Friday, April 26, 2013

Selecting the stories

The submission period for our three anthologies is now over and the editors are busy selecting the stories they wish to include. Table of contents will be posted as soon as agreed. Watch this space.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Q&A: Kari Sperring

Today, KARI SPERRING answers questions set by the editors of The Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders.

Tell us a little about yourself, and what you like to write?

 I'm a mediaeval historian (specialising in Celts) by training and a writer by instinct – I started writing aged seven and I haven't stopped since. I love swashbucklers, ancient mysteries, things and people who are not what they seem, complex worlds and intrigue, which get into everything I write. As does water; I can't account for that, but most of what I write ends up with water as a key element.

If the TARDIS could drop you off to any one site in its heyday, where would you go?

Oh, goodness, that's hard ... I don't know. Maybe the court of Louis XIII or Louis XIV: I'd love to meet the real d'Artagnan, Athos, Porthos and Aramis.

What appeals to you most about ancient sites/landscapes?

That sense that the past is still there, immanent in every stone and that we are all part of the flow of history.

What do you have coming out next?

I have a sequel to The Grass King's Concubine due from DAW, probably next year. It has no final title as yet, but the working title is Death and the Madwoman

[Kari Sperring grew up dreaming of joining the musketeers and saving France, only to find they’d been disbanded in 1776. Disappointed, she became a historian and as Kari Maund published six books and many articles on Celtic and Viking history, plus one on the background to favourite novel, The Three Musketeers (with Phil Nanson). She started writing fantasy in her teens, inspired by Tolkien, Dumas and Mallory. She is the author of two novels, Living with Ghosts (DAW 2009), which won the 2010 Sydney J Bounds Award, was shortlisted for the William L Crawford Award and made the Tiptree Award Honours’ List; and The Grass King’s Concubine (DAW 2012).] 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Astrologica update

Allen Ashley, editor of forthcoming Alchemy Press anthology Astrologica: Stories of the Zodiac, writes:

“That’s it, folks, the submission window has firmly closed. Firstly, I want to say a big thank you to all the authors who made the effort to get to grips with this challenging theme and who submitted stories. As an editor: without you guys, I’m nothing! In my usual blithe manner, I simply threw the idea out there and I didn’t fully appreciate that my astrological theme was actually quite a bit trickier than your average anthology. So, thank you for all your submissions. I have read all but the most recent at least once and am onto second readings for several of the pieces. I have difficult choices to make for all the signs apart from Leo, which was snaffled up by Ralph Robert Moore way back in January. Often it’s going to come down to fine margins between one story and another for any given star sign. That’s one of the tricky parts of editing, of course. Expect to hear from me during May or June; possibly even later this month if I really get my finger out!”

Meanwhile, Mike Chinn (editor of Pulp Heroes 2) and Jan Edwards & Jenny Barber (Urban Mythic) are finalising their selections -- expect to hear details soon.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Q&A: Lynn Cochrane

It’s LYNN M COCHRANE’s turn to answer questions posed by the editors of Ancient Wonders.

Tell us a little about yourself, and what you like to write?

Challenged to describe myself in three words, I answered, "Orange headed barrel".  Now you'll recognise me anywhere (oh, and it has worked!). To quote my Scottish grandmother, I'm as old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth, though I will admit to having both children and grandchildren.

I prefer to write words. They often turn up as poems but they also appear as stories, usually hovering in the intersection of science fiction, fantasy and horror. Sometimes, the poems have tunes attached. Maybe they should be called songs.

I'm a member of Yardley Baptist Church in Birmingham where I serve as Newsletter Editor and as a member of both the Worship Team and the Preaching Team – so perhaps you should add sermons to the list of things I write!

What inspired you to write “Ringfenced”?

A photo of a standing stone, somewhere in the north-east of England, which had a ray of blue light firing straight up from its tip. Things like that burn themselves into my memory.

If the TARDIS could drop you off to any one site in its heyday, where would you go?

Ness of Brodgar. From there I could get to the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness, possibly also Maes Howe and Skara Brae, all on Orkney. So many questions: Are they linked, other than by location? How are they linked? Were they all in use at the same time? How were they used? Would I be able to gain and give some answers?

What appeals to you most about ancient sites/landscapes?

Pass the trowel ... if only! I'm fascinated by the remnants in the ground (and anything still standing above ground) and by the puzzle of what such things and buildings were used for. I'd love to take part in archaeological explorations. Perhaps the big question is how someone from the 21st century would cope if they were dropped into the relevant point in time and space.

What do you have coming out next?

I'm always writing poems. It's almost as if they catch hold of my hands and won't let go until they've been attached to paper or the current electronic equivalent. I'm working on some short stories, a couple of which may well end up being rather longer – novellas or even novels; who knows? I also edit the showcase anthology for Cannon Hill Writers' Group, Salvo, and its new little sibling, Grapeshot.

[Lynn M Cochrane lives in the outskirts of Birmingham. She has been writing most of her life and has produced three collections of poems. She has had short stories published in convention publications and in Raw Edge, the West Midlands Arts publication. She is a member of Cannon Hill Writers’ Group, leading writing workshops from time to time.]

Friday, April 12, 2013

Q&A: Anne Nicholls

Today, under the Ancient Wonders spotlight is ANNE NICHOLLS.

Tell us a little about yourself, and what you like to write?

I love a good story: thrills, adventures, heroism, the writing of wrongs.

What inspired you to write “Dragonsbridge”?

I wrote “Dragonsbridge” after I got back from a great little fantasy convention called Les Féeries du Bocage, held in a friendly village in rolling French countryside an hour south of Paris. We were sat next to Pierre Dubois, a famous TV presenter of all things to do with Arthurian romance, which was what I did my thesis on. And of course we were quite close to the forest of Brocéliande, which I looked up on Google Earth. Hmm, hidden valley, Celtic deities, portals to Otherworlds, and just desserts (and I don't just mean those fantastic lemon tarts you get in France!).

If the TARDIS could drop you off to any one site in its heyday, where would you go?

If I could TARDIS into any specific place and time in history it would have to be the Library at Alexandria in time to get the scrolls out before the ravening religious nutters set fire to it. I so want to see the maps of Atlantis, talk to the scholars and curators (after all, the TARDIS has a translation and interpreting program) – and enjoy the weather after all this late, blasted snow! I could free a couple of slaves who'd be grateful as well as good cooks and go off and have wonderful lives of their own. And I'd just generally enjoy ancient academia – before coming back to now with a small but tasteful treasure trove.

What appeals to you most about ancient sites/landscapes?

Hmm, ancient landscapes and sites. Well, all landscapes (except urban ones) are ancient. It's the colour, the exoticism, the thought that so many different peoples have lived their individual lives shaped by the great cultural sweeps of history, climate and location, that's what appeals to me. What about Florence in the time of Lorenzo? Wouldn't you just love to see the procession he organised for his betrothal, him in his gold-bedecked armour, the courtiers in their jewelled robes, the musicians and the artists before Savanarola burned their pictures? The valleys of the Pueblo Indians when they were still alive? Tahiti before cargo cults? The great greenwood that carpeted the length and breadth of England as the last ice-age retreated? Charnwood Forest when it fringed a tropic sea?

What do you have coming out next?

I'm in the throes of finishing three short stories for Alchemy Press, and a couple of novels – one historical and one a fantasy, so I'm keeping busy. In fact, at times my life feels like a Heath Robinson contraption edited by Escher. Luckily I'm enjoying the ride.

[Anne Nicholls, has had ten books published in SF and the self-help fields. Her highly acclaimed novels Mindsail and The Brooch of Azure Midnight appeared under the name of Anne Gay. For four years she was the editor of LineOne's Science Fiction Zone, which had around 140,000 readers every month. She is currently working on a YA fantasy trilogy. Anne also features in The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes.]

Photo (c) Peter Coleborn

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Q&A: Adrian Cole

Today, the spotlight falls on Ancient Wonders contributor ADRIAN COLE.

Tell us a little about yourself, and what you like to write?

I'm a Devonian with Irish blood (County Cork) I live in Solomon Kane country and I'm a retired Business Manager now writing full time. I have a lovely wife, Judy, and two grown children, Sam and Katia; and the other woman in my life is Bella, my feisty calico cat.

I write what I suppose could generally be termed imaginative fiction, if such a term could adequately cover SF, fantasy, horror, pulp, with a few crossbred bits. I have had over 20 novels published, and many short stories, since the mid-seventies. I enjoy writing old fashioned pulp stories but equally enjoy writing modern SF.

What inspired you to write “The Sound of Distant Gunfire”?

One of the ways I try to keep fit is by cycling and in North Devon we are blessed with some marvellous trackways, including an old railway line converted to a cycle path for nearly 20 miles. I've been up and down it numerous times and the countryside and unique atmosphere gave me the idea for the story, although I don't actually find the cycle path spooky – it appeals to the elemental in me. (Or perhaps that should be, the mental in me).

If the TARDIS could drop you off to any one site in its heyday, where would you go?

Machu Picchu, up in the Andes. I'd want to be disguised as a native, though, otherwise I daresay I'd be pegged out and sacrificed to the sun, or worse. I've never been there, but one day...

What appeals to you most about ancient sites/landscapes?

Like many people, I suppose, I relate to them in some kind of atavistic way. I am an outdoor person (but also, by contrast, bookish and movie-ish) and love the elements – I lived on the edge of Dartmoor as a kid and as a youngster I grew up around the Cornish landscape (mines and beaches); and I now spend a big chunk of the year in the sea (I go home for tea, of course). Much as I appreciate modern technology, I still feel moved by the ancient past. I think it is because people were closer to the earth and the elements in those days.

What do you have coming out next?

My next novel is due out in 2014 and is a science fiction book, The Shadow Academy. It is set in an alternative Britain, the action moving between Dumnonia (Devon) and Londonborough. It's about a corrupt Authority and how it abuses power, a common theme in all my stuff!

There are some short stories due as well, “Nightmare on Mad Gull Island”, a booklet from Spectre Press, and “You Don't Want to Know”, which will be in Stephen Jones' third Innsmouth collection from Fedogan and Bremer, Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth – both of these are Nick Nightmare stories and there are more of his stories in the works. He's got a strong grip on my PC at the moment. And there are other various projects in hand, large and small. Watch this space!

[Adrian Cole is the author of 25 novels, beginning with The Dream Lords in the 1970s, through The Omaran Saga and the Star Requiem to the Voidal Saga in 2011. He is also the author of numerous fantasy and horror short stories, having been published in Year’s Best Fantasy and Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. Forthcoming from Edge Books is the novel The Shadow Academy; he has a short story in The Worlds of Cthulhu anthology due soon from Fedogan and Bremer; and he also has a story in The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes (sister volume to The Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders).]

Friday, April 5, 2013

Alchemy Novellas: update

We will not be accepting any new submissions to Alchemy Novellas until further notice. The last thing we want is to hold on to a large number of novellas in the "to be published" folder when they could be finding suitable homes elsewhere. We'll let you know when we are seeking further submissions.

Q&A: Shannon Connor Winward

Under the spotlight today: SHANNON CONNOR WINWARD

Tell us a little about yourself, and what you like to write?

I’m an American author and poet. Most of what I create is speculative – some sci-fi, fantasy, and what’s been called “mythpunk” – though I write a little bit of everything. On my blog I talk about real life: the writing process, the emotional ups and downs. I chronicle my experiences raising a child with special needs, because I feel there’s a lack of information and empathy for families who have to go through this, and it’s my way of contributing to a larger conversation. I like to write about what touches me, what fascinates me. A lot of my stories deal with death and madness, but not in a macabre sense. I like to explore liminalities.

What inspired you to write Passage?

I minored in anthropology as an undergrad, with a special interest in the Celts of Britain and Ireland. I was writing a thesis on Celtic death rituals, which is largely speculative due to a scarcity of archaeological evidence. I came across a discussion of how the Celts may have used the monoliths as a means of connecting themselves psychologically to the landscape, since they had emigrated there, and places like Newgrange and Stonehenge predated their culture considerably. I became so distracted with the idea that I wrote “Passage” instead of what I was meant to be working on. I scribbled it in the middle of my research notes.

If the TARDIS could drop you off to any one site in its heyday, where would you go?

I’d love to visit Great Britain in the Iron Age – though, to be honest, if the Doctor came to get me, I wouldn’t be picky.

What appeals to you most about ancient sites/landscapes?

I feel a closer kinship to ancient religions than to modern ones, at least in a spiritual sense. Our ancestors were more intimately tied to nature and her cycles, and that is reflected in their sacred sites.

What do you have coming out next?

I have poems due out in various magazines, all TBA, and I’ve been invited to participate in some local fiction anthologies. Right now I’m working on a sci-fi story inspired by Egyptian mythology and Edgar Rice Burroughs, and a modern-day fairy tale about a wicked librarian. I’m also working on my second novel, an urban fantasy, and my first poetry collection. I publish updates and links to my work on my blog.

[Shannon Connor Winward's writing has appeared in many venues including: Pedestal Magazine, Flash Fiction Online, Strange Horizons, Illumen, This Modern Writer [Pank Magazine], Hip Mama Zine and the anthologies Twisted Fairy Tales: Volume Two, Jack-o'-Spec: Tales of Halloween and Fantasy and Spectacular: Fantasy Favorites. Her poem "All Souls' Day" is nominated for a 2012 Rhysling Award.]

Astrologica update

Allen Ashley, editor of forthcoming anthology Astrologica, reports:

"Far away from prying eyes, the picking and choosing for this anthology is going ahead at quite a pace. My expectation is that I will get a late flurry to add to the high quality submissions that I’ve already received and this will make the final decisions very difficult indeed.

Several people have emailed me to ask which signs I’m still looking for. I don’t require any more Leo and I have two really strong contenders for Pisces, so don’t require any more for that sign. Aries, Libra, Virgo and Aquarius are probably gone as well. Gemini is on a second reading. I still have stories to read relating to the other signs not named above, so who knows what fabulous delights are waiting in my Inbox? But, as things stand, I have yet to pick for Sagittarius, Cancer, Capricorn, Taurus, Scorpio. I know some of you have sent me stories for those signs: I am in the process of reading them.

I hope that the above is helpful and will post an update when I am ready to make a few more firm acceptances."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Pulp Heroes reviewed

The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes edited by Mike Chinn

Reviewed by Ian Hunter

Back in the day, I don’t know if the pulps came with that intoxicating newly printed smell that accompanies the latest issue of Interzone or Black Static, but I suspect reading them might have left you with ink-stained fingers. No such worries with The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes edited by Mike Chinn, but some of the stories might leave a lasting stain or impression on your mind. For a book with a blurb that mentions that it is following in the tradition of The Bat, Doc Savage, The Shadow, etc, etc, you know what you are in for behind an impressive cover from Bob Covington. The pulps, of course, covered many genres, and Chinn has gathered a collection of stories that are spread across crime, amazing adventures, noir, science fiction, superheroes, occult adventures, and even wacky westerns.

I’m not going to go through the collection story by story, but I thought strongest of the bunch were Joel Lane’s “Upon a Granite Wind”, dedicated to Robert E Howard, and Mike Resnick’s “Origin” which cleverly might just tell the story of how a pulp legend was born.

It’s all very well living in the heart of Metropolis – what do you do when you live in the suburbs a long way from where the “capes” do their stuff? Well, Bracken N MacLeod’s “Ivy’s Secret Origin” tells a story of a housewife rising to the occasion. Heroes also feature in two stories that end the anthology, namely Peter Crowther’s “Heroes and Villains” and Peter Atkins “The Return of Kid Justice”, and in both stories you are in the safe, steady hands of two consummate wordsmiths. Crowther knows his comics and his story is a touching tale of when the stuff of life and death interrupts the shenanigans; while Atkins story involves a pensioner who played the teenage sidekick of a hero a long, long time ago on television who must come to the rescue of a boy, and possibly himself.

But not all the pulps were about heroes, and Chris Iovenko’s “The Perfect Murder” is a great, noir-ish tale of an author who has written about the perfect murder who gets hired by the beautiful wife of a tycoon to carry it out for real. As a fan of Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer novels, this rattling tale read like a
collection of the blurbs at the back of those books.

Iovenko’s story wore the garish cloak of pulpdom well, as did Anne Nicholls’ exotic adventure “Eyes of Day, Eyes of Night” and Adrian Cole’s occult romp “The Vogue Prince”, and as a Scot it was nice to see a fellow Scot, Willie Meikle, write about a fictional Scot, one Professor Challenger, who gets involved in a tale involving yet another real-life Scot (no spoilers here) which has released beasties from other dimension. Where’s Quatermass when you need him?  Well, he might be in volume two, which I hope will be just as enjoyable as this first one.

[This review originally appeared in the excellent Interzone (issue 245). Reprinted with permission of the reviewer]

Monday, April 1, 2013

Q&A: James Brogden

Today under the spotlight: JAMES BROGDEN

Tell us a little about yourself, and what you like to write?

I'm based in the Midlands; grew up in Australia and instantaneously fell in love with the UK as a teenager because of the dense layering of history, myth and legend that exists underfoot everywhere you go. I like to write urban fantasy – which is to say, horror without the clichés. Fantastical elements intruding upon everyday lives.

What inspired you to write “If Street”?

Robert Holdstock, mostly. I love the Mythago Wood books, which are very firmly rooted in the countryside, and have always been curious about what would happen in an urban setting, with all those ancient track ways buried under tarmac and concrete. I've also been researching Sutton Park for another novel, so the place was already stuck in my head. 

If the TARDIS could drop you off to any one site in its heyday, where would you go?

I'd go to Hadrian's Wall. Not only to see and appreciate the engineering, but also to get that sense that you are really on the edge of the world, that beyond this point there is no law or civilisation as you understand it. When my family moved to England we lived in the Borders, north of the wall, in the kind of place you got posted if you'd really annoyed someone back in Rome. I'd like to talk to them and ask them what that was like – but they'd probably tell me that they're just soldiers doing their jobs and to sod off.

What appeals to you most about ancient sites/landscapes?

That sense of common humanity which goes beyond time and place. We went on a family trip to Hadrian's Wall one Easter and saw that there was monument to the fallen soldiers of the legions who had been posted there, and it was exactly the same kind of monument you see today in small country villages, and it struck me how similar their feelings and experiences must have been to those of the men and women who are currently posted in, say, Afghanistan. I love old Iron Age hill forts for the same reason. It's mind-blowing to stand in a hut circle three thousand years old and know that here was the place where they cooked their meals, here was the door where a child probably looked out for his friends first thing in the morning. That kind of thing.

What do you have coming out next?

Couple of things: a story called “The Remover of Obstacles” in Anachron Press' anthology Urban Occult, and a second novel, Tourmaline published by Snowbooks, out in July.

[James Brogden was born in Manchester, grew up in Australia, and now lives with his wife and two daughters in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, where he teaches English. His short stories have appeared in the Big Issue, the British Fantasy Society’s Dark Horizons, Gears Levers Volume One, and his first novel, The Narrows, has just been published by Snowbooks. When he's not writing, or trying to teach children how to, he gets out into the mountains exploring the remains of Britain's prehistoric past and hunting for standing stones. Fortunately they don't run very fast. ]

ePub editions still available

We're pleased to announce that ePub editions of Pulp Heroes and Ancient Wonders are available via Weightless Books. Click on the title, below, to head to the Weightless website.