A few weeks ago I was approached by a publisher (who I’ve worked with before) with a very tempting proposal – to write several new stories for a single issue of the publisher’s journal and to edit an issue featuring authors invited by me to submit to it. This was more or less a dream come true, but there was a hitch in that I (and the other writers involved) wouldn’t be paid for what was going to be 18 months’ hard work. After discussing this with friends, I turned the offer down. I just can’t work for free any more. I don’t like to think of my writing in terms of money but on a practical level I have bills and rent to pay. And after discussing this with several friends, I realised that it not only devalues my work but undermines the efforts of other writers to be paid. The publisher meant well – and really cannot afford to pay – but I turned the offer down. It was the right decision. It’s likely that I haven’t made this decision before now because of a hangover from the anarcho-punk scene I was in during the 1980s, where making any kind of money was more or less forbidden. This was taken to ludicrous levels, where I was seen as ripping people off for charging 50p for a fanzine that cost 66p per copy to print! There are so many creative projects that wouldn’t happen if everyone involved was paid, and I’m currently involved in two such projects, but they’re very special, personal projects: The da-Dark Outside (see my previous post for details) and another that I can’t announce yet – another commission to work on an amazing literary/art product. When this will appear is anyone’s guess at the moment – the project was more or less completed before much of the world ground to a halt, although technology is making some things still very possible and I hope the project will be completed in the not too distant future.
Meanwhile, other work continues – the second issue of Dykes Ink is progressing and could in theory be ready to go to print fairly soon, but current circumstances make this impossible, of course. I’ve written a short article about how childhood fears affect and influence my fiction, which will hopefully appear on the Gingernuts Of Horror webzine in June as part of their Pride In Horror month. As for fiction, I’m back working on Sky-Eyes and the story (currently around 9000 words long) is heading towards completion of the first draft.
Very happy to see this review of Tomorrow, When I Was Young on Rising Shadow. Reviews are very hard to come by so I always appreciate the time taken to do this – whatever the opinion is. I find it interesting, of course, to hear another person’s thoughts on my work and I’ve been moved by some reactions over the years. Essentially I’m writing for my own purposes and often wonder if anyone else will make sense of my stories, but this particular reviewer has really got the essence of the tale, I think. Thanks RS.
I’m very happy to announce that Monsters Out of the Closet, an LGBT horror podcast, has just released an episode, Wild, that includes my story, The Cruor Garland (at around the 17 minute mark), alongside T R North’s A Mockery of Birds. It’s a very different experience to hear, rather than read a story and I’m grateful to Matt, Eric Little, J M Dow, Meredith Katz, Casey Lucas, Mason Hawthorne and Troy Gardener for providing the voices and narration to the story. The incidental music provides the perfect backdrop, so thanks also Eric Matyas and Kai Engel for composing such atmospheric sounds and a big thank you to podcast editors Nicole Calande and Shriya Vencatesch for having faith in my work.
I’ve also just been interviewed for the MOotC website and I’ll post here as soon as it’s been published.
Tomorrow, When I Was Young is now available from Eibonvale Press and will be on sale at FantasyCon in Glasgow. A huge thank you to David Rix for all his work – as well as for designing the excellent cover. The story is probably more fantasy than anything I’ve written before and it’s possible I could write further episodes at some future date, but that wasn’t my original intention so the story stands alone.
Work has continued on a project that’s been in progress for around eighteen months. I’ve still not able to make an official announcement about this, but I hope to soon. It’s a unique and very moving project and well worth the time and energy spent on it.
In DUV news, Dykes Ink zine is now available in Housmans Bookshop in North London. We have also been involved in talks about a possible collaboration which could be huge – more information will appear if it comes off.
I’ve been playing a lot of old punk records recently – perhaps inspired by the work I’ve been doing for Dykes Ink zine – and I came across one of my favourite pieces from that era. The Wall’s e.p. ‘Remembrance’ featured a cover that clearly left a big impression from its release in 1981: after seeing the artwork again I realised that I had based much of the appearance of the Spoiler (in the story of the same name) on the above photo/concept, around 35 years after the record was released.
Stand by for some publishing news and an update on Dead Unicorn Ventures.
I’m delighted to announce that Tomorrow, When I Was Young has been accepted by Eibonvale Press, for publication as a chapbook in 2019. This is particularly exciting on several levels – a stand alone publication is a big vote of confidence, and Eibonvale Press is a UK publisher – the first in this country, apart from Andy Martin, to publish my fiction for more than a decade. EP’s David Rix was calling for long short stories with an emphasis on magical realism and surrealism and it felt right to send him the manuscript. Thanks to David for having faith in me. If you check out the website, you’ll see how striking and individual the press’ book covers are, so it will be extremely interesting to see what they do for my chapbook.
I’ve now finished all my collaborative projects and am able to reconsider the new story I began a while ago – which has a working title of Sky Eyes. At present, I only have one piece of finished fiction – The Cruor Garland – that hasn’t been placed. As previously stated, I am in no hurry to send any more work to publishers, so it will sit awhile and I will continue to work on it for my own purposes. The Cruor Garland is a fairly Gothic story, hopefully remininscent of 1970s British horror films/tv, but with a far more contemporary attitude, ie the protagonist is of Central or South American origin in a very English establishment setting. Of course, I have to consider what purposes this story will serve. There is usually at least a hint of transformation in most of my work, on various and different levels, and this one features a man being transformed, firstly by the sadness of divorce and then by something possibly far more malevolent. It does, perhaps, reflect the last few years, where much about myself and my life has been changed and some orientation is needed.
We Are All Falling Towards The Centre Of The Earth has been getting some extremely positive reviews and feedback. Author Tom Adams describes it as an “enchanting collection…reminiscent of the best that authors such as Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick or Robert Aickman can offer,” while author Priya Sharma states it has “the same bold surrealness….of Leonora Carrington. It’s utterly strange and beguiling”. Bearing in mind how much of my work has been overlooked by reviewers in the past (with some notable exceptions), it’s certainly been overwhelming to find this reaction. Additionally, Andy Martin has recorded an audio version of Beautiful Silver Spacesuits and uploaded it (in Parts 1 and 2) on YouTube. I think he’s done a grand job – the sound effects give it a very 1970s radio feel – and I’m grateful to him for the effort he’s put into this.
Vastarien has had a good reception, from what I can tell, with Des Lewis stating my contribution, Trigger, is “unique, I suspect”! And I hope to be able to make an announcement about a major project, due in the Autumn, soon.