Category Archives: short stories

Best of British Science Fiction 2019

Best of British SF 2019I’m very proud that my story ‘Concerning the Deprivation of Sleep’ will appear in Best of British Science Fiction 2019, edited by Donna Scott, published by NewCon Press in July 2020.

The story was originally published in Synth #2, and it’s about a father transferring his rationed sleep credits to his young son. I wrote it when I was badly sleep-deprived myself, if that wasn’t already clear enough…

You can see the full line-up and preorder the book from the NewCon Press website.

New story: ‘Red Sky at Morning’

Unsung StoriesToday you can read (for free!) my story ‘Red Sky at Morning’ over on the Unsung Stories website. It’s about a lighthouse keeper in the Farne Islands in the 1930s… and monsters.

Unsung Stories has been on my publishing wishlist ever since I started writing seriously, after I read Aliya Whiteley’s duo of astounding novellas, The Beauty and The Arrival of Missives. For a small publisher, their list each year has been of the highest quality, and precisely to my tastes, such as the recent novels Always North by Vicky Jarrett, The Willow By Your Side by Peter Haynes and Dark River by Rym Kechacha, plus the excellent This Dreaming Isle and 2084 anthologies. I’m delighted to have finally published a story with Unsung – it feels like a real milestone.

Read ‘Red Sky at Morning’ for free here.

Stories of Hope and Wonder

Stories of Hope and WonderIan Whates at NewCon Press has achieved the impossible and pulled together the most enormous anthology of stories in just a few days. It’s available from today as an ebook, with all proceeds being donated to support NHS staff and other healthcare workers.

It really is enormous: 53 stories, 600 pages, 253,000 words of fiction. And the list of contributors is staggering, with giants of SF/fantasy and loads of terrific newer writers.

I have a story in there too: ‘Like Clockwork’, which is one of my idiosyncratic Mars stories, revolving around an engineer operating a millionaire’s full-size train set.

It’s for the best cause imaginable, and reading it would surely take you a week at least. I really think you should buy a copy.

NewCon Press page, including full table of contents.

Buy the Kindle ebook from Amazon.co.uk.

The Best of British Fantasy 2019

Best of British Fantasy 2019So happy to say that I’ll have a story in THE BEST OF BRITISH FANTASY 2019, edited by Jared Shurin and available in June from NewCon Press. ‘O Cul-de-Sac!’ first appeared in my collection AND THE HOUSE LIGHTS DIM, published by Luna Press, and features a sentient house desperately concerned for the wellbeing of its peculiar new residents.

Congratulations to everyone included in the table of contents! It looks like a fantastic list, all round.

Another of my stories received an honourable mention, too – ‘The Forge’, which was also first published in AND THE HOUSE LIGHTS DIM.

You can preorder THE BEST OF BRITISH FANTASY 2019 here.

Book birthday: AND THE HOUSE LIGHTS DIM

And the House Lights Dim - Tim MajorThis 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.

You can buy AND THE HOUSE LIGHTS DIM direct from Luna Press or from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

By the way, the beautiful cover image is by Daniele Serra. Do check out his incredible work.

‘Throw Caution’ selected for Best of British Science Fiction 2018

I’m very happy to say that my Mars story ‘Throw Caution’ has been selected for the next volume of BEST OF BRITISH SCIENCE FICTION from NewCon Press, edited by Donna Scott. The story was originally published in Interzone #276.

It’s a terrific lineup, too! Here’s the full table of contents:

Providence – Alastair Reynolds
Talking to Ghosts at the Edge of the World – Lavie Tidhar
The Miracle Lambs of Minane – Finbarr O’Reilly
Territory Blank – Aliya Whiteley
Throw Caution – Tim Major
Golgotha – Dave Hutchinson
Salvation – Dave Bradley
Waterbirds – G.V. Anderson
Buddy System – Mike Morgan
Do No Harm – Anna Ibbotson
A Change of Heart – Hannah Tougher
Birnam Platoon – Natalia Theodoridou
Good – Sunyi Dean
Hard Times in Nuovo Genova – Chris Barnham
The Escape Hatch – Matthew de Abaitua
P.Q. – James Warner
The Purpose of the Dodo is to be Extinct – Malcolm Devlin
Cat and Mouse – David Tallerman
Before They Left – Colin Greenland
Harry’s Shiver – Esme Carpenter
The Whisperer – J.K. Fulton
Death of the Grapevine – Teika Marija Smits
Rainsticks – Matt Thompson
The Veilonaut’s Dream – Henry Szabranski
Doomed Youth – Fiona Moore
F Sharp 4 – Tim Pieraccini

Head over to the NewCon Press website for more information and preorder links. The book will be launched at WorldCon in August.

Twice-Told: A Collection of Doubles

C.M. Muller’s doppelgänger anthology, Twice-Told: A Collection of Doubles was released last month. It’s a beautiful book and I’m very proud to have a story included in it.

Indefatigable book-reviewer Des Lewis has been working his way through the collection, and had the following to say about my story, ‘The Bath House’:

42, as we know, is a significant age, and on this birthday, Mark (with seemingly plain backstory of marriage and two daughters back home) is given, by a friend, the gift of being hitchhiked as it were by a new self, via a ritual – which is compellingly imparted to us – within the genius loci of the eponymous replacement of an old church, a new baptism as it were where the water is hauled by Mark himself from a well, heavy by counterweight of his perhaps not-so-plain backstory’s ill-threaded pulley from the past, and the last line of this work is a particularly frightening one in the context of not only this work but also of the whole book so far. You will not forget that last line, I suggest.

Thanks Des – I’m happy with that summary! I found it pretty creepy to write, too.

You can get hold of Twice-Told: A Collection of Doubles here.

Best of 2018 roundup

Though I haven’t written any fiction yet in 2019, the year has got off to a good start in terms of votes of confidence in my earlier work…

I was pleased and surprised to find that my story ‘Throw Caution’ has been longlisted for the BSFA Awards. It was first published in Interzone #276 edited by Andy Cox. It’s a terrific list of nominees, with lots of writers who I now consider friends – I’m very proud to be listed alongside them.

Dev Agarwal at BSFA Vector included my books in his Best of 2018 article: “Tim Major, (who along with Shona Kinsella co-edits the British Fantasy Association’s Horizons magazine) published a young adult SF novel called Machineries of Mercy (ChiZine) and a non-fiction book that appeals to genre consumers, about the seminal 1915 silent film, Les Vampires (Electric Dreamhouse Press). In both works, and in his co-editing of Horizons, Major brings a clear and vivid sense of location and character to bear that makes his narratives — fictional and biographic — come vividly alive to the reader.”

On his Scattershot Writing blog, James Everington included ‘The House Lights Dim’ (from Dark Lane Anthology #2, Dark Lane Books) in his list of his favourite short stories read in 2018.

Finally, and now looking forward to 2019, I recently learned that my story ‘Concerning the Deprivation of Sleep’ has been picked up by editor C.M. Muller for Synth: An Anthology of Dark SF. There’s a list of my upcoming short story publications here, which includes a story in one of Muller’s other projects, Twice-Told: A Collection of Doubles, due out in February.

My writing year 2018

This year I wrote about 135,000 new words – more than any other previous year (I usually average around 125k, and in 2017 this fell to fewer than 80k as much of my free time was taken up with moving house, twice). I wrote:

  • Hope Island – novel, in progress (currently 85,000 words)
  • ‘Red Sky At Morning’ – weird short story (2800 words)
  • ‘Throw Caution’ – Mars SF short story (3000 words), published in Interzone #276
  • ‘What Can You Do About A Man Like That?’ – weird short story (8600 words) for unannounced anthology
  • ‘Concerning the Deprivation of Sleep’ – SF short story (2800 words)
  • ‘Dear Will’ – weird short story (2900 words)
  • Three pieces of non-fiction for as-yet unannounced projects, by invitation

This year, I spent 254 hours either writing or editing. I’m not sure if that sounds a lot, but on average it works out as 21 hours per month doing what I love doing – not quite 5 hours per week. When you put it like that, it doesn’t seem like much at all. In 2019 I’m determined that I’ll find the time to write for at least 10 hours per week.

When I wrote my summary of my writing year 2017, I noted that it had been a year of paving the way for an interesting 2018, and I suppose that panned out as I’d hoped. This year I had the following published:

  • Les Vampires – non-fiction book about the 1915 serial, as part of the Midnight Movie Monographs series (Electric Dreamhouse Press)
  • Machineries of Mercy – YA SF novel (ChiZine)
  • ‘The Pale Shadow and the Conjuror’ – mystery short story, Mystery Weekly
  • ‘To Ashes, Dust’ – Mars SF short story, Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction #61
  • ‘Throw Caution’ – Interzone #276
  • ‘Cast in the Same Mould’ – Shoreline of Infinity Issue 13
  • Six of my older stories were reprinted, including two stories in ‘best of 2017’ collections: ‘The Walls of Tithonium Chasma’ in Best of British Science Fiction (NewCon Press) and ‘Eqalussuaq’ in The Best Horror of the Year Vol 10, edited by Ellen Datlow (Night Shade Books).

But, once again, this year has mainly felt like prep for a more exciting next year. Because the biggest news for me this year was the double-whammy of signing with Alexander Cochran at C+W literary agency, and securing a two-book deal with Titan Books. Snakeskins will be published by Titan in May 2019, a milestone around which much of my year will be arranged. (And Hope Island will follow in May 2020. Knowing that my novel-in-progress already has a home has changed my attitude to the writing process, though it’s hard to say whether the net result is that it’s more or less pressurised.)

Secondly, my first short story collection, And the House Lights Dim, will be published in July 2019 by Luna Press. Alongside 13 stories that have previously appeared elsewhere (including a novelette that was originally published as a standalone title, Carus & Mitch), there will be three new stories:

  • ‘O Cul-de-Sac!’ (10,600 words)
  • ‘The Forge’ (7000 words)
  • ‘Honey spurge: Confidential report into dispersal, growth and catastrophe’ (300 words)

Other stories not written this year but to be published for the first time in 2019 include:

  • ‘The Bath House’ – weird short story (4000 words), Twice-Told: A Collection of Doubles anthology edited by C.M. Muller
  • ‘A Crest of a Wave’ – Mars SF short story (2400 words), Shoreline of Infinity
  • ‘Kraken Mare’ – Mars SF flash (250 words), Martian magazine
  • ‘Hangers-on’ – weird short story (2800 words) for unannounced anthology
  • ‘What Are We Going To Do With You?’ – horror short story (6000 words) for unannounced anthology

In addition, behind the scenes I’ve been lining up various events and projects. Next year is going to be busy. More on all that in the New Year.

Perhaps most importantly of all, I’m genuinely closing in on the one-million-new-words mark:

The Best Horror of the Year Volume 10

My contributor’s copy of THE BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR VOLUME TEN just popped through the letterbox! Having a story included in it is a very big deal for me. I’m very grateful to Ellen Datlow for selecting my Greenland Shark story, ‘Eqalussuaq’, which was originally published in Not One of Us magazine.

You can buy BEST HORROR 10 now from Amazon in a variety of formats: paperback, ebook, audio CD and audio download.

I have a story in BEST OF BRITISH SCIENCE FICTION 2017

Well! I’m very – no, ridiculously – pleased to announce that Donna Bond has selected one of my stories for inclusion in BEST OF BRITISH SCIENCE FICTION 2017, which will be out in April from NewCon Press. And would you look at that lineup! Honestly, I’m feeling faint at seeing my name listed alongside these authors.

  1. Blinders – Tyler Keevil
  2. In the Night of the Comet (2017) – Adam Roberts
  3. The Walls of Tithonium Chasma – Tim Major
  4. 3.8 Missions – Katie Gray
  5. Over You – Jaine Fenn
  6. The Ghosts of Europa Will Keep You Trapped in a Prison You Make for Yourself – Matt Dovey
  7. Uniquo – Aliya Whiteley
  8. Looking for Laika – Laura Mauro
  9. A Good Citizen – Anne Charnock
  10. Mercury Teardrops – Jeff Noon
  11. The Nightingales in Plàtres – Natalia Theodoridou
  12. The Road to the Sea – Lavie Tidhar
  13. When I Close My Eyes – Chris Barnham
  14. Targets – Eric Brown
  15. London Calling – Philip A. Suggars
  16. The Last Word – Ken Macleod
  17. Voicemail – Karen McCreedy
  18. Green Boughs Will Cover Thee – Sarah Byrne
  19. Airless – N.J. Ramsden
  20. Product Recall – Robert Bagnall
  21. The Endling Market – E. J. Swift

Ellen Datlow picked my story for Best Horror #10

It’s with a certain amount of disbelief that I announce that Ellen Datlow has selected one of my stories, ‘Eqalussuaq’, for THE BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR VOLUME TEN, which will be published by Nightshade Books. The story was first published in Not One of Us #58 in October 201, so thanks are also due to NOoU editor John Benson.

I don’t know if writers are supposed to play it cool about this sort of thing, but I’ve overjoyed as well as overwhelmed! To give some context, here’s a blurb about the BEST HORROR series from the Nightshade website:

“It’s no exaggeration to say that since its first volume in 2009, this series has compiled the absolute best horror short fiction published each year. Every volume has featured a wide variety of stories by well-known authors, from luminaries like Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and Richard Matheson, to genre figures as Catherynne M. Valente, John Langan, and Brian Hodge.”

The full table of contents for Volume Ten is below. I can’t tell you how happy I am that my story will appear alongside stories by so many writers whose work I love!

Better You Believe – Carole Johnstone
Liquid Air – Inna Effress
Holiday Romance – Mark Morris
Furtherest – Kaaron Warren
Where’s the Harm? – Rebecca Lloyd
Whatever Comes After Calcutta – David Erik Nelson
A Human Stain – Kelly Robson
The Stories We Tell about Ghosts – A. C. Wise
Endosketal – Sarah Read
West of Matamoros, North of Hell – Brian Hodge
Alligator Point – S. P. Miskowski
Dark Warm Heart – Rich Larson
There and Back Again – Carmen Machado
Shepherd’s Business – Stephen Gallagher
You Can Stay All Day – Mira Grant
Harvest Song, Gathering Song – A. C. Wise
The Granfalloon – Orrin Grey
Fail-Safe – Philip Fracassi
The Starry Crown – Marc E. Fitch
Eqalussuaq – Tim Major
Lost in the Dark – John Langan

And here’s the awesome cover!

Two new stories and an audio recording

I’ve been lax about mentioning publications recently. Time for a roundup.

‘To Ashes, Dust’ is one of my series of Mars stories featuring crawler bases, shifting sand dunes and ‘aye-aye’ robots. It’s been published in Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction #61, available to download for free or to buy as a print copy for just over £3. Des Lewis has reviewed the issue and had this to say about my story:

“In a relatively short space, this moving story of a base on Mars captured me, even with its bespoke names for various factors, like the robots employed, and again, with this set of fictions, a treatment of old men and death, and an amazing concept of moving sand dunes that really NEEDS reading about to be inspired as I became by it and by what the dunes can contain.”

‘The Pale Shadow and the Conjuror’ is my first sale of a mystery story – it’s been printed in Mystery Weekly.

‘For a Tooth’, a spoofy space-opera flash story first published in Every Day Fiction, has been recorded as an audio reading – you can listen to it free at 600 Second Saga.
(Or via several other routes: iTunes, Stitcher, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter)

 

 

Short story collection: AND THE HOUSE LIGHTS DIM

Luna Press have released some more details about my first collection of short stories, which will be published in 2019 as part of the ‘Harvester’ series. It’s called AND THE HOUSE LIGHTS DIM and features strange stories about houses, homes and family.

Here’s my statement about the collection in full:

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 said it was ‘an intimate, original, and character-driven take on the post-apocalyptic genre’, all of which made me feel awfully proud.

Publication announcement: my first collection of short stories

A new announcement for the new year: I’m delighted to be able to say that my first collection of short stories will be published as part of the ‘Harvester’ series from Edinburgh-based Luna Press, alongside collections by four brilliant authors. Find out more here – and Luna Press will be revealing more details on 11th January.

New Year writing roundup

Phew, a fresh start. Actually, the arrival of 2017 is the first of a couple of fresh starts in quick succession for me – I’ll be moving house (and town) in mid-January, when I and my family will be packing up in Oxford and moving to York.

Still, this seems a good time to round up all the loose threads from the tail-end of last year…

You Don’t Belong Here

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 22.42.03Firstly, another positive and thoughtful review for YOU DON’T BELONG HERE, this time from Rising Shadow. The reviewer summarises the novel as ‘delightfully different from the time travel novels that have been published recently’.

Also on Rising Shadow, you can read an interview with me, in which I discuss SF influences, failed novels, the Infinite Monkey Cage and gratefulness.

If you haven’t read YOU DON’T BELONG HERE yet, it’s currently available on Amazon for only £6.88 for the paperback or £6.54 for the ebook. Bargain!

Short stories

Jonathan Green is currently prepping the Kickstarter for the followup to his popular Sharkpunk anthology, sensibly titled Sharkpunk 2. Alongside stories by James Lovegrove, Jon Oliver, Guy Haley and more, it’ll feature my weird horror story about the Greenland Shark, ‘Eqalussuaq’. You can join the Facebook group to receive updates.

Tunnel Vision

I also have new stories forthcoming in Hic Dragones’ Into the Woods anthology and the British SF magazine, Shoreline of Infinity. More info as and when.

You can read a reprint of my creepy primary-school story, ‘Tunnel Vision’, for free on the Pantheon website, which features the excellent illustration by Carrion House shown on the right.

See my list of published fiction for a full list of the stories and reprints I sold in 2016.

Writing progress

I’d been prepared for 2016 to be lacking in new writing, given the birth of my second son in June and a whole three months away from writing fiction. Somehow, however, I ended up writing slightly more than in each of the previous three years – around 126,000 words. My being freelance (and therefore more flexible) must have been responsible, despite the fact that it’s felt like more of a struggle finding writing hours.

Anyway, these 126k all-new words were plugged into just two projects. The first was BLIGHTERS, now available from Abaddon. The second project is a new SF novel, about a group of people who spontaneously produce clones. I’m nearing the end of a second draft and I’m hoping that a third will clinch it.

Other than that, I have two other writing projects coming up in 2017. They’re secret for now. It’s immensely exciting to be looking forward to what’s next.

Winter Tales from Fox Spirit

Winter TalesFox Spirit’s new anthology, Winter Tales, is available today!

As well as having been edited by the very lovely Margrét Helgadóttir, and featuring terrific cover art by S. L Johnson, and featuring stories from a wealth of exciting authors, it also contains my story, ‘Winter in the Vivarium’, which was written specifically for the anthology.

The Amazon.co.uk link is up now.

Flash fiction in Body Parts #5

My flash story, ‘The Puzzle Box’, is now up on the Body Parts Magazine website as part of issue #5, available to read for free. It’s only 250 words long, so you’ll have finished reading it before you finish your morning coffee.

The issue also contains some fantastic artwork by David Van Gough, like this:

Body Parts 8370160

Body Parts acceptance

Body PartsMy flash horror story, ‘The Puzzle Box’ has been accepted for publication in Body Parts Magazine (the ‘journal of horror and erotica’; my story is firmly in the first category).

It’ll be in Issue #5, which will appear online next month. Don’t worry about setting a calendar reminder – I’ll be sure to let you know when it’s available.

We Need To Talk anthology launch

We Need to Talk launch

Last night I attended the South Bank launch event for the We Need To Talk anthology, jointly organised by The Eve Appeal, Kindred and Jurassic London. It was an excellent evening. I finally had face-to-face conversations with several people who’ve previously only been names attached to email conversations, and I also spoke to some Real Actual Proper Authors, who were all very welcoming and generous. And I was even asked to sign the book a few times!

We Need To Talk is available as a paperback direct from Foyles (currently only £4.99!), or as an ebook via Amazon.

Dark Lane Anthology Volume 2

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Dark Lane Anthology Volume 2 is now available as an ebook from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. You can also buy a print version from Lulu.com – and an Amazon print version will be out soon. (Update: it’s now available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk)

The anthology contains my story, ‘The House Lights Dim’. Though a version of the story appeared a couple of years ago in Sanitarium magazine (my first ever short story sale!), I’ve dramatically reworked it since. It’s better than it was, I think.

Fox Spirit anthology acceptance

Fox Spirit logo

I’m really pleased that my story, ‘Winter in the Vivarium’, will be included in the Fox Spirit anthology, Winter Tales, edited by Margrét Helgadóttir. Fox Spirit has been producing fantastic books and I’ve long been eager to get involved…

Winter Tales will be published in February 2016. I’ll post information about the table of contents soon.