© Schlock Webzine
I’m sure few people will be sad to see the back of 2020, although towards its end it did provide two glimmers of hope for the future. These were the development of vaccines against Covid-19, the main reason for the year’s horribleness, and the defeat in the US presidential election of Donald Trump, the Clown-Master General who’s supervised a four-year circus of corruption, cronyism, disinformation, racism, culture wars, environmental destruction, denial of science and pandering to right-wing terrorism in the world’s most powerful nation.
On a personal note, 2020 wasn’t so bad for me in one way. I did get a number of stories published. These appeared under the pseudonyms Jim Mountfield (which I use for my horror fiction) and Rab Foster (for my fantasy fiction) and, a couple of times, under my real and boring name Ian Smith. Here’s a round-up of those stories and details of where you can find them.
Firstly, as Jim Mountfield:
- Back in January, The Path, a cosmic horror story inspired by some rainy season trekking I’d done in Sri Lanka’s Knuckles Mountains, appeared in Issue 30, Volume 15 of Schlock! Webzine. The issue can be accessed here.
- Witch Hazel, a folk-horror story playing on one of humanity’s most basic fears – there’s something following you! – was published in the February 2020 edition of The Horror Zine and can still be accessed here. It also appears in the Spring 2020 hard-copy edition of The Horror Zine, which can be purchased here.
- March saw a story inspired by the many frustrations of working in an office, The Away Day, appear in Issue 2, Volume 16 of Schlock! Webzine, a kindle edition of which can be downloaded here. Come to think of it, The Away Day is probably already dated. Will there be such a thing as an office culture once the Covid-19 pandemic has passed and companies realise it’s cheaper and more practical to have their employees working at home?
- In spring 2020, just as most countries were waking up to the seriousness of the pandemic, my violent sci-fi story New Town Tours was included in the aptly dystopian collection Midnight Street Anthology 4: Strange Days, published by Midnight Street Press. It can be purchased from Amazon UK here and Amazon US here. Also, you can find a clip of me (as Jim Mountfield) talking about the story and reading an excerpt from it here. I know, the clip looks and sounds like it was filmed by John Logie Baird in 1926, but I was subject to a Covid-19-inspired curfew at the time, didn’t have access to proper video equipment and had to record it in a dark room at the back of an apartment building.
- In June, my story The Four-Legged Friend, set in Bangkok, inspired by a visit I once made to a Thai surgical museum and tapping into the same fear as Witch Hazel, appeared in Issue 5, Volume 16 of Schlock! Webzine. A kindle edition of it can be downloaded here.
- Having had cosmic horror and folk horror published in 2020, I was pleased to get some body horror published in it too. In September, my story The Nuclei was included in a new collection called Xenobiology: Stranger Creatures. It’s a sci-fi body-horror story set in Edinburgh after an apocalypse. Now that’s a sentence you don’t get to write very often. Xenobiology can be purchased here.
- Don’t Hook Now, a nasty sci-fi story I wrote about perverts using future virtual-reality technology to interact with saucy scenes from old movies, was published by Horrified Magazine in October 2020 and can be accessed here.
- My ghost story First Footers, set as its title suggests in Scotland on New Year’s Eve, has been included in a recent collection of spooky tales entitled Horror Stories from Horrified (Volume 1): Christmas, again courtesy of Horrified Magazine. Available as a digital eBook, it can be purchased here.
As Ian Smith:
- In March, my slightly Roald Dahl-esque story The Yellow Brick Road was published in Volume 2, Issue 2 of the Sri Lankan literary magazine Write. The last time I looked, copies of this issue of Write were still on sale in the Barefoot Shop at 704 Galle Road, Colombo.
- To keep its contributors motivated during the March-May curfew that the Sri Lankan government imposed in response to Covid-19, Write started putting up stories on its social media platforms. These included my flash-fiction story Ferg’s Bike, which can be accessed here.
As Rab Foster:
- October saw my fantasy-horror story No Man’s Land, inspired by the works of Ambrose Bierce, published in Issue 9, Volume 16 of Schlock! Webzine. Its kindle edition is available here.
- Finally, my quaintly named story Pockets of the Janostovore is featured in the December 2020-January 2021 edition of Aphelion. It can be read here. Gratifyingly, it’s been listed as one of Aphelion‘s picks of 2020 for long fiction.
So 2020 has been a productive year for me in terms of my writing even if, in most other respects, it’s been as shit for me as it’s been for everybody else. Let’s hope 2021 sees me retain that productivity, while generally offering a better experience for all of us.
Anyway, with fingers crossed, I bid you… Happy new year!
© Midnight Street Press