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I’ll be in Brighton for the World Fantasy Convention! Very excited, and can’t wait to meet up with friends old and new.

On the Thursday night, I’ll be at Forbidden Planet bookshop (179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London) as part of the so-called Angry Robot Halloween Takeover.

You’ll also be able to catch Wesley Chu, Adam Christopher, Joseph D’Lacey, Anne Lyle,  James A Moore, Emma Newman, David Tallerman and Mike Shevdon

On the Friday, I’ll be reading at 2pm, Hall A (Readings 1). Not sure yet what I’ll read. Anything on your wishlist you’d like to hear?

Apart from that, it’s food and drink, talk and laughter.

Can’t wait!

Nightmare Magazine

My story “All You Can Do is Breathe” is now live at Nightmare Magazine. Other stories in the issue are from  from Megan Arkenberg (“The Crowgirl”) and Norman Partridge (“10/31: Bloody Mary”), and Alaya Dawn Johnson (“The Score”).

So pleased to be in this magazine. John Joseph Adams is an excellent editor, with an eye for what works and a startling attention to details.

 

I talk about the story here.

Rare dog breeds; people will kill for them. I’ve seen it. One stark-nosed curly hair terrier, over-doped and past all use. One ripped-off buyer, one cheating seller. I was just the go-between for that job. I shrank up small into the corner, squeezed my eyes shut, folded my ears over like a Puffin Dog, to keep the dust out.

from “The Gaze Dogs of Nine Waterfall”, in The Gate Theory. The collection is still being free, for another 8 hours.

 

This is another travelogue of Fiji story. I’ve spoken before about how you gather snippets as a writer, remember things, retain images until you need them. In this story, it’s things like the article in the Fiji Times about blue-skinned vampire dogs killing livestock, reported manner-of-factly.

Colo-i-Suva, the place I describe in the story, does exist. It’s a beautiful place but it’s the only one you’re warned about when you arrive in Suva. “Don’t go there alone,” you’re told. Some say it’s because of robbers. Some say it’s because of ghosts. We did go there a few times, because it is beautiful, and we saw the women cooking curry in enormous pots over contained fires. The delicious smell stayed with us all the way.

The History Thief

Three days Alvin lay on the floor of his dusty lounge room before he realized he was no longer anchored to his body.

from “The History Thief”, in The Gate Theory.

Twice or three times in all the stories I’ve written, I’ve started with the title. “Fresh Young Widow” (soon available electronically in The Grinding House) was one. “The History Thief” is another.

I wrote it for one of my favourite horror writers, Gary McMahon, for the anthology he edited for Pendragon Press (Wales), called Visions Fading Fast. Chris Teague, who runs Pendragon Press, bought a very early story of mine. After I sold to him, I went to parties and called myself an Internationally Published Author in a loud voice while waving a plastic cup of cheap wine in people’s faces.

I’ve always been disturbed by loneliness. It breaks my heart, and I’m terrified of it. So I know how to write about a lonely man who has experienced nothing, loved no one. Who discovers he can steal the history of others as if he lived their lives himself.

The Gate Theory is free on Amazon for 48 hours. Please download, read, review and share.

And you know of course I never did do that thing at parties.

 

 

Dead Sea Fruit

I have a collection of baby teeth, sent to me by recovered anorexics from the ward. Their children’s teeth, proof that their bodies are working.

from “Dead Sea Fruit”, in The Gate Theory

I actually do have a collection of baby teeth. When I worked for The Helix magazine, we had a science project where the readers (most of them under 12) sent in their baby teeth to be studied at, I think,  a University in Norway. The Uni studied lead and cadmium levels in children around the world.

I packaged up and sent off hundreds of teeth. It was DISGUSTING. Some of them were covered in dirt from being buried. Some had holes. One came with a piece of dental floss still around it.

But I sent them off to Norway.

After a while, the project ended but the teeth kept coming in. I didn’t have the heart to tell the kids they were too late, so I sent off the letter saying “Thank you for your tooth” and kept all the teeth in a little plastic jar.

I still have them.

(I googled myself and The Helix, just in case I was on there, and discovered that someone has archived a story I wrote for the magazine in 1998!)

That Girl

St Martin’s was clean, you could say that at least. Apart from the
fine mist of leg hair, that is.

from “That Girl”, in The Gate Theory

This story is like a travelogue of my time in Fiji. I lived near a graveyard like the one I describe in the story, one festooned with decaying saris and scarves.

I travelled to Raki Raki where the grave of the so-called Last Cannibal sits.

Actually, go read my story Circling Fiji (an actual travelogue) in Lee Harris’ Hub Magazine.

Then read ‘That Girl’, and you will feel as if you’ve travelled with me.

Purity

Therese was clean on the inside, but her mud-slapped, filthy, stinking home – with its stacks of newspapers going back as far as she was born, spoons bent and burnt, food grown hard and crusty – kept her skin dirty.

from “Purity”, in The Gate Theory

This story first appeared the anthology Scenes from the Second Storey, edited by Amanda Pillar for Morrigan Books. It’s a gorgeous concept; each writer was asked to write a song inspired by the album of the same name by The God Machine. My story was Purity.

At the same time, I became fascinated with the sort of hysteria that leads whole towns to dance or laugh for days, sometimes to the point of death. What is it in us that causes us to follow blindly sometimes? When I saw an old man in a supermarket (I’m often inspired by the things I see in the supermarket queue!) who was dressed beautifully but was wearing a baseball cap that seemed to be leaking blood, I knew I had my cult leader.

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