Tag Archives: Cate Gardner

Halloween Reads

One great thing about visiting the dealers’ room at British Fantasy Con (FCon) is that it reminds me how passionate people are who dedicate their time and energy to the small press and how much people still love the printed page.

I’m proud to have had work in TTA Press–  I love it because there’s nothing quite like it publishing short genre fiction in the UK.  Andy Cox, the editor, has an eclectic eye for work and high production values. Interzone, Black Static and Crime Wave win awards, as do the stories that Andy chooses.

As a horror fan, Black Static has contained some amazing stories that have stayed with me, such as “White Rabbit” by Georgina Bruce (British Fantasy Award Winner in the short story category) , “Shark! Shark!” by Ray Cluley (BFA Winner short story) , “When the Moon Man Knocks” by Cate Gardner  (BFA nominated), “Sunshine” by Nina Allan (BFA nominated), “Lullaby” by Steve Rasnic Tem, “Prespective” by Steve. J. Dines,  just to name a few.  It features work by a plethora of talent like Simon Bestwick, Stephen Bacon, Stephen Hardagon, Laura Mauro, Damien Angelica Walters, Kristi Demeester, Helen Marshall, Andrew Hook, Ralph Robert Moore, Gary McMahon, Stephen Graham Jones…

Black Static Issue 60The 60th issue is now out and contains excellent work by Ray Cluley, Stephen Hargadon and Tim Lees.  It also contains the tremendous “Skyshine (or Death by Scotland)” by Carole Johnstone. I become a fangirl after reading her BFA winning story “Signs of the Times”, which was also first published in Black Static. There was a real buzz around “Skyshine” at the conference and I read it when I got home. It’s early to start talking about next year’s awards but I think it would be criminal if this wasn’t nominated. It’s inventive, clever and wry. Oh, and new subscribers can get Issue 60 free by using “B60 FREE” as their Shopper Reference during the checkout.

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I read “The Beauty” by Aliya Whiteley, published by Unsung Stories last year. It was a stunning bit of work about men in a post-woman society, that manages to be both body horror and an exploration of gender roles. I wanted to buy everything on the stand at FCon. In fact, I was deeply put out to find Malcom Devlin’s debut collection, “You Will Grow Into Them”, was sold out by the time I got there. It’s already garnering praise – see James Lovegrove’s review in the Financial Times, no less.

Did I also mention their books are also extremely handsome?

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Daniele Serra won a British Fantasy Award this year for his artwork. I came home with a copy of “Five Feathered Tales” by Alison Littlewood, which Daniele illustrated. It truly is a thing of beauty and Alison’s stories are delicate and dark. Incidentally, I also bought her new novel “The Crow Garden” after I enjoyed “The Hidden People”.

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Black Shuck Books is a relatively new venture from Steve Shaw that launched an HB-Cover-400anthology at FCon called “The Dark Satanic Mills”. It’s the second in his annual collection showcasing British writers (plus an international one), containing original work by Cate Gardner, Charlotte Bond, Paul Finch, Andrew Freudenberg, Gary Fry, Carole Johnstone, Penny Jones, Gary McMahon, Marie O’Regan, John Llewellyn Probert and Angela Slatter. Steve also launched John Lllewellyn Probert’s collection “Made for the Dark”.

Black Shuck’s catalogue is interesting. I’m thinking of Black Shuck Shadows, micro-collections by Thana Niveau, Paul Kane and Joseph D’Lacey.  “A Suggestion of Ghosts: Supernatural Fiction by Women 1826-1897”   is curated by the very knowledgeable Johnny Mains, who has scoured periodicals, archives and collections for work that hasn’t been republished since it was first released.

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Another launch that I attended was Titan Books’ New Fears, edited by Mark Morris. It’s a stellar line-up with writers like Ramsey Campbell, Nina Allan, Conrad Williams, A.K. Benedict, Alison Littlewood and Stephen Laws, to name a few.

For an alternative Halloween read, I’d suggest Simon Bestwick’s “The Feast of All Souls”, which pulls off the trick of being a haunted house story, a Victorian gothic novel, flirts with quantum physics and is a study of loss. Another recommendation would be Laura Mauro’s novella “Naming the Bones”. I’ve watched her career with interest as she’s a fine writer.

While at FCon I saw James Everington read from his novel “The Quarantined City”, in which the protagonist’s search for an author takes him deep into the man’s short stories. James Everington’s fiction is quiet and unsettling, having drawn very favorable attention from The Guardian reviewer Eric Brown. I have to mention Kit Power at this point too, who has a very different (set of) voices, all of them convincing, and who is the only person at the convention who could carry off a reading with a hammer in his hand. His collection will be out next year.

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“The Doll’s Alphabet” by Camilla Grudova is a truly weird collection, repeating motifs
and ideas. Even the stories that non-plussed me left me pondering their meaning long afterwards. Her dystopic short story “Waxy” was nominated in the short story category of the BFAs this year and was a strong contender. Read The Guardian review which draws comparison with Angela Carter, Margaret Atwood and David Lynch.
I’m going to sneak in a mainstream author here. I’m a big fan of Sarah Hall.  Her new collection “Madame Zero” is pure genre. It contains “Mrs Fox” which won the BBC National Short Story Award, in which a woman is tranformed by pregnancy into a vixen. Elsewhere she explores a wind drenched world, the liberation of sexual appetites and an era where a change in antenatal priorties mean to chose a woman’s life over that of her unborn child is illegal.
She’s been twice nominated for the Booker prize and this book reveals the poet at her heart in the concise beauty of her writing.
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Last but not least is Undertow Publications, a Canadian venture run by Mike Kelly. It’s fast gained an excellent reputation for its Year’s Best Weird Fiction and Shadows and Tall Trees, as well as its single author collections, being nominated for Shirley Jackson Awards, World Fantasy Awards and British Fantasy Awards.
Mike Kelly is releasing the range in both hardback (below) and paperback.
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I think they’re good looking books too, with as much style as substance. Does that mean I’m shallow?

 

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The Dark

The December 2016 issue of The Dark includes work from wonderful writers Steve Rasnic the-dark-december-2016Tem, Cate Gardner and Thana Niveau. I’m thankful to be included with a reprint of “The Absent Shade”, a story that originally appeared in issue 44 of Black Static.

Read online here.

The Dark is edited by Sean Wallace and Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Jack Fisher is the assistant editor.

Sean Wallace is the founder, publisher, and managing editor of Prime Books. He has edited or co-edited a number of projects, including three magazines, Clarkesworld Magazine, The Dark, and Fantasy Magazine.

Table of Contents: December 2016

“Too Many Ghosts” by Steve Rasnic Tem
“The Curtain” by Thana Niveau (reprint)
“As Cymbals Clash” by Cate Gardner
“The Absent Shade” by Priya Sharma (reprint)

the-dark-logo

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Predictions

In my post “2015” I mentioned a few things I’d particulary enjoyed that year.

Black Static 48I praised Cate Gardner‘s “The Bureau of Them” and “When the Moon Man Knocks”, both of which have received British Fantasy Award nominations.

Ditto Kelly Robson for “The Waters of Versailles” for which she is a finalist for the World Fantasy Award, the Nebula Award, and the Prix Aurora Award.  (Her short story “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill” is a Illustration for Kelly Robson's Waters of Versaille by Kathleen Jenningsfinalist for the 2016 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award).

It’s even more tremendous when you consider that Kelly only made her debut in markets like Clarkesworld, Tor and Asimov’s in 2015.

On the same theme, I am very much looking foward to Issue 54 of Black Static out  in September as it will contain “Perspective”, Steve J Dines’ new novelette. I am expecting heaps of darkness if his last few stories are anything to go by.

I am now tagging my predictions. Sadly my attempts at foretelling the National Lottery numbers have been less successful.

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Cate Gardner and The Hyde Hotel

Arthur Charles Manfred Edwards, resting against the hotel room door, handle poking into his back and fire emergency poster affixing itself to his bald patch, clutched the bomb to his The Hyde Hotelchest. The bomb, which for the purposes of the story we’ll name Lullaby, was a traditional cartoon version of a bomb, a little airship-like in shape and gold in colour. Arthur didn’t know much about bombs, only slightly more than Lullaby who thought itself a six-year-old boy. Children scared Arthur.
-from The Coyote Corporation’s Misplaced Song by Cate Gardner
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PS: Welcome Cate. What’s in your room at The Hyde Hotel?
CG: There are threadbare sheets that the current occupants and countless others have worried at with fingers and teeth, and a phone that cries for attention and grows lonelier with each ring.

PS: Lullaby is the most wonderful bomb I’ve ever encountered. Where did he come from?
CG: In the reality of the story, he dropped from the sky. In his mind and mine, he’s a little boy who wants to be so much more. If you’re asking how he came to be in terms of story, then oh goodness, that little gem is long lost in the swirl of other things and probably the result of eating too much chocolate that day.

PS: Your writing is unique, I think. Part Roald Dahl, part James Thurber and all Cate Gardner. Would you consider doing some dark novels for children?
CG: I already have and they live in dusty boxes in my study. Once upon a time, I thought they were very, very good, then I realised they were horrid. I suspect I wrote The Coyote Corporation while working on a children’s novel as when I try to combine writing for children and short stories at the same time my shorts tend to come out extra-weird and a little odder. I’ve been promising my niece I’d write something for her for years, but I think she’s given up waiting as she’s started writing her own stories (I’m so proud).

PS: What’s the appeal to you about the hotel as a setting?
CG: A hotel can be anything and anywhere your story needs it to be. There’s something creepy about all those endless corridors. It’s a place most of us are familiar with and hopefully no one I know has ever stayed anywhere as unsettling as the Hyde.

PS: Do you have a favourite story in the Hyde Hotel collection yourself?
CG: The Blue Room by V.H. Leslie

PS: What’s your favourite hotel story/film?
CG: Probably 1408, although the last time I watched it, while in the midst of knock-me-over grief, I declared I could never watch it again. It’s one of the most unsettling movies (haven’t read the short story it’s based on) I’ve ever seen.

PS: Do you have any new projects you can talk about?
CG: Well, Snowbooks are releasing my novella The Bureau of Them at FantasyCon this year alongside novellas by Ray Cluley, John Llewellyn Probert, Mark Morris and Gary Fry. Very excited about that. I have two hush-hush projects (short stories) in the works, one due the end of April and the other next year. Other than that, I’m hibernating.

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Liverpool-born Cate Gardner lives on the windy shores of the Wirral with the horror and Cate Gardnercrime writer Simon Bestwick and a ghost called Kneecap. Her short stories have appeared in Black Static, Postscripts, Shimmer, Best British Fantasy and many other weird and wonderful places. You can find her on the web at www.categardner.net

When the Moon Man Knocks appears in Black Static Issue 48

The Tranfiguration of Mr Punch contains Cate’s novella This Foolish and Harmful Delight.

Cate Gardner’s Amazon page

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2015

January is the time for looking back and looking forwards – it’s when people blog about what they’ve read and enjoyed, when reading lists appear and when “best of” anthologies are finalised.

In the last few years, I’ve singled out one story annually- previously “Shark! Shark!” by Ray Cluley, “Signs of the Times” by Carole Johnstone and “Ptichka” by Laura Mauro.

I have to admit that I’m woefully behind with my reading but of what I have read from 2015, a few things spring to mind immediately.

I have to confess a bias in that Cate Gardner is my friend but I do genuinely admire her work which is steeped in darkness, loss and grief. She has a unique The Bureau of Themtake on the world. “The Bureau of Them” is her novella, published by Spectral Press. Black Static has featured her short stories this year, Illustration for Kelly Robson's Waters of Versaille by Kathleen Jenningsincluding “When the Moon Man Knocks” in Issue 48.

In that same issue of Black Static was “The Suffering” by Steven J. Dines. I’ve always enjoyed his writing but I hope he’ll forgive me for saying that there’s been a change in what he’s had published this year. It feels raw and heartfelt, as if he’s struck a particularly rich vein of inner-strange that’s enriched his fiction. I think it heralds more exciting things to come. I know many people would pick his other story – “So Many Heartbeats, So Many Words” (Black Static , Issue 46) but I’m going with “The Suffering” because it’s unrelenting in its horror.

The final story is pure fantasy- “The Waters of Versailles” by Kelly Robson, which can be read in its entirety here. What appears initially to be a frothy historical drama is a tale of self interest and ambition versus responsibility and love. Kelly Robson pulls off the fantastic elements with aplomb. It’s already appeared on many reading lists.

Gardner Dozois has included her other excellent story, “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill”,  in his upcoming Year’s Best Science Fiction (Thirty-third Annual Collection). This first appeared on the Clarkesworld website.

As to my own stuff, a lot of people have been very kind about “Fabulous Beasts”, so thank you for the support.

 

 

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The 777 Writing Challenge

I received these instructions from Sharon Kae Reamer. Primary Fault

“Take a current WIP (I think it can also be published, I mean, it’s up to you) and go to the 7th page, and then go down 7 lines, and then post the next 7 lines.

I like these sometimes inane challenges to show our underpants. But you may feel differently.”

As she is so gorgeous, it would be churlish of me not to play along.

This is from “The Crow Palace”, one of a few things I’m working on.

“Your dad was a terrible patient. They told him he should have an operation to clear his arteries but he refused.” Elsa opens one of the kitchen cupboards. “Look.”
I take out some of the boxes, shake them, read the leaflets. There’s twelve months of medication here. Dad never took any of it. Aspirin, statins, nitrates, ace- inhibitors. Wonder drugs to keep his stodgy arteries patent and the blood flowing through them.
I slam the door shut, making Elsa jump. It’s the gesture of a petulant teenager. I can’t help it. Dad’s self neglect is a good excuse to be angry at him for dying.

The Bureau of Them

Next up is lovely Cate Gardner.

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Things I Read In July by Laura Mauro

I wholeheartedly agree with Laura’s comments about Cate Gardner’s work. She is a very modest lady with talent in spades. I’ve bought “The Bureau of Them” and can’t wait to read it.

Also- thanks for the kind words on “Fabulous Beasts”.

Dispatches from the Sinister Room

botcover2The Bureau Of Them by Cate Gardner

The gorgeously hallucinogenic cover art is highly appropriate for this story – a vivid nightmare of a tale in which the world of the living and the world of the dead begin to bleed at the edges, merging into one but only for those who seek out the blurred lines. The titular bureau is a place inhabited by the dead, who appear to be nothing more than mindless automatons acting at the behest of their de-facto leader, Yarker, the kind of gleeful bastard villain Stephen King might have dreamed up. A few days ago on Facebook I described The Bureau Of Them as ‘bloody marvellous, a skin-crawlingly claustrophobic nightmare put to paper, but with a real vulnerability at its heart which grounds the reader in the here and now’ – and I think that’s pretty accurate summary. The main character’s fragility is sketched…

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Twisted Tales of Austerity

The Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies, based at Manchester Metropolitan University, has launched its second Gothic Manchester Festival. Its programme includes a tour of the John Rylands Library (a neo-Gothic stunner), a Victorian lantern show, an afternoon of Steampunk and panel discussions by the UK’s leading scholars on a variety of subjects around Gothic art, literature and architecture and its influence on modern culture.

Iwent to Twisted Tales of Austerity, an event at Manchester’s Waterstones hosted by Twisted Tales exploring how the Gothic can critique the current mainstream political consensus surrounding poverty and the welfare state. There were readings by authors from Horror Uncut: Tales of Social Insecurity and Economic Unease,  followed by a panel discussion and Q&A.

Twisted Tales of Austerity

Twisted Tales of Austerity

Left: Tom Johnstone

Centre: Rosanne Rabinowitz,

Right: Lauro Mauro

Tom Johnstone, the anthology’s co-editor, read Joel Lane’s  “A Cry for Help”, the final sentence of which packed a hard punch. Rosanne Rabinowitz, a Shirley Jackson Award nominee, read from her affecting story, “Pieces of Ourselves”. My personal favourite was Lauro Mauro’s “Ptichka”, which was a vivid and visceral piece of writing about an immigrant who finds herself pregnant in a post-NHS Britain.

It was also great to catch up with Simon Bestwick, who also contributed to the anthology, Cate Gardner and Roy Gray from TTA Press.

A reprint of my own story, “The Ballad of Boomtown”, is also included in the volume.

A note on Cate Gardner: She quietly gets on and does her thing. And what a thing! Cate’s shy about it though. She’ll never tell you that Damien Walter (of The Guardian) listed her Theatre of Curious Acts in the top five of his Indie Sci-Fi and Fantasy Hunt.

Twisted Tales aims to promote horror across a range of different media, from live events across the North West to critical reviews. It was founded by David McWilliam (a doctoral student and Associate Lecturer at Lancaster University, Liverpool John Moores University, and Manchester Metropolitan University) and Glyn Morgan (Ph.D researcher and tutor at the University of Liverpool) in 2010.

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