Monthly Archives: February 2008

The Stars of Speculative Fiction #2: Adrienne Jones

Well what a treat you have in store today, for tis none other than Adrienne Jones (aka

), born again Christian, who wrote a best selling book about her conversion to the light in her book Temple of Cod (Cod due to the fact that she is also dyslexic).

She lives in the US with her husband, wannabee Englishman who thinks that the funniest thing in the world is when dogs lick their privates.

Weep, laugh, feel your heart break, experience our AJ, the little petal we took into our compost, making her a blossoming flower of doom and despair (with a touch of humour thrown in…

So AJ, where to start? Good looking Trekky geek, who writes acclaimed fiction (favouring the novella just at the mo), with a husband that puts on a British accent to impress people and a jolly entertaining blog, with features like ‘Weird Book Cover of the Week’.

1. Is it true that Stephen King stole your Temple of Cod idea for his latest book?

That’s quite a colorful summation of my person, almost makes me want to hang out with myself! Ah, Stephen King, that lousy stinking copycat. Actually, I haven’t read ‘Duma Key’, King’s new book, but have received a ton of email about it from people who’veread my novella ‘Temple of Cod’, and I think I’ve got the gist of where the crossover lies. Apparently he’s got a character who after breaking up with his girlfriend, retreats to an ocean side cabin, where he begins to paint, and thereafter his paintings create a mystical phenomenon. I’m pleased to be hearing that his phenomenon, and subsequent plot differ greatly from mine both in back story and execution. But In fiction writing, you can’t really avoid this sort of thing happening now and then, and while it can set your ass on fire upon first hearing about it, you must remember that it’s the WHO and the HOW that makes for unique storytelling, not the WHAT and the WHERE.

( Indeed, well said but what about the WHY?)

Well the WHY is a part of the WHO, now isn’t it? Because the WHO is the character, and the WHY is the character’s motivation.

*hands a bowl of M&Ms across with all the yellow ones removed*

2. Picking up on that point of HOW and WHO for you, what is your storytelling angle, how do you go about putting a story together and who would you cite as inspirations in your career?

That’s a three-headed question! Okay, I guess I’m a concept writer. I start writing on a concept, maybe a flimsy outline, but all in all I kind of let it happen with no stringent planning. I do take time on ‘casting’ and fleshing out characters before I’ll move forward though, because a car won’t drive with no one behind the wheel. Then, after about 8 thousand words, I decide I suck, oh dear GOD do I suck! Then I destroy it, rewrite it, decide I suck again, level it one or two more times, and then finally the flow hits, and I ride it to the end.

Inspirations in my career? Gary K. Wolf is the only one who directly comes to mind. I’ve always loved his writing, and I think ‘Who Censored Roger Rabbit‘ is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. I met Gary years ago while doing an article on ‘sexuality in unreality’ for Black October magazine, and then after that our paths just kept mysteriously crossing, to the point where we were almost bumping into each other. This man has been there for me with generous advice, harsh truth, and unbridled support, from the time I was a true novice, through my first novel sales, and is still always there as a good friend and mentor. It’s rare you can find someone that knowledgeable to show a genuine interest in your work with no pretense or competition involved.

(Yeah, I know, sometimes you just keep ‘bumping’ into people you admire don’t you? *browses through thesaurus looking for a more polite way of saying stalker*)

*Browses through urban dictionary looking for a more succinct way of saying ‘bite me’*

(3. You’ve been dabbling in the world of editing recently. How has all that gone and how did it come about? Is it something you would like to do as a regular gig?)

Do you mean ‘editing’ in terms of the anthology I recently did? Grimm and Grimmer was a lot of fun, choosing the authors, going through the stories, seeing all the different interpretations on the theme. I put this collection together mainly because folklore is a hobby of mine, and a collection of fairy tale style spec. fiction stories is something I’ve always wanted to see. As far as ‘being’ an editor as a regular gig? No way, I don’t have time. I spend so much time writing and editing my own work, I can’t afford to take anything away from that. I’ve done editing in the past for magazines and what have you over the years, and while it can be fun and gratifying, I’m over it.

4. You’ve got The Hoax banners flying everywhere, Temple of Cod rewrites being done by King and Gypsies Stole my Tequila having its second publication, what are you working on at the moment, are you trying to keep your frantic momentum going?

I’m shopping around a completed speculative fiction novel called ‘Blender Born’ at the moment, and I’ve got a vague outline for my next novel–this one will be humor based with nothing paranormal for a change.

5. Humour, yes, that’s definitely an underlying theme in your fiction. How did that work for the Grimm and Grimmer project, did you inject some humour into that? What is it with comedy anyway, why do you want to write it?

I wouldn’t say Grimm and Grimmer in particular is humor themed, although some of the stories do have a humorous touch. My new novel ‘Blender Born’ is definitely a black comedy thriller though. As you said, it’s always an underlying theme in my work, whether I’m writing about aliens or mutants or just some guy having a bad day. It’s not something I plan or think about too much, I don’t force it. It’s kind of just the way my mind works and the way I see the world. With fiction, humor is important because it can make the darker parts of the story more palatable, and give a more genuine feel over all to the reader. Because even when life sucks, it’s still pretty funny. A sense of humor is one of the main ingredients I look for in friendship and love, so why would I expect less from my very own characters?

Good point, although your husband isn’t funny is he, what happened there?

6. I have to ask, it wouldn’t be me otherwise, and it links well to the previous question – how disastrous was your last ballerina session?

My WHAT?

Oh are you talking about my bizarre injury? Lol

Your memory is frightening. But yes, I tore a muscle a couple months back doing Mikhail Baryshnikov impersonations in my living room. What? You don’t do that?

I have heard this of my memory but alas my dancing is only fit for embarrassing myself in public, rather than home with loved ones…

7. Adrienne, it’s time for the hardest question of them all: what the hell is speculative fiction and why don’t we all say we produce sci-fi, fantasy and horror instead?

That is THE question, isn’t it? I just figure it’s an easy, boiler plate way to describe your work if it has any elements of scifi, fantasy or paranormal, but doesn’t adhere to the strict ‘definitions’ of any one genre. I’ve had hardcore scifi readers contact me about THE HOAX, saying “Um, this is FUNNY” in an accusatory manner, like a story can’t be both. I’ve had horror readers complain that GYPSIES STOLE MY TEQUILA made them emotional. So as odd as it may seem to me, there are readers out there that expect a certain thing from a certain genre. If you just call yourself ‘speculative fiction’, you’re pretty safe. Plus it sounds a lot nicer than ‘cross-genre hybrid freak’. People complain about your work? That’s just not on is it?

8. So what do you do when you’re not working on the latest cross-genre hybrid masterpiece then?

The only actual complaints I’ve had about my work are from hardcore Catholics, and a few people that assumed all fantasy was like Harry Potter, and mistakenly bought THE HOAX for their kids. As for the questions about genre, I’d categorize it more as an expression of surprise than an actual ‘complaint’.

What do I do when I’m not working? Is this the part where I say I like puppies and long walks in the park? Okay then. I like puppies and long walks in the park.

Puppies and long walks in the park? My lord where do you find the time? (Please be noting the lord thing is an expression and not a title – oh and for the Catholic contingent, I wasn’t taking anyone’s name in vain either.) *deep breath*

9. When sending stuff out there do you look for a particular theme of an anthology, or do you prefer certain editors or do you even care?

I do a bit of both. I do like writing for a theme, and had a good time doing my story for the Apex Digest anthology ‘Gratia Placenti‘ (for the sake of pleasing). But unless I’m invited to submit I don’t tend to seek out themed anthologies, only because it’s tough to sell that story later, when every editor in the business is getting the ‘vampire hookers from outer space’ rejects from the anthology you subbed to. So I guess to answer your question, for the most part, I write what I feel, then try to find a market for it later that fits.

*nods*

10. What advice do you have for the newbies out there, getting ready to launch themselves into a career of writing?

Well, at each stage of the game there are new surprises and challenges, so I’m not sure we ever stop being newbies in this profession. But if I had to give advice, something I feel strongly about is be very careful where you get your advice when you first start publishing, and don’t believe everythingyou hear. There is a lot of fantastic advice out there for new writers, but there’s a sea of bullshit you can get lost in. Try and stick to reputable sources like Writers Digest and other tried and true publications about the craft. In other words, listen closely, but be discerning in what you take to heart. Consider your sources carefully. This segment from Walt Whitman’s ‘Song of the Open Road’ says it pretty bang on.

From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,

Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,

Listening to others, considering well what they say,

Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,

Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.”

Good stuff, good advice that, from both of you!

Well thank you AJ for taking the time for the interview and I wish you the very best with all your current and future projects.

🙂

Cool beans, thanks.

Next week we entertain tree hugger and Stoke City fan, Mike Stone, who, despite those awful traits, keeps selling stuff (on eBay)

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Happy Birthday!

To that most wondrous of people

!

Thank you for being such a star and helping me out with so much this last year, for giving me lots of support, nudges in the right direction and advice!

Hope you have wonderful day!

(what do you mean it’s over, Ijust got up?)


Busy day over at the new office

I got headache from the new paint…


Them fates were calling somewhat!

I said I was going to celebrate when we got our 100th submission for In Bad Dreams Volume Two but how could I know it would be:

Shane Jiraiya Cummings

that went and sent that one in!

So I decided I would offer him a copy of the three novella book from Gilgamesh Press featuring RED HOT BADTM (aka

,

,

), as that’s the only book coming out in the next two years that he can’t potentially get into!

Right I’m off to read #100 (before I then read #101)!

I know it might not be a bigthing to you hot shot editors out there trawling through your 500 or more subs but this is our second book and I’m impressed!


Closes the door gently on his way out…

And the next stage in all the recent developments begins, as today I said my fond farewell to Eneit Press. I will continue to work on the In Bad Dreams series but will be conducting all other business over at:

with new dark speculative fiction projects going over to this company:

Gilgamesh Press is to be my main company, dealing with all things Assyrian in its attempt to create the second Assyrian empire, whilst Morrígan Books sees the return of the phantom queen, that lover of war and destruction coming to make dark speculative that bit darker (the plain chocolate and double espresso shade of speculative fiction).

News to follow…


Why the mind boggles with Facebook #3481

Apparently today I am more fashionable than Ron Golshtein.

Now hows about that?


Black Box


The Stars of Speculative Fiction #1: Pete S. Allen

When he’s not tormenting small pets and scaring children witless, Pete S. Allen (aka 300 hundred other names), is running a rather swish small press company CGP (Creative Guy Publications).

My aim with these interviews is to try and belittle those in the same area of writing, publishing and editing as myself, thus making me a bigger name on the market and a forerunner of speculative fiction in the next five years. It seemed then that Pete was a perfect start for this sneaky and backhanded tactic of mine:

1. So Pete, it’s like looking in a literary mirror, browsing through your CV: Publisher (books and magazines), editor, writer, reviewer… the only thing I can think of to ask to start is why and how?

Well, I guess the why would be ‘because I’m an idiot’? Or maybe that’s too existential. I’ll give you the rundown, in a perspective of years

~since childhood – writing


~1999 – discovering people on the web need content, see the existence of e-zines, start submitting…and getting accepted occasionally!


~2001 ish, after collapse of an online writing community/website which went bust in the dot com fiasco, and left a lot of writers stranded (and unpaid!) but mostly without a home, I started the Swamp magazine, and online literary/genre zine.


~2003 started Creative Guy Publishing, after discussions with other writers on the Swamp message boards. We wanted to see what this ebook thing was all about.


~2004 the first
Amityville House of Pancakes anthology appeared, to replace the AHOP magazine that wasn’t getting enough regular material. AHOP is the first print book from CGP, but far from the last.


~2005-6, started kicking around the idea of
Moreauvia with author and pal Byron Starr.


~2007, decided on the magazine, rather than doing an anthology.
ToM will appear spring 2008 (prolly really spring too).

That’s the guts of the hows, the whys? I like learning things, and the whole small press publishing project has been an experience in learning about the industry, about the web world, about authors and etc.  Plus I’ve hooked up with some fantastic people and got to get some people’s work more attention. Not as much as it deserves, in most cases, but some folks have used the Swamp and CGP as a spring board to bigger things, and that’s extraordinarily gratifying.


Okay, so not much going on there then…

2. As a publisher of a newly formed small press company, I’ve had a quite a bit of contact with you to get all manner of advice and useful information. What would be your biggest advice for anybody reading who wants to get into small press, be it magazine, e-zine or print?


Hmmm… probably, be realistic, be proud, and do it right. If, for example, you want to do a web magazine, don’t cop out and put your site on geocities, for example (does geocities still even exist?) –buy a domain. Set realistic goals –for ToM, we have committed to four issues. If it goes further than that, yippee, but we know this is a tough market (short fiction) in an esoteric genre, and there are nearly as many writers as readers of the stuff. Set aside some money for advertising –this is probably the most important, and the toughest lesson I’ve learned — I have some wonderful books out there (and I know this, because we consistently get good reviews and many of the works I’ve published have been picked up by bigger publishers) which haven’t gotten as much attention as I’d like because I haven’t marketed as much as I should have, early on. Marketing and advertising are difficult, but can be done effectively for moderate budgets (of course more is better) and it’s better to be smart and target than to just throw money at a problem (assuming you have money to throw).

At this early stage I can already understand exactly what you mean and am pleased with our commitment to advertising our own products.


3. How would you say that writing has been affected by your editing (and publishing too)? Can you see differences and are they what you expected?

One of the rejections I get probably most often from places I submit work to is along the lines of, “nicely written, but not for us,” or, “good story, but doesn’t fit.” I understand these rejections much better after having to dole out several of the like myself. It’s encouraging, in that I know I’m not a bad writer, but discouraging in that everybody doesn’t like what I do as much as I do — which I suppose would make for a boring world, but I’d get a lot more of my own stories sold…


I wouldn’t say I’ve changed my writing style as much, but I may have changed somewhat in the kinds of markets I target…

4. So what’s going on in the world of Mr. Allen at the moment, any writing coming out, books being published, editing anything?

Actually, I’m contemplating a nervous break-down. Oh, sorry, what? Right. Errrrrrrrrrm, let’s see.

Recently released books from CGP include Installing Linux on a Dead Badger, by Lucy Snyder (LJ –

), The No Quarter chapbook by Everette Bell (a very hard-core crime-drama), and recently enough to mention, because it hasn’t been getting enough attention is Amityville House of Pancakes Vol 3. Impending books include a non-fiction holistic cancer treatment book from Liaison Press, something wacky from Adrienne Jones (LJ

) (fans of hers will want to know more, so yes I am deliberately teasing), and of course the new Tales of Moreauvia alternate history/historical spec fic magazine.

I just finished choosing the winners of the 2007 SFReader.com short story contest, which I judged this year — winners should be announced on that site and have their works published very soon. And on the writing front, I have a story in your very own In Bad Dreams which I’m very proud of, and as well, have a story in issue #2 of GUD magazine. Oh, and one of my old stories was accepted for use on the anthology builder website, which is nice.


I also maintain an LJ and am easily found through facebook, MySpace etc. This is why I use many names — I want to be found, and yet not, sort of passive aggressive on my part to be sure, but hey, everyone needs a hobby.

5. This Tales of Moreauvia thing piqued my interest, well after I spelt it wrong about 27 times on the browser… What’s going on there, what’s the big deal with it?


Moreauvia, is…let’s call it a setting.  I like steampunk and steampunky type things, and I really like the idea of anthropomorphised animals, not so much in the furry sense as the animals with guns sense — if you remember the too-brief comic Marvel put out in the 80s called Rocket Raccoon, or the very first edition of the Gamma World game from TSR, also back in the 70s-80s, you know what I’m talking about. Anyway, writing pal and author Byron Starr (lj user bstarr) and I were talking about what might happen in an alternate history US Civil War setting, while I was at the same time reading about the difference engine and studying for an evolution test in an anthropology test.  I started wondering what would have happened if the difference engine had actually been properly funded and worked on, and if Babbage and Darwin had met, and had had unlimited resources at their disposal.


Then, Byron and I started talking about beast-men soldiers, and that was it — we figured out a way that Darwin became the project leader for a northern US project (by way of the anti slavery leagues in Britain in the 1830s) and we of course had to fudge some dates around in a believable way, but eventually…we got Moreauvia – so named because in our world, HG Wells writes a scathing anti-vivisectionist piece of work called “The Plantation of Dr Moreau,” (by this time there have been beastmen for several years of course).


At some point, we talked about doing an anthology and inviting others to play in the world, which people are welcome to do, (the full details are on the moreauvia.com website).  But instead of doing a strictly Moreauvia world anthology, we thought we’d start with a broader interest magazine — and so Tales of Moreauvia came about. What I envision is having the magazine run one or two specifically Moreauvia setting pieces per issue, along with 6-8 other pieces of more general alternative or historical SF type things.


On the website though, we have a wiki, message board and etc. — I’ve been trying to get various things ready, so I’ve been a bit remiss in the last couple weeks of updating.

These are the things that just make the spec fic community stand out for me, this innovation and playing around with what could be, what might have been and what not!

6. I heard some crazy rumour that you are a student and a review site editor which of course is just crazy nonsense, seeing as just wouldn’t have the time would you?

Indeed, I’ll be a student for 3 more weeks — at my wife’s behest (not that I didn’t want to, I just needed to be talked into it) I quit working full time a couple years ago and went back to school to finish my English degree, and will be ending up with an English degree with honours, an Anthropology degree, and a minor in folklore — which of course is a recipe for grad school, but we’ll have to wait a bit (namely, til we get some more money saved up again).


And yep, I edit and post the reviews on a somewhat haphazard schedule at the review site SFReader.com, which has an excellent community on its forums as well.  Oh, and I ALWAYS NEED REVIEWERS! Sorry for the blatant appeal, but I have 200 review copies of books sitting here, and authors anxious to know what people think of them. Oh! And did I mention I just finished choosing the winners for this year’s fiction contest at SFReader? Winners will be announced very soon, as soon as we get formal letters of acceptance.

Like the plug there, very subtle. I can only see the sharpest on my lj getting that one as it was so well hidden in the text…


7. It’s time to edit now, you’ve got a contract from a huge name (bird, black and white, looks like it’s got a tux on) and they want a collection from you. You can sign anyone, as they are going to pay whatever it takes. What genre takes your fancy and who you gonna sign? (No, you can’t have dead authors as the tux gang aren’t necromancers.)

People I can’t afford, but not dead eh? Personally, I think you underestimate the bird in regard to the dead, but ok, only living then. Hmmmm. I just read a really excellent anthology of post holocaust (nuclear and otherwise) fiction, so I might have tried to do something like that, except it’s just been done.


How about — well, damn, I always said I’d love for AHOP to be picked up by a big publisher, so yeah, Amityville House of Pancakes volume 4, with stories from:


1. James Morrow
2.  Steven Brust
3.  Neil Gaiman
4.  Connie Willis

(for those who didn’t know, AHOP is generally 3 or 4 novellas of humorous spec fic – could you tell from the title?)

I think I was thinking more in terms of you getting new stuff from dead people, you think the bird has those powers too?

That’s an impressive line up; you might sell a few there! I’d actually thought the novellas were serious but hey, that’s just me…


8. It seems like this
AHOP is a beloved child of yours. Are you planning a fourth (and even fifth and six)?

Well, tentatively yes But anthologies, as you well know, are hard sells. People in general (not the enlightened folk no doubt reading this journal) seem to have lost interest in short fiction, or even longer short fiction, like the novella. We hear the cries from both the literary and genre communities about the sad state of affairs in publishing short fiction…which is a roundabout way of saying, yes I’d love to, if the sales improve and demand dictates that I do so.

I mean – how can you beat the line-up on this last edition?  Gary Wolf, The daddy of Roger Rabbit, Paul Kane’s Dalton Quayle, superdetective, and KM Praschak’s Starship Paragon? Seriously now, it doesn’t get any better than this (more shameless plugging).


Wow, that is rather an impressive
shameless plug anthology line up!


9. Due to the demise in the short stories and novellas, are you moving into novels, do you publish novels generally?

Well, I have avoided novels before this, but depending on your point of view, you could say I’m sort of moving in that direction. I’m still not giving up on novellas or collections, and I think there are already many great publishers for novels out there. But one thing that’s impending is a sort of pseudo-novel, which is a collection of three novellas from Adrienne Jones. She has written two more novellas to accompany her Temple of Cod, which I published a couple years ago (the ebook version and audio versions are still available). So in a sense, you could consider that a novel in three parts. Also, Byron Starr has a book coming out this year which could be considered a very long novella or a very short novel – it’s right on that boundary (and in keeping with the sort of thing that we do, this is a work about terrorist elves at the North Pole). And I have recently talked with another author about the possibility of doing a stand-alone novella in the Moreauvia setting.

So I guess the best answer is, “sort of.” But I’m not actively pursuing novels, no. Our description on the Writers’ Market and other guidelines still stands — “We do not publish novels.” For all the good it does.


You’re not really up for novels then? Shame. *turns back on Pete and rubs hands with glee*


10. What are your views on speculative fiction as a whole: how’s its health and how’s it shaping up?


In some ways I think better than ever – it’s certainly more mainstream and accepted form of entertainment in film, TV etc. In some ways…it means there’s more crap to slog through to get to the good stuff.  But overall, I think the state of the genre is fine.

Thanks Pete, for a thoroughly blatant advertising spree interesting interview. I’m really looking forward to seeing how all your projects-in-progress end up and I’m hoping that I find my way into a CGP publication in the future!

My pleasure!


That year of me malarky

I like malarky as a word, especially as it says so much about me… *winks*

Forgive my tardiness

but welcome to my lj. I hope you are having fun so far!

Anyway what’s all this stuff going on?

Eneit Press has some news this week, which can be found on the linkage.

Gilgamesh Press gets a real boost already, with the news of an invitation to a book fair, attended by Assyrian writers and to be shown on a satellite tv channel that often gets between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 viewers for its weekend shows. That Gilgamesh Press has been invited already, without even having a book out, is rather impressive and there will be much promo for that.

Went out for a run yesterday. After three or four days of 13 hour days, sat here going through the various business developments, I decided I needed to get out, clear my head. It was really good and I managed 8km in just under 50 minutes, helped muchly by The God Machine and their incredible album Scenes from the Second Storey.

Oh and I had an idea for another anthology whilst on the run; it’s bloody fabulous! However due to having a few projects in progress and discussing a six book deal with an author – more news on that to follow – I decided to just jot it down and pretend to forget it – my but it’s good!

We’ve got a new contributing editor over at Eneit Press too. His name is Skadi meic Beorh, contributing editor at The Willows magazine and a jolly nice fella too. He has rather a tasty anthology for us but lips are sealed until everything is finalised… *is excited*

The Stars of Speculative Fiction is looking a bit good too with participants until late June so far. I believe Fridays are going to be interesting from here on in (no of course they weren’t before, whatcha talking about?)!

That’s about it for now, I think but I’ll be back with more when it comes in.


2008, it’s the year of…

… well me actually!

All will be revealed…