Tag Archive: Book launch


Breathe, My Shadow Release

I finished my new Wraeththu novel, ‘Breathe, My Shadow’, just in time for its December release. It’s fortunate that our printers have such a fast turnaround (one to two days to generate electronic proofs after files are uploaded), because I did cut it really fine. But now it’s been uploaded, prepared and approved, and printed copies are on their way to me, so the book will be ready to go on the release date of 12th December, when we’ll be holding our annual Immanion Press Yule party. The beautiful cover is by Ruby and features Meladriel, one of the main characters.

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This book took me far longer to write than I’d anticipated. Part of this was down to the fact that Danielle Lainton and I have had to take on full responsibility for Megalithica Books, following its manager’s departure from Immanion Press early this year. I’ve had to do a lot more editing, even though Louise Coquio has come onboard as the senior editor for the non-fiction list. Danni and I completely revamped the Immanion Press web site this year, and also my personal web site, which took a lot of work and effort and time. On top of these extra duties, ‘Breathe, My Shadow’ insisted on complicating itself. Initially, it was to have been an extended version of ‘The Emptiness Next Door’, the story I wrote for the ‘Para Spectral’ anthology, but I didn’t think I’d extend it that much. I anticipated that it would be at most a longish novella. However, once I started writing, adding a couple of extra characters, the book took the bit between its teeth and galloped off with no intention of listening to my attempts to order it to slow down, or even stop! In theme, it’s closest to ‘The Moonshawl’, in that the characters investigate an historical mystery that manifests through paranormal events. But other than that, it’s a very different story. It’s set in Ferelithia – and those who are familiar with the Wraeththu Mythos will know that’s where Pellaz met Caeru before he was Tigron. To those who are unfamiliar with the lore, it’s a Wraeththu party town – rather like Ibiza used to be.  But while it’s a prosperous, hedonistic place, filled with tourists, few are aware of its dark history. Until the past begins to seep from the soil.

Louise was the main editor for the book, (Wendy Darling did a read through and offered feedback also), and read all the drafts – even a few chapters I’d send her now and again for feedback. Midway through the book she felt something was missing, and it was at her suggestion I added the character Ulien – a young har targeted by a malevolent har, or entity or ghost – whatever he is! I also gave the town itself a viewpoint – just a short page here and there. I didn’t intend for the story to stretch as much as it did. Other characters demanded to have more of a role – including Caeru himself (which is, I hope, rather a fan pleaser – Caeru having an adventure of his own rather being merely a supporting character of the Aralis dynasty). November arrived and I felt the book wasn’t anywhere near finished. To be honest, I started to panic, calmed only by Lou’s assurance all would be well, that the remaining work wasn’t as much as it seemed, and I’d have plenty of time to see to it. Then suddenly, it was done, all the dangling ends tied neatly. I was exhausted but happy – and most importantly, pleased with the result. So while ‘Breathe, My Shadow’ often felt horribly like a vampiric child, sucking all the life juice from me, it clearly thrived on the sustenance!

This book isn’t as grim as some of the Wraeththu Mythos I’ve written over the past couple of years. ‘Blood, the Phoenix and a Rose’ was gruesome in places and while the endings to the three novellas that comprised it weren’t relentlessly downbeat, they weren’t exactly cheery either. Similarly, some of the stories I’ve contributed to for various Mythos anthologies have been somewhat bleak – and wistful in tone. ‘Breathe, My Shadow’, while including its own grisly moments, has more of an upbeat denouement. I suppose the spirit of Ferelithia refused to be kept down for long. I didn’t want to find myself stuck in what seems to be the current trend of fantasy being numbingly miserable and brutal. Inspired by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, who wrote and directed ‘The Endless’, (now one of my favourite movies), who said in one interview I watched that they prefer happy endings, I decided this book would finish well for every character involved… well, nearly every character. I also took inspiration from Cameron Crowe (fans of his will see why and how if they read this book), and the novelist Diane Setterfield, who always makes sure her readers know how every character ends up – even the future of the cat in ‘The Thirteenth Tale’! I really like that approach – it’s comfortably satisfying – and I hope other readers feel the same. (Her new novel ‘Once Upon a River’ is superb, by the way. Recommended.) While I doubt I’ll do this for every novel I write, I have for this one!

‘Breathe, My Shadow’ will be launched at the Yule Party, at The Shrewsbury Arms in Stafford on 12th December. We’re also launching two other titles that day. First is another fiction work, a novella by Tanith Lee entitled ‘The Heart of the Moon’. This has been published only once before and it’s likely not many Tanith fans will have read it. The story is set in an alternate Ancient Greece and concerns a female warrior being sent to the mysterious Isle of the Moon to attend a religious festival. Intriguing and beautifully written – as all Tanith’s works are – the book also includes another Classics-inspired short story, ‘The Dry Season’, set in an alternate ancient Rome. Again, this piece has had low key prior publication – so hopefully the stories in this book will be like new works for many of Tanith’s fans. It has a cover and interior illustrations by Danielle Lainton – very sumptuous!

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The third book we’re launching is a non-fiction title called ‘Psychic Protection’ by Bill Duvendack. A lot has been written on this subject before, but Bill brings a fresh new take to it. He begins by suggesting that if you think you’re under psychic attack, you’re probably not, and then explains what natural situations, conditions and illnesses might make you think you need to defend yourself psychically. Once all the obvious explanations are dealt with, he goes on to discuss the phenomenon of vampires in our society – not the blood-sucking kind of myth and fiction but emotional and psychic vampires who can leave people feeling drained, even ill. Bill gives advice on how to boost your defences against such types and to strengthen your inner resources generally. This is very helpful even for those who might be sceptical about the idea of needing psychic defence. Such attacks aren’t always the obvious, almost fictional idea, of someone sending out ‘evil’ thoughts deliberately, or – as in books and movies – causing supernatural events. An interesting read. (Cover by Danielle Lainton.)

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As for next year, we have a lot of titles planned, which I’ll talk about in more depth after the New Year. I’m editing an anthology of weird landscape stories for NewCon Press, called ‘Shadow on the Hillside’. This will be released some time in 2020, and includes stories by such writers as Liz Williams, Freda Warrington, Sarah Singleton, Kari Sperring and Andrew Hook. I’ll be working on non-fiction projects for Immanion Press but hope to at least begin a new novel. I still have the next Ysobi story planned, which would take him to solve a mystery in Siberia! I started writing it a couple of years ago, but other projects intervened or took precedence. I just have to follow where my muse wants to go – and she can be capricious.

So that’s all for now. I wish you all a wondrous Yuletide and New Year!

 

It’s been a busy build up to the launch event for new Immanion Press/Megalithica Books publications in December. I’ve been preparing a number of books for a pre-Yule release, one of which is the much-anticipated SHE: Primal Meetings with the Dark Goddess I co-wrote with author and historian Andrew Collins.

Andy and I got to know one another in 1994, when we were both working on books connected with the Nephilim and the fallen angels. In my case, this was the Grigori trilogy (Stalking Tender Prey, Scenting Hallowed Blood and Stealing Sacred Fire). Andy was working on From the Ashes of Angels, which explored the same mythology from an historical and archaeological point of view.  Our mutual friend, Jamie Spracklen, introduced Andy and I to each other, and this resulted in Andy allowing me to use his research material for the Grigori books. We’ve been firm friends and occasional colleagues ever since.

 

I’m really excited about SHE, because it heralds a new direction for my non-fiction imprint, Megalithica Books. As I’m now running this imprint alone, I intend to venture into new territory with it, steering towards books that investigate the mythologies and beliefs that inspire magical traditions and offer new systems for readers to discover. I don’t want to have my own writing time curtailed too much, so I’ll most likely be producing fewer books for the list, but every one of them will be a work I’m personally interested in and intrigued by. I’m looking for books that explore (or create) rich and vivid magical systems, including pop culture systems that transform fictional characters and worlds into magical entities and environments.  I’m also seeking books on alternative spirituality, such as LHP, and entertaining studies on how to work with particular entities and deities. I’m after fresh approaches to practices such as meditation, pathworking and ritual, or which reveal personal experiences that are compelling and inspiring.  The key words are: imagination, creativity, depth and integrity. If anyone is interested in submitting to the list, please mail me at editorial(at)Immanion-press(dot)com.

 

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Among the first of the new Megalithica Books titles was Zodiac of the Gods, which I released quite quietly a few months ago, under the author name of Eden Crane. This is a reimagining and retitling of a ‘popular’ book I wrote with Graham Phillips for a mainstream publisher’s New Age list back in the 90s – now it’s very much out of date, written in a style that doesn’t reflect modern culture. Last year, Graham and I revisited the text and changed it to fully represent life as it is today. We also renamed the book to more accurately describe its subject. The original was written for a ‘women’s magazine audience’ with a specific style and content to suit its target demographic at the time it was published. Neither of us want that original still to be available but… We had to bring the heavily revamped and revised version out under a joint pseudonym as the original is still available and the publishers concerned refuse to remove it from print or eBook, even given our strong case for this to be done and the fact it barely sells any copies. Big publishers simply don’t like giving books up nowadays – I assume because ‘just in case’, and because there are no overheads in keeping eBooks available. They weren’t interested in a new edition from us. I shall refrain from further comment as I’m sure anyone reading this will intuitively perceive how Graham and I feel about this situation! Zodiac of the Gods has a light-hearted aspect in that it explores the Dendera Zodiac as an alternative to Western Astrology. But in the new version, we’ve significantly expanded the second half of the book, which presents Egyptian magical workings for each month of the year and the deity, or neter, who presides over it. The book is fully illustrated in a completely different style to the original. It’s sad that the awkwardness about the old version meant we didn’t feel comfortable with doing a big splash release for this much better book under our own names, but now – at least – we want to share its origins.

 

Some examples of Danni’s illustrations for SHE
Babalon, Erzuli Danto and Hecate

SHE is the first new title that I can fully promote to launch the new look Megalithica Books. It explores 30 goddesses, some of whom are well-known in Pagan circles, such as Aphrodite, Lilith and Hecate, but others are more obscure but no less intriguing, such as Akhlys, Agrat bat Mahlat and The Cailleach. Even with the more ‘famous’ goddesses, we’ve delved into their roots to reveal their darker aspects – original facets that have, to some degree, been watered down or removed over time. To us, the original forms are far more fascinating and have more to teach us.  We asked friends to contribute a few articles and pathworkings to the book – Deborah Cartwright, Maggie Jennings, Richard Ward and Caroline Wise. SHE includes an essay about each goddess and also a visualisation to meet and interact with her. Not all of those included were goddesses to begin with but have been shaped into deities by Pagans over the years. Some were originally mythological figures – queens or sorceresses – while others were female spirits or entities who were demonised by patriarchal religions.  I enjoyed working on this book immensely and learned a lot while researching it.  There are illustrations to accompany every goddess, mostly by Danielle Lainton, although I helped out doing a few (there was so much work for one artist!) and we’ve also used one of Ruby’s Sekhmet pictures. The rest were adapted from vintage illustrations. The cover of the paperback features art by Brom, while the hardback has cover art by Danni.

The Collector’s Edition of SHE, limited to 99 hardback, numbered copies, includes a bonus section, investigating a further three goddesses: Lyssa, Melinoe and Kalma.

Andy and I, as well as Danni and a couple of the contributors who are able to come along, will be at the launch event on 13th December at The Shrewsbury Arms in Stafford. We’ll give a short talk and readings, and books will be available for purchase, so guests can buy copies of the paperback or hardback and get them signed. Here’s a link to the Facebook page for it. https://www.facebook.com/events/257889301743853/

Our co-host, Maggie Jennings of Hart Magical Gifts, will have a table at the event, where a selection of her wares will be on sale. We’re also expecting another local indie publisher, Alchemy Press, to bring some of their books along for sale, including The Alchemy Press Book of Horrors, in which I have a story.

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The other Megalithica Books title being launched at the event is Transpiration: Poetry and Storytelling as Our Spiritual Portals by Cornelia Benavidez, which has cover art by Peter Hollinghurst. The first half of the book is autobiographical and gives a fascinating glimpse of the author growing up in America in the 1960s and 1970s, her introduction to alternative spirituality and how it grew in the States during those decades. I was intrigued by Cornelia’s stories from her youth – such colourful characters and vivid memories both bitter and sweet. From an early age, she realised she was different, and it was only once she learned about Paganism, through a chance meeting with a witch woman in San Francisco, that she realised what she was – and could be. The second half of the book showcases Cornelia’s poetry – all inspired by her spiritual path. Some of the poems are perfect for ritual purposes – and could be used as invocations or a focus for meditation. The book is illustrated throughout with photos from Cornelia’s life – as fascinating as the text. As Cornelia lives in America, she can’t be with us in person for the launch, but her friend, author Neil Rushton, who wrote the back-cover text for the book, will be there to say a few words about the work and read a short poem of Cornelia’s choosing that she feels is relevant to SHE.

It’s strange how coincidences and connections align. Cornelia’s mentor was Victor H Anderson, who can be seen as an American equivalent of someone like Alex Saunders in the UK, in that he was a salient figure in the flowering and evolution of alternative spirituality in the 60s and 70s. Cornelia’s first book (also published by Megalithica Books) was a study of Victor and his work. Back in the 90s, Victor came upon Andy Collins’s book From the Ashes of Angels and told Cornelia that he felt this author was onto something important. He was a great admirer of Andy’s work. Cornelia had no idea of my connection with Andy when she was originally signed up by Megalithica Books. I didn’t actually ‘meet’ her until Victor H Anderson: an American Shaman came to me for layout and design. Then we discovered the connections between us. One of the epic poems in Transpiration is an adaptation of the Nephilim myth, which of course was examined in Andy’s From the Ashes of Angels and my Grigori trilogy. Now the three of us are sharing a book launch event. Such a shame Cornelia can’t be there in person, but I’m sure she will be in spirit!

Vivia Web

Our latest Tanith Lee re-release will also be published on 13th December. This is Vivia, one of Tanith’s grimmest fantasy novels. As I was editing it, I realised she was writing ‘grimdark’ before it was even a thing. An unsettling and menacing story, it will certainly appeal to all readers who like their fantasy unlit! As with all Tanith’s work, Vivia is written in a lyrical, literary style with lucid attention to detail in a richly-imagined world. The cover art is an evocative portrait of Vivia by John Kaiine.

I’ll also have the new editions of The Wraeththu Histories at the launch – The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure, The Shades of Time and Memory and The Ghosts of Blood and Innocence. In the light of a remark that appeared below my Facebook post about the books, I want to make clear why I bring out these revisions. I don’t want anyone to think it’s a cold-hearted marketing ploy to get more money out of readers. The Wraeththu books are close to my heart, and I want them to be as error free as possible. The original versions of the Histories came out in the early 2000s, when Immanion Press was very new. I’ve always been uncomfortable with the mistakes and typing errors in the books, and always planned to bring out a new, corrected edition of this trilogy. It’s been over fifteen years since the first of these books was published, so I think the time is now right for me to do this. I also wanted the six volumes of the Wraeththu Chronicles and Histories to be published as a matching set of books. I re-released the Chronicles early this year and commissioned six new covers from Ruby to adorn both trilogies that all follow the same design – and beautiful they are too!

I don’t expect everyone who bought and loved the originals to ‘have’ to buy these new editions – the Histories are not that much different to the originals – but I do want new readers coming to the Mythos to have the best-crafted versions of the books I can provide. And – a selfish pleasure I can indulge because I’m a publisher – I want these books for myself too. 😊

Because of new responsibilities within Immanion Press, and the preparation of the two editions of SHE, as well as Transpiration and Vivia, I didn’t get time to finish my next fiction project this year – which is a novel based on the story I had in the Para Spectral Wraeththu anthology. I realised I need more time to develop the book to its full potential. It refused to be a shortish novella. So I’ll take up the reins of that again in the New Year. There are lots of other plans in the pipeline for the Immanion Press/Megalithica Books 2019 list, but I’ll talk more about that nearer to Yule. Thanks to everyone who’s been involved in helping produce the books that will be at the December launch and the readers who’ve preordered copies of the Collector’s Edition of SHE. As always, your invaluable support is much appreciated.