My short story appearances are rare, but this meagre output is something I decided to address early last year. Previously, whatever time I have had to write has gone into writing novels. But despite the trickle of short fiction over the last twelve years, I now sense two strands casually emerging from my limited short fiction output (seven stories thus far, and two more to come in 2010). A pattern, in fact, that was never deliberate. In one strand of storytelling, that seems to emerge as a less conscious level seems to take over, I most often explores powerlessness. In the second strand, an investigation of living with strangers, or inhabiting curious places, seems to dominate. And the two strands often now converge.
In the first instance, Ramsey Campbell noted in ‘Mothers Milk’ (my first weird tale published in Gathering the Bones , of which Ramsey was one of the editors), that my story possessed “the texture of a nightmare”. I don’t think I’ve ever had a compliment that thrilled me more. And it’s the idea of being stuck in an almost nonsensical, but macabre dream, and the attendant confusion and terror of such a state that appeals to me creatively. These stories always feature anthropomorphic imagery, that may or may not be a surrealist depiction of something that has actually haunted me in the real world. The second theme I have happened upon, is struck more from ‘the life’. And as an inveterate transient (who has moved more times than it makes sense to in any one lifetime), my imagination does invest itself into situations, characters, and scenarios that represent displacement, or original occupants, or exile, or the dreadful routines, habits and the inevitable compromise that comes from a cohabitation with strangers. The places I have lived provide much material.
Out in recent weeks are two of my new weird tales, each penned last year:
‘To Forget or Be Forgotten’ in Exotic Gothic 3: Strange Visitations, Ed. Danel Olson, Pub: Ash Tree Press (my first appearance in that great press and torch bearer).
The second is ‘Estrus’ published in Raw Terror, Ed Ian Hunter, Pub: Raw Terror
I’d say each of these tales is plucked wriggling from the persistent themes of cohabitation and of strange locations. Of late, they’ve been on my mind again.