Monday, 3 January 2022
Saturday, 9 October 2021
I don’t think it’s much of a secret that I’m no great fan of modern, so-called zombies in fiction (written or filmed). Mainly because most of the time the revenants aren’t really zombies – just the living dead (by means explained or not), and generally with a taste for living flesh (brains!!!!). I don’t think anyone has ever explained how they’re supposed to digest their meals, or moan, for that matter (they’re dead – they don’t breath!).
Yes, I get that Romero’s living dead are meant to be metaphors for capitalism, but most of the time the so-called zombies are clichéd, shambling corpses that can still somehow overtake a running healthy person (The Walking Dead TV series really did miss the clue in the title).
However, I have been guilty of committing my own zombie stories a couple of times – although in my defence I do try and go for the traditional, raised from the dead and used as slaves motif (no doubt clumsily).
The first was “Zombie Dance” in the second Damian Paladin collection, Walkers In Shadow, and the second has just been published in the Weirdbook Annual: Zombies!. Entitled “O Mary Don’t You Mourn”, it’s a kind of Weird Western (if New Orleans can be said to be in the West), set around 1866/67, and featuring a Navajo character I came up with back in the late 1970s (when I started work on a truly appalling Western novel – long consigned to the trash-heap of history), and resurrected not-quite-dead that are a little closer to the zombie of voodoo legend – and inspired by that nasty fungus which turns insects into suicidal spore spreaders (not to mention imagery from William Hope Hodgson’s “The Voice in the Night”, which gave me the heebie-jeebies the first time I read it as a kid).
So, Weird Western zombie story. Another phrase I never thought I’d be applying to my fiction.
Friday, 10 September 2021
There seems to be an unwritten rule with regard to writing. As time passes we edit and polish our work, submit it, and await the acceptance (hopefully) or rejection (sadly inevitable sometimes). Then we sit back and wait for publication.
And that’s where this rule comes in.
You can have stuff accepted over a period of a year or more, then – because of the vagaries of the publishing world (and the last couple of years has seen more vagaries than usual) – nothing for months. Then, like buses, everything turns up at once (which is fine in a way, because if people aren’t paying attention, it can look like you’re really prolific).
Which is a roundabout way of explaining why three short stories of mine are all seeing publication within a short time of each other, when they’ve been accepted over quite a range of time.
“All I Ever See” was accepted for The Mammoth Book of Folk Horror (Skyhorse, ed. Stephen Jones) back in 2020, but due to the pandemic the book was delayed for a year or so. The Kindle edition is now available, while the paperback will be out in October (and is available to pre-order here)
“Echoes of Days Passed” is the second salty tale of the submarine USS Oswin (first encountered in “Cradle of the Deep”, Startling Stories magazine 2021 [Wildside, ed. Douglas Draa]) and was accepted for The Alchemy Press Book of Horrors 3: A Miscellany of Monsters (The Alchemy Press, ed. Peter Coleborn & Jan Edwards) at the beginning of the year. This anthology is also due out in October, and is available to pre-order here.
“Hall of Dreams” is the baby of the bunch, conceived during a couple of nights’ stay in Blackpool in July. It will be seeing the light of day in Gruesome Grotesques Vol 6: Carnival of Freaks (TK Pulp, ed. Trevor Kennedy) in – you guessed it – October. You’d think there was some sort of festival celebrating spooks and other horrors at that time of year. Details for this as and when.
Three tales, acceptances spread over more than a twelve month period, being published within a few weeks of each other.
Odd business, this writing one.
Monday, 31 May 2021
Now and then I’d dabble in other S&S tales [“The Pistol and the Sword” (Dark Horizons, 1979), “But the Stones Will Stand” (Fantasy Tales 10, 1982), “Sword of Light” (Victor Summer Special, 1987), and “Day of the Dark Men” (Fantasy Tales Vol.12 #6, 1991)], but over time I drifted away from that particular genre, for some reason. (Although I never entirely left: the jokey “Saving Prince Romero” was published in Unfit for Eden: Postscripts 26/27, in 2012).
Then, during 2020 – whether it was the unusually summery weather, or lockdown madness, who can say – I discovered a new enthusiasm for the form. I found time to dust off some of my unpublished S&S fiction and give it a good polishing (read: re-writing from the ground up) and I’m glad to say the exercise bore a little fruit. And so – by one of those typical coincidences which often plague the writer’s world – two pieces are appearing within a sort time of each other. “Face of Heaven, Eyes of Hell” has just been published in Phantasmagoria #18, while “The Essence of Dust” will shortly be released on an unsuspecting world in Swords & Sorceries Volume 2. And although there is little to connect either tale, they do take place in a shared universe (or should that be multiverse?).
I think it’s fair to say my S&S days are actually far from over.
Wednesday, 30 September 2020
The new expanded edition of The Paladin Mandates is now out from Pro Se Press. In addition to "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight" (which was only in the original Kindle edition), and "Deck the Halls" (published in the Occult Detective Monster Hunter anthology in 2015) there are two pieces unique to this new edition: "Have You Ever Seen a Dream Walking" and "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf".
As I mentioned in my previous post, where I mused on some of my published Sherlockian pieces, I briefly mentioned my contributions to the long-running MX series of charity anthologies which are compiled for the restoration of Undershaw – the former home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and now a Stepping Stones school.
The first was “The Adventure of the Vanishing Man” which saw print in The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part V: Christmas Adventures in 2016. This has the honour of being the first canon Holmes story I ever wrote – since the Steampunk mashup Vallis Timoris certainly doesn’t count. Next came “The Adventure of the Haunted Room” in The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part VII: Eliminate the Impossible, 1880-1891 the following year – investigations of possibly supernatural events which always have a rational explanation. A third – “The Adventure of the Singular Worm” – will debut in The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part XXIII: Some More Untold Cases, 1887-1894, the middle volume in a trilogy exploring the references Watson makes to some of Holmes’s undocumented cases over the years 1877 to 1903.
If you’d like to contribute to the Kickstarter for those books, the link’s here.
Tuesday, 4 August 2020
As 2022 kicks into high gear, I thought it might be about time to look back at what I’ve published in the last twelve months (and maybe a hi...
Decades ago, back in the mists of time, my earliest attempts at writing revolved around what I later came to know as Sword & Sorcery (so...
This year’s annual round-up is pretty brief. One of those outwardly calm years when nothing much seems to be happening. It started wi...
Many years ago there was an independent bookshop in Birmingham by the name of Hudsons. During its declining years they introduced a bargain ...