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 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.
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.
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. 🙂
The title says it all really. I’m not sure anyone will want to own a book of my first three one-act plays, but now they can. Maybe it will become a curiosity in the future, if I ever get anything else published. Anyway, now that this vanity project is completed, I’m able to get back to the real work of writing The Worm, which is currently 6 scenes into chapter 9.
My book of short plays is available here.
In other news, an idea is starting to emerge for a new play or story called “The Flood”. It’s around what happens to people during a disaster. The way disasters can be a catalyst for the emergence of natural instincts, for better and for worse, and how this can play out as social threads start to unravel. That feels like a compelling idea to me.
Now that I have three plays for the stage, I realised these three plays could just about form a book; a modest, rather slender book, but a book nonetheless. Amazon.com makes it pretty easy to put an eBook together and make it available, so I’ve gone ahead and made one.
The eBook includes “Final Performance”, “Over the Rainbow” and “Greener Pastures”. I might follow this up by making a physical version of the book as well – Amazon also makes this possible – I’ll see.
I’m very grateful to Mandy Gardner for letting me use her photo for the front cover.