Jaine Fenn’s story “Not the Territory” appears in The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic.
Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to write.
I mainly write Science Fiction, of the far future, character-driven kind. My Hidden Empire novels are published by Gollancz, and for the last few years I’ve been focusing on them, but I also love writing short stories, and with these I range across the genre, having fun with everything from alt. history to, well, urban fantasy.
What was the idea behind “Not the Territory”?
It’s a story I’ve been meaning to write for years. I’ve never lived in London, but I have commuted into both the City and the West End on a regular basis and to me, London has always been a fascinating other world, crowded with history, full of possibility. And if the bits you can see are intriguing, what about the stuff you don’t get to see? Or at least, don’t usually get to see…
I also love maps, possibly to an unhealthy extent; personally, I’m not a fan of maps that don’t tell you what you’re getting into, but Phil and Astral (two characters I’ve written about before) are just the blokes to follow a map and see where it leads them. I also wanted to use the basement of the Guildhall as a setting; not many civic buildings have a Roman amphitheatre under them. That’s the essence of this story: all those compacted layers of history and possibility, and how they interact.
How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?
I have to confess that these days I don’t read much urban fantasy. This isn’t because I don’t like it, just because I have limited reading time and so have to be extra picky about what books to add to my teetering ‘to read’ pile (OK, piles). I’ve enjoyed reading Charles de Lint and Neil Gaiman and more recently Paul Cornell’s London Falling, a book I highly recommend.
How important is music when you’re writing and did “Not the Territory” have a particular backing track?
I always write to music, though I find anything with a clear vocal distracting. By default I use ambient and dub for the quiet sections and trance and rock for action sequences. Not every story has a particular backing track but this one does: the album Dead Cities by Future Sound of London.
What are you up to next?
The most recent Hidden Empire book, Queen of Nowhere, came out this autumn, and I’ve just started work on the next one. I’ve also got a YA space mystery which I describe as ‘Lord of the Flies meets Silent Running meets the Midwich Cuckoos‘ but I don’t have a publication date for that yet. Convention-wise, after World Fantasy I’ll be at Novacon, then – having been to loads of cons this autumn – I’ll have a bit of a rest. But I’m looking forward to Worldcon next year, in London.
[Photo by James Cooke]