A good week.
A bit of history first: when it was clear that the Ghostwriter thing wasn’t happening for the many and varied reasons I have blogged about already(incidentally, fact fans, Ghostwriter have pretty much said that they’re concentrating on Chapbooks as opposed to proper books now – go figure. I wonder how those authors whose novels GWP have been saying they’re going to release for over a year now feel about that?) and I moved over to Ash Tree Press, I started to think about what to do next. It’s always seemed to me that I came at this whole writing thing ass-backwards in some way – my first story was published in a high-end anthology, nominated for a World Fantasy Award and taken for reprinting in both the Mammoth Book of Best New Horror and the Very Best of Best New Horror, my second story was in another high quality anthology, my third is in Ellen Datlow’s latest, and so on. It’s odd, but I began to worry that I’d not put enough time in at the coalface, as it were – it might not make much sense from the outside, but I began to think that I needed to go back and plug a gap or two, the main one being that I’d never had a story published in a magazine. Rejections from magazines, yeah, loads of them – but no acceptances. Consequently, my main aim became to have a magazine publication, and I started to think about what to send, and where to send it. My first submission was a story called The Knitted Child which I sent to Black Static. This week, I heard back from Andy Cox, the editor, and guess what? He likes it and has accepted it for publication!
Of course, with that aim dealt with, I have to decide what to do next. I’m still enjoying writing the short stories, and may well have enough new stuff to think about a second collection soon, although I have no ideas about who to pitch it to or who might want it. The novel is still in limbo – I’m not writing any more on it until I hear back as to whether the publisher actually wants it or not because I don’t want to commit to a big project without a solid reason. I’m convinced that the novel is a good one (good central idea and story, lots of action and horror), so I’m hoping it’ll be received favourably and that it’ll find a home soon, but until then, it can stay in limbo and percolate.
The other writing-related news from this week is that I spent a pleasant 45 minutes talking the Jason Van Hollander about my cover. It was another of those moments that make me feel like a fake and that at any moment someone’s going to tap me on the shoulder and say, Okay Unsworth, the game’s up… I mean, here’s a world fantasy award-winning artist with hundreds of excellent books covers under his belt, and he’s talking to me about my cover and apparently listening to my responses! What? Eh? How has that happened? How has no one noticed that the world has gone madly out of kilter? However, until they do, I’m just going to roll with it and keep my head down… Jason outlined some of his ideas for the cover, all of which I loved (but which I’m not going to tell you – you can just buy the book when it comes out!), so now I simply have to wait and see what comes out of Jason’s pen. The suspense is killing me!
Beyond that, I’ve done very little this week. With it being Halloween, I did hope that the TV stations might make an effort, but no. We get a repeat of Halloween (and before you start, it’s a marvellous film and my joint first favourite slasher flick along with Black Christmas, it’s just uninspired programming) and The Host (which is good but I’ve seen). However, it was fun to see my friend Stephen Volk on television on Tuesday talking about his seminal TV ghost story Ghostwatch, and more fun to see clips of the various great TV ghost stories – it reminds me of why I like supernatural stories so much in the first place, and gives me high targets to aim for. Onwards and upwards, friends…
Reviews: Rogue is a killer crocodile movie by Greg Maclean, who directed Wolf Creek. It was made a couple of years ago but has only recently come out on DVD in the UK, and it’s great fun. It’s not as good as Alligator (the benchmark against which all crocodile/alligator movies must be judged), but it’s certainly better than the other killer croc releases recently (Black Water et al, all of which I suspect were cheap rip-offs made to cash in on Rogue and which made it out faster than it did). Rogue is smart, fast, jumpy and tense, and despite a silly ending, it’s well worth watching. The special effects are good, the acting good and it manages to catch the humid atmosphere of the outback excellently. Recommended.
The Scream by John Skipp and Craig Spector is about 21 years old now, and it shows. I remember reading this at the time it came out and liking it, but now it seems too loud and in-yer-face. The story concerns the battle betrween good and evil (embodied by a literally demonic rock band and groups of extreme Christians) and the people that get caught between them and although it’s got some powerful bits, it’s a disappointing reread. Partly it’s becaue books and stories about rock music never capture the primal power of music (and always write really bad lyrics for their rock songs!), but it’s also because Skipp and Spector’s rather casual, matey style of writing (clearly iunfluenced by Stephen King) simply grates after a while. The story itself seems disjointed and although the characters are drawn with depth, there’s often too much time spent on their backstories rather than moving the action along. It’s not bad, exactly, but it isn’t the rush I remember it being at 14… At some point I’ll reread The Light at the End, but I bet that hasn’t aged well either. Oh well…
The Changeling: Great late 70s ghost story starring George C Scott, made at a time when heroes of films were allowed to be sedentary, fat and wear cardigans without any apparent sense of irony, this is a chilly, tight movie that everyone should hunt out and watch. There are lots of genuinely spooky moments, some real depth of emotion in the acting and the best sceance put onto film. Recommended with bells, and still available on DVD.