Author and Scriptwriter

'Among the most important writers of contemporary British horror.' -Ramsey Campbell

Monday, 5 October 2015

The Lowdown with... Kameron Hurley

Kameron Hurley is an award-winning author and advertising copywriter. She grew up in Washington State, and has lived in Fairbanks, Alaska; Durban, South Africa; and Chicago. She has a degree in historical studies from the University of Alaska and a Master’s in History from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, specializing in the history of South African resistance movements. Her essay on the history of women in conflict “We Have Always Fought” was the first blog post to win a Hugo Award. It was also nominated for Best Non-Fiction work by the British Fantasy Society.

Hurley is the author of God’s War, Infidel, and Rapture, a science-fantasy noir series which earned her the Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer and the Kitschy Award for Best Debut Novel. Her latest novel, The Mirror Empire, is published by Angry Robot Books, and the sequel, Empire Ascendant, will be out in October 2015. Her first space opera, The Stars are Legion, will be published from Simon and Schuster’s Saga imprint in fall of 2016.

She has won the Hugo Award twice, and been a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, Nebula Award, the Locus Award and the BSFA Award for Best Novel. Additionally, her work has been included on the Tiptree Award Honor List and been nominated for the Gemmell Morningstar Award.

1. Tell us three things about yourself.

I am a human.
I write exceptionally weird fictional worlds.
I like cheese.

2. What was the first thing you had published?

My first published piece was actually a nonfiction essay about how participating in high school theatre helped me overcome – or at least learn how to manage – my severe introversion.  I was sixteen and it came out in my local paper. I believe they paid me $100 for it, which was great. The next year I sold my first fiction story to a now-defunct online magazine for $5. The nonfiction paid better, as you can see– a lesson in what was to

3. Which piece of writing are you proudest of?

This is a tough question, because on some level, I’m proud of everything I’ve written (with one exception). I love my God’s War novels. Nyx, the main character, is easily the most fun and memorable and messed up character I’ve ever written. But when it comes to “world-changing” stuff, I’d have to say that the piece I’m most proud of is writing the essay, “We Have Always Fought,” about the people we erase from the history of conflict. It’s had the most impact on the wider world. People have changed what and how they write because of that piece, which is a pretty exceptional example of how a single piece of writing can have ripple effects that change the world.

4. …and which makes you cringe?

I was asked to write a satiric story for an online magazine in just two weeks – sort of newsjacking on popular events – and it didn’t come out at all how I’d hoped. I’m not a satirist and it had to be edited quite a lot. It was a good lesson in learning when to say no to opportunity, for sure.

5. What’s a normal writing day like?

Instead of trying to squeeze in 500 or a thousand words a day during the week, I do all of my writing on the weekends. If I’m on deadline, it’s Saturday AND Sunday, but generally just Saturday. So I’ll be up at 7:30 a.m. and head over to the coffee shop by 9 a.m. Depending on how things go, I’ll be there until 2 p.m. or so, writing maybe 3,000 words, then switch to the beer lounge nearby and write another 3,000 or so. My goal is to do 8-10k every Saturday, but 5-6k is generally what ends up happening. When I’m really busting out words under deadline, I’ve been known to clear nearly 20,000 words in a weekend, working from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Which is a useful skill to have.

6. Which piece of writing should someone who’s never read you before pick up first?

I like to point people to God’s War first, which was the award-winner, but lots of people find it too weird. If you prefer epic fantasy, The Mirror Empire might be a better starting point. It’s certainly sold the most!

7. What are you working on now? 
I’m finishing up the edits on my essay collection The Geek Feminist Revolution, and frantically putting together the first draft of my first space opera, The Stars Are Legion, which is due in November. Both books are coming out next year: the essay collection May 31st and the space opera in the fall. It’s a mad dash right now to kick all of this work into shape. But I’ve pulled off greater writing miracles, so there’s hope. 

Friday, 2 October 2015

Remembering Joel Lane

Photo by Emily McMahon
Today would have been my late friend Joel Lane's 52nd birthday, and I was reminded all over again (chiefly by Facebook) how much I miss him. A few months ago I posted a memory of Joel on Facebook - a brief anecdote that did much to sum up his wit and sly sense of humour - and it occurred to me that it would be nice to give it a more permanent home.

On the heels of that, it occurred that many others would have stories to tell about him. Funny ones, sad ones, inspiring ones - mostly funny ones, though. Although his stories were bleak and his life often unhappy, Joel could often be funny beyond words.

Anyway: if you have such an anecdote about Joel, one you'd like to share, drop me a line here. I'll post them on the blog on an as and when basis, so there's a permanent resource in his memory.

The Lowdown with... Livia Llewellyn

Llewellyn on Llewellyn: "Long ago, in another millennia, I was born at the icy edges of Anchorage, Alaska and spent my childhood in the quiet woods of the Pacific Northwest. And now, in this early sliver of the new thousand year era, I am a tiny speck in a frenetic East Coast megalopolis that is one of the centers of the human world. I’m not quite sure how that happened….By day I’m a secretary. I file papers, create spreadsheets, update calendars, weep in the restroom stalls — the usual secretarial things.

At night, I write about lonely girls who sing to colossal sentient engines born of Tesla’s secret journals, long-horned demons lost in endless tracts of suburbia, giant biomechanical insects and their sassy female charges, mothers who are good monsters, monsters who are good mothers, the mysterious labyrinth of human-&-creature couplings, the joys of solitude and the horror of the broken heart."

Livia's website is here; her story collection Engines Of Desire is here, and she Tweets here.

Oh, and her story 'Stabilimentum' is now online at Pseudopod Magazine today!

1. Tell us three things about yourself.
I’m trying to think of something that doesn’t involve ants or bad apartment situations. Hmm. Well,
when I was fifteen, my father taught me how to drive in the Tacoma Cemetery—he figured everyone there was already dead, so I couldn’t possibly do any more harm to them. My mother once closed the garage door on me—I was about seven, I was throwing some fit and wouldn’t come out to the car, and so she started to close the garage door and I slid down under it at the last minute because I didn’t want to be locked inside, and BAM! Garage door on my ass. My mother laughed. I wasn’t hurt, and I deserved it, I was being a complete little shit. Oh, and my terrible apartment has about a hundred thousand ants living in it. Sorry, I had to. But, my lease is up next February! I’m positively giddy at the thought of all the new terrible places I might be living in next year.

2. What was the first thing you had published?
I won second place in a flash fiction contest at ChiZine Magazine with my story “Brimstone Orange”, and it was published there in 2005. That was both my first publication and my first story ever written. But it was very much a fluke—it was almost a year and a half before I had my second piece published. 

3. Which piece of writing are you proudest of?
The story “…and Love shall have no Dominion” (about a demon who falls in love with the woman
he’s brutally and violently possessing), which I don’t think a lot of people have read. But it’s going to be in my next collection, so it’ll be interesting to see what the reaction is from readers and reviewers. It wasn’t easy to write, and it’s not an easy read. [SB: this story was first published in Demons, ed. John Skipp.]

4. …and which makes you cringe?
Looking over what I’ve had published, there isn’t anything that really makes me want to crawl into a hole and die—although I’m sure there’s a lot of people who are thinking that I seriously need to look again. However, I’ve written plenty of stories like that. My “trunked” folder is larger than my “published” folder for a very good reason.

5. What’s a normal writing day like?
I have an office job to pay the bills, so my normal writing day is confined to a few hours every evening, and whatever I can get done on the weekends. I write at home, I can’t afford to write in coffee shops or cafes (they’re too crowded nowadays, anyway—everyone’s a writer, apparently!), so I just sit on my couch in the living room with the lights dimmed, and write on my laptop while listening to music. That’s it, it’s very boring and unglamorous.

6. Which piece of writing should someone who’s never read you before pick up first?
I think they should read the novella “Her Deepness”, which is still online at Subterranean Magazine. It has a fair amount of everything I love writing: an emotionally (and often physically) tortured female protagonist who is also somewhat of an antagonist, and is in all likelihood not fully human; cosmic and geological Lovecraftian horror; vast, unnatural urban environments; unexplainable systems of logic; and—of course!—a bit of rather creepy sexual imagery.

7. What are you working on now? 
I have four short stories that are due to various places at the end of the month—one to an anthology, two original pieces for my upcoming collection Furnace (which will be out in February 2016 from Word Horde Press), and one piece of erotica for my Patreon account. All are close to completion, so it’s just a matter of keeping my butt planted on that writing couch. Letting the dishes pile up in the sink also helps. That might be why I have ants…

Monday, 28 September 2015

The Lowdown with... Robert Dunbar

ROBERT DUNBAR is the author of several novels, a collection of short fiction, and a nonfiction book about the horror genre. His stories and essays have appeared in numerous publications. For more information, visit

1. Tell us three things about yourself.
Too many people know too much already.

2. What was the first thing you had published?
Oddly enough, a novel – THE PINES. Everything else just sort of fell into place afterwards.

3. Which piece of writing are you proudest of?
WILLY. That book has touched so many people. Me it almost killed, of course.

4. …and which makes you cringe?
While quite young, I wrote several godawful plays, and kept sending them out for some obscure reason. Even more mysteriously, they were forever getting performed as workshops and showcases and studio productions. All over the damn place. What were artistic directors thinking? Understand I’m not being modest here – these scripts were horrible. Incoherent. Deranged. I sometimes think directors just wanted to get a look at me.
5. What’s a normal writing day like?
What’s normal about a writing day? It’s like induced psychosis channeled through a work ritual. I even have special/ritual clothes. Galoshes, a jockstrap, propeller beanie. Scared the hell out of the poor mailman the other day.

6. Which piece of writing should someone who’s never read you before pick up first?
I usually say MARTYRS & MONSTERS, if only because people who get my work have responded so strongly to it. And people who froth at the mouth about it? They’re likely to hate everything I do, so we should just break up now and save time.

7.  What are you working on now?
While trying to promote THE STREETS, which came out just a couple of weeks ago, I’m also building momentum on a novel tentatively titled SHUDDER. Umm… I suppose I have to tell you something about it, don’t I? Okay. Don’t hate me. It’s a vampire-zombie-apocalypse epic, because – hell – I’m a whore. (Damn, I wasn’t going to tell things about myself.) The difference with this book is that the heroes are all the sort of trash characters (my people!) who usually get killed off first in a typical horror-by-the-numbers saga. Oh, and happy endings are extra.