The SA HorrorFest Bloody Parchment anthologies have a few veterans who've appeared among the finalists regularly, and one of these is Chris Limb, who needs very little by way of introduction here on my blog. His tale appears in the most recent Bloody Parchment anthology: Beachfront Start Home, Good Bones and Other Stories, and without any further ado, I hand over my blog to him.
Welcome, Chris, and for those readers who haven't met you before, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm the bass player in a band called Das Flüff who play "sexistential electro post-punk twisted disco cyber filth"! The only thing better than going to a gig is playing one, although I still love both.
I've been writing on a more regular basis since 2007 but my first break came when my story Alibi was published in the Bloody Parchment 2012 anthology. Since then I've had a few more stories published in anthologies and online magazines.
I also have two complete novels I am continuing to try and find homes for...
What gives in your story?
I am a social media junkie and find the way it all works and add an extra dimension to human existence fascinating. Twitter is my medium of choice so I suppose it was only a matter of time before I decided to explore it in fiction.
The seed of the story itself came from an article I read on cyber-bullying the details of which I won't share here for fear of spoiling the story. I was also inspired by the discovery of a Twitter account that I imagined looked as if it had been set up just to follow me. Just like the account in the story, it followed me plus a selection of celebrities and information services. Plus one other account I suspected of being the primary account of the person who had set it up. Its timeline consisted entirely of retweets.
All in all it was a very strange set-up. Why not just follow me from the primary account? Twitter is by its very nature a bit stalkery.
In reality I was probably imagining the more sinister implications and it was all a coincidence. The human brain is very good at looking for patterns and worrying about any potential danger they may present.
Either way, the idea for the story came to me fairly quickly after that.
Why do you love about reading and writing speculative fiction?
I love the sense that anything can happen. Things can genuinely surprise the reader because normal rules don't apply. I love the "what-if" of speculative fiction, stepping outside the mundane.
As I get older it seems as if the world is becoming increasingly unimaginative in what is permitted. Reality is being reduced to the lowest common denominator. For example, back in the early nineties I was certain that by 2016 space travel would be commonplace, that we'd have already established a Moon base and have landed on Mars. Instead these fantastical dreams are retreating before us like desert mirages.
When I was growing up there were often documentaries on TV about the paranormal and the strange; as a child these indicated to me that the world could be exciting and unknown. Now the discussion of such things in the respectable media is almost taboo.
For me, writing and reading speculative fiction captures the excitement of when the world was a more interesting place full of potential and mystery. A way of returning to youth, however temporarily.
Is there a novel or movie that you feel has been the most influential on you, that you keep coming back to?
I can't think of any one novel or movie that looms large enough to say is the most influential.
However, there are a number of writers I really enjoy and find inspiring in that after I finish reading one of their novels I want to write something of my own.
Michael Marshall Smith is one of them – when I read his first novel I was astonished that there was someone out there who seemed to be writing in what up until that point I had assumed was my own inner voice...
William Gibson is another. He seems to be able to get ideas and emotions across with a surprising economy of words. Mona Lisa Overdrive is one of my favourite novels and yet despite its scope and how embedded its world I felt, it's only just over 80 000 words long.
In general though I find discovering new novels more exciting and inspiring than revisiting old favourites - over the past couple of years I have enjoyed and been inspired by novels by Claire North, Ramez Naam, Emmi Itäranta, Sarah Pinborough and Ben Aaronovitch.
How do you approach the writing process?
With short stories what tends to happen is that I will get the germ of an idea that I will make a note of on my phone (it's usually when I am out and about). Occasionally these are a bit too cryptic and I forget what the idea was!
Part of my daily routine for the past six years has been writing every morning using the online service at 750 Words. If one of the story ideas I've made a note of is nagging at me I will start it during this session and then keep writing approximately seven hundred and fifty words or more a day until a very rough draft is finished.
I then leave it a few days and go back and start severely editing it. After a while - and often it can now be half the length of the rough draft - I am satisfied and so I look for somewhere to submit it on Duotrope. With the last novel it was more or less the same process but much longer; a case of keeping going until I'd finished and only then going back and editing it.
Web page, Das Fluff, Twitter, International kindle links for non fiction 80s pop memoir.