a random interview to chris kelso

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Chris Kelso is a spectacle to move the mind, soul, and heart. The books that I’ve read are filled with power.
His words are in many ways a bridge of hope to insanity.
And I’ve only read so far two books – shame on me.
Some words about the book “Schadenfreude”…

After reading so many books most of them do not provide any surprise.
Of course now I demand from a book much more than I required a few years ago. And it was spectacular that “Schadenfreude” by Chris Kelso has astonished me positively. It is a book that don’t leave me indifferent – one great good thing!

I’ve also read the anthology “Caledonia Dreamin’ – Strange Fiction of Scottish Descent” edited by Hal Duncan and Chris Kelso.

1. Do you have a specific writing style?

I think I’ve developed a certain ‘style’. It started with me at 18 trying to replicate my favourite prose stylists, writers with really unique and individual voices – like Burroughs, Acker, PKD and Hubert Selby Jr. There is some fix-up, some spare Carver-esque writing and some longwinded stuff. Usually the poetry of the piece will take precedence, I’ll likely revel in words more than plot or actual character expansion.
The more I read, and wrote, the more the narrative and its structure started to amalgamate all those influences and became something (maybe) unique itself.

the dissolving zinc theatre

the dissolving zinc theatre

2. What books have most influenced your life most?

There are so many. Paul Auster’s ‘New York Trilogy’, Alasdair Gray’s ‘Lanark’…anything from PKD, Simak, Solzhenitsyn, Acker or Plath. Seriously, too much stuff!

3. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

This is a good question. I suppose at university I had Stewart Home and Rodge Glass to bounce a few ideas off of and get useful feedback. Since then, I suppose people like Hal Duncan, Anna Tambour, Gio Clairval and Vincenzo Bilof have really taken me under their wing. Seb Doubinsky and Matt Bialer are always on hand to help me out and keep me on the right track too. I’m grateful to them all.

4. What are your current projects?

So many! I have a book ‘The Folger Variation’ due out through Leaky Boot Press’s ‘Weirdo Magnet’ imprint. It’s a much more traditional science fiction fare. Then it’s my horror/crime novel that Adam Millard is putting out. I’m really excited about that one because it’s such a deviation for me. It’s still bleak as fuck, but more accessibly bleak….

5. How much research do you do?

Hardly any. The majority of my fiction takes place in a 4th dimensional universe where humans work as slaves in mining enclaves all day. I might research a piece of machinery that I’m elaborating on, but very little else. It’s all up here (points to temple)

the folger variation

the folger variation

6. Do you write full-time or part-time?

Very much part-time. By day I work in a school library, which is actually very enjoyable. I love the school and it’s pretty satisfying. I think even if I could afford to write full-time I wouldn’t. I’m drying up a bit these days. I write a lot less than I used to. Maybe I’ve said everything I had to say?

7. Where do your ideas come from?

My own desperate misery. These days I’m much happier and positive – which might explain why I can’t write anything of note anymore!

8. How can readers discover more about you and you work?

They can visit my website at – http://www.chris-kelso.com
or add me on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/chris.kelso.75

For full Books list visit – BOOKSSSSSSS

an itinerant interview to timothy jarvis

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After reading the story Nae Greeance o’ Bane I need to read more words written by Timothy Jarvis so I have bought The Wanderer and I can just say for now that it is an unmatched brilliance.
About Nae Greeance o’ Bane:

I was absolutely gripped during the entire story. Nae Greeance o’ Bane by Tim Jarvis is scary, claustrophobic and even funny. I loved the pacing of this story and the way Tim Jarvis creates a bizarre situation. If it were a movie, I would say that the CGI effects were the best and that the characters of Jeff and Tommy well developed.

You have to read this story. You won’t believe how good it is.

1. Do you have a specific writing style?

I’ve used the word ‘antic’ to refer to the way I write. Antic, which combines a sense of the grotesque with the bizarre and has overtones of the archaic, seems to me to go against consistency and seriousness of tone. A dark mood and a kind of unity of affect is often prized in modern Gothic and horror writing. I’d relate this, to go back to one of the roots of modern genre, to what Edgar Allan Poe called his ‘Arabesque’ side. But I’ve always found Poe’s ‘grotesque’ or impish and darkly humorous mode just as, and possibly even more, compelling. I particularly like how, in his strange puzzle of a novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, he veers jarringly between these opposed atmospheres. In my own work, I try to shift abruptly from cloying sentiment, to excessive gore, from eldritch horror to comic absurdity.

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the wanderer

I also use found manuscripts, frame narratives, and stories within stories in my work, because I want them to seep out and contaminate the world in which the reader reads, not be closed fantasies. I feel more of an affinity to the disorienting involutions of a labyrinthine narrative, than I do to strong, neat plotting, and I hope to stretch readers’ comprehension and test their patience as much as possible.

2. What books have most influenced your life?

As a child I read Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath, and was immediately struck by them. They’re so different from other children’s fantasies, there’s bleakness to them, a sense of real peril, a narrative complexity and also a profound engagement with the land, Alderly Edge in Cheshire, and its lore – the books are not a motley mix of different mythologies, but a sustained and powerful engagement with British folktale. Their sense that the fantastic is not hermetic, sealed off from the ‘real’ world, has been a profound influence on my thinking and writing. In 2012, Garner finished his trilogy with a final volume, Boneland, which portrays one of the children of the earlier books, now a grown man dislocated and disturbed, still dealing with the trauma of his encounter with the fantastic, which he has erased from his memory, but which still marks him in horrible ways. But that atmosphere is already there in the earlier books, and in Garner’s other novels from the 1960s, Elidor and The Owl Service, and it is an atmosphere that profoundly shaped my thinking growing up.

3. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I’d written some tales of adventure when I was young, but didn’t think of myself as a writer, or consider that it was something I wanted to do, till I was in my early twenties. Three writers, whose work I was reading obsessively at that time, had a profound influence on the way my inchoate fiction developed: Angela Carter, whose exhilarating formal inventiveness and transmutative, yet grounded, fantastic, I still attempt to ape; M. John Harrison, whose bleak, cruel, and dreary otherworlds in the Viriconium sequence, and the novel The Course of the Heart, were a huge influence on me, and whose thoughtful poetics, expressed on his blog and in essays, continues to inspire me; and Jorge Luis Borges, whose stories, especially those in which the unreal is found at the heart of the ‘real’, I found, and still find, have a powerful hold over me.

4. What are your current projects?

I’m currently working on a portmanteau novel which tells of London falling into decay and dissolution, and of the discovery of a series of manuscripts that relate stories of city’s tutelary daemons. Another strand details the life and death of a Belgian decadent poet during the siege of Paris in 1870. These two strands are bound up together by the idea that the crises in the cities are related to the decline of their daemons.

5. How much research do you do?

I don’t, as a general rule, do much specific research; I mostly read fiction, and steep myself in the atmosphere of various stories. But I do read up on a historical period if a narrative calls for it – I think it especially important for writers of the uncanny to get details right, seed the text with believable realistic elements that jar with the fantastic parts of the narrative. And I also tend to write about places I know and to walk them before writing; my practice is not psychogeographical, though, I’m not wearing down through layers of the landscape’s palimpsest with my tramping, but seeking the kind of epiphany that is to be found in the work of Arthur Machen, when a sudden transfiguring vision is had when walking through a well-known cemetery, or looking into the mouth a familiar alley.

6. Do you write full-time or part-time?

I only write part-time (and sometimes very part-time), but I’m lucky enough that my day job is to teach Creative Writing to undergraduate students, so I’m most of the time immersed in a creative environment.

7. Where do your ideas come from?

I do a lot of free writing, writing in which my conscious mind is as little involved as possible, in an attempt to dredge stuff up from the murk of my unconscious mind. I often do this to a prompt, a line of text from another book, or an image, something of that nature. I’ll then assemble some of these fragments, throw in some other disparate things that have interested me in some way, things I’ve seen, snippets of conversation I’ve overheard, things I’ve been told, images I’ve found, and things I’ve read from both fiction and non-fiction. And then I’ll force myself to come up with ways of linking together what is usually a fairly incongruous set. I can’t come up with ideas for my fiction deliberately, consciously, so I rely on tricks like this that force my unconscious to work. When it’s going well, I sometimes feel I’m tapping into some collective cultural pool of oneiric imagery, or working some kind of transmutative alchemy.
There are two key texts behind my way of writing. The first is Raymond Roussell’s posthumously published essay, ‘How I Wrote Certain of My Books’. In this essay, Roussell partially anatomizes his idiosyncratic poetics. He describes a technique he used to generate narrative content which consisted of the manipulation of homonyms, similar sounding words. He’d take a trite phrase such as a cliché or an advertising slogan, then come up with another phrase that sounded similar, but which had a different meaning. He’d then force himself to work the meaning of the second phrase into his narrative, no matter how odd it was. And this was just an early level of his method – later stages, which he declines to discuss in the essay, were presumably even stranger. While I don’t use a method as individual or as demanding as Roussell’s, the spirit of his process has influenced mine.
The second text is Gilles Deleuze’s late essay of 1993, ‘Literature and Life’. In it, Deleuze writes, ‘The writer returns from what he has seen and heard with bloodshot eyes and pierced eardrums.’ This is an important notion for me, the idea that writing is a risky endeavour, that it involves plumbing the depths in some way.

8. How can readers discover more about you and you work?

I’ve a couple of blogs: timothyjjarvis.wordpress.com, which contains information about me as a writer, some musings, and a soundtrack for my novel, The Wanderer; and treatisesondust.wordpress.com, which is a collection of antic texts I’ve found. I’m pretty poor at updating these, but I can also be found on Twitter, @TimothyJJarvis.

a glimpse interview to jeff gardiner

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I’ve read one book by Jeff Gardiner, but I intended to read all of them. Why? Read my words about the book “A Glimpse of the Numinous”…

“Impressive”, that’s the best description I could come up to label this book.

A Glimpse of the Numinous by Jeff Gardiner gave me the opportunity to travel between genres, images and identities, and with only one ticket. With comedy, romance, thriller, horror, this book it’s a truly marvel of multitasking; it is impossible to get bored during its reading – we are facing an astounding writer.

All in all, A Glimpse of the Numinous is no ordinary book. If you’re searching for linear stories, then this book isn’t for you. But if you want to experience something different, then by all means, buy the book. You will have some much fun.

1. Do you have a specific writing style?

That’s difficult for me to say, and probably easier for an objective reader to analyse. I consciously do not write to a formula or even to a specific genre. I believe great writing can adorn any genre. I’ve read amazing horror, fantasy, detective, literary, romantic and children’s books. I have a very fertile imagination, which feeds into my writing, and I like to think I’m quite good at realistic dialogue, and at creating sympathetic characters. I love using language and some of my book titles are good conversation starters. The word ‘numinous’ sound magical to me, as does ‘Myopia’ – the title of my YA novel. I start a novel with a clear plan of where I want to get to, but love to leave things open and flexible so that the story and characters can ‘come to life’ and sometimes surprise me.

2. What books have most influenced your life?

As a kid I was mesmerised by books such as ‘The Wind in the Willows’ and ‘The Little Grey Men’ (by BB). As I entered adolescence I found Michael Moorcock, which began my lifetime fascination with everything he’s written (see my book ‘The Law of Chaos: the Multiverse of Michael Moorcock’). I developed a passion for stuff by H Rider Haggard, Algernon Blackwood, Charles Dickens, Arthur Machen, Herman Hesse… this list could get enormous. Mervyn Peake’s ‘Gormenghast’ trilogy is a huge influence, as are Moorcock’s masterpieces, ‘Gloriana’ and ‘Mother London’. Graham Joyce’s ‘Tooth Fairy’ is another that stands out for me.

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a glimpse of the numinous

I hope you don’t mind me mentioning the vital role of music in my life, too. For years I’ve listen to rock, metal and prog – especially such artists as Yes, Metallica, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Hawkwind, Dream Theater and Steven Wilson. Music has inspired me a huge amount, listening, attending gigs, reading lyrics and absorbing artwork. It would be disingenuous of me not to mention the part music has played in my writing.

3. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Michael Moorcock. He was very kind when I wrote ‘Law of Chaos’, and answered all my idiotic questions very patiently. He writes a lot about writing itself. Stephen King’s book ‘On Writing’ is about the best I’ve read as an aid to writing fiction. I’m with several publishers and each one has a community of authors with whom I share tips; ask and offer advice. The writing community is extremely friendly and helpful.

the law of chaos

the law of chaos

4. What are your current projects?

I recently signed a three book contract with Accent Press for a YA/crossover fantasy trilogy. The first book is called ‘Pica’ (see what I mean about titles?), which is the Latin name for magpie. These books are set in our modern world but contain characters who have rediscovered an ancient magic linked with the natural world. I’m also keen to write screenplays and have completed a few which are currently being submitted to various agents.

5. How much research do you do?

This depends on the book. My novel ‘Igboland’ is set in Nigeria, inspired by my mum’s diaries from when my parents lived there (I was born in Jos, Nigeria). I decided to research the Igbo culture and the Biafran War, which are very important elements in the narrative, and my research was extensive for both. I learned a huge amount about the Igbo beliefs, known as ‘Odinani’, and some of the horrifying truths about the ethnic cleansing that went on during the Biafran War. One of the characters in ‘Igboland’ is an Igbo woman who is a victim of guerrilla brutality. Sadly, the tragedies continue in Nigeria to this day with the terrifying presence of Boko Haram.

covers

covers

6. Do you write full-time or part-time?
one night in amsterdam

one night in amsterdam

I took voluntary redundancy from my teaching job, which has now afforded me more time. I have to take on other work to make enough money to survive, but it has given me this wonderful opportunity to just get on and write.
I’ve been given the gift of time and space, and must not squander it! I usually get 2-3 days a week when I can get 4-5 hours to concentrate on my writing until the kids get back from school.
I also try to use evenings and early mornings when I can. With six books published and three in the pipeline, plus all my stories in various anthologies and magazines, I think I’m quite prolific.

7. Where do your ideas come from?

I don’t mean this to sound annoying – but from my imagination. Growing up I always assumed everyone had a vivid imagination with a constant internal dialogue. My mind is full of images, colours, voices and musings, which makes it difficult sometimes to have a normal conversation with others, because when someone starts talking to me I have to break whatever intense thread is currently buzzing inside my head. I realise that makes me slightly irritating, and I’m working on it. So all my ideas tend to be personal. The stories in ‘A Glimpse of the Numinous’ are flights of fancy each based on a definite premise: what would the god Dionysus be like in the modern world? What would happen if a man developed a close relationship with a seagull – you know obvious things like that. ‘Myopia’ explores creative responses to bullying; ‘Igboland’ is about personal and national identity; ‘Treading On Dreams’ deals with obsession and unrequited love; ‘One Night in Amsterdam’ (under my pen-name Jaz Hartfield) is a fun-packed erotic romance!

8. How can readers discover more about you and you work?

I have an active online presence and I’d be keen to hear from anyone who’s enjoyed any of my works.

Jeff’s Website:
www.jeffgardiner.com
Jeff’s Blog:
https://jeffgardiner.wordpress.com/
Jaz Hartfield:
http://tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Hartfield_Jaz/one-night-in-amsterdam.htm

clairvoyant interview to daniel mills

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I had a lot of expectations before reading “Revenants: A Dream of New England”, and I must admit now that I was pleasantly surprised! A simple conclusion: if I want to know about reality I will watch the news; if I get tired, and I get tired all the time, of hearing about the “real” brutality of the world then I just need to read Daniel Mills. If this don’t makes any sense is normal, but all makes sense to me.

Thanks to Jason E. Rolfe for making me read Daniel Mills. Is an author worth following.

 

1. Do you have a specific writing style?

I do, I think. At least I hope so.

For me the cultivation of a unique, authentic voice ought to be any writer’s foremost concern, and the truth is I spent many years working to develop a style of my own. Only with Revenants did I come to feel as though I had accomplished this, if only in part, and even now style continues to be something of an obsession to the extent that I have come to value authenticity of voice and spontaneity of expression over mere craftsmanship.

Regrettably, it has become something of a truism among writers and writing programs that “writing for one’s self” is an essentially self-indulgent activity — a shame, really, because the reality is that none of us are going to be read or remembered in, say, 500 years’ time, so you may as well do your best to be true to your own style rather than writing to please others or (Heaven help us!) writing for the market.

Even as a reader, I find that I would much rather read a book that is stylistically distinct but flawed — singular if also imperfect — than another that is well-crafted but essentially workmanlike. I’m reminded of the dismissals we regularly encounter of HP Lovecraft’s style. There are many writers out there who would have us believe HPL is a poor writer simply because his work doesn’t “tick the boxes,” as it were, with regard to plotting, adjective/adverb use, character building, etc. I see these arguments and I think to myself: yes, but surely that’s the point? You pick up a Lovecraft story to read and you are never once in doubt about its author — the unity of style, voice, and vision is so distinctive, so complete.

Another example can be found in the novels of Walter M. Miller, JR. His first novel – A Canticle for Leibowitz – is an undisputed masterpiece while his second – Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman – was left unfinished at the time of his suicide. Saint Leibowitz was later finished by Terry Bisson and released after Miller’s death to a very muted reception indeed. Certainly Saint Leibowitz is a tortured work, one that is deeply flawed in execution, but as such, it somehow seems to contain more of Miller himself, his distinct vision of sin, grace, and redemption.

And though Canticle is unquestionably the “better” book, I have read it only once while I reread Saint Leibowitz every 3-4 years.

2. What books have most influenced your life?

Like most other readers, I have a cherished handful of books which I continually read and reread, which have become so deeply enmeshed within the fabric of my life that I would be hard pressed to qualify their influence on me in any meaningful way. Suffice it to say that I have lived in the cold snow country of Yasunari Kawabata’s novel of the same name and likewise experienced the oppressive summer heat of LP Hartley’s The Go-Between. I have witnessed the hypocrisy of Victorian society as evidenced by Samuel Butler’s The Way of All Flesh and lay awake listening for the dead voices that haunt Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Paramo. And that’s not to mention the weeks and months I have devoted to unraveling the riddles of Charles Palliser’s The Quincunx and Rustication.

Other books that have influenced me would include Par Lagerkvist’s Barabbas, Hesse’s Demian, Miller’s Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, Breece D’J Pancake’s The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake, Pinckney Benedict’s Dogs of God, and Isak Dinesen’s Seven Gothic Tales.

3. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Lovecraft again springs to mind. Here was a man who wrote what he wanted in the way he wanted and who devoted his entire life to his art though it meant an existence characterized by near-constant poverty. Unlike Dickinson or Kafka — who might also be said to embody this artistic ideal — HPL was a man who had fallen behind his own time rather than leap out ahead of it ala Dickinson or embody it fully ala Kafka.

For this reason I cannot help but relate to the sense of poignant dislocation which so pervades his work, that yearning for a different time. Yes, his opinions on race (among other topics) are abhorrent but he was by almost all accounts a gentleman of great personal kindness, courtesy, integrity, who served as mentor to a generation of young weird/ horror writers. In many ways he was broken — it would be difficult to argue otherwise — but I’m broken too, as are we all, and for me, it is this sense of brokenness as we encounter it in his work that keeps me coming back to him.

4. What are your current projects?

I spent much of 2013 and 2014 working on a new Gothic novel addressing the American Spiritualist movement in the wake of the American Civil War. In addition to this I have continued to work on short stories, a number of which are forthcoming later this year in such venues as Aickman’s Heirs (ed. Simon Strantzas), Autumn Cthulhu (ed. Mike Davis), Leaves of a Necronomicon (ed. Joseph S. Pulver, Sr) and Nightscript I (ed. C.M. Muller).

5. How much research do you do?

A bit of a difficult question. I’ve mentioned my own feelings of dislocation and general disaffection with modern society — “I just wasn’t made for these times” as Brian Wilson has it — and the sad fact is that I spend altogether too much time fetishizing the past, whether that’s devouring Victorian novels or old religious tracts or haunting the historic houses and graveyards of Vermont. In other words: the research is always ongoing if only for the simple reason that I don’t think of it as “research.”

For example I’ve lately become obsessed with the lives of Horatio Spafford and Philip Bliss, who wrote the words and music, respectively, to the well-known 19th century hymn “It is Well with my Soul.” Spafford was moved to write the words following the loss of his four daughters in the wreck of The Ville de Havre — one of the great calamities of its day — and Bliss later supplied the music mere months before his own tragic death in the Ashtabula River Rail Disaster. Will I ever do anything with this? Probably not. All the same it is fascinating.

6. Do you write full-time or part-time?

Part-time.

7. Where do your ideas come from?

I believe in genuine inspiration — or “the muse” as it’s traditionally understood — but I tend to see it as an ongoing process rather than any kind of epiphany. Routine is important. During the course of each day I try to make time for the things that fascinate and move me. This could mean a walk in the woods or an undistracted hour spent listening to music or even just twenty minutes of stolen reading time on my daily commute to work. In this way I try to make a habit of beauty in all things so that I’m charged with inspiration when I sit down to work. I don’t always succeed at this, of course, and Lord knows I’m as bad as anyone else at making time for writing, but this way at least I don’t have to worry about feeling inspired.

8. How can readers discover more about you and you work?

You can find me online at http://www.daniel-mills.net where I maintain a bibliography and blog or find me in the usual places: Facebook, Goodreads, etc. If you happen to live in the USA, there’s a good chance you can find my novel Revenants at your local library. Similarly you can try to track me down in person at Readercon or this year’s Necronomicon in Providence, RI.

60/52 interview to douglas thompson

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All Douglas Thompson books that I read offer a very visceral picture of the human emotional attachment and have oodles of style. Another big strength of his books are the cool concepts. Although some stories make sense alone, together they are visually stunning – yes you read right! A book can be visual.
Douglas Thompson stories are incredible in every possible way, a delight for the human mind.

In short, Douglas rocked!

1. Do you have a specific writing style?

I often try not to have any fixed style. Being a bit of a polymath, I am influenced by things in fields outside writing, for instance art and architecture. One of my favourite architects, John Lautner, tried to make every single building he did different, to have no style, to try instead to give form to the wishes of each client. The writing analogy would be to let the content of each novel generate the appropriate style to tell it in. That said, in Lautner’s work, the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright can sometimes be traced, likewise for me you’d probably find, if you looked hard, certain key writing influences like Wolfgang Borchert, Albert Camus, Ray Bradbury, J G Ballard, John Banville.

2. What books have most influenced your life?

There are so many, and we tend to refer in these situations to ones that we found at early stages of our lives. Camus’ The Fall, Borchert’s The Man Outside, Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5, but there are later big moments like Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed and odd ones like the painter Georgio de Chirico’s only novel Hebdomeros (in the Margaret Crossland translation)… which changed my life. Well, they all did, and many others, that’s the wonder of books.

3. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Among the dead, Wolfgang Borchert. For the way he uses words like intense layered music or paint, for the tragedy, poignancy and honesty of his vision. I shan’t mention any among the living, that might be name-dropping and could embarrass the modest souls in question. And also, I’ve learned never to trust the opinion of one single person of our own work. Self-belief is the hardest quality, the hardest-won, for any writer. I steer clear of literary agents because I don’t believe in the process of standardization which they dedicate their lives to.

4. What are your current projects?

I’m trying to give up writing. I finished a new 85,000 word novel just before Christmas which with any luck will be the last thing I ever write (though I can hear the voices of a dozen friends laughing in my ear to hear such a suggestion of the prolific Doug ever giving up!). I can’t tell you anything about that book in a public forum, for personal reasons, but I think it might be the best thing I’ve ever written. It may come out under a pseudonym, if at all. There’s also a book of my poetry will be published by the influential Red Squirrel Press in 2017, but unfortunately I can’t talk about that either. Terry Grimwood’s Exaggerated Press will be bringing out a major collection of my short stories later this year (31 in all), to be called ‘The Sleep Corporation’, which may be slightly controversial in that it will reveal a surprising pseudonym I’ve also been writing under.

cover_ultrameta

cover ultrameta

In the meantime, these days I do occasional poems and digital paintings, which I print onto canvas. My first exhibition opens next week in Glasgow. Sometimes the paintings inspire the poems and sometimes vice versa. I’m trying to find and encourage other polymathic writers to try the same thing. It helps me to find inspiration from a wider range of sources, and to uncover areas of my own inner narrative which I might be hiding from. Follow your obsessions, as J G Ballard said, and sometimes that will take you across a busy motorway on all fours, but follow you must, wherever it takes you.

5. How much research do you do?

It varies. For my latest manuscript, all I had to do was live. For my philosophical science fiction novel ‘Entanglement’ I had to read up about all the known exoplanets that might support life and what their atmospheres might look like. For my historical novel ‘The Brahan Seer’, I had to read quite a bit of Scottish history and visit dozens of locations around Scotland. But that was another obsession, something I’d been doing for a lifetime anyway, so not a chore. My fellow Glaswegian writer J David Simons has a theory about historical research that you should always do as little as possible and forget about it afterwards… meaning many a good book is spoiled by the writer feeling so proud of some research that they have to shove pages of it into the reader’s face. I think this comes back to a bigger strategic issue in writing for me: that you have to have something to say, and everything in your book should serve that message. I think there are two kinds of book in the world actually: those with something to say, and those with nothing to say (most bestsellers). When anyone calls me a stylist I wince, and think of hairdressing. The message is everything.

6. Do you write full-time or part-time?

Part-time, and No-time if I can manage it. I only work at the day job 3 days a week, but my first 2 novels were written while in full-time employment, so I don’t believe that these vast amounts of time are actually necessary, or indeed healthy, for good writing. Write in the margins of your life, since ultimately that very life is your subject-matter and inspiration, metaphorically or literally.

7. Where do your ideas come from?

Life. Every day, the ongoing drama of the world and my own occasionally tormented place within it. The stupidity of human beings (myself included)… that’s always a rich source! I reckon we probably shouldn’t look for ideas, but think like artists. Sketch a hedgerow, a tree, see what comes of it. Draw out the mysterious hidden thread inside yourself and follow it and see where it leads. Use metaphor. Turn your pain into beauty whenever you can. But I wonder if I should answer this more simply. Philosophical conversations in pubs with friends often crystallize ideas, as does listening to song lyrics and looking through books on brilliant artists like Dorothea Tanning, that sort of thing.

8. How can readers discover more about you and you work?

My blog is a good place to start: https://douglasthompson.wordpress.com
And my old original website is still up: http://www.glasgowsurrealist.com/douglas
where you can read some of my earlier short stories from books like Ultrameta which are still occasionally finding new readers and making people’s head hurt.

silk interview to nina allan

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After “The Silver Wind” I read the book “A Thread of Truth” also by Nina Allan (both published by Eibonvale Press), and I can’t get this book out of my head; but is normal that the stories by Nina Allan can affect the reader because she was a writing that’s dark, honest, emotional, brutal.

In short an astonishing writer – the reading of “The Race” will confirm this.

1. Do you have a specific writing style?
the race

the race

The language of a story is very important to me. I believe that a story’s language should do more than simply tell you what is happening – it should also convey to the reader some sense of what the events mean within the context of the narrative and how it feels for a protagonist to be experiencing them. Language for a writer is like paint for an artist in that way – I don’t want to produce just an outline, I want to make a complete painting! The words we choose should not be there merely by chance – they should be selected specifically, and every word should have a reason for being there. It’s important to me that my stories should have an element of the poetic about them – poetry is language distilled to its essence – but equally I don’t want my narratives to be so dense with language that the reader has trouble working out what’s going on. The story should be clear, and hopefully exciting to follow. But I would like the reader to come away with the feeling of having experienced something more than just a story.

2. What books have most influenced your life?

The twin influences on my reading and writing life have been science fiction and Russian literature! Unusual bedfellows perhaps, but that’s how it’s been for me – and with science fiction so popular in Russia, perhaps it’s not as unusual as it first seems. If I had to pick five books that have stayed with me and continue to inspire me, I’d list the following: Roadside Picnic, by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky, Pale Fire, by Vladimir Nabokov, The Book and the Brotherhood, by Iris Murdoch, The Course of the Heart, by M. John Harrison, and The Affirmation, by Christopher Priest. But then it’s impossible to leave out J. G. Ballard, Roberto Bolano, Joyce Carol Oates, Caitlin R. Kiernan… The list goes on forever! I think what all these books and writers have in common though is their obsession with strangeness, with the essential mysteriousness of the universe, with the sense that what we think of as normality could be undermined or overthrown at any moment.

3. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

My partner, the writer Christopher Priest has been hugely important to me as a mentor, both before we met and afterwards. I was a fan of his writing for almost twenty years before we met in person, and during that time I came to appreciate his work as a game-changer for science fiction. I thought he was doing extraordinary things with both theme and form, and that continues to this day. Now that we are partners, we are also each other’s first readers! We talk about writing incessantly. I’ve learned so much from him, not least the value of a proper second draft.

4. What are your current projects?

I’ve recently completed two new short stories that should be appearing in anthologies later this year, and I’m now working on a new novel. I don’t have a title for it yet, but I am about a third of the way through the first draft, and I can tell you that the protagonist is a woman who believes she’s been abducted by aliens.

5. How much research do you do?

The trick with research is not letting it show! I like to gravitate towards subjects that are already a part of my imaginative lexicon – I want to communicate a natural passion for the subject, not deliver a lecture. When something interests me, it’s normal and exciting for me to want to read as much as I can about it, and so accumulate knowledge. More directed research is essential to check facts, of course, but on the whole I try to let my natural enthusiasms dictate the course of my reading, and my writing, rather than self-consciously picking a subject because someone has suggested that it might be interesting.

6. Do you write full-time or part-time?

After many years of having to fit my writing around a day job, I am currently enjoying life as a full-time writer.

7. Where do your ideas come from?

Ideas are everywhere! I have never found any problem in finding ideas I want to work with – the difficult part is getting them on to paper. I’ve always thought the fun part of being a writer is that initial moment of inspiration, when you see, hear or read about something you feel you absolutely have to write about. From the moment you begin trying to communicate through the medium of the written word, you’re engaged in an uphill struggle. If you can manage to adequately convey even half of what’s in your mind, you’re doing OK…

8. How can readers discover more about you and you work?

I keep a regular blog at ninaallan.co.uk, where I like to share news, and also my thoughts about books I’ve read, about current debates in science fiction and what’s going on in the world of literature generally. You can also find a full list of my books and short stories, as well as links to interviews, reviews of my work, and fiction you can read for free online. As well as my own blog, I write regular reviews for the online magazine Strange Horizons, I have a column in the bi-monthly SF magazine Interzone, and you can listen to me arguing about British science fiction on the Coode Street Podcast here. My debut novel The Race is out now from NewCon Press. It’s set in a future Britain, and features bio-engineering, climate change – and books, of course.

platinum interview to rhys hughes

rhys hughes
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The writing of Rhys Hughes is in fact an asset to any head. It’s like a fly in a soup plate – a new ingredient.
And, since, any powerful mind constantly needs a steady flow of knowledge to be free from the shackles of lethargy his stories provide everything: action, adventure, mystery, suspense, twists, turns, science fiction, eroticism, dinosaurs. There is no program on the Discovery channel that provides so much information, misinformation, philosophy, metaphysics – ufa!

1. Do you have a specific writing style?

I am certain that I do have a specific style, but I would find it difficult to define what it is absolutely. I can only say that it’s a style that has been influenced by many factors, including my capabilities and limitations, my experiences and the authors I most enjoy. This is true of nearly every author and is hardly a profound observation.

Having said this, I am scarcely aware of my capabilities and limitations; most of my experiences are those I have no intention of writing about; and there are writers I enjoy who I never attempt to emulate in any way. I enjoy rhythmic and poetic prose, but it must be strong too, muscular baroque. I love wordplay but not at the expense of narrative or ideas. I love symmetry and patterns, so the way prose looks on the page is also important to me.

2. What books have most influenced your life?

When it comes to fiction, the answer is that many of the important books in my life were those I encountered at a formative age. So The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson were responsible for getting me interested in literature in the first place; the complete tales of Edgar Allan Poe made me want to be a writer; War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy helped me realise that ‘deep’ novels could be enjoyable rather than difficult; Voltaire’s Candide introduced me to satire and changed my writing life. Then there was Kafka, Saki, Chekhov and the inimitable Borges.

rhys hughes

rhys hughes

Although these days I tend to downplay the importance of science fiction and fantasy works as influences, in fairness I must mention Frank Herbert’s Dune and Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, and to a lesser extent Robert Silverberg’s Lord Valentine’s Castle, as being important to me. I spent the best part of a year reading Ray Bradbury with unreserved admiration. There was also Brian Aldiss. And Michael Moorcock, especially his Dancers at the End of Time sequence. Jack Vance was perhaps even more of an influence, especially The Eyes of the Overworld, which gave me a taste for unrelenting symmetrical irony and comedic formality in dialogue.

A little later, Thomas Pynchon, John Barth and Vladimir Nabokov showed me that fiction could burst with ideas, style and events without the bursting damaging the vision or flow of a story; then Donald Barthelme, Boris Vian, Flann O’Brien and Milorad Pavi? taught me that whimsy can be rigorous and that the intellect doesn’t have to be a spoilsport.

I will add B.S. Johnson’s Christie Malry’s Own Double Entry and Felipe Alfau’s Locos: a Comedy of Gestures. Brion Gysin’s The Process is the supreme example of a novel that is unique and unexpected but which connects with some vital part of my soul, as if I had always been waiting to read it. At the moment I am enthusiastic for the work of S?awomir Mro?ek and I suspect that his short story collection The Elephant will also become one of the most important books in my life. And how can I forget two masterpieces by Italo Calvino, The Complete Cosmicomics and Our Ancestors? But if I had to specify only one book, then I might select Stanislaw Lem’s The Cyberiad, which never fails to amaze and delight me.

3. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Italo Calvino. No doubt about it. He has been my favourite author for more than thirty years, although when I first discovered his work I wasn’t so enthusiastic about it. That book was The Castle of Crossed Destinies and although I was vastly impressed by its form, by the ingenious scheme set out for the telling of numerous individual stories, the actual stories seemed to my mind to fail to live up to the promise of the framework that contained them. Ten years later I read the book again and enjoyed it much more; and soon I will embark on a third reading. It’s very rare that I read books more than twice. Since then, I have read as much of Calvino’s work as I can get my hands on. I loved Invisible Cities, Adam One Afternoon, Marcovaldo, Mr Palomar, Numbers in the Dark, all his books in fact. It’s a shame there is still a lot of his work that hasn’t yet been translated from Italian into English. I hope one day that it will all be available.

4. What are your current projects?

I always work on several projects at the same time. I am writing commissioned short stories for various themed anthologies. I am also planning to resume work on two projects that have been on hold for a long time, a novella called 500 Eyes and a big novel called The Clown of the New Eternities. It is also time to start thinking about writing a new ‘Stringent Strange’ tale, either a novella or novel. But the project I am most enthusiastic about is something completely new, a collection of linked stories called Down Cerberus, which takes as its main conceit the idea of a set of interviews with the mythical triple-headed dog, who can relate stories about all the famous people he has encountered as souls on their way to Hades. They have to pass him on the journey from life to death and are able to stop and chat and tell him anecdotes about their lives that are unknown to historians. This idea was partly inspired and influenced by Karel Čapek’s Apocryphal Tales, a book I’m currently reading and which concerns the untold tales of various characters from history and mythology.

5. How much research do you do?

The answer to this question depends entirely on the story I happen to be writing. Some stories require a lot of research; others don’t. Many of my stories might be based on the examination and development of an abstract idea, so factual research is less important than an ability to be logical and imaginative, and to be imaginative enough to twist that logic if necessary. Other stories might be based on personal experience and in such cases it can be said that the research has already been part of the living process. But research is certainly essential to the competent construction of stories that have some basis in history or in the actualities of other people or things. I do a lot of research when I have to. It’s a pleasure, not a chore, because I enjoy reading encyclopaedias and textbooks anyway, and I always have, and I also enjoy making my own investigations into facts, figures and perspectives.

6. Do you write full-time or part-time?

I write full time, but I don’t think this situation is sustainable indefinitely. When I returned to Britain in 2008 after living in Spain, I attempted to find a ‘normal’ job, but I was unsuccessful because of my erratic work history. Most employers don’t like their potential employees going off travelling periodically, and so I found it impossible to secure a job. As my writing was already bringing in a small income, I decided to take the chance of writing full time and declaring myself self-employed. I didn’t expect to succeed at this for more than one year, but so far it has worked out for seven, only just. I have a frugal lifestyle and that makes it possible to survive on an income derived solely from writing peculiar and absurdist works that are not generally popular.

Having said that, I do occasionally diversify in order to supplement my income and this is something I can see happening to a greater and greater extent in the future. There are other options that I am considering, including running off somewhere with someone. Let’s see what happens! I do know, however, that my current lifestyle probably can’t continue for much longer. The cost of living is higher now than I ever remember it, and although my income from writing is increasing every year, it’s not keeping pace with costs. But I can’t complain. I am a lot more successful than I ever imagined I would be. Success is relative and when I started out, all I wanted was to have one book published. I have exceeded that aspiration by a factor of more than thirty.

7. Where do your ideas come from?

This is the supposedly ‘dreaded’ question that every writer hates to be asked, but in fact it’s a perfectly valid question and one that’s easy to answer. Ideas come more smoothly and simply with practice. This means actively attempting to invent and develop ideas in one’s head. It’s the same as learning to dance or ride bicycles or climb mountains. It requires belief, persistence, desire and practice. So when you are out walking, think about story scenarios in your mind. Think about them wherever you are. The more you do this, the more likely it is that good and original ideas will come to you. It might take years, many years in fact, before the ideas start jumping into your mind automatically, but it will eventually happen. It just takes the stamina to keep going, that’s all. Then ideas will come to you without being asked first; and you may actually regret the fact, because they won’t leave you alone. They will trouble your waking and sleeping hours until you express them as stories on the page. Then you are a real writer, akin to a doomed soul, and the question about where story ideas come from will never annoy you again.

8. How can readers discover more about you and you work?

I have a blog and there is lots of information about me there. Or simply type my name into Google and do a search. I have many stories online that can be read for free. I plan to eventually put up exactly 100 stories on my ‘Platinum Ass’ blogsite. This site was named in tribute to Apuleius’ Golden Ass but very few people have understood the connection. In the meantime, my main blog, ‘The Spoons that are my Ears’, can be found at the following address:
http://rhysaurus.blogspot.com

melodious interview to teri lee kline

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Just knowing Teri Lee Kline by what she writes is easy to see that she’s full of vitality, humanity and with a heart of an intoxicating sweetness. She is also a writer that can, easily, dazzled me. See, for instance, the work “Snakes At His Feet”.

A while ago I did a little acrostic with the word Teri, and here it is:
Today we
embrace with
rejoicing the
illuminated presence of Teri Lee Kline.

1. Do you have a specific writing style?

My writing is intensely personal. I try to go directly to the heart of the matter. This is especially important, for obvious reasons, in very short fiction. This does hold true for me, however, regardless of the form I am utilizing. My longer fiction, creative non-fiction, journalistic pieces and even the interviews I conduct have this as the hallmark, as well. My heart is forever on my sleeve for all to see.

2. What books have most influenced your life?

When, in my youth, I read To Kill a Mockingbird and The Grapes of Wrath I was unalterably set on a course to view the world in a certain way. They were monumental books for my education and evolving character. Then, as a teenager, reading To The Lighthouse, Mrs. Dalloway, The Waves, A Room of One’s Own, I was blown away with the possibilities in language, words, and literature. It was after reading these Virginia Woolf classics that I began my lifelong love affair with reading and writing. Lastly, James Agee’s A Death in the Family, my favorite novel, taught me about writing from the truest depth of my heart, how to evoke mood, and power. Phenomenal book.

3. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I consider teachers, more than other writers, my mentors. I had a teacher in my youth, Mrs. Delphine Johnson, who recognized in me an innate talent for expressing myself through the written word. She was the first to identify this and encouraged me throughout my school years. My English professor at the University of Minnesota worked endlessly with me and was at my side when I won the Best Freshman Writer scholarship that year. I will never forget these teachers. Of late, a dear friend, Jason Rolfe, encouraged me to submit my work for publication. He is a wonderful writer, mentor and mensch! I am forever indebted to him.

4. What are your current projects?

I always have several projects brewing at any given moment. Presently, I am collecting my very short fiction pieces and will begin the process of looking for a publisher. I am also at work on a book length project about very small towns of the world. I also love conducting interviews and doing profiles of writers and artists. I usually have one of those in the works. I would love to start my own journal of food related fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and photography. I’m working towards that goal, as well.

5. How much research do you do?

It depends on the project, but I normally choose projects that do not require much research.

6. Do you write full-time or part-time?

I write as often as I can. My notebook is ever ready.

7. Where do your ideas come from?

My ideas come from many places: my observations of people, from observing nature, from my dreams, from stories in the news. Most often my best ideas come to me when I am in that blessed and magical state between wakefulness and sleep. It is usually in moments of silence that my muse speaks.

8. How can readers discover more about you and you work?

I have found Facebook and Twitter to be useful tools for connecting with readers and especially with other writers and artists. My posts are generally very personal in nature. People respond well to this and for this I am pleased and grateful. I am quite new to the world of publishing so therefore do not have a long list of credits. I was very happy to be featured on the pages of Literary Orphans multiple times, Sein und Werden and also, the Utter Nonsense issue of the international journal of experimental and absurdist literature and art, The Black Scat Review.

notorious interview to brendan connell

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I don’t remember when I started reading the books by Brendan Connell; perhaps in 2013 when I bought “Miss Homicide Plays the Flute” published by Eibonvale Press. Then I read “Metrophilias”, “Unpleasant Tales”, “The Translation of Father Torturo” and “The Galaxy Club”. After these readings I still have difficulty in defining him, so I use this

Every generation throws up a few genuine Masters of the Weird. There simply is no hyperbole in the statement that Brendan Connell is a member of this elite group right now, perhaps the most accomplished of them all. His work is very strange but always proceeds with rigorous logic and his use of language is original, concise and often startling, employing the alchemy of a ferocious intelligence to create dreamscapes that have the solidity and cruelty of stone and iron. The blend of profound melancholy, decadent atmosphere and abstruse erudition work beautifully and the magic of his prose gets under the skin of your soul and remains there forever.

Rhys Hughes

Maybe, as he says, I just need to buy/read his books.

1. Do you have a specific writing style?

Yes. It is sort in-corpo-posso-arrivo-sul-primo-codice-endo-osseo-Piovesan-hydrobike-Scozia-focalizza-Pippo-troia. Kid got to study Chindor say Chamal Tiama Tamil Tonto more Imodium morning. Case it would’ve been a little minimal Mandel see the rules I did let me have you order will you funny Sissel content on the George Lucia little did Schendel say loud little give me a CAD say call me when the brosay when you blow kid double-digit it will need your new seals’ drove noodle me a sandwich should let me see if they can avoid your money jot it will need Jordan told me sit on in the day.

2. What books have most influenced your life?

The list is pretty long. Most of the books that have influenced me are very old books. First and foremost, Chinese classics. Next would come ancient Sanskrit texts, followed by ancient Greek books. After that would come French, Italian and English literature.

3. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Maybe my father, but otherwise no one. Whenever I read another writer, I try to learn something from them. Even bad writers can be learned from.

4. What are your current projects?

I am currently working on finishing a handful of novels. I try not to talk too much about works in progress though.

5. How much research do you do?

It depends on the book. Some books require no research. Other require a fair amount of reading. The best choice is to know the subject well enough from the beginning, where a great deal of research is not required, but this isn’t always possible.

6. Do you write full-time or part-time?

I try to think full-time. The actual time I spend on writing is very little. That said, if possible, I write every day.

7. Where do your ideas come from?

Different places. Some stories or books might be dream related, others come from real-life experiences, others come from things I might have read, others from random thoughts or things that I’ve observed. It is very rare a story or idea comes from something someone suggests to me. It does happen, but it is a rare thing indeed. Some stories also are based on certain logical premises.

8. How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Well, they should buy my books

future interview to allen ashley

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Well, last year I’ve read Once and Future Cities; I would say it’s great! Allen Ashley made a masterful work – deep and thought provoking. I enjoyed the uniqueness, beauty, and attractive words; its so colorful!

Allen Ashley, with a complex and imaginative writing, ensures, always, one thing: originality.

I look forward with enthusiasm the new edition of his first book “The Planet Suite” and the anthology, edited by him, “Sensorama”; both will be published by Eibonvale Press.

1. Do you have a specific writing style?

Yes, I think I do, certainly with works above the flash fiction range. I consider myself something of a stylist so that the story should please the eye and sound good on the ear. My stories deal with a regular range of concepts – identity, memory, perception, reality, the individual, the span of history, love and loss. Often with buried references – musical and otherwise. I once went on record as saying that you could take a paragraph out of any of my stories and recognise it as mine. This is, of course, a dangerous assertion. Philip K. Dick – himself a recognisable stylist with regular themes – made the completely opposite assertion that any random paragraph from one of his pages would look just like anybody else’s. In my defence, I think of a writer like J. G. Ballard at his peak – even a sentence from him is recognisable as his and nobody else’s.

Sometimes I equate an individual fiction writing style with that of musicians. Thus, if you hear a song by, say, Kate Bush or The Byrds or Neil Young they will have put their own definitive stamp on it. Take The Beatles – no one would remember them now if they had simply carried on playing rock ‘n’ roll covers for 8 hours a night in a Hamburg bar or settled into a role as Tony Sheridan’s backing band. Instead, they developed their own unique sound and created the cultural revolution of the 1960s. Along with Bob Dylan and a few others.

I am always telling writers to develop their own voice. It’s probably counter-productive in terms of personal success because many publishers seem to want you to write just like whomever they consider to be the default successful template… but, hey, who wants to sound exactly like everybody else? Of current writers – Nina Allan, Rhys Hughes, Andrew Hook and the late Joel Lane all have a distinctive, personal style.

2. What books have most influenced your life?

Having attended two church schools as a primary aged child, I find that I quite often quote – rather vaguely – from “The Bible”. When I was boy, I had already read “The War of the Worlds” and “The Lost World”; then my school had a book fair and I purchased Arthur C. Clarke’s “The City and the Stars”. That was it: I was forever hooked on science fiction.

3. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

As a short story specialist, if I had to name one author it would undoubtedly be J. G. Ballard. I love the risks that he took within the short form, especially in a collection such as “The Atrocity Exhibition”. As a poet and sometimes singer, songwriter and general performer, I find that there is always a touch of Robert Calvert in my demeanour. Calvert was a poet, playwright, singer and musician who is best known for his association with the rock band Hawkwind: he wrote the lyrics for their major hit “Silver Machine”.

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once and future cities

Can I name a few inspirers as editors as well? In this area I look to emulate the work of Judith Merril, Michael Moorcock, Harlan Ellison and Andrew Hook.

4. What are your current projects?

At point of writing – mid-January 2015 – I am guest-editing an issue of the online magazine “Sein und Werden” with the theme “The Restless Consumer”.
Here’s the link: http://www.kissthewitch.co.uk/seinundwerden/next_issue.html

On March 1st, I open for submissions to my next editorial project “Creeping Crawlers”, which I’m editing for Shadow Publishing.
Here’s the link: http://www.shadowpublishing.webeasysite.co.uk/index.html

I will be judging the British Fantasy Society Short Story Competition again this year.
Lastly, I’ve also set myself an ambitious target of writing half a century of different pieces of writing known as “The Fifty Project”.

Busy times!

5. How much research do you do?

That depends on the particular story, poem or article that I am working on at that point. I’ve undertaken all sorts of research – places visited, books devoured, buses caught, walks taken, even going so far as to deliberately poke myself in the eye to make sure that I recorded the correct resultant colours! These days, I suppose, research is a little easier with the availability of well-researched articles instantly accessible on Wikipedia and the like. They have a reasonably high degree of accuracy. I wouldn’t recommend this technique for your university essays but for when you simply need a snippet of straightforward information or clear answers – such as names of characters in mythology, etc – one can happily and rapidly research from one’s sofa. So I do.

6. Do you write full-time or part-time?

As well as writing, editing, event hosting and critically reading, I also run five creative writing groups. So, effectively, I write full time.

7. Where do your ideas come from?

This is the question that authors apparently can’t stand. However, it’s the one that interested readers usually want answered. I’ve given a few responses to this over the years. One was my story “The Ideas Mountain” in my collection “Urban Fantastic” (Crowswing Books, 2006) in which I facetiously created an actual secret mountain somewhere along the border between France and Belgium to which writers would make the occasional trek and dig out a handful of ideas to power them through their next project. Also, I have published a couple of articles such as “Birth of a Story” and “Unlikely Inspirations” which deal with specific stories. And I think that’s the answer to your question – each story has its own particular inspiration. It can be all sorts of things – a newspaper article, a conversation, my thoughts on someone’s guidelines for an anthology, a response to another artwork, something I’ve been thinking about whilst lying in bed at seven in the morning… Take your inspiration wherever you can and keep a notebook or a file on your computer along with a back-up on the memory stick.

8. How can readers discover more about you and you work?

My website is at www.allenashley.com but I have to own up that I have let it slip a little out of date. I promise to update it thoroughly very soon. There are photos, stories, quotes, links, whatever relating to me all over the internet. If you Google me, it’s “Allen Ashley” not “Ashley Allen” the ex-“Playboy” model! Or people can contact me via this address allen@allenashley.com which will forward to one of my email accounts.

musical interview to alexander zelenyj

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“Songs for the Lost” was one of the best books I have read recently. Alexander Zelenyj has a complex and visionary writing and what I can say is how the book touched me for its beauty, for its insanity, for its soul, for its melancholy.

Alexander Zelenyj is a singular writer whose words beautifully crafted, with a sustained rhythm, still carries an effect, after placing the book on the shelf; he loves, clearly, pushing buttons in our brain.

1. Do you have a specific writing style?

Yes and no, I suppose. Yes, in that I think someone could recognize my writing no matter what genre or type of story it is. No, in that I actively enjoy writing in a variety of styles running the gamut from very verbose to more streamlined and minimalist.

2. What books have most influenced your life?

The dark fantasy short stories of Robert E. Howard, which was the first fiction I fell absolutely in love with as a child and without which I likely wouldn’t be doing the kind of writing I do today; early Ray Bradbury, so dark and poetic; Harlan Ellison, who showed me the limitless potential of fiction. And far too many more to list!

3. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I would say Robert E. Howard, because it was in his writing that I first saw (although I didn’t realize it at the time) a seamless merging of genres. It was in his sword and sorcery stories that I first found a merging of the fantastical with realism with horror to create a very grim and believable world. Reading an REH story – especially his dark fantasy and historical fiction – I’ve always felt that anything can happen. There’s limitless potential in that kind of a story, and it’s been drawing me back into Howard’s clutches time and again since childhood.

4. What are your current projects?

I recently finished work on two manuscripts – one is a collection of magical realism-influenced literary short fiction, the other a novel much in the same vein. I’m really excited about them – I think it’s my strongest writing yet, and a lot different from my last couple of books. The prose style is a little more refined, the surreal motifs are woven into the gritty, realistic backdrop more subtly.

songs for the lost by alexander zelenyj

songs for the lost by alexander zelenyj

Also, I’m a good ways into another collection that’s a little more in line with the type of material of Songs For The Lost, very slipstream in style and pulling in influences from a lot of different genres. I’m also finishing up work on an expanded version of my first novel, Black Sunshine, scheduled for re-issue later in the year as a collaborative release from Fourth Horseman Press and Eibonvale Press, which will mark the book’s 10th anniversary.

5. How much research do you do?

I read a lot of non-fiction, and I find that this often inspires me to write fiction with certain backdrops and so forth, so in a way I’m always doing research because I’m constantly reading and learning things that often find their way into my fiction writing.

6. Do you write full-time or part-time?

I’ve made a habit of writing every day for several hours, without fail. I’ve been doing that for years so at this point it’s very natural to me. It’s like breathing, I don’t really have to think about it, it just happens as part of my regular day to day life.

7. Where do your ideas come from?

I have no idea, other than to say they come, in some form or other, from my love of stories. I’ve always loved telling stories, and being told stories, whether in the form of a book, a song, another person telling me a story from their life. Often when I sit down to write I want to convey a certain mood or atmosphere that I’m feeling particularly strongly, and I go from there, with everything else falling naturally into place from there on in.

8. How can readers discover more about you and you work?

By visiting either my website – alexanderzelenyj.com – or the websites of my publishers, Eibonvale Press – eibonvalepress.co.uk – and Fourth Horseman Press – fourthhorsemanpress.com. Or by reading one of my books!

magical interview to sissy pantelis

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I first met Sissy Pantelis in The Ironic Fantastic # 1, the story “Hunted”; it was love at first letter – two “first” can be a redundancy, but it was what I could write.
She creates the most charming stories that I’ve read with words that are endearing and amusing. I can feel, always, alive the sense of wonder and imagination that inhabited Sissy’s heart and mind; completely drawn into her worlds don’t knowing if I am going to cry, laugh… hypnotic and touching words she have.
“How fine is the line between fantasy and reality? And if we unleash our imaginations, just how far will they take us?” – answers that can be found at Sissy’s stories.Shame on me for not knowing her soon – but the fault is all mine.

1. Do you have a specific writing style?

I always try to write clearly for the readers. My priority is to be understood – not to make beautiful, long sentences. I don’t think that my style is literary and complicated. I prefer short, clear sentences that people can understand and I try to keep writing in this style. I am also very attentive to rhythm issues – but this is something intuitive, I cannot explain it rationally. I am not good at long narratives and long and complicated descriptions, so I try to avoid them.

2. What books have most influenced your life?

Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. All fairy tales and mythology- maybe Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales more than the rest. Greek mythology and Aesope’s myths. And the Brothers Karamazov by Dostoievsky – Crime and Punishment too. When I read Dostoievsky, I felt something difficult to put in words- like an earthquake in my head. I have always loved everything by Oscar Wilde and my philosophy is very much influenced by the Tao Te Ching and the Taoist Philosophers (NOT the religion – the philosophy).

3. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Oscar Wilde. Also Hans Christian Andersen (he also was a major influence for Oscar Wilde) and Shakespeare with Midsummer Night’s Dream. I have found out that many of my stories were influenced or inspired (even at a sub conscious level) by Midsummer Night’s Dream).

4. What are your current projects?

My comics. If you want to know more about them, please read my interview here:
http://forums.jazmaonline.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=7235

blue sparkles

blue sparkles

Her current comics projects are, and quoting:

Blue Sparkles is a story of a cursed love. The two young lovers escape to Dreamland to be together, but even there, it seems that the curse follows them. The story is inspired by Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of the major influences on my imagination. Art in Blue Sparkles is by wonderful French artist Aurore Barois (aka VURORE).

Red Nightmare is a story about change and its consequences. It is a story of a cruel king, who decides to change after a hallucination he has while he visits a witch (whom he tortures at first). It is also about being at peace with your own self, about inner harmony. I found out that it was a very important thing and maybe one of the most difficult tasks one can attempt in his lifetime. Now, Red Nightmare is NOT a philosophy book; it is a fairy tale featuring anthropomorphic animals. As all my stories, it is first aimed to entertain and make readers dream. But change has always been an important factor in my life and the main theme of this story is change. The artist working on this story is Italian artist Danilo Antoniucci. I am extremely happy and honored that Danilo accepted this collaboration. I love his art, but I am not the only one to admire Danilo’s talent, so he has a lot of work with his own comics and I can only be grateful that he also works with me.

Dark Siren is the story of a young girl that discovers that she has a wonderful gift, but her gift can harm other people – especially those who offend her. The young girl is scared, so she leaves her home fearing she may inadvertently harm her family. Then she finds out that she is not alone to possess that kind of poisonous gift. Dark Siren is a special story to me. First, there is something of me in the main character of the story. For a long while, I thought that dreaming and writing was a sort of curse cast on me… To come back to Dark Siren, my young niece helped me a lot in making the story and gave me many ideas for the plot; that was a wonderful experience. And last (but not least), the artist working on this story is José Leonardo aka The Chulo. José is from Colombia and his style is very special. I believe that José has really given this story another dimension. He is extremely gifted and he is now also working on the characters of a movie (by the people who did How to Train Your Dragon).

I have other projects- among other things, I have one or two novels in mind, but that will be for much later so we would rather speak about them in the future than now.

5. How much research do you do?

Quite a lot actually. Most of my stories are pure fantasy and the true things in them are very few, but I need to do a lot of research to get inspiration.

6. Do you write full-time or part-time?

I write full time and I don’t wish to change this – writing is a passion and doing something else at the same time is a big mistake, I found out at a great cost a few years back.

7. Where do your ideas come from?

I am not sure. Sometimes from fairy tales; but I also get a lot of ideas by listening to music or through my dreams!!! 🙂

8. How can readers discover more about you and you work?

I am on Deviant Art: http://gliovampire.deviantart.com – I try to keep the journal updated when anything new comes out.
I am also on FB: https://www.facebook.com/sissy.pantelis and this is my author page:
hhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Sissy-Pantelis/232168253548554
I have also created a page for Blue Sparkles:
https://www.facebook.com/PuckBlueSparkles
and José and I created a page for Dark Siren:
https://www.facebook.com/darksirengn

If you want to follow my work, you are welcome to follow any of those pages and I am always happy to see comments and answer any questions of the readers.