DbVRx0gWkAEZkrIThis happened quickly.

I knew CalenDark: The Infernal Almanac was the second in a planned trilogy but I had no idea when, or what, the third in the series would be until David Shakes and Steph Ellis announced ‘DeadCades’ earlier this month. In the first book, each story took place over an hour. In the second, a day. For the third instalment, the time frame is going to be ten years.

David and Steph had already filled the short story slots before they announced the anthology. What they were after this time were drabbles – a 100-word story to introduce every decade. I decided I wouldn’t enter. Drabbles have never been my thing. And then, as I was leaving work one night, Steph Tweeted about the decades that had already been taken and listed those that were still to be filled. On the drive home, I started thinking about what I would write for the 1880 slot and a story came to me very quickly. I submitted it before I went to bed that night and I had a lovely acceptance from Steph the  following evening.

Industrial Playthings will be published in the 1880s slot of the DeadCades anthology, alongside stories from some of my favourite authors, which is due out later this year. I’ll publish a link here when it’s available.

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Hive Mind* (The Singularity)

Posted: April 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

“Somewhere around the middle of this century, artificial intelligence will evolve beyond its human architects, vastly superior in every way. Technology will become independent of us, rapidly evolving beyond our wildest dreams… or nightmares.”

I only checked the finalists for Create50’s The Singularity anthology to see if any friends of mine had made the cut. Having withdrawn my entry, I had no reason to think my name would show up on the list. Hive Mind had just been accepted by Aphotic Realm, so it wasn’t even available for publication.

And yet, there it was.

This was a new experience for me. On a few occasions, I’ve withdrawn a story from a contest, only to receive a rejection anyway.This was the first time I’d withdrawn a story only to have it accepted.

Naturally, I panicked.

Luckily the editors at Aphotic Realm were very understanding and the editors at Create50 really wanted the story. I gave Create50 every opportunity to say ‘oops, no’ but, instead, they came up with a bespoke contract. Just for Hive Mind.

The Singularity will be “a collection of 50 science fiction stories from the most thought provoking voices in new SciFi literature”, tackling the question: “What will happen when technology surpasses humanity?” Check out the amazing trailer for a taste of what to expect.

Hive Mind will be published in The Singularity later this year. I’ll post a link when it’s available.

*Previously published.

 

I’ve stopped entering competitions this year. There are plenty of opportunities for horror writers to be published in anthologies and magazines without the submission fees needed to cover the cost of prizes. The downside of submitting to anthologies is long waits for responses with very little clue as to when I’ll hear anything.

I had a feeling I’d hear from a few places during our latest trip to Norfolk and I did – just not the places I thought I’d hear from. Hinnom, Unnerving and Electric Spec magazine all came back with rejections but … EconoClash Review came back with an acceptance.

I originally wrote Disillusioned for The Molotov Cocktail’s flash fear competition. It was another last-minute submission and I wasn’t surprised when it was rejected – the story needed to be longer and scarier. This version is both and I’m thrilled it’s found a home.

EconoClash Review is a “home for exceptional content featuring shady casino hosts, murderous junkies, pregnant prom queens, strange kaiju cults, small town larceny and Sasquatch love brides. Or in other words…PULP.” They promote literacy by publishing “Quality Cheap Thrills” twice a year in print as well as posting articles highlighting the “human quality of trashy literature, art, cinema and music”.

Disillusioned is due to be published in EconoClash Review issue #3, which is due out later this year or early in 2019. I’ll post a link here when it’s available.

For the thirty-eighth issue of The Sirens Call eZine, they were looking for “straight up horror” – short stories, flash fiction, drabbles and poetry, that are “creepy, sullen, emotive, freaky, elegant, bizarre”…or simply “flat out scary as hell!”

My flash fiction story, Run, Child was originally published by Quantum Fairy Tales in January 2017. Unfortunately, QFT have been experiencing persistent issues with their website, which means the story hasn’t been available online since December 2017. I contacted QFT earlier this year and they kindly agreed to let me submit the Run, Child to The Sirens Call, and I’m really pleased to say it has been accepted for the forthcoming issue.

Run, Child will feature in The Sirens Call eZine issue #38 – I’ll post a link here when it’s available.

*Previously published.

Little Black Holes (Cease, Cows)

Posted: February 22, 2018 in Uncategorized

A few years ago, I had a benign tumour removed from my thumb. I didn’t know it was benign until sometime after it was removed – I didn’t even know it was a tumour. My local GP had diagnosed the lump as a cyst and told me to go home. According to the private surgeon who removed the lump, this was the only sensible diagnosis the GP could have made without operating, and the NHS no longer treat cysts unless they’re infected or debilitating. I could have been walking around with a tumour in my thumb for the rest of my life. And if it hadn’t been so painful, I might never have made the call to the private hospital.

What does all this have to do with Little Black Holes? The date of my pre-surgery consultation was also the closing date of The Molotov Cocktail’s Flash Phenomenon competition. It was a fiercely hot day and, as I was driving home after the consultation, I noticed how deep the shadows were on the road. I just kept staring and staring.

After I got home, it took me an hour to write a first draft of Shadows and submit it to The Molotov Cocktail. It wasn’t very good and it didn’t get anywhere in the competition, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to put it down.

I’ve rewritten Shadows significantly since then, expanding it to give it more depth and then tightening up the prose, and I’ve changed the title. I’m thrilled it’s going to be published by Cease, Cows because, since the day I wrote it, it’s been one of my favourites.

Cease, Cows is is an online lit mag that “explores the contemporary, the strange, the big questions.” It’s perfect for Little Black Holes, which will be published “soon”. I’ll post a link to the story here when it’s out.

Hive Mind (Aphotic Realm #3)

Posted: February 22, 2018 in Uncategorized

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How long will we last without bees? How long will we allow pesticides, parasites, disease and habitat loss to decimate the global bee population? Is there a future for pollinators in a world shaped by politics and commerce?

These were the questions I was asking myself when I wrote Hive Mind back in July 2016. It was the first time I’d written a science fiction short story – in this case with a dash of politics and a sliver of horror. Create50 was looking for stories for an anthology called The Singularity, which charts the rise and eventual domination of AI, and I was inspired. Hive Mind made the shortlist for The Singularity but I decided to withdraw it before the final results were in, and submit to Aphotic Realm for their third issue, “Classified”.

At the time, I was kicking myself for not having submitted anything to Aphotic Realm’s second issue, which has a cracking lineup of authors. I didn’t want to miss out again. As luck would have it, one of the AR editors was designing a board game called Hive Mind, which probably helped my story stand out.

We all need a little luck every now and again.

Aphotic Realm is a print and online magazine, which publishes “short stories of any genre as long as they are dark, sinister, or eerie in tone.” The editors are fantastic and it really shows.

Hive Mind will be published in Aphotic Realm issue three, “Classified”, which is due out next month. I’ll post a link here as soon as it’s available.

Oymyakon (The Arcanist)

Posted: January 6, 2018 in Uncategorized

1_g5VkYSBL1MqLqVAazEp4UQOymyakon is one of the coldest, permanently inhabited places on our planet. According to Wikipedia, “sometimes the average minimum temperature for January, February and December remains below −50 °C (−58 °F).” It seemed like perfect place to send the characters in this story, whose souls have been exposed to the fires of hell. As they find out, going from one extreme to another doesn’t always work…

The Arcanist is a relatively new (July 2017) online literary magazine, focusing on “genre-based flash fiction and in-depth looks into pop culture’s biggest stories.” It’s published some really good science fiction and horror since it was launched and I hope it’ll be around for a long time to come.

Oymyakon is my first acceptance by The Arcanist and my first acceptance of 2018. It was published on 23 February.

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