A couple of weeks ago I woke up to this email from Basement Stories:
“Thanks for sending us ‘Brass Tacks and Black Hats.’ I liked your story, and would like to accept it for publication for Issue #5.”
Basement Stories are a US-based science fiction and fantasy ezine dedicated to “publishing quality character-driven speculative fiction.” As my wife will tell you, I was insanely excited at this, my first paying publication!
I wrote Brass Tacks and Black Hats last year (2010) and it was one of the first stories to do the rounds at the Manchester Speculative Fiction writers’ group. The story starts in Oxford at a certain café and features a very geeky mystery which, well, you’ll have to wait for publication to read the whole thing! There’s blood, custard creams, hacking and a cute girl with ‘that’ t-shirt and a cool pair of shoes.
The great news is that Brass Tacks and Black Hats will be available to read online for free because Basement Stories operate via voluntary donations. You can help magazines like Basement Stories by making a donation. As soon as the story becomes available I’ll blog again with links where you can read it.
Then, two days ago, I received this email from Murky Depths:
“I think it’s good to go. So we’d like to offer you a contract. Let us know if you’d like to proceed.”
This was in response to a rewrite that Murky Depths had asked me to carry out on a short story I had previously sent to them called Whisperer. Murky Depths are a UK-based magazine that is “rocking the speculative fiction world with its confounding mix of art and literature in a graphic-novel-style package.” I actually hopped around the kitchen in excitement!
Whisperer is one of those stories which had a very definite starting point. I know exactly where I was and what I was doing when it was born. I was eating at the Cinnamon restaurant just outside Standish with my wife, my brother-in-law and his girlfriend. The conversation that night became this story – thanks again Laura! This story also did the rounds at the Manchester Speculative Fiction writers’ group and I will be blogging again about how I think writers’ groups are an incredibly valuable resource.
The setting for Whisperer is urban contemporary and features two plain-clothes police officers investigating a suspicious suicide. There is plenty of blood, even a few guns (I think I hear someone shouting “Hurrah!”). The research for this story was extremely hard work. Hats off to Managing Editor Terry Martin at Murky Depths for spotting some lazy research by me and asking for a rewrite. I spent a very busy week trawling websites for police firearms protocol. I even interviewed a friend of mine who is a member of the police force.
Murky Depths issue #18 will be available later this year. I will blog again as soon as it’s available. Meanwhile, why not buy a copy of their current issue? You can buy online – their next issue #16 is now available for pre-order. Also, if you’re in the UK you can pop along to a local stockist (Travelling Man in Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, York or Forbidden Planet in London, plus plenty more comic shops all over the place!). Murky Depths will also be at Illustrious, this year’s Eastercon – as will I, see you there!
Brass Tacks and Black Hats should be available in Basement Stories issue #5 available in the third quarter of this year. Whisperer should be available in Murky Depths issue #18 available October/November this year. I will blog again as soon as they become available.