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.

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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.

2084, crowdfunding and interviews

Anyone who has been even slightly near Unsung Stories on social media in the last two weeks will have noticed that we’ve launched an anthology of dystopian fiction called 2084. The idea for this is pretty much – get writers to ‘do an Orwell’ and look into our future.

A few people have been asking how we managed to pull together our contributor list – which includes Christopher Priest, David Hutchinson, Lavie Tidhar, James Smythe and a bunch more excellent writers – so I’ll happily spill the secret for you here. Are you ready? Secret publishing voodoo coming: I asked them. Pretty much just sent an email to them, or their agent, saying who we were, what the project was and why we wanted them involved.

So what’s the moral of the story? Your favourite authors are really groovy people, and a good idea gets anyone’s attention.

We also decided to try something new and crowdfund this one using Kickstarter. We figured we have a good list of writers and we’ve spent some time building our reputation, so it might just fly. And boy did it fly!

We set our goal at a number we thought would be achievable for the month – a nice, solid £2,500. Eleven hours later, that was in the bag. A couple of days later we had £4500 in pledges. Now, at the two-week mark we are 366% funded at over £9000, adding more authors to the collection and looking where to stretch next. Simply, its been a staggering and humbling couple of weeks.

To help promote the project I’ve done a couple of interviews. The first was with the Papertrail Podcast and you can read that on their website. The second was with the Skiffy and Fanty podcast, as the very first guest(!) on their new Signal Boost show: Signal Boost #1: George Sandison (2084) and Alexandra Pierce (Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler). So thanks very much to Alex at Papertrail, and Jen and all at Skiffy and Fanty for having me.

Also, keep an eye on the Kickstarter tomorrow evening, we have some limited edition rewards going up…

 

 

Unsung update: Grievances, live lit and Missives book launch

It’s been a busy spring so far, with lots of things happening at Unsung Stories. I still occasionally have days wondering how I managed to land this gig, and here’s a few reasons why it’s all pretty exciting.

Unsung Signals

First, we’ve launched Unsung Signals, a digital line focusing on mid-length fiction, novellas, small collections and the like. This came about because we had some submissions come in which were excellent, but completely the wrong length to print. So rather than rail about the economic realities of physical products and small presses, we made Signals.

Winter by Dan Grace is already out, a wonderful piece of writing about revolution, folklore and magic. It’s confident elliptical stuff, etching out a world in so few strokes.

Our second title, The Bearer of Grievances by Joseph McKinley, was published on Monday and I love it. It’s a collection of 8 stories, all linked, all full of the same black comedy. It’s a satire on bureaucracy and technology which reminds me of Terry Gilliam, David Cronenberg and Douglas Adams. It makes me do the same inappropriate laugh that Ben Wheatley films do. And I’m normally the one telling people how hard SF comedy is to write.

Unsung Live #3

The third instalment of our SFF live lit night takes place on 27th April at the Star of Kings, Kings Cross. This is a great fun night where authors get a platform to perform short fiction. This time we’re very proud to say we have Stephanie Saulter (Gemsigns, Binary, Regeneration) and Ian Whates (Pelquin’s Shadow, City of a Hundred Rows and founder of NewCon Press), with more TBC.

Tickets are free but limited, so RSVP to secure your place.

The Arrival of The Arrival of Missives

More Aliya Whiteley! After the wonderful response we had to The Beauty, it’s really exciting to say that we are publishing Aliya’s new book The Arrival of Missives.

The launch party is on 3rd May 2016 at Blackwells Holborn and is free and open to all. Come help us celebrate, hear Aliya read and answer questions, and maybe share a cider with me once I’ve put the microphone down.