Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The Weird and Strange Return of Rafe McGregor

Rafe McGregor, excellent crime / horror writer, author of the great and depressingly hard-to-find The Architect of Murder, has just rereleased paperback / electronic versions of two of his short story collections via Lulu.

Now it's no secret that I'm friends with Rafe and thus completely biased when it comes to his work.  But in my defence I'd point out that, since I'm far too honest for my own good, I only ever manage to stay friends with writers whose work I really like, and that's certainly always been true of Rafe.  For that reason, I feel totally justified in pimping these collections - and also because I've read (and pulled apart earlier drafts of) all of the stories therein and I know that they range from good to excellent.  For the record, my personal preference would lean slightly towards Six Strange Cases, which contains three of my all-time favourite Rafe McGregor tales, but if you have any affection for the authors Rafe namechecks below then you won't go far wrong with either.

Sherlock Holmes makes an unexpected intervention in a murder case.  A curious woman investigates the dark secrets harboured within the ancient chapel of a ruined castle.  An antique ivory hunting horn will spell fame and fortune for Professor Goodspeed.  An age-old duel ends in Ruritania.  An eldritch voice draws a lonely man ever closer to the drowned town of Lod...

Eight short tales, each directly inspired by a master of the mysterious or supernatural - Arthur Conan Doyle, H.P. Lovecraft, Anthony Hope, or M.R. James - which will send chills down your spine...

Private investigator Titus Farrow is doomed by an encounter with the Chambers Scroll.  Roderick Langham solves the mystery of the ‘Demeter’ from his armchair by the sea.  A failed author goes in search of the barghest for inspiration.  A missing person case turns even nastier than blackmail.  Sweeney Todd meets his match.  These six stories make a gripping journey through ‘The King in Yellow’, ‘Dracula’, ‘Sweeney Todd’, and the noir fiction of the pulp era.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Told Ghosts on Amazon

It seems like only last week that I was blogging about how my story The Untold Ghost had been picked up by Pill Hill Press for their Haunted anthology - and soon after, on how it had been selected as the editor's choice and headline tale.  Now, already, Haunted is out to buy from both Amazon US and Amazon UK.

While I've seen the proofs I didn't do more that flick through, so as usual I can't comment on the collection as a whole, except to say that I've had a good vibe about Pill Hill ever since they began.  As for The Untold Ghost, it's another of my older stories, dating from about four years ago if memory serves correctly, although it got a hefty overhall before I sent it out this final time.  It's an unusual one for me in that there's a fair bit of truth mixed in with the fiction.  I don't normally hold with the old "write what you know" adage, and would argue that unless you get routinely whisked off to faerie kingdoms, kidnapped by aliens or stalked by psyschotic killers, it's pretty dim-witted advice for the genre writer.

The Untold Ghost was different in that I went to a place that cried out for its own ghost story, and elements of what I saw and did there were just interesting enough to provide the basic furniture for one.  The hotel described is based on a real one that I stayed at, and a few things that the protagonist  does - like a reckless trip out onto a rickety fire escape - were my own experiences with a few dashes of added colour.  As for the ghost?  Sadly, (or come to think of it, perhaps happily), she's cut from whole cloth, although the place was easily spooky enough to have had a couple lurking in the rafters.  Maybe I was just too busy thinking my own tale up to notice them?

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Free and Fairly Easy

Something I meant to mention a while back, when I actually did it ... I've created a new page on my website listing and linking to all of my work that's available for free, be it on webpages or in some downloadable form, with little summaries and wordcounts and whatnot.  I want to make it as easy as humanly possible for people to get to this stuff if they so want to, and my initial plan of e-mailing everyone in the human race was going pretty well until I discovered that there are still tribes in the jungles of South America who ... get this! ... don't have a workable IT infrastructure.  So, once I accepted that cutting words into the moon with a giant laser was prohibatively expensive, this seemed like the best bet.

Said page, rather bafflingly titled because my rubbish website software limits me to supershort page names, can be located here.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Third Acceptance to TQF

I'll keep this brief, since said magazine should be out in the next two or three weeks: the marvellous Mr  Theaker, editor of the equally marvellous Theaker's Quarterly Fiction, has accepted my story Glass Houses for his imminent next issue.  My mission to appear in ever second issue continues apace!  I'll hold off saying anything about Glass Houses until the issue's out - suffice to say that, in keeping with my last two TQF acceptances, it's a bit of an oddity...

Monday, 7 June 2010

Untold Ghost Headlines Haunted

That's to say, I recently found out that my story The Untold Ghost came first in the three editor's picks for Pill Hill Press's forthcoming collection of ghost stories, Haunted, and is also the opening tale.  Congrats to Rich Matrunick and Miguel Lopez de Leon, whose stories The Unseen and The Bath took second and third place respectively, and of course to everyone else too; having seen the proofs, it looks set to be a great collection.

Also, I blithely assumed in my last post that it wouldn't be out for ages.  Actually, it should appear in the next few weeks, either towards the end of this month or the start of July.  Normally I'd consider this rushing, but in Pill Hill's case it has more to do with canny use of technology, including a neat online proofing system.  I know I work in IT and shouldn't be so impressed by these things, but I still am!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Funland: Weeks Eleven through Thirteen (and Onward...)

So tomorrow I go back to full time work of the non-writing variety, and what I've been referring to in my head as the Funland Experiment will come to an end.  Not quite the end I wanted - that, obviously, would have been getting the novel finished - but not a disastrous one by any means.  The current word count is around the 87'000 mark, and I guesstimate there's another 15'000 or so to go.  I hope I can do that by the end of the month, although I'm by no means sure.  To give some context, I'm typing this in a B & B, since I've moved out of my Newcastle address but can't move into my new flat in Cheltenham until the end of the week.  So there's still plenty to do, even aside from the day job.  Frankly, I'm torn between wanting to wrap Funland up and the urge to put it aside for a little while until I've settled in.  At the moment I'm edging towards getting it finished, but that plan may change quickly depending on how the next few days go.

Inevitably, I'm left to wonder if I did the right thing taking time off to write a novel.  Perhaps equally inevitably, the best answer I can come up with is "yes and no".  In retrospect, the experiment was flawed from the start: writing with the Sword of Damocles of unemployment and dwindling supplies of cash hanging over your head is less than conducive to the creative process.  That's how it seemed at the time, anyway - most writers, professional or no, have worked with the risk of financial ruin at their back, so maybe it don't do as much harm as it seemed to.  It'll be a long while yet before I can look at what I've done with anything approaching objectivity, but there's a fair chance that what I've produced is better than it seemed at the time.

Either way, I don't think this is something I'll try again any time soon.  There are two main reasons: firstly, I think it's going to be well over a year now before I'm ready to start a new novel, and secondly, I came far too close to running out of money and having to hammer my savings.  Getting a new contract took longer than I'd expected, and if I hadn't been relatively lucky it could have taken much, much longer.  On the other hand, I hope that when the smoke's cleared I'll discover I've written something close to what I intended, in a quite solid first draft.  To achieve the same around a day job would have taken a year or more.  And there was something strange and eye-opening about having some sustained time off from work; I think I've gained a little perspective for doing it, and my 'to read' pile is definately much smaller.  I certainly don't regret taking the opportunity - I just don't know if I'll have the nerve to try it a second time.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Lightspeed Launches!

New Online Science Fiction Magazine Lightspeed Launches


ROCKVILLE, MD, JUNE 1 -- Lightspeed,, the new online science fiction magazine published by the award-winning independent press Prime Books, launches today with the publication of "I'm Alive, I Love You, I'll See You in Reno" by Vylar Kaftan.

Lightspeed is edited by John Joseph Adams (Fiction Editor), the bestselling editor of anthologies such as Wastelands and The Living Dead, and Andrea Kail (Nonfiction Editor), a writer, critic, and television producer who worked for thirteen years on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

Lightspeed's focus is exclusively on science fiction. It features all types of sf, from near-future, sociological soft sf, to far-future, star-spanning hard sf, and anything and everything in between. No subject is considered off-limits, and Lightspeed writers are encouraged to take chances with their fiction and push the envelope.

Each month at Lightspeed, you will find a mix of original and reprint fiction, and featuring a variety of authors—from the bestsellers and award-winners you already know to the best new voices you haven’t heard of yet. When you read Lightspeed, it is our hope that you’ll see where science fiction comes from, where it is now, and where it’s going.
Lightspeed also features a variety of nonfiction features, fiction podcasts, and Q&As with our authors that go behind-the-scenes of their stories.

Lightspeed's regular publication schedule each month includes two pieces of original fiction and two fiction reprints, along with four nonfiction articles. Fiction posts on Tuesdays, nonfiction on Thursdays. Additionally, award-winning audiobook producer Stefan Rudnicki, will be producing the Lightspeed Magazine story podcast, which will feature audio adaptations of two Lightspeed stories every month.

Lightspeed's debut issue features four all-new, never-before-published stories: from newcomer Vylar Kaftan, an interstellar love story dealing with the perils of communication and time-dilation; from bestselling, award-winning author Jack McDevitt, a tale about Earth’s moon and the mysteries it might still possess; from David Barr Kirtley, an adventure of a young catman who must face the last of the dogmen and something else entirely unexpected; and from bestselling author Carrie Vaughn, a cautionary tale of the near future that shows some of the extremes we might be pushed to if we don’t start implementing now the seeds for a sustainable future.

Additional features include an article about relativity and the speed of light by astronomer/author Mike Brotherton; a list of the top ten reasons why genetically-engineered animals won't make good pets by humorist Carol Pinchefsky; a profile of astronaut Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, by Genevieve Valentine; and a primer for sustainable living by ecologist Amanda Rose Levy.

As a special feature of the debut issue, in conjunction with the popular podcasts Escape Pod and Hugo Award nominee Starship Sofa, Lightspeed will present two bonus podcasts: "I'm Alive, I Love You, I'll See You in Reno" by Vylar Kaftan will appear on Escape Pod on June 1 and "Cats in Victory" by David Barr Kirtley will appear on Starship Sofa on June 15. This is in addition to the Lightspeed Magazine story podcast's offerings, which will present "The Cassandra Project" by Jack McDevitt and "Amaryllis" by Carrie Vaughn.

Future issues of Lightspeed will include fiction by the likes of George R. R. Martin, Joe Haldeman, Ursula K. Le Guin, Carol Emshwiller, Catherynne M. Valene, Tobias S. Buckell, Tananarive Due, Yoon Ha Lee, Cat Rambo, and Adam-Troy Castro, as well as from newcomers such as Genevieve Valentine, Alice Sola Kim, David Tallerman, John R. Fultz, and Corey Joshua Mariani.

Lightspeed held a launch event at the science fiction convention Wiscon, in Madison, WI on Memorial Day weekend. Limited edition Lightspeed Magazine samplers in digest magazine format were made available for free to all members of the convention. This special hardcopy edition of Lightspeed features "I'm Alive, I Love You, I'll See You in Reno" by Vylar Kaftan, "Is There Anybody Out There That Wants to Go Fast" by Mike Brotherton, "Amaryllis" by Carrie Vaughn, and an Author Spotlight on Carrie Vaughn. The launch event included readings from Vylar Kaftan, Alice Sola Kim, Cat Rambo, and Genevieve Valentine.

About John Joseph Adams (Fiction Editor)

John Joseph Adams ( is the bestselling editor of many anthologies, such as Wastelands, The Living Dead (a World Fantasy Award finalist), By Blood We Live, Federations, and The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Barnes & named him “the reigning king of the anthology world,” and his books have been named to numerous best of the year lists. Prior to taking on the role of fiction editor of Lightspeed, John worked for nearly nine years in the editorial department of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. In addition to his editorial work, John is also the co-host of’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

About Andrea Kail (Nonfiction Editor)

Andrea Kail ( is a graduate of the Dramatic Writing Program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and has spent the last two decades working from one end of New York’s television spectrum to the other: HBO, MTV, A&E, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, as well as thirteen years at NBC’s Emmy Award-winning Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Her fiction has appeared in Fantasy Magazine, and her novella, “The Sun God at Dawn, Rising from a Lotus Blossom,” was a first-place winner in the Writers of the Future contest and appeared in Writers of the Future Vol. XXIII.  Since 2005, Andrea has also been writing lively film criticism for such venues as Paradox Magazine and CinemaSpy.

About Stefan Rudnicki (Audio Editor)

Stefan Rudnicki is an independent director, producer, narrator, and publisher of audiobooks. He has received more than a dozen Audie Awards from the Audio Publishers Association, a Ray Bradbury Award, a Bram Stoker Award, and a GRAMMY Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children for The Children’s Shakespeare. Outside of the audiobook industry, he’s probably best known for the dozen books he’s written or edited, from actor’s resource anthologies to a best-selling adaptation of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. He is also president of Skyboat Road Company, Inc. (, the most respected independent audio production team on the West Coast. 

About Prime Books

Prime Books (, edited and published by Hugo Award-nominee and World Fantasy Award-winner Sean Wallace, is an award-winning independent publishing house specializing in a mix of anthologies, collections, novels, and magazines. Some of its established and new authors/editors include John Joseph Adams, KJ Bishop, Philip K. Dick, Theodora Goss, Rich Horton, Nick Mamatas, Sarah Monette, Holly Phillips, Tim Pratt, Ekaterina Sedia, Catherynne M. Valente, and Jeff VanderMeer.


Sean Wallace, publisher,
John Joseph Adams, fiction editor,
Andrea Kail, non-fiction editor,

Lightspeed's complete posting schedule for June 2010 follows:

June 1

Fiction: "I'm Alive, I Love You, I'll See You in Reno" by Vylar Kaftan
Author Spotlight: Vylar Kaftan
Podcast: "I'm Alive, I Love You, I'll See You in Reno" by Vylar Kaftan (on Escape Pod)
Editorial by John Joseph Adams

June 3

Nonfiction: "Is There Anybody Out There That Wants to Go Fast" by Mike Brotherton

June 8

Fiction: "The Cassandra Project" by Jack McDevitt
Author Spotlight: Jack McDevitt
Podcast: "The Cassandra Project" by Jack McDevitt, narrated by Stefan Rudnicki

June 10

Nonfiction: "The High Untresspassed Sanctity of Space: Seven True Stories about Eugene Cernan" by Genevieve Valentine

June 15

Fiction: "Cats in Victory" by David Barr Kirtley
Author Spotlight: David Barr Kirtley
Podcast: "Cats in Victory" by David Barr Kirtley (on Starship Sofa)

June 17

Nonfiction: "Top Ten Reasons Why Uplifted Animals Don't Make Good Pets" by Carol Pinchefsky

June 22

Fiction: "Amaryllis" by Carrie Vaughn
Author Spotlight: Carrie Vaughn
Podcast: "Amaryllis" by Carrie Vaughn, narrated by Stefan Rudnicki

June 24

Nonfiction: "Every Step We Take" by Amanda Rose Levy