Audio version of An Old Wish

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Story teller, Kris Keppeler, has recorded an audio version of my horror/humour short story, An Old Wish. You can hear it here on her podcast, Does his Happen to You.

I hope you enjoy the recording.

If you’d like to read the original story, check it out here on Medium: An Old Wish.

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Short Story: Transactions on Medium and a Blog Update

 

ribsThe Medium publication, Literally Literary, have just published my short story, Transactions, on Medium. I’ve got a bit of a preoccupation with human monsters and transformations (as people who’ve followed this blog for a bit will know), so this story is a continuation of a theme. Check it out. It’s either dark magic realism or noir-horror, not sure which. I never was any good at fitting into genres.

Apologies to people who enjoy my book reviews. I ran out of money to splash out on the queer fiction I read so much of last year. The print copies I read tend to be a bit more expensive than the average, as a lot of it’s published by small indie publishers, and my credit card was starting to smoke, so I’ve had to give it a rest for now. I hope to get back to it soon. One of my favourite books this year so far has been The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. It’s a lovely character focused exploration of friendship and human need. I’ve also enjoyed The Books of Blood by Clive Barker.

I’m intending to write more about writing craft, themes and representation, but have been working flat out on editing some longer work and getting new shorts up on Medium. I’ve been having a lot of fun writing and that’s always going to be my priority. I hope you enjoy reading my shorter work.

Gods and Insects Playlist

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Vanitas by Simon Renard de  Saint-Andre, Public Domain

I know a lot of writers like to work to music. I tend to write best in silence, which is not very exciting. I do occasionally put together playlists for inspiration (and procrastination). However, I get to be extra lazy here, because my friend has made an amazing one for me, to go with one of my vamp novellas. Here’s the gothtastic playlist for my second vampire novella, Gods and Insects, in all its glory, courtesy of Johnny Truant.

Gods and Insect Playlist on 8Tracks.

As 8Tracks has a weird licensing thing outside the US, here’s a track list, in case anything skips (it does for me, in the UK).

  1. Spellbound – Siouxie and the Banshees
  2. Nocturnal Me – Echo and the Bunnymen
  3. Kill Your Sons – Rozz Williams
  4. The Fix – Bloody Dead and Sexy
  5. The Sanity Assassin – Bauhaus
  6. Figurative Theatre – Christian Death
  7. Radiant Boys – The March Violets
  8. Man on Fire – Silent Scream
  9. His Box – Dalis Car
  10. Lion King – Ghosting
  11. Day of the Lords – Joy Division
  12. Ruins – O. Children
  13. Cernunnos – Faith and The Muse
  14. Penance and Pain – Soper Aeternus and The Ensemble of Shadows
  15. Sebastiane – Sex Gang Children
  16. Sharp Fangs, Pale Flesh – Coliseum
  17. The Drowning – Christian Death
  18. My Kingdom – Echo and the Bunnymen

 

 

Writing Sex Scenes without Sex

 

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Sometimes a heart shaped lock is just a lock and sometimes it’s a not very subtle sexual metaphor.

Here’s a little ponder about the craft of writing sex scenes. It could just as accurately be titled Writing Poetic Sex.

 

Once upon a time, I guess like a lot of writers, I found writing sex scenes embarrassing. Writing and critiquing erotica broke me of that squeamishness. Now, if I write a sex scene or erotic scene, I tend to write it in a fairly frank manner, but recently, I’ve become intrigued by sex scenes that are less literal. I’ve come across a few that caught my attention, whilst reading, that are much more metaphorical, figurative, poetic. Sometimes, they can feel distant and floaty—maybe (especially in YA) the writer wants to focus more on emotions and less on the physical aspects. Other times, the metaphors and figurative language end up being just as smutty and visceral as a more physical account would have been. I’ve found a couple of examples from books I’ve read recently, to illustrate what I mean. They fit broadly into these two camps.

This scene, in Tanith Lee’s The Book of the Damned, caught my eye. The style of this collection of novellas is quite overwrought and gothic (in a good way), with supernatural elements. The way she uses language in this scene suits the style of the work and the intangible, changing nature of the characters. The erotic charge is there, but the physical aspects are intertwined with figurative language.

Ecstasy was always near, it came and went, swelling, singing, widening, never finished, never begun. Her coldness was warm now, like the snow. Her lips which had come to my throat so quietly, had begun to burn. Her lips were fire. She threw me down and down, into the caverns of the night, where sometimes, far away, I heard myself groan, or her murmuring voice like a feather drifting….

Tanith Lee (1990), The Book of the Damn, p.37, The Overlook Press: Woodstock, NY

This second scene is from When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore. This is a YA novel and I’ve found it’s not unusual to focus on thoughts and emotions in YA, but the writing style is particularly poetic in this one.

She was shutting every window in this house and scaring them off with the light from Sam’s moons. It was just him, and her, his fingers flicking against her like the hot light of falling stars, her touching him in the best way she knew to remind him there was no distance, no contradiction between the body he had and a boy called Samir.

Anna-Marie McLemore (2016), When the Moon Was Ours, p.183, Thomas Dunne Books: New York, NY

Within a story, a sex scene can be important for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes it suits the style of the story to aim for something less literal. Sometimes it suits the emotional or narrative purpose better. Sometimes it’s fun to add a little variety. It’s a more emotionally engaging approach than fading to black, if a writer doesn’t want to have a graphic scene but still wants sex to feature in the story. Even if there are physical aspects, as well, it’s useful to broaden the possibilities for approaching these scenes, which can run the risk of being samey.

Thinking about this, I realise that, even though I tend to write my sex scenes in a literal way, I just wrote a vampire novella with a bunch of trippy blood drinking sessions, full of symbolic fragments of the characters’ subconscious. Blood drinking often takes the place of sex in vampire fiction (you could say the whole of gothic fiction is a pile of symbolic fears and desires); it fills a few different functions in mine. So, I guess I’ve already been writing symbolic sex, to an extent, but it’s useful to reflect on the technique, in a more conscious way, and think about the possibilities across a variety of genres.

A Postcard from the Editing Mines

gods-and-insects-cover-9by6-smallHere’s a rare blog about writing on my writing blog. I’m reading a foolishly long book at the moment with teeny tiny font (Imajica by Clive Barker) so you’ll notice my reviews have slowed right down. I’ve also been up to my eyeballs in editing my new gothic novella, Gods and Insects. Now it’s off to be proofread and I’m starting to think about next year’s projects and writing some smut for fun. Here’s a peak of the cover for my new novella. It’s shaped up to be much longer than the first, all from one point of view, has a trans secondary character I love, and is basically a gothic tragedy with a liberal sprinkling of psychedelic blood trips, horror and homoerotica. I’ll let you know when it’s available.

This will probably be a winter of horror reading for me, because I need to get my brain into that mindset for editing my 1920s mythos novel. I spent a lot of time this year getting my head into 20s mode to write the first draft, but now I need to up the horror content. I’m not sure how many other writers do this, but I tend to aim for mild brain reprogramming when I’m going to focus on one project. I try to immerse myself in a particular genre or theme or aesthetic to get me in the mood.

I’m not completely sure what to focus on next year (other than editing the 20s novel). I have a hankering for some sci-fi, which is really my first love. After a discussion on my friend’s facebook page, I’m thinking I need to pick up the sci-fi I was writing with a trans male protagonist as there is not enough of that sort of thing out there. (If the book you want doesn’t exist, write it.) I’ve also got yearnings to queer up some Shakespeare, another grubby sci-fi project about AIs and memory which has been rattling around in my head, aaaand a YA paranormal romance.  Plus I will complete my gothic vampire trilogy because it would be mean not to.

I need some new writing resolutions for the new year. Last year’s resolution was to read more, and I’m pleased with how that’s gone. Expect some more waffle about that as the year draws to an end.