Storylandia 15: Collected Stories By Julie Travis

Storylandia 15 Front

I’m very pleased to announce that Storylandia 15 – Collected Stories By Julie Travis has just been published by Wapshott Press. It’s available direct from them or from Amazon in physical and Kindle formats. The finalised covers are shown here.

I’ve been having fiction appear in the small press for over twenty years now and it’s always wonderful to be published but this is my first collection, so it’s extra special. I must thank everyone at Wapshott Press and especially editor Ginger Mayerson for having such belief in my work. It’s appreciated more than they know. I intend giving details here of why I wrote each of the stories (From The Bones, Grave Goods, Scar Tissue, Theophany and Widdershins) in the near future. Of course, should anyone read the collection and wish to submit a review to Amazon or Goodreads, please go ahead – and I’m not only asking for good reviews to appear, which is apparently what some authors are doing these days. At least any review won’t be able to ignore my work, which is what has happened occasionally in the past, mostly with the Urban Occult anthology of two years ago, I suspect because of the story’s setting amongst the lesbian and gay body modification community in London.

Storylandia 15 Back

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Jhonn Balance memorial: touching from a distance

JB Memorial

On Monday, May 13th, exactly eight and a half years after his passing, I visited Jhonn Balance’s memorial in Cumbria. A fund was set up a couple of years back, via The Woodland Trust, for an acre of woodland to be dedicated to Balance. Coincidentally, one of their plantations was very close to where Jhonn’s ashes were scattered in 2005, so this was chosen by Ian Johnstone (Balance’s partner) as the site, which has a post with a plaque on it for Jhonn. The site is next to Bassenthwaite Lake, a few miles out of Keswick and very close to St Bega’s church. As we (my partner T and myself, Ian being out of the country and unfortunately unable to join us) made our way across the first field towards the church we were hit by a fierce hailstorm that disappeared as quickly as it had arrived. St Bega’s church is dwarfed by massive yew trees and, as a backdrop, the mighty Great Dodd mountain behind it. The church faces the lake and at the lake’s edge stands the hawthorn where Jhonn’s ashes were scattered. It is a beautiful place, desolate but not bleak, the only sound of songbirds. We stood by the tree for a while, bearing the icy, ferocious wind coming off the lake, then made our way – with difficulty, due to some of the area being an absolute quagmire – through one patch of woodland, across another field and into The Woodland Trust’s Church Plantation. Jhonn’s plaque lies near the path, amongst the peace of the trees. To be there, after months of planning and saving, a 450 mile drive and all the years of inspiration and guidance that Balance’s work has given me, was intensely emotional. Check Ian’s website for details of how to find the memorial (and for his wonderful art).

Back home now in Cornwall, I have submitted The Ferocious Night to Ellen Datlow for the short open reading period for her new horror anthology, Fearful Symmetries. The story is longer than her preferred length, due to shortage of space, but I thought it was worth a go. And writer Rob Harkess has reviewed Urban Occult, with some kind words for my contribution: “The anthology covers everything from creepy golem-children, through a people eating house, to moving tattoo jigsaw. In fact, Pieces by Julie Travis, for which the latter is the subject, is one of the outstanding stories of the collection.”. Thanks, Rob!

I have been dreaming of Saturn again. Strange, since I haven’t knowingly seen the planet during my waking life. The dream occurred several weeks ago but it is still very clear in my mind – of looking out of a window during the late afternoon and seeing the moon. Turning to the window on the opposite wall, I looked out and saw two Saturns, both low and huge in the light sky. One was made of solid silver, the other glowed red. Have I been travelling without moving again?

A festival of optimism in the Age of Worthlessness

My self-enforced low profile has come to an abrupt end, after only around a month. Perhaps Beltane has given me some energy. After some more tweaking I realised From The Bones was now actually finished and so it’s been sent to Grey Matter Press to be considered for their forthcoming anthology of dark speculative fiction Ominous Realities. They seem a very organised bunch of people and as they cite Clive Barker as a big influence then it’s definitely worth seeing if a story of mine would fit. After having information forwarded from Ginger Mayerson, the editor of Storylandia journal, about authors giving talks to book clubs, she asked to see any stories I had for possible inclusion to the mixed-genre March 2014 issue (Storylandia is not usually in the horror/dark fantasy camp). I’ve sent her Theophany (the Darkworlds II opus) and The Ferocious Night. And a new story is on the horizon. I have a title, Widdershins, and have begun making a few notes. My forthcoming trip to Jhonn Balance’s memorial in Cumbria, Hadrian’s Wall and Lindisfarne is bound to provide some different perspectives and inspiration so who knows where the story will end up?

As you can see, a trailer for Urban Occult has been put together by Mark West, one of the anthology’s contributors. It’s a snazzy, professional looking job. Nice one, Mark! I’ve yet to read a review of the book that even mentions my story, but someone once said to me, “Your work will only be appreciated after you’re dead!” so perhaps I should expect nothing else.

Beltane was marked in Penzance/Newlyn by the May Horns procession, which I’ve been lucky enough to see since its resurrection a few years back. The sight of a huge Crowman, several Green Men and Women, and dancing folk dressed in green and white, blowing horns and banging drums, making their way along the seafront, is reassuringly oddball.

“Shaken by glimpses of another world”

Urban Occult arrives

Above: Urban Occult arrives, and is pictured next to the now completed first draft of From The Bones.

My contribution to the anthology, Pieces, is dedicated to the memories of Jhonn Balance and Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson.

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.

Urban Occult: now available for pre-order

UrbanOccult

Urban Occult Limited Pre-Order

Limited to 50.

Behind urban life, weird and horrific things fester.

The whispers and chills of things long gone… the promise of power from the darkness… the seduction of those that lie in the shadows… the occult is all around us: in town houses, in mansions, and in your very own street.

Editor Colin F. Barnes collected together fifteen stories by a cast of critically acclaimed authors from around the globe who look into the stygian gloom, explore the dark corners of our houses, and peer into the abyss of human temptation.

Featuring stories by: Gary McMahon, Ren Warom, Gary Fry, Mark West, K.T. Davies, Nerine Dorman, Alan Baxter, Adam Millard, Julie Travis, Jason Andrew, James Brogden, A.A Garrison, Jennifer Williams, Sarah Anne Langton, and Chris Barnham.

Special Pre-Order Edition Limited to 50.

This pre-order edition means you will get the book at least a week to two weeks ahead of general release and:

A FREE ebook version (for any eReader)

and A FREE ebook of Day of Demons. (eBooks will be emailed to you on the 4th of March).

Just £9.99 (+£2.99 shipping anywhere in the world).

Pre-Order here: Urban Occult

Travelling without moving

St Michael's Mount

St Michael’s Mount

Anachron Press’ horror anthology Urban Occult is currently at the copy-editing stage, with publication now set for March. I’ve finished working on the proof of my story for it (Pieces) and it’s back with editor Colin Barnes for the final okay.

After a few quiet weeks I’m back working on From The Bones. I now have the rest of the story sketched out and while the tone feels light compared with most of what I write, I don’t know if it will be perceived by others that way. There’s certainly less of a sense of evil in this one – I’d call it a fantastic (or fantastique, which might be more accurate) modern fairy tale. I did do a small experiment with the story this week – I tried writing with the radio on in the background. I usually write with music playing or in complete silence (apart from the gulls screeching outside the window) and I wondered if any music would do. An hour’s work resulted in a couple of badly constructed paragraphs and a lot of frustration. In contrast, I put on Coil’s Astral Disaster (an expensive purchase, but, given the magickal nature of the recording [deep underground in London during Samhain 1998] and of the musick, well worth it) yesterday and the story just flooded out. Perhaps not hugely surprising results but it did confirm how certain music stretches the mind while others stunt it.

Astral Disaster is a strange album, though, even for Coil, and it received some mixed reviews on release (or its two releases: first on vinyl and then on cd). From first listening I had mental images of South America, a continent I’ve never visited, and I didn’t know why until I saw a documentary on a pre-Inca civilisation in Peru; it was clear to me that AD would have provided a perfect accompanyment to the ancient cliffside burial chambers, incredible feats of architecture and huge sacred sites on mountain plateaux.

JT, Penwith, 20 January 2013.