Unity of Vision in a Story Collection

Rhys Hughes, whose short story collection ‘Salty Kiss Island’ has recently been released by Immanion Press, shares his thoughts on creating a unity of vision in compiling a collection of short stories.

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My new collection of stories is my favourite among my books of stories, but I wasn’t fully aware of this fact until I actually held a published copy in my hands and took a deep breath. The sigh that came out was one of deep contentment and then I knew.

I have often said that such-and-such a book is my personal favourite and there have been many candidates for that distinction but Salty Kiss Island has a quality, I’m not sure what, that most others don’t have, an unplanned quality. Purity perhaps.

Not purity in the sense of lacking bite and darkness, but purity in the unity of the visions that the book assembles and disseminates. The stories just seem to fit together very nicely. They amplify each other. I feel great delight at the final sum of the parts.

We write stories over a long period of time, years, even decades, and when we collect them together into a book we can’t really know what the end result will be like. The stories weren’t written to be together, they are discrete pieces existing on their own.

And now they are suddenly required to appear with other stories, to dwell with neighbours between the covers of a book, and they are asked to do this because they have themes in common, or an approach or tone that categorizes them. They are allied.

How will they get along? This is impossible to predict accurately until the book is ready. Sometimes they will interfere with each other, quarrel, contradict, attenuate, decay. If they are juxtaposed like this, elements that weren’t weaknesses may become so.

For example, any repetition of ideas, moods, events and reactions will be plain to see. Such repetition may not be self-plagiarism on the part of the author, it may not be indolence, it might be convergent evolution, the same solution to utterly different texts.

But it won’t look that way to the reader, it will appear like a limitation or an obsession, unless the repetition has strong intertextual attributes and adds its pulsation to the bigger rhythm, to the heartbeat of the entire book, the general health of the fictive gestalt.

That is a difficult thing to engineer. It means that every time a story is being composed, the author responsible must take care not only with the aesthetic parameters of that particular work but also consider how it will unite with and complement every other story he or she has written or will write. This is surely too much to ask. The writer therefore must fall back on the emergency option of serendipity.

Happy chance can assemble a short story collection from many pieces that turns out to be harmonious, cohesive, synchronised. The stories may amplify each other in ways the author never imagined, reveal aspects that were hidden before the gathering. Such a story collection has the unity of a novel while remaining a true collection.

I never supposed that the majority of my fantastical love stories would appear in a single volume. It wasn’t planned at all. I didn’t even realise I was in thematic thrall while writing them. Each was just a new tale and a striving to express burning ideas, to get them out of my head and onto the page, where they would leave me alone.

But I truly believe it has turned out very well, better than I had hoped, and that Salty Kiss Island is an important stage of personal fulfillment on the somewhat rickety career ladder of my writing life. I am not especially successful in terms of sales, despite the critical acclaim my work garners, yet I am satisfied now. This book exists.

Every writer has a host of influences and inspirations. These might be situations and circumstances, remarkable people, abstractions, sensations, the desire to be different or to be the same. And other authors will always play a large part in the creation of a prose style, in the fundamentals of a writer’s vision and method. We attempt to imitate, then we rapidly go off on tangents, and our tangents collide and mesh with other tangents given off by other influences, and fly off again.

My fantastical love stories were influenced by my love of whimsy and invention, by certain individuals, by memories of (and yearnings for) the tropical life, by music from Brazil and Cape Verde, by the sea and stars, by the incredible writers Amado, Pessoa, Couto, Vian, Calvino, by hope and anticipation, and always by language.

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New Fiction Titles for June 2017

We’re pleased to announce two new fiction titles this month. First up is Storm Constantine’s ‘A Raven Bound with Lilies: Stories of the Wraeththu Mythos‘.

Wraeththu – a new species or the next step in the evolution of humankind? Androgynous, and stronger in mind and body than their human predecessors, Wraeththu rose from the ruins of human civilisation to start afresh. New custodians of a battered planet, they have a choice:  work and grow to become worthy custodians of the world, or succumb to the lingering humanity within them, and perish as their forerunners did. Naturally magical, often possessing unearthly beauty, and sometimes deadly, the Wraeththu have captivated readers since Storm Constantine’s first novel, The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit, was published in 1988.

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Since then, the author has completed three trilogies, three novellas and numerous short stories. This anthology collects all her published Wraeththu stories into one volume, and also includes extra material, including the author’s first explorations of the androgynous race and their world, dating back to the late 1970s.

From the ‘creation story’ Paragenesis, through the bloody, brutal rise of the earliest Wraeththu tribes, when hara fought for control and power, (Pro Lucror), and on into a future where they have overcome their savage beginnings, and strange mutations are starting to emerge from hidden corners of the earth, (Painted Skin), the fifteen stories within this book explore different shades and colours of the Wraeththu world.

With sumptuous illustrations by official Wraeththu artist Ruby, as well as pictures from Danielle Lainton and the author herself, A Raven Bound with Lilies is a must for any Wraeththu enthusiast, and is also a comprehensive introduction to the mythos for those who are new to it.

The second new titles is from Rhys Hughes, a prolific creator of strange and wonderful short stories. Salty Kiss Island collects for the first time Rhys’s fantastical love stories.

What is a fantastical love story? It isn’t quite the same as an ordinary love story. The events that take place are stranger, more extreme, full of the passion of originality, invention and magic, as well as an intensification of emotional love. Also, the voice that tells them has rather a different tone to a conventional romantic narrator.

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The stories in Salty Kiss Island are set in this world and others, spanning the spectrum of possible and impossible experiences, the uncharted territories of yearning, the depths and shoals of the heart, mind and soul. They are adventure yarns, whimsies and comedies, tragedies and paradoxes. They are melancholy, gleeful, philosophic or mystical. A love of language runs through them, parallel to the love that motivates their characters to feats of preposterous heroism, luminous lunacy and grandiose gesture. They include tales of minstrels and their catastrophic serenades, dreamers sinking into sequences of ever-deeper dreams, goddesses and mermaids, sailors and devils, messages in bottles that can think and speak but never be read, shadows with an independent life and voyagers of distant galaxies who are already at their destinations before they arrive.

The authors of these books are available for interview, as well as guest posts on blogs, and review PDF copies can be applied for by mailing info(at)immanion-press(dot)com.

New Fiction Title

Phil Emery’s new ebook ‘Echoes Out of Abaddon: Nine Gothi Monologues’ is now available through all branches of Amazon.

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An e-chapbook collection of nine gothic monologues and one bonus duologue. Includes:

‘Fourth Wall’: an actor on stage realizes the true horror of his situation…

‘Identity Crisis’: once admired by Ian McMillan on Radio Three’s arts programme ‘The Verb’, a mild-mannered accountant moonlights as a grim crusader for justice…

‘Twilight Shifts’: a robotic toll booth demands a gory fee for passage, and in its companion piece ‘After Twilight’ the urban belief tale is given an equally strange and bloody makeover…

Other ‘echoes’ include an aggrieved car owner remonstrating with Godzilla, a writer traumatized by the technological implications of the traditional rejection slip, and a young woman discovering the horrific secret behind her nightmares of past lives. And in the bonus duologue, a private eye in Downtown Postholocaust encounters some homicidal guys-in-black.

Also included is a new version of Phil Emery’s eerie Radio Four Extra monologue ‘ID’ and an introduction by the play’s producer.

 

Screams Out of Abaddon

By Philip Emery

Screams Out of Abaddon

‘Echoes out of Abaddon’ is an e-book due to be issued by Immanion at Halloween time. The cover of the book resembles a screaming mouth.

Yes it is mine, albeit with photoshopped dental work…

Any resemblance to Edvard Munch’s painting ‘The Scream’ is less than unintentional and entirely appropriate for a collection of gothic monologues or speeches (speech is another country, they scream differently there).

The image is particularly appropriate for one of the monologues, ‘Incarnate, which is one extended silent scream.

There are several versions of ‘Incarnate’, one of which can be found in another Immanion e-book collection ‘The Celt in the Machine’. In fact there are more versions of this story than there are of Munch’s picture, and almost as many versions as there are of my other story ‘Wednesday’s Child’, which can also be found in the same collection.

A graphic version was published in ‘Fourth Incarnation’ magazine, which took its name from the original title of the story – this by the way the first published work of pro comics artist and writer Gary Crutchley (http://gcrutchley.blogspot.co.uk/ ) who went on to work for 2000AD and Accent UK.

Gary allows the protagonist, Jemma, to scream, or at least whimper, during the proceedings, which she doesn’t do in the short story or the monologue. Although she very much wants to. And her failure to call out is different in each. In the first, under hypnotic paralysis, at the moment she realizes the truth of her situation, as her doctor explains:

“I’m sorry. Truly sorry. Believe that if nothing else, Jemma. You understand, don’t you? I can’t allow you to -”

Tony Caglin presses the remote and the tape squeals into rewind.

“understand, don’t you? I can’t allow you to -”

Tony Caglin presses the remote and the tape squeals into rewind.

“can’t allow you to -”

presses the remote and the tape squeals into rewind.

“allow you to scream.”

presses the remote

“to scream.”

presses the remote

“to scream.”

Or does she fail? At least the writer, through Tony Caglin, allows the tape machine that’s been recording Jemma’s past lives as she relives them to voice her horror for her…

The monologue version in ‘Echoes out of Abaddon’ allows her to fail again – at least fail differently if not better:

I’m sorry. Truly sorry. Believe that if nothing else, Jemma. You understand, don’t you? I can’t allow you to –

The lights go out. Silence.

– allow you to scream…

Or does she fail? Perhaps the writer, this time, through the darkness of the stage, gives Jemma’s horror a voice…

In fact perhaps every one of the monologues in the e-book, even the comedic ones, is a silent scream. Unless of course you’d care to read them aloud…

Postscript: All punning allusions to that famous publicity soundbite for the film ‘Alien’, to a certain ‘Carry-On’ film, and to one ‘Violet-Elizabeth Bott’ have been removed out of uncharacteristic consideration for the readers’ sensibilities.

Echo of the Postscript: Gary has long since moved on to bigger and better things, so I’m now looking for another artist to collaborate with on some new comics/graphic novels. My collection of stories and verse, The Celt in the Machine, now available from Immanion, actually includes a couple of comic scripts which I’ve adapted into short stories… To make things absolutely clear, I’m not looking to commission artwork, but to make contact with an artist to work on projects to submit speculatively to publishers. My email address is necrom1antra@yahoo.co.uk

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Grimoire Dehara Book 2: Ulani

Immanion Press, through its imprint Megalithica Books, is pleased to announce the publication of Grimoire Dehara Book Two: Ulani. This is the second volume of the pop culture magic system based on the mythos of Storm Constantine’s popular fantasy novels, the Wraeththu series. The focus of the system is the Dehara, androgynous deities that represent the alchemical rebis, the conjunction of male and female, spirit and matter.

The book is fully illustrated by artist Ruby, with additional illustrations by Storm Constantine. It will be available as a limited edition numbered hardback of 50 copies, a paperback and eEbook. The printed editions will contain more illustrations than the eBook.

Following on from Grimoire Dehara: Kaimana, this book explores Ulani, the second tier of the system, incorporating the levels Acantha, Pyralis and Algoma. The practitioner now accesses deeper realms of magical knowledge, utilising their creativity and imagination as a vehicle to study the self.

Grimoire Dehara: Ulani includes:

Working within etheric realms

Sikaara – the deharan version of the energy system of the body and the study of its centres

Xephelax – the deharan Underworld

The dehara of alchemy and alchemical transformation

The Constellati – beings of the cosmos

Divozenky – the mind of the earth

Creating a Spiritual Pearl

This book is an essential addition to the library of any experimental practitioners of magic interested in new systems, as well as fans of Storm’s work, who want to know more about the magic described in the novels.

The authors are available for interview through info@immanion-press.com. Review PDFs can also be acquired from the same address.

An online community Nayati Dehara (www.nayatidehara.com) has been set up for those interested in this pop culture magic system. All visitors are welcome.

Grimoire Ulani

Grimoire Ulani now Available

Nothing But a Pack of Cards – New Release

We’re pleased to announce the release of S. Rune Emerson’s new book, ‘Nothing But a Pack of Cards’.

In this handbook on the practice of sorcery using tarot cards, S. Rune Emerson utilizes the Rider Waite-Smith tradition of tarot art to teach the myriad practices of the Art Magical.

Included in this book are:

A modern look at sorcery through the eyes of the Rider Waite-Smith tarot cards and their derivatives, including laws and fundamentals of magic, and how magic actually works. An explanation of the twelve categories of commonly cast spells, the six kinds of magical initiation and quickening, and the four great tenets of a sorcerer’s philosophy, all encoded within the Major Arcana. Methods and ritual practices which help you employ the basic principles of sorcery, and learn how to become a sorcerer. A series of spells and techniques crafted from the study of the Pip and Court cards, as well as appendices on group work and ritual tokens. And more!

Any magician, whether long-experienced or just beginning, will find unique and useful information in these pages. If you want to learn how to use that tarot deck for more than just card games and fortune telling, this book is for you.

If anyone would like to review this book, please mail us for a PDF at editorial(at)immanion-press(dot)com. The author is also available for interview.

Nothing but a pack of cards

Nothing But a Pack of Cards by S. Rune Emerson