The first, ‘Painted Skin’, was inspired by an image I remembered from a folk tale – that of a fairy woman who’s a beautiful and bewitching creature from the front, but whose back is hollow and that of a rotting tree. I can’t even remember where I first came across this image, although my friend and fellow writer Tanith Lee also remembers it, and thinks it might have been in a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. I’ve not yet trawled through my big collection of his stories to find out. I did discover, via a Danish friend and subsequent searches on the internet, that there is a Danish myth about the Elle folk, whose females were as described above, but whose males were hideously ugly and could spread pestilence. Both genders were not actively malevolent, as far as I could gather, but objected strongly to humans reacting negatively to their appearance. Once riled in such a way, through unintentional laughter or horror, they could turn nasty. The idea of the hollow woman has always fascinated me, and the idea came to me how to include it in a Wraeththu story. ‘Painted Skin’ was the result.
I began the other piece, ‘Without Weakness’, way back when writing the original Wraeththu trilogy, not long after I’d completed ‘The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit’. It features two characters from the trilogy – the Kamagrian Kate and the harish Ashmael. A human enclave has managed to survive in the wilderness of Megalithica, despite attacks from rogue Wraeththu tribes. Nicholas, the youngest son of the Ferniman family, is particularly threatened by these enemies, not least because of his innate unusual abilities, not generally found in a human. The barbaric Wraeththu want to claim and incept him.
Ashmael and Kate, representing the more advanced tribe of Gelaming, seek to help the humans, and overcome their hostility. Initially, I planned the story to be a kind of romance, with love conquering all, but when I revisited it, so many years later, different ideas came to me. I had things to say about those who claim to ‘know what’s best for you’, when really all they know is what they consider best for them. In particular, this applies to medical professionals, who are often blinkered to say the least, and prone to promoting the latest fad or obsession. In the story, this involves the subject of inception – is it ever ‘necessary’, and if professional therapists consider it so, are they right? ‘Without Weakness’ was an interesting story to write, even if it was rather more difficult to produce than ‘Painted Skin’, which poured out without much effort on my part. Originally I’d planned for it to be a novella, and despite choosing to make it a shorter work, it still came in at 40 pages or so when it was finished.
Both stories were very enjoyable to write in their different ways. I hope to compile another Wraeththu story collection in the future, again with the help of other writers, to explore other aspects of the Wraeththu Mythos.
After seventeen years of being professionally published, Storm decided that the only way for her books to stay in print for any length of time was to publish her back catalogue herself. With Immanion Press, she intends to rectify the typical fate of books, which is to have the "shelf life of a magazine".
Storm underwent a cursory art college education, but found it too restricting creatively. After a series of mundane jobs, she began writing seriously, and her first book, "The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit" was published in 1987 by Macdonald Futura. Storm has written approximately 1.5 books a year ever since!
In the 80s and 90s, she frittered away some time managing bands, and caught the publishing bug from producing fan club magazines. After giving up the musical distraction, Storm embarked on the fiction project, "Visionary Tongue", which was a regular magazine of dark fantasy/fantasy/sf stories. She enlisted the help of several writer friends to act as editors, so that up-and-coming writers would have the chance to work with a professional, and pick up tips about their craft and the industry.
Immanion Press is undoubtedly an extension of what Storm began with Visionary Tongue. As well as her own work, and the back catalogue of friends and writers she admires, Storm is keen to promote new talent. As to what she's looking for, she says:
'It's difficult to define what I like, but it has to be different. I admire a slick style, believable characters, vivid yet economical description and an engaging story. I also like a certain level of quirkiness, as long as it isn't too self-conscious! A few of my favourite writers are Alice Hoffman, Tanith Lee, Jack Vance, Steve Millhauser and Jonathan Carroll, which might give people a potential idea of what appeals to me. I will edit the books that most appeal to me, but we also have a team of other editors who are all very thorough at what they do. I am known as rather a task-mistress with authors I work with, though - so be warned!