ThirtySeventh Time

November 28, 2009 at 12:09 pm (Uncategorized)

Okay, this week we have some good news, some reflecting and some learning.

Good news: my story Traffic Stream has been accepted for inclusion in the Black Book of Horror 6! The Black Books series are the brainchild of Charles Black, who runs the Mortbury Press, and the details of the previous 5 volumes (whose covers are as eye-catching as the contents are excellent!) can be found here:

Have you been? See? I was right about the covers, wasn’t I? I think that the book will be out in time for March 2010 and World Horror in Brighton, so I’m particularly excited – I’ll have a whole bunch of things available at WHC2010, which might make me look like a proper author. Plus, it’s always nice to get an acceptance, especially when the story is a little stranger than my normal stuff – it’s feels like a validation of the fact that I’m capable of writing weirder stuff that people want to read as well as more ‘traditional’ horror stories.

Okay, the reflection stuff: my best friend (Barrister Steve) told me that my last few blogs had sounded quite maudlin and melancholy, which as well as being alliterative must also mean they were a bit dull to read. It was a surprise, to be honest, as they were never meant to come across that way – I was (I thought) just musing on some of the downsides of being a writer. I’m very clear in my head that the blog shouldn’t ever turn into an ‘it’s a hard life being a writer’ moaning venue because, let’s face it, it’s not. professionally, I do a job that I like and that I’m very good at and which pays the bills, I have a family that loves me and who I love, and the writing is the icing on the cake. Yes, I sometimes struggle with a particular phrase or word, or a plotpoint, and yes the waiting can sometimes be frustrating, but is it hard? No. Not in the grand scheme of things. It’s something I love which is sometimes complex and frustrating and difficult, but which, more often, is exhilarating, fun and helps to keep me sane, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. So, I shall try to be less maudlin and melancholy when I reflect on the more negative aspects of writing, and I shall also try to keep in mind that it’s also one of the most important things in my life.

The learning stuff: this week, I have been looking at the Ash Tree edits of some of the stories for Lost Places. Apart from one of two comments (mostly based on slight errors with my text, I hasten to add, and not to do with any edits that the Rodens have made), the proofs have been fine. But, boy oh boy, have I wanted to mess about with them! I can see all kinds of tweaks I’d make, and it’s been hard to resist making them. I’m starting to realise that part of being an author (as opposed, maybe, to simply being a writer) is knowing when you have to leave the words alone. Are they ever going to be perfect? Not in my head, for sure, but I also can’t keep messing with them. I suspect strongly that I’d never actually find a final version that I was completely satisfied with, and that every time I read them I’d see something I wanted to alter or add, but I simply don’t have the time. Now, the stories need to stand or fall as they are. Besides, I also have a strong suspicion that if I start messing with the stories, Chris and Barbara might just kill me…

One last thing: the mojo came back this week, and I started a new story tentatively intended for Charles and Jeff’s next Sherlock Holmes anthology (which I think is going to be called Gaslight Arcanum). I’m only about 2000 first draft words into it, but it’s going well and has reminded me why I like writing so much: I’m having fun! I’m creating a whole new world, peopling it with characters, letting them loose to act, react and interact. And, of course, killing some of them…

Right, that’s it. Go on, be on your way, Lords and Ladies, there’s nothing more to see here…


  1. marksamuels said,

    Looking forward to your—as you said over on the RCMB— “pseudo-revenge story” Traffic Stream in BBoH #6.

    Let’s hope you enjoy my own tale “Keeping your Mouth Shut”, which will be in the same anthology 🙂

    I wish you a long and successful career. (My first tale was published in 1988).

    Mark S.

  2. simonkurtunsworth said,

    Why thank you, kind sir! It’s not the first time we’ve been between the covers together (we were in Mammoth 19 together, and I think at least one of the two Ash Tree anthos has stories by both of us in), and we’re due to be in The Very Best of Best New Horror together. People will start to talk…


  3. marksamuels said,

    You’re new to this, aren’t you? I can tell.

    Mark S.

  4. simonkurtunsworth said,

    New to what? Writing? Well, I’m less far into a career than you, that’s true, but I’m doing well so far. Not sure what that’s got to do with anything, but if it matters to you then so be it.


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