The Rose in Twelve Petals by Theodora Goss

In the Forest of Forgetting by Theodora GossThe recently re-released collection In the Forest of Forgetting begins with a lovely fairy tale called “The Rose in Twelve Petals”. It does, as you might guess, have something to do with a sleeping beauty, but it is not the “Sleeping Beauty” story you know. If you have never read any of the stories collected in In the Forest of Forgetting, this one sets the tone. It has not yet appeared online, so here it is, made freely available for you to experience a taste of this collection, which you can read more about right here.

The Rose in Twelve Petals
by Theodora Goss

I. The Witch

This rose has twelve petals. Let the first one fall: Madeleine taps the glass bottle, and out tumbles a bit of pink silk that clinks on the table–a chip of tinted glass–no, look closer, a crystallized rose petal. She lifts it into a saucer and crushes it with the back of a spoon until it is reduced to lumpy powder and a puff of fragrance.

She looks at the book again. “Petal of one rose crushed, dung of small bat soaked in vinegar.” Not enough light comes through the cottage’s small-paned windows, and besides she is growing nearsighted, although she is only thirty-two. She leans closer to the page. He should have given her spectacles rather than pearls. She wrinkles her forehead to focus her eyes, which
makes her look prematurely old, as in a few years she no doubt will be. Bat dung has a dank, uncomfortable smell, like earth in caves that has never seen sunlight.

Can she trust it, this book? Two pounds ten shillings it cost her, including postage. She remembers the notice in The Gentlewoman’s Companion: “Every lady her own magician. Confound your enemies, astonish your friends! As simple as a cookery manual.” It looks magical enough, with Compendium Magicarum stamped on its spine and gilt pentagrams on its red leather cover. But the back pages advertise “a most miraculous lotion, that will make any lady’s skin as smooth as an infant’s bottom” and the collected works of Scott.

Not easy to spare ten shillings, not to mention two pounds, now that the King has cut off her income. Rather lucky, this cottage coming so cheap, although it has no proper plumbing, just a privy out back among the honeysuckle…

Click here to read the rest of The Rose in Twelve Petals.

The Glastonbury Conference for the Fantastic in Literature

A Holy Thorn
One of Glastonbury's Holy Thorns
Papaveria’s next appearance will be at the Glastonbury Conference for the Fantastic in Literature, hosted by our friend and colleague Liz Williams. This is going to be “A Feast for the imagination”. Here’s a quote from the British Fantasy Society website: “Imaginary, supernatural and magical worlds in literature feature in Glastonbury’s first Conference for the Fantastic, Saturday 3 September, from 10.00am-6.00pm, at The Grail Centre in Chilkwell Street.

The Write Fantastic will offer inspiring and thought-provoking talks, evocative art, and beautiful, unusual books. Speakers include guest of honour, best-selling fantasy author Freda Warrington; Liz Williams, a well-known Glastonbury figure and popular fantasy novelist, who will be bringing occultist and author Dion Fortune back to life; writer Kari Maund, an expert on Celtic Britain, will shed light on the colourful Arthurian tradition; and local author Paul Weston will explain the work and philosophy of John Cowper Powys.”

I, too, will have many books available, both the paperbacks and a few of the limited editions, as well as the very first copies of Shiny Thing which just arrived this morning. Shiny Thing has a release date of 20 September, so this will be the only chance to purchase a copy between now and then — after this, they go back into hiding until their day arrives. We’re attending the conference as vendors, but fortunately Dis will be with me, so I’ll be able to run off and listen to the speakers whenever I please (or sneak away for a pint!). We love Glastonbury, we think of it as a home away from home, and we’re very much looking forward to seeing everyone there.

A Night to Remember

Hal Duncan reading from Songs for the Devil and Death at Biblocafe, GlasgowIf ever you have the opportunity to attend a reading by Hal Duncan – especially a poetry reading – I strongly suggest you go. Hearing these poems spoken by the author, who moves with the speed of rocket lightning and speaks with his own brand of fire and brimstone, was truly something special. Most of the photos I took were a blur of movement, a wash of color reminiscent of sound.

Many thanks to Lou at Biblocafe for hosting this spectacular event, and thanks to all who turned out to celebrate the launch of Songs for the Devil and Death. Dis and I had a wonderful weekend, met some fine people and had our very own Glaswegian adventure as we drunkenly and happily wandered back to the hotel after the afterafter party at Hal’s, where we had the pleasure of hearing Hal read Rabelais and talk about some of his works in progress.

Tiny presses like Papaveria depend on the goodwill of others, and on Saturday night that goodwill overflowed. Thank you all again for a fantastic evening of poetry: shouted, chanted, and sung.

Oh and Lou? Your coffee is awesome. Best cup I’ve ever had on the road.