Oh boy, this is belated

The awesome folks over at Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing gave the world the Lost Signals anthology, oh, um, eight months ago. Yeah. August last year.

I should maybe remember to update my website with a little more haste.

Within this intense anthology sound and radio wave themed horror, you’ll find my story, “The Sound of Yesterday”. Each story got a heading illustration by Luke Spooner.

thesoundofyesterday

Get yourselves a copy, fine readers!

Here’s the full Table of Contents.

Scott Nicolay writes the introduction
Matthew M. Bartlett, with “If He Summons His Herd”, and “Where Night Cowers”
T.E. Grau, with “Transmission”
Joseph Bouthiette Jr., with “From: Item L5161ORDE, ‘The Dangsturm Interruption’”
Josh Malerman, with “The Givens Sensor Board”
David James Keaton, with “Sharks With Thumbs”
Tony Burgess, with “Bad Lieutenant”
Michael Paul Gonzalez, with “How the Light Gets In”
George Cotronis, with “Darkhorse Actual”
Betty Rocksteady, with “The Desert of Wounded Frequencies”
Christopher Slatsky, with “Eternity Lie in its Radius”
Amanda Hard, with “Rosabelle, Believe”
Gabino Iglesias, with “The Last Scream”
Dyer Wilk, with “The Man in Room 603”
My story, “The Sound of Yesterday”
Matt Andrew, with “Children of a German Autumn”
H.F. Arnold, with “The Night Wire”
John C. Foster, with “Armageddon Baby”
Vince Darcangelo, with “The Small Hours”
Regina Solomond, with “Hush”
Joshua Chaplinsky, with “Feedback Loop”
Damien Angelica Walters, with “Little Girl Blue, Come Cry Your Way Home”
Paul Michael Anderson, with “All That You Leave Behind”
and James Newman, with “SOMETHINGINTHECODE”

~A

Advertisements

Three, two, one, let’s jam

We have launch on Qualia Nous!

There was a surprising info leak two days back, that the mammoth science fiction and horror anthology was available to purchase on Amazon before the “official” release of the book. Word from the publisher, Written Backwards, is that the contributors told the world, and sales bloomed.

Whether you want to catch my story in the anthology, or read the phenomenal work from my co-contributors, or wish to enjoy yet another brilliant project coming out of Written Backwards, Qualia Nous is here and ready to make an impact.

Buy your copy now.

Happy release day to editor and writerlings;
Michael Bailey
Stephen King
Usman T. Malik
Gene O’Neill
Emily B. Cataneo
Erik T. Johnson
Ian Shoebridge
D.J. Cockburn
John R. Little
Jon Michael Kelley
Lori Michelle
James Chambers
Jason V Brock
Marge Simon
Peter Hagelslag
Christian A. Larsen
Max Booth III
Richard Thomas
Erinn L. Kemper
William F. Nolan
John Everson
Pat R. Steiner
Paul Anderson
Lucy A. Snyder
Rena Mason
Thomas F. Monteleone
Patrick Freivald
Mason Ian Bundschuh
Elizabeth Massie
and Gary A. Braunbeck
Know that it’s an absolute pleasure to share the pages of Qualia Nous with all of you.

~A

The names, the names!

The names, the names! So many names.

Prepare yourselves.

The prodigious publisher, Written Backwards, will welcome Qualia Nous to print in the following month (released by early September). I am purely giddy to be a part of this anthology, sharing pages with writerlings I call my friends, as well as names I have admired from afar, and new authors to enjoy.

And it’s going to be huge. Not just because the Table of Contents is topped by Stephen King himself, but we look forward to a 454 page delight of science fiction / horror. I am so ready.

From the official announcement, here is the final line-up.

Michael Bailey with the introduction “0-1”
Stephen King, with a novelette titled “The Jaunt”
Usman T. Malik, with “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family”
Gene O’Neill, with “The Shaking Man”
My own story, “Dyscrasia”
Emily B. Cataneo, with “The Rondelium Girl of Rue Marseilles”
Erik T. Johnson, with “The Angel Chaser”
Ian Shoebridge, with “Psychic Shock”
D.J. Cockburn, with “Peppermint Tea in Electronic Limbo”
John R. Little, with “Second Chance”
Jon Michael Kelley, with “The Effigies of Tamber Square”
Lori Michelle, with “Shades of Naught”
James Chambers, with “The Price of Faces”
Jason V Brock, with a novelette titled “Simulacrum”
Marge Simon, with the poem “Shutdown”
Peter Hagelslag, with a novelette titled “Lead Me To Multiplicity”
Christian A. Larsen, with “Cataldo’s Copy”
Max Booth III, with “The Neighborhood Has a Barbeque”
Marge Simon, with the second poem “Tomorrow’s Femme”
Richard Thomas, with “The Jenny Store”
Erinn L. Kemper, with “Night Guard”
William F. Nolan, with “A New Man”
John Everson, with “Voyeur”
Pat R. Steiner, with “Kilroy Wasn’t There”
Paul Anderson, with “In the Nothing-Space, I Am What You Made Me”
Lucy A. Snyder, with “Dura Mater”
Rena Mason, with “Ruminations”
Thomas F. Monteleone, with “Good and Faithful Servant”
Patrick Freivald, with “Twelve Kilos”
Mason Ian Bundschuh, with “Breathe You In Me”
Elizabeth Massie, with “18P37-C, After Andrea Was Arrested”
and Gary A. Braunbeck, with a novelle titled “No Fixed Address”

Wow. Yeah. Wow.

~A

Cross a name off the list

Publisher Written Backwards has been responsible for some of my all-time favourite anthologies. Which makes me all the more amazed to be included in the next one…!

A short story happened one day, a strange little piece indeed. Inspired by reading about cutting edge medical breakthroughs in cancer treatment, at the same time as ancient Greek medical theories, and finding myself in a strange overlapping territory – “dyscrasia” being both the old Greek term of health imbalance, and now used in naming plasma cell cancer.

The music I happened to be listening to topped off the whole event. Somehow, I had a complete story on my hands, without being sure what to do with it.

I determined after sitting, reading, editing the whole thing that it was probably cyberpunk, a sub-genre of science fiction. And then I waited, and read, and re-read, still uncertain. What was this piece? What would I do with it? There was something very appealing in the story for me, but I don’t normally write sci-fi, and I spent a lot of time glaring at my computer screen. I edited a touch more here and there before throwing Dyscrasia at my beta readers. They got back to me, expressing opposite opinions. Add in another beta reader. Another day. Another reaction.

A new thought tickling at the back of my mind.

Editor Michael Bailey had mentioned his next anthology, Qualia Nous, was not entirely invite-only. The door might still be unlocked for those willing to knock. A great coming together of sci-fi and horror, guaranteed to be as epic as the previous Written Backwards anthologies, and here I figured, why not submit? I don’t know what else to do with Dyscrasia. Almost as if… I was passing the time. So submission goes off, I sleep, then head out for work, life goes on.

I get home again, see an email in my inbox.

It hasn’t even been 24 hours.

I’ve been formally accepted into Qualia Nous.

Dyscrasia is exactly what the editor was waiting for.

That weird cyberpunk story which bubbled up on its own accord, truthfully when I was procrastinating away from writing other novels, had landed me a place beside some amazing authors in one of the most exciting new markets out there. I can’t wait to hold a copy of Qualia Nous in my hands and see how this anthology has come together, with me, somehow, a part of it.

~A

In the world of Ashlee

Things have been happening, despite my relative silence. Of course, that should be a given. No matter how many blog posts I do or don’t write, or how many days go in between my Facebook or Twitter updates, life goes on and the world keeps spinning. Isn’t it funny how we might measure our personal existence by our presence on social media? If you can’t see me, I’m not entirely real.

Nonetheless, there were a couple of big ups and downs in the interim. No, no, nothing so big as the release of my novel. That’s still yet to come, though I have been dispensing ARCs to some very lovely people, and hearing wonderful things back. We’re looking at another month or two before I can pin down the release date. It’s hard to have delay after delay; I am not patient, but I’m forced to acknowledge this comes in part due to what has transpired through the early months of 2013. So let’s go over some of those things.

I had an author interview over at This Is Horror. If you haven’t seen it already, you can read my Meet The Writer on their website. I’ll note, it’s both fun and weird talking about yourself in the interview format.

Family and friends have gone through a number of personal trials. As a bystander for the most part, you try to support them. Show love. Remind them each of their importance in your life. Broken bones in accidents, severe illness and ongoing aftercare, a death. Little things, big things, unavoidable throughout life. Then the worldwide tragedies which have been occurring, with heart-warming tales of heroism amidst the chaos. One of these days, I’m going to stop reading the news.

I have spent the better part of two months designing and building an updated version of The Damning Moths website. It hasn’t gone live as I am still trying to muscle my way through some of the more finicky coding. I never thought myself as an especially talented web designer, but I think this will all work out rather nicely in the end. It’s just getting to the point where I am confident the site will function as best as possible.

Surviving the End received the Australian Shadows Award for Edited Publication. So far, my favourite part of being in an award winning anthology is the celebratory atmosphere with my co-contributors and the excitement our editor shared. And another hearty congratulations to us all.

I’m writing and plotting and editing all at once, which is hardly unusual, but takes a lot of attention away from other things. For the next week, I am burying my head in these stories for as many hours as anyone will let me. I’m talking very long days. See, I recently attended a course and gained accreditation for a new job. I will be starting in late May. I don’t exactly know how that will change my writing hours and energy levels, but I want to have some of this out of the way before then. What better timing than my week off work? If I manage to push hard enough, I know exactly what I can get accomplished. So here’s to a very productive week.

Lastly, I fill the gaps in between with the occasional important email, and reading. A lot of reading. Judging for the AHWA Short Story and Flash Fiction Competition, as an early reader (both requiring actual thought, assessment, and giving feedback where appropriate), and a whole pile of books being consumed unnaturally quick for pure enjoyment.

I know I’ve said it before, but I might be able to keep up with blogging again someday soon. Or you might hear from me again in a few months time. Either way, my love to you all, you’re not far from my thoughts.

~A

The Next Big Thing

Friend and fellow Perth writer Martin Livings, who has been kicking around the industry for over two decades, has pegged me for this: The Next Big Thing writer promotion cycle. Answer the interview, tag more writers, watch as it takes over the blogosphere. Many thanks, Martin! On that note, I highly recommend everyone wriggle on over to pick up Martin’s short story collection, “Living With The Dead” because this man knows his horror, yes he does.

I also have to make mention of both Michael Bailey and Annie Neugebauer who asked me to participate after I already agreed to be one of Martin’s tag-ees. Thanks, both of you!

Now! I give you The Next Big Thing(s). Yeah. I’m a big cheater, so absolutely no one should be surprised when I break all the rules and talk about the collective of my current work. It’s all connected! That has to count for something! But let me try and keep the focus on my first novel, The Damning Moths, coming out soon.

ONE: What is the working title of your next book?
Disclaimer: my working titles are always lazy and hasty. The Damning Moths was known as “Novel Series” until it got properly named. Uh huh. Book Two is exactly that, although pre-draft it received the codename “Spiral Leaves”. The novella prequel has the misfortune of being called “By Blood”. This is why I never discuss working titles. Moving on.

TWO: Where did the idea come from for the book?
The first concept which triggered the plot for everything is actually slated to be in Book Three, and I believe that was from a dream I had. During the subsequent two years of writing, editing, and refining the ideas, it has blossomed to where we are right now. The individual ideas tend to come to me through asking questions of the characters. What is their motive? What do they believe in? What makes them tick? With knowing those answers, I then ask: What will shatter their world? The resulting implosion is what happens in the book. Something to shake the character’s personal resolve in an integral way and see how far I can push them before everything breaks.

THREE: What genre does your book fall under?
Dark fantasy. Fantasy setting, horror lifeblood. I’ve had so many people look me up and down then ask why I write dark stuff. It’s an interesting subject, to be sure. I like the feeling of things being really, really bad for the characters. I enjoy the psychology in writing those who have to deal with horrific things. And I like being a little scared.

FOUR: What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
This is a terrible question, and the person who originally asked it should feel bad. That said, I always have the disparity between the actors and actresses who look most like each character, and those I feel would play the role to perfection. This is part of why I don’t aim for live action films, and would love to see a high budget anime made of TDM.

FIVE: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
“A world of blackened Faerie Tales is bubbling over with the conflict of past sins and perverse schemes as the gods’ glorious crown is passed to a new, unwilling victim.”

SIX: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Coming out through World Ender, my independent media label!

SEVEN: How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Six furious weeks on the scant and roughest draft of The Damning Moths, where words flew from my fingertips incomprehensibly. It took me another five months of changing the POV, fleshing out all the necessary parts, adding in characters, and finally, some very tough editing, before I had gotten it into the shape of a real novel instead of whatever I had spun in a bleary daze of drafting. The novella was drafted in five weeks, and Book Two is still in the works.

EIGHT: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Goodness, I don’t know. I struggle with this constantly. A lot of other dark fantasy is very much the armies, swords, and dragons kind of thing. Those who write about the fae kingdoms often stick with the very Tolkien/D&D styled races, or have a much more traditionally detached take on Faerie. Since there is a convoluted and vast history which triggers the political conflicts in TDM, as well as eldrich themes, big magic, and a character-driven plot, it’s not in one or the other camp, and I don’t know if I’ve read anything much like it before. I’ve had early readers compare my writing to far more dramatic names than I’m brave enough to repeat. I expect fans of George RR Martin and Laurell K Hamilton would find something to appreciate.

NINE: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Other authors inspire me to create, though each individual story is told because of the characters. I want to see where they go, all because they are fascinating to me. A dream started this tale, as is true of many stories I write, but inspiration is a constant flow for me. In the words of the awesome Chuck Wendig, Ask a writer: “Where do you get your ideas from?” And the writer will reply: “How do you make yours stop?” I’ve been writing for fifteen-some years. This just happens now.

TEN: What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Let’s take “about the book” rather liberally, shall we?
First, The Damning Moths is illustrated with some of the best artwork I’ve ever seen, and that’s before my bias kicks in! Truly, I have been overwhelmed by the quality of the illustrations and how well the artist has captured the scenes and characters. Readers will get treated with a page of artwork every chapter. Yay!
Second, there is an original soundtrack written for the book, an amazing post-rock/progressive electro rock album by The Revolver Project. I am so, so, so happy with how the soundtrack has come out. Early listeners have universally proclaimed, “This sounds like it’s from a horror movie”. I think that counts as a massive success. Music is an integral part of writing for me, so there is something inherent and natural about a book having companion theme songs. Double yay!

With great pleasure, I introduce to you my tag-ee, and the star of a “Next Big Thing” post! Please direct your attention to the lovely Kristen Tsetsi!

~A

Well, that wasn’t what I was expecting

As usual, the exact details of my story are worked out as I go. I need enough flexibility in my plotting to implement the good stuff which inevitably comes along after I’ve already started writing. On the other hand, sometimes figuring out the important parts when you reach them doesn’t always bode so well. Sometimes you hit a challenge which is solved in an even more difficult fashion.

Ever have a story or plot point you’re not sure if you should write for its intensity? I’ve come across the first instance of a fully justified, genuinely evil action which fits in exactly with the story. It ticks all the right boxes for reasons and rational in the world setting and for the characters in question. But I’ll be damned if it’s not one of the worst ideas I’ve ever come up with. For all the murders I’ve already written, the characters eaten alive, those betrayed and hurt beyond recovery, this one idea actually makes me pause. I got teary just coming up with it, and it sure would be hard to write.

The thing is, as I said, it slots right into place. It’s the big, awful catalyst I need. It works with all these other plots and subplots swimming around it. And I kind of want to write it. I want to be scared of what I’m creating, if only a little bit.

On that subject, I will always remember reading an interview with my favourite author, Matthew Reilly. In case you haven’t read any of his work (go fix that problem now, don’t worry, I’ll wait while you buy one of his stories), you need to know this: He kills any character. Not a single one of them is safe, no matter how important they are, and Matthew wields that power with a deftness and investment which really makes my experience reading his work superbly memorable. In one of his books, he kills a major player. It’s huge; this isn’t just killing a very important character like all those others, we’re talking “central to the setting he’s built” kind of character. In this interview, he spoke of debating over whether he could go through with it. Writing that particular death over all others he had put to paper. What it would mean to him, and to the readers, when that character is killed. He admits he had to take a break after getting the words down. But the important part was, for the story to go the right way, and for the surviving characters to face this challenge and grow, it needed to happen.

I know what it’s like now, in a surprisingly intimate way. Do I go through with this? Write this horrible event, knowing what it does to the characters, knowing how challenging it could be to readers?

You probably already know the answer.

~A