I just LOVE Bill Wright’s cover illustration for this issue:
I hadn’t really thought about how it might feel to hold a physical copy of Carus & Mitch. It turns out that it feels very, very good. It’s a satisfying, neat little package. I’m so grateful to Kate Jonez at Omnium Gatherum for taking a chance with an unknown author, and for producing such a lovely little book.
I listen to music while I write. It’s usually drone, industrial or minimal techno. I could wax lyrical about the state of mind induced by Biokinetics by Porter Ricks, Grapes from the Estate by Oren Ambarchi or Water Park by Dirty Beaches. Each story I write is usually accompanied by a particular few albums on rotation.
But that’s by the by. That’s not the kind of soundtrack I want to write about here.
I’ve started creating playlists for each of the longer pieces of fiction I’ve written. You could think of them as soundtracks to imaginary film adaptations, I suppose. But who says that books shouldn’t have soundtracks in their own right? In fact, creating a soundtrack playlist has helped me pin down the tone of stories while I’m still editing them.
I like to make the process convoluted. I’ve come up with a fairly strict set of rules:
- The first and last tracks ought to work as an accompaniment to the story’s ‘opening and closing credits’.
- The playlist should include diagetic (i.e. in-world) and non-diagetic (i.e. conventional overlaid soundtrack) music. Generally, that means not much vocal content.
- Broadly, the tracks should reflect the mindset of the central character. My stories are mostly 1st-person or close 3rd-person POV, so by the editing stage I should have a pretty good idea what makes them tick.
- The ordering of the tracks should reflect the changing mood or plot events.
- Despite rule 4, the playlist should remain listenable in its own right, without sounding jarring. Unless jarring sounds good.
Carus & Mitch
My novella, Carus & Mitch, is published by Omnium Gatherum on Monday (23rd Feb 2015). It’s about two girls who live entirely alone in a remote house, afraid of the dangers outside. It’s kind of creepy.
Here’s a Spotify soundtrack to accompany Carus & Mitch. Hopefully, it ought to work either as a teaser to reading the story, or a kind of epilogue if you’ve already read it.
It’d probably be counterproductive to explain the reasoning behind each of the track choices. But perhaps it’s worth noting that the 1940s tracks and the ‘Autumn’ educational record are the diagetic (in-world) ones. I like the image of Carus and Mitch investigating a vinyl record collection they’ve discovered in the house.
Mild spoilers: The playlist reflects the book in that it transitions from cosy to queasy to a little bit terrifying. Enjoy.
Here are the first review quotes for Carus & Mitch, extracts from which also appear on the back cover of the book:
“Carus & Mitch is punchy and scary and tense and genuinely moving. The central portrait of the book’s sibling relationship captures its mixture of friction and love spot on, with heartbreaking precision. Tim Major is an exceptional writer.”
— Adam Roberts, author of Jack Glass and Bête
“Tim Major takes now-familiar tropes—an apocalypse, a resourceful teenage girl heroine—and recasts them in a bleak miniature portrait of a world ending with a whimper rather than a bang. More The Road than The Hunger Games, blending a John Wyndham-esque melancholy with a dose of existential despair, Carus & Mitch is a compelling, unconventional page-turner. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down until I reached the end.”
— Lynda Rucker, author of The Moon Will Look Strange
”A sad, sweet little book that does post apocalyptic at a soft, intimate level.”
— Garrett Cook, author of Murderland and Time Pimp
”Like life and college, the novella Carus & Mitch will leave you with more questions than answers. But the question you’ll replay over and over in your mind, the question that will keep you up at night will be, “Oh Carus, what have you done?” Tim Major tells Carus & Mitch through Carus, and as with all 15-year-olds, she’s a somewhat unreliable narrator. Grim, bleak storytelling, paired with simmering tension strikes the same haunting chord as Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, and the overall tone is reminiscent of Room by Emma Donoghue and Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery.””
— Kristin Luna, Urban Fantasy Magazine
I’m very grateful to Adam, Lynda, Garrett and Kristin for these wonderful quotes. Kristin has also contributed the first review score on Goodreads – an amazing 5 out of 5 stars!
Carus & Mitch will be published by Omnium Gatherum in epub and print formats on Monday 23rd February.
Issue #3 of the New Accelerator is out now and features a reprint of my quantified-self story, ‘By the Numbers’.
The magazine is available via a dedicated app on iOS or Android devices.
<Cue drum roll, or whatever sound you feel conjures up anticipation>
I’m very pleased to reveal the cover for Carus & Mitch, which will be published by Omnium Gatherum on 23rd February!
Carus is only fifteen but since their mum disappeared, looking after her little sister Mitch is her job. There’s nobody else. Not in their house and not outside, either. There’s something out there, scratching and scraping at the windows.
The barricades will hold.
They have to.
Also, Carus & Mitch now has its own page on Goodreads. Just one step closer to it being a real, actual thing…
SQ Mag Edition 18, featuring my story, ‘Like Clockwork’, is now available for free on the SQ Mag website. ‘Like Clockwork’ took second prize in the Story Quest ‘Punkin’ the Train’ contest at the start of December 2014.
It’s the first of my Mars stories (featuring sand-sculpted dwellings, roaming bases and ‘aye-aye’ AI robots) to be published, though it’s one of the most recent I’ve written. More to come, I hope.
Novels written in 2014
- The House-sitter (74,000 words) – SF time-travel mystery
Short stories written in 2014
- A Crest of a Wave (2300 words) – SF, Mars
- Like Clockwork (3000 words) – SF, Mars
- Cast In The Same Mould (4200 words) – SF, Mars
- Finding Waltzer-Three (1400 words) – SF
- An Empty Vessel (3000 words) – horror
- What Are We Going To Do With You? (5900 words) – YA horror
Flash fiction written in 2014
- For a Tooth (850 words) – humorous SF
- Kraken Mare (250 words) – SF
- Corvus Cornix (250 words) – horror
- All I Can See Are Sad Eyes (850 words) – horror
Fiction sales in 2014
- By the Numbers (4200 words) – SF, written 2012 – Infinite Science Fiction One anthology, Sep 2014
- Finding Waltzer-Three (1400 words) – SF, written 2014 – Interzone #255, Nov 2014
- Like Clockwork (3000 words) – SF, Mars, written 2014 – 2nd prize in Story Quest contest, to be published in forthcoming issue of SQ Mag
- The Sleeper (1650 words) – SF, written 2013 – to be published in forthcoming issue of Phobos
- Carus & Mitch (16,500 words) – horror, written 2013 – to be published as standalone print/epub title, Feb 2015, Omnium Gatherum Books
I wrote about 124,000 (new) words in 2014. That’s less than last year, but that figure doesn’t reflect the huge amount of time editing and reworking ‘The House-sitter’. Also, I’ve often been exhausted due to my son’s sleep patterns, so this is still a higher word count than I’d anticipated.
To date, my fiction word count total is now something in the region of 448,000 words. I’d hope to reach the half-million mark at some point in early 2015.
I’ve just been told that my story, ‘Like Clockwork’ has won second place in SQ Mag’s current Story Quest contest. The theme of the contest was ‘Punkin’ the Train’ – though my story isn’t specifically steampunk or dieselpunk etc and I’m not sure which classification might include a Martian sand-sculpted steam train… This nostalgic version of Mars features in several of my stories, but this is the first that’ll be published. I’ve always liked the idea of threading a story/world across several publications, so fingers crossed for that. I don’t yet know which issue of SQ Mag will include ‘Like Clockwork’.
So that’s good news, and offsets a rejection email (for another story) that came through at around the same time. Despite the harshness, I’m very much in favour of this kind of blunt feedback: “The high quality of the writing camouflages that this is a very dull story. It’s very dry, slow and neither inspires fear or wonder.”
Swings and roundabouts.
The Interzone team have revealed the illustration for my story, ‘Finding Waltzer-Three’, which appears in issue 255. It’s by Wayne Haag, the same artist who created the terrific cover.
17 Nov 2014 update: And Interzone #255 is available in print now! Click here and scroll all the way to the bottom.
I received some good news a couple of days ago…
My ghostly SF story, ‘Finding Waltzer-Three’, has been accepted by Interzone and will be included in the November issue. That’s a bit of an ambition fulfilled, right there!
23 Oct 2014 update: And here’s the cover!
So here’s a thing.
My novella, ‘Carus and Mitch’, will be published by Omnium Gatherum Books in February next year. You can read the announcement on the OG site here.
As you can imagine, I’m feeling pretty pleased about it! Omnium Gatherum seems a great home for the story – I discovered the company due to previous titles being nominated for the Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson awards. I haven’t read any of the other OG authors’ work yet, but you can be sure that I will.
I’m really looking forward to the sequence of editing, proofreading, cover design, and all the other aspects of getting a book to publication. Kate Jonez, who runs Omnium Gatherum, has been wonderful in our email chats so far – I think working with her is going to be fun. I’m also very grateful for her decision to take a punt on a story that’s tricky to classify and, at 17k words, isn’t exactly lengthy… Here’s hoping that readers feel the same, come February!
More ‘Carus and Mitch’ news to follow in due course, no doubt.
Read/Write Head was based on a one-sentence premise that I discovered in an old notebook (“How would it feel to defragment your mind?”) and was then written much faster than my other stories. The word associations were generally those that occurred to me first; the main character has my name as a reflection of the many personal links.