While DUV remains in hibernation, some of those associated with us have been very busy. Comic strip supremo Rachael House currently has an exhibition, Let The Right Ones In, at The Exchange gallery in Penzance. I became friends with Rachael in the London Queercore scene in the mid-1990s, so the exhibition is something I’m very excited about, especially as Rachael made an appearance at the opening. Seeing friends face to face in such a remote location as West Cornwall is a rare thing at any time, and the travel restrictions over the last eighteen months or so has made even this almost impossible, so being able to have a meal and a catch-up with Rachael and partner Jo, who I hadn’t seen for twenty years, was a big occasion. Rachael’s exhibition is running alongside Seen, an exhibition curated by young LGBTQ people. The exhibition holds a small library which includes a copy of Dykes Ink.
Rebel Dykes, the documentary about lesbian punk squatters in mid-1980s London, is finally showing around the country to great acclaim. It’s won several awards and a standing ovation at its Manchester screening. The film was shown in nearby Newlyn, at the beautiful Filmhouse, and it was worth the wait; as an important social document, but also as a hugely informative, fun and moving story about the thrill and danger of being out of the closet under a homophobic government. The screening here in West Cornwall, along with the exhibitions, are indications that things are beginning to change here – it wasn’t so long ago that the local BBC radio station had a broadcaster who made frequent homophobic remarks (and only stopped after I made a complaint about him to Ofcom).
A few updates to note: regarding the second short story collection – March Of The Marvellous is now in its second draft. It’s one of those stories that virtually wrote itself – it was just a matter of writing it down as quickly as possible. It’s somewhat different in tone to the rest of the stories in the collection, being more of a dark fantasy with social/political undertones. And a nasty ending. Saying that, the last story for the collection, Beautiful Silver Spacesuits, has a political backdrop but in contrast is proving incredibly difficult to write. Some stories are just like that, for me at any rate. But progress is still being made, and everything else is almost ready to send to the publisher.
The Killing It Softly 2 anthology is progressing well. It’s going to be a huge book – forty stories long – with a couple of big names signed up. Being so removed from what is, I suppose, my ‘peer group’, the other authors are unfamiliar to me, so this will be a good chance to see what other female horror (ish!) writers are coming up with. Due to the size of the book, the stories have been split into four sections, with mine coming in the third: Another Space, Another Time/Monster Party/Cognitive Deception/The Changed And The Undead. This gives some real cohesion to the book, I think, and my story, Blue, fits extremely well under its heading. Promotional work is beginning to be put together for this publication, and I have already submitted a short bio and an ethereal photo of myself. I’m using the term ‘Transgenre’ to describe my writing, a hark back to an event with performance poet Joelle Taylor many years ago in London. The term is a respectful nod to the huge discussions taking place at the time about Transgender issues.
In a surprising turn of events, I have heard from Diva magazine – they still want to do a feature on the Rebel Dykes film, and they still want me to write it. The release date for the film is some time next year, so when this will happen and what form it will take, I don’t know. There has been a lot going on behind the scenes with this – as I indicated in my last post – so I expect this to (continue to) be a long and bumpy ride.
I’ve been talking to Ginger Mayerson of Wapshott Press and a few things about the new collection are now more or less settled. The title will be We Are All Falling Towards The Centre Of The Earth and should contain either seven or eight stories. After a week away at Avebury, I’m now back working on the last two stories – Beautiful Silver Spacesuits and March Of The Marvellous. ‘March…’ will be rather different to the rest of the stories – it began as an excerpt from my first novel The Gathering, which still needs a huge amount of work on it, but the piece is being developed into a stand-alone story. The original idea is probably the best part of a decade old, but it’s always been waiting in the wings to hopefully see the light of day.
As for the proposed feature on the film Rebel Dykes for Diva magazine – the film still needs funds in order to be finished and released, which I dearly hope will happen eventually. The story behind the feature is quite a farce, however, where I suspect I’ve suffered both ageism and disablism at the hands of one person involved in the film’s production. Diva’s editor recently left the magazine and to date the Deputy Editor has not responded to my email about the feature. I may name names and tell the full story at some point, but I now have no idea whether this feature will ever be written. I send my best wishes to everyone else involved in the film.
A beautiful and moving sight in the pre-dawn sky this week: Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter, in an arc from the south-east to the south-west. A week of amazing things, then. The Ithell Colquhoun exhibition has opened in Penlee Gallery. I’ve had a look around, noting how Death of a Vampire in a Magic Mirror resembled in part a dream I’d had the previous night, and will return to take it in more fully.
My thanks to Whollybooks, who published a piece on Surrealist writer Anna Kavan recently, which stirred me to get hold of Sleep Has His House. How is it possible to be so influenced by a writer I’d never heard of until a few months ago? What I’ve read of her work feels like a continuance of the influence of Colquhoun and Dion Fortune on my writing, despite my not having knowledge of them for so much of my life. Kavan’s belief in dream-life echoes my own lifelong thoughts and experiences.
I’ve started work on a new, as yet untitled, short story, after finishing all the preliminary work and research on the Rebel Dykes article. Two recent apocalyptic dreams are perfect for this story and will be included.
2016 begins in interesting fashion – Penlee Gallery in Penzance is about to host a new exhibition – Ithell Colquhoun: Image and Imagination, the first in a public gallery since the Occultist/Surrealist’s death in 1988. Colquhoun lived locally, in Lamorna Valley, but little seems to be spoken about her. Having read one of her books (The Goose of Hermogenes) and seen some of her art, I’m extremely keen to see the exhibition. The café’s a friendly place, too!
Andy Martin has accepted A Fairy Ring for his (as yet untitled) anthology with much enthusiasm, which is some relief. And I’ve begun work on a feature about a forthcoming film, Rebel Dykes, (about the lesbian punk/activist squat scene in London in the 1980s) which will hopefully appear in print somewhat later in the year. As usual, these things can never be guaranteed, but I had a very inspiring phone conversation with one of the producers yesterday and I’m hopeful about it all working out.
The title of this piece is something which appeared in a recent dream. It’ll be worked into a story, no doubt, and describes an ancient burial ground in the side of a huge mountain, possibly the Himalayas.