In 2014 I had a secondary world adventure story called ‘Bitter Water’ published in the anthology Triangulation: Parched (ed. Stephen V. Ramey), featuring sand, bandits, extremely aggrieved merchants, alarming spirit-haunted mountains and some rather unkind practical jokers. Now it’s been reprinted by Digital Fantasy Fiction as an e-book, which I am delighted about, because the characters in it remain among my personal favourites. You can get it both on its own and as part of an anthology of ten awesome fantasy stories. So, you know. Why not?
I have a new short story in 3LBE #28: Delia’s Door, a piece about music, escapism and the power of inertia. It’s a little melancholic, but on the plus side: no body horror.
The first time I saw the summer country was when the first fugue of Vivaldi’s Dixit came together, finally, for a single perfect moment one wintry night. The rain beat against the drafty windows and fifty voices sang out together, split into two choirs, which means eight different harmony lines, which is quite hard when you’ve only got six tenors and seven basses to start with, and for once, for once it sounded as if we were really singing what Vivaldi had written.
I saw it then. A wash of blue and gold lit up the old school hall turned community centre, splashing raggedly across the choir notice boards and institutional paint and hundred-year-old prize lists full of familiar names, and through a hole as evanescent as a soap bubble I saw a new horizon: green hills, summer sunset skies, a long perspective onto light and color and a different country, far away — yet one I could reach if I could just step through the door our singing had opened up…
I may as well admit now that the quickest way to get my attention is to have a really good singing voice, preferably bass. For this reason, my favourite dragon is Fafner. (Sorry, Glaurung; sorry, Smaug.) Anyway, you should certainly check out the issue! The full table of contents is:
There was a white light in the dark where there shouldn’t have been. It lit up the window and glowed around the door, so I said, “Hello? Is someone out there?” and no one replied. I wrestled the bolt back and stepped out into the porch on my bare toes, shivering as the breeze pushed up my cotton nightie.
I haven’t had a chance to read the issue, but the TOC looks great! It is:
Two Queens of the River • Aimee Ogden
Butter-Daughters • Nin Harris
The Dust Gate • Marissa Lingen
Tongueless • Julia August
Wolfswood • Becky Allyn Johnson
The Three Lives of Truck the Red • Naru Dames Sundar
The Beachings • JY Yang
We’re All Friends Here • Michelle Ann King
Actually, the issue has been out for days. Like an idiot, I got it into my head it was coming out at the end of the month, and it was only Charles Payseur’s characteristically thoughtful review that alerted me. Check him out for an overview (with spoilers).
Afterwards I heard it said that lightning struck the soldiers disembarking at Dyrrachium and wolves came into the City that stayed. This was not true, however. The only tracks I saw doubled back on themselves after pissing on the boundary stones…
I have a short piece of Roman weird in LampLight vol. 4 issue 4, alongside work by Jonathan Janz, Kevin Lucia, Kate Dollarhyde and Emily Vakos. You can get the issue on Amazon and Smashwords right now and should be able to get it for Nook, Kobo and iBooks in due course. I love the LampLight covers; as someone who obsessively photographs street lights, they get me on a subliminal level.
The serious title is ‘City of Wolves and Lightning’; the alternative title is ‘Sorry Caesar But Our City Is In Another Country!’ Reference notes: (1) it was a Bad Omen for Gaius Gracchus when the wolves ran off with the boundary-markers from his colony at Carthage; (2) Cicero, Letters to Atticus 7.11.3, on Pompey’s plan. The actual entity not within house walls is res publica, but I chose to render this ‘city’ throughout to spare myself having to decide how to translate res publica and everyone else a long dissertation on whatever my reasoning would have been.
Most of Grendelsong Issue 2 is now live on the website, including my piece The Wardrobe of Metaphysical Maps, featuring unsatisfactory relationships and maps of a non-geographical nature. This is in some respects a counterpart to a poisonous little flash piece from 2014, Aqua Vitalis. Anyway, you can now go and check out (almost) the whole issue! It is all great, though I think my favourite story is Octavia Cade’s Carnival Microbial; as I said before, it’s so inventively icky.
In case you missed it, Lackington’s #9 is now free to read, including my story Under Dead Marsh, gorgeously illustrated by Random House. The whole issue is great and Ranylt Richildis is an unsung hero (again!) for putting up with my experiments in formatting, among other things.
I may as well repeat what I said about this story when the issue first appeared: Under Dead Marsh may be the only true hard sci-fi story I ever write! It is likely to be of particular interest to three types of people: people trying to get planning permission; people trying to stop other people getting planning permission; and local councillors. Oh, and Dylan Thomas fans. I hope you like Dylan Thomas. I do too.
Issue 2 of the new Grendelsong is out and I have a piece of flash fiction in it: The Wardrobe of Metaphysical Maps, involving unsatisfactory relationships and maps of a non-geographical nature. The issue’s gone out to Patreon subscribers and will be available for Kindle/Nook shortly; in due course the content should appear on the website too. I’ll post again then.
Table of contents:
Editorial – Paul Jessup
The White Snake Part 1 – Humberto Maggi
We Ride the Stillness – Deborah Walker
Sisters – Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
The Tale that Wrote Itself – Berit Ellingsen
On the Acquisition of a Very Fine Steed – Virginia Mohlere
Verses on St. Andrews – Berrien C Henderson
Carnival Microbial – Octavia Cade
Eat Me, Drink Me, Set Me Free – Julie Reeser
What the Hoffenphaafs Know – Samantha Henderson
Wardrobe of Metaphysical Maps – Julia August
A Lover’s Discourse: Five Fragments and a Memory of War – Fábio Fernandes
Lunching with the Sphinxes – Richard Bowes
(It’s all great. I love Octavia Cade’s ‘Carnival Microbial’ especially, though. It’s so inventively icky.)
Lackingtons #9 (theme: architecture) is available to buy and I have a new short story in it, alongside the wonderful Arkady Martine, Sara Saab, Y.X. Acs and Natalia Theodoridou, with illustrations by Carrion House, Derek Newman-Stille, Paula Arwen Owen, Random Dreaming, Gregory St. John, and Kat Weaver. I am indebted, as ever, to Ranylt Richildis for a lot of very wise editorial direction. Thanks, Ranylt. I owe you, uh, three now. ❤️
Under Dead Marsh may be the only true hard sci-fi story I ever write! It is likely to be of particular interest to three types of people: people trying to get planning permission; people trying to stop other people getting planning permission; and local councillors. Oh, and Dylan Thomas fans. I hope you like Dylan Thomas. I do too.
To all intents and purposes, I took October off to watch Person of Interest. Whoops. John Reese: sucker for a pretty woman who knows how to frame an inconvenient witness with a brick of cocaine. Anyway, I had two stories out this month: (1) Soteriology and Stephen Greenwood in The Journal of Unlikely Academia, featuring textual criticism, academic passive-aggression, Latin puns and quite a lot of links. If you don’t feel like following all of them, maybe just start here. I love the issue as a whole, so do check out the other stories. (2) A piece of drowned-town flash, The Girl who Talked to the Sea in Unsung Stories. This one is really about the drowned towns along the Norfolk coastline.
Unearthly Landscape by A Lady by Rebecca Campbell (dresses, painting, filigree cosmic horror)
Directions by Fred Coppersmith (underworld, quest, instructions, whoops sorry no revenge for you)
Witches and Wardrobes by Anna Anthropy (interactive, clothes, anxiety)
And Other Definitions of Family by Abra Staffin-Wiebe (pregnancy, self-sacrifice, humour)
Minotaur: An Analysis of the Species by Sean Robinson (ethnography, analysis, minotaur)
Follow Me Down by Nicolette Barischoff (orphan, incubus, heartwarming)
Alviss the Dwarf by David A. Hewitt (Loki, courtship, trickery)
To Claim a Piece of Sky by Crystal Lynn Hilbert (shapeshifter, weapon, freedom)
There are Rules by William Stiteler (ritual, food, savants)
Dance of the Splintered Hands by Henry Szabranski (gods, hands, adventure)
What Happened to Lord Elomar During the Revolution by Kelly Jennings (three wishes, revolution, victory)
Mother Made a Lovely Feast! by Laura DeHaan (Tam Lin, hallucinations, R’lyeh)
I have a piece of drowned-town flash up at Unsung Stories: The Girl who Talked to the Sea.
The first storm hit Eccles-on-Sea on Jenny’s fourteenth birthday. She lay curled up counting her cold toes while the wind battered the roof tiles and knocked the bells about in the grey church steeple. Rain splattered against the shutters like a cat trying to claw its way inside. Shivering, Jenny pulled her blankets over her head and squeezed her eyes shut against the dark.
I find drowned towns creepy and fascinating, and although the drowned towns along the Norfolk coastline aren’t as dramatic as Helike, there’s a lot to be said for walking along grey beaches listening out for the church bells tolling under the sea.