Month: December 2011

Horrors & Joys

[Note: you may wish to start a little background music here. I believe it’s traditional at moments like these to opt for this, or if we’re going a little more contemporary, we could opt for this…]

We made it to New Year’s Eve.

You hear that, world?

This has been one of the strangest years I’ve ever known.

It was the year I lost my mother, completely out of the blue and which knocked me so far sideways it was like I’d hitched a ride on a wrecking ball. It was the year of The House Sale That Went Bad, leading to 4 months living out of a suitcase. (If you saw me at Eastercon or at World Horror, that little blue case I was towing around behind me represented my entire wardrobe between January & the beginning of May. The plus from this is that I can pack incredibly light now. Seriously.) It was the year I supported someone through rehab. It was the year my husband blew up his track car, right after a full rebuild that had taken the best part of a year. It was the year I joined the BFS committee… the week that the BFS imploded.

It was also the year that, thanks to the amazing Jon Oliver and everyone at Solaris, I sold my first book. It was the year that I got my first ever story commission–thanks this time to Jared & Anne at Pornokitsch, for their fledgling Pandemonium imprint which I hope goes from strength to strength. It was the year we raised a staggering sum with Genre for Japan; the year of the most successful Fantasycon…

More than anything, though, it was the year I found my tribe.

What I will take away from this year, boxed and tied up in ribbons, is the thought of the people it has involved. I have met more amazing people this year than any other; many of whom I am now honoured to call friends. The list is longer than makes it practical to post here, but I hope that they know who they are.

This has been a year of utter, utter horror… and of complete and total joy.

And so, we’ll wind up the year with a story, which I’ve posted in the new tab up top, marked “For Your Reading Pleasure“–look at it as a New Year’s gift from me to you. Whoever you are, and wherever you are.

And we’ll wind the year up with a song.

For Other Half. For Small Boy. For Tesna. For Vinny.

For Jon, for Jenni, for Michael, for Simon, for Dave, for Ben.

For Will. For Tom, for Lizzie. For Anne, for Jared. For Chris. For Marie. For Michael. For Adele, for Amanda, for Ro. For Scott. For Adam. For Andy. For Paul, for Nadine….. and for so many more of you that by the time I’ve finished, the song would be done: you’ve made this year one of the most memorable I can imagine.

This is for you.

 

Let’s see what the next year brings, shall we? I’ll see you on the other side.

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Burning the Clocks

Yes, yes. I know. I give you a pretty picture to look at and then I disappear for a fortnight. Sorry. I have been a bit rubbish, haven’t I?

If it’s any consolation, I have spent most of the last two weeks running around like a cat with its tail on fire, stopping only to whimper quietly in a corner. I’m knackered. I’ve worked nowhere near as much as I’d have liked (although this morning’s attempt at research has landed me on a website with a very scary url beginning http://www.secretservice… so if I suddenly disappear, it’s probably best if you don’t come looking for me. But I do appreciate the thought.) and have eaten far more than I should have.

Christmas has apparently Been Done Properly.

Just before Christmas, though, I went to Burning the Clocks here in Brighton. Held every year around the midwinter solstice, it’s a lantern-lit parade through the centre of town, down to the beach. Once the parade reaches the shoreline, the lanterns (which are made of willow withies and paper) are thrown onto a huge bonfire and ceremonially burned.

Some of the “clocks” are built to look like… stuff, as opposed to being little lanterns. I was particularly taken with these two: a phoenix, and a griffin.

And there’s fireworks. Because Brighton is never knowingly subtle.

It was a fantastic way to start Christmas, and if you happen to be round this way for next year’s, I thoroughly recommend it.

There are, by the way, much better pictures on the Guardian’s site, here. See if you can spot the geek-tastic lantern in photo 3…

Angel Face

So, I have a new favourite page on the internet.

It’s this one.

Yes, kids. That is the “Blood & Feathers” page on Amazon’s UK site (what’s that? You want to see the US one? Oh, go on then... I like that one too.) You may have seen it before. Perhaps you have. In that case, you should go and look again. Seriously, because I’m worried that if I take my eyes off it for a second, it’ll scuttle off somewhere and hide. And sooner or later, I’m going to need to blink.

I have a cover. And it’s, like, out there. With pictures and words and cool stuff.

There’s still one or two tweaks that need doing, so the Amazon sites are likely to update once they’re complete, but–give or take the odd detail–this is how it’ll look.

I’ve been sitting on the draft version since late September, when we’d talked about ideas for it at the Solaris offices… and then the amazing Simon Parr (who is also Pye. It’s a thing. I don’t ask. He may well be some kind of gestalt art/comics/awesome guru) went off, had a think, and came back with what you see there.

I absolutely adore it. It’s gorgeous and feels completely right and you must all immediately rush over and tell @PyeParr that he is, basically, a genius.

Keep an eye out for the final version, which I hope I can put a big, shiny high-res copy of on here soon so you can see it properly.

Flynn Rider totally approves.

Death’s Head Cha-Cha-Cha

Winner of today’s “ZOMG, that’s the most terrifying thing I’ve seen since I looked in the mirror first thing” prize is this:

Yes, it looks a bit like a skull, which is quite scary enough.

However, it’s even scarier than you think: that’s a photo of a nuclear explosion, one millisecond after detonation.

I’m pretty convinced that this is as close to it as I ever want to get.

According to the Gizmodo article which brings us this horror, this fireball is 60-some feet high, and was taken in the Nevada desert in the 1950s.

On a slightly lighter (if no less morbid) note, I recently discovered a brilliant procrastination site: 350 Ways to Die. While none of them are particularly helpful for dealing with the asshat who threw up on my doorstep over the weekend (and, believe me, I’ve got special plans for them if ever I catch them…) the site contains lists of unusual ways that people have met their ends throughout history. Some of them are less than sensible, and some of them are simply sad. All claim to be true.

One of my favourites is this one:

Sigurd I of Orkney was a successful soldier who conquered most of northern Scotland in the 9th century. Following a fever-pitched victory in A.D. 892 against Maelbrigte of Moray and his army, Sigurd decapitated Maelbrigte and stuck his opponent’s head on his saddle as a trophy. As Sigurd rode with his trophy head, his leg kept rubbing against his foe’s choppers. The teeth opened a cut on Sigurd’s leg that became infected and led to blood poisoning. Sigurd died shortly thereafter.
Publications International, Ltd.

Just because.

There’s also cases of suicide by tree and death by bestiality.

The site’s clearly a work in progress, as it has space for more articles than are listed – but if you know of a story that should be on there, they also have a submission form so you can get in touch…

Dem Bones

Interesting news culled from The Londonist this morning (yes, I may well be a Brightonian now, but as I’ve long said, cut me & I’ll probably bleed London) – it appears that the London Dungeon have been harbouring a fake among their skeletons.

As in… a fake-fake.

As in… a real skeleton.

Alarmingly, it may even have been there since the dungeon opened 30-odd years ago, passing as an extremely good reproduction.

Hrrmpph. Shudder. Dislike. (Mostly, admittedly, because I dread to think what they’ve done to the poor thing during that time, blissfully unaware that it wasn’t a piece of plastic. Of course, you’d have thought the fact it was made of bone might have tipped them off a touch, wouldn’t you…?)

Also? I would love to see the offices of the Human Tissue Authority, as mentioned in that article. In my head, I picture them looking rather like this:

For preference, there should be some kind of ominous up-lighting, armed guards wearing goggles and possibly even the odd fluttering banner hanging down the front of the building.

Although they probably look rather more pedestrian.

Why yes, I do have an overactive imagination, thank you very much.

Also: on the subject of Bones, a – possibly even true! – piece of trivia. Ever considered the naming of the main character from “Bones“? She’s called Temperance, making a lovely little Tarot in-joke. In the major arcana, card XIII is (predictably) Death. And card XIV… is Temperance. So after Death, you see Temperance.

Unless, presumably, you’re the poor soul in the London Dungeon. In which case, you see tourists…

 

Zombie Safe-House

We live in strange days. It’s true. We have many things to worry about: the economy, the state of the planet, the near-constant assault on our ears by X-Factor finalists…

But you can consider one thing to be taken care of: come the zompocalypse, if you need somewhere to hide, you’ve got options.

Ladies and gentlemen. For your most apocalyptic appreciation… the winners of the 2011 Zombie Safe House competition.

Made. Of. Win.