2017 in Review

There’s only hours left until the end of the year, so since it’s the season here’s a look back on my year in genre.

This year’s been rather quiet in terms of new stories. THE ANNIVERSARY was my first sale to Black Static, and appeared swiftly afterwards in Issue 61, which was a delightful surprise for the end of the year. Also, turns out flash fiction is eligible for all the awards, as far as I can work out, so if you read it and think it’s worth a nomination, please do so.

In reprints, GOOD BOY also made its first appearance in audio format on Pseudopod‘s Flash on the Borderlands XXXVIII: Letting Go episode. THE HONEY TRAP was also reprinted for the first time in the Edinburgh International Book Festival Special Issue of Shoreline of Infinity 8 1/2. I also made my first translation sale in Chinese of this story, which should be appearing in the new year. More on that soon, I hope.

I’m still writing the Noise and Sparks column for SF journal Shoreline of Infinity, which is also eligible for Non-fiction awards, if you reckon it’s worth a nomination. ‘The Legend of the Kick-Arse Wise Women’ (Issue 8), about the relationship between age, experience, and imposter syndrome, seemed to resonate with a lot of folks, so thank you for your kind responses. My favourite is still ‘The Company of Bears’, from the current issue (10), but party because this year I fell in love with the fact that there are real cosplay Faerie Markets over in the US, a discovery I made with the paper given by Georgia Natishan at this year’s GIFCon – and, in a way, isn’t that what all cons kind of are?

Most of my New Things this year have been in non-fiction. I helped organize my first symposium, in 2017’s inaugural GIFCon event, with keynote speakers Julie Bertagna, Phil Harris, Stefan Ekman, Robert Maslen, and Maureen Farrell. I also presented my first paper there, on Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and superhero modes of adaptation and revision, and I gave my first academic poster at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, on Taoist Landscape and Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea sequence.









Worldcon was my only con of 2017, but it was grand to get another chance to attend one of these in Europe. Once again, I appeared on panels, this time on Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Sandman’, and ‘From Literature to Movies and Television – Adaptation of Scifi and Fantasy’ – a pair of great discussions that not only gave us the chance for a bit of role-play, but a chance to catch up with old friends and new (and nerd out in front of Margaret Dunlap, who is currently working on the new Dark Crystal TV series – eeee!).








Around that time, I was also sitting on the jury for the British Fantasy Society’s Non-fiction Award, my second year out – and a tricky job this time, as anyone else in on the final decision will attest, but thrilling to find these conversations around genre criticism to be so difficult, indicating as they did the high standard of the shortlisted works. I also squeezed in a couple of interviews with authors at various things – Oliver Langmead‘s Glasgow launch for Metronome at Waterstones Argyle Street, and a chat with Laura Lam about Shattered Minds at October’s Event Horizon.





The last quarter of the year also bought some firsts: I was the lead for the Creative Writing Station at Night at the Museum: Fantasy Scotland event at the Hunterian Museum in Scotland, in partnership with the MLitt in Fantasy at the University of Glasgow. As the rest of the team will agree, this was an amazing night, and we were thrilled to see people at the event and online responding to our challenges so imaginatively. Huge thanks to my fellow station folks Oliver Langmead, Sarah Tytler, Angie Spoto, Mary-Kate Wagamon and Luc Bateman for their brilliant work!









I also became an editor for From Glasgow to Saturn, the arts and creative writing journal at the University of Glasgow. We recently sent out the acceptances for our 40th issue of the journal and, come the new year, we start working on readying these submissions for publication in early Spring. I can’t wait to share these wonderful tales with you!

There were also a few personal writing highlights: getting to see Nalo Hopkinson, Malika Booker, Alasdair Gray, and Christopher Priest read in person – and sharing a TOC with Nalo as part of Shoreline of Infinity 8 1/2. I also got to meet Samuel R. Delany, which was not only a delight because of how utterly charming and insightful he is, but because his biographical documentary ‘The Polymath’ helped me work through some personal issues earlier in the year. I also gave cosplay a try for the first time this year, going to Worldcon as The Corinthian from Neil Gaiman‘s The Sandman comics, and Night at the Musem as Lottie from Neil Williamson‘s The Moon King. And I had the joy of watching my coursemates graduate from the University of Glasgow, and another friend win her first Hugo Award. So that’s a good year, isn’t it?









2018 will not only see my first issue of From Glasgow to Saturn as Editor, but also the second outing of GIFCon, for which I’m handling the social media presence (give me a wave sometime on twitter, facebook or instagram). I’ll be giving at least one workshop in the first half of the year in Edinburgh, as well as a brand new reading in Glasgow. Right now, I should be working on my column for the next issue of Shoreline of Infinity, a special issue for International Women’s Day. I’ll be entering the final stretch of my Masters degree in Fantasy next year.

As for what I’ll be doing after that, well I can’t officially say right now, but I hope you’ll stick around to find out.

Event Horizon with Laura Lam

Here’s a heads up for those of you who can get to Edinburgh next month.

I’ll be chatting with Laura Lam about her brilliant new novel Shattered Minds at the next Event Horizon (11th October) in Edinburgh. The latest in her Pacifica SF series, it’s one of those novels where the words ‘rollercoaster ride’ don’t quite cover how thrilling it really is. And if that’s not enough, Laura will also be reading from the novel. So, if you’ve not picked up a copy yet, why not pop along and hear what you’re missing?

Joining us will be wonderful Orcadian SF poet Harry Giles; artist Stephen Pickering, who’ll be giving us an insight into cover creation; and intriguing dream popsters L-Space. So, it’s sure to be another fine night from the Shoreline of Infinity folk.

Event Horizon kicks off at Banshee Labyrinth (Nidry Street) on Wednesday 11th October at 7:30pm. For more information, head to www.ShorelineOfInfinity.com.

Thirty Years of Rain

During the near two years I tried and failed to move to Glasgow, two things anchored me to my goal: firstly, my good friends who live and work in the city. Secondly, the thought of the passionate, creative community I would be joining when I moved here. At the point I’d begun to wonder if I’d ever make it up, the folks of the Glasgow SF Writers Circle invited me to make good on the handful of meetings I’d made as a visitor, and join as a full member. It was the foothold I needed in the city. From that moment, I didn’t look back.

Thirty Years of Rain

A year on from that day, I’m proud to say a poem of mine has found its way into Thirty Years of Rain, the new anthology celebrating the 30th anniversary of the celebrated crit group. It’s fitting that while this book features many of the Circle’s most famous alumni, it also showcases some startlingly original work from up-and-coming writers too: Louise Welsh, Hal Duncan, Gary Gibson, Neil Williamson, Amal El-Mohtar, TW Moses, Heather Valentine, Eliza Chan, Peter Morrison, and many more besides. Thirty Years of Rain is not just a taste of the myriad fall from the group, but hopefully a foreshadowing of bigger things to come.

Edited by Neil Williamson, Elaine Gallagher and Cameron Johnston, and with layout by Hal Duncan and photography by Andrea Heins, Thirty Years of Rain is available now in paperback (Amazon/Lulu) and ebook (Kindle/Other Formats).

Alternatively, if you’re in the Glasgow area, why not join us this Friday 30th September (anyone would think we’d planned it that way, eh?) at Waterstones on Sauchiehall Street? We’ll be launching the book at 7pm, with readings, chat and more, plus the biggest gathering of contributors we can muster.

Here’s the official facebook page (ignore the bit about reservations – you can just turn up). Hope to see you there!

September Shenanigans: Event Horizon, Fantasycon, Thirty Years of Rain and more.

I’ve got a bit of news. Well, quite a lot of news, actually. Earlier this year, I put in an application to the University of Glasgow’s MLitt programme in Fantasy — and to my immense delight, they accepted me. So I’m currently condensing my life into a dozen boxes, as I’ll be moving myself and them up to Glasgow this weekend. It’s both terrifying and utterly exciting (and I’m not just talking about the ability to buy a tonne of books and call it work), but I can’t wait to be living in such a vibrant, creative community of writers and artists. The hard work begins here.

September is looking to be a busy month already, with book launches, events, and two new things coming out. While I’m taking a breather from boxing up, I thought you might like to know what’s coming up in the next few weeks…

Event Horizon 11

5th September: Event Horizon XI (Edinburgh)
Next Monday, join me, Bram E. Gieben, Harry Giles, Elaine Gallagher, The Spiders, and Russell Jones for stories, slam poetry and some stonking performances that’ll knock your SFing socks off. We’ll be at the Blind Poet in Edinburgh from 7pm. For more details, check out the facebook event page here, or last week’s blog.

23rd September: Shoreline of Infinity 5 is out! (Everywhere!)
The next issue, featuring my latest Noise and Sparks column, hits the shelves! Pick it up from Transreal Fiction or Deadhead Comics in Edinburgh, or order direct from www.shorelineofinfinity.com.


Thirty Years of Rain

23rd – 25th September: Fantasycon-by-the-Sea (Scarborough)
This year’s Fantasycon ships up in sunny Scarborough for a weekend of fun, frolics and the world famous Fantasycon Disco Karaoke, the Karaoke is the best. Kev McVeigh, Martin Petto and I have just finished judging for the Non-Fiction Award of the British Fantasy Awards, which will be announced that weekend. I’ve also been booked for a panel, so more on that when it’s been officially announced. For now, I can say I’ll be at the NewCon Press & Glasgow SF Writers’ Circle Book Launch on Saturday (24th) at 3pm, where we’ll be signing copies of the GSFWC‘s 30th anniversary anthology, Thirty Years of Rain. If you’re about, why not join us?

30th September: Thirty Years of Rain – Glasgow launch (Glasgow, funnily enough)
Naturally, it wouldn’t be right to have a Glaswegian book without a Glasgow launch. Come join me and even more GSFWC authors at Waterstones (Sauchiehall Street) for free booze, readings — and, of course, we’ll be on hand to sign any 30th anniversary anthologies you may have just bought that evening. The event kicks off at 7pm, so do join us then.

If you’re not able to make either of the two launch dates for Thirty Years of Rain, you’ll be able to order it online nearer the time, and I’ll post details of that when I have them. In the meantime, if you’re wanting your new story fix, don’t forget Fox Pockets: The Evil Genius Guide (feat. ‘Dame Ammonia Dastardly-Truste’s Evil Genius College for Ladies Class of 2014: Graduation Speech [Transcript]’) is out now in paperback, with e-book to follow soon.

I think that’s it — until Glasgow!

The Evil Genius Guide, Thirty Years of Rain, and Shoreline of Infinity

Ever wondered what it takes to be an Evil Genius? Now’s your chance to find out.


The Evil Genius Guide is the latest in Fox Spirit‘s Fox Pockets series, and I’m delighted to return to it with a story almost as mad as the ‘The Real Deal’, which appeared back in Fox Pocket 1: Piracy.

‘Dame Ammonia Dastardly-Truste’s Evil Genius College for Ladies Class of 2014: Graduation Speech [Transcript]’ (deep breath) is a story about love, revenge, and machine gun bikinis, set in private school with a rather unusual graduation ceremony. It’s an older tale — I first submitted this story two years ago — so it’s interesting both to see how my writing’s changed in the years since, but heartening also to see how Past Me could still pull a surprise out of the hat when she needed to.  Of course, if that doesn’t take your fancy, Chloe Yates, Andrew Reid, Steven Poore and the rest of this dastardly ensemble will gladly indulge your lust for evildoings. Paperback copies are available to order now, with an ebook due very soon.

The release of The Evil Genius Guide is also a bit of a landmark for Fox Spirit Books — this and the soon to be released Reflections are the last in the current Fox Pockets series. So Fox Spirit are having a very special celebration to mark this on 25th August at the Secular Hall, Leicester. Don’t forget to pick up your tickets, ’cause there ain’t no party like a Fox Spirit Party!

In the meantime, I’m taking a break from the world’s least fun game of Katamari Damacy to go through proofs for Thirty Years of Rain, the anthology celebrating 30 years of the celebrated Glasgow SF Writers Circle. As you might expect, the TOC’s a blinder, with Louise Welsh, Amal El-Mohtar, Garry Gibson, Hal Duncan, Eliza Chan, Neil Williamson and more. I’ve also just finished my latest Noise and Sparks column, which will be in the next issue of Shoreline of Infinity.

Both of these should be out around the 23rd September — just in time for Fantasycon-By-The-Sea, where I’ll also be hanging around for the Thirty Years of Rain launch. So, if you’re going, I hope to see you then!

Shoreline of Infinity, Satellite 5, and the Glasgow SF Writers Circle

Ladies and gentlemen, it has come to my attention there are things you should be aware of. Brace yourselves…


Shoreline of Infinity’s Issue 4 line-up is online now, and it’s a stonker, boasting interviews with Ken MacLeod and Tricia Sullivan, as well as stories by Gary Gibson, Andrew J Wilson, Holly Schofield and more.

Issue 4 will also be the first with my new column, Noise and Sparks (does that sound oddly familiar to you?). This time around, I’ll be talking about what happens when you find yourself writing more for other people than for your own pleasure.

It’s available for pre-order now – and look at that amazing cover by Sara Ljeskovac! Look at it!




The Glasgow SF Writers Circle marks its 30th anniversary this year with the release of a brand new anthology of work from members past and present. I’m happy to say that a new poem of mine will be appearing in this too. The as-yet unamed book is expected in the Autumn, so I’ll post more nearer the time.

But before all of this…


This weekend, Satellite 5 kicks off at the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow, where there will be fun, frolics, and live action Space Invaders with skateboards and nerf guns. So I’ve heard.

If you’re up for more leisurely adventure, I’m reading on Saturday 28th May at 8pm, along with Andrew J. Wilson, Elaine Gallagher, Brian Milton, Elsie Donald and more. Neil Williamson will also be reading extracts from his new collection Secret Language, which you’ll be able to pick up at the preview launch the same day, ahead of the official release.

So if you’re about, why not pop along? Hope to see you there!

The Week of All The Stuff

I mentioned last week that 2016 was going to be somewhat busier on the story front than last year. What I didn’t mention was how early all of this would be starting. Like… now! This week I’ve got a story and a brand new poem in two quite different anthologies. I’ll also be making a last minute appearance at A Thing In Scotland. So I should probably tell you all about those.

First up, Digital Dreams is the new anthology from NewCon Press, collecting ten years of great SF writing from one of Britain’s most celebrated independent presses into one e-book. As I understand it, a number of these stories are appearing for the first time in this format here – and a book with Lauren Beukes, Pat Cadigan, Justina Robson, Kim Lakin-Smith, Nina Allan, and more definitely deserves your time and attention. In short, it’s an unmissable retrospective from some of the genre’s top writers of the last decade. I’m proud to say my tale ‘The Honey Trap’ (which first appeared in NewCon Press anthology La Femme, and won me a BSFA award last year) can be found in here too. Digital Dreams is out now.

Secondly, The Speculative Book will be launching this Friday. This is the first anthology from the Glaswegian collective The Speculative Bookshop, and features tales and art from the likes of Peter Sutton, Neil Williamson, Brian Milton, Elaine Gallagher, and, well, me, all curated by Chris Kelso and folks from the Speculative Bookshop team. This should be a splendid anthology for those looking for brand new up-and-comers in SFF, and raw storytelling talent. My poem ‘Coronal Mass Ejection (Solar Minima)’, inspired by the experiences of Joan Feynman, can be found inside that. My first published poem. Which is nice.

In addition, it’s probably time I told you that I’ll be at The Speculative Book Launch this Friday 8th January at the Old Hairdressers in Glasgow, along with a good deal of the rest of the authors. So if you’re wanting something signed, that’d seem like a good night to get along to. Also, the marvellous Creative Martyrs will be performing, which is always… an interesting night out. So if you’re at a loose end in Glasgow this Friday, why not pop along?

A story, a poem and a live thing. That’s a busy week right there. I’d best be getting on with it.

2015 in Fiction (and other things…)

It’s almost over. The turkey’s been stuffed, and stuffed again. The three wise men are still treadmilling their way across the mantlepiece, in the hopes of reaching the Advent Candle by New Year’s Eve. In short, it’s really time I’d done one of these end of year round up posts already and bunged it up online. You know how it gets. The presents. The relatives. The discovery of new species of hybrid plastic animals in your crackers. So here’s the summary of a year that’s been deceptively busy under it all.

This year was quiet in terms of new stories. Just the one, in fact – ‘Good Boy’, which appeared in the January issue of Far Horizons magazine. This was my first foray into horror, of sorts, and I’m actually pretty proud of the way it turned If you’d like to read it, click here to do that for free

That’s not all that’s happened. In 2015, I’ve also been able to indulge what’s becoming one of my favourite things about writing fiction – doing public readings. I read at Eastercon, and Fantasycon, and the Speculative Bookshop‘s July event. Here’s hoping here’s more on the way. On a writing-related note, music has taken a back seat since the mighty Thrash Hits decided to go out on their own terms, although I wrote a piece for The Independent on the sad passing of Lemmy from Motörhead (here). And though it’s not writing-related at all, really, I ran a half-marathon (the Great Scottish Run) and raised over £700 for Macmillan Cancer Support, in memory of my friend Carol, who passed away last year (if you’d like to make a donation, here’s my Just-Giving page).

The BSFA Award for Best Short Fiction

Of course, I can’t talk about 2015 without mentioning the BSFA awards. I mean, you smarten yourself up a bit and prepare a bunch of words, because it’s only sensible, right? But winning the award for Best Short Fiction wasn’t something I’d actually expected to happen. I doubt I’ve even realised it has yet – every so often I’ll remember it, and then I have to get it down and poke it a bit, so I can reassure myself it’s real. And then point it at Millie-cat and mke pew-pew noises, much to her utter disgust. Once again, thank so, so much to all the lovely folks who nominated and voted for ‘The Honey Trap’ in the BSFAs. It made my lifetime.

A lot of what’s happened this year went on under the surface. Writing fiction has been difficult this year, and it’s led me in directions I wouldn’t normally have gone in. Interesting ones, I hope, and ones likewise I hope you’ll see in print at some point. Tricky as it’s been, I’m hoping it’s all part of the process of becoming a better writer.

Talking of becoming a better writer, being invited to join the Glasgow SF Writers Circle was one of the highlights of 2015 for me. Come the new year, there’ll be 30 years of critique workshops behind the group (Amal El-Mohtar, Gary Gibson, Hal Duncan, Michael Cobley and Neil Williamson rank amongst its alumni), and I’m honoured to be part of it. Talking of which, there’ll be an anthology coming out in late 2016 to celebrate. Stay tuned to the website for more information.

2016, by contrast, is shaping up to be quite noisy. By my reckoning, there’s maybe half a dozen things in the pipeline due at some point next year. Of the ones I can talk about now, NewCon Press will be releasing a new ebook Best of called Digital Dreams, as part of their 10th anniversary celebrations – you’ll find a reprint of ‘The Honey Trap’ in that (click here to pre-order). And I’ll finally be able to call myself a published poet too. Both Winter Tales (Fox Spirit Books) and The Speculative Book (Speculative Bookshop) will be include a pair of my poems between them – my first to appear in print. Exciting stuff!

In the meantime, I’d better get back to it. 2015 was a year of the unexpected, and often giddying highs. 2016? Well… Let’s see what you’ve got, eh?


Incoming: In the Digital Dreams of NewCon Press…

More on 2016 releases from me – and this time, I’ve got some fiction news for you.

Digital Dreams - a NewCon Press Anthology

As part of their 10th anniversary celebrations, NewCon Press are releasing Digital Dreams – an eBook only retrospective celebrating the imprint’s history of publishing great women authors. Ian Whates has a wonderful selection to choose from, so it’s no surprise to find such luminaries as Lauren Beukes, Kim Lakin-Smith, Pat Cadigan, Justina Robson, Tricia Sullivan, Jaine Fenn, and Nina Allen all contributing tales. It’ll be well worth picking up.

I’m proud to say that my story ‘The Honey Trap’ will also be appearing alongside them. This tale first appeared in the NewCon anthology Noir, and won the Best Short Fiction prize at the BSFA awards earlier this year.

For more information, the full Table of Contents – and pre-order link – are both online now.

How Writers Write, and When Runners Run


Tony Ballentyne’s blog series How Writers Write is exactly that. Once a month, he’s interviewed folk like Keith Brooke and Neil Williamson and they’ve duly answered – on where they write, choices of style, and what helps them get into the right frame of mind to create great stories. You’ll find rare insights into the creative process of some ace writers, so it’s well worth a browse.
A few weeks ago, Tony dropped me an email with a few of the same questions, and you’ll find my answers (complete with a guest appearance from Millie the cat) in the latest installment.
How Writers Write: Ruth EJ Booth – http://tonyballantyne.com/how-writers-write-ruth-booth/
Just one more thing before I go:


Today marks a year to the day that I ran the Edinburgh Half Marathon in aid of Mind – my first ever running event. So I thought you might like to know I’ve signed up to the Great Scottish Run‘s Half Marathon event in Glasgow in October. I’ll be running for Macmillan Cancer Support, in memory of my friend Carol Laird. More on that nearer the time.