WorldCon 2019 schedule

Only a couple of days until I head to my very first WorldCon (I got into SFF publishing properly late in 2014. I live in London. Insert facepalm emoji here). The last few years have been wild and unpredictable in the best possible ways and that’s all because of the most lovely SFF community.

So heading to Dublin to hang out with friends old and new – and meet some face-to-face for the first time – is A Big Deal for me. Add the fact that it’s the first con I’ll be flying the Titan flag at and, well, eep!

Of course, my schedule has mutated into an all-encompassing beast of terror, so I’ll spend the entire weekend vibrating at a caffeine-induced 5.4MHz and be grabbing fistfuls of any snack I see at events, drive-by style. More importantly, here’s the publishing stuff I’m doing!

Unsung Stories at WorldCon

No stall this year, I’m afraid, so we won’t be selling any books. However, we’ve donated some shiny treats so make sure to check out the freebies table when you get there.

We’ve had so much love from readers and reviewers across the globe, so I couldn’t turn up the chance to say thank you. I remain immensely proud of everything Unsung has achieved, and these authors are well, well worth getting to know.

Non-UK types in particular, this one’s for you because we only distribute from the UK. Get them before they’re gone…

The Titan Party

Friday night is the Titan Party. It looks like it’s going to be utterly immense, and I will take precisely 0.01% of the credit for that. Titan publicists Lydia Gittins and Polly Grice have absolutely nailed this, so this will be my highlight of the con.

Panel – What I Learned Along the Way

Saturday, 17 Aug 2019: 15:00 – 15:50, Wicklow Room-3 (CCD)

Writing is a many wondrous thing filled with highs and lows, but those lows can be really tough to navigate either after a great success or after a lack of success. Rejection is something every writer has to face, but how do writers keep writing in the face of failure? What lessons have they learned along the way? Our panelists share the ups and downs of a writing life.

Aliette de Bodard, Ian R MacLeod, Karl Schroeder (Tor Books) and the mighty Nina Allan

Kaffeeklatsch

Sunday, 18 Aug 2019: 11:00 – 11:50, Level 3 Foyer (KK/LB) (CCD)

I’ve never done a Kaffeeklatsch before. I assume I will be clutching coffee. My German in terrible.

Panel: Getting Published and Staying Published

Sunday, 18 Aug 2019: 13:00 – 13:50, ECOCEM Room (CCD)

You have a two-book deal with a mainstream publisher. Huzzah! So, after those two books, what happens next—not just immediately, but across years. Panelists share their experiences and expectations, offering advice and notes on what they wish they had known.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden (Tor Books), E. C. Ambrose, Michelle Sagara and Natasha Bardon (HarperVoyager UK)

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News of Titanic proportions

They say good things come in threes*. They also say you can’t have too much of a good thing, and something about cakes and eating. This January I decided to see what happens when you take all these idioms, smash them together in a particle accelerator and paint the results in glitter.

A particularly shiny part of the results has just entered the visible spectrum in the form of an article in The Bookseller. I am delighted, and still somewhat shocked, to tell you I’m going to be the new Managing Editor at Titan from February.

In a bizarre twist of semiotics, I have become news. Yesterday I was just an editor; today I’m realising it’s a weirdly pertinent time to be reading Barthes.

The really wonderful thing about the whole process is that coming to Titan feels a bit like coming home (I did say that, and I do mean it). Titan have been steadily building a list, balancing commercial and literary ambitions, featuring fascinating genre writers who do all the kinds of stuff that I love. They’ve brought Nina Allan to new audiences, picked up Matt Hill, Helen Marshall’s new novel, and gave Nod by Adrian Barnes a fresh life, for instance.

They’ve clearly been paying attention to the small press scene, picking up work from Unsung, Dead Ink, Bluemoose and more. It’s a list that doesn’t operate in isolation, but is trying to be (part of) something bigger.

All of which is to say, of course, eep. This is a big, real, emotional thing for me and I couldn’t be more excited. I hope you’ll all enjoy coming on the ride with me.

 * Dad Mode: On. | Moving House Mode: On.

I just swore at all of FantasyCon in one go…

FantasyCon really is a wonderful thing. Not only did I see countless wonderful people, I got to read a new story in public, speak on two panels, stage a miraculous recovery from the fringes of hangover death, run a really busy book launch, break out of my AirBnB, catch up with rumours about myself and, rather improbably, win an award…

It’s entirely humbling to win the 2018 award for the Best Independent Publisher. I mean this humbling:

That’s me trying not to burst into tears in the middle of the ceremony.*

Also, I’m sorry the first thing I said to you, FantasyCon, was, ‘Holy fuck…’

Much more importantly, however, I also forgot the dedication – so that’s coming here. You may have seen the news about Martin Cox earlier in the year. Martin died at the start of 2018, which was an awful and unfair thing.

Martin was the designer behind the look of everything Unsung from logo to running heads. His skill speaks for itself. He was also an absolute gentleman and a friend.

So Martin, this one’s for you – and I’m sorry I forgot to tell everyone when I had the chance.

Although, if there is an afterlife I’m pretty sure he’s having a giggle at my expense right now…

* Thanks Vince Haig for the photo. Also for being part of the sustainable future of Unsung along with Dan Coxon and Stark Holborn. Their worth can not be underestimated.

The Island of Dreaming Beasts

Crowdfunding is a mad old thing, isn’t it? It’s a slippery, tricksy little git which has all the hallmarks of publishing’s trademark factor – alchemy. You can add all the same ingredients and get totally different results every time. If you’re really lucky you might even get some idea why.

However! There are two Kickstarters going on right now which have got it right, which I recommend you checking out. Bonanza days for fans of weird fiction.

This Dreaming Isle

After the success of 2084 last year, it was inevitable that we’d do another Kickstarter over at Unsung Stories. So when editor Dan Coxon came to me with an anthology idea, contributor list and fistful of stories…

This Dreaming Isle a collection of dark fantasy, weird and horror fiction dedicated to the landscape of the United Kingdom. And it’s another ridiculous contributor list, so all kudos to Dan for pulling that together.

We launched it last month, with the campaign finishing this Thursday, so you’ve got a couple more days to get in on the Kickstarter exclusives. And that cover artwork is by Jordan Grimmer. He’s ace.

Disturbing the Beast

Boudicca Press are a new outfit dedicated to publishing new weird, literary and relationship fiction by women writers in the UK. Basically, they’re 100% on point for right now. It’s run by Helen and Nici, a pair of editors with bucketsful of intelligence, experience and passion. They’re Good People and they’re doing A Good Thing.

The Kickstarter for their launch collection is halfway through and they’re very nearly there – so if you’re reading this, go check it out, and get behind the project.

They’re publishing new stories from Aliya Whiteley and Kirsty Logan, so there’s two reasons for you right there.

(I recently read Logan’s The Rental Heart, and it was gorgeous, lyrical, frequently surprising, and frankly far too racy to be reading on public transport in places. Loved it.)

One last thing to say about Boudicca Press and indie publishing – a few years back I was just a guy with a logo, a bunch of motivation and the good faith of some excellent writers. That Unsung has turned into what it has is a source of constant wonder to me, and is thanks to lots of you out there.

The Boudicca eds are just as good as me, just as motivated, and already have excellent writers on board. With a bit of love and faith now, they’ll be able to bring us the goods for years to come!

Nine Worlds 2018

That’s right, Nine Worlds time! This weekend the Novotel Hammersmith is home to the full-regalia geeky con. All the SFF content, Knightmare Live, lectures on why Bill & Ted 1 is the only film to get the philosphy of time travel right, and some top-drawer cosplay. They had a guy dressed as Londo Mollari* last year, FFS.

I’m going to be there all weekend, wearing a different hat every day. So if you’re at the con make sure to come and say hi!

  • The Only Way is Indie! I’m talking about indie publishing and all the wondrous things it represents at 5pm on Friday.
  • Pop-up stall! Unsung will be running a pop-up stall on theSaturday afternoon so you can all come and pick up books, including Pseudotooth by Verity Holloway and You Will Grow Into Them by Malcolm Devlin. Which is important because…
  • Verity Holloway and Malcolm Devlin are all over Sunday, and I’ll be there to watch them! They’re talking about things like the folkhorror revival, disability in SFF and intoxicants in fiction. And if that doesn’t sound like a good day out, what’s wrong with you?

It’s going to be lots of fun, as always – hopefully see you there!

 

 * What do you mean you don’t know who Londo Mollari is? Next you’ll be telling me you can’t tell Zafras from Zafras…

 

Unsung at the British Fantasy Awards

This is what us in the trade call A Good Day. The shortlists for the British Fantasy Awards were announced yesterday and I’m somewhat staggered to report that Unsung has got three nominations this year.

As well as Malcolm Devlin’s ridiculously good collection, You Will Grow Into Them, there are nominations for 2084, the anthology of dystopian fiction inspired by Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four I edited, and Unsung Stories as the best indie press overall. If anyone asks, my official comment is: meep.

The shortlists are the usual cavalcade of excellence so to be associated with such a fine set of people and work is already entirely groovy. Also, pro tip: When getting nominated for awards use numbers as the book title so you come up first on the list*.

Best Anthology
· 2084, ed. George Sandison (Unsung Stories)
· Dark Satanic Mills: Great British Horror Book 2, ed. Steve Shaw (Black Shuck Books)
· Imposter Syndrome, ed. James Everington & Dan Howarth (Dark Minds Press)
· New Fears, ed. Mark Morris (Titan Books)
· Pacific Monsters, ed. Margret Helgadottir (Fox Spirit)

Best Collection
· Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman (Bloomsbury)
· Strange Weather, by Joe Hill (Gollancz)
· Tanith by Choice, by Tanith Lee (Newcon Press)
· Tender: Stories, by Sofia Samatar (Small Beer Press)
· You Will Grow Into Them, by Malcolm Devlin (Unsung Stories)

Best Independent Press
· Fox Spirit
· Grimbold Books
· Newcon Press
· Salt Publishing
· Unsung Stories

It’s great to see the other categories celebrating people like Nina Allan, Tade Thompson, RJ Barker, Lucy Hounsom’s podcasting, Anna Smith-Spark and the mighty TTA Press crew as well. There’s some fine work coming up at the moment. Just spare a thought for the poor buggers who have to judge the Best Fantasy Novel category – that’s a doozer.

* A long time ago, in a hangover far away I went to the Edinburgh Festival as part of a comedy sketch show. As part of Aaaaargh Productions – because it guaranteed we’d be first in every listing…

Reading for the Shadow Booth

I’ve had a good year for publications with a few things either out or placed, and one of those is my story ‘Keel’ in volume 2 of The Shadow Booth.

The Booth is a new journal of weird and horror fiction put out by the ever-industrious Dan Coxon and both volumes are full of some excellent writers, so are well worth checking out. We’re talking Mark Morris, Aliya Whiteley, Gary Budden, Kirsty Logan, Dan Carpenter, Johnny Mains, Dan Grace, Gareth E. Rees and more.

I’m reading at The event to celebrate the launch of volume 2 this Thursday, 5th July, at Old Mary’s bear Lancaster Gate.

For anyone who has been to a Live show, it’s my first ever reading, so I’ll finally be stumping up the goods myself!

You can RSVP and get all the useful info from the event Facebook page. Hopefully see you there.