jen_qoe: (wicked women)
Jan Edwards is a woman of many talents – writer, editor, publisher, bookseller, Reiki master, tarot reader, quilter, motorbike chick, Britain’s first female master locksmith, gardener, cook, potter and sculptor…

So, first let’s talk about Jan the writer. When did you first start writing and what genres draw you.
It always sounds like such a cliché to say I have always written, for as long as I can remember, but I suspect this is quite true with the majority of writers. I amused the family no end by talking in the third person for a week or more when I was around seven years old, because I wanted to see what I would sound like as a book and at secondary school I filled many school notebooks with fiction (mostly during lesson times). I wrote primarily for myself for years and only really started thinking about writing for publication in my late thirties when the family and business needed less of my time.

What draws me? I have always been fascinated by folklore, myths and legends, especially those that give rise to local customs, so fantasy was a natural path. A great deal of my short fiction has been dark fantasy, urban fantasy and horror and many of those stories have been drawn directly from those sources. Sussex Tales, my mainstream novel, also has a lean toward those local customs with the added bonus of country wine recipes and rural herb lore.  Currently I am writing a crime novel set in WW2 which is more historical than mythical –though I still find myself caught up in the same levels of research. As you can see there is no one genre that draws me; except for a recurring love of those old legends.

Which authors have inspired you in these genres?
This is the kind of question I always hate answering mainly because my influences and inspirations are so wide. Jane Austen and Daphne Du Maurier have always been huge influences, as have Arthur Conan Doyle, Joan Aitken, Michael Moorcock, Robert Holdstock and so many more. Ask me tomorrow and I will find a half dozen others.

When it comes to more recent authors it is even harder to choose because we all read so many new titles by so many people that to name one or two above the rest would be unfair to the dozens of other equally spiffing writers. I could list all of the recent and forthcoming Alchemy Press authors such as Pete Atkins, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Bryn Fortey, Mike Chinn, Anne Nichols, Adrian Cole, Pauline Dungate, James Brogden, Paul Kane, Marion Pitman, David Sutton,  John Grant et al – or the Penkhull Press writers; Misha Herwin, Jem Shaw and Malcolm Havard – but that would be unfair to all of the other writers that not yet published by either press!

Recently read books that I’ve enjoyed most especially (who are not Alchemy Press writers – all of whom are fab!) have been by (in no special order) Jo Walton, Joanne Harris, Jim Butcher, Lou Morgan and Paul Finch. There are others of course but these are the ones that have stuck with me, which is always a good sign.

Have you ever been tempted to retell Pride and Prejudice with a genre slant? ;-)
It has crossed my mind, though it has been done so many times already that I am not sure it would be a project people would want to see. A regency urban fantasy might be quite fun to do if I got my act together. Elizabeth Bennett is one of the greatest characters in literature. She could be parachuted into almost any setting and still work. I suspect she has been paid homage (and occasionally pastiched) by many, many, writers – albeit under different names.

You’ve just had your supernatural fiction collection Leinster Gardens and Other Subtleties published with The Alchemy Press. Tell us a little more about that.
Leinster Gardens and Other Subtleties (to paraphrase) is exactly what it says on the cover. A collection of supernatural fiction (in paper and kindle formats). All but one of the stories included have been previously published, and some of the stories had a limited audience on first publication it seemed like a good idea to give them a second airing. The single original story in there is not strictly speaking new as it was accepted for Twisted Tongue magazine which folded before my story was published. They are all supernatural in origin, either traditional ghost stories or tales that revolve around a spirit of a kind. I am not a writer of visceral horror, but rather (I hope) the sort that raises an uneasy sensation in the back of the neck when you are walking home in the dark!

You’ve got another collection – Fables and Fabulations – coming out soon. When, with whom and is there a particular theme to it?
Fables and Fabulations is coming out very soon as a ‘Penkhull Slim’ volume with the Penkhull Press. Again these are all previously published stories gathered together in a single volume, but unlike Leinster Gardens and Other Subtleties there is no particular theme beyond fantasy in its broadest sense. Fables and Fabulations opens with the vampire tale ‘A Taste of Culture, (first published in the Mammoth Book of Dracula and ends with ‘Winter Eve’, (from Ethereal Tales #9) which is an urban fantasy on Halloween and the water horses of legend galloping across Pontypridd common.  There is also are SF and horror tales in the mix so hopefully something for everyone.

Next, Jan the editor. You’ve edited multiple publications for the BFS, and co-edited for both The Alchemy Press and Fox Spirit Books. What’s the appeal of this side of publishing for you?
I do love the process of putting an anthology together. Sifting through the submissions and coming across those gems of short fiction is hard work but infinitely rewarding. The downside is in having to reject some really good stuff, either because it doesn’t fit or there is a similar story that you like just that little bit better. It is also a great way to network with other writers!

Do you have a dream anthology project you’d like to do or authors you’d like to work with in the future?
There are so many projects that would be fun to do. Something with a pagan theme perhaps – ‘Quarters and Cross Quarters’ (a working title) or maybe as an retired locksmith something like ‘Picking Over Locks’. That said I prefer not to have my themes too narrowly set. By the time you have read the sixth story about one-legged zombie hunters or Unicorns at Halloween even the best of fiction can lack originality.

Who would I like to work with? Hmm. Well the Alchemy Press books of Urban Mythic 1 &2 and Alchemy Press book of Ancient Wonders as well as the Fox Spirit book of Wicked Women all have some stellar line-ups. Top notch established writers and talented new arrivals. And of course with Alchemy Press I have worked with some fabulous writers already mentioned. So who left? I would love to get stories from Charles de Lint or Jim Butcher, Joanne Harris or Sarah Pinborough. But there are dozens, maybe hundreds of writers I could name and would hate to make a list and forget to include folks I admire but who slipped my mind just for a moment.

Do you have any recommendations for short fiction or anthologies by others?
Other than Alchemy Press authors you mean? See above. There are a zillion great writers out there I could name! The Terror Tales series of anthologies from Gray Friar Press are always worth reading. Sadly the Mammoth imprint is being phased out – I was thrilled to get a story accepted for one of their last titles Mammoth book of The Adventures of Moriarty. PS publishing put out some cracking anthologies. As a writer I enjoy an anthology that has variety. As an editor, though I use my e-reader as everyone else does, I still feel that books should be a thing of beauty, and I place a lot of value on production values. Layouts should please the eye and typos be few and far between. Most of all, with both hats on, they should entertain. I suspect only the editors like every story in a given anthology, but the good thing about them for a reader is that if there is one story in a volume that doesn’t grab you there is a good chance the next one will.

What are you up to next?
I have Fables and Fabulations coming soon, there are short stories due out in three anthologies in The Mammoth Book of the Adventures of Moriarty: The Secret Life of Sherlock Holmes’s Nemesis, Tales From The Lake: vol 2 and Terror Tales of the Ocean, and one other yet to be announced. I have a main stream novel due out with Penkhull Press in the spring and a crime novel and urban fantasy series in edit.

On ‘fun stuff’,  you can catch me in a panel at Fantasycon 2015 in Nottingham, where Alchemy Press will be selling books and launching Music in the Bone, a collection by Marion Pitman.   We shall also be at Novacon in Nottingham selling books, I shall be on  panel about editing and  we will be launching Anne Nicholls’s collection Music From the Fifth Planet; and then there is Sledgelit In Derby where we are selling books and hopefully soft launching the collection The Complete Weird Epistles of Penelope Pettiweather, Ghost Collector by US writer Jessica Amanda Salmonson .

On other stuff Alchemy Press have multiple short listings in the British Fantasy Awards. Best Anthology: The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic 2, edited by Jan Edwards and Jenny Barber;  Best Collection: Nick Nightmare Investigates, by Adrian Cole (co-published with Airgedlámh Publications);  Best Non-Fiction: Touchstones: Essays on the Fantastic, by John Howard and Best Independent Press: The Alchemy Press itself. (we won this award last year.

Fox Spirit are also in the running for multiple in the BFA shortlists with:  Best Anthology  with Tales of Eve; Best Fantasy Novel Breed by K.T. Davies; Best Short Story with ‘Change of Heart by Gaie Sebold which appears in our Wicked Women anthology (edited by Jenny Barber and Jan Edwards ) and finally for Best Independent Press

Penkhull Press and Renegade Writers have a story café at the Gladstone Museum in Stoke for Halloween.

I have no doubt other things will be slotted into the calendar before the new year. You can always catch up with what I am doing on my blog site.

Jan Edwards, thank you very much for joining us!

jen_qoe: (Default)
Author of "Death and the Weaver" in Urban Mythic 2, we asksed Lou Morgan a few questions!

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
jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)
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 prelim2

And! 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! ;-)
jen_qoe: (pirate girl)
Oh what news we have for you my lovelies!

First, 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 – 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!
jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)
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.  ;-)
jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

And today!  Here's Urban Mythic author Kate Griffin to entertain you!

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

I'm Kate Griffin - well, no, I'm actually Catherine Webb, but I write urban fantasy as Kate Griffin.  I usually write a series set in London, in which I do my very best to update the stuff of 'traditional' magic to a more modern vibe.  Thus, vampires are registered with the NHS blood banks, curses are sent by text and the most powerful spells around are written on the back of travelcards.  I love London and always had this nagging suspicion that 'magic' should harken to its older sense of 'wonder' rather than 'speaking old words in a dead language', and I guess the city has always given me that sense of delight.

What was the idea behind "An Inspector Calls"?

Have you ever had to deal with your local council?  The hours I've wasted dealing with bureaucracy - the hours listening to the same hold music on the same loop, of banging your head against an officious wall as you try to explain, to implore someone to understand that what you're asking won't bring down the government, and may actually improve the quality of life for yourself if not others, but no!  Because there's just... one... more... form!

And I guess that I've always felt that it'd be interesting to extend this idea into the realms of wizardry.  I'd love to see how Merlin reacted to negotiations with the department of work and pensions.  It'd be genuinely fascinated to see how long it takes an angry necromancer to summon an undead hoard after spending an hour queuing at the post office.  I guess I thought it'd be fun to combine magic with the least magical experience of modern life.

Also, the weekend the brief came through, I had a friend round, who sat still and not only listened, but also got excited by the whole idea, and let's face it, both those make a world of difference.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

Um.  I'm not sure I know the answer to the first part of that.  I know that I think 'urban' fantasy shouldn't necessarily involve reciting spells in Latin or summoning a unicorn (unless it's petrol-powered) as that to me just seems like traditional fantasy in a city, rather than urban fantasy using modern things.  But other than that... I'm not sure I can really give a truly sagely reply...

Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman kinda go without saying.  I love everything Roger Zelazny ever wrote ever.  It's not fantasy, but Raymond Chandler's also always on my must-read list.  I wish I'd got my shelves built at the time of answering this question, as then I'd be able to actually browse my books and give a better reply, instead of crawl through the piles on my floor....

Has your involvement with background stage-craft influenced how you write scenes?

Um.  Consciously: no.  When I work as a lighting designer, it's an entirely different discipline, full of numbers, angles, three dimensional shapes and colours.  The rhythms of stories are still the same on page and on stage, and as an LD it's useful to be able to get a handle of the shape of a play and the direction it takes, but that's more of writing influencing lighting rather than visa versa.

Unconsciously: probably.  Tom Lehrer said that a good mathematician plagiarised everything but called it 'research'.  In the world of scribbling I think it's probably fair to say that very few indeed set out to consciously plagiarise anything, but that no one can go through life without being influenced by what they see, hear, feel and do.  I'm not consciously aware that, as a technician, I'm changing how I'm write.  I'm fairly sure I am, in much the same way that if I were a lawyer or shark tamer I'd probably be influenced by my work.

What are you up to next?

Let's think... well, I have a Top Secret Book being published early 2014 about which I am barred from saying anything at all for reasons which I'll explain in two years time when I'm permitted to say something.  I'm writing another book at the moment which is also a Top Secret Something, and have a final book on submission about which... you guessed it... I'm still forbad from saying a word.  I've got a play on at Riverside Studios in spring 2014 which I was asked to write for after a director ran some devising workshops, but that's under yet another name - Kate McCormick, although isn't top secret.  In the other job I've got a few more shows to light before the year is out, as well as a couple of gigs.  I'm also working towards yet another exam in a martial art called escrima which is one of the most relaxing outlets I've ever encountered.  So.  In a cryptic, very unhelpful way... lots happening.

[Kate Griffin is the name under which Catherine Webb writes fantasy books for adults. First published when a teenager, she’s been writing for just long enough to have started to forget her early plots and characters.  She likes big cities, urban magic, Thai food and graffiti-spotting.  To keep herself occupied between chapters, she works as a theatre lighting designer, in the happy expectation that two artsy careers create a perfectly balanced life. Find her at www.kategriffin.net]

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

Last seen in our very own Ancient Wonders, give it up for Urban Mythic author James Brogden!

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

I'm afraid that I am a disappointingly normal human being; middle-aged, middle-incomed, living in middle-England in a happy marriage with two kids, a cat, and a decent lego collection. To pay the bills I teach English, and in the meantime I'm trying to cut it as an author - so, living the cliche there. My theme tune, if I had one, would be Huey Lewis' "Hip to be Square". As a result, I write stories about When Ordinary Things Go Weird, which means it tends towards the horrific - monsters in garden ponds, MOT inspections which lead to satanic sacrifices, teddy bears that breathe with the souls of dead children. The kind of things which would terrify me in my safe suburban bubble. I'm trying as hard as I possibly can to avoid standard horror tropes, which also means that what I write veers into the darkly fantastical as often as not. I did fall off the wagon and write a story with a zombie in it recently, but she was reanimated out of hatred for her husband's obsession with DIY, so I can live with that.

What was it that inspired "The Smith of Hockley"?

The image of the Midas Scorpion has been kicking around in my head for years, looking for a story to appear in, and Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter was the perfect setting, but I couldn't square that with any mythology which wasn't uniquely English so I did a bit of hunting around and re-discovered the legend of Wayland Smith, which, in turn, tied in nicely with the discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard. I find that there's hardly ever a single inspiration for a story - images and ideas constellate together and reinforce each other organically, for the most part.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

Urban fantasy is what I like to write because it stems from my own anxieties and hang-ups, and I find it easier to find emotional hooks for my characters in the world that I know. It also allows me to be a bit lighter and more whimsical in what I write, as I basically can't take anything very seriously for long and I don't think I could sustain the seriousness of an out-and-out horror novel. In terms of what I read I'm a lot more wide-ranging. I like a bit of high fantasy, and I'm also quite loving Stephen Baxter's Northland trilogy at the moment because it incorporates a lot of my interests in archaeology and alternate history - plus it's a cracking story, which helps.

I've also been reading Edgelands by Michael Symmons Roberts and Paul Farley, which isn't fiction at all, but more travelogue-cum-poetry about the marginal areas of Britain's urban areas. I understand why London looms large in the urban fantasy genre, and I have no problem with that, but for myself I want to explore the fantastical potential of where I live, which is the Midlands. Writers I keep coming back to for inspiration are Robert Holdstock, Neil Gaiman, Graham Joyce, Christopher Fowler, and Clive Barker. My new discoveries are Sarah Pinborough and Robert Shearman, both of whose work I'm currently devouring.

What is Den of Eek!2 and how are you involved?

Den of Eek 2 is the sequel to - wait for it - Den of Eek, which was a story-telling event last year hosted by the pop-culture website Den of Geek in order to raise money for cancer research. I became involved when they had a competition for new writers, and I was one of three winners. I went down to London just like it says in the fairy tale and had the most awesome evening in a pub reading my story to an audience alongside established novelists and screenwriters, and feeling massively out of my league. Still, it must have gone down okay because they invited me to write another story for this year's event. I demand that everybody reading this go and buy a copy of the Den of Eek anthology from Amazon immediately - every penny goes to charity. After they've bought Urban Mythic, of course.

What will you be up to next?

By the time Urban Mythic is launched I will have released my second novel, Tourmaline. It's urban fantasy again, with elements of steampunk in an alternative world intersecting with our own. I'll also have a short story about a road-kill restaurant in an anthology called The Last Diner by Knightwatch Press. Con-wise I have two big dates coming up: London Film and Comic Con in October, where I'll be signing copies of Tourmaline, and I'll be appearing on a panel at Andromeda One in Birmingham on September 21st, which is very exciting as it's my first. Other than that, the new school year begins soon, so I'm going to have to start thinking about the real world soon. Which brings us nicely full circle. I like the symmetry of that.

[James Brogden is a part-time Australian who lives with his wife and two daughters in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, where he teaches English. His stories have appeared in various magazines and anthologies such as the Big Issue, the British Fantasy Society’s Dark Horizons, Urban Occult, and the Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders, and he was a winner of Den Of Geek’s new talent showcase with his story The Phantom Limb. His new urban fantasy novel Tourmaline is published by Snowbooks in September of 2013. Blogging occurs at jamesbrogden.blogspot.co.uk, and tweeting at @skippybe.]

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

Today my darlings, we at Urban Mythic towers bring you the fabulous Zen Cho!

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

I'm a lawyer and writer living in London. The two main things I write are Malaysian fantasy (i.e. speculative fiction featuring Malaysian characters or settings or both), and a made-up subgenre I like to call "fluff for postcolonial booknerds".

What was the idea behind "Fish Bowl"?

I had a maths tuition teacher once who had a fish pool inside her house in which she reared koi -- quite an extraordinary thing to find in your standard suburban house. The idea for the story grew out of that. It also ended up being about the pressure on kids, especially girls, in a certain kind of middle-class, high-achieving household to be perfect. (That's obviously a stereotype associated with Asian families, but I think it has as much, if not more, to do with socio-economic background as culture.) When I wrote the story I was thinking about how it is possible to be very, very sheltered as a teenager, but very, very unhappy.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

I’m more into suburban fantasy than urban fantasy -- I’m quite interested in what happens inside people’s houses, and like speculative fiction with a fairly intimate, domestic scope. Edith Nesbit and Diana Wynne Jones spring to mind.

You’ve curated a list of Malaysian SFF writers on your website – do you have any particular favourite stories or authors?

I’m a bit hesitant to play favourites – there’s a lot of interesting stuff on my list and everybody should go check it out for themselves! So I’m going to cheat and name someone I haven’t even mentioned in the list yet, Zedeck Siew. As far as I know Zedeck hasn’t had any speculative fiction published, but he’s active in the Malaysian arts scene and has put out a lot of work of various kinds over the years. Currently he’s working on a compilation of short speculative stories which I’m really looking forward to. In the meantime you can check out his Tumblr (http://zedecksiew.tumblr.com/) for examples of his "small fictions".

What are you up to next?

Besides "Fish Bowl", I’ve got short stories in three other publications coming out this year: LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction from Singaporean publisher Math Paper Press, The End of the Road from UK press Solaris Books, and Love in Penang from Malaysian indie press Fixi Novo.

I'm also working on revisions to what might be my first novel (if my agent can persuade someone to publish it!). It's a Regency-set fantasy of manners about England’s first black Sorcerer Royal. It's basically a mishmash of everything I like from Georgette Heyer and P. G. Wodehouse, plus magic, written with a postcolonial sensibility.

[Zen Cho is a Malaysian writer living in London and a 2013 finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Her short fiction has appeared most recently in Esquire Malaysia, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, and Prime Books anthology Bloody Fabulous. Find out more about her work at http://zencho.org ]

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

Urban Mythic author Mike Resnick is not at WFC, alas, but he is right here instead!

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

I'm been a full-time freelancer since 1969, with 74 novels, 25 collections, 275 stories and 3 screenplays to my credit. I've also edited 41 anthologies, and am currently the editor of Galaxy's Edge magazine and the Stellar Guild line of books. I am the winner of 5 Hugos from a record 36 nominations, and according to Locus I'm the all-time leading award winner for short science fiction. I love writing science fiction, and I've recently sold some well-received mystery novels as well.

What was the idea behind “The Wizard of West 34th Street”?

I like urban fantasy, and I've always liked the notion that being at the top of one's field isn't quite the cakewalk that it may appear from the outside.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

"Good" is far more important to me than "urban" or "fantasy".

As both a writer of short and long fiction, and editor of many publications, do you find yourself drawn to one of those things more than the others, and are there any fiction forms you want to try your hand at but haven't yet?

I prefer writing short fiction. My creditors, who have expensive tastes, prefer that I write novels. So I split my time between them. At one time or another, I've done just about every fiction form. If I had to chose one I've never tried, it's be as a lyricist for a musical play.

What are you up to next?

The Trojan Colt (a mystery novel) just came out;. The Worlds Of Edgar Rice Burroughs, an original anthology I co-edited with Bob Garcia, and The Doctor And The Dinosaurs, a science fiction novel, are due out in October and December of 2013. Next year will see the publication of Cat On A Cold Tin Roof, a mystery novel; The Fortress In Orion, a science fiction novel; and about a dozen stories that I have in press. Eric Flint and I have signed to write The Gods Of Saggitarius, a collaborative novel, and I'll be doing two Stellar Guild team-up books, one with Tina Gower, one with Lezli Robyn. And of course I'll keep editing the magazine and the book line.

[Mike Resnick is, according to Locus, the all-time leading award winner, living or dead, for short fiction. He is the winner of 5 Hugos, a Nebula, plus other major awards in the USA, France, Spain, Poland, Croatia, Catalonia and Japan.  Mike is the author of 71 novels, over 250 short stories, and 3 screenplays, and is the editor of 41 anthologies.  He is currently editing the Stellar Guild line of books and Galaxy's Edge magazine, and was the Guest of Honor at the 2012 Worldcon. Find him at mikeresnick.com]

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

For those of you at WFC, you can find Urban Mythic author Alison Littlewood in multiple places such as:  Noon-1:00 pm - Panel - When the Fairies Come Out to Play (Cambridge); 3:00-4:00 pm - Launch - Constable & Robinson (Hall 8/Signing Alley) and 11:00 pm-12:30 am - (mysterious unknown funky thing) (Chartwell)  We don't know exactly what the midnight mysterious funky thing is but we're sure it'll be a bit spooky and well worth popping into!  For those of you not at WFC, here's a wee interview with Alison instead!

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

I’ve been around in the indie presses for some time writing horror and dark fantasy, with publications in magazines like Black Static, Dark Horizons and Shadows and Tall Trees. I had my first novel, A Cold Season, published with Jo Fletcher Books back in January 2012, and that got picked for the Richard and Judy Book Club, which was a terrific experience. Path of Needles, a twisted fairy tale meets crime novel, came out in June.

What was the idea behind "The Song of the City"?

I researched various mythical figures when I was thinking about the theme for the anthology. Once I’d come across banshees I had an immediate image in my mind of an eerie cry drifting across a Brutalist city-scape, and I knew that was what I wanted to write about. Once that connected with another image, of a woman alone walking through a deserted multi-storey car park, I had the makings of the story.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

I like fantasy and horror with a strong sense of place, whether it be in a rural or urban environment. Having said that, one of my favourite books is Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, which is set in a fantastical world under London. Another excellent read is Un Lun Dun by China Miéville, which again takes the capital and turns it upside down. I really enjoy books by Dan Simmons, and he uses settings as diverse as Calcutta and the Arctic. My must-read authors would also include Stephen King and Joe Hill.

You've written stories in the crime and horror genres so far, are there any other genres you want to explore?

I think exploring the ones I’m fascinated with already will probably keep my hands full! I do have ideas for the next novels and they tend to be in my usual territory of dark fantasy and horror. I think I’ll always return to those areas – I like stories that have a little bit of magic hidden away in them somewhere, whether light or dark.

What are you up to next?

A Cold Season has its launch in the US this month, so that’s really exciting. I’m also busy working on book three, which is a ghost story looking at the fates of different generations of a family living in a rather dour house in the Yorkshire countryside. I’ll be taking a break for the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton around Halloween, so really looking forward to that. No doubt there’ll be the odd walk on the beach and trip to the Haunted Hotel on the pier in between the panels and readings!

[Alison Littlewood’s latest novel, Path of Needles, is published by Jo Fletcher Books. Her first novel, A Cold Season, was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club, where it was described as “perfect reading for a dark winter’s night.” Alison’s short stories have been picked for the Best Horror of the Year and Mammoth Book of Best New Horror anthologies, as well as The Best British Fantasy 2013 and The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 10. Her work has also featured in genre magazines Black Static, Crimewave and Dark Horizons. Visit her at www.alisonlittlewood.co.uk ]

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

Woohoo! Brighton, we have launch!

If you're at WFC, drop by to the Signing Alley (between the reading rooms and the art show) because we will be there today at Noon! Noon, people!   With Jaine Fenn, Christopher Golden, Alison Littlewood, Anne Nicholls, Gaie Sebold, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Jonathan Oliver, Ben Baldwin & Ian Whates (in spirit, as he's off on a panel at the same time, but drop by the Dealer Room later and he'll sign anything for you. Annnnnything!)

There will also be authors from Alchemy Press' Pulp Heroes 2 & Astrologica: Tales of the Zodiac.  And Publisher Pete.  And yer 'umble editors of course!

Come see us, do!

x

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

Happy Halloween!  For those of you at WFC today, hello! And if you're not there, here's Urban Mythic author Christopher Golden for you!

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

I've been a full time writer for twenty years.  I had the best job in the world, working at Billboard magazine in New York, but when I sold my first novel back in 1992--at the age of twenty-five--I jumped ship and never looked back.  I write horror, fantasy, mystery and thrillers for adults and teens, as well as comics and graphic novels.  I've also edited more than half a dozen anthologies.  My latest novel, Snowblind, will be out in January.

What was the idea behind "Under Cover of Night"?

I have an abiding love of folklore.  When the story was originally written, my task was to write three unrelated pieces all of which revolved around folklore in some way.  I've also always been…fascinated is the wrong word…let's say concerned by the way the United States conducts its relationship with Mexico.  The situation at our southern border is not healthy for either nation's people.  Finally, I just loved the idea of El Chupacabra preying on those who prey on those desperate enough to cross illegally into the U.S.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

There are two definitions of urban fantasy to me.  One is the more common modern definition, and of that class I love Charlaine Harris, Stacia Kane, Kelley Armstrong, and many others.  But the older version of urban fantasy is where I find myself going when I think about writing anything fantasy-related.  Charles de Lint, Emma Bull, Tim Powers…that's a whole different corner of urban fantasy.  De Lint has been a huge influence for me and is one of my favorite writers.

You’ve collaborated with Amber Benson, Tim Lebbon and Mike Mignola among others – what’s the appeal of joint authored projects and is there anybody you’d like to work with (living, dead or totally fictional!)

I always say writing is a solitary business and I'm not a solitary person.  I find myself chatting with friends and a lot of those friends are writers.  Invariably, some crazy-ass idea will come up and one of us will say, y'know, we should write that!  If it's an idea we like enough, then we do.  As for anyone else I'd like to write with, living or dead?  Larry McMurtry.  It'll never happen, but boy, I could learn a lot from that guy.

What are you up to next?

This January, my latest novel, Snowblind, will be out in the US and UK, as will Cemetery Girl, the first in a trilogy of graphic novels I'm writing with Charlaine Harris.  My anthology Dark Duets also hits that month.  It's weird when everything you've worked on for 18 months all comes out at the same time.  This November I'll be at World Fantasy in Brighton, UK, and I can't wait!

[Christopher Golden is the New York Times bestselling, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of such novels as Of Saints and Shadows, The Myth Hunters, The Boys Are Back in Town, and Strangewood.  He has co-written three illustrated novels with Mike Mignola, the first of which, Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, was the launching pad for the Eisner Award-nominated comic book series, Baltimore.  As an editor, he has worked on the short story anthologies The New Dead, The Monster’s Corner, and 21st Century Dead, among others, and has also written and co-written comic books, video games, and screenplays.  His novel Snowblind will be published in January, 2014.  Golden was born and raised in Massachusetts, where he still lives with his family.  His original novels have been published in more than fourteen languages in countries around the world.  Please visit him at www.christophergolden.com ]

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

Good morning groovers!  And what delights do we have for you today?  Why, it's Urban Mythic author Jaine Fenn in da house! :-)

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

I mainly write Science Fiction, of the far future character-driven kind. My Hidden Empire novels are published by Gollancz, and for the last few years I've been focusing on them, but I also love writing short stories, and with these I range across the genre, having fun with everything from alt. history to, well, urban fantasy.


What was the idea behind "Not the Territory"?

It's a story I've been meaning to write for years. I've never lived in London, but I have commuted into both the City and the West End on a regular basis and to me, London has always been a fascinating other world, crowded with history, full of possibility. And if the bits you can see are intriguing, what about the stuff you don't get to see? Or at least, don't usually get to see ... I also love maps, possibly to an unhealthy extent; personally I'm not a fan of maps that don't tell you what you're getting into, but Phil and Astral (two characters I've written about before) are just the blokes to follow a map and see where it leads them. I also wanted to use the basement of the Guildhall as a setting; not many civic buildings have a Roman amphitheatre under them. That's the essence of this story: all those compacted layers of history and possibility, and how they interact.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

I have to confess that these days I don't read much urban fantasy. This isn't because I don't like it, just because I have limited reading time and so have to be extra picky about what books to add to my teetering 'to read' pile (OK, piles). I've enjoyed reading Charles de Lint and Neil Gaiman and more recently Paul Cornell's London Falling, a book I highly recommend.

How important is music when you're writing and did "Not the Territory" have a particular backing track?

I always write to music, though I find anything with a clear vocal distracting. By default I use ambient and dub for the quiet sections and trance and rock for action sequences. Not every story has a particular backing track but this one does: the album Dead Cities by Future Sound of London.

What are you up to next?

The most recent Hidden Empire book, Queen of Nowhere, came out this autumn, and I've just started work on the next one. I've also got a YA space mystery which I describe as 'Lord of the Flies meets Silent Running meets the Midwich Cuckoos' but I don't have a publication date for that yet. Convention-wise, after World Fantasy I'll be at Novacon, then – having been to loads of cons this autumn – I'll have a bit of a rest. But I'm looking forward to Worldcon next year, in London.

[ Jaine Fenn is the author of the Hidden Empire series, far future SF published by Gollancz, which began with Principles of Angels. She also writes short stories in other genres, a number of which have been published professionally. Back when she had a proper day-job she spent too much time travelling on the Tube and London remains one of her favourite alien worlds. Her website can be found at www.jainefenn.com ]

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

And today's Urban Mythic author dragged kicking and screaming into the light... The one, the only, Adrian Tchaikovsky!

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

I’m mostly an author of epic fantasy, as far as long form fiction goes. So far that’s manifested in the story of the Insect-kinden, the Shadows of the Apt series, the 9th and penultimate book of which has just come out as War Master’s Gate. The world of the kinden is some way from a traditional fantasy setting – the kinden themselves are humans who take their powers and natures from various types of insect, and the series charts their rise into a sort of 20th century of technology and realpolitik. I put a lot of work into my worlds, the variety and the originality, and it seems to be something that my readers really respond to.

What was it that inspired “Family Business”?

Um, well. This is one of those questions writers get all the time – “where do your ideas come from?” – and normally it’s essentially impossible to point at any given thing and say “This! This was what made the story happen.” Except in this case, when it was absolutely the Scissor Sisters’ Return to Oz. I’m quite serious. I heard the song the first time while coming back from a wedding, I think it was, and was absolutely inspired by the weird imagery and emotional tone of it. And from that came “Family Business,” I kid you not. Of course that song is actually telling another completely different story, but when I hear songs full of odd metaphor and meaning I tend to translate them literally first, and get some very bizarre images.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

My favourite fantasy is secondary-world fantasy, and as most urban fantasy is real-world set, I’m fairly selective with what I pick up. I love Paul Cornell’s London Falling, though, and Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London and its sequels. And I’ve just discovered Emma Newman’s Split World series, which is excellent. And, lord, there’s Gaiman, who kind of invented the whole business about ten years too early with Neverwhere, and then retook it with American Gods. Beyond that, there is a whole neighbourhood of what was also called urban fantasy at one time, because it is generally city-based, but also usually in a secondary world. This is stuff like The Lies of Locke Lamora (one of the best fantasy books every written, IMHO) and there’s Mieville’s Perdido Street Station, Hulick’s Among Thieves and Hardinge’s Mosca books like Twilight Robbery.

Has your enthusiasm for larping and other gaming influenced what you write?

I suppose it’s given me an expanded toolkit. Pen and paper RPGs are very good for the creative side – making worlds and making characters, both. You often need to work at a level of detail a book might not demand, which then lends you a comfortable familiarity with the world that hopefully comes over on the page. Larp itself is a source of new experience, especially massed battles. And fun, of course.

What are you up to next?

My convention calendar is very full this year and next. I’ve been to Nine Worlds, which is a new convention of astonishing scope and variety that I enjoyed immensely, and then I had Andromeda One in Birmingham, then the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton. And of course there’s Worldcon coming to London next year … and as Nine Worlds 2014 is the weekend before I think there will be a whole “week of geek” in the London area strung between the two.

As for writing, I’m about to get the last Shadows of the Apt book back for edits, while tinkering with my standalone novel Guns of the Dawn which comes next, and I’m also finishing off the first book of a new series as well. It’s all go, basically.

[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 nine, The War Master's Gate. His hobbies include stage-fighting, and tabletop, live and online role-playing.]

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

And today my lovelies, we have Urban Mythic author Graham Edwards...

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

I have a day job as a graphic designer and try to fit the writing in when and where I can. At the moment that means early morning stints before work, plus as many other sessions as I can squeeze in. I guess my comfort zone is novels, but every time I force myself to write short fiction I’m always surprised by how much I love it. I’m generally labelled as a fantasy author (although I’ve written crime novels too) but I’ve never had much truck with labels. I just write what I write, you know?

What was the idea behind “A Night to Forget”?

The story’s about Old Father Time. Most people see him as this old geezer with a scythe who bumbles around at the end of the year looking lost. I just got to wondering who he really is. At the same time, I was thinking about how sometimes people put their lives on hold – maybe following a traumatic event, maybe just because they’re waiting for some change to come. Sometimes we just want to stop the clock. Those two things came together in my head, and this story was the result.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

I don’t necessarily think of my taste as ‘urban’, but I do prefer my fantasy to be grounded in reality. I like to have one foot in the real world and the other in, well, another. The books on my shelves that look the scruffiest – and which are therefore the most loved – are those written by Robert Holdstock, John Crowley and Stephen King.

You’ve worked as a multimedia producer for theme parks and visitor centres – what was involved in that and have your experiences there contributed to your fiction?

Some theme park rides use video content as an integral part of the ride experience. I’ve written storylines and scripts for such rides, and sometimes directed and created the content too, mostly using CG animation. The same with sit-down shows for heritage attractions, or simulators in science centres. Most recently, I wrote the script for the horror ride Nemesis Sub-Terra at the UK’s Alton Towers. My love of speculative fiction has certainly fed into that work, but I’m not sure the reverse is true. Yet.

What are you up to next?

My new novel Talus and the Frozen King will be published by Solaris Books in March 2014. It’s a Neolithic murder mystery and I suppose it’s my attempt to push the boundaries of historic crime fiction as far back into the past as they’ll go. Right now I’m hard at work on a sequel. Also, as a card-carrying VFX gee, I’m thrilled to be writing a long article for visual effects journal Cinefex, taking a behind-the scenes look at Ron Howard’s new film Rush.

[Graham Edwards is the author of two fantasy trilogies – Dragoncharm and Stone & Sky – as well as a number of novels published under various pseudonyms. His short fiction has appeared in Realms of Fantasy, while The String City Mysteries, a series of fantasy detective novelettes, is available as a range of ebooks. Graham’s new novel, Talus and the Frozen King, will be published by Solaris Books in 2014. Graham blogs regularly about his writing. Also on his blog, he’s published an acclaimed series of articles reviewing the first forty issues of visual effects journal Cinefex.  Visit him at graham-edwards.com ]
jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

This morning may we present Urban Mythic author Anne Nicholls!

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

I like writing uplifting, adventurous, exciting, humorous stories - all sorts of things that have a feel-good factor.  It's the creativity, I think.  Writers always get the best out of stories they write, even more than stories they read.  I guess writing is the 3-D version!

What was it that inspired "The Seeds of a Pomegranate"?

Two things: I like the idea of the exotic along with the cosmopolitan and the ordinary down-home all working together in our multi-racial society.  We're not the only folks who have a tradition of magic and fantasy so how great that there's this new enrichment coming into Britain!  Also the possibilities of creative magic, and the friendship aspects.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

I like all kinds of fantasy (and many other streams of fiction).  For urban fanasy I enjoy Benedict Jacka and I'm just getting into the Iron Druid books by Kevin Hearne.  Mercedes Lackey's Bedlam's Bard series are fun, as are her Serrated Edge books.

Tell us about your involvement with the David Gemmell Awards?

Dave Gemmell was a very dear friend who was our best man when Stan and I got married.  We miss him greatly.  We admired his spirit of "stand up and be counted" so that's what we wanted to do with the David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy: make it the readers' choice so it's as democratic as possible.  Anyone anywhere can vote for books in English so it's truly egalitarian and international.  The awards ceremony is a real pleasure in itself.  We get to meet people we might otherwise not have the chance to, for example, Olof Erla Einarsdottir who won the Ravenheart Award.  She flew over from Iceland just to be with us, which was fabulous!  Plus we wanted to raise the profile of fantasy fiction generally, and support artists and authors.  It's amazing how time-consuming the committee work is but good fun and rewarding too.

With your other hat on you’re a qualified counsellor and writer of self-help books – do you find this perspective impacts on your fiction?

It does and it doesn't.  That's to say, obviously it offers deep insight into people and their motivations, and it means I want to make ever piece of writing I do as emotionally rewarding for the reader as I can.  On the other hand I have to make sure counselling language doesn't intrude because it's more analytical than dramatic.

What are you up to next?

Right now I have all sorts of things to look forward to: the launch of three anthologies in which I have stories (Urban Mythic, Pulp Heroes II and Legends) at the World Fantasy Convention; the Gemmell Awards which are also at WFC this year; another story and a novel that I'm writing; doing more paintings; and just generally having fun with friends and family.  I also enjoy my counselling work as I love to see people making positive changes so they're happier and can achieve their goals.

[Anne Nicholls's published works include the acclaimed novels Mindsail and The Brooch of Azure Midnight.  Her short story Roman Games was reprinted in the Year's Best Fantasy.  She is now principally known for self-help writing  and for her paintings, which are also gaining a following.]

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)
I may have mentioned a few times that Urban Mythic is launching at WFC in Brighton next weekend.   Because, dudes! We're launching at WFC!  Friday 1st November!  Noon!  In Signing Alley!   (Along with Alchemy's other titles - Pulp Heroes 2 & Astrologica: Stories of the Zodiac.)

But anyway, Urban Mythic, innit!  Lovely author people who will be floating around are: Jaine Fenn, Christopher Golden, Alison Littlewood, Anne Nicholls, Gaie Sebold, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Jonathan Oliver, Ian Whates & Ben Baldwin.

But my lovely people-folks, that's not all.  Oh no!  Selected members of Team Urban Mythic will be doing a reading event on the Thursday!  From 2:00 - 2:30pm in Hall 8B.

And! Also! Our faaaabulous authors will be out and about doing other things at the WFC beast.  Here, for your author spotter notebook, is where else you can find them...

Artist:
Ben Baldwin        
SAT 11:00 am-Noon - Launch - Newcon Press & Snowbooks (Hall 8/Signing Alley)
SAT 5:00-7:00 pm (Art Show)

Authors:
Jaine Fenn:
SAT 5:00-6:00 pm - Panel - Does SF Have a Future? (Cambridge)

Christopher Golden:    
THURS 4:00-5:00 pm - Panel - Strip Search (Oxford)
FRI 3:00-4:00 pm - Panel - Writing for the Franchise Market (Hall 4)
FRI 4:00-6:00 pm - Party - PS Publishing Bumper Book Launch (Regency)
SAT 3:00-3:30 pm - Reading - (Hall 8A)

Alison Littlewood:    
THURS 4:00-5:00 pm - Panel - Landscape of the Fantastic (Cambridge)
SAT Noon-1:00 pm - Panel - When the Fairies Come Out to Play (Cambridge)
SAT 3:00-4:00 pm - Launch - Constable & Robinson (Hall 8/Signing Alley)
SAT 11:00 pm-12:30 am - (mysterious unknown funky thing) (Chartwell)
SUN Noon-1:00 pm - Panel - How to Write that Second Book (Hall 4)

Anne Nicholls:
THURS 8:00 pm - Presentation - David Gemmell Awards (Oxford)
THURS 9:30 pm - Party/Launch - David Gemmell Awards Reception/Legends Signing (Regency)

Jonathan Oliver:
SAT 4:00-5:00 pm - Panel - You Can't Write, Edit an Anthology (Hall 4)
SUN 11:00 am-Noon - Launch - Solaris/Rebellion (Hall 8/Signing Alley)
And you'll probably also find Jonathan at the Solaris table in the Dealer Room too!

Gaie Sebold:  
THURS 9:30 pm - Party/Launch - David Gemmell Awards Reception/Legends Signing (Regency)
FRI 4:00-5:00 pm - Panel - Broads with Swords (Cambridge)

Adrian Tchaikovsky:
THURS 9:30 pm - Party/Launch - David Gemmell Awards Reception/Legends Signing (Regency)
SAT 10:00-11:00 am - Panel - Best of All Possible Worlds (Cambridge)
SAT 5:00-5:30 pm - Reading (Hall 8A)
SUN 10:00-11:00 am - Launch - Fox Spirit Books (Hall 8/Signing Alley)

Ian Whates:    
THURS 9:30 pm - Party/Launch - David Gemmell Awards Reception/Legends Signing  (Regency)
FRI Noon-1:00 pm - Panel - Surviving as an Independent Press (Cambridge)
FRI 5:00-6:00 pm - Interview - Life Achievement Award: Tanith Lee (Oxford)
SUN 11:00 am-Noon - Launch - Solaris/Rebellion (Hall 8/Signing Alley)
And don't forget to find Ian at the Newcon Press table in the Dealer Room!  And also in the Dealer Room, on the Solaris table signing stuff on SAT 3:30 - 4:30pm

And also!
Look for Alchemy Publisher Peter Coleborn in the Art Show SAT 5:00-7:00 pm
And Editor Jan Edwards wandering around having fun!
And Editor Jenny Barber (hello!) lurking behind the registration desk Weds - Sat.
jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)
ian-whatesAnd today Urban Mythic author Ian Whates answers a few questions....

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

I find it difficult to pinpoint my first exposure to science fiction and fantasy. I recall watching early episodes of Lost in Space and Doctor Who (back in the William Hartnell days), and I was always borrowing volumes of Greek and Norse mythology from the library. The writing of Andre Norton was key, I know, as was a serialised reading of John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids on BBC radio, but which of these came first..? Suffice to say I grew up fascinated and inspired by all of these things and started writing my own stories from a young age. That has stayed with me throughout my life. I love to write in the same genres I read: science fiction, fantasy, a dash of horror … and if I can blend ingredients from all of those strands, so much the better.

What was it that inspired “Default Reactions”?

Good question. My partner, Helen, has a far higher tolerance for shopping than I do. One day a few years back (2006?) I sought sanctuary in a pub (now there’s a surprise) close to Covent Garden while she continued to satisfy her retail itch. As I waited, I jotted down the outline of a story that drew on our experiences and the people we’d encountered that day. Centring on the concept that there are many versions of London existing in close proximity which most of us are completely oblivious to, the story features a succubus and a character called ‘Chris’ who can sense and interact with the different Londons. I’ve grown fond of Chris, who, in the interim, has featured in a few further tales involving alternative Londons. The announcement of the Urban Mythic anthology coincided with a developing interest in the trans-cultural enigma that is the Green Man, and it occurred to me that this would be the perfect opportunity to write another Chris story. The narrative came together from there.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

To be honest, it doesn’t have to be urban at all – I enjoy well-written ‘epic’ fantasy as well – but I’m never averse to a good bit of urbanisation! The whole post-Buffy vampire side of things has completely passed me by, though. To me, ‘urban fantasy’ still means the likes of China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station and Alan Campbell’s Scar Night (both excellent, incidentally). This is why I created my own ‘fantastical-city-with-a-personality’ in Thaiburley, the setting for my City of 100 Rows trilogy of novels. Thaiburley is very much its own creature and I didn’t set out to emulate anywhere else when creating it, but the city almost certainly owes a debt to Fritz Leiber’s classic Lankhmar – I still cherish every one of those tales. My single favourite (and sadly often-overlooked) urban fantasy is probably Megan Lindholm’s (aka Robin Hobb) Wizard of the Pigeons, set in contemporary Seattle, while if you’re looking for something a little more classical, I can’t fail to recommend Hope Mirrlees’ wonderful Lud-in-the-Mist.

As both a writer of short and long fiction, and editor of many publications, do you find yourself drawn to one of those things more than the others, and are there any fiction forms you want to try your hand at but haven’t yet?

I’m very much a writer first and foremost. The editing and publishing are things I stumbled into without really planning to. Having said that, I take a great deal of satisfaction from all aspects of what I do – otherwise I wouldn’t still be doing them. I cut my teeth writing shorts, but, equally, I enjoy writing novels as well. Hopefully, I’ll never lose the appetite for both forms. Yes, there are still plenty of areas of genre fiction I’d like to explore and write in. I’ve written space opera, military SF, urban fantasy, heroic fantasy, grimdark, slipstream, comic SF… I’ve written a ghost story and a vampire story, a time-travel story, a cyberpunk tale, a psychological horror and many others. But I’ve never written an alternative history piece, not really, I’ve only dabbled with steampunk, and I’d love to write a full-blown crime/thriller at some point. So, many sub-genres visited to date but just as many still to explore.

What will you be up to next?

Convention-wise, I’ll be at Andromeda One in Birmingham this September, Bristolcon in October, and World Fantasycon in Brighton over the Halloween weekend. At both the latter two events I’m holding launch parties for new titles, among other things. On the publishing and editing front, there are several NewCon Press titles on the way during the remainder of this year, including an Adrian Tcahikovsky collection, Feast and Famine, a Steve Rasnic Tem collection, Twember, one from Stan Nicholls, Shake Me to Wake Me, and a further collection from Tanith Lee: Colder Greyer Stones. In addition, I’ve just finished editing an anthology produced in honour of David Gemmell: Legends, featuring the likes of Joe Abercrombie, James Barclay, Tanith Lee, Storm Constantine, and all sorts of others – this is intended in part as a fund-raiser for the Gemmell Awards – and another anthology, Looking Landwards, of original SF stories examining the future of farming, agricultural engineering and food production; this latter volume produced to mark the 75th anniversary of the Institution of Agricultural Engineers. I’m also progressing ten different titles for next year (editing, commissioning and agreeing cover art, etc, etc), including novels, collections, and anthologies, as well as working on a third volume of Solaris Rising for Solaris.

Writing-wise, my latest novel, Pelquin’s Comet, is currently being considered by publishers. This is intended to be the first in a new space opera trilogy, so, all being well, I’ll have two further volumes to write. A 22,500-word novella featuring ‘Chris’ has recently been serialised over four issues of Aethernet magazine, and I’m considering expanding this into a novel. I have stories forthcoming in PS Publishing’s PostScripts and a couple of other anthologies, notably Solaris’ End of the Road, and I’ve just been commissioned to write a ghost story for a brand new publisher. Oh, and I’m one of the judges for next year’s Arthur C Clarke Award, which requires me to read around 80 novels over the next seven or eight months. So, I should be able to keep myself occupied for the foreseeable without too much trouble. I genuinely enjoy everything that I do, which is just as well, since I tend to do quite a lot of it.

[Ian Whates has two published novel series, the Noise books (space opera) from Solaris, and the City of 100 Rows trilogy (urban fantasy with steampunk overtones) via Angry Robot. Around 50 of his short stories have appeared in various venues; two were shortlisted for BSFA awards. His work has received honourable mentions in Gardner Dozois’ Years Best anthologies and featured in Tor’s ‘Best of’ Futures from Nature. His second collection, Growing Pains, appeared via PS Publishing in March 2013. Ian chaired the BSFA for five years and has served as a director of SFWA. He has edited titles in The Mammoth Book of… series and the on-going Solaris Rising series. In his spare time, he runs multiple award-wining publisher NewCon Press, founded by accident in 2006.  Visit his website at: www.ianwhates.co.uk ]
jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)
Next Urban Mythic author under the spotlight is the fabulous Joyce Chng! 

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

I am Singaporean, married with two girls. I like to read, cook and garden. And I like to write. I tend to write science fiction and fantasy, a bit on the social aspect – as in looking at the relationships and nuances in society. I also write YA and urban fantasy.

What was it that inspired “Dragon-Form Witch”?

Teenagers. Kids who are different growing up in Singapore. The Chinese dragons in the story are part of the Myriad, a name for all the non-human groups. Also, familial relationships and obligations, things we sometimes find it hard to run away from.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

As urban as it can be. I live in a highly urbanized environment, but I like to weave fantasy in to it, that magic can co-exist beside the mundanity of the business district or suburbia. Must-read author: Charles de Lint.

You’ve written about Chinese werewolves and dragons among many others – how deeply does myth and folklore influence your work?

Deeply, I think. I grew up with Chinese myths and legends. I mean, there is a lady who flew to the moon. There is also the Journey to the West. There are fox ladies and spider demons. Likewise, where I am, we have other things like the Garuda, the Naga, the orang bunian and the were-tigers.

What are you up to next?

My YA science fiction novel Rider will be published by this year (2013). Another urban fantasy novel is slated for next – I need to get to the edits! And a couple of shorts in anthologies, including We See a Different Frontier.

[Born in Singapore but a global citizen, Joyce Chng writes mainly science fiction (SFF) and YA fiction. She likes steampunk and tales of transformation/transfiguration. Her fiction has appeared in The Apex Book of World SF II, The Ayam Curtain and Crossed Genres. She can be found at A Wolf’s Tale ]
jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)
UM cover A 008 dBreaking news from Urban Mythic launch central!  We will now be launching the very fabulous Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic at 12pm on Friday 1st November (as opposed to the previously advertised time of 3pm!) at the World Fantasy Convention.  So get yourself down to that there Brighton and party with us!

More news soon!

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