[Publishing] Be A Tourist!

ALRIGHT I’LL STOP TEASING!

It’s here, it’s here, it’s available now!

“I have no idea what that is, who he is, why the fuck you’re asking me, or what the hell is happening,” Alec said, simply. […] “I don’t like you, I don’t like him, and you’ve probably resulted in me losing a job I only just got and had to bend over backwards to get by dragging me all over some bullshit hallucination and making me inexplicably late.”
Everything you believe about London is true.
At least, it’s true somewhere. What’s also true is that Alec Archer Crowe and Opportunity Chioma Oluchukwu definitely didn’t ask to be involved in any version of London other than the one they’re in, and yet here they are: faced with disintegrating realities, constantly-changing rules no one will explain, and the world’s smelliest witch. Something is horribly, terribly wrong… and not just Alec’s sleep schedule.

Available in print (Lulu), .mobi (Amazon UK and other regional Amazon sites), and a variety of eBook formats on the majority of eBook platforms, NOW.

[Comics] Bad Boys And Where To Buy Them

It’s time for zines! Remember Bad Boys And Where To Find Them? If you don’t, that’s the link there.

If you do, and like owning rather slickly-printed versions of comics (in full colour! I’m very excited because I’ve never done full-colour printing before!), then you’re in luck.

 

Bad Boys & Where to Find Them is now available on the BRAND NEW Gumroad store. Keep an eye on it for future releases from the depths of our joint imagination and extremely cool printing service.

There’s a catch:

This is a very limited run. Future runs of other titles will be longer, but because colour printing isn’t cheap, there aren’t many copies of this zine available! If you want to keep this for yourself, you’d better move quickly…

https://gumroad.com/js/gumroad.js
Grab some Bad Boys!

[PUBLISHING] Coming soon: Tourist’s Guide to the Ideal London

“I have no idea what that is, who he is, why the fuck you’re asking me, or what the hell is happening,” Alec said, simply. […] “I don’t like you, I don’t like him, and you’ve probably resulted in me losing a job I only just got and had to bend over backwards to get by dragging me all over some bullshit hallucination and making me inexplicably late.”
Book cover of A Tourist's Guide To The Ideal London
Everything you believe about London is true.
At least, it’s true somewhere. What’s also true is that Alec Archer Crowe and Opportunity Chioma Oluchukwu definitely didn’t ask to be involved in any version of London other than the one they’re in, and yet here they are: faced with disintegrating realities, constantly-changing rules no one will explain, and the world’s smelliest witch. Something is horribly, terribly wrong… and not just Alec’s sleep schedule.
Coming SOON from House of D Publications: a car crash of realities across multiple Londons which questions the concept of consistency, memory, and meaning–and just why the hell you’re paying so much rent to live in a city that’s built as much on mythology as it is on mud.

[Poetry/Art] National Geographic

After a lull, I have completed the piece/series that began here.

a cut-up poem, the lower half imposed over an image of a neoclassical ballroom filled with an artificially-produced cloud

Transcript for users of screenreaders. In transcripts, “/” indicates a break between cut-up pieces which have been visibly joined into one, and “//” indicates meaningful tabulation spaces between items on the same line:

CLOUDS ARE AN ORDINARY SIGHT

“Nimbus” explores / behind a cloud

lasting only moments.

fall straight to the / tiny particles // vapor

runs around // vapor

cloud, coaxing / the air clear

like a tropospheric / artist.

New images / of fabricated / transience —

Each creation is /  gone forever.

you

already missed it.

a cut-up poem. the first two lines are imposed on an image of two young men in a field of grass who are wearing brightly-coloured carnival masks and both are facing to look at something the camera does not show

Transcript for those using screenreaders:

THE CITY IN THE WATER.

Its bloated carcass some-/ form of mass blindness.

spawned hot spots / that / traverse across

the heat. // tainting new / teeth

pain-killing

by giving voice to / his odyssey / along the pathways of the humans who first explored Earth.

a double-spread page of cut-up poems above an image of a black planet passing in front of a huge sun. the image is split in two and the two halves point at right angles

Transcript for those using screenreaders:

WE’RE NOT ALONE

test the brightness / artificial guide stars

all the planets of the universe / a clutter of memorabilia

just engineering / a million suns,

glossy black shards.

TRYING TO MAKE CONTACT

don’t orbit any star / with your hand

another living world / is one among trillions.

“It’s going to be really hard,”

mysteries of existence / view of heavenly objects,

is there life beyond / slight dimming / nearly the whole sky,

how do we find it?

// capture sufficient life

It’s a reminder of  / the problem with sleep:

//

The proximity of / a giant flower.


Publishing news: I have two recent books out, one poetry and one 20th-century historical romance (Interrupted Verse and Above Decency respectively), a piece of flash fiction due out in New Smut Project’s Erato anthology which I will post about when it’s available, and another work of urban literary SFF close to going into production. There are also exciting comics projects in the pipeline!

[PUBLISHING] Rise Above It

Pride may be over officially but it’s not really over until I say it is, and I say it isn’t. Everything is very stressful right now, and no one could blame you from wanting a little escapism, a little queer romance, a little fantasy, a little “not now, not the way things are”. Which is good, because that’s what I’ve got for you today.

Above Decency Cover: a silhouetted spitfire flies through clouds and a searchlight beam. the title is in red script and the name of the author, melissa snowdon, is in white capital letters

When Jack Campbell joins the airforce his only thought is to fly more, do his duty to his country, and escape his own thoughts for a few glorious hours in the air. And then he meets one H Fuller, and discovers that his heart, too, has wings.

Less of a historical romance, more of a romantic history: a fantasy of queer romance during war time, by the author of Tame.

Melissa Snowdon as a writing pseud is a guarantor of a happy ending. Only good times in these books!

Available on Kindle (US | UK and all regional sites) and in paperback (Lulu)

Lockdown Update: Welcome to half-way through the year

Opinion seems divided on whether or not lockdown in the UK is resulting in a surge of creativity, a surge of Netflix bingeing, or absolutely no change whatsoever barring a sudden desire to eat more crisps. Apparently in the eyes of whoever collates this information these things are mutually exclusive, and many very tiresome newspaper columnists of the sort who get paid £800 a column to write nothing edifying or even funny have made pronouncements of the “no one is really baking sourdough bread and learning Duolingo Latin, we’re all binge-watching TV, haha, aren’t I relatable” variety.

I rather think that all that’s happened is that people have reverted to what they find most comforting that’s actively available to to them in this period. For some people that’s binge-watching TV, because that’s what they’re into anyway (Long Suffering Boyfriend has run out of TV and is now marathoning the Aliens movies to supplement his usual diet of games and his recent hobby of doing pushups at 6am; The Resident Australian has acquired a wrist brace and gone back to drawing while watching YouTube videos, and taken up doing pushups at about 12pm). For me, someone who for reasons which I suspect actually constitute a neurological disability, cannot watch TV without being highly stressed and talking constantly, that means I have been churning out fiction as if my life depended on it.

I’ve also taken up doing push-ups in the living room in the time when the others aren’t, but we’re going to look at the writing.

One of the most important changes I’ve made to my writing life this year has been to return to fundamentals of style and technique, which saw me start the year with writing exercises, transition into writing things for my own consumption without a thought of potential audience (this is ongoing, and has seen me write over 50,000 words since I started–all longhand, at a glacial pace), and most recently has resulted in taking inspiration from my more ambitious reading material to return to another lesson from university: look at different ways of telling a story.

Delving back into structure, narrative, literary Dadaism, concepts like the antinovel, experimental fiction and literary rather than genre-specific approaches to writing has been a breath of fresh air for me. The last time a book’s germinus came about from a specific idea about structure was when I tried to envision a book in which the passage of a core plot was relegated to its rightfully unimportant place in the lives of most of the characters that it passed through.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the 11 years or so since finishing Pass the Parcel working on plotting because I was very aware that it’s a weak point. I have spent a lot of time trying to pursue more naturalistic and less forced plot progression because I am aware it’s a weak point. I’ve approached a lack of desire to research and I’ve made myself comfortable with the “why not” approach to casting characters (“does anything about the plot require this character to have the privileges of a white, male, able-bodied cis man for it to be able to function? Then that’s not what that character is”) and I have in the last couple of years done the following:

  1. a full, page-by-page plot breakdown of someone else’s book followed by a page-by-page rebuild of a similar plot with completely different features to it.
  2. gotten to grips with the short story format a little better, rather than just writing vignettes, and taken on “this thing needs to express an idea and imply an entire world”.

And I’d argue that this, in addition to making the uneasy acquaintance of things like “in-depth planning”, “editing”, and “no seriously, more editing”, has seen a serious improvement in the quality of work. However, by last year it also shoved me into a rut and made me bored.

Laying aside the usual concerns has allowed me to concentrate more fully on returning to things that invigorate my imagination, and almost as a by-product resulted in a lot of other, more normal work being shaken loose!

And it also inspired some art:

Transcription for screenreaders:

From the surface, Earth feels limitless and permanent, which is perhaps why it took so long to accept that it is not immobile at the centre of the universe.
“I’m very excited,” says Frank.
There may be very few places in the average galaxy where atoms have come to contemplate atoms. / But technology will advance very quickly over the next few hundred years.
It took seven years for The culmination of a long-held
view of the cosmos, made of ice.

With the sun’s powerful rats eclipsed
gravity of other celestial bodies
reveals an icy floodplain.

We are hungry for unknown aspects of a solid, flat surface carpeted with / a thin golden line in the dark.

by firing an electron atmosphere was tinged with less–than meets the eye.

kaleidoscopic ball above like beads on a string. / From space, our world appears finite and fragile, a tumbling grain of dust.

We can see the virus here thanks.

Transcription for screenreaders:

FIGHTERS Fairy tales

As a city kid, / based on a century-old idea:

a vast forest, impassable roads seemed to disappear

elk and wolves, / began to shrink.

They were hunters, / drugs that strip / the category of family, / hunt and kill foreign invaders.

That’s a physical representation of / blocks in its way,

and is armed to / be able to target more

“because you need silence.”

Transcription for screenreaders:

drought, and overuse

clusters of abandoned / stranded; the fish / born of drought.

like ice cream in a freezer that has melted / into thin air

warm water encourages growth.

air was lip-chapping dry / across the lake flooded

Water that once spread / nourishing rivers.

shrunk to a sliver / and worsening drought.

Winds that whip across / for the return of their dried-up lake.


On the “more normal writing” front, I’m delighted to also be able to announce that an excerpt from a longer project, When Someone Speaks Your Language, will be included in New Smut Project‘s forthcoming flash-fiction erotica anthology, Erato: Flash Fiction. I’m very excited to see the other work I’ll be appearing alongside–New Smut Project have a great dedication to erotica with character and imagination, and humanity. I’ve had the good fortune to have published with them previously, under the romance/erotica pseudonym Melissa Snowdon, in anthology Between The Shores (still available!), but this is the first time I’ll have published with this excellent imprint under my own name. Hopefully not the last, however, as they’re great people to work with.

The New Year Cow

On Christmas day I took 30-45 minutes out from gluttony and arguments to draw a cow.

A light brown cow stands knee-deep in long-grass, on a steep hillside. A pastoral vista drops away behind her, disappearing in the distance into some mountains. There are fluffy clouds in the sky, which is otherwise a deep bright blue. The scene is peaceful.
Click through for Redbubble products

Not only is this speed study a pleasant and relaxing image in the simplified style I’m working out at the moment (in part so that I don’t lose myself for over a year trying to do–as I currently am–a hyperrealistic study of some banana chips in a foil bag), it’s the first time I’ve managed to put together a piece of art that looks good on absolutely every single item in the Redbubble store’s offerings. Quite the Christmas miracle.

IT’S HERE! Architects of the Flesh is available for sale!

Do you like your socialism angry, your body horror Lamarckian, your alternate histories brutal and convoluted and your protagonists greyer than a London sky?

You’d better, because that’s what’s on offer, just in time for Christmas if you hurry!

(Unless you’re buying an ebook version, which case you can pretty much just buy it on Christmas day and hide in a corner devouring the misery, vengeance, and weirdness without listening to your family!)

If you don’t do Christmas, this book also serves brilliant as a Generic Winter Experience.

There is basically no reason not to buy, on Kindle (all regions, link goes to UK), iBooks, Nook, Barnes & Noble online, or in print and ebook at Lulu.com. You can also request it at many major bookshops!

the book cover for Architect of the Flesh shows the title, author attribution, and an image of a sketched medusa head on one piece of paper being menaced by a diagram of a surgeon's knife on another piece of paper: the background is Charles Booth's London Poverty Map

COMING SOON: ARCHITECTS OF THE FLESH

Coming soon from House of D Publications! A chunky and compelling novel full of strife, fantastical features, surgery, and really horrible phone calls! The birth and probably death of the genre Lamarckian Horror, by the author who brought you Saxonpunk.

the book cover for Architect of the Flesh shows the title, author attribution, and an image of a sketched medusa head on one piece of paper being menaced by a diagram of a surgeon's knife on another piece of paper: the background is Charles Booth's London Poverty Map

What?

That’s right! Before the close of the year, available in print and approximately a million (small exaggeration) e-reader formats including Kindle .mobi, .epub, .pdf etc, and available on iBooks, Kobi, Amazon, etc: ARCHITECTS OF THE FLESH is London as you’ve never seen it and hopefully will never see it, in a world where Lamarckian inheritance works, and just about every other science lags behind xenotransplant surgery.

Wait, back up. Lamarckian?

You may remember Darwin. At least, I hope you do. Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection turned out to be right: the idea that organisms develop physical (and indeed behavioural) traits over time as those individuals who display them fare better in whichever environment they’re in than those who don’t, and so have more babies.

Well, in the heady days of the 19th century, when everyone was still trying to figure out what the absolute hell was going on with a world they’d previously assumed was static and unchanging after the Oh Shit discovery of fossils, he was far from the only thinker trying to work out how we’d got from dinosaurs to chickens and whether those things had happened at the same time.

Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, chevalier de Lamarck (or just Lamarck)’s idea of how environment enacted biological change was that changes to individual organisms during the course of their lifetime were then demonstrated in their offspring: so if you cut the tail off a mouse, it would have tail-less offspring. If a giraffe stretched and stretched for leaves, it would have offspring with younger necks.

Now… that does seem pretty easy to test via empirical if somewhat cruel methods. Mice are not hard to get hold of and were pretty abundant in the 19th century too. And it certainly hasn’t withstood such a simple test as obviously your surgically mutilated mouse does not beget mice without tails (mice with human ears and mice with green fur are the result of genetic tampering, and are outside the scope of this novel).

Yes but: “xenotransplant”?

In the 1790s, eminent surgeon and co-author of Anatomy of the Human Gravid Uterus, William Hunter grafted human teeth onto a rooster’s head and said rooster grew a coxcomb of tooth enamel. You can see the results at the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London (or you can in 2021, when the museum re-opens).

See that? More of that.

So much more of that. Animal husbandry meets 18th century attitudes where theology of predestination props up chattel slavery. Human rights? Never heard of her. Animal rights? Don’t make me laugh. Technology without overriding morality? Wealth without conscience? People with fashion transplants? You got it.

Grab yourself a copy and see how bad things can get–but also just how hard it is to prevent people from trying to make things better.