Fortieth Time

December 20, 2009 at 9:13 am (Uncategorized)

I had hoped to keep this blog as a kind of review/reflection entry, but unfortunately a situation I thought over has reared its ugly head again. Some of you may remember (were you reading carefully? were you?) that after FCon this year, there was some unpleasantness over Allyson Bird’s Bull Running for Girls winning best collection.

[Note: I’ve removed this section of the blog, not because I had a problem with what I’ve written – I don’t – but because I’m aware that people are coming here as a result of a link from a review of the Sixth Black Book of Horror. Whilst I stand by what I said, i would like it if people could just Mark and my stories as stand-alone pieces, rather than in light of the disagreement we had. I’ve read Mark’s story, and it’s very enjoyable, as (I hope) is mine – just groove with the tales, folks].

It’s been a hell of a year! I went back and read my first few blog posts this week, and it reminded me of lots of stuff that’s happened. I started the year in a good place, and am happy to report that I’m ending the year in the same way! Different good place, but good place nonetheless. Looking back, I was very excited about my Ghostwriter collection and some of the other things we were planning, and I still think it’s a shame how that situation turned out. However, I’m also still convinced it was the right decision, made at the right time. Since leaving them, I’ve heard from other GWP authors who had the same kind of concerns that I had, and the company appears to have pulled itself back from most of the product it originally intended to put out to concentrate solely on chapbooks. In its defence, I’ll say that there are authors still involved with GWP who are no fools and whose work I like, so maybe things have improved since I was there – I hope so, and I wish them all the best. Losing the GWP collection, however, did me a huge favour and freed my stuff up for an Ash Tree Press collection. I mean, how cool is that? Really? An ASH TREE PRESS collection! We’re four stories away from a complete and final edit, I’ve seen my proposed cover (I have. it’s fantastic, and exactly what I wanted). So, all’s well that ends well.

Other notable successes this year were getting stories into Gaslight Grotesque, Exotic Gothic 3, Black Static magazine and The Black Book of Horror 6 , so overall this year has been a positive experience (despite some struggles outside of the writing, including having to take a proper job…), but it’s not been without its downsides. I didn’t make the cut for the Tartarus Press Strange Tales 3 or a couple of other anthologies, which was a shame, but you can’t win them all. I’m still waiting for feedback on the novel chapters and the last month or so the writing has gone slow while my brain recovers. Still, a life with no negatives would be a little strange, I think, so I’m good.

And what next? Well, the novel may still be a go-er and if not, then I have another novel idea brewing. I have a long WIP list of stories I want to do, and will definitely be pitching a second collection (I’m at the point where I have almost enough stories). I’ve been invited to contribute to two anthologies, which I’ll definitely do, and of course the ASH TREE PRESS collection, Lost Places, comes out in time for World Horror 2010, in March. How exciting will that be? Very, I tell you, very. I’ve got another short collection almost sorted (no details yet as it’s not definite, but it’s looking hopeful – soon as I know I’ll let you know). But, mostly, you know what? I’m going to keep on enjoying the writing and the worlds I create, and I hope that you might enjoy them as well.

Right, that’s it for the year. Have a great Christmas and New Year, Lords and Ladies, and I’ll see you in 2010!!!


  1. Chris Barker said,

    [With your permission, I shall post this here since it is relevant; unfortunately Mark Samuels exercised his right to ‘moderate’ it when I tried to post it on his blog i.e. he censored it.]

    In reply to Mark Samuel’s reply to Simon K’s post:

    I have no idea who Simon K is and have not read his books. Nor do I wish to become embroiled in a long argument. However, in response to your comments above, two points:

    1. Regardless of Allyson Bird’s success in winning a BFS award, we all know – and you do more than most – that all awards systems are hopelessly flawed and cause more strife and upset than they are worth. Given that – and given that you have often expressed weary cynicism about them – why on earth do you allow your books to be considered for awards? You could very easily request that your name be removed from any short list. At least then you would be taking a principled stance; at least then you could criticise the awards without being accused of sour grapes.

    You can’t have it both ways. You can’t allow your books to be considered for awards and then gripe when the best marketed ones win. It’s hypocritical. It also exposes you to the legitimate accusation of sour grapery.

    2. I think your swipe at new middle-aged writers is inexcusable. Presumably you think Ramsey Campbell is a better writer than Robert Aickman because he started writing horror stories fifteen years earlier? Utter nonsense. Reggie Oliver didn’t publish a horror stories until his 50s yet he’s far better than you, even though (you keep reminding us), you have been writing in the genre shortly after you learned how to toddle.

    3. On the subject of sucking up to influential people in the hope it will further their careers, you yourself do this, so again you are being a hypocrite. You refer to lots of anonymous people who support your opinion about Ms Bird’s award-winning collection; well, I’ve heard an awful lot of criticism about Messrs Campbell, Jones and Pelan – arch proponents of cronyism by any measure – yet you never criticise them _openly_ (though I am aware that you have done so privately). No, you praise them and never dare to openly challenge them in public. Why? Because they have put work your way, and could help your career in the future.

    The genre is riddled with cronyism and nepotism. It’s useful that you at least acknowledge this. However, once again you cherry-pick examples of this, more concerned about your career than you are your principles.

    I am a better, more principled person than you will ever be, Mark. You seem not to have learned a key lesson in life, and this is perhaps because you haven’t moved around careerwise and locationwise as much as other people. You need to make a choice and then stick with it; when it comes to awards, in which you have a vested interest, you can’t have a foot in both camps. Your two choices are these: allow your work to considered for awards and stop criticising them, or withdraw voluntarily from awards consideration and speak freely.


  2. simonkurtunsworth said,

    I’m letting this above comment through because it seems relevant, and because it poses one question that Inposed to Mark at the time: why, if you feel this way about awards, do you not simply remove yourself from the running. He wouldn’t answer (well, he did, by saying he’d tell me and the BFS ‘when he won’).

    Apart from any reply Mark may want to make to this and a comment I’m about to post on Mark’s blog, this is genuinely the last I’m going to write on this, and I won’t allow further comments. This has taken up too much time as it is.


  3. stevej said,

    I would have posted a comment congratulating you on your forthcoming collection, Lord Simon, but I guess ‘I’m new to all this’, so please disregard my worthless felicitations.

    *tugs forelock, doffs cap*


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