About the author

Conrad Williams is the author of the novels Head Injuries, London Revenant, The Unblemished, One, Decay Inevitable and Blonde on a Stick; the novellas Nearly People, Game, The Scalding Rooms and Rain and a collection of short fiction, Use Once then Destroy. He lives in Manchester, UK.

All content on this site is © Conrad Williams.

Monday 5 May 2008

The Scalding Rooms

I'm thrilled to see my second Howling Mile novella make it on to the shortlist for the inaugural Shirley Jackson awards. The winners will be announced at Readercon in Burlington, Massachusetts (July 17-20, 2008).

Here's a list of all the nominees. Good luck to everyone!

Baltimore, Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden (Bantam Spectra)
Generation Loss, Elizabeth Hand (Small Beer Press)
Sharp Teeth, Toby Barlow (William Heinemann Ltd)
The Terror, Dan Simmons (Little, Brown)
Tokyo Year Zero, David Peace (Knopf)

12 Collections, Zoran Zivkovic (PS Publishing)
Illyria, Elizabeth Hand (PS Publishing)
The Mermaids, Robert Edric (PS Publishing)
“Procession of the Black Sloth,” Laird Barron (The Imago Sequence and Other Stories, Night Shade Books)
The Scalding Rooms, Conrad Williams (PS Publishing)
“Vacancy,” Lucius Shepard (Subterranean #7, 2007)

“The Forest,” Laird Barron (Inferno, Tor)
“The Janus Tree,” Glen Hirshberg (Inferno, Tor)
“The Swing,” Don Tumasonis (At Ease with the Dead, Ash Tree Press)
“The Tenth Muse,” William Browning Spencer (Subterranean #6)
“Thumbprint,” Joe Hill (Postscripts #10, March 2007)

“Holiday,” M. Rickert (Subterranean #7, 2007)
“The Monsters of Heaven,” Nathan Ballingrud (Inferno,Tor)
“A Murder of Crows,” Elizabeth Ziemska (Tin House 31, Spring 2007)
“Something in the Mermaid Way,” Carrie Laben (Clarkesworld, March 2007)
“The Third Bear,” Jeff Vandermeer (Clarkesworld, April 2007)
“Unique Chicken Goes in Reverse,” Andy Duncan (Eclipse One, Night Shade Books)

The Bone Key, Sarah Monette (Prime Books)
The Entire Predicament, Lucy Corin (Tin House)
The Imago Sequence and Other Stories, Laird Barron (Night Shade Books)
Like You’d Understand, Anyway, Jim Shepard (Knopf)
Old Devil Moon, Christopher Fowler (Serpent’s Tail)

At Ease with the Dead, edited by Barbara and Christopher Roden (Ash Tree Press)
Dark Delicacies 2, edited by Del Howison and Jeff Gelb (Running Press)
Inferno, edited by Ellen Datlow (Tor)
Logorrhea, edited by John Klima (Bantam Spectra)
Wizards, edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois (Berkley)

Monday 14 January 2008

Old things

My parents donated their entire collection of vinyl to me recently. They'd downsized and didn't have the space for records they don't listen to any more (and what's the point of keeping hold of LPs when you no longer have a turntable to play them on?). I cheerily took them off their hands. Among the dross (which later went to the charity shop) I found a few nuggets of gold. A numbered edition of The White Album with its fold-out sleeve notes and glossy photographs of John, Paul, George and Ringo; most of Dylan's output from the 1970s, including the scorching Blood on the Tracks and Desire; and everything Joni Mitchell ever did (The Hissing of Summer Lawns is still one of my favourite albums). There was also some Cat Stevens. I remember Dad playing Catch Bull at Four when we lived in our house on Lodge Lane. I must have been about five or six years old. There are some great songs on that album: Sitting, Can't Keep It In and O Caritas. Dad would get me to sing the lyrics from the gatefold sleeve. So it was with a rosy nostalgic glow that I replayed the album recently, and found the songs to still be as good as I remembered.

Even though I buy CDs and download MP3s, I still own a turntable and don't want to disconnect myself from the magic that records possess. It's dirty magic, with all those scratches and hisses, but compelling all the same. There's a fetish involved that isn't there in the shiny mirror of a CD, or the intangible code of bit torrents. The size and splendor of the sleeve, the thin, glassine sheath from which you slide the vinyl into your hand, the smell. The ritual of wiping the surface with a cloth. The swing of the stylus. The expectant crackle as the music is wound towards its needle. The play of reflected light, like an infinity sign on the wall... In the same way I wouldn't be without my Remington Noiseless typewriter (noiseless? Yeah, right....) or the Bakelite telephone I salvaged from a skip in Belsize Park. Close relics of an age I lived through, but already I find it hard to believe that we didn't always have mobile phones or email or home computers.

Anyway, I'm glad I listened to the album again, because that spirit of nostalgia gave me the title for my latest published story, O Caritas, in the Solaris Book of New Fantasy. It's a futuristic story, a sequel to London Revenant, but despite all the polished steel and glass, travel by gossamer, death squads in the street and a crisis in the tunnels, there's still space for some vintage Cat Stevens:

Ah, this world is burning fast,
Oh, this world will never last,
I don't want to lose it, here in my time,
Give me time for ever, here in my time.