Friday, 10 October 2014

The Opaque District

Recently my short story, "The Opaque District", appeared in Horror Uncut, a collection of austerity stories published by Grey Friar Press. As with previous posts I've decided to explain the background to the story for those interested to know. Beware, there may be spoilers if you haven't read the piece.

I originally became aware of the anthology via correspondence with one of the editors, Joel Lane, who asked me to take part when we were discussing his possible contribution to an anthology I was editing, "punkPunk!". As many readers of this blog will know, Joel died unexpectedly in November 2013 (I wrote about this here), but the anthology continued through the co-editor, Tom Johnstone. The theme of the anthology was austerity and horror, how the two can combine, interplay, react. Tom has written a detailed background to the gestation of the anthology within the book, so I won't go into too much detail here. The other contributors include Joel Lane, Simon Bestwick, Priya Sharma, John Llewellyn Probert, Stephen Hampton, Gary McMahon, Anna Taborska, John Howard, Laura Lauro, Stephen Bacon, David Williams, Rosanne Rabinowitz, John Forth, David Turnbell, Alison Littlewood, and Thana Nirveau - so this is an anthology well-worth picking up.

My story stemmed - as they often do - from the title. I can't remember where it originated from, but "The Opaque District" was looking for a story for some time. Perhaps strangely, perhaps not, it reminded me of Joel's story, "The Lost District", and when I was approached for a piece for Horror Uncut it leapt out at me as the perfect title for the piece. My idea was that the financial breakdown had become so complete that there were now queues to join the queues, that society had broken so totally that the nature of human relationships had mutated in that we could barely speak to one another, and that a mythical land might exist where none of it had ever happened. Weaving into this some psychosis (Cotard's delusion, where an individual increasingly believes they do not exist - perfect for this piece), I ended up with a reality/unreality story where wish fulfillment battles austerity and the only possible escape is through fantasy. I personally think it's an odd little piece, and I hope that you like it.

Finally, I wrote the entirety of the story listening to Jay Malinowski's "Bright Lights and Bruises" on repeat.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Norwich Zine Fair

Last weekend we attended the Norwich Zine Fair at the arts centre. We've previously attended other zine fairs at different locations with mixed results. What usually happens is that the number of sellers outnumber the number of attendees and if we managed to sell one or two copies of my partner's Fur-Lined Ghettos magazine then we consider ourselves lucky. It's more of a networking thing, but even then the variety of zines can be quite disparate and the opportunities for cross-promotion are slim. And in addition, we've found that our zine with it's particular brand of surrealism doesn't fit into the local literary scene. Because of this, we set up at the arts centre will little more than hope in our hearts and no great expectation.

How wrong could we be?

Perhaps it helped that the organisers had decided to use our latest cover art for the poster, perhaps it helped that we bought some mini-easels to better display the magazine, maybe it assisted that I left Sophie alone to man the table whilst I tried to entertain our 2yr old in the nearby library, but whatever happened something was very clear by the end of the day: Norwich finally appreciates what Fur-Lined Ghettos is all about!

We sold 19 copies. That's NINETEEN copies. That's now helped to fund #6. That's pretty incredible.

So, thanks to everyone who picked up an issue (or two, or three, or even four). We hope you enjoy the read.

The number of sales has meant we are now in short supply of most of our back issues. Please consider making a purchase before it's too late! And as a teaser, here is the cover art for #6 which we hope to have available Dec/Jan. We are still open to submissions.