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 : “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.

 

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Too large for your letterbox

20180924_184634It’s one of those frustrating non-events of the writerly life when you come home from work on a Thursday evening and find a card from the postie informing you that a package was ‘too large for your letterbox’ and you just know it’s your contributor copies for a long-anticipated anthology. Then the form on the Royal Mail website won’t let you book a redelivery until Monday

Finally, Monday arrives… And the package in question does indeed contain my contributor copies for Uncertainties Volume III. Edited by Lynda E Rucker, the anthology presents fiction by Matthew M Bartlett, SP Miskowski, Adam LG Nevill, Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Shearman, RS Knightley, Lisa Tuttle, Ralph Robert Moore, Tracy Fahey, Julia Rust & David Surface and Scott West. In addition to stories by these very fine writers, it also includes my tale “The Golden Hour”. You can order Uncertainties from Swan River Press.

20180924_183804The title of my story refers to the hour before sunset or after sunrise when light is indeed golden and transforms appearances – and perhaps much more. It seems to capture and hold moments, infuse them with layers of meaning that are otherwise lost. It’s the sense of timelessness during the golden hour that inspired my story.

The story also reflects my move to an upper floor in my block and the new perspective it gave me. I became much more aware of the movements of sun and moon, changes in the quality of light and its effect on the cityscape. As for the cityscape itself… I found it glorious, while I was also aware that certain half-built structures reflecting the sunset so beautifully will become empty shells for investment by international cartels. These are sprouting alongside buildings that have been homes for many years. Much of this is social housing, fought for and now contested, touched by the same light. I started to speculate on ways the transfiguring light could affect the people living within those buildings.

When my copies arrived I was inspired to take photos of the books during the actual ‘golden hour’ on a clear autumn day, getting full-on arty-farty with photos of the book as the afternoon shifted into various stages of golden-ness. On that first day I admit that I spent more time photographing the book  (often along with my thumb) than reading it.

However, I’ve now read about half of the book and I’ve been mesmerised and entertained; I’ve also found that this is the kind of anthology I read continuously from cover to cover, when I often dip in and out of them. I’ll add that dipability is a good thing too and dipping in and out of anthologies has been a major pleasure of my reading life. I enjoy both of these qualities. I’m not sure what makes one anthology a ‘dipper’ and another anthology one that is devoured. Could it be the way the stories flow into each other, even when it’s not a themed anthology? Something to ponder. In any case, editing is always a factor in how an anthology works and Lynda E Rucker did sterling job with this one.

I recommend an interview on the Swan River Press website with Lynda where she talks about the experience of editing this book. I’ll end with this cogent observation from Lynda on how the field of horror and weird fiction is perceived:

“My view of horror is that it is a very broad church. It encompasses everything from the subtlest and most enigmatic of tales to the full-on Grand Guignol… I think arguments about labelling literature are incredibly tedious, but it does bother me when people try to insist that something isn’t horror basically on the grounds that it is well-written or well-made, that it has depth and resonance and fine prose or is character-driven or has a political consciousness or whatever.”
Uncertainties Volume III spread