Fantasycon 2017 – my schedule

Not my entire schedule – I’m not that well organised (and my Fantasycon experience is that no matter how well organised you are, your plans WILL fall by the wayside!) But I am scheduled for a reading and a panel, and the details of those are below:

 

Saturday 11am – Sandringham Reading Room

Weird Fiction readings by myself, Tracy Fahey and Tim Major. I will be reading from my first published short story, “Red Rabbit”, which was published in Shadows & Tall Trees in  2012.

 

Saturday 7pm – FitzWilliam Panel Room 1

Women in Horror panel moderated by the venerable Theresa Derwin, and featuring Tracy Fahey and guest of honour Nancy Kilpatrick (and me!) It promises to be a very interesting panel indeed.

 

The rest of the time I will be wandering (with the lesser-spotted Mr. Mauro in tow) looking a bit lost, trying to put names to faces (which I am notoriously bad at) and hopefully nattering to lots of nice people. Please do say hello if you spot me!

Imposter Syndrome – this time in anthology form

20994355_10155702213864673_452374634596542038_n

Delighted to be a part of what promises to be a superb anthology with my short story ‘In The Marrow’. Published by Dark Minds Press and edited by James Everington & Dan Howarth, ‘Imposter Syndrome’ features stories about changelings, doppelgangers, Capgras delusion and pod-people.

I’ve had a sneak preview of two of the other stories in the anthology and if they’re anything to go by, it’s going to be very good indeed.

Adventures in University Study

As some may already be aware, I am finally embarking on a Master’s degree in October, ten years after graduating from Middlesex University’s ‘Creative and Media Writing’ degree programme. This time, I’ll be studying ‘Modern and Contemporary Literature’ at Birkbeck – a university which offers part-time study and evening classes, which is essential as I am (sadly!) in no position to give up my day job just yet.

Initially I was terrifically excited about the whole venture, and I still am, but a certain trepidation has begun to creep in. Can I do this? Am I capable? Will I be able to balance studying with a full-time job and living my life? More than that, though, my old friend impostor syndrome is making itself known, though not without basis. In preparation for studying at MA level, I’ve embarked upon a summer school programme offered by Birkbeck, designed to prepare the new intake of students for the intricacies of MA level study – the module covers research, seminar skills, academic English and so on.

I feel horribly out of my depth all of a sudden. Some of the academic essays contained within the programme seem almost impenetrable, both in their use of language and introduction of concepts I’ve never encountered before. I’ve always considered myself reasonably intelligent, but I’m struggling to understand quite a lot of what’s being presented to me – and I feel incredibly poorly-read in terms of schools of thought, literary conventions and concept, philosophies and even the texts themselves. (How have I got to be 31 years of age and never even attempted to read James Joyce’s Ulysses? Which, by the way, I am absolutely dreading.)

I know that this is probably normal, to some extent. I know that the entire point of me studying is to learn, and to broaden my mind; hopefully at the end of the course I will find all of this far easier to grasp, but for now I am trying to swallow down a quiet terror of failing horribly, or of being the only person on the course who doesn’t understand half of what’s being said. I’m worried I’ll study for two years, incur a vast debt on top of my existing vast debt, and emerge with barely a passing grade.

There’s also the matter of time, or lack thereof. The amount of reading and work entailed by the course almost guarantees that I will barely be able to read for fun, or to write stories. The fear here is twofold: how much will I miss out on? How can I support my fellow writers if I can’t read or purchase their work? How big will my TBR pile grow? And also, selfishly: if I don’t write for the next two years, will I fade into obscurity? Am I about to miss out on big opportunities? Will anyone even care if my stories disappear off the face of the earth? (And I assure you, I am not fishing for kind words here: I am aware of how daft my worries are, and how little any of this matters in any case.)

It’s not all bad. There is a horror module to be studied, which I am very excited about, and Angela Carter features prominently in the compulsory second-year module. Plus there are modules on postcolonial literature and feminist literature which look fascinating. I know this is a risk worth taking, but – sometimes, my brain is only ever able to focus on the word ‘risk’.

A Suggestion Of Ghosts

Esteemed horror author & editor Johnny Mains has unearthed some real treasures and compiled them into an anthology – the result is A Suggestion of Ghosts, a compilation of supernatural stories by female authors, previously published but never reprinted. The stories date from between 1826-1897, putting paid to the notion that women in horror is a relatively new phenomenon. I’m terrifically excited to discover some long-hidden gems.

The book is available for pre-order from Black Shuck Book.

Launching the Bones at Edge-Lit

I had anticipated that my first ever Edge-Lit would be a universally terrifying event. Besides the usual people-related nervousness (horror people are lovely, social anxiety less so) there was also the fact that I would be launching my novella. In person. In front of people. Cue visions of a mountain of unsold books, Eric Carmen’s ‘All By Myself’ playing in the background.

Fortunately I had underestimated the friendly, cosy atmosphere – a multitude of familiar faces and some new ones, all equally lovely, crammed into a small space filled with likeminded people. I’d brought my husband along too, and while he was a stranger to most of the people there it wasn’t long before he’d been welcomed into the fold as well.

The launch itself went better than I could have hoped for. It was a shared launch, both for my novella and for Mark West’s excellent collection ‘Things We Leave Behind’, both published by Dark Minds Press. (A word about Dark Minds Press: they are superb to work with, take excellent care of their authors and I would recommend them to anyone in a heartbeat.) Mark and I each read from each other’s work, which was Mark’s idea and in my opinion a stroke of genius – it’s much easier and less nervewracking to read from someone else’s story, which you are enthusiastic about, than it is to try to ‘sell’ your own!

19990274_10155695135379739_5772674625883680788_n

(l-r Mark West, Ross Warren, me)

We managed to sell all copies of both our books, which was obviously incredibly exciting. (Mark’s traditional post-con bloggage can be found here.)

Though there were some notable faces missing from the event (who I very much hope will be at Fantasycon, as they were missed!) it was a great day – the redshirts were on typically good form and everything ran like clockwork. I also got to see Joanne Harris, Alison Moore, Andrew Michael Hurley, Marie O’Regan and Catriona Ward talking about literary horror and the interplay between the two genres, which was a great panel – Joanne Harris in particular was persuasive and a joy to listen to.

As to the general classiness and excellency of the Dark Minds team – check out the special gift I got from Ross & Anthony. I’m glad my eternal love for Alex Krycek is so well known!

19984120_1935934286663915_6019134019370556961_o

Naming The Bones is here…

34997872._UY368_SS368_

My debut novella Naming The Bones is now available for purchase over on Amazon. Hooray!

As I mentioned a few days ago, Dark Minds Press are holding an official launch for Naming The Bones (alongside Mark West’s new collection Things We Leave Behind) at Edge-Lit on Saturday 15th July, and you can also pick the book up there. Mark & I will be there, and we can even put a squiggle in your copy if that’s your thing.

To whet your appetite, here’s an excerpt:

She frowned, turning a circle in search of a sign. Loman Street. Offices on the right, a long, windowless building on the left. Somewhere along the way she’d taken a
wrong turn.
The mosquito whine of a building alarm sounded from somewhere nearby. She heard the low thrum of traffic ahead; a main road, still busy even at this hour. It would be easy enough to get her bearings there. She set off, suddenly aware of how dark it was down here, how few of the street lights seemed to be functional. The sour smell of overripe binbags drifted in on the wind. The shrill sound of the alarm seemed to carry a long way in the quiet. Her shadow waxed and waned as she passed between the lights, limbs stretched, form distorted. Just like…
No. She shoved her hands in her pockets. It wasn’t real. I proved that.
Behind her, close by, something skittered out into the road.
A fox, she told herself, though she felt her pace quicken, her muscles tightening. Lots of foxes around here. The sound came again, closer still, and it seemed that there were eyes on her, tracking her frantic motion; her fingers closed around the keys in her pocket, slipping them between her knuckles.
Occipital, parietal…
She was tipsy and alone, and a woman walking solo on a dark, isolated street was an
easy target. Her screams would be lost beneath the wail of the alarm. Nobody would
come for her. Nobody would know she was here.
Frontal, temporal, sphenoid…
She sucked in a deep breath and peered over her shoulder.
Something long and thin retreated into the shadows.