Tuesday 20 October 2015

Interview with David Thomas Moore

David Thomas Moore is the commissioning editor over at Abaddon. We tracked him down to talk to him about the open subs process. Many thanks to him for the great answers!

At the beginning of the year Abaddon ran an Open Submissions Month, and they’re about to release three novellas by writers plucked from the (hundreds) of submissions they received.
The three novellas are Gods & Monsters: Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef by Cassandra KhawInvaders From Beyond: Midnight In The Garden Centre Of Good And Evil by Colin Sinclair; and Tomes Of The Dead: The Lazarus Conundrum by Paul Starkey.

BristolCon Fringe

Last night was the monthly Fringe event from the guys who bring you BristolCon

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It was a packed house - at the Shakespeare Tavern and it was pretty difficult to hear Jo hall reading from her new book Spark & Carousel as I arrived late & was waaaay at the back.

However for the second half I shuffled closer to listen to Jonathan L Howard read from his new book Carter & Lovecraft.

As ever the event was ably compered by Cheryl Morgan and the traditional Q&A was kicked off by Justin Newland.

It was great to see a few new faces in the crowd & catch up with friends old & new.

Monday 19 October 2015

Bristol Festival of Literature - the story so far


What a manic few days. The festival is in full swing and there are still 7 events to go over the next 6 days.

Last Wednesday I was interviewed by Cheryl Morgan  for Ujima radio which is probably still on the listen again function - it's the Women's Outlook hour & I'm on towards the end of the show.

Then on Thursday it was an Evening at the Fear Institute (of which I've blogged)

Friday there were three events - a workshop hosted by Moniack Mhor which I was unable to attend as it was in work hours.

The Creating Comics panel event at Waterstones hosted by Cheryl Morgan and featuring Mike Carey, Paul Cornell, Cavan Scott & Jess Bradley. I was especially excited to meet Jess  as my favourite squid t-shirt was designed by her. It was a very interesting chat and the differences between the panelists versus the similarities (big publishing houses versus small, kids versus adults etc) sparked lots of discussion.

Cheryl has a write up here:

The final event of the evening was Word Karaoke - sadly couldn't make it as was at the Creating Comics event but by all accounts it was great fun. Nick Rawlinson's Performance Masterclass, the traditional warm up for the Word Karaoke, shouldn't be missed!

Then after too little sleep Saturday was upon us and again we had three events (more if you count the many talks during the Book Bazaar)

I was at the inaugural Bristol HorrorCon which had a fantastic turnout (in the hundreds) ably organised by Tommy

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(Thanks to Tommy for the photo)

I was running the first panel of the day with guests - Mike Carey, Jonathan L Howard, Sara Jayne Townsend and Rosie Sharrat - we talked about monstrous fiction, zombies, scary stories, psychological and cosmic horror and zombies.

At the end of the panel we got to announce the winners of our horror writing competition:

Ro McNulty in 3rd place with Dead Angel
April Jane Rowan in 2nd place with Gardener's Delight
Baylea Hart won the competition with her incredibly creepy Jack-in-the-box

The winners will all be published in the November issue of Far Horizons Magazine

Also during Saturday was the Book Bazaar, but I didn't attend - the festival had a load of local writers and publishers together in the Lab Space on Bristol Harbourside. I was at the same event on the Sunday & the mix of talks and book buying opportunities was very nice.

Saturday night was the Festival Launch party (yes I thought it was odd that the launch came after several events too) with Natalie Burns hosting

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(Thanks to Tom Parker for the pic  - this is Ellen Waddell reading a hilarious "the truth of interviews" mono-dialogue)

Sunday may have been a day of rest but I was up early again and down to the Harbourside to man a table for the Book Bazaar. It was a pretty quiet day but the talks, about the business of selling books, were all very interesting. I thought Ken Elkes's talk on book publicity especially interesting.

There was a Haiku expert on hand to teach you all about Haiku's and it was a nice space with a constant trickle of members of the public come to browse books.

Also on Sunday, which I had to sadly miss as was manning the book stall, was Tom Parker's Scroll & Stroll and the Stokes Croft Writers "For the Love of Reading" - if I come across any blogs about any of the events I've missed I'll link them here...

Tonight I'll be at the BristolCon Fringe where Jonathan L Howard & Jo Hall are reading from their new books.

Mor bloggage as the week progresses...

Friday 16 October 2015

An Evening at the Fear Institute

Last night was my first acting experience in, oh so long, so long in fact that I can barely remember my last one - iirc it was as "War General Death Chicken" at Lepracon in the early 2000's and that was just to run on stage, cluck a bit and run off (ah acting, it builds character you know) and before that it was probably in school.

Talking of school that was the last time I attempted to write a play, at age 12. I wrote a play (at a catholic school) where the main character was a chain-smoking kleptomaniac priest and the cast were stuck on board a ski lift gondola. Bless my teacher at the time, Miss Dempsey, the only one of my English teachers to encourage me to write. She put it on in front of the whole school during a performance week (other classes put on Shakespeare & other 'proper' playwright's plays). I don't remember my play going down very well...

(The Erishkagel Working)

(A Long Spoon)

Last night's performance was very different. We performed four plays adapted from Jonathan L Howard's Johannes Cabal stories. And it seemed to go very well.

Many thanks to Chris Cutting for directing us

 (Chris Cutting -  iPhone struggling with low light there)

Paul Donovan for doing the fantastic sound effects and for sitting in a cupboard throughout the performance

And my fellow writers and actors:

Death of Me - adapted for radio by AA Abbott & LE Turner
Exeunt Demon King - adapted for radio by Rosie SharrattThomas David Parker Pete Sutton
The Erishkagel Working - adapted for radio by Pete Sutton & Thomas David Parker
A Long Spoon - adapted for radio by Chris Cutting

Johannes Cabal - Ken Shinn
Jones the Hatter, Mr Curry, Pensey - Thomas David Parker
Myghin - AA Abbott
Parkin, Luan Da - Pete Sutton
Constable Copeland, Zarenyia - Ellen Waddell
Assorted Sprites, Zombies & Others - LE Turner
Maleficarus, Rufus Maleficarus - Chris Cutting

(Where's the audience?)

 (Death of Me in full flow)

Johannes Cabal is a great character and the stories are very funny. You should go check out Jonathan's books!

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Bristol Festival of Literature - where you can find me

The festival starts tomorrow and I'm going to be run off my feet

First up I'll be acting in "An Evening at the Fear Institute" four adaptations of Jonathan L Howard's Johannes Cabal stories. I adapted one of the stories and will be acting in two of them.

Then on Friday I'll be at Creating Comics with Mike Carey, Paul Cornell, Cavan Scott, Jessica Bradley and Cheryl Morgan

Saturday I'll be at Bristol HorrorCon where I'm hosting a panel with Mike Carey, Jonathan L Howard, Sara Jayne Townsend and Rosie Sharratt.

Following that I'll be at the BFL Launch party at the Watershed.

Sunday I'll be selling books at the Book Bazaar all day.

Monday I'll be at the Shakespeare Tavern for more Jonathan L Howard, and Jo Hall

Tuesday it's the Bristol Writers in the caves

Wednesday I'll be reading at Written from Art and then going to Word of Mouth

Thursday the North Bristol Writers will be turning up mob handed to Novel Nights (after stalking Jonathan L Howard once again as he does his signing in Forbidden Planet)

Friday is the Flash Slam where the North Bristol Writers will be competing

And it all comes to a resounding finish at the Speakeasy on Saturday

Phew - a whirlwind of literary events! I'll need a holiday once it's all over!

Friday 9 October 2015

Interview with Sara B Elfgren

Back in July we interviewed Mats Strandberg, one half of the writing team behind the amazing Engelsfors trilogy. Today we've got Sara B Elfgren the other half of the team giving her side.

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Sara B. Elfgren (B is for Bergmark) started her career in the film industry as a screenwriter and script editor. She has a degree in film studies. The Circle was her debut novel. She is currently writing a new fantasy book series and, together with comic book artist Karl Johnsson, the graphic novel Vei. She has cowritten the screenplay to the film adaptation of The Circle together with director Levan Akin.

Sara was born in 1980 in Stockholm, and she still lives there with her husband.

So this is your chance to put your side of the story - how did the collaboration with Mats Strandberg come about?

I don’t really have anything to add! Other than that he is an amazing co-writer and human being. I’m very lucky to have met him, and I look forward to writing with him again.

What's it like to create in collaboration as opposed to solo - what are the ups and downs?

As long as you have the right partner there aren’t any drawbacks to collaboration, except the need for more logistics. I love working on my own and making all the choices, but I couldn’t be without my collaborations. I just published my first children’s book, Just nu har vi varandra (Time for each other), and the illustrator Maria Fröhlich and I are working on a second book with the same characters. I’m writing a fantasy graphic novel with artist Karl Johnsson, and working on scripts with several directors and other writers. I learn so much from these collaborations and they give instant energy that sometimes can be hard to find when you’re writing on your own. With that said, I’m super excited about having started on my first solo novel. If everything goes according to plan it will be out in 2017.

Omslagsbild: Just nu har vi varandra

I was made aware of the trilogy by a Swedish friend but now the trilogy has spread far and wide, I asked Mats about the translations already, so I'll ask you about the covers - what's your favourite foreign edition cover & why?

I’m very pleased that so many foreign publishers chose to use the original covers with illustrations by Kim W. Andersson. His collection of romantic horror short stories – Love Hurts - is being published by Dark Horse in October this year (I actually wrote one of them). It was a fun treat to see the Chosen Ones as manga characters on the cover of the Japanese edition. The character Linnéa, who is a huge Dir En Grey-fan is wearing a Dir En Grey-top. The band gave special permission. She would have loved that.

Which piece of writing are you most proud of?

The Engelsfors trilogy has changed my life, and it has touched other people’s lives as well, sometimes making a profound difference, as we’ve been told by some readers. I’m definitely proud of what I do, but mostly I feel grateful for being able to work full time, and meeting all these amazing people. I love my work.

You've worked as a script editor - how's that helped you in your prose writing?

I’ve had to hone my skills when it comes to analyzing what is amiss in a story and to find concrete solutions. Working as a screenwriter has taught me to listen to and process criticism without getting too hurt in the process. Developing a thick skin is vital if you want to survive in the movie business.

Did you have any input into the film? Is it weird seeing someone else's vision of characters you've lived with inside your head?

Oh yes. I wrote the screenplay together with the director Levan Akin, who is a very close friend. I’ve learned so much from working with him. I was at the rehearsals with the actors and rewrote lines and sometimes whole scenes. I was also in the editing room almost every day during the main part of the editing. It is very rare to get such insight into the film making process as a screenwriter and I’m so grateful for that experience. Since I was so deeply involved, I didn’t get the ”wow!” or ”wtf?” experience that many writers get when they view a film based on their book. It was an organic process. I’ll always have my own interpretations of the characters, but the movie version feels completely natural to me.

If you could be a character from one of your books who would it be and why?

Like Mats said, we put most of them through hell so I wouldn’t want to trade places. But if I had to choose … Probably Vanessa, because she knows how to enjoy life, and she has really cool powers. 

Do you also write short stories? If so where can people find them, if not, why not?

A little more than ten years ago I came pretty close to getting a collection of short stories published. Sadly, Sweden isn’t a very friendly place for short story writers.  There are hardly any magazines that publish short stories, and most publishers’ view is that short story collections don’t sell. With that said I still write them sometimes, and perhaps one day I’ll publish them, who knows?

The Key (Engelsfors Trilogy 3)

What’s the one question you never get asked in interviews that you really want to answer?

What are your favourite black and white horror films? Answer: The Haunting, The Innocents, Night of the Demon, Les yeux sans visage (Eyes Without a Face), Night of the Living Dead, Carnival of Souls, The Night of the Hunter.

In one sentence what's your best piece of advice for new writers

Your writing is going to suck and it doesn’t mean that you suck as a writer. It just means that writing is not all about putting words on a paper, it’s just as much – or sometimes even more – about changing them. It’s the same for every writer. It doesn’t matter if you’ve published 30 novels, you’re always going to suck at some point in the process. The cure is editing.   

 Many thanks for Sara for taking time to answer our questions. You should go check out her novels!

Thursday 1 October 2015

Interview with Christopher Fowler

Today we are excited to bring you an interview with Christopher Fowler whose new book - The Sand Men will be released in the UK on the 8th October.

Christopher Fowler is the five-time British Fantasy Award winning author of over thirty novels and twelve short story collections, including the hugely popular Bryant & May series. His work has appeared in videogames, graphic novels and radio plays, and he has published two critically acclaimed memoirs, Paper Boy and Film Freak. He has a weekly column in The Independent On Sunday, and splits his  time between London and Barcelona.

Can you tell us a little about the book, what's it about?

In Dubai there’s a new world of high-end, high-luxury resorts emerging for the super-rich – but at what price to everyone else? Lea, Roy and their 15 year-old daughter Cara live in a gated community reserved for foreign workers. Roy has been hired to deal with teething problems at Dream World, a futuristic beach complex. In the oppressive heat, the wives follow behind their husbands, cooking and arranging tea parties, but Lea finds herself a prisoner in a land where Western women are regarded with suspicion. Then one night, the most outspoken ex-pat is killed in a suspicious accident. His death is the first in a string of terrible occurrences that divide the foreign workers. Lea’s neighbours start to blame migrants, Arabs and even each other. What happens in a world where only the rich are important?

Dubai is a fascinating place - I was reading a piece about drone technology by Tim Maughan, (a SF writer turned journalist) and he thinks that it is trying to position itself to cope with the end of oil. How much research did you do? Did you visit? Do you agree with Tim?

I stayed there twice, once on the community estate where the book is set, and talked to a great many people. I agree totally with Tim - the oil is going and a new society must replace it, but how will this world work within an orthodox culture? Some of their ideas are good, but perhaps their biggest problem comes from within.

You say that you've broken out of a pigeonhole with this so what did you learn about writing by writing this book?

I’m trying to step back from straightforward thrillers with this book, and make readers ask questions for themselves. For example, how much is the main character Lea responsible for what happens, and is she to blame at least in part for the fracturing of the community?

The cover is quite striking - were you involved in putting it together at all?

We all put in ideas, but this has been the 4th cover in a row from Solaris that has knocked me out - perhaps the best yet.

What are you most proud of in this book?

I think the sense of danger and uncertainty; you can’t simply say ‘well, this happened and that happened’ - I have an opinion about one of the key events which might surprise readers; we’ll see if there’s a discussion when the book comes out. I’d love to do a panel about it. Also, I wanted to catch the tone of JG Ballard in the writing, and I think there are places in the book that do this. 

You've written over thirty novels, do you have a set process? If so can you describe it. 

The thing that changes most is the amount of time I spend - this started life under the title ‘Dream World’ and went through a great many refinements. My Bryant & May books are more straightforward. Also the language in this one had to be absolutely right. I threw away about a third of my finished material to streamline it.

You've been descried as being "an author that would make a good serial killer" (Time Out) are you flattered or disturbed by that? 

That’s going to haunt me forever. It didn’t help that in a review of my memoir ‘Paperboy’ someone said that my Dad was ‘worse than Fred West’ - he wasn’t terribly happy about that.

What's currently on your 'To be Read' pile? 

‘Tigerman’ by Nick Harkaway, the collected stories of Daphne du Maurier, and some Ray Bradbury tales I missed.

If you could live in a luxury gated community in any country which country would it be and why?

 I wouldn’t and yet I accidentally do. I live in a warehouse in London that the architects next door owned the access to, so they put a gate across it, and I hate the enforced privacy. I also live in Barcelona, in a crazy building full of very rowdy neighbours, and love the fact that they play the piano and do the laundry at 2:00am, and argue - a lot.

In one sentence what's your best piece of advice for new writers? 

When you’re sure what you’ve written is rubbish, it means you’re getting better.

Many thanks for the interesting answers.

Go & check out The Sand Men - it sounds great!

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