A great week.
The first thing is, I got another story into Creature Feature, the highly anticipated anthology from Ghostwriter Publications. This is my second story in the antho, and it’s something new for me (specifically, it’s far shorter than my normal weighty tomes, clocking in at a stripped back, healthy 1500 words). I don’t want to say too much about either of the stories I’ve written for the book, except to say that they’re called Morris Expedition, Days Nine and Ten and Implementing the Least Desirable Solution, and I hope you’ll enjoy them. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the stories in the anthology as well – roll on June 1st, I say!
The second thing is, I finished a story that’s been hanging around and poking at me for ages. I have a particular anthology in mind for it, but have been struggling to make the damn thing work. This week, however, I broke its back and made it behave. Sweet. The story, A Meeting of Gemmologists, is another departure for me, as I’vetried to approach a ‘classic’ form of horror story from a (for me) new direction, and it contains my first attempt at a (slightly) twist ending. I’m really happy with the finished item, and I’ve sent it to my normal circle of critics, naysayers and fanboy friends – those of them who’ve fed back seem to like it (and have made several suggestions, now incorporated, that improve the story no end). My wife is upstairs in bed reading it as I type this – ever my sternest critic, I await her feedback with a certain amount of nervous tension.. Assuming that she doesn’t pick it to pices, it’ll go off before the weekend is done and then I just have to wait the editor’s decision. Who’d be a writer? Well, me actually…
…and this is why. By far the best thing to happen to me this week was that I started to get some feedback on Black Dogs and Lost Places. I sent the pdf to 5 authors whose work I admire greatly, and I’ve now had 2 of them pass comment. Both of them have been astonishingly nice and positive about what they’ve read (including comparing me favourably to MR James and Ramsay Campbell! Holy God!). There’s something terrifying about waiting for your peers and contemporaries (people established and well-regarded in a world you’re only just breaking into) to comment on stuff you’ve produced, so it’s incredibly reassuring to find that they seem to like what I’m doing. I won’t say too much about the specific comments as yet (I’ll save that for when we’ve sorted out an advertising strategy for the book, nearer the time), but to have two people whose opinions is importnat to me (a BAFTA award-winning screenwriter and creator of one of my favourite TV shows ever , and an author who’s had stories in the past 2 Mammoth Book of Best New Horrors), say that they like my stuff is just beyond wonderful. If you’d told me two years ago that I’d be in this position, I’d have laughed and told you to bugger off; now, I’ll laugh and say ‘Hurrah!’.
Reviews: Still not much, I’m afraid. I’m still enjoying D’Lacey’s Garbage Man, but haven’t finished it – I promise I’ll finish it and review it soon. Honest. I did finish watching Neverwhere, though, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Now, I’ll admit it’s a little dated and its low budget shows through on countless occasions, but this is still one of my favourite Neil Gaiman works. It’s well acted (especially by Hywel Bennet and Paterson Joseph), smartly thought out, and (in Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar) has two of the best villains ever commited to screen. Hywel Bennet, in particular, imbues Mr Croup with such oily, creepy unpleasantness that he dominates the screen whenever he’s on. Its vision of two Londons, one above and one below, and its use of tube station names as key story elements (who is the Angel in Islington? who are the the black friars? why, exactly, do we need to mind the Gap?) is imagination at its best, twisting the world into new and weird shapes, and I love it. One of the things people remember about Neverwhere, I suspect (and which probably puts them off from rewatching it now), is that it was filmed on video (rather than film) and looked flat and dull when it was first shown, but oddly that’s not so much of an issue now. In these days of HiDef TVs and DVDs that have to be upscaled (and often still end up looking flat and depthless), Neverwhere is looking better than it ever has before. You can still see its TV origins, of course, but they’re far less noticeable than when it was initially aired. Not perfect, but well worth checking out.
Right. Back to the writing. Until next week, goodbye.