Tag Archive: Storm Constantine


Just a short update on works in progress, since I talked a lot about these projects in my last blog post and there’s not much to add yet except I’m working hard on them.

I’ve been concentrating on the non-fiction title, ‘Coming Forth By Day’, which is based upon a correspondence course in Egyptian Magic I ran some years ago. At first, I planned simply to convert the course material into a book, but soon realised some of it wasn’t really suitable for that and required feedback from a tutor. So I revamped it completely. At the moment, the book concentrates upon the Ennead, the ‘royal family’ of Heliopolis. These are the gods of the creation myth for that area – and it seems just about every area of Ancient Egypt had their own take on the gods, changing them considerably in some cases to local preferences. Anyway, the book explores the Ennead and its myths in depth, including both visualisations and rituals for each deity: Atum, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Set, Nephthys and Horus, as well as for the later generation’s offspring and consorts. The book also includes an overview of Egyptian magic and techniques. I’m about two thirds of the way through writing the chapters, and hope to bring the book out in the summer.

As there is so much material, I decided to break the project down into at least two volumes, maybe three. The second book will focus on gods and goddesses beyond the Heliopolitan dynasty of divine beings. I’ve not included any of the feline or leonine goddesses (except for Tefnut who’s intrinsic to the Ennead), as Louise Coquio and I will be writing a revised, expanded edition of ‘Bast and Sekhmet: Eyes of Ra’ once I’ve finished work on ‘Coming Forth by Day’.  ‘Bast and Sekhmet’ was first published in 1999, and as with the ‘Egyptian Birth Signs’ book I co-wrote with Graham Phillips about the same time, Louise and I now think that it’s time for a new edition. The original is 20 years old and needs a little reshaping to make it relevant to a modern audience. There have also been new discoveries in archaeology, which Lou and I feel should now be included. There’s information about some of the feline-related deities out there nowadays that wasn’t around when we wrote the original.

I’ve also been working on my new novel, ‘Breathe, my Shadow’, which is at around 160 pages. However, I want to finish off ‘Coming Forth By Day’ before really getting down to working on the fiction project. ‘Breathe, My Shadow’ is planned for a December release.

As for other Immanion Press books, two which are just about to be released, are ‘Lord of the Looking Glass’ by Fiona McGavin and ‘Strindberg’s Ghost Sonata and Other Uncollected Tales’ by Tanith Lee.  I spoke about these titles extensively in my last blog post so won’t repeat myself!  Danielle Lainton is currently at work on Fiona’s cover, so it’ll soon be ready for release. John Kaiine produced the cover art for ‘Strindberg’s Ghost Sonata’, and it also appears on his new Instagram page devoted to his artwork. There are some amazing and intriguing pieces of work on this, some of which he has prints of for sale. The link is https://www.instagram.com/johnkaiineartist/

For the non-fiction list we have ‘My First Book of Magic’ by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki, illustrated by her son Carl Ashcroft, with a cover designed by Danielle Lainton, featuring one of Carl’s drawings. The book explores witchcraft and paganism for a young audience, and will undoubtedly appeal to pagan adults wishing to teach their offspring about the craft. And who better to teach them than Ms Ashcroft-Nowicki? She is a renowned author, practitioner and teacher of the occult sciences and was once a director of studies for The Servants of the Light, an esoteric order formed by W. E. Butler.  The book will be released under our Megalithica Books imprint in the summer.

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We recently released through Megalithica Books a revised edition of ‘The Green Stone’ by Graham Phillips and Martin Keatman, which was responsible for initiating the psychic questing phenomenon in the UK in the 1980s. The book has been long out of print, and difficult to get hold of, with Graham receiving repeated enquiries from readers about if and when it might be available again. Late last year it came to light that not only were second hand copies selling for hundreds of pounds, but that some nefarious outfit had produced a pirate version  and was selling it at an inflated price, claiming it was the original. Graham and Martin had not sanctioned this, nor were they receiving any royalties for it. The bootleg version proved difficult to remove from online stores. Second hand book sellers were selling dog-eared copies for a fortune and a dodgy unlicensed publisher was trying to flog ‘new’ copies of the book, with prices often beyond the reach of an audience who desperately wanted to read it. So for all these reasons Graham and Martin decided they must re-release ‘The Green Stone’ themselves, at a fair price and with a wealth of new photographs (around 4 dozen) and a new introduction by Graham. When I first came to read through the book to copy edit it, I’d forgotten what a great story it is – a really exciting supernatural thriller, but which actually happened. A classic study of the paranormal and a riveting read.

That’s all for now. Back to the grindstone! More news soon.

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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.

Transpiration web

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.

Summer is virtually here already, but at least most of my plans this year have worked out. A couple of projects have slid into the cupboard under the stairs, but at least one of those is due to be hoiked out and dusted down very shortly.

I’m putting the finishing touches to the ‘Dark in the Day’ weird fiction anthology, which I’m co-editing with Paul Houghton, the Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Staffs University. The book will include the work of several students at the university – both past and present – as well as stories by established writers, and maybe (still not quite decided on this), one or two authors from the early 20th century, whose work is now public domain. The main problem with the latter idea is that the work of dead writers Paul and I would most like to include – Robert Aickman, Oliver Onions and Algernon Blackwood among them – is still very much tied up in copyright, mostly with agents and estates (rather than actual relatives), who demand high sums for reprinting. This is beyond our means. There is other writers’ work available to us, but these wouldn’t be our first choices. But anyway, we do have some great stories from current writers, a few of whom have donated previously unpublished works. I’m also really pleased that John Kaiine, Tanith Lee’s husband, has allowed me to print one of her stories in the collection – as far we know, this has not been published before. Other new stories are from Rosie Garland, Elizabeth Counihan and – me.

I didn’t intend to write something new for this book as I’m so busy, and thought my piece ‘At the Sign of the Leering Angel’ would be a fair example of a weird tale to include in the anthology – it has previously only been published in ‘Dark Discoveries’, a magazine in the States. However, one night in bed last week, while I was reading the ghost (and weird) stories of Edith Wharton before going to sleep, one line from ‘The Looking Glass’ stuck in my mind. From that, a whole story grew. I wrote it in two sessions a couple of days later. The line was ‘…like a guide leading a stranger through the gallery of a palace in the twilight, and now and then lifting a lamp to a shimmering Rembrandt or a jewelled Rubens…’ An image came to me entire of a secret gallery of unsettling works… the story grew swiftly from there.

At the time, I was – and still am – working on a science fiction story for an anthology to which I’ve been asked to contribute. I was keen to get this piece finished last week, as I want to return to ‘Blood, The Phoenix and a Rose’ (my next full length work). But because ‘The Secret Gallery’ made its presence felt so strongly, I had to write it without delay. As a tribute to Ms Wharton, one of the paintings in the gallery is named ‘The Looking Glass.’

This story was also influenced from another direction, or rather the influence insisted to be included whether I wanted it or not. A few weeks ago, I saw the film XXY on DVD, a story about an intersex teenager growing up in an isolated community in Uruguay. The film had a beguiling, fairy-tale ambience, (not least that the family name is Kraken, a mythical sea-monster), and I loved the main character, played by a young female actress, who captured perfectly a shifting ambience of gender. I felt that this character, who might or might not have sharply-honed senses, if not a degree of psychism, would surely go on to have a life of strange and wondrous adventures. She is named – appropriately androgynously – Alex, and my character in ‘The Secret Gallery’ also has this name. The Alex of the film haunted this story. When I’d finished writing and was re-reading the piece, I thought ‘it’s clear now my character is that Alex, who she grew up to be.’ The gallery itself, unintentionally on my part, seems to mirror the protagonist’s life. But then, I suspect, that gallery mirrors the life of any who find their way to its hidden gate.

The weird anthology’s cover will feature a photograph by author Michael Marshall Smith. I always enjoy seeing the strange and haunting photos he posts on Facebook, so asked him if he’d mind if I used one as cover art for this book. Happily, he said yes. The book should be out in the early autumn.

Taylor Ellwood and I have finished writing ‘Grimoire Dehara: Ulani’ and are now only waiting for the final few pictures from Ruby to go in the book. I envisage this title will be out in July at the latest. We’ll then start work on the final book in the series, ‘Grimoire Dehara: Nahir Nuri’, rather than wait another ten years to do the next one – as happened with the first book! ‘Grimoire Dehara: Ulani’ will be published through Megalithica Books, as part of our non-fiction list, as it’s a pop culture magical system based on the magic in the Wraeththu books.

‘Blood, the Phoenix and a Rose’, my three linked Wraeththu novellas have been left alone for a few weeks while I completed the grimoire and worked on short stories, and the editing for ‘Dark in the Day’. However, if all goes well, and I get my science fiction piece finished before Tuesday, (writer meeting that night, so I want to take it with me), I’ll get back to the novellas later in the week. Two of them are written, although need a little work, and I have the idea worked out for the third. I hope to get this book out later in the year, if I don’t get too distracted by other tasks.

I noticed in the ‘Blog Post’ folder, when I was creating a Word document for this post, that my post from June 2015 was about ‘The Shadowbirds’, a novel that was a follow-up to ‘The Moonshawl’. I can’t believe a year has passed since I first thought about that book. I’d begun writing it, too, but then ideas for the current project elbowed it out of the way, and I had to run with that as it was demanding to be written! However, I do still intend to return to ‘The Shadowbirds’ at some point.

Early in my career, I managed to write one novel a year – and this was when I had a day job too – but as time passed, and work for Immanion Press increased, it’s been difficult for me to produce novels so regularly. I’ve also upped my output for short stories, as this is a good way to get your work better known out there in the world. Plus, I enjoy writing them.

My ‘Through the Night Gardens’ project has been put on hold too, and part of the reason for that is I’m not as happy as I used to be in the game Rift, in which I’m creating landscapes to go with the story. The world of Rift is still enchanting to me, but I’m not enchanted by the way the developers now treat their customers and seek to milk relentlessly people who enjoy creating dimensions (the landscapes) in that game. I forgave a lot, but when it got to the point where new art assets were concealed within ‘gambling bags’ you had to buy with real money – and then not be guaranteed contents you’d want or could use – my dissatisfaction spilled over into actual resentment. I understand parting with cash is part of the deal. Rift is free to play, (although I do have a patron subscription to help support it), and needs income to survive. I shelled out quite a lot at the start of my project to fund it, but I prefer to spend my money on what I want and need, not be cheated by randomness, the dreaded RNG of all MMOs. I don’t think that belongs in an activity like dimension-building. I hate leaving projects half finished, especially as I’ve created a special blog for ‘Night Gardens’ and made a fanfare about this transmedia endeavour, so I expect I will return to it at some point, but I can’t escape the fact the experience has been soured for me. This, coupled with all the other work I’m doing, means ‘Night Gardens’ got pushed further back in the queue.

That’s it for current work news – more when I know it. I do want to put down my thoughts about the Warcraft movie, but will save this for a WoW blog post (The Necklace of Evil Faces) – I’ve neglected that blog for a while.

I’ve realised that it’s almost impossible to plan precisely my writing in advance. I’ve written blog posts over the years describing my intentions but a lot of the time these get modified – not least by the writing taking over and deciding for itself what’s going to happen. I’ve been thinking a lot about my career recently, not least because I hit sixty this year. Can’t believe so much time has passed! It’s frankly very scary. Anyway, I’ll talk about my realisations concerning writing – and Wraeththu – later on. First, current plans (but I – and you – might as well accept now that some of them may be subject to change):

After the successful launch of both the Wraeththu short story collection ‘Para Animalia’ and my new anthology ‘Splinters of Truth’ (the latter published by NewCon Press), I’m now concentrating on other projects. I’d planned initially to release all my Wraeththu short stories in one collection this year, including half a dozen or so new tales. But I’ve had to revise that idea. First of all, after discussing it with various friends, I’ve realised that as nearly all my Wraeththu pieces are still fairly recent, in the ‘Para’ anthologies, there probably isn’t much of  a market for a collected anthology yet. And even if there were, wouldn’t that be short-changing readers somewhat? Another consideration was that when I put all the stories into one book file and formatted it, it was already quite hefty – before any new pieces were added. So to me, this led to one major change in my work schedule this year: ‘Blood, the Phoenix and a Rose’ would comprise all new stories. A comprehensive collection can come later. I’d intended for this book to be fairly simple to compile, with just a few new additions, but no, the book has decided it’s something else entirely, and has clear views on how I must write it.

The initial idea for Wraeththu came from several directions, but primarily it was through my fascination with magic and the unseen. When I began reading books on these subjects as a teenager, I discovered alchemy, and this arcane art enchanted me. Even as a fledgling writer, it filled me with creative ideas. The alchemical rebis, the sacred hermaphrodite, was one of the most compelling images of all, and of course kick-started the idea of a race superior to humanity who were androgynous. In ‘Blood, the Phoenix and a Rose’, those words in themselves alchemical symbols, I want to explore the idea more fully.

So what has this alchemical beast evolved into? So far, the book will consist of three connected novellas, rather like a mini-trilogy, plus a few other pieces that are unconnected with them. I’ve completed the first two novellas. The first story was actually another of those ideas I’d had knocking around on my computer for decades. It was called ‘Song of the Cannibals’. When I began writing it, I didn’t know why it had that name – it had just come to me and I liked it. I imagined I could make the story fit the title as I wrote it and produced at most about three pages of it. Then I let it lie for around thirty years. Looking at my old notes (because I hate to see ideas wasted, however antique they might be), I came across ‘Cannibals’ again, and knew exactly what happened next and where the cannibal aspect came into it. Unfortunately it required junking nearly all of what I’d written, but for the name of the main character, the house where it’s set, and a somewhat sinister visitor. Here is a brief synopsis:

Tambril goes to work for a renowned alchemist/teacher named Melisander, who lives near Ferelithia. In the sprawling house, Sallow Gandaloi, which bustles with students and staff, Tambril discovers an important shrouded secret – his employer’s brother lives in a suite of secluded rooms and is most definitely ‘not right’. Melisander calls the weird Gavensel his ‘brother’, yet they are of completely different skin colours and clearly not related in blood. Yet Melisander never speaks about this. He is a fair and generous employer and teacher, and those living in his establishment, whether to learn or to work, are prepared to ignore or put up with the unnerving and ghostlike Gavensel in order to enjoy all the benefits of Melisander’s patronage. But then, one day, a mysterious visitor, a ‘crow of hara’, arrives at Sallow Gandaloi with an apparently priceless artefact to sell. Or is that his true purpose? Is he not perhaps there to steal rather than sell? And what is it he knows lies hidden in the house, something that is above priceless? Tambril, inevitably, becomes involved in the mystery, which becomes increasingly dark and threatening.

The second tale in the collection, which I finished this week is called ‘Half Sick of Shadows’, and is partly inspired (or perhaps informed) by the poem ‘The Lady of Shalott’, although bizarrely the characters themselves found the connection while I was writing, rather than me choosing deliberately to fit the story around the poem. During one conversation, a har refers to another present as ‘the Lady of Shalott’, and the whole thing took off from there. I didn’t plan this; it just came out. When the har in question seeks out and reads that poem, intrigued, he sees his own life reflected there, as he feels it fits him perfectly. That was pure coincidence rather than design. Or perhaps not coincidence at all! I can’t say any more than this about the story, as to do so would cause spoilers for the first piece.

The final story in this mini-trilogy doesn’t yet have a name. All I know is who the narrator is going to be, and an intriguing one he is too. Can’t say more – sorry! He has to be a surprise. I intend to start working on this piece once I’ve got another short story written, for a science fiction anthology to which I’ve been invited to contribute.

Something that’s been made abundantly clear to me while writing this new material is the thing that fascinates me most at the moment about the world of Wraeththu is how the original, incepted hara have adapted, a hundred years after their species was created. I’ve been hinting, and even overtly saying, for a long time in my stories that the incepted, the First Generation, are often regarded unfavourably by the later pureborns, who equate the incepted with madness, ignorance and instability. As one character in ‘Half Sick of Shadows’ says, ‘Hara like us are obsolete. We were merely mechanisms to get the whole thing going.’ The dust has settled, Wraeththu have gradually evolved into their potential, and continue to do so. But the casualties of war, those who fought for survival at the very start, the progenitors of Wraeththu, how do they fit into the new world, when very often they are scarred veterans of ancient conflicts? In Immanion, there is an establishment for such hara… I suppose much of my fascination lies in the fact that I am so much older now than I was when I first wrote feverishly of Wraeththu and their world. My dust has settled too, to a large degree. Now I’m able to observe my own youth in what I created, my own aspirations and hopes and ideals – my own silliness too, which I look upon with affection rather than regret. Wraeththu, if anything, have become even more intriguing to me.

I’ve written a great deal about hara over the past few years, and until quite recently have sometimes heard this niggling little voice in the back of my mind telling me I shouldn’t just luxuriate in the harish world. Write something else – something more commercial, harps the voice. While I’ve produced quite a lot of short stories not connected with Wraeththu over the past decade, the Magravandias Trilogy was the last full-length work not set in the world of Wraeththu, and that was released around sixteen years ago. That’s far too long, wheedles the voice. Stop indulging yourself! With this in mind, I began work on my ‘Through the Nightgardens’ project late last year, and wrote the first two instalments of this fantasy novel. I planned to write a chapter a month, and allow the first six to be available free online, illustrated by landscapes I created in the MMORPG, Rift. The first two are up, but… I’ve been so busy since the New Year, not just with writing, but with administration tasks and ‘any other business’. I’m also nearly at the end of ‘Grimoire Dehara: Ulani’, the book of pop culture magic, which I’ve been writing with Taylor Ellwood. We want to get this out around summer time. There have been short stories to write as well, as I hate to turn down offers when they appear in my mail. And shorts, while short, still take some time to write. So ‘Nightgardens’ hasn’t progressed as much as I’d hoped. It hasn’t been helped by the fact that Trion, the company who developed and maintain Rift, have changed a lot. I dislike the way they operate now and how they treat their loyal customers. This has soured my feelings towards the game and quite honestly has contributed towards me feeling less inspired to go and work on my landscapes for ‘Nightgardens’ in there. I will take both story and landscapes up again eventually, as I don’t like to leave projects half-finished, especially when I’ve already done so much work on them, but my desire to work on this was so much less than my eagerness to work on ‘Blood, the Phoenix and a Rose’. I love that project and want to complete it before I consider doing anything else.

It was a dilemma I struggled with for a while. My first love really is Wraeththu, and although my books about them have never been popular in the mainstream, they’ve always had a consistent and loyal following. That world has allowed me to explore so much about ourselves, as humans, and so much about gender, through the medium of these sexually unsundered beings. As I said earlier in this post, I’m sixty this year, and I feel now I have to write what I most want to write. I might have another 30 years left to me – or not. We don’t know these things about ourselves, but there comes a moment when you have to accept that the first half of your life is long gone, and time becomes a far more precious commodity. My writing is my legacy. I’m never going to be rich and famous; I got over the hope of that years ago. I’m never going to be the sort of writer who’s in the spotlight, grinning at cameras while I win awards. The disappointment about that disappeared some time ago too. But I do believe in what I write, consider myself a good writer who has worked hard at her craft, and know instinctively it’s what I’m here to do. I’ve never found writing incredibly easy, or felt it pour out in beautiful, perfect streams as if I’m a channel for it – as my late, much-missed friend Tanith Lee experienced. But I do feel I’m approaching the height of my powers as a story-teller, and have decided I don’t want to waste a minute of that trying to write things to please other people, in the hope it will make me more successful. My work is more precious than that and deserves more respect. I often day-dreamed wistfully of living in a big old house, much like the sort I sometimes write about, but know now that’s unlikely to happen. I comfort myself with the thought that if I’d ever had a house like that, I’d probably have been terrified in it – my imagination being what it is. Once I’d cast off these unrealistic hopes and dreams, I got down to the real reward – loving the act of writing, cherishing my developing stories, simply enjoying my work. The freedom that accepting all this gave me, which can only come with age and experience, simply opens up myriad avenues into new creative areas to explore, new stories to discover. And that’s the greatest prize of all.

February News

I’ve been extremely busy since the New Year, working on several projects at once, so here’s a run down of what’s in the pipeline

‘Splinters of Truth’, my new short story collection being published by NewCon Press, will be released at Easter, with an official launch at Mancunicon, this year’s Eastercon. I’ve been working on final bits and pieces for the collection, but now all tweaks have been made and it’s done.  Here’s a preview of the fabulous cover art by Danielle Lainton. There are three ghosts hidden in the picture – two of them on the back, so not visible in this preview. (One might only become apparent from reading one of the stories.)

Splinters cover smaller

I’ve also been working on stories for my forthcoming Wraeththu collection ‘Blood, the Phoenix and a Rose’, which will have cover art by Ruby. I wanted to collect all my published Wraeththu stories together in one collection, and the book will also include some completely new tales, as well as illustrations. I finished working on the story ‘Song of the Cannibals’ during January, which turned out to be quite long at 40 or so A4 pages. This piece involves new characters not seen before, but is set in the familiar territory of Ferelithia. I have some half-finished stories on my computer, some dating back to when I was writing the first Wraeththu trilogy. I intend to use a couple of these for the new book too – rewriting the starts and finishing them.  In addition, I’m mulling over what pieces of my Wraeththu juvenilia to include. I want to show how the stories began when I was in my teens, but the pieces are long, and somewhat rambling, as well as being the product of a fledgling writer. Perhaps some excerpts can be included.

‘Para Animalia’, the new Wraeththu Mythos shared world anthology is now almost ready for publication and will be released in March, with a cover by Ruby. I’m creating some illustrations for the book, which will take a week or so more to complete. The lineup is:

Beneath My Skin a Vein of You – Storm Constantine

The Bird Har – Wendy Darling

Running Under a Cold Moon – Nerine Dorman

Heart Howl – E. S. Wynn

Liminality – Amanda Kears

Eight Legs – Daniela Ritter

Dream Dragon – Maria J. Leel

Medium Brown Dog – Fiona Lane

Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing – Wendy Darling

Harbinger – Nerine Dorman

Clouds Like Hair – Storm Constantine

Plus a story due in this week from Martina Bellovičová (don’t have the title yet)

Para Animalia front smaller

I’m continuing to work on my transmedia projects ‘Through the Night Gardens’, and chapter 2 ‘Deepmoss Pile’ is now available to read for free at https://throughthenightgardens.wordpress.com/

I intend to publish the first six chapters or so of this story online, complete with accompanying landscapes that I created in the video game Rift, using their ‘dimension building’ feature. Eventually, I’ll add other subplots to the story and turn it into a full length novel.

I’m still aiming to post a new chapter every month, but as January was so hideously busy and I didn’t get time to finish Chapter Two until this week, I’m being more cautious about it now. It might be over a month sometimes, depending on what other work I have on.

I’m also working on ‘Grimoire Dehara: Ulani’ with Taylor Ellwood, as it’s been over a decade since the first volume ‘Grimoire Dehara: Kaimana’ appeared. This is a pop culture system of magic, based on the Wraeththu books. I can’t believe so much time has passed since the first volume, when I fully intended to get do the whole system in about five years at most. Still, Taylor and I are now committed to getting both Ulani and Nahir Nuri out over the next year or so. I envisage Ulani will be ready by the end of the summer/autumn time.

 

 

 

Happy New Year to everyone – hope you had a good seasonal holiday. I have lots of plans for writing projects this year so it’s time to share news of these forthcoming ventures!

First off, I’ve put the next Wraeththu novel on back burner (although safely with a great many notes on the story) for a while, as I’ve launched a new fiction venture – ‘Through the Night Gardens’ –a novel told in part as a serial, which will appear for free on the blog Through the Night Gardens This is a transmedia project, in that it encompasses landscapes created in the MMORPG Rift, and I have plans also to produce an audio book of the story, as well as videos of the landscapes I’ve designed for it. Eventually, this will become a novel produced in the traditional, printed form – and will then include sub-plots and other additional material. For the interactive part, I need to keep it relatively simple, but I hope also this will whet readers’ appetites for the larger work to follow. The first chapter is now online and I intend to release at least one more chapter this month.

However, even though ‘Night Gardens’ is taking a larger part of the stage this year than I thought it would, it doesn’t mean my Wraeththu stories will be totally neglected. Wendy Darling and I are in the latter stages of producing the next shared-world anthology ‘Para Animalia: Creatures of Wraeththu’, which I envisage will be available round about March at the latest. The book includes two new stories from me, and from Wendy, and also tales by E. S. Wynn, Fiona Lane and Nerine Dorman, as well as other Mythos writers. Here is a preview of the cover art by Ruby:

Para Animalia front smaller

I’m also working on a Wraeththu short story collection of my own that will include previously unpublished early works, as well as completely new stories, plus all the Wraeththu Mythos stories I’ve written to date, so as to collect them all in one volume. I don’t yet have a title for this book, but will be writing the stories alongside the chapters for ‘Through the Night Gardens’ throughout the early part of this year. It will contain around half a dozen completely new tales. I’m loosely planning for the Wraeththu collection to be available in the summer.

Additional to these projects, I’m working on ‘Grimoire Dehara: Ulani’ with my colleague Taylor Ellwood, again with the aim of publishing it this year. This is the pop culture magical system based on the Wraeththu mythos, the first volume of which was ‘Grimoire Dehara: Kaimana’. We’ve been asked repeatedly to release the other two volumes in the series, and now have the time to commit to this project.

My short story collection ‘Splinters of Truth’ will be published by NewCon Press to coincide with the Mancunicon convention, this year’s Eastercon, which is held in Manchester.  I will be on hand to help promote the book, as well as appear on a panel with my fellow Night’s Nieces, the writers who donated stories to the Tanith Lee tribute of the same name, which Immanion Press published in December last year.

Immanion Press will be releasing a paperback edition of ‘Animate Objects’, the short story collection by Tanith Lee, which was a special limited edition hardback published to commemorate her ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ at the World Fantasycon in 2013. Tanith fans are often completionists concerning her work, and as only 35 copies of this book were printed, we’ve had a lot of enquiries about it from readers who are desperate to acquire it. Tanith’s husband, John Kaiine, has given the go-ahead for new paperback edition, which will include an additional story and different interior artwork to the original.

That’s the news round-up for now. More to come later.

New Writing Project Goes Live

Meretrice Garden

 

I was determined to get my new writing project off the ground before Christmas, so happy to announce that the first instalment of ‘Through the Night Gardens’ is ready to be viewed on its own blog page: https://throughthenightgardens.wordpress.com/

This is the first chapter of a novel, much of which will be available free online, although I do intend to flesh it out, add secondary plot lines, and eventually publish it in printed form and as an Ebook.

What makes this project different is that it was inspired by landscapes I created using player-made ‘dimensions’ in the MMORPG, Rift. It’s enabled me to realise the images in my head, not only just as illustrations to use in the story, but as actual virtual locations that people can visit, thus making it a transmedia venture. At the moment, the landscapes can only be viewed by downloading the game, Rift, and making a level 1 character in order to explore the world, but I intend to make videos of them in the New Year so that people who either don’t want to download the game, or whose machines aren’t up to running it, can simply look at the accompanying videos. I’m also working with a friend to produce an audio book of the story. But this will take time, and I wanted to get the initial story out there.

I envisage I’ll release a chapter every month, all other work commitments permitting. Four of the dimensions are finished and ready for public viewing, but for now only the first one will be made available to accompany ‘The House on the Red Cliffs’ – chapter one.

As I’ve been immersed in the world of Wraeththu for the past few years – apart from quite a lot of short stories I’ve been writing and had published – I thought it was time to embark upon a longer work outside of the Wraeththu Mythos. Here is a short introduction to the story.

 Meretrice Bilander, a planarist by profession, moves to an isolated corner of the world in order to further her experiments in creating new lifeforms, drawn from different elemental planes. She becomes intrigued by Jeriko Rayce, a man who lives nearby, in particular by the unusual – and certainly unearthly – violet flower he grows in his house: a plant whose scent is a song, whose bloom is the sound of sadness. Meretrice discovers that no one can get near Rayce, not even the shamaness whose domain lies below the red cliffs. Wards of repulsion protect him. Together, she and Catty – the shamaness – seek to penetrate the mystery of Rayce, discover why his house can’t be approached and for what reason he has the violet flower. Then one night, reality cracks and Meretrice discovers Rayce’s house can at last be reached. She and Catty unearth some of Rayce’s secrets, which sets them on a journey to knowledge that is at once both folly and irresistible. They are invited to follow a trail, either to oblivion or salvation, through the Night Gardens, other realms of existence, led by the bewitching scent of the violet flower that might be balm or poison… 

I hope you will visit the blog, and I also welcome feedback concerning its format. May you all have a splendid Yuletide.

‘The Moonshawl’ is out today! We’re having a promotion on Amazon in which the ebook version of the novel is available free for five days. And there will be a Goodreads Giveaway also in the next day or so.

As part of the promotion for the book I’ve done some guest posts on a few blogs, and here are links to the first of them:

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/12/guest-post-storm-constantine-offers-a-glimpse-into-the-working-life-of-a-writer/

http://www.fantasybookcafe.com/2014/12/guest-post-storm-constantine-on-inspirations-for-wraeththu/

http://www.afantasticallibrarian.com/2014/12/author-query-storm-constantine.html

Many thanks to the owners of these blogs/sites who allowed me to visit!

I’m yet to decide for sure what full length novel I’ll be working on next year. I do have several short stories to finish, plus the anthology for Ian Whates’ Newcon Press, which will include several new pieces. I’ve also been talking with Taylor Ellwood (my colleague at Megalithica Books) about doing further work on the Grimoire Dehara magical system.  Plenty of ideas – just have to make a decision about order of work!

Brief Update

I’ve been meaning to do a new blog post for ages but have been very busy! My new Wraeththu novel, ‘The Moonshawl’ has now been edited by Wendy Darling and I’m currently working on her suggestions for improvements. We’re aiming for an early December release for the book.

I’m also writing an article that will appear on here very soon, on the various sequels to Daphne Du Maurier’s novel ‘Rebecca’ – or ‘inspired bys’. I have to finish reading the last one in order to complete the piece.

I noticed today that some responses to my posts have ended up in the spam folder without my realising it. I’ve now ‘unspammed’ those. Thanks to those of you who responded to my earlier post about e-cigarettes and to which I didn’t reply.

Once ‘The Moonshawl’ has received its final polish, I’ll be back working on half a dozen or so half-finished stories for my Newcon Press’s ‘Imaginings’ release. ‘Imaginings’ are collections of short stories by single authors, and I’m very proud and pleased to be invited to join the great list of writers already published in this series. I don’t have a release date for this book, as I’ve still to finish off the stories, but I imagine it will be mid to late 2015. Only a couple of the pieces in the book have been previously published, since Ian wants only uncollected stories in the book, and the ones that haven’t already appeared in my own Immanion Press short story collections have been mostly been in Ian’s anthologies of various themes. He didn’t want to include stories he’d published. But this has given me good reason to complete ideas that have been languishing on my computer for years.

Can I just remind interested parties again that we are open for submissions to the next Wraeththu short story collection ‘Para Animalia’, which will include stories that in some way concern both hara and creatures they might work with magically or in day to day life. Anyone wanting the guidelines, please contact Immanion Press at info(at)immanion-press(dot)com