Tag Archives: andy cox

Round-up: July 2016

I’ve struggled to write anything in the last 12 to 14 months. I came close (again) to giving up, devoting my time to something else, but I always find my way back eventually. You need to take a deep breath sometimes, look at the sun awhile, before you dive back into the pool.

This time, though, was the longest, most challenging period of writer’s block I have ever experienced. I wrote one novelette and some pages of notes for a few other stories, but that’s it. The story is 11,500 words, it’s called Perspective, and it’s due to be published in Black Static magazine in September 2016.

I started writing Perspective in November 2014 and finished it 1 year later. That’s right, it took a year! I’ve said elsewhere that it is the darkest story I’ve ever written, and I don’t type that with any sense of pride; it is a cold fact. As is this: some people will struggle with its darkness and its themes. And I accept that. As long as they can accept that it was not written to offend; it was written with honesty. Readers will walk away with their own opinions on the plot and the overarching themes (it is no coincidence the title is Perspective, folks – hint hint) and that is something I am totally fine with; in fact, I welcome it. It’s why the story was the hardest thing I’ve ever written – having to juggle three different viewpoints with various elements and details made it a nightmare to write. I doubt I’ll ever be convinced I got it exactly the way I wanted it, but it’s done. That said, editor Andy Cox made this comment after reading it: “It’s devastating… Felt like I was shaking when I put the story down. I’ll be thinking about it for a very long time.”

Please consider purchasing a copy of Black Static #54 in September and let me know your thoughts.

On to the next piece of news. I am writing again. Furiously. And the reason for that is simple: I have removed myself from a situation that was soul-destroying and infuriating and wholly unnecessary. I can’t (won’t) go into the details here but I will say that the decision I have made has lifted a colossal weight from my shoulders. So…

I am leaving the UK.

Returning to Malta.

Now, this wasn’t a decision I necessarily wanted to make (not now, anyway) but the situation above became unbearable and so it forced my hand. Something had to give and that something was me. Before my son found himself growing up without a father.

We leave in 6 weeks. Packing has begun, plans underway.

Flights and hotel booked.

A second chance at our new beginning.

Will it work out this time? Who knows. The odds are evens, I say. But the time is right to finish what we started back in 2011 and give it a good enough ‘go’ that even if it doesn’t work out this time either then we can at least walk away and not be forever looking back with regret. That way, my friends, lies madness.

Back to the writing.

So, yes, I’ve been busy. I picked up my tale of the undead that I started way back in February 2015 and went to work on it again. It’s called The Incarnations of Mariela Pena. It’s currently 16.5k words, a novella by the time it’s done, and the best thing I’ve ever written, hands-down.

The structure is a story within a story (mise en abyme). The first is set in north-east Libya and explores the relationship of two NATO soldiers following an outbreak that threatens the whole of Europe and the Middle East, and perhaps even the world. The soldiers have been ordered to protect a stretch of coastline from the undead or infected, who arrive via the currents of the Mediterranean Sea from the islands of Malta and Gozo – the site of a terrorist attack and subsequent chemical weapon response (gone wrong). The second story is set in the past, in Mexico, and explores the relationship between one of the soldiers and a Mexican stripper with a disfigurement, the eponymous Mariela…

Incarnations is about repeating the mistakes of the past, both on a personal and global level, and how our failures are resurrected time and time again… I can’t wait to finish this one and get some feedback from a beta reader or two.

I’ve also been editing my novel. Finished almost 5 years ago, I set it aside and returned to writing short fiction, although with the intention of sending it to agents and/or publishers at some point. Well, that never really happened. So, I’ve dug it out and now I’m 450 manuscript pages into the final round of handwritten edits, hoping to have them finished and transferred to the laptop by the end of August. I’ve always struggled to categorise or pigeonhole this book (it’s a strange one!), however during these latest edits I realised that it is in fact suited to the YA (Young Adult) market. And so, my attempts to publish it in the future should be better focused. The title has also been changed. Halfway Somewhere Else. I like it.

Finally, with the resumption of the above, I have also gone back to work on the selecting and editing process for my  delayed collection, Bring Your Own Light, which is due to be published by TTA Press sometime in the future. I currently have four stories edited, with another seven stories waiting to be reviewed, and the possibility of one or two others, length permitting.

Long story short…it’s great to be finally moving forward again.

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‘Perspective’

PERSPECTIVE is an ambitious multi-viewpoint story (written in First, Second, and Third Person) that deals with an historical rape, hysterical blindness, and a marriage feeling the strains of both. It’s about power and powerlessness, the need to be seen, and the need to see. Hands down, it’s the darkest, most disturbing thing I’ve ever written. But I feel it has some important things to say.
-July 2015

I wrote those words almost one year ago.  Since then the story has been completed, submitted, and only just this week, accepted. It is due for publication in Black Static #54, sometime later this year.

I hope you buy a copy.

Best British Horror 2015

Here is the cover and table of contents for Best British Horror 2015, an anthology coming soon from Salt Publishing and edited by Johnny Mains.

Best British Horror 2015

SHADDERTOWN – CONRAD WILLIAMS
QUARRY HOGS – JANE JAKEMAN
RANDOM FLIGHT – ROSALIE PARKER
A SPIDER REMEMBER – SARA PASCOE
EASTMOUTH – ALISON MOORE
LEARNING THE LANGUAGE – JOHN LLEWELLYN PROBERT
REUNION – REBECCA LLOYD
THE THIRD TIME – HELEN GRANT
DROWNING IN AIR – ANDREW HOOK
ALISTAIR – MARK SAMUELS
IN THE YEAR OF OMENS – HELEN MARSHALL
APPLE PIE AND SULPHUR – CHRISTOPHER HARMAN
ON ILKLEY MOORE – ALISON LITTLEWOOD
THE BROKEN AND THE UNMADE – STEVEN J. DINES
ONLY BLEEDING – GARY McMAHON
THE NIGHT PORTER – RAY RUSSELL
SOMETHING SINISTER IN SUNLIGHT – LISA TUTTLE
SUMMERSIDE – ALISON MOORE
PRIVATE AMBULANCE – SIMON KURT UNSWORTH
THE RISING TIDE – PRIYA SHARMA
THE SLISTA – STEPHEN LAWS
DOG – REECE SHEARSMITH

My story, The Broken and the Unmade, was first published in Black Static #39, edited by Andy Cox.  So, a massive thank you to both Andy and Johnny for their support.

Merry Christmas!

Hm.

During breaks from writing (when real life intervenes), I spend a lot of time assessing my position.  For example, why do I write?  Is it worth it – the sacrifice of time and energy?  Should I perhaps try a new direction?  A different genre?  Maybe I should quit, walk away, redefine myself.  That kind of thing.  Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t mean I don’t love writing – the creative part of the process anyway – I just find myself increasingly disillusioned by the business side of it, and by the conduct of certain writers and editors on social media.  But I’m going to stop there.  This isn’t that kind of post.

Recently, after a three year hiatus in which I was the stay-at-home parent, I returned to the 9-to-5.  I decided to take some time off from writing to adjust to the new routine.  Simple as that.  Again, time away from it usually makes me ask those questions above.  Something always pulls me back, though.  The itch returned about a week ago, on the back of a couple of new and promising story ideas.  But I didn’t act on them other than to scribble some notes and put them aside for possible future use.  Sometimes, and it seems more frequent in recent years, I need a sign.  A little something to spark the fire underneath me again.  I don’t know why, exactly, and I’m pretty sure you probably don’t want to read my theories.  It’s just the way it is for me now.  My ambition is still there, it’s never left – oh, it wanes at times, but it never dies:  I’m just more of a realist these days, I suppose.  Maybe something of a dumb old romantic, too.  I want the words to do the talking for me not the number of posts I make on social media.  Anyway, a couple of nice things happened to me this week, and that’s what I want to share with you here.

First, someone read one of my stories and posted their thoughts on Facebook.  The story was “The Broken and the Unmade.”  I won’t repeat here what they said, but it was complimentary.  A couple of other people joined in with positive comments about me and another story of mine.  Thank you, much appreciated.

Second, Ellen Datlow, the editor of Best Horror of the Year posted her longlist of Honorable Mentions for 2013.  I was lucky enough to receive three.  Cue the usual debate on Facebook (and elsewhere, I’m sure) about the validity of such things.  After all, don’t they mean that you’re not good enough to get into the actual book?  Well, yes and no and yes.  These things are all subjective anyway, one person’s opinion on what works and what doesn’t, as is the Honorable Mentions shortlist and even the book’s contents itself.  But I’ll tell you what it means to me:

Encouragement.  No more, no less.

It’s akin to someone saying they enjoyed my work, and I’ll take that, I’ll take that every fucking time and say thank you for it.

So, if you want to peruse the entire HM longlist (posted in four parts) then follow this link to Ellen Datlow’s site.  It’s a good place to start if you are looking to try out some new authors.

Here are my stories that each received an Honorable Mention:

  1. “Men Playing Ghosts, Playing God” – published in Black Static #35.
  2. “The Sound of Constant Thunder” – published in Black Static #37.
  3. “The Space That Runs Away With You” – published in Crimewave 12: Hurts.

Thank you, Ellen.

And thank you again to that Facebook user who said he enjoyed “The Broken and the Unmade.”

In other news…I have been asked by Interzone editor Andy Cox to interview his 2014 cover artist, Wayne Haag.  It’s something I was more than happy to do since Wayne provided this beautiful artwork for one of my stories.

Machinehouse

Once the interview is done and gone live, I’ll post a link here.

Have a great weekend, people.

Black Static #37

This month, with the publication of Crimewave 12:  Hurts and Black Static #37, I have achieved two trebles.  The first, to have three stories appear in horror journal Black Static.  The second, to have a story appear in all three TTA Press periodicals – Black Static, Interzone, and Crimewave.  In short, what a lovely way to tie up the year!

I’ve talked about Crimewave elsewhere, so here are the final cover, ToC, and interior artwork for Black Static #37.

Black Static #37
(Cover art by George Cotronis)

Stories:
“When Charlie Sleeps” by Laura Mauro.  Art by Rich Sampson.
“Bones of Crow” by Ray Cluley (recent winner of the British Fantasy Society award for Best Short Story for “Shark! Shark!”)  Art by George Cotronis.
“All Your Faces Drown in My Syringe” by Ralph Robert Moore.  Art by David Gentry.
“The Strongest Thing About Me is Hate” by DeAnna Knippling.
“The Sunflower Seed Man” by Priya Sharma.  Art by Richard Wagner.
“The Sound of Constant Thunder” by Steven J. Dines.  Art by Joachim Luetke.

When Charlie Sleeps   Bones of CrowAll Your Face Drown in My Syringe   The Strongest Thing About Me is HateThe Sunflower Seed Man   The Sound of Constant Thunder

Please visit TTAPress for more details, or to take out a subscription.  I recommend you do.

There will be no other new material from me this year, but I have a story,  A TRICK OF THE NIGHT, due to appear in Fireside Magazine in January.  I’m also working on new short fiction for 2014 including THE BROKEN AND THE UNMADE and my first ever collaboration.  Details to follow!

ToC for Crimewave 12: Hurts

Crimewave 12 Hurts

As promised, here is the line-up for CRIMEWAVE 12:  HURTS, which is available to order now from TTA Press.  Take out a subscription and you’ll get a free copy of CRIMEWAVE 11.  A link to each author’s page has been provided where possible.

“Singularity” by Melanie Tem
“The Only Broken Blonde” by Simon Avery
“Bless” by Stephen Volk
“The Simpson Frames” by Anthony Mann
“Cheap Rent” by Janice Law
“By Night He Could Not See” by Joel Lane
“What Grief Can Do” by Stephen Bacon
“Scenes From Country Life” by Tim Lees
“Night Fishing” by James Cooper
“Unfinished Business” by Christopher Priest
“Dodge County” by Danny Rhodes
“The Space That Runs Away With You” by Steven J. Dines
“Gator Moon” by Ray Cluley
“Trial” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

In addition, if you would like a sneak peek you can read the opening paragraph to each story here.