Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality

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Photo: Julie Travis

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.

Text and images © Julie Travis except where stated and in the title of this piece, which is from Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

 

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Vastarien emerges into the light

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I’m very happy to announce that Issue 2 of Vastarien has now been published, which includes a story by me. Trigger is much shorter than my usual fare, but is probably the most brutal and intense piece of fiction I’ve ever written. It was distressing to write but it needed to be done – and if it helps even one person to understand certain states of mind, then that would be a wonderful bonus. I’m impatiently waiting for my contributor copy to arrive – I’m very interested in what this journal, dedicated to the work and ideas of Thomas Ligotti, contains. If the front cover is anything to go by, it’ll be dark and beautiful. Vastarien is available from Amazon.

We are all Falling… reviews

A couple of very kind reviews of We Are All Falling… have appeared. Author Kathryn L Ramage wrote this on Amazon: “This is a collection of short stories of macabre fantasy by British author Julie Travis. Most are set in the UK or Europe in modern and realistic locations, with the uncanny just a step or two away, but at least one seems to take place in an antipodean other-world not far from Australia. Travis’s work is strange and imaginative, sometimes disturbing, often sad, but also occasionally beautiful. The ones I liked best feel as if they ended too soon, as if these were only the first chapters of longer stories. But perhaps it’s a good thing to be left wanting more. As I read these stories, elements in them reminded me of the grotesqueries of Clive Barker, the dark fairytales of Tanith Lee and Angela Carter, the wild countryside of Arthur Machen haunted by pagan gods and lesser beings, and even a little bit of Lovecraft, but there are also startling images and ideas like nothing I’ve read before.”

Des Lewis has also treated the book to one of his intense Real-Time Gestalt Reviews, and I’ve reblogged the entire thing here. There are possible spoilers in this, so be warned.

I’m extremely grateful to both for taking the time to write about the book. Other feedback has compared the stories with either the style or the work of Anais Nin, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jorge Luis Borges. It’s extremely interesting to have these new comparisons; it’s only Nin’s work that I’m in any way familiar with. I think it proves how my writing has changed over the years, although it’s also true that the comparisons with Clive Barker and Thomas Ligotti linger, so I still clearly have my roots in a particular style of horror/dark fantasy!

DES LEWIS GESTALT REAL-TIME REVIEWS

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by JULIE TRAVIS

The Wapshott Press 2018

Whenever I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

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A bird or a shooting star*

A chest infection has prevented me from doing more or less anything (apart from watching the Montol procession, a hearteningly strange event) for around a month, including no more than a few lines of writing. However, the chance of a week’s recuperation on Dartmoor and illness finally loosening its grip has pushed me to type up a new draft of my latest short story, Pieces. It’s now in a fit state to take away and do further work on. There’s plenty still to do before I’ll let anyone see it; the ending, for instance, has the right words but they’re not necessarily in the right order. It’s quite clunky in places but the meaning is there and it’ll flow in time. It’s nice to write about more unconventional characters than I have for a while, too. Not that many of the people I create are ‘normal’ (whatever that is) but I’m mindful of Sarah Waters’ advice and am happy to have a tattooed lesbian couple in the centre of the tale. They’re right for the story, too which of course is the most important thing.

I haven’t been entirely out of the loop, though – thanks to the Acorn Arts Centre in Penzance, I now have a couple of notices on the Dance and Theatre Cornwall website advertising for an actress to do the reading at the Penzance Literary Festival. I’ve also been assured by event organiser Rosanne Rabinowitz that part of a story will be acceptable. Therefore I’m considering Cross Bound for the event, as I ideally want to do a fairly recently written piece that’s been published. And a review of Kzine on Amazon.com describes my contribution (Blue) as “a dark piece of surreal fiction, the kind of thing Thomas Ligotti would write if he was pretending to be David Lynch for the day”. I’m not as familiar with Ligotti’s work as perhaps I should be (I remember reading some of his work many years ago) and this is not my first comparison with him, but he’s undoubtedly a writer with a nicely twisted view of the world, so this is a great compliment. David Lynch, of course, will be known to anyone who might read this blog. It goes without saying that I’m pleased with the review although it’s perfectly possible that the comparisons were not actually meant as a compliment!

And I’ve discovered, via Spectral Press, that congratulations are due to dark fiction writer Alison J Littlewood, whose first novel has been picked for Richard and Judy’s Book Club. Never mind the inanity of R&J, the exposure for her and for some decent dark fiction will be amazing.

I’ve finally been able to listen to Matthew Shaw’s Lanreath album. It’s a good ambient piece, a little lighter than most of the ambient pieces I have – it doesn’t have the sinister quality of the likes of Coil and Nurse With Wound, but playing it had a quite amazing effect. It took me to Duloe stone circle (where some of it was recorded); I had an insect’s view of the stones, from way down in the grass. I also ‘saw’ the fogou at Carn Euny. I think I’d call it life-affirming. As opposed to Coil, who were life-after-death-affirming. Both have their place. I would love to hear it performed at a sacred site. But why choose Lanreath? There’s nothing on the cd cover or the website to say why. The village’s own website mentions local hauntings, but isn’t everywhere haunted by something? He doesn’t give much away and it would be interesting to know of his spiritual beliefs, if any. Perhaps that’s something I’ll question him on at some point.

*from Daughters of Fire by Barbara Erskine