, above all, weird. This event will be a talk with readings and lots of discussion. We’d particularly love to hear from other writers engaging in these genres, and also from readers who want to find out more about them.

Rosanne Rabinowitz
Does Rosanne write literary or genre fiction, slipstream, social surrealism or just weird stuff? Whatever you call it, there are helpings out in anthologies such as Never Again: Weird Fiction Against Racism and Fascism, Conflicts, The Horror Anthology of Horror Anthologies and The Monster Book for Girls. Rosanne’s novella Helen’s Story will be released by PS Publishing in Autumn 2012.
Rosanne lives in South London where she engages in a variety of occupations, including the occasional occupation of the local town hall. She has been a life model, part-time mental health worker, full-time doley and editor of the late great Bad Attitude, a feminist mag ‘devoted to the overthrow of civilization as we know it’. As well as writing she works as a freelance sub-editor and oral history researcher.
Julie Travis
After spending her youth watching horror films, writing fanzines and playing bass guitar in a punk band, Julie began writing horror and dark fantasy fiction. Her short stories and novellas, which have been compared to Clive Barker, Thomas Ligotti and the Stephen King / Peter Straub collaborations, have been published widely in British and North American science fiction and horror magazines, several anthologies and the first issue of Kzine, a Kindle fiction magazine. Born in London in 1967, she has lived in West Cornwall for the last decade.”

Nightmares real and imagined

Recent dreams have been horrific, so much so that I’ll probably never write them down, but last night’s, though vivid, was not quite so bad: a witch was scattering the ashes of a cremated baby’s limbs over a shallow grave on unconsecrated land, a spell to stop the dead from rising. As she did this, her jaw swung open and a sound – either a laugh or a sigh – could be heard. I was there watching, approving of what she did so as not to anger her.

This will probably make it into a story at some point, and I’ll put it into my notebook before I forget the details, the atmosphere of it. Would Tessa Farmer describe her work as nightmarish? It’s all based on fairies – skeletal fairies who kill animals and play with their corpses. She says they come from a world bereft of humans, although whether she sees it as a good or a bad thing I’m not sure. But her sculptures are mind-blowing and I’ll try to get to the Millennium Gallery in St Ives before her exhibition closes on 17 July.

Pieces has finally been sent to a publisher, of a fledgling dark fantasy magazine, which sounds like it’s going to be fantastic (in all senses of the words). I can but hope. And continue with the second part of Darkworlds (still called Theophany). I also need to have a back-up piece of fiction to take to the Slip Into Something Uncomfortable event at the Penzance Lit Fest in case of lack of discussion/questions that I won’t be able to answer if I can’t remember half of what I’ve written over the years.

And I’m trying to find out whether Jhonn Balance was involved in the Zos Kia single Rape/Thank You. Since Coil used the music to Rape in Here to Here (Double Headed Secret), which appeared on one of the Unnatural History compilations, I’m assuming he was, but I can’t find confirmation.

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.

Slip Into Something Uncomfortable: Women Writing Weird Fiction and Slipstream – Acorn Arts Centre, Penzance, 25 July 2012

Slipstream fiction describes writing that crosses the boundaries of the science-fiction/horror/fantasy/speculative genres. Some also call it weird fiction. Many women write this kind of fiction, but their stories are more likely to be seen in the independent press or on the Internet than in mainstream book shops. Influenced by all or none of the above genres, their stories are dark, disturbing, imaginative and, above all, weird.

This event will be a talk with readings and lots of discussion. We’d particularly love to hear from other writers engaging in these genres, and also from readers who want to find out more about them. Everyone welcome!

The timetable for the Penzance Literary Festival is now confirmed. The event with Rosanne and me begins at 12.30, after Patrick Gale opens the festival and does a reading. Admission is £2.00.

What I’m hoping for is some discussion about why women are often overlooked in this genre (less so than when I began writing but it’s still a problem) and why we do not achieve the same gravitas that male artists automatically get. Is this partly our own doing in that we are not used to trumpeting our achievements? Diamanda Galas, bell hooks, Kathy Acker, to name a few examples, force/forced us to take them seriously; they defy the conventions of our gender and perhaps more of us – myself included – need to show more self belief.

To find other writers of slipstream – of any gender – at the festival would be refreshing.

From inside the beehive hut

Inside looking out, Carn Euny

Two days ago I revisited Carn Euny iron age village near Sancreed and managed to spend some time completely alone in the fogou. We (T and I, in celebration of T’s birthday) had approached the ancient village via the old trackway from the bottom of Chapel Carn Brea, around the bottom of Bartinney Hill, between the two Holy Wells and past the dell that has its own strong energy – all sacred sites; as T said it felt like a pilgrimage – to find the village almost deserted (rare, as it is reasonably easy to access from a nearby layby). When we had the place to ourselves I made my way through the fogou entrance and into the older beehive hut. It is a strange place indeed. There are spiders’ webs over various stones but arachnophobia never rears its head. It has a hole at its centre, like a chimney (now grated) so is open to the outside world but is nevertheless absolutely silent. An other-world. The most peaceful place I have been (on the British mainland at least). There is much argument about what purpose fogous served. Possibly storage and hiding places, but a visit to one will leave you in no doubt that they also had ritual purposes. The energy at Carn Euny is undeniable and I will use the experience in future writing.

A little after we arrived home there was the sound of horns blowing: outside was the May Horns procession, five days late from its traditional Beltane date, but still a welcome sight. Amongst the Green Men and Women danced a huge Crow, a recent addition to the procession. It reminded me why I stay here and, along with experiences like the one at Carn Euny, is more than consolation for missing the odd cultural event in the big smoke.

I have just finished doing another read-through of The Ferocious Night for the Penzance Literary Festival. The theme this year is ‘journeys’ and TFN is about Death, the biggest journey of all, so seems even more appropriate now. I had an idea of looking as conservative as possible for the event, so as to appear almost at odds with the subject matter but I’m incapable of looking straight (in any sense of the word), so will go the other way – the brightest, flame red coloured hair and perhaps (it taking place in July) a vest top that will show off my tattoos. But the hope is that the writing will attract more attention that however I look on the day.

Finally, Fougou (Matthew Shaw and Brian Lavelle) have a new album out, titled Further From The Centre of Disturbance. The initial copies come beautifully packaged and the track I’ve heard sounds fantastic, as dark and wonderful as its name would suggest.