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!
I was going to leave the pulp thing alone – last week felt like quite long enough on that subject. I got some responses agreeing with me, some that disagreed, and I decided that enough was enough. NO! more opinion pieces, NO! more rants about books I ought not to like but do, NO! more defending fiction that’s big enough and ugly enough to take care of itself.
And then Neil J mentioned one I’d forgotten
Now, I’ll be honest – I have always been and will always be a sucker for two types of story: aquatic monsters and antarctic terrors. If something swims and splashes and eats people, I tend to like it, or if it hangs around somewhere really cold and generally scares the balls off people, then that’s cool (no pun intended). Incidentally, I have precisely one speciifc aim in my writing life: I am going to write one really really good water monster story, and one really really good antarctic monster story ( I realise that reads like two aims, but it’s not, it’s one – they’re wrapped up together into one bundle for me. Look, it’s my aim, stop complaining). Watch me. Anyway, the purpose of this little wander is to set my stall out: I have no idea why I like this book so much, but I do. It plays to one of my two major enjoyment criteria, it’s fast, it’s visceral and it (to use cliches for a moment) takes no prisoners. I read it as a kid, loved it and have reread it on several occasions since and you know what? It’s still great. The book?
David James’ Croc: genius. Crocodile in the sewers eats people (thereby exploiting an urban myth for that well, it could happen. possibly feel). It escapes and eats people. People, understandably irritable, fight back. Who wins? Give you one guess! Well written, engagingly dumb and you know what? Just brilliant. Go and find it in a second hand shop near you and love it. Pulp at its very, very best.
What else? Oh, yeah – writing. No news on the novel yet. Keep watchin’ this space, ‘cos I am. During the last week, I’ve finished (I hope) editing all but one of the stories for the collection. The one left to do is the genuine ghost story, but I hope that I’ll have that one done by the end of the week. Then the collection is complete besides the intro, story notes, story order…oh God, there’s loads to do! One positive thing, however, is that the foreword is coming together. My original choice of foreword author unfortunately fell through, so I took a flyer and asked someone that I was sure wouldn’t agree in a million years…and she surprised me and said yes! I’m incredibly pleased (and proud) to announce that Barbara Roden is doing my foreword.
Yep, that’s right. Barbara Roden. The World Fantasy Award-winning editor/co-owner of the AshTree Press (who first published me in print, incidentally: smart woman!) and World Fantasy Award-nominated author whose short stories are seriously brilliant. She has a collection of her own called Northwest Passages coming out in September 2009, and you can trust that I’m in line for a copy. Barbara has agreed to do my foreword, which is massively cool news. This whole collection thing is shaping up to be a good deal all round really…
The other nice thing this week was I did my first interview (sort of) for the Ghostwriter blog site. I’ve done some local press before, but that was mainly a photo of me looking gormless in front of the Priory Church of St Mary in Lancaster (my fault: they wanted somewhere to take a photo of me and I jokingly said, well the Priory’s spooky, and I write horror stories, not thinking they’d take me seriously). The interview’s only short, but it was fun to do and can be read here: http://ghostwriterpublications.wordpress.com/focus/
Not much else to report, really. No reviews (apart from the Croc stuff earlier, obviously!) because, basically, I’ve been crap at reading and watching stuff. Caught the new Red Dwarf, which is nearly as good as the Dwarf gets but not quite. If you see what i mean. I’ve been reading Mike Carey’s Thicker Than Water, the fourth Felix Castor novel, which is brilliant. Not, maybe, quite as good as the first three, but still brilliant. Of course, I’m only two thirds of the way through, so everything could go to shit yet. Hope not….
Oh well, back to the writing.