Heisenberg and The Wind

I have a couple of pieces of story news to share!

Firstly, My sci-fi story, ‘The Wind, My Chariot’, is out now at Land Beyond the World. I wrote this one a long time ago and I’m so happy it’s finally found a home. It features a man who’s joined a scientific settlement on a distant planet and finds himself intensely drawn to one of the native alien beings, creatures who spend their entire existence riding the planet’s unceasing air currents. It’s about two vastly different minds connecting to find common ground and friendship, and it’s about the power of the elements, be they terrestrial or alien.

Secondly, I’m delighted to say that my flash piece which appeared in Nature: Futures last year, ‘Variations on Heisenberg’s Third Concerto’, was selected to appear in Best of British Science Fiction 2020! The anthology was released on Tuesday, so it’s out now from NewCon Press. I’m honoured that this story has received such positive feedback since it came out last year, and to have my second Best of British inclusion (following ‘What the Sea Reaps, We Must Provide’ appearing in The Best of British Fantasy 2019) feels amazing. Plus it’s pretty awesome to have a positive souvenir of the year that kicked everyone’s butt. It wasn’t all bad, clearly…

News of Dogs, of Castles, of Dragons

Well, I’ve made no improvements when it comes to updating this blog in a timely fashion, have I? I think it’s safe to consider my blogging sporadic at this point… :\ But I’m back with a couple of exciting bits of news to share!

My story, ‘A List of Historical Places Frequented by a Boy and His Dog’, is out in the current issue of Zooscape. It’s my shortest published story to date and it’s been making lots of people cry. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you…) I’m really proud of this tiny little story, and I’m happy it’s been getting some love.

And this artwork… *melts*

In publishing news of a very different stripe, I’m honoured and delighted to say that I’m the new Co-Editor of PodCastle! The news was announced on the site last week, and I’m excited to be sharing the role with Shingai Njeri Kagunda. We’re so looking forward to working together to keep the Castle flying straight and level, finding and championing new stories and striving to maintain the excellence established by the outgoing editors, Jen R. Albert and Cherae Clark. I’ve been an associate editor at PodCastle for four and a half years, slush reading and copyediting, so although this is a large step up, I already feel very at home in its dragon-guarded walls. PodCastle is the 2020 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Audio, and we’re nominated for the Hugo, Ignyte, and Aurora awards this year, so it’s a tremendous time to be taking the helm.

You can listen to Jen’s farewell episode here, posted last week, and Cherae’s here, posted today. We’re going to miss them both hugely, but they’re embarking on exciting new adventures of their own, and I wish them nothing but joy and success.

And so we fly…

A Deluge of Stories!

I’m getting really bad at updating this blog, aren’t I? And I have no excuse… it’s not as if there hasn’t been much to talk about. Because there very much has. I’ve been on a lovely roll of story success over the past few months, which has been great as my productivity has been badly dented by the joys of 2020.

Twenty Bloody Twenty, amirite? Sigh.

Anyway – stories! Stories are helping me a great deal at the moment, as even though my writing output has been low, I’ve been reading a ton. And if you’re also finding stories helpful at the moment, may I point you gently in the direction of a few things I’ve had out this year?

My fantasy flash story about a pair of friends with an intense connection, ‘One and One Makes One’, came out at Harbinger Press as one of their Flash Fiction Fridays in January.

In March, I had two stories out back-to-back. ‘Lux Nocturna’, a horror/dark fantasy story about one woman’s battle against darkness via the power of music, appeared in Galaxy’s Edge in March. I was honoured that this story appeared as part of the tribute issue to Mike Resnick, who very sadly passed away earlier this year. He purchased all three of the stories I ever sent to him, including ‘Lux Nocturna’, and I’ll forever be grateful for his support of my work.

And a couple of days later, ‘Mycelium’, another dark fantasy about a woman communicating with trees as she mourns her brother in a woodland burial site, came out at PodCastle. It’s my first story appearance there, and I couldn’t be happier to finally have a story grace the Flying Castle’s airwaves. You can read or listen to it as you choose!

Just yesterday, I had another first appearance, this time at Nature: Futures, with my story ‘Variations on Heisenberg’s Third Concerto’. This is another story about the power of music, this time sci-fi. What if there was a piece of music that was never the same twice? What if it could change the universe?

I also have a few stories forthcoming. Truancy will feature ‘Rose Briar’, my science fiction retelling of Sleeping Beauty. And I have a reprint forthcoming in an anthology from Flame Tree Press.

Perhaps most exciting of all, my favourite story from last year, ‘What the Sea Reaps, We Must Provide’, has been selected for The Best of British Fantasy 2019, due out next month. It’s my first Best-of anthology and I’m really excited!

Check out the amazing cover art…

Best-British-Fantasy-2019-Full

*comes up for air*

Quite a deluge, methinks. But I’m not complaining… it’s wonderful to have so much of my work out there at once. Writing is all about highs and lows, and I intend to enjoy the highs while they’re here.

Updates, Awards Eligibility, & A Favour

I was honoured to be published as Daily Science Fiction‘s very last story of the decade! ‘Objects Left Behind At the Sea of Tranquillity Public Library’ appeared on the 31st of December 2019, which was a lovely way for my year to round off. It’s my bittersweet story about the things we all stand to lose as a result of unchecked climate change, and its core theme of devastating wildfire has never been more relevant.

This was one of three original stories I had published last year. The other two were ‘Doomsday in Springtime’, which appeared in Galaxy’s Edge in July and ‘What the Sea Reaps, We Must Provide’, which appeared in Diabolical Plots in May. All three are eligible for awards reading, and they’re all flash fiction.

The one I’m mainly promoting is ‘What the Sea Reaps…’ which was received very well and had some lovely reviews. It also made the Quick Sip Reviews 2019 Recommended Reading List, which places it amongst some excellent company! I personally feel this is the best piece of flash I’ve written to date, and its subject and setting are very close to my heart. It’s available to read at the above link, and I’d love anyone reading for awards to consider it.

‘Objects Left Behind…’ is also available to read at Daily Sci-Fi, and if you’d like a copy of ‘Doomsday in Springtime’ I’d be happy to email one. Just drop me a line at proofyourwork[@]rocketmail[dot]com.

I also have a favour to ask. If you did enjoy ‘What the Sea Reaps…’, whether you’re reading for awards or not, can I ask if you’ll sign this petition? The beach and sea wall the story is based on are under urgent threat of catastrophic rail development, and we need as much objection as possible in order to halt this plan. I’d be deeply grateful if you’d lend your name to the cause. Thank you.

Beach - Holcombe View

Greetings From the Bunker

Whoa, it’s been a while since I updated. Poor little blog.

*dusts*
*polishes*
*spruces up*

That’s better.

I have a fair bit of news from the last few months! I’ve mostly had my head down working on a new novel. This time I actually got my act together and managed to outline properly, from start to finish, which is something I’ve never done with a novel before. That’s why the last one took me so damned long to finish. But it’s made such a difference this time. I went in entirely confident with where I was heading, yet still with room to explore and discover things as I went along. So I had all the structure of outlining with plenty of the surprises of pantsing built in. I may have found my perfect method.

I started the draft in July. I finished it last week. That is a massive record for me. I’ve still got plenty of work to do before it’s ready for beta readers, but I’m really happy with what I’ve got so far, and amazed at how much faster the process has been this time.

In other writing news, I’ve had a couple of new things out since I last posted. ‘The Convincer’, which first appeared at Galaxy’s Edge, came out at StarShipSofa in July. The narration is superb, and it’s great to be able to share this story with no paywall. I was delighted with how it turned out, as this story remains one of my favourites. Go have a listen!

I had another story out in Galaxy’s Edge, also in July. ‘Doomsday in Springtime’ is a weird, slipstream story about worlds connecting through fiction, and loving someone whilst knowing their whole story in advance. It’s been close to my heart since I first wrote it several years ago, and I was delighted it found such a good home.

I’ve recently sold a story to Daily Science Fiction, which will be my second appearance with them. ‘Objects Left Behind At the Sea of Tranquillity Public Library’ (my longest title to date) is a post-apocalyptic piece of flash about the deep memory connections objects can have for us, and how loss can be measured in small things as well as the huge ones. I’m not sure when it’ll be out, but watch this space for updates!

And to invoke Galaxy’s Edge once again, I’ve just sold a third story to them. ‘Lux Nocturna’ is a dark Halloween tale of one woman’s task to keep monsters at bay through the power of music. I can’t wait to share this one when it comes out.

It’s been a busy few months! I’ll try not to leave it so long next time…

Victory, Flash, and Robots

Time for an update, seeing as there are things to report!

I finished the novel revisions. *victorious* (This round, at least.) Completing them was a great relief whilst slightly daunting, wondering if I’ve done enough and knowing that the next step is to get a submissions package together and start querying agents. But, yaaay! The first draft is no more! Now to rewrite the entire thing using only 2% of the words. Synopsis time… sigh.

I recently sold my flash story, ‘What the Sea Reaps, We Must Provide’ to Diabolical Plots. It’s about seaside towns, and dogs, and sacrifice, and I’m really happy it’s found such a great home. I can’t wait to share it when it’s out next year.

And Flame Tree Publications’ Robots and Artificial Intelligence anthology, featuring my story ‘Daddy’s Girl’ amongst a host of others, is now available for pre-order! These anthologies are beautiful hardcover books, gorgeous on shelves or as gifts or just to lovingly gaze upon. This title is out in September in the UK, and apparently November in the US (according to Amazon). If you want a copy, get your orders in now!

Look at the shiny:

Doomsday & Daddy’s Girl

Sale announcements! Woo!

I recently sold my apocalyptic/parallel universe/love story, ‘Doomsday in Springtime’ to Galaxy’s Edge. I wrote this flash story several years ago and it’s always been a surreal little piece of my heart, so I’m delighted it finally found such a great home.

And I’m now free to announce that ‘Daddy’s Girl’ will be appearing in the Robots and Artificial Intelligence anthology from Flame Tree Press. This is this story’s third sale, although its previous outings were online and in audio, so it’ll be lovely to have it in beautiful hardcover format alongside a wondrous lineup of fellow contributors. Check out the fabulous list on Flame Tree’s blog.

It’s also my first-ever sale to a British market, which has long been a goal of mine. There’s something special about selling a story in my own country (and whoa, getting paid in my own currency… fancy that). The anthologies that Flame Tree produce are beautiful books, and I couldn’t be happier for one of my stories to have found a home here. It’s due for publication in September, with pre-orders available from August. Watch this space for updates!

 

Artemis Rising

Earlier this month, I got to host an episode of PodCastle for their annual Artemis Rising event. I’ve been an associate editor (slushing, proofreading) there since January 2017. It’s so great to experience the other side of the editorial process, and the PodCastle team are a magnificent bunch of people to work with.

But this was the first time I’ve been out there in front of our audience. Eep. The story I hosted (‘Scar Clan’, by Carrow Narby) was my favourite from the Artemis Rising call (and its sister stories – one released each week in March – are all amaaaazing, so this is high praise indeed). It was an honour to be able to introduce it and share my thoughts on what I loved about it.

You can listen to the episode here, where the story is also available in full in text format.

PodCastle Episode 512 – ‘Scar Clan’, by Carrow Narby

Enjoy. 🙂

Why We Write

It’s been a scary year. The events of the past three weeks have felt like some kind of demon cherry on top of a glut of instability and fear-mongering. No one can know for sure what happens next, but the signs point to very unsettling possibilities.

I’ve seen all kinds of reactions from the writing community, ranging from dearths of creativity to fierce rallying cries. All those reactions are valid. Personally, I’ve been somewhere in the middle.

But it’s all got me thinking about the power of what we do. Writing is art, it’s communication, it’s portrayal of the world. It can be used for wondrous ends and horrendous ones. You’ve only got to look at the average British tabloid to see ample evidence of the latter. In many ways, those examples make it all the more encumbent on the rest of us writers to balance the scale in the other direction.

We write to process our thoughts and our ideas. We write to work through past hurts and present difficulties. We write to explore possibilities, to warn of dangers and to sow our hopes. Speculative fiction does this in ways other genres can’t, because it isn’t restricted to the world as we know it. Its scope extends to the futuristic, the fantastic, the alternative… with all of those things we can explore ‘what ifs’ and share visions of things that haven’t yet happened or delve into human nature from entirely new perspectives. The blog post I wrote on the importance of science fiction amply describes my thoughts on why it matters.

Our writing can draw attention to world issues by portraying them, veiled or openly, through the viewpoints of our characters. In doing this, we’re taking ideas beyond the factual, beyond informative articles and projections, and actually turning them into real-life situations. We only truly relate to these things by empathising with others going through them, and fiction provides that empathy in a way no other medium can. When I show what my persecuted refugee character is feeling, I enable my readers to connect with her and others like her. When I show how my rebel protagonist stands up against her totalitarian government, I enable readers to experience her anger and determination to put things right. When I show my alien character struggling to overturn her species’ discrimination against humans, I hope readers will see parallels in the way we continue to treat those we deem ‘inferior’.

Fiction is a reflection of its era, and the one we’re in now is rife with pitfalls and possibilities that we need to investigate. We need to explore the dangers through story before it’s too late for empathy. We need to show the bright alternatives before we’ve steered our path too far away from them. We need to work through our own fears, putting them into words both as catharsis and signpost.

This is why stories matter. This is why our society needs them more than ever.

This is why we write.

Deep Magic – Out Now!

The August edition of speculative e-magazine, Deep Magic, is now live. It features, among a fabulous table of contents, my story ‘Her Glimmering Facade’. It also has gorgeous cover art. Just look at it!

Deep Magic - August 2016 by [Brown, John D, Thompson, Eldon, Russell, Josi, Power, Stephen S, Tahmaseb, Charity, Powers, Beth, Wood, Eleanor]

This story is sort of a sci-fi mystery. It has twists and turns and tragedy… and I really can’t say much more about it without ruining the plot. Usually I’ll summarise a story’s theme in one of these announcements, but even that would be giving things away. Hopefully that fills you with desperate intrigue and a need to know more… If not, the ‘Look Inside’ feature on Amazon gives you the first few hundred words of the story before the preview cuts out (as well as the entirety of Stephen S. Power’s ‘The Catskill Dragon’), so go and read it for a taster if you’d like.

Deep Magic has recently relaunched after a ten-year hiatus, so it’s great to see another pro speculative fiction market back in action. Go send them some love and a few quid, and pick up what looks to be a terrific read.

All purchasing options are on their site – check it out!