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...

Thursday, February 05, 2015

 

Dancing with my Muse


I have lots of writing news, but in the meantime it's important for anyone who considers themselves an author to spend time dancing with their muse. Here I am dancing with mine, the glorious Amira. She is as beautiful as always, but I look like something that lives in the forest. I can't help but think of Cocteau's La Belle et la Bête. Ah well! Even a yeti must have fun at times...

Valentine's Day is coming up soon, so I will take this opportunity to plug my Bottled Love Story novelette again. It's about a woman named Amira and her adventures in this world and in another; and candidly it's one of the best things I have ever written, if not the best. It only exists as a realbook because the formatting (of the pictures and typographical tricks) was too tricky to turn it into an ebook; but if you want a PDF of the text then let me know and I will email you one.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

 

Aardvark Update


I have just updated my Aardvark Caesar blogsite, which contains information about all the books I have published so far. I have added Bone Idle in the Charnel House and Orpheus on the Underground and there is a surprise there too, something I am going to announce officially soon but not yet; so consider this to be an unofficial announcement...

Orpheus on the Underground is now available as an ebook as well as a beautiful deluxe print version.

I have also added another story to my Platinum Ass blogsite, where I hope to one day present exactly 100 of my stories online to be read for free. There are now 21 available. The story I have just added, 'The Mirror in the Looking Glass', is one of my most popular ever.

The year has got off to a very good start in many ways, including writing and publishing.

Friday, January 23, 2015

 

Brankica Bozinovska


I have a scientific and engineering background and yet I believe in non-specified energies. Some places and people seem to be focal points for these energies, which may or may not be real physical forces. But even if they are purely psychological, projections of my own mood, they are still real. That's all that matters to me. Another word for these energies is 'magic'.

There is a lady who lives in Skopje who brims with magic. Like the reflection of golden sunlight on the still waters of a deep lake, she radiates beauty, power and serenity. Her personality sparkles. She is warm, generous, sweet, mischievous, kind, exciting, intelligent, talented, magnificent.

It's a terrible thing to confess, but I am not in awe of many people in this world. I have met few people who have made me feel that I ought to be a lot more humble than I am. But they do exist and Brankica is one of them, the best and brightest.

Spending time with her in Macedonia was an experience that had an unexpected and profound effect on me. I will tell anyone who listens what a lovely lady she is, but she is much more than that. Her heart and soul are so big that they encompassed me the moment I approached her and in fact they encompass the world. Her compassion is truly moving.

And yet it is her strength that is most impressive to me. Her character is heroic and yet undemonstrative. I might have felt feeble and inadequate in her presence, but she inspired me, enthused me, left me convinced that here was the perfect exemplar of an indomitable human spirit.

We disagreed on how long we have known each other. I thought it was no more than eight years, but she insists it is more than ten. The two photos on this blog entry show her as she was in 2007 and how she is now.

Because I am fond of the process of Tuckerization, I have used her as a character in many stories, most notably and extensively in my (as yet unpublished) novel The Pilgrim's Regress. She will continue to appear as a character in many forthcoming works.

She also creates delightful art and she designed the cover for my collection of flash fiction Flash in the Pantheon, and I will be using her art to create the cover of my next book, Thirty Tributes to Calvino, which will be dedicated to her.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

 

Serbia and Macedonia


I have just returned from an inspiring trip to Serbia and Macedonia. It was more than inspiring, it was possibly life-changing. More of that in due course... I flew from Luton Airport to Belgrade to meet Amira, who was there for the Eastern Orthodox Christmas (which is later than ours). She gave me a tour of the city. A remarkable place, a city that is clearly at the focal point of some kind of magic. Hard to define it more clearly than that. We went dancing in the evening. It's a party city.

I walked around on my own too, wandering at random, chancing upon some bombed buildings from the 1999 war. It is a curious irony that if my country hadn't gone to war with her country, I would never have met her. After only a couple of days I caught the night train to Skopje, a ten hour journey through a landscape of snow and ice. I shared a sleeper compartment with an affable Greek named Panos who shared his bottle of spirits and told me anecdotes about his life.

It had been cold in Belgrade but Macedonia was colder. Minus 10 centigrade at night. I got off the train at 5 AM and wandered an almost deserted city that resembled something from a surreal film set. Statues, hundreds of them, of all sizes, confronted me everywhere I went. Such grandiose monuments, all seemingly piled on top of each other! I found a wonderful hostel, one of the best I have ever stayed in (and it really was so good that I feel I have to recommend it here in public). Then I went off to meet Brankica at the designated rendezvous point.

What can I say about her? My next blog post will just be about her. She is absolutely one of the most remarkable people I have ever had the privilege of knowing in this life of mine. She gave me a tour of the city and we went for a delicious meal in the old bazaar. I had only planned on staying in Skopje for one day before going south, but I couldn't tear myself away from this amazing place. Leaving was a wrench to the heart. Brankica drove me to Greece through a landscape of mountains and mist in the light of the early sun. We spent a day in Thessaloniki.

I flew home with the certainty that I would return soon. I have to return. I still feel that I am flying high over the clouds, the mountains, the sea...

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

 

Orpheus on the Underground


I am leaving for Serbia two days from now. That's the plan anyway. Plans can go wrong because of circumstances. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

In the meantime I am absolutely delighted to announce the publication of my new book! ORPHEUS ON THE UNDERGROUND from Tartarus Press is a collection of weird phantasmagorical stories that has been wonderfully illustrated by the genius artist Chris Harrendence and is dedicated to my lovely and magical muse, Amira Ana Smyth.

It exists right now and is available to be purchased from the publisher. And soon it will be available from other places... I am very pleased with this book. Tartarus Press have a superstition that authors shouldn't talk about their books until they are published, which is why I kept so quiet about this one.

It has been more than twelve years since I was last published by Tartarus Press. They always create a truly impressive product, books that are beautiful art objects, and it is a privilege as well as a pleasure to be published by such a fine publishing house.

Here is part of the blurb that Tartarus have created for this book:

"Orpheus on the Underground is the new Rhys Hughes collection from Tartarus Press, containing fifteen previously unpublished stories and ‘The Concise Picaresque Adventures of the Wanderlust Bridge’, which first appeared in Strange Tales II, 2008. Ranging from the ghostly, through horror to the entirely fantastic, Hughes’ marvellously inventive tales steer the reader through the bizarre labyrinths of his unique talent for the strange... In the twenty years since the publication of his first short story collection (Worming the Harpy, Tartarus Press, 1995) Rhys Hughes has become an éminence grise of the strange tale. He wears his reputation lightly, and it is the sheer fun and individuality of the stories in Orpheus on the Underground that make them so memorable."

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

 

The Elephant in the Room


This just arrived for me. An illustrated collection of bizarre and darkly funny stories by Sławomir Mrożek, part of the Penguin 'Central European Classics' series, which includes work by Čapek, Krúdy, Škvorecký, Cioran, Miłosz, Ota Pavel and others. Mrożek is like a humorous Kafka.

This will be my first book of 2015. On the first day of January I also plan to start writing a new book of linked stories called Down Cerberus. I have been turning over ideas for this project in my mind for a long time. It is going to be a collection along the lines of the Mrożek and also Čapek's Apocryphal Tales. It always seems a good idea to commence a new venture on the first day of a new year.

Every year I try to write a minimum of 100,000 words of fiction. Some productive years have seen me achieve more than double this figure. But I have been rather lax in the year 2014 and at one point it was very doubtful I would meet my wordage quota. A late surge has got me to 98,500 words. Today is the day I hope to thwart failure!

Friday, December 26, 2014

 

End of 2014


Merry Christmas! Another year is almost over; and it is with a feeling almost of shock that I realize my blog is now ten years old. My earliest entries were absurdly short and vacuous: I simply didn't know what to write. Then my blog gradually became the main way in which I sought to 'communicate' with my readers and the wider world. Social media sites have eroded this function somewhat. I usually first post news about what I have been doing on Facebook before anywhere else. Yet I am still happy to have my blog and I intend to continue updating it.

2014 was a good year. I did more things in it than I did in 2013. My writing output dropped rather a lot, however. Every year I seek to write a minimum of 100,000 words of fiction. The past few years have proved extremely fertile in terms of production (in 2012 I wrote 240,000 words) but I always knew that a higher rate was unsustainable. I haven't failed to reach my hundred-thousand word target for a decade but this year I am still nine-thousand words short. Let's see what I can do in the week remaining to me! One of the many reasons my output was lower this year is because I seemed to reach some sort of apotheosis with the Bottled Love Story novelette and found it difficult to write anything in the wake of this piece. Now, however, I am finally building up steam again...
The micro-press I set up last December was very busy in the early part of 2014 and issued no fewer than five of my own books, including my one and only poetry collection, The Gloomy Seahorse. It also issued my collection of flash fiction, Flash in the Pantheon, one of my favourites among all my books (including those published by other publishers). In 2015, my micro-press will start issuing books that weren't written by me, including some neglected classics from the 19th Century, a masterpiece from Eastern Europe, and a wonderful magical realist novel by Mike J. Westley that really is something special and should be out very soon.

And, of course, I was published by 'real' publishers too, The Lunar Tickle, Captains Stupendous and (most recently and perhaps significantly) Bone Idle in the Charnel House all appeared in 2014. This made a total of eight books published in one year, my personal record. Next year I am expecting more of my books to be published, both by my own micro-press and also by established publishers. I also have some foreign translation deals currently under discussion, which bodes well for future travel.

After a few years of not really going anywhere, I got back into travel in 2014, making numerous trips within Britain (most memorably to Devon in the summer) and also abroad, first to Ireland and then to Portugal. These foreign trips were primarily work related and involved me giving readings in public, etc. Next year I hope to travel even more, both for work and also for pleasure. Long yearned-for trips to Serbia and India might be on the cards. The latter of these will take some organisation, as if I do go then I plan to stay a long time.

In 2014 one of my main hobbies became learning to dance salsa. I had tried before, years ago, but never really got the hang of it. Finally it started to work for me; and although I can hardly describe myself as 'skilled' now I am at least competent and hope to keep improving next year. I also ended up regularly playing the drums on Sunday nights in a Latin dance club.

I no longer use this blog to talk very much about 'personal' matters, but they are the essence of who I am, so I can't ignore them completely. I had an intense and passionate love affair in the summer; but I also finally grew closer to someone I have known and liked for a long time; and she in fact has become my muse and my dearest friend, more than a friend in fact: my soul mate. I hope that together we will have many adventures in the new year.

As for reading: I think I read more books this year than any other year of my life. I devoured them! A complete list of everything can be found on my Goodreads page. Feel free to connect with me there! I grow increasingly impressed with Ismail Kadare and Milan Kundera and they have both become two of my favourite authors... Anyway, that's enough for now.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

 

Seven Men and Two Others


It is nice to sometimes talk about books that I haven't written. Max Beerbohm's Seven Men and Two Others is my favourite ever example of fin de siècle literature, superior in my mind to anything created by Wilde, Firbank, Machen, even Saki...

'Enoch Soames' is probably the best pact-with-the-devil story ever written; 'Hilary Maltby and Stephen Braxton' is perhaps the best ghost story ever written; and 'Savonarola Brown' is the funniest and most accurate parody of a pseudo-Shakespeare play ever attempted... The other stories are rather good too, with 'A.V Laider' being the only disappointment; I was expecting the 'twist' ending to be more surprising than it was. But even so, the utter excellence of the whole is not marred. I have read 'Enoch Soames' at least four times in different anthologies but this is the first time I have read the other stories.

This book was metafictional and postmodern before 'metafiction' and 'postmodernism' were even workable concepts. A delight and a privilege to read; and I am delighted and privileged to have just read it.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

 

A Mountain Walked


A parcel came for me. It was a box of books. Copies of A Mountain Walked, an anthology of all S.T. Joshi's favourite 'Cthulhu Mythos' stories. This huge 700 page volume has already become a collector's item.

I am delighted to announce that it includes one of my own stories, 'Sigma Octantis', which was inspired by Lovecraft's early piece 'Polaris' (Polaris is the star closest to the north celestial pole; Sigma Octantis is the star closest to the south celestial pole).

Beautifully produced and illustrated, this deluxe limited edition Centipede Press tome is the ultimate Lovecraft tribute book and includes fiction by Neil Gaiman, Robert Barbour Johnson, TED Klein, Thomas Ligotti, Joe Pulver, Laird Barron, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Gemma Files, Patrick McGrath, Michael Shea and many others...

Centipede Press are an amazing publisher. I am immensely gratified that they are going to publish my collection The Senile Pagodas in the not too distant future.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

 

Bone Idle in the Charnel House


I have just heard from Hippocampus Press in the USA that my new book of stories has gone to the printers. They were also good enough to show me the full cover of my collection. Here it is...


It amuses me that the title of this book Bone Idle in the Charnel House can be turned into the acronym BITCH. This was entirely unintentional.

I had to fill in a 'promotion form' for this book which included a brief summary of what it's about. I wrote, "A collection of weird stories that often develop in an unusual manner from an original premise. The stories are part of the grand tradition of the ‘weird story’ but they seek to be rather different from most stories of this type. My hope is that these stories simultaneously will be a part of the tradition of the weird story but also help to push the definition forward a little."

Thursday, November 27, 2014

 

Pilgrimage and Beach Walk


I have just got back to Wales. It is cold and grey here. But that's exactly what I anticipated. It is better to dwell on some of the high points of my recent trip. Too much happened to give a full account on this blog, but I can mention that after I left Lisbon I went to Fatima, the main pilgrimage site in Portugal. I am not a deeply religious person, but by the same token I am not a deeply irreligious one. I lit a candle for a special person while I was there. I had expected the place to be tacky but it was more tasteful than my fears had supposed; and there was a feeling of calm awe about the place, an atmosphere that seemed to consist of all the hopes of the faithful who have made it their destination in previous decades, though whether this perceived ambience existed just in my mind is a question I can't possibly answer.

After Fatima I travelled to the lovely university city of Coimbra and then to Figueira Da Foz for my three-day beach walk. I had attempted the same walk ten years ago but it had defeated me. It was summer that time and I didn't have enough water. It is a remote stretch of coastline and one is advised to carry all the equipment and supplies necessary. This time my little adventure was successful.

I walked more than 80 km, most of it on soft sand, which made the going much more difficult. The first day it rained and I got soaked, but at night the skies cleared and the stars came out with amazing brightness. I saw meteors, a thin melancholy moon and a succession of incredible sunsets and sunrises. One sunset into the sea had the light of the sinking sun filtered by the spray of the enormous waves that seemed to crash over it... I met not one other person during the whole of the walk. I walked most of the nights as well as most of the days. Strange lights in the sky and out at sea...

My feet were blistered at the end of the trip and my shoulders were aching from carrying my rucksack, but it was worth it, for many reasons... I also sent two messages in bottles to the same special person I had lit the candles for, to double the extremely unlikely chance of them reaching her (or anybody else for that matter)...

When I reached Espinho I stayed with a marvellous fellow called Nigel Randsley. In fact, despite all the incredible sights and experiences, it was the people who impressed me the most on this trip, not just all my old friends but new ones too, such as Joana Neves, Sara Almeida Almeida, Ana Luísa Melo, João Morales, Sandra Maria Teixeira, Paulo Brito, Inês Botelho, Ana Cristina da Silveira... Too many great people to list. I am very lucky.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

 

Back in Portugal


For the past 10 ten days I have been back in Portugal. I was invited as the Guest of Honour to the Fórum Fantástico literary festival. I have been to many of them before, including the first one back in 2004. Ten years later I see that the event is growing in strength and vibrancy.

My presentation was about how Latin American writers have influenced British writers. The focus of the festival was primarily on Julio Cortázar, who was born 100 years ago. I spoke about Cortázar but also Roberto Bolaño, Macedonio Fernández, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Felisberto Hernández, Cabrera Infante, Álvaro Mutis and Gabriel García Márquez. I enjoy talking on stage with a microphone to an audience, something that would have been unimaginable to my younger self. Ten years ago at the Fórum there was no stage and no microphone, only me standing in a classroom and reading a story I had just finished writing.

So much has happened during my visit that I am at a loss to summarize everything. I had the pleasure of being invited to make a radio broadcast by the excellent Joana Neves. This broadcast is now online and it is in English. I read three stories by Donald Barthelme with lots of introdoctory banter and inter-story chit-chat. The broadcast can be listened to here.

In subsequent blog entries I will talk more about my amazing Portugal trip, including a three day beach walk, 80 km in total distance, from Figueira da Foz to Aveiro.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

 

My 750th Story and One and Only Muse


I have just finished writing my 750th story. It is called 'Died For Puns' and was inspired by Oscar Wilde's De Profundis. It was written especially to submit to an anthology and I will be sending it in the next hour...

Reaching number #750 means that I am exactly three-quarters of the way through my intended life's work. It has taken 25 years so far. Without wishing to blow my own trumpet too loudly, I can honestly say that no other Welsh writer has ever embarked on a project even remotely as grand as this one.

This story is partly about muses. What does it mean to have a muse? In De Profundis Oscar Wilde complains that Bosie was a terrible muse, because Wilde did no work when Bosie was around. Unlike Bosie, my own muse really does inspire my creativity. She is in this story of mine and in fact she provided the impetus for its creation.

I am now in a position to reveal that her name is Amira. She is not only my muse, but also an amazing woman and a true friend. A few days ago she treated me to a bellydance in candlelight and now I know for sure what kind of dancing they have in paradise...

But the main thing she inspired is a story that may actually be the best thing I have ever done. It's a novelette that is available as a paperback book. There is no ebook version because the formatting is too tricky (the story contains pictures and unusual typographical tricks). However I am willing today to offer twenty free PDFs to the first people who ask for one. The only proviso is that you leave a review or a rating on Amazon or Goodreads. Here is a link to the book in question. If you want a PDF let me know. First come, first served...

Friday, November 07, 2014

 

Hippocampus Press Book


It gives me enormous pleasure to announce that my new collection of eerie, weird and ghostly stories BONE IDLE IN THE CHARNEL HOUSE has just been added to the online catalogue of Hippocampus Press...

Click on this link for further details of the book.

This collection was edited by S.T. Joshi and it will be published in December this year. Hippocampus Press are really going places, so it is a privilege and an honour for me to be added to their list of authors!

I am delighted with this book which is rather darker in tone than most of my books. It consists of 20 stories, half of which have never appeared anywhere before, including the title story, a novella that I believe is one of my best works.I have attempted to alternate the more atmospheric and emotional type of weird story with the cerebral and philosophical kind. So my influences were Poe, Hodgson and Le Fanu as well as Calvino, Borges and Lem.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

 

Mirrors in the Deluge Contract


I am delighted to share the official announcement of my new book of short stories, Mirrors in the Deluge, which will hopefully be published next year...

I had this particular title 'in storage' for many years before finally putting together a collection worthy of it. The title is a variation of A.Merritt's Dwellers in the Mirage, which for a long time has been one of the most sonorous titles I have encountered for a book.

The press release can be read on the publisher's website here. I am extremely happy with the way I have been treated by these publishers so far. They seem very professional, upbeat, vigorous, and they appear to have vision, which is a quality in scarce supply in the publishing world at the moment.

As for the 'Absurd Welshman' description of myself... The publisher discussed this joke with me and I told him to ahead. I have never had any problems with self-deprecating humour. Indeed, it's an essential for any creative to be able to laugh at themselves from time to time.

The photo shows me signing the contract last week. I have been signing many things lately. I decided to be a bit quirky and use a quill pen and turquoise ink.

Mirrors in the Deluge comprises 32 stories and is scheduled for release in 2015. Further details will be posted periodically on this blog. I am very excited about this book!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

 

Tagines


The supposed point of my blog is mainly to talk about my writing life and achievements. I use the word 'achievements' in a way that is both proud and ironic. I am proud of what I have managed to accomplish so far, against the odds, but I am also aware that I'm still a long long long way from being a huthold name, let alone a household name! And I do have some exceptional writing-related news, but it has to be withheld for a couple of weeks. Therefore I shall make this particular blog entry about something completely unrelated to literature.

I recently cooked a tagine for a friend. The first photo shows the ingredients. I made my own harissa and used dates instead of prunes. The couscous had chickpeas and almonds in it. The basic recipe can be found here but you can modify it as you please. I put the pomegranate seeds in a dish and then added them at the last minute when the tagine was served.

The second photo shows the leftovers the following morning, which I had for breakfast, with lavash bread and coffee. My friend makes excellent coffee and uses the grounds afterwards to tell fortunes. Her skill with Tarot cards is also remarkable.

Friday, October 10, 2014

 

Book Tour in Ireland


I have just returned from Ireland. I went there at the invitation of my publisher Mark Lloyd to promote my novel The Young Dictator. In essence this was a book launch one year late. The event was tied in with Limerick being chosen as the 'City of Culture' for 2014. I did a reading in an old theatre with a bust of James Joyce watching me. It's always a pleasure to be in Ireland.

It wasn't all work. In fact it mostly wasn't work. The far west of Ireland is a remarkable place. One morning during my stay, my publisher revealed to me the amazing fact that Father Ted's house was in the vicinity. It is a private residence in the far west of Ireland, but we went up the driveway anyway and knocked on the door. "May we take some photos outside the house?" we asked the woman who answered. She not only gave us permission but also gave us a bishop's mitre and a prepared sign. Then she invited us indoors and showed us the room where Bishop Brennan was kicked up the arse and the "I'm not a racist" window.

We also had time to explore County Clare, including the spectacular Cliffs of Moher. There are castles and abbeys and towers and other ruins almost everywhere. The region of the Burren is an extraordinary karst landscape that I plan to hike properly one day. Rather oddly the weather was quite good. It turns out that the Burren has its own climatic zone that is different from the rest of Ireland, much milder and drier. It hardly rained at all during my visit. This surprised me a lot.

I also ate extremely well during my stay and my publisher was very generous with buying me pints of the black stuff.

The entire trip was extremely enjoyable with the exception of the ferry crossing from Wales to Ireland, which took place in a storm. I have been at sea in storms before, but this one was particularly bad. All the ferry companies cancelled sailings with the single exception of Irish Ferries. "We are going to try anyway!" the captain cheerfully announced. I had blithely announced that "I never get seasick, I am a seasoned traveller" before departure, but I was soon forced to eat my words. Or rather, everything that I had eaten decided it preferred to be back out in the world.

The Young Dictator is available from bookshops and online from Amazon and elsewhere... I really want to write a sequel to this novel, so I need you to consider buying it. The more copies it sells, the greater the chance I will be asked to write a sequel...

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

 

Captains Stupendous Book Signing


I went to London on Saturday for the launch of my new novel Captains Stupendous. The launch took place at the Forbidden Planet bookstore, which is larger than I seem to remember it, and also in a different location. Clearly the business has expanded.

The novel is available from Amazon too and other online bookstores.

After the signing we went to a pub around the corner. It was nice to meet my publisher for the first time. Then I went to Madame Tussauds. It's the first time I have been there since I was about 9 years old. It was good fun.

My next booklaunch is in Ireland on October 7th. I am hoping to make an adventure of getting there and travel to Limerick by bicycle, but this depends on the weather. I should know how feasible this will be in a couple of days from now...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

 

Eternal Horizon


My story 'Eternal Horizon' has been republished online by Lightspeed Magazine and can be read for free by clicking on this link...

I wrote this back in 2002 and it's a good example of the sort of thing I love to write but for which there is almost no market these days. It's not SF, not quite fantasy, not quite magic realism, not quite fabulism, but sort of a mishmash of all these... It's also a love story...

It was originally published in the anthology Album Zutique edited by Jeff VanderMeer but it appeared with several errors (the title of the story was given wrongly as 'Eternal Sunset' for some reason) so I have taken this opportunity to make the correct text available.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

 

London Booklaunch, Forbidden Planet


My next booklaunch and signing is going to take place in London at the Forbidden Planet Bookshop on September 27th between the hours of 1pm and 2pm.

The book in question is my novel Captains Stupendous...

This will be a joint event with Sam Stone, who will be signing copies of her new novel What's Dead Pussykat.

I don't do many booklaunches in the UK, and in fact I have only done three (The Abnormalities of Stringent Strange, The Postmodern Mariner and The Less Lonely Planet) in the past six years...

Friday, September 12, 2014

 

The Ironic Fantastic #3


Issue #3 of THE IRONIC FANTASTIC is now available for download -- absolutely FREE! All issues will be free; that's the point of this project. I edited the first two issues, but I have to say that Paulo Brito, the editor of the third, has done a much much much much much much much much much much much much much much much much much much much better job than I did...

Issue #3 is so far ahead of the first two issues that it's like comparing the Matterhorn with a nose. Paulo is a superb designer with a true designer's eye... This issue contains work by Michael Bishop, Chris Harrendence, Sissy Pantelis, Caleb Wilson, Bruce Holland Rogers, David Rix and too many others to mention...

This issue is also -- I am almost blushing to admit -- a sort of tribute to myself and my work. It also contains my 742nd story, 'The Melon Seller'... and it's free, all free! Download it by clicking on this link.

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