It’s still better than fiction

So I didn’t win a Shirley Jackson award (boo) but being shortlisted was possibly as much fun as I can handle without exploding anyway, so it worked out for the best. Congrats to all the winners and my fellow shortlisted writers, and when I receive my special rock through the post I will put a picture of it up here for general admiration.

A few years ago I got asked to contribute to an anthology of short stories about real-life travel experiences, and the result was in Lonely Planet’s Better Than Fiction. It really must have been better than fiction, because recently Lonely Planet decided to publish another selection of true travel tales, and asked me back for another go. I don’t think the follow-up is published until November, but the cover is up and so I thought I’d post it here. Looking good.

 

better than fiction 2

Are factual events better than fiction? For the purposes of living, it’s difficult to disagree, although one of my favourite real-life experiences is the feeling of reading (or writing) a really good story, so we can’t pretend there’s not crossover, and that fiction can’t be experienced as ‘real’ sometimes. For the purposes of making a great plot, it’s rare that real life ties everything up so nicely, so it’s an interesting challenge to write something that stays true to the event without looking like you’ve applied a slick of glamour and a neat little bow. Ta daaaaa.

 

 

Quiet Work

I’m currently working on the third of three linked novellas and pretending not to notice that its only a few weeks until the Shirley Jackson awards are upon us. It will be great to reach the pinnacle of all the excitement but I have enjoyed this period of being shortlisted; it’s almost like having an invisible badge (rock?) pinned to your chest. Shirley Jackson nominee. That is, flabbergastingly, me.

Apart from that, I’ve finally got around to writing about Powell and Pressburger films in the 1940s as I’ve always intended to do. I read a short story at the first Unsung Live event, which was loads of fun even if I did have to disappear off quick because of train timetables; I hope there are many more such evenings of live SFF lit courtesy of Unsung and that I get to attend at least one of them all the way through.

And I’ve updated the ‘About’ page on my website. See above and click the link for a look. Apart from that, all quiet here. Ssssh. I have to finish this novella before the summer holidays start.

Launching Skein Island

Although the new book is already quietly out there it only seems right to give it a small party, so there will be an event in London on Monday 8th June. The book will also have great company, in the form of Montague Kobbe’s new collection of short stories, Tales of Bed Sheets and Departure Lounges. Here are the details:

Location: Victoria Library

Date: Monday 8th June

Time: 7.00pm

Details: Writer and editor Alexa Radcliffe-Hart introduces and chats to Anglo-Caribbean author Montague Kobbé and British author Aliya Whiteley.

 

If you’re a Facebook kind of person you can also look up some additional info here.

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Gold Dust magazine is one of my favourite places for finding new voices, and they are committed to supporting writers and musicians at the start of their careers. I can’t thank them enough for the energy they put into a difficult job, including reviewing my stuff with clarity and understanding.

The first review of Skein Island will be in their next issue, but they’ve kindly allowed me to reprint part of it here in the hope of whetting your appetite to read it:

‘Gold Dust has followed Aliya Whiteley’s career since its beginning – and this is her best book yet. Highly entertaining and as quirky as ever, this one is highly intelligent as well – as much a work of philosophical fiction as of horror or adventure… This is a book that I can’t recommend highly enough. A journey into the thinking person’s Twilight Zone, and a compelling page-turner.’

 So, if that’s persuaded you, buy it at the launch event or buy it here. But please do buy it, or request it from the library.

 

 

 

 

 

Not a Lottery

Amazingly great news – The Beauty has been shortlisted for the Shirley Jackson Awards. It’s a particularly big deal because Shirley Jackson is one of those writers who has meant a lot to me since I started reading dark fantasy and horror, and came across The Lottery. Only recently I discovered a novel of hers entitled Hangsaman and found it as compelling and strange and moving as only her writing can be. So I’ve been reading her work for decades.

The winners will be announced at Readercon on Sunday 12th July. Here’s a look at all the nominees, which is a bit awe-inspiring. What great company to be in.

 

Sabotage and Champagne

I love champagne. It gives me serious mood swings, from delighted to despondent in the span of half an hour. The Saboteur Awards have announced their shortlist for excellence in independent publishing, and I’m really pleased to say The Beauty is sitting in the Best Novella category.

The winner will receive a very lovely bottle of champagne, and that winner will be decided by public vote. So if you read The Beauty and you liked it, then here’s the voting form.

Voting closes on 24th May.

 

saboteur

 

 

Making Jam

Okay, it’s not quite time to start sterilizing jars yet, but the good news is that The Beauty made the Tiptree Award Honours List this year, and that is definitely sweet. The Tiptree Award looks for books that explore or expand notions of gender. I’ll be reading the joint winners as soon as I can.

Skein Island is out in the world, and I visited the lovely Nik Perring’s blog to talk about preconceptions of genre, and our roles in life and art.

Also, the latest issue of the Canadian magazine On Spec contained one of my short stories. ‘To The Farm’  is about a chauffeur who makes an connection to an object masquerading as a person. I think it’s one of my most emotional stories.

 

 

Covering Skein Island

We’re fast approaching the end of March and my new novel, Skein Island, will be out there in the world shortly. So enough mystery. Here’s what it’s all about:

Skein Island

Skein Island, a private refuge twelve miles off the coast, lies in turbulent waters. Few receive the invitation to stay for one week, free of charge.  If you are chosen, you must pay for your stay with a story from your past; a Declaration for the Island’s vast library. 

What happens to your Declaration after you leave the island is none of your concern. 

From the monsters of Ancient Greece to the atrocities of World War II, from heroes to villains with their seers and sidekicks by their sides, Skein Island looks through the roles we play, and how they form and divide us. Powerful and disturbing, it is a story over which the characters will fight for control. 

Until they realise the true enemy is the story itself.

 

And here’s the cover:

skein island cover

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