Tag Archives: Carole Johnstone

British Fantasy Awards 2014

I’ve waxed lyrical about Carole Johnstone’s work before but I’m tremendously pleased that “Signs of the Times”, which appeared in Issue 33 of Black Static, won the British Fantasy Award 2014 short story category. It’s a fabulous, affecting story.

A massive congratulations to Carole and all the other winners who were announced on Sunday, 7 September 2014, at the awards banquet at FantasyCon 2014 in York:

Best fantasy novel (the Robert Holdstock Award): A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar (Small Beer Press)

Best horror novel (the August Derleth Award): The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes (HarperCollins)

Best novella: Beauty, Sarah Pinborough (Gollancz)

Best short story: Signs of the Times, Carole Johnstone (Black Static #33)

Best anthology: End of the Road, Jonathan Oliver (ed.) (Solaris)

Best collection: Monsters in the Heart, Stephen Volk (Gray Friar Press)

Best small press: The Alchemy Press (Peter Coleborn)

Best comic/graphic novel: Demeter, Becky Cloonan

Best artist: Joey Hi-Fi

Best non-fiction: Speculative Fiction 2012, Justin Landon and Jared Shurin (eds) (Jurassic London)

Best magazine/periodical: Clarkesworld, Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace and Kate Baker (ed.) (Wyrm Publishing)

Best film/television episode: Game of Thrones: The Rains of Castamere, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (HBO)

Best newcomer (the Sydney J. Bounds Award): Ann Leckie, for Ancillary Justice (Orbit)

The British Fantasy Society Special Award (The Karl Edward Wagner Award): Farah Mendlesohn

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Three things I don’t write about (and three things I do)

I’ve been tagged by the marvellous Carole Johnstone for this blog hop. Carole has been nominated for a British Fantasy Award for her fantastic short story, “Signs of the Times”. TTA have recently published her latest novella, “Cold Turkey”.

So, what don’t I write about?

I know I’m playing fast and loose with the question here but I don’t/can’t write humour (but I wish I did). I love a bit of gallows humour. “Shark! Shark!” by Ray Cluley made me laugh out loud, as did Carole Johstone’s “Cold Turkey”. It’s a skill to be able to grant the reader that relief from the darkness and it acts as a great counterpoint.

There are comic actors that are so good at their craft that they can elevate their part beyond caricature.  They switch from comedy to pathos seamlessly. They’re the whole package and I feel that way about authors that can walk that line.

Again, this may seem like a fudge, but I can’t/don’t write poetry  (but wish that I did). I don’t even understand most poetry but the bits that I do get blow my mind. I envy the ability to write succinctly and distill an image/emotion into a single line. I know authors do this to some extent but to have a real grasp of the rhythm of words and real economy would make me a better writer. In “Zen and the Art of Writing”, Ray Bradbury said that all poetry is compacted metaphor or simile and that every writer should read poetry. Even if they don’t get it, their synapses will. I like that.

Here’s the reason it may seem that I’ve been evasive in my answers. In a world of protocols, guidelines, directives and deadlines, writing is my freedom. I like the idea that eveything is on the table. I don’t have to censor myself. I’m happy to tackle tropes when they can help me express what I need to say- “Sweetpea” (a vampire story about child abuse), “Fishskins” (a mermaid story about marital love) and “The Fox Maiden” (a shape shifter story about the suppressed self). I haven’t got anything against zombies, but I’ve yet to think of an original take on or use for them.

And what do I write about?

This is going to sound banal, but I’ m a simple creature and want to keep this simple. If it doesn’t move me, then I can’t write about it. If it doesn’t press my buttons, if I’m not in love with it or disturbed by it, then it doesn’t work. Writing is free therapy. People who know me well know what bits of my work are real, albeit in a veiled form. I need a bit of my own truth on which to build my fiction. In short, I write about my inner freak. Or at least from my inner freak.

I got to the end of my latest story, “The Rising Tide”, and realised that I’d called my protagonist Cariad. It’s Welsh for darling. Priya is Hindi for darling. And Freud says there are no accidents.

Many of my stories are set firmly in the present, but I’m partial to a bit of historical fantasy/alternative history/mythology. I enjoy researching for a new story and then skewing what I’ve learnt for my own needs. It’s the escapist in me. I can play dress up in my head and go anywhere in my personal time machine.

I hope that relationships are at the heart of everything that I write. Bewildering, messy, difficult relationships. They’re the biggest puzzle of all. Ideas are exciting but without relationships my stories would fall apart. If I’ve failed to convince you of what my characters are feeling (and what I’m feeling) in  my writing, then I’ve failed.

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I’ve been greedy about handing on the baton.

Steven J  Dines ‘s numerous stories have appeared in Black Static, Interzone and Crimewave (yes, he’s one of the TTA triathletes). He never fails to impress me, but my personal favourite is “The Sound of Constant Thunder” (Black Static issue 37). I hope to see more of his work all over the place this year.

Sean Demory  The first piece of work that I ever read by Sean Demory was “The Ballad of the Wayfaring Stranger and the Dead Man’s Whore”. It got an honorable mention in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year Volume 5.  I think he’s a superb stylist of the weird. He’s the sort of writer that makes me wonder what he’ll produce next.

Steve Toase is an archeologist and author. Steve’s story, “Call Out” is  quite rightly getting rave reviews following its appearance in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year Volume 6.

Sharon Kae Reamer is a seismologist and author who is currently working on a mammoth five book epic that mixes science with magic. The first three volumes of Schattenreich series are now available.

Neil Murton  is truly economical- he produces little gems of flash fiction. I particularly like his reinvention of King Arthur as Arfa, a scrawny young girl. A collection of his work will soon be out in paperback, but you can suscribe to his site and get regular stories in your inbox.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Signs of the Times by Carole Johnstone nominated for a British Fantasy Award

The British Fantasy Award nominees for 2014 have now been announced. It’s a pretty dazzling list that includes Neil Gaiman, Adam ImageNevill, Sarah Pinborough, Joe Hill, Alison Littlewood, Lauren Beukes, Graham Joyce, Nina Allen, Stephen Volk, Thana Niveau, Karen Tidbeck, Ramsey Campbell and Pat Cadigan. Congratulations to everyone on the list.

I have to confess a massive soft spot for “Signs of the Times” by Carole Johnstone, which has been nominated in the short story category. My proof is in my recent interview with her. Good luck to her with this amazing story of friendship that appeared in Black Static( issue 33).

Carole Johnstone’s blog.

Carole’s latest novella, “Cold Turkey” is available from TTA Press.

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