Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction have published a new interview with me today. It’s quite a wide-ranging one, covering writing habits, recent publications, my work editing the British Fantasy Society’s BFS Horizons, as well as a minor revelation about my previous brief sideline as a bassist in a band that was actually pretty good. You can read the full interview here.
I’m going to be quite busy at Dublin WorldCon in a couple of weeks’ time! Here’s my schedule:
Panel: When good futures go bad: dystopia as horror fiction
Friday 16 Aug 2019, 12:00 – 12:50, Wicklow Room-1 (CCD)
It’s not just for science fiction any more! How do horror dystopias differ from those in SF, and what are some examples, old and new, that we should be reading?
Prof David Farnell (M), Tim Major, Pat Cadigan, Emil Hjörvar Petersen, Nina Allan
Panel: Hammer Horror
Friday 16 Aug 2019, 14:30 – 15:20, Odeon 3 (Point Square Dublin)
Terry Pratchett, Guillermo del Toro and writers of Doctor Who (during the Tom Baker period) have all evinced admiration and inspiration from a set of horror flicks produced by a long dormant British film producer Horror Films from the 1950s and 1960s. Our panellists look at what makes them so enamoured of their productions.
Genevieve Cogman (M), The John Vaughan, Tim Major, Helena Nash, Mr Grzegorz Aleksander Biały
Panel: Rural pagans, haunted forests: folk horror revival
Saturday 17 Aug 2019, 11:00 – 11:50, Liffey Hall-2 (CCD)
With its roots in folklore and rural life, ‘folk horror’ has enjoyed a huge resurgence in the last few years. What is folk horror, and why is it suddenly so popular? Is it nostalgia-based, or are there new anxieties at work that have driven its rise?
Tim Major (M), Ramsey Campbell, Lisa Tuttle, Neil Williamson
NewCon Press book launch
Saturday 17 Aug 2019, 17.30 – 18.30, Point Square: Warehouse 2 – Performance space
Inc. launch of Best of British Science Fiction 2019, which features my story, ‘Throw Caution’.
This morning I was delighted to discover that my monograph on Les Vampires has been shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award, in the Best Non-Fiction category!
I’m very flattered, and surprised – and as always, I’m grateful to Neil Snowdon of Electric Dreamhouse Press for giving me the opportunity to write the book.
The full list of shortlisted works is well worth checking out. More than anything, what strikes me is the reminder/realisation that I know so many of the shortlisted writers, editors and artists personally, from various genre events, and how much of a pleasure it is to see them achieving and progressing so swiftly in their careers – and being so supportive while doing so.
This came around fast… I’m happy to say that my first short story collection, AND THE HOUSE LIGHTS DIM, is available as of today! It’s published by Luna Press and is billed as strange stories about houses, homes and families.
Here’s something I wrote about the collection when it was first announced:
AND THE HOUSE LIGHTS DIM is my first collection of short stories, which were written over a three-year period. They’re pretty diverse, spanning weird fiction, horror and SF – but I confess that when I wrote them they seemed more diverse than they really are. It was only recently that I realised just how prevalent particular themes have been in my writing: houses, homes and family.
Perhaps it’s no surprise. The earliest of the stories was written when my wife was pregnant with our first child; one of the novellas was written in a mad hurry in the weeks before his birth; nowadays I write in a fog of fatigue due to my second child’s sleepless nights. I think about family constantly and as a freelance editor I’m trapped in my home for the greater part of every day.
In this collection are stories about a sentient house overprotective of its new occupants, a supernatural Greenland shark that attacks a family via sound, a married couple alone on a lengthy space flight, two young girls who live in isolation and in fear of the world beyond their walls, a camping trip that turns a family feral, a post-apocalyptic Center Parcs, a man who has defragmented his mind and another who splices a rival’s brain patterns onto his own.
Most of the stories have been published in various places, including Interzone, Not One of Us, The Literary Hatchet and anthologies published by Fox Spirit, Jurassic London and Hic Dragones. ‘Carus & Mitch’ was previously published as a standalone novella by Omnium Gatherum and was shortlisted for a This Is Horror Award in 2015. People have been very nice about it: Lynda Rucker said it was a ‘compelling, unconventional page-turner… blending a John Wyndham-esque melancholy with a dose of existential despair’. Adam Roberts called it ‘punchy and scary and tense and genuinely moving’ and James Everington at This is Horror said it was ‘an intimate, original, and character-driven take on the post-apocalyptic genre’, all of which made me feel awfully proud.
One thing I neglected to mention in that description are the stories that are new to the collection: O Cul-de-Sac!, The Forge and Honey Spurge. I’m particularly proud of O Cul-de-Sac!, the 10k-word story that opens the collection – though I’m also nervous on its behalf, as if I’m forcing it out into the world rather it being there on its own merits. It’s an unusual story, written once I recognised the theme of the collection – it’s narrated by a sentient house who is proud and then wary of its new occupants.
By the way, the beautiful cover image is by Daniele Serra. Do check out his incredible work.
This weekend I’ll be heading to the Edge-Lit convention, a one-day genre writing event on Sat 13th July in Derby. It’s always a terrific event, and incredibly friendly. I’m really looking forward to it.
In fact, Edge-Lit was the first writing convention I ever attended, back in 2015, after I’d published only one novella and a couple of short stories. I was very nervous and hung around at the backs of rooms, but the few people I spoke to were lovely. I found the panels and workshops particularly encouraging – they provided me with some useful expectations as I started out on what would hopefully become a writing career.
And I suppose I did end up with a writing career – or at least, I’m still on that trajectory. So, it feels like important milestone that on Saturday I’ll be attending Edge-Lit as an invited guest, appearing on stage, at launches and conducting a workshop.
My workshop is intended to pay back the favour of that help I received when I first attended. It’s titled ‘Routes to Becoming a Novelist’ and is aimed at new writers – I’ll be discussing a sort of apprenticeship route to building up a writing CV.
Here’s my schedule:
10am Cinema 1
Short Cuts: Does a Background in Short Fiction Help You Build a Career as a Novelist?
Panel – with Simon Bestwick, Zen Cho(Chair), Jan Edwards, Tim Lebbon, Tim Major
11am Digital Studio (1st floor)
Workshop – Routes to Becoming a Novelist
Intended for writers at the beginning of their career – see description above.
2pm Participation Space (ground floor)
Shadow Booth Launch – with Tim Major, Robert Shearman and Aliya Whiteley
Featuring readings and discussion about weird fiction, led by editor Dan Coxon.
3pm Cinema 2
Black Shuck Books launches PAREIDOLIA , edited by James Everington and Dan Howarth and THE FINITE by Kit Power
(I have a story in the Pareidolia anthology)
6pm Participation Space (ground floor)
Readings – Anne Charnock and Tim Major
As well as reading a snippet from Snakeskins, I’ll probably read from my short story collection, And the House Lights Dim, which will be published 4 days before Edge-Lit.
Do you have an Edge-Lit ticket yet? You should come. If you do, please do come and say hello at any time – particularly if you’re a new writer looking for the same kind of reassurance that I needed when I first attended four years ago.
I figured that the review cycle for SNAKESKINS was probably at an end, but it seems I was wrong. Last week the novel was reviewed in the Sun newspaper, of all places, and very favourably too! Take a look at the (slightly grainy, sorry) scan =>
Not only that, but following the Financial Times review of the novel at the end of May, the same newspaper has now selected SNAKESKINS as one of its best books of the summer! It’s only one of four SF titles selected, alongside Arwen Elys Dayton’s Stronger, Faster and More Beautiful, MG Wheaton’s Emily Eternal and Tade Thompson’s The Rosewater Insurrection. It includes only a short summary of the book, but featuring on this list, with those authors, is something that makes me feel enormously proud.
A sobering, startling satire set in an alternate UK where a privileged few live lives that are longer and healthier than most by means of generating clones of themselves — “Skins” — which instantly disintegrate. When Caitlin Hext’s Skin doesn’t die as planned, terrible truths about her world come slithering into the light.
You can see the growing list of reviews for SNAKESKINS, and read blog posts and listen to the book soundtrack etc, here.
All told, the inaugural Cymera Festival in Edinburgh was a triumph. Organiser Ann Landmann did a terrific job of booking writers, setting up events and apparently managing to keep her cool throughout. I got a chance to speak at length with lots of SFF authors I’d only met in passing before, and hang out with the Titan Books editorial and marketing team, who are all ace.
And it was a personal triumph, too. The event I was scheduled to take part in – a discussion with Claire North (or Cat Webb, to dispense with the pseudonym) – was a far bigger event than I’ve ever done before. I mean that quite literally – we were onstage in the main theatre, with stage mics and everything. But the festival was so casual and friendly, as was Cat/Claire when we spoke in the Green Room, that I found myself more relaxed and confident than at previous events.
And I think the actual discussion went well, too! I certainly enjoyed it, Cat/Claire’s opinions are always fascinating and her recent novel 84K is an absolute marvel, and I think I was mostly coherent and mostly on topic. I so appreciated people stumping up for the event – most would have paid for the event individually rather than as part of a weekend pass – and a bunch bought copies of Snakeskins and asked me to sign them, too. All in all, I was allowed to feel like a Real Author, which was very exciting.
I’m told that Cymera will return next year, so watch out for more details – I highly recommend coming along.