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Stewart Hotston

Writing, Editing, Watching and Reading

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Anthologies

Not So – How the Ants got their Queen

I’m delighted to say that I’m part of the Not So anthology of stories edited by David Thomas Moore and published by Abaddon. It is slated for release on the 18th April 2018.

The collection is, to quote an ‘Anthology of culturally diverse writers create short works in reaction to Kipling’s Just So Stories

Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories was one of the first true children’s books in the English language, a timeless classic that continues to delight readers to this day. Beautiful, evocative and playful, the stories of How the Whale Got His Throat or the First Letter Written paint a magical, primal world.

It’s also deeply rooted in British colonialism. Kipling saw the Empire as a benign, civilising force, and his writing can be troubling to modern readers. Not So Stories attempts to redress the balance, bringing together new and established writers of colour from around the world to take the Just So Stories back, giving voices to cultures that were long deprived them.

My story is called How the Ants got their Queen and tracks through the rise of colonialism, its fall and what replaced it in all too many situations. I hope it’s a little gruesome, fun and snarky all in one.

Keep an eye out!

Nineworlds – observations from my first con

I went to #Nineworlds this weekend just gone in Hammersmith (which is in London, UK for those of you who may be unfamiliar). It’s a fan led conference that’s deeply concerned with the stories we tell ourselves and how those help (or hinder) us when we try to construct our identities (whatever those might be). This could be dry, pretentious, domineering or just plain pedantic but #Nineworlds manages to engage with all of the things it cares about successfully – being witty, passionate, respectful and intelligent.

It was also very welcoming, compassionate and wonderfully cool.

I was lucky enough to be speaking on two panels; the first on how we might deal with historic texts which present us now with themes and subject matter that are difficult to reconcile with what we think of as acceptable – be that explicit/implicit racism, sexism or views on what gender identities are acceptable (or even normative). It was a really fun/deep panel and my co-panellists were interesting, from very different backgrounds to me and together I hope we managed to discuss some interesting angles on this subject – I’ve got a post on this theme coming soon and I’ll use that to re-present some of my thinking on this.

What was most wonderful about that panel though was that during the questions, one of the audience members was brave enough to challenge us on something we had been blind to – the trope of the disabled person being morally deficient and how villains were often disabled in some manner as if they deserved it and specifically because the physical circumstance tagged them as evil. That contribution meant the world to me because I was worried about the discussion being didactic and that someone could contribute as they did meant we succeeded in not speaking at the room but in talking among a community.

The other panel was on AI, Robots and the future of work – and was really an excuse to talk about all those subjects we read about weekly where another advance creates something for us to scratch our heads over – be it machine learning running data centres more efficiently, Amazon warehouses being in the dark because the robots don’t need lights or medical diagnoses being done through automated pattern spotting. And yes, we did also talk about socialist utopias, work, the price of labour and the impact of class, race and location on how we live that experience.

My favourite moments being twofold – a story that made people gasp with shock and seeing David Thomas Moore turn into Citizen Smith.

Aside from that I bundled along to a number of panels – my favourite ones being Dr Magnethands, which is a game I shall be inflicting on friends at parties and one on writing from different points of view. That latter one was the writer in me wanting to learn, wanting to see if how I approach my work makes sense and how I could be smarter about it.

Anyway, I’m now knackered, but home. So adieu to #Nineworlds and thanks again.

Oh, and particular thanks to people who shared drinks and panels with me like David Thomas Moore, Jon Oliver, Joseph Adetifa, Sasha Garwood Lloyd, Dolly Garland, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Peter Smallridge, D Franklin, Ed Boff, Sarah Groenwegen, Matthew Blakstad, Peter Ray Allison and Jeannette Ng to mention just a few. (And obvious apologies if I’ve missed you off this list – the fault is mine, not yours!)

Aliens – the truth is coming

I’ve a new story out in a collection from TicketyBoo Press, edited by Andy Angel and Dave de Burgh. It’s called We Three Remain and looks at the idea of…aliens! It’s got a contemporary setting but I don’t want to say anything else as giving any sense of the story will spoilerise it.

Anyway, this is one of those stories whose central idea makes me all warm and snuggly from a writer’s point of view. I hope you enjoy it too.

Aliens!

Mixing Professionals and Newbies

Professionals eh? I think, generally, they’re just people who’ve managed to get stuff done ™. However, one other thing tends to differentiate them from those who are not professional. I don’t mean that in the sense that everyone else is unprofessional. More that professionals have a couple of habits that I find rather helpful.

  1. They know how to get stuff done – if they find blockages or obstacles, they don’t need someone to give them a manual, they try to figure it out for themselves
  2. They don’t take everything personally. People sometimes assume that they are their jobs and in those circumstances their egos can get bruised easily when things don’t go their way, when they’re not successful or, worse, when others disagree with them (or actually do them wrong). Professionals tend to stuff the emotional stuff down and deal with it later while they get the job done – they focus past the immediate.

Why this focus on professionals as if they’re some form of Greek hero?

In the very narrow context of anthologies – we’re working to open submissions for our first anthologies (go here to see the announcements) and we’re really very keen to get some people whose work we really love together with some people whose stories will be published for the very first time.

I don’t know what to expect in terms of quality, number or even styles. I’m pretty excited to tell the truth but what I’m also going to be looking for is people, who even if they’re new, have that air of professional to them – who bother to read the submissions guidelines and bother to submit on time. It’ll be interesting to see how that pans out.

Of course, I talk about others but hey, we still have to be professional too and that’s a whole other story!

 

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