Tag Archives: Sean Demory

The Soul of Stones

The Soul of StonesThe man sat in the recess of the veranda, in the shadows where he was least likely to be seen. A man in rags, dead meteorites in his bag. Waiting for Beth. A man living in transit. One who won’t take his chances upon the stars. Eyes and feet fixed firmly on the ground. A scavenger. A hardy breed, self selected for qualities like endurance and the capacity for loneliness. Lincoln wandered, collecting stones. He returned with a full bag to the assay office, hoping there would be enough ore for him to eat and buy a clean bed for a while. Safer than going into space with a crew, but only marginally. Lincoln risked sandstorms and starvation, predators and other scavengers to survive. He didn’t have the option of resurrection.
“Lincoln.”
“M’am.”
He had never called Beth by her name. Never once stepped inside her door. The life she led inside was a mystery. As cool and contained as they were with one another.
Beth didn’t know how to present herself. She carried a jug and two glasses on a tray. She wished he could see her differently, afraid her hospitality made her seem servile in his eyes, or even worse, patronising and kind. Not stubborn or independent. Docile. Domesticated. Not wild. What use would such a man have for someone so tame?
She poured the lemonade, leaving her glass upon the tray. She allowed herself to watch him as he drained his share, the muscles moving in his throat. She needn’t have worried about impressions. He was just grateful for the drink.
Only when Beth had poured him a second glass, did she take up her own. They didn’t exchange words. They didn’t pass the time of day, only looked at one another when the other looked away. He looked as aged as the terrain. The sun, the wind, the sand, had added a decade to his face. His skin was creased but his eyes were still blue and young.
“I heard about your husband.” Lincoln cleared his throat. “I’m sorry. It’s a bad thing.”

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“The Soul of Stones” is now available from Sean Demory’s Pine Float Press.

This story originally appeared in Issue 41 of Not One of Us in 2009.

The lovely cover illustration is by Bernie Gonzalez.

eBook (less £2.40t0 ) at Lulu, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com 

Paperback ( at Lulu for £2.40.

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Slow Boat to Fast City edited by Sean Demory

I first read Sean Demory’s work when I noticed one of his stories on Ellen Datlow’s Honorable Mentions List 2012. “The Ballad of the Wayfaring Stranger and the Dead Man’s Whore” astounded me. It’s a rich and lyrical story that made me seek him out. It’s still available here on Amazon if you’re interested.
I’ve been lucky enough to read a few of his other stories and I think he’s a superb stylist. He demands a lot of the reader- he doesn’t coddle you – he’s on his own ride and you just have to try and keep up with him. I’m always curious to see what he’ll do next.
His work varies widely- Shakespearean fantasy, supernatural noir and now, with his new project, “Slow Boat to Fast City”, which he describes as raygun-gothic-pulp sci-fi. It’s a several-author anthology that he’s editing and Kickstarting.

Tell me more about Slow Boat to Fast City.
Sean Demory: “Slow Boat to Fast City” is an anthology set in a universe where the failed 1939 invasion of Earth by Mars was held off by a mobster with a head cold and where World War II ended with the capture of Adolf Hitler in his bunker on the Olympus Mons. It’s about people living in a frontier that’s one part Bugsy Siegel’s Las Vegas, one part Buck Rogers and one part Clanton and Earp-era Tombstone. It’s about layers of history grinding against each other until reality splinters and the tough men and women who have to make tough choices to deal with the wreckage.
It’s a crazy good time, and my stories are a big, big mash note to James Ellroy and Ray Bradbury.

What made you go for the short sharp burst of an anthology of only 6-8 stories?
SD: I like the potential of the ebook, and I want to explore it. To me, it seems that there’s a real focus on the big book, the seven-book-in-a-series horsechoker that makes you feel like you’ve gotten your money’s worth out of the reading experience. I love the ebook as a means to provide a short, discrete and self-contained experience. The stories are things that you can finish over a cup of coffee and keep with you for the rest of the day. That potential for story to enrich life organically is really exciting to me, and the form works well for old-school pulp science fiction.-

Tell me about the other contributors and their stories.
SD: I cringe when people talk about being blessed, because I’m a gritty, hard-as-nails fin de siècle nihilist… but I really am blessed and honored to have assembled the crew that I’ve got working on this. Orrin Grey (Never Bet the Devil), who combines Burroughs and noir for an amazingly evocative and emotionally rich locked-door mystery, “The House of Mars.” Steven G. Saunders has a story about Nazi holdouts in “Grüne Reich, Grüne Hölle” that’s just incendiary. A.E. Ash, an outstanding poet and author, takes a look at the alien within and the idea of alienness as a contagion in “War Paint.” Leslie Powell has a strangers-on-a-train road story, “You Send Me,” about a long-haul pilot and a Barsoomist rebel that’s atmospheric and funny and sad. Marshall Edwards’ piece is a story about a courier delivering an urn to a Chinese-American settlement in the hinterlands of Mars who rapidly finds that he’s over his head and in harm’s way.

Schlomo Saves the World, the first of the stories by yourself, is punchy and fast. What’s it about and how did Schlomo evolve?
SD: “Schlomo Saves the World” is sort of my mission statement. It’s about a gangster with a head cold and two bodies in the back of his delivery truck who finds himself in the middle of the Martian landing at Grover’s Mill, New Jersey and saves the world with a sneeze.
I wrote it right after I read Ellroy’s latest novel, “Perfidia,” and it shows. I’ve joked that the ur-Ellroy paragraph is “He said ‘Hello.’ She slapped him. Then she kissed him. Someone killed Kennedy. It wasn’t them.’” That being said, the man’s got a way with language that’s propulsive and immediate and so, so charged. I wanted the story to be almost percussive, as it’s written from the point of view of a guy who really doesn’t want much more in life than a good sandwich, a waitress with nice thighs and to be over this goddamned cold until he’s thrown into a world very different than what he’s used to handling. It worked out well.

The Martian had the bulk of a good-sized cow. Schlomo didn’t see it. His head was stuffed up and he was thinking of the mole over Doris’ right eyebrow and the mole on her collarbone and the mole on her hip and playing connect-the-dots again if he could ever kick this goddamned cold.
Schlomo was not thinking about the two bullethead welshing gonif sonsabitches in the back of his truck when he hit the Martian. They didn’t deserve much thought anymore. He’d done something to his shoulder when he’d killed them, so he was not looking forward to the digging. He could sink them in Carnegie Lake, maybe. Sink the bodies, drive back to Grover’s Mill and get Doris to baby him for a bit before the long drive back to the City.
The truck bucked when he rolled over the Martian. He could feel it begin to tip and pulled hard right to stay on the road. The truck shuddered, and he could feel the wheel jerk in his hands.
Bent axle, Schlomo thought as he heard bleating from the road. This fuckin’ day.

(Schlomo Saves the World)

Why did you decide to use Kickstarter for this project?
SD: The piece is idiosyncratic in many, many regards and I really wanted to keep it as close to its original mission as possible. I also love how Kickstarter allows a less-known creator to build a rapport with an audience. The Kickstarter campaign allows the other authors to contribute without any real risk and lets the readers have some sweat equity in the process while becoming acquainted with some amazing writers.

I know that you’ve got cover art by Jeff Hui lined up, which I can’t reveal here, but I love the image you used on Space girlKickstarter (left).
SD: Jeff Hui’s over is actually a fashion photo and it really hits the New Frontierish, Verve Records album cover in space feel that I wanted. Sometimes the universe sets things in your lap.
I was amazed at how many pictures popped up from a search of the word “spacegirl.” The photo I used for the Kickstarter campaign’s an old ad photo that’s just perfect… it’s so odd and of its time.

 

To read more about the project go to the Kickstarter page here.

Sean Demory’s Facebook page is here.

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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.

***

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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