fantasy fiction football (soccer) historical fantasy Lethe Press novelette novella Rahab SF short stories spec fic

book news

Long ago at the beginning of time—in 1976, that is—the first piece of fiction I was ever paid money for appeared in print. If I remember correctly, that story paid for my first electric typewriter. I’d written it longhand in a prep-school spiral-bound notebook, then typed it up on a portable manual Hermès that might be worth some money now if I still had it.

Let me do the math: Sometime in 2016 I will have been a Published Author for forty years. How is that even possible?

To mark the anniversary, I thought, how about a collection of stories, new and old? Not quite as old as forty years—I reread some of that apprentice work from the 1970s and ’80s. I don’t hate it (much) but don’t feel like preserving it either. Let future scholars and heirs do that after I’m dead. So the initial date I chose is 1990, the year I acquired my first computer (an Apple Macintosh SE of blessèd memory) and determined once for all the name I wished to be known under.

I brought the notion to Gentle Publisher, who agreed with good grace (although he nixed my proposed cover in no uncertain terms) and surprised me utterly by saying, “I’ll find somebody interesting to write an introduction.” I am as curious as you are who that will be!

At any rate, barring unforeseen mischance, out in July 2016 from Lethe Press will be a massive tome entitled Not Here. Not Now. collecting thirteen stories and novellas from a quarter century’s work in (and out of) multiple genres.

table of contents

  • “Composition with Barbarian and Animal” [written 1992/published 1994]
    Science fiction, a tale of barbarian merchants in the strange worlds of the far future.
  • “You Deserve” [2013/2013]
    Contemporary dark fantasy about a teenager and his dads, dreadful impulses and dreadful powers.
  • “Michael in the Library” [1991/1998]
    Quasi-historical fiction set in Roman Alexandria, concerning a scribe at the famous library and his lover, a novelist.
  • “Seb and Duncan and the Sirens” [2010-2012/2014]
    Contemporary fantasy: American tourists. Greek island. Sirens.
  • “A Handbook for the Castaway” [1996/1997]
    Quasi-historical fiction, the shipwreck narrative of an eighteenth-century pirate.
  • “A Portrait in India Ink by Harry Clarke” [2013/2013]
    Semi-historical* romance revolving around an Irish artist’s gorgeous illustration for a minor Poe story.
    *(do the 1960s count as history?)
  • “Dramma per musica; or, The Frenzy of Alexander” [1995/previously unpublished in full]
    Faux-autobiographical fiction containing, as in a matryoshka, a narrative of Baroque-opera castrato erotica.
  • “Three Men I Want” [1995/1997]
    A non-fiction short story, deceptively autobiographical, ambiguously confessional.
  • “The Hyena’s Blessing” [2012/2013]
    Quasi-historical fantasy set in eleventh-century Egypt, involving an assassin, a caliph, and, well, zombies.
  • “Captain of the World” [2010/2011]
    Contemporary sports fiction. No, really. Narrated by a Turkish-American soccer goalkeeper.
  • “#duranperi” [2013/previously unpublished]
    Contemporary fantasy, a kind of fairy tale taking place at the edges of the Gezi Park protests in İstanbul during the summer of 2013.
  • “Two Dead Men” [2012/2012]
    Secondary-world fantasy, a supernatural love story set during and ten years after a vicious civil war.
  • “The New People” [2008-2009/2011]
    Science fiction, an exploration of the society evolved on an isolated colony world three hundred years after all the women died. And a love story. And a fan letter to Israeli singer-songwriter Ivri Lider.

editorial fiction novella recommendation short stories The Padişah’s Son and the Fox


Received in today’s mail a brand-new book, unordered, unpaid for. One might ask why?, especially as it’s a detective novel and I’ve never made a secret of not being a big fan of the genre.

Well, if one were of the peculiar tribe that reads copyright pages, one would find a clue: On the reverse of the title page of Charlie Cochrane’s Lessons for Suspicious Minds appears this line:

Edited by Alex Jeffers

I expected neither the credit nor a copy of the finished book (I was paid [quite nicely] for the job), so can only offer somewhat bewildered thanks to Cheyenne Publishing’s genial principal, Mark Probst, as well as to Charlie, who were both delights to work with.

cover by Alex Beecroft

Lessons for Suspicious Minds is the latest volume in Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Mysteries—the first to be released by Cheyenne though the tenth overall, I believe. I’ll confess to being unfamiliar with the series before being recruited to work on this one. An unfamiliarity I’m now inclined to remedy as I quite enjoyed Suspicious Minds, a charming Edwardian country-house murder mystery, and the eponymous Cambridge Fellows themselves, Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith (I’m half in love with Orlando).

An invitation to stay at a friend of the Stewart family’s stately home can only mean one thing for Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith — a new case for the amateur sleuths! With two apparently unrelated suicides, a double chase is on.

But things never run smoothly for the Cambridge fellows. In an era when their love dare not speak its name, the chance of discovery (and disgrace) is ever present — how do you explain yourself when a servant discovers you doing the midnight run along the corridor?

The chase stops being a game for Orlando when the case brings back memories of his father’s suicide and the search for the identity of his grandfather. And the solution presents them with one of the most difficult moral decisions they’ve had to make…

 Less unexpectedly, I’m pleased to find confirmation that The Padişah’s Son and the Fox is now available for purchase in both print (nice first-week discount at Amazon, yo) and electronic editions.


Now, if I can only remember how to place a thumbnail on the front page….

…But today’s job is to dive into another editorial project: the long and eagerly awaited new story collection from my lovely friend Steve Berman, Red Caps: New Fairy Tales for Out of the Ordinary Readers. Due from Lethe Press next spring.


erotica fantasy fiction Lethe Press novella The Padişah’s Son and the Fox Turkey

how has this happened?

I woke two days ago with a sore throat and stuffed-up sinuses. Granted in the northern hemisphere it’s the beginning of the traditional season for the common cold but I’ve been more than usually eremitical lately. It was a good four days since I’d been within sneezing distance of another human being (who did not in fact sneeze on me). All my understanding of the etiology and epidemiology of rhinoviruses is thrown into disarray. I am ’mazed and bewildered by this dark, fearsome sorcery.

Also I feel like shit. Coughy, snivelly, mucussy, achey, miserable shit.

Meanwhile, whilst I drink liter after liter of Jamaican ginger tea with honey and continue listening to Mashrou’ Leila, I’ve been putting the last polishes to The Padişah’s Son and the Fox. Text and cover files will be submitted to the printer tomorrow, conversion files to the wizard who makes Lethe Press’s e-books. So I’m expecting all editions to go on sale within a week. Watch for it at your favorite on-line booksellers.


I have also been contemplating the collection of wonder stories I mentioned last time. This is still up in the air, you understand. But my expectation is it’ll be released sometime in 2014 and its title will be Not Here. Not Now. Here is the tentative table of contents:

  • “Composition with Barbarian and Animal”—written 1992 / first published 1994.
  • “A Handbook for the Castaway”—1996 / 1997.
  • “The Celebrants”—1979 / 1981.
  • “Cartography”—1988 / 1988.
  • “A Man Not of Canaan”—2010 / 2013.
  • “Seb and Duncan and the Sirens”—2010-2012 / previously unpublished.
  • “Michael in the Library”—1991 / 1998.
  • “The Fire the Fire”—1980 / 1992.
  • “Annie”—2008 / 2010.
  • “From the Bridge”—1982 / 1992.
  • “The Hyena’s Blessing”—2012 / 2013.

Eleven is an uneasy number and the MS is a bit lengthy so I won’t be surprised if I end up pulling one story from this list. Which one is the question.

A question I will consider in bed with more Jamaican ginger tea.

erotica fantasy fiction novella Turkey

another book already?

Holding out on us, AX? When did you write this one?

In 1995, hah!

So, see, well, I’ve been anxious and depressed. Blue…deep dark navy-blue funk. A stack of reasons besides faulty brain chemistry, most of which I see no need to burden you with but one germane: the writing. Rather, the not-writing. The pile of really goddamn promising stories that have hit their walls and will not progress, plus, you know, the novel I meant to spend the summer revising. Augh. So I’ve been flailing about, not writing.

Gentle publisher and I have it in mind to put out another collection of wonder stories next year maybe, this one to include some of ye olde stuffe. Fiddling with the table of contents for that, I went fossicking through a few antique floppy disks (remember those?), on one of which I rediscovered an eighteen-year-old novella that was only ever published in severely abridged form, in a book long out of print issued by a publisher long defunct.

It’s erotica. Well, porn, to speak plainly. A genre I think I’m not especially known for—I can count the number of porn stories I’ve written/published on one hand. (See what I did there?) Largely unmemorable, I’d say, even so far as porn can be memorable. With the apparent exception of this one.

Couple of years ago, out of the blue, soon after this iteration of went live, I received fan e-mail from an expat Scot in the Canary Islands (lucky bugger). Not, as I might have half expected, about Safe as Houses or Do You Remember Tulum? No. Mr Damon Shaw of Lanzarote wrote: Of all the stories you have ever written I bet this isn’t one you were expecting to get mail about.

Damn right it wasn’t.

Since that e-mail of February 2011, Damon and I have become friends—long-distance electronic friends. He’s a spec-fic writer himself and you should look his stories up. He gave aforementioned novel a thoughtful, welcome critique when nearly everybody else exclaimed no time! no time for 144,000 words! We’ve even shared a TOC: his charming little “Air Tears” appears in The Touch of the Sea (Lethe Press, 2012) along with my “Ban’s Dream of the Sea” and nine other fine stories.

At any rate, when I ran across the ancient Microsoft Word file on that floppy, I recollected Damon’s e-mail and thought, Hmmm. At least one person besides the editor who bought it (one Michael Thomas Ford—you’ve heard of him) liked that. Let’s take another look. And…

…and it’s still porn, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but porn isn’t particularly something I want in a collection of wonder stories. Although it is, in its porny way, a wonder story itself: a re-envisioned Turkish folk tale. But it’s also far too long too cram into a collection, a third again as long as the version Damon read so long ago and recalled.

Just about as long as Do You Remember Tulum?

Uh, said I to Gentle Publisher. Uh? And Gentle Publisher said (paraphrase), Huh. Untapped audience for you.

Coming from Lethe Press this autumn—like, gasp, next month!—The Padişah’s* Son and the Fox, an erotic novella, complete and unabridged for the very first time. Not unexpurgated because it was never expurgated to begin with. The abridgment was a matter of excising the frame story.

[*Listed with booksellers as “Padishah’s,” because, you know, freaky non-ASCII character!]

I’ve revised it some (although for once allowed the majority of the semicolons to stand) and expanded one scene. Fortuitously, I just discovered Lebanese alt-rock band Mashrou’ Leila (thanks,!), whose concert at the Paléo Festival in Switzerland last summer, complete on YouTube, provided a stirring soundtrack. What a voice Hamed Sinno has.


An erotic fairy tale from the acclaimed author of The Abode of Bliss and Deprivation.

In a Turkish prison on the Black Sea coast, a lifer known as Yamyam—the Cannibal—whiles away tedious days and nights retelling old folk tales to the other inmates. But on this day, as Yamyam and naïve young drug dealer İzzet clean the prison’s Turkish baths, Yamyam’s tale goes twisty—far removed from the stories he heard at his mother’s knee.

Yamyam’s tale of a prince and an enchanted fox is engineered for seduction, as young İzzet sets out on his quest for the magical caged dove that will cure his father’s blindness. In a strangely deserted city, the prince and his wicked little brother will encounter the lustful, ravenous giant who ate the city’s entire population…after raping all the men and boys. İzzet will discover the depths of his brother’s and the giant’s perversity, and encounter a talking fox and (in his dreams) the handsome lover he never suspected he yearned for. He will embark on further quests—to the land of the giants, the mountain of lions, and the palace of the tricksy peris. Following the fox’s sage advice, he will triumph in all his endeavors, until his vulpine friend sets him the hardest task of all.

Meanwhile in the prison baths, the yard, his cell, Yamyam’s tale goes on as he and İzzet negotiate the terms of their relationship. Can a murderer who’s never heard the word gay be any man’s lover? Can a youth raped on his first night in jail learn to trust the man who desires him?

Now back to that pile of, erm, promising stories….


BrazenHead fiction novella spec fic


BrazenHead’s corporate overlord recently embarked on a project to get many (most? all?) of Lethe Press’s and its imprints’ titles turned into audiobooks. I’m tickled to announce that Eat Your Heart Out by Dayna Ingram, BrazenHead’s brilliant first release, which Publishers Weekly called “ridiculously entertaining” in a Starred! Review!, is now one of them.

EatYourHeartOutIf you have forgotten what a delight Dayna’s little book is, here’s a sampling of praise:

This book is a double scoop of melt-in-your-mouth guts-and-brains-flavored ice cream with a pop culture cherry on top, in a word: yummy! Eat Your Heart Out announces with a guttural zombie howl that Dayna Ingram is a talent to watch out for.

—Tom Cardamone, author of Pumpkin Teeth and Green Thumb

Despite sounding like clichéd fanfiction written by a horny devotee, “Eat Your Heart Out” is tender yet ruthlessly gruesome.This sweet zombie novella needs to be made into an A or B movie…right now.

—Katie Drexel, Edge network

With a dry wit and a sense of the absurdity of the situation (zombies? In the middle of Ohio? Who would notice the difference?), author Ingram keeps the action brief and the tale short enough to avoid indulgence. It’s a romp you can sink your teeth into.

—Jim Provenzano, Bay Area Reporter

And here’s a link to purchase and download the audio file from (Other e-sellers may have it as well, I’m not sure how these things work.) Go thou and do so! Listen on your tedious commute! Or better, on your daily run…imagining Dayna’s zombies chasing after you. What better motivation could there be?

awards BrazenHead novella spec fic

a winner (but I knew that already)

I am proud and gratified to announce (if you haven’t heard already) that BrazenHead’s second-published novella, Green Thumb by Tom Cardamone, has received the Lambda Literary Award for GLBT Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror at the 25th annual celebration in New York earlier tonight.

GreenThumbCongratulations to Tom, (to me), and to BrazenHead’s parent Lethe Press, which has now won that award three years running.

BrazenHead: exceptional novellas of queer speculative fiction
BrazenHead: exceptional novellas of queer speculative fiction
BrazenHead fantasy novella

dispatch from the unholy head of brass

The third novella from BrazenHead, The Grigori by Joshua Skye, has gone to press. The book-book should start showing up for sale in the usual on-line places within a week or so, while the e-book will take a little longer.

Mr. A lurks in the derelict grand hotel, a haunt of junkies and their dealers, hustlers and runaways, petty criminals.

On a night like any other, a man, a notorious family-values politician, dies in the hotel’s ruined lobby. Suspended from a splendid chandelier, the body is bound with duct tape as if for some sordid S&M scene gone terribly wrong. The man has been disemboweled, intestines spilling from the gash in his belly to the dusty floor. Mr. A is watching, watching.

“You know, everyone seems to think that angels are these cute little innocent baby-looking m*th*rf*ck*rs but the Bible describes them very, very differently… Angels are angry, crazy and mean as hell. They have four faces and only one of them is human. Their primary job isn’t to save our souls or help us find love. They like to kill and they’re good at it.”

Who is Mr. A? Mr. A is death. Mr. A is salvation. Mr. A is love.

The Grigori answers the question, ‘What would happen if we met an old-school angel?’ That it happens in Pittsburgh amid a wasteland of hustlers and drugs does not diminish either angel’s—or this story’s—reckless dominion.

—Steve Berman, editor of the Wilde Stories annual anthology series

I’m disappointed Publishers Weekly elected not to review Joshua’s book, breaking BrazenHead’s streak. Even a negative review might have been better than resounding, brazen silence. But these things happen and I remain proud to publish The Grigori. It’s a thoroughly chilling little story that offers a bracing corrective to the contemporary notion of angels as benign, wispy entities rather than the stern, awe-inspiring, and terrible beings reported in all the Abrahamic traditions. As a writer myself, too, I’m startled and shaken by Joshua’s inspired vision of methamphetamine as well as his deft deployment of physical passion. (In plainer words, there’s hot sex. If that isn’t a recommendation I don’t know what is.) Go. Buy. Read.

BrazenHead fantasy novella spec fic

Time Will Be! declares the Head of Brass

An unveiling: The cover of the third BrazenHead novella, due this November, The Grigori by Joshua Skye.

The Grigori is a chilling dark fantasy set in contemporary Pittsburgh, where a good cop and a teenage runaway encounter something, someone, awe-inspiring and terrible in the ruins of a derelict hotel. After reading Josh’s haunting tale, you’ll never feel the same way again about e-mail forwards of saccharine angels or news reports about meth addicts.

BrazenHead fiction novella SF spec fic

Time Is! Proclaims the Head of Brass

A welcome: BrazenHead’s second title, the deceptively simple, intensely peculiar post-apocalyptic fantasia Green Thumb by Tom Cardamone, is now available in print, soon in e-book.

To whet your appetite, three reviews:

Publishers Weekly, 11 June 2012

Benito Corral Reviews, 27 June 2012

Out in Print Queer Book Reviews, 30 July 2012

Further praise from luminaries including Kathe Koja, Gemma Files, W.H. Pugmire, and BrazenHead’s own Dayna Ingram on Green Thumb’s dedicated page. Go. Read. Buy.

awards BrazenHead Lethe Press novella spec fic

the occult head of brass speaks

BrazenHead news:

Our first release, Dayna Ingram’s exhilarating Eat Your Heart Out, is a finalist for the Golden Crown Literary Society’s Goldie Award in Speculative Fiction. Alas that BrazenHead is competing against our corporate overlords at Lethe Press, which has two titles (both of which I also designed) in contention for the same prize: Hellebore & Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic, edited by Catherine Lundoff and JoSelle Vanderhooft; and Heiresses of Russ 2011: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction, edited by JoSelle Vanderhooft and Steve Berman. Winners of all the myriad Goldies are due to be announced this coming Saturday, 16 June, at the 2012 GCLS Literary Awards Ceremony in Minneapolis. Bated breath, bated breath. May the best women win!

Eat Your Heart Out has also been the recipient of still more rave reviews since the last time I posted about it here on the front page. In print: Black Static in the UK, the Bay Area Reporter on the left coast, Rue Morgue magazine. On the web: the Edge network, Lambda Literary Review, and the book blog The Rainbow Reader. Check out excerpts and (as available) links here.

Speaking of favorable reviews, forthcoming second release Green Thumb by Tom Cardamone is reviewed in this week’s Publishers Weekly. Quite happy about that. Scheduled publication date for Green Thumb remains 1 August.

Brand-new news! Official announcement, more or less. BrazenHead’s third release will be The Grigori by Joshua Skye. The Grigori is a thoroughly disturbing dark fantasy set in contemporary Pittsburgh, about which I will say nothing more (until I compose some marketing copy…) except two words: Angel. Meth. Joshua and I are just beginning the final edit phase prior to layout and, barring unforeseen hiccups, the book should be out by 1 November.

Meanwhile, here’s an interview with Joshua published in the Pride edition of Philadelphia Gay News. You can also explore his other work at his official site.