Category Archives: short stories

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