A guide: Writing Speculative Fiction

Posted: August 23, 2019 in writing
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My weird western tale “A Dusty Arrival” is cited in this excellent guide Writing Speculative Fiction: Creative and Critical Approaches by Eugen Bacon. Bacon, PhD, is a computer scientist and award-winning writer and editor.

From the publisher:

In this engaging and accessible guide, Eugen Bacon explores writing speculative fiction as a creative practice, drawing from her own work, and the work of other writers and theorists, to interrogate its various subgenres. Through analysis of writers such as Stephen King, J.R.R. Tolkien and J. K. Rowling, this book scrutinises the characteristics of speculative fiction, considers the potential of writing cross genre and covers the challenges of targeting young adults.  It connects critical and cultural theories to the practice of creative writing, examining how they might apply to the process of writing speculative fiction. Both practical and critical in its evaluative gaze, it also looks at e-publishing as a promising publishing medium for speculative fiction.

This is essential reading for undergraduate and postgraduate students of Creative Writing, looking to develop a critical awareness of, and practical skills for, the writing of speculative fiction. It is also a valuable resource for creators, commentators and consumers of contemporary speculative fiction.

Check out this helpful guide with tips for aspiring as well as veteran writers in genre fiction at the link.

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I’m delighted to announce my new story “Vermin” appears in Unnerving Magazine issue #10. “Vermin” tells the tale of twentysomethings encountering… interesting… creatures in the underbelly of NYC. I had a great time writing this story and evoking the feeling of running around the city–even though it’s been over a decade since I lived there.

The issue features stories from Kate Jonez, Philip Fracassi, Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr., and Richard Montoya, and nonfiction by Gwendolyn Kiste, Jennifer McMahon, Rio Youers, Andy Davidson, and Ray Cluley. The issue also includes novel excerpts of IN THE SCRAPE by James Newman and Mark Steensland, and THE HUNGRY ONES by Chris Sorensen.

Edited by Eddie Generous, Unnerving Magazine is a Canadian-based horror and suspense magazine that also publishes delightfully strange and weird podcasts and books–check them out at the link below!

Unnerving Magazine Website

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I’m happy to announce that my nonfiction article “Legendary Women of Horror” appears in Aurealis Magazine‘s issue #119, alongside of two other essays, “Suffer the Little Children: An Analysis of Parental Horror in Stephen King’s Early Fiction” by Kris Ashton and “Worldbuilding: The Bad and the Just Plain Ugly” by Amy Laurens.

The issue of this esteemed Australian monthly SF/F magazine is rounded out with three fascinating stories by Gordon Grice, Michelle Birkette and Chris Walker, as well as reviews and excellent art.

Aurealis Magazine, founded in 1990, and, in 1995, instituted the Aurealis Awards for Excellence in Australian Speculative Fiction. This issue was edited by Michael Pryor, an award-winning writer and prolific novelist.

I begin “Legendary Women of Horror” with a nod to the master, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley:

Over 200 years ago, Frankenstein’s monster lumbered across the minds of readers around the globe. The tale of Victor Frankenstein and his monster’s anguish tapped into fears about science, nature, and both the power and helplessness of humanity.

After a brief historic overview and discussion on why diverse viewpoints are particularly important in the horror genre, I dive into some of the cutting-edge modern horror writing by women today, as well as highlight two key efforts to showcase women’s work: a social media movement that happens every February called Women In Horror (which just celebrated its 10th year) and a website and comprehensive directory called Ladies of Horror Fiction.

To read the full essay and other pieces in this issue, check out #119 here, for just $2.99.

2018 Year in Review

The road to writing and publishing is paved with a whole lot of self-doubt and countless rejections. Writers need to celebrate any accomplishment, big or small, to help fuel motivation and bade away the naysayers (internal and external). New Year’s Eve is a good opportunity to pause and take stock of accomplishments of the past year and reflect on upcoming goals.

Personally it’s been a year of firsts, with some accomplishments of note:

International: This year I broke into the Australian (Andromeda Spaceways Magazine, COLP, and Things in the Well series); Canadian (Renaissance Book Publisher); and British (Tales to Terrify podcast) marketplaces.

Cover feature: My Weird Western tale “Dusty Arrival” was the cover story for the award-winning Andromeda Spaceways Magazine (March 2018 issue). This was a particular thrill: it never gets old to see how talented illustrators interpret your work. 

Audio: Another big highlight was a foray into audio storytelling with the acceptance of my reprint story “The Peerlings” for the Tales to Terrify podcast. Much like when an artist visually manifests your story, it is surreal and gratifying to hear a talented voice actor interpret your tale.

In summary, I’ve had 6 publications and 1 author interview this year:

I am incredibly grateful for the writing and editing community, particularly in the areas of genre fiction, which often are misunderstood by the general public. I am also indebted to friends and family who provide support in this tough craft. I hope the coming year leads to new stories that provide respite, intrigue or food for thought. Happy 2019!

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“It is true, we shall be monsters, cut off from all the world; but on that account we shall be more attached to one another.”

–Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

It’s aliiiiiive!

Edited by Derek Newman-Stille, We Shall Be Monsters (Renaissance Book Press, 2018) celebrates Frankenstein’s 200th birthday with similarly themed stories by authors from around the world. My dark short story “Wanting” shows how far a high school student will go to fit in in a cybernetic, near-future society.

From the publisher, Canada-based Renaissance Book Press:

Mary Shelley’s genre-changing book Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus, helped to shape the genres of science fiction and horror, and helped to articulate new forms for women’s writing. It also helped us to think about the figure of the outsider, to question medical power, to question ideas of “normal,” and to think about what we mean by the word “monster.” Derek Newman-Stille has teamed up with Renaissance Press to celebrate Frankenstein’s 200th birthday by creating a book that explores Frankenstein stories from new and exciting angles and perspectives.

We Shall Be Monsters: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Two Centuries On features a broad range of fiction stories by authors from around the world, ranging from direct interactions with Shelley’s texts to explorations of the stitched, assembled body and narrative experiments in monstrous creations. We Shall Be Monsters collects explorations of disability, queer and trans identity, and ideas of race and colonialism.

With stories by Day Al-Mohamed, Lena Ng, Ashley Caranto Morford Cait Gordon, JF Garrard, Andrew Wilmot, Evelyn Deshane, D. Simon Turner, Kaitlin Tremblay, Lisa Carreiro Eric Choi & Joseph McGinty, Jennifer Lee Rossman, Randall G. Arnold, Alex Acks, KC Grifant, Halli Lilburn, Kev Harrison, Corey Redekop, Arianna Verbree, Max D. Stanton, Victoria K. Martin, Priya Sridhar, Liam Hogan, Joshua Bartolome

Read more: https://renaissancebookpress.com/product/we-shall-be-monsters/

Or purchase: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1987963415/

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My short scifi horror story “The Peerlings” appears in the terrific British podcast series Tales to Terrify, episode 354.

“The Peerlings” was first published in Beyond the Infinite – Tales from the Outer Reaches (Things in the Well series), edited by Steve Dillon. In the story, members of an off-world colony begin to vanish once elusive creatures–who can only safely be heard, not seen–descend upon their home. The mayor must figure out how to protect her citizens while warding off mass hysteria and a brewing rebellion.

The story begins at 00:21:21 and is read by Amy Paonessa (Twitter), host of The Bloodlust horror review website. She does an amazing job bringing the characters to life and conveying a sense of desolation and isolation throughout the piece.

Funny enough, a few people have mentioned that Netflix’s recently released Bird Box (based on the 2014 British novel) reminded them of “The Peerlings.” Check it out on Tales to Terrify and decide for yourself!

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Trembling with Fear Year One is a collection of horror short stories and drabbles.

My short horror scifi story “Turning Tides” appears Trembling with Fear: Year 1, a print anthology collection of horror-themed flash and short fiction now available.

“Turning Tides” was first published at The Horror Tree’s January 29, 2017 online edition. The story is what’s known as a “drabble.” These are flash fiction pieces taken to an extreme, incorporating style, character and plot all within a paltry 100 words.

The new collection, which includes both dribbles and flash stories, is edited by Stephanie Ellis and Stuart Conover, who curate the immensely popular Horror Tree website.

From the publisher:

This Trembling With Fear anthology is a compilation of all the drabbles, flash fiction stories and dark poetry published during 2017 at HorrorTree.com. In its pages you will find work from both the novice and the established writer, the newbie and the award-winner. Here, the dead walk and murders abound, demons and ghosts torment the living whilst vampires and wolves compete for space with internet and aliens. Within these pages you will find dark speculative fiction from contributors across the globe, for our world is a world without borders. Nowhere is safe from the dark.

We have had some amazing talent contribute to the first year of ‘Trembling With Fear’ and we hope that you enjoy reading these as much as we have!

Read more or buy the book (digital or print) here.