Prompted by a question on Facebook, this is a list of short stories which have lingered, i.e. which occur to me off the top of my head. They aren’t value judgements, in fact I am certain there are stories that don’t occur to me because they fit so perfectly into the whole of their collection or anthology. But they’ve stuck, and that probably says more about me than them.
- Kelly Link’s “Magic for Beginners” (in the book of the same title, but also online here) because it was wonderfully strange and folded and caught something true and should have been real.
- Dirk Flinthart’s “The Ballad of Farther-on-Jones” (in Striking Fire), because it was lyrical and hopeful and contained all it needed to.
- Shaun Tan’s “No Other Country” (in Tales from Outer Suburbia), because it, like the whole book, is achingly gorgeous. The serious undertones of some of its neighbouring stories enhance the jewel-like quality of this one and its art.
- Karen Joy Fowler’s “The Dark” (in What I Didn’t See – the paperback has a really nice cover;), because it keeps inserting itself into my memory of other collections, and because terrible things happen but people do good things too.
- M R James’ “The Diary of Mr Poynter” because of one particular moment of the mundane becoming unsettled. Almost all his ghost stories do this but this one was particularly low-key. And I like the design element in the plot.
- Dorothy Sayers’ “The Haunted Policeman” (in Striding Folly, but I read it first in the Folio Society’s Crime Stories from the Strand) because it is a miniature painting, and a lovely little puzzle. It was also my first introduction to Peter and Harriet.
- Henry Lawson’s “The Loaded Dog” (warning for some animal deaths) and/or “We Called Him “Allie” for Short, because of Lawson’s laid-back, tongue-in-cheek tone and, in the case of “The Loaded Dog”, the rolling, rollicking, dangerous inevitability of the plot.
- Angela Slatter’s “The Badger Bride” (in The Bitterwood Bible – and by the way, the limited edition hardbacks of this are nearly sold out) because it is a small, perfectly formed legend curled into an angle of the interlocked stories of the collection.
- E Nesbit’s “Melisande, or: Long and Short Division“, because of the knock-on effect of the plot, and the charm, and there being no real villain as such except for consequences (not unusual in E Nesbit’s stories), and because the silliness is played out soberly. Also maths.
Flight, the illustrated story I am working on with Angela Slatter (words by her, pictures by me) is scheduled to be published by Tiny Owl Workshop in February 2016.
Here are some more glimpses of the art on postcards and coasters Sue of Tiny Owl has put together for us to take to World Fantasy.
Working on Flight! In so many senses. It’s drawing very near…
Angela Slatter and I have signed with an agent: Alex Adsett Publishing Services! Alex will represent us as a writing/illustrating team, which is hugely exciting. I feel almost like an adult.
Here is a glimpse of one of the projects we have been working on:
And here is my illustrator photo. The fox at top left is one of my favourite foxes so far. The mug behind the ink bottle is the Mozi peacock mug my younger sister gave me years ago and it definitely has tea in it! Not paint water.
A little gif of the development of a detail of Flight, the book I am illustrating for Angela Slatter, from Tiny Owl Workshop.
I’m a huge fan of Angela Slatter‘s work (which just keeps getting better and seriously, you should read The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings and put it on all the award lists, and of Angela, so I was thrilled to illustrate Black-Winged Angels, Ticonderoga Publications’ limited edition of some of her earlier dark fairy tales.
Angela had seen some illustrations I was working on for an art show, and asked if several of these could be illustrations for the stories in this collection. We discussed the others and I put together very rough digital sketches.
I then sketched the final pieces loosely on the back of some black paper and cut them out. Silhouettes don’t have quite as many stages as other art styles.
This is for “Light as Mist, Heavy as Hope,” a story of lost parents and Rumpelstiltskin-bargains:
“Bone Mother”, a Baba Yaga tale:
And “The Girl with No Hands”, whom I gave hands in the original paper piece, because I could only bear to cut them off digitally (painlessly, reversibly):
Altogether, I made 16 illustrations for this book, but I’m not posting the rest until it’s sold out!
My copy of Angela Slatter‘s collection The Bitterwood Bible finally arrived, and it is so (literally) shiny.
The dust jacket is consistent with Tartarus Press style, but underneath there is foil on the boards, and it gleams! Here is a flash photo for maximum effect (I am so happy the little fox on the stand turned out as it should).
There are many, many pictures inside, too – here are a few as they appear in the original sketchbook:
And here are the beloved badgers: