Monday, 3 December 2018

Short Story News November 2018

I was grumbling back in June about what a dreadful year this was turning out to be for short fiction sales, and as I was planning this post I was concerned the point would be that things really haven't picked up at all.  But what do you know?  Thankfully a last-minute twist has pushed the back end of 2018 from okay to actually pretty good!

And to be honest, even without that, a handful of really brilliant events had already gone a long way toward turning the year around.  If there was nothing else, I'd still be thrilled to have The Only Way Out Lies Farther In in top horror 'zine The Dark, a market I never thought I'd crack until I suddenly somehow did.  This one's a deeply personal story in which nothing is based directly on my life - which is to say that I poured a lot of me in there and every last drop got squeezed out of its original shape, leaving a tale that's at the same time almost entirely autobiographical and totally fictitious.  As such, it's personally one of the most frightening things I've written, which makes it tricky to guess what effect it's likely to have on others.  Fortunately, the one review I've seen suggests that it's quite capable of getting under somebody else's skin as well.

And speaking of recent horror fiction I feel really good about, Casualty of Peace, a ghost story that's actually more a meditation on the psychological traumas of the home front experience in the world wars - fun, right! - has been out for a second time in another of Flame Tree Publishing's utterly gorgeous anthologies, this one titled Lost Souls, which couldn't be more appropriate for that particular tale.  It also came to the notice of Best Horror of the Year anthologist Ellen Datlow, getting me another honourable mention, which was pretty cool in an "Ever the bridesmaid" sort of way.  At any rate, it's brilliant that a lot more people will be reading a piece I'm seriously proud of.

And here I am, still not having mentioned the absolutely best thing, or at any rate the one that's likely to stay with me when I'm old and grey and trying to make some sense of what this whole writing lark was about.  I've been a huge fan of Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shadows of the Apt series ever since I picked up the first volume, thinking I was doing him a favour for kindly blurbing Giant Thief, and got helplessly hooked to the intricate, outlandish, original world he'd built.  So when Adrian asked if I wanted to play around there, the answer was self-evident.  And funnily enough, the tale I wanted to tell was too: there was a question that had been bugging me - er, pun genuinely not intended! - for a fair old while, and a character whose back story I was desperate to know, and I got to put the two together and craft a tiny chunk of actual Apt lore.  Seriously, there's a minor character in that series that now has a history created entirely by me, and that's about the single awesomest thing that's happened since I began this madness over a decade ago.  If you want to know who and what, or even if you don't, I highly recommend you grab a copy of the fourth and final Tales of the Apt short fiction anthology from NewCon Press, because it also contains sterling work from authors such as Pete Newman, Frances Hardinge, Justina Robson and - writing the best piece in the book, for my money - Keris McDonald.  That story, and the collection itself, are called The Scent of Tears, and you can find it here.

After that, anything's going to seem a bit anticlimactic, but I do have a handful of new sales to report.  Even better, two of them are for new fiction, a prospect that was starting to seem increasingly remote for a while.  They're both older pieces that I've faithfully been trying to home for many a year now, too, which makes it all the more satisfying.  Cat and Mouse, a sci-fi parable based on my experiences in London - though, weirdly, written before I ever actually went to London - will be appearing in the Bubble Off Plumb anthology from Feral Cat Publishers at some not too distant point in the future.  And Glamorous Corpses, a thoroughly mean-spirited bit of cyberpunk that I wrote at work, in a job I despised, about eight years ago, is already out in new UK magazine Write Ahead / The Future Looms.  Then there's the most recent one, which since it happened this week I probably oughtn't to talk about, but I guess I can safely say that it's a pro sale to one of my absolutely favourite markets.

Oh, I nearly forgot!  I accidentally discovered that the The Living Dead anthology - containing my story Stockholm Syndrome - is available in a whole multitude of languages ... I think it's at least Spanish, Korean, and Russian, which is a fairly random selection, all told!  Editor John Joseph Adams was kind enough to chuck me over a copy of the Spanish edition, which looks great and does a commendable job of mistranslating both the city where I got my degree and my actual name.  Which makes me kind of want to learn Spanish to find out what other wacky misunderstandings are in there!  Anyway, that means I've now had work out in a total of at least five languages that aren't English, and isn't that a nice note to end on?

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