Category Archives: the silver wind

cover stories

I’ve just received previews of the cover art for the upcoming Spanish edition of Tejedora/Spin, the French edition of Stardust/Legendes de Ruby Castle, and the mass market French edition of Complications/The Silver Wind. I think they’re all simply stunning – all three briefs have been interpreted in beautifully original and striking ways, and I’m thrilled to have such wonderful artists working on my behalf – and I couldn’t resist sharing them with you here.




I have been here before

My first encounter with J. B. Priestley’s time plays was in a 1983 BBC adaptation of his 1932 play Dangerous Corner, starring a young Daniel Day Lewis in the role of Gordon. The play explores what happens in two alternate versions of reality – one in which certain secrets happen to be revealed, the other in which the protagonists wisely keep them hidden. I was mesmerised by the play, by the idea of a ‘dangerous corner’, a moment where time splits in two with dangerous repercussions. I was sixteen years old. I hadn’t heard of J. B. Priestley and didn’t consciously remember him as the playwright, although the work itself remained with me in crystal clarity.

Two years later – at Christmas, if I remember correctly – I saw another TV adaptation of one of Priestley’s plays, the 1937 Time and the Conways this time, starring Claire Bloom as Mrs Conway, Phyllis Logan as Kay, a young Simon Shepherd as Robin and Simon Russell Beale, of all people, as a party guest. This play explored time in another way, giving characters a sobering and tragic glimpse of their own future. Two years after that I saw I Have Been Here Before on the stage of the Northcott Theatre in Exeter. This third play, also premiered in 1937, explores the time-stacking phenomenon of deja vu.

Priestley’s time plays are seldom claimed for science fiction, yet they make bold and ingenious use of conceits that have become central tenets of science fiction literature. It would be difficult to overstate the cumulative effect these emotionally moving and intellectually stimulating works had upon me, and looking back on them now, their influence is obvious. Two nights ago I happened to hear – with great pleasure and some emotion – a radio adaptation of Dangerous Corner, starring Martin Jarvis as Robert and first broadcast in 1984. The character upon whom events turn – and yet who never appears on stage – is called Martin. As the other characters recount their memories of him, and of exactly what happened at his house one night the year before, we learn that their versions of Martin are so at odds with one another that they might as well each be describing a different man.

When I wrote the stories that make up my story cycle The Silver Wind, I was not consciously thinking about Dangerous Corner, or indeed any of Priestley’s time plays. But it seems clear to me now that they were an abiding inspiration, nonetheless. I still feel moved and excited when I think about these extraordinary works, and my own memories of first encountering them will always remain precious. I have no doubt that to anyone coming to them now, Priestley’s time plays might seem dated, especially in the adaptations I’ve mentioned, complete with BBC accents and Anglo-Saxon attitudes. But these plays are getting on for a hundred years old. They’ve worn pretty well, considering, and in their intellectual curiosity and human emotion they remain timeless.

Complications wins GPI

Thrilled to announce that Complications, the French edition of my story collection The Silver Wind, has just been announced as the winner of the prestigious Grand Prix de L’Imaginaire in the Foreign Short Fiction category. In the GPI, which is roughly the French equivalent of the Clarke Award, the Short Fiction prize can be awarded either to a single short story or to a collection. In the case of Complications, the award is for the book as a whole, and I’m particularly delighted to report also that my translator, Bernard Sigaud, took the Jacques Chambon Translation Prize for his work on the collection. Congratulations, Bernard!

To have Complications singled out in this way by the GPI jury is a huge honour, one that’s only just starting to sink in. Every commendation and my own hugest possible thanks should go to my publishers at Editions Tristram, Sylvie Martigny and Jean-Hubert Gailliot, for having confidence in my book and in me as a writer, in bringing my work to French readers, in providing such amazing support and commitment to this project. This is every bit as much their prize as mine.

A full list of GPI winners and shortlistees can be found here.

The Wind in Spain

I’m thrilled to announce that The Silver Wind is coming to Spain!

The Spanish title will be Maquinas del Tiempo and the translation, underway as we speak, is by Carmen Torres and Laura Naranjo. The publisher is Nevsky Prospects, a small team of independent booklovers who are demonstrably passionate about weird fiction and committed to bringing new and international voices to a Spanish audience. One of their most recent publications is Karin Tidbeck’s brilliant debut collection Jagannath, which gives you an immediate indication of what an exciting vision these people have. Their books are also things of great beauty.  I’m delighted and excited that Maquinas del Tiempo will have such gifted and caring custodians on Spanish soil.

The book will feature an introduction by the writer and weird fiction devotee Sofia Rhei, who brought The Silver Wind to the attention of Marian and James at Nevsky in the first instance. The gorgeous cover design by Eva Ramon (who also designed the cover for Jagannath) has just been unveiled, and I for one couldn’t be happier with it.

Maquinas del Tiempo is due for release later this year. Watch this space for further details.

Complications makes the GPI shortlist!

I’m particularly excited to announce that the French edition of The Silver Wind, Complications, has been shortlisted for France’s best known award for speculative fiction, the Grand Prix de L’Imaginaire.

The GPI has been running since 1974, and introduced categories for works in translation in the 1990s. There have been some illustrious winners over the years. You might call the GPI the ‘French Clarke’ – except the GPI goes a mite further than the Clarke Award in offering award categories for Best Short Fiction and Best YA along with the Best Novel category. The GPI also honours manga, graphic novels and essays.

The short fiction category is open to both individual stories and whole collections. I’m thrilled to see Complications shortlisted alongside works by Ken Liu, Al Reynolds and Ian McDonald among others.

My amazing translator, Bernard Sigaud, is also shortlisted for his work on Complications for the Prix Jacques Chambon, the category of the GPI specifically dedicated to highlighting the work of translators. I’m delighted for him, and also for my publishers, Sylvie Martigny and Jean-Hubert Gailliot at Editions Tristram, who have put so much passion, energy and expertise into bringing Complications to a wider audience.

You can see details of all the GPI shortlists at the award’s official website here.

Complications goes live!

Today is the official book birthday of Complications, the French edition of The Silver Wind, published by Editions Tristram.

Some of the reviews are already in, and they ain’t too shabby…

Nina Allan ne signe en rien un livre triste, mais un texte teinté du réenchantement du quotidien par une forme de magie. Cette force qui nous maintient en vie en nous rendant réceptif à la beauté des apparitions et des signes: l’amour, toujours. (VOGUE)

Raymond Queneau disait qu’«onpeut faire rimer des personages et des situations, comme on fait rimer des mots». Là reside l’étrange poésie émanant du recueil de Nina Allan, dans cette alchimie qui exerce un effet magnétique, tantôt effrayant, tantôt apaisant, sur le lecteur. Entreitérations et variations, ses nouvelles serépondent, en effet, à la manière d’une chambre d’écho et forment des rouages aussi indissociables que les différents éléments composant un mécanisme horloger. (LE MONDE)

Complications n’est pas un livre que l’on pitche mais un texte qui donne à penser, questionne, interroge ; l’oeuvre d’un cerveau complexe et virtuose. (LES INROCKUPTIBLES)

To be spoken of in the same breath as Queneau? Woo, I say. Woo.