Aaaaaanyhoo, this morning I’m delighted to be part of Mark West’s latest short fic mixtape – it being Women in Horror month, the theme is, quite naturally, Women in Horror. My personal pick is for one of the many excellent stories in Tananarive Due‘s Ghost Summer: Stories collection, which is a book I enthusiastically recommend you all go out and buy, just because! But the particular story I’ve picked is also available online at m’beloved Lightspeed so you can pop over to read the Mixtape then link through to read the story! (Is that a deal or what?)
Elsewhere across the interwebs, the gloriousness that is the Girl’s Guide to the Apocalypse has resurrected from its shallow grave to fight the good fight once more, so you’ll find me and many others popping up there with info, meta and all manner of oddness. Thus far we’ve covered survival rations and stocking your pantry, the art of protest signs, humour as an essential survival tool, how to date an egomaniacal dictator and my own contribution – a vaguely Resident Evil inspired ramble on Beware the Monsters.
So this year I'm doing a short fiction manic thing. On account of having a list of at least twenty five shorts I need to write, just cos. So, under the cut will be a progress wotsit, just to keep me honest.
As of day two, I've just over 5k words written, with story #1 finished, and story #2 just started.
( Collapse )
Onwards to write-fest!
So the hotel – from an accommodation standpoint, the De Vere Orchard is one of the better Fcon hotels. Plentiful free parking, comfy chairs and actual stable free wifi y’all! (What? This is a vital part of any con!) And yes, many hated the limited menu the hotel decided to shove in the restaurant especially for us, but hey, it was cheap and suited my (admittedly unsophisticated) palate perfectly so I had no problem with it. Everything with cheese? So in! (The epically slow service was a whole ‘nother thing though.)
The con itself had an excellent vibe to it – with tons of new people, a generally relaxed and friendly feel and plenty of light spacious rooms to hang about in between things. And oh so many panels. In an alternate universe, where hive mind clone systems have been invented, Jen #1 did alllll the panels, Jen #2 did allll the other panels, Jen #3 scooped up the random panels, launches and miscellanea missed by #1 and #2, Jen #4 lurked in the readings and hung around gossiping all day before storming the karaoke and disco, while Jen #5 got on the tram to Nottingham and hasn’t been seen since. At some point later the multi Jen collective merged brains and the full con experience was had by all.
Alas, no hive mind clone club in this universe, so while many panels were seen, many panels were not and conversations were fleeting things that happened as people passed on the way to other stuff. But the people I did get to see, albeit briefly, were fantastic. (Cheers folks! Big hugs!) Shout outs to Adrian, Ruth, Alasdair, Marguerite, Pete, Jan, Debs, Mike, Paul, Marie, Steve, Jo, Amanda, Simon, other Simon, other other Simon, Cate, Liz, Gary, Karen, Heidi, Adele, Mr Fox and all those peeps whose names are currently on the edge of m’wossname but who also increased the general loveliness of the con.
The editing panel I was on went well (despite the fact I was on it!). James Barclay is a stunning moderator, and m’fellow panellists – Pete Crowther, Nicola Budd and Simon Marshall Jones – were both erudite and excellent! (I said not much, and possibly answered questions that hadn’t even been asked. Er. Whoops? Mooooving on.) The other panels were a wonderfully varied selection including the fun and very educational writing in a franchise panel, the excellent present and future of horror panel, the equally excellent epic fantasy panel, the panel interupptus that was the marketing panel (cut short by fire alarm and ensuing congregation in the car park), and the fascinating future of publishing panel (phone fic, yo!). The Jo Fletcher interview was also brilliant. (Jo F. = actual goddess. No question.)
We had to leave early Sunday so missed the last day of fun, but awards can be found here – and are they not a fantastic bunch of winners? Alchemy picked up Best Collection for Adrian Cole’s Nick Nightmare Investigates (co-published with Airgedlámh Publications), Fox Spirit picked up Best Independent Press, and with Holdfast and Women Destroy SF among the other winners, happy Jen is very happy. :-)
Massive kudos to the redcoats who kept things running smoothly and huge thanks to Lee and the committee for organising such an amazing con. I had a blast! (Now go get some sleep, peeps!)
And so onto next year… early news in says that next year Fantasycon will be in Scarborough (23rd – 25th September), organised by Alex Davis of Edge Lit fame, with the lovely Adam Nevill as first guest – so naturally I’ve already booked. (Well, it has to be done!) Should be fun, so get yourselves signed up already!
On the Saturday, 11am, in Suite 2:
Hack ‘n’ Slash: Editing Dreams and Editor Nightmares
Editing is a form of surgery: we may not want to go through with it, but we are almost certainly better off for it. But how do you learn this vital skill, and work collaboratively with others in the editing process? A panel of editors, writers, agents & publishers share their experiences.
- what to look for: how to polish a manuscript
- working with editors
- the editing process for self-publishing writers
- the value of copy-editing
Moderator: James Barclay
Panellists: Jenny Barber, Nicola Budd, Peter Crowther, John Houlihan, Simon Marshall-Jones
Soooo, yes, I’m on a panel with professional type people then! Not at all nervous. Ohhhh no.
Elsewhen, I’ll be lurking at the Alchemy/Shadow Publishing joint launch thingy – 10am on the Saturday – Alchemy’s launching Marion Pitman’s collection Music in the Bone; Shadow’s launching Allen Ashley’s latest anthology Creeping Crawlers. It’ll be awesome, y’all should pop along.
Other than that, I’ll be fervently wishing I could manage some sort of hive mind clone thing as there’s So! Many! Things! I want to go see. All at the same time! Also, karaoke!
So, first let’s talk about Jan the writer. When did you first start writing and what genres draw you.
It always sounds like such a cliché to say I have always written, for as long as I can remember, but I suspect this is quite true with the majority of writers. I amused the family no end by talking in the third person for a week or more when I was around seven years old, because I wanted to see what I would sound like as a book and at secondary school I filled many school notebooks with fiction (mostly during lesson times). I wrote primarily for myself for years and only really started thinking about writing for publication in my late thirties when the family and business needed less of my time.
What draws me? I have always been fascinated by folklore, myths and legends, especially those that give rise to local customs, so fantasy was a natural path. A great deal of my short fiction has been dark fantasy, urban fantasy and horror and many of those stories have been drawn directly from those sources. Sussex Tales, my mainstream novel, also has a lean toward those local customs with the added bonus of country wine recipes and rural herb lore. Currently I am writing a crime novel set in WW2 which is more historical than mythical –though I still find myself caught up in the same levels of research. As you can see there is no one genre that draws me; except for a recurring love of those old legends.
Which authors have inspired you in these genres?
This is the kind of question I always hate answering mainly because my influences and inspirations are so wide. Jane Austen and Daphne Du Maurier have always been huge influences, as have Arthur Conan Doyle, Joan Aitken, Michael Moorcock, Robert Holdstock and so many more. Ask me tomorrow and I will find a half dozen others.
When it comes to more recent authors it is even harder to choose because we all read so many new titles by so many people that to name one or two above the rest would be unfair to the dozens of other equally spiffing writers. I could list all of the recent and forthcoming Alchemy Press authors such as Pete Atkins, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Bryn Fortey, Mike Chinn, Anne Nichols, Adrian Cole, Pauline Dungate, James Brogden, Paul Kane, Marion Pitman, David Sutton, John Grant et al – or the Penkhull Press writers; Misha Herwin, Jem Shaw and Malcolm Havard – but that would be unfair to all of the other writers that not yet published by either press!
Recently read books that I’ve enjoyed most especially (who are not Alchemy Press writers – all of whom are fab!) have been by (in no special order) Jo Walton, Joanne Harris, Jim Butcher, Lou Morgan and Paul Finch. There are others of course but these are the ones that have stuck with me, which is always a good sign.
Have you ever been tempted to retell Pride and Prejudice with a genre slant? ;-)
It has crossed my mind, though it has been done so many times already that I am not sure it would be a project people would want to see. A regency urban fantasy might be quite fun to do if I got my act together. Elizabeth Bennett is one of the greatest characters in literature. She could be parachuted into almost any setting and still work. I suspect she has been paid homage (and occasionally pastiched) by many, many, writers – albeit under different names.
You’ve just had your supernatural fiction collection Leinster Gardens and Other Subtleties published with The Alchemy Press. Tell us a little more about that.
Leinster Gardens and Other Subtleties (to paraphrase) is exactly what it says on the cover. A collection of supernatural fiction (in paper and kindle formats). All but one of the stories included have been previously published, and some of the stories had a limited audience on first publication it seemed like a good idea to give them a second airing. The single original story in there is not strictly speaking new as it was accepted for Twisted Tongue magazine which folded before my story was published. They are all supernatural in origin, either traditional ghost stories or tales that revolve around a spirit of a kind. I am not a writer of visceral horror, but rather (I hope) the sort that raises an uneasy sensation in the back of the neck when you are walking home in the dark!
You’ve got another collection – Fables and Fabulations – coming out soon. When, with whom and is there a particular theme to it?
Fables and Fabulations is coming out very soon as a ‘Penkhull Slim’ volume with the Penkhull Press. Again these are all previously published stories gathered together in a single volume, but unlike Leinster Gardens and Other Subtleties there is no particular theme beyond fantasy in its broadest sense. Fables and Fabulations opens with the vampire tale ‘A Taste of Culture, (first published in the Mammoth Book of Dracula and ends with ‘Winter Eve’, (from Ethereal Tales #9) which is an urban fantasy on Halloween and the water horses of legend galloping across Pontypridd common. There is also are SF and horror tales in the mix so hopefully something for everyone.
Next, Jan the editor. You’ve edited multiple publications for the BFS, and co-edited for both The Alchemy Press and Fox Spirit Books. What’s the appeal of this side of publishing for you?
I do love the process of putting an anthology together. Sifting through the submissions and coming across those gems of short fiction is hard work but infinitely rewarding. The downside is in having to reject some really good stuff, either because it doesn’t fit or there is a similar story that you like just that little bit better. It is also a great way to network with other writers!
Do you have a dream anthology project you’d like to do or authors you’d like to work with in the future?
There are so many projects that would be fun to do. Something with a pagan theme perhaps – ‘Quarters and Cross Quarters’ (a working title) or maybe as an retired locksmith something like ‘Picking Over Locks’. That said I prefer not to have my themes too narrowly set. By the time you have read the sixth story about one-legged zombie hunters or Unicorns at Halloween even the best of fiction can lack originality.
Who would I like to work with? Hmm. Well the Alchemy Press books of Urban Mythic 1 &2 and Alchemy Press book of Ancient Wonders as well as the Fox Spirit book of Wicked Women all have some stellar line-ups. Top notch established writers and talented new arrivals. And of course with Alchemy Press I have worked with some fabulous writers already mentioned. So who left? I would love to get stories from Charles de Lint or Jim Butcher, Joanne Harris or Sarah Pinborough. But there are dozens, maybe hundreds of writers I could name and would hate to make a list and forget to include folks I admire but who slipped my mind just for a moment.
Do you have any recommendations for short fiction or anthologies by others?
Other than Alchemy Press authors you mean? See above. There are a zillion great writers out there I could name! The Terror Tales series of anthologies from Gray Friar Press are always worth reading. Sadly the Mammoth imprint is being phased out – I was thrilled to get a story accepted for one of their last titles Mammoth book of The Adventures of Moriarty. PS publishing put out some cracking anthologies. As a writer I enjoy an anthology that has variety. As an editor, though I use my e-reader as everyone else does, I still feel that books should be a thing of beauty, and I place a lot of value on production values. Layouts should please the eye and typos be few and far between. Most of all, with both hats on, they should entertain. I suspect only the editors like every story in a given anthology, but the good thing about them for a reader is that if there is one story in a volume that doesn’t grab you there is a good chance the next one will.
What are you up to next?
I have Fables and Fabulations coming soon, there are short stories due out in three anthologies in The Mammoth Book of the Adventures of Moriarty: The Secret Life of Sherlock Holmes’s Nemesis, Tales From The Lake: vol 2 and Terror Tales of the Ocean, and one other yet to be announced. I have a main stream novel due out with Penkhull Press in the spring and a crime novel and urban fantasy series in edit.
On ‘fun stuff’, you can catch me in a panel at Fantasycon 2015 in Nottingham, where Alchemy Press will be selling books and launching Music in the Bone, a collection by Marion Pitman. We shall also be at Novacon in Nottingham selling books, I shall be on panel about editing and we will be launching Anne Nicholls’s collection Music From the Fifth Planet; and then there is Sledgelit In Derby where we are selling books and hopefully soft launching the collection The Complete Weird Epistles of Penelope Pettiweather, Ghost Collector by US writer Jessica Amanda Salmonson .
On other stuff Alchemy Press have multiple short listings in the British Fantasy Awards. Best Anthology: The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic 2, edited by Jan Edwards and Jenny Barber; Best Collection: Nick Nightmare Investigates, by Adrian Cole (co-published with Airgedlámh Publications); Best Non-Fiction: Touchstones: Essays on the Fantastic, by John Howard and Best Independent Press: The Alchemy Press itself. (we won this award last year.
Fox Spirit are also in the running for multiple in the BFA shortlists with: Best Anthology with Tales of Eve; Best Fantasy Novel Breed by K.T. Davies; Best Short Story with ‘Change of Heart by Gaie Sebold which appears in our Wicked Women anthology (edited by Jenny Barber and Jan Edwards ) and finally for Best Independent Press
Penkhull Press and Renegade Writers have a story café at the Gladstone Museum in Stoke for Halloween.
I have no doubt other things will be slotted into the calendar before the new year. You can always catch up with what I am doing on my blog site.
Jan Edwards, thank you very much for joining us!
So, yes, this year’s Nineworlds then… Last year was awesome, having all the things I like about Eastercon – the varied tracks, the cosplay, the fun workshops – but with an extra bit of buzz that made it my favourite con of the year. This year, excepting the dodgy service in the hotel, exceeded that.
Nineworlds is a very friendly con, and one that actively welcomes as many people as it possibly can; catering to a wide range of needs through communication badges, priority seating and as many other accessibility options as the excellent committee bods can think of. And if they haven’t already got it covered they’re very open to sorting things out once someone’s drawn their attention to it. And it’s this attitude, I think, that helps makes the con feel like such a relaxed and cheerful place.
The Radisson hotel, however, was distinctly unfriendly towards con peeps. This isn’t new – over previous conventions at the hotel there’s been a very noticeable shift in attitude towards con attendees over the weekend, most especially from restaurant and bar staff who will ignore anyone wearing a con badge, yet venture in unbadged and they couldn’t be more friendly and helpful. Which is a shame, because I’m quite fond of the hotel as a place generally. Fortunately Nineworlds has wisely chosen to shift venues next year, so here’s hoping the new hotel has nicer staff.
Another thing I really like about Nineworlds is the programme app. With so many tracks on offer, it can be a bit overwhelming sorting out what you’re doing when, but the app makes everything oodles easier. Especially when it comes to spotting triple bookings. :-) Now if they could just include a time-turner facility, I might get to see alllll the things as I missed a ton of things I wanted to do and a ton of people I wanted to see. Och well. On the plus side, I saw people I wasn’t expecting to and had all manner of interesting conversations which made up for it.
Panels, then. Due to overwhelming demand, many of the panels got packed out early, so getting there twenty minutes in advance was essential in some cases. The Friday myth panel was case in point with people getting booted out due to way too many people sardining in. Also Joanne Harris talked briefly to me before the panel and I totally did not fangirl. Honest. (She’s so cool!) Ahem, yes. Annnyhoo.
What was really fun, though, was the genre mashing panel (Dragatha Christie totally has to happen). Not only fun and highly entertaining, it was one of those panels that managed the perfect combinations of panellists (Zen Cho! Gaie Sebold! Adrian Tchaikovsky! James Oswald! James Smythe!) and if you weren’t a fan of the authors before the panel, you definitely were by the end of it. (There are now so many books on my kindle wishlist, I’m going to go broke, I swear…)
And then there was the sword fighting! I booked in for the Water Dancing with Syrio Forel workshop thingy as it was one of the things I missed out on last year, and oy, was it fun. (Not so much fun was having to demonstrate your skills in front of the class at the end. Argh! No.) Apparently I have fire but need to work on my technique… :-) Definitely a recommended thing to have a go at if you’re around for next year’s con…
Which I’ve already booked in for, because, really, that much awesome, you have to, don’t you. (Booking open here now! Doooooo it! You know you want to!) So huge thanks to the con volunteers for making it such a great weekend and here’s hoping that next year is even better!
This is such a fantastic list with some fab people on it (Lightspeed's Women Destroy SF! Jen Williams! Spectral's Book of Horror! Mark West! Holdfast! Lightspeed!) so huuuuuge congrats to all the nominees....
The absolute highlight though is in Best Anthology where Urban Mythic 2 scored a nomination! To say Jan and I are insanely pleased would be an understatement of epic proportions. We are INSANELY pleased!
And! Wicked Women copped a sorta mention too as the awesome Gaie Sebold got a Best Short Story nom for 'A Change of Heart' which appeared in it. Babylon Steel stories for the win!
Did I mention Jan and I are insanely pleased? There is happy dancing.
And! Not only that! But my beloved Team Alchemy and Team Skulk picked up all manner of noms, namely -
Best artist -
Ben Baldwin - who did the gorgeous cover for Urban Mythic 1
Les Edwards - who did the equally gorgeous cover for Urban Mythic 2 as well as covers for other Alchemy titles
Sarah Anne Langton - who did the wonderfully gorgeous cover for Wicked Women as well as covers for other Fox Spirit titles
Daniele Serra - who has done lovely covers for both Alchemy and Fox Spirit
Best collection -
Nick Nightmare Investigates, Adrian Cole (The Alchemy Press and Airgedlámh Publications)
Best fantasy novel (the Robert Holdstock Award) -
Breed, KT Davies (Fox Spirit Books)
Best horror novel (the August Derleth Award) -
The Unquiet House, Alison Littlewood (Jo Fletcher Books) - Who also had a story in Urban Mythic 1. :-)
Best independent press -
The Alchemy Press (Peter Coleborn)
Fox Spirit Books (Adele Wearing)
Best non-fiction -
Touchstones: Essays on the Fantastic, John Howard (The Alchemy Press)
The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on Sunday, 25 October 2015, at FantasyCon 2015 in Nottingham, and, obvs, Alchemy and Fox Spirit will be winning alllll the awards. And getting a joint win in Best Inde Press, just cos. ;-)
Goood morning my lovelies. Here are some of the short fic I've been loving this week -
Wolves and Witches and Bears by Alison Littlewood - Nightmare #34/July 2015
In which Nick and Ella go on holiday to Croatia to try and reconnect, but when Nick's choice of a walking route ends in trouble, Ella must dig deep into herself to come to the rescue. But digging deep brings its own dangers and Ella will be forever transformed by the results. This is an enthralling tale with as much satisfaction to be found in Nick's suggested fate as there is in Ella's.
Flash by Lavie Tidhar - Daily Science Fiction/June 2015
It's a fun and pointed flash piece, being something of a behind the scenes account of what really happened that time a certain planetary overlord was deposed.
Swell by Elizabeth Bear - Mermaids and Other Mysteries of the Deep, ed. Paula Guran (Prime Books)Mermaids! Elizabeth Bear! Did you need more? Oh, well, ok then...this one tells of a musician's encounter with a mysterious blind girl and the aftermath of a night spent together. It's a beautiful tale that weaves finding your own voice with not taking the easy option and is a bit reminiscent of some of de Lint's Newford stories.
Madeleine by Amal El-Mohtar - Lightspeed #61/June 2015This is a wonderfully moving story and no description would truly do it justice. It tells of grief and loneliness and altered mental realities; and there's also something mildly disturbing about the speed with which Madeleine's therapist can get her institutionalised when she speaks about the interactive memory flashes she's experiencing after participation in an Alzheimers drug trial.
Most notably, the writing of fiction stuff. It feels like a small age since I last wrote anything fictional (a quick check suggests the last was just before the last degree module started up, which makes sense) and the little writing cells, they be so rusty. So I went digging through my old writing to get back in the groove and discovered things I'd completely forgotten I'd written. Most of which are unpublishable, but teenage/early twenties me did have some surprisingly interesting ideas! (Also some truly terrible and slightly problematic ones, but, we evolve...) And there's a ton of unfinished shorts from the last couple of years that need sorting out.
And there's new fiction things I've been noodling over the last few months - after sitting down and plotting out things, have discovered that novel-wise I've got 3 secondary world/portal fantasies, 2 urban fantasies, a paranormal romance, a horror, 2 historic fantasies, 2 SF and a supernatural crime thing all begging attention. And that's before we get to the short fiction. Do not even get me started on the short fiction. It's a looooooong list.
And then there's non fiction - there's a ton of blog posts I need to write so there may be the vague chance of weekly blog posts at some point (don't faint!), plus I want to get back to the short fiction reviewing again.
Am also plotting future anthologies, o'course, because I do love doing the anthologies and hope at some point to eventually edit one that pays pro rates to our lovely authors. Though where and with who is going to take a bit of creativity. Possibly a kickstarter may happen next year. Watch this space.... :-)