Stories of the Apocalypse has a release date! Now I can blog about it properly!
This is my first post-Romanitas publication so I am very excited about it. Stories of the Apocalypse will be available for Kindle and other e-readers through Amazon and pandemonium-fiction.com. Even for Americans.
And furthermore, there is going to be a party. At the Tate. And if you want, you can come! Apocalypse is primarily an e-book, but there will be a very limited edition hardcover print run through the Tate.
My contribution, Not the End of the World is the final short story in the collection. Although, well, it’s me, and I appear to be terribly bad at “short”, so this is a very long short story – technically, it’s a goddamn novelette. And it’s in pretty amazing company – Lauren Beukes! Jon Courtenay Grimwood! Jonathan Oliver! plus some new writers like Tom H Pollock and Lou Morgan, who’ve recently been picked up by Jo Fletcher Books and Solaris respectively. I really want to see what they've come up with, but here's what I can tell you about mine:
Not the End of the World is a ghost story (...sort of) and a love story between two women (definitely!) and it’s set in a house filled with desperate people, in an unspecified German city, close to the end of the Second World War. The house is a strange house; there shouldn’t be bubbles floating past the windows or footsteps on the upstairs floor, but sometimes there are.
It’s about guilt and fear and denial, but also about love.
This story had three points of origin.
One was a one-line comment on a discussion on the writers’ research community, Little Details. Someone -- not me -- was writing a story set in the last days of Berlin, and an anonymous somebody else reminded the writer that, for the city’s inhabitants, “this was the end of the world.”
That idea stuck in my head.
Then there was a conversation I had with my grandfather, now 93, shortly after my grandmother died. My grandfather was terrible at taking care of himself. (He lives with us now so it’s no longer a worry) He barely ate, but would hoard food until it turned black. Well “until”, makes it sound as if he then threw it away He didn’t. My mother and I were trying to persuade him to stop doing this. Grandpa insisted that he didn’t like to throw away food. We pointed out that he was a wealthy man (he was sitting on a fortune worth about a million), he could afford not to starve himself and he was allowed to throw away the disgusting remains of anything he wasn’t going to eat. Quite suddenly he blurted out, “But we had to save food during the War!”
I replied “The War is over!” and the words felt incredibly strange coming out of my mouth. For a moment, it was as if the sixty-plus years since VE Day were nothing, nothing at all, not even time to get your breath back.
And then there’s a book I would force you all to read if I could -- The Past is Myself by Christabel Bielenberg, a memoir of an Englishwoman’s life under the Third Reich. It’s amazing enough as a record of the desperation and courage and despair of people peripherally involved in the July 20th plot, but perhaps more fascinating as a lens on daily life on the wrong side, the side that must lose.
And that’s, ultimately, what this story is doing in a book of stories of the apocalypse.
What if your world has to end?
Here’s a short extract. Elly, the protagonist, has just been through an air raid with the other lodgers.
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