Annotated Excerpt: TO CATCH A MOON by Rym Kechacha (Unsung Stories)

KechachaR-ToCatchAMoonUKToday, we have an annotated excerpt from Rym Kechacha‘s latest novel, To Catch A Moon. Due to be published by Unsung Stories this week, here’s the synopsis:

Mexico City, 1955. The painter Remedios Varo sits in her kitchen with her friend, the artist Leonora Carrington. Together they let their imaginations soar beyond their canvases to create new worlds.

In the surreal landscape of her imagination, Varo’s creations take on a life and power of their own. A wheeled spirit of the earth kidnaps a baby star; a woman who is half owl draws herself a daughter; a juggler entrances a crowd of grey-cloaked men, a lion and a goat. The rules that govern this world bend and creak, old alliances break, and an impending apocalypse forges the most unlikely of friendships.

Rym Kechacha (Dark River, British Fantasy Awards finalist 2021) spins a wild fantasy from Varo’s dreamlike imaginings, a world in which the moon’s daughter holds the key to mankind’s fate. Populated by witches, sentient animals, and a lion made of leaves, To Catch a Moon is a bold and fearless ode to the power of Remedios Varo’s timeless paintings.

Now, over to the author…!

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Annotated Excerpt: WHIRLWIND ROMANCE by Sam Thompson (Unsung Stories)

ThompsonS-WhirlwindRomanceThanks for asking me to annotate a passage from Whirlwind Romance. The book is a collection of stories about the moments when our reality falls apart. The stories vary in subject, setting and genre, but most of them hover somewhere between the real and the fantastical — and all are interested in the many ways that the world we have been living in, imagining it was solid under our feet, can turn out to be fragile. Travelling to an unfamiliar country could reveal uncomfortable truths about home, or reconnecting with a long-lost sibling could show your childhood in a new light, or becoming a parent could teach you that you are not who you thought you were. Falling in love could make you realize that the most precious person in your world lives in a different reality from your own; getting lost in a book or a video game could take you further from normality than you intended; living through a global disaster could strip you of the illusions you once believed were sane.

All these scenarios play out in Whirlwind Romance, but for this commentary I’ve chosen the opening passage of ‘The Red Song’. This is the second-longest story in the book: when I started working on it I thought it was going to be a novel, and put in a lot of world-building and plot-planning accordingly, but I found that it kept folding down into a tighter, more allusive kind of text. It tells the story of an English academic, Flora Hardy, who accepts a research fellowship and travels to the remote nation of Hesper a short time after it has gone through a revolution and deposed its long-reigning dictator. Flora is an expert on the literature of the place, but she discovers that she knows little about its present. Continue reading

Annotated Excerpt: UNEXPECTED PLACES TO FALL FROM, UNEXPECTED PLACES TO LAND by Malcolm Devlin (Unsung)

DevlinM-UnexpectedPlacesToFallFromUnexpectedPlacesToLandUnexpected Places To Fall From, Unexpected Places To Land, my second collection, is published by Unsung Stories. It includes twelve stories dealing with journeys taken and the paths we choose. Some of the characters might crop up as slightly different people in different places, there’s a little bit of horror, a little bit of science fiction and a weird story in which I try and prove that all accredited London taxi drivers are actually descended from the rat coachmen in Cinderella.

In the exact same moment, all possible versions of Prentis O’Rourke will cease to exist. By accident, by malice, by conflict, by illness – Prentis will not simply die. He will go extinct. These are the stories of the journeys we take and the journeys we wish we’d taken.

Malcolm Devlin’s second short story collection ranges from science fiction to folk horror as Prentis O’Rourke’s demise echoes across the dimensions. Scientists, artists, ex-nuns, taxi drivers, time travellers and aliens – the same people living varied lives in subtly different worlds. Something unprecedented will happen, and it will colour them all.

Crossing multiple realities, countless versions of ourselves, and shifting backwards and forwards through time, these are stories of forking paths and unexpected destinations – of flying and falling and getting up to try again.

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Upcoming: GIGANTIC by Ashley Stokes (Unsung Stories)

The cover for Ashley Stokes‘s upcoming new novel, Gigantic, was recently revealed on Fantasy Hive. Due to be published in September, it has a premise that looks quite fun and intriguing:

“I wasn’t sure you would get this far, so thanks a million already. You opened the mystery bag… Inside the bag, along with this letter, is a dossier that describes the whole story.”

Kevin Stubbs is a Knower. He knows life hasn’t always treated him fairly. He knows he wants to be allowed access to his son again. But most of all, he knows that the London Borough of Sutton is being stalked by a nine-foot-tall, red-eyed, hairy relict hominid — the North Surrey Gigantopithecus.

Armed with a thermal imaging camera (aka the Heat Ray), a Trifield 100XE electromagnetic field reader (aka the Tractor Beam), and his trusty comrades in the GIT (aka the Gigantopithecus Intelligence Team), Kevin sets out to prove that the Gartree-Hogg footage from Sutton Cock is real, and that a British Bigfoot is living in suburban London: FACT.

But what he discovers undermines everything he believes in — and forces Kevin to face up to his own failures, and the very real, very scary prospect that he might have got it all terribly wrong.

Ashely Stokes’s Gigantic is due to be published by Unsung Stories on September 2nd, 2021.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Guest Post: “Writing During Lockdown” by Dan Coxon

CoxonD-AuthorPicUntil 8 April, Unsung Stories are crowdfunding a new anthology called Out of the Darkness. The theme of the anthology is mental health – with contributions from writers like Alison Moore, Jenn Ashworth, Tim Major, Aliya Whiteley and Simon Bestwick – and all royalties and my editor’s fees are being donated to charity Together for Mental Wellbeing. The Kickstarter campaign has meant that my attention has been turned towards mental health more than usual, and at the same time the topic is frequently in the news, as the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic are felt. Everyone has struggled to cope during the lockdowns, and often during the more ‘open’ periods in between, and writers are no exception.

When the first UK lockdown was announced in March 2020, I saw several comments online about all the free time we’d have – and in particular (given the circles I move in) the amount of time to write. The everyday distractions of the outside world would be behind lock and key, and we’d finally all have time to ourselves, to let our imaginations run riot and our pens (or keyboards) flow freely. We’d have so much time, so the supposition went, that there would be a flood of new novels and short stories once the lockdown was lifted. I almost believed it myself. Continue reading

Annotated Excerpt: GREENSMITH by Aliya Whiteley (Unsung Stories)

WhiteleyA-GreensmithHi! Thanks for asking me to annotate part of Greensmith. It’s an interesting business, to revisit the writing later and see what I can remember of the process. To be honest, I don’t know how much of this was a series of conscious decisions at the time. I remember I struggled with some aspects of this book, particularly where it was heavily plot-driven, but all that struggle seems to have been on the inside, and not on the page, if that makes sense. I was relieved to find I enjoyed reading it back and seeing it again.

When it came to choosing part of Greensmith to look back over with a critical eye, I found myself drawn to this key moment in the early chapters. It’s the gateway chapter. It makes the leap from the initial hard work of establishing character and motivation to being free to run with the plot, travelling all over the universe in this case, with the reader along for the ride. Continue reading

Annotated Excerpt: THREADING THE LABYRINTH by Tiffani Angus

AngusT-AuthorPicThreading the Labyrinth, at its most basic, is about 400 years in a haunted English Garden—a sort of Tom’s Midnight Garden or The Children of Green Knowe but for adults. The novel has a frame set in 2010 in which Toni, our protagonist, has inherited a house and the remains of a once great estate; she dubs it The Remains because it’s just that: what’s left after time and economic hardship have taken their toll. As Toni uncovers the mysteries of the place, the narrative jumps back to stories about earlier garden workers, mostly women, who lived there in the 1620s, 1770s, 1860s and 1940s, but not necessarily in chronological order. I wrote the novel as part of a dissertation for a PhD in Creative Writing, which required research into several centuries of English gardening history and how gardens function in fantasy fiction. The final PhD version of the novel was different from the published version of the novel: it underwent a structure shift, lost a POV character, had another POV change, and survived other changes. But what I annotate here is mostly original to the “viva” version of the book. Continue reading

Interview with VICKI JARRETT

JarettV-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Vicki Jarrett?

Do other people have coherent answers when asked who they are? I’m not one of those people. As a massive over-thinker, questions like that can create sink holes in my brain that’ll take me weeks to crawl out of so, sorry, but I’ll pass on that one.

Your new novel, Always North, was recently published by Unsung Stories. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

Always North is about complicity, accountability and our messed-up environment, about what constitutes mind and memory, and how wrong we might be about the way time works. It’s set over two time frames and settings: an oil survey vessel in the Arctic Ocean in 2025 and the Scottish Highlands in 2045. It’s been called ‘psychological scifi’ and ‘speculative literary fiction’ but I’m happy for readers to decide what they think it is. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Five Old British Ways of Predicting the Future” by Aliya Whiteley

WhiteleyA-ArrivalOfMissivesUSWe never know what’s going to happen in the future, but that’s never stopped us from guessing.

In my novel The Arrival of Missives, Shirley Fearna teenage girl, is infatuated with her teacher. He served as a soldier during World War I and now keeps himself apart from the locals of the small English village where he lives. As Shirley tries harder to become part of his life, she discovers he has a secret. He believes that he is being shown the future. His method of predicting events to come is too unusual to spoil here, so instead here are a few other traditional British methods of predicting the future: Continue reading

Interview with ALIYA WHITELEY on 2084

Above you can watch an interview with Aliya Whiteley, one of the authors whose work will feature in the new anthology 2084. Published by Unsung Stories, the anthology has been funded through Kickstarter. It sounds like a really interesting collection, and I’m looking forward to reading it. At the time of writing, it has raised three times its original goal (stretch goals have been added). Continue reading