Author and Scriptwriter

'Among the most important writers of contemporary British horror.' -Ramsey Campbell

Monday, 27 July 2015

The Lowdown with... S.P. Miskowski

I've decided that this little blog of mine needs to be about more than just me harping on about myself and my works, so there's going to be a lot more cool stuff on it. One of them will be The Lowdown - a series of mini-interviews with authors you really ought to be reading.






First up is S.P. Miskowski, author of the Skillute Cycle, the first book of which, KNOCK KNOCK, was published shortlisted for a Shirley Jackson Award. S.P.'s short stories have been published by Supernatural Tales, Horror Bound Magazine, Identity Theory, Other Voices, The Absent Willow Review, and in the anthology Detritus. Her home town is Decatur, Georgia where she began writing stories and poems as a child. She now lives in California with her husband, the novelist and game design writer Cory J. Herndon.


1. Tell us three things about yourself.

My family is matriarchal. I don’t fully understand systems in which women don’t play important
roles.

If I’d had the aptitude for structural engineering instead of fiction, I’d be on a construction site right now. At least, that’s my fantasy. I tend to see my stories in structural terms. I visualize their shape, the parallels and juxtapositions, the connecting themes and recurring images or colors. The stories I like to read are those in which the ideas or philosophy are embedded in the structure rather than resting on the surface.

I worked full-time for 35 years, at everything from editing a newspaper to transcribing data to managing a photocopy center to caring for children to working on a product assembly line. I never run out of material.

2. What was the first thing you had published?


A poem, in a high school newspaper.

3. Which piece of writing are you proudest of?

I’m pleased with my short story, “Strange is the Night,” in the anthology Cassilda’s Song, edited by
Joseph S. Pulver Sr. This story was waiting for its moment. I wrote the first two pages a few years ago and set them aside. All I had was the beginning of a portrait of a theatre critic, a man on a mission to discourage artists he found unworthy.

When Joe Pulver invited me to submit a story connected to the King in Yellow mythos, I discovered those first pages in my archive and something clicked. There is an obsession with artistic ambition woven into Robert Chambers’ KiY tales. The critic in “Strange is the Night” is an exclusionist, a privileged person. The girl he excludes is someone who embraces all experiences. Her openness is disgusting to the critic, and he sets out to crush her spirit. I hope the resulting story is explicit yet mysterious.

4. …and which makes you cringe?


Hm. I had a couple of stories published in literary magazines years ago. And I wish I could revise those.
5. What’s a normal writing day like?

Take vitamins. Drink coffee. Sit at my desk surrounded by walls of research and reference books. Go
back to the last page I wrote yesterday. Read that page and try to go forward. Resist the urge to watch “Masters of Sex.” Resist the urge to visit Facebook, where I will undoubtedly feel overwhelmed by the great accomplishments of friends and acquaintances, and guilty about not keeping up with all the wonderful books they’re writing and publishing. Stay focused and write until I get hungry. Eat and return to writing.

6. Which piece of writing should someone who’s never read you before pick up first?

Probably my novel, Knock Knock, which is the first book in the Skillute Cycle.

7. What are you working on now?


A novel, a murder mystery set in the recent past. It’s a bit noir and a bit supernatural. The protagonist
is a young woman who steals a friend’s writing in order to get a job. I think it’s fairly nasty. It’s also funny, and dark. Liberating, after all the time I spent in the world of Skillute (where my first novel and three novellas were set). The challenge is to move forward with every chapter. I tend to follow the characters on side adventures. A dangerous habit, at times.

S.P. on Goodreads
S.P. on Amazon UK and Amazon.com
S.P. on Twitter

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Me And My Shorts

No wait, come back! This blogpost does NOT feature pictures of me showcasing various trouser-related clothing items. No-one needs to see my hairy thighs; Cate suffers enough of that.

No, this is about short stories! There are things afoot, and of course you want to know about them. What? Yes, you do. Stop struggling. Come back here.

Anyway.


First and biggest - My short story Horn Of The Hunter has been included in Mark Morris' anthology THE 2ND SPECTRAL BOOK OF HORROR STORIES, alongside stories by some truly excellent writers. Very good company indeed, and I'm proud to be included. The anthology will be released in October, at Fantasycon 2015.

My story from WORLD WAR CTHULHU, Now I Am Nothing, will be reprinted in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF KAIJU next year, edited by Sean Wallace.

My story The Face Of The Deep will appear in Jonathan Green's upcoming arcade-game-themed anthology, GAME OVER. Basically imagine a cross between Frogger and the Book of Genesis and you're getting there...

Two stories are forthcoming via TTA Press:

The Gaudy, Blabbing And Remorseful Day will be published in BLACK STATIC.

If I Should Fall From Grace With God will be published in CRIMEWAVE.

And, of course, The Judgement Call will be published at the end of the year as a Spectral chapbook, in tandem with the incredible Robert Shearman's Christmas In The Time Of Ennui - a single volume, so I shall be between the covers with Rob, as it were. At least he'll make me look good.



Wednesday, 8 July 2015

It's Fingers In Your Ears Time...

'They put that maniac on the RADIO AGAIN?'
Here I am, on Hannah's Bookshelf on North Manchester FM, being interviewed by the fabulously talented Hannah Kate on life, literature, and the three books I'd save for the Library At The End Of Days. Brace yourself; here it is.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Hello, Hello, Turn Your Radio On...

Yes, I'm back. It's been a busy few months with one thing and another - stay tuned for further posts and there may be some exciting publishing news in the very near future!

In the meantime, I'm getting ready to buckle down to the final rewrites on Redman's Hill. In the interim, the ever-reigning Cate provided me with a book I highly recommend; 2k to 10k by Rachel Aaron, which offers a number of techniques for boosting your productivity as a writer. I'm always up for that, so I decided to try them out; shortly thereafter, Paul Finch wrote this excellent post on his writing method.

So a little more than six weeks later, I now have a new MS for a crime novel, which I'm pretty pleased with and is now more or less ready to go out into the world, which would seem to be a bit of a thumbs-up for Ms Aaron. (Then again, depends what agents think of it.)

Another thing that has happened was that Cate got interviewed on North Manchester FM by the ace Hannah Kate, editor of the excellent little anthology Impossible Spaces among many others. You can listen to the interview below; it's great. In other news, I'm going to be a guest on Hannah's show this Saturday (4th July!), so if you're in the Manchester area you can tune in on 106.4 FM; if not, you can stream live on http://northmanchester.fm/




 

Monday, 23 March 2015

In Order Of Disappearance

I've got a new film review up over at This Is Horror, of Hans Petter Moland's In Order Of Disappearance, starring the ever-reliable Stellan Skarsgard.

You can read it here.



Friday, 20 March 2015

The BFS on Black Mountain

No, I don't mean that the folk who run the British Fantasy Society have been dragged to Mynydd Du and are currently being eaten,/torn limb from limb/driven murderously insane there. Although I'm sure that would make a good short story some time.

Nope - what I mean is that there are not one, but two pieces of news today that relate to both the BFS and Black Mountain. And they go something like this.

David Brzeski has reviewed my little serial novel on the BFS website. The full review is here, but the upshot is basically this bit:

'If anything, the quieter parts—where everything is inexplicably going to hell, and the protagonists have no idea why, beyond blaming each other—are scarier than the gory part, where people get ripped to shreds...  Simon Bestwick does a great job of varying the writing style throughout to suit that of the various narrators in their various periods—assuming, that is, that he did write it, rather than just transcribe them from the originals.'

Well, about that last point, I'll never tell. ;)

The second point regards awards eligibility. Being novel-length but in instalments - each one a self-contained narrative - I wasn't sure which category Black Mountain fell in (always assuming, of course, that any of you guys feel like voting for it!) So I emailed the BFS Awards Admin (thank you Steve Theaker!) and this was his reply;

'If the whole novel appeared over the course of 2014, in whatever format, then I'd say it's eligible as a novel in the current awards. The individual instalments would also be eligible as short stories.'

So there you go - you can nominate the whole thing for Best Novel if you wish, and/or your favourite individual instalment (if you have one) for Best Short Story (all the individual instalments are under 15,000 words, which makes them short stories rather than novellas from the BFS's viewpoint.)

Or, of course, you can vote for something else entirely, as you wish. :)

Thanks for your time, folks, and have a great weekend.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Tales To Terrify: The Children Of Moloch


The brilliant Tales To Terrify podcast is out again, this time featuring my story 'The Children Of Moloch'.

Tales To Terrify was originally presented by Lawrence Santoro, who sadly passed away last year. I never had the pleasure of meeting Larry, but I know he was highly rated as a writer and a host - and most of all, as  a person. I'm very proud to be on the show, which is now presented by Stephen Kilpatrick.

'The Children Of Moloch,' given a superb reading here by J.K. Shepler, was originally published in Death Rattles, an anthology from Gray Friar Press, alongside stories by John Llewellyn Probert, Thana Niveau, Paul Finch, Gary McMahon and editor Gary Fry. It made Ellen Datlow's recommended reading list.

It's a story I'm very proud of, but be warned: it's not a story for the easily upset. It is set in a children's home during the 1980s where many of the children are abused by members of the staff, and is, all told, pretty damned grim.

You can listen to it here, free of charge; if you wish, you can make a donation to help keep Tales To Terrify going.

You can read more about Death Rattles here, and buy it here if you so wish.