HOLLOW SHORES REVIEWED IN LITRO

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'This is not just a brilliantly written collection; it is written with passion and anger and hope. It’s a common term of praise to say that a piece of fiction raises many questions. Budden’s work doesn’t just raise questions; it warns of the dire consequences of neglecting the human need for a connection with nature, and points the way towards a love of one’s home landscape and folklore which is free of dubious political connotations.'

A wonderful review today for HOLLOW SHORES in Litro. Thanks to Aiden O'Reilly for a perceptive and insightful review.

Read the whole thing here: https://www.litro.co.uk/2018/09/book-review-hollow-shores-gary-budden/

HOME TO ROOST

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'Gary Budden has been directly instrumental in raising the profile of psychogeography, new weird and strange fiction within a distinctly British context. His own stories, recently showcased in his debut collection Hollow Shores, engage with place, class and memory at a gut level, seeming to morph into something else even as we encounter them.'

I'm very touched to have been mentioned in this fantastic new essay – 'Home to Roost' – by Nina Allan (The Race, The Rift) concerning THIS DREAMING ISLE, the new anthology of weird and dark fiction from Unsung Stories. It make it's Kickstarter target in 12 hours! But they've added stretch goals now, with the potential of Rob Shearman, Alison Littlewood and Kirsty Logan joining the lineup...

Read Nina's full essay here

And buy the book via Kickstarter here

THIS DREAMING ISLE

Very happy to announce that I have a story – 'Hovering (Or, a recollection of 25 February 2015)' – in this upcoming anthology THIS DREAMING ISLE from Unsung Stories. It's crowdfunding on Kickstarter now! All the information is here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/291030539/this-dreaming-isle-an-anthology-of-dark-fantasy-an

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MACHEN, MILTON, METROPOLITAN

On Saturday 18th August, 2018, Adam Scovell took a trip to the end of the Metropolitan Line to to find the grave of visionary writer Arthur Machen (1863-1967) at St Marys Church in Old Amersham. Machen has been a key influence on my own thinking about place for many years, especially his book The London Adventure (Or, The Art of Wandering), as well as his weird fiction like 'The White People', 'N', 'The Three Impostors' and 'The Great God Pan'.

We then set off on a six mile-ish round trip through the Buckinghamshire landscape of bleak ploughed fields, patches of green woodland, soaring and magnificent red kites, eerie and empty farmland.

We passed through the village of Chalfont St Giles, stopping to see the cottage of John Milton (closed, opposite Milton's Indian Restaurant), and navigating our way through subdued suburbs, interpreting signs that were more hindrance than help as we walked under towering pylons in yellow fields, passing a marquee for a posh-girl's birthday party, through an equestrian centre flitting with barn swallows, before back to Machen and then the tube. 

 Photo by Adam Scovell

Photo by Adam Scovell

 Paradise lost

Paradise lost

PAUL TREMBLAY, HÜSKER DÜ, LAST MANGO IN PARIS

 (L-R: Paul Tremblay, Lydia Gittins, me)

(L-R: Paul Tremblay, Lydia Gittins, me)

I was incredibly chuffed to be described by the brilliant horror author, Paul Tremblay, as 'the editor with the best taste in music in the biz' today. Paul is the author of the novels A Head Full of Ghosts, Disappearance at Devil's Rock and the newly published The Cabin at the End of the World, and I recommend all three of them. Great works of empathetic, literary horror all focusing on families in crisis whilst using, and subverting, standard horror tropes.

So how did this come about? you might ask.

Paul was in the UK promoting The Cabin at the End of the World, and as his UK editor at Titan Books, I was fortunate enough to accompany him and publicist Lydia Gittins on the first leg of the tour up to Edgelit in Derby – a one day genre fiction convention where Paul was the guest of honour. It was a cracking day and great as ever to meet fellow writers, editors and readers. 

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You can read Paul's full account of the trip here – but needless to say it involved us bonding over a shared love of music like Hüsker Dü and Fugazi, and discussing the finer details of Bob Mould's solo career. I then waffled on about my love of Jawbreaker and Watership Down-themed hardcore punk (really), and found someone who wasn't completely bored by what I was saying. A result in my book. I also experienced an unusual ale in Derby (Paul's choice) called Last Mango in Paris, featuring a blue-tinged chimpanzee on the label. 

Weird fiction and punk rock: i'm telling you, there's a real connection there.

‘Fiction is becoming darker, weirder, bent-out-of-shape’

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I was very pleased to get a mention in the Irish Times this week, via their interview with Ashley Stokes of Unthank Books. So thanks Ashley! He said some kind things about my work, as well as my good mate Gareth E. Rees, as well as mentioning us in the same breath as Angela Readman and Daisy Johnson (Fen was a brilliant collection). Here are some choice quotes:

'At grassroots level, and by that I suspect you mean writing that’s not influenced by MA programmes, is becoming darker, weird, twisted-out-of-shape, dripping with fear of the end and apocalypse. The new writing I’m enjoying at the moment – the likes of Gary Budden and Gareth E Rees – are potholing in these caves.

'I also find myself looking out for Angela ReadmanDaisy Johnson and Gary Budden, the latter being someone who meshes weird horror with a very English rumination on place and landscape to create stories simultaneously eerie, yet oh-so realistic.'

You can read the whole thing here.

MORTAL DANGER IN ENCHANTED WATERS

An image dredged from memory came to me the other day: a degenerate being, a creature monstrous and hungry, doll-like, like a beakless platypus with tendrilled hair. I dated the image from sometime in the early nineteen nineties, in Kent near the waters of the Hollow Shore.

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ENFIELD TOWN, WHERE WE PAINTED FIRE ACROSS THE SKYLINE

Old trains clank as they ease in and out of the overground station. We listen to the tannoy admonish a man who rides his bicycle along the platform.

Our neighbour with carcinogenic lungs smokes below, hacks, fights for breath every single day.

There's a low ambient hum to the outer city that I adore, a meshed murmur of commuters' voices, slow moving traffic, station activity, the shrieks of schoolkids, the flap of a wood pigeon's wings.

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Look one way and see the shimmering monuments to excess that form the London skyline. Look the other, over the roofs of the town, to the woods and unexpected green of Trent Park. 

As dusk comes, we paint fire across the skyline.

THE HALLOWING OF HEIRDOM

I've followed the music of English black metal band Winterfylleth for about four years now, ever since discovering their blistering album The Divination of Antiquity. I'm not a huge metal fan myself, but I have always responded to extreme or underground subcultures relating to issues like landscape, identity, history, myth, folklore etc, so Winterfylleth's clear interest in 'heathen' pre-Christian British culture, landscape and folk elements attracted me.

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ENFIELD TOWN IN THE MIST AS THE ASPHODEL MEADOWS

A meadow of endless asphodel flowers, a plant ghostly and pale itself. And if that sounds harsh I don’t mean it to be because it’s more about atmosphere and the mood and the vibe that this weather creates than anything else, and anyway, I would be destined for the Asphodel Meadows myself. A strange nowhere land (never say liminal) between one thing and the other is a kind of heaven itself.

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FICTIONAL NOVELS IN THE WORK OF D.A. NORTHWOOD

 The Dead Ink reissue of Northwood's  Judderman

The Dead Ink reissue of Northwood's Judderman

I have been working with the independent press Dead Ink (publisher of my own collection, Hollow Shores) recently, editing the work of 'lost' London writer D.A. Northwood – namely the novella Judderman produced for the 1972 run of the Eden Book Society. It has been a very rewarding experience, and I have found of immense interest the fictional novels Northwood makes reference to in his works. As a writer myself interested in the blurring of fictional realities and so-called true ones, I find Northwood's simple but powerfully effective tactic irresistible.

Interspersed with his references to 'real' (for what is real anyway?) writers such as Alexander Baron, Algernon Blackwood, C.L. Nolan, Mary Butts, Arthur Machen, and the poet Adrian Mitchell, we find a number of references to writers I can find no record of despite my exhaustive online searches.

We find a reference to a poet operating in either the weird or the decadent tradition (as always Northwood only makes the briefest of allusions) named Hecate Shrike. Whether contemporary to the nineteen seventies or not, it is never made clear.

There is much discussion of the clearly fictional Malachite Press (how I wish it existed!), with the following works cited to a writer named Michael Ashman, creator of a series of post-WW2 occult detective novels, following the exploits of a man named Vincent Harrier. A grim, anti-heroic figure perhaps familiar to the contemporary reader from American hard-boiled fiction, but operating in the Blitz rubble of a city rebuilding itself both physically and psychologically.

The Ashman books referenced in Northwood's work are:

  • The Salvage Song of the Larks, and Other Stories (one story in the collection is named: ‘A Life Constricted, or, These Serpentine Coils Will Crush Us Both’)
  • Saxifraga Urbium (a story of London Pride)
  • What I Found in the Drowned Land
  • The Epitaph To All Our Yesterdays
  • Your Architect is Degenerate

There is also reference to another London novel, chronicling the mudlarks who sift for the treasure of the Thames. It is a book that we must also assume to be fictional. The title of that novel is Through This Mud We Find Ourselves, and has no author attributed to it.

I live in the hope that one day, in an Oxfam or Mind charity bookshop in my new home of Enfield Town, I will stumble on one of these mythical novels of a hidden London. I know it is an impossibility, and therein lies the thrill.