Kim Lakin-Smith

Science Fiction and Fantasy Author

Author: Kim (page 2 of 4)

Icon For Hire – Get Well

Autodrome

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

With its population of teen motor sport enthusiasts, promoters, grease monkeys and drivers, life in the steam and gas powered metropolis of Autodrome is all about the race.

On the same day that 15 year old Zar Punkstar qualifies as a Pro Leaguer, he finds his inventor father murdered, and a clue – a Paranascope scroll containing a holographic map of the city. An encounter with the mysterious race promoter, Braxton Earl, leads him to enter the city’s infamous Ramrod Rally, a series of races, obstacle courses and death traps in Autodrome’s notorious outer suburbs, The Eras.

His team mates include fellow racer and number one crush, Raina Jubilique, and a group of jaded ex-Pro Leaguers who’d sooner stab each other in the back as race together. His opposition are a mixed bag of polished Pro Leaguers, hired thugs, and parts’ pirates. But who to trust in a world of competitors? And for a champion like Zar, is the ultimate prize to win the Ramrod or outwit a killer?

[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][vc_facebook type=”button_count”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][vc_tweetmeme type=”horizontal”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][vc_googleplus][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][vc_pinterest][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Queen Rat

In the submersible world of the Free Ocean 14-year-old Princess Ratiana Clementine Saint John of the submersible Victoriana is to be wed to Prince Simeon of the Aesthetes. Not only have they never met before but to add insult to injury they must fulfil several life-threatening Grand Rites before the knot can be tied. As their trials unfold they learn about each other, but will they survive?

Books

“Kim Lakin-Smith’s dark, lyrical prose flows towards the poetic, making you sigh with pleasure.” Graham Joyce Continue reading

Gunpowder, reason and plot

The nights are drawing in, there are plenty of leaves to swish through when taking Drake the big fat lab out for a walk, and those beautiful golden days of the summer are but a memory. This time of year has always been special to me because it reminds me of my husband Del and our first few heady, icy weeks together after meeting in Nottingham. To my father, an ex-market gardener, autumn is a time of gloom and inertia and dying. To me though, there is something magical in the clean, crisp air, the fire coloured leaves, and the sense of winter creeping in but not quite here yet. It all feels poignantly Pagan, perhaps due to the obvious celebration of Halloween. December brings with it the blatant commercialism of Christmas, a feeling of faint hollowness and longing for those no longer with us. Halloween and Bonfire Night have a greater emphasis on Nature’s fun house – pumpkin carving, apple bobbing, fireworks, cinder toffee, and the hypnotic blaze of the sparkler. The moon sits fat and silver in the sky, the heating is quick to take the edge off, and thoughts begin to turn to hot chocolate, hot water bottles, and hats, scarves and gloves.

This sense of bedding in has extended to my new novel. So far, the plot and theme share a sense of layering which is making my head ache. Having written 10,000 words of the story and lost my way, I decided to swallow hard and start again. As a result, one of our kitchen walls is now home to a spider-gram made up of index cards. This approach may seem longwinded to writers who don’t need to plot in such details (you bastards ;-)), but it’s an experiment to see if I can find freedom from plot worries as a result. Recently I have heard a lot of opinions on ways to combat writer’s block, and while I believe the answer is always to write through the block, I am willing to hold my hands up and say I do have a tendency to lose faith in the narrative. Weirdly, I don’t tend to lose faith in the book – or should I say the original concept/title. This is why I am taking time out to structure this new book, and hopefully give it a sense of depth as a result.

In-between long hours spent staring out the window and racking my brains, I have escaped my mental prison for a couple of great conventions. I was so over the moon that Del and I were able to attend Bristolcon last minute. We have a real soft spot for Bristol and a number of very dear friends live there. In fact its fair to say the city is on our hit list of future places to live – Bristol, you have been warned. One of the greatest things about Bristolcon is the organisation. Jo, Meg and the gang do an amazing job and pull off something unique in genre convention land – they run the event seamlessly and seemingly without any stress, reminding me of magic elves albeit clothed. I caught up with folk like Gareth L Powell, Raven Dane, Gem and Neil Bynon, Martin McGrath, Martin Sketchley, Forbidden Planet’s Tim, and other wonderful souls. A particularly spectacular aspect of the weekend was spending time talking to Philip Reeve, the blinding talented author of the Mortal Engines series of books as well as others. Philip is a real hero of mine and I was so overwhelmed to spend time with him, even more so when Philip asked to read Cyber Circus and has since let me know he enjoyed it. A wonderful weekend and some very precious memories.

Unfortunately after Bristolcon I was struck down by some despicable germ and fell ill for a couple of weeks. As a result I missed the official launch of the Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse ebook (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pandemonium-Stories-Apocalypse-ebook/dp/B00624EIBK/) at the Tate Britain. Pandemonium is published by Pandemonium Fiction and includes my short story ‘Deluge’. The collection plays homage to the breathtaking paintings of John Martin, on display in the Tate’s John Martin: Apocalypse exhibition.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=814ll2oPevo&w=500&h=385]

A limited edition run of hardbacks will also be available to purchase from the Tate in the next couple of weeks. My fellow contributors are Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Lauren Beukes, S.L. Grey, Jonathan Oliver, Sophia McDougall, Chrysanthy Balis, David Bryher, Jonathan Oliver, Scott K. Andrews, Lou Morgan, Tom Pollock, Den Patrick, Archie Black, Sam Wilson, Osgood Vance, Charlie Human, Andy Remic, and Magnus Anderson. The collection is edited by Pornokitsch’s Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin, with a foreword by Tom Hunter, director of the Arthur C. Clarke Award. A portion of the proceeds also goes to the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

After missing out on the Pandemonium launch, I was determined to make it to Novacon this weekend. Thankfully my health bucked up and Del and I enjoyed a great evening in the company of Ian Whates, Terry Martin, Ian Sales, and others. It was great to be back in Nottingham for a night. I was even struck by a sense of nostalgia this morning when Del and I were driving out from the city. There was something wonderfully familiar about Nottingham on an autumnal Sunday morning, and it reminded me again of why I find this time of year so appealing.

Back to reality, and I have some new projects on the go including the release of a YA novella (announcement soon). In-between working on my new novel, I’ve written a couple of blog posts – an SF Song of the Week for writer and future beer-sharing buddy, Philip Palmer at http://www.philippalmer.net/2011/10/09/sff-song-of-the-week-kim-lakin-smith and my favourite five gunslingers for the inimitable Pornokitsch at http://www.pornokitsch.com/2011/11/friday-five-gunslingers.html.

I am very excited to be taking part in two future events. The first is ‘A Steampunk evening’ at Blackwells Charing Cross on the 8th of December 2011. You can read all about the event here http://www.thekitschies.com/kitschies-steampunk.html. To quote “All shall enjoy a TOASTY HOLIDAY EVENING with tasty samplings of THE KRAKEN RUM and the very top AUTHORS. There will be a selection of fantastical and historical LITERATURE, astounding ARTWORK and the delightful company of one’s fellow enthusiasts.” It doesn’t get better than that now, does it?

I am also delighted to be taking part in The Haunting #3, a ghost story telling event from Un-Bound, taking place in March 2012 – http://unboundve.blogspot.com/2011/10/ubve3-in-planning-with-newcon-press.html. The idea of filmed ghost story tellings in an isolated country pub by an open fire sounds tantalisingly terrifying. I can’t wait!

In the meantime, I am going to get busy with my index cards and enjoy autumn and all of the wonderful memories it evokes. Then it will be time to heat the mulled wine, take up pen and paper, close the curtains and settle in for the winter.

New Novel: ‘Cyber Circus’

Cyber Circus by Kim Lakin-Smith

Buy Cyber Circus at Newcon Press

September, and its all about the dust, greasepaint and profanities because my new novel, Cyber Circus, is coming out as a paperback and special edition hardback through Newcon Press (http://newconpress.co.uk/). The book will be launched on Friday 30th of September at Fantasycon in Brighton (http://www.fantasycon2011.org/) alongside ‘Diary of a Witchcraft Shop’ by Liz Williams and Trevor Jones.

I am beyond ecstatic to see the release of Cyber Circus and to have such wonderful support in the form of Newcon Press, particularly because Cyber Circus has a rather unusual arrangement. It is packaged with a sister novella called Black Sunday; both stories have interlinked themes and characters and are, in many ways, funhouse mirror images of one another. Both stories encompass a period in history which fascinates me – the 1930s America Dustbowl. Both allowed me to explore my pet theme of ‘the outsider’ in a variety of so-called freakish, colourful, and sometimes heartbreaking ways.

Last year I developed a nervous-system complaint that resulted in me feeling like an alien inside my own skin. Unable to work at the pc, I took to pen and paper and spent long hours sitting in front of the window scribbling. In stepping away from the pc, I lost all sense of daily word count and the idea that what I put up on screen had to be perfect. Instead I felt free to write whatever I wanted to, because my scribbles in a notebook might never be read by anyone. For the first time I let things get a little gory, had my characters enjoy (un)healthy sex lives, and let them swear with gleeful abandon. Only when I came to write up and edit the story a few months later did it occur to me how fun it had been to write Cyber Circus and how freeing it had felt to go back to pen and paper.

Seeing the book in print now, with that wonderful cover by Vinnie Chong, I find it astonishing to think how much of my internal battle with my own body was written into the book. There’s even more of me laid bare in the special edition hardback, including an ‘About Kim’ essay/wax lyrical and an extract called ‘The Arrival of Hellequin’ which didn’t make the final edit but it is included here. Cyber Circus has its own dedicated website thanks to the clever folk at Beyond the Blurb: http://www.cyber-circus.com

I’ll leave you with Sixx A.M.’s song, Skin, which sums up the Cyber Circus ethos and my own.

 

Writing, Fear and the Other

00158625What scares you? What creeps beneath your skin? Makes you check back over your shoulder every few steps? Keeps you awake at night, watching the shadows for signs of movement?

The notion of fear is something which writers have always tapped into, be it fear of the beasts, ghosts and boggles which inhabit the Witching hour, or monsters in human skin. We watch our loved ones, our children, all the time, praying we possess the divine power to keep them ultimately safe. Fear is the thing that shoots adrenaline into our limbs and aids our flight. It can also be the thing that roots us helplessly to the spot.

In itself, fear is a fascinating notion. But what has always absorbed me is the recipe for fear: alarm, devastation, regret, hopelessness, etc. Key to my personal understanding of fear is the concept of abjection. I first studied abjection as a PhD student, and while the PhD was soon left by the wayside in favour of fiction writing, my obsession with abjection, and just how truly sinister a concept it is, has never left me.

The academic text which affected me most strongly was The Power of Horror by Julia Kristeva, Bulgarian-French philosopher, literary critic, psychoanalyst, sociologist, feminist, and novelist. According to Kristeva, the ‘abject’ refers to our instinctual human reaction of horror/vomiting to a threatened breakdown in meaning caused by the loss of the distinction between subject and object, or self and other. The clearest example of an object causing such a reaction is the corpse, which traumatically reminds us of our own materiality. Other subjects elicit the same reaction. Kristeva’s examples include the open wound, shit, sewage, and – an image which has always stayed with me – even the skin that forms on the surface of warm milk.

Abjection is a powerful concept when trying to write traditional horror. It is also invaluable when writing any story designed to leave the reader feeling off kilter.

Source material is everywhere. My latest novel, Vaudeville, is influenced by the video for the Sixx A.M. song ‘Lies of the Beautiful People.’ Nikki cites his band’s latest album ‘This is Gonna Hurt’ as an attempt to resurrect a sibling he hadn’t known about until adulthood. His sister Lisa was born blind, 90% deaf, and suffering Down’s syndrome. She spent most of her life in institutions. The video for Lies is an ode to the fear of the unknown – to the abject made human. As Nikki explains, “I looked at the wheelchair, the little children’s polio leg frames, the 1800s medical stuff, the child mannequins. And I said, ‘Oh my God, this is all about her.’”

Images which instinctually repulse and makes us want to back away from the edge are rife in the rock music industry. Nikki’s ex-girlfriend Kat Von D is a collector of taxidermy while Marilyn Manson is infamous for his love of Nazi memorabilia.

Another excellent exponent of the abject is the Canadian photographer and director, Floria Sigismondi. Described as ‘the creepiest of creepy videos’, Sigismondi’s vision for Marilyn Manson’s ‘The Beautiful People’ is a classroom decorated with medical prostheses and laboratory equipment. Manson appears in a surgical gown and hooked dental device, lurching between short and grotesquely tall, with fast cut scenes interspersed of crawling earthworms, mannequin heads and hands, and fascist imagery. The idea of forcing the viewer to push against their natural abjection is key to so many of Sigismondi’s videos and is something Manson even made direct allusion to in his 2003 album title, ‘The Golden Age of Grotesque.’

Our subtle infatuation with things seen as abnormal/against nature/other is as old as time itself, of course. The circus sideshows and freaks’ carnivals with their bearded ladies, conjoined twins, snake boys and contortionists are an eternal source of left-of-centre inspiration. The Victorians’ peculiar habit of preserving animal corpses and presenting them in twee settings is a fusion of the innocent with the macabre, one famous example being the collection housed at Jamaica Inn. Fleshy things in bottles, medical apparatus, asylum straps, abandoned wheelchairs, insects, the malformed and the miscreant – these are the things which creep us out, and which, to return to Kristeva’s understanding of horror, remind us of our own corporality, and inescapable death.

Sixx A.M.’s latest album also includes a song called Skin, which includes the lyrics,

“Let them find the real you

Buried deep within

Let them know with all you got

That you are not

You are not, your skin.”

A beautiful sentiment, and oh, that it was true. Sadly we are all encased in our own coffin made flesh. But one thing we can strive towards is a better understanding of the skin we walk around in, and that includes the abjection which is always hovering at the periphery of our consciousness – a gentle but all too significant reminder that fear is a part of us, and better embraced than kicked against.

Links:

Mr Potter’s Museum of Curiosities http://www.acaseofcuriosities.com/pages/01_2_00potter.html

I, Zombie

Originally published in Matrix 187 on 07.03.2008

  • House of a 1000 Corpses released 3 October 2003
  • The Devil’s Rejects released 5 August 2005
  • Halloween released 28 September 2007
  • The Haunted World of El Superbeasto released 2008
  • Future project: Rob Zombie’s Tyrannosaurus Rex

RobZombie_title

Rob Zombie – ‘hellbilly’ rock star, film and video director, inductee of the ‘Splat Pack’, vegetarian, comic book illustrator and author, graphic artist, shameless self-promoter, and ruler of a worldwide merchandise empire. Whether invested with a Godzilla sized ego or just the drive to try his hand at anything that has ever inspired him, Rob is a modern phenomena in the vein of a few other brash individuals who refuse to be boxed – Gene Simmons, Richard Branson, Paris Hilton…Thankfully, Hilton’s love of horror died with her in 2007’s box-office meltdown, The House of Wax. In contrast, Rob has paid homage to the visuals and visceral of 1930s/40s horror movies in every aspect of his colourful career.

He was born Robert Cummings on January 12, 1966, in Haverhill, MA. Despite the apparent allure of his parents’ lives as carnival workers, Rob relieved his boredom with the horror-based b-movies, TV shows, comics, and gory iconography littering his youth. He moved to New York in 1985, but dropped out of an art school education to work as a bike courier and porn mag art director. His break into visual media was as a production assistant on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. At the same time, his legendary rock band, White Zombie, dredged itself up from the quagmire of the music industry.

Rob-Zombie2 Named after the 1932 film starring Bela Lugosi, White Zombie combined the noise metal exemplified by Sonic Youth with songs that served as cartoonish gore-fests – ‘I, Zombie’, ‘Acid Flesh’, ‘El Phantasmo And The Chicken-Run Blast-O-Rama’, and ‘Creature of the Wheel’ to name a few. Rob also moved into direction and production via White Zombie’s music videos. These featured pseudo-satanic imagery and another of his great passions, now-wife Sherri Moon Zombie.

In 1996, Rob collaborated with his long-time inspiration Alice Cooper on ‘Hands of Death (Burn Baby Burn)’ for the X-Files tie-in CD, Songs in the Key of X. The song was nominated for a Grammy for ‘Best Metal Performance’, but lost out to Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Happiness in Slavery’. But it was a sign to the rest of the band – by 1998, White Zombie had disbanded and Rob was riding high on the success of his solo album, Hellbilly Deluxe – a kitsch-doused ode to vintage horror.

Around the same time, Rob was extending his tenticular reach into film. His first bid was with a doomed script for The Crow: Salvation (2000). He was also supposed to direct and supervise music for the franchise, but clashes with producers led to his being fired from the movie – or as Rob put it, “They hire you and suddenly they don’t trust you. And you say ‘Well, why did you hire me?’ and they say ‘We can’t tell you.'” (Testament to Rob’s scripting skills, or megalomaniacal tenacity, was the fact his Crow script morphed into Legend of the 13 Graves.)

house_of_1000_corpses_wallpaper_001 Nonetheless, 2000 did see Rob realise his directing and writing ambitions. Cult favourite, House of 1000 Corpses, was funded by Universal Studios after Rob designed a horror display for their amusement parks. Geared towards grindhouse and drive-in horror movies fans, the film was a feast of graphic violence, labyrinthine entrapment and visceral imagery, with characters taking their names from horror and classic Marx Brothers films such as Otis Driftwood, Captain Spaulding, etc. It was also a promotional nightmare as far as Universal was concerned. Fearing an NC-17 rating, they dropped the film. Consequently, Rob fought for three years to secure a new distributor. Lions Gate Entertainment eventually secured the rights – and ultimately made back all of their money on the first day of release. While the critics hated it, Corpses was commercially successful, achieving cult status thanks to the internet and spawning a sequel.

While Corpses owed a debt to 1970’s slasher classics, The Devil’s Rejects (2005) was part road-movie, part action film, and shared traits with the western revenge genre. Rob originally intended to create all of the special effects using only techniques from the 1970s, but time constraints meant that he was forced to include around one hundred digital effects. In most cases, these were to simulate gore, throat slitting, people getting shot in the head or neck, stabbings and other garish ways to induce death. Moreover, in an increasingly rare move for Hollywood – land of serialise-it-and-keep-reeling-em-in – Rob killed off his lead characters. His defence? “Every movie ends with the possibility of another one and it drives me crazy. I feel like, ‘Why did I just invest two hours? It didn’t even end.'”

devils_rejects_004

Despite its neatly tourniqueted ending, Rejects was another victim for the film critics. Frank Schrek of The Hollywood Reporter declared that the film ‘lives up to the spirit but not the quality of its inspirations’ and is ‘strangely devoid of thrills, shocks or horror,’ while Clint Morris of Film Threat condemned the film as ‘sickening’ and ‘an hour and a half of undecipherable plot.’ Nonetheless, Rejects fared considerably better financially than its predecessor, and led Rob to try his hand at a hallucinatory sequence in the animated film, Beavis & Butt-Head Do America, and a faux trailer called Werewolf Women of the S.S. for the Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino doublefeature, Grindhouse (2007).

* 70’s rock icon Linda Ronstadt praised Rob in the Cape Cod Times, stating that her teenage son has exposed her to his music and “There’s real power and energy there.”

* The song ‘Meet the Creeper’ was featured in the trailers for the movie Jeepers Creepers 2.

*‘Living Dead Girl’ is the opening song for Bride Of Chucky.

* In the episode “Home Alone 4” of comedy series Malcolm in the Middle, one of the characters, Richie, is seen wearing a T-shirt with the Hellbilly Deluxe album art on the front.

* In The Matrix, a remix of the song ‘Dragula’ is played during the nightclub scene in which Neo meets Trinity.

Certainly, then, a key aspect of Rob’s personality would appear to be a bloody-minded exploration of his unique creative vision and screw the consequences. This was never more acute than in his agreeing to direct a new version of John Carpenter’s classic slasher flick, Halloween (1978). Well aware that fans of the original would vehemently oppose a remake, Rob was keen to take up the gauntlet laid before him by producer, Bob Weinstein, and run with it, proclaiming Michael Myers one of the few modern iconic monsters. Less remaking the film as reimagining it, Rob created a backdrop to Myers’ psychoses by exploring the killer’s motivation for murdering members of his own family and consequent institutionalisation as a child. None of this was enough to protect Rob from his own personal slasher attack by the critics on the film’s release, and while the film’s hefty budget ensured that it grossed more than $77.8 million worldwide, its shortfall arguably lay in the fact that Halloween (2007) was not ‘Rob Zombie’ enough.

So what’s next for a man who owns a sarcophagus, taxidermied bats, a giant Boris Karloff poster, and a purported 10,000 DVDs? Rob is slated to direct a new movie for Dimension Films called Rob Zombie’s Tyrannosaurus Rex, a loose adaptation of his comic book, The Nail. 2008 will also see the release of The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, an animated comedy based on the continuing adventure of Doctor Satan, a lead character from Corpses. In between his cinematic duties, Rob continues to tour the US in his guise as rock ‘n’ roll super villain, all of which goes to prove that he is indeed More Human Than Human.

2007_halloween_008

Blood Ties

Do you ever find yourself fighting against the tide of self-doubt? I’m pretty sure its something most writers suffer now and again – even those who seem eternally buoyant with the combined self-marketing prowess of Walt Disney, Katie Price and Jedward. In the current publishing climate, it’s not enough to write well. It’s also essential to believe in yourself with evangelical conviction. I am forever locked in a mental battle between wanting to embrace the delightfully pretentious single-mindedness of the tortured aka penniless artist, and needing to press on with maniacal commercial drive and ‘just earn, goddamn you!’ It can be exhausting – all this ego, all this self-belief – and so easy to lose yourself.

Then something comes along which acts as a metaphorical hand to pick you up and brush you down and set you on your way again. This can come in the form of some sound advice, a blowout with friends, or a reminder of why you wanted to write stories in the first place.

For me, the reminder came recently in the form of a beautiful tattoo design created for me by the artist Su Haddrell*. Su had very kindly agreed to piece together my random thoughts about the kind of image I wanted – a scarlet fairy to reflect my love of fae imagery and stories since very young (an obsession now carried on by my daughter ‘Scarlet’), art deco styling and incorporating 1920s’ flapper fashion. These latter two elements were in homage to a period I love stylistically and also to my nana, Doreen Roberts. A ballerina who travelled throughout Europe with a troupe in the twenties, Doreen instilled in me a love of theatre and all kinds of artistic expression. As a child I was enthralled by her tales – of watching fairies in the woods with her grandfather. Of dancing The Firebird and accidentally stepping onto the burning coals that edged a trapdoor. Of doing loop-the-loops in a two man biplane on her 21st birthday. Of hiding under a stationary train with her three young children in a bid to escape Nazi machine gun fire, and of making their escape from Paris to Calais on foot. Of violinist boyfriends and costumes and ballet shoes and panstick and curtains down. So many wonderful stories. So much fodder for a young girl’s imagination.

I look at my own stories now about gothic fantasies, rock star gods, flying circuses, puppeteers, and time travelling Vaudeville theatres and see so much influence. Last week, seeing Su’s tattoo design for the first time, I was reminded that often we are peeling back the layers of ourselves when we write. Here is a scrap from a great aunt, here a stitch from a lost mother, here the eccentricities of a grandfather.

Acknowledging the debt that I owe to my grandmother does not stem the self-doubt, but it does remind me that I am proud of the weird tapestry of stories that have evolved from her influence. And that helps me to believe in the weird tapestry of me and continue putting pen to paper.

* Su Haddrell accepts commissions for tattoo design and artwork. She can be contacted on Twitter via www.twitter.com/@CherryBomb1618 and Facebook at – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Su-Haddrell-Artworks/369025237779

New beginnings, notebooks and learning to share nicely

So, yes, I have failed dismally to keep my blog updated over the past year. There have been a few reasons for this, but still no excuse bar the fact that I am more of a listener than a sharer. Still, it’s a habit I’m trying to break, so here goes 😉

Perhaps the real reason I haven’t updated my blog in so long is due to a rather nasty bout of illness which struck me down Christmas 2009. My nervous system decided to turn on me resulting in lots of symptoms which were just too close to some of the Big Bads for comfort. Lots of tests later, the specialists concluded my body had thrown a hissy fit and I would just have to learn to live with these new peculiarities.

Immensely relieved to have the Big Bads ruled out, it still took me most of last year to learn to control symptoms enough to behave like my usual self. As a result, 2011 sees me mighty changed as a writer – now I take long walks with the fat lab, Drake, to get my circulations going, fresh air into my lungs and top up my Vitamin D. I have also learnt to step away from the PC and write in a notebook, a revelation for me in terms of speeding up my productivity and also freeing my mind from the critical self (when I write in a notebook, I can pretend no one will ever read it!)

Bizarrely, amongst all the not so great stuff, I had a good year professionally. Summer 2010, I joined the wonderful and intimidating family of writers and artists signed with the Barry Goldblatt Literary agency in New York. My agent, Joe Monti – a great guy with a shared passion for muscle cars and kickass action – helped me shape Autodrome into a viable young adult book. This process taught me a lot about exploring the vulnerability of my characters, cleaning up the layout of my city, and differentiating between adult and young adult dialogue. As a result, Autodrome now lies in Joe’s capable hands, and is a much better book for his advice and guidance.

Alongside Autodrome, I started work in earnest on a new novella, Cyber Circus. Somehow though, this was a story which just refused to end. Before I knew it, Cyber Circus was a novel in its own right, with linking strands to its sister novella, Black Sunday.

I am desperately excited to see how things go with this new book, especially since it showcases a new side to me as a writer – the one that thought she might have a nasty fight ahead of her health-wise and thought fuck it, I’ll just write what pleases me. As a result, this is a raw, earthy novel with all the weirdness, sex and violence I had shied away from in the past. How it will be received remains to be seen, but if I can take one gift away from this last year, it will be to turn off that nasty spiteful inner critic and just get scribbling.

2011 brought with it a tight deadline to deliver a new novella for Echelon Press in the US. Queen Rat is a YA/Adult crossover story about submarines, inbred royals, feisty princesses, cerebral princes, and the question of whether love is born or bred. Queen Rat is pencilled in for a May release in Echelon’s steampunk anthology, which also features the very talented Jen Williams and Adam Christopher, among others.

Before then, my short story ‘The Harvesters’ will appear in the Further Conflicts from Newcon Press, an anthology that features Lauren Beukes, Andy Remic, Colin Harvey and Gareth L Powell, and others. The anthology is being launched at Eastercon. I also have a piece of flash fiction accompanying one of BSFA award-winning artist Andy Bigwood’s artworks in his forthcoming collection.

In the meantime, I am back to work on my new novel, Titanium. The book was flowing well before I took a break to finish other projects. Fingers crossed I can take up pen and notebook again, sit in front of the kitchen window and, in-between squirrel-watching, get scribbling again.

I will also endeavour to keep this blog more up to date, having missed out stories of inebriation at Derbyshire writer weekends, the mayhem which was our Christmas party, SFX Weekender and that dirty cop outfit, not to mention the musical splendour which was my rendition of Blondie’s ‘Call Me’ at Abaddon Books’ Fantasycon Karaoke Rock Night.

I’ll just have to save those tales up for next time 😉

Older posts Newer posts

© 2018 Kim Lakin-Smith

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑