Tag Archives: short stories

Hell’s a Good Joke: Jason Erik Lundberg on the inspiration behind The Alchemy of Happiness

The Alchemy of Happiness, by Jason Erik LundbergIt all started with a sculpture.

In 1999, when I was still an unpublished newbie, I attended the World Horror Convention in Atlanta, where some of the notable writer guests included Neil Gaiman, John Shirley, Michael Bishop, Caitlín R. Kiernan, and Ramsey Campbell. At that point, I thought that I might still be a horror writer, even though my innate squeamishness for violence and terror was beginning to win the battle for my chosen subject matter, and I attended very much because of the writers there. However, on the second day of the convention, at the urging of several new friends, I made my way into the art show, and beheld the gloriously dark and whimsical sculpture work of Lisa Snellings, who was the Artist Guest-of-Honor. Her smaller pieces made me smile and her larger kinetic works (including the moving Ferris wheel that inspired the anthology Strange Attraction, edited by Edward E. Kramer) filled me with wonder, but it was her largest piece on display that literally stole the breath from my lungs.

Named “If Love’s a Fine Game, Hell’s a Good Joke,” the sculpture consisted of two life-sized harlequins, one balancing on the knees of the other; the expressions that Lisa had so painstakingly crafted on their faces were so devilish and sly that, right there on that spot, I conceived of the siblings Blue and Dane: immortals, manipulators, elementals.

When I got home from the convention, I immediately cast these two characters in a novelette called “Wicked Game” (which can be found in my ebook collection The Curragh of Kildaire). The story examined the shifting balance of control that comes with power both earned and taken; it also established the borstal plane, a dimension of existence that both acts as a prison and as the source of all the magic in the world, a locale I would visit again in my prose. I later returned to the siblings in a middle-grade story called “Watersnake, Firesnake,” but this time put them in a distinctly Asian setting, as the antagonists of a young boy who has found a phoenix egg.

Several years passed, and I grew as a writer, and Blue and Dane refused to go away, insisting that I hadn’t yet finished telling their story. It took time, but three substantial works of fiction came into existence that further explored the power dynamics of their relationship, and the consequences of their long-term meddling in human affairs.

The Alchemy of Happiness is the result, an interwoven tripartite narrative collecting “Reality, Interrupted,” “In Jurong,” and “Always a Risk” for the very first time.

Red Dot Irreal, by Jason Erik LundbergThe collection’s title riffs on that of the ancient Islamic text Kimiya-yi Sa’adat by the Sufi philosopher Abu ?amid Mu?ammad ibn Mu?ammad al-Ghazali, as well as the science of alchemy that sought to harness the four classical elements (two of which my characters physically embody). However, whereas al-Ghazali’s text was designed as a moral guide toward a more fulfilling spiritual life, mine is open-ended, a question rather than an answer. Through their constant searching, will Blue and Dane ever find that existential bliss toward which all of us are striving? Or will their millennia of manipulation and destruction leave them forever in a state of metaphysical suffering?

The Alchemy of Happiness is available now from infinity plus book. Also included in this ebook volume is a hybrid-essay called “Embracing the Strange,” which looks at my own personal journey for happiness and fulfillment through the lens of speculative fiction, as well as a wide-ranging interview by Singaporean author and editor Wei Fen Lee.

And as a special bonus, anyone who buys the ebook gets a link to download the expanded second edition of my collection Red Dot Irreal completely for free.


Phew…

So, just to summarise, then:

The latest books from infinity plus include two collections from Eric Brown in their first e-editions, the first e- and paperback editions of Keith Brooke’s Genetopia, and e- and paperback editions of Garry Kilworth’s memoirs.

Details at: http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/books/new.htm

The full line-up is:

infinity plus: quintet
by Garry Kilworth, Lisa Tuttle, Neil Williamson, Stephen Palmer and Eric Brown (edited by Keith Brooke) (ebook) [Dec 2012]
Five stories from top writers of speculative fiction: science fiction, fantasy and the downright strange, stories from the heart, stories to make you think and wonder.

Genetopia
by Keith Brooke (ebook & print) [Nov 2012]
Searching for his missing sister, Flint encounters a world where illness is to be feared, where genes mutate and migrate between species through plague and fever. This is the story of the struggles between those who want to defend their heritage and those who choose to embrace the new. “A minor masterpiece that should usher Brooke at last into the recognized front ranks of SF writers” (Locus)

Blue Shifting
by Eric Brown (ebook) [Dec 2012]
A novella and seven stories from the two-times winner of the British Science Fiction Award for Short Fiction. Take a journey into an extraordinary universe… where life and love face the demands of mortality …where mankind has become Augmented or Altered, where zebra-men talk with unicorn-women …and where you can break the chains of physics in the cobalt glory of the Nada-continuum.

The Time-Lapsed Man and other stories
by Eric Brown (ebook) [Dec 2012]
In Eric Brown’s landmark first collection of stories, fear, desire, love and redemption are forged with an innovative and stunning science-fiction imagination, creating eight exotic tales of tomorrow.

The Emoticon Generation
by Guy Hasson (ebook) [Dec 2012]
In this collection you’ll find a man who, after losing his fiancée to a terrible accident, seeks to learn if true love really exists; a girl, hardly a teen, who searches for her father only to learn a terrible truth about herself; a man who wants to immortalize his genius but ends up tricking himself out of it; an old hero whose entire life unravels when the truth about his heroic act is revealed; a harmless birthday gift that triggers a profound search into the depths of a young couple’s relationship; and more.

On my way to Samarkand – memoirs of a travelling writer
by Garry Kilworth (ebook & print) [Dec 2012]
Garry Kilworth is a varied and prolific writer who has travelled widely since childhood, living in a number of countries, especially in the Far East. His books include SF and fantasy, historical novels, literary novels, story collections, children’s books and film novelisations. This autobiography covers family history, travels and his experiences in publishing. ‘a master of his trade’ (Punch)

The Alchemy of Happiness
by Jason Erik Lundberg (ebook) [Dec 2012]
A triptych of stories rooted in Asian myth and legend, literary fantasy at its very best from the author of Red Dot Irreal. This volume also features a hybrid essay on the transformative power of speculative fiction, and a wide-ranging interview with the author. And as a special bonus, anyone who purchases a copy of this book gets a link to a free copy of Red Dot Irreal.

Red Dot Irreal – Equatorial Fantastika
by Jason Erik Lundberg (ebook) [Dec 2012]
Travel to Southeast Asia to meet pirates and shamans, wise fish and mystical storytellers, living monuments and paper animals, time travellers, stone taxi drivers, floating dental patients, and a sentient bird park. Once you enter the surreal worlds of Lundberg’s equatorial fantastika, a part of you will never leave. “A fine meal for the mind awaits you in Lundberg’s collection” (Jonathan Carroll)

In Springdale Town
by Robert Freeman Wexler (ebook) [Nov 2012]
Springdale appears to be a quiet village, unblemished by shopping mall or mega-store. But some say Springdale exists only on the contoured highways of our collective imagination. Others point to references dating back to Colonial Boston, to multiple versions of a ballad telling a story of remorse and disgrace. For two people, Springdale is where their lives will intersect with devastating force.

The Love Machine & other contraptions
by Nir Yaniv (ebook & print) [Nov 2012]
What happens when every wish you make is immediately granted by God? If you could use the power of music to travel through time? If your body was the battleground for a strange, alien invasion? In turns humorous, lyrical, profound – but always entertaining – these are the haunting tales of an author at the height of his power.


New: Blue Shifting by Eric Brown

Blue Shifting“The blue light thickened, blotting out Janner’s surroundings, and he existed in a displaced void-like limbo. Then the blue light vanished. Christ, he cried to himself, where the hell now?”

It begins with a feeling of euphoria, then the light, lapis lazuli, leaking from your body, intensifying, a blinding nimbus, then it’s gone. And so are you… somewhere, anywhere.

And it is happening to you every day.

This collection contains the novella Blue Shifting, plus seven other stories from the two-times winner of the British Science Fiction Award for Short Fiction.

Take a journey into an extraordinary universe…

…where life and love face the demands of mortality on planets as far flung as Nova Francais, Earth and Henderson’s Fall.

…where mankind has become Augmented or Altered, where zebra-men talk with unicorn-women.

…and where you can break the chains of physics in the cobalt glory of the Nada-continuum.

Available from:


New: infinity plus quintet

stories by Garry Kilworth, Lisa Tuttle, Neil Williamson, Stephen Palmer and Eric Brown
edited by Keith Brooke

infinity plus: quintetFive stories from top writers of speculative fiction: science fiction, fantasy and the downright strange, stories from the heart, stories to make you think and wonder.

The stories in this volume are:

“Filming the Making of the Film of the Making of Fitzcarraldo” by Garry Kilworth

“Flying to Byzantium” by Lisa Tuttle

“Arrhythmia” by Neil Williamson

“Dr Vanchovy’s Final Case” by Stephen Palmer

“The Girl Who Died for Art and Lived” by Eric Brown

Available from:


New: two from Jason Erik Lundberg

Two new infinity plus titles from Jason Erik Lundberg, each crammed with intelligent, exotic fantasy:

The Alchemy of Happiness – three stories and a hybrid-essay

The Alchemy of HappinessThe Alchemy of Happiness: a triptych of stories rooted in Southeast Asian myth and legend, literary fantasy at its very best.

In the beginning were the four: Water, Fire, Air, and Earth. Arriving simultaneously with the creation of the world, these archetypal elementals shaped humanity from the very start; two of the four continue to do so.

BLUE—The first trickster, fluid and fickle, holder of all the answers, and, therefore, of all the power.

DANE—The loyal lieutenant and enforcer, dispatching fiery judgment without question.

In various guises and forms, through the interstices of our reality and multiple afterlives, these two ancient but flawed siblings seek to find the one metaphysical formula that will lead them out of the never-ending cycle of suffering. Like all of us, human and demigod alike, they yearn for the pure land of endless bliss.

This volume also features “Embracing the Strange,” a 14,000-word hybrid essay on the transformative power of speculative fiction, as well as “Represented Spaces,” a wide-ranging interview with Jason Erik Lundberg by author and editor Wei Fen Lee.

[As a special bonus, anyone who purchases a copy of The Alchemy of Happiness gets a link to a free copy of Jason's collection Red Dot Irreal.]

“The writing is smooth and crisply visual, and the dialog sparkles … Go with the flow, and you’ll meet an interesting character who ultimately is given a thought-provoking choice, one which comes with a unique sacrifice.”
Douglas Hoffman, Tangent, on “Reality, Interrupted” (the first story in The Alchemy of Happiness)

“A fantasy tale of the highest calibre, at times I thought I was reading the last chapter of a great novel and it has certainly made me want to hear more from this author. A world of magic suddenly springs from a fairly ordinary beginning as Goran soon realises that things are not what they seem, and he quickly plunges into a new and disturbing world that is set to change his life forever.”
Tracy Sherrin-Miller, Whispers of Wickedness, on “Reality, Interrupted”

“Lundberg’s writing is that of an Old Soul who views the world through Young Eyes; his work is jamais vu of the highest order.”
James A. Owen, author and illustrator of Here, There Be Dragons

Available from:

Red Dot Irreal – Equatorial Fantastika

Red Dot IrrealTravel to Southeast Asia on wings of the fantastic for Jason Erik Lundberg’s debut short-story collection Red Dot Irreal. There you’ll meet pirates and shamans, wise fish and mystical storytellers, living monuments and paper animals, time travelers and civet cats, stone taxi drivers, floating dental patients, and a sentient bird park. Once you enter the surreal worlds of Lundberg’s equatorial fantastika, a part of you will never leave.

Bonus: extra stories “Big Chief”, “Occupy: An Exhibition” and “Bachy Soletanche” have been added for this electronic edition.

“Stories exotic, spicy, and redolent as a four-star curry. A fine meal for the mind awaits you in Lundberg’s collection.”
Jonathan Carroll, author of Outside the Dog Museum

“Lundberg’s writing is that of an Old Soul who views the world through Young Eyes; his work is jamais vu of the highest order: these stories are memories encountered for the first time, but never to be forgotten once they’ve been experienced.”
James A. Owen, author and illustrator of Here, There Be Dragons

Red Dot Irreal is a box made of the finest equatorial wood, containing a collection of genu-ine gems of the early 21st century noble art of fantastika.”
Zoran Zivkovic, author of The Last Book

Red Dot Irreal teems with imagination, location, originality, and fine writing.”
Jeffrey Ford, author of The Empire of Ice Cream

Available from:


New: The Emoticon Generation by Guy Hasson

The Emoticon Generation by Guy Hasson

Guy Hasson’s The Emoticon Generation features seven stories about life-changes brought about by our new electronic generation: stories that blur the borders between our world and science fiction, stories that make you ask, ‘Has this already happened? Is that actually true?’

In this collection you’ll find a man who, after losing his fiancée to a terrible accident, seeks to learn if true love really exists; a girl, hardly a teen, who searches for her father only to learn a terrible truth about herself; a man who wants to immortalize his genius but ends up tricking himself out of it; an old hero whose entire life unravels when the truth about his heroic act is revealed; a harmless birthday gift that triggers a profound search into the depths of a young couple’s relationship; and more.

Guy Hasson is one of the freshest new science fiction authors out there, with a knack for finding the human heart in the biggest ideas.
“Hasson has a scalpel-sharp intellect which, allied to great ideas and a superb story-telling ability, makes for a wonderfully entertaining collection.” –Eric Brown

“Guy Hasson writes with a deceptive smoothness, in the assured hand of an Old Master, and with a deep concern for the big questions of science fiction. You need to read him.” –Lavie Tidhar, World Fantasy Award winner for Best Novel 2012

The Emoticon Generation by Guy Hasson is available in ebook format from:


Snapshots: Nir Yaniv interviewed

The Love Machine & other contraptions by Nir Yaniv with a foreword by Lavie TidharYour first English-language story collection, The Love Machine & other contraptions, is just out. Tell us more about its contents and history.

The beginning, as stated in Frank Herbert’s Dune, is a very delicate time. Therefore I can’t say I remember much about the beginning of this book, for I was probably in a questionable state of mind then, an assumption I make mainly because I’m in a questionable state of mind most of the time, now included.

In any case, this book collects short stories written over a period of ten years or so. Most of them were published in Hebrew, and some were published in various publications in English and other languages. The recurring machines theme comes for my great love of everything mechanical, both in the real world and outside it, and from the fact that we are machines too. That’s also why I decided to augment the collection with some contraptions.

Contraptions?

Contraptions, to me, are just like fish: I’ve never eaten one. I mean – Gefilte-Fish doesn’t count, right? (If you don’t know what Gefilte-Fish is – count yourself lucky!)

In any case – after I finished selecting the stories to be included in the book, I sat and wrote twelve short-short ones, each dedicated to another impossible yet somehow very real machine. You’ll find there, among others, a Real Machine, an Id Machine, and even a Non Machine. They were not only great fun to write (and hopefully to read!) – I feel that they also bind the other stories of the collection together. Just like appetisers in a really good meal. You do notice the recurring theme of food in this interview, yes?

I’m ignoring it as best I can. So – you’re creative across a number of media: writing, editing, music and film. What are the connections between these? Do you ever stretch projects across several media? Are there even any boundaries?

One of the stories included in the collection is called My Uncle Gave Me a Time Machine. It is based on a song by the same name which was a part of my science-fiction rock album, The Universe in a Pita. That album, in turn, was a part of a radio-play I tried to produce a while back, in which an Israeli rock band is kidnapped by intergalactic mafia and has to pay by performing all over the universe. So projects in one medium influence projects in another. But it also works in other ways: when writing, I listen to the words. They have to have a tune and a tempo. In other words, they have to be a sort of music. In short: my mind is a mess.

Also, I am tempted to say that there are no boundaries, but of course there are: to me, boundaries, or rather – limits – are vital for creating any form of art. When everything is possible and everything is allowed, the result is boring. That’s why I’m a great fan of concept albums and themed projects, and my own works always have strict guidelines.

You’ve collaborated successfully with World Fantasy Award-winner Lavie Tidhar. How does a collaboration work for something as individual as writing fiction?

Lavie is a good friend and a great writer. I would compare collaborating with him to being in a rock band – I’ve been a bass player and a lead singer in several of those – only the work is serial instead of parallel: in a band everyone plays together at the same time, while a writing collaboration, in our case, goes chapter-by-chapter, one by him, one by me. But the rest is just the same: the alcohol, the drugs, the sexy young fans, the fights, the ruined hotel suites, the lot.

What’s special about Israeli SF? Who else should we look out for? Is it a good thing or bad to be labelled an Israeli SF author, rather than simply an SF author?

The very term “Israeli SF” is somewhat problematic, as even most Israeli fans fail to agree what it means. Is it SF written by Israeli authors? Or SF with Israeli protagonists? Or maybe SF written in Hebrew?

The other problem is that, even if we accept all of the above as genuine Israeli SF, that leaves us with only a few active writers, who don’t share much common ground besides that factor. An excellent Israeli writer I’d recommend is Shimon Adaf, whose work never ceases to amaze me.

As for the word “Israeli” being added or omitted to “SF author”, I’d say that this is mainly a question for the marketing department. I was born and raised in Israel, and Hebrew is my mother tongue, so yeah, I’m an Israeli guy, and my writing is influenced by that. On the other hand, most Israelis are sons or grandsons of immigrants: my grandparents are east-Europeans – mostly Polish – which explains the weird humor, and also the silly food. How “Israeli” is that? In some respects, my writing has more in common with Polish and Russian literature. Other Israeli writers have roots in such places as Spain, Egypt or Yemen, and draw their cultural background from there. And of course we all share the love, even if it’s in the form of nostalgia, for good old American and British SF.

What are you working on now?

At the moment I’m working on my second short film, about a young doctoral student who builds a time machine out of the microwave oven in his home, which gets stuck and sends him 6 hours into the future once every 20 seconds, that being only his second-worst problem, the first one being his extremely pissed-off roommate.

I’m also working on a very complex novel dealing with King Solomon, a character which always fascinated me. There are a couple of ancient Jewish legends telling about Solomon making a bad deal with Samedy, the king of the devils. Samedy takes Solomon’s signet ring, throws him to a distant land, takes his form and rules in his place. My idea: Samedy doesn’t take Solomon’s ring, but rather they exchange rings. And Solomon is not thrown in space, but rather – with the help of the ring he got – in time. Now starts the fun.

Describe your typical writing day.

I have a full-time job as a computer programmer, which, if you’re smart enough, is a good way of getting money for nothing-in-particular, meanwhile using an overly powerful computer for making your own stuff. I write in bits and pieces over the day, and in between I take pictures, edit video projects, soundtracks and texts, eat and sleep. I also do a bit of programming, yeah, but don’t tell my bosses at work – I don’t want them to get used to it.

What would you draw attention to from your back-list?

The Tel Aviv Dossier, which I co-wrote with Lavie Tidhar. I shamelessly declare that it’s not only the craziest book I wrote, but also the craziest book I’ve read.

If you were to offer one snippet of writing advice what would it be?

No excuses. If you find yourself in the need of any excuse whatsoever regarding any part of a story or a book – it isn’t good. Make it so good that you don’t need excuses. Or throw it away.

Also, regular meals are important.

So… the easy one: what’s the future of publishing? How will writers be making a living and publishing in five or ten years? What will readers be reading?

I am tempted to say that life will get better and that writers will get more money for their work due to the advances of e-books. However, I don’t think it’ll happen. The main factor for succeeding in any form of art was, is and will remain the marketing department. In other words, the concept of big publishers will stay with us, even while the technology changes.

I like paper books quite a lot, and the first thing people notice, when they get into my house, is the terrific amount of books in it. Well, maybe that’s the second thing, right after the terrific amount of bass guitars. Still, I do most of my reading on a Kindle these days, and I think it’s a game changer for the readers. Especially ones who used to carry one kilogram of books per flight, and can now reduce that to whatever it is the Kindle weighs.

Any last words to your audience, then?

No, sir. You haven’t heard the last of me!

More…
The Love Machine & other contraptions by Nir Yaniv with a foreword by Lavie Tidhar

Nir Yaniv is a writer, musician, editor and filmmaker based in Tel Aviv. His short stories were published in Israel and outside it, including such publications as Weird TalesApex Magazine and Chizine. And they have been translated into German, Portuguese and Polish. His first story collection, One Hell of a Writer, came out in 2006. Two novels he co-wrote with Lavie Tidhar were published in 2009: The Tel Aviv Dossier and Fictional Murder. His second story collection, The Love Machine & Other Contraptions, came out in 2012.

Nir founded Israel’s first online SF&F magazine, sf-f.org.il, in which he served as chief editor for seven years; went on to edit Dreams in Aspamia, a printed speculative fiction magazine, and created the first Hebrew science fiction rock album, The Universe in a Pita.

Nir’s first short film, Conspiracy, was screened in film festivals in Israel and in the UK. He served in various film projects as cameraman, soundman, sound-editor, and even actor.

Buy stuff:


New: The Love Machine & other contraptions by Nir Yaniv

The Love Machine and other contraptions by Nir Yaniv“Each story is a bright flash of odd brilliance… unmissable.” – Lavie Tidhar, World Fantasy Award winning author of Osama.

What happens when every wish you make is immediately granted by God? If you could use the power of music to travel through time? If your body was the battleground for a strange, alien invasion?

In this, his debut collection in English, Israeli author Nir Yaniv shows his remarkable versatility, collecting stories from over a decade of writing and a wide range of the fantastic. In turns humorous, lyrical, profound – but always entertaining – these are the haunting tales of an author at the height of his power.

“A fantastic, wonderful, weird story … Speaks very powerfully to the human spirit.” – Strange Horizons, on “Undercity”

“Hypnotic, surreal and prophetic, Nir Yaniv’s “The Dream of the Blue Man” is a story you won’t soon forget.” – World Fantasy Award winner Ann VanderMeer

The Love Machine & other contraptions by Nir Yaniv is available from:

…and don’t miss the trailer: Our Friends: The Machines!


New: The Time-Lapsed Man and other stories by Eric Brown

The Time-lapsed Man and other stories by Eric BrownHe made a sound of pleasure as the hot water needled his tired skin. Yet he heard nothing. The silence was more absolute than any he had experienced before. After more than fifty shifts, a lifetime among the stars, this was his first rehabilitation problem, and he was not unduly worried…

In Eric Brown’s landmark first collection of stories, fear, desire, love and redemption are forged with an innovative and stunning science-fiction imagination, creating eight exotic tales of tomorrow. Witty, original, imbued with a cyberpunk bleakness, this is the work of one of the UK’s leading, and most loved, SF authors.

“The essence of modern science fiction” Bob Shaw

“SF infused with a cosmopolitan and literary sensibility” Paul McAuley

“British writing with a deft, understated touch: wonderful” New Scientist

The Time-Lapsed Man and other stories is available as an ebook from:


Snapshots: Jeff Noon interviewed

Just out as an ebook, Channel SK1N is your first novel in ten years or so. The novel has already been highly praised by William Gibson, Cory Doctorow, Lauren Beukes, SFX and more, and it’s clear that your return to book-length fiction is long overdue. Tell us more about the novel.

Jeff Noon - Channel Sk1nChannel SK1N charts a few days in the life of a pop star called Nola Blue. She’s a manufactured entity, very much in the X-Factor, American Idol mould. I wanted to push that process to the extremes, to really have a good look at it as a subject matter. So Nola has lost her former identity, her name, many of her memories, and so on. She’s an artist who has given herself over completely to the pop machine. Now she’s starting to regret that decision. And her regret coincides with the appearance of a mysterious bruise on her stomach. This grows and starts to take on shape and colour and even sound; it turns out to be a TV broadcast. So Nola is picking up TV signals on her skin. That’s the basic theme: the body taken over by the media, for good and for ill. It’s a short novel, just a few days in the life of this incredibly troubled woman as she struggles to preserve her own identity. I follow her as closely as I can, like a handheld camera. I really wanted the book to have that “handheld” quality; so the prose is a bit jittery in places, and later on my word-camera gets infected with the same parasite signal.

Why the move to self-publish this novel, rather than take the traditional route? I believe there was at least one commercial publisher who wanted to publish this book.

We sent the book off to one publisher and they picked up on it, and wanted to publish it. So I really did almost go the traditional route. But they wanted to release it in 18 months’ time. Now, I’ve been out of the world of books for a long while – ten years since Falling Out of Cars was published – and I was really keen on connecting to a reading audience again. So I did a bit of research, and realised that the possibilities of self-publishing had changed a lot in those ten years. I made the decision to do it myself. This way, the book is already out, and reaching people, and that’s a really great feeling. Best of all, it allows a more or less continuous stream of creativity; I can write something and get it out a short time later. That whole waiting period between the creation and the publication can be very short now. This is brilliant: current thought and current work can move hand in hand.

Was it an easy decision to turn down conventional publishing and go it alone?

No. Not at all. But you know, I’ve always had an independent streak to me. I started out writing and producing fanzines in the punk era, and this feels very similar in many ways. And of course these days we see so many musicians going it alone; that was a major inspiration. It just seemed the right thing to do, at this particular time in my life. Of course, there are problems; for instance, the major print newspapers give very little review space to self-published eBooks. Thankfully, the world of the blog now exists. There are an amazing bunch of really well-informed writers out there, both at the centre and the edges of the SF genre. They bring a far greater individuality to their writing than a lot of professional journalists do, and they really get and support the independent spirit. They’re independent themselves, right? Publishing is changing in so many ways. We’re in transition, and I’m really happy to be part of that transition, that wave.

What lessons have you learnt along the way?

The initial set-up is time-consuming. You need some help along the way, even if it’s just a couple of well-informed friends. The biggest problem facing the independent author is visibility; how can I get people to notice my work? One approach is to place your work within the limits of a known genre pool, but it’s so easy to get lost that way. My personality forces me in the opposite direction: I like to write books that slip and slide between genres. But I knew that Channel SK1N was a simple, strong subject matter: a woman turns into a television set. There it is. A story. And I knew it would connect with the present-day world in various interesting ways. So I think I would advise people to really think about subject matter and style: make your work stand out from the crowd. At least then, you’ll have some chance of being noticed.

To many people, publication of Channel Sk1n will be seen as your return after a break of a decade or so. In reality, you’ve been working hard online, with a prolific output of new fiction, remixes, microfiction, poetry and much, much more. Not so long ago, it was easy to say that an author was someone who wrote novels, stories and/or poetry, for print, but now… what exactly is it that you do?

I’m a writer. That’s how I see myself, fundamentally. I manipulate words to create effects, stories, emotions and so on. But I’m not the kind of person who can just do one thing, forever; I need to change, to hit the REFRESH button on a weekly, if not daily basis. So I’m always experimenting, just trying to come up with new ideas for both subject and form. I do that every day. I have hundreds of little one or two page Word documents on my computer, that I’m constantly looking at, tweaking, remixing and so on. Eventually, one of these will grow into something larger, and maybe take on a public life. I’ve spent years perfecting things that nobody’s ever seen. It’s my nature. But now, with the self-publishing venture, I hope to get some of these works out, in front of people. For most of the ten years’ time I was hidden away in the world of screenwriting, which suited me at the time. I still love film, and hope to see some scripts given a visual life one day.

Jeff Noon - Pixel JuiceAs well as your online output, and the publication of Channel SK1N, your backlist is now being made available for the first time in ebook format. Are there any titles in particular that you would like to highlight?

I couldn’t get hold of good digital copies of the older books, so I had to pay for them to be professionally scanned. I then had to check the scans for errors. So, in effect, I’m currently in the process of reading my own back catalogue. Which is a mighty strange, and somewhat scary thing to do. But it hasn’t been too bad. I have a particular fondness for Pixel Juice, because I can remember my imagination running on overload when I wrote it, and also for Falling Out Of Cars, for its extension of the Alice in Wonderland myth into a near-future scenario.

What are you working on now?

I’m doing the spores on Twitter, just these little packets of story and image. Eventually, I will collect these into a volume called Pixel Dust. I’m also looking at ideas for apps, especially for the spores and Cobralingus. This is all about finding new ways of presenting story, new narrative processes. I love all that. Also, I’ve just started a new film script, an inter-dimensional romance. And the usual array of experiments. I always have a lot of works on the go.

Describe your typical writing day.

I work best at night. So I tend to go to bed very late, around 3 or 4 or even 5 in the morning. I get up at 10am, mess about for a bit, do any admin type work, get all that boring stuff out of the way, you know? And then start thinking about the day’s writing. I’m quite organised; I have a to-do list, and all that. But, as I said, after dark is when I really start to feel creative. I must have some Vampire blood!

Which other authors or books do you think deserve a plug?

I don’t really read contemporary novels. I love magazines (paper ones), which I devour cover to cover. I adore poetry. Whenever I go into a bookshop, I quite naturally head for the poetry section. That’s my compass point. I like contemporary poetry most of all, so I always try to keep up with the latest volumes. My favourite poet is Pauline Stainer. I find her work endlessly inspiring. She has a very powerful visual imagination, which I really respond to. I think I’m actually a frustrated poet, in many ways. (When I’m not being a frustrated musician, that is!)

If you were to offer one snippet of writing advice what would it be?

Really concentrate on individual expression. Be bold. Take a chance on being strange. Of all the genres, science fiction will most readily reward you for this.

So… the easy one: what’s the future of publishing? How will writers be making a living and publishing in five or ten years? What will readers be reading?

I think paper books will still be around in five years. Beyond that, it’s difficult to predict. I imagine the big newspapers will go completely digital first, losing their paper editions. That will change people’s attitudes. We will see more and more digital books. I think the new media will change the nature of storytelling in some way, but as always, the novel will be at the back of the queue, desperately clinging onto its 19th Century status for as long as possible. At a certain point in history the novel and the story wedded themselves together. This never happened to the same degree in visual or musical arts, so those media have been free to progress at a far quicker rate than the novel. But there will be a number of writers exploring narrative on the new platforms. More power to them. Meanwhile, the publishing industry pats itself on the back because it successfully made money from the paper editions of Fifty Shades of Grey. I mean, what are the chances of that novel being taken up by a big publisher, just from scratch? Absolutely minimal. But what interests me the most is the growing number of “amateur” writers that the new media has brought to light. I read once that Britain has more creative people per square mile than any other country in the world. I think that figure will need to be seriously upgraded, because we’re just now starting to see the astonishing range of people who are taking advantage of digital culture to show their writing to the world. There is a terrible snobbery about this stratum of writers amongst the industry and the press (until of course one of them makes serious money). In fact, Shades of Grey is a perfect example; that was a seriously personal novel, emerging from the world of online fanfiction. It doesn’t get more grassroots than that! For myself, I welcome this new wave of writing. For sure, not all of it will operate at the “accepted” standards, but my God the people will speak out loud. We’ve all got a hilltop to shout from now. The question comes back to visibility. More than ever, artists of every stripe will have to really make themselves stand out in the market square. I think we’ll see an increasing number of highly individualised novels, stories with unique themes and styles. It’s survival of the strangest. And that can only be good. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic, but I’m keen to see the future of books, in whatever form it takes.

More…Jeff Noon - Channel Sk1n

Jeff Noon was born in Manchester in 1957. He trained in the visual arts and was active on the post-punk music scene before becoming a playwright. His novels include Vurt (Arthur C. Clarke Award winner), Pollen, Automated Alice and Falling Out Of Cars. Pixel Juice was a collection of fifty avant-pulp stories. He also writes microfictional ‘spores’ via @jeffnoon on Twitter. His latest novel Channel SK1N is an experiment in independent digital publishing. He lives in Brighton, on the south coast of England. More information can be found at www.metamorphiction.com.Buy stuff:


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