Tag Archives: alchemy press

Urban Mythic 2: Sarah Ash interviewed

Sarah AshAuthor of “La Vouivre” in Urban Mythic 2, Sarah Ash answers a few questions!

Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

I love stories. When I was a child, I used to scribble after ‘lights out’ by the street lamp outside my window, filling little notebooks with barely legible scrawl in different coloured crayons. Growing up in Bath, I used to wonder about all the lives lived out from pre-Roman times till the present day and how what happened back then gradually became transmuted into local legend as it was told and re-told through the ages. Which is why what I like to explore in my own writing what would happen, for example, if a rational, enlightened eighteenth century soldier-prince encountered real, raw magic when waging war on the neighbouring country (The Tears of Artamon). I was trained as a musician and taught music for many years and my stories frequently feature musicians struggling with their craft. Kaito, the main protagonist of The Flood Dragon’s Sacrifice plays the flute – and an old song of his clan takes on a special significance as the story develops.

What is at the root of your Urban Mythic story?

A summer holiday in the Jura a few years ago brought us into Courbet country. Frustratingly, the new Courbet museum in Ornans was still being finished then, but we were able to visit a few of the places he depicted in his paintings. It’s atmospheric, tranquil, unspoilt countryside where time seems to stand still. As for La Vouivre, this isn’t her first appearance in my writing! I’m still working on a longer novel in which she is one of the protagonists … but set several hundred years earlier.

What attracts you to anime and manga, and have you ever considered writing in this form?

How long have you got? Well, first of all, there’s a distinctive attitude to story-telling and character interaction that I don’t find in other graphic novels or Western animation. For example: in a shounen (boys’) manga or anime like Naruto, characters get hurt and die, even when they have supernatural powers. It might be fantasy (with ninjas) but it feels real. You won’t find that kind of emotional realism in the animated shows churned out (mostly) by the US for YA audiences – and it’s why you won’t find much anime (unless it’s been heavily sanitised) on kids’ TV in the UK.

Secondly, I love the way that certain mangaka-like CLAMP (the celebrated four women team) weave Japanese mythology into their work; xxxHolic is still one of my favourite manga, with gorgeous Art Nouveau-style graphics and twisted tales that stretch the imagination of the reader.

Thirdly, a great deal of care and attention goes into the soundtracks for anime series; the work of gifted composers such as Yoko Kanno, Kenji Kawai, and Yuki Kajiura add so much to the whole experience with their imaginative and memorable scores.

Lastly, I’d really love to write in this form if a mangaka expressed interested in working with me (hint, hint…). And I’d be insanely happy if a Japanese publisher ever offered to publish any of my novels and – a frequent bonus in Japanese light novels – add illustrations.

If you could have dinner with any writer in your field (past or present) who would it be and why?

Alexandre Dumas the elder would make a wonderful dinner companion; given his colourful life and appreciation of all things gastronomique – he might even prepare some of the dishes himself!

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? 

It’s not so much a single subject as when unexpected events in ‘real life’ suddenly – and horribly – come close to a significant episode in the story that I’m working on (tidal wave/tsunami being a recent case in point) I find it almost impossible to continue.

Room 101 time: what one genre cliché would you get rid of?

The teenage kick-ass heroine who is a ruthless assassin but also a brilliant and sensitive musician, looks good in a silk gown on the dance floor at the palace ball (make up Mary Sue-style shopping list of character assets as desired…). First person present tense with these young ladies is also becoming a little stale. (Was that two clichés?)

What are you up to next?

I’ve recently brought out my first original e-book, The Flood Dragon’s Sacrifice which is the first of a two-part Japanese fantasy, so I’m (desperately) trying to finish the second part. I’m also working on the sequel to Scent of Lilies a historical ghost story set in the Byzantine empire

Urban Mythic 2: James Brogden interviewed

BrogdenAuthorPicAuthor of “How to Get Ahead in Avatising” in Urban Mythic 2, James Brogden answers a few questions!

Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

I love writing stories because I’m basically a control freak and for a short time I get to be god of my own little fantasy world. I also teach English, and my students will probably tell you much the same thing. I’m a naturalised Brummie, born in the north and raised in Australia. I loathe all forms of competitive sport, which is why I was deported from Oz, though I do like to get out into the mountains whenever I can to lose my head in something vast. When I moved to the UK as a teenager I very quickly fell in love with the weight of history which is layered into the landscape of the British Isles, though I wonder how much of that comes from having made Tolkien and Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising sequence part of my own internal landscape as a child. My grandmother, who lived back in the UK, made sure to send me and my brothers books which she considered to be quintessentially English; so as well as reading Aussie kids’ classics like The Magic Pudding, I grew up with Billy Bunter, Just William, and Biggles. When I moved here, it all sort of clicked, and it’s kept on clicking ever since.

What is at the root of your Urban Mythic story?

The idea of Jungian mythological archetypes in the collective unconscious – the psychological roots of all our myths – with a bit of tweaking to suggest that the archetypes aren’t just passive parts of our psyches which we tap into occasionally, but that they actively want to be incarnated as living human beings to act out their mythological life stories. And, of course, the inevitable political and media corruption of all this. Disclosure warning here: it’s a bit of a spin-off from my latest novel, Tourmaline, and the sequel which I’ve just finished, called The Realt.

Which of your previous works are you most proud of, and are there any that you would like to forget about?

I’m most proud of my story ‘If Street’, in the previous Urban Mythic collection. I wrote it on a long plane flight back from my brother’s wedding in New Zealand – which was the first time all of my immediate family had been together for about 10 years – and so it’s got a lot of my own feelings about the ambivalence of looking back on your life and wondering about the ‘road less travelled’, which I think crystallised reasonably well. I’m also a huge fan of Robert Holdstock, and I wanted to write something which riffed on the idea of the two brothers at the start of Mythago Wood. That weight of history thing again, and what happens when it falls on a person rather than a place.

If you could kill off any character from any other book, who would you choose and how would they die?

Maxim DeWinter, from Rebecca. His second wife should have learned something from the tale of his first wife, channelled some of her fiery spirit, grown a spine and offed him once she realised what a misogynistic bastard he was. Ideally, this would have been by pushing him out of an upstairs window so that he died surrounded by Rebecca’s rhododendrons, then dragged him into the house before Mrs Danvers set fire to it, disposing of the body.

Tell us about Project Tezlar – what’s it all about, and will you be doing any similar projects?

Project Tezlar happened because I wanted to build something physical based on a thing I’d written about (plus maybe a bit of work avoidance). It’s a model of a tezlar gun – a weapon used by some of my characters in Tourmaline to exorcise dreamers from our world who pop up in theirs and cause mayhem. It’s basically a big static electricity zap gun. I bought a nerf pistol from my local toy shop, tricked it out steampunk-style with a brass-and-copper paintjob and stuck all kinds of random cogs and switches all over it, the crowning glory being a plasma ball I put in which lights up when you pull the trigger. I also built a battery pack and had a leather holster custom made for it. If you want to see it, go to my blog. The next project is to make a PV detector to accompany it – but if you want to know what one of those is you’re just going to have to read Tourmaline.

Room 101 time: what one genre cliché would you get rid of?

Vampire romance love triangles. Can we please put to rest once and for all the ridiculous notion that to these creatures we are anything other than food?

What are you up to next? (Published works/conventions/random fun stuff!)

I’m putting the finishing touches to The Realt, which will hopefully be with Snowbooks soon after Urban Mythic 2 comes out. Assuming that [a] they like it, and [b] the timing all works out I’ll be launching it next summer at London Film and Comic Con 2015. The project after that is going to be more out-and-out supernatural; kind of a homage to Picnic At Hanging Rock, about a group of school kids on a geography field trip who disappear and end up somewhere … strange. Until then it’s back to the day job.

Urban Mythic 2: Marion Pitman interviewed

dscf8797 (3)Author of “The Cupboard of Winds” in Urban Mythic 2, Marion Pitman answers a few questions!

What is at the root of your Urban Mythic story?

There was a terrific writer called Paul Jennings, who had a column in The Observer from 1949 to the 1960s. The columns were collected into books, which is where I discovered them as a child. They are very clever, and very funny, but also often rather mystical. In one piece he writes about modern local deities, and mentions a cupboard from which draughts blow, and speculates that if you opened the door suddenly you’d see all the winds sitting inside. So I stole the idea and expanded it. I tried various ways of doing it until it finally came out like this.

How would you describe the kinds of stories you usually write and does this Urban Mythic story depart from that?

Well I write quite a lot of ghost stories, but I also write some fantasy and SF, and odd bits in other genres, sometimes humorous, so I’m not sure there’s any usual to depart from, really.

What are you currently reading?

China Miéville’s Railsea, Zoë Marriott’s The Night Itselfboth brilliant – and Stella Gibbons’ Conference at Cold Comfort Farm – not a patch on the first book but still amusing.

If you could have dinner with any writer in your field (past or present) who would it be and why?

As to the present, too many to choose from, but from the past, I think I’d narrow it down to G.K. Chesterton or Charles Williams. GKC should be very good company, but I think I’d take Williams – his books are fascinating, take a bit of effort but are well worth it; he sounds an interesting person, and I don’t know much about him. And there would always be the possibility of some gossip about the other Inklings!

Room 101 time: what one genre cliché would you get rid of?

Difficult. I rather wish downbeat endings weren’t quite so much de rigueur. I’m old fashioned, I like the decent people either to triumph or to be avenged. I feel down if the villains don’t get their come-uppance.

What are you up to next?

Publishing wise, got a story due out next year in The Mammoth Book of Tales from the Vatican Vaults from Constable and Robinson, and if all goes well, next year also I should have a collection coming out from Alchemy Press. And hopefully watch some cricket before the season ends.

Urban Mythic 2: K T Davies Interviewed

urban-mythic-2-final-coverAuthor of “For the Memory of Jane” in Urban Mythic 2, K.T. Davies answers a few questions!

Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

My high school English teacher, Mr Tempest, told me that I wanted to be a writer before I realised I wanted to be a writer. He also told me that I wrote like James Joyce which I think had more to do with my inability to punctuate rather than content. I was ‘home schooled’ for a goodly chunk of my early childhood which amounted to running wild, exploring derelict buildings and feeding cake to feral cats. I think my, somewhat unconventional, childhood influenced my writing in many ways.

What is at the root of your Urban Mythic story?

Bradford has a long and grim and bloody history that really does include Vikings. For this story I pillaged anecdotes that I heard growing up. I think the ancestors would approve.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

It was from Robin Hobb at a reading/signing she did in Huddersfield (I think), many moons ago. My eldest child was a toddler and I was struggling to square the life/writing circle. In short and to paraphrase, it was along the lines of ‘don’t sweat the housework, write’.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing, and does it come in useful for your stories?

I like to paint and read and play games, which does indeed come in useful but then I find that everything does. I’m a bit of a magpie and file everything interesting away for later use.

How did you get into a knife fight and has the experience slipped into your fiction?

It’s not as exciting as it sounds but yes, a practical knowledge of arms and armour does help when writing ye olde fight scenes. I used to re-enact and had just arrived on site for a weekend of 17th century frolics when a friend and I tried out some new stabbers. The main-gauche (parrying dagger) I was using had rather flamboyant and somewhat pointless, as it turns out, quillons. I thought I’d caught my sparring partner’s blade on said quillons and stepped in, ready to administer the coup de grace.

Or so I thought.

His blade slipped free, and sheathed itself in my thigh. Voila! I won a scar, a ruined pair of jogging bottoms, and an anecdote.

Room 101 time: what one genre cliché would you get rid of?

I’d just consign lazy writing to room 101.

What are you up to next?

By the time this is posted I’d participated on some panels about all things nerdy at Loncon 3, the World SF Convention. I then attended FantasyCon in York where two of my favourite publishers were up for awards and where Urban Mythic 2 and my new novel Breed were both launched.

I’m currently trying to finish Breed 2 and the follow up to my first novel (The Red Knight), which is called The Golden Hart. I’m also editing an edition of the BSFA Focus magazine which will be about writing for computer games and comics, two of my other loves. I’ve also got another short story coming out later this year in Fox Spirit’s Mouse and Minotaur anthology.

Find out more about K.T Davies on her website here!

Urban Mythic 2: Pauline E Dungate Interviewed

pauline-morgan-01Author of “Trapped in the Web” in Urban Mythic 2, Pauline E. Dungate answers a few questions!

Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

I’ve always loved reading. We were introduced to the local library as soon as we were old enough to look after a book properly. At school a group of us used to make up stories and it went on from there. The only fiction I’ve had published are short stories but like most writers there are several novels in the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet. I also write poetry and lots of reviews (both under the name of Pauline Morgan.)

What is at the root of your Urban Mythic story?

Birmingham has such a diversity of people living in it. Most cultures have their own myths. I like the idea that the basis for them has a root in reality and just as you can’t totally leave your heritage behind when you migrate so why should the myth figures stay behind. For those who don’t know Birmingham, the Number 11 bus route circles the city. You can get trapped in circles. There are also elements in the story which relate to things others have told me, but they are there for colour.

You’ve travelled extensively – do you have any interesting stories from your travels? What locations are do you find particularly inspiring?

Until the last few years, travelling had to be confined to school holidays (I was a teacher) but without that restraint the opportunity to go to far off places has increased. Mostly, we go with a company running nature orientated tours but that has meant finding the wild areas in places such as Ecuador, Papua New Guinea and Armenia. They are likely to turn up in stories or poems.

What’s the most important thing you have learned about writing?

Keep trying. Not every editor likes what you do but eventually you’ll find one who likes some of it.

What aspects of writing to do you find the most tricky?

Beginnings and endings. I had to start this story three times before it felt right. At the end there is always a temptation to go on after the story has finished. Sometimes it takes a good editor to say stop.

Room 101 time: what one genre cliché would you get rid of?

All aliens look humanoid and speak English, sorry American. I’m sure some are fluent Chinese speakers.

What are you up to next?

Rest of the year is pretty busy – three cons, lots of books to review, stories to write, a serious Milford crit session before heading to the Greater Antilles (Caribbean) for three weeks in December.

Urban Mythic 2: Lou Morgan Interviewed

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Author of “Death and the Weaver” in Urban Mythic 2, Lou Morgan answers a few questions for us!

Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

I’m a novelist and short story writer, and I bounce infuriatingly between any kind of genre that takes my fancy. So far, that’s urban fantasy and horror for both adult and teen readers, because at the end of the day, I just like telling stories.

My first novel, Blood and Feathers, was an urban fantasy involving hellmouths and sarcastic angels with drinking problems, handguns and secrets, and which was nominated for British Fantasy Awards in both the best newcomer and best fantasy novel categories. The sequel, Blood and Feathers: Rebellion, picks up the story, and has also been nominated in the best fantasy novel category for this year’s BFAs. I’ve also written short stories for people like PS Publishing, Jurassic, Fox Spirit and Solaris – and Alchemy Press, of course.

And I have two cats, because that’s the law if you write fantasy.

What is at the root of your Urban Mythic story?

The idea behind “Death and the Weaver” came from Breton folklore. I spent a lot of time in Brittany growing up, and still go back most summers, so I know the stories pretty well. My favourite was always the Ankou,  a skeletal Grim Reaper figure whose role was to collect the souls of the dead from each parish. On the face of it, it doesn’t sound that unusual, but the interesting thing about the Ankou is that he is always one of the parishioners himself: the soul of the last person to die in the year serves as the Ankou for a year and is then replaced. I love the idea that this could (and probably would) mean it was someone you knew – and I started to wonder how that would change your relationship with death.

Bringing the Ankou up to date was a lot of fun. I read as many versions of the legend as I could, which stretched my French about as far as it could go! In most of them, the Ankou is very tall and usually has long white hair and a head which constantly revolves (so no death escapes him). He carries a scythe with the blade pointing forward and rides a cart pulled by two horses – one fat and one thin. Not all of these would work in a modern setting … but the C in a Citroen 2CV originally referred to “chevaux” (horses), so…

You’re known for having soundtracks for your work – did “Death and the Weaver” have a soundtrack or particular song?

Funnily enough, it did! Along with the Breton folklore, I love Breton music and I have quite a lot of it. I started out having some of the more traditional songs playing in the background, but even modern Breton music still has strong folk roots so there’re lots of bagpipes and accordions in there. I ended up with two songs pretty much on a loop, both by Anthony Chaplain. One was “Marie de la Dondaine” (click here) and the other was “Bzh” – basically a mash-up of several different traditional songs. The title is the abbreviation for the Breton name for Brittany: Breizh. Those two songs between them probably came to feel like a part of the story.

How has the transition between writing adult and YA fiction been? Is there anything you can do with your YA work that you couldn’t do with your adult work? Or vice versa?

I’ve probably been very lucky in that the kind of books I want to write hover around the border between YA and adult fiction. I’m always interested in the idea of identity and responsibility, which are two of the biggest themes in YA and still incredibly relevant beyond that. I mean, who gets to 18 and says, “Yes, that’s it. I know exactly who I am. This is me.”?

I love having the opportunity and freedom to work in both fields and I hope I don’t treat them that differently (although, in fairness, I try to swear a bit less in YA!). The one big change I’ve found, though, is that I feel there have to be more consequences in YA. Not in a judge-y, lecture-y sort of way, but the Blood and Feathers books have, for instance, a fair amount of casual violence in them … and I don’t think I’d be comfortable writing that into a YA.

Room 101 time: what one genre cliché would you get rid of?

Every genre comes with its own set of clichés; they’re what help us identify them as a particular genre, aren’t they? I think I’d rather get rid of the idea that there’s “literary” fiction and “genre” fiction and never the twain shall meet. There’s a fair amount of snobbery in either direction, and that utterly infuriates me. There are as many different stories in the world as there are ideas and not all of them will appeal to everyone … and that’s OK.

What inspired you to run a marathon next year and where can people go to sponsor you?

If only it were a full marathon! I’m actually running a half-marathon (although that’s still 13 miles which is enough to make me weep at the moment): the Bath Half, in March 2015. I’ve thought about it for a couple of years now, and never managed to talk myself into it, but I did one many years ago (the Moonwalk, which takes place at night through central London) and I loved the challenge. I am, clearly, a glutton for punishment.

As part of that, I’m hoping to raise some sponsorship money for Kids Company, who operate centres in both London and Bristol to provide practical, emotional and educational support to vulnerable inner-city children. You can find out a little more about them on their website.

Their work is amazing and incredibly worthwhile, with the potential to make an enormous difference to so many children’s lives, but they need at least £13.5 million a year to keep doing it. Even the tiniest donation helps towards that and is incredibly welcome, so if anyone would like to sponsor my months of running (which, believe me, is something you won’t hear me saying very often) to train through the winter, and for the race itself, you can find my sponsor page here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/runloumorgan

What are you up to next?

I have a couple of stories I’m really excited about which should be surfacing in the near future. Besides “Death and the Weaver”, there’s a story about Oliver Cromwell’s other head which will appear in Fox Spirit’s Missing Monarchs issue of their Fox Pockets series, and I was thrilled to be asked to contribute to the third volume of the Zombie Apocalypse! anthologies. Zombies have never been my favourite monsters, so the chance to create one that interested me was too good to pass up.

The beginning of 2015 also sees the paperback release of Sleepless, my first YA book for Stripes Publishing as part of their Red Eye horror series, which follows a group of friends who take an unlicensed study drug they find on the internet. It’s all set around the Barbican and Smithfield meat market in central London, because ever since I lived there I knew I wanted to set a horror story there! And it’s probably not giving too much away to say that for it won’t end well for everyone…

For more information, check out loummorgan.wordpress.com or @LouMorgan

Urban Mythic 2: Cover, Launch, ToC

Darlings! Hello!  We have a launch date for the ever marvellous Urban Mythic 2!
We will be unleashing the Anthology of Awesome at Fantasycon in York, on Saturday 6th September at 2pm.  Hurrah!

Not only that, we have cover!  Well, prelim cover.  Slight changes may be made to the font-y bits, but, hey, look… pretty picture from Edward Miller!UM2 prelm coverAnd! Final order of contents!

The Mermaid  – Tanith Lee
For the Memory of Jane  – K T Davies
Where the Brass Band Plays  – Adrian Tchaikovsky
How to Get  Ahead in Avatising –  James Brogden
 La Vouivre –  Sarah Ash
Trapped in the Web – Pauline E Dungate
 The West Dulwich Horror  – Carl Barker
The Cupboard of Winds  – Marion Pitman
Blood*uckers –  Chico Kidd
High School Mythical: Asgard –  Christine Morgan
Paradise Walk  – Andrew Coulthard
Death and the Weaver – Lou Morgan

Are you excited? I’m excited! 😉

Urban Mythic Miscellany

Oh what news we have for you my lovelies!

UM cover A 008 dFirst, Urban Mythic #1 was kinda sorta nominated in the British Fantasy Awards.  Oh yes! Our very own Adrian Tchaikovsky made the Best Short Fiction short list with his story ‘Family Business’.  Massive congrats to Adrian!

Our publisher overlords at Alchemy Press also made the short list for Best Small Press and Best Non Fiction (with Doors to Elsewhere by Mike Barrett); and with our loyal Fox Spirit editor hats on, we’re also rather pleased that Fox Spirit Books also made the shortlists in Best Small Press, and Best Anthology (with Tales of Eve edited by Mhairi Simpson).  So epic glee all round!  (Not least because so many women made the BFA short lists this year as well. Hurrah!)

Now! Urban Mythic #2 news!
Yes, my darlings, we have contents!  In alphabetical order, with proper order to follow anon, here be our fabulous people…

Sarah Ash – La Vouivre
James Brogden – How to Get Ahead in Avatising
Carl Barker – The West Dulwich Horror
Andrew Coulthard – Paradise Walk
K T Davies – For the Memory of Jane
Pauline E Dungate – Trapped in the Web
Chico Kidd – Blood*uckers
Tanith Lee – The Mermaid
Christine Morgan – High School Mythical:Asgard
Lou Morgan – Death and the Weaver
Marion Pitman – The Cupboard of Winds
Adrian Tchaikovsky – Where the Brass Band Plays

And! There will be a cover by Les Edwards – to be revealed at a later date.

Aaaaaalllll the awesome!

Urban Mythic 2 Call for Submissions

So, yes then, we’re doing Urban Mythic #2!  Can I get a woohoo?  (Woohoo!)

Official Blurb!

We are seeking contemporary tales with all the magic and wonder of myth and legend, blending modern life with the traditions of folklore from around the world. Whether lurking in dark alleys or brash shopping malls, ensconced in upscale riverside penthouse lofts or humble suburban semis, we want to see the fantastic woven into the everyday. We want fiction that entertains but also pushes beyond the usual urban fantasy boundaries – action, folk tales re-imagined, mythic creatures adapting to the urban environment – be it noir, humour, dark, literary or light, there must be a recognisable mythic thread. Fully realised characters are a must and solid plots extremely desirable.

We don’t want: secondary worlds, steampunk, SF, zombies, human sacrifice, magic help-lines, paranormal romance love-triangles, erotica, religion, gore, and absolutely no poetry.

Electronic submissions only to Jan Edwards and Jenny Barber at tapboum@gmail.com. Send manuscript as an email attachment in standard manuscript format (in RTF/doc/docx). Both the email subject line and the manuscript file name must include: submissions – title – author’s name – word count (e.g., Submissions – My Great Story – Jane Doe – 5000 words). Full contact details must be included on the manuscript’s front/first page as well as in the email. Submission window closes 30 April 2014. No acceptances/rejections will be made until after this date.

We are seeking original fiction between 3,000 and 8,000 words. Payment is £10.00 for the first 5,000 words, then 0.2p per word on publication, plus a copy of the book. Payment is made via PayPal or UK cheque (overseas’ contributors must have a PayPal account).

The Alchemy Press intends to launch this book at FantasyCon in September 2014.

-x-
Right, official stuff having been said, here’s the extra editor Jen bit that I said last year, and mean doubly this year.

Do not assume the guidelines don’t apply to you. Seriously. The wordcount is firm (I repeat, the wordcount is FIRM.  Don’t ask, just rewrite to fit.) and we’re really serious about those things we don’t want to see because, honestly, some of them don’t apply to the theme, and some of them are things we’ve seen so many times in the slushpile our brains automatically shut down as soon as we see a story with them in.

So – to repeat, this is not an anthology for your poetry, secondary worlds, steampunk, SF, zombies, paranormal romance or erotica. We don’t want to see human sacrifice, magic help-lines, heaven/hell as a corporation, mythic-beastie love triangles or relentless gore.

Also – do not send us fan fiction with the serial numbers filed off, main characters who spend the entire story in denial of the supernatural elements around them, anything remotely resembling a mid-life crisis, someone in the midst of writer’s block (or other artist’s block), anything with an obvious twist or dream endings (they rarely work). In fact, check out the Strange Horizons page on what they see too often, that pretty much covers a lot of the stuff that makes us cringe too!

And avoid anything vaguely epistolary. Due to excessive experience in multiple slushpiles, I can’t read any story that’s set out as letters/emails/diary entries/tweets etc.

Don’t go overboard with the covering email – keep it short and to the point. If you use Word, don’t forget to turn off your track changes and accept all changes before you send the doc, because it is very distracting when it all shows up. 🙂

Don’t waste your first page. Open strong, don’t waffle, don’t smack us in the face with an epic infodump on your story’s version of the world or the complete history of your protagonist. We can work these things out as we read. Give us an interesting character and situation to make us keep reading.

Diversity is good.  No, scratch that. Diversity is awesome.  We’re actively encouraging diversity in all elements of the anthology and are particularly interested in settings and cultures not traditionally covered in urban fantasy – just make sure they’re well researched and not exoticised. Picking a location just because it looks shiny is a no-no – give us depth and a respectful understanding of the local culture and folklore. Likewise with your choice of protagonist – we’re very open to diverse perspectives and hearing the stories of people who are traditionally underrepresented in urban fantasy.  See the Resources page for links to useful articles on avoiding cultural appropriation etc.

I like humour and satire and generally fun stories. A bit of subtle social commentary never goes amiss so long as it doesn’t get overbearing or preachy. I like stories that are fast and to the point, with plenty of plot-related action. I like things that introduce new concepts and that mash up genres. I also like stories that are slower and create an atmosphere, things with a decent plot that are also mood pieces. I’ve a soft spot for a gorgeously turned phrase, though watch out that it doesn’t go purple.

Mainly it’s all about the characters. I can forgive a lot in a story, but if the characters are thin or cliche or generally unpleasant assholes with no story logic behind their personality, then I lose interest. I have very low tolerance for obsessively racist/sexist/homophobic characters, even if they meet a grisly end. I like characters whose choices move the plot along, characters who have a strong voice and obvious personality. I prefer characters with a bit of experience in their profession and/or with the mythic element of the story, as I’ve read far too many stories where a newbie is just discovering the weird things and spends the whole story having everything explained to them.

But other than that, we’re flexible.  😉

The 2013 Round Up Post

… because why not.  😉

Sooo (as all great blog posts are wont to start…) 2013 then.  That was a year.  Quite a good one for me actually.

I had two short stories published in two very excellent Fox Spirit anthologies:
Past Lives in Piracy – this one being a spin off of the mermaid-pirate stories I keep writing, though it’s more about the human pirate that’s hunting them and how that is a very bad idea…

To Fox Tor Mire in Shapeshifters – this one being a Maddy Cain story where the sins of the mother come back to bite the daughter on the ass… (one day I will finish a novel length urban fantasy thing with my beloved fox-mage trickster girl, until then, there will be many shorts…)

Speaking of – there’s another Maddy Cain story due out at some point from Elektrik Milk Bath Press in their Urban Fantasy anthology – no idea when though, probably sometime in late 2014.

With my editor hat on (it has sparkles and feathers and room for spare red pens) the big one was The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic which I’m well chuffed about. I always have a lot of fun co-editing with Jan Edwards, and Urban Mythic managed to get a fantastic line up and launched quite well too.

In fact, so well did it go, that we’re doing Urban Mythic 2 in 2014!  Full guidelines will be up shortly for that!

Oh, and, Alchemy did a quickie interview with us about the anthology here.

And, not only that, but we’ll also be doing a rather wicked little anthology with Fox Spirit Books towards the end of the year.  More news on that lovely thing another time…

Convention wise, there was, of course, WFC.  Which was all work.  And as mentioned previously, 2014 is going to be convention play year – I’m  definitely going to Nine Worlds Geekfest and Fantasycon (unless next-cousin-to-be-married picks that weekend for the festivities), and am hoping to get to BristolCon and EdgeLit, depending on time and finances.

With my academic hat on (extra pockets for emergency chocolate) I started my penultimate module for the history degree – Myth in the Greek and Roman worlds – which continues to be an awesome course.  Oh, and there’s also the book keeping course thingy I’m doing alongside it as the family business keeps inventing new ways to challenge me and generally drive me insane and someone needs to understand the all new complicated numbers stuff…

Cool fiction read I’ll cover in another post, because the short fiction list will probably go on a bit… and according to Goodreads I read 104 books last year.  ::blinks::

Other than that, there was little sister’s wedding, of which I’m just about over the trauma of wearing a bridesmaid dress, though the psychological scars from being trapped with that many relatives in one go will likely last a while longer…  ;-P