pandemonium

The Nice List

My WordPress dashboard is snowing. That can only mean one thing: it must be nearly Christmas.

Look, I can’t help it – and if you think that’s a bad way of judging the start of the holiday season, you should meet Other Half. He declares it to be officially Christmas when one of his online forums puts up the twinkly fairy lights gif around the border of the page. So, you know…

Anyway. Christmas is rolling towards us like a tinsel-strewn juggernaut, and this means it’s prime festive shopping season. Ever helpful, I’ve come up with a couple of suggestions for gifts for those really difficult people to buy for. I warn you: these are, largely, Things What My Friends Have Made – but you shouldn’t let their questionable judgement in hanging around with me put you off. Everything on this list is awesome, and would make an amazing present – and frankly, if you can’t plug your mates’ stuff on your blog, then where can you do it?

So, without further ado, I present (see what I did there?)…

THE NICE LIST

(for the sake of simplicity, the majority of these links are Amazon physical ones. Feel free to sub in the physical / ebook retailer of your choice….)

 – For action junkies:

SHIFT – Kim Curran

DEPARTMENT 19: THE RISING – Will Hill

Scott Tyler and Jamie Carpenter are, between them, as average as your average teenage boy gets. Except they aren’t… because as you soon discover if you pick up either of these two books, Scott has the power to change any decision he’s ever made and Jamie’s a vampire hunter with a secret government department. Gory, gripping and action-packed, these books are brilliantly paced and plotted. And if you can’t choose between them… why not pick both?

 

 – For Doomsday Preppers:

THE TESTIMONY – James Smythe

Let me tell you a story about this book (in which a blast of static is heard by almost everyone on the planet, followed by a voice. Is it God? Is it aliens? Is it a mass hallucination..?). I took this on holiday with me earlier this year, and it was the last book I read before heading home. I was sitting in the airport at the Seychelles, which is a tiny little thing, at around midnight, waiting for my flight to be called and reading the last couple of chapters of THE TESTIMONY. There were one or two people already in the departure hall, but we were the last flight out for the night so it was pretty quiet.

And then someone, somewhere, leaned on a button and switched on the PA. There was a burst of deafening white noise… and nothing else.

Not that it mattered, because by that time I had dropped my book and hidden under the departure lounge seating.

That’s how good this book is.

It’s complicated, twisty… and utterly terrifying.

 

 – For Western fans & short story addicts: 

A TOWN CALLED PANDEMONIUM – Jurassic Press

I’ve been involved in the Pandemonium project (one of my stories appeared in the apocalypse-themed anthology, now out of print) but this one’s a different animal altogether. A shared-world, weird Western anthology with some of my favourite writers involved, it will transport you to a town with secrets, tragedies and horrors. So what are you waiting for? Saddle up…

 

For urban explorers:

THE CITY’S SON – Tom Pollock

Urban explorers know that cities have a life of their own – and London is no exception. But you’ve never imagined it quite like this. Tom Pollock gives you a version of London where street lights come to life, where the ghosts of trains ride the rails and where the building sites scarring the surface of the city lay the foundations for something sinister…

One part urban fantasy, one part New Weird, one part utterly itself, read this and you’ll never look at the city in the same way again.

 

 – For art buffs:

Vincent Chong prints

Nominated for a World Fantasy Award last year, Vincent Chong has produced book covers for Stephen King, Joe Hill and China Mieville among others, as well as illustrating collector’s editions of some incredible novels (I have a copy of THE CLUB DUMAS, which is one of my favourite books and is probably the most expensive copy of a novel I’ve ever bought!). I have a bunch of his prints, including one (predictably, I guess) of a fallen angel, and they’re beautiful.  Also, I have this as my desktop right now, because I love it.

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So there you go. Yes, they’re all my friends – and I’m utterly unapologetic about recommending their work, because every single one of them is immensely talented. You won’t go wrong with any of them.

 

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Jukebox

Lots of writers use playlists when they work: I’ve seen some great ones online over the years, for all sorts of different books.

I’ve lost track of the number of songs I’ve killed by listening to them over and over and over and over again while I’m writing – a couple of Nero’s songs being a case in point. I had the two of them running as background while I wrote “At The Sign of the Black Dove” – my story in “Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse”.

The problem was that I put in a lot of hours on that story. Which meant the same two songs on a loop for many hours. This isn’t exactly helped by the fact that they turn up very early on the album, and it’s one of my husband’s favourite records.

We have the routine down to a fine art: he goes pottering off down to the kitchen. He puts some music on. Two chords later, there’s a howl of despair from my study, followed by my stomping down the stairs, grabbing the remote control (all the while muttering expletive-laden things like “Are you trying to kill me? Are you? ARE YOU?!”) and then disappearing back into my study. Door slamming optional.

It’s not that I don’t like the songs – I do – and it’s not like I’m scarred by the process of having written a story to them (well, only a little) but the second I hear them, I’m back in “work mode”. It’s the strangest thing.

Anyway. Because someone asked me a while back about the music I wrote to, I thought I’d round up the obvious ones. I do rather give away my love of dubstep, particularly when it comes to the short stories, I’m afraid…

BLOOD & FEATHERS:

I relied on this massively when I was writing. Given I wrote it in 4 different places: my old house, two rented flats and – most memorably – the balcony level of the Barbican Foyer (and yes, I still remember exactly which scenes I wrote there!) the playlist was the rock I clung to in order to keep things on an even keel. Now there’s a nice mixed metaphor for you.

Some of the songs go with particular scenes, some with particular characters, but the song on here which matters the most, if you like, is Linkin Park’s “When They Come For Me“. In part that’s because, hey, I like Linkin Park – but it’s also because this is where it all made sense. I can hang the whole book on this song.

All the Right Moves: OneRepublic

Make Me Wanna Die: The Pretty Reckless

Believe Me: Fort Minor

Slip Out the Back: Fort Minor

It’s Not the End of the World: LostProphets

Only Man (Jakwob Remix): Audio Bullys

Burning in the Skies: Linkin Park

When They Come For Me: Linkin Park

New Divide: Linkin Park

Dreamcatcher: Unicorn Kid

The Island, Pt I (Dawn) & Pt 2 (Dusk): Pendulum

Witchcraft (Rob Swire’s Drum-step Mix): Pendulum

Ich Tu Dir Weh: Rammstein

Bulletproof Heart: My Chemical Romance

The Only Hope For Me is You: My Chemical Romance

Teeth: Lady Gaga

Walking in Circles: Dead by Sunrise

Dead Reckoning: Clint Mansell

End Credits: Chase & Status with Plan B

For those of you on Spotify, my friend Paul (better known as @pablocheesecake on Twitter) has been an absolute sweetie and put a Spotify playlist together for all your BLOOD & FEATHERS listening needs. And you can find it here: spoti.fi/zGhqZN

The only thing not on there is Rammstein (which, let’s face it, isn’t surprising…). It’s very neat, and I’m incredibly grateful to Paul: thank you!

STORIES:

At The Sign of the Black DovePandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse.

An apocalyptic story needs an apocalyptic soundtrack… and in my head, this is exactly what the end of the world sounds like…

Nero – Doomsday

Nero: Fugue State

Murderess Lane: Hub Fiction

“Murderess Lane” is a story about another London – a London which always was, and always will be: the kind of London which has flagellants roaming the streets, and an underground chamber hung with bodies hidden in the heart of the City. It’s not a very nice place, and it’s confusing and noisy and frightening. So, naturally, while I was working on it, I listened to this.

Pendulum: Through the Loop

Kudos and cookies if you can name the sample. It’s easy, honest.

Linkpunk

There’s a bunch of odds, sods and general bits & bobs I need to tidy up, I suspect.

Several are here.

The Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse anthology is now available to buy. Go here (UK Kindle edition) or here (US Kindle edition) for all your end-of-the-world needs. There are some seriously awesome stories in there. And there’s mine, too.

Next.

Solaris have put out a press release with a few more details about “Blood & Feathers”, and said some very lovely things indeed. This makes me happy and not a little nervous. But basically, if you’ve ever wondered what Alice in Wonderland would be like if it was set in Hell, I think it’s fair to say you’re in safe hands here. Or possibly insane ones.

Finally (somewhat fittingly) I’ve been recruited by the Apocalypse Girls, so expect to see me popping up on the site every once in a while, along with some fabulous ladies offering their practical tips for surviving mass annihilation. Just because it’s the end of the world, it doesn’t have to mean we can’t handle it with grace, poise, and a truckload of attitude.

Welcome to The Girls Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse.

Over the next few months a collective of experts will be posting their top tips for survival of all kinds of apocalypse, large or small. There will be alternative takes on the best way to tackle zombies, what shoes work in the next ice age, weapons selection, care and maintenance and every thing else the modern girl needs in the end of the world.

Be ready for Zombies, Werewolves, Hell literally freezing over, Skynet and the worst hair day ever.

Lock and Load ladies, the end of the world is coming.

Pandemonium: At the Sign of the Black Dove

You’ll have seen me mention the new John Martin-inspired anthology, “Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse” before; partly because it’s veryveryvery cool, and partly because I’ve somehow been fortunate enough to be involved.

Excitingly, the e-book launches this Friday (4th November) at Tate Britain. Last time I checked, there were still a couple of tickets left, but not many. The demand has been absolutely staggering, which is both fantastic and utterly and completely jealous-making as I can’t actually be there. However, lots of other lovely people will be (including many of the other writers as well as Jared & Anne, our apocalyptic editors) and it sounds like it’s going to be a great evening.

Hence the sulking and the pouting over here. Ahem.

If you can’t make the launch, don’t fret. You’ll still be able to buy the e-book (details on the Pandemonium site) and indeed, you should. There will also be an extremely limited hardcover edition available through the Tate.

I am absolutely thrilled to have been involved in a project like this one, with some incredible authors. It’s also been a tremendous privilege to work with Anne and Jared as editors, and to see their enthusiasm for the anthology mirrored by so many others. They have worked so hard on putting together the best collection of stories they possibly can, and I very much hope you’ll buy it and enjoy it.

My story in there, “At the Sign of the Black Dove” is set in and around a pub (called, enigmatically enough, the Black Dove). Look at it as the anti-Winchester, if you like. It’s about faith and friendship, and why you should always tip your bartender. You never know what else he might be…

Jude wasn’t quite sure when it happened.

He remembered the barman ringing the bell, his voice carrying across the bar. “That’s it, boys and girls. Last call.”

He remembered Charley’s face swimming in and out of focus; Hope suddenly lurching forwards, slumping over the table.

He remembered the world tipping. Maya leaning over him, her eyes larger than the moon and shining like all the stars in the sky together. “Jude? Jude…? Can you hear…?”

And then he heard nothing more.

It was dark when he opened his eyes, and Jude had no idea where he was. He was lying on something rough and slightly sticky. It smelled of stale beer and old sweat and other, worse things. Everything was quiet, and his first clear thought was to wonder exactly how much he’d had to drink.

And there was the answer. He was still in the Black Dove. The floor of the Black Dove.

That was not good.

His head hammered as he sat up.

That was even less good.

The room was almost entirely dark, heavy curtains pulled across the windows. One dim shaft of light had found its way through, and dust motes danced in it, spiraling towards the ceiling. Jude listened, his ears straining to hear whether anyone else was in the room with him.

Nothing.

Poor old Jude. He doesn’t know it yet, but that hangover’s really the least of his problems…

 

Pandemonium 2: the Pimpening.

You remember me mentioningPandemonium“: the end-of-the-world anthology that Jared & Anne from Pornokitsch are putting together, don’t you?

Of course you do.

Well, I’m mentioning it again. Mostly because, err, I’ll be in it, along with some (frankly) embarrassingly good people.

Two New Contributors

We’re pleased to announce that Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse has two further contributors:

Scott K. Andrews has written episode guides, magazine articles, film and book reviews, comics, audio plays for Big Finish, far too many blogs, some poems you will never read, and three novels for Abaddon (includingChildren’s Crusade, a 2010 Kitschies finalist).

Louise Morgan has plenty of experience when it comes to making things up: just ask her son about the Plughole Monsters who live under the bathroom sink. Her short stories have been published by the British Fantasy Society, Morpheus Tales and Hub Magazine, and her novelBlood and Feathers will be published by Solaris Books in 2012.

Scott and Lou have given us very different looks at the apocalypse. To say more would spoil it, but you may never look at a John Martin painting in the same way again.

I’m incredibly excited to be involved in this, and had a lot of fun working on my story. I can’t wait for you all to be able to read it.

Seriously. You don’t even know the half of it…

 

Now, has anyone seen my shoes? The ones with the really big heels. With goldfish in them….

 

Signal Boost: Pandemonium

Anne Perry and Jared Shurin – better known collectively as the team behind amazing website Pornokitsch – today unveiled their latest dastardly plan to enslave humanity… project: “Pandemonium“, a post-apocalyptic anthology of original short stories.

Or, as they put it:

We’re very pleased to announce our first anthology of short fiction, Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse.

The collection features stories set at the end of the world, as imagined by some of the biggest names and hottest newcomers in science fiction.

Pandemonium collects over a dozen original stories inspired by the art of John Martin, and will be released this October to coincide with the Tate Gallery’s new exhibition of his work.  Martin (1789 – 1854) was a Romantic painter with a taste for sweeping Apocalyptic scenes. Although he never received much positive critical attention, his huge and wildly imaginative paintings were popular with the masses. Since his death, Martin’s reputation has gone through periods of complete insignificence and others of great renown. In short, he’s our type of guy.

Pandemonium will be edited by Pornokitsch’s Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin, with a foreword by Tom Hunter, director of the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Pandemonium will be available to purchase as an ebook through Amazon or the project website. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the UK’s most prestigious prize for science fiction literature.

For more information and to join the mailing list, check out www.pandemonium-fiction.com. A partial list of contributors is already on display, with several more to be announced soon.

This promises to be an outstanding collection, with some fantastic contributors, and looks about as exciting as anything which doesn’t feature Gerard Butler pouring me a margarita possibly could.

And anyway, who doesn’t love an apocalypse…?