Festival of the Imagination 1996 – Souvenir Book – Storm Constantine – An Appreciation

This is from the Swancon 21/Festival of the Imagination 1996’s Souvenir book, pages 20-21. It contains an Appreciation of Storm Constantine by Graham Joyce and a mini-bio of Mr Joyce. I have endeavoured to transcribe his words as accurately as possible.

An Appreciation

Graham Joyce

Catwoman! That’s what I thought when I first met Storm Constantine. All right, don’t take the piss but this was before Hollywood started turning out doss Batman movies where all the women dress in PVC. No no no. This was when Storm Constantine strutted her stuff at SF cons in fish-nets and thigh-length spike-heeled boots, and I wasn’t the only guy sweeping the floor with his tongue and going “Hey! Catwoman!”

But I intuited it in more ways than one, since Storm obviously has a past-or-future-life as a cat. The first time I went to her house there were half a dozen exotic felines crawling the bookshelves, draped across computer monitors and commanding the best chairs. The last time I was there the number seemed to have at least doubled. If you imagine a hybrid of Catwoman and a White Russian émigré countess fantasy writer, you’re getting there. And of course, Storm is such a charming, warm and friendly one of those hybrids, you put up with the cat-hair coffee and the bleeding cat-hair sandwiches because she’s such damn good company.

We shared a stable at Headline publishers, and now we share a stable at Penguin and during that time I never failed to notice that at every public appearance she seemed to trail behind her an entourage of beautiful, epicene young men and deliciously aggressive and exotic vamp-like women. Personally I tend to retire from such bewitching people but their almost constant presence does cause one to speculate on the sexual ambivalence of her wonderful novels.

“But what do you do with the bones?” I once asked her plaintively over a Vodka (her favourite tipple) late, very late in some convention hotel. She didn’t answer. She just drained her glass, licked her full, crimson lips, looked at me with dissolving eyes, and burped. Then, no doubt she despatched me to the bar for more Vodka. To hear is to obey.

In fact it’s then, during the wee hours and fuelled on high-octane Vodka you are likely to catch the woman at her best. Particularly if she is being wooed by one of the young, epicene aforementioned whereupon she’s apt to throw back her head and cackle. That wonderful cackle-from-another-world is likely to summon the worried night porter, who will be sent away in search of more Vodka.

Not a great traveller, Storm, preferring generally to circumvent the sparkling and luminous inner-worlds and cross the great rainbow-bridges of her spectacular imagination. So unhappy with travelling is she that occasionally I’m lucky enough to get called upon as consort/travel minder, at least until someone more beautiful and more palely Gothic arrives, whereupon I get banished, whimpering, to the shadows of the bar. In fact so uncomfortable is Storm with travel that I’m wondering how she’s going to cope with flying to the other side of the world. I discussed the business of travelling to Australia with her, and at one stage I thought I must be talking to Marco Polo, so gruelling and minatory did the expedition seem. But I knew that by the time she reached Oz she’d have a great time, because Storm has a great capacity for fun and a natural disposition to party. I know she’ll take instantly to Australia, and that Australian folk will take instantly to her.

One time in Glasgow, after much Vodka, our editor (we share the same editor, Luigi Bonomi at Penguin) had literally slithered under the table so Storm and I poured him into the lift and spooned him into bed. Then we went back for another drink or two. Late, very late, Storm unaccountably got it into her head that she wanted her butt tattooed. I tried to talk her out of it but she raved. She ranted. she ordered me to get a taxi and stay with her until the job was done.

“No, nooo nooo Storm,” I pleaded, but she stood on a table and called me some terrible names, upsetting the night porter again. She wanted an angel on her butt and if she wanted an angel on her butt by God she was gonna damn well have an angel on her butt etc etc etc. So I found myself driving round Glasgow in a cab with the dawn almost ready to crack (why does she have this strange power to make me do things?) We finally found one and it didn’t look too healthy to me, so I had to secretly pay the tattooist a tender NOT to tattoo her. After a lot of shouting we went back to the hotel, where she now wanted me to apply the tattoo with a safety pin and a bottle of carpet dye she’d stolen from the tattoo studio. I was trying to refuse when I passed out.

She now pretends this all never happened. No doubt I will taste the whip for telling you this. How my heart hammers.

But one of the most exciting things about Storm is her halo of creativity. Beyond her novels she has published numerous short stories and recently a volume of poetry. She has an intimate knowledge of the music biz, and has managed a brace of rock bands in her time. Now comes a new venture, the publication of the dark fantasy magazine, Visionary Tongue. A mark of Storm’s generosity to younger or newer writers, it’s a clever idea: new writers collaborate with and have their work edited by established professionals, whom Storm recruited to work with her on the project. it’s also typical, as Storm is an author who is always quick to praise and encourage others.

And so to Oz. Remember, it’s a long white-knuckle ride on the plane for some people. She’s come a long way, has Storm, in more ways than one. Don’t miss the opportunity to meet this fabulous woman, buy one of her wonderful books, buy her Vodka. I hope she comes back from Oz sans tattoos but having made loads of new friends.

Graham Joyce

Graham Joyce
Wit, raconteur, irrepressible mimic, drunk, and all around nice guy, Graham also takes time off from convention partying and escort duties to write the odd book. His first novel was Dreamside (Pan 1991) which sparked an interest, and several workshops, in lucid dreaming. His next two novels, both for Headlne, (Dark Sister and House of Lost Dreams) were critically acclaimed dark fantasies. Dark Sister won the 1993 British Fantasy Awards. His fourth novel (from Penguin/Creed) was the atmospheric ghost story, Requiem set in Jerusalem. Graham’s new novel, The Tooth Fairy, will be published by Penguin/Creed this coming Autumn.

This entry was posted in Con books, Conventions, SwanCon and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *