Certain about Uncertainties III, plus R&R review

grande_uncertainties3I’m excited to announce the publication of Uncertainties III, edited by Lynda E Rucker and published by Swan River Press. It will be out in September and it is now available for preorder. This anthology contains my story “The Golden Hour”, alongside stories by eleven wonderful writers. Here’s the table of contents:

“Monica in the Hall of Moths” Matthew M. Bartlett
“Warner’s Errand” SP Miskowski
“Wyrd” Adam Nevill
“Wanting” Joyce Carol Oates
“Bobbo” Robert Shearman
“Before I Walked Away” RS Knightley (Rachel Knightley)
“Voices in the Night” Lisa Tuttle
“It Could Be Cancer” Ralph Robert Moore
“The Woman in the Moon” Tracy Fahey
“TallDarkAnd” Julia Rust and David Surface
“Ashes to Ashes” Scott West
“The Golden Hour” Rosanne Rabinowitz

This looks like a wonderful line-up and I thank Lynda for bringing us all together. I am certain that Uncertainties III will be a very special book. When I had The Book of American Martyrs signed by Joyce Carol Oates at the Dublin Ghost Story Festival I had no idea that we’d be rubbing shoulders on the same TOC.

And in case you’re wondering, the ‘golden hour’ refers to the hour just after sunrise and the hour before sunset when the light is indeed golden and transfiguring…

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A bell of the Harelle!

Meanwhile, Resonance & Revolt has received a new review from Deborah Walker on GoodReads and Amazon.

“As well as the fine stories, I was struck by the coherence of the book, which danced with the theme of Resonance of emotion, of music and of Revolt expressing what it is to take action and move beyond the constraints of what is expected of us.”

She mentions a favourite: “The story which wormed into my brain was Bells of the Harelle, a story blending 14th century rioting, heresy, and eroticism with humour and scientific mystery.”

So if you want rioting (be it 14th century, 21st century or somewhere in between), head-banging heresy, eroticism, humour and scientific mystery you just might enjoy R&R.

 

 

 

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Let’s talk about ghosts – and guest blogs

Dg1t15MW4AE-b1NSo it’s been a couple of months since my last blog post. My excuse?

I will confess that I have been playing away. Yes, I’ve been guest-blogging for two other sites. Instead of being a productive blogger at home, I’ve been off annoying someone else’s followers.

First, you’ll find my piece ‘Get Yourself Collected’ on the Milford SF Writers blog, where I discuss what I learned from producing Resonance & Revolt. I discovered that there’s a lot more to that first collection than recycling your old tales. Themes, story selection, angst! And be warned, the longer you put off your first collection the more severe the angst will be.

I’ve also been visiting James Everington’s Scattershot Writing blog, holding forth in Music for Writers, a series where authors post music they like to listen to while they write. You’ll also be able to check out tunes from other contributors including Andrew Hook,  Neil Williamson and Ray Cluley. James Everington, by the way, is an excellent writer that I met when we both appeared in The Outsiders anthology, my first venture into Lovecraftiana.

And now lets move from guesting to the ghosts. A few weeks ago I attended the Dublin Ghost Story Festival, a small gathering organised by Brian J Showers of Swan River Press. The event featured panels, talks and readings that explored strange and uncanny fiction.

I last spent time in Dublin in 2004, when I came to town for a May Day weekend of anti-capitalist demonstrations.  This was back in the era of ye olde Celtic Tiger so I was expecting things to look a little different. As my coach made its way through Dublin city centre from the airport I recognised a few places, even a glimpse of the community centre on Cathal Brugha Street where we met up and hatched plans and it’s where some of our soggy minions returned after getting water-cannoned. Of course, I might have a few things wrong 14 years on…  

Then I was greeted by the fine sight of rainbow flags flying from the historic General Post Office, which had also been a meeting point for some of the 2004 events. I’d forgotten that it was Pride weekend in Dublin so I was surprised and delighted by the rainbow bunting up all over the city. Though I was absorbed in matters ghostly and didn’t make it down to the parade itself, the Pride paraphernalia and revelry gave me the sense I was visiting a city shaking off the shackles of the past just after the pro-choice victory in the 8th amendment referendum.

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There were also some reminders of the old order. The Jesus below presided in this glass booth in a small square near our B&B. Perhaps I missed something, but he just appeared to be part of the street furniture and not connected with any religious institution. In the second photo you’ll see that Jesus has some instructions for dog walkers. We came across a similar installation in another public square, minus the poop-scooping admonition.

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Though I enjoyed Helsinki’s massive World Con last year, I was looking forward to a much more intimate event this time around. It made a nice change to have only one stream of programming. Everyone went to the same events and hung out in the same venues afterwards. With the programme finishing around 7.30pm,  no one had to worry about their 8pm panel or a late reading where you hope your audience will be merrily inebriated rather than snoring.  It was good that we all could just relax with our dinner or drinks.

The event was held in the Grand Masonic Lodge of Ireland, which boasted plush decor, stained glass windows and a collection of rather alarming portraits of eminent masons. The programme featured readings and panels on many facets of supernatural and weird fiction. Guests of honour included Joyce Carol Oats, Lisa Tuttle, Victoria Leslie, Andrew Michael Hurley, Helen Grant, Reggie Oliver, RB Russell, Rosalie Parker and Nicholas Royle. I was pleased to meet Nick Royle for the first time; along with Joel Lane he was a big influence on me in the 1990s when I first discovered that thing called ‘slipstream’. 

20180629_210740At one panel someone asked whether there’s a place for humour in a ghost story. The response was ‘yes, but it’s difficult’. And when Joyce Carol Oates read her story “The Crack” an even more emphatic YES came to my mind. The story is both poignant and funny as it lampoons the denizens of a high-rise faculty apartment building near the New York University campus.

On the Saturday Lisa Tuttle also did an in-depth interview with Joyce Carol Oates. You can see them chatting in the photo below under the watchful gaze of some very stern gentlemen.

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It’s a shame that I didn’t get better photos of the portraits because many of us began to feel on very familiar terms with them, as you can see from the tweet on the left. 

I was a kid when Joyce Carol Oates shot to prominence after winning the National Book Award for Them. I ended up reading this book semi-surreptitiously along with The Exorcist and the first two chapters from the library copy of Gravity’s Rainbow that I carried around with me but never ever finished.

My mother periodically tut-tutted over the New York Times Book Review when a new Oates book appeared: “That woman writes about such awful things.”

Of course, that was all the more reason to acquaint myself with the work of ‘that woman’. I started with Them, a gritty account of the lives of a poor Detroit family amid the riots of 1967. I was introduced to Oates’ work as a realist, so I was later amazed to discover her supernatural and gothic fiction such as Bellefleur.

However, few people are able to keep up with Oates’ massive output. According to her bio in the festival programme, she has written over 50 novels and produced volumes of short stories, novellas and non-fiction. For more information you might want to check out the Celestial Timepiece website, which is devoted entirely to her work.

While I was at the Ghost Story Festival I bought A Book of American Martyrs, which I’ve been wanting to read for a while. I also had it signed – so witness my fangirl moment of the weekend below!

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These are a few quotes that stood out for me from Oates: “I don’t believe in any ghosts but I believe that other people believe in them… but what do ghosts do when they’re waiting for you to come to the place they’re haunting? Are they playing cards? And who launders the sheets?”

And while Oates doesn’t believe in ghosts, she believes in their importance as “a triumph of the spirit over the material”.

At one of the early panels I also enjoyed the following conversation about Lovecraft. Reggie Oliver: “I don’t go for all those tentacles. It’s a question of taste.” Joyce Carol Oates: “The best age to appreciate Lovecraft is about 12.” When I tweeted this exchange I had a comeback from someone who said they started to appreciate Lovecraft at the age of 45. I can see that point too. While I share Reggie’s tiredness of tentacles, I can still appreciate a good atmospheric Mythos tale.

Reggie Oliver also nailed it when he said:  “A ghost story should contain a revelation rather than an explanation.” It expressed my discontent too with anti-climactic endings that explain too much and tie everything too neatly as well as endings that lack any kind of closure. How does a writer steer between the two?  Perhaps a revelation heralds the kind of closure that deepens rather than dispels the mystery.

The event ended with a panel where Lisa Tuttle, Helen Grant and RB Russell discussed overlooked favourites. I was pleasantly surprised when someone mentioned Ethel Mannin and her 1945 novel Lucifer and the Child, which is about a poor girl in the East End of London who believes herself to be a witch. Mannin was a journalist, a labour organiser, a comrade of Emma Goldman and possible lover of WB Yeats. She might have  published over 100 books in her lifetime. The little I’ve known of her always fascinated me. I recall reading another novel from her called Venetian Blinds, which explores the price of upward mobility.

And this brings me to the finale of the weekend, when I learned about another ‘lost’ woman writer who was influential in her own time but not so celebrated today.

30728584_555129354868004_3819477697778494371_nOn the Monday after the festival we visited an exhibition about the prison writings of Dorothy Macardle, which had been recommended by Swan River Press. Macardle was an activist and historian – and a writer of supernatural fiction. She was involved in the Irish independence movement and working on a paper called Irish Freedom when she was arrested during the civil war. She served six months in Mountjoy and Kilmainham until her release on health grounds. However, she came to have serious disagreements with the prominent men in Irish politics.

While imprisoned Macardle wrote a book, Earth-Bound: Nine Stories of Ireland, which is a collection of ghost stories inspired by the women that she met in prison. I’ve often encountered a view that supernatural/strange fiction is escapist and backward-looking, but books like this show that’s far from the truth. Ghost stories – and the weird and esoteric in general – offer a powerful way to highlight historical and personal struggles and create fictional connections through time and space. That’s certainly the impetus behind my stories in Resonance & Revolt. So while I indulged in a chuckle or two over the thought that I came to Dublin in 2004 to take part in an international anti-capitalist convergence and this time I went there to talk about ghosts, it doesn’t mean that the two are opposed – neither does it necessarily mark the softening that is said to come with age!

20180702_130127Each of the nine ghost stories in Earth-Bound is dedicated to a fellow prisoner, who are all featured in the exhibition. Some of the ghost stories in Earth-Bound incorporate Celtic myth, while others are set against the backdrop of the Irish independence struggle. One tells of a contemporary Irish revolutionary who is haunted by the ghost of a prisoner from the 1798 Rebellion. Pictured left is the knife and spoon that prisoner Eithne Coyle took with her when she escaped with three other women from Mountjoy in 1922.

Macardle went on to write more supernatural fiction, including a novel about a haunted house that was later made into the Hollywood film, The Uninvited. She also led the Women Writers Club in 1933. It’s possible that she might have even known Ethel Mannin, since the Women Writers Club had presented Mannin with its award in 1948 for her bestselling novel Late Have I Loved Thee.

My visit to this exhibit was a perfect way to end our weekend in Dublin.

 

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Resonance & Revolt & real-time reviews – and some rugelach too

R&R&R1So Resonance & Revolt has been out for a good few weeks! I was so absorbed in preparations for the launch a couple of weeks ago I forgot to mention that, as well as post about the launch in this blog. However, details were tweeted and also put on Facebook so I hope everyone who wanted to come knew about it.

I’ll write some more about the event itself but I’ll now highlight R&R’s first review from Des Lewis. If the name rings a bell, several stories in R&R such as “Survivor’s Guilt”, “Pieces of Ourselves”, “In the Pines”, “The Pleasure Garden” and “The Turning Track” have received Des’ treatment on first appearance, which I’ve featured in previous posts. “Lambeth North” had actually appeared in one of his own anthologies, Horror Without Victims.

Des Lewis’ ‘real-time’ reviews are unique, thought-provoking and always a treat to read. They’re packed with word play and poetry as they unearth associations and currents in the work that I might miss myself when I’ve been so close to it. Other writers describe similar experiences of discovery and regard a Des Lewis review as a work of literature in its own right. I second that. Perhaps you can call this a review of a review. I always feel very honoured by the attention and thought Des puts into his reviews.

They are usually beautifully illustrated as well. I’ve included his cut-out of the tiles from “Lambeth North” that appears on the cover of R&R below, which he connects with the avatar he uses on website. After his exploration of each story, Des sums up:

cropped-2c2a069b-415e-45b1-96c7-9b4c857f22d21“Resonance & Revolt. From Didcott to Didactic, a grail or Rosannation for socialist outreach but made even more palatable as percolated by truth and inspirationally infused by the book’s creative tapping of histories, myths and alternate visions, transfigured from rustblind through to silverbright. Some very important stories in this book transcending any didacticism. And a gestalt of them all that will be enduring. And a book cover that sings out with all these things.”

On 19 May we launched R&R, along with more books published by Eibonvale, Snuggly Books and other imprints. A major thanks goes out to anyone who came and helped make it such an enjoyable afternoon. Books were read (and sold), chats were had, drinks  were drunk and snacks were noshed. The sun was shining in the beer garden… Readings came from myself, Rhys Hughes, Quentin S Crisp, Terry Grimwood, Tom Johnstone and Allen Ashley.

Tiles from DesThe event was MC’ed by Allen Ashley, who did a stellar job at the 2013 event that launched Helen’s Story, Rustblind and Silverbright, Stardust and other books. I read extracts from “The Pleasure Garden” from Something Remains – since we were very near to its location amid the cranes and building sites of Nine Elms – and closed the readings with an extract from “The Matter of Meroz”, which first appeared in Jews vs Aliens. The passage involved the enjoyment of certain Jewish delicacies as a sensory means of creating wormholes – or as known respectively in the Talmud and the Book of Deborah – the ‘leaping of the roads’ and the ‘crumpling of the sky’.

RugelachRugelach plays a key role in this process. They’re small pastries made from a dough with cream cheese or sour cream, plus whatever you fancy putting in them. We distributed some cinnamon-spiced samples after the reading. And you know what? Maybe the road did leap just a little, or else it could’ve been the free beer having its effect!

After the launch about 25 of us went to Mamuska, a Polish canteen style eaterie at Elephant & Castle. All in all, it was a lovely way to mark the passage of R&R into the world.

You can buy Resonance & Revolt in paperback and hardback formats from most online booksellers – Amazon, Foyles and others – and from Eibonvale Press. Meanwhile, an ebook edition is also in the works.

I’ll finally add that if you have a blog or publication and want to review R&R, get in touch with Eibonvale.

 

 

Dorian’s doing well!

grande_scarlet1Here’s a very nice review of The Scarlet Soul in Lovecraft Ezine, which praises the quality of all ten stories and the physical production of the book. Acep Hale also describes my contribution to this anthology:

“Rosanne Rabinowitz’s “All That Is Solid” is another story from The Scarlet Soul that has stuck with me. It is the story of two friends, Gosia and Ilona, living in London after the passage of Brexit. As both of them have Polish backgrounds uncertainties start to creep into Gosia’s psyche as more and more overt examples of British nationalism start happening around her. Ilona passes on the number of a counselor who suggests that since Gosia is a freelance designer art therapy may help? I feel that Rabinowitz displays an acute sensibility with “All That Is Solid” that is as respectful as it is chilling.”

Last thing I heard, Dublin-based Swan River Press said that they were down to their last five copies of The Scarlet Soul. So to quote Janis Joplin, get it while you can!

Swan River does put out some very fine books, concentrating on strange and supernatural fiction with an Irish connection. I look forward to meeting editor Brian J Showers and others in person this summer at the Dublin Ghost Story Festival. And if any readers of this blog happen to be attending, I look forward to meeting you.

Meanwhile, I’ve set up a new page for R&R. It includes a table of contents that links most of the stories with a related post or review giving background or thoughts about the story. I’ve also linked to the blogs of Lynda E. Rucker and Mat Joiner, friends and fellow writers who’ve contributed to this book.

The paperback edition of Resonance & Revolt will be released on the very appropriate date of 1 May. You can pre-order it from Eibonvale or from Amazon. Keep an eye out for news about a launch event and an ebook edition.

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Off to the printers…

Final tweaks and twiddles done. The book has been sent!

Back in my ‘zine mongering days, ‘going to the printers’ meant stumbling onto a train after pulling an all-nighter, lugging the artwork in some unwieldy and tattered portfolio. I was always terrified that something could happen along the way that would scupper publication. A train wreck, perhaps. Or I’d be mugged for the very coveted contents of my portfolio.

Now it’s so much easier. Just a click of the button, according to Eibonvale editor David Rix.

And glasses are now raised in Kennington and Hackney…

Cheers!

Resonance & Revolt on its way…

unnamedThe final touches to my collection Resonance & Revolt are in progress and it should be ready to go to the printer very soon. Ebook editions will also be produced. There may be a further tweak or two on the cover but the picture above should give you a good idea of what it will look like. Meanwhile, the book is available for preorder at Eibonvale Press.

Eibonvale describes the book as an “intense and erudite collection of slipstream stories steeped in European history and the world of modern Britain”. This extract from the introduction provided by Lynda E Rucker – friend, fellow writer and cohort in several anthologies – expands on this:

At the heart of Resonance & Revolt is a radical reimagining of what the world could be, both politically and metaphysically. Revolutionaries spill out of its pages, whether they hail from 15th-century Central Europe, the present-day era of austerity in the UK or one of its likely near-futures…
Reading Rosanne’s stories feels like standing in the ruins of a thousand-year-old fortress where you can almost hear the past breathing around you, or in some other liminal place: a magical wood, perhaps, but sometimes the most ordinary of city streets, where you might slip into somewhere else before you realise what’s happened.
You will find all of those places in here, ruins and enchanted woods and city streets that unexpectedly contain magic, and more besides. This sense, of the permeable nature of time and place, is one of the things I love best in these stories, but there are others as well: the striking characters, artists and misfits and activists, many of them existing on the fringes but all of them tough survivors still engaged with the world around them.
The stories here make you want to look at the world more intently, for it is heaving with possibility if only we know how to look. This is an idea that comes up again and again, the sense that we need to pay attention. That there really is a deep mystery at the heart of it all, and it’s worth seeking it out.

When I’m so close to my own work, rubbing my nose in it on a daily basis, it’s easy to lose sight of its essence. It often takes another eye to put it all in perspective, and I thank Lynda for her inspiring comments. I hope those of you reading this will join me in seeking out the deep mystery and discovering that vision of the world as it could be.

Over at Aqueduct – the pleasures of reading, watching and listening

MV5BMTUzNjQ2MTY5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTAzNTQxNDM@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Here’s a happy New Year and a heads-up for my contribution to the Aqueduct Press blog about favourites of the year. This is an annual Aqueduct tradition, so I’m pleased to be on board with a publisher that encourages an online community among its far-flung writers.

51r1Mdpv4FL._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_The invitation to contribute took me by (pleasant) surprise, so my spiel is  weighted towards my most recent outings – these include Netflix’s ten-episode Teutonic time travelling epic Dark, books by Zadie Smith, Nina Allan and Colson Whitehead, and a film about the Slits.

61SY37C4a0L._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Naturally, as soon as I posted my copy I started to remember great stuff from earlier in the year. A couple of weeks ago a friend on Facebook had just got around to seeing Trainspotting 2 and that reminded me how much I enjoyed that film  – among other things, I loved the way that Irvine Welsh’s viewpoint character turned out to be Spud rather than Renton. So that was one highlight that I left out.

Another remarkable book I read over the year was Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. It fact it inspired one of the the panel discussions I participated in at the Helsinki World Con last summer –  Fantasies of Free MovementMV5BMGU4YzdhY2UtMDMxMS00YjNhLTlhYzItZGU5NWY2MzhiNzJjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDAwMTQ1Ng@@._V1_UY268_CR9,0,182,268_AL_, where we talked about borders and the dissolution of borders in fantastic fiction.

Many writers also have a sum-up of their own work over the year. So here it goes for me… I’ve had two stories published – “In Scarlet Town” in Murder Ballads and “All That is Solid” in The Scarlet Soul: Stories for Dorian Gray. The good folks at Aqueduct Press released a US edition of Helen’s Story in the summer and I’ve been putting together my first collection Resonance & Revolt.  This will be released downloadat the beginning of 2018 and it’s available for pre-order from Eibonvale Press.

As for resolutions… In the coming year I hope to get back to my novel Heretics. “Bells of Harelle”, which originally appeared in Tales from the Vatican Vaults, was a kind of prequel to Heretics. This story will also be reprinted in Resonance & Revolt. 

32622470And to get back to the past year’s pleasurable reading, listening and viewing – I didn’t even begin to explore the listening part. At a recent gig I saw a band called Gutfull, which I’ll  definitely want to see again. Kind of riot grrrlish – the singer even looked a little like Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna – but they have their own style and they’re totally of this century. I’ve posted a catchy little number called “Arsehole” below.

I also listened to some older music that I missed the first time around, so I’ll post a song from the Screaming Blue Messiahs (1990s vintage) that I discovered at the beginning of 2017. Dedicate it to Donald Trump and wall-of-shame builders around the world.