Jolene is shortlisted for the BSFA Award for Shorter Fiction

My short story “Jolene”, published in Interzone 284 (the one about the cowboy whose wife, dog and truck have left him), has been shortlisted for the BSFA Award for Shorter Fiction! It’s lovely to see Jolene in such distinguished company.
This is the skull I bought for the sale of “Jolene”; it’s heat-treated agate, in the same colours as the titular pickup truck, and I think it looks rather like Fordite.

Skulls #4: “Rabbit Season”, 2013

“Rabbit in the Moon,” my forthcoming novel from ChiZine Press, is one that had its genesis in a jokey conversation at the Fitzroy Tavern with a group of Faction Paradox authors (Faction Paradox explainer here), in which I threatened to write a Faction Paradox version of Apocalypse Now. Well, I didn’t; I tried, but by the time I got it into any sort of shape it wasn’t very Faction Paradox-like, so I put the idea aside.

However, when I saw the pitch for Blood and Water, environmental catastrophe stories by Canadian authors and with Canadian connections, I thought about reviving the idea of, at least, a surrealist Apocalypse Now journey through a climate-changed future North America. I wrote “Rabbit Season”, sent it in, and it got accepted– starting a long relationship with Bundoran Press which led to them publishing my first novel, and to “Rabbit in the Moon” getting written.

The skull is one of my favourites; it’s howlite, a stone I love, and beautifully detailed.

Skulls #2: “The Metaphor”, Interzone, September 2011.

I’d liked the rock crystal pendant skull so much, I bought another from the same shop. This one’s a little larger (and it’s one you’ll often see me wearing at cons when I’m in my Pirate Queen outfit). It’s also jade, which is associated with longevity, death and the afterlife, so appropriate for a story whose narrator lies in suspended animation, generating fantasy metaphors for the virtual work they do.

Skulls #1: “Stone Roach”/”Delays on the South Central Line”, Asimov magazine, 2011

Every time I sell a work of fiction, I buy a crystal skull. This is the one that started it.

I’d started sending out flash fiction and poetry, nervously. I’d promised myself that I’d buy something nice the first time I sold something.

I got a rejection slip from Asimov. They’re a big market, hard to crack, especially for a beginning writer. I wasn’t surprised.

Shortly afterwards, I got an e-mail from Asimov.

“Sorry, you haven’t managed to sell those poems, have you?”

I was indeed surprised.

No, I hadn’t, and yes, I was happy to sell them.

I made less than £10 out of it once I’d cashed the foreign cheque (they didn’t do Paypal at the time). I spent the money on Something Nice, namely, a skull necklace I’d had my eye on. I thought it was appropriate; skulls being the house of creativity and symbolic of the characters I’d created.

It also started a trend.