Since we are closing up another year tomorrow, I am doing the annual thinking: What did I actually do in this last year? Did I do anything? Did I have a good year? Not?
This is not a post about the state of the world except to tell I am very much affected by it, more than ever. I think many of us are in a state of utter sadness and feeling totally inadequate as human beings for not being able to help all the refugees or able to help the people in Aleppo or suffering people in other parts of the world. Not to mention the climate change, the animals going extinct and the political situation of the world. I feel numb and unsure about the future as we enter 2017.
I travelled a little bit in 2016: several times to Sweden and Finland, and between Denmark and Norway, once to The Faroe Islands, and twice to UK. Sadly no trips to Iceland this year.
On a personal level it’s been a heavy year for me. I can dare to say out loud now that I was unhappy in Copenhagen. It’s always scary and exhausting to move to another country but after the first year I had slowly started to adjust to Copenhagen, Denmark and the Danes, despite all the differences (I might blog about it at some point). And I had started to make friends. But I moved to Copenhagen because of work. And a major change in my work situation in January affected me all spring. I finally packed up my stuff and moved back to Oslo and Norway in the end of September, three years before schedule, and despite all my lovely collegues in Copenhagen and all the wonderful people I met through my work, but life is too short to be miserable when you don’t need to. I’ve been lucky to get a new job, with lovely new collegues. So it looks good. But I gotta tell you moving between countries is not for the fragile soul. I am still tired from the moving three months ago.
Another thing about Copenhagen is that I didn’t get ‘the calm’ to write there. During my almost two years there I only wrote two very short stories. It’s been very frustrating. My writing is my hobby but it is what brings energy and balance into my life. Before I moved to Denmark I had started on two larger writing projects. I also have a notebook and a head full of plots and sentences to numerous short stories. I even was contacted by an editor in 2016 who had read one of my stories and wanted me to submit a story to his magazine. Very chuffed about that since it was one of my more literary stories. But it has sadly been impossible to concentrate.
Despite all this I’ve had a productive bookish 2016:
- The very short story “The Lottery Winner” was published in Luna Station Quarterly in March – my first space opera story.
- My more literary short story “Death Wish” was published in Gone Lawn Journal in May. It’s the story about a disillusioned war photographer determined to die before he turns thirty-five.
- “Arnhild”, a short story I wrote almost three years ago about an eagle shapeshifter girl, was published in February in the anthology In An Unknown Country, Fox Pockets volume 7, from Fox Spirit Books.
- I also have one published translation from English to Norwegian this year, my first and only translation. It was the lovely Wendy Delmater who persuaded me to translate her poem ‘Ithildin’ and both versions were published in Silver Blade Magazine in November together with audio files of us reading. So if you want to hear me read Norwegian, here is your chance.
- I also edited two anthologies for Fox Spirit Books in 2016: Winter Tales (out February) and Asian Monsters (out December).
In addition I have worked with marketing of African Monsters (out December 2015) and started working on Pacific Monsters (out November 2017). In relation to the monster books I have also written a few blog posts and interviews, see my website for this.
Sadly I had to let go of being a book reviewer for The Future Fire this year, after almost four years, but I simply didn’t have the time or concentration. At some point I might be able to do more book reviews.
I went to my very first book launch in 2016 (for my own book). African Monsters was launched at Forbidden Planet in London in March. Both Adele Wearing from Fox Spirit Books, my co-editor, the lovely Jo Thomas, and several of the authors were there. Very fun! I used the opportunity while I was in UK to visit Adele too at her home.
In 2016 I received the greatest honour an editor and author can get. I was shortlisted twice for the British Fantasy Awards 2016: as author for my debut book The Stars Seem So Far Away (Best Collection) and as editor for African Monsters (Best Anthology), with Jo. In the end I didn’t receive any awards but it doesn’t matter. I am humbled that my debut book was shortlisted at all. I am not a native English speaker and there are thousands of brilliant books published in English around the world every year. To be amongst the last six nominees is a huge honour.
Since I am the first Norwegian (that I know about) to be shortlisted to this award, I was also interviewed by a few Norwegian media/newpapers, also fun since my books are not to be found in bookstores in Norway and are largely unknown.
I am also very happy that African Monsters was shortlisted since one of the goals with the monster books is to get some attention to all the wonderful and talented writers from around the world whom many haven’t heard about.
I went to the awards ceremony at the Fantasycon by the Sea in Scarborough and this was also a milestone since it was my first literature con as author/editor. I met so many interesting people and friends. Thank you all for being so kind and accepting. I will try to attend the Fantasycon in 2017 too. I also participated at my first panel but I don’t think I will repeat that.
In August another exciting thing happened: The African Speculative Fiction Society was launched. The ASFS is a pro and semi-pro organization of African writers, editors, publishers and artists of Speculative Fiction. The society will nominate and vote for the winners of the new Nommo Awards for African Speculative Fiction. I am one of 60 charter members. I have not been able to be very active in 2016 but hope to participate more in the coming years.
So what about 2017?
Hopefully the world doesn’t fall apart, I settle down in Oslo and life will be trotting on, with all its quirks, downs and ups.
For bookish matters: In addition to marketing Asian Monsters, I will edit the anthology Pacific Monsters. I might also be working quite much on a secret project next year. More about that later (hopefully).
I have also now decided which of the large writing projects I will finish first – yes, it’s a novel – and hopefully this is something I will manage to finish in 2017. Hopefully. I am starting to realize how fragile my concentration is. First I will finish a few of the short stories I started on in 2016 but never finished.
I have bought membership to Worldcon in Helsinki, Finland, in August and hope to be able to make it there, and then hopefully Fantasycon in Peterborough, UK, in September. See you there?
I would like to thank you all, friends, family, readers, Adele and her fabulous crew, editors, reviewers, authors and artists in the anthologies, for good work and friendship in 2016. Wish you all the best for 2017. Happy new year!
All photos on this site © Margrét Helgadóttir except covers for books, © the artists and publishers.