Tag Archive: writing


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.

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New Books and Plans for 2018

2017 has been a busy year for me. I was involved in a lot of book projects, all of which are now complete, and in the case of those due out next month, all uploaded to the printers and ready to go.

Immanion Press is holding a launch event on December 7th in Stafford UK to celebrate the publication of six titles.

Two of the new releases are hardback limited Collectors’ Editions of the Grimoire Dehara series – Book Three Nahir Nuri, which I co-wrote with Taylor Ellwood, and also a reissue of the hardback of the first volume Kaimana, which came out in 2005. While the first volume’s text hasn’t been expanded or changed, (other than a few errors corrected), it does include several extra illustrations from artist Ruby, and one by the late Billie Walker-John, who did quite a few Wraeththu Mythos illustrations back in the 90s.

The new Grimoire Dehara book is also being released in paperback at the same time.

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On the fiction side, we have ‘Dark Dance’ by Tanith Lee, the first in her Blood Opera Sequence, (long out of print), featuring an introduction and interior illustrations by me. The second volume, ‘Personal Darkness’ will be released in early 2018, and will feature an introduction and interior illustrations by Freda Warrington. The third book in the series, ‘Darkness, I’, will be published one to two months after the second volume, and will feature an introduction by Sarah Singleton. All three books will have cover art by John Kaiine.

I’ve written about the other two releases quite a lot already on this blog, but briefly they are ‘The Darkest Midnight in December: Ghost Stories for the Winter Season’ and ‘Songs to Earth and Sky: Stories of the Seasons’ – the latter being a Wraeththu Mythos anthology. ‘Darkest Midnight’ has cover art by Danielle Lainton and interior illustrations by me. The cover for ‘Songs to Earth and Sky’ is by Ruby and also includes interior illustrations by her. The full line up for these anthologies can be found on our web site www.immanion-press.com

So, now that all the projects are wrapped up, it’s time to think about what comes next. I have a few short stories to write for various anthologies, but hope to begin work on a novel in the New Year. I’m not taking on so much work next year, because 2017 gave me little time for my own work – at least not enough to embark upon a full-length novel. A non-fiction book about the ‘darker’ goddesses I was working on with Andy Collins has had to be temporarily shelved, as he too has been super busy with lots of projects, some of which involved lengthy foreign travel. His schedule for next year is also already filling up with trips abroad, so I can’t give a date for when we might be able to get back to our book. Hopefully we’ll be able to complete it at some point next year.

There will also be a new ‘Para’ anthology – ‘Para Spectral’ – and I’ve already had some stories in for that. These are Wraeththu ghost stories – as most of my readers will know, I’m a passionate fan of ghost stories!

I’ll be reading submissions for another weird fiction anthology I’m editing, to be published through NewCon Press, but the publication date won’t be until 2019 – so at least I can take my time with it. Titled ‘Shadows on the Hillside’, this collection will focus upon weird landscapes, including urban landscapes.

But mainly I want to get back to writing a novel – and I haven’t made up my mind which idea to go with. I really want to finish two books I started, and they are very different. The first is a story I began around 15 years ago, concerning an author whose characters begin to leak into reality, and who discovers that some of her fans have set up a sinister cult inspired by her work. The problem I have with it is that I’d have to rethink some of the ideas, because the internet and social media are far more prominent and sophisticated now than when I began to story. I’m not sure it’d work in quite the same way now – similar to how my 1999 novel, ‘Thin Air’, wouldn’t work as a post-millennial piece: ‘Jay looked everything up on the internet’.  In the original, she had to resort to solving the mystery of the story by driving round the country, interviewing people who would talk to her and resorting to the use of phone books to find them. Nowadays, most of what she uncovers would take only a short Google search. So ‘Thin Air’ is officially an historical novel!

The second idea is another Wraeththu story – a sort of follow on from ‘The Moonshawl’, but involving a different supernatural mystery for harish sleuth Ysobi to solve. I’ve written a fair bit of it, but am conscious I’ve not completed a full-length work outside the Wraeththu mythos for quite some time, so maybe the other idea should come first. But I suppose, it’s down to whether I can engage with that story again and rediscover its heart.

Thanks to everyone who helped with this year’s works in one way or another: Danielle Lainton, Louise Coquio, Debbie Cartwright, Yvan Cartwright, Graham Phillips, Ian Whates, John Kaiine, Jamie Spracklen, Donna Bond, Nerine Dorman, E. S. Wynn, Wendy Darling, Fiona Lane, Suzanne Gabriel, and all those who contributed stories to ‘The Darkest Midnight in December’ and ‘Visionary Tongue’.

The Harvest of Smoketide

Smoketide is the Wraeththu equivalent of the autumn equinox, which is upon us! It’s been such a busy year – and I’m horrified to find it’s now in its last quarter. I took on a lot of work but fortunately most of the projects are either finished or nearing completion. Only a couple have been shuffled into next year.

The Wraeththu seasonal anthology ‘Songs to Earth and Sky’, featuring stories by me and a few other writers is on track to be published on 14th December – the deharan festival of Adkaya. I’m in the process of organising a launch event for it, in collaboration with local businesswoman Maggie Jennings, who runs ‘Hart’s Magical Gifts’, a New Age/Witchcraft shop in Stafford.  More details of that when the event has been fully organised.

I’ve written three stories for this collection. The first one, ‘A Message in Ashes’ focuses on the festival of Rosatide on 1st February. This is traditionally a time of reawakening, of the first stirrings of spring. But what came to me for this piece isn’t simply about the turning of the year. As I began writing it, and more so as the story developed, I found myself thinking about how much us humans are prey to disease and conditions, and we are terrified of them, but for a species who is less prey to these horrors, when they do strike, they will be triply terrifying – if not more so. ‘A Message in Ashes’ is told by a narrator who witnesses a har born without the full protection a harish form should provide against disease. It’s not a miserable tale, but inevitably has its poignant moments. Primarily, it’s about learning, coming of age, growing up – in the sense of undergoing inner realisations rather than physical changes.

The second story ‘The Old Fierce Pull of Blood’ revolves around the festival of Reaptide –more commonly known as Lughnasadh or Lammas, on 1st August. I’ve always found this time of year to be wonderfully spooky – the weeks when ghosts might walk at mid-day. As I was writing it, I came across a usefully inspirational film on this subject on Netflix. It’s now called ‘Trauma’ (and you can also buy the DVD under that name, which I subsequently did), but its original title was ‘Lavender’.  It’s not particularly gory, nor particularly horrifying, but it is creepy and atmospheric. A photographer is drawn to take pictures of an old house, which she doesn’t realise has some historical attachment to her. The story goes on from there, and while it doesn’t offer anything radically new to the haunted house genre, it is a pleasurable watch for fans of ghost stories. But some aspects lifted it above the run of the mill norm. The thing that appealed to me most was the landscape of high summer, how the ghosts there walk at mid-day, in full light, often unseen, and that sunlight can be no less scary than darkness. I watched the film 3 times while writing the story to get into that ambience – the slant of light across a field, with the shadow of trees reaching out like hands; a hazy horizon beneath the sun; the heavy branches of trees weighed down with their foliage, the somehow pregnant stillness and a sense of imminence – something waiting to happen in the hot, breathless day. That was the feeling I sought to put into my story.

My tale is also inspired by an old house known as Guy’s Cliffe in Warwickshire, and the landscape around it. The place is well worth a visit. For a long time, the ruin of the house was off-limits, privately-owned and inaccessible, but in recent years it came into the hands of the Freemasons of Warwickshire, to whom it was donated. Now, it’s open to the public and you can book a tour around the house and land. Not much of the house remains, but the Masons have a couple of temple rooms in the old chapel, which is still intact. Parts of the remaining building have been converted into function rooms that can be hired for events. The old mill to the estate is now a restaurant called The Saxon Mill, (and an excellent one at that). The mill wheel still turns in a shadowed chamber, and wooden decking now allows visitors to sit right at, if not over, the lake side, to catch glimpses of Guy’s Cliffe through the trees. The lake is technically a river, but is wide at that point, with a thundering weir behind the inn. In summertime, the huge ancient trees are lush, their foliage hiding most of the old house. Nearby, across a crop field, lies a weird old church with a pyramid-topped spire. There are several tales about the house and its environs that I won’t go into here, but when I was writing ‘The Old Fierce Pull of Blood’ I was transported back there continually. The story involves a young har who goes to work at a large garden nursery specialising in roses for medicine and magic, which has developed from the ruins of an old rural estate. The land is haunted, of course, and as Reaptide draws near, the ghosts wax strong. The present begins to mirror the past, with weird and dramatic consequences, and a mysterious ‘guiser’ troupe set up camp in the field by the river – masked mummers, who might not be what they seem. Verdiferel, the dehar of Reaptide, can be tricksy and cruel, or he can be kind and benevolent. It depends which mask he wears, and the har who catches sight of the dehar at this time of year is responsible for shaping the mask – often without knowing it.

The final story is a sequel to ‘The Old Fierce Pull of Blood’, and is named ‘Solarisel’s Covenant.’ This is set many years after the Reaptide piece, at Adkaya. This mini-festival lies two weeks before the winter solstice, when the dehar Solarisel gives birth to the pearl that will hatch at Natalia into the infant sun-dehar, Elisin. Isoldis, the protagonist of the Reaptide story, is en route to a growers’ assembly some distance from home, and as the snow falls in the build up to Natalia, he comes across a secret at an old coaching inn. He’s never been there in his life, yet it appears the staff know him – he’s told he’d been a guest there only a couple of night before. Isoldis thinks at first the guest must have been a har who looks like him, then events unfold during the night that reveal a different reason, if not a different reality.

The other stories I’ve had in so far for the collection are two from Nerine Dorman (The Dreamstone for Bloomtide, the spring equinox, and ‘Isangxa’s Gift’ for Cuttingtide, the summer solstice.) These stories are set in South Africa, so deviate from the typical seasonal trappings found in northern climes. I like the way this expands the mythos into new territories. Nerine has come up with some colourful, new, indigenous dehara too. E. S. Wynn has written a story based around Shadetide, known to us as Halloween, which involves a har taking on the persona of Lachrymide, the dehar of this season, to combat a threat to his tribe. Fiona Lane’s contribution is set at the winter solstice festival of Natalia, when a disruption in the cycle of the seasons calls for a hienama to take radical, magical action. Fiona always writes with a witty touch, and this story doesn’t fail to deliver that, but it’s also immensely poignant and touching – it literally brought tears to my eyes when I read through it. Two further stories are due for delivery in the very near future to complete the book. Cover art will be by Ruby.

The second book from Immanion Press due to be published on 14th December is ‘The Darkest Midnight in December’, ghost stories for Christmas. This is a traditional English sub-genre of the ghost story and you’ll find many collections of such tales on Amazon. The original idea was that this book would follow in the foot-steps of ‘Dark in the Day’, the weird fiction anthology we published to showcase the work of creative writing students at Staffs University, along with established authors. As it turned out, I didn’t get any stories from existing students at the university, but went ahead with the project (since I’d formally announced it), and asked for stories from writer friends and colleagues, so I’d have enough to fill a book. I was surprised that young or aspiring writers don’t leap at the chance to be published in a ‘proper book’, with comparatively little effort on their part, so that it might aid their chances of publication once they’ve finished their studies. I know I’d have been really grateful to be offered something like that when I was starting my career. But I guess times have changed… Anyway, contributors to the anthology include Rosie Garland, Wendy Darling, Louise Coquio, Hannah Kate, Nerine Dorman, Rhys Hughes, J. E. Bryant, Fiona McGavin, Jessica Gilling, Misha Herwin, Adele Marie Park and Fiona Lane. As you can see from that list, I asked several of the Wraeththu Mythos writers to submit, and I’m grateful they obliged me! Cover art will be by Danielle Lainton.

As for the third book in the Dehara magical series, ‘Grimoire Dehara: Nahir Nuri’, the plan is to bring it out this year – it all depends on how much time Taylor and I get to finish it. We’re about a third of the way through and will do our best! The book will be illustrated by Ruby and have a cover by her to match the previous two paperbacks. There will also be a hardback limited edition of the title.

The two books that have been shuffled into 2018 are ‘She Demon’, my collaboration with Andy Collins, which is a collection of path-workings with various faces of the dark goddess, and ‘Para Spectral’, the fifth of the Wraeththu Mythos ‘Para’ anthologies. Time has been an obstacle with both these books. Andy has been swamped with work, and I’ve had a lot on my plate with the other books I’ve been working on. As for ‘Para Spectral’, some of the prospective authors have been writing stories for other Immanion Press books I’ve mentioned previously, (along with all their other work), so it made sense to move this title forward to give everyone much more time.

That’s all the news on my work for now. I have tentative plans to start a new novel next year, but will have to see how time and other projects go!

 

 

 

Every time I start a new blog post, it always seems as if I have to begin with ‘sorry for not having posted for ages’, or something similar. I’m not the best of people with social media and blogging. I know what good things they are in many respects, especially for the self-employed, and extra-especially for writers. ‘Get yourself out there more!’ I’m told, by informed friends and acquaintances who use the internet to its limit to promote their work. ‘I will,’ I answer, (usually just to shut them up). I don’t mean it, of course. Is it because I’m lazy, or too busy, or simply feel distaste for this voracious medium? Maybe a bit of all three. I’m certainly not the type to share intimate details of my life with strangers online, or even people I know vaguely. Close friends will get to hear news over the phone, and that’s where it’ll stay. Sometimes I’ll post pictures of my friends and I on Facebook when we’re visiting a site of interest. The only other personal thing I’ll post is pictures of and anecdotes about my cats. (A little disappointing how they always get a ton – literally a ton – more ‘likes’ than posts about writing, whether that’s my writing or someone else’s.) Otherwise, to me, Facebook is for work.

I had a submission the other day, whose accompanying mail began by explaining in great detail the social media success of the writer, how they were such a booming youtuber and so on. Eventually, this mail said, (and here I’m exaggerating just because I can), ‘Oh yeah, and they just wrote this novel.’ My first instinct was to reply with a succinct profanity, but then I let it simmer for a few days and replied, along the lines of: the work is more important than the social media popularity of the author. Unfortunately, the work, when I got to it, was dull, derivative and not any great shakes style-wise. Pass! However, I was so tempted to end my rejection email with, ‘This one isn’t for me, but I guarantee the author will find great success elsewhere.’ I know a lot of (perhaps more sensible) editors and publishers will take one look at all those thousands of ‘youtube’ hits and think to themselves, ‘magnificent, look at all that potential self-promotion’. And quite honestly, they’ll be right. No matter how mediocre the work, if thousands of people are into your blog, there’s a good chance they’ll buy the book you write. I’m old-fashioned and curmudgeonly, I know, but I find that depressing. Does success really have to depend so heavily nowadays on social media and the fleeting popularity you can get on there – often for sod all? For people who share my distaste, I recommend the Charlie Brooker ‘Black Mirror’ episode (series 3 on Netflix), ‘Nosedive’. That to me says it all.

Anyway, onto more cheerful subjects. One of the reasons I’ve not posted is, as I’ve stated honestly (honest) above, is that I’ve just been really busy. For some reason, I took it on myself to produce six books this year – books that will involve my own work, not just other people’s. Five of those titles are through my own Immanion Press, and one is through Ian Whates’ NewCon Press. First off, I’ll talk about the latter. A mockup of the cover (which might be slightly different eventually) is below:

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Back in the 1990s, Louise Coquio and I ran a small press fiction magazine called ‘Visionary Tongue’. I suspect that the majority of people who read my blog and look at my posts on Facebook already know about this venture, and perhaps even contributed to it. But for those who don’t, the thing that set VT apart from other little magazines was that we recruited a team of successful, established writers to act as editors and mentors for new authors. Each accepted contributor got to work with a ‘pro name’, who passed on tips and advice about the stories, as well as a thorough edit. No-one had done that before. Lou and I didn’t realise what a huge job this would turn out to be, and as other commitments mounted up, we realised we hadn’t got the time to continue running the magazine. We passed custodianship to Jamie Spracklen, who kept it running for around a dozen more issues. Some of our contributors went on to have strong writing careers – such as Liz Williams, Justina Robson and Tim Lebbon. When Ian asked me last year if I’d ever published a collection of VT stories as a book and, if not, he’d happily do one, I said yes at once. But… tracking down authors proved impossible in some cases, and even with the help of Jamie and his co-editor Donna Bond, I’ve not managed to trace them all. Ultimately, Ian and I have decided to publish the stories and poems of these ‘missings’ in the book, with the disclaimer that we searched as much as we could, and free copies of the book will be waiting to be handed to ‘missings’ should they ever come across it. Another time-consumer was translating all the stories into electronic versions, since the files for many of the older issues have been lost, as were some of the magazines themselves. Some stories had to be scanned and then carefully edited, which is always a long job. Still, the book is shaping up now and is all but done. I’ve used illustrations that artist Ruby did for the original magazine throughout. The cover too is by Ruby, an adaptation of cover art she did for issue 20. This book is due to be published in September through NewCon Press.

Projects 2, 3 and 4 are Wraeththu-related. Not all of them might appear this year – that depends on contributors. First off, there’s ‘Para Spectral’, a collection of supernatural stories set in the Wraeththu mythos. Whenever Wendy and I start a new ‘Para’ anthology, I always want to get it out the same year. This never happens. The books always take longer than I’d thought – but this is generally down to contributors being so busy and needing extra time to finish submissions. Wendy and I usually write two stories each to go in the ‘Para’ books, so that’s more time I need to find.

The next Wraeththu book is ‘Songs to Earth and Sky’, which revolves around the Deharan Wheel of the Year. This is a reimagining of the familiar Pagan cycle of the seasons, with its eight festivals – several of which survived into the Christian era as Christmas, Easter and so on. The Wheel of the Year in the mythos is known as Arotohar, and each has one – or in some cases two – dehara (or gods) connected with them. I invited a few authors to contribute to the collection, which I’ve long wanted to write. I knew this would be a huge job to do alone, (as I have plans for its interior, as well as simply writing stories), so I chose a few writers to help with the work! Each selected a seasonal festival to base their story around. At the moment, I have two stories to write myself for this anthology but it might end up being three. The proposed (and most desired) release date for this book is December 2017. I want to try and bring it out on the day of Adkaya, which is a few weeks before the winter solstice, a ‘sub-festival’, when the dehar Solarisel delivers the pearl of the sun-harling Elisin, which hatches at the solstice. This seems a propitious time to release the book, so I hope we can keep to the deadline! I’ve just finished writing a story based on Rosatide (or Imbolc), which is currently entitled ‘A Message in Ashes’. This title might change. I’m really pleased with this piece, and again (as with a couple of my recent mythos stories) I’ve been drawn to a harish community out in the wilderness, who are very much in touch with nature. My dream world, obviously. This story took on a life of its own once I began writing it, and has some poignant, if not tragic, moments. I really enjoyed writing it.

The final book related to Wraeththu is the third volume of the ‘Grimoire Dehara’ series I’m writing with Taylor Ellwood. The Deharan magical system is based upon the fictional system in my Wraeththu books, which we’ve expanded into a pop culture magic system. As there was over ten years between book one and two, Taylor and I both feel we need to bring the third one out as soon as possible after the second. This will be the volume that focuses upon ‘Nahir Nuri’, the third tier of the system. We’ve endeavoured to keep these books of interest and use to practitioners who aren’t familiar with Wraeththu, but are intrigued by its androgynous nature in a magical sense. The book will again be fully illustrated by Ruby and me, and will be out in the final quarter of 2017 – all being well.

After these titles, we have ‘The Darkest Midnight in December’, which is a book of traditional Christmas ghost stories. Again, I’m not sure if this will be out this year or the next, but will endeavour to make it this year.

The next book I’ll talk about is currently entitled ‘Brides of Blood and Shadow’, although I’m desperately trying to come up with a different word to ‘Brides’, which has a good ring and rhythm to it, but it’s not what I want to convey about the book. This is a book of pathworkings with what are known as ‘dark goddesses’ – not the motherly types, or love goddesses, or goddesses of hearth and home. These will include deities such as Hecate, Ereshkigal and The Morrigan. Andy Collins and I will write the actual pathworkings together, although I’m doing all the accompanying essays, explaining the symbolism of each goddess. Caroline Wise is writing a guest article for it. Again, I don’t have a firm release date for this. Researching each goddess is taking me some time, (as we’re including some quite obscures ones), along with all the other projects I’m working on simultaneously.

It’s strange but I’m finding it most effective to spread my work out over my working week on these books. I’ll do a chapter of the Dehara, then work on one of the short stories, then write essays on a couple of goddesses. It might be an illusion, but I feel I’m making more progress this way.  Of course, with some books I’m having to wait on the work of others so can’t do much about that. This is good, though, because it means I can concentrate fully on the other books (and stories) and hopefully have them finished by the time I have enough material to put the anthologies together.

So that’s about it for current projects. If anyone would like to submit to ‘Para Spectral’ or ‘The Darkest Midnight in December’, please let me know and I can send details. Mail to editorial(at)Immanion-press(dot)com

 

2016 has been a productive year for me, with a lot of work going on behind the scenes for both Immanion Press and its non-fiction imprint, Megalithica Books. I’ve written quite a few short stories, released the ‘Dark in the Day’ weird fiction anthology (edited by Paul Houghton and me), as well as ‘Grimoire Dehara: Ulani’, (written by Taylor Ellwood and me). I have lots of plans for the future.

Yesterday was publication day for my new Wraeththu Mythos book, ‘Blood, the Phoenix and a Rose’. It’s also having a simultaneous release in e-book. The latter will be on sale at the end of the month in a Kindle promotion. This book, a trilogy of connected novellas, began life as a collection of all the Wraeththu stories I’d begun over the years and had never finished. However, it changed course almost immediately as, once I began work upon the first story ‘Song of the Cannibals’, I knew I had something bigger than a short on my hands. It became a layered tale that folds back on itself, a narrative delivered by three different characters. While each story focuses on a different part of their shared history, there are some overlaps, which are subject to personal interpretation on the part of the narrator. That kind of thing really interests me.

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The story begins around 20 years after the fall of Fulminir, the stronghold of the Varr leader, Ponclast. I’ve always been intrigued by that dark fortress and what happened there. Part of its history I didn’t know myself until recently, when it opened its doors to me in a creative sense. When, as a young author, I first wrote about the Varrs, I wanted to ensure they appeared brutal, almost unharish, and was extremely heavy-handed with certain details of that, as I didn’t have the experience and skill to make it chilling in a more subtle way. Wendy Darling, my editor, spoke to me recently about Ponclast’s unspeakable murder of his son Gahrazel, in ‘The Bewitchments of Love and Hate’ and how it related to the new work. The repulsiveness of the method Ponclast employed is almost worthy of ‘Game of Thrones’ for nauseating ghastliness. Looking back, I wouldn’t write the scene in precisely that way now. It closed certain doors upon that aspect of the mythos and its characters. Then I realised that ‘Bewitchments’ was told from the character Swift’s perspective – and first person narrators can be unreliable – plus the fact that he learned of Gahrazel’s death in a vision. I haven’t challenged what Swift reported; it’s simply not commented upon, not least because the characters in the new book wouldn’t have access to that information.  Some of the original narrative may be true, some of it not. Perhaps all true or all untrue. Or else even Gahrazel’s perception of his death – or his ghost’s perception – is skewed. I’ll leave it open for now.

There is one particular, distressing scene in ‘Blood, the Phoenix and a Rose’ that when told from two perspectives offer a different story. Both, in fact, are true, but subject to personal filtering. Fascinating stuff to write about.

When I first came up with the character of Ponclast, he was a rather one-dimensional, ouana-prevalent baddie, but as time has gone on, and through different novels and stories, he’s become a more rounded individual. Not a kind and fluffy type by any means, but not a stereotypical evil overlord either. His origin story, ‘Pro Lucror’, which appeared in the Mythos anthology ‘Paragenesis’, provides some insight into why and how he turned out the way he did. In ‘Shades of Time and Memory’ and ‘The Ghosts of Blood and Innocence’, from the second Wraeththu trilogy, he changes considerably, and perhaps goes part way to a kind of redemption. My colleague, Taylor Ellwood, who works with me on the Deharan magic system, felt that Ponclast should be part of the second book in the ‘Grimoire Dehara’ series. His complex character takes the role of an underworld deity in the system. I’ve come to realise that Ponclast has captivated quite a lot of people over the years, who are interested in his character development. Quite an achievement for a har who was initially supposed to be little more than a bit part player. ‘Grimoire Dehara: Ulani’ came out earlier this year. As well as adding depth and detail to Ponclast’s character, it also includes other mythos-expanding aspects that may be of interest to readers of the Wraeththu books, as well as practitioners of magic.

Now for next year’s plans… Some of them are at the developmental stage, when they might or might not happen, so I can’t give too many details. But I can mention the ‘Visionary Tongue’ anthology I’ll be compiling, which has been commissioned by Ian Whates for his NewCon Press, and is earmarked for an autumn release next year, to coincide with Fantasycon. ‘Visionary Tongue’ was a magazine edited by Louise Coquio and me about 20 years ago. Writers who went on to be quite famous names contributed stories to it, such as Liz Williams, Justina Robson and Tim Lebbon. After issue 16, Louise and I handed the caretaking of the magazine to Jamie Spracklen, as we no longer had the time to devote to it, nor the personnel to help us. Jamie has produced about 10 more issues since and is helping me, along with one of his editors, Donna Bond, to compile the anthology. I’ll be getting in touch with writers over the coming couple of months. Some I’ve already contacted and have received permission for reprints.

Taylor and I will be working on ‘Grimoire Dehara: Nahir Nuri’, which we intend to publish around autumn time too. This will appear, like the second volume, in a limited edition hardback, a paperback and e-book. As with the other books, this expands upon the pop culture magic system based on the Wraeththu Mythos.

I will begin work on a new novel, or series of stories, but I’ve yet to decide exactly what. There is also another non-fiction title I want to write. More details in the New Year when things are more certain.

Thank you to everyone who’s supported my work over the past year. I hope those of you who read ‘Blood, the Phoenix and a Rose’ will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Here’s to exciting new projects for next year! May all of you have an exceptional Yuletide.

 

 

 

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.