hello burnout my old friend

I haven’t blogged in a while and the reason for that is because I am too busy. So, so busy. Soul-crushingly busy. It’s my own fault. I took on way too many commitments in a short space of time and now I am Suffering.

It will, I hope, be worth it in the end. But it’s a hard-learned lesson: I need to slow down. More than that, I need to learn to say no. This is hard for me as a by-default people pleaser, but also as someone who legitimately fears that opportunities will dry up if I turn too many of them down. I guess most creatives have this fear, and there’s a constant battle to keep producing art, to stay relevant. It’s hard to balance with all the other stuff, like ‘the day job’, ‘everyday life’ and so on. So for me, a person with a full-time job (and a long commute), a part-time Master’s to study for, plus a fiction writing career AND a wrestling journalism gig to cram in…it gets a bit exhausting after a while. My husband is starting to wonder if I actually exist or whether he imagined me.

So. Once this mountain of work is taken care of, I need to pencil in time to do absolutely nothing. My dissertation is almost upon me, so the window will be very small. And frankly I’m very bad at doing nothing. I thrive when I’m busy. I always want to be doing something, anything, preferably something with an end result that I can be satisfied with. Perhaps practising relaxation and laziness will be good for me. Perhaps it’ll drive me insane. Place your bets.

Apropos of nothing, this January marked three years since we lost David Bowie. Here is one of my very favourite of his songs, featuring the equally wonderful Maynard James Keenan, and remixed by former Nine Inch Nails keyboardist Danny Lohner – a wonderful melting pot of some of my favourite bands:

“Sing Your Sadness Deep” cover reveal

One thing everyone knows about Undertow Publications is that they make gorgeous books. From Priya Sharma’s ‘All The Fabulous Beasts‘ to Mike O’Driscoll’s ‘The Dream Operator‘, Simon Strantzas’ ‘Nothing is Everything‘ to Georgina Bruce’s upcoming debut collection ‘This House of Wounds‘, Undertow’s books are never less than stunning, and immense care is taken to create books which are works of art, both outside and in. So I’m very pleased to be able to show you the cover to my own debut short story collection, due in September 2019:

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The art is by Stephen Mackey, whose work is absolutely sublime, and the cover design by Vince Haig – I’ve always harboured a quiet ambition to have a Vince Haig design accompany one of my stories, so as you can imagine I’m very pleased about this! Also, as anyone who knows me will know, I adore foxes, so a creepy fox-woman feels very ‘on brand’ for me.

I’m deeply grateful to the Undertow team and Vince Haig for this amazing cover, and I’m really excited to share the collection with you all in 2019!

It’s Cliffmas Time

’tis the season, and my good friend Holly has put together a series of podcast episodes exploring popular Christmas songs, and just how their popularity has endured over the years. So if you’d like to hear the story of how Cliff Richard became an unlikely medical laboratory icon, check out my appearence on Holly’s podcast and all will be revealed.

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I’ve sinced moved on from lab technician life, but I’ll always think fondly of the decommissioned fume cupboard grotto at this time of year. Merry Cliffmas indeed.

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Sing Your Sadness Deep

Rounding off an incredibly exciting year for me is the news that my debut short story collection has been picked up by the wonderful Undertow Publications, and will be published in autumn 2019. It’s titled “Sing Your Sadness Deep” and I hope you will enjoy it.

An Undertow collection has been a dream of mine for a long time. My very first short story, ‘Red Rabbit’, was published by Undertow in ‘Shadows and Tall Trees #4’; they also published my Shirley Jackson award-nominated short story ‘Sun Dogs’ in ‘Shadows and Tall Trees #5’, so to have my first collection published by them is something really special. Anyone familiar with Undertow will know they produce absolutely stunning books, and I can’t wait to share mine with you all.

(As an aside, Undertow are also publishing British Fantasy Award-winning author Georgina Bruce’s debut collection next year, and you should be very excited about that – I know I am. It’s going to be something very, very special.)

Thank you, Laika

 

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I think there is probably a limit to the number of times I’m permitted to mention That Thing That Happened before I become incredibly annoying, so let me get it out of the way: I only went and won a bloody British Fantasy Award, didn’t I?

The award-winning (!?) story in question is “Looking for Laika”, which was published in Interzone #273 and reprinted in Best of British Science Fiction 2017, and is a story close to my heart for all kinds of reasons, not least of which because it’s a kind of love letter to Laika, the Soviet space dog who was sent into space to die. I’m still astonished, honestly. I never expected that I might win, and I think I might have gone into some kind of shock when Adrian Tchaikovsky called my name out, because I don’t really remember anything that happened between that moment, and sitting back down. Apparently I made a speech, which sounds legit, although I didn’t write a speech because I didn’t think I’d win and I’m not entirely sure what I said (though I do recall yelling at Simon Bestwick to stand up…)

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photo courtesy of Donna Bond

Anyway. That’s a thing that happened. And ironically even though I’m a writer, I’m not sure how to express in words how much it means to me, a vaguely person-shaped ball of anxious, imposter-syndrome infused jelly who has been writing since I was old enough to pick up a pen. Except to say that it means that much more that I was in a room surrounded by dear friends, and respected colleagues, and of course, Mr Mauro. I might never fully be over it, but I promise I’ll stop going on about it, at the very least.

And then there was Fantasycon more generally, which may actually have been my favourite Fantasycon yet. Brilliantly sprawling hotel filled with weird, mismatching statues. Beautiful city. Tons of gorgeous books. And most important of all, wonderful company.

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photo courtesy of Jim McLeod

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photo courtesy of Tim Major

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Photo courtesy of Jess Jordan

I would do a full con report, but it wouldn’t do any of it justice, and I’d miss people out. So I’ll just say, to everyone I spent time with last weekend, whether we spoke briefly in passing or spent hours laughing, whether we shared a few drinks, or a signing table, or a reading slot, or near enough the whole damn weekend: you are all magical people and you make my world so much better by being in it. Thank you.

 

Where You Can Find Me At Fantasycon 2018 (if you want to)

Due to the often ad-hoc nature of Fantasycon I can’t guarantee I’ll be in any one place at any given time, except for those panels and so forth that I’ve signed up to do. So, I’ll list those below. But if you happen to be at Fantasycon and you’d like to say hello – please do! I tend towards the shy and slightly awkward, but I’m always happy to say hello to friends old and new!

My confirmed schedule is as follows:

Friday:

The Edward:

4.30pm: The Role of Class in Science Fiction and Fantasy with Kevin McVeigh (m), Rosanne Rabinowitz, Peter Sutton, Laura Mauro, Alison Baker

The Disraeli:

8pm: Horror Readings with Catriona Ward, Kit Power, Laura Mauro

 

Saturday:

The Gladstone:

2pm: The Genre Magazine with Laurel Sills (m), Terry Jackman, Cheryl Morgan, Laura Mauro, Sandra Unerman

The Jubilee Room:

4pm: Launch: Titan Press (for New Fears 2)

5pm: Launch: Newcon Press (for Best British Horror 2018)

And of course on Sunday I will be hanging about at the British Fantasy Awards ceremony trying not to die of anxiety,.
If you’re going – hope to see you there!

人間

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Very excited to announce that my short story ‘人間’ (‘Ningen’) is available to preorder as a standalone short for Kindle, published by the excellent Darker Worlds Publishing:

“Tragedy has befallen the Russian submarine, Ussuri. Without explanation, the vessel has been lost to the depths of the ocean, all hands aboard presumed lost. A team of deep-sea divers has been dispatched to investigate.

What they will discover is the infinity of depths and landscapes that become only more alien to them. And as the team themselves are stricken by yet another tragedy, they must face the increasing reality of the possibilities that lay below. That what awaits them could be the ultimate truth. Or madness. Or both.”

It’s out on 24th October, so if you like creepy stories about weird things in the deep, dark ocean, I’ve got just the story for you…