Short stories

Changing History by Jem Shaw

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I was reminded the other day of an axiom that applies to research for writing: We don’t know what we don’t know. It’s a constant problem, especially when you’re writing a period piece. We have to check constantly that we’re not building in anachronisms that will jar the reader out of the illusion.

But how deep do you go? How do you know when to stop? It’s easy to think you’ve verified a fact but, with the best will in the world, you weren’t there at the time. And the unchecked error is always there, waiting, like a rake in the grass.

Misha Herwin, my fellow Penkhull author and great friend, was kindly editing my upcoming short story collection when she questioned a reference to ballet at Sadler’s Wells in 1914. I confidently pointed out that the theatre was opened in the 17th century by Richard Sadler.

“Ah, but were they doing ballet then?”

No, they weren’t. More thorough investigation revealed that ballet didn’t come to the Wells until long after WW1.

The lesson, apart from learning an unsuspected dislike of Misha, was that we don’t know what we don’t know, and we have to deepen our research to find and fill the gaps.

And, especially, once you’ve written a story, don’t show it to anyone.

There’s more about this sad event on my blog here.

 

SO, WHY THE CAT?

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So, Why the Cat? by Jan Edwards

One of the most frequently asked questions from people who first see my Fables and Fabrications collection is ‘why the cat?’ Title and covers are frequently  the hardest part of writing, or in the case of Fables and Fabrications  compiling a book. It could be seen as something of a chicken and egg process.  Is the cover suggested by the title? Or does the cover dictate the title?

With a collection such as Fables and Fabrications that process was made harder because the stories contained within are so diverse within that broad spectrum that is Fantasy. It is not a book of horror (though many of the stories are admittedly dark). It is not a book of fairy tales,  fantasy,  steam punk, myths or science fiction, though all are touched upon in various forms. (more…)

Something Remains

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Penkhull’s Peter Coleborn blogs about the forthcoming Alchemy Press book, Something Remains, which he co-edited with Pauline E Dungate:

At the 2013 World Fantasy Convention, held in Brighton, Joel Lane’s Where Furnaces Burn won the World Fantasy Award for Best Collection. Due to personal problems Joel wasn’t able to collect the award in person. I had intended to visit Joel soon after, meet up for one of our irregular balti meals with mutual friends Dave Sutton, James Brogden, John Howard, Mike Chinn and Stan Nicholls, and to toast Joel for the win. Sadly, that visit to Birmingham didn’t materialise in time – for not long after the convention Joel passed away in his sleep. His death left a huge cavity in my life.

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