Sunday, January 11, 2015

My Year in Books 2014: The Stuff I Wrote

In hindsight, there was quite a lot happening for me in my own writing. It's clear, also, that it's been a year of mostly short stories for me. Which still makes me shake my head and laugh a little, because I've never really pegged myself as an author of short stories. For what it's worth, let's look at it...

The Guardian's Wyrd came out in ebook form via Word Smack, a small South African publisher of speculative fiction. When I have to sum up the book very briefly, I tell people it's Harry Potter meets Narnia. Although the protagonists are 15 going on 16, this is really a story for all age groups from about 12 upward. We meet Jay September, who realises his role as a Guardian to one very spoilt prince. Essentially, I asked the question, what would happen if it was the prince who needed rescuing? If you look to the sidebar on this page, you'll see the print cover, which was illustrated by Daniël Hugo, which I brought out myself.

Dawn's Bright Talons was my other big book for the year. I put a lot of heart and soul into the story, which I've been told is Anne Rice's vampires dropped into pseudo-Victorian fantasy. The novel was many years in the making, mainly because it languished on full sub with The Big Publisher We Will Not Name, who took about a year to decide that no, they couldn't make up their mind. Well, Crossroad Press snapped the story up, and I had fantastic editorial guidance from David Niall Wilson. I also had a say in the cover art, so I commissioned the rather bedazzling Nathalia Suellen to handle the cover art.

Another huge highlight for me during 2014 was getting a story published in Apex Publishing's War Stories, in which I got to work with two dynamic editors, Andrew Liptak and Jaym Gates. The concept was simple: they collected stories that dealt with the far-reaching impact of war on those who participated in it, or were affected by it. My story is entitled "Only the Stars and the Void Between" and tells of a special ops soldier who returns to her home, only to discover how things have changed in her absence.

Now that I'm writing a lot more short fiction, I've found that from time to time I'll sit with stories that don't end up finding homes. Granted, this isn't happening as often as it used to, but I still thought it fitting to collect a retrospective. Some stories in to Lost Children were initially published on my blog, and a few others were floating about at odd ends. The image on the front cover was taken by my good friend HJ Lombard, and the design was by Icy Sedgwick, another of my friends. This collection was put together purely for the sheer joy of making good art.

A good while ago, Dean M Drinkel invited me to submit to Phobophobias, which I duly did, and ended up writing a story about my Ibr (dream horses that I do hope to one day turn into a full-length story). I'm quite fond of this tale, and I hope readers like it too.

Of course a great highlight for me was getting a story published as part of Para Kindred is a lovely mixed collection of stories about the magical Wraeththu, and what possible new forms could come into being. Watch out for the upcoming Para Animalia anthology, as there's a chance I'll be appearing in that too (that's if I get a chance to finish what I'm writing). Storm Constantine's Wraeththu Mythos. Anyone who knows me well will understand how much Storm's writing has influenced my own, so this was really special for me to be part of, and to get to work with Storm too.

I do rather love werewolves, and it was lots of fun writing the story that appears in Full Moon Mayhem, in which I take my lupine friends to Africa as an envisioning of African hunting dogs as the weres, and also the possible issues surrounding their social structure, and the sorts of problems they'd encounter. And I really *do* love the cover art for this one.

This year also so my participation in Fox Spirit's beautifully illustrated anthology, European Monsters which is a coffee table book in which European monsters get given their horror elements back. I don't think there's anything cute and fuzzy in this one. I chose to write about the Valravn, which is a rather nasty bird.

Last, but not least, I did write up a bit of erotic fantasy under my pen name of Therése von Willegen. Fire: The Salamander Lord is about a witch's encounter with a fire spirit that is impossible to resist. I'll leave this one right here... It's fun and filled with, well, a lot of spice.

And that's that for now. There're already a few exciting projects lined up for this year, but considering that I'm currently busy with my BA in Creative Writing, I suppose it means I'm going to slow down a bit with my *actual* creative writing while I wrestle with such weighty topics as literary theory, literature studies and Greek mythology. But it's all for the best at the end of the day, and I will still sneak in time where I can to create stories to whisk you away to stranger places.

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