Friday, 21 November 2014

Black Lung

My short story, "Black Lung", has recently been published in the new issue of the UK's premier horror magazine, Black Static, and as usual I'm blogging just a few lines about the birth of the story. Be aware there may be spoilers for those who have yet to read it.

As I've blogged before, many of my ideas stem from titles, and in this case black lung was the name we attributed to our new neighbour's mother who visited over the course of a few days back in the summer and who smoked outside their back door which meant the smoke drifted up and into our bedroom window and wasn't particularly pleasant. I can't remember which of us christened her that name, but it struck me as a good title for a story.

The main crux of the story, however, came from a dream. In 2012 my first ex-wife - the mother of my eldest daughter - took her own life. From time to time I dream about her, not always unpleasantly, but there was one particular occasion where the dream affected me with such melancholy that I knew I needed to write about it. As in the story, within the dream we noticed each other, hugged and chatted, and she was completely unaware that I knew she was dead (in the dream itself I knew she was dead - but also that she wasn't yet dead in the dreamworld, that was to come). I felt an unbearable sadness upon waking because her unawareness was a painful innocence, the dismantling of hope.

The 'dreamlike' quality to the 'dream' is fairly accurately described in the story, as is the notion of the bridge, which - in a waking state - seems an obvious representation of the world of the dead. Within this construct I placed an antagonist, Black Lung, on the human side of the bridge. Thus the two halves of the story idea joined.

Hopefully the story works without this background and I've been able to convey the melancholy with universal appeal. Personally, it's one of the most intense stories I've ever written, although without that connection it might come across no more than fluff.

These instances elucidate what I realise I already knew. Ondine is two weeks away from death and she is unaware of it. But I am aware. I am tragically aware. She looks at me and smiles and I remain brutally aware.

The November–December issue has new dark fiction by Ralph Robert Moore, Usman T. Malik, Simon Bestwick, Annie Neugebauer, Andrew Hook, Aliya Whiteley. The cover art is by Ben Baldwin (for 'Drown Town' by Ralph Robert Moore), and interior illustrations are by Ben Baldwin, Tara Bush and Dave Senecal. The usual features are present: Coffinmaker's Blues by Stephen Volk and Blood Pudding by Lynda E. Rucker (comment); Blood Spectrum by Tony Lee (DVD/Blu-ray reviews); Case Notes by Peter Tennant (book reviews), which includes an extensive interview with James Cooper. More details including purchase info here.

Finally, I wrote "Black Lung" whilst listening to the album "Initials B.B." by Brigitte Bardot on a loop.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Cover Art - Church of Wire

Just a quick blog post to reveal the cover art (by Iain Robertson) of my new novel, "Church Of Wire", which will be appearing from Telos Crime early 2015. It's the second in a series of neo-noir crime novels featuring my PI, Mordent. The third in the series has already been written and I'm currently midway through the fourth. Would be interested in any comments on the cover. The book can be pre-ordered here.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Burning Daylight

My short story, "Burning Daylight", has recently been published in the second issue of the excellent Confingo magazine, and as usual I'm blogging just a few lines about the birth of the story. Be aware there may be spoilers for those who have yet to read it.

Most of my fiction stems from the title, and rather embarrassingly I must confess the term burning daylight came from the TV show, "Dog The Bounty Hunter", where Dog - as usual - was trying to track down a bail jumper and time was running out. "C'mon, we're burning daylight here!" he shouted, as I scribbled down the potential title. (I will point out I was watching this at work and it was not a programme of choice!)

For a while I wasn't sure what kind of story it might relate to. "Burning Daylight" initially struck me as a potential vampire story, but I don't write many of those and it didn't appeal. So I began to think of the concept of burning daylight in Dog's context, that of wasting time. What wouldn't want to waste time? Something that didn't have much time. Like, for example, a mayfly.

In my story the main characters might quite simply be mayflies in a human context or humans in a mayfly context. Either way, the pulse is for procreation at a fantastic rate! Blame wikipedia for any scientific errors - although, of course, it's not a factual piece. I'm particularly pleased with the ambiguity in this story, and all comments will be gratefully received.

After what seemed like an age the final girl stood against the gym wall. Dr Thirst tied a facemask behind his head and nodded to Sir and Miss and to the nurses. From their pockets they produced identical facemasks and attached them; Sir and Miss fumbling with some difficulty. It was clear they hadn't done this before.

Confingo #2 was published on 30th October and as well as my piece contains fiction by Hayley Jones, Helen Anderson, Benjamin Schachtman, Anna Chieppa, Craig Ballinger, Richard Foreman, and Adrian Slatcher, with poetry from Ben Parker, Changming Yuan, Vanessa Gebbie and Ludmilla Mason; and photography from Zoe McLean, Ruth Fletcher and Rebecca Driffield. More information can be found here.