Thursday, June 30, 2016

 

I wanted to Remain but...


It has been a tumultuous week in British politics. I might as well state that I was a big 'Remain' voter and my side lost. It's as simple as that. I fear for the future of this country, although I am fully aware that there's no point worrying about it too much. Here is a photo of me campaigning (futilely) last week in the centre of the maelstrom...

But this blog is supposed to be about writing only. Writing and reading. I have become, in the past few weeks, a big fan of Richard Brautigan. Even at my age, I am still discovering writers new to me who enthrall and inspire.

A Facebook friend of mine asked me to put together a reading list of 'essential' books to read and I have been musing about doing so ever since. It will be a big job and I fear I will leave some important names out by accident, but I may well attempt this. Apart from Brautigan, other authors I have been enjoying this year and who I would add to such a list include V.S. Naipaul and R.K. Narayan.

I have been adding stories to The Platinum Donkey blog, where they can be read online for free. The latest addition is 'The Furious Walnuts' which I wrote 21 years ago and which is about the breakup of the UK.

My main writing project at the moment is a weird Western called "The Honeymoon Gorillas".

I am currently in the process of pitching two new books to publishers for future years. Let's see what happens. My next published book will hopefully be the updated and expanded Sangria in the Sangraal collection of linked short stories.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

 

Anthology Launch in London


Fae Visions of the Mediterranean is an anthology of stories and poems themed around the Mediterranean Sea.

I am delighted to have a piece included in this book. Published by Future Fire (long one of my favourite review sites for speculative fiction) the anthology contains a diverse selection of material. There is an official book launch next Wednesday (June 22nd) in London, which I will be attending.

It may well be the last literary event I attend in the UK, as if all goes to plan I hope to be leaving the country before too long (this depends on finances, of course).

So if you happen to be in the area, come along! Various contributors will be doing readings; and I plan to read a brand new (i.e. unpublished) story with a Mediterranean theme, as this seems a nicer idea that just reading the same piece that appears in the book itself.

The venue is The Plough in Bloomsbury (27 Museum St, London WC1A 1LH) and the event begins at 6pm.

Friday, June 03, 2016

 

Elusive Plato Returns


Twenty years ago I wrote a short novel called Elusive Plato in which I attempted to be vastly more ambitious, thematically, stylistically and metaphysically, than I had been in any of my previous work. It was my effort to move up a level and I believe I was successful. It still seems like a quantum jump.

The novel was published together with a novelette in a single volume by the long-dead Tanjen Ltd a couple of years after it was completed. Tanjen were a small press notable for publishing early work by two writers who would go on to become major successes with the big publishing houses -- Tim Lebbon and Neal Asher -- but they didn't last long before they folded. That's often the way with small presses.


Elusive Plato received excellent reviews. The late great critic and literary pundit E.F. Bleiler was especially effusive with his praise in his Encyclopedia of Supernatural Writers. He claimed it was my best work. And so it surely was. I worked hard to put original invention into it and yet at the same time to connect with some deep and mysterious, undoubtedly atavistic, parts of the human psyche.

A picaresque, like much of my fiction, the novel resembles a grotesque chess problem in which the pieces are taboos and each move leads to a situation of changed landscapes and circumstances that require further moves towards the inevitable checkmate. The mating of the king is more than symbolic. It is a geometrically precise nightmare.

I am delighted to announced that two decades after it was first conceived and executed, Elusive Plato has been republished by Bizarro Pulp Press. I feel that the Bizarro scene is a perfect home for this book. I offer my thanks to Vincenzo Bilof, my editor. The cover is by the brilliant designer Matthew Revert. The book is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US and other outlets.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

 

Fae Visions: Interview with Tostoini


The wonderful folks at The Future Fire, a literary resource that has long been one of my favourite places on the web for reviews, have put together a fascinating anthology called Fae Visions of the Mediterranean, a collection of stories and poems themed around the Mediterranean Sea. It's a great core theme for fiction and verse and I am delighted to be a part of this project. As part of the promotion for the book, a series of interviews has been conducted with various contributors to the book. I was fortunate enough to interview the artist responsible for the excellent cover.

Tostoini is someone I knew nothing about before I conducted the interview. In some ways this is a hindrance to creating an interview and in other ways it might be an advantage. Anyway, with little more ado, here are the questions and answers. Take it away Tostoini!

Tell me a little about how important art is to your life?

It is very important to me, both as a producer that as an “end user” of art. I’m an avid consumer of good stories in every form and shape. This may sound like a trite stereotype, but I wanted to be an illustrator even when I didn’t know that’s how we call this job. For a number of years I wasn’t able to find time and energy to spare for my interest in art, and this made me bitter and angry. I was lucky enough to be able to make a complete change and now art is a big part of my daily life and work. We can say that it’s in the best interest of society if I make a living with my illustrations: I’m a more likable member of the human society this way!

Are there any artists who have directly inspired you? For this work in particular or in general?

Generally speaking, I have a couple of artist that had a big influence on me, Hayao Miyazaki and Edward Gorey just to name a few. I’m a big fan of Tom Gauld, Kate Beaton and Gemma Correll. Speaking of this specific cover, when I started working I wanted to capture the feel of Fae Visions, the idea of a Mediterranean art that’s not just classical art, all marble and Corinthian pillars. There’s a common culture, a lot of influences back and forth the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. I did a bit of research on motifs from the art and crafts, like the abstract pattern of Moroccan mosaics and the figures on the ancient black and red Greek vases. We also wanted to convey the mystery of the sea, the fact that despite years of explorations we still know very little on it, and that even a small sea like the Mediterranean Sea can be as huge and hostile as the ocean, as we are tragically aware in this days.

Why images rather than words or music?

I think that’s simply because I have fun drawing. And I love all the drawing paraphernalia, I can hoard all kind of papers and colours and pens and brushes and still try to persuade myself I need every single one of them for work. Also, I can’t carry a tune to save my life, so music is out of the question.

You say that you were bitter and angry. If you were shipwrecked on an island and could only take along one flavour and one emotion, what would they be?

This is a very bizarre island. I’ll take with me umami and surprise, so I could still be able to season my food and enjoy the experience.

What does the Mediterranean mean to you, if anything?

It is home. As simple as that. I was born and raised near a port city in Sardinia. I take that sea for granted for most of my life. Then I moved away and I discovered homesickness. Now as soon as the sun start to shine in the spring I start to have a longing for the sea and I start drawing starfishes, whales, manatees, fishes, seaweeds...

What is your favourite element in the periodic table?

I have a soft spot for element 117, currently referred to as “Ununseptium”, because that’s the one that maybe is going to be labelled as Octarine. (Please International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, humour us).

Coffee or wine?

What, I’m stranded on that bizarre island again? What’s the problem with the islanders, why the urge to give up some food every time? I will keep them both, thank you.

I am sometimes incompetent. What things are you sometimes?

Absent-minded. And clumsy. Sometime both absent-minded and clumsy in the same moment. Yes, I can see the pattern.

Are there any projects you are currently working on that you would like to talk about?

I’m currently working on “Bestiarium”, a kids’ app for Art Stories, an Italian digital publisher that develop educational apps for children on art, history and heritage. It’s going to be an app on animals in ancient art and history, we are currently in the research stage and it’s so much fun. There are a lot of amazing mythological creatures around the world, so many stories and ideas. At the moment we are working on Maya civilization, Ancient Egypt and Roman Empire, to name a few. It’s going to be to be released in the fall, so I will start drawing and sketching in a few days.

You have to become a mythical creature for the remainder of your life. Which one would you choose?

I’d love to be Gamera. Or Morla from the Neverending Stories (or the Great A’Tuin, just to quote Terry Pratchett again). I thing I could be an amazing giant turtle, I have the personality for the role.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

 

My 800th Story


I have finally completed my 800th story. It has taken 27 years. And yes, this is the face of a man who has written 800 stories. If you want to know why I'm not wearing a shirt, it's because I finished writing my 800th story without a shirt on. I am just showing the moment as it was. But I can't honestly cite this photo as a realistic record, as there is a filter on the camera I was using that has smoothed out my wrinkles...

800 stories. I feel pleased with myself. Of course this doesn't paint the whole picture. I wrote many stories from a young age that were subsequently lost, so the real total is much higher than 800, but I have decided not to count the lost ones. Therefore my earliest surviving story dates from 1989 and I consider that to be story #1. A complete list can be found here.

Story number #800 is part of a new sequence of tales that will hopefully morph into a novella or even a novel. It's a weird Western and the overall title of the sequence (or novella or novel) will be The Honeymoon Gorillas. I have stated elsewhere that it's the first weird Western I have ever attempted but then I realised this isn't quite true. My novella 'The Gargantuan Legion', which forms the second section of my novel Captains Stupendous, is a Weird Western of sorts.

I have been interviewed several times in the past few months by various literary resources and websites. Why so many interviews should cluster at roughly the same time is partly a consequence of my recent book Brutal Pantomimes, which has received positive attention, and partly because I have had work accepted by numerous anthologies. Apart from the review with Weird Fiction Review, mentioned in my previous blog post, some of the other interviews are listed below:
Pan Review
The Future Fire
The Lowdown

Back to the grindstone now... But a coffee break first, I think! :-)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

 

So Much For...


So much for turning my blog into a once-monthly update of the things I have been doing! It's near the end of April already and I have neglected it again. So what have I been up to? I have got back into exercise after an extended winter hibernation, which is good, but I guess that the point of this blog, if it actually has one, is to talk about my writing projects.

I was interviewed by Weird Fiction Review back in March. It's always a pleasure to work with this particular website. I have now been interviewed many times in many different places, and I'm aware that my answers to the standard questions are not evolving over time. They are pretty much the same as they have been for the past two decades. My favourite writers haven't really changed, my tastes and aspirations remain almost identical. What does this mean? That I should deliberately attempt to be 'different' in any subsequent interviews? But that would be false.

The Platinum Donkey blogsite that features stories of mine from the entire span of my career now has 31 stories on it. I eventually plan for there to be exactly one hundred stories on the site to be read for free. I changed the name of the site from The Platinum Ass (a nod to Apuleius) because people were expecting it to be something different from what it actually is. :-)

My next two books due to be published are Elusive Plato, a short novel I wrote twenty years ago, which is being reissued by Bizarro Pulp Press soon; and the updated, expanded and corrected Sangria in the Sangraal, which will hopefully appear courtesy of Eibonvale Press later in the year. I will blog more about these when appropriate.

In the meantime I leave you with a short poem, the only poem I wrote last year. I hardly ever write poems, but I will probably write one or two this year too.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

 

Handwritten Manuscripts Offer


As mentioned in my blog post below, certain copies of Brutal Pantomimes come with a handwritten story, poem, sketch, drawing or other piece of work.

These items are allocated randomly. There are 71 of them, so it is far from guaranteed that anyone who orders a copy of the book now will receive one; but that's the nature of such offers, I guess.

The manuscripts include my first published story, 'An Ideal Vocation', written in 1991, and even one story written before that, a story I lost for 20 years, rediscovering it in a box in a cellar of a friend's house, as well as some of my most recent work and lots of stuff in between.

Some of the manuscripts are only one page long; others are many pages. Copies of my book are being sent out now, so I know already that the editor and author Maxim Jakubowski has received the handwritten version of my story 'Nowhere Near Milkwood', written in 2002; and that was one of the longer texts. There are some even longer.

I have prepared a short text to explain the provenance of each piece to the readers who get one. There is also the manuscript of 'Corsets on the Outside', a story that actually appears for the first time in my new book.

BRUTAL PANTOMIMES can be ordered from Egaeus Press.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

 

Brutal Pantomimes


My new book has just been published. It's a beautiful looking hardback from the wonderful Egaeus Press, a collection that consists of seven short stories, two novelettes and one novella. The novella is 'The Impossible Inferno' which was my 500th tale, one that I strove hard to make especially notable. I am extremely pleased with this volume. It just feels right. The publisher's blurb declares:

"Brutal Pantomimes contains ten tales of absurd exoticism, weird adventure and wild fantasy from the shockingly prolific and highly acclaimed Rhys Hughes. Most of the stories, novellettes and novella included have not previously been published and some are regarded by their author to be amongst his best works. Enjoy pirate shenanigans, a globe of the Earth that is a voodoo doll, the dubious gifts of a Greek god, impossible angles, improbable sciences, impractical philosophies, a rare tropical yeti in a submarine and so much more."

I am delighted that the amazing author Michael Cisco wrote an introduction for my book.

Following the example of what happened when my Tallest Stories was published three years ago, I have collected together handwritten manuscripts of stories and poems, drawings, sketches and other material, as well as some ultra-rare chapbooks, to be given randomly to people who order my book. These special items total 71 in number and I prepared a document describing the provenance of them all. This document can be accessed by clicking on this link.

BRUTAL PANTOMIMES can be ordered directly from the publisher here.

I thank you for listening!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

 

Back to the Blog


This is the longest pause I've ever had in updating my blog. I haven't written a new entry since September. I felt that people were losing interest in blogs. Social media (Facebook etc) seemed to be taking over most of the functions of the old fashioned blog. Nonetheless it occurs to me that it will be nice to keep updating my blog anyway, less often perhaps; once a month maybe. Each entry can then be a review of the month as a whole.

2015 has been a very interesting year. An excellent year, in fact. It started off with a bang and many great things happened as it progressed. I started with a trip to Serbia, Macedonia and Greece. In Skopje I met the most excellent Brankica Bozinovska, who created the covers for two of my books, Flash in the Pantheon and Thirty Tributes to Calvino, as well as several ebooks. I have known Brankica for many years but this was the first time we had an opportunity to spend time together. She was kind enough to drive me right across Macedonia and over the Greek border one cold but bright day and that was a fine adventure.

As for book publications, I had three books released. Orpheus on the Underground (Tartarus Press), the aforementioned Thirty Tributes to Calvino (Gloomy Seahorse Press); and a collection of absurdist tales called Mirrors in the Deluge (Elsewhen Press) that I am extremely proud of, but which failed commercially. I urge anyone who likes my writing and who hasn't yet obtained this book to do so, both to support the excellent publisher and also to reaffirm my belief that absurdism isn't dead yet... Many of my out-of-print or difficult-to-obtain books also became ebooks this year; I especially recommend The Lunar Tickle.

It was a fine reading year too. According to Goodreads (where I list all the books I have read in a year) I read 42 books. Of these, the best were:
The White Hotel -- D.M. Thomas
Farewell Waltz -- Milan Kundera
Night Flight -- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Elephant -- Sławomir Mrożek
Tortilla Flat -- John Steinbeck
Short Stories 1921-1946 -- Bertolt Brecht
Voices Made Night -- Mia Couto
The Invention of Morel -- Adolfo Bioy Casares
The Foundation Pit -- Andrey Platonov.
As can be seen, the joint 'winners' were the Platonov and the Saint-Exupéry. If pushed, I would say the former was more monumental and catastrophic in terms of philosophical, political and historical significance; but the latter was more to my particular taste and more purely enjoyable.

I wrote a total of 29 stories this year. My rate of production dropped sharply. Back in 2010 I managed to write 240,000 words of fiction in one year; in 2015 I only managed 70,000. But I am permitted to slow down at this stage. I have reached number #782 in my stated aim of writing exactly 1000 stories. It all seems to fit in with the plan. And I sold several new books to publishers for next year and the years after.

I am going to be writing more non-fiction from the beginning of 2016 and afterwards. I always knew that one day I would start writing essays and articles properly, I just wasn't sure when this would happen. Of course I have written lots of non-fiction in the past but I never took it very seriously. That's going to change. One day, when I have finished my grand cycle of stories I will probably transmute entirely into a non-fiction writer. Anyway, the first project of this new phase will be a critical essay on Andrey Platonov's 1931 novel The Foundation Pit (see above).

Health and fitness: I ran my first 10K without stopping, something I have wanted to do for many years. I got into weights seriously. Dancing and drumming also helped, being good exercise in their own right. I continued to play the drums every Sunday night in a Latin music club, and the styles of certain dances, such as kuduro, became more energetic than previously.

I met some amazing people as a result of all these activities. I had lots of walking trips in West Wales too; but I only managed to go climbing once, and that needs to change next year.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

 

Salsa Birthday Party


It was my birthday recently. At salsa I was given the customary 'celebrant in the centre' treatment, which entailed dancing with as many ladies as possible, one after the other. These photos are a small selection. I still played the drums, of course, and I do believe I am getting better.

I am exactly the same age as my friend Tseng Lan Hui but she is 50 years old and I am 49 years old. I think this confused people at salsa who gave me a birthday card that said HAPPY 50TH BIRTHDAY.

I was, however, delighted by the gesture. The reason why Lan is a year older than me even though we are exactly the same age is because for Chinese people the custom is to count the time in the womb, which means they are one year old after a couple of months.

Lan is a couple of months older than me. This means she is exactly a year older than me despite the fact we were born in the same year and are both Fire Horses! In other words we are exactly the same and completely different at the same time!

There have been long nights on the beach watching the lunar eclipse (my first total lunar eclipse from start to finish) and stunning sunsets and 'conventional' but still beautiful moonrises. The moon last night was a tomato in the sky, then it was an orange, then a grapefruit, then a metaphor, then it was like a simile, then like some other comparison, then finally it was like itself, the moon.

Life is good. My writing has perhaps suffered in terms of output; but I am really pleased with what I am producing, and I have signed contracts for four new books. One of these I have just delivered, a collection of strange stories that may (or may not) be entitled Brutal Pantomimes when it comes out (if it does come out) next year.

I have also been working on adjusting the contents of my forthcoming collection of tribute stories to authors I admire, The Senile Pagodas. I thought the project was finished, but I have recently completed a tribute to Nathaniel Hawthorne (a 'Tanglewood Tale') and I am working on one to Ryūnosuke Akutagawa. I hope that both new stories will find their way into the finished volume.

Akutagawa is a writer who has had a big influence on me during my working life. And now I have discovered a Chinese equivalent: Xu Lun. Perhaps I will end up writing a tribute story to him too and adding it to this collection. I am beginning to feel sorry for my publisher!

Once again I want to plug the longest single author short-story collection ever...

I know I have plugged this many times already but it's equivalent to a dozen ordinary collections, so I feel I am allowed to do so. It is The Million Word Storybook, available in two editions. The so-called female edition can be obtained from Amazon here.

At some point I want to discuss religion. Perhaps Faith would be a better word. But not today.

Friday, September 18, 2015

 

What I Look Like


What I look like... It changes depending on whether I have a beard and am clean shaven, whether I am wearing a suit or dressed in more casual clothes, whether I have had a haircut or not. Even the weather has an effect. But this is how I am currently looking.

Therefore when I meet a friend off the train tomorrow morning, there will be no risk of my friend greeting the wrong person by mistake; because I am sending to my friend a link to this blog post.

Two days ago I cycled 50 KM, up to Ystradgynlais and back. This has nothing to do with anything really. I recently signed contracts for four new books and have delivered one of them. I am working on the others now.

Summer is coming to an end and that is rather sad but today was a nice day. I plan to make the most of what sunshine is left.



Tuesday, September 01, 2015

 

THE MILLION WORD STORYBOOK


The longest single author short-story collection in publishing history is now available as an ebook!

In fact it is available as two ebooks, because it comes in two different editions, male and female, that differ in 10% of their contents. This is a trick that I picked up from Milorad Pavić, whose Dictionary of the Khazars also comes in male and female editions.

People keep asking me how I selected the variant stories for the two editions. The fact of the matter is that there is no rhyme or reason to the selection. I am not trying to make a point about differing male and female tastes in fiction. Quite the contrary! The differences are surely there but also insignificant.

As incredible as it sounds, there may actually be a print version next year. A publisher who has already issued a couple of my books is interested in bringing out a strictly limited multi-volume edition. It remains to be seen how practical this venture will turn out to be...

In the meantime here is the collection for the Kindle. THE MILLION WORD STORYBOOK features exactly 365 stories, one every day for an entire year. If you follow the link and click on 'Look Inside' you can read a sample for free. The book is so long that the sample, which is a certain percentage of the digital book, already contains 54 stories.

Links to purchase this ebook can be found below...

Amazon US -- Female Edition
Amazon US -- Male Edition

Amazon UK -- Female Edition
Amazon UK -- Male Edition

This collection contains approximately one third of my total fiction output over the past 25 years. The stories are presented in chronological order of their composition. The earliest dates from 1990 and the latest dates from this year 2015 and in fact is one of my most recently completed tales. As I plan to write 1000 stories in my working life, this collection will contain one quarter of my entire output ever!

I believe that this is a major literary event. Well, at the very least, it is a major personal event for myself and for the writer that I am and have been all my life...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

 

Pre-Order the Million Word Storybook



The longest single author collection in publishing history is now available for pre-order. It can be ordered from the various Amazon locations in various countries. The British Amazon locations for this book are here or here.

Why two locations for one book? This is because The Million Word Storybook comes in two editions, Male and Female. They differ in approximately 10% of their contents. This is (I could argue) because men and women are almost the same but not quite.

I am often asked how I selected the material for inclusion in the two editions. The answer is that I did it randomly. There is no deep meaning behind the 'male' and 'female' tags, no attempt to put more action stories in the former edition and more romantic tales in the latter. Nothing like that at all. I just wanted to be like Milorad Pavić, still one of my favourite ever authors, whose Dictionary of the Khazars also comes in a male and female edition. Those editions differ by a single paragraph; but that paragraph makes a big difference to the story (supposedly).

The ebook will be launched on September 1st. It represents about one third of all the fiction I have written in the past 25 years, and one quarter of all the fiction I will ever write (if I stick to my plan of writing 1000 stories and no more).

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

 

After the Lacuna


I think that this is the longest pause between blog updates since I started this blog almost 11 years ago. I do feel that the day of the blog is coming to an end; or rather, that they aren't as fervently read as they once were. We will soon be saying that the phenomenon of the blog was a craze, a fad, just like the yo-yo, hula hoop, space dust and skateboards. Those things haven't gone away; they just no longer enjoy universal appeal with a touch of hysteria about it. The bicycle clearly was a fad back in the 1890s. Many stories I have read from the era attest to this. H.G. Wells' early novel The Wheels of Chance is based on the fact that cycling had suddenly become almost a necessary pastime for all classes of people. It stopped being a fad but the bicycle still exists and is still the most wonderful means of transport.

Anyway, there is plenty to talk about, but I shall restrict myself to brief snippets plucked at random. It was the birthday party of my friend Tseng Lan Hui and I helped to organize her party. Lots of music, dancing, food and drink in a village hall near Tenby. There have been less beach parties this year, but I hope there will be at least one or two more before our summer comes to an end. People often assume that I mix with other writers, but generally I don't. My friends tend to come from other walks of life and the answer as to why this should be so is simple. I spend so much of my time thinking about literature and writing, about ideas for stories, about style and plots, that when I want to relax I really don't want to think about this subject, about literature. I crave stimulation from other sources.


I have been busy attempting to make my entire back catalog of books available as ebooks. It has taken a lot of work. Nowhere Near Milk Wood has been added to the list; Twisthorn Bellow also; The Crystal Cosmos... and quite soon I will be in a position to release what is surely the longest single author collection in publishing history, The Million Word Storybook. This will appear in two editions, male and female, that will differ in approximately 10% of their material. The male/female trick is something I learned from Milorad Pavić, still one of my favourite authors. I have also just signed a contract for two new books for a very interesting press; and I am putting together two other books for publishers. The fruits of these particular labours should be ready to sample next year and the year after.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

 

The Percolated History of Infamous Stars




I have been busy turning my back catalogue into ebooks. Twelve years after it first appeared as a paperback, my first published novel THE PERCOLATED STARS has just been released as an ebook. Candidly I regard this novel as one of the best, if not the best, thing I have ever done. It has become a cult book since it was first issued. It's partly about what happens when the vacuum of outer space turns into espresso coffee and galaxies become the swirl of cream on top...


Also just released is the ebook edition of my most successful book, A NEW UNIVERSAL HISTORY OF INFAMY, published in hardback in the USA in 2004 by Night Shade Books with a foreword by John Clute, and subsequently translated into Spanish, Portuguese and Greek thanks to the mighty efforts of Luis Garcia Prado, Pedro Piedade Marques and Achilleas Kyriakidis. This book is a tribute to the genius of Borges.

Friday, July 03, 2015

 

Risingshadow Interview


I was recently interviewed about my work by a Finnish journalist for the speculative fiction website Risingshadow. The interview has just gone up and here it is.

Interview with Rhys Hughes

I have been interviewed many times in the past 15 years or so. When it comes to talking about my favourite writers, I find that nothing much has changed in a long time... Italo Calvino, Stanislaw Lem, Flann O'Brien, Boris Vian and a few others remain my favourites.

Nonetheless I enjoyed answering the questions that were put to me by the interviewer.

Monday, June 22, 2015

 

Brothel Creeper Ebook


The ebook edition of my collection of darkly speculative stories The Brothel Creeper is now be available, four years after the print edition was issued. It can be found on Amazon here.

The original contents list included a story entitled 'Casimir the Converter', an unusual tropical vampire tale. This story is now included in my recent collection from Hippocampus Press, Bone Idle in the Charnel House.

I have therefore removed that particular story from this ebook edition and replaced it with a story that was featured as a bonus in the limited edition hardback edition. This story is 'Cracking Nuts with Jan Hammer'.

I am extremely proud of some of the stories to be found in this book. In particular, 'The Cuckoos of Bliss', 'One's a Crowd', 'Southbound Satin' and many others, especially the final story, 'The Quims of Itapetinga'.

This is a collection of twenty speculative dark fantasy stories that received some tremendous reviews when it was first published. For instance, this one.

The title of this book refers to three linked stories inside the collection, namely 'One Man's Meat'. 'Mah Jong Breath' and 'The Small Miracle', all of them part of the same story-cycle.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

 

Salsa


Just a very brief blog post to mention the fact that my love of salsa (and related styles such as rueda) shows no signs of abating.

There's a saying -- that I just invented -- which goes "don't put all your salsa ladies into one basket." This will only make sense to someone who knows what a 'basket turn' is. It's the turn that is here being demonstrated with the magnificent Tseng Lan Hui.

I am wondering if the heyday of the blog is coming to an end? People seem to interact with each other using social media much more than through blogs, although links to blogs are often posted on Facebook and other such sites.

Here is a new review of my most recent book that has just appeared in Starburst magazine. This year my writing output has dropped again but it doesn't really bother me. Literary activity goes in waves. The final wave will be to wave farewell but I'm not there yet...

I am in the process of putting together two new collections that will hopefully appear next year. And I really really really need to get back to some half-completed longer projects that have been hanging around far too long.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

 

Two PDF files.


I just sent a PDF file of (what I personally regard as) one of my best stories to a reader. BOTTLED LOVE STORY is a novella I wrote last year. If anyone else wants a PDF of this book please let me know. A donation of one euro is suggested but is by no means mandatory! I will send you the document anyway.

"Love can't be bottled but it might arrive in a bottle... Love is a game like chess but with smiles, winks, laughs and kisses for pieces... Love is a problem. Is there a solution? Join the woman who has no need for romance and the sailor from another age as they simultaneously attempt to accept and avoid the designs of destiny."

In the same spirit, my one and only poetry collection THE GLOOMY SEAHORSE is available as a PDF for anyone who wants it. A donation of one euro for this book is also suggested. It was published early last year. Just ask if you want one. I don't write poetry very often these days but I did when I was younger and most of the poems in this book are more than 20 years old.

"A book of poetry by Rhys Hughes with more than seventy poems selected from the past twenty years of his writing career and divided into four approximate categories: absurdism, mystical, science fiction and lovey-dovey, followed by an afterword."

Contact me here or at the following email address if you are interested: rhysaurus@gmail.com

Or make a donation using the Paypal button below:


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

 

New Look


My friend Joy thought I should ditch the dark colours and start walking around like this instead. I am happy to do what a woman tells me to do (when it comes to clothes and maybe one or two other things) but I wanted to know if there were any dissenting opinions among my friends. So I posted this photo on Facebook and asked for feedback.

I had a diversity of views in return. Some people liked it and some didn't. The shoes were almost universally popular, but not the jacket and shirt. However, the writer Samuel Delany gave a positive response to the full attire. "It looks dashing," he said. Delany is one of my favourite ever authors. I am currently reading his Stars in my Pockets like Grains of Sand and enjoying it immensely. If Delany approves, then that settles the matter as far as I'm concerned.

One curious thing: my friend Joy is African and all my African friends liked the colours. But my Western friends were less convinced. I lack enough data to make any kind of theory from this, but it's interesting anyway.

Friday, May 22, 2015

 

More Mirrors


More promotion for my latest book. The first review has just come in, courtesy of the Risingshadow website.

I am also extremely pleased that Michael Bishop and John Clute have already received their copies and hope to review it in the near future.

This photo shows me reading a copy of MIRRORS IN THE DELUGE while standing in front of a MIRRORS IN THE DELUGE poster and drinking coffee from a MIRRORS IN THE DELUGE mug while wearing a MIRRORS IN THE DELUGE shirt... All courtesy of the excellent Elsewhen Press... The image has been mirrored.

With luck there will be a small event in Cosmo restauarant on Sunday evening to mark the publication of this book. If you happen to be in the Swansea area drop me a line and come along! The stories in this book are the kind I most enjoy writing. Therefore the existence of this book is especially thrilling to me.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

 

Reflections in the Rain


My new book was published yesterday! I am extremely delighted with this one. 32 quirky tales of unusual fantasy, philosophical satire, ironic adventure and logical daftness... The official launch date is actually next month but my author's copies are already in my hands. I am working on preparing an official launch event soon. It will be a party of some kind.

Review copies have been sent out and have reached most of the reviewers. I have high hopes for this collection, but of course what I like isn't always what the reading public like. In fact it is frequently at odds. No matter. I write the kinds of books I most enjoy reading and ultimately that's all that really matters.

Ordering information will be provided very soon. I have just added this title to my Aardvark Caesar blog here.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

 

Green Mirrored Mansions


Today is the day of the General Election. I just voted for the Green Party. If we are ever overrun with owls, go sue me!

My amazing publishers at Elsewhen Press just sent me a box of coffee mugs emblazoned with the cover of my next book. These guys have treated me very well indeed and I hope my book is successful because I want them to take another book of mine for next year. The paperback is due to be published early next month, but in the meantime the ebook edition is available from Amazon and other online booksellers. For example, in the UK it can be obtained here.

Mirrors in the Deluge is one of my personal favourites of all my collections. It contains 32 stories in which I tried to explore various lateral directions in developing ideas and concepts. In this sense it is akin to an earlier collection of mine, The Just Not So Stories, but I feel that the guys at Elsewhen Press are more serious and professional about promoting their authors and books. I have been impressed with everything they have done so far. A book launch is currently being arranged.

Friday, May 01, 2015

 

The Permissive Path


I have always wondered which path in life I was on. I always suspected it was this one and now I know for sure it is!

A brief hiking trip was cut short because it was simply too cold the first night to tolerate the idea of spending subsequent nights under canvas. Am I becoming soft in my old age? I don't think so.

I am seriously planning to walk the GR20 this year, from one side of Corsica to another over the mountains in the middle; something I have been thinking about doing for many years.

Brief writing news: I am extremely pleased to say that the story I wrote for the forthcoming anthology of 'Jack the Ripper' tales has just been accepted by the editor Maxim Jakubowski. This is a story I carried in my head as an idea for a long time but left until the last moment to actually put down on paper. In fact I spent the entire night before the deadline day writing it, finally submitting it at 11.55 am the following morning. The deadline was noon, so I made it with five minutes to spare! The anthology will be published by Little, Brown in the UK, who publish J.K. Rowling among many others (one of those many others, somewhat bizarrely, is the funkmaster Nile Rodgers).

There is lots of other writing news, but I have become wary about announcing things prematurely. I have acquired this wariness through the experience that comes with the passing years. After all, I am no spring chicken. I am a summer pterodactyl.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

 

Sensorama


The new Eibonvale anthology devoted to fictional explorations of the five senses arrived for me today. SENSORAMA contains my story 'The Taste of Turtle Tears' and work by lots of other writers.

David Rix of Eibonvale always creates great books and he is getting better and better in terms of design and artwork. His volumes are unique and carefully created artefacts and it is always a pleasure and honour to be published by him. The editor of this anthology was Allen Ashley.

It can be purchased from the usual places or directly from the publisher here. I always recommend that readers purchase directly from publishers, but they rarely do, of course.

Eibonvale will soon be bringing out the second (and expanded) edition of my story collection Sangria in the Sangraal.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

 

Drums in the Night


The world is a serious place. Serious things happen in it. Often I grow tired of serious things and wish to be frivolous and happy. But frivolity and happiness require work, lots of it, and there are in fact few things that require more dedication than joy. This dedication may be the simple but challenging willingness to embrace the moment fully, to lose oneself in the now, the old Zen ideal of eternity-within-transience.

Climbing achieves this state for me. So does running and dancing. Drumming also, at least after the initial self-conscious phase has passed. Then it becomes a form of active meditation, a trance condition where it seems that the drums are playing the player, or at least playing themselves.

This picture shows me drumming with my good friend, the always excellent Tseng Lan Hui. Although bongo fury is fun, I soon think it will be time for a darbuka and belly dancers...

Saturday, April 11, 2015

 

Ice Cream Interlude


I was going to write a blog post about racism in the writing world (specifically in the weird writing world) because of recent incidents that have served to focus attention on the distasteful subject again, but I have decided to leave it for next time. I am just not in the mood right now to handle such serious subject matter.

I will therefore instead simply report that I finally got back into climbing a few days ago after too long a break. I also went for my first ice cream of the year. More importantly, I am dating an extremely nice lady and that seems to be going well. My writing is also going well, albeit slowly. I have just finished my 763rd story, which was written specifically for a 'Mammoth Book' anthology. The deadline was today, so I wrote it overnight and submitted it about half an hour ago. If I was more efficient, it would have been written months ago, because it has been in my head for ages.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

 

Naked Tree Climb


The 'naked tree climb' charity project devised by my good friend Tseng Lan Hui required a preliminary investigation into the feasibility of making a successful picture from such an unconventional endeavour.

My first attempt at night with lanterns yielded generally unsatisfactory results (of which this photo is only one of many).

However, I learned a couple of useful things: (a) it is possible to climb a tree naked even at night in March without freezing, (b) wearing shoes while doing so is detrimental to the overall visual effect.

A second and superior attempt, taking into account what has been learned, with better equipment and positioning, will be conducted two weeks from now at sunrise...

Friday, March 27, 2015

 

Postmodern Mariner Ebook


It was published seven years ago and has been out of print almost as long, but finally THE POSTMODERN MARINER is now available as an ebook. I have added a bonus story ('Eight Blathering Buccaneers') that wasn't in the original book. One of the other stories, the novella 'Rommel Cobra's Swimming Carnival', is one of the best things I've ever written, in my view...

The first story in this book, 'Castor on Troubled Waters', has been published far and wide. It appeared in the successful anthology of pirate stories FAST SHIPS, BLACK SAILS and has been released as an audio podcast on two different sites including PodCastle. And yet the book itself wasn't particularly successful.

So finally I am pleased that it now has the opportunity to reach a wider audience. It is available on the UK Amazon here and on the US Amazon here. I do need to point out, however, that the first third of this book is the same as the first third of my book THE TRUTH SPINNER, so if you have that other book you probably don't need to get this...

Thursday, March 19, 2015

 

You Too Can be a Moon!


I read recently that you can turn yourself into a moon by taking your selfies through a cardboard tube, so I decided to give it a go. Here is the result. It reminds me of a certain ebook cover...

It seems that one of my ebooks published back in 2012 has recently been featured in The Guardian and elsewhere as an example of an ebook with a "bad cover". Personally I think the cover is just right for the stories in the collection, which are quirky, daft and absurd.

Young Tales from the Old Cosmos is a set of linked stories about sentient moons, planets, stars and galaxies. It was inspired by something Umberto Eco said in his essay 'How I Write' (from his collection On Literature) about how he once started writing a series of stories called 'Ancient Stories of the Young Universe' in which the planets of our solar system were living beings. Venus falls in love with the sun, for example, and throws herself into his embrace with tragic results.

They say that "all publicity is good publicity" and although I have never been convinced by this dictum it seems worthwhile to mention that my ebook is still available on Amazon and elsewhere and can be bought for the extremely reasonable sum of £0.99 in the UK and $1.47 in the USA.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

 

My Name in Flowers


I decided to write my own name in camellias. Call this narcissistic if you like. And then rub your hands in glee and feel very pleased to the point of self love that you have outed a narcissist!

It does feel that spring is coming at long last! I desperately need sunlight to power my mind and body and enable me to make the changes I want to make in my life.

It has been an interesting week or so. An excellent cultural week including all night dancing (I was exhausted), cinema, Italian food, discovery of brilliant writers unknown to me (Rubén Darío) and more.

I am progressing with my scheme of turning most of my out of print books from years ago into readily available and low cost ebooks. The next one will probably be The Postmodern Mariner. Soon I will also resume work on my gigantic collection of stories that totals one million words. It is such a daunting task to face that I have been putting it off, but it can't be put off forever!

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

 

Mirrors in the Deluge


One isn't supposed to show blatant favoritism, but I can't help feeling especially proud of my new book. Publication of Mirrors in the Deluge is imminent and I am delighted. I am overjoyed to the point where I would urge any readers new to my work to choose this collection first; as a gateway to my work as a whole it is ideal. The stories are lighthearted, satirical but upbeat, wistful but fiery. At least I believe that they contain such contradictory elements within themselves.

The publisher is Elsewhen Press, who specialise in speculative fiction of many different kinds. They have already issued a number of extremely interesting books and I am privileged to be associated with them. They have treated me extremely well, with efficiency and care. In the writing world this is not always the case. I have nothing but admiration and respect for them.

So now that I have recommended both the book and the publisher, I can say that the ebook is available to be ordered right now. It can be found on the Amazon UK site here. It is also available on all other Amazon sites, on Kobo, Google Play, and elsewhere. The paperback will be published in June. The cover was designed by Alison Buck.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

 

Tallest Stories & Eyelidiad Ebooks


Two books of mine that have hitherto only been available in hardback and paperback are now finally also available in ebook editions.

Twenty years after it was written and nineteen years after it was published, my second ever book (which has been out of print for a decade and a half) is finally available as an ebook. EYELIDIAD tells the story of a highwayman who carries on his back a portrait of his younger self that happens to be alive, and the adventures they have together...

As for TALLEST STORIES I have always regarded it with special affection. Indeed I often say that it is my "best book". Whether this is true or not isn't really for me to judge, but certainly I can state that it represents me as a writer more fully than any other of my books, because it is a microcosm of everything I hope to achieve: a set of linked story-cycles that are controlled by various framing devices, each of which is controlled by a larger framing device.

I am delighted that these two books will now reach a wider audience. Tallest Stories exists as an ebook thanks to the generosity of David Rix of Eibonvale who allowed me to issue it as a joint venture between his company and mine.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

 

Thirty Tributes to Calvino


I am delighted to officially announce the publication of my book Thirty Tributes to Calvino, a collection of stories inspired and influenced by the great Italian author.

"Paradoxical and philosophical fables; impossible cartographies and labyrinths of the mind and heart; towers that stretch across the universe; men who set sail on domestic oceans; the opinions and hopes of the sun; sentient geometries; games with gravity and planets; metafiction and wordplay; recursion and exploration; the perplexities of logic and desire."

A couple of years ago I produced an ebook called Ten Tributes to Calvino. It was suggested to me that I expand the book and I agreed to do so. In fact, that ebook contains a few stories that aren't in this new book; but this new book is a more refined and (to my mind at least) satisfying "thank you" to my favourite writer.

The cover is by the divine Brankica Bozinovska and the book is dedicated to her...

It is available from Amazon and elsewhere right now, in both paperback form and as an ebook. The paperback and ebook differ in one story, a tale called 'The Broom Cupboard of Crossed Destinies', a collaboration I wrote with D.F. Lewis back in 1996. It's a story that uses pictures of Tarot Cards as essential to an understanding of the text, and the challenge of formatting these images for an ebook proved too much for me. In the ebook edition I have replaced this tale with an alternative.

Talking about D.F. Lewis, that gentleman has just completed one of his 'real time' reviews of this collection and I am delighted to report that his final judgment is, "I assess that this book could well be this author’s greatest book. Well, my own jury is out, sitting in the February gloom of my garden, like a secret guild, beyond my earshot. The book certainly is highly representative of his best work as well as his rare worst. And as a tribute to Italo Calvino, fans of that writer will, I am sure, appreciate this book greatly. Yet, even here, Rhys Hughes stands distinct as the strangest and uniquest writer I know. And Calvino would not have had it any other way, I guess."

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

 

Party Time!


Over the weekend I went to two parties in two days. I don't actually go to parties very often, so this was a nice change for me.

The first was to celebrate the birthday of the amazing Kseniya Gomzjakova, a lady with a huge heart who is just a very lovely person. She made no fewer than 25 special dishes for her party. But I must remember that a party with Russians and Latvians will involve endless toasts of vodka! I drank an incredible amount that night, but the quality was so pure there was almost no hangover the following morning.

This photo shows Kseniya (on the right) with her friends Inga and Inese. As I have said in previous blog posts, Kseniya is an extremely fascinating person in so many ways. Her beauty is not just in her outer form (she is indeed extremely beautiful) but inside too, in her mind and soul. I dedicated the second edition of my Journeys Beyond Advice book to her.

The following night I travelled to Tenby with Amira to stay with the awesome Tseng Lan Hui, a kind and generous lady who always inspires me with the strength of her character. She owns a guest house and it was a wonderful experience to have the opportunity of exploring Tenby at night. It is one of the most appealing towns in Wales.

As on the previous night, there was an astounding array of food available. After the food it was time for dancing! This photo shows just some of the people who were there. Most of them I know through salsa classes.

I am lucky to know special people in my life who always prevent me from being cynical about the human race. Lan is definitely one of these and I have dedicated my forthcoming book Mirrors in the Deluge to her. This blog post proves that even when writing about parties, food and dancing, I can still mention books somehow...

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