Tag Archives: ancient wonders

Ancient Wonders: Peter Crowther

Today’s Ancient Wonders interviewee is the legendary Peter Crowther!

Tell us a little about yourself, and what you like to write? 

My real weakness in reading is horror and ghost stories and the kind of SF stories that are filled with awe and wonder … such as Bradbury, for example. Stephen King is the main man for me simply because of his characterisation. Sure, the stories are good — well, there’s an occasional so-so one but, with the sheer quality of his writing, you can pretty much forgive him anything — but it’s the depth of detail in his backgrounds as well as his foregrounds that puts the guy above anyone else writing today. And just to set my stall fully out, I’ve read several thousand books … with faves being the late Robert B Parker, early Updike, Richard Ford, all the classic SF and horror books (and I do mean all), stuff like Wodehouse, early pulps (Prather, Thompson, Goodis and so on), Fitzgerald and on and on and on. What do I like to write? Pretty much the same as what I like to read. I wrote a story called “Tomorrow Eyes” simply because I really wanted to write something Runyonesque, a story called “The Incredible Multiplicity of PhaedraLament” because I wanted to emulate Clarke’s White Hart, and so on. So I guess it’s the attraction of speaking in a specific voice that attracts me.

What inspired you to write “Gandalph Cohen and the Land at the End of the Working Day”? 

I loved Spider Robinson’s tales set in Callaghan’s Crosstime Saloon and I’ve long fancied having my own barroom for the telling of tall tales. “Gandalph Cohen” was the first of them; there are three more, each of them following the same formula … Jack Fedogan playing jazz on the bar’s PA system, the regulars sitting around a table chewing the fat or telling jokes, and a stranger coming into the bar with a “story” to tell or re-enact. There’s a nice story concerning these stories and Dave Brubeck … but I don’t want to bore you so I’ll tell it another time. Catch me at a convention and ask me about it sometime.

 If the TARDIS could drop you off to any one site in its heyday, where would you go? 

I’ve always wanted to go back to the late 1950s and go knock on the door of our old house (I was born in 1949, 4 July). I love the idea of my mom or dad opening the door and asking if they could help me while, behind them, this wide-eyed nosy kid stands watching me from behind them, an open book or comic hanging from his hand. And I’d like to go to a US city of that period, with a wad of dollars in my pocket so that I could buy copies of great comic books for just a dime apiece. I wrote a story along these lines called “The Doorway in Stephenson’s Store” — if you read it then please do bear in mind that it was written and published some five years before Stephen King unveiled 11.22.63.

What appeals to you most about ancient sites/landscapes? 

Just seeing the way things used to be. Rightly or wrongly, I am fascinated by (and attracted to) the past. Can’t get enough of it.

What do you have coming out next? 

Just a few stories here and there, and then my long-threatened mainstream novel Thanksgiving … currently standing at 110,000 words and waiting for the final spurt…

[Peter Crowther is the recipient of numerous awards for writing, editing, and as publisher of the hugely successful PS Publishing (which includes Stanza Press, the Drugstore Indian mass market paperbacks, PS Visual Entertainment and PS Art Books). As well as being widely translated, his short stories have been adapted for TV on both sides of the Atlantic, and collected in The Longest Single Note, Lonesome Roads, Songs of Leaving, Cold Comforts, The Spaces Between the Lines, The Land at the End of the Working Day and the upcoming Jewels in the Dust. He is the co-author (with James Lovegrove) of Escardy Gap and The Hand That Feeds, and has also written the Forever Twilight SF/horror cycle. He lives and works with his wife and business partner Nicky Crowther on England’s Yorkshire coast.]

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The Alchemy Book of Ancient Wonders is available in paperback and ebook formats from multiple retailers – see the anthology page here for linky links!

Ancient Wonders: Bryn Fortey

Next lovely Ancient Wonders author under the spot light is Bryn Fortey...

Tell us a little about yourself, and what you like to write?

OAP. Widower. GSOH. Friendship, maybe more – oh no, sorry, that’s the Two’s Company ad I’m trying to put together.

Writing-wise: it used to be short stories, then I wrote a lot of poetry, now I’m back to short stories. Sort of horror, SF, weird, oddball. I like crossovers and work that’s difficult to categorize.

What inspired you to write “Ithica or Bust”?

David A Sutton told me about the Ancient Wonder anthology only weeks before the deadline. Being so long out of the loop I had no real idea of what was required but wanted to have a go, so updated a bit of Greek mythology into science fiction space opera, throwing in as many references as I could squeeze onto the page. It was very untypical of my more usual output but I had great fun putting it together.

If the TARDIS could drop you off to any one site in its heyday, where would you go?

I would get the TARDIS to drop me off at Cheltenham Race Course one day next week so I could jot down all the winners and come back to make a fortune from the bookies.

What appeals to you most about ancient sites/landscapes?

My problem here is that at my age I remember most ancient sites and landscapes when they were new.

What do you have coming out next?

Two stories in Shadow Publishing’s reprint anthology Horror! Under the Tombstone, and two stories accepted by the American audio magazine Tales to Terrify, but I have not been told yet when they are due to be used.

[Bryn Fortey appeared in various anthologies during the 1970s, including: New Writings in Horror & the Supernatural and New Writings in SF. He was also published in various Fontana anthologies edited by Mary Danby. Bryn’s beat-styled poetry magazine Outlaw was Best UK Small Press Magazine of 2004 in the Purple Patch Awards. In the same year he won the Undercurrent Aber Valley Short Story Competition with “The Dying Game”. In 2009 his “A Taxi Driver on Mars” was first in the Data Dump Awards for SF poetry in the UK. Bryn hales from South Wales.]

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The Alchemy Book of Ancient Wonders is available in paperback and ebook formats from multiple retailers – see the anthology page here for linky links!

Ancient Wonders: Aliette de Bodard

Wahey!  Next of our fabulous Ancient Wonders authors to be interviewed is Aliette de Bodard.

Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to write?

I’m a writer, engineer and over-enthusiastic cook who loves to write character-driven stories in strange and familiar worlds (and to put fish sauce in everything, including stories!). I’ve written SF, historical fantasy and creepy horror – bit of an eclectic person, really.

What inspired you to write “Ys”?

“Ys” is inspired by a very famous Briton legend I read when I was younger; the image of a sunken city beneath the waves has always remained with me, as well as the idea that on clear days, you can hear the bells of the submerged churches ringing through the streets. Dahut/Ahes, the princess who doomed Ys, was thrown from her father’s horse after he discovered she had been the one to open the gates to the sea; and from there on it wasn’t much of a stretch to imagine both city and princess would still be around in modern-day France.

If the TARDIS could drop you off to any one site in its heyday, where would you go?

Hmm, it’s a tie, but I think I’d pick either Hue or My Son – they’re wonderful Vietnamese sites that you can only visit a small part of, due to all the bombs that got dropped on them during the Vietnamese/American war. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to walk there before destruction struck.

What appeals to you most about ancient sites/landscapes?

The sense of history; and wondering how people might have lived, and how different they might have been. Also, they’re usually very beautiful!

What do you have coming out next?

I have a limited-edition novella, On a Red Station, Drifting, which is out from Immersion Press (and nominated for a Nebula at the moment); and a couple stories forthcoming in various markets. I’m also attempting to wrestle an urban fantasy set in Paris into proper shape.

[Aliette de Bodard lives and writes in Paris, France, in a flat with more computers than warm bodies, and two Lovecraftian plants in the process of taking over the living room, one tentacle at a time. In her spare time, she writes speculative fiction: her Aztec-noir fantasy Obsidian and Blood is published by Angry Robot, and she has been a finalist for the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and has won the British Science Fiction Association Award.]

Ancient Wonders: Misha Herwin

And today my lovely people, we have our interview of Ancient Wonders author Misha Herwin!

Tell us a little about yourself, and what you like to write?

I am compulsive writer who’s been writing ever since I could hold a pen. Rather to my surprise I’ve ended up living in Stoke with an ever patient husband and a moaning cat, who is convinced we don’t feed her enough.  I write books and short stories for adults and kids and my work usually has a supernatural and fantasy element to it.

What inspired you to write “The Satan Stones”?

“The Satan Stones” was inspired by the Devil’s Ring and Finger, a pair of Neolithic standing stones near where I used to live in Shropshire. They have very powerful hold on my imagination and also appear in my latest novel, House of Shadows.

If the TARDIS could drop you off to any one site in its heyday, where would you go?

If I could leap into the TARDIS I’d definitely find my way back to the Devil’s Ring and Finger because I would love to know what really went on there.

What appeals to you most about ancient sites/landscapes?

The appeal of ancient sites and landscapes is their atmosphere of mystery and magic.

What do you have coming out next?

At the moment House of Shadows is with my agent and I’m working on a YA novel about a dystopian future where wars will be fought over water rather than oil. Juggler of Shapes, my second book in the Dragonfire Trilogy, is now out as an e book.

[Misha Herwin has been writing for many years. At twelve she wrote and staged her first play in a theatre made from a cardboard box. Since then her plays for teenagers have been performed in schools by the Stagefright Theatre Company and at the Canadian High Commission in Jamaica. She has published the Dragonfire Trilogy for kids and her stories can be found in a number of anthologies and magazines including Hens, Bitch Lit and Ghostly Reflections. “The Dragon Who Came to School” was broadcast by ABC Tales.]

Ancient Wonders: John Howard

Annnnd, the next Ancient Wonders author up for interrogation is: John Howard!

Tell us a little about yourself, and what you like to write?

I like to write about things which interest me – often to do with forgotten or alternate histories, obscure places, ambiguous people.

What inspired you to write “Time and the City”?

The title of the anthology! Something ancient, something wonderful. I love SF pulp magazine artwork from the 1920s and ’30s: those cities and buildings, wonderful machines and spaceships by the likes of Frank R Paul and Leo Morey. So a story about an incredibly ancient city full of wonders came into my mind…

If the TARDIS could drop you off to any one site in its heyday, where would you go?

Rome.

What appeals to you most about ancient sites/landscapes?

The sense of standing on the edge of the abyss of time.

What do you have coming out next?

A couple of stories in anthologies, plus a collection from Swan River Press called Written by Daylight.

[John Howard was born in London. He is the author of the collection The Silver Voices and the novella The Defeat of Grief. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies, including Beneath the Ground, Never Again, and The Touch of the Sea. John has collaborated with Mark Valentine on a number of short stories, six of which featured Valentine’s long-running occult detective The Connoisseur. These tales have been reprinted in The Collected Connoisseur. Most recent to appear is Secret Europe, (written with Mark Valentine) to which John contributed ten of the twenty-five stories, set in a variety of real and fictional European locations.]

Ancient Wonders: William Meikle

Next in the Ancient Wonders author interview series: William Meikle!

Tell us a little about yourself, and what you like to write?

I’m a Scottish writer. Around 1991 I started to submit stories to the UK small press mags. It’s been a slow but steady progression from there. I now have over twenty five professional short story sales and have fifteen novels published in genre presses.

I’ve been asked many times why I write what I do. I choose to write mainly at the pulpy end of the market, populating my stories with monsters, myths, men who like a drink and a smoke, and more monsters. People who like this sort of thing like it.

I write to escape.

I grew up on a West of Scotland council estate and I spent a lot of time alone or at my grandparent’s house.

My granddad was housebound, and a voracious reader. I got the habit from him, and through him I discovered the Pan Books of Horror and Lovecraft, but I also discovered westerns, science fiction, war novels and the likes of Mickey Spillane, Ed McBain, Alistair MacLean, Dennis Wheatley, Nigel Tranter, Arthur C Clarke and Isaac Asimov. When you mix all that together with DC Comics, Tarzan, Gerry Anderson and Dr Who then, later on, Hammer and Universal movies on the BBC, you can see how the pulp became embedded in my psyche.

I think you have to have grown up with pulp to get it. A lot of writers have been told that pulp equals bad plotting and that you must have deep psychological insight in your work for it to be valid. They’ve also been told that pulp equals bad writing, and they believe it. Whereas I remember the joy I got from early Moorcock, from Spillane and further back, A Merritt and H Rider Haggard. I’d love to have a chance to write a Tarzan, John Carter, Allan Quartermain, Mike Hammer or Conan novel, whereas a lot of writers I know would sniff and turn their noses up at the very thought of it.

I write to escape. I haven’t managed it yet, but I’m working on it

What inspired you to write “The Cauldron of Camulos”?

I’ve tried my hand at several works of fantasy over the years, and they almost always come out the same way – pulpy, with swords, sorcery, monsters and bloody battles to the fore. It’s the way I roll.

I may start with good intentions, of writing high fantasy with political intrigue and courtly goings on but, as in the Watchers series, Berserker and the Augustus Seton stories, my inner barbarian muscles to the fore, says Bugger this for a lark, and starts hacking.

The blame for my enthusiasm can be laid squarely at several doors. There’s Conan, of course, and Elric, Corum, Hawkmoon and the whole pantheon of Eternal Champions; there’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Solomon Kane, Jon Shannow, the princes of Amber and the shades of a thousand more from the likes of Poul Anderson, A Merritt, Edgar Rice Burroughs, H Rider Haggard, Karl Edward Wagner and many others

So, there’s that, and a long standing fascination with Arthur going way back to my childhood and reading The Sword in the Stone, Elidor and a big book of medieval romances with exciting colourful prints of knights and damsels and dragons.

In “The Cauldron” I wanted to strip away the medieval and go back to the Celtic and Saxon versions of the legends, although I suspect Arthur and the Grail as archetypes go back even further than that.

If the TARDIS could drop you off to any one site in its heyday, where would you go?

I’d love to see Orkney, during the mound-building, menhirs-raising years. I’d love to see Maes Howe and the Ring of Brodgar going up and discover why they were built as they were. Or Carnac in Brittany. I’d love to revisit it while it was getting put up.

What appeals to you most about ancient sites/landscapes?

I have a deep love of old places, in particular menhirs and stone circles, and I’ve spent quite a lot of time travelling the UK and Europe just to visit archaeological remains. I also love what is widely known as “weird shit”. I’ve spent far too much time surfing and reading Fortean, paranormal and cryptozoological websites. The cryptozoological stuff especially fascinates me, and provides a direct stimulus for a lot of my fiction.

But there’s just something about the misty landscapes and old places that speaks straight to my soul. Bloody Celts … we get all sentimental at the least wee thing.

What do you have coming out next?

Next up is a weird Sherlock Holmes collection, The Quality of Mercy and Other Stories from a new imprint, Dark Renaissance. It’s in deluxe limited edition hardcover and trade paperback editions, with a dozen illustrations by Wayne Miller who has previously done a lot of work on my covers for Dark Regions Press.

“When I first set out to document the casebook of my good friend Sherlock Holmes, there were some cases I approached with a certain degree of trepidation. Holmes has a public face as a man of strict rationality, a stickler for method and observation. But Holmes himself has always been open to more extreme possibilities.”

In these pages you’ll find, among other things, a Jade pendant that bestows great power, a fiddle that holds the key to an ancient secret, a lost overcoat that wants to return to its owner, and an encounter with an old foe that imperils the whole of Great Britain. All of them are cases that Holmes and Watson must solve, even if they have to open themselves to extreme possibilities to do so.

[William Meikle is a Scottish writer with fifteen novels published and over 250 short story credits in thirteen countries. His work has appeared in a number of anthologies; recent short stories were sold to Nature Futures, Penumbra and Daily Science Fiction. He now lives in a remote corner of Newfoundland, Canada, with icebergs, whales and bald eagles for company. In the winters he gets warm vicariously through the lives of others in cyberspace.]

Ancient Wonders: Adrian Tchaikovsky

adrian tTo celebrate the release of the ebook editions of Ancient Wonders, we gently harassed our faaaaaabulous authors for a little behind the scenes action…

First up to the chopping block – Adrian Tchaikovsky

Tell us a little about yourself, and what you like to write?

I’m a writer of epic fantasy, with eight books out in my series Shadows of the Apt and the ninth coming out this August. I’m also a lawyer (civil litigation) and my interests include LARP, RPGs (games, not grenades), sword techniques and zoology, but I had been working towards becoming a published author for a long time.

My current series is set to run to ten books, charting a conflict between the insect-kinden that takes them into their equivalent of the 20th century, and a world war. I’m currently working on a number of future projects in different settings.

What inspired you to write “Bones”?

“Bones” is set in the same world as the Shadows of the Apt series, and draws on a chance reference a character makes in The Sea Watch to an archaeological site where the deep past of the insect-kinden’s world appears to have been uncovered. This sparked a lot of speculation amongst readers, so I decided that the site deserved a story of its own. When the call for the Ancient Wonders anthology came along it seemed the perfect opportunity to write it.

If the TARDIS could drop you off to any one site in its heyday, where would you go? 

With deep apologies to the whole of human history, I think that I would need to tool up and go see the truth behind the fossils. The choice isn’t Ancient Rome or da Vinci’s studio, for me, it’s Cretaceous or Carboniferous, or scuba diving through the Burgess Shale fauna.

What appeals to you most about ancient sites/landscapes?

There is nothing more evocative than an ancient landscape, civilisation or relic that still retains its mystery. All too often that turns out to be something of a false promise, but when confronted by something like the Antikythera mechanism, or the as-yet unopened tomb of Qin Shi Huang, it’s a window onto a past that remains as mysterious and elusive as myth.

What do you have coming out next? 

The last two volumes of Shadows of the Apt should be out this year and next, after which I have a stand-alone fantasy, Guns of the Dawn, which takes place in a sort of alternate 1800-style of setting, concerning a bitter war between two formerly close nations. My personal tagline is “Jane Austen meets Bernard Cornwell by way of Ursula le Guin.”

[Adrian Tchaikovsky was born in Lincolnshire, studied and trained in Reading and now lives in Leeds. He is known for the Shadows of the Apt fantasy series starting with Empire in Black and Gold, and currently up to book eight, The Air War. His hobbies include stage-fighting, and tabletop, live and online role-playing.]