Tag Archives: Georgina Bruce

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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Black Static’s 50th Issue

Andy Cox has celebrated the 50th issue of Black Static with a fantastic line up of fiction by Georgina Bruce, V.H. Leslie, Ray Cluley, Gary Budden, Tyler Keevil and Tim Casson, alongside columns by Stephen Volk and Lynda E. Rucker, DVD reviews by Tony Lee and reviews by Peter Tennant – which includes a feature on Simon Bestwick.

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Black Static Issue 50 with cover art by Vince Haig

I look forward to reading work by all of these writers but am particularly pleased to see much made of Georgina Bruce’s story “White Rabbit”. I’ve long envied her work for her style and vision which is matched by her technical skill.

I’m also very pleased to see the magazine being featured in the mainstream press. Damien Walter’s article The ominous ordinary: horror writers finding scares in the everyday praises Andy Cox’s vision, Georgina Bruce for  “undermining our faith in the ordinary” and Simon Bestwick’s work as “the most engaged with ordinary British life of any horror writer working today”.

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Georgina Bruce

I have an addition to my “Three Things I Don’t Write About (and Three Things I Do) tagees. What can I say? I’m greedy.

Georgina Bruce has just got back to me, agreeing to post this weekend on her blog, Monster Soup. I’ve had my eye on her since I first read “Crow Vodoo”, a few years ago. I look at her work and think, Damn, why can’t I write like that?

Her gut wrenching “Cat World” appeared in Interzone last year and is being reprinted in Salt’s Best British Fantasy 2014.

 

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The Next Big Thing

I’ve been tagged in the Next Big Thing by the super talented Ray Cluley whose work has been published just about everywhere. My fave thing by him this year is “Shark! Shark!” which appeared in Black Static 29 and is on the HWA’s Stoker Reading List for 2012.

Ray’s other writers are V. H. Leslie , Michael Kelly (writer and editor of Shadows & Tall Trees) and James Cooper.

Here are my answers:

1) What is the working title of your project? It’s a short story called “Rag and Bone” that I’ve recently finished and sent off for judgement.

2) Where did the idea come from for the story? I remember rag and bone men from my childhood, although they’re now making a bit of a comeback, albeit in vans rather than with horses and carts. And I’m a child of the 1970s, so have fond memories of “Steptoe and Son”. The name, rag and bone man, always sounded sinister to me.

3) What genre does your book fall under? Alternative history.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? This is going to sound cryptic but I can’t tell you who’d play the main character. You’ll see why if it ever gets published. What I would say is that it would be filmed in Liverpool (see below).

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? A rag and bone man risks revealing his secret when he gets involved with an industrialist’s search for body parts, set against the backdrop of a pseudo-Victorian Liverpool.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? It’s currently with someone awaiting a decision, so I’ve got everything crossed.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? All my first drafts take weeks as I write stories piecemeal and then patch them together. It’s not a terribly efficient way of working but the joy is that a complete story often emerges from what I think are a pile of scraps.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? That’s a tough question- if I’m lucky enough to get this published and anyone reads it, let me know if you draw any comparisons.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book? Liverpool, where I was a student. I now live across the Mersey, on the Wirral. Liverpool is beautiful- it has the highest number of listed buildings in the UK outside London. It wears its history on its sleeve- shipping, the docks, trade unionism, the ugliness of its involvement in the slave trade, its mansions, terraces, art galleries, museums, universities, stadiums, hospitals and pubs.

There are plans to redevelop the waterfront, which are contentious as they may result in the city losing its World Heritage Site status but will create jobs. It set me thinking about an alternative Liverpool still rooted in its industrial past, where its people live in squalor and the merchant princes are all powerful and have access to modern technology. Once I put this together with what I had planned for the rag and bone man, I started to imagine him walking around the city and that’s when he came alive for me.


10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
It’s a story about identity and what people have to do to survive.

I’m handing the baton on to four other authors, whose answers to the above questions on their latest project will be available on Wed 28th November 2012.

Ilan Lerman . Ilan is a wonderful writer and has a new story out in Black Static soon called “Love as Deep as Bones”.

Jo Hall, author and Chair of Bristol Con has had some very exciting news about her writing. New UK based publishers Kristell Ink, the fantasy and SF imprint of Holland House, have accepted her fantasy novel, “Art of Forgetting” and are planning to publish it over two volumes.

Sharon Reamer is an author and geophysicist whose first novel, “Primary Fault“, came out this year and the next part of the trilogy is soon to follow.

I’m a big fan of Georgina Bruce. After reading her stories,  “Touch,Typing” in Dark Tales magazine and “Crow Voodoo” in Clockwork Phoenix Volume 4, I immediately emailed a friend saying, You’ve got to read this woman’s work, she’s the real deal.

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