Jacey Bedford: It’s been a good day. The sun came out, and Trigonos looked lovely. The clouds lifted and we could see Mount Snowdon along the Nantlle Valley. This morning I wrote 1000 words on what is about to turn into my next new book. The crit session this afternoon went well, and now we’re stuffed full of fish pie and sitting in the library with several bottles of wine.
Jeremy Pak Nelson: When can a vegan fish pie be called a vegan fish pie? Is it a matter of a fish substitute, or is the experience what matters? Now that my two stories have been through the Milford wringer, and unimportant questions queue to fill the space vacated by the apprehensions I brought with me to Trigonos.
Terry Jackman; Vegan fish? Obvously fish that don’t eat meat [or other fish]. So it’s Tuesday, and everyone has settled in…
Jim Anderson The critique sessions are going very well, and one thing I’m always reminded of is how differently people read stories. We go around our circle, and each of us brings to the critique, the conversation something about the story unique to their reading. I know this is something that shouldn’t take me by surprise, but somehow it always does. In part, I think this is because we are largely encountering each others work afresh; even though some of us belong to regular groups and get used to each others style, here we don’t encounter each other all that regularly and it’s wonderful for that, getting a fresh perspective.
Liz Williams It’s wine o’clock! We’ve earned it – everyone’s working really hard and as Jim says, the workshop’s going well under a lowering and sombre Welsh sky. During the morning, people are reading, hiking and in our case taking…
Mars, the god of war, presides over a tumultuous year. Mars the planet had its closest approach to Earth on October 6th, coming into opposition on the 18th. Although fading at the time of writing, it remains a welcome sight in the evening sky. At its closest, Mars was only 38.57 million miles (62.07 million km) from Earth.
On the clearest autumn nights it almost seemed almost possible to reach out and touch the fiery red eye of light. The telescope revealed a hypnotic, blurry pinkish, marked disk. It’s quite something to think of the probes and rovers we’ve already sent there. The thought of human footprints on the planet is something else again.
A human colony on Mars is today the prime ambition of Elon Musk, who discussed his plans at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico in September 2016. Musk wants to build…
“After more than ten years of publishing literary fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and works in translation for an international readership, MAYDAY Magazine is relaunching with a new format and expanded editorial vision.”
Really looking forward to the new-look MAYDAY magazine with its focus on art, literature and the community. Look out for the live interview with Kali Wallace at 4pm on the 4th August. Kali is the author of the young adult novels Shallow Graves and The Memory Trees and the children’s fantasy novel City of Islands. Her first novel for adults, the sci-fi horror-thriller Salvation Day, was published by Berkley in 2019. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Lightspeed, and Tor.com.
This is the beginning of a series of weekly how-to posts by Colin Brush. Follow this blog to get all the instalments.
‘If you think you have a book evolving, now is the time to write the flap copy – the blurb, in fact. An author should never be too proud to write their own flap copy. Getting the heart and soul of a book into fewer than 100 words helps you focus. More than half the skill of writing lies in tricking the book out of your own head.’ Terry Pratchett, Guardian
You’ve spent months, even years, writing and editing your book. The intricacies of story, characters, plot and theme interlock like the pieces of a jigsaw. You’ve polished and polished until the words shine. You’ve got the perfect title. The cover is coming along a treat. You’ve even garnered some advance praise. Everything is looking good for publication…
Eugen Bacon is an award-winning writer of speculative fiction and non-fiction. Her works include Claiming T-Mo (Meerkat Press 2019), Writing Speculative Fiction: Critical and Creative Approaches (Macmillan 2020), Inside the Dreaming (NewCon Press, 2020) and Hadithi and The State of Black Speculative Fiction, a forthcoming collaboration with Milton Davies (Luna Press, 2020). In this essay, she reflects on some of her favourite black speculative fiction.
As an African Australian who’s grappled with matters of identity, writing black speculative fiction is like coming out of the closet. It’s a recognition that I’m Australian and African, and it’s okay—the two are not mutually exclusive. I am many, betwixt, a sum of cultures. I am the self and ‘other’, a story of inhabitation, a multiple embodiment and my multiplicities render themselves in cross-genre writing. As a reader, writer and an editor, I’m increasingly noticing black speculative fiction, and it’s on the rise.
Milford: First of all, Liz, could you please give us a very quick introduction to Comet Weather.
Liz: It’s the only novel I’ve ever written which is set in contemporary Britain. It’s set partly in Somerset, where I live, and in London and Wiltshire. The plan, however, is to write 4 novels, all of which are set in the Southern counties of England. Although I come from a Welsh and Scots background, I feel that a lot of Celtic mythology has been mined to death and there is so much folklore and myth in Southern England – in the West Country, and counties such as Hampshire and Dorset, that it would be interesting to explore it.
Milford: In the last two decades you’ve had fourteen or so novels published, as well as a couple of novellas, short stories and short story collections encompassing both science fiction and fantasy, but this…
Slowly but surely His Majesty’s Starship approached completion … and approached it … and approached it. For a very long time indeed I was almost there, with just a couple of thousand words to go, and I simply wasn’t writing them. I self-diagnosed the problem, which was that I had a life and I was unwilling to lose it. The solution was to start getting up earlier, writing before going to work. It’s a habit I’ve kept.
Placing it with a publisher was quite atypically easy. Two friends from my writers group already shared an agent, Robert Kirby. Robert had been sufficiently tickled by their descriptions of the group to ask if he could have first refusal if any of the rest of us ever wrote a novel. I sent His Majesty’s Starship to him in August 1995…
I remember a conversation in my first writing group from many years ago about whether or not writing could be taught. Some people thought no, that writing alone in all the fields of human endeavour, was somehow special and the ability was innate, Gods-given. The best you could do was encourage, but teaching, darling, was simply not possible.
As a journeyman writer still wet behind the ears I soaked this up. Was it true? I had my doubts. Later I realised this was nonsense. Everything other human activity is taught, from acting to zoology, writing is not that special, not that precious. The conversation moved on to whether writing was art or craft. Over time this has interested me probably far more than it reasonably should.
In paraphrase, the great French poet Paul Valéry wrote that a work of art is never finished, merely abandoned. You can read the full…
To start with, I didn’t actually really intend to write what ended up as a fantasy Victorian spy adventure, with a trickster heroine, set partly in 19th century Shanghai. It just sort of happened.
I had one of those conversations, you know the way you do, about this idea that might be quite fun, which I hadn’t really thought through in any way at all, and then someone said how about you send us a proposal?
At which point I made that gulping noise, the one cartoon characters make where a big comedy bump sproings up and down their throat, and said, OK sure no problem. Then I ran away to find a large glass of wine and hide in it.
Because I’d never done a proposal before. And the writing sort is probably not quite as scary as getting…