I’ve been down for the count for the past few days with a terrible cold — throat still throbbing, can hardly speak — so I missed this when it first came out last week: the piece I wrote about Margaret Irwin (she of the most excellent weird story ‘The Book’ and the fantastic slipstream/time travel novel Still She Wished for Company) is now up on Weird Fiction Review as part of their ’101 Weird Writers’ series.
I love Margaret Irwin’s writing, and am so glad Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s The Weird is helping to draw more attention to writers like her!
Here’s a little snippet from my essay…
Turning to the supernatural as a means of escaping tedium is a recurring theme in Irwin’s writing, in both her long and short fiction. In the novel Still She Wished for Company, Lucian Clare, an 18th century English lord and heir of the Chidleigh estate, kept society with hypnotists and mesmerists while he was in Paris, where he was also rumoured to have been part of a Satanic cult — all to escape the dullness of English country life. Using his young sister as a vehicle for his supernatural talents, Lucian attempts a sort of ghostly time-travel to interact with people from a different era (200 years in the future), in order to find a “consistent purpose to his cold existence.”
…and you can read the rest over here.
2011 sucked. Then it was awesome. Then it sucked again. Then it got better than ever… And so on. This was the rollercoaster year to beat all others, and it often felt like I was the poster child for the proverbial Chinese curse of “living in interesting times…”
At this time last year, I was staring down the barrel of writing the final three chapters of my PhD thesis. I had January to do it, so I became a hermit and wrote and wrote and wrote. After six years, endless hours of agony, a good dollop of joy, and the hardest work I’d ever done, I finished the draft. HUGE YAY! And then I discovered a Danish scholar’s brand new body of work on a topic that was unnervingly close to mine — so my head exploded. Rewriting ensued, as did tears, frustration, more tears — aka HUGE LOW. But as we know it all worked out, so I’ll move on.
At the same time, I was finishing my first collection of short stories, Bluegrass Symphony. Edits, writing, rewriting all happened while I was freaking out about my thesis… and while my lovely sister and her boyfriend were visiting from Canada (HUUUUGE YAY!!!) It all got done — with time to spare! — and suddenly I found myself with a complete thesis AND a complete book! (YAY!)
Thus armed, I applied for my dream academic job (in English and Creative Writing) — but didn’t get an interview (BOO!). But then discovered that nobody had gotten an interview, and so they would readvertise in a few months (YAY!) and so I still had a chance.
Along with my dear Brain, Angela Slatter, I signed a contract for a second collection of stories, Midnight and Moonshine — which we’re co-authoring (HUUUUGE YAY! We had so much fun collaborating on ‘The February Dragon’!)
I was nominated for three Ditmar awards (YAY! and I had a ball at Swancon) and Angela and I won the Aurealis Award for ‘Best Fantasy Story 2010′ for ‘The February Dragon’ (HUGE YAY!)
Had a massive teaching workload this year — four topics, over 200 students, marking marking marking until I thought my eyes would bleed. Even so, teaching was a bit YAY (because I had some wonderful students!) and a lot BOO (see: marking, eyes bleeding).
The dream academic job was readvertised (YAY!) I applied and had an incredibly strong application (YAY!) but failed to get an interview because of a technicality (not going into details, sorry). Saying ‘HUGE BOO’ here would actually diminish how much this experience affected me. This all happened in June right after I submitted my thesis for examination. So after that great high (thesis finished!!) the whole Job Debacle of 2011 was without a doubt the nadir of my year.
What do they say about reaching rock bottom? The only way is up? Well, that’s pretty much what happened in the second half of 2011. Bluegrass Symphony was published to great reviews and was launched by the ever-fantastic Sean Williams (YAAAAAAAAAAAAY!). My PhD thesis passed with two As, so I didn’t have to change a word (although I did change an accent on one of my Icelandic translations) YAAAAAAAAAAAY!
Then another job-related BOO: I quit my non-teaching job after working there happily for 4 years. Again, not going into detail here, but needless to say, it sucked.
But then another HUGE YAAAAAAAAAAY: writing time! And I got the Arts SA grant I applied for, so that writing time continues on, uninterrupted, well into 2012!
Up, down, up, down, up, down… Here’s hoping 2012 is a bit more even-keeled!
To sum up, in terms of dayjobbery, this year has blown. In terms of writing, however, this has been the most awesome year yet:
Bluegrass Symphony (Ticonderoga Publications, 2011)
Down the Hollow
Them Little Shinin’ Things
Fur and Feathers
From the Teeth of Strange Children
The Wager and the Hourglass
The Short Go: A Future in Eight Seconds
To Snuff a Flame
Depot to Depot
Commonplace Sacrifices (first published in On Spec 2009/2010)
Forever, Miss Tapekwa County
‘Gutted’, Shimmer, Issue 13, April 2011
‘White and Red in the Black’, Dead Red Heart, ed. Russell B. Farr (Ticonderoga Publications) 2011
NEW STORIES SOLD
Midnight and Moonshine, co-authored with Angela Slatter (Ticonderoga Publications, collection of original stories) Forthcoming November 2012
‘Smoke Billows, Soot Falls’ (Chapbook), ed. Simon Marshall-Jones (Spectral Press) Forthcoming
‘Snowglobes’, Chilling Tales 2: In Words, Alas, Drown I, ed. Michael Kelly (EDGE Publishing) Forthcoming
‘A Girl of Feather and Music’, Postscripts (PS Publishing, UK) Forthcoming
‘Rapacis X. Loco Signa’, Bestiary, ed. Ann & Jeff VanderMeer, Forthcoming
‘Tiny Drops’, Midnight Echo, Issue 4, 2010 — REPRINTED IN ChiZine, May 2011
‘Soil From My Fingers’, Tesseracts 14, ed. Brett Alexander Savory & John Robert Colombo (ChiZine Press), 2010 — REPRINTED IN The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2010, ed. Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (Ticonderoga Publications, 2011)
‘The February Dragon’, co-written with Angela Slatter, Scary Kisses, ed. Liz Grzyb (Ticonderoga Publications), 2010 — REPRINTED IN The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2010, ed. Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (Ticonderoga Publications, 2011)
I started the Tuesday Therapy series here, which I’m enjoying immensely;
Brain and I have concocted the Lair of the Evil Drs Brain, which kicks off in January with an interview we recently did with China Miéville;
Bring on 2012.
Happy New Year, all!
Angela Slatter‘s editorial is up at the WeirdFictionReview site, and it’s full of awesome recommendations for weird summer reading. Here’s a little snippet to whet your appetites:
When I was a kid (yes,Virginia, dinosaurs walked the earth then), I read Saki’s “Sredni Vashtar” and have regarded garden sheds with an acute suspicion ever since. M R James was responsible for many restless nights, many dreadful dreams (“Casting the Runes”, “A Warning to the Curious”, “Oh, Whistle And I’ll Come To You, My Lad”, “A Warning to the Curious”, “The Treasure of Abbott Thomas”, “The Wailing Well” were but a few causes of night terrors). If James was the main course, then Stoker’s “The Judge’s House”, Jacobs’ “The Monkey’s Paw”, and Laski’s “The Tower” were the disturbing dessert. Lovecraft’s “The Outsider” still haunts my dreams — I sometimes wake convinced I have been climbing that long, dread staircase only to surface in a place I don’t belong…
Cheeky Frawg Books has launched a new website. Does it sell Cheeky Frawg ebooks? Yes! But very…cheekily. It’s an interactive and mysterious experience you truly won’t want to miss, in a 180-degree scrollable environment. Free content, hidden treasures, singing fish, the animated Myster Odd video, and, of course, the full catalogue of Cheeky Frawg ebooks, including Amal El-Mohtar’s The Honey Month and the ODD? anthology, featuring Jeffrey Ford, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Amos Tutuola, Hiromi Goto, Nalo Hopkinson, and many more.
Cheeky Frawg specializes in quality, self-aware e-books. We hand-craft every e-book on a letterpress using only the best, most perfectly formed 00000s and 111111s. Forthcoming titles include the legendary The Encyclopedia of Victoriana by Jess Nevins, It Came From the North: Finnish Weird edited by Jukka Halme and Tero Ykspetäja, Jagganath by Swedish sensation Karin Tidbeck and Don’t Pay Bad for Bad by iconic Nigeria writer Amos Tutuola.
Note: A percentage of direct sales in December will go to aid iconic fantasy editor, artist, and writer Terri Windling, who is suffering from financial woes.
Weirdfictionreview.com launched today, a website devoted to The Weird and created by Luis Rodrigues. The project is the brainchild of editing-writing team Ann & Jeff VanderMeer. Hugo Award-winner Ann VanderMeer until recently edited Weird Tales Magazine and has co-edited several anthologies with her husband. Jeff’s last novel, Finch, was a finalist for the Nebula Award and World Fantasy Award. Together they edited the just-released The Weird: A Compendium of Strange & Dark Stories (Atlantic/Corvus), a 750,000-word, 100-year retrospective of weird fiction.
The site kicks off today with the following features:
—Exclusive interview with Neil Gaiman about weird fiction:
—First episode of exclusive “Reading The Weird” webcomic by Leah Thomas:
—Translation of Thomas Owen’s short story “Kavar the Rat” by Edward Gauvin:
—The full Table of Contents for The Weird compendium, with notes:
—Weird Gallery, Featuring the art of New Orleans artist Myrtle Von Damitz III:
Come back later this week and next for: “Weirdly Epic: A Century of First Lines,” exclusive interviews with Kelly Link and Thomas Ligotti, a feature on artist/writer Alfred Kubin, Kafkaesque entertainments, China Mieville’s “AFTERWEIRD: The Efficacy of a Worm-eaten Dictionary,” and a feature on classic Weird Tales women writers. An ongoing “101 Weird Writers” feature will also begin next week.
Weirdfictionreview.com will initially focus on features related to The Weird compendium, but its primary mission over time will be to serve as an ongoing exploration into all facets of the weird, in all of its many forms — a kind of “non-denominational” approach that appreciates Lovecraft but also writers like Franz Kafka, Angela Carter, and Shirley Jackson – along with the next generation of weird writers and international weird. Writer Angela Slatter serves as the managing editor.
Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s latest publishing venture, Cheeky Frawg e-books, is very exciting.
Between now and the end of 2011, this imprint will publish or reprint an eclectic array of titles, by an equally diverse selection of authors. You can read an e-version of Amal El-Mohtar’s wonderful collection, The Honey Month; a sampler of Women of the Supernatural, edited by Ray Russell (Tartarus Press); a collection of ODD? new stories edited by Ann & Jeff; a massive three-volume set of Finnish weird fiction (rough covers pictured above — I’m so looking forward to this one!); Jagganath, the first collection of awesome Swedish writer, Karin Tidbeck; The Encyclopedia of Victoriana by Jess Nevins — and on, and on, and on! Be still my heart.
E-reader manufacturers around the world might as well all officially thank the VanderMeers for single-handedly increasing their sales over the next six months. Seriously.
Read all about the gamut of forthcoming books here.