Tomorrow on Ujima: Flash, Crime, Trans & Food

I have a very busy show lined up for Women’s Outlook tomorrow.

First up from Noon I will be joined by Kevlin Henney who will, of course, be talking about flash fiction. It is that time of year again. In particular Kevlin and I will be discussing a workshop that he’ll be running at the next BristolCon Fringe (which sadly I shall miss because I’ll be on my way to Finland for Archipelacon). And of course Kevlin will have a story or two to read.

Next up is Lucienne Boyce. We’ll be talking about her new historical novel, Bloodie Bones, the launch of which I reported on last month. The book is an historical crime novel set in Somerset during the time of the 18th Century Enclosures. There will be poaching, and bare knuckle boxing, and talk of agricultural workers’ rights.

Also on the show will be an interview that I recorded with Sarah Savage when she was in Bristol on Friday. We talked about her time on My Transsexual Summer, about the founding of Trans Pride, and about her new children’s book, Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl?, which challenges gender stereotyping.

And finally I will be talking to former BBC executive, Kalpna Woolf about her latest project, 91 Ways. This is part of the Bristol Green Capital initiative. It is based around the idea that there are 91 different languages spoken in Bristol. That’s one heck of a lot of different cuisines. The project aims to:

  • Inspire people to lead more sustainable lives using the power of food to encourage dialogue, shared learning, education and action
  • Help people make better decisions about their food and well-being to improve the health and sustainability of our city
  • Create a modern social history of Bristol through food and be instrumental in encouraging a sustainable way of living across the whole city
  • Help us all to have a better understanding of how Bristol’s communities live and their behaviour, food journeys and how they engage with our city

Yes, of course this is an excuse for me to talk about food. But it is a great project too.

As usual you can stream the show live from the Ujima website, and it will be available via the Listen Again system for several weeks after broadcast.

Want To Write A Letter To Tiptree?

The fine folks at Twelfth Planet Press are currently working on a non-fiction piece in which contributors share their thoughts about the life and work of James Tiptree Jr.. They have commissioned a number of pieces, but they are also having a period of open submission. The guidelines are given below. It is possible that I’ll have a piece in this myself, though there is still plenty of time for Alex & Alisa to come to their senses.

The great James Tiptree Jr was born sometime in 1967, a little over forty-eight years ago. Fifty-two years earlier Tiptree’s alter-ego, the talented, resourceful and fascinating Alice B. Sheldon was born. And somewhere in there, about forty years ago, poet Racoona Sheldon showed up.

In celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Sheldon’s birth, and in recognition of the enormous influence of both Tiptree and Sheldon on the field, Twelfth Planet Press is publishing a selection of letters written by science fiction and fantasy’s writers, editors, critics and fans to celebrate her, to recognise her work, and maybe in some cases to finish conversations set aside nearly thirty years ago.

Letters to Tiptree will be a collection of letters written to Alice Sheldon, James Tiptree or Racoon Sheldon; a set of thoughtful pieces on the ways her contribution to the genre has affected (or not) its current writers, readers, editors and critics.

Edited by Alexandra Pierce and Alisa Krasnostein, we are looking for two types of submissions.

Firstly, letters that are between 1000 and 2000 words, exploring personal and/or literary reflections on Tiptree/Sheldon.

Secondly, briefer responses addressing questions such as:

  • Does it make a difference, reading James Tiptree Jr’s work, knowing that Tiptree was Alice Sheldon?
  • Who is James Tiptree Jr to you?
  • Why do you care about James Tiptree Jr?
  • What impact has reading James Tiptree Jr’s fiction had on you?

We are paying 5cpw up to $USD100 to be paid on publication. We are looking for World First Publication in all languages, and exclusivity for twelve months. Letters to Tiptree will be published in August 2015.

Submissions are open between May 18 and June 8.

Please send your essay to

Oxford, Briefly

Yesterday was a lot of fun.

The radio show went well after a slight technical hitch at the start. More on that tomorrow.

I got to Oxford on time, and Lev Grossman’s talk was very interesting. He’s a very nice chap too. More on that tomorrow as well.

Today I spent a bit of time in the Ashmolean. The Great British Drawings exhibition is nice, though it does serve to emphasize once again that Byrne-Jones wasn’t very good. I went mainly to see Rossetti’s Proserpine, which is indeed lovely, and to confirm my suspicion that there would be nothing from Simeon Solomon in it. There wasn’t. You would have thought that the British art establishment would have grown up by now, but clearly it hasn’t. Still, there was a Ronald Searle and a Gerald Scarfe, which cheered me up.

The Caricatures exhibit is interesting mainly for the evidence that slut-shaming of women has a very long history. The best thing in it is this gorgeous little cartoon of gout.

The Ed Paschke exhibition is very bright. I suspect that the cover of Roz Kaveney’s Tiny Pieces of Skull may have some Paschke influence.

The exhibition I really wanted to see was Gods in Colour, where they have taken a selection of Greek and Roman statues, and painted them up to look like they would have looked when they were new. It was great. I wish they had done more.

Oh, and I had lunch in a pub called the Eagle and Child, which was apparently the venue for some sort of fannish pub meet years ago. A bunch of wannabe fantasy writers known as The Inklings used to go there and discuss their work over a pint or several. I did not find Viriconium.

That Time Of Year Again

I see from Twitter that people are complaining about writers listing their award-eligible work again. How refreshing and innovative. Not.

As many smarter and more eloquent people than me have said before, the people who get bullied into remaining silent by these campaigns are the very people who most need the publicity. So in solidarity with the many people out there who will be worried about putting their names forward, here’s my eligible fiction.

“Something in the Water”, published in Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion (Wizard’s Tower).

“The Dragon’s Maw”, published in The Girl At The End Of The World, Book 2 (Fox Spirit).

Having said that, I note that my story is by no means the best in Airship Shape. I’d be kind of embarrassed if it got nominated, but you should buy the book and judge for yourselves. The story in Girl At The End Of The World is much better. You might want to buy that book too, if only to tell me that I’m full of it.

Giant Squid Book

Last week I got tempted by a very big book. This one. Yes, I know, it is Lovecraft. But if you want to deconstruct Lovecraft you have to know a bit about what he wrote, and this book looks invaluable from that point of view.

Also it is ridiculously good value at only £25.

Of course I have dipped into it. You know that thing when you have written a story around an actual sequence of historical events, and then some new research revels that a key date you had was wrong, and it blows a hole in your plot… Yeah, that.

New Venue for Queer Writing

I spotted this on Twitter the other day. It is a magazine called Vitality which aims to publish, “awesome literature featuring queer protagonists”. Given my article for Holdfast this week, I am delighted to see that Vitality wants material that portrays queer people in a positive light, and shows queer people living ordinary lives. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, they are offering a pretty good pay rate (though I note that SFWA professional rates are now 6c/word, not 5c, so anything published by Vitality won’t count as a professional sale). Submission guidelines are available here.

This Week’s Radio – Judy Darley, Bristol Homeless, Black Identity

I began Wednesday’s show with a few mentions of people. As many of you will know, Caroline Symcox has just been inaugurated as Vicar of Fairford, which is not that far away from Bristol. I suspect that Paul Cornell is hoping that the vicar and her spouse get an invitation to the town’s famous air show.

Also in the mentions list were the environmental campaigners from Avonmouth, whom I had on the show back in July. Council staff had tried to sneak through approval of the biomass plant without debate, but the Councillors insisted on discussing the matter and, much to everyone’s surprise, denied the planning application. The expectation is that the power company will go running to the government who will order Bristol to change its mind, but at least our local politicians have made a stand. My colleagues at Bristol 24/7 have the story.

Finally I played a tribute to the great Acker Bilk, one of our local area’s finest musicians, who sadly died on Sunday.

My guest for Wednesday was local writer, Judy Darley. As Judy mainly does short and flash fiction, she was able to read some of her work on air. Much of Judy’s writing is inspired by works of art, which makes it very different from the sort of thing I normally read, but fascinating all the same.

Paulette took over for the next half hour, and welcomed Caz from the One Love Breakfast Show (which Ujima co-hosts with BCFM). Today they were doing a fund raiser for homeless people in Bristol, which is a very good thing to be doing at this time of year. Caz also looked back on the special edition of the show that featured Mayor Ferguson answering questions live in the studio.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

The second hour was given over entirely to a discussion of black identity, so it was very much a Paulette thing.

I suspect that most of you won’t know that Haile Selassie once lived in Bath. The house where is lived is now a museum, and naturally it is a focus for local Rastafarians. It was great to have Shawn Sobers from that project on the show.

Some of the discussion will ring true with those of you who get irritated by the habit of our American friends of referring to all black people as African-American. (He’s from Wakanda, damnit! He’s African.) I was also reminded of a discussion on the Writers Of Colour tweet stream over the weekend in which they talked about being “politically black”.

You can listen to the second hour here.

As a reminder, next week I will have Juliet McKenna and Lucienne Boyce in the studio to talk about historical fantasy. I think I might play some Bat for Lashes.

Yesterday on Ujima – Off the Record, Coaching and Tangled Roots

Yesterday was one of those days when I arrived in the studio knowing next to nothing about the people I was going to be interviewing. We also had one or two technical issues that resulted in it not being the best broadcast I have ever done, but the content was great.

First up we had some lovely ladies from an organization called Off the Record which does amazing work with young Somali and Afro-Caribbean kids in Bristol, particularly in the area of mental health. That ran for 45 minutes.

Then we have two life coaches in the studio, and my colleague, Judeline, bravely volunteered to be a guinea pig and be coached live on air. You can find more information about my guests here.

And finally there was a half hour session on a literary/theatre project called Tangled Roots which is visiting Bristol at the weekend. I did my first ever live phone interview. The project is about encouraging people of mixed race backgrounds to tell their stories, and feel proud of their heritage. It sounds like a very fine thing, and I’m delighted that Bristol is one of the cities they felt it was worth visiting.

You can listen to yesterday’s show here and here.

I’ll be back in the studio this afternoon chatting to Kizzy Morrell about trans issues. That should be around 3:00pm.

Get Your Tentacles Ready, Ladies

She Walks in Shadows, the all-woman Lovecraft anthology that crowdfunded successfully earlier this year, will have an open submissions period in November. Story length is up to 4,000 words with a pay rate of 6 cents (CA$) a word. For further details, see here.

Given that I have what I think is a good idea for this book, I had better get on and write the story. (And yes, the submission guidelines do say that trans women are welcome.)

Last Week on Ujima – Amy Morse, Glenda Larke, Bicycles, Art

I did manage to get a radio show done last week. Despite everything, I think I did OK. Here’s what went down.

In the first half hour I welcomed local author, Amy Morse. We had a lovely chat about starting to build a writing career, social media, crowdfunding and all that stuff that many of you will be familiar with.

That was followed by the second of the interviews I recorded at Worldcon. This was with Glenda Larke. We talked quite a lot about living in Malaysia and Tunisia, and how this has influenced Glenda’s writing.

You can listen to the first hour here.

The second hour began with a discussion of cycling in Bristol. It featured Celia Davis from the city council, and our front of house manager, Frances, who does actually cycle. You know me: if I have a bike I want it to have a motor.

Finally we had a lovely bunch of people in from the Bristol Biennial arts festival, which was running all over the city last week. I wish I had been able to go to see some of the installations and performances.

You can listen to the second hour here.

Apex Flash Fiction Contest

Apex magazine is running a flash fiction contest called Steal the Spotlight. The word limit is 250 and there are five categories: sea monsters, black dog/Hellhounds, banshees, science experiments gone wrong, and demons. You can enter once per category. Every entry wins a back issue of the magazine (ebook). The winners of each category will have their stories published at 6c/word and will get a free year’s subscription. The deadline is October 15th. Full details here.

My X-Men Reboot

For their latest Mind Meld the nice folks at SF Signal asked a bunch of people to write about the topic of reboots in comics. Not only were we asked for our opinions on things like Cap-Falcon and Girl-Thor, they also asked us to pick a character that we’d like to reboot ourselves. Being entirely greedy about such things, I picked the X-Men. Not quite all of them, though it appears Seanan McGuire wants to do that. No, I’ve just taken the original team, as teenagers, and added a few more students. If you want to see what I have done, go here.

There are lots of other good suggestions in the Mind Meld too. I particularly want to see Shira lipkin’s lesbian Wolverine.

Yesterday on Ujima – Reggae History & Short Stories

Yesterday was Jamaican Independence Day, which I had planned to celebrate with a little bit of discussion of reggae history. We got off to a slightly rocky start because my first guest, Jonathan Pinnock, had trouble finding the studio. Clearly I need to revisit the instructions I send to people. Huge thanks are due to Judeline and the two young lads who came in and improvised a discussion for the first 15 minutes. Fortunately Jon arrived in time for the next segment.

Jonathan was in the studio to talk about his new book, Take It Cool, which is the story of his search for his namesake, Dennis Pinnock, an early star of the Lovers’ Rock sub-genre of reggae. He also covers this history of the Pinnock family with the founding of Jamaica, which made the discussion especially appropriate for the day.

Also in the studio was Natalie Burns (who is part-Trinidadian) from the Small Stories group who are co-hosting the Ann & Jeff VanderMeer event later this month. Small Stories sounds like a really interesting group, and one I’d like to get involved with. Nat, Jon and I had a good chat about writing, including the value of experience of being an advertising copywriter.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

I had the second hour off as we had turned it over to the Second Steps group who are well used to running their own shows. If you would like to listen to their discussion of health issues, go here.

The playlist for my hour of the show was:

  • My Baby – Dennis Pinnock
  • Crying Eyes – Dennis Pinnock
  • Jamming – Bob Marley & The Wailers
  • Ricochet Man – Horslips

Next week I’ll be talking to Huw Powell (Gareth’s brother) about space pirates.

Girl At The End Of The Amazon

Girl at the End of the World, Vol 2
Yes folks, the Kindle editions are now available. So if you prefer getting your ebooks from that big digital river, you can now buy The Girl at the End of the World, Book 2, including my story, from the following:

And doubtless all of the other Amazons around the world. Hey, Adele even included me in this (limited) list of contributors that publisher are allowed for anthologies! Thanks love. 🙂

Guess I need to think about having an Amazon author page now.

Bristol Cable Looking for Flash Fiction

My pals at The Bristol Cable, a new community-based media venture for Bristol, are looking for flash fiction (up to 500 words) for their first issue. There’s no pay as yet, but then no one writing for them is getting paid yet either. Startups, eh? But if you are interested do check them out here. And no, it doesn’t have to be science fiction, but I’m sure it can be.

Published Author

Girl at the End of the World, Vol 2
OK, so it isn’t exactly at SFWA rates, but at least it isn’t in a book I’m publishing myself. And I am getting paid for it. Besides, just look at that cover.

So yeah, paperback copies of The Girl at the End of the World, Vol 2, containing my story, “The Dragon’s Maw”, are now available from Amazon UK. They should spread to the US soon, and ebook editions will follow shortly. With any luck they’ll also be available at Nine Worlds, Worldcon and Eurocon.

I feel a little happy dance coming on. This looks suitably apocalyptic.

Finncon – Day 2

This morning it was back to the academic conference. Who would have thought that a discussion about biological determinism would arise from a close reading of the Narnia books?

Most importantly for you folks, it has been confirmed that there will be an academic track at Archipelacon next year. A Call for Papers will be issued in due course.

After lunch we opened the convention with the traditional Hugo Panel. I ducked out this year because I haven’t had time to read much of the ballot as yet (and frankly don’t want to have to read all of it). Also I needed to do some preparation for the other panel of the day in which I had to interview Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch and Hannu Rajaniemi about writing. That seemed to go rather well.

Talking of Hannu, the fine folks at Rosebud books have managed to acquire advance copies of The Causal Angel (which is not out in the UK until Tuesday or so). I have bought one. I could be reading it rather than blogging. Good night.

Ujima Tomorrow

It looks like we have a packed show for you on Women’s Outlook tomorrow. First up I’ll be talking to my friend Edson Burton about the life of the great Nigerian writer, Wole Soyinka. He (Soyinka, not Edson) will celebrate his 80th birthday next month. I know very little about him, but he does have a Nobel Prize for literature, which is no small achievement. I look forward to getting educated.

In the next segment I’ll be talking to Norma Daykin, the musical director of the Bristol Reggae Orchestra. I have been spending a happy morning texting Norma about music and I can promise you some really great tunes, both reggae classics and from local bands.

The second hour I’ll be interviewing one lady about the Fair Trade movement, and another who is crowdfunding a film about trade unions. As Norma has given me far more music than I can play in one half hour, I’ll be continuing with her selections in the second hour.

As usual you can listen in online via the Ujima website. The show starts at Noon UK time. And it will be available for the next few weeks via our Listen Again service.