Monthly Archives: October 2009

Behold the Spider! Dead Souls available on Amazon.com.

Dead Souls is now available through both the Morrigan Books website and Amazon.com.

Be sure to scare the bejeezus out of your nearest and dearest this Halloween by gifting them with some wonderful tales, penned by expert storytellers.

And a cover to make you squirm whenever you reach for your copy!

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The 13 Gods/Goddesses of Modern Music. Stave the First: Stina Nordenstam

(note: this was actually written a few years ago and I am editing it to go with the other twelve entries coming soon)

Queen of lo-fi, queen of kooky; Stina Nordenstam, is, without doubt, Sweden’s most interesting musical artist. Starting out in 1991 with memories of a color, (an album not without its flaws) Stina announced herself onto the Swedish (and world) scene with barely a whisper.

As is so often the way with talented artists, Stina built up a cult following, which eagerly awaited her second (and best) offering And She Closed Her Eyes, in 1994. It was here that Stina married her unique voice to incredible, haunting music coupled with those lyrics…

Stina, like other Swedish artists, has been criticised for singing in English rather than her native tongue, yet I, for one, am thankful that she has chosen to express herself in my language as her lyrics hit a chord in me much stronger than I believe they would had she written and sung in Swedish.

After And She Closed Her Eyes, expectation was high and this inspired Nordenstam to a change in direction. The haunting voice was still there, the lyrics still amazing, yet the music had taken a darker edge. Although Dynamite (1997) doesn’t match the completeness of her previous release, it showed a maturing, developing artist, one who was interested in varying ideas within music. Those that had followed this picture-shy diva with interest were now hooked.

1998 saw Stina release an album that, for me, is typically her, a cover album of thirty odd minutes long. A cover album in itself is nothing new, yet what if it was a cover album containing songs that Stina had not heard the original of or indeed had not liked upon hearing them? This was indeed an interesting approach to cover versions.

The result? Some extremely intriguing covers, culminating in the best track of all eleven, the title track People are Strange, which manages to be infinitely better than The Doors’ original (which I also love).

Then came the glitch in the system, the blot on the cv; after successful albums and a keen following, Stina left the creative freedom of East/West and joined Sony Records, resulting in a ‘re-birth’ unrequired and resulting in by far her weakest album to date. 2001 saw wonderful tracks such as The Diver, Welcome to Happiness and Clothe Yourself For The World surrounded by non-Stina tracks: Keen Yellow Planet and Lori Glory and it seemed as if we had lost the lo-fi queen we had come to love as she was engulfed by the Sony Hi-Fi commercial machine.

Yet all was not lost; 2004 saw Stina return with the aptly titled The World is Saved, a behemoth of an album, written, performed and produced by Nordenstam on her own label ‘A Walk in the Park’. It is a dark, brooding, powerful album that is the nearest to And She Closed Her Eyes in quality and completeness and was also this reviewer’s album of the year for 2004.

The world is truly saved.

Recommended listening:
And She Closed Her Eyes – 1994
The World is Saved – 2004

Avoid:
This is Stina Nordenstam – 2001


The 13 Gods/Goddesses of Modern Music – The Intro

I’ve been asked by a few people what I’m talking about here, and after Amanda Pillar‘s (my in-house editor’s) comments about elitism in literature and music today, I thought what better day to hit you with some prime elitism of my own.

For yes, I am very elitist when it comes to music and for good reason. I mean there is so much crap out there that is basically fed to us on a daily basis: on radio stations, in shopping centres and at venues and, to be honest, most of us don’t put a whole lot of effort into thinking about music or looking for great new music, as we know what we like, and I think we should. I think there are so many wonderful artists out there who get overlooked for a multitude of reasons, most of them bad.

So I shall start my little mission of elitism by encouraging you to have a listen to some great, truly great music by introducing you to thirteen artists who pretty much always know how to rock my world, my socks and pretty much anything else that comes to mind. Some of these artists will be know to all of you, some not so much. For by saying that I search high and low for great music does not mean that it is always hard to find. Some of these may have been on your radio stations for years.

So get yourselves ready for at some point in the next few hours I am going to hit you with the first of the thirteen.


Muse Online Writers Conference 2009

(please be aware this is not a review of the rather weak new Muse album)

Over the weekend I took part in the Muse Online Writers Conference, hosting two events: a one hour pitch session for submission queries to our company and a one hour chat room, answering questions for those interested in Morrigan Books and/or the internal workings of a dark fiction publisher.

At first I was a little surprised by the high level of quality of the pitches I received (fully expecting some duds during the hour) but it was all made clear to me later by Lea Schizas, organiser and general goddess of the con, who explained that they had received pitches from more than 500 people and had filtered them down into the best of the best to meet me on the Saturday. As an aquistions editor, she knows what she is looking for, and so I have a few sample chapters on their way over the next few weeks.

Sunday was the chat and I thoroughly enjoyed this too. I found the questions thoughtful and engaging and twice I was caught out by questions on topics I just can’t seem to pin down. I’ll try and explain them here and hopefully some clever person might be able to help me in my search…

When asked if I preferred first person or third person POV, I responded by stating that I would love to publish an excellent second person POV novel. All went well until a wily person asked me which second person fiction I loved and I got a bit stumped. I mean, who is actually writing good second person stuff at the mo?

Not content with being caught out there, I then went off an rambled about how I prefer werewolf fiction to vampire fiction (after being asked my opinion on why vampires are so attractive to teens), which obviously gifted me with the question about what werewolf fiction has impressed me of late…oops…I knew I should have bought the Stephen Jones anthology at FCon…

And now, nearly a full twenty four hours later, I have just remembered that I rather enjoyed Carnies by Martin Livings. I think Martin still has a few copies left and I strongly advise buying one before they sell out.

I’d love some tips of where I can go for some top drawer werewolf stuff (just so I’m ready for next year’s con and tough questions), as it seems my werewolf lore mainly concerns itself with films.

Speaking about the werewolves, I received my copy of Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater today, and I do confess to being a little apprensive about this one. Elaine Cunningham was impressed though and that’s always a plus sign in my book!

But back to the conference and with it being on EST time (six hours behind us here in Sweden) I wasn’t able to take place anywhere near as much as I wanted to be but I am going to make sure I am ready for 2010, after already being invited to be a participant there too.

And I could go on all day about Lea Schivas, host of both my groups and very involved in the whole conference, full of support for writers, publishers and editors, encouraging groups and chats and even pushing a writer to pitch to me when the writer didn’t actually feel like she could (and it was a very good pitch indeed)!

I already hinted that I’d like to be involved with Lea on something in the future and I hope that she doesn’t take that as an empty invitation as it definitely wasn’t (and I’ll stalk her to prove it ;)).

All in all, a very enjoyable con and, as I mentioned earlier, one that I am going to make sure Morrigan Books is very involved in next year.


Interview

The lovely Mihai Adascalitei interviewed me for his Dark Wolf’s Fantasy Reviews site:

Mark S. Deniz