Monday, September 11, 2023
No more self-published poetry books from me, at least for the time being, unless something happens to make me change my mind, which is not beyond the bounds of feasibility.
This rule doesn't apply to omnibus editions of my poetry. And the reason for this is because I invent the rules. The first of these omnibus volumes is ODD SOCKS, a collection of (what I think are) the best poems selected from my eighteen previously published poetry books and chapbooks.
600+ pages of verse, so it's a hefty volume, and to mark the occasion the ebook is a free download for the next five days, starting right now.
Yes, the cover is a bit amateurish. This is because I'm not a designer and have become very reluctant to use AI art programs in recent months (I had no problem with them when I first discovered them). The feet in the photo are my own. One of the socks is mine (but who wears socks in India?). The other sock is my fiancée's. She pointed out that hers is inside-out.
The second omnibus volume will be a book containing all my poems, or nearly all of them, right from my earliest surviving poems circa 1976 to the last poem I will write this year. It will be called THE KOALA TEA OF MERSEY and will be 2000 pages long.
Monday, September 04, 2023
Aardvarks: Earth Pig Poetry
I wondered if I had written enough poems about aardvarks to issue a book of aardvark-themed poetry.
I went through all my poems to see if this was true. Turns out it nearly was (I had to write a few more to make up the shortfall). Anyway, I put that collection together and here it is... Aardvarks: Earth Pig Poetry.
It's a slim collection but quite a nice one, I think. The print edition is only $3.99. If you like aardvarks, the book might be of particular interest to you. If you don't like them, what more can I say?
It includes poems that are only tangential to the subject of aardvarks, but it also features two long poems that are unquivocally about them. One of these is about eighteen different aardvarks and what they do in their spare time; the other is a short-story in verse form about a were-aardvark during the night of a full moon.
Monday, August 21, 2023
Coffee and More Coffee
My forthcoming poetry book, THE COFFEE RUBAIYAT
, has a cover and a publication date. September 16 from Alien Buddha Press
, based in the USA.
This is a collection for coffee nuts like me.
I started writing it in June. It is exactly as long as the first edition of Edward Fitzgerald's translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and is about coffee instead of wine, because at the end of the day (and also at the beginning) I prefer coffee.
I am especially pleased that this one isn't self-published, even though I am very fond of my self-published poetry books.
It consists of 75 quatrains to match the 75 of Edward Fitzgerald's translation (the first edition). I preserved the AABA rhyme-scheme and mostly mimicked the metre (not always). One of my most ambitious poetry projects, I think.
Wednesday, August 16, 2023
Handful of Sesame
I have my own publishing company, a very small one, I guess it should be called a micropress. It's a one-man outfit and I am the man. I started it up to self-publish books of mine that were unlikely to be accepted by traditional publishers (though as it happens, most of my experimental and OuLiPo works have been published by other small presses that are considerably bigger than mine).
As well as pubishing my own work, I always planned to publish books by other writers. Late last year I managed to secure the rights for a new English-language edition of the award-winning novel, A Handful of Sesame
by Shrinivas Vaidya. I acquired the rights for all countries except India. Recently I acquired the rights for India as well.
The novel is available as a paperback and also as an ebook. A sweeping historical novel, it was shortlisted for the Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize in 2019. The original work Halla Bantu Halla
won the Central Sahitya Akademi Award. The book was translated by Maithreyi Karnoor
The novel is set in the fateful year of 1857. Here is part of the official description of what the book is about: 'Two brothers, emissaries of a northern king, on a mission to garner the support of the southern rulers, wander lost and hungry in a forest not far from their destination. They are captured and one of them is hung by the British. Caught in the rough and tumble of the mutiny, the other brother settles down in a place that was never meant to be more than a temporary refuge. He spends his life far away from home among people who do not speak his language.
The novel spans the story of three generations of his family living under the burden of inherited nostalgia, a story that unfolds with all its flying fancies and stumbling follies on the threshold between tradition and modernity. Set against the backdrop of the freedom movement, the novel explores the lives of the people of the Dharwad region of Karnataka; their acts of faith and the realpolitik of ritual. Masterfully and sensitively translated from the Kannada, A Handful of Sesame is funny, tragic, ironic, satirical, lyrical and deeply allegorical of a young, modern nation.'
Wednesday, August 09, 2023
Nine Free Ebooks
I am raising the price of my ebooks (most of which are currently at 99 cents) by one dollar. This is because at the moment royalties are very small even when sales are quite good. To mark the occasion I am making nine of these ebooks FREE for a few days. This is a one-off and won't happen again. The ebooks in question are:
These links are to Amazon US but look on your own Amazon, where they are also free... :-)
Sunday, July 02, 2023
, a slim volume of poems about the man himself, his chin and his pantheon, has just been published and the ebook edition will be a free download for five days (from July 3rd to July 7th). But the paperback is a permafree PDF download too. This will be my last self-published project before I leave India one week from now.
The free PDF can be downloaded here
. Only click on this link if you really want to download it, as the download should start automatically.
I think it's funny and I hope you will too, though if you are a fanatic for Lovecraft you might not. That's the risk we take when we do things like this. It's unfortunate, but some devotees of the Weird take things far too seriously, and then they get angry, and their anger becomes bitterness, and really the whole thing becomes even weirder than the Weird fiction they believe they are defending. My own view is that Weird fiction (or fiction of any sort) doesn't need to be defended. It can defend itself perfectly well.
Anyway, the book is there to be read for free and I will say only one more thing about it. Lovecraft often disparaged people, entire races of people in fact, so any disaparagement or mockery that comes his way is entirely his own fault. He has no one to blame but himself. As for the argument that he was "of his time", that's fine: I am also "of my time", so if his foibles can be justified that way, so can mine. Let us at least try to be logical and consistent.
Friday, June 23, 2023
Jazz Hands Pterodactyl
My new poetry book has just been published. THE JAZZ HANDS PTERODACTYL
is a slim collection, a chapbook really. But you don't have to be a chap to read it. Ladies can read it too. It's a personbook.
The ebook edition also happens to be a FREE download from any Amazon outlet for the next five days (starting right now).
If you do download it, I would be grateful if you could also promote it by sharing the link. This link
is to the free book on Amazon US, but look on your own Amazon too.
My poetry has been compared to that of Spike Milligan, Ogden Nash, Ivor Cutler and Richard Brautigan. Not very often have I been so compared, true enough, but I have occasionally been compared in this manner, yes indeed.
My new collection includes poems about dinosaurs, dictators, writers, jazz musicians, explorers, metaphors, armchairs, dogs, devils and more.
It also includes one of my personal favourites of all my poems, a mini-mock-epic called 'The Voyages of Caractacus Gibbon'.
Thursday, June 15, 2023
My new book has just been published and before I say anything else, let me point out that the ebook version is a FREE download from any Amazon outlet for the next three days. Click on this link
to get it from Amazon US or search on your own Amazon for the book.
Now for the book itself. STARFISH WISH
is a sampler of modern fairy-tales and fabular fantasies. It's a taster for a much larger volume that will soon follow (closer to the end of the year). Most of the stories it contains have never been published before: some are long, others very short, flash fictions in fact.
I designed the cover myself. I used an online art program to do so. I am not an artist or designer. I just mess around with things until I end up with something I like. In the old days (ten years ago) I made covers by making models and photographing them. I prefer this new digital method.
Here is the back cover material...
Once upon a time there was a book, a collection of modern fairy tales and fables, and this book lived in the uncharted regions of availability. It featured 27 stories, and each one of those stories was a prisoner of the book. The book was rather like a dragon in this regard and the stories were like damsels in distress. The book guarded the stories jealously but no knight ever came to rescue them. Until now. Yes, the reader is the true knight and the act of reading is the method by which the stories can be set free. The stories will escape from the book into the head of the reader where they will be free to enjoy life. You are the reader, the hero of this adventure. Unsheathe your eyes and prepare to do battle!
Tuesday, May 23, 2023
Two New Poetry Books
Two new poetry books of mine have been published.
The first is The Knight of Whatever
, described as a chapbook for chaps, also for chaperones and cheeky chimpanzees; poems suitable for knights at night and dames in the daylight, or vice versa. Verses about vice and virtue; lyrical investigations into the nature of aardvarks, gibbons, and yetis; ditties about landscapes made of cake and funky ducks. Poetry suitable for all ages but especially suitable for unsuitable ages.
The second is Flunkey Monkey
, described as poems that monkey around, poems that would swing from trees and eat bananas if they had limbs and mouths; poems that are cheeky and a little mischievous; poems that are rather hairy; poems that see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, but see, hear and speak lots of absurdity; poems that use simian similes and monkey metaphors. Monkey-poems.
The first of these books requires a little explanation. Twenty years ago I had a chapbook of poems published that was illustrated by an artist named Carole Humphreys
. I decided to resurrect this chapbook and publish it myself, together with the illustrations. But then I thought, why not write new poems for the old illustrations?
The illustrations were based on a set of existing poems, and now a different set of poems can be based on those illustrations. From illustrative to ekphrasitic in one mighty bound! The book contains lots of other poems that weren't inspired by illustrations.
The second of these books is currently a free download from any Amazon outlet, but only for the next three days, so if you are reading this after 25th May you have missed out on the offer. I regard this as my best poetry book so far (by far) but who am I to judge these things?
As for the title... A few mornings ago, I woke up with the words "Bestseller Monkey" on the tip of my tongue. Never one to refuse the gift of a dream, I decided to give my next poetry book that title. And so I did.
But Amazon rejected the title on the grounds that you shouldn't have the word "bestseller" in a book title. Fair enough. They asked me to choose another title for the ebook edition. I plumped for Flunkey Monkey.
However, to my surprise, although they rejected the original title for the ebook, the paperback passed through the vetting process with the title unchanged. So now I have a poetry book that has two different titles, one for the paperback and another for the ebook...
I am supposing that it won't be long before they notice that the paperback title violates their naming policies and I daresay the paperback will have to be removed soon. But in the meantime, Bestseller Monkey is on sale!
Sunday, April 23, 2023
My new book
has been published. It's a concise collection of whimsical stories about ghosts, monsters, mythical heroes, giants, talking cats and pots of custard, divided into four sections: (1) crime, (2) fantasy, (3) science fiction, (4) horror.
The sections are all separate in theory but the stories rarely or never confine themselves to one precise genre. There is plenty of overlap. One or two of them don't fit into any genre at all, unless it be the 'fabular' genre. The only thing they really have in comoon is that they are all whimsical and colourful in a gentle way.
Of the twelve short-stories in the collection, ten have never before been published. Most of the stories were written last year and the book could have been published in 2022, but what with one thing and another there was a delay. Not that this matters.
The title for the collection, Pastel Whimsies
, was suggested by something the late Joel Lane
said to me many years ago when we were discussing the works of Lord Dunsany. I am an enthusiast for Dunsany's stories; Joel wasn't, and he declared that he had no intention of wasting time reading "pastel whimsies". The next day I wrote a Dunsanyesque story called 'The Pastel Whimsy' which I sent to Joel (who said he enjoyed it). That story appears in this book.
I am delighted with this little collection. I am especially pleased with the stories featuring the detective Belo Custardo, the caveman story, and the story about demonic critics (I had the idea for that tale when I was 15 years old, but only recently sat down to write it). One of the other stories, about two trains, has my favourite last line of any of my short stories.
Another story, 'The Library', is a flash fiction that I plan to extend into a full length story and is therefore not yet part of my official bibliography, but I think it works well as a flash too, which is why it is here.
As a promotional device, the ebook edition will be a free download from any Amazon outlet for five days starting from Monday 24th April.
Saturday, March 25, 2023
My new novel has just been published. I love working with Telos Publishing. They are excellent and I don't think any author could rightly want more from a publisher. They published my novel Captains Stupendous
some years ago and it so happens that it is now on special offer, only £3 for a book I think is one of my best adventure tales. The link for that offer is here
I regard my new novel, The Wistful Wanderings of Perceval Pitthelm, as an even better novel (just my own view, of course, and who am I?). As well as being available directly from the publisher, it is also available from Amazon in paperback and ebook editions. As I have said before, it's an adventure story but a little more philosophical than most adventure stories.
Already it has had a good review
. I am hoping for more reviews soon. The story concerns a writer of adventure stories who becomes caught up in a series of adventures himself, in East Africa, Brazil and the Sahara Desert between World Wars One and Two.
Philip José Farmer was a big influence on this, as were Karel Čapek and Michael Moorcock and even Mia Couto. I think I have successfully managed to capture a certain atmosphere.
My thanks are to Ana Da Silveira Moura for providing the initial nudge that started the first chapter/story rolling. Salutations also to Jim Burns
, the legendary cover artist. I have always wanted a Jim Burns cover, ever since I saw the covers he did for Jack Vance's Durdane Trilogy
when I was in my teens and had just started reading fantasy and SF.
For the next few days, in order to help promote my novel, my collection of Lovecraftian stories Cthulhu Wants You
will be a free ebook from any Amazon outlet. I am striving to reach new readers with this freebie in the hope that some of them will like it and then go on to purchase The Wistful Wanderings of Perceval Pitthelm
. Trickle-down doesn't work, we all know that, but maybe capillary-action-sideways still has a chance. Let's see! Free for the next five days. Feel free to share.
Whatever happens, my new novel now exists as a real item in the world and is available to be read, and that's something very nice to know. Review copies are available, epub, mobi and PDF. Contact me if you think you might be able to review it. Thanks.
Friday, March 03, 2023
New Novel - Perceval Pitthelm
Cover reveal. One of my favourite ever book cover artists, Jim Burns
, did this cover for my forthcoming novel, which is due to be published on March 23rd by Telos Publishing
Already this year I have ticked off three long-standing items on my bucket list. I climbed to the summit of Sri Pada, had one of my stories turned into a comic, and now a Jim Burns cover! I have wanted a Jim Burns cover since I first saw the covers of Jack Vance's 'Durdane' trilogy when I was about 16 years old.
Anyway, I am very pleased with the way the novel has turned out, an adventure set in Africa, Brazil and the Sahara Desert, taking place between World Wars One and Two. Philip José Farmer was a big influence on this, as were Karel Čapek and Michael Moorcock, but there's also (I like to think) an influence from less obvious sources such as Mia Couto and Alvaro Mutis.
The novel began life as a long short story called 'The Knees of Kionga' that I wrote for publication in Portuguese ten years ago, thanks to the encouragement of my friend Ana Da Silveira Moura. As the years passed, I added sequels to that story and ended up with a novel that I regard as my best adventure novel so far. I believe I have successfully captured a certain 1920s/30s atmosphere. You know the kind of thing I mean; the tropics, the misadventures, the spirit!
The novel is available for pre-order now. Here's the link:
I would certainly urge any readers at all interested in my work to check out this novel :-)
Sunday, February 05, 2023
Mountains and Goa
January turned out to be a busy and spectacular month, and February has started off the same way. But let me talk about January. I went to Sri Lanka and climbed Sri Pada, something I have been planning to do since I first saw the mountain back in December 2021.
Sri Pada is 2243 metres high, which makes it almost exactly twice as tall as the highest mountain in Wales. At the top there is a 'sacred footprint' that some say belongs to the Buddha and others say belongs to Shiva. The idea is to climb it at night and witness the sunrise from the summit, at which time a Brocken Spectre effect takes place.
Marco Polo mentioned the mountain; Ibn Battua climbed it in 1344; and the first known ascent by a British climber was in 1815, by Lieutenant William Malcolm of the 1st Ceylon Regiment. It is a very promiment peak, which probably explains the fascination it has had on people throughout the ages.
This photo shows my first view of Sri Pada from the place where I stayed, in Maskeliya, a village near Hatton, where the famous and remarkable climber Eric Shipton was born.
After I returned to India, I had a few days of rest before I flew off to Goa as a guest of the Goa Arts and Literature Festival (GALF) 2023. I constantly seem to be going to airports, taking a flight somewhere. I was given a chance to talk about my work over the past 30 years, the five million words of fiction I have written in that time, including 1000+ short stories.
The event went extremely well. I relished the chance to talk about my own work but also about writing in general: fantasy, metafiction, OuLiPo, Borges, Calvino, short-stories, poems, inspiration and other bookish things.
It is the first time I have given a public talk on literature since I did a talk about Cortazar and the Latin American 'Boom' in Portugal back in 2014.
This photo shows me waffling on about something while being incisively questioned by the rather magnificent Maithreyi Karnoor.
So much else has happened that I scarcely know where to begin. I sold a novella I wrote last year called Robot Love Story
that I am very
fond of. I have sold many stories to numerous anthologies, including a tribute story to J.G. Ballard that includes contributions from Michael Moorcock, Iain Sinclair and Will Self. I have sent my recently-completed novel, The Hippy Quixote
, to a very highly respected agent, who has agreed to read it. I am forging ahead with the writing of my new novel, Average Assassins
. And I am working on a collection of short stories and essays called Poppadum and Circumstance
for an Indian publisher.
Also, to celebrate the fact that my novel, Nowhere Near Milk Wood
, is now twenty years old, and bearing in mind that it's actually a fixup of three novellas, the individual novellas are being issued separately as ebooks. The Long Chin of the Law
has been available for a while; but now Martye to Music
and Taller Stories
are also available. I also have a new book due out soon, which I will talk about in my next blog post, which should be very soon for a change :-)
Friday, December 30, 2022
End of 2022 Review
This isn't really a proper review. There's too much to review and I am bound to get it jumbled up. The only way to proceed is to keep it short and not try to cover many topics.
I had twelve books published in 2022, averaging one a month. The most important of these by far is my Centipede Press collection, The Senile Pagodas
, a book of tribute stories to authors I admire. It is starting to get some good reviews. I waited ten years for this collection to be published; the wait was worth it.
So much for print books... When it comes to ebooks, my most important publication of the year was The Rhys Hughes Fantastic MEGAPACK®
published by Wildside Press, a showcase of my short stories from the past three decades. This is the first of three such volumes and taken together they will form a very good retrospective collection of my work.
I was translated into Serbian and published in Belgrade. Postmoderni Mornar
was translated by Tereza Bojković and issued by Partizanska knjiga. This was a project supported by the Welsh Literature Exchange, who also funded my partner's university residency in Aberystwyth as part of the Charles Wallace Fellowship (but that's a different story).
I also sold several books including a fantasy adventure novel that I finished writing just before the pandemic struck. And another of my books has been chosen for translation (into German this time). I sold many short stories, even more poems, and a few articles.
I finished writing a novel, The Hippy Quixote
, that I plan on sending to an agent very soon (I finally seem to have acquired a new agent, at least for this one book, and he's a very notable agent indeed). I wrote forty short stories, hundreds of flash fictions (500 in the case of this book
) and countless poems, many of which were published, many of which haven't even yet been submitted anywhere.
I also started writing a surreal thriller, Average Assassins, that I hope to finish in the first half of next year. I have outlined most of rhe chapters already and written the first. Writing more novels is a resolution for the future. I have many planned. It's just a case of working through my list methodically. When Average Assassins is finished I will probably return to work on my fantasy novel Unevensong, which I haven't worked on for almost thirty years. And after that, it is high time I returned to my incomplete big novel, The Clown of the New Eternities, but realistically that one might have to wait until 2024.
Maybe the most significant aspect of this year in terms of my writing is that I finally wrote my 1000th story. This was a target I decided to aim for a long time ago, never expecting that I would achieve it, but in the summer it actually happened. My 1000th story is called 'Tangents' and is more of a novella (containing flash fictions) than a regular short story. It will hopefully be published in Brazil in 2023.
I had always said that when I reached my 1000th story I would give up writing short stories. The thousand stories taken together would form one immense story-cycle called PANDORA'S BLUFF and the last story in the cycle would feed into the first, forming an endless loop. Well, the loop exists now but I have gone beyond the thousand and my vision for the story-cycle has undergone a modification. The cycle will be as long as it turns out to be.
I began the year in Sri Lanka and I spent 2022 in that country, in India, Egypt, and Wales. I am now back in India and returning to Sri Lanka one week from now. I have travelled a great deal this year and seen many amazing things. I can say it's been one of the best years of my life.
Here's to 2023, and a great year to all of you out there!
Tuesday, December 20, 2022
Monalisa and Others
So much to blog about! I am very neglectful of my blog these days. Social media has taken over and made blogging redundant for the most part. Nonetheless, it is probably a good idea to occasionally keep my blog topped up, so to speak...
I will be concise and mention that my novella, My Rabbit's Shadow Looks like a Hand, which has only been a print book for the past year, is now also an ebook. It's also going to be translated into German and published in Germany, something I am very pleased about.
Conversely, my triptych of three tales known as The Mermaid Variations, which has only been an ebook for the past ten years, is now also a print book. It has already been translated, into Portuguese, and in fact these stories first appeared in that language, long ago.
My collection of linked short stories, The Postmodern Mariner, has been translated into Serbian and published in Serbia in a very nice edition indeed. More about this in a future blog.
I have had a lot of work published in a lot of places and I have signed contracts with several publishers for work to be published in the near future. One of these contracts is for a fantasy novel I finished writing a few years ago. I will provide more details soon, after the publisher gives me the go ahead. The novel is a fantasy, as I said above, but more of an absurdist magic realist thing than a typical fantasy, if that doesn't sound too pretentious, set in Africa, Brazil and the Sahara Desert, and very 1920s/30s in tone, a sort of mix of Don Quixote, Beau Geste and Philip José Farmer.
I also have signed a contract for a substantial collection with a notable publisher in the USA. In fact the deal is for three collections. The first one is out already and the others will follow soon. More details in my next blog post. The idea is to reach readers totally unfamiliar with my work who are unlikely to poke around in the obscure corners of the independent press where so many of my stories lurk. Considered together, the three collections will form a very big retrospective of my work.
But now I want to mention a recently-published anthology published here in India by Om Books called Monalisa No Longer Smiles. It includes fiction, non-fiction and poetry. I am delighted that my suite of poems based on Ancient Greek mythology entitled 'Sticky Myths' is presented here in its entirety. The book is extremely well-produced and more information about it can be found here. The idea is that this is going to be the first of a series of such anthologies showcasing the range and diversity of work that can be found in the online Borderless Journal. Edited by Mitali Chavravarty, Borderless Journal has been one of my favourite literary journals for the past few years and I always make it a priority to send my work there. Borderless has already published many of what I consider to be my best humorous poems. Supporting this anthology is a genuine pleasure for me.
One other thing, if you are fast you can catch a free download of my novella The Ghost Loser from any Amazon outlet.
Oh yes, and yesterday I finished writing a new novel called The Hippy Quixote :-)
Thursday, November 10, 2022
A slim collection of my (mostly new) flash fiction has just been published. Has a dozen illustrations too, by the artist David Bowman
. The conceit is that each microfiction or nanofiction is a tiny arrow shot from the bow of a mythical archer.
Low price for both paperback and ebook versions. Is this a chapbook or a real book? I'm not sure. It's 83 pages, so you decide about that.
A few of the fictions within are metafictional. Here is one of those, to set an example:
The flash fiction writer went out into the storm.
“I need some inspiration,” he said.
The lightning bolt turned him into ashes.
That’ll do,” he whispered, and the index finger of his ghost began scrawling a story on the damp ground with the carbon of his death.
There's not much more to say. I enjoy writing flash fiction, probably more than I enjoy writing full-length short stories. I sometimes think that if I am ever remembered for anything as a writer (but how can any of us know who will be remembered?) then my flash fiction might end up defining me. I am pleased that Samuel Delany, Ian Watson and A.A Attanasio, three writers I enormously admire, have all praised my flash fiction. That in itself justifies the endeavour.
But anyway... The book is available from every Amazon outlet. As most of my sales happen in the USA here is the relevant link to Amazon US
Tuesday, October 11, 2022
My new book has been published today. YEE-HAW
is a collection of poems, mutant campfire songs, short plays and other small prose pieces, a 'Weird Western' and companion volume to my collection WEIRDLY OUT WEST
, published last year by Black Scat Books
It is priced very low, only $3.99 for the paperback edition and 99 cents for the ebook, because this is very much an offbeat project and not a commercial venture at all.
And in fact the ebook edition will be a free download
Amazon outlet for five days starting tomorrow (12 October) so grab a free copy while you can!
The official description of YEE-HAW is as follows:
"The West has always been the place where the sun sets best, and when it has slipped over the horizon it is time for the embers of the campfire and the blushing cheeks of the long riders to take over the rosy glow duties. And around this campfire, songs must be sung and poems recited and tales should be told. The Honky Tonk Squonk, the Ghost Riders, the Biscuit Kid, the Robot Hobo, the Purple Sage, and many others. Then, and only then, will it be time for coffee, beans and dreams, and yee-haws that turn into snores."
I think that says it all, or almost all... It was one of those books that are great fun to write. All my 'Weird Westerns' have been fun to write, more fun than most other kinds of books, from 'The Gargantuan Legion' novella to THE HONEYMOON GORILLAS and beyond. There is something about the West as a setting that is both inspiringly bracing and also mythically absurdist and I find it irresistible...
Tuesday, September 27, 2022
Five Hundred Mini-Sagas
My new book has just been published. A mini-saga is a complete story with a beginning, middle and ending but done in exactly 50 words. The form was invented by Brian Aldiss in the 1980s and has since become one of the most popular and significant microfiction formats.
FIVE HUNDRED MINI-SAGAS presents no fewer than five hundred of these flash fictions, most in prose but some in verse. I began this project back in May when I was in Aberystwyth and finished it here in Bangalore just a few days ago.
I have been interested in flash fiction, sudden fiction, microfiction, drabbles, etc, for a long time. The mini-saga has an especially rigorous structure due to its short length, though the title can be used as an essential part of the story, lending the writer a few extra words.
I am pleased with the mini-sagas in this collection. Obviously some are better than others, but I believe that the best are fine examples of this tricky literary form. The book has been published in paperback and ebook editions, and for the next three days the ebook edition is a free download from any Amazon outlet. Here is a link to the book on the British Amazon, but check your own Amazon if you wish to receive it for free.
Thursday, September 15, 2022
The Senile Pagodas
Back in 2012, I put together a collection of short stories that were tributes to authors I admire. Then I sent it to Centipede Press and it was accepted fairly quickly.
Now, ten years later, the book has finally been published. My delight is no small thing. Anyone who knows how magnificent the books of Centipede Press are will understand why.
Good things come to those who wait, but even more fantastic things come to those who wait longer.
Or to put it another way: Six balls bowled at wickets in cricket is an over. And so is the wait...
More information about The Senile Pagodas can be found on the Centipede Press website.
The book is now also available for purchase from Ziesings, one of my favourite booksellers. They sell my Raphus Press books too, and books from other publishers...
In the meantime, here is the press release text for The Senile Pagodas:
"When a fictitious book title crosses from the realm of fantasy to reality, it becomes a work destined to break the mold and stake its place in the annals of literature. And in The Senile Pagodas, Rhys Hughes reimagines what it is to break that mold. It’s a book whose name may have been plucked from a Borges/Casares collaboration but standing on the shoulders of giants has its perks. And this book is evidence of that.
This collection of twenty-one stories (seventeen published here for the first time) acts as an homage to the authors who informed and shaped Hughes’ writing, ranging from Kafka to Hawthorne to Moorcock to Bulgakov. It’s a “who’s who” of literary heavyweights that Hughes honors through his wildly inventive brand of magical realism, which will spark your imagination in the same way his influences have done for him.
Never averse to a densely packed framework, “Nightmare Alley” and “The Apocryphal Wonder” showcase Hughes’ innate sense for story layering. The former features a traveling bookseller whose escape from an alley is always fleeting. That is, until he finds the customer he was always searching for. And the latter is an ingenious story within a story distorting the line between fact and fiction. Preach a fabrication long enough and what does it become?
“Abomination with Rice” and “The Bannister” include two remarkable and mystifying dilemmas that complement the work of weird fiction’s towering titans: Lovecraft and Hodgson. If you don’t see the connections at first, just look to the sea and the sky for what’s lurking just out of frame.
The silly and absurd can be found in “Knights that Go Bump into Things” where there’s proof that not all knighthood results in gallantry. At least, not without bumps in the road or a knight’s noggin. Similarly, “Poe Pie” is a comical but bizarre depiction of hunger as imprisonment in which you may think twice before entering Café Poe again.
Others such as the Calvino tribute, “City of Blinks,” can be seen as laconic parables. This one centers around a concentric city with tiered levels and a king who watches from above. It’s a seemingly perfect hierarchy, but even a king blinks and an eye can only see what’s in view — for revolution may only be a blink away.
And “Lem’s Last Book” is an apropos tale demonstrating the physical prowess of a book, one whose presence can absorb the words of other books. When set between two it can create a hybrid of sorts. Though, the jury is still out on what it can produce when lying between two people.
What The Senile Pagodas offers is a cornucopia of fantastika fiction that reads as though it could have been written yesterday or a hundred years ago. It’s where Hughes channels a variety of perspectives and avenues to further announce his appreciation for mischievous misadventure while also paying tribute to the lords and masters of the written word. But it also serves as the ultimate “thank you” note from one of the supreme authorities of modern imaginative expression in short story form.
Profusely illustrated with full page author photographs, the edition is 300 numbered copies (with a multitude of facsimile signatures) and 100 unsigned copies."
Tuesday, August 23, 2022
Offbeat Humorous Fantasy Books
Recently I was invited to compile a short list of my favourite books in any category of my choice. I was fdelighted to do so. I was asked by a website called Shepherd that is devoted to books. They have an intriguing and inspiring method of recommending books to readers: through author recommendations. The number of lists is growing rapidly and I feel sure that Shepherd will become one of the major book resources for readers in the not-too-distant future.
My own list has just gone online. I chose what I regard as the Best Underrated Offbeat Humorous Fantasy Books. My choice of five is there to be agreed or disagreed with, but they are all books I have enjoyed immensely and read more than once (it's unusual for me to re-read books). My list features two English authors, two Irish, and one French. I won't say more here. If you want to know who they are, you can find out by clicking on the link above.
I have been reading the lists compiled by other authors with interest. One of my favourites among those I have discovered so far is Best Science-Fiction Novels About Worldbuilding, compiled by the great A.A. Attanasio (one of the best fantasy writers of the past 50 years), a list that includes some of my most beloved authors.
Thursday, July 28, 2022
My new book of flash fictions has just been published as a paperback. It was originally published as a deluxe limited edition by Raphus Press
of Brazil with only 30 copies for sale. The paperback, on the other hand, is a mass market product and has been priced low, and the ebook has been priced very low (in fact it is a free download
on any Amazon outlet for the next three days).
Many rascals are too tense to be comfortable. Real life rascals have much to worry about. But rascals in fiction can afford to relax a little in the waves of prose that surround them, gently swirling on the wit and wisdom, bobbing on the contrivance, floating on the syntax. It is nice to be a comfy rascal.
"Each of these stories is a shimmering whimsical fleck which not only satisfies in and of itself but, taken with its compatriots, builds an image of life and language that is pure play and discovery. Like Kafka's parables, if Kafka's sense of humor was less dark and had more puns." — BRIAN EVENSON
“If I said he was a Welsh writer who writes as though he has gone to school with the best writing from all over the world, I wonder if my compliment would just sound provincial. Hughes’ style, with all that means, is among the most beautiful I’ve encountered in several years.” — SAMUEL R. DELANY
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
My new book of robot poems (entitled Robot Poems, logically enough) has now been published. It's a collection of long and short poems about robots, androids, cyborgs and other assorted cybernetic beings, and it includes a mini-epic, 'The Mime of the Android Stammerer', one of my longest ever poems.
It is available in both paperback and ebook editions, and in fact the ebook edition is a free download for the next five days (in other words, until June 27th). This is the link
to the American Amazon but you can find the ebook on any Amazon outlet.
All in all, I think it's my best poetry collection to date. Some of the poems concern themselves with competent robots, our future overlords, but most are about robots that have been wired wrongly or who aren't sapient at all. A few are even powered by clockwork.
I have been interested in Artificial Intelligence since I was young and many of my favourite works in the science-fiction genre are about robots (rather than spaceships, aliens and distant galaxies). I am especially thinking of Stanisław Lem's Cyberiad and Mortal Engines, and John Sladek's Tik-Tok and Roderick. The first Brian Aldiss story I truly enjoyed and which turned me into a lifelong fan was about robots ('Who Can Replace a Man?'). Robots can be very amusing as well as instructive. They can be terrifying too.
My own robots tend to be comical, absurdist, whimsical creations, but not always. The earliest poems in this book (from the early 1990s) tend to be more serious; the later ones tend to be more humorous. I now hope to have a rest from writing poetry about robots...
Thursday, June 16, 2022
My One-Thousandth Story
I have finished writing my one-thousandth story. I regard the entire set of stories as one
story-cycle. The linkages between the stories are sometimes direct but more often subtle, tangential, symbolic. The last part of the last story is a prequel to the very first story, so the whole thing goes around in a big loop.
Total wordage? About four million words, though I will have to do a proper wordcount soon. That will involve putting all the stories into one document. It is going to be a big document for sure. The overall name of the story-cycle is Pandora's Bluff. Pandora opened the box of troubles and after the final trouble had emerged, the figure of Hope appeared. But Hope is often false, a trick, a jest. This is the harshly ironic point I want to make with the title of my story-cycle.
I have a lot to say about this project and doubtless in the coming weeks and months I will say much of it. In the meantime I will confine myself to the statement that this is surely the largest fiction project ever attempted by a Welsh writer. Begun in August 1989 and finished in June 2022. Thirty-three years.
When I began writing it, I had no idea that all the stories were going to be connected and form a single story-cycle. I must have written 100 or so stories before the idea came to me. Almost every story in the cycle can be read as a standalone. That is important. But the wholeness of the entire scheme is vital to my vision.
The photo above captures me moments after I typed the last word of the last story. Not a particularly special photo in objective terms, but one that will doubtless have significance for me in the future. A complete list of all the titles in the cycle can be found here. Titles on their own reveal little, but I am pleased with the euphony of the best of them, which are almost one-line poems.
Saturday, May 21, 2022
I have edited a book called Wuxing Lyrical and it has now been published in both paperback and ebook editions. I am pleased with the way it has turned out, which is even better than I was hoping it would be. An article on why I wrote it can be found at Borderless Journal. The book is an anthology of verse themed around Chinese astrology but done in a specific manner.
I often use social media for telling jokes. When I was younger I used to wonder who the people were who invented new jokes, never suspecting that one day I would be one of them. These days, when I see one of my old jokes, I tend to turn it into a poem. In some ways a poem has greater reach than a joke: it is an art object. This doesn't mean that the poem is necessarily better than the joke, but that's a different question. Anyway, I turned one of my old jokes about a fire horse into a poem. Another writer saw it and responded with a poem of his own about a water rat.
The idea for the anthology instantly came into being! There are sixty combinations of animals and elements in Chinese astrology. Why not a poem for each of those combinations? I asked for poets to consider submitting material for the book; they did so; the book was created. The end result is funny, witty, silly, musical, occasionally even profound. I believe it is a good example of how light verse can be just as serious an artform as heavy poetry.
Contributors include prize-winning poets such as Mustansir Dalvi and Maithreyi Karnoor, but also poets who are published here for the first time, and many others in the zone between these two extremes. The book was put together in less than a month. It has made me think that other anthologies should follow. I don't have any plans to regard myself as an editor but I do have several ideas for viable projects. I shall give details about them, if they ever happen, here.
Wuxing Lyrical is available from Amazon (is there anything that isn't?)
Monday, May 16, 2022
Back in 1994 I began writing The Darktree Wheel
, a series of stories about Robin Darktree, a highwayman, but I didn't know it was going to be a series when I wrote the first tale, 'Flintlock Jaw'. There ended up being five tales in the series at first, but things became more complicated because in 1995, between the writing of the second and third tale in the series, I also wrote a Darktree novella called Eyelidiad
that was published as a separate book. Then I returned to the original series and finished it in 1997. The five stories combined made a novella.
So now I had two Darktree novellas and I put them together and decided to write a third novella called Ghoulysses. All together, the three novellas would make a fairly substantial novel. But I never finished that third part and still haven't, though I absolutely intend to do so one day (maybe this year). That big novel will be called The Clown of the New Eternities.
Anyway, The Darktree Wheel was published in an anthology called Leviathan 2 in 1998 and there it languished for two decades before it was resurrected to appear in a very prestigious book, the Big Book of Modern Fantasy, published by Vintage.
But in fact only part of the novella appeared in that Vintage anthology and so I have decided to reissue The Darktree Wheel in its entirety. Then it occurred to me that it might sit well with another pair of my favourite novellas, The Impossible Inferno and The Swine Taster, both of which I had considered at stages in my writing career to be my best works. The end result is a collection called THREE NOVELLAS and it has been published by my own Gibbon Moon Books press.
I would say that this book is absolutely representative of my best work as a whole. In other words, if you don't like this book I can confidently state that you probably won't like any of my others.
The book is available as a paperback and an ebook. Earlier this year I paid for ten proper ISBNs for my small press and I will be issuing ten of my own books to form a set. This book is perhaps the most vital part of this set.
Wednesday, February 23, 2022
Clumsy Carnacki - the Ghost Loser
My new book has just been published. It is a novella (or set of linked stories) about the inept non-canonical son of the renowned Carnacki
I have had the idea for writing these stories for many years but only completed the project recently. Carnacki's son wants to follow in his father's footsteps but is simply not up to the job. He earns the nickname 'Clumsy' as a result of his occult bungling. Whereas his father was known as 'the ghost finder' the son is 'the ghost loser'.
And yet he often muddles through despite his incompetence... at least until he bites off more ectoplasm than he can supernaturally chew....
I am very pleased with this book. I believe that my stories of Clumsy Carnacki are both a genuine tribute to the original tales of William Hope Hodgson and an ironic variation on them in postmodern mode.
Whether hardcore Hodgson fans will like them is a different question entirely. But my own view is that variations on a theme or style or tradition are valid and can be amusing or even epiphanic in some cases.
Anyway, the book is now available from Amazon and elsewhere in both paperback and ebook editions and in fact, as a promotional offer, the ebook is free to download for the next four days.
Friday, February 11, 2022
The World Beyond the Stairwell
"'The World Beyond the Stairwell' may well be the finest tribute (with love) to Hodgson ever written." — John Clute.
First published twenty years ago as part of a limited edition hardback collection from Sarob Press, my novella THE WORLD BEYOND THE STAIRWELL is now available as a standalone paperback and ebook. It is simultaneously a tribute to Hodgson and Borges, with a bit of Lovercraft thrown in for good/bad measure.
This novella received many enthusiastic reviews when it first came out and I am delighted to be able to give it another chance to reach a wider readership. The Sarob Press volume where it originally appeared was limited to only a few hundred copies.
"Enter the weird and original world of Rhys Hughes, an eerie nightmare place of monsters, demons, devils and other strange horrors. If you haven’t read anything by this author previously, then get ready for a truly terrific helter-skelter ride of the imagination." — Jeff VanderMeer.
The novella is avaialble as a paperback and ebook from Amazon and elsewhere.
Monday, January 31, 2022
Get a Room!
My new poetry book has just been published. It's a collection I am very happy with because it has a satisfying unity. The official description says it all: "A slim book of poems about the thwarted passions of implausible and even impossible lovers who nonetheless manage to get it together thanks to some timely and snappy advice. Star-crossed, moon-spangled, kiss-splattered romantics should rejoice!"
This is one of the three new poetry collections I recently decided to put together. The other two are called Big Baboons and Sorry I'm Late, Sir: Barnacles! and I will be submitting them to publishers soon. Get a Room! has been published by Gibbon Moon Books and there will be a total of ten of my books from this imprint. At least that's the idea and my hope...
One of those books will be a massive collection of my more fabular stories called My Big Glib Book of Flippant Fairy Tales and I am really looking forward to seeing that one in print.
In the meantime Get a Room!
is available in both paperback and email editions from Amazon
Saturday, January 22, 2022
Mathematical Ghost Stories
My first book of 2022 is a slim collection of five OuLiPo ghost stories that I wrote in the 1990s. One of them was published in the journal Ghosts and Scholars
but I can't remember if any of the others were published. But I do know that they are being published all together for the first time now.
OuLiPo (Ouvroir de Litterature Pontentielle) is a perennial workshop of experimental fiction that was founded by Raymond Queneau and Francois le Lionnais in 1960. Its members attempt to create original fictions using mathematical and logical constraints that are arbitrary but rigorously applied.
Some OuLiPo constraints are complicated, some are simple. For these ghost stories a simple constraint has been chosen. Five of M.R. James’ stories (the more obscure ones) have been taken and sequels written for them. Each sequel is exactly the same length as the original and has an identical structure, which means it has the same number of paragraphs, the same number of sentences in each paragraph, the same number of words in every sentence, and all the punctuation marks are in exactly the same places.
The book is available on all Amazon outlets in both paperback
Friday, December 31, 2021
Review of 2021
Another pandemic year. I read a lot, I wrote a lot, and to my delighted surprise I even managed to travel (not a lot but enough). Let's consider my reading first. I read more poetry this year than I normally do, including the vast majority of the poems of Richard Brautigan
, who remains one of my favourite poets. But I also finally sampled the work of Philip Larkin
and found it remarkable, quite unlike what I was expecting. He too is now one of my favourite poets. Another poet worthy of mention is Ai Ogawa
. These three poets I can say I know well because my reading of them was comprehensive. I sought out all their collections.
As for prose books, I finally managed to finish the complete 'Maigret' series of Georges Simenon. I began reading the series back in 2014. Seventy-five novels in total. I am pleased to have read all of them but I must concur with the wisdom of those who claim that Simenon's best work can be found in his non-Maigret books. In 2021 I read The Man Who Watched Trains Go By. Sheer brilliance! I also re-read the five volumes of the first 'Chronicles of Amber' by Roger Zelazny, a series I first read when I was 17 or 18 years old. It held up well but wasn't quite as brilliant as I remembered it to be. I also finished the last volume in the 'Second Ether' series of Michael Moorcock and finished the final book (that has been translated into English) of the 'Captain Alatriste' series of Arturo Perez-Reverte. It was a year of coming to the end of sequences...
But let's cut to the chase and talk about the best of the best. These are the books I was most delighted to have encountered in the year 2021: Venus on the Half-Shell by Philip Jose Farmer; Immortality by Milan Kundera; The Mournful Demeanour of Lieutenant Boruvka by Josef Škvorecký; The Housing Lark by Sam Selvon; The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton; and The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles. If I had to pick just one from this list it would be the Škvorecký. It might be noted that these works and writers are very 'male' in their outlooks and styles. Too bad. I am very male too.
But if we really have to make a distinction between men and women writers, then I wish to put in a very good word for the novel Sylvia: Distant Avuncular Ends by Maithreyi Karnoor.
Now let me talk about my writing. I finished a novella made up of five connected stories and I will soon be looking for a publisher for it. Clumsy Carnacki, the Ghost Loser relates the misadventures of the incompetent son of the famous occult detective and the first installment can be found here.
I wrote 24 stories in total, 3 short plays, 6 articles, and maybe one hundred poems.
I had eleven books published in 2021, but considering that six of them were self-published I think it is safer to say that I had five books published: a collection of stories, plays and poems called Weirdly Out West; the two novellas Students of Myself and My Rabbit's Shadow Looks like a Hand; another collection called Utopia in Trouble; and the first of my poetry collections to be published by a traditional publisher, Bunny Queue. I believe that the two novellas in this list are among my best ever works.
Maybe I ought to talk about films... In Bruges was the film I saw in 2021 that has remained most strongly in my mind. I was also pleased to finally get into the films produced by Studio Ghibli. No, I don't think I will talk much about films today: I hardly ever do.
Oh, and one other thing: I moved out of Britain and I am now an expat and a glomad. I currently live on a very nice island at a latitude of 6.2 degrees north and a longitude of 80 degrees east. Have a great New Year! :-)
Monday, December 20, 2021
My Second Omnibus Volume
The second omnibus volume of several of my OOP (out of print) books is now available, with cover art by the always excellent Selwyn Rodda. The books contained in this omnibus are:
(1) The Young Dictator
(2) Twisthorn Bellow
(3) The Abnormalities of Stringent Strange
(4) The Further Fangs of Suet Pudding
I am not sure how many omnibus volumes there will be in total. Maybe four or five. I certainly have enough material for ten or more. I believe that this particular omnibus represents extremely good value. It is very large and features four of my best novels and is available from Amazon in both paperback and ebook editions.
The Young Dictator is perhaps my most accessible book, described by the original publisher as "Roald Dahl meets Spike Milligan and Kurt Vonnegut." It was published in Ireland and I have fond memories of the book tour arranged to promote it. Twisthorn Bellow is the first of my 'warped superhero' novels, about a golem who accidentally falls into a vat of nitro-glycerin and turns into a living stick of dynamite. The Abnormalities of Stringent Strange is my second 'warped superhero' novel and relates the exploits of an apeman test pilot. The Further Fangs of Suet Pudding is its sequel and concerns the same apeman in later life, in a remote corner of Africa, battling resurrected Nazis.
Some blurbs about my work....
"Rhys Hughes seems almost the sum of our planet's literature... As well as being drunk on language and wild imagery, he is also sober on the essentials of thought. He has something of Mervyn Peake's glorious invention, something of John Cowper Powys's contemplative, almost disdainful existentialism, a sensuality, a relish, an addiction to the delicious." — Michael Moorcock
“It’s a crime that Rhys Hughes is not as widely known as Italo Calvino and other writers of that stature. Brilliantly written and conceived, Hughes’ fiction has few parallels anywhere in the world. In some alternate universe with a better sense of justice, his work triumphantly parades across all bestseller lists.” — Jeff VanderMeer
“If I said he was a Welsh writer who writes as though he has gone to school with the best writing from all over the world, I wonder if my compliment would just sound provincial. Hughes’ style, with all that means, is among the most beautiful I’ve encountered in several years.” — Samuel R Delany
Saturday, November 27, 2021
My Little Halloween Book
I created a little book for Halloween, but then I realised it was good for any other time of year too. It's a slim pocket-sized volume featuring four horror stories, two of which have been previously published in anthologies, two of which haven't. The stories are diabolical, kafkaesque, macabre and grotesquely comical in turn. Anyway, it is available on all Amazon
outlets at the cheapest possible price that I was permitted to set for it.
I supposedly gave up writing horror stories ten years ago, but here I am, still writing the occasional horror story. How do I resolve this contradiction? I guess I could say that my 'horror' isn't conventional horror and maybe isn't horror at all, but something else: dark absurdist fantasy, perhaps, or ironic gothic fantastika. But no, that doesn't really wash.
The truth is that I hardly read horror now but I read it when I was young, in my early teens, and began to move away from it over the subsequent years. By the time of the publication of my first short stories I had completely abandoned horror for other kinds of writing. The stories I wrote between the ages of 14 and 17 (all lost now) were probably the purest horror I have written. However, formative influences can never be entirely disengaged from. There is some horror still deep in my writing soul and it comes out now and then.
That's all I will say for the time being. I guess I ought to also mention that I have left Britain and moved abroad, this time to Sri Lanka. It's nice here, up in the verdant hills above the old capital of Kandy.
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
The Seven Deadly Sinbads
My new book has just been published and is available as a paperback and an ebook.The Seven Deadly Sinbads
is a set of linked stories featuring the famous sailor, but they are rather different from the traditional tales in which Sinbad is the hero.
On the surface they are fantasy adventures in which Sinbad visits strange islands, dips beneath the sea to meet mermaids, is shipwrecked and rescued and shipwrecked again, finds a message in a bottle that tells a most remarkable story and ends up performing in a very unusual music festival.
And yes, he has learned wisdom over the years and wraps legends around himself like a cloak.
But here also are the delights and perils of experimental forms. Sinbad is locked into a rigorous numerological exploit with previously unknown brothers, is compelled to find safe passage through labyrinths of layered, divergent and fractured narratives, and must put his supreme talents to surviving cultural catastrophes.
"The wages of sin are death, they say, but we sin every day, and Sinbad earns his salary anyway, on seven salty seas."
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