Thursday (the 25th of October) sees the publication of the first piece of my writing that has nothing whatsoever to do with Department 19. It’s a short story called SHUFFLE, and it appears in Magic, the new anthology from Solaris. Let’s just take a moment to admire the frankly beautiful cover…
As those of you who’ve read either (or both) of the D19 books, you’ll know that I tend to write a lot. As a result, the short story is not my natural habitat – I wrote plenty of them when i was younger, but none since I was at university, more than a decade ago. So how did this one come about?
One of the great bonuses of having become a published author, that I’ve talked about in previous posts on this blog, has been the fabulous people it has allowed me to meet. I first dipped my toe into the world of genre fiction with FantasyCon 2010 in Nottingham, and have attended both the subsequent events, largely because they allow me to hang out with a bunch of people I like for a weekend in one place. One of those people is Jon Oliver, the publisher of Solaris (the genre publishing wing of Rebellion, who publish the legendary 2000AD), a fine writer, and all-around good guy.
I met him in Nottingham when he was launching The End Of The Line, an anthology of horror stories using the London Underground as a unifying theme which I bought and loved. In 2011 he followed it up with House Of Fear, a collection of haunted house stories by Sarah Pinborough, Christopher Fowler, Christopher Priest, and many others. I thought it was the best anthology I read last year, and I was delighted to see it nominated for the British Fantasy Award for Best Anthology this year. So when he emailed me and told me he was putting together a third anthology, about magic, and asked whether I wanted to be involved, I said yes straight away. His only caveat was that he didn’t want stories about Merlin and Gandalf – he wanted to see magic explored in new ways. And as it happened, I had an idea that had been bubbling away for a little while, a story that had emerged from a single image, of a man with an incomplete deck of cards tattooed on his forearm…
The lineup Jon has assembled for Magic is pretty awesome, I think you’ll have to agree: Audrey Niffengger (!), Dan Abnett, Sophia McDougall, Alison Littlewood, Lou Morgan, the great Rob Shearman, Sarah Lotz, and many more.
Here’s what Jon’s intro says about SHUFFLE, just to whet your appetite:
There’s an element of slight-of-hand in Will’s story, and not just in the content of the tale itself, but in its structure. As this is a story about cards, this is somewhat apt. But it is also a story about gambling and about what makes a gambler. In particular, it is a story about a gambler playing to lose, in order that he can be free…
If that sounds like something you might be intrigued by, pick up a copy of Magic on Thursday. You’ll be getting fantastic stories from awesome writers, and you’ll be supporting a genre publisher who still takes chances on this kind of project. It’s win-win :)
I’m really proud of SHUFFLE. I think it’s one of the best things I’ve written.
It’s nothing like my Department 19 stuff, but I’m hopeful that people who give it a read will enjoy it, and I’m really keen to hear your thoughts if you do. And even if you don’t like mine, there are fourteen other stories in the anthology. If you don’t like any of them, then I just don’t know what to say to you :)
Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane edited by Jonathan Oliver publishes 25th October in the UK and 6th November in the US.
There will be ebook editions as well, and I’ll update this post with those links as soon as they are live.
FINALLY: Keep your eyes peeled for more new fiction from me next month, when my first ever novella (!) is published in a shared-world collection I’m crazily excited about. Again, it’s nothing like Department 19. Or this. Or anything else I’ve ever written. More to follow…