It has been a long time since the last newsletter. The drafts folder abounds with half-baked ideas, but none of them have fully risen yet.
Instead, some distractions:
a pretty picture
an invitation to a party
some reading recommendations
more upcoming events
Bulleted, to make it seem like I have a plan.
The Best of British Fantasy has a cover. The incredible work of Matty Long!
It is both charming and clever. Matty has packed it with references to the stories hidden in the artwork. (And, yes, that is a Mario mushroom.)
Best of British Fantasy also has a launch date: please join us on June 1 at London's Star of Kings pub, from 1pm. There will be drinks, books, and a vast array of the ‘besties’ (sorry) in attendance.
For those that can’t make it, the best way to get your paws on a copy is still directly through the publisher.
A final note on Best of British Fantasy (for now): the companion website is now going strong, with lots of articles by neat people (mostly writers) about their favourite fantasy works (mostly books). Recent pieces include:
As always, I’m looking for further contributions. Details here.
What I’ve been reading:
Baghdad Burning by Riverbend. The collected blog entries of an anonymous female Iraqi blogger, 2003 - 2007. It is snarky and punchy and bloggy. Baghdad Burning is a striking combination: a cozy, nostalgic 00’s-epistelory style, but on a powerful, heart-breaking topic. Riverbend is writing for history, but also in a mode that already feels historical. It is an jarring combination and makes the author’s perspective more, not less, striking.
Anne on “Anastasia”. Part of her ‘Monsters & Mullets’ series - although it contains neither (zombie bugs?). Hilarious, and also a look into the power of nostalgia, history, Disneyfication, and humanity in art. (Also sexy cartoons, but in a non-disturbing way, mostly.)
The Gameshouse by Claire North. I read these individual novellas when they were first published, and have been longing for a collected (print) edition. Three stories of ‘players’ at an establishment where the games involve human lives. The stories increasing in scale, but the message - about what it costs to stay human - remains the same throughout.
This Buzzfeed article on an Alabama ISIS bride wanting to come home. Heart-breaking, and does a good job capturing the high stakes of one of our most pressing, and complex, challenges.
Radio Silence by Alyssa Cole. Cole is better known for the, more recent, Extraordinary Union (which is, indeed, exceptional) - she’s one of the most high-profile writers of colour in romance, and she’s also really, really damn good. (I really like her take on the Scottish rogue trope with A Duke by Default). Radio isn’t set in my favour milieu: I’m a little skeptical about post-apocalyptic romances by default. But Cole does a very good job of threading the needle between individual gain (romantic) and collective loss (apocalyptic). It is funny, and sweet, and scary and human - escapist (and saucy!) without being self-indulgent. [By contrast, I’m currently struggling to write a review of an apocalypse-themed anthology. Three dozen apocalyptic stories that are all directly and literally about the apocalypse simply aren’t as interesting.]
Finally - I’ll be lurking about the Bradford Literature Festival at the end of June.
I’ll be taking part in the Creative Sector Industry Day and several panels across the first week or so. This includes a discussion of ‘the night in literature’, featuring Cassandra Khaw, Maha Khan Phillips and Matthew Beaumont. (Maha’s “Gatsby” is one of the stand-out stories in The Outcast Hours, and I’m really looking forward to the panel.)
Lavie Tidhar’s near-future noir, “Bag Man” (also from The Outcast Hours), is up for a Dagger from The Crime Writers’ Association. A well-deserved nod for Lavie. Plus, it means that Mahvesh and I are now officially award-nominated crime editors. Thanks, Lavie! Next up: romance!