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Thoughts on Uncertainties 4

Thoughts on Uncertainties 4

21 March 2020

Uncertainties is an anthology series — featuring authors from Britain, America, Canada, Australia, and the Philippines — each exploring the concept of increasingly fragmented senses of reality. These types of short stories were termed “strange tales” by Robert Aickman, called “tales of the unexpected” by Roald Dahl, and known to Shakespeare’s ill-fated Prince Mamillius as “winter’s tales”. But these are no mere ghost stories. These tales of the uncanny grapple with existential epiphanies of the modern day, when otherwise familiar landscapes become sinister and something decidedly less than certain . . . Over the last year or so, I’ve been …

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Thoughts on Small Press #4—Author and Artist Payments

Thoughts on Small Press #4—Author and Artist Payments

14 February 2020

Occasionally on social media I see threads bemoaning the fact that authors and artists frequently are expected to work for free (and often do). There are similar threads concerning vanity publishing—publishers who charge authors to be published—as well as agents who charge up-front fees. All of this is summarily decided to be unfair with the consensus being that workers should be paid for their work. Here’s an example of the former issue, and a sample of the latter. A quick scan of these two threads will give you a pretty good idea of the complaints. Payment of authors was also …

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Thoughts on Small Press #3—How Did You Start?

Thoughts on Small Press #3—How Did You Start?

19 January 2020

1. What was the itch you couldn’t scratch that made you start Swan River Press? 2. How did you start? Was it one book that turned into a line, or was it always a plan to be a full press? 3. Did you know what was involved before you started out; did you do lots of research first, or did you just dive in and learn as you go? Would you recommend this approach to others interested in starting? – Angie McKeown Hi Angie—Thank you for sending me your questions. In reading over them, it looks as though they can …

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Thoughts on Small Press #2—What to Publish?

Thoughts on Small Press #2—What to Publish?

31 December 2019

Brian, here’s a question for the small press discussion; What recurring characteristics and factors do you find yourself weighing up when considering whether to publish a collection/ text? What leads up to that decisive moment? Cheers, Stephen J. Clark Hi Stephen—At first I thought your question might be a relatively easy one to answer, and on some levels it is: I tend to know what I want to publish, generally. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that there was quite a bit of unconscious thought and a few more overt goals that influence my decision-making. …

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Our Haunted Year: 2019

Our Haunted Year: 2019

21 December 2019

It looks as though 2019 was our most ambitious year to date. I had a suspicion this time last year that it might be and I wasn’t wrong. I had originally planned nine publications for 2019—alas, we only managed seven. But they’re seven of the best books we’ve done and results of which all involved can be proud. So let’s have a look at what we got up to these past twelve months. The first book was a long time in coming: Bending to Earth: Strange Stories by Irish Women edited by Maria Giakaniki and Brian J. Showers. The anthology …

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The Far Tower: Stories for W. B. Yeats

The Far Tower: Stories for W. B. Yeats

8 December 2019

Stories of magic and myth, folklore and fairy traditions, the occult and the outré, inspired by the rich mystical world of Ireland’s greatest poet, W. B. Yeats. We invited ten contemporary writers to celebrate Yeats’s contributions to the history of the fantastic and supernatural in literature, drawing on his work for their own new and original tales. Each has chosen a phrase from his poems, plays, stories, or essays to herald their own explorations in the esoteric. Alongside their own powerful qualities, the pieces here testify to the continuing resonance of Yeats’s vision in our own time, that deep understanding …

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“Number Ninety” & Other Ghost Stories by B. M. Croker

“Number Ninety” & Other Ghost Stories by B. M. Croker

8 December 2019

An Extract from the Introduction by Richard Dalby. Many years ago, while collecting the first editions of Bram Stoker, my heart would often leap when apparently spotting his rarely encountered name in dimly lit alcoves of second-hand bookshops, only to find that I had actually misread the similar gilt lettering of “B. M. Croker”. Having no special taste for this other writer’s Indian or Irish romances, I usually disregarded them. At that time B. M. Croker was only remembered (by a shrinking number of admirers) as a once-popular bestselling novelist. Her supernatural tales had sunk into total neglect, and none …

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Thoughts on Small Press #1

Thoughts on Small Press #1

8 December 2019

Over the recent weeks there has been a lot of talk about the small press, so much of it negative: its failings with regard to paying authors, unfair/ridiculous contracts and terms, and all around dodgy business practices. Small press publishing, done correctly and honestly, is never easy. This is not an excuse. It’s also true that substandard practices flourish in this arena, and unfortunate that all too often these shortcomings burst to the fore. The indictments, and the frustrations they beget, are not without merit. However, it is also lamentable when the small press—which has a lot to offer—undergoes so …

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A Flowering Wound by John Howard

A Flowering Wound by John Howard

8 December 2019

John Howard was born in London. His books include The Defeat of Grief, The Lustre of Time, The Silver Voices, Written by Daylight, Cities and Thrones and Powers, and Buried Shadows. Secret Europe and Inner Europe are joint collections written with Mark Valentine. Howard’s essays on fantastic fiction and its classic authors have appeared in Wormwood and other places, and many are gathered in Touchstones: Essays on the Fantastic. An Interview with John Howard Conducted by Florence Sunnen Florence Sunnen: Although the stories in A Flowering Wound are consistent in tone and sensibility, your writing is difficult to pin down …

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Not to Be Taken at Bed-Time by Rosa Mulholland

Not to Be Taken at Bed-Time by Rosa Mulholland

8 December 2019

An Extract from the Introduction by Richard Dalby In the late-nineteenth century Rosa Mulholland achieved great popularity and acclaim for her many novels (written for both an adult audience and younger readers), several of which chronicled the lives of the Irish poor. These novels, notably The Wicked Woods of Tobereevil (1872), incorporated weird elements of Irish folklore. Earlier in her career, she became one of the select band of authors employed by Charles Dickens to write stories for his popular magazine All the Year Round, together with Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Hesba Stretton, and Amelia B. …

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Bending to Earth: Strange Stories by Irish Women

Bending to Earth: Strange Stories by Irish Women

8 December 2019

An Extract from the Introduction by Maria Giakaniki and Brian J. Showers Irish women have long produced literature of the gothic, uncanny, and supernatural. Bending to Earth draws together twelve such tales. While none of the authors herein were considered primarily writers of fantastical fiction during their lifetimes, they each wandered at some point in their careers into more speculative realms — some only briefly, others for lengthier stays. Names such as Charlotte Riddell and Rosa Mulholland will already be familiar to aficionados of the eerie, while Katharine Tynan and Clotilde Graves are sure to gain new admirers. From a …

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Le Fanu’s “Green Tea”:  A Sesquicentennial of Fear

Le Fanu’s “Green Tea”: A Sesquicentennial of Fear

23 October 2019

On this day, 23 October 1869, readers of All the Year Round, edited by Charles Dickens, may well have been unprepared for a chilling tale of paranoia and despair that commenced in Mr. Dickens’s weekly journal. That story was “Green Tea”, and though it was originally published anonymously, it was penned by the Dublin writer Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. While Le Fanu is probably now better known for his pre-Dracula vampire novella “Carmilla” (1871/2), for me “Green Tea” will always be his masterpiece. The story tells of the good natured Reverend Mr. Jennings, whose late night penchant for green tea …

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