Seeing Things

perf5.000x8.000.inddI’m pleased to announce that my story “Geode” will be appearing in a new anthology called Pareidolia, edited by James Everington and Dan Howarth. Here’s the lineup… needless to say I’m proud to be appearing alongside this group of talented writers.

Into the Wood  Sarah Read
Joss Papers for Porcelain Ghosts  Eliza Chan
What Can You Do About a Man Like That?  Tim Major
The Lonely  Rich Hawkins
A Shadow Flits  Carly Holmes
The Butchery Tree  GV Anderson
The Lens of Dying  Charlotte Bond
How to Stay Afloat When Drowning  Daniel Braum
Geode  Rosanne Rabinowitz
House of Faces  Andrew David Barker

When I was asked to contribute to a book about “pareidolia” I had to google the word and I confess that I still need to check the spelling every time I write it. So some of you might be wondering: WTF is pareidolia? This blurb from the publisher, Black Shuck Books, explains the concept:

Pareidolia is the phenomenon where the mind perceives shapes, or hears voices, where none apparently exist. But what if what you were seeing was really there? What if the voice you heard really was speaking to you, calling you?”

My story, “Geode”, was inspired by a few lines of poetry and a YouTube video. The poetry comes from Sleep of Prisoners, a play by Christopher Fry. I first read this as a teenager, and it somehow left an impression. I always liked these five lines:

“Dark and cold we may be, but this
Is no winter now. The frozen misery
Of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move;
The thunder is the thunder of the floes,
The thaw, the flood, the upstart Spring.”

And now for the YouTube video. When I first saw this video of  an ‘ice tsunami’ or ice shove I was stunned with the power of it and its sheer noise – those thin fingers of ice tinkling as they break, the chugging sound as it moved. Very creepy. I imagined a Lovecraftian story but it turned into something else.

Pareidolia is now up for preorder and an ebook edition is also available. Release is set for 13 July, along with a launch event at Edge Lit in Derby.
No doubt I’ll have more to say about my story closer to the time…

 

 

 

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May Day sale plus more reviews for R&R

Only a few more wicker-weaving days until May Day! You also have the opportunity to nab a book bargain…

To mark May Day, Resonance & Revolt is on sale with the Kindle edition going for a mere 99p! For those who prefer paper, the very handsome hardback edition is also slashed to a third of the price. In addition, prices are also cut on Hive and other online booksellers (or they were the last time I looked). 

priyaAnd if you want to find out more before you spend your 99p, Priya Sharma – author of the wonderful collection All the Fabulous Beasts and forthcoming novella Ormeshadow – gives a good rundown in her February 2019 review on Goodreads:

“Medieval activists lie side by side with modern scholars, Jewish protesters bend space to seek an alien Golem and a woman walks through the past in her pink patent leather boots… There’s a fascinating archeology in this book, some of the work revealing London’s sociopolitical geography by slipping through time. And it’s shot through with droll, knowing humour.”

The first review for 2019 was followed by several others that definitely put a spring in my step. On the morning of 30 March I woke up with a sore throat and a headache, sure I was coming down with something nasty. But then I came across a new review of R&R from Nancy Oakes on the Oddly Weird Fiction blog and I recovered from whatever ailed me. Oakes writes:

“The book is a beautiful blending of the historical, the mystical, the surreal, and the strange, but more than that, it is a book that is absolutely relevant to right now in her rendering of many recognizable contemporary issues. The stories do not easily yield answers, but the more you read the more in tune you become, as her writing not only crawls under your skin, but deep into your pores, your veins and your entire being.”

Screenshot 2019-04-25 20.32.18

Oakes’ review also includes a shoutout for Lynda E Rucker’s “excellent and most insightful introduction” and praise for the quality of books published by Eibonvale Press. She also suggests: “There is just something about this collection of stories that makes me want to buy a gazillion copies of it, then hand it out to people and tell them “you really need to read this.” 

Screenshot 2019-04-25 20.35.26

Supernatural Tales then published a review on 5 April. Editor David Longhorn mentions some difficult personal circumstances so I particularly appreciate that he took the time to write these kind words:

“These stories are fun to read, as playful and intelligent as anything you will find elsewhere… I recommend it to anyone who likes well-written imaginative fiction that has something passionate and thoughtful to say about our human condition, and how we might struggle to improve it.”

Melanie Whitlock’s review at Super Ink Arts first asked the question “Should I read this book?” I am pleased that the answer is ‘yes’:

“Rabinowitz has delivered us a collection of short stories and tales that are completely out of the ordinary, spanning from the medieval era all the way to modern day London, covering quantum entanglement and the often gritty anti-austerity life in-between. Rebellions, war-torn Munich, the swinging free-loving 1960s and Russia, all becoming key places of interest and stop offs along our journey back and forth between the past and the present. Each story set, linking to the last and filled with the mysterious, wondrous and often at times the weird.”

Screenshot 2019-04-25 20.28.46I keep hearing that it’s not the done thing to respond to reviews in any way. If you’re talking about arguing with a bad review or harassing a critic, I certainly agree. But I wonder how it could be wrong to thank someone for the time they took to read and review a book, or to respond to a thought-provoking point. 

So I’ll say here, on my own blog, that I was delighted with all of these reviews. Thank you to all the folks who wrote them. And I’ve been especially chuffed when the words ‘fun’ and ‘humour’ came up. I hoped to avoid any impression of worthiness and preachiness while I was putting the book together, and I’m very glad that it’s worked for at least a few people. 

Meanwhile, the voting for the British Fantasy Awards shortlist is open until 3 May. If you are eligible to vote I urge you to do so and support the authors you’ve enjoyed. R&R happens to be eligible in the single-author collection category but 2018 was also a bumper year for excellent collections from many of my favourite writers. So please vote for the books of your choice – it doesn’t have to be mine! And if you’re as indecisive as I am you’ll be pleased to find that several choices are allowed in each category.

I’m thrilled with the growing interest in short stories and collections of shorter fiction – not too long ago they were seen as a dying breed. Here’s a chance to affirm that’s not the case.  

Finally… here’s a fine version of In the Pines/Where Did You Sleep last night. I confess that I responded to the Super Ink Arts review, which mentioned this song, by tweeting the video below. So shoot me! 

 

 

 

A shit argument for Brexit

Featured Image -- 6112I’ve only just catching up with Giles Fraser’s reactionary warm-beer-and-cricket bexiteering spiel, though I gather that there’s been lots of twitting about it for days. So here’s an excellent counter-spiel from a blog called Wee Ginger Dug – with links to the original – tellingly titled A shit argument for Brexit. I imagine that Mr Fraser’s folly has already been a big generator of bottom-oriented puns.

The blogger’s titular ginger dog is as good as any an illustration for this article!

“Essentially, Giles’ argument about why ending freedom of movement is a good thing boils down to this. When you’re old and incontinent, it means that your kids can wipe your arse for you instead of some social services worker from the EU, and that’s great for family cohesion. We can all bond as a family over soiled toilet paper.
It’s telling that Giles in his piece felt it was the role of a daughter to wipe her father’s arse.”

Wee Ginger Dug

I wrote a blog article last night which was published in the wee smaa hours. Then this afternoon I published the weekly dugcast. So I had reckoned I’d done enough for one day to keep readers of this blog amused. But then I came across Giles Fraser’s apologia for Brexit and ending freedom of movement on the digital site Unherd, and now I’m fuming.

https://unherd.com/2019/02/why-wont-remainers-talk-about-family/

I’ve not been this angry since Magrit Curran was my MP. First off, a word of caution. Please don’t read on while eating. This blog deals with some unpleasant realities about the human body.

Essentially, Giles’ argument about why ending freedom of movement is a good thing boils down to this. When you’re old and incontinent, it means that your kids can wipe your arse for you instead of some social services worker from the EU, and that’s great for family cohesion. We can all…

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Shoutout for Helen’s Story from Rebecca Baumann

rebecca-baumannEveryone… listen to this podcast from Abebooks!

It originally came out in November 2018 but I was revisiting it yesterday. Because… Well, because listening to people say nice things about your book is just the thing you do on a Sunday afternoon to put off a long-delayed visit to the gym.

The podcast features librarian and rare books collector Rebecca Baumann, who shares her love for classic weird fiction. She also discusses contemporary writers who are inspired by the tradition, yet write against the sexism and racism found in the old texts.

She makes the point that the best critiques of classic fiction appear in other fictional works rather than formal literary criticism. And… ahem… this includes a big shoutout for my novella Helen’s Story, which she describes as “amazing”. And what’s more, I find myself inhabiting the same paragraph as Victor LaValle and his deconstruction of HP Lovecraft. That’s amazing too.

On the podcast page there’s a list of books discussed in the interview, which includes some from ‘lost’ women writers of strange fiction. This has opened some new reading territory. I’ve never heard of Rachel Ingalls, a US-born writer living in London, but found out about her here. I definitely want to check out her novella Mrs Caliban. In the podcast it’s compared favourably with the award-winning Guillermo del Toro film The Shape of Water. 

So this podcast not only bigged up my own book but pointed me in the direction of a few others. Highly recommended.

Resonance & Revolt listed among year’s best in Vector – plus Kindle edition and two more reviews

devan 2In a great start to a recent weekend, I discovered that writer and critic Dev Agarwal has listed Resonance & Revolt among his year’s best in Vector. Never mind the croissants – this was the ultimate treat with my Saturday morning coffee. Dev writes:

“These stories span historical European settings, contemporary Britain and the near future. The collection is thematically linked around the concepts of resistance and Lynda Rucker discusses in her introduction how Rabinowitz’s evocative prose gifts the reader with a sense of the history and also a present that feels layered by the lives of those now past.”

Thanks, Dev.

And now in further R&R news, the Kindle edition of Resonance & Revolt is now live. Since 2010 I’ve been an avid Kindle user. Yes, I enjoy paper books and will always keep a lot of them on hand. I still buy them for special occasions or when I’m looking at a book with beautiful graphics. However, I love being able to transport an entire library with me. It’s especially useful when I have a few anthologies and collections on the go. I always appreciate the opportunity to try out new writers with an inexpensive click, so I’m very pleased to make my book accessible this way and available at £2.99.

I am also pleased to report two more reviews since the last R&R Review RoundupOne was part of a roundup by David V Barrett in Fortean Times (374). He writes that “revolutionary religion and politics, music and art wind in and out of these fascinating stories”. This review isn’t available online but I’ve posted a screenshot below. It includes a piece of the next review, which looks at Christopher Priest’s book An American Story. I did this partly for the sake of symmetry and also because I’m happy with the company.

 

This is followed by a review from Seregil of Rhiminee at Rising Shadow. He writes:
“It’s a must-read collection for everybody who loves literary and intelligent speculative fiction, because it’s different, captivating and thought-provoking. I was deeply impressed by this collection and found it utterly compelling. It’s an intriguing re-imagining of what the world could be like, but it’s also much more than that, because there are many layers in it. Reading it is like pealing an onion and seeing what lies behind each layer. Whether the revelations are beautiful, challenging or strange, they’re always captivating and intriguing, because time and history are wonderfully intertwined in the stories. There’s also insightful wittiness in the stories that adds fascination to them.”
This review had been published in December 2018. It was just the thing to read and reread slowly as the mid-winter darkness rolled in. 🙂

The Golden Hour in Best British Horror – and two real-time reviews for Uncertainties III

20180924_184825I’m pleased to announce that The Golden Hour, originally published in Uncertainties III, has been selected by Johnny Mains for the 2019 edition of Best British Horror. Though I had honourable mentions from Ellen Datlow in 2016 for The Lady in the Yard and Meat, Motion and Light, this will be my first appearance in a ‘best of the year’ anthology. As with any reprint, it is lovely to know that not only one – but two – editors liked a story enough to publish it.

Here’s  the table of contents. I’m thrilled to find myself among such a distinguished and exciting bunch of writers.

CAVE VENUS ET STELLA – Anna Vaught
WORMCASTS – Thana Niveau
THEY TELL ME – Carly Holmes
DISAGREEABLY HITCHED – Gary Fry
PACK YOUR COAT – Aliya Whiteley
VOICES IN THE NIGHT – Lisa Tuttle
THE FULLNESS OF HER BELLY – Cate Gardner
MAW – Priya Sharma
TEUFELSBERG – Madhvi Ramani
THE OTHER TIGER – Helen Marshall
SENTINEL – Catriona Ward
THE WORM – Samantha Lee
THE ADJOINING ROOM – AK Benedict
THE GOLDEN HOUR – Rosanne Rabinowitz
THE PERFECT DAY TO BE AT SEA – Kayleigh Marie Edwards
THE HARDER IT GETS THE SOFTER WE SING – Steven Dines
THE DEMON L – Carly Holmes
BY SEVERN’S FLOOD – Jane Jakeman
FISH HOOKS – Kit Power
OLD TRASH – Jenn Ashworth
BOBBO – Robert Shearman

I thank Johnny Mains for selecting my story and I also thank Lynda E. Rucker, who edited Uncertainties III. The Golden Hour is one of three stories selected from this anthology; the other two are Bobbo by Robert Shearman and Voices in the Night by Lisa Tuttle.

Golden Hour 2

And while I’m talking Golden Hour, I’ll also post two ‘real-time’ reviews of Uncertainties III. One comes from Des Lewis, which I somehow missed when it was in progress over September and October 2018. The other appeared in Supernatural Tales, which ran a review over several weeks.

Des writes that the anthology is “crammed with unforgettable observations of our imaginarium, our past country that is LP Hartley’s as well as a future rapture when the present is finally transcended.” He concludes a rundown of all the stories with comments about my own contribution. I particularly appreciate the way Des put the story in context with my other work and its recurring locations.

“An effulgent work amid this by-line’s characteristic stamping-ground of 20th interfaced with 21st century inner South London. Working people in interface with rapture and haunting, to try shake off the thrall others have put on them… As a photographer myself in recent years, I cherished the description of this art herein. And the whole ambiance of this equally free-flowing text positively subsumed any of my negativity today.”

David Longhorn’s review of this “nifty new anthology” in Supernatural Tales starts on 27 October 2018: “Uncertainties means just that – the moments when we are unsure if we have glimpsed a ‘little slip of the veil’, exposing us to something that may be supernatural, or at least unknown.” He goes on to review each story and concludes with a look at The Golden Hour.

“The story is strange, and rather wonderful, but it is rooted in the sheer oddness of friendship – how people come together, how they drift apart. Friendship is more mysterious than love, in some respects, and the author explores this mystery while conjuring up a London as numinous as anything in Machen.”

These are the kind of reviews I need to reread if I get downhearted. Thanks very much, David and Des.

 

Shock Against Racism in Brighton – a great evening of readings

Here’s an account from Tom Johnstone of last week’s Shock Against Racism event in Brighton. This includes a perceptive discussion of the themes in the stories that we read, which finds connections that I hadn’t been aware of at the time. And I’m rather flattered at his description of my story Survivor’s Guilt as “something of a twenty-first century anti-fascist horror classic”. Thanks!

Like Tom I was pleased to have the opportunity to hear Victoria Leslie’s story “Almost Aureate” that recently appeared in New Fears 2, a book I definitely plan to buy (once I get my lost Kindle back).

I’ll also add that I was intrigued with Tom’s extract from his yet-unpublished story “The Topsy Turvy Ones” set during the radical ferment in 1649 – and 350 years later when Pinochet, ex-dictator and great friend of Thatcher, is awaiting extradition in Surrey while ‘The Land is Ours’ squatters commemorate the anniversary of Winstanley’s Digger commune. If you like your horror historical (with present-day political resonances), this is one to look out for.

And look out also for future Shock Against Horror events!

By the way, this is my first attempt at reblogging… The result doesn’t include all the graphics in the original post so I’ll put one of them here: The World Turned Upside Down.

world-turn-upside-down

tomjohnstone

On the 25th November, I participated in an event that was one of the launching points for a new initiative in the world of horror literature: Shock Against Racism.The recent surge in racism and fascism, whose most obvious global manifestation is the emergence of Donald Trump as US president, has long been a source of anxiety to many of us in the horror community, as in other sectors of society. Some of us have started a group called Shock Against Racism, as a kind of cultural arm of the fight against this phenomenon, because after all the Far Right fights in this arena: the so-called ‘culture wars’.

The group has already held two evenings of dark fiction, with readings from some of the finest talents in the genre. The first was at Write Blend in Liverpool on November 23rd, with Simon Bestwick, Cate Gardner, Priya Sharma and Ramsey Campbell, in…

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