Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

US Cover For Ink

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Pretty, innit?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Reader's Response

I got an email from a reader this morning, pointing me to an entry on their blog where they posted their response to Vellum. Much as I'm flattered by what he says, it's the following image, and how he relates it to the book, that I really wanted to post a link to, because it really encapsulates this aspect of what I was aiming for:

My grandmother was a voracious quilt maker. To create her patchworks, she would harvest all the discarded clothing in the family, cut them into little pieces, make designs from those pieces to complete the whole. As it turned out, that little brown striped shirt that I liked so much in second grade would eventually be a part of five different quilts. When you looked at one of the quilts, you would see some strips or squares from the shirt, but never the whole shirt. The shirt didn’t exist anymore, nor could it exist again. When you looked at five quilts, you would see that the pieces of the shirt existed as parts of five different quilts, but again you never saw the whole shirt. The shirt didn’t exist anymore, nor could it exist again.

But all those recognizable pieces were still there, recognizable because of the distinctive pattern of the little brown shirt that I liked so much. Eventually one quilt would be in Texas and one in Wyoming and one in California and one in New Orleans and one in Georgia, the pieces of the brown shirt all across the country. Still, if I went to any of those five houses, I would see and recognize the pieces that had once been my shirt. I might even have said, "There's my shirt," but of course I only meant, "There's a tiny piece of my shirt that recreates the whole in my mind."

Not coming from that quilting culture, I'd always kinda thought of patchwork quilts as an uncomfortable parallel -- too much of a sense of something cobbled together from bits and bobs. But the emotional and familial resonances in that image of the brown shirt, in patches in quilts scattered across the country... something about that really struck a chord and made me think, yeah, that works; that's exactly what I'm trying to do.

Which is a nice way to start the day.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Two more examples of my inability to shut up about myself:

Wotmania interview (in two parts, this link being to the first)

SCI-FI Wire article by John Joseph Adams (VELLUM in 500 words or less!)

In other news, VELLUM appears to have made the shortlist for the BFS Award for Best Novel, the nominations being:

Ramsey Campbell, SECRET STORIES
Neil Gaiman, ANANSI BOYS
George R. R. Martin, A FEAST FOR CROWS

I'm going to have to practice my smile-through-gritted-teeth-while-politely-clapping. My money's on Neil Gaiman.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


The bad news: My story, "The City of Rotted Names", was just too damn long for Grendelsong magazine, edited by Paul Jessup.

The good news: He's doing it as a full-colour and illustrated chapbook instead. Should be out early next year.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Two Memes For The Price Of One

Meme 1:

1. Favorite Beatles song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
2. Favorite Rolling Stones song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
3. Favorite Beck song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
4. Favorite Bob Dylan song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
5. Favorite Wilco song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
6. TV Theme Song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
7. Favorite Prince Song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
8. Favorite Aimee Mann Song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
9. Favorite Michael Jackson Song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
10. Favorite Stevie Wonder Song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
11. Favorite Metallica Song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
12. Favorite Black Sabbath Song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
13. Favorite Public Enemy Song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
14. Favorite Tom Petty Song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
15. Favorite Bruce Springsteen song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
16. Favorite Talking Heads song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
17. Favorite Cure song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
18. Favorite song that most of your friends haven't heard: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
19. Favorite Replacements song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
20. Favorite Beastie Boys song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
21. Favorite Clash song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
22. Favorite Police song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
23. Favorite Eurythmics song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
24. Favorite Beach Boys song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
25. Favorite Sly & the Family Stone song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
26. Favorite song from a movie: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
27. Favorite Duran Duran song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
28. Favorite R.E.M. song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
29. Favorite Johnny Cash song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
30. Favorite song from an 80's one hit wonder: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
31. Favorite song from a video game: : "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
32. Favorite Kinks song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
33. Favorite David Bowie song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
34. Favorite Tom Waits song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
35. Favorite Loretta Lynn song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
36. Favorite New Pornographers song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
37. Favorite Peter Gabriel song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
38. Favorite John Lennon song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
39. Favorite Midnight Oil song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
40. Favorite cover song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
41. Favorite White Stripes: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
42. Favorite dance song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
43. Favorite U2 song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
44. Favorite song from an actor turned musician: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
45. Favorite disco song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
46. Favorite Power Ballad: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
47. Favorite Guns N' Roses song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
48. Favorite The Who song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
49. Favorite Elton John song: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges
50. Favorite song, period: "T.V. Eye" by The Stooges

What? What?!

OK, OK, if you want a meme done seriously...

Meme 2:

1. One book that changed your life?

Every book I read has changed my life. Before: hadn't read it. After: had read it.

Yeah, I know. You want a singular example that gave me some flouncy hand-on-forehead moment of apotheosis, that made me cry out, Why, my life shall never be the same, for my worldview has been transformed!


OK, then...

The Borribles, by Michael de Larrabeiti. The book which sparked the flame of my passion for strange-ass fiction when I came across it in the local library as a kid. Suddenly mine eyes were open. Except they weren't, on account of me being a kid, and not having a clue that this was, like, the first fix that would make me a life-long addict.

2. One book you have read more than once?

Eclogues, by Guy Davenport. I've reread shitloads of books, but I keep returning to this one, because there's always more to get... and because it's a collection of short stories, so you don't have to reread it *all*. I've lost count of the number of times I've read "Idyll".

3. One book you would want on a desert island?

The Complete Works of Wallace Stevens. I could read that forever, for pretty much the same reasons I reread Davenport. In fact, I would have said Davenport, but there's no Complete Works of his been done, and if we were including non-existent books here... well, see answer 6.

4. One book that made you laugh?

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller. Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, et al. -- none of those guys actually make me laugh out loud. I like my humour as black as my coffee.

5. One book that made you cry?

Runts of 61 Cygni-C, by whoever the hell it was wrote it. I laughed so much at the nipple-measuring scene, I nearly wet myself too. I don't think any book has actually made me cry in empathy; I just don't get that caught up. The nearest I've ever come to it is with Edward Whittemore's Jerusalem Quartet (which book it's in I can't remember) in the scene where Stern talks Maud out of suicide; that's probably the most affecting thing I've ever read.

6. One book you wish had been written?

The Book of All Hours (which contains every book ever written and every book never written... hah!), which I could then take with me to the desert island and have both Davenport and Stevens. Indeed, I'd have an infinite supply of reading, cheat that I am.

7. One book you wish had never been written?

Mein Kampf. Nuff said.

8. One book you are currently reading?

Feeling Very Strange, edited by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?

Don Quixote. It's just too fucking big.

10. Tag five people:

No. Fuck off. Memes are fine but I don't foist them on others.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Anthology Sale(s)

Another piece of good news: I just sold my short story, "The Tower of Morning's Bones" to an as-yet-untitled anthology, edited by E. Sedia and due out from Spyre Books in 2007. I'll let ye know more details as and when, but it's sounding pretty good from what I hear.

MeCon, MeSaw, MeStaggeredHome

VELLUM is nominated for the World Fantasy Award! As is NOVA SCOTIA (edited by Neil Williamson and Andrew Wilson)! As is my wonderful editor, Peter Lavery! Holy fuckin fuck, Batman!

But the icing on the cake is that even if none of us actually win, well, there's a good chance that, say, I'll be losing to someone like Graham Joyce (who I remember chatting with a wee bit at WFC last year -- damn fine chap), and/or NOVA SCOTIA will be losing to ADVENTURE #1 (edited by Chris Roberson) or POLYPHONY #5 (edited by Deborah Layne and Jay Lake), and/or that Peter will be losing to Lou Anders or Chris Roberson & Allison Baker. I can't help but feel a little torn as to who I'm rooting for (well, other than in the novel category, that is, where clearly I want the opportunity to sob embarassingly on stage, out my high school drama teacher, launch a vitriolic attack on George Bush and generally make a spectacle of myself), cause I want them *all* to win. Yeah, yeah; it doesn't work that way. I know. But what am I going to do if Chris wins for best anthology, and Neil and Andrew are sitting right there beside me as I whoop and cheer like a loon? That's not going to look very good, is it? Why, I can just see them sitting there glowering at me, muttering darkly about treacherous flibbertigibbet fly-by-night friends. I mean, have you seen the editor photos on NOVA SCOTIA? Are you familiar with the Scottish expression "Ah'm gonnie malkie you, ya bass"? They're scary. Although I could always go on the lam, head for Mexico and -- wait, no, I've already done that post.

Anyhoo, the most important thing is, of course, that I GOT NOMINATED FOR THE WFA!!! Well, it's important to me, attention-hound that I am. All that awards-aren't-important stuff? Speak fer yerself, mate. I have no shame in my desire for respect -- nay adoration. I mean, how am I going to get groupies without awards?

Actually, really I just want an excuse to wear my tails and preen.

It's also a bit weird and sychronicitous, after me booking up for WFC just the other day. About as weird and synchronicitous as the fact that, after talking about the trip-a-month thing having a wee gap in October, my Polish publishers have just invited me over to the Krakow Book Fair that very month, and to maybe do some signing stuff in a few other cities afterwards. Which is another reason to go, WOOT!!!

Anyhoo, I found all this out after arriving back from MeCon which was a lot of fun, with the concom people -- Mike, Mark, Shane, Chris (and whoever else it is I'm missing out here due to drunken confusion) -- all being incredibly friendly. They even presented us guests with wee commerative shot glasses, which was such a sweet idea and totally unexpected. It was great to hang out with the QUB SF crowd, and the Glasgow contingent who came over seemed to fit in nicely (hardly surprising since the majority of us are Guinnessophiles). The Wellie Park Hotel was pretty nice, if a bit weird in having the function room hired out for, variously, a Pro-Wrestling match Friday night, a wedding reception the next night, and a happy-clappy Evangelical Christian revival on the Sunday morning. And no, I didn't try and crash the latter with a Bloody Mary in one hand and a fag in the other. I *thought* about it, but I was a good boy.

So what else did I do over the weekend? Well, we arrived in Belfast and went straight to the Crown Bar for Guinness and, in my case, a single oyster followed by a plate of mussels. We got checked in to the hotel and had a few drinks, then headed down to the con, where we drank and were way too disorganised to even think of participating in the quiz. Eventually we realised food would be a very good idea and headed back towards the hotel, by way of a Chinese place where I batted my eyelashes and looked doe-eyed at the waitress so they would do me a Won Ton Soup as a main course, since the alternative was having three starters (I really *really* wanted Won Ton Soup, you see). Then it was back to the hotel bar till the wee hours of the morning.

Saturday I managed to crawl out of my bed about one in the afternoon and stagger down to the con where, bless them, they were really forgiving of my utter failure to make the two morning panel items I was meant to be on. I did however jump in on the Stochastic Panel, where the topic was "anything anyone wants to talk about at all", which actually worked quite well, giving us an excuse to just blather for an hour. Saw Iain Macdonald's guest of honour reading and Q&A -- with lots of great stuff about his up-coming BRASYL and (extremely recognisable) stuff about displacement activity -- checking emails, reading blogs and so on -- with the Graham Joyce Pencil story being particularly funny. Did a panel with Iain and Ken Macleod on aliens which *really* went well, I thought, with Iain bringing up a theory that aliens are either "mirrors" or "walls", which took us off into all sorts of interesting territory involving language, consciousness and whatnot. It was a shame Gary couldn't make it, as this would have been well up his street.

Went out for a meal in the evening, then ended up in a bar with a few of me mate Bob's pals from Belfast and surrounding environs, where I chatted for ages with a dude by the name of Larry about cool mainstream/SF stylee fiction a la David Mitchell and suchlike. Headed back to the hotel bar to find ourselves among afore-mentioned wedding reception. Chatted quite a bit to another of Bob's mates, Marty and ended up foisting a spare copy of VELLUM onto him at the end of the night.

Sunday was pretty laid back. I got in on time thankfully (and surprisingly), saw a cool presentation on physics in SF (i.e. how much of it is bollocks, how iyt can be done right) which I enjoyed, regardless of the fact that I'm largely of the "Whatever, dude" camp. Got taken out to a lovely meal by the concom guys after the closing ceremony then bowed out of the Dead Dog Party (I'm sorry; it was No Smoking) in order to meet up wth the Glasgow mob back at the hotel. Again, more drinks into the wee hour.

And then it was Monday and the con was over and all there was left to do was stoat about Belfast for a few hours, take in the Ulster Museum and head to the airport and home... to Stravaigan, that is, for Bloody Marys and Lamb's Liver (which I didn't know whether to eat or use as a transplant, since even sliced and cooked to was probably in a better state than my own).

So eventually haviing made it back to my flat, what do I find but my copy of FEELING VERY STRANGE (edited by John Kessel and James Kelly) waiting for me. Hurrah! So, OK, there's one wee quote from me in it, and I feel a bit of a phony getting a comp copy on that basis, but it's a great book, and despite being utterly whacked and intending to just crawl into bed after a few hours going through the email backlog, I found myself sucked into it completely.

And then the US cover for INK turned up in the post today! I don't have a .jpg at the moment but again they've stuck close to the UK design, although going for the Roman-style block-lettering rather than the longhand -script-look title. I'll post an image as soon as I've got one, but suffice to say... it's mighty purty.

So, yeah, all in all, it's been a damn fine weekend. Time to get back to work now, of course. Once I've quickly checked my email, that is... again.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

21st Century Boi

Yeah, cause I'm down with this wicked kewl new tech-stuff! Just because it took me three days to figure out how to pick up my answerphone messages on my ancient brick of a Nokia (see, if you hit 1 and then the Call/Enter/Thingumy button in the centre, it picks up the last number dialled, or that called you, or something; but -- aha! -- if you just hit the 1 and hold it down, that's when it calls the answerphone), no, just because I'm a cretin when it comes to these newfangled landlineless phone things -- that doesn't mean I'm not on the cutting edge with these ePods and i-mail thingumies.


Yes, OK, I'm a Luddite. That's why I'm mucho happy that Jason Lundberg will be podcasting my story "The Last Shift" on his "Lies and Little Death", um, podcast thing, sometime in Spetember / October. I'm looking forward to hearing it. Of course, there's the mischievous side of me that's really looking forward to hearing poor Jason try to do a Scottish accent. All I can suggest is he watch Trainspotting over and over again for the next month or so, and try and expunge all memory of Scotty from Star Trek. Heh.

Author Perks

So the other night I went along to the Writer's Circle as per usual; only one of our non-scribbly friends, MJ, came along for the pub after, and MJ happens to be a student at Glasgow Uni. So come midnight when the bar closes, three of us decide to go off to the QM Union for a few more drinks, since MJ, being a member, can sign us two old fuckers in as guests.

Unfortunately, of course, the QM being a student union, the steward at the door asks us all for photo ID, just to ensure we're not axe-wielding maniacs or something, I guess. And, not having a driving licence or nothing, I'm left standing like a complete tool, wondering if I can be arsed running back to the flat for me passport.

So MJ, in a moment of inspiration, reaches into her bag where she's carrying the HB of VELLUM which she's currently reading, points at picture on back, points at me, and says, Will this do? And they actually let us in. If I'd tried it meself it would have been immensely sad. But as it was, it was just funny. Cool in an absurd, I-can't-believe-we-just-did-that sorta way.

Belfast, Nottingham, Austin...

So I finally bit the bullet and signed up for WFC in Austin (in November) and Fantasycon in Nottingham (in September), so with Mecon in Belfast (in August... or to be more precise, from Friday!), all I need now is an excuse to go to Octocon (in, of course, October). Cause then it would be a con a month which is just silly enough that I'm naturally tempted.

On the other hand Octocon would probably be a bad idea, because I do need to save my money for when I go on the lam in Austin, Texas. Because let's face it: the prospect of returning home to Scotland in the depth of winter is enough to make even the maddest of Mad Schemes seem a better option, when that Mad Scheme involves not going back to where it's bloody Baltic and only light between, oh, 9:00 am and 4:00 pm. OK, so there's the whole Visa Only Being Valid For A Limited Time thing and the Country Being Ruled By Neo-Con Nutjobs thing, and I know I'd eventually do something stupid in Texas like, I dunno, leave Austin. But, listen, I have a plan. See, after I've accidentally burned down the Alamo, or asked the wrong cowboy if he's a fan of Brokeback Mountain, or mistakenly roared antichristian sonnets and random insults outside some Baptist church ("Westbury, you say, not Westboro. Oh. Well, I take back what I said about the goats.")... anyway, after I've done whatever it is I'm bound to do that will mean I have to hightail it out of Texas, then I shall follow the plan of every self-respecting renegade: head south for El Mexico!

Cause if I have to hire an unscrupulous speedboat-owner to smuggle me across the Rio Grande, or swim the fucker myself, a Scottish wetback in search of sunlight and tequila, frankly it'll probably still be a more tempting option than spending winter in Glasgow. And they'll never catch me. I know some Spanish. Mi estomago Europeo es debil. See? I've been watching Don Juan De Marco and practicing my fake Spanish accent; it's now really bad. Muy mal. I'm not saying I'll blend in, but I'll be entertaining.

-- Who is this gringo loco with the bad Spanish accent? they'll say. Why is he even speaking with a bad Spanish accent when he is in Mexico?

-- I'm no gringo, I'll say. I'm Scottish. I too am of an oppressed people with an overbearing, imperialist neighbour! I too understand that life is hard and short but that this, yes, this is all the more reason to celebrate its brief and fleeting joys with the rapture of drink and song, mes amigos. Give me a tango beat on that guitar, my friend, and I shall show you that I am truly your brother.

They'll have to let me stay, once they realise that Scots are really just Mexicans without the Catholicism and the weather. But how will I survive once the money runs out? Why, I shall join a mariachi band. We'll work the bars and cafes, regaling rich American tourists with the Alex Harvey version of "Next", confusing them with my bizarre pseudo-Castillian lisp and guttural Glaswegian drunk-in-a-pub incomprehensibility. I shall set the poetry of Lorca to music, sing his sweet Gypsy Ballads to newly-weds on honeymoon, serenade them with such sensuality that the woman will tremble in anticipation of the pleasures which await later that night. And while she dreams of the satisfaction of her deepest desires, the man will sweat, squirming with the not-quite-conscious-and-yet-still-unsettling vague sensation that these songs of love are not for her, oh no, but rather aimed at him. Yes, I shall try them in the crucible of passion, and if by chance some of the men they find themself transformed, the cold steel of their heterosexuality melted to a more mercurial temperament... well, I shall try not to be shot dead by a jealous wife, but death-by-romanticism is surely a better end than old age. Either way, these lovers will return to their homes with stories of this strange Spaniard-Scot of a singer, with his wild eyes, wild hair and even wilder hand-gestures, this man known only as... Don Loco!

It's a plan. It may not be a sane plan, but if it was sane then they would not call me Don Loco.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

You Too Can Be The Proud Owner...

Papaveria Press have just revealed my limited edition, fabric-bound, linen-paper Sonnets For Orpheus, ready for pre-ordering.

And just look at how pretty they are!

I probably shouldn't have to say this, cause anyone reading this will probably know my foul mouth and profane paganism by now, but readers of a genteel disposition may be advised to check out the earlier on-line versions (linkee in the side-bar to the left) before assuming that these are yer frilly-cuffed, floppy-shirted kinda sonnets. "Scabrous" is my middle name.

OK, actually "William" is my middle name, but anyone making Spike-from-ANGEL-inspired jokes about "William the Bloody Awful" will be punished harshly, with biting (and possibly some chafing).