Stuart Young answers questions put to him by Allen Ashley, editor of Astrologica: Stories of the Zodiac.
Give us a little bit of background on your writing career.
Looking at the shelf containing my published works I see that some of my best known stories include Great Expectations, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Picture of Dorian Gray – wait, wrong bookshelf. Okay, my stories include contributions to anthologies such as Catastrophia, Alt-Dead, Alt-Zombie, Darker Minds, We Fade to Grey, and The Mammoth Book of Future Cops. I’ve also written three short story collections: Spare Parts, Shards of Dreams and The Mask Behind the Face, the title story of which won a British Fantasy Award. Maybe I should’ve stuck with listing the books on the first shelf…
What appealed to you about the Astrologica project?
The chance to do something different. Most of my stories over the last few years have been for horror markets so when I heard about Astrologica I started thinking in terms of creating a horror story just out force of habit. But I just couldn’t find a way to make my idea work as a horror story; I kept getting halfway through fleshing out the plot and then running into a brick wall. The story didn’t want to be horror, it wanted to be a comedy. Normally that’s the point where I get rejected by fifty percent of horror editors because they don’t want laughs, they want scares, but because there weren’t the same genre restrictions with Astrologica I could just run with it. Once I did it was quite liberating – I could just have fun with the story and do pretty much whatever I wanted. So it went from being horror to a comedy to SF comedy, with a bunch of other genres sprinkled on top.
The other appeal of this anthology is that there’s something fascinating about astrology. While researching the subject I discovered there was an astrologer named Cecco d’Ascoli who mapped out a horoscope for Jesus – after Jesus died. Now call me pedantic but I feel that using divination methods to describe events 1300 years after said events had already occurred is cheating. And anyway, doing a horoscope for Jesus isn’t exactly difficult, is it? Tuesday – You’ll perform some miracles. Wednesday – You’ll perform some miracles. Thursday – You’ll perform some miracles. Friday – You’ll get nailed to a cross.
Why did you choose this particular star sign – Gemini – for your story?
Gemini seemed to be the most fascinating, witty, charming and intelligent of all the star signs.
Which star sign are you and what qualities of that sign do you display?
Gemini, of course. I display pretty much all the strengths and weaknesses of character that the twins exhibit in the story. Although not to the same degree as they do and certainly not in as entertaining a manner.
What is the most accurate / least accurate horoscope you have ever read?
I honestly can’t remember the last time I read a horoscope. Even on the rare occasions that I have read them I forgot them again within the next five seconds.
Where do you go from here?
I’m just finishing up editing Demons and Devilry, an anthology of black magic stories for Hersham Horror. The author line-up is Peter Mark May, John Llewellyn Probert, Thana Niveau, David Williamson and some hot new literary superstar named Stuart Young.
My collection of SF-horror stories called Reflections in the Mind’s Eye should finally be seeing the light of day before the end of the year. I’m also working on a collection of horror novellas that should be out next year. And I’m writing pieces for Sparking Neurones, the column I write for Matt Cardin’s The Teeming Brain website. That’s where I wax lyrical about books, films, comics, television and anything else that takes my fancy.