Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Publication: The Wyandotte Haunting


There Was a Crooked House...
Edited by Jessy Marie Roberts
ISBN-13: 978-1-61706-111-0
Cover Price $15.99

Lots of crooked stories, in a little crooked book...
includes the following  pieces of short fiction: 
Cat Call by Kat Heckenbach
The Crooked House of Coins  by Jeff Chapman
Glass House by Heidi Mannan
Don't Let the Rain Come Down by  Gerald Costlow
With Breath Too Sweet LaShawn M. Wanak
Unexpected Guests in My  Basement by Charles Day
Aliens, Angels, and Arsenic by M. Kaye
Moon, The Other  Side of Silence by Fiona Glass
Wrong Side Down by Rob Rosen, Her by Walter  Campbell
Little Girl Blue by Kevin McClintock
Crooked Time by Samuel Gibb
Summer Schwartz and the Crazy House by David Perlmutter
Remembered Sins by H.J.  Hill
Olverston Grange by M. Leon Smith
That's What Little Boys Are Made Of by  Emma Ennis
Every Choice by Mary-Jean Harris
The Mobile Home by Gregory L.  Norris
22 Beckett St. by Deb Eskie
I Am But Its Instrument by George Wilhite
Nightmares Every Night by Gary Buettner
Metamorphosis by Eva Glynn Stephens
The Nanny by Susan York Meyers
Eviction Notice by John H. Dromey
Can't Stop  Growing Old by Patrick Shand
The Wyandotte Haunting by K.A. Laity
The Girl in  the Crooked House by Katherine Simmons
Clown Fish by Richard Jay  Goldstein.

[Coming to Amazon soon!]

Monday, June 27, 2011


A great time had by all, although Adele and the Unbound crew spent most of the day recording the podcasts. Clearly the QUAD was not accustomed to hosting writers as they ran out of both pint glasses and every kind of beer except Stella by Saturday night. Here's Adele  modeling her new tattoo, a line from her friend Vince's forthcoming novel. I had a wonderful time getting to know Vince, Kat, Vick and everyone else. Interesting adventures all weekend, including hotel strangeness (maybe I should have tried the black pudding).

I had a reading first thing, which is a bit awkward, but we had a good audience. I also had a chance to hear Graham Joyce read from his new novel (wonderful!) and chatted with him after, talking about Galway after I mentioned I'll be heading off there. I was delighted to hear from him about the pirate queen Grace O'Malley who was based there.

Before the madness commenced: the podcasts went on all through the day. I was part of a couple of them. I'll link to them when they go up at Ubound.

Here is the lovely Miss Chloe! I was so delighted that she came all the way from Switzerland to the conference. We had a wonderful time chatting and hanging around. Lovely!

Back at the fabulous Adele's now: it's blistering hot in the East Midlands! What's up with that? A good excuse for a party, right?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chanctonbury Ring at Midsummer

Liz and I sallied up the rather muddy and slippery slope to Chanctonbury Ring today, which was a bit more daunting than we assumed. In part that was due to the lack of signage. In fact we initially drove past the parking area because there was no warning for the picnic area, just a small sign tucked away next to a cattlefield. Not exactly an optimum picnic spot, but it is really pretty countryside. But where to go from there. We followed a woman who seemed to know where she was going with her black Lab, but she turned back when she saw how muddy it was. We pressed on, being determined to make this walk. Of course it was a lot steeper than we thought it would be, slippery through the woody paths. Recent rain had brought down a lot of detritus and mud which made the trail challenging, but the forest was beautiful and quiet but  for bird songs.

We were congratulating ourselves on at last reaching the top, but when we walked out into the meadow at the top, there was no sure indication of which way the ring lay. Ah, we thought, noticing an intrepid pair of obviously seasoned walkers, we'll ask them. Well, they had no idea; they had much more detailed maps of the area and yet were uncertain exactly where we or the ring fort were. But we all agreed on the most likely direction and struck off again (they quickly pulled ahead of us). We admired the sheep and were cheered to see the growth of trees in the distance that seemed to look like the ring and admired the view around us -- well, as long as it lasted because the clouds closed in and the rain began and the wind whipped up to show us who was boss.

However, we were determined now and nothing would stop us from making the last bit of the journey and sure enough we could see the earthen wall and walked up into it to find a guy with his bike (I'm guessing he did not come up the same path) gathering mushrooms. We had quite a feeling of accomplishment as the wind whipped around us and decided to  celebrate by heading back down. It's quite an amazing journey. Legend says that you can conjure the devil by running around the ring counter-clockwise seven times. He will offer you soup for your soul.

Liz made soup for lunch; I ate it anyway. It was very good.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Snapshots of London

I got to play Sarah Angliss' theremin :-) I've hung out with the decadent aesthetes and enjoyed the summer in London and met up with friends and caught the Bard of Salford, too.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review: Terry Gilliam's The Damnation of Faust

I had a lot of trepidation about the ENO production of Berlioz's The Damnation of Faust; not because Gilliam hadn't done opera before, which seemed to put some people off—after all what better to do with an over-sized imagination than put it to use in the heightened spectacle of opera?—but because of the trailer and the thought, "Oh, not Nazis again." The ultimate banality of evil is that it can be used without controversy or effect. Apart from bizarre extremists of various stripes, most people are are board with the whole Nazis=bad, so I imagined some ham-handed club about to be wielded over the audience.

But yeah, I got my ticket anyway. It was bound to be spectacle, right?

Gilliam did not disappoint. The production literally starts with a bang that clearly startled many in the audience. Enter Christopher Purves as Mephistopheles with a few of his lost souls, announcing himself as our infernal compere for the evening. His hellfires seem to always be ready to lick at the feet of the players, ever present. As our shock-headed Faust, Peter Hoare enters the pastoral opening his work literally on his back as he ignores the courting couples in the forest in search of solitude to return to his calculations and contemplation, but the spirit of the spring invades, including a Krampus and Holda as if it were almost a mythic spring. How can he resist?

Mephistopheles persuades Faust out of his cell at last; the cell looks not like a monkish scholar's room, but a holding cell in an asylum. Coupled with Faust's later appearance in a straight-jacket, it may be a way to cast doubt on the veracity of all that occurs, but it's not really important.

I have to admit, the Nazi motif worked perfectly; after all, Berlioz's opera unfolds against a backdrop of war. The slight relocation in time suits. We see the rise of the fascist movement gradually as Faust's own story unspools. In the tavern scene a few brown shirts stand out, but as the scene unfolds we see them gradually muscle through the crowd and gradually more chorus members remove their jackets to reveal brown shirts and uniforms underneath, until the majority of the tavern crowd has joined up. It works.

It works too that Marguerite is a Jew that Faust first sees singing the role of Brunhilde in the Ring wearing a blonde wig. Mephistopheles' careful maneuvering of Faust into her room occurs on a setting that I knew at once would turn into Kristallnacht, but Gilliam kept the audience waiting for it then in the midst of the scene, rolls back time restoring all the broken windows and returning people to their homes to replay the scenes slightly differently with more direct interference from the demon. You begin to suspect that all the mayhem in the land has been his doing.

I find Berlioz's opera a lugubrious affair and I much prefer Marlowe's Faust to Goethe's sappy romantic, but Gilliam had the story cracking along with the most amazing visuals that combined good old fashioned stage craft, projections, puppetry and a good bit of flash and explosion. The mad race to "save" Marguerite was a fantastic hell journey, the final damnation an incredible glorious release of the hellfire, and so many moments were simply cleverly apt and nimble. It was a great way to employ Gilliam's tendency to excess without the impression that anything was superfluous.

Of course the cast was superb: Purves' Mephisto had the right combination of oiliness and menacing bombast. Hoare's Faust managed to convey the emotional wrenching of his character without ever tipping over into bathos. Christine Rice's Marguerite offered up a silky heroine with a voice anyone might fall for. The role is so small yet so important; Marguerite really has to knock your socks off in her opening song and then break your heart soon after. Rice was amazing; when Marguerite sang her breaking heart on the way to the gas chambers, there were a lot of wet cheeks in the audience. The whole orchestra and chorus were superb of course; the practically filled the stage at the curtain.

The good news is that there was a crew from the BBC (and a huge group of folk attending as well) so perhaps there will be the opportunity to see some of this even if you couldn't be there for the final performance. Gilliam looked giddy as he joined the cast on stage for the final bows. And why not? Well done, indeed.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Alt.Fiction Festival 2011
25th-26th June
QUAD, Market Place, Derby
Saturday 25th June, 10am - Midnight
Sunday 26th June, 10am - 5pm

Weekend pass
Saturday pass
Sunday pass

Alt.Fiction marks its fifth year with a fantastic weekend for readers and writers of science fiction, fantasy and horror. Bringing together some of the UK's leading talent in the genre, Alt.Fiction presents a two-day programme of readings, panels, workshops, film, podcasts and much more, giving you the chance to hear from your favourite authors, find out more about the world of publishing and learn more about the writing process.

This year’s Guests of Honour are bestselling science fiction author Alastair Reynolds and acclaimed comic book writer and novelist Dan Abnett. They will joined by speakers Tony Ballantyne, Keith Brooke, Mark Chadbourn, Paul Cornell, Peter Crowther, Stephen Deas, Paul Finch, John Jarrold, Graham Joyce, K. A. Laity, Juliet McKenna, Graham McNeill, Mark Morris, Adam Nevill, Mark Charan Newton, Sarah Pinborough, Robert Shearman, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Ian Whates, Conrad Williams, Chris Wooding and many more.

Alt.Fiction is truly a weekend not to be missed for book lovers and writers alike.

Contact the QUAD Box Office on 01332 290 606 or visit

Visit to find out about Alt.Fiction's year-long programme of events.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Running to Catch Up

That's a misleading title as I plan for this to be a very lazy Sunday. I may wander out to a museum this afternoon and get myself a Sunday roast dinner, but that's about as far as my ambitions run at present. I often have the thought of how little time I have in London this trip nipping at my thoughts, but that only makes it more grand to luxuriate in idleness. I have been busy nonetheless and it will take a while for me to get caught up on writing about all my adventures. Among  things done:

I got a poem published (yes, me!). Some print copies of Chronogram should have arrived by the time I return, but you can read "Lullaby" online (albeit in a rather unexpectedly awkward layout).

I played a theremin!

I visited the wax head of Jeremy Bentham!

I saw a giant fox!

I've been to plays, museums and galleries!


Hanging out with friends and laughing -- and a whole lot more. I love this city, and the truth about London is that you never know what might lie around any corner. Such as naked people on bikes...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Much Ado about Ghosts


My latest column exploits my theatre madness by making it work (as if seeing a good play were really work, but shhh! mustn't let people know how much fun we're having, right?). I ran off to the theatre after a good chat with pal Gordon Murphy which was much fun. Must do it again. But here's the write up:

David Tennant & Catherine Tate Do Shakespeare

By K.A. Laity

What we really need isn't a summer blockbuster, but a summer fling.

The Wyndham's lively 80s-themed production of Shakespeare's most popular comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, as directed by Josie Rourke offers a sunnily irresistible brightness. Despite its self-deprecating title, this frothy comedy has at its heart a painful tragedy: the ease with which men in power can destroy the lives of women on a whim. It doesn't help that the lover in question, Claudio, is a drama queen of the first order. He falls madly in love and when his boss Don Pedro works to persuade the girl to wed his friend, immediately assumes the prince wants her for himself and bitterly pouts until assured the wooing was done entirely in Claudio's name...

Read the rest over at BBHQ:

Yesterday I headed over to the Tate Modern, where I was delighted to find the Rothkos back from their tour and safely ensconced in their little temple of quiet. Good to have that little oasis available again. Withluck -- if I figure out how to get there, I will be seeing Sarah Angliss/Spacedog tonight in Hackney at an unusual event. Anon -- more fun than writing at present :-)

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Town & Country

I will get to the Fall concert, but anon. Earlier in the day I had a fabulous lunch with Hannah Priest who ran the Werewolf Women Conference last fall and will be part of the Gender and Punishment Medieval Conference in January (which I'll probably go to since I'll be near by). We had a great chat about academia—and how to survive it successfully—publishing and her new murder-mystery company. Always glad to get to know other dynamic women :-)

Saturday morning I caught the train to London, but once I got there, I hopped on the tube and headed out to Epping with the final destination Great Dunmow, land of bacon (at least since the Middle Ages). Jo and James took me for a ramble around the village. Last time I'd stayed with them it had been pouring so I only saw the view from a car. It's really a lovely place, although the drought has been so bad that there were huge cracks in ground at the cricket pitch and the river was just about down to a trickle.

It's an odd mix of quiet life and recent arrivals; the new local car dealership sells Rolls-Royces. It's Dick Turpin territory, too. Saturday night we went to a great old pub, The Three Horseshoes. The landlord was rumoured to have been an actor and you could certainly believe it. Small crowd, terrific atmosphere—the maypole was still up out in the back garden, too.

Some much-needed rain arrived overnight, so a relaxing morning reading the papers seemed in order. I had a nice chat with Jo's mum who had been evacuated to Ascot for six years during the war. She had been at a special school for kids at risk from tuberculosis because her father had died from it. We had a nice Sunday roast dinner and watched a couple of Ken Loach films, Looking for Eric and Route Irish: both great, both totally different.

Rain again as I headed back to the Big Smoke. Village life is lovely, but I miss the dirty old town.

Monday, June 06, 2011


As always, CCTV is everywhere in Britain. This is on the train from the airport to Picadilly Station. I had managed to get some sleep despite my somewhat disjointed journey that took me to Atlanta instead of NYC due to tornadoes (!?) in western Massachusetts. Oh and then there was the slight "lamination" of the engine, but it was all all right (well, after running from Terminal T to Terminal E!).

Manchester has its own carnivalesque wheel.

Of course it also has historic pubs.

My intrepid native guide David kept me from keeling over with jet lag until I could get into my hotel room and have a lie down.

I had an excellent dinner in Chinatown my first night, although there was an American businessman at the next table eagerly telling a Mancunian all about Shackleton and why he was a great example for leadership training (O_o)

This is the venue where I saw The Fall on Friday night!

Just around the corner is Affleck's which has a wild range of vendors selling all sorts of things...

...including Sailor Moon costumes (oh, Miss Wendy!)

...and this fun sculpture across the street.

Of course as a medievalist I had to pay a visit to the cathedral.

And as always, snap any reference to St. Eustace.

Wow, this camera is really crap unless you're resting your elbows on a secure surface. I tried to take a picture of one of the angels playing instruments that fill the cathedral (double headed drum) and this was the best I could do.

Great gargoyles!

Because I bought my ticket online, I didn't actually get a stub, so the stamp on my wrist was the only tangible proof I was there to see The Fall -- well, that and my ringing ears and soaked-with-sweat clothes and big grin :-) but I'll have to write that up separately. Same for Great Dunmow (with more pictures). Hello from the lobby of my hotel in London. Looks like the rain has ended, so I'm heading out.