TwentyFifth Time

August 29, 2009 at 8:13 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

This last couple of weeks has been a bit of greatness and a bit a crap, if I’m honest.

We’ll do the crap first: I won’t go into any details here, but I’ve been involved in discussions with Ghostwriter Publications regarding what I see as outstanding items owed to me, and the discussions have left a somewhat unpleasant taste in my mouth. I’m sad to say that they haven’t been particularly fruitful from my point of view and whilst I’m relatively sanguine about it all, it has confirmed that my decision to stop working with GWP, and it’s director Neil Jackson, was entirely the right one. It came to the point where I had to make a simple decision:  do I chase GWP through the courts, or do I let it go? Do I have the time or, indeed, the inclination? And even if I have the time , is my time worth wasting in having to carry on dealing with someone I can longer trust. And the answer is no; the situation, apart from being mostly boring, isn’t worth the effort it’ll take, not really, because I have more exciting things to do. I’ll take what Neil has agreed he owes me (assuming it arrives soon) and then I can walk away from this whole sorry mess. So, the final thing I’ll say about it all is this: I appreciate that the situation is specific to Neil and me, and I hope that his relationship and dealings with his other authors don’t turn out like mine and his did, but to anyone thinking of getting involved with GWP I would advise great caution.

On to bigger and brighter things: the cover artist for my Ash Tree Press collection has been confirmed as Jason van Hollander! Jason is a World Fantasy Award-winning artist whose covers have graced a number of other Ash Tree books – his covers for their anthologies are simply stunning. Jason’s website is here: http://www.jasonvanhollander.com/index.html – go and be astounded. At this point I have no idea what Jason will do for Lost Places but I’m absolutely sure it’ll be superb. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to make suggestions, because (let’s face it) when you have an artist the calibre of Jason van Hollander doing your cover, you just basically say “Whatever you want to do. Sir.” I can’t wait to see what he comes up with, and if Jason says he want to draw a picture of a daffodil wearing a trilby, who am I to argue? Hope he doesn’t, though…

Other news: I’ve rewritten the novel chapters and submitted them and I’m much, much happier with them. I editing them down by around 20%, and then slotted in some new supernatural gubbins, and the finished piece flows far better and faster. Clearly, I have no idea if they’re what the publisher’s looking for, but I can hope! I know I’m not going to hear back about them for a while, so I may well carry on with the next chapters, or spend some time with a new story I want to write about a plague of swearing. Watch this space.

Reviews

The first review this week is of the GWP anthology Creature Feature. Now, the first thing to say is that I’m a little biased about Creature Feature because a) I’m in it but b) my relationship with GWP isn’t great. In the interests of fairness, I’ll state straight up that the stories in this anthology are mostly wonderful, smart pulp creature stories that deserve to be read by as many people as possible, the cover’s eyecatching (although it’s slightly grainier than it looked in pictures posted of it on facebook and the GWP website) and it seems well bound. Creature Feature’s big problem is that  whoever proofread  it did a very poor job – it’s got quite a few basic typographical errors in it. The most glaring example occurs in Neil’s introduction, when he talks about Willie Meikle and Guy N Smith and then says that “These three gentlemen…” One might almost imagine that a third person was removed from the intro at the last minute but that no one bothered to read the rest of it to correct it for errors… It’s a shame because these kind of little things can affect the reading of the stories and can be taken to show, I think, a lack of respect for both the paying customer and the authors involved. Still, overall, it’s a good book and I’d certainly recommend it.

Full review next week, but I’m also reading Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, which I’m enjoying hugely. Of course, it has nothing to do with the fact that Chabon and I are soon to be ‘bookmates’, as we both have stories in the forthcoming Lovecraft Unbound anthology…

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Eighteenth Time

June 17, 2009 at 2:58 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

As I’m going on holiday, I’m doing this blog post a little earlier in the week than normal. I thought that before a break might be a good time to take stock, to work out where I’ve been and am going, and to see precisely where I am now.

It’s been a hell of a year. I found out in August 2008 that The Church on the Island had been nominated for a World Fantasy Award for best short story, and things haven’t stopped since then. I got a publishing company interested in doing a collection of my work (and then more than interested, in that they agreed to do it) I went out to Calgary for the World Fantasy Convention (where i met some excellent people and made friends with some folk whom I’m hoping I’ll know for a long time yet, even if I didn’t win the award), I’ve had 6 stories accepted for publication in different anthologies and I’ve submitted a novel proposal to a major publishing house. So, where does that leave me?

Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #19

Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #19

Well, Church on the Island was included in the Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #19, which is pretty good, and I did my first signing sat next to an author whose work I love, Christopher Fowler (at FCon, if you’re interested). I was on a high for days afterwards!

 

 

 

 

 

Creature Feature approaches!

Creature Feature approaches!

Creature Feature (as you may or may not be aware, but if you’ve read this blog before you will be aware!) comes out in the next couple of weeks and contains 3 of my stories (Day Ten, Last Option and Peek A Boo), as well as 18 other tales of giant, wild creatures and other pulp delights.

 

 

Gaslight Grotesque: Nightmare Tales Of Sherlock Holmes, containing my story The Hand Delivered Letter is scheduled to come out in November of this year – this is a particularly gratifying acceptance for me, as it was the first time that I’ve written using someone else’s world and/or characters (in this case, Conan Doyle’s

Gaslight Grotesque

Gaslight Grotesque

Sherlock Holmes). It was a huge test for me as a writer, I think, both in terms of how to do it and also, could I do it at all? When you read the story, you’ll see that I’ve not written a ‘traditional’ Holmes story, because I felt I didn’t know the originals well enough to do them justice, but I’m hoping that what iIhave produced doesn’t let the side down.

 

 

 

My story Vernon, Driving is being published in the Ellen Datlow anthology Lovecraft Unbound, due for publication in October.

Lovecraft Unbound

Lovecraft Unbound

When I tell you that this was the 4th story I submitted to Ellen for this particular anthology, the first three having been rejected, you’ll maybe have some inkling of how proud I am to have finally made the cut. The other contributors to Lovecraft Unbound are a high-powered and well-regarded bunch, and you might ask yourself the question, what am I doing in there? Keeping my head down! is the answer, and hoping no one notices the interloper…

And, lastly on the anthlogies front, it is my huge pleasure to announce that the Zambia story (Mami Wata) has been accepted for inclusion in the forthcoming Ash Tree Press anthology Exotic Gothic 3. Again, having seen the lineup of other authors involved, you might wonder how the hell I got in there. Me, too, folks, me too! I’m not complaining, though…

As for other works, the collection Black Dogs and Lost Places is still set for a September release (we’ve had confirmation that we can launch at the British Fantasy Convention, so although this isn’t arranged yet, my hope is that this will happen and I’ll see you there!). It contains 10 stories, of which 6 are new and 4 reprints, and advance word via the blurbs I’ve had are simply astounding. Mark Morris has described it as “emotionally devasting” and the work of a “powerful new voice in horror”, Stephen Volk has said the stories are “creepy and impressive”, Lawrence Connolly that it is “the most impressive debut [he’s read] for a long time”, Rob Shearman that the stories are “deceptively amiable, but creepy as hell” and Gary McMahon that I’m a “writer who knows the value of [his] craft”. Jesus! I thought maybe people would like them, but this kind of feedback is simply beyond what I ever expected. It’s enormously gratifying, slightly scary and makes me think that Black Dogs is something I can be very proud of and that people may actually like it. We’ll see…

Strange Gateways, the mini collection (5 new stories) I’ve decided to put back until December, to give me chance to concentrate on Black Dogs, but it will definitely come out, and will be a limited edition of 100 numbered, signed paperbacks. It’ll probably be available for pre-order from about August. In addition to this, Ghostwriter Publications have also released two chapbooks by me, Button and Marley’s Haunting, both of which will also be available as audios soon and will also be included in an audio collection due later in the year. There may also be audios of Strange Gateways and Black Dogs, if you’re very lucky!

The novel I don’t know about yet. I’m still waiting…

It’s not been a year without it’s downsides (although, if I’m honest, not many) – I’ve been rejected from a few anthologies that I wanted to get into, and one major piece of work seems to have fallen through (or at least, gone very quiet), which is a shame. My personal circumstances have changed which might affect the writing in the future if I’m not careful – having to get a proper job is never pleasant, but the one I got is excellent and will still hopefully leave me time to write each week. Mostly, though, this year has been incredibly successful. As well as the writing, I’ve set up this blog and have managed to update it regularly, I’ve got a presence on facebook (fun) and twitter (sorta pointless as far as I can see!) and have purchased the domain name www.simonkurtunsworth.com – I’ll set the site itself up during the coming months. So, I’ve been efficient, written a huge amount, and am starting to feel like a real author now (whatever one of those buggers is!). But you know the most important thing?

I’m having fun. No more, no less, this is the most fun I’ve had for ages, and I hope to carry on like this for the forseeable future!

See you after the holiday, when I shall be refreshed, relaxed and full of new ideas. I hope…

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Ninth Time

April 18, 2009 at 6:49 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Shades of Darkness: award nominated anthology containing yours truly!

Shades of Darkness: award nominated anthology containing yours truly!

Good week bad week.

The listing for Stephen Jones Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #20 was released this week, and I didn’t make the cut. Honestly, I didn’t expect to because I’d only had one story published in 2008 (Old Man’s Pantry in Shades of Darkness) but it’s still disappointing to find out I’m right! However, a whole bunch of my friends and acquaintances made it in there (take a bow Simon Strantzas, Gary McMahon, Steve Duffy, Sarah Pinborough!), and against that sort of competition my chances were always slim. Well done to everyone who did make it in, and if there’s a signing at FCon this year I’m going to be on the other side of the table being all fanboy and getting signatures. Maybe I’ll make it into next year’s volume, when I’ll have had about 16 stories published. We’ll see…

Ah yes, 2009. Shaping up well so far! This week, I put the finishing touches to the last story for the collection (the true story that was causing me a couple of ‘how to write it properly’ problems’), and sent it off to Neil J. Apart from maybe a tweak or two here and there, the story content is now officially finished. Hurrah! Barbara Roden has been sent all the stories and I’m sure is writing up a storm for my introduction. I’ve decided not to do an introduction of my own, just some ‘thank you’s’ at the beginning and then a longer afterword and story notes at the end. My next job is to work with Neil on the story order, and then getting some nice blurb comments organised for the cover/publicity purposes. I’ll apparently have a cover to look at in the next couple of weeks, so things are coming together nicely now. I hit the world in September, remember! Along with my stories in Ellen Datlow’s Lovecraft Unbound (a relatively -for me- short tale I’m really proud of called Vernon, Driving) and Neil J’s Creature Feature (called Implementing the Least Desirable Solution), I’m aiming to flood the market this year. You’ll all be sick of me by 2010…

Bit more good news: Shades of Darkness, the latest AshTree antho (including the aforementioned not-in-Mammoth-20 Old Man’s Pantry) has been nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award, which is excellent news. Well done, Barbara and Chris Roden (editors extraordinaire) for this and also for their Exotic Gothic 2 anthology (edited by Danel Olsen) which was also nominated.

My inbox: I have a story to do for Charles Prepolec’s next anthology (Gaslight Grotesque),something to complete for submission to the next Tartarus Press anthology (Strange Tales 3) and then a story for Danel’s Exotic Gothic 3. I may also have work on a novel to do (No news yet, incidentally, other than a message that the chapters turned up okay and that it’s going to be a while ’til I hear anything back about them.) I’m going to be a busy boy!

Review Time: nothin’. Nada. Not finished anything this week (well, I did: Mike Carey’s Thicker Than Water, the 4th Felix Castor novel, which was excellent and, like the rest of the series, comes highly recommended). I’m into Joseph de Lacey’s Garbage man which I’m enjoying so far, and rewatching Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, which I still love. Expect full reviews for them soon.

Ah well. I have a short creature feature story to complete (1500 words, just a little something extra for Neil J). Away to the keyboard!

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