April 30, 2023

My Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror Short Fiction Roundup - April 2023


The artwork for this roundup includes a detail of DM7's art for Lightspeed #155. More about the artist at https://www.deviantart.com/dm7

An audio version of this roundup is available on YouTube:

The Time Traveler’s Cookbook by Angela Liu in Cast of Wonders (narrated by May Chong)

Don’t eat dinosaur. Just don’t. Mom marked it as a must-have, saying it looks and tastes “like an exotic giant chicken,” but just getting to the meat has been a nightmare. The skin’s teeth breakingly-tough and the sucker hooked me in the thigh with one of its nasty claws during the hunt. I’ve staunched the bleeding with Happy Time Traveler’s super medical glue, but holy hell it still hurts.

Oh how I love this story. It's a time travel story that is both whimsical and heartbreaking. The food, the recipes, the time travel tips... they're all fabulous and funny, but Liu's story is also a deeply emotional tale about family and grief and about trying to find a way to move forward, even when it's the hardest thing we'll ever do.

Crown Prince by Melissa Mead in Cast of Wonders (narrated by Jordan Kurella)

Behind a gauze screen, Crown Prince Manu slumps in his cushions. He’s grateful for the screen, hiding his lapse from Father’s petitioners. It takes so much energy to maintain his Stupid Body in anything like a posture of alertness. The more effort he puts forth, the more it writhes about. The law says that he, the Only Royal Son, must be present at all official proceedings, but behind the screen no one can see him if he chooses to save his energy for listening. He always listens. And remembers.

This is a fairytale about Manu, a prince with a difference: he has cerebral palsy. Mead's story deals with cerebral palsy, the challenges for Manu, and how his condition makes others view him differently and often underestimate him (sometimes at their peril!). To quote the CoW story commentary:

 Accessibility isn’t just about giving people access to support tools to engage more fully with society – it’s also about re-shaping society such that all people are included, regardless of their circumstances, with as much or as little extra support as they want or need.

I love this story for its fresh perspective and its terrific characters, and I also love it for the entertaining palace intrigue. Sadly, Mead passed away in 2022 before this story was accepted and published by Cast of Wonders. 

, Bird by Uyen Dang in Necessary Fiction

Several years ago, the rain started stripping people of their memories. With every rain a memory or two would dissolve into oblivion only to later reappear, suddenly, in physical form, at the edge of the city. Cats, childhood homes, a beloved dead houseplant… Some believed it was a weird symptom of climate change. Others said it was divine punishment, that the rain was actually godly spit, an amnesiac. Hard to believe, but they claimed it true. There was something vengeful happening here, they could feel it.

This is a surreal and uniquely imagined story where memories are stripped away but do not disappear. I love the unabashed strangeness here, and the way that strangeness is made real and tangible. Dang's evocative prose has the feel and melody of poetry, giving this story real depth and heart. 

Through the Glass, a Full Sea by P.H. Low in Apparition Lit

There is a girl behind the mirror.

You see her first when you are five, pinching your nose and cheeks and wondering if the greenish shade of your skin, which you’ll later learn is just the tint of glass, means you are made of cheese. She moves a half-breath before you do; speaks a language you have already forgotten, her pink mouth forming a childish perfect

Nǐ sì séi?

A life, and the process of trying to understand yourself and the world and what your life can be, what YOU can be and what you want to be, is captured with exquisite brilliance in this short story. Low twists in a strand of horror, with the recurring presence in mirrors and other reflections, but the pain of this story goes beyond horror tropes. Beautiful, heart-rending darkness.

The Librarian and the Robot by Shi Heiyao in Clarkesworld (translated by Andy Dudak)

One day, the Curator salvaged a robot. It was a model ST-19, a military machine, designed for search and destroy missions. The Curator found it outside in a knee-deep snowdrift. The robot’s ship had crashed into a hill two kilometers away, the explosion cutting the summit right off.

A lquietly moving science fiction story about a far-future where humans have left Earth and colonized other planets, but where one person, the Curator, has returned to the old home-planet. There, she finds an old library and begins to salvage books. And when she salvages a military robot, she finds new uses for it too. I love the gentleness of this story as it explores human nature and the nature of artificial intelligence, and how we can become something different than the world wants to make us into.

Voices Singing in the Void by Rajan Khanna in Clarkesworld

On Narraweena-4, the Builders have begun.

A Worker drone surveys its assigned territory as its tunneler beam warms. A fluting call pierces the air, answered by a warbling trill. The drone pauses. Its code, shared with others of its kind, sings the story across their web. A Scanner glides free of its dock, winging toward the lifeforms, far enough away that it won’t alarm them. Optics and sensors identify two arboreal creatures, each clinging to a tree branch, their gray, spotted hide fringed by feathers of blue and vermilion.

A hauntingly beautiful science fiction story with a deep sadness and sense of loss at its heart, yet it's not without hope and wonder. On various planets in the universe, human-constructed artificial Builders have constructed places where people were supposed to live, and yet, no people have arrived. Khanna's story travels to these different worlds and sees them through the eyes and minds of the Builders, and then returns to Earth where we learn the difficult truth. There's an epic sweep and feel to this story that gave me chills.

One Eye Opened in That Other Place by Christi Nogle in Three-Lobed Burning Eye

They were tied up together from the start: Dottie and that other place. That other place, that other eye. Charles didn’t like to think of it as a third eye, though that’s what it was. It wasn’t in his forehead, wasn’t in the center of his face at all. Instead, it rested between the right side of his nose and the tear duct. It wasn’t actually there, of course, and yet it felt like it was there.

A new issue of Three-Lobed Burning Eye is always good news if you like your speculative fiction dark and weird. Nogle's story, about a man who can see another place with his third eye, is dark and weird and deliriously unsettling. There's a quiet, ever-increasing strangeness to this story that is both mesmerizing and disturbing. And the ending? The ending is a scream.

Kudzu Boy Dreaming by SJ Powell in FIYAH #26

He’s ten years old when he finds the body in the kudzu patch.

A boy and his mother live in a house where there is magic, both protective magic and terrifying magic, at play. Beyond the house, the kudzu grows and one day, the boy finds a dead body there. Powell's story has a dreamlike undercurrent, but is also firmly rooted in a real and vividly drawn world, that is seen through a child's perspective: what is real and what isn't, what is dangerous and what is not, are not always easy to determine. And there's a dream/nightmare sequence in this story that is absolute terrifying perfection, and that scene is going to haunt me for a while.

Root Canticle by Natasha King in Nightmare

Oh, dear. Don’t bother going back up the stairs. Yes, they exist still, but the door at the top will no longer take you anywhere you would wish to go. Look—the vines, if that is what we want to call them, have made some room. Sit.

I love this unsettling, hallucinogenic, twisting tale that goes into the past and into the earth, and into bodies as well. There's an old magic at work here, old stories and tales that have taken root, and King spins a beautifully mesmerizing tale from all of it.

Victory Condition by Eliot Peper in Anthropocene

Yes, the Golden Gate Bridge still stands—one of the few historical artifactchs outside the city’s gleaming walls. Of course, the bridge no longer serves the purpose for which it was built: to offer vehicles efficient passage up and down the California coast. Now, it’s primarily a wildlife crossing for wolves, grizzlies, antelope, jaguars, coyotes, and elk. People visit too.

A thought-provoking future tale by Peper about a world, and a city, that has changed fundamentally and where human beings are finding new ways to live. Peper has some interesting thoughts on this future SF, but what I loved the most about this story is the way it interweaves the history of old San Francisco with the future of the new, and the way both nature and city feature so prominently in the telling.

Our Exquisite Delights by Megan Chee in Lightspeed

Almost everyone has, at some point in their lives, encountered a door that was not there before.

A little girl sits up in bed, staring at the two identical closets in her bedroom. She feels certain there had been only one when she fell asleep.

Oh, this is a great twist on portal fantasies, and all those fantasy tales about doors, leading people to other places. Here, we see these doorways from the other side, from the perspective of whatever lives beyond those doors. There's slow-burning twist to this tale and the point of view of the narrator that makes it even more satisfying.

Construction Sacrifice by Bogi Takács in Lightspeed

There’s dysphoria, and then there’s turning into a mid-size city. But sometimes you try male, you try female, you try different kinds of nonbinary and it only makes you realize that something still doesn’t quite fit, something fundamental. There is a mismatch.

What an absolutely enthralling story this is. It’s told from two points of view: one is the city of Fejértorony, a city that has a mind of its own quite literally; the other is Mihue, a scholar called a clairvoyant who comes to the city to study it and gain a deeper understanding. What follows is a connection between these two that has unexpected and life-altering consequences for them both. Takács calls it a “a secondary-world science fantasy story about trans love in difficult circumstances.” And for more about the inspiration for the story, read the excellent interview in Lightspeed: https://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-bogi-takacs-2/

Locavore by Kim Harbridge in Strange Horizons

It forced itself to take that last step onto the ferry. Every step further from land felt like falling. Through space, through time, through every place it had ever been. It kept its eyes open, its features arranged in what it hoped was a neutral expression. Somehow, it walked itself up to the small covered passenger deck and took a seat on a plastic bench. The boat began to move.

This is such an excellent and fresh take on a horror story of shapeshifting monsters. Being a shapeshifter and a monster, isn't always easy as this story points out. You have to be careful, you have to consider your options, in order not to get caught, not to get found out and still survive. Harbridge's story is both quiet and powerful, and I love the intimate, under-the-skin view we get of the kind of being that is usually only glimpsed in the shadows.

The Air Will Catch Us by Rajiv Moté in Reckoning

Walking is different now. The air resists my habitual gait. Little hops lift me into the thickened atmosphere that slows my return to Earth. It’s undignified, but it’s past time I got used to this. I’m not that old. I bob along after her.

A quiet, contemplative science fiction story set in a future where humanity has had to make some drastic changes in order to survive. These changes are the new reality for the children growing up in it, but for those who still remember the world, and the air, as it once was, it's a different story. There's a bitter-sweetness and wistfulness to this story that really got to me.

The Dark House by A.C. Wise in TOR.com

It didn’t help that darkness crowded the edges of the photograph, smudged, like thousands of fingerprints marring the picture over the years. I would have blamed the quality of the reproduction, except the shadows gathered in the windows too. They didn’t reflect light so much as hold it at bay.

A profoundly unsettling and increasingly harrowing story by A.C. Wise about a house, about the ghosts that haunt that house, and about the lives that seem tied to the photos left behind in that house. There's a terrifying inevitability to the horror here: everything has happened before and will happen again. Wise has a terrific ability to crank up the intensity of horror with masterful precision, and that skill is on full display in this story.

The Lone Drummer by A.G. Lamar in Beneath Ceaseless Skies

I love stories that tie together music and magic, and in A.G. Lamar’s story, we find ourselves in world where songs and drumming can be used for peaceful purpose, like making crops grow, and for war, as a weapon to defeat your enemy on the battlefield. Kamu is a young boy with a great gift for drum magic. At a young age, his father sent him off to hone his skills and become part of the royal army. Lamar’s story is a multi-layered and fascinating look at a society that wields magic for a variety of purposes, and at the heart of the story is Kamu, who is so very good at magic and drumming, but who is also deeply conflicted by going to war, and who still carries the pain of being sent away from his family when he was only 10 years old. It makes for a riveting and thoroughly compelling read set in a fascinating world.

We, the Ones Who Raised Sam Gowers from the Dead by Cynthia Zhang in PseudoPod (narrated by Serah Eley)

There’s a profound fierceness and anger fueling this story, making it intensely powerful and affecting.

Yes, to answer your questions, we were the ones who did it; we were the ones who dabbled into the forbidden arts, who so casually threw away the good Christian values of our country for a flash of bloody vengeance. We are the ones you want, the ones who raised Sam Gowers from the dead.

The voice of the story is so strong and bold, and I love how it never shies away from telling us the truths we already know but sometimes try not to face: the injustice, the cruelty, the bigotry, the violence faced by Sam Gowers and others like him. Oh yes, I love the sharp teeth of this story, the raw emotion that runs through it, and I love how powerlessness is turned into unexpected, unimaginable power when necromancy is used.

A Thousand Echoes in One Voice by Deborah L. Davitt in Podcastle (narrated by Dave Robison)

At first, you didn’t really commit to it. You only explored on weekends. Then it became an all-consuming obsession. You took your instructions from the hidden graffiti. Your only guide, the only proof that there were others like you. Your sole consolation.

The others exist. Some of them must go home again. And some of them never can. Caught, perhaps, when a reality blinks out of existence.

Oh, my kind of story: a messed up timetravel tale, where different choices make new timelines, where worlds diverge and join, and where the paths to the past and the future and the other worlds are difficult to find and understand. Davitt’s story is haunting and evocative, with a deep and dark heart. That ending gave me bone-deep chills.


Sounds for Crustaceans by Addison Smith in Fantasy Magazine

OK, so a while back I was talking on Twitter about crabs and how easily lifeforms through the eons seem to turn into crabs (it’s a thing!), and then someone recommended I read this story by Addison Smith. It’s from 2021, so I’m obviously way late in covering it here, but wow, what a story it is! Here, someone is turning into a crustacean, but it’s not an easy process and it’s not easy to know what other people are going to think about such a transformation. Will they even believe it? Will they mock it? There’s a surreal vibe here, and a tenderness beneath the chitin, that is an absolute delight.


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April 2, 2023

BEHIND THE ZINES with Stephen Hunt, editor and publisher at INKLINGS PRESS

For this month’s Behind the Zines interview I am thrilled to be talking to the fabulous Stephen Hunt from Inklings Press


More about Stephen Hunt:

Stephen Hunt is a journalist, author, and editor, having worked in the newspaper industry for nearly 20 years. He is presently working in The Bahamas at The Tribune national newspaper. He is also one of the people behind Inklings Press.

More about Inklings Press:

Inklings Press is an indie publisher of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and other fiction by new writers. Their purpose is to provide new fantasy, science fiction, mystery and alternative history tales.


Q. Tell us a bit about yourself. What’s your background, where did you grow up, where are you now, and what do you do outside the world of speculative fiction?

Hi Maria, thanks for inviting me to take part! I’m a bit of driftwood. I was born in Northern Ireland, but we left there when I was a kid, right in the heart of The Troubles. So I grew up as a bit of an outsider in North-East England, a boy with a funny accent and a funny hair colour. Then a little over a decade ago, I drifted across the Atlantic to where I live and work in The Bahamas. I edit a newspaper here, and the rest of my time is spent chasing round two kids and wondering with my wife where all the time in the day went.

Q. Most people who are into speculative fiction seem to have caught that bug early in their lives. What got you hooked on the speculative fiction genre? What stories, books, movies, TV-shows, or something else, lured you into that world?

I blame my mum! Or maybe my grandmother. My granny used to take my mum with her to the cinema when she was a kid to go see horror movies – which got my mum hooked. I grew up in a house full of books by James Herbert, Stephen King, Alan Garner and more. And my mum did the same to me, but with the small screen – keeping me up at night to watch Hammer Horror movies or Salem’s Lot so she wasn’t left to watch them on her own. A nice line of maternal terror passed along!

But the house was also filled with fantasy and sci-fi books – I’m the youngest of five kids, so my eldest brother had lots of Anne McCaffrey and Katherine Kurtz books, another brother got into D&D and Runequest and brought me along for the ride, there were shelves with Asimov and Clarke, Tolkien and Le Guin, and TV screens with Kirk and Spock, The Doctor and Quatermass, Space 1999 and Buck Rogers.

I fell in, and I fell hard. I remember making my parents walk me back out of the cinema backwards so I could see as many of the credits as possible for the first Star Wars movie. I was that kind of nerdy fan. These days, of course, the movie companies stick a scene at the end to get you to stay…

Q. You’re one of the people behind Inklings Press, an indie publisher that has published several anthologies (I’ve had stories in two of them!). How did Inklings Press get started and what’s your goal or mission statement?

We gotta get you back for a third! Submissions open now, y’know…

Inklings started out as a bunch of friends on the internet chatting about books. No, wait, let’s go a step further back. Back in the day in the UK, there was a competitive gaming scene for a tabletop collectible figures game called Heroclix. We’re talking little figures of Wolverine and Batman, Superman and Thor, and the mightiest hero of all, Hawkeye. Over the years, a bunch of us met up at tournaments, battled it out over the table, did the whole “hey, let me add you on Facebook” thing, and had beers after the gaming sessions.

Fast forward a few years and a whole lot of us have moved on to different parts of the world – but still kept in touch on Facebook, and chatted about various things, including for a few of us a mutual love of writing. That became an encouragement to one another to do something with that – and so we cheered each other on as we set about writing stories, shared critiques and so on. Somewhere along the way we thought we should do something with that – and so we decided to try self-publishing a book featuring the work of some of the members of that group, which had extended to friends of friends too. And that’s how the first book, Tales From The Tavern, a short, five-story anthology of fantasy fiction, came about. We just figured, let’s try it and see. And then we went back again for more. And more.

As time went on, we broadened out to accept submissions from people who weren’t part of that group to the point where it’s now open to all.

As to our goal? Well, we just want to find good stories and share them with readers who might enjoy them. We’ve done far better than we might have expected at the start – we’ve published Sidewise Award winners twice over for alternate history! And we’ve had authors want to join us in our anthologies who we would never have thought would have been interested in little old us when we started out.

It’s also been a genuine pleasure to offer a stepping stone for new voices, including from some diverse backgrounds. It’s a real joy to see how people have gone on to other things and we love to shout about others’ successes. Back when we first started, we kind of felt that there was no place for us so we would make our own. We hope we have given a place for others along the way.

Q. If you look back on your hopes and dreams when you started out and compare it to where you’re at today… what are your thoughts on that journey? What are some of the big, and maybe small, things you’ve learned? What are some of your proudest accomplishments?

I think for me the biggest part of the journey has been seeing fellow authors who didn’t feel they might ever get anything published now be in a place where they have one, two, three, more books out there and plans for further to come. It’s seeing that transition from asking “Could I do this?” to “I am doing this.”

That’s been remarkable to see. I’m lagging behind compared to others in that regard, but I absolutely cheer them on in everything they do.

I think we’ve learned to try and simplify the process over time, because there’s only so much time in our days. We switched to payment on publication, for example, so that’s resolved and done at the outset, and then there’s deciding not to constantly chase down rabbit holes for the many, many ways of promotion that are constantly pushed at you, many of which are not terribly effective. That learning process of what does and what does not work takes a bit of time when you’re new to it all. I think the biggest thing to learn is just to be genuine. It’s easy to get swallowed up in the marketing push all the time, but the biggest benefits come from genuine interactions with people. And it’s nicer too.

As for accomplishments, I should absolutely hail the Sidewise Awards. And I do. And I should absolutely sing out about getting reviewed in Amazing Science Fiction. And I do. But my proudest accomplishment is honestly any time we publish an author’s debut. That’s where I see the heart of Inklings, particularly when it’s people from different countries or backgrounds, saying hey, we hear your voice and we’d love to help it be heard elsewhere.

Q. What are some of the best and some of the hardest things about your work in publishing for Inklings Press? How does your team work together? I think you’re all spread out all over the world, do you find that to be a challenge or is the Internet enough to keep it all together?

The main crew consists of four of us – an Englishman in Finland, an American in Japan, an Irishman (me) in The Bahamas and a Mexican who is the only one in his home country these days. We’ve certainly shifted around a lot. The internet has kept us together though my word it would be nice for us to have a meet-up in person at some point. Last year we took the year off as we had various life events happening, but now we’re stepping back into the ring.

In terms of how it works, we chat on an almost daily basis about all kinds of things – and then when we decide to go with a project, we come up with a theme, set a deadline, and divide up tasks. Ricardo is our graphic artist and cover designer, Brent and Rob tend to handle submissions and first passes at edits. Then I hop in at the end and do final edits plus compiling the book itself before hitting the big ol’ publish button. We also divide up social media promotion. The biggest task though is mutual encouragement, lifting one another up on hard days in life and in publishing, and cheering on our successes.

Q. I know there’s a recurring discussion in the field about the viability of speculative fiction zines and publishing houses, with a lot of great venues disappearing and new ones starting up. What are your thoughts on the viability of this as a business.

If your game plan is to make money, then there’s certainly easier ways to make it! People will go buy a cup of coffee every day but ask them to pay the same for a book and some will recoil at the idea.

We are lucky enough that we have between us the skills to put together what we do, and don’t have to take on particularly large costs to do so. That’s very much a privileged position to be in, and I’m very conscious that not all people are as fortunate to be in that situation.

It’s hard to keep a venue running long-term. It’s a big-time commitment from anyone in the process – from reading through the slush pile to editing to marketing to publishing to to to… you know, it just keeps going. And the price of the product at the end of that often is not enough to sustain everyone through that process. So I completely understand the burnout that comes with that, and the challenge to keep things afloat year on year, sometimes with the marketplace doing the most unhelpful of things along the way, such as Amazon recently changing the way it deals with subscriptions for some long-running magazines, or concerns over Kickstarter as a platform for fundraising, or Twitter becoming a place that I for one have stepped away from as much as possible after its ownership change.

Of course, the ones most affected by this are the ones who aren’t in a privileged position to begin with – and so that continues to count against marginalised voices.

I will say there is a greater opportunity these days for those voices to be initially heard thanks to the breadth of self-publishing and small presses now – but sustaining those platforms I think is as difficult as ever. Perhaps even more difficult. I salute those who keep a solid schedule of publications coming month after month, year after year.

Q. You also run Altered Instinct, publishing a newsletter / zine. The first issue came out late last year, featuring interviews and fiction. What has that experience been like for you and can we expect more issues in the future?

That’s… a work in progress. Yes. More in the future. But a job change kind of put things on hold while I work out where my free time fits in around the new role. But yes. Yes yes yes.

Q. You’re also a fiction writer in your own right, and you’re a journalist, working as managing editor of The Tribune in Nassau. Do you feel like your various writing endeavors clash or do they inspire each other? Is there something the fiction writer can learn from the journalist, and vice versa?

I like to think that in the day job I tell truth to expose lies, and in the night job I tell lies to expose truth. People can probably make their own mind up which is which. I think there is a lot each side can learn from the other. As a writer, I’m so used to having stories changed around and edited in the news business that I’ve long lost my brittle edges about being too precious perhaps about my words. I know things need to change around to work better sometimes, and it’s not a slight upon my earlier drafts to do so. As a journalist, you can get caught up in the rush to deadline sometimes – and I can learn from the writing side to sometimes just take a step back and let a story breathe so you know what to do with it better. In general, though, I write about different things. My day job is full of horrible stories sometimes, and so my writing lets my mind take flight to other places.

Q. How has your views of the business side of the speculative fiction publishing industry changed since you’ve become more involved behind the scenes vs. when you were “just” a writer? Have you gained any insights you didn’t previously have?

I’ll steer clear of talking about traditional publishing as I don’t really have any expertise there but when it comes to self-publishing and small presses, I think I’d say always remember that one size never fits all, and there are different ways of marketing that suit different styles of publication. What works to market an eight-book series produced at speed may not work at all for a single 120,000-word fantasy epic. There are many services – and some publishers – who look to get money out of the hands of authors, so being cautious and figuring out what works for you is always wise.

Q. For others who might be thinking about getting involved with speculative fiction publishing in any capacity, what would you say to them? Do you have any tips, advice, and/or warnings for new publishers?

I think I’d say do what you can and don’t overreach. Be aware that things crop up in life and you need to have the room to deal with those things – so if you stretch yourself to capacity, those life issues will push you over the top. So pace yourself. Enjoy it. Love it. Adore the words you work with. Immerse yourself in those dreams. But always have time to pack them away and live.

In more practical terms, spend your money where it gets you the best results. Avoid scammers – and keep an eye on outlets such as Author Beware so you’re know what to watch out for. Make sure your covers look professional. Make sure you know what looking professional means. Don’t be afraid of criticism, it helps sharpen your focus. In the same vein, don’t publicly criticise reviewers – it’s not a good look. Show respect and a professional manner, and people will react to you accordingly. Show your whole ass in public, however, and don’t be surprised if people point at it. There are frustrating days, and that’s what your closest friends’ DMs are for.

But to backtrack to what I said earlier, just be genuine. Do it because you love it, and love it because you do it.

Q. Like me, you’re one of those people who have moved across the world, living quite far away from where you were born and grew up. How has that experience influenced you as a writer, and as a publisher?

Honestly, it can be hard. I was three when I first moved to a country that wasn’t my own – England is close to Ireland, but I was reminded every day that it was not. Particularly in the 70s, when I would be called Paddy rather than my real name, or have people shout “IRA” at me, call me stupid because of being Irish, or be punched or kicked for where I came from. So I’ve been an outsider since I can remember existing.

On occasions we’d go back to Ireland, it wasn’t home either by then – I was the boy coming back from England. So uprooting from the UK and coming to The Bahamas a dozen years ago now was not the major upheaval it might have been – but only because I was often left to feel as if I didn’t belong in the first place. Like I say, I’m driftwood, and I’ve washed up on these shores now.

How that affects me as a writer? Well, it’s hard to say what culture is my own. I’m not Irish enough to be an Irish writer. I’m not Bahamian so I can’t claim that either. Regularly being told I didn’t belong as I grew up suggests that for many I can’t count on being an English writer. So where am I? What are the stories that belong to me? So I gather the driftwood around me and tell the tales that find their way to me.

As a publisher, I’m very conscious there are large sections of the world whose tales are not given a chance to be told. I love when those tales come our way. I would love that to be more the case. But I’m also conscious that for some of those I shouldn’t be involved in the process of the telling.

Q. As I mentioned before, you’re also a writer. What’s up next for you as a fiction writer? And what’s up next for Inklings Press?

I’ll start with Inklings Press as that’s more imminent – we have submissions open right now for an anthology of mystery stories, but in other genres. Only Murders in the Genre as we’ve nicknamed it, but think sleuths in spacesuits, wizards and wiseguys, whatdunnits instead of whodunnits and more. That’s our comeback anthology after our year off. We’re also talking other plans, including maybe novellas. Maybe.

As for me, I so very much need to catch up with Inklings writers who have gone before me and get a novel out there. But will start with my own collection of short stories gathering up tales that have landed here, there and elsewhere over the years. The very first thing I published was a collection called Quartet to test out the publishing process on Amazon, and this feels like a return to that moment to draw a line over what I’ve done so far, ready to make the leap to the next part of the journey.

Just, y’know, give me some of that elusive time in the day…


Huge thanks to Stephen for this interview! 


About Behind the Zines:

In this interview series, I talk to people working behind the scenes at various speculative fiction publications. My goal is to highlight the work that goes into keeping these publications alive, and to share insights from the people doing that work. Each interview is available exclusively on my Patreon for one week, and is then posted here at Maria's Reading.


If you want to support my work, check out my Patreon or Ko-Fi.