things that matter and things that don’t

What matters: seagulls (screaming kiss her, kiss her, kiss her, kiss her as XTC sang) soaring on an updraft of warm air; the cold North Sea curling round your ankles; your first time in a used bookstore post-pandemic-lockdown, the rows and rows of battered pre-loved or never-loved volumes, the wood shelves and creaky floors and quirky little rooms leading labyrinthine-like one into the other, the careful perusal and selection of one or two for purchase (Lawrence Durrell’s Bitter Lemons of Cyprus for you, and almost some Graham Greene Penguin paperbacks but with your belongings so scattered across the world you can’t remember which ones you already own, alas, and almost an Orwell biography, and almost a Penguin Animal Farm, both of which you now regret leaving behind); your hands curling round a mug of hot coffee; the sound of whippoorwills in the forest of your childhood home that you strain now to hear when you watch one of the many movies and TV shows filmed in the state where you grew up; the preparing of food, chopping garlic, tearing basil, oil shimmering in the saucepan and turning sharp raw onions into something mellow and sweet and golden; the sound of waves; the sound of wind; the sound of rain; the sound of summer cicadas rising and falling (again, your home–you recorded them the last time you were there); the sound of the goat herder in the hills of Andalusia (you recorded that too); the path beneath your feet that you walk for as long and far as you can until your unsuitable shoes cause you so much pain you have to stop, turn round, go back the way you came and say to yourself, “I have to get some decent shoes.”

What doesn’t matter: algorithms, hot takes, shouty opinions, pixels, likes, unlikes, friends, unfriends, unfollows, follows, mutes, emojis, blocking, stats, blogs like this one. (Steal this book.) You can just close the door on it all, you know.

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It’s a strange process, disengagement from the rage machine that is much of the internet. You worry, like your friends (and your “friends”) and family will forget you if they don’t see your dumb avatar popping up in their feed every few days making inane (or, hey, profound) remarks, or you’ll forget them; like it will matter one whit that you don’t know what everyone is angry about this week and was angry about last week; like any of it is real, like any of it matters.

You long for normal life to return so you can return to a life that is not normal. This time, you say, it will be different.

This time, you vow, I will stay clear-eyed about what does and doesn’t matter.

You touch: wood, sand, sea; breathe deep of rain and salt; you wait.

a pandemic update

Spring cleaning (can we call it that if it’s already June?) Shocking, the layer of dust that’s grown around here after just a few months away. Let us briefly acknowledge that the world has been on fire lately and that this is one of several reasons for my lengthy absence from this space. On the plus side, expect to see me around here a lot more.

Stories are still being told! In April, PS Publishing released Apostles of the Weird, edited by S.T. Joshi, which includes my story “This Hollow Thing.” Here’s the entire lineup.

  • Death in All Its Ripeness by Mark Samuels
  • Introduction by S. T.  Joshi
  • Sebillia by John Shirley
  • Come Closer by Gemma Files
  • Widow’s Walk by Jonathan Thomas
  • The Walls Are Trembling by Steve Rasnic Tem
  • Trogs by Nancy Kilpatrick
  • The Zanies of Sorrow by W. H. Pugmire
  • This Hollow Thing by Lynda E. Rucker
  • The Outer Boundary by Michael Washburn
  • Black Museums by Jason V Brock
  • The Legend of the One-Armed Brakeman by Michael Aronovitz
  • Lisa’s Pieces by Clint Smith
  • Everything Is Good in the Forest by George Edwards Murray
  • Three Knocks on a Forsaken Door by Richard Gavin
  • The Thief of Dreams by Darrell Schweitzer
  • Axolotl House by Cody Goodfellow
  • Night Time in the Karoo by Lynne Jamneck
  • Porson’s Piece by Reggie Oliver
  • Cave Canem by Stephen Woodworth

Announced and due to be released later in the summer is Crooked Houses edited by Mark Beach at Egaeus Press.  This includes my story “Miasmata” along with stories by Helen Grant, Reggie Oliver, Steve Duffy, Mark Valentine, Rebecca Lloyd, Carly Holmes, John Gale, Richard Gavin, Rebecca Kuder, Albert Power, James Doig, Katherine Haynes, Colin Insole, David Surface, Jane Jakeman and Timothy Granville. A haunted house anthology, but one that looks back beyond the cozy ghost story to stranger, more atavistic hauntings.

Prisms

The image you see above is the cover art for Prisms by the excellent Ben Baldwin, a science fiction anthology edited by Michael Bailey and Darren Speegle that includes my story “Encore for an Empty Sky.” This will be available for pre-order from PS Publishing shortly. Here’s the full lineup:

“We Come in Threes” by B.E. Scully
“Encore for an Empty Sky” by Lynda E. Rucker
“The Girl with Black Fingers” by Roberta Lannes
“The Shimmering Wall” by Brian Evenson
“In This, There Is No Sting” by Kristi DeMeester
“The Birth of Venus” by Ian Watson
“Fifty Super-Sad Mad Dog Sui-Homicidal Self-Sibs, All in a Leaky Tin Can Head” by Paul Di Filippo
“Rivergrace” by E. Catherine Tobler
“Saudade” by Richard Thomas
“There Is Nothing Lost” by Erinn Kemper
“This Height and Fiery Speed” by A.C. Wise
“The Motel Business” by Michael Marshall Smith
“Everything Beautiful Is Also a Lie” by Damien Angelica Walters
“The Gearbox” by Paul Meloy
“District to Cervix: The Time Before We Were Born” by Tlotlo Tsamaase
“Here Today and Gone Tomorrow” by Chaz Brenchley
“The Secrets of My Prison House by J Lincoln Fenn
“A Luta Continua” by Nadia Bulkin”
“I Shall but Love Thee Better” by Scott Edelman

Also, I was interviewed in Phantasmagoria Magazine! You can pick up a copy on Amazon.

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Here’s a fun little project I had the opportunity to take part in a couple of months ago along with some friends to promote the new book of another friend, Rob Shearman. Rob is a terrific writer and a lovely guy, and in April, PS Publishing released a three-volume set of 101 short stories by him with illustrations by the ridiculously multi-talented Reggie Oliver (actor, writer, artist). Jim McLeod, the mad Scotsman behind the site Ginger Nuts of Horror, conspired to have dozens of us write short review of one or two stories each from the book, and you can check them out here (I’m in part four).

I was also honored to write an introduction to David Surface‘s debut short story collection, Terrible Things, out now from Black Shuck Books. If you subscribe to Black Static (and if you love horror fiction, you should) you may know David from his “One Good Story” column that he writes there, or you might recognize him from appearances in various anthologies.Terrible Things is a terrific debut, and you should check it out.

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Last but by no means least, fans of British horror cinema (or critic David Thomson’s Suspects) might want to check out England’s Screaming by Sean Hogan, a book with the conceit that a link runs through the characters and happenings in British horror films to a diabolical end. Part short story collection, part film criticism, part secret “history” of post-war Britain, England’s Screaming is a vicious romp even if you don’t know all the films (I didn’t). For a taste of the madness, you can read a bonus vignette at Sean’s blog here and the book’s introduction by writer, critic and actor Jonathan Rigby here. There’s also a novella-length sequel, Three Mothers, One Father, that tackles Eurohorror, and you can pick it up over at Black Shuck Books. You can also check out some additional terrific book recommendations from Sean at Kendall Reviews (which is partnered with PS to offer 10% off England’s Screaming for June), an interview and a review of England’s Screaming at Diabolique, and an interview at the Britflicks podcast.

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Wherever you are in this absolutely mad world we have found ourselves in, truly through the looking glass, I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well and have found some wonderful stories as a temporary respite.

“the only lasting truth is change”*

“When the generation that survived the war is no longer with us, then we will find out whether we have learned from history.”   -Angela Merkel, 20 July, 2018

I don’t really believe in the progressive theory of history–that is, the idea that human civilization is on an upward arc toward enlightenment. I think there are definitely certain eras and cultures that are better for certain types of people than others, and I am constantly grateful to have been born a woman in the West in the latter half of the 20th century; I never had to fight to get basic rights such as education, bodily autonomy, and things like my own line of credit. But in general, I think human history is a story of ebb and flow from tyranny and oppression to freedom and back again, and that ideological extremes of any stripe tend toward the former and not the latter.

With all that said, hey! the world is pretty crazy right now, isn’t it? I often feel like I am surrounded by extreme voices on all sides and very little reason. But in the last few years, I’ve spent a lot of time in two European cities wracked by wars and profoundly divided in the 20th century: Barcelona and Berlin. What I find heartening is how much those cities have recovered–which is not to say they don’t bear scars, both physical and psychological. There’s something extraordinarily moving about encountering the physical remnants of those scars in the present day, and the way that people go about their lives around them–because one of our simultaneously best and worst attributes, as humans, is our ability to adapt.

Just a few blocks up the street from me in Berlin is one of the former checkpoints between the former West Berlin (where I live) and the former East Berlin. Today, I zip from my flat in West Berlin to my friends’ flat in East Berlin on the tram in under 15 minutes, or walk there if I have more time and want to stretch my legs. Thirty years ago, that would have been impossible.

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“Mauer” is German for wall.

This is a remnant of the wall that once divided my neighborhood, Wedding, from Prenzlauer Berg.

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Imagine waking up and learning that literally overnight, a “wall” (it wasn’t yet a wall then, of course, in 1961) had been constructed that divided your city in half.

There are panels up about the construction of the wall, and photos from the night it came down, juxtaposed against what’s left of it.

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Now, it’s just an ordinary bridge. Unless you were looking out the window from the tram or car at this particular point, you’d speed right past without knowing it.

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It takes more than a generation or two to recover from a devastating war and a totalitarian government, but cities, places, people heal. New generations are born who are largely untouched by what came before, which is both a blessing and a curse.

It’s a shame we don’t learn a damn thing from history.

 

*title of post is from Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower

Things that are and things that shall be

aickman1-200x300

That’s just a portentous way of announcing that I have a lot to announce: some stuff is coming out that I can now talk about, and some other stuff is already out.

First, get yourself on over to Nightmare Magazine because the fine folks there have allowed me ramble on at length about things to do with the South and horror: Southern horror writers and growing up in the South and how that has shaped me as a writer and as a writer of horror fiction. You can read “The H Word: The Dirty South” for free.

Next, Aickman’s Heirs is finally out, which means that you can order it from Amazon USAmazon UK (or all the other Amazons I presume) or Barnes & Noble. I am very excited about and proud to be in this book for a lot of reasons, including the fact that Robert Aickman is so, so important to me and it seemed like for years and years you would say his name and people would go “Who?” I love that there seem to be so many of us publishing now who also love Aickman and were influenced by his weird off-kilter fiction, and I am very honored to share a table of contents with so many of my talented colleagues.

There is also another Black Static out with my column “Notes from the Borderland” and will you just look at that lineup of writers? TTA Press has always published superior horror fiction, first in The Third Alternative and now in Black Static, but damn if they just don’t seem to be moving from strength to strength and outdoing even themselves recently with fiction lineups that read like a who’s who of exciting talents in the genre.

Finally, some other things are forthcoming. My story “The Secret Woods,” which is, among other things, inspired by Arthur Machen’s “The White People,” will be in the anthology Soliloquy for Pan. (Unfortunately, there’s no way to permalink to that news item, but it’s announced on the May 16, 2015 entry.) I read part of this story last summer at Loncon. Soliloquy for Pan is coming out in June from Egaeus Press. Pan has long been one of my favorite gods, and Egaeus Press makes gorgeous books. Once again, I’m so excited to be part of this brilliant lineup writing about something that is very close to my heart.

Also coming up is my story “Yellow Bird” in the Joe Pulver-edited anthology of King in Yellow stories by women, Cassilda’s Song, published by Chaosium Press. Joe’s assembled a terrific lineup of women writers for this one–including Helen Marshall, S.P. Miskowski, and Maura McHugh–and it’s due to be launched at Necronomicon in Providence, Rhode Island in August. This is the second King in Yellow-inspired story I’ve written–the first, “The Queen in the Yellow Wallpaper,” appears in the British Fantasy society anthology The Burning Circus. For those of you who don’t know, Robert W. Chambers was a hugely popular writer around the turn of the 20th century, but what has survived is his contribution to weird fiction, a cycle of stories known as The King in Yellow. Lovers of the weird have always been hip to Chambers, but he recently came to much broader public attention when True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto riffed on his work in season 1 of that series. It’s a fascinating mythos to play around in.

And last but not at all least, the 30th issue of Supernatural Tales is coming up, and to celebrate the longevity (15 years!) of this terrific little magazine of weird and supernatural fiction, editor David Longhorn went and asked some former contributors if they might like to write something for this special anniversary issue. The result is a breathtakingly fine lineup of stories by Steve Duffy, Michael Kelly, Helen Grant, Mark Valentine, and Adam Golaski. And also me with my story “An Element of Blank.” This will be out in the autumn.

Wait! Not last! Because while I am here, I might as well also mention that I have an essay coming up in Spectral Press’s tribute to Nigel Kneale, We Are the Martians, edited by Neil Snowden and due out in December 2015. You can preorder it now.

And there’s more to come! Stay tuned.

More Moon Will Look Strange Reviews

A couple more terrific reviews for The Moon Will Look Strange have turned up recently. From Paul St. John Mackintosh at Telereads:

Because this is a Very Good Book. Indeed. Of the eleven tales in it, three – “The Burned House”, “In Death’s Other Kingdom”, and “These Foolish Things” – are first-time appearances. That actually comprises a large portion of her published work to date. But on such slender bases great reputations are built.

 

Maura McHugh has also written a long, thoughtful review of the book for the journal published by Swan River Press, The Green Book. You’ll have to buy a copy to read the whole thing, but you should anyway, because The Green Book is a terrific publication. Here’s an excerpt from her review:

Rucker writes the kind of effortless prose that reads easily, but is only created from careful, determined craft. Her stories describe conflicted, lost people, and dreadful situations you could never imagine, yet believe must have happened.

This is the mark of a superior storyteller, and points to Rucker as one of the most promising purveyors of the supernatural weird tale writing at the moment.

 

You can of course purchase The Moon Will Look Strange from Amazon at the links below, or check my page for instructions on how to order a signed one directly from me (will cost you a bit more due to exorbitant postage costs, I’m afraid!).

The Moon Will Look Strange, paperback, Amazon UK

The Moon Will Look Strange, Kindle, Amazon UK

The Moon Will Look Strange, paperback, Amazon US

The Moon Will Look Strange, Kindle, Amazon US

Little Visible Delight

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I am in this new anthology, Little Visible Delight, out from Omnium Gatherum Publishing.

A few months ago, Kate Jonez and S.P. Miskowski asked me to contribute something relating to an authorial obsession–in other words, ideas, themes, objects, anything that we repeatedly return to in our fiction. I chose sense of place and my own past (and my sense of place as filtered through that past), although much to my surprise, my actual story, “The Receiver of Tales,” ended up being about the very act of storytelling itself.

I mine and manipulate my own past for stories. I really did once meet a next door neighbor the same way Aisha meets hers, only it happened in Portland, not Athens. And everything that happened after that was different as well. I’ve said before that in my fiction the lines blur between what happened and what didn’t, what is true and what is not. And even though my stories are ultimately 100% fiction, if you really want to know me–read my stories.

Here is the table of contents for the anthology:

The Receiver of Tales by Lynda E. Rucker
Needs Must When the Devil Drives by Cory J. Herndon
A Thousand Stitches by Kate Jonez
The Point by Johnny Worthen
Calligraphy by James Everington
This Many by S.P. Miskowski
JP by Brent Michael Kelley
Kestrel by Mary Borsellino
An Unattributed Lyric, In Blood, On a Bathroom Wall by Ennis Drake
Black Eyes Broken by Mercedes M. Yardley
Bears: A Fairy Tale of 1958 by Steve Duffy

You can purchase the anthology in print or for your Kindle at the links below:

Little Visible Delight Amazon US

Little Visible Delight Amazon UK

The Moon Will Look Strange is available

The Moon Will Look Strange final

My debut short story collection, The Moon Will Look Strange, published by Karoshi Books, is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle! I should have some copies at Octocon, and there will be a Halloween book launch at World Fantasy in Brighton UK on Thursday October 31 at 5 p.m. with FREE WINE for all (come by and have a pre-dinner drink). The book will be available there and throughout the weekend in the dealer’s room.

More info on the book here.

“Lynda Rucker’s great talent is that she is able to carefully build a perceptive portrayal of the real world and in the process of that exploration find that edge where the everyday dissolves and the numinous begins. Her compelling execution of this transition strongly echoes the work of Robert Aickman.” –from the introduction by Steve Rasnic Tem

Buy it here:

The Moon Will Look Strange, paperback, Amazon UK

The Moon Will Look Strange, Kindle, Amazon UK

The Moon Will Look Strange, paperback, Amazon US

The Moon Will Look Strange, Kindle, Amazon US

Journey Planet: The Write Stuff

As I mentioned in some earlier posts, I guest-edited an issue of the science fiction fanzine Journey Planet with James Bacon and Chris Garcia, and it’s out now.  You can download issue #15 at its own site or at efanzines. The issue was fun to put together but also a lot of work, giving me a renewed respect of the work they both do! Also, they and their zines Journey Planet and The Drink Tank have received another round of Hugo nominations (JP including nominations for guest editors Pete Young, Helen Montgomery, and Emma J. King), so if you’re eligible to vote for the Hugo, follow my links above and check out the 2012 issues and see what you think.

“The Write Stuff” is all about the writing life, and we got some great contributions and reprints. I’d especially urge any aspiring writers to give it a look.