Glamourous Rags


Some Moments Of Pleasure
This is, like a lot of my fan-fiction, a product of an unhappy love affair; it was a long time ago, I met someone else and I'm over it - yet somehow it haunts my writing even now. Almost nothing that happens in the story is literally true, except for a couple of things Serena does which apparently the original of Serena did do, but after I had written the story and before she got to read it. Never believe that fiction has no power.
Oh, and this is so very very much a post-18 story. It contains a lot of same-sex relationships between women and a fair amount of whip-play, blood-play and other similar stuff. Parts of it were written to turn my beloved of the time on and only later did I recycle them in a story that was a sort of elegy for the relationship. Never trust artists.
Missing The Subtitles
This started off as a fanzine piece about a hideous Christmas that actually happened to me. Years later, when I was getting over serious personal betrayal by friends, I wanted to write about betrayal and not realising what you want until you have lost it forever. Rather than write anything which reflected the actual situation, I went back and looked at the fanzine piece and realised there was my story. Except that most of the people are not the same - I did not want to write about either set of real people, and so I made them all up.
This is a pretty straightforward story in lots of ways - there is mention of drug use and messy sexual relationships, but nothing much actually happens on stage. Oh, and the implication is that Juliet will someday soon decide that she is a dyke, and maybe go back and try and retrieve Maggie. That is another story, and I never wrote it, though I from time to time keep thinking I might.
A Lonely Impulse
This wasn't my first story, because that was the first draft of 'Tiny Pieces Of Skull', the memoir/novel which may go into the first selection of memoirs, and then came the two non-genre stories, 'Some Moments Of Pleasure' and 'Missing The Subtitles', which are on this site.
'A Lonely Impulse' was my first published story and is accordingly very dear to my heart. Geraldine Cook at Penguin had asked me to do some anthologies and I put together the Midnight Rose Collective (me, Mary Gentle, Neil Gaiman and Alex Stewart, plus, for a while, Chris Bell) to develop shared world stuff. Neil and Alex came up with a UK superhero scenario that was a bit more than Wild Cards with the serial numbers filed off.
The idea was that it was going to be superheroes with bureaucracy and embarrassment. One of the things N&A were keenest on was that a British superhero scheme would not be compulsory, so I was keen to write about someone for whom it was. I was writing during the porn wars and the last stages of the sex wars, and that gets reflected in the story too. I grew up on the Chris Claremont era of the X-Men (well, OK, I was forty for some of it, but I am immature) and so I wanted to play with the mutant/queer thing. Also, I used to have flying dreams, and wanted to write about them - I paid the price which is a goodish story and no more dreams.
The title is a quotation from Yeats' 'An Irish Airman Foresees His Death'. Thanks to Marcus Rowland for transcribing.
A Wolf To Man
Penguin disliked some of our ideas and asked us for more, in a meeting, and we didn't have any. You never show fear at such times and I started winging it - well, I said, we had this idea for a series that used modern science for creepiness the way Lovecraft used bad ideas of his time, entropy, palaeontology, homeobox genes...And Neil jumped in 'Werewolves'. And I said 'Or rather the shapechangers who are responsible for werewolf legends. Protomammals who evolved skills to survive in the era of intelligent dinosaurs, whose fate they escaped. It wasn't a comet - it was an incursion of supernatural nastiness that lives in Dark Matter. And they are factionalized about how to deal with humans, and how to stop humans doing anything stupid...'
We giggled as we developed this scenario, and said to ourselves, if we are really unlucky, someone is going to believe in this. A couple of years later, David Icke announced the shapechanging reptile conspiracy, and we got very worried.
I wrote this because we needed a hommage to Jack Williamson's 'Darker than You Think' which is one of the things we were drawing on. And because I was obsessed with the Russian Civil War in Siberia as a result of Hugo Pratt's 'CortoMaltese en Siberie' and Peter Hopkirk's 'Setting the East Ablaze' and also wanted to do something Transiberian because of Angela Carter's 'Nights at the Circus'.
I always meant to do more with Charlotte Matthews than the two stories she got - she may yet get a walkon in 'Adore and Serve' since I need an elderly folklorist at one point.
The title refers to a Latin Proverb 'Homo homini lupus' - Man is a wolf to man. Thanks to Marcus Rowland for transcribing.
Bellringer's Overtime
'Villains' was the anthology in which we gave the sorts of people who were usually bad guys in fantasy their own stories - assassins, darkmages, the dark lord's security consultant. When I wrote this story, there was no Xena, which just goes to show that you can write something people think is meant to be a parody of what has not happened yet.
The challenge was writing a sword-and-sorcery story that was going to get past Mary and Alex, who spend a lot of time hitting people with swords. I knew I could not fake it, and I was not going to learn sword-fighting overnight, and so I sat and let that give me much of my plot. What happens to a swordfighter who is cursed with not fighting with swords? And I decided that it had to be anything with a blade or a point, because that made it a challenge.
There are notes for a second Katya story 'The Coracle of the Doge' in which she was going to be a prisoner of war after the Knights of Virtue beat her Dark Master. It was going to be a very cynical detective story which, as the title suggests, made use of a lot of Chestertons' Father Brown plots. It was going to have an ice arrow that melted in wounds, for example.
Oh, and this is, in a way, my vague attempt to pay homage to Fritz Leiber whose Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories are the ultimate template for all S&S duos. Thanks to Marcus Rowland for transcribing.
Totally Trashed
When we did the second Temps anthology, we decided, for some reason, to make it one that went with a European theme and I said, oh, I made a crack about European Union Superhero policy in my story in the first book. And everyone said - well, you'd better do that side of things. Our editor was sort of intrigued/irritated by all the little bits of continuity we'd stuck as padding between the stories in Temps and said she hoped we'd explain it all - and everyone looked at me. Then there was the time that I found a stack of broken paperclips in a jacket pocket when looking for change at an editorial tea - and Mary said - oh, that's your superpower right there. Thanks to Marcus Rowland for transcribing.
The Lacing
This is one of my might-have-beens. A publisher who liked some of my work encouraged me to start writing something big and then persuaded me to tinker with it before he tried to persuade his bosses; by the time I was satisfied with this first big chunk, internal politics had changed everything and they weren't buying big novels by new writers anymore. It wasn't really a book I wanted to write by that stage - I had tinkered with the opening instead of getting on with the whole book and I just lost my nerve. I was doing other important things that didn't involve writing and so it went on the backburner.
And looking back at it, it is so totally a product of the early 90s. Big Science and one of those tough obnoxious heroines on whom I obsess. I love bits of it still - the landscapes in my head were going to be so cool and the sort of villain, based on an SF writer I know, was someone I loved to hate.
Abandoning this led me to write an even larger scale space opera in six thousand words which did see print in a small magazine, "Instructions."
Ignorance Of Perfect Reason
This actually saw print - I wrote it for The Weerde Book Two, a shared worldanthology I co-edited with Neil Gaiman and Mary Gentle. The book is long out of print though and I thought people who like my other work would probably like to see it.
Charlotte Matthews is a folklorist who in 1921 goes to Outer Mongolia to find out the truth about the death of her fossil-hunter brother. All you need to know about the plot of the first story 'A Wolf to Man' is that she becomes the lover of Watcher, a representative of one of the factions of shape-changers who have meddled with human history from the beginning and together with Watcher's sisters, they sabotage the plans of a local warlord...
This was one of those stories that everyone liked and no-one would publish - it got rejection letters that said 'hmm very clever' which is better than being told 'god, you're dumb'. Then Liz Holliday, of the wonderful and short-lived Odyssey, read it and made me open out one or two of the more impenetrable bits of Kaveney brilliance and published it.
People liked the story in the version Liz edited - Gardner Dozois, who had written one of the nicer rejection letters, listed it in Honourable Mentions in the Years Best SF, and a couple of people tried to nominate it for a Hugo. Since it is probably the only SF story I shall ever write, that is quite good going.
Brandy For The Damned
Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman were doing an anthology of fantasy stories about music and I moaned to Mary that it was probably all going to be folk-rock with a bit of punk and blues. Mary said, over tea, that if I wanted a good classical music story, I was the ideal person to write it, and demanded that I plot it then and there.
As sometimes happens when I am under the gun, the whole thing came pretty much as it is as I talked. Formally, and appropriately, it is, of course, a set of variations...
It is also an example of the way that some good old tropes have life in them yet.
'Oh,' said a snotty young writer to me at a party,'you're the person who has managed to sell Ellen and Delia a Deal With The Devil story.' As if this were a major social gaffe.
'Well, actually,' I said, 'It's a Not A Deal With The Devil story'.

This page was printed out from Roz Kaveney's website at If you have further questions, please visit that website for more information.