My Year of Writing: 2016

Come the new year I’ll make a list of my favourite reads of 2016, but I can’t do it yet because I don’t like the thought of leaving out the books I’ll read over the Christmas period. Which will include Han Kang’s Human Acts. I know this because I’ve bought it as a Christmas present to myself and I can’t wait to receive it from me. I’m so thoughtful.

But I don’t think anything else that I’ve written will be published in 2016, so here’s my annual round up…

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My SF-historical coming-of-age novella The Arrival of Missives was published in May by Unsung Stories, who make me feel better about the world whenever I think of them, such is their commitment to only putting good things done well out there. Thanks to them for making it such a beautiful book.

Giganotosaurus published my novella Brushwork, which is set just outside Portsmouth and doesn’t even mention Devon, so that’s a diversification for me. It’s a near future dystopian story of have and have-nots in a biodome where one poor old lady grows melons for very rich people to enjoy.

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I had seven short stories published this year:

Bourbon Penn ran The Librarian in February, which was all about information and how we use it. That’s been a big theme of mine this year, but here it was front and centre rather than lurking in the subtext.

In March Belladonna Publishing put my story The House of Infinite Diversions into their anthology Strange Little Girls. I was in great company there, and my tale of torture and self-realisation juxtaposed with a quite formal style was really fun to do.

Blue Monday Review published Into Glass in April. This was inspired by the Blaschka glass models which you can see in the Natural History Museum. Quantifying, solidifying, objectifying love: a forerunner for some ideas I’ve been exploring on the page since.

The Multicoloured and Botanical Life Story appeared alongside a vivid illustration online at the new venture InShades Mag in May. I wrote this horticultural story years ago and never could find the right place for it; I think InShades brought it to life beautifully.

July, and BFS Horizons put Bird Charming for Beginners between their pages. I rarely create entire fantasy lands or use magic in my stories, but I went all out here and was glad to find such a good home for it.

Speaking of which, there’s no better home for a SF story than Interzone, and they published Three Love Letters from an Unrepeatable Garden in September. More plants! More letters! More love! More information! All my big themes of 2016 in one short story.

And finally, a reprint: Digital Fiction Publishing used Songs for Dead Children in their Killing It Softly anthology, which is a collection of scary stories by some amazing women horror writers. I brought Mahler and murder to some full on tales of terror.

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Patreon! I started one. For strange short stories. My goal is to write 12 bizarre short stories over the next year, and people can pay me to read them if they fancy it.

One of my big writing problems is that I don’t often create stories that fit neatly within genre parameters, and that can make them difficult to place. Patreon removes that constraint. It means I can write stories about an alien invasion of corrupted words, and women seafarers stranded on phallic islands, and not worry about the fact that I’m straying off into historical, or literary, or horror, when I started in SF or fantasy. So far I’ve loved this freedom; if you want to read the results you can sign up here.

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I wrote less articles, I think, generally. Den of Geek is still my go-to place for film news, and it still amazes me that they like my stuff and put it on their site. Thanks DoG. Here’s a few of my favourite articles I wrote for them this year:

10 Amazing Animated Short Films from Hungary

Sherlock Holmes: Celebrating Rathbone and Bruce

8 British Sci Fi Novels of the 1950s (I also did the 1960s and 1970s)

In Praise of Not Reading Classic Video Game Instructions

An Interview with Sally & Sylvain Chomet

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And finally – I wrote a lot of new stuff this year. The last couple of years have been about novellas, but in 2016 I wrote a short novel which hopefully I’ll find a home for, and I started something which I think is going to become a chunky novel. It’ll be good to tackle something longer again; I haven’t written a novel that’s over 100,000 words since Three Things About Me (which failed to impress Kirkus Reviews – “a strange, unsatisfying debut” has remained one of my favourite review quotes and has been oddly prescient about my writing career since),which was nearly a decade ago. Wow. It’ll be good to really get immersed in a great big adventure and see if I can still write longer. Here’s hoping it’s still strange, but maybe a bit more satisfying. For me and for any future readers.

See you in 2017, with my favourite reads of the year. In the meantime, happy Christmas! Have a good one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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