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Tales of Horror, mixed with the Nightmares of a Writer, with a final spattering of Dark Fantasy for Children added to the cauldron. The work of Catherine J Gardner & Phoenix Rendell. One Soul. Two identities.
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1. A Fairytale Forest

Behold the beauty of Victoria Leslie's artwork. I am totally in love with it. Not only is Victoria an extremely talented writer, writing as V.H.Leslie, and a stunning person, it seems she also has an incredible talent for visual art.

If you're in Portsmouth this weekend you'll find Victoria's artwork on display at venue no. 10 - full details here and here.

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2. Well that was Fantasycon by the Sea

A week has passed since the wonderful Fantasycon by the Sea and I've just about found my land legs. I had a blast - from the usual excitement of meeting up with everyone again, of passing hugs and hellos, to relaxing into a weekend full of chats, panels and free wine. Free wine which included a corked bottle of Prosecco that accidentally uncorked and attacked a fellow attendee. Oops! I'm bouncy + it was gassy = disaster. .

The Prosecco was courtesy of Emma Barnes of Snowbooks, leftover from the awesome launch for the Snowbooks Horror Novellas, where my book, The Bureau of Them, was relaunched. I spent the launch seated between the wonders that are John Llewellyn Probert and Gary Fry. As I was high on a bottle of Lucozade (it doesn't take much) I may have driven them ever so slightly insane. But hey, I was excited and it's not often I get to launch a book. Wonderful to finally meet Emma and Tik Dalton of Snowbooks.

I want to say the highlight of my weekend was the launch but it was probably spending a good part of Saturday with 'The Girls'. An awesome, talented, amazing group of writers - Priya Sharma, Laura Mauro, Georgina Bruce, Victoria Leslie, Tracy Fahey - who I am honoured to call friends. They certainly made my con. It was the first time I'd met Georgina and she is an absolute blast. 

We bumped into Alison Littlewood and Fergus on our way to the con. Thankfully not literally bumped into them as that would have been catastrophic. They were driving beside us on the A road and then they sped in front and we followed them most of the way. Very surreal. My most-wanted book purchase of the weekend was Alison's new novel 'The Hidden People'. Did not spend anywhere near enough time with them.

Favourite panel was 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun'. with Priya Sharma, Maura McHugh, Catriona Ward, Heide Goody and Ann Nicholls. They could have chatted for a few more hours and not run out of things to say. Although they may have needed wine. Favourite reading was Kit Power's chicken story. Someone should have filmed it. Brilliant. I highly recommend catching him read at the next convention. I so need to unearth Godbomb from my to read bookcase. Yes, we are way past the 'to read shelf'. 

Oops! moment of the weekend was (high after the launch) kidnapping Jess Jordan (who is modelling the Snowbooks novellas at the top of this post) and forcing her to drink free wine. I was at this point carrying around an open bottle (would you believe I don't drink much?). The oops - when Ray Cluley found us and asked what time Priya's reading was. I'd forgotten (sorry Priya). We ran like the wind (making sure not to spill any wine) and made it just in time. Due to my lateness I was stuck behind a pillar and didn't hear a word but I'm sure it was awesome. Her stories are always awesome.

As to Priya, she WON the BRITISH FANTASY AWARD for BEST SHORT STORY. Oh my goodness! What a moment. So well deserved. I may have cried a little. With joy. Although, I was concerned people may think I was crying because I didn't win. I saved that for when I crawled under the blanket when I got home. With wine. Several bottles of wine and bars of chocolate. This is why I've only just found my land legs. 


Although, I did spend the first two days in bed trying to remember my name. Roll on next year. 

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3. Fantasycon by the Sea 2016

I've finished work for the week and Friday we're up bright and early to head off to the awesomeness that is Fantasycon. This year it's in sunny Scarborough. I've printed out a list of everything I want to attend, which leaves me no time to eat or pee. I've even graded my interest in each panel - haven't resorted to colour coding yet.

The one thing I have to attend is the Snowbooks launch of my novella, The Bureau of Them, which is being launched alongside novellas by Ray Cluley, Andrew Hook, John Llewellyn Probert, Mark Morris, and Gary Fry. We'll be sharing the room with Titan who are releasing books by Mark Morris, Tim Lebbon and Marc Turner. Not an event to be missed.

It's on the Saturday, 2:00 to 3:00 pm in the Main Ballroom of the Grand Hotel.

Oh, and for those attending the launch, there is a limited (about twenty - unless I have another mad creative fit between now and Fantasycon) amount of my handmade cards available. They're awesome. Trust me. Awesome and free.

I'll also be at the British Fantasy Awards on the Sunday where both Bureau and Mark's novella, Albion Fay, are nominated in the novella category. Also my short story, When the Moon Man Knocks, is nominated for Best Short Story - alongside the awesomeness that is Priya Sharma's Fabulous Beasts.

And on Saturday evening (11:30 pm in the Reading Cafe, Royal Hotel), Simon Bestwick will be reading an excerpt from his forthcoming novel, The Feast of All Souls, which has a cracking cover and is released on the 6th December. You can pre-order it on Amazon.

See you there, kids.

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4. Like Buses

You wait forever for a blog post and then two come along at once. Before you know it this blog will be properly resurrected.

Des Lewis has real-time reviewed my e-collection Shadow Moths and lovely to see the words 'This story affected me deeply'. It's always an honour to be reviewed by Des.

In other exciting news, my story As Cymbals Clash has been accepted by Sean Wallace and Jack Fisher at THE DARK for publication in December. A bucket list moment.

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5. Shadow Moths

I've been rather quiet on the publication (and writing) front of late, but like buses I have two books out within the space of a month. First off is this e-chapbook, which contains two of my short stories - We Make Our Own Monsters Here (a tale of puppetry) and Blood Moth Kiss (nuclear war and betrayal). One may be darker than the other. And, it comes complete with an introduction by Simon Bestwick. I have no idea (wink-wink) how I got such an amazing author to write the introduction for me. For those who don't know - reader, I married him.

It's available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Here's a video of the song that inspired one of the stories. I'll leave you to guess which...

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Next month at Fantasycon, the above horror novellas (published by Snowbooks) will be released in sunny Scarborough. For those who can't make it to FCon the books are now available to pre-order from Amazon in both hardback and paperback.

The novellas are:

Within the Wind, Beneath the Snow by Ray Cluley
The Bureau of them by Cate Gardner (that's me)
The Greens by Andrew Hook
The Nine Deaths of Dr Valentine by John L Probert
The Hammer of Dr Valentine by John L Probert
Albion Fay by Mark Morris
Scourge by Gary Fry

The Nine Deaths of Dr Valentine won the British Fantasy Award in 2013 (and it's a cracking book), while The Bureau of Them and Albion Fay are nominated in the novella category of this year's British Fantasy Awards.

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7. The Pink Flamingoes

Happy Monday.

So how was your weekend? Can it top the photo above? Two well-respected horror/crime authors, Paul Finch and Simon Bestwick, rocking it with pink flamingos. I think my stories just exploded and infected the world or I drank too much rum. Well, someone drank too much rum.

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8. Edge-Lit 2016

Attended my second Edge-Lit convention this weekend (third if you count Sledge-Lit) and it was the best yet.

We travelled up with the awesome Priya Sharma - it's the fourth convention that we've all attended together and it makes it more fun and a heck of a lot easier for little old shy me. As always, Priya won over everyone she met. It's a skill (it probably helps that she's naturally lovely). We arrived just in time to catch the first panel about horrors, thrillers and chillers, which had (if memory serves me right) Sarah Pinborough, Victoria Leslie, Johnny Mains and Marie O'Regan. I threw away the programme and my memory is atrocious. Then we attended the Boo Books and Exaggerated Press launch. Wine at eleven o'clock in the morning. That's new.

We then escaped to the bar and sat with Jess Jordan and Ray Cluley, Lynda Rucker and Sean Hogan, Gary Couzens, we met the fabulous madness that is Johnny Mains, cue selfie....

....and briefly got rained on - by actual rain and not by Johnny. Then we caught the tail-end of Gary McMahon's launch and saw Alexandra Benedict there. In the afternoon I spent three hours back to back attending panels and then had to escape as my brain was fried. A shame as I just missed out on the crime panel. Not that I write crime but my little Bestwick does. Then it was hang around the bar again chatting to wonderful folk such as Sophie Essex, Phil Sloman, James Everington, a lovely new writer whose name I've forgotten and who looked so young I was reminded I am soooooooo old, Nina Allan and so many more folk but my pea-brain has forgotten.

We had a meal in Ask Italian, which is across from the Quad, and then I spent the next forty-eight hours moaning to the Bestwick about how we should have gone to Nando's because I'm not a fan of pasta or pizza and only had garlic bread for tea and was fekking starving. A starving Cate is a dangerous beast to be around. 

We ended the day at the Quad by watching Alexandra Benedict interview Johnny Mains, and then we picked up the Dead Funny books, which must not go to seed on my TBR pile. A final catch up with Victoria Leslie, Tracy Fahey, James Everington and Nina Allan and then it was back home to the Wirral via roadworks and Crewe. 

I shall end this post with pretty people...

Next up, FantasyCon in Scarborough. Candy Floss!!!

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9. Things of the... Year

I seem to be a little woeful in keeping this blog up-to-date (not helped by the fact I spend most of my internet time on my phone these days). Yesterday, something wonderful happened. Two of my stories were nominated for British Fantasy Awards. The full list of nominees can be found over at the BFS site but I must mention those I am nominated with.

My novella The Bureau of Them (to be re-released by Snowbooks at FCon) is nominated alongside novellas by Mark Morris, Nnedi Okorafor, Usman T Malik and Paul Cornell. My short story When the Moon Man Knocks (published in Black Static) is nominated alongside stories by Priya Sharma, VH Leslie, Adam Nevill, Ralph Robert Moore & Frances Kay. I am overwhelmed to have stories nominated amongst such fantastic writers.

There was a tinge of sadness mingled with the joy though. I poured all the pain of mum's death into my story When the Moon Man Knocks and, of course, yesterday I so wished I could tell her about the nomination. She'd have been so happy.

Other news - since I've labelled this post Things of the Year - I've had two stories published this year.
The Coyote Corporation's Misplaced Song in The Hyde Hotel, and In the Macabre Theatre of Nightshade Place in the latest Postscripts anthology. Oh, and I finally married my awesome Bestwick.

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10. The Bureau of Them

I am delighted to announce that my novella The Bureau of Them is to be published by Snowbooks later this year. Many thanks to Emma Barnes for all her hard work in bringing this about and for being generally awesome. Look out for more excitement announcements from other folk across the coming days. I won't reveal who from but there are some fantastic authors bringing out horror novellas through Snowbooks new series.

Isn't the cover beautiful? It fills my heart with dark things.

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11. Hell's Ditch Book Launch

So last Friday, at Waterstone's in Liverpool One, this happened. Simon Bestwick (my Bestwick) achieved a dream and his book Hell's Ditch launched at a major UK bookstore.

Not only was the venue terrific (with a zillion thanks to Glyn Morgan who helped organise the event) but Simon was joined by Ramsey Campbell and Conrad Williams. There were readings and a lively question and answer session with the audience. Then afterwards a group of us headed off to a Chinese restaurant.

I am so proud of him. The book is a terrific read and it's dedicated to my little mum.

This time next year he'll be buying me a swimming pool*

*or paddling pool.

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12. Important Announcement: The Bureau of Them

As many of you know, Spectral Press, who published my novella The Bureau of Them last July, are having financial difficulties.

Spectral Press is to become an imprint of Tickety Boo Press who will take over its management while allowing Simon Marshall Jones to continue as editor. Spectral's existing authors will be offered new contracts, for various reasons I've chosen not to go with the new imprint, so the rights to The Bureau of Them have reverted to me.

The book is in the process of being removed from Amazon. To date, I have received no royalties for the book. I have informed Gary Compton of Tickety Boo Press that I would be willing to accept The Bureau of Them paperbacks (up to the amount I'm owned) if any exist in stock. I apologise to anyone who has pre-ordered the hardback - which Spectral Press never got around to printing - and if I do get any paperback copies I will try to send them to those folk who have been let down by this situation.

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13. Hyde Hotel

The Hyde Hotel, edited by James Everington and Dan Howarth, opened its doors yesterday and it contains my story The Coyote Corporation's Misplaced Song alongside stories by authors such as Simon Bestwick, Alison Littlewood, Ray Cluley, S P Miskowski, Mark West, V H Leslie and others.

Many thanks to James and Dan for inviting me to write for the anthology. You can find it on Amazon.

In other news, there is an interview with one of the contributors, Ray Cluley, over at The Haunted Omnibus.

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14. A bit of Masochism for the New Year

Today I discovered I'm a masochist.

It's January and we are all poor (and by we I mean you are too). Of course, some of you might be doing just fine thank you very much, but as my blog readers are mainly writers I'm assuming you're poor too or at least vowing not to spend so much at Christmas again. I've vowed that several times since Boxing Day, but I won't stick to it. I never stick to it.

Anyhow, onto the masochism business. My Bestwick is always spouting advising that we should write a list before we go shopping and stick to a budget per day. Having worked out how much money I had left for January after buying and eating all of the things in December, I figured I had £8 a day to live on. My frown line furrowed so deep that our neighbour parked his car there.

Having built up a massive nest egg of £25, we headed to the supermarket. But I want to pretend I'm playing Supermarket Sweep, my subconscious cried. Then, because I have super powers, I pulled out my list and a pen to mark the price of everything and began to have fun. I appreciate that this makes me a very sad person. Supermarket saver brands were bought (of which there will possibly be forthcoming rants about or exclamations of 'it tastes just the same') and I was eventually unglued from the pricey Eve's Pudding, only to find we returned home with money in our pockets.

I am totally rocking this. Next month I think I'll try £5 a day.

This time next year we'll be millionaires.

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15. Favourite Fiction 2015

As stated in my previous post, while my to read pile grew and grew, I failed to read even a quarter of what I should (especially with regards to short fiction).

I read fifteen novels this year. These were my favourites (in no particular order):

The Death House by Sarah Pinborough
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill
The Three by Sarah Lotz
Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
The Invasion by Willie Meikle
The Wolves of London by Mark Morris

I read three novellas and loved them all:

Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma
Leytonstone by Stephen Volk
The Night Just Got Darker by Gary McMahon

I read one collection and loved it:

Probably Monsters by Ray Cluley

I'm not certain how many short stories I read, but these were my favourites:

The Grey Men by Laura Mauro (Black Static)
Hungry Ghosts by Emily B Cataneo (Black Static)
Funeral Rites by Helen Marshall (Spectral Book of Horror)
Outside Heavenly by Rio Youers (Spectral Book of Horror)
The Life Inspector by John Llewellyn Probert (Spectral Book of Horror)
This Video Does not Exist by Nicholas Royle (Spectral Book of Horror)
The Cork won't Stay by Nate Southard (Nightmare)
To Sleep in the Dust of the Earth by Kristi DeMeester (Shimmer)

On a brighter note, I still have so many wonderful stories to read and to discover.

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16. End of Year Review

Having allowed life to bite me during 2015 (and the previous year) I neither wrote very much nor read much. I think I'm coming out of the slump now, but I've thought that before. I should glue my fingers to the keyboard during 2016 although that could prove a challenge as my alphabet would be reduced to nine letters if I kept a thumb for the space bar.

Anyhow, here is what I had published in 2015:

The Drop of Light and the Rise of Dark in Black Static #45
When the Moon Man Knocks in Black Static #48
The Bureau of Them (a novella) by Spectral Press

And here is what is forthcoming (so far) in 2016:

*Secret Short Story in Secret Pro Anthology
A Silent Comedy in Coulrophobia (anthology) 
The Coyote Corporation's Misplaced Song in Hyde Hotel (anthology) 
In the Macabre Theatre of Nightshade Place in Postscripts 
Shadow Moths - an e-chapbook from Frightful Horrors

I also currently have two stories out in the wilds and one that I need to submit. The cupboard is a little bare, Deirdre. And, I'm working on my novel only I'm also not working on my novel--we're on a break. 

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17. Soldier, Gaunt Soldier: Peter Watkins' The War Game

Today, we have a guest blog from Simon Bestwick to celebrate the launch of his novel Hell's Ditch, which is available either from Amazon or direct from the publisher Snowbooks. For the next seven days you can get the hardback or the ebook at a discounted price over at the Snowbooks website.

Anyway, here be the Bestwick's post:

Soldier, Gaunt Soldier: Peter Watkins' The War Game

As a writer your work’s the sum of your experiences: all you’ve seen and done, and the stories that have reached you. One that reached me, and shaped my novel Hell’s Ditch, was Peter Watkins’ The War Game, a film made for the BBC in 1965.
The War Gamewas Watkins’ second British film, and his last. Its original broadcast was cancelled by the BBC under pressure from the Ministry of Defence. Watkins, disgusted, left the UK, first for America – where he made the equally unsparingPunishment Park – before settling in Sweden. Despite winning the 1966 Best Documentary Oscar, the film wasn’t shown on British TV until 1985, when it was finally screened as part of a season commemorating the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

So what was so shocking?
Like Watkins’ first film, Culloden, (1964) The War Game is shot in a documentary style, narrated mostly by Michael Aspel, a TV presenter who became notable hosting game shows and This Is Your Life but was, at that time, best known as a newsreader. Its topic was nuclear war.
The film depicts the possible consequences of a nuclear attack on Britain. There are vox pops from men and women in the street, statements from churchmen, philosophers, politicians, doctors and nuclear strategists on the morality, nature and effects of nuclear war, all of this intercut with the film’s ‘live’ action: dramatisations of the events that precipitate the attack, followed by an unflinching portrayal of the attack itself and its effects.
The narration is cool and clinical, never emotive. At this distance, Aspel’s voice calmly tells us, the heat wave is sufficient to cause melting of the upturned eyeball, third degree burning of the skin and ignition of furniture.
In contrast, Watkins depicts the holocaust that follows in graphic detail: firestorms sweep the bombed cities, rendering firefighters’ attempts to combat the devastation futile. The attack’s victims suffer horrendous body burns. With doctors unable to treat more than a fraction of cases, the worst-injured patients are placed in a ‘holding section’ to die untreated; later, armed police officers end their suffering with a gunshot. A glassy-eyed civil servant explains how they’re keeping the wedding rings of the dead to identify them, showing the camera a bucket half-full of jewellery. A doctor calmly describes the symptoms of radiation sickness, and then those of scurvy (since most survivors, he points out, will be unable to obtain Vitamin C.)
And it doesn’t end there. The narration cites the aftermath of the bombings not only of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but of Hamburg, Dresden and Tokyo. Many survivors are listless, apathetic zombies. Thousands more will suffer PTSD (as we’d call it now) from what they’ve gone through; vastly exceeding any resources available to treat them, most will be permanently traumatised.
But the child survivors, staring emptily into the camera to say “I don’t want to be nothing,” in dead, lifeless monotones, are the most chilling prospect of all: subject to such trauma in their formative years, many may go on to develop terrible character disorders. These are the inheritors of the world the nuclear bomb has left.
If the conclusion of The War Game reminds us that what we have seen has not been real, it’s scant reassurance: It is now possible that what you have seen happen in this film may already have taken place before the year 1980. Even knowing, as we do now, that it didn’t, is limited comfort when you remember that those weapons – and the possibility of their use – still exists.
Watkins set out to show that Britain was both hopelessly ill-informed on nuclear war’s nature, and hopelessly unprepared to cope with its effects – indeed, that its effects would be so devastating that no preparation would prevent the slaughter, devastation and eventual social collapse that the film shows. The official reaction to the film showed he’d touched a real nerve.
The War Game is up there with the similar-themed Threads as one of the most terrifying, dread-making films I’ve seen. It probably helps if you were born before 1980 and can remember the grim Mexican stand-off of the Cold War, but I defy anyone to watch it without a chill seeping into their bones.
The fear of nuclear war haunted my childhood; it fed into Hell’s Ditch and the world it’s set in. In particular, with The War Game, Watkins’ vision of the psychological trauma wrought by the conflict helped shape the book. The world of Regional Command Zone 7, Attack Plus Twenty Years, is a haunted one. All those who remember the time before are surrounded with its ruins, unable to forget, dogged by the ghosts of those they’ve lost; those who’ve grown up in the devastation have been made cruel and pitiless by it. And there’s no way back.
Forget Sawor Hostel, Insidious or Sinister: if you really want to be terrified, watch The War Game.
Simon Bestwick is the author of Tide Of Souls, The Faceless and Black Mountain. His short fiction has appeared in Black Static and Best Horror Of The Year, and been collected in A Hazy Shade Of Winter, Pictures Of The Dark, Let’s Drink To The Dead and The Condemned. His new novel, Hell’s Ditch, is out on 1st December.

       You Tube clip from The War Game

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18. Going Nuts and Ginger

Over at Ginger Nuts of Horror, Jim McLeod has started listing his best of the year and he's included my novella The Bureau of Them, which was published by Spectral Press in July.

This make me happy.

The Ginger Nuts of Horror folk are very supportive of the horror community and it's a great honour to appear on the list alongside Simon Bestwick, Adam Nevill, Willie Miekle, Simon Kurt Unsworth, and others.

You can purchase The Bureau of Them in ebook from Amazon or the paperback from Spectral Press.

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19. Where the Artwork Rocks

My story When the Moon Man Knocks will appear in issue 48 of Black Static, due out this September. The artwork is by the awesome Richard Wagner and is perfect.

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20. Well that was August

August was a kind month.

She offered me 38,000 words on my new novel, which looks to be heading towards actual novel length. Over the past few years I seem to have stalled at novella length (and been happy with that) but it's good to get back into something longer. For someone who hasn't written much over the past few years, the words have been flying.

Angela Slatter interviewed me over at her blog. Angela is such a generous writer and incredibly talented - but then you all knew that.

There was a review for The Bureau of Them over at Ginger Nuts of Horror. Here be an extract:

The Bureau of Them is a book about mourning and coming to terms with loss, it will tug at your emotional core, without ever straying into schmaltzy territory. A modern ghost story that continues the great tradition of well written spooky stories that this country has such a great history of doing well.

Laura Mauro also reviewed it over at her blog.

...a vivid nightmare of a tale in which the world of the living and the world of the dead begin to bleed at the edges, merging into one but only for those who seek out the blurred lines.

Many thanks to the Ginger Nuts crew and to Laura.

Things I read that you should read:

Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma. A wonderful novelette inhabited by human monsters and snakes.
Blow the Moon Out by E. Catherine Tobler. A beautiful weaving of childhood, of growing up and of circuses. As tasty as lemon cake.

Over at his blog, my Bestwick has been interviewing fellow writers including Laura Mauro, Conrad Williams, Alison Littlewood, Jonathan Green, Jonathan Oliver and others.

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21. Fly 777

The delightfully wonderful Priya Sharma tagged me in the 777 challenge.

Priya's story Lebkuchen is out next year in Paula Guran's anthology Beyond the Woods amongst writers such as Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Gardner Dozois, Peter Straub, Jeff Vandermeer, Angela Slatter...

Here be the rules:

“Take a current WIP and go to the 7th page, and then go down 7 lines, and then post the next 7 lines."

This snippet is from my novel, These Eyes are Blind, of which I am currently working on the second draft:

Marjorie watched Keira as if she expected something more of her. Keira dropped the locket into her pocket and picked up the grabber. 
“What was that, dear?”
“What was what?” 
Marjorie meant the necklace, of course. She’d had her nose pressed to the window throughout but didn’t want to admit to it. The steam from her breath would still fog the window.

I am going to cheat and tag my Bestwick (who interviewed Priya last month).

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22. Of Cranes and Precious Things

So this arrived last week. The latest issue of Black Static and what a thing of beauty it is with fiction by Jeffrey Thomas, Steven J Dines, Andrew Hook and Stephen Bacon, and an interview with Simon Kurt Unsworth.

Oh, and a novelette, When the Moon Man Knocks, by Me.

This publication means so much to me - firstly because it's in Black Static, one of the top horror fiction magazines and secondly, it's a story that deals with grief and was written just after mum died. Many thanks to Andy Cox for taking a chance on the story.

Inside the issue there is also a review by Peter Tennant of my novella, The Bureau of Them. Here be a snippet from the review:

...a surreal variation on the traditional ghost story that is powerful and affecting...

Also reviewed are Stephen Volk's Leytonstone, and Mark Morris' Albion Fay. Both get stonking reviews. you should buy them.

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23. In Real Time

Black Static #48, which contains my story, When the Moon Man Knocks, has received a real-time review by the unique Des Lewis. You can check it out here and also here be a snippet...

Humorous, maybe, but essentially heart-rending for the woman who is in denial about her partner's death from cancer.

I should send Des a paper-bird saying thank you.

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24. A Word from our Sponsors

For those delightful people who have ordered the hardback edition of The Bureau of Them, the publisher of Spectral Press, Simon Marshall Jones, has informed me that, due to unforeseen circumstances* printing has been delayed but it should be with you by the end of November.

Apologies for the delay.

In the meantime, for those who haven't ordered the hardback, The Bureau of Them is available on Kindle over at Amazon or as a paperback from the publisher.

*When holidaying in a caravan park in the 1980's the pool was closed every other day due to unforeseen circumstances and usually when the weather was actually dry. This has absolutely nothing to do with the book, that I am aware of, although perhaps the manager of said holiday park is now disrupting things from a wee corner of Hell.

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25. The Goldfish and Fantasycon 2015

The above photograph is my favourite photo from the handful I took last weekend at Fantasycon. It is also the only non-blurry photo. Maybe I was especially nervous or I'm just really crap at taking photographs. Will try better next year. I apologise if I forget to mention you here but the weekend is descending into blur and I'm a bit of a goldfish at times.

Priya Sharma (who is all of the awesome) gave the Bestwick and me a lift up to the convention this year. We stopped off for a sneaky McDonald's on the way. When we got to the convention the first people we saw where Alison Littlewood & Fergus (totally love those guys)... I should add I love everyone else too but I reserved an extra pocket for them. Other wonderful folk in the lobby where James Everington, Phil Sloman and Dean Drinkel (all of whom I got to sign the first book I purchased at the convention), Steve Shaw, Neil Williams, the Marshall-Jones', Sarah Pinborough, and I am certain there were loads more folk. Fret. Fret.

We hurried to the convention centre because they had all off the books. Seriously ALL of the books. I've never had so many freebies. I think the Bestwick only picked up one free book because I snagged all the others and we don't need two of each - well except for Adam Nevill's novel but that's a special case. Then we attended the opening ceremony. After that I had a message from Priya to say she was in the lobby and we found her gabbing to Andrew Hook, Sophie Essex, and Roseanne Rabinowitz (hence the above photo).

And, the above is about as linear as I get with this tale as the rest is a jumble. Attended four panels (which is three more than at my first convention) and was a panel member for one - thank goodness for the gabbiness of my fellow panellists Adam Nevill, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Stephen Jones, Alison Littlewood and Nina Allan and our moderator James Everington.His first time moderating and he did awesome. Also caught a number of readings, the first being Lynda Rucker's and the last James Everington's, and in between my Bestwick's, Ray Cluley, Victoria Leslie, Priya Sharma, Joe Hill, Paul Kane, Ramsey Campbell, Marion Pittman. Attended book launches - Adam Nevill, Mark Morris, Spectral, just caught the end of the Undertow Publications launch.

Spent until way after one gabbing in the corridor by the bar on the first night chatting to Ali & Fergus, Ray Cluley & Jess Jordan, James Everington, Stephen Volk, Steve Shaw, Rosie & Jim (to mere mortals that's Simon Kurt Unsworth), Rob Shearman.

Over the weekend chatted at various times with Carole Johnstone, Laura Mauro, Mark West, Tom Johnstone, Paul Feeney, Victoria Leslie, Adam Nevill, Simon Clark, Trevor Denyer, Lynda Rucker & Shaun Hogan, Rob Shearman, Roy Gray, Pete Coleborn, Gary Couzens, Ellen Gallagher, Deborah Walker, all of the folk listed above. Good to see Nina Allan, Stephen Bacon, Fiona Ni Ealaighthe, to meet Jim McLeod for the first time (such a soppy bugger), Graeme Reynolds (and his new better half), Shaun Hamilton, Marie O'Regan, Paul Kane, Rio Youers, Selina Lock, Jay Eales (who warned against the convention centre noodles), Adele Wearing, Paul Meloy (whose book we forgot to get but that is easily rectified), Chris Teague, Ren Warrom... All of you beautiful people that I've forgotten.

Oh, and thank you to everyone who said they enjoyed my novelette in Black Static (with a special hug to Trevor Denyer).

On the Friday night we had a meal in the con hotel with Priya, Carole Johnstone, and Ali & Fergus. As to Saturday, we had breakfast and then didn't eat again until late evening. On the Saturday night, after running into Jon Oliver of Solaris Books in the lobby we arranged to go for a meal in town - and, as it turned out, the meal was on the Solaris Books tab. A gazillion thanks. So off we went for a Thai meal with a bunch of folk including the insanity that is Robert Shearman. His next book is going to be fecking awesome.

We ended the weekend with the banquet and the awards ceremony and with some awesome nominees at our table. I wouldn't be surprised if they were up for awards again next year.

And have just bought Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge, which won Best Fantasy Novel at the awards this year thanks to Jenny Campbell who turned around to us mid ceremony and said the book was brilliant and that she and Ramsey had bought the author's backlist.

Can I go back now please?

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