Tag Archives: james brogden

Urban Mythic 2: James Brogden interviewed

BrogdenAuthorPicAuthor of “How to Get Ahead in Avatising” in Urban Mythic 2, James Brogden answers a few questions!

Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

I love writing stories because I’m basically a control freak and for a short time I get to be god of my own little fantasy world. I also teach English, and my students will probably tell you much the same thing. I’m a naturalised Brummie, born in the north and raised in Australia. I loathe all forms of competitive sport, which is why I was deported from Oz, though I do like to get out into the mountains whenever I can to lose my head in something vast. When I moved to the UK as a teenager I very quickly fell in love with the weight of history which is layered into the landscape of the British Isles, though I wonder how much of that comes from having made Tolkien and Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising sequence part of my own internal landscape as a child. My grandmother, who lived back in the UK, made sure to send me and my brothers books which she considered to be quintessentially English; so as well as reading Aussie kids’ classics like The Magic Pudding, I grew up with Billy Bunter, Just William, and Biggles. When I moved here, it all sort of clicked, and it’s kept on clicking ever since.

What is at the root of your Urban Mythic story?

The idea of Jungian mythological archetypes in the collective unconscious – the psychological roots of all our myths – with a bit of tweaking to suggest that the archetypes aren’t just passive parts of our psyches which we tap into occasionally, but that they actively want to be incarnated as living human beings to act out their mythological life stories. And, of course, the inevitable political and media corruption of all this. Disclosure warning here: it’s a bit of a spin-off from my latest novel, Tourmaline, and the sequel which I’ve just finished, called The Realt.

Which of your previous works are you most proud of, and are there any that you would like to forget about?

I’m most proud of my story ‘If Street’, in the previous Urban Mythic collection. I wrote it on a long plane flight back from my brother’s wedding in New Zealand – which was the first time all of my immediate family had been together for about 10 years – and so it’s got a lot of my own feelings about the ambivalence of looking back on your life and wondering about the ‘road less travelled’, which I think crystallised reasonably well. I’m also a huge fan of Robert Holdstock, and I wanted to write something which riffed on the idea of the two brothers at the start of Mythago Wood. That weight of history thing again, and what happens when it falls on a person rather than a place.

If you could kill off any character from any other book, who would you choose and how would they die?

Maxim DeWinter, from Rebecca. His second wife should have learned something from the tale of his first wife, channelled some of her fiery spirit, grown a spine and offed him once she realised what a misogynistic bastard he was. Ideally, this would have been by pushing him out of an upstairs window so that he died surrounded by Rebecca’s rhododendrons, then dragged him into the house before Mrs Danvers set fire to it, disposing of the body.

Tell us about Project Tezlar – what’s it all about, and will you be doing any similar projects?

Project Tezlar happened because I wanted to build something physical based on a thing I’d written about (plus maybe a bit of work avoidance). It’s a model of a tezlar gun – a weapon used by some of my characters in Tourmaline to exorcise dreamers from our world who pop up in theirs and cause mayhem. It’s basically a big static electricity zap gun. I bought a nerf pistol from my local toy shop, tricked it out steampunk-style with a brass-and-copper paintjob and stuck all kinds of random cogs and switches all over it, the crowning glory being a plasma ball I put in which lights up when you pull the trigger. I also built a battery pack and had a leather holster custom made for it. If you want to see it, go to my blog. The next project is to make a PV detector to accompany it – but if you want to know what one of those is you’re just going to have to read Tourmaline.

Room 101 time: what one genre cliché would you get rid of?

Vampire romance love triangles. Can we please put to rest once and for all the ridiculous notion that to these creatures we are anything other than food?

What are you up to next? (Published works/conventions/random fun stuff!)

I’m putting the finishing touches to The Realt, which will hopefully be with Snowbooks soon after Urban Mythic 2 comes out. Assuming that [a] they like it, and [b] the timing all works out I’ll be launching it next summer at London Film and Comic Con 2015. The project after that is going to be more out-and-out supernatural; kind of a homage to Picnic At Hanging Rock, about a group of school kids on a geography field trip who disappear and end up somewhere … strange. Until then it’s back to the day job.

Urban Mythic 2: Cover, Launch, ToC

Darlings! Hello!  We have a launch date for the ever marvellous Urban Mythic 2!
We will be unleashing the Anthology of Awesome at Fantasycon in York, on Saturday 6th September at 2pm.  Hurrah!

Not only that, we have cover!  Well, prelim cover.  Slight changes may be made to the font-y bits, but, hey, look… pretty picture from Edward Miller!UM2 prelm coverAnd! Final order of contents!

The Mermaid  – Tanith Lee
For the Memory of Jane  – K T Davies
Where the Brass Band Plays  – Adrian Tchaikovsky
How to Get  Ahead in Avatising –  James Brogden
 La Vouivre –  Sarah Ash
Trapped in the Web – Pauline E Dungate
 The West Dulwich Horror  – Carl Barker
The Cupboard of Winds  – Marion Pitman
Blood*uckers –  Chico Kidd
High School Mythical: Asgard –  Christine Morgan
Paradise Walk  – Andrew Coulthard
Death and the Weaver – Lou Morgan

Are you excited? I’m excited! 😉

Urban Mythic Miscellany

Oh what news we have for you my lovelies!

UM cover A 008 dFirst, Urban Mythic #1 was kinda sorta nominated in the British Fantasy Awards.  Oh yes! Our very own Adrian Tchaikovsky made the Best Short Fiction short list with his story ‘Family Business’.  Massive congrats to Adrian!

Our publisher overlords at Alchemy Press also made the short list for Best Small Press and Best Non Fiction (with Doors to Elsewhere by Mike Barrett); and with our loyal Fox Spirit editor hats on, we’re also rather pleased that Fox Spirit Books also made the shortlists in Best Small Press, and Best Anthology (with Tales of Eve edited by Mhairi Simpson).  So epic glee all round!  (Not least because so many women made the BFA short lists this year as well. Hurrah!)

Now! Urban Mythic #2 news!
Yes, my darlings, we have contents!  In alphabetical order, with proper order to follow anon, here be our fabulous people…

Sarah Ash – La Vouivre
James Brogden – How to Get Ahead in Avatising
Carl Barker – The West Dulwich Horror
Andrew Coulthard – Paradise Walk
K T Davies – For the Memory of Jane
Pauline E Dungate – Trapped in the Web
Chico Kidd – Blood*uckers
Tanith Lee – The Mermaid
Christine Morgan – High School Mythical:Asgard
Lou Morgan – Death and the Weaver
Marion Pitman – The Cupboard of Winds
Adrian Tchaikovsky – Where the Brass Band Plays

And! There will be a cover by Les Edwards – to be revealed at a later date.

Aaaaaalllll the awesome!

Urban Mythic: James Brogden Interviewed

Last seen in our very own Ancient Wonders, give it up for Urban Mythic author James Brogden!

Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to write.

I’m afraid that I am a disappointingly normal human being; middle-aged, middle-incomed, living in middle-England in a happy marriage with two kids, a cat, and a decent lego collection. To pay the bills I teach English, and in the meantime I’m trying to cut it as an author – so, living the cliche there. My theme tune, if I had one, would be Huey Lewis’ “Hip to be Square”. As a result, I write stories about When Ordinary Things Go Weird, which means it tends towards the horrific – monsters in garden ponds, MOT inspections which lead to satanic sacrifices, teddy bears that breathe with the souls of dead children. The kind of things which would terrify me in my safe suburban bubble. I’m trying as hard as I possibly can to avoid standard horror tropes, which also means that what I write veers into the darkly fantastical as often as not. I did fall off the wagon and write a story with a zombie in it recently, but she was reanimated out of hatred for her husband’s obsession with DIY, so I can live with that.

What was it that inspired “The Smith of Hockley”?

The image of the Midas Scorpion has been kicking around in my head for years, looking for a story to appear in, and Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter was the perfect setting, but I couldn’t square that with any mythology which wasn’t uniquely English so I did a bit of hunting around and re-discovered the legend of Wayland Smith, which, in turn, tied in nicely with the discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard. I find that there’s hardly ever a single inspiration for a story – images and ideas constellate together and reinforce each other organically, for the most part.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

Urban fantasy is what I like to write because it stems from my own anxieties and hang-ups, and I find it easier to find emotional hooks for my characters in the world that I know. It also allows me to be a bit lighter and more whimsical in what I write, as I basically can’t take anything very seriously for long and I don’t think I could sustain the seriousness of an out-and-out horror novel. In terms of what I read I’m a lot more wide-ranging. I like a bit of high fantasy, and I’m also quite loving Stephen Baxter’s Northland trilogy at the moment because it incorporates a lot of my interests in archaeology and alternate history – plus it’s a cracking story, which helps.

I’ve also been reading Edgelands by Michael Symmons Roberts and Paul Farley, which isn’t fiction at all, but more travelogue-cum-poetry about the marginal areas of Britain’s urban areas. I understand why London looms large in the urban fantasy genre, and I have no problem with that, but for myself I want to explore the fantastical potential of where I live, which is the Midlands. Writers I keep coming back to for inspiration are Robert Holdstock, Neil Gaiman, Graham Joyce, Christopher Fowler, and Clive Barker. My new discoveries are Sarah Pinborough and Robert Shearman, both of whose work I’m currently devouring.

What is Den of Eek!2 and how are you involved?

Den of Eek 2 is the sequel to – wait for it – Den of Eek, which was a story-telling event last year hosted by the pop-culture website Den of Geek in order to raise money for cancer research. I became involved when they had a competition for new writers, and I was one of three winners. I went down to London just like it says in the fairy tale and had the most awesome evening in a pub reading my story to an audience alongside established novelists and screenwriters, and feeling massively out of my league. Still, it must have gone down okay because they invited me to write another story for this year’s event. I demand that everybody reading this go and buy a copy of the Den of Eek anthology from Amazon immediately – every penny goes to charity. After they’ve bought Urban Mythic, of course.

What are you up to next?

By the time Urban Mythic is launched I will have released my second novel, Tourmaline. It’s urban fantasy again, with elements of steampunk in an alternative world intersecting with our own. I’ll also have a short story about a road-kill restaurant in an anthology called The Last Diner by Knightwatch Press. Con-wise I have two big dates coming up: London Film and Comic Con in October, where I’ll be signing copies of Tourmaline, and I’ll be appearing on a panel at Andromeda One in Birmingham on September 21st, which is very exciting as it’s my first. Other than that, the new school year begins soon, so I’m going to have to start thinking about the real world soon. Which brings us nicely full circle. I like the symmetry of that.

[James Brogden is a part-time Australian who lives with his wife and two daughters in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, where he teaches English. His stories have appeared in various magazines and anthologies such as the Big Issue, the British Fantasy Society’s Dark Horizons, Urban Occult, and the Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders, and he was a winner of Den Of Geek’s new talent showcase with his story The Phantom Limb. His new urban fantasy novel Tourmaline is published by Snowbooks in September of 2013. Blogging occurs at jamesbrogden.blogspot.co.uk, and tweeting at @skippybe.]

Ancient Wonders: James Brogden

Aaaaand today we have Ancient Wonders author James Brogden under the spotlight!

Tell us a little about yourself, and what you like to write?

I’m based in the Midlands; grew up in Australia and instantaneously fell in love with the UK as a teenager because of the dense layering of history, myth and legend that exists underfoot everywhere you go. I like to write urban fantasy – which is to say, horror without the clichés. Fantastical elements intruding upon everyday lives.

What inspired you to write “If Street”?

Robert Holdstock, mostly. I love the Mythago Wood books, which are very firmly rooted in the countryside, and have always been curious about what would happen in an urban setting, with all those ancient track ways buried under tarmac and concrete. I’ve also been researching Sutton Park for another novel, so the place was already stuck in my head.

If the TARDIS could drop you off to any one site in its heyday, where would you go?

I’d go to Hadrian’s Wall. Not only to see and appreciate the engineering, but also to get that sense that you are really on the edge of the world, that beyond this point there is no law or civilisation as you understand it. When my family moved to England we lived in the Borders, north of the wall, in the kind of place you got posted if you’d really annoyed someone back in Rome. I’d like to talk to them and ask them what that was like – but they’d probably tell me that they’re just soldiers doing their jobs and to sod off.

What appeals to you most about ancient sites/landscapes?

That sense of common humanity which goes beyond time and place. We went on a family trip to Hadrian’s Wall one Easter and saw that there was monument to the fallen soldiers of the legions who had been posted there, and it was exactly the same kind of monument you see today in small country villages, and it struck me how similar their feelings and experiences must have been to those of the men and women who are currently posted in, say, Afghanistan. I love old Iron Age hill forts for the same reason. It’s mind-blowing to stand in a hut circle three thousand years old and know that here was the place where they cooked their meals, here was the door where a child probably looked out for his friends first thing in the morning. That kind of thing.

What do you have coming out next?

Couple of things: a story called “The Remover of Obstacles” in Anachron Press’ anthology Urban Occult, and a second novel, Tourmaline published by Snowbooks, out in July.

[James Brogden was born in Manchester, grew up in Australia, and now lives with his wife and two daughters in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, where he teaches English. His short stories have appeared in the Big Issue, the British Fantasy Society’s Dark Horizons, Gears Levers Volume One, and his first novel, The Narrows, has just been published by Snowbooks. When he’s not writing, or trying to teach children how to, he gets out into the mountains exploring the remains of Britain’s prehistoric past and hunting for standing stones. Fortunately they don’t run very fast. ]
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The Alchemy Book of Ancient Wonders is available in paperback and ebook formats from multiple retailers – see the anthology page here for linky links!