Andromeda Spaceways Magazine #68

Issue #68 of Andromeda Spaceways Magazine is out! It includes my short story: “The Fear Engine”. Go and buy it now! Go on!

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The Flood complete to 1st draft stage

The Flood is now a complete narrative, which is where I wanted it to be at this point. There’s a sequence of edits I’ll go through next, but I wanted to have a complete story from start to end, before I head to Sweden, which happens a week from now.

I like the play. I think it’s retained the idea I started with, which was to explore what happens when a stable situation, with unbalanced power relationships, is invaded by an outsider. The characters are Gideon, the father. Danny, his teenage son, and Magill, the outsider. There are a number of other issues floating around in the narrative, and this is my first play to incorporate physical violence, which was fun to write. It also contains – or at least flirts with – elements of absurdist theatre, which I think aligns it somewhat to the first play I wrote 3 years ago: “Final Performance”.

Anyway, as I said, I’m heading to Sweden a week from now and I’ll be there for 3 weeks, then, when I get back, I’ll submit The Flood to the One Act Play competition, then I guess I’ll re-commence work on The Worm, starting on Part 3. I also have a couple of ideas for new sci-fi stories. My interest in writing sci-fi has been reignited by the acceptance of The Fear Engine by Andromeda Spaceways Magazine. I guess I feel like if I can get one sci-fi story accepted, then perhaps I could get another sci-fi story accepted, or maybe it’s at least worth trying for that.

The Fear Engine – accepted

Woke up this morning to a lovely piece of news. The Fear Engine: a sci-fi story I wrote some time back, has been accepted by Andromeda Spaceways magazine. Subject to there being no insurmountable problems, it will be included in issue #68, published 1 September.

This is a milestone for me, my first paid short story publication!

Chapter 10 – and Part 2 Complete

Chapter 10 has been hard to finish. For one thing, it was a question of aiming everything towards this critical point and having a number of key story transitions all take place at that same point – that took some difficult manipulating. For another thing, while writing chapter 10, I had a number of revelations that caused me to significantly revise earlier parts of the story. I’m actually still going through that process, but those revisions are noted. I know what needs to be done. I’ve reached the end of the chapter 10 narrative and I’m prepared to call it; to feel OK about reaching this point. The novel is currently 52,782 words long.

The revelations are really interesting. I found out about the purpose of the lioness in the story. Up until now she’s been there because, frankly, it instinctively felt right for her to be there. But now I understand why it felt right. There is a narrative purpose, very much rooted in the back story that has increasingly been revealed as the story builds forward. And there’s an essential symbolic role for her to perform. It’s lucky I let my instincts guide me. On this single, unique occasion they’ve proven valid. A few tweaks are still needed to cement this new understanding of her, but it positions her in the story so much more elegantly, and necessarily! She has changed her name, from Skaistule to Vienmēr – yes, an odd name, I know.

I’ve also been researching and, as a result, been able to draw elements of traditional European mythology into the story. I think these elements will enrich part 3 and they fit really well with what already exists in the story and with what was already planned for part 3.

I’m pretty happy with the story at this point, and enthusiastic about getting into part 3. I’m also enthusiastic about writing The Flood, which I’ll be getting into first. I guess the next time I’ll be updating this page, it’ll probably be about that! By the way, how beautiful is this image of a lioness I found on Google image search? It’s by Swedish photographer: Pekka Järventaus. You can see more of his work here.

Weak Coupling finished

I’ve just finished a new short story I’ve been working on over the past couple of weeks, a super-short, short story in fact. At just 1,700 words it’s over almost before it gets started, but I think it says what it needs to in the space it has. It’s a horror story. I guess the first horror story I’ve written, although some spooky elements have made their way into some of my things, I don’t think I could call any of them: “Horror”, and I think I can with this one.

It’s called “Weak Coupling”. It’s a story I started writing maybe 3 years ago – one of the very first stories I ever attempted. I gave it up back then because it just didn’t feel like it was working, but a couple of weeks ago I had two revelations about things I could try with this story, one of which was to make it very short, the other of which was to write the whole thing in first person, so I’ve tried those ideas and… well, I have a new finished story.

Now I’m back into The Worm. I’m somewhere in the middle of Chapter 10 at the moment. Getting this chapter finished will be a bit of a milestone because it completes Part 2 of the novel. I’ll officially be 2/3 through!

After that I’m going to write my next short play: “The Flood” and if I can get all that done before I go to Sweden in August, I’ll be happy.

Chapter 9 complete.

I don’t have an illustration to accompany this post. I Google-image-searched pictures of vacant-eyed, 19th century female circus animal trainers, but there was nothing satisfactory. For some reason I looked through the works of Odilon Redon, the late 19th/early 20th century French surrealist painter, draftsman and printmaker, whom I have admired since I was a teenager, and though many of his works carry the right sort of atmosphere, none of them were a perfect match for what’s going on in chapter 9. I might be able to use some of them when I’m posting about Part 3, though. They have exactly the right sort of surreal, religious, desolate feel for much of what’s going to be taking place between chapters 11 and 15.

While I’m making associations with other people that make creative stuff, I’ll just mention that my soundtrack for chapter 9 has been Tim Hecker: an amazing ambient musician who produces work that spends most of its time being extremely intense, which isn’t a word you’d usually associate with ambient music. I’ve been listening to his albums: Virgins, Ravedeath 1972 and Harmony in Ultraviolet, and I’m hooked. Its not the kind of stuff you want to sing along to in the car, but for keeping me in the right sort of mood to write about two melancholy lovers heading inexorably towards the existential abyss, it’s just the thing. Björk’s 2015 album: Vulnicura has also been receiving a lot of play. Its wonderful.

The story now sits at 47,490 words, total. Chapter 9 has dealt with the start of the downward journey for our two hapless protagonists. The law is on their trail, hunters are after them, and their ties to each other are fraying. Also, poor Valentina’s situation is becoming clearer as she descends into some sort of possessed madness. We seem to be gaining pace toward some decisive and possibly awful event, ending Chapter 10 and Part 2. 🙂

More soon.