Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pimp My Fic(Tion)

Added a bunch of new links to the right-hand column, mainly fiction: almost the entire Hammer Pirates series ("Two Captains," "Drawn Up From Dark Places," "The Salt Wedding"), plus both One-Shot Reese stories ("Sown From Salt" at The Harrow plus its podcast version, as part of Tales to Terrify Ep. 6, and "A Feast For Dust" at Beneath Ceaseless Skies and the podcast version of that as well), "One In The Morning and One At Night," at The Three-Lobed Burning Eye, and the podcast of "In The Poor Girl Taken By Surprise," at Pseudopod. The list is getting kind of unwieldy, obviously, but I have to admit it does make me smile.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Greetings from Toronto on a cold, rainy first day back at school. Last week--along with such luminaries as Caitlin R. Kiernan and Garth Nix--I talked about my story "This Is Not For You" at SF Signal, as part of a series examining the stories behind the stories in Ellen Datlow's Best Horror of the Year Vol. 7 ( Said series continues today with instalment #2, featuring Orrin Grey and Livia Llewellyn, amongst others ( I always love to write these pieces as well as to read them, and this particular anthology is usually amazing, particularly so this year; both instalments are therefore well worth your time, even if you remember some of what I said from the original Nightmare magazine author spotlight interview.

Interestingly, today's nonfiction work will also be about explaining my process--Nightmare is reprinting my story "The Emperor's Old Bones," which I haven't written about in years, and a fellow writer is assigning "Imaginary Beauties" to her lucky short fiction writing class, so she wants to be able to contextualize it. The prospect of re-examining both these tales therefore serves to remind me how often things begin with me watching a movie, occasionally two, and thinking either "you know, these would go well together" or "hmmm, I think I could do better"; a bit like I was writing fanfic a long time before I actually started writing fanfic, in other words. With "The Emperor's...", it was all about Steven Spielberg's adaptation of J.G. Ballard's Empire of the Sun, in which Christian Bale plays the young "Jim" and John Malkovich plays an American deserter/smuggler who acts as his anti-mentor. I flipped the Malkovich character's gender, conjured a formative crush between our sociopathic young protagonist and her, then added a sympathetic magic ritual inspired by a very cruel traditional Chinese dish that involves adding years to one's life through cannibalism, and hey presto! Something different was born. Similarly, above and beyond the Murder By Numbers connection discussed last time, "Imaginary Beauties" also owes a debt to my continuing obsession with Lovecraft's "Herbert West, Re-Animator" by way of the Stuart Gordon movie, as well as the character Ben Foster plays in Alpha Dog. My mind is a garburator, etc.

In true tales of accountability, meanwhile, now that my son Cal's ostensibly out of my hair, this week I need to break into my next story for real, because the deadline is October 1. So I will bid you all (ha ha) adieu.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Good review of Steve Berman's Daughters of Frankenstein: Lesbian Mad Scientists! by Brit Mandelo, for's Queering SFF. You can read the whole thing here (, but I was happy with this section, about my story "Imaginary Beauties: A Lurid Melodrama":

Gemma Files’s [“Imaginary Beauties”] is also a solid story, though much darker and more—well, lurid—than the rest. A much more accurately contemporary feel, too: damaged weird girls making bad drugs, going out together in a blaze of (stupid) not-glory. The exploration of social versus technical genius between the two women here is also interesting, particularly because of what a genuinely bad person Rice—our protagonist—is.

...which sounds bad, I guess, but it's also totally true! Clarice "Rice" Petty is one of my favourite asshole protags ever, based very explicitly on the Loeb expy character from Murder By Numbers, which is why you can't go wrong seeing her as a chick version of charming sociopath Ryan Gosling; I enjoyed writing this piece a heck of a lot, so I'm glad it's finally getting some mainstream(ish) attention. (It was originally published as part of Kelp Queen Press's Loonie Dreadful line, along with "Every Angel," the first of my Terrible Seven stories.)

In further news of stuff I like, meanwhile, there's a new episode of The Black Tapes Podcast out, #9, which you can access here ( If I haven't said before, this particular mock-doc paranormal investigation series is really brilliant, totally worth your investment; I find it fascinating, creepy and inspiring, all the things I want from a narrative, horror or otherwise. And there's a fairly great showcase on female-directed film going on at Twitter and other places: #DirectedbyWomen (, running from September 1 to September 15. I intend to do something to tie in with it before time runs out, probably involving talking about my favourite female directors (horror and otherwise).

Personal news: "What You See When The Lights Are Out" A) is done and B) has been accepted, with some changes. I'll be doing those today, hopefully, along with another rewrite I totally forgot I owed a previous editor, while continuing to plan out a third story I owe by October 1. I've also finalized plans to travel to Saskatoon to appear at Word On The Street with a ChiZine posse (September 19 to 21) at last, and will be doing a very exciting phone interview tomorrow, so the march to publication continues apace. I'll keep you all apprised

All right, this makes me one for one in terms of keeping this blog current. Fingers crossed it becomes a habit...