Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Shoot For The Moon

My short story, "Shoot For The Moon", was published recently in Monomyth. As has become habit, I'm briefly going to blog about the story's gestation. There may be spoilers for anyone yet to read it.

This piece began life as an idea for the anthology, "Astrologica", edited by Allen Ashley. The guidelines were to write a story based on one of the signs of the zodiac. I knew I wanted to write a piece, but as the deadline loomed I found it increasingly difficult to get my head around the concept. Eventually I decided to write about a travelling sideshow, where each exhibit was somehow linked to a zodiac sign. Of course, this left me with a problem as to which star sign to focus on as the main character, but doing a little research suggested the back story behind Taurus might be a good idea. I would have Taurus leave the sideshow and have the others try to get him back or get a replacement. After all, you can't have a zodiac sideshow with one star sign missing.

As I wrote, however, I found the story became shoehorned into the concept rather than something which grew naturally. In some ways it's quite different from my other work (similar, in fact, to the stories in a collection that Allen and I wrote together and awaits publication - after 8 years). Allen liked the piece, but pointed out my main character is the only zodiac sign that doesn't actually speak during the whole story. For that reason - and a couple of others - he felt it wasn't appropriate to take it for the book.

After a few edits I decided to send it elsewhere, and it wasn't long before it found a home in Monomyth. I'd never actually seen the magazine before, but it's a good home for the piece. The magazine reminds me of the 'good old days' of the independent press, where similar home grown products such as Grotesque, Alternaties, Peeping Tom and suchlike held sway. Check it out. (I don't think the current issue is yet showing on their home page, and I can't get up a list of contents).

"Shoot For The Moon" was written listening to Kraftwerk on repeat. I haven't made a note of the album, but I think it was "Trans-Europe Express".

Monday, 29 December 2014

My Writing Year 2014

I thought I'd do a quick blog post as to my literary achievements during 2014.

In March this year my neo-noir crime novel, "The Immortalists", was published by Telos, with the second in the series, "Church Of Wire", scheduled for early 2015. I've also just finished writing the fourth book in the series, titled "The Happy Finish".
I wrote thirteen short stories this year: "Flytrap", "The Soft Explosion", "The Nomenclature Of Fear", "The Call Of The Void", "The Unthinking Tyranny Of History", "A Life In Plastic", "Vulvert", "Black Lung", "Somntuta", "The Steam Room", "The Day My Heart Stood Still", "Clusterfuck" and "You Can't Handle Love".

I sold thirteen short stories: "Bothersome" and "A Life In Plastic" to anthologies I'm not currently allowed to name, "The Last Mohican" to punkPunk!, "The Abduction Of Europe" to Dali-ances: The Salvador Dali Anthology, "Flytrap" to Interzone, "Soapsud Galaxies" to Jupiter SF, "Periscope" to Perihelion, "Burning Daylight" to Confingo, "Black Lung" and "The Frequency of Existence" to Black Static, and "The Day My Heart Stood Still" to PostScripts. In terms of reprints, "Your Golden Hands", was accepted for Unconventional Fantasy, A Celebration Of Forty Years Of The World Fantasy Convention, and "Drowning In Air" will be published in Best British Horror 2015 from Salt

The following thirteen short stories were published this year: "Interference" in Chiral Mad 2, "A Knot Of Toads" and "Black Lung" in Black Static, "Drowning In Air" in Strange Tales IV, "Softwood" in La Femme, "Flytrap" in Interzone, "Beyond The Island Of The Dolls" in Postscripts to Darkness Vol 5, "Periscope" in Perihelion (that's online, read it from the link), "The Opaque District" in Horror Uncut, "Your Golden Hands" in Unconventional Fantasy, "Burning Daylight" in Confingo, "Soapsud Galaxies" in Jupiter SF, and "Shoot For The Moon" in Monomyth.

I have a handful of stories awaiting publication that were accepted in 2013/2014, a novella, a short story collection, and one novel under consideration, and a collaborative story collection still awaiting publication. The anthology, "punk!Punk!", that I edited for DogHorn Publishing should be published in January 2015, and a short story collection, "Human Maps", will appear from Eibonvale Press sometime in 2015. I have also worked on two issues of Fur-Lined Ghettos with my partner, and have made available two of my previous short story collections on Kindle as I now hold the rights to these ("The Virtual Menagerie" and "Beyond Each Blue Horizon")

I consider that to be a good year!

Thursday, 18 December 2014


Regular readers of this blog will know I have a predilection for long-snouted animals, but it's been a while since I posted a picture of one. Just for Christmas then, here's a great image of an anteater:

Speaking of Christmas, we attended an event in Norwich recently selling our Fur-Lined Ghettos magazine and came across a stall selling prints and wood cuts of various long-snouted creatures (the tamandua, armadillo and anteater amongst them) in addition to some lesser critters. My partner purchased a print for myself which I've yet to see, but that will ensure an exciting Christmas morning. The artist is Emma Traynor, and one of her images is here:

When it's snout / check it out!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Soapsud Galaxies

My short story, "Soapsud Galaxies", has recently been published in the new issue of Jupiter SF, and as usual I'm blogging just a few lines about the birth of the story. Be aware there may be spoilers for those who have yet to read it.

The story is quite a short piece based around a simple premise (one that, in retrospect, is similar to a chapter in Ray Bradbury's "The Martian Chronicles"): what if aliens could transform themselves into people we could love? In my piece, aliens are integrating with human society in order to breed, their appearances conforming to our individual preferences for beauty in order to maximise this. As humans, we have no choice but to make that connection even when understanding it for what it is. Told with a little bit of humour and a little bit of pathos I hope it hits the right spot with readers.

The title quite simply came from looking at a washing-up bowl filled with slowly rotating soapsuds and realising how closely it resembled the universe. Sometimes an idea can be found in the most natural of locations.

Where my story probably differs from a standard SF tale is that my character quotes from the French New Wave movie "La Maman et le Putain", directed by Jean Eustache. The quote I've used seemed to summarise the sexual imperative. I often find movies from this period spark my fiction and am pleased as to how it works in this story.

Jupiter #XLVI (issue 46 for those who don't know their roman numerals) also contains fiction from Ray Blank, Lou van Zyl, Rod Slatter, Richard Foreman and Chris Bailey. The cover is by David Conyers. It can be ordered here

As usual, I wrote "Soapsud Galaxies" listening to one CD on repeat. In this case it was Galaxie 500's "On Fire".