Hardback 9781848636149 Signed edition 9781848636132
The Lammas Worm
Wreck of the Julia
The stories collected in Stardust tell the story of horror movie actor Ruby Castle and the tragedy that befalls her, in snapshots and fleeting glimpses and secret histories, in tales repeated and reinvented by those who fall under her spell: her childhood sweetheart, a young chess prodigy, an antiquarian bookseller with a passion for magical artefacts, the mistress of the poet who was once Castle’s lover, a young girl in a future Russia who dreams of the stars. Worlds collide, and the boundaries between the real and the fantastic begin to break down. Is Ruby Castle a living person or a collective fantasy? By the time the final page of Stardust is turned, the world that Castle created through her films has become dangerously indistinguishable from our own.
Stardust is the lure of fame, the fallout from a burning rocket, the evanescent glister of a vanished dream.
Like The Silver Wind before it, this book was originally going to be a novel, but ended up as something rather different. Most of it was written in 2010, after I’d finished writing most of what would eventually become The Silver Wind. But it was only after completing work on Stardust that I was able to go back and write the final two stories (in the middle part of 2011) that went on to complete that volume.
I originally wrote ‘The Lammas Worm’ for Rosalie Parker’s 2009 anthology Strange Tales from Tartarus 3. I have no idea where it came from now, except that I was reading loads of stuff to do with circus at the time, and rather liked the idea of trying my hand at writing a circus novel. Then – well, you know what they say about buses. Kim Lakin Smith’s excellent Cyber Circus, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and Genevieve Valentine’s exquisite Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti all came out more or less within six months of each other, closely followed by a call for submissions for Marie O’Regan’s anthology A Carnivale of Horror. The last thing the world needed – at least for the moment – was another circus book. The only thing was I still had all this stuff, all these tag ends and odd widths of story I simply couldn’t bear to dump into the remnants bin.
My breakthrough moment came with the decision to have Ruby Castle, the elusive guiding light behind these stories, run away from the circus and become an actor. Everything else followed – or spiralled out – from there. I like to think of Stardust as a novel-in-hiding, a book that remains true to its circus roots, but with the circus passing through rather than staying in town. A travelling fair glimpsed from the high road, while you’re on your way to somewhere else.
You can buy Stardust here.
You can read the Story Behind Stardust here.