Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Short Story News, May 2017

Not for the first time, I've been lax in keeping up with my short story news, and not for the first time that means I now have a couple of posts' worth that I'm going to have to cram into just the one.  And as usual, the reason was that I felt as though not a lot was happening until I suddenly realized that it had been and I'd just been distracted!

Anyway, let's go for the new stories first.  Casualty of Peace marks my third collaboration with award-winning editor Eric Guignard; Eric got in touch to let me know he was resuscitating the long-running Horror Library anthology series, and did I have anything that might be a good fit?  The story we settled on is something of a companion to the last one Eric bought from me, Prisoner of Peace, and came out of the World War One research that occupied so much of my first year of full-time writing.  The question I found myself asking was, what must it have been like for those wives and mothers on the home front in the latter years of the war, who'd seen so many men return mentally or physically damaged beyond all repair?  Did they hope that their menfolk would be somehow exempted?  Or did they begin to secretly dread their return?  The result, like Prisoner of Peace, is a ghost story of sorts, an extended metaphor and a puzzle with no real answer, except perhaps that war spares no-one.  You can find it in Horror Library volume six.

I feel like I've mentioned my golem sex story quite a few times here, but perhaps that's just because I like typing the phrase "golem sex story."  And perhaps I'm not doing Feet of Clay, Mind of Coal justice by focusing on one particular, brief scene in what's actually an (admittedly rather weird) love story with a background in the folklore research I drifted into for my MA dissertation.  At any rate, of everything here, the third in Pantheon Magazine's Gaia anthology series is the only book I've actually found time to read, and it was just as good as volume two, which I enjoyed a great deal.  You can grab a copy here.

My second sale to the impossibly long-running Space and Time was another older story.  I can't even remember exactly how long ago I wrote Children of Deadways, except that it came towards the end of a period when I produced a lot of work I'm particularly happy with.  I was experimenting with the possibilities of going all-in on world building, and this is maybe the culmination of that trend, an elaborately Gothic dark fantasy with a setting I could probably have squeezed a whole novel out of.  You can grab a copy of issue 128 from the Space and Time website, and it comes highly recommended; there are reasons this magazine has managed to stick around for half a century.

Lastly for the new stuff, my most recent sale turned out also to be the most recent thing to come out: Now That All the Heroes are Dead was picked up by Read Short Fiction not even a month ago and, as of the start of May, it's up to read on the site.  I wrote this one for an open anthology call asking for Lovecraftian heroic fantasy fiction and, between you and me and in my greatly biased opinion, I still think they were dumbasses not to take it!  I had great fun distilling all my favourite weird fiction into one twisted little tale, and there's even a bit of subtext in there, thanks again to all that World War One reading.  It's pretty short, too, so why not give it a read?

On the reprints side, the most exciting news is perhaps that the editors at Pseudopod got in touch to ask if they could anthologize my story Stockholm Syndrome as part of their 10th anniversary celebrations.  Obviously I said yes, but I also took the opportunity to polish up a story that, frankly, has long since stopped owing me any favours; between Pseudopod itself and the hugely successful The Living Dead anthology, this has to be the most widely read (and listened to) short story I've written.  You can find the improved new version in the For Mortal Things Unsung anthology - which, given that it was primarily an incentive for a Kickstarter campaign, isn't that widely available, but can be grabbed from Smashwords, among other places.

Meanwhile, it will surprise no-one that I've had a couple more stories out with Digital Fiction Publishing.  As well as appearing in their own adorable individual e-books, Passive Resistance can be found in the Operative Sequence science-fiction collection and Rindelstein's Monsters appears in the Digital Fantasy Fiction book Casual Conjurings - which, by slightly awkward coincidence, I also did some of the slush-reading for.  Fortunately Rindelstein's Monsters got picked up well before I started, so at least I can't be accused of being one of tham thar nepotists, and the plus side is that, even having not seen a copy yet, I can confirm that there's some cracking fiction inside.

Last up - since I can't talk yet about the highly exciting reprint sale I snagged a few weeks ago! - I have a couple more pieces in Great Jones Street, namely my two stories following master assassin Otranto Osario through the mean streets of Cold Harbour, Ill-Met at Midnight and A Killer of Dead Men.  If you're at interested in short fiction then you really need to be paying attention to Great Jones Street, their app is free to download and is absolutely stuffed with great work from some of the biggest names in the industry (and, er, me.)

Anyway, that'll do for the moment.  As I vaguely remember predicting, the sales have slowed down this year - in fact, until April they'd dried up altogether - so I don't actually have that much left to come out.  But what there is is pretty exciting, so hopefully I'll have enough material to justify another one of these posts before too long.

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