Dying Embers out now

Dying Embers out now

Friday 27 December 2013

More books of 2013

Following on from my blog post earlier this month, here are some more of my books of 2013. There really have been so many great short story collections new to me this year!

Once again, in no particular order:

Surely one of the anthologies of the year; S.P. Miskowski and Kate Jonez's
superb Little Visible Delight. Review soon
Surprise of the year! Gareth E. Rees's weird
psychogeographical study of the Lea basin,
Marshland; Dreams and nightmares on the Edge of London
Is it a novel, or a collection of short stories?
It's certainly strange and compelling. Keith Ridgway's Hawthorn & Child
John Langan's expansive and spectacular
The Wide Carnivorous Sky
New from Reggie Oliver; Flowers of the Sea
Scream of Angels; more Victorian horror from David Haynes
Be drawn into Mark Fuller Dillon's world if you dare;
the stellar In a Season of Dead Weather
Keep an eye out, I will post reviews of some of these excellent books soon.

Thursday 19 December 2013

My year that was

Time to reflect briefly on 2013.

I haven't been blogging much recently... as I have actually been writing a lot, and also doing the final edits on Dying Embers. However, more about that later. In so many ways it's been a big year for me; I have had three short stories see the light of day, and my first collection of short stories has been accepted by a publisher. I have also written more consistently than at any other time of my life.

Well, back to Jan 2013. In Transit and Unit 6 had just been published in Darker Times, my very first success with fiction (I had for some years written the occasional non-fiction feature for magazines). This encouraged me so much. I had never before thought that anyone else would want to read any fiction I had written, yet I got a lot of positive feedback. At the end of 2012, I had also started my foray into social media, and I was concentrating on building that up a bit too.

I must add here that I have had some good support from some great writers through the year; particularly James Everington, PJ Hodge, KJ Blackwood, Maria Savva, Dionne Lister and Jess Coleman, among others. A big thanks to everyone. Exciting times for me, then, but early on I really was not convinced I would ever be able to put together enough stories for a whole collection. All of my early tales were autobiographical (I did work in Unit 6, my grandparents did live in a big old terrace, I do run around the coast at Currarong... I could go on, but you might have to buy the book when it's out!). The problem was, I had no idea whether I would be able to write anything that was not directly from my own experience. Come to think of it, I still don't, but that's another story.

As the writing lark was all so new to me, I had to find out how exactly I could fit it into my life. I look after our two children while my wife works, so it's a matter of giving myself the opportunity to write. Generally when I have dropped the youngsters at school, I make my way to the local shopping centre with my Rolser (the Ferrari of shopping trolleys), and on the way I stop at one of two cafés. I have found that if I try to work at home, though I have a perfectly good office, I am distracted by the washing, tidying up, changing the beds... you name it. So I'm much better at spending a couple of hours typing madly in Café 169 or Café Heliz, where they know my writerly ways and put up with me. Then it's to the shops – I always shop daily, and do my best to avoid the supermarkets – and home between 12 and 1. Then, most days, it's time for a run, and often I become inspired during said activity; so it's home, late lunch while listening to the Archers podcast, and off to get the children. Take them to a playground, or swimming etc, and out comes my A6 Moleskin and I jot down the ideas that visited me during my run while they are otherwise occupied.

My Rolser, the Ferrari of shopping
trolleys, in Café Heliz
My favourite spot in Café 169
So, having sorted my routine (apart from school holidays, when everything goes pear shaped!) the stories came to me well enough during the year, and by November I had the 10 I was aiming for. It was during the process of editing and formatting for the self-publishing process that I heard about Satalyte Publishing, based in Melbourne. Almost as an afterthought, I pasted everything into a Word document, and sent it off. I was delighted to hear back from the great Stephen Ormsby almost straight away that he may be interested in publishing it for me. Great news! Soon contracts were signed, and terms agreed. Right now, I am working on final edits with Stephen, who I must say has provided some fascinating insights and subtle alterations to some of my tales which have improved them no end. So far, I couldn't recommend both Satalyte and the process too highly.

By the way, I have spent some time setting up a website for my writing, over at martincosby.com, so have a look at that when you have a moment.

To top off the year perfectly; I hope he doesn't mind me announcing it, but James Everington, author of two great collections of weird fiction (The Other Room, and Falling Over) and a stunning novella (The Shelter) has agreed to write the foreword for my own collection, Dying Embers. Cheers James!

Monday 2 December 2013

Books I have read in 2013

Well, it's that time of year again. I was looking back over the blog, from twelve months ago, thinking about my best reads of last year; and, if anything, 2013 has been even better!

I've certainly noticed a resurgence in short story collections, which is indeed heartening. In fact there have been so many new collections out recently that I have barely been able to keep up. I will get around to some more reviews soon, but in the meantime I thought I would share 12 of my favourite reads of the year with you. (As usual, just books that were new to me this year; not necessarily newly-published.)

In no particular order, here we go:

The Moon Will Look Strange, the great new collection from Lynda E. Rucker.
I haven't finished this one yet, but so far so strange; News From Unknown Countries, by Tim Lees.
Fabulous new collection of strange stories by James Everington; Falling Over. My review here.
Brand new and a must-read; Ill at Ease II. Review soon.
Strangeness indeed from Scott Langrel. The Grass Monkey and Other Dark Tales.

Jason A. Wyckoff's brilliant debut; Black Horse and Other Strange Stories. My review here.

John Metcalfe's timelessly eerie collection, Nightmare Jack.
The Collection and Other Dark Tales by Tracy L. Carbone. Terribly good; review soon.

PJ Hodge's Poe-esque collection of freaky folk tales; Ghosts and Other Supernatural Guests. My review here.

Classic ghost stories from Eleanor Scott; Randall's Round.
Great new name on the scene; Lauren James's The Side Effects of the Medication.
Satisfyingly strange, in fact my novella of the year; Trent Zelazny's People Person.

Well, that's a great mixture of new collections and classics. I've read many more great books this year, so look out for subsequent lists. In the meantime, I'll try to get some more reviews done. Oh, and I nearly forgot; I also have to do the edits for Dying Embers, my own collection coming out next year from Satalyte Publishing. Wish me luck!