Well, it’s been a few weeks since my last blog (I’ve given y’all a break from me, you lucky things), so it’s time for a catch up, ruminative sort of entry. These last few weeks have seen some successes, some not so successful things and some new ventures, and I’m only just finding space to think about them.
Let’s get the less successful out of the way first, shall we? Despite being included in the (rather glossy and well-produced) literature (10,000 leaflets and posters, apparently!) and pushing it fairly heavily here and on facebook, the Chorlton Library gig wasn’t well attended – in fact, there were only library staff and family there! Still, the library staff didn’t seem bothered (doing the gig on a Friday night, up against the turning on of Manchester’s Christmas lights, was always a risk) and appeared to like the stories, and I’ve managed to put my aunty Jenny off both noodles and mashed potato by reading ‘N is for Noodle’, so it wasn’t a complete washout. I’m hoping the library will have me back next year, although we might need to think a bit more carefully about how, where and when we do it. It was fun to do, though, and means I had more practice at readings, which is always useful.
The Twisted Tales event, in Liverpool, on the other hand, was a big winner, with around 45 people in the audience to hear me, Paul Finch and Graham Joyce read stories. People seemed to like all the readings, and Black Static certainly sold some subscriptions and issues which is great. One slightly weird thing was that I’d underestimated the age of the crowd, so I’m not sure how much resonance the story I read (‘An Afternoon with Danny’) will have had for some of them (although Ramsey Campbell’s wife Jenny told me it made her think of her son being young, which is as good a result as I can have hoped for, I think!), so I might have to think about that in future – it may be that I need to try to read more ‘generic’ horror stories rather than focus in on the emotional, chid-in-peril ones. In that sense, ‘N is for Noodle’ is turning out to be one of my favourite stories to read aloud (despite the fact that it’s essentially a very silly story!), which I hadn’t anticipated. I’m enjoying readings the more I do them, and I think it’s something I’m going to try and do more of next year.
Incidentally, related to that, the money donated to Cancer Research following the reading event in October has now reached over £150, so thanks to everyone who came along or bought stuff afterwards: there are still some Pennine Tower Update chapbooks left, so if anyone wants one (£3 including P&P in the UK, £1 to Cancer Research), contact me direct and we’ll get it sorted.
So, where am I now (bear with me while I get reflective)? Well, I launched my debut collection, Lost Places, at the World Horror Convention in March, courtesy of Ash Tree Press, who produced a beautiful book (with an eyecatching, startling, beautiful cover by Jason van Hollander). Reviews have so far been excellent, although few and far between, and I’m hoping for another positive review from Pete Tennant when he writes about the collection (in Black Static 20, I’m told, which is exciting if nervewracking….). It’s be great if Lost Places (or stories from it) picked up award nominations next year, but I doubt they will, and as ever I’m hoping that Stephen Jones or Ellen Datlow will take something from it for their Mammoth or Year’s Best anthologies. I’ve had two stories published in the excellent Black Static, both of which seem to have gone down well, and stories in the anthologies Never Again, Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 21, Where the Heart Is and M is for Monster. I’ve been accepted for the next Edge Publications Sherlock Holmes anthology, Gaslight Arcanum and have submitted to Danel Olson for Exotic Gothic 4, and hope to hear back from him soon. I’ve old a collection, Strange Gateways, to PS Publishing for release in 2012, and another, Quiet Houses, to Dark Continents for release in 2011. I think, on the whole, I am allowed to call this a good year. I’m not going to claim that writing’s hard, precisely, in comparison to things like brain surgery or coal mining, but I have put a lot of effort in to making what I produce as good as I can, so it’s gratifying when it gets accepted and goes down well.
So, what next? Well, Quiet Houses is the key thing, because its due out in summer 2011 and I’ve not written it yet. After that, I have stories promised for Simon Marshall-Jones’ new Spectral Press imprint, and one for Willie Meikle’s cancer-themed charity anthology. And then, unless new opportunities present themselves (which I hope they do!), it’s on with the novel. Basically, it’s fingers to the keyboard and type away and we’ll see where it takes me. T0 various unpleasant, grim and grouchy places in my head, I suspect, but never mind… Fancy coming along for the ride?
Oh, one last thing: if you fancy getting a sneak preview of the first story in Quiet Houses, it’s been recorded as an audio and released as a free podcast! It’s a little strange at first (for me at least) to hear it read in a London accent, but it works really well I think. You can hear it here:
One other last thing: there are now only two copies of the hardback of Lost Places left here, so if anyone wants to buy one they need to move quick. It’s £25 plus postage, and can be signed/personalised if you want. I also have copies of M is for Monster left (again, not many), so if you’re interested, contact me and I’ll let you know how to purchase them. If someone wants to buy both, I’m open to negotiating a reduced price…
That’s it, Lords and Ladies! Back to your lives…