Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Review Round-Up

The dudes at Booked podcast take on Experimental Film (http://www.bookedpodcast.com/287-experimental-film/). I must admit, I was a bit worried abut this in its initial phases...the part where they made fun of my name, basically. But then they really got goin', and guess what! It's a great review, check it out.;)

Monday, December 14, 2015


The latest sign of my presence on the Web: I did a Things Your Writing Teacher Never Told You column over at Black Gate Magazine for Tina Jens, on the subject of "Plot vs. Character". You can find it here (https://www.blackgate.com/2015/12/13/things-your-writing-teacher-never-told-you-pro-tip-from-gemma-files/). Hopefully helpful! Like everyone else, meanwhile, the rest of my life has descended into a burning ring of holiday, so we may not speak again until 2016. Keep well.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Experimental Film: Unleashed Upon the World

So: Experimental Film is finally out, and I really should be cataloguing the response. Therefore, I'll start with the first official review, from Crows 'n' Bones (http://www.crowsnbones.com/2015/11/book-review-experimental-film-by-gemma-files/). I'm very happy with it, to say the least. And Alyx Dellamonica wrote a piece called "Five Fucking Great Things About Experimental Film," here (http://alyxdellamonica.com/2015/11/experimental-film-by-gemmafiles-five-fucking-great-things/). Very nice indeed, as was Helen Marshall putting Experimental Film onto her part of the Weird Fiction Review Best of the Year list (http://weirdfictionreview.com/2015/11/end-of-year-book-list-2015-edition/). She also talked about it on Facebook, as did my Mom. People continue to talk about it generally, which rocks.

Also, and I can't link to this, unfortunately...Laird effin' Barron reviewed the re-released ebook version of my first two collections that just came out from CZP, in Locus magazine. Thanks to a friend I have a scanned version, but it's very difficult to copy/paste anything from, so you'll just have to take my word for it that it is a KICK-ASS double review. It makes me feel ultra-special.;)

Meanwhile, two very neat reprints: "The Emperor's Old Bones" at Nightmare Magazine (http://www.nightmare-magazine.com/fiction/the-emperors-old-bones/), along with an Author Spotlight interview I only vaguely recall doing (http://www.nightmare-magazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-gemma-files-2/), plus "Signal to Noise" at Apex (http://www.apex-magazine.com/signal-to-noise/). And Dejan Ognjanovic was wonderful enough to run all the stuff he had to cut out of our interview for Rue Morgue's Lovecraft issue online, here (http://www.rue-morgue.com/#!Why-is-LOVECRAFT-still-relevant-Seven-experts-weigh-in/cjds/5654c8140cf2b6a6e93156c2). Thus far, only one person has called me a "parasite" for continuing to write Lovecraftiana even though I feel able to acknowledge both Lovecraft's continuing influence on horror and his frank racism without my head exploding, for which I'm grateful. We'll see how it goes, I guess.

That's all for now. I'm trying to rough out the next novel, which is exciting and terrifying. Got to turn things around fast, these days.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Rue Morgue spotlight article and interview with me about Experimental Film is now available! (http://www.rue-morgue.com/#!Lovecraft-turns-125-in-RUE-MORGUE-161-November-2015-issue/cjds/562a6acf0cf2f4d93f162199) This makes for a lovely capper to Hallowe'en Week, though the night itself was predictably exhausting. As of Thursday, meanwhile, Steve and I will be travelling down to Saratoga Springs, New York to attend World Horror Con 2015. Fingers crossed that physical copies of the book will be available by then. We're entering the last stage of the process now, and I'm just as happy.

In other news, we're finally at the end of the Litreactor course, though I assume things will muddle along for a week or more. The response, overall, has been very positive, and i'm happy with the work people have done for me; hope they feel the same. A lot of these submissions can be genuinely made viable with just a few small tweaks.

In other OTHER news, I've blazed my way through Soren Narnia's frankly brilliant Knifepoint Horror podcast (http://knifepointhorror.libsyn.com/). Somebody called these the aural equivalent of found-footage, and maybe that's true in that they have a documentary-style immediacy, but the effect is far more subtle and directed. Each is framed like a memoir or court testimony, beginning with someone announcing their name and giving a bit of background, then launching into a tale which quickly builds the open-ended nightmare logic of classic Aickman. You're never entirely sure where you're going to end up, and I love that. (Also available on iTunes, for free. Totally worth it.)

I'm counting the Narnia as research, because I have pending stories, not to mention the next novel to think about. But I guess we'll see.;)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"Thin Places" and Lovecraft

Stuff has happened, as ever, and I'm slowest to update here, again as ever. Part of that's because I'm three weeks into the Litreactor course and behind on my feedback, after two crazily busy weekends in a row. But the rest is just me being slow, frankly.

First up: my very short horror piece "Thin Places," done for The National Post's Halloween week coverage, is up here (http://news.nationalpost.com/arts/books/thin-places-by-gemma-files). It was partially inspired by having to go to choir camp with my son, but don't worry, none of that ended up happening. The power of pre-visualization in action!;)

Second: I was interviewed about H.P. Lovecraft, the all-female anthology She Walks in Shadows, and how I can reconcile my own dislike of Lovecraft's racism/gender issues far enough to write Lovecraftiana here (http://www.ttbook.org/book/racial-and-gender-problems-hp-lovecrafts-work), on NPR's To The Best of Our Knowledge. Having already been called an idiot for my views at least once since this link went up, I'll preface this by stating that my position on Lovecraft is two-fold: not only can I state without equivocation that he did indeed hold what are now truly unacceptable views while still feeling he has things to contribute to horror culture, but I feel like the impulse to consign him to the dustbin of history constitutes a sort of distancing we really shouldn't allow ourselves, especially if we check off more than one box on the supposed white/cis/male/straight mainstream cultural default.

In Othering Lovecraft, in other words, we're trying to say we're not like like him and never will be--but if there's one thing I believe wholeheartedly, it's that there's nothing more universally human than the impulse to Other other people. Lovecraft's guilt and hypocrisy is thus everybody's guilt and hypocrisy, and we owe it to ourselves not to let ourselves forget that, especially if we consider ourselves fans of horror...because part of an appreciation for horror, maybe the biggest/best part, is the deliberate cultivation of an ability to consider and process our own worst qualities, our most negative traits, with passionate objectivity.

This is a large part of what I was trying to get across in the interview, and if it didn't translate, then that's my fault. But it feels good to say it here, if nothing else.

By the way, "Red Words" is finished, and I'm on to the next one(s). In case you were wondering.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Me Me Meeee

Me shooting my mouth off to Scott Nicolay on The Outer Dark for two freakin' hours plus (http://www.projectiradio.com/gemma-files-every-movie-is-a-ghost-story-the-outer-dark-episode-15-october-13-2015/). Wah! Luckily, I come off sounding pretty good, IMHO. Scott's entire series is amazing, so please do check it out.

I'm also starting my Litreactor course again today, so there's that. Plus two more deadlines, because I am a fool.;)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Happy Happy Halloween (Month)

On October 13, I'm going to be interviewed by Scott Nicolay on his horror-centric podcast The Outer Dark, here (http://www.projectiradio.com/shows/the-outer-dark/). Since all interviews thus far have rocked ass, this is very good company to be sharing, and I'm looking forward to it. Otherwise, everything in my life right now is about completing "Red Words," the story I've been haphazardly slamming at for most of September, so sorry for the absence.

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 (http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2015/09/behind-the-stories-of-the-best-horror-of-the-year-vol-7-edited-by-ellen-datlow-part-1/). Said series continues today with instalment #2, featuring Orrin Grey and Livia Llewellyn, amongst others (http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2015/09/guest-post-stories-best-horror-year-vol-7-edited-ellen-datlow-2/). 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 Tor.com's Queering SFF. You can read the whole thing here (http://www.tor.com/2015/08/04/queering-sff-daughters-of-frankenstein-edited-by-steve-berman/), 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 (http://theblacktapespodcast.com/). 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 (https://twitter.com/hashtag/DirectedbyWomen?src=hash), 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...

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Wow, okay. That's a llllooooonnngggg fuckin' time between updates. (And amusingly enough, over a year later, I am still working on "What You See When The Lights Are Out"! Which happens, though I've tried really hard to make it not happen, these last few years.

Perhaps you wonder what is going on with me. Or not. Well, for those who are interested:

1. Experimental Film is finally on its way! Here's the pre-order page, at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Experimental-Film-Gemma-Files/dp/1771483490); the release date is currently November 17, 2015. I can tell you for a fact that we're already through the first round of edits and that I just signed off on the line-edits, so we are very close indeed to being done with this process. I've been kind of amazed by the buzz surrounding the book thus far, given it's been pumped at Tor.com (http://www.tor.com/2015/08/19/five-canadian-books-to-look-for-in-fall-2015/) and SF Signal (http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2015/07/radar-burning-midnight-will-mcintoshthe-bazaar-bad-dreams-stephen-kingexperimental-film-gemma-files/). In the second case, Stephen King's name was cited alongside my own, which impressed this shit out of my Dad: life goal achieved.

2. I am once more teaching a course on writing what you fear--cunningly entitled "Write What You Fear"--over at LitReactor, starting October 13. If this interests you and you have the money/time, please sign up! Last year's session was a lot of fun, and lead to at least one of my students getting published, which was very much the point of the exercise. The deets are here (https://litreactor.com/classes/write-what-you-fear).

3. I was interviewed over at the Lovecraft eZine Talk Show, and the result is up here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gTaO262Yrs). I shared the stage with filmmaker Len LoBiondo, Mike Davis, Joe Pulver and the usual merry crew of Lovecraftian-minded regulars. I talk about my writing, about film, and how the two intersect.

4. I was also interviewed by Derek Newman-Stille for Speculating Canada on Trent Radio, almost a year earlier (http://speculatingcanada.ca/2014/09/26/speculating-canada-on-trent-radio-episode-18-an-interview-with-gemma-files/), when I was in the throes of my obsession with The Walking Dead. BTW: If you're interested in the 100,000+ words' worth of fanfic that resulted from said obsession, you can find it here (http://archiveofourown.org/series/168656).

5. In anticipation of my upcoming appearance at Word on the Street Saskatoon, meanwhile, I was interviewed here, by Ann Foster, for CFCR's Radio Book Club (http://radiobookclub.podbean.com/e/radio-book-club-esisode-64-gemma-files/). This was an interesting interview for a couple of reasons, one of them being that I'm pretty sure Ann isn't a huge horror/Weird Western person, which spurred her to ask me a few questions I haven't heard in a while; it was pleasant and useful! Plus, I sound a lot better than I did "on the YouTube."

So now we are caught up, basically. I'm hoping to keep updating on a slightly more regular basis, from now on, but I know I've said that before.;) At any rate, good to have all this in one place.