It’s a bloghop! This week, the amazing Benjanun Sriduangkeaw has been discussing things she does and doesn’t write about – take a look here. In that blog, along with Natalia Theodoridou and Raya Wolfsun, she’s been kind enough to tag me. Which brings us all here today.
Only, here’s the thing – I’m not sure that I don’t do anything yet, as such. More that there are things I have written about, and things I haven’t. So I hope Bee doesn’t mind that I’ve slightly altered the titles of these for my own blog on this.
Three Things I Don’t Write About. Yet…
Frankly, I’m a little muddy on the distinction between High and Epic Fantasy – I always gathered that the latter was more about scope, while the former embodied specific tropes. Right? Unfortunately, I think that’s part of why I’m put off from writing it. It’s very easy to hide poor writing behind familiarity and button pushing. Having said that, some of my favourite series, such as Discworld and Redwall, have been on this larger scale, while Adrian Tchaikovsky‘s Shadows of the Apt series is well worth a gander, Den Patrick‘s recent War Fighting Manuals are an interesting twist on the old post-Tolkien tropes, and as for the splendid Jennifer Williams and The Copper Promise, well, you’ll be able to see for yourself at the links below… Some great reads. In terms of writing? It’s not for me – yet – but let’s see what happens.
There are a lot of zombie stories out there. Lots and lots. Lots and lots and lots. That’s not say there haven’t been some interesting takes on it – Cherie Priest‘s Boneshaker, Seth Grahame-Smith‘s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – but with so many, it can make a woman wonder what she can do with a trope that’s pretty much a sub-genre of its own. Then came TV series In The Flesh, an exploration of a post-uprising society in which zombies are being rehabilitated into normal life. This has really opened up zombies (‘scuse the pun) to proper exploration, beyond a vehicle for fiction of the apocalypse. Maybe one day, it might spark something off…
No, I don’t mean Little Daz, who’ll do 14 pints the neet and take up two seats on the bus home. I’ve recently realised I’ve yet to write a tale in Geordie. Though it’s an accent that’s generally associated with hard men and harder drinking, Geordie’s got a beautiful lilt to it, especially in folk songs like this:
If you want to look for Geordie fiction, the most well known’s the grittier stuff (Ann Cleaves‘s crime fiction, for example) – though the wonderful Pig Iron by Ben Myers is a perfect example of the beauty you’ll find amongst all of that. When it comes to SFF, though, I’m not aware of anyone who’s worked in the dialect – outside of the more fantastic folk tales, at least. I reckon it’s time someone did.
Three Things I Do Write About.
When I was at school, part of the GCSE curriculum included Carol Ann Duffy’s collection Mean Time. And I’ve never quite gotten over reading ‘Sleeping‘ in class, it was like some kind of dirty secret between us and the cool teachers. Particularly those lines about the kiss:
“Your mouth is hot fruit, wet, strange,
night-fruit I taste with my opening mouth;
my eyes closed.”
Carol Ann Duffy – Sleeping
And with those words, Snow White would never be quite so again.
It’s the connection between senses and sensuality, and how different ways of experiencing a taste, smell, sound, can affect our emotional response, that grabbed me. For those wanting a more detailed insight into what I’m talking about, try to get hold of a copy of the documentary Blood Into Wine, and listen to some of Eric Glomski’s thoughts on Sensualism. Working through ‘The Honey Trap‘ (La Femme, NewCon Press), I ate a fair number of apples, trying to get a grasp on the different sensations that came with different ways of eating them. There’s something to be said for just taking a little time to re-experience a sensation you’re writing about, if you can – especially if it involves a really nice juicy apple. Just be careful about who you’re taking it from.
Improbable Architectural Structures
I’ve been into the idea of palimpsest cultures and different shades of realities for a while now, particularly the ways in which the slightest change in perception of a landscape can alter our entire reaction to it. Drug-induced realities, alternate histories, dreamscapes, even google-glass and blue plaques all come into this. Tenuously linked, as someone who’s dabbled in the History of Technology in the past, I’ve always been particularly fascinated by the repurposing of objects beyond the intention of the inventor or commissioning patron. Lifehacks of the kind in ‘The Honey Trap‘ come into this, but I’m thinking of an older story, ‘Much Ado About Steam Presses‘, for which I had a lot of fun reimagining early 20th century Sicily. I brought the Pylons of Messina forward fifty years, and repurposed the Torre Faro station as private residence, complete with zeppelin landing platforms. Next up? A beloved Norman Cathedral as representative of deep existential despair. Mwahaha…
Robots and AI
Sort of. I mean, it depends what you’re actually classifying as robots. If you’re talking about an artificially created “intelligence” that’s really a cobbled together set of algorythms and rule sets for behavioural responses mapped onto a blank slate automaton then… Well, okay, so maybe I have written about robots. One robot to be precise, in ‘The Real Deal‘ for the Fox Pocket Piracy. Proper artificial intelligence, though? Now that sounds like an interesting challenge…
So there it is. And here are the three lovely folk who’ll be blogging about this at some point…
Neil Williamson – Neil Williamson is a writer and musician. Amongst his acclaimed short fiction, you’ll find the collection Ephemera (Infinity Plus Books – shortlisted for the British Fantasy Award 2007) and the short story ‘Arrhythmia‘ (Music For Another World, Mutation Press – shortlisted for the BSFA Awards 2011). He is also, along with Andrew J Wilson, co-editor of Nova Scotia: New Scottish Speculative Fiction (Crescent Books, shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award). Neil is based in Glasgow, where you’ll find him between paper and glass, amidst great ragged poets and maidens with saws, pulling strings out of hearts and turning skin to bone. His debut novel, The Moon King, is out now through NewCon Press.
Some of Neil’s mind can be discerned at http://neilwilliamson.wordpress.com/
Jennifer Williams – Jennifer Williams is a fantasy writer and Lego obsessive who spends much of her time frowning at notebooks in cafes and fiddling with maps of imaginary places. She is partial to mead, if you’re buying. Her debut Fantasy novel, The Copper Promise, is published by Headline and available now. (Also, here’s sneaky plug for her Name The Tavern contest, where you can win a signed copy of The Copper Promise)
You’ll find more on Jen’s fantastic worlds at http://sennydreadful.co.uk/
Chloë Yates – Chloë Yates is a writer of odd stories. English born, she currently lives in the middle of Switzerland and when she’s not reading or writing, she can be found swearing at the rugby. Her first story ‘Leave the Pistol Behind’ was one of the winners of Fox Spirit Books’ International Talk Like a Pirate Day in 2012, and her noirish chops have since slathered into the Kate Laity-edited Weird Noir (2012) and Noir Carnival (2013). Her story ‘Kiki Le Shade‘ will be featured in the upcoming third installment, Drag Noir. You can find her in several of the Fox Pockets anthologies (most recently, Guardians, which contains ‘Well Our Feeble Frame He Knows‘) and in Girl At The End of The World Vol. 1, an apocalyptic collection soon to be released by Fox Spirit. She’s currently working on a novel, The Douchester Chronicles: Iggy Rising, and her urban fantasy installment of the upcoming series, Feral Tales.
You can read her ranting at http://www.chloe-yates.blogpost.com. She’s very friendly, so say hello!