The Outcast Hours on Resonance FM

Recorded live at the Museum of London's Join the Night London Council event on Friday 26th October 2018, curated by Flying Object and inspired by the museum's photography exhibition London Nights (on until 11th November). Episode 1 features artist Amelia Barratt, sound collector Ian Rawes, authors Karen Onojaife and Will Hill and the Museum of London's Curator of Photographs Anna Sparham. Music by ROMAN. Presenter: Zakia Sewell. Produced by Jo Barratt, Jessie Lawson and Michael Umney. Night bus interviews produced by Jessie Lawson. (Listen here)



All My Children

Updates upon updates:

The Outcast Hours, edited by Mahvesh Murad and myself, is not shipping. Far from it - it ain't out until February. THAT SAID. Advance Reading Copies are in the wild. As with all ARCs, they aren't the finished finished copies, but they're darn close, and it is fun/terrifying seeing how the early readers are responding. If you're a Netgalley reviewer, you can grab one yourself. Or if you're a non-Netgalley reviewer (or bookshop person, or blogger, or vlogger, or whatever), you can simply email the publicist

Those at the 'Night London Council' event at the Museum of London last Friday got a sneak preview, with short readings by Karen "Tilt" Onojaife and Will "It Was a Different Time" Hill. DJ Zakia Sewell has an AMAZING voice, and it was fantastic hearing her read the Outcast 'blurb'. 'Hearing a DJ read the spiel over the radio' is way up on the list. Highlights from the evening will be rebroadcast on Resonance FM next weekend.

There's not a ton that Mahvesh and I can do at this point - which is, as you can imagine, makes me a little twitchy. We're posting copies, squashing a few typos, but mostly just trying not to look at early responses. Even when they're, you know, good. Or very good. Or great. We're trying to scheme up a few more events like the above, but it may be closer to the launch before we see it all come together. Exciting/tense/etc.

...and The Djinn Falls in Love keeps ticking along. There were copies at ComicCon last weekend - which felt very cool - courtesy of Forbidden Planet - now signed by Claire North (and defaced by me). Mahvesh keeps getting photos of Djinn sightings all over the world: the latest, I think was Italy. I'm delighted that it keeps finding readers (and vice versa).

Literary Landscapes, edited by John Sutherland, is now shipping! A lovely gift book, with very interesting essays from very interesting people. I'm in there with strongly worded opinions about Lyme Regis (The French Lieutenant's Woman) and the Mississippi River (Huckleberry Finn). Here's the book at Waterstones, Amazon, and Blackwell's.

The Best of British Fantasy is at 175ish submissions, which excludes my own non-submitted reading. More about the progress of this particular tome - and what I'm learning from it - in this week's newsletter.

Speaking of which - recent newsletters have been about world-building and side-hustles.

Next event is the Self-Publishing Exchange on Saturday. After that, a couple of lectures, and... maybe that's it? Famous last words. Or not last words.

The Outcast Hours

An announcement - The Outcast Hours has been revealed to the world. An anthology of new stories about 'life after dark', coming next February, edited by Mahvesh Murad and myself. Some details over at Barnes & Noble, a full contributor list on Goodreads, and more to come. 

Sometimes I worry that my newsletter isn't esoteric enough. Then I go off on a tear about Talmudic scholars and the Kickstarter economy, so, you know. There's that.

Kitchen & Events

More on middling, this time in the kitchen:

Recipes work because they can be tailored to an audience need. You analyse the audience requirement (money, time, ingredients, servings, diets, etc) and provide the output: a meal that solves that problem. A meal that feeds six. A meal that costs a fiver. A meal that contains exactly 350 calories, or doesn't use dairy, or builds muscle, or adds, I dunno, mindfulness. Recipes are about working towards exact results - and the key word there is "results". Recipes don't middle.

Elsewhere - an appropriately short post on Short Stops, sharing the call for submissions for The Best of British Fantasy.

Upcoming events:



Old Newsletters, New Events

On middling (and Lord of the Rings):

Yes, Tolkien could've thwarted Evil in six emoji rather than a half-million words, but, that would've been a bad story.  Even if all of this stuff, this middling, is procedurally meaningless, it is the point of the epic. 

On value (and bookplates):

To put a bookplate in a book is therefore a great imbalance in the Force: a declaration that the book's personal relevance offsets - or trumps - all other values. I'm arbitrarily assigning a high value to the historical factor of my own ownership and, by acting on it, 'betting' that the increase of that value offsets the corresponding depreciation that results from putting a whopping big sticker in it

And on nothing in particular (or, more accurately, lots of little things):

Juicy new survey on American reading habits from YouGov. Not new news, but nor is it great news. Only about 40% of Americans read one book a month or more. Only 6% read a book each week. (That rises to 9% of women, 2% of men.) Oh, and hey, 2/3rds don't read for pleasure - meaning a large chunk of the reading that is happening is in the functional space (work, study, cookery, DIY...).


In other places:

BBQ, Pink Flamingos, Bits

An interview with The Stars Now Unclaimed's Drew Williams about BBQ, and what it really means:

Were those moments as perfect as I remember? Almost certainly not: with seven kids, at least a couple of us were fighting, at least a handful of my uncles were probably embarrassingly drunk, and with my family, a day like that was as liable to end with a trip to the emergency room as anything else - I once got shot in the head with an arrow! - but those aren’t the parts I remember, you know? In memory, the sunlight’s always perfect, the sweat doesn’t stink and the blood doesn’t hurt, and every piece of BBQ that came out of that smoker was done to perfection.

What disaster fiction can teach us about pink flamingos (and the role of the advertising agency):

The Meg is a black swan - no one expects a prehistoric sharkDeep Blue Sea is a pink flamingo. The inevitable conclusion of making hyper-intelligent sharks is that you're going to get some people well and truly et.

As I am oddly unreliable with these updates, much more practical to subscribe.

Other bits

  • Currently over 100 items already in for The Best of British Fantasy, plus my own, um, exploratory reading - a really interesting experience, and I look forward to sharing more about it
  • Speaking of 'Best of'...: Maria Dahvana Headley's "Black Powder" (from The Djinn Falls in Love) has been selected for The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy and Saad Hossain's "Bring Your Own Spoon" is in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year.
  • New events coming up in October and November - two publishing talks and some cameos-in-support-of-a-book-to-which-I-contributed. (I'm not sure what the word is for that.)
  • I'm not at either FantasyCon or World Fantasy. But I have already booked for next year's WorldCon. (And, for non-SF/F types, yes - those are three completely different things and, yes - that is confusing, and probably deliberate.)

"What are your influences?"

This week's newsletter is about influences. Also Facebook, Fighting Fantasy and, uh, mayonnaise:

One particularly fascinating bit of aboutness - an aboutness molecule - the humble Facebook ad. We don't see them. Of course we don't! I've held approximately 7,500,000 focus groups, and I've never once heard someone say that they noticed a Facebook ad. I don't. You don't. No one does! And yet, someone does, because, guess what, Facebook made $39.9 billion on those ads last year. Billion. That's a lot of not-noticing. This isn't social acceptability bias either, as even in quantitative surveys, we say we don't see those ads. 91% of the UK population says they've never made a purchase through a social media ad. 87% have never clicked a brand communication through Facebook. And yet, someone is placing - and winning - a forty billion dollar bet that they do.


Plus, NewCon's Ian Whates says very nice things about the Best of British Fantasy project. Subscribe to that too!

The Best of British Fantasy

I'm editing The Best British Fantasy. I'm delighted to be working with Newcon's Ian Whates, and have the opportunity to showcase the brilliance of British creativity.

So... I need some fantasy.

What am I looking for?

Best: In the immortal words of the Atlantic Monthly's Ellery Sedgewick: "My selection is made according to the whim of one individual." 

British: This is about authorship, not publication. It doesn't matter where the work was first published: I need the author to be a citizen of the United Kingdom or long-term resident. I would like to read stories from UK citizens residing outside of the UK. I would like to read stories from (the other) immigrants that now make the UK their home. And I would like to read stories from UK-born people who live in the UK. Basically, I would like to read stories.

Fantasy: I define fantasy as 'contains some element of the fantastic'. This is deliberately broad, and includes everything from the most epic of epics to the most literary of, uh, literary. Paranormal romance, magical realism, sword & sorcery, steampunk - I think great quality lurks in every subgenre. Try me.

The caveat is, NewCon already publishes terrific science fiction and horror 'best of' series (check 'em out). I'm not going to poach from their fields.

This is a reprint market for short stories

I'm looking for stories that are, ideally, between 2,500 and 6,000 words. Exceptions can be made, although if you're flogging either a novelette or flash fiction, that's unlikely to happen. 

Stories means stories. No poetry, non-fiction or extracts from longer works, please.

I am looking for reprints. Stories must have been first published between 1 January and 31 December 2018. Please ensure the reprint rights for the story are available before sending it to me. As well as anthology and magazine publication, I am happy to consider stories that first appeared in a digital format, as a self-published story, as bonus content in a book, in a magazine, in a small press, as a limited edition, in a chapbook, whatever, etc. etc. 

This is a paying market, offering 1p a word for reprint rights on accepted stories, up to a maximum of £60.00, along with contributor copies of the book. There will also be some non-onerous, non-mandatory publicity requirements/opportunities for contributors as well.

How to submit a story

I am very happy to hear from authors, agents, or publishers.

Please send the story (as Word/PDF/mobi/epub, pls), publication details, and brief bio to 

Deadline 1 December 2018, but the sooner the better. I am happy to read pre-publication copies, provided the final story does publish within the calendar year.

If you include [BoBF] in the subject line I will get to it faster and know that you read this whole thing.

Spreading the word

Please share this link far and wide. I'm keen to cast a wide net and read as broadly as possible. I want BoBF to represent the diversity of voices and talents and backgrounds present with the UK. 

You can also help by leaving your own suggestions - stories, authors, anthologies, even magazines or publishers - in the comments below. Or tweet them at me at @straycarnivore. Or email them to me directly at the address above.