Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Buñuel's "The Exterminating Angel" - a personal analysis

My newest publication is my first non-fiction book: "Buñuel's The Exterminating Angel: a personal analysis" which is published by RoosterVision in both (reasonably priced) print and kindle editions. As usual on publication, I'm blogging a few thoughts as to how the book came about for those who might be interested.

The writer, Chris Kelso (also commissioning editor for this film book line), contacted me in May 2016 to ask whether I'd be interested in writing a short non-fiction piece about a movie that I love and had influenced my work. The remit was for it not to be an academic piece, but an informal appreciation. It would probably be useful in this part of the blog to quote from a recent Black Static interview where Pete Tennant asked me the self-same question:

Pete: "Why did you choose to write about Bunuel’s The Exterminating Angel? What is its appeal to you? Why do you feel it is an important film? And can you identify any echoes of TEA in your own work?"

My reply: "I was approached by Chris Kelso – the commissioning editor for the RoosterVision imprint – to see whether I would be interested in writing a film book from a purely personal perspective, about influences and resonances, rather than something academic. Whilst I’m not drawn to non-fiction, the project appealed to me as a film fan, and immediately a handful of films shot to mind – Donnie Darko, Mulholland Drive, Le Mepris, amongst them. But Buñuel had been my first introduction to both foreign and surrealist cinema, and of his movies The Exterminating Angel is my favourite.
"The central premise, of a group of socialites who find themselves unable to leave a room after a soiree following an opera despite there being no physical impediment in doing so, struck a chord with me in the way I find surrealism often does – it triggers a little receptor at the back of my mind which gives me joy. It’s as simple as that. You could say it is undoubtedly a horror film, a genuinely nightmarish situation which wouldn’t be out of place as a Twilight Zone episode. I would have seen this as part of a BBC2 retrospective as an impressionable teenager, and the surrealist juxtaposition of strangeness and familiarity is certainly something prevalent in my work and possibly influenced by that movie. Many of my genre stories tether normalcy to the weird, and this is explicit in The Exterminating Angel. The film never bores me and rewards repeated viewings. It’s a quintessential surrealist movie, although not everyone’s cup of tea. And in a reality imitating fiction scenario I’m attending an operatic adaptation in London this May. It will be interesting to see if I can leave the Royal Opera House after the performance."

When the opportunity arose, I spent some time watching and re-watching the movie, consulted the reference books on Buñuel that I already had, and also bought a few which I knew specifically referenced the film. Especially useful was a copy of the screenplay, which I used extensively to plot the film for those who might not have seen it, and also some pointers to reference material from an old friend of mine, Dr Steven Allen, who teaches on the Film Studies and Media Studies programmes at the University of Winchester. Having amassed a reasonable amount of material I then spun my own interpretation, linking surrealism with punk, providing a (very) brief overview of surrealist cinema and a micro-bio of Buñuel's career, and ended with some thoughts on other movies that might have been influenced by The Exterminating Angel (whether consciously or subconsciously or collective-consciously, either in style, plot, or other similarities), and also some musings on how viewing the film at an impressionable age has no doubt permeated my own fiction.

Hopefully, the result is a readable, personal engagement which will encourage those who haven't seen the movie to do so, and will also - for those who already have - provide a somewhat alternative appreciation of this classic film.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

And God Created Zombie - audio book

My 2009 novella, "And God Created Zombies", originally published in both paperback and hardback through NewCon Press, has recently breathed new life as an audio book. In this post I'll give a little background as to the writing of the novella itself and the process that I went through to create the audio version.

The novella itself is an existential work, although it does feature familiar slow-moving zombie tropes from the movies of George Romero. I can't say too much about it without giving away the main plot as there is a substantial twist in the denouement, however my main character, John Baker, finds himself increasingly embroiled in a zombie threat which appears personal. It is his unravelling of the reason behind that which forms the thrust of the plot. Notwithstanding this, there are several instances of gore and not a few comedic moments too. I half-swiped the title from the Roger Vadim movie, "And God Created Women" (although there the similarities end), and the print version had an introduction by best-selling author, Sarah Pinborough.

Whilst the novella was published eight years ago, it's still in print (check out the links above or message me for discounted/signed options), and following a conversation with the writer, Craig Saunders, I became aware of ACX and the possibilities of creating an audiobook version. What really appealed with ACX was the option of working with a voice artist who wouldn't require an up-front payment, but a 50/50 split of any profit. Whilst I appreciate the risk is greater for the voice artist that way - the audio book comes in just short of four hours, but that's just the tip of the voice artist's time - it did mean I could experiment with that form and see if there was a market for my work in audio book format without having to pay anything (that I couldn't afford) up front.

The process is simple: upload a selection of the text to ACX in the hope that a voice artist will make contact with a sample. Choose the best sample out of those that come in. Then authorise the voice artist to go ahead with the work. Finally, upload the finished result. It really couldn't be easier from the writer's point of view.

I was lucky to be approached by William L Sturdevant who I found professional and friendly throughout the process. Listening to the novella for the first time in quite a few years was also an interesting experience, and intriguing to have the story 'read' to me. It has genuinely thrown new light on the book and made me remember how proud I am to have written it. It's a cracking story with philosophical undertones and if I enjoyed it, maybe you will too.

"And God Created Zombies" can be found here on Audible (free with a 30-day Trial for those not currently Audible subscribers). If you do buy it, please consider leaving a review.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

A Preview Of Coming Attractions

My short story, "A Preview Of Coming Attractions", has just been made available on the excellent App from Great Jones Street, and as usual I'm blogging a few thoughts as to how the story was written. There may be spoilers for those yet to read it.

Great Jones Street is an App only magazine which has previously published my short stories, "Sarcoline", "Vole Mountain" (as reprint), and "Blood For Your Mother" (as reprint). It's a great resource for quality fiction and the App can be downloaded for FREE here.

I was approached by the editors with a request to write a piece of flash fiction for Valentine's Day and was eager to take part. I already had a title, "A Preview Of Coming Attractions", waiting to be written (although when I made a note of it I had no idea what kind of story it might be), and it seemed like a good starting point. I had the idea to write a piece from a female perspective, a reminiscence of sexual encounters, expanding and challenging throughout the years. Taking a lead from the title I decided to section the story within the parameters of movie classification, and as the publisher is American I decided to utilise the American classification system considering this would be more familiar to their audience (the story is therefore split into sections G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17).

Regular blog readers will know I write to a musical background, and instinctively the song "Je t'aime...moi non plus" suggested itself as most appropriate. I prefer the Gainsbourg/Bardot version, but I also have the Gainsbourg/Birkin version. It struck me that I could use the subtle differences within the versions as part of the story itself, and so I played one version after another on repeat whilst writing (as indeed, my protagonist does whilst reminiscing).

To say more about the story will give too much away - it is only 749 words in total, after all - but here's a brief extract:

Edging towards eternity.

I see his outline for the first time. An electric eel.

Bending my head I receive the only acceptable bruise for my age group.

The discolouration brands me. I wear a scarf indoors.

Sometimes, in fast cars, everything is a blur.

Overlooking the town, the lights, one of them is a mirror. The stars hold greater permanence, yet we are also them when viewed from another planet.

He will find me as a naked, treeless, deserted island.

Just one look is molecular disintegration.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Cold Water Killer

My short story, "Cold Water Killer", has recently been published in Spark Vol VIII, and as usual I'm blogging a few thoughts as to how the story came about. There may be spoilers for those who have yet to read it.

"Cold Water Killer" is one of my Mordent stories, Mordent being a detective-turned-PI with a bubblewrap fetish who views life through noir-tinted glasses. I had written a series of Mordent short stories before realising he was prime material for a novel and some of those short stories formed part of the first two books in the series. "Cold Water Killer" was originally intended as a chapter in the novel, "Church of Wire", but after discussion with the publisher it seemed superfluous for that novel. I therefore decided to sell it as a standalone story.

The story is set in 1975, when DNA-profiling was in its infancy in criminal cases. A random sniper disguises his fingerprints by immersing his hands in water prior to committing his crimes; the subsequently crenulated skin obliterating his identity. This is intertwined with a relationship Mordent has with a florist, and the indiscriminate nature of the killings is compared to the equally indiscriminate concept of love.

Here's a bit of it:

Mordent had been in the force a sparse few years. Had lost his feet and then found them. The drinking was only just starting to kick in. Back then, people were allowed to be characters rather than caricatures and his precinct was full of them. As the years rolled by, so the faceless ones dominated. When Mordent was only the character left, he left.

But back in '75, with flowers budding like parachutes seen from the ground, and the dirt on the streets washed by April rains, his future spread in front of him like a body unrolled in carpet.

Spark VIII also contains work by Gabriel Griffin, Louis Rakovich, Charles Henke, Karen Resta, Bo Balder, Michael Haynes, India Stronach, Sarah L. Johnson, GennaRose Nethercott, Janet E. Irvin, Dany G. Zuwen, Floris M. Kleijne, Alix E. Harrow, Alexis A. Hunter, Beth Cato, Jeff Bowles,
Brian Fence, Crystal Lynn Hilbert, Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, Francis Marion Soty, Marina J. Lostetter, Olivia R. Burton, Dustin Brown, Brynn MacNab, John Vicary, Kristen Skerry Andrews, James Aquilone, Layla Carr, Michael Garrett Ashby II, Lily Iona MacKenzie, George Wells, W. P. Johnson, Tom Crosshill and Melissa Cannon. Purchase it here.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

The Best and Worst of 2016

Well, it's that time of the year when everyone is doing their 'best and worst of' lists, so here is mine. I'm going to list the books and movies I read/watched in 2016 and then pick my favourites. This isn't restricted to what was new in 2016, but what I actually watched and read - some of these items might be very old indeed.


I read the following in 2016:

Paul Auster – Mr Vertigo
Ira Levin – Sliver
Matthew De Abaitua – The Destructives
Italo Calvino – Mr Palomar
Christopher Priest – The Extremes
Georges Simenon – The Mahe Circle
Joel Lane – Where Furnaces Burn
Skein and Bone – V H Leslie
Joel Lane – Trouble In The Heartland
Conrad Williams – Use Once, Then Destroy
Yoko Ogawa – Hotel Iris
Salvador Dali - Oui
Liv Spencer – Taylor Swift: The Platinum Edition
E.M. Forster – Where Angels Fear To Tread
Yoshihiro Tatsumi – A Drifting Life
Michael Chabon – The Yiddish Policeman’s Union
Jaime Hernandez – The Love Bunglers
Phillippe Soupault – Last Nights of Paris
Chester Himes – If He Hollers Let Him Go
Nathanael West – The Day of the Locust
Nicolas Dickner – Nikolski
Chris Beckett – The Peacock Cloak
Alan Stillitoe – The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
Christopher Priest – The Space Machine
Vladimir Nabokov – The Real Life Of Sebastian Knight
Sarah Pinborough – The Death House
Shirley Jackson – The Haunting of Hill House
Peter Coleburn and Pauline E Dungate (editors) – Something Remains
Cate Gardner – The Bureau of Them
Ray Cluley – Within The Wind Beneath The Snow
Gary Fry – Scourge
Mark Morris – Albion Fay
Richard Brautigan – A Confederate General From Big Sur
Conrad A Williams – Decay Inevitable
Brett Savory – A Perfect Machine
Paul M Feeney – The Last Bus
Andrew Hook – Human Maps
Richard Brautigan – Dreaming of Babylon
Richard Brautigan – The Hawkline Monster
Jeff Noon – A Man Of Shadows
Doug Jones – London and Norfolk Poems
Nick Jackson – The Secret Life Of The Panda
Anna Kavan – Sleep Has His House

That's worked out at 43 books this year, a few more than last year but average overall (although I'm still reading the Doug Jones, which is poetry that I'm dipping in and out of). Definitely amongst the worst of the bunch were Paul Auster's "Mr Vertigo" (and I love Auster, but this was a meandering mess), Ira Levin's "Sliver" which was just ridiculous, and Christopher Priest's "The Space Machine" which just didn't work for me (interestingly, both Auster and Priest made my top three last year). The absolute worst book I read this year, however, was the carnage which was Michael Chabon's "The Yiddish Policeman's Union": a total dirge and dreadfully written. Thankfully these books were eclipsed by some great reads. Special mentions to "The Death House" by Sarah Pinborough (a simple tale which - goddammit - made me cry), "The Secret Life Of The Panda" by Nick Jackson (a great collection of short stories), "The Haunting Of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson, and "Nikolski" by Nikolas Dickner. If I were to choose a best anthology it would be "Something Remains", stories inspired by the notes of Joel Lane, which was uniformly brilliant. And special mention to Richard Brautigan, whose writings I discovered this year via Rhys Hughes, and whose "The Hawkline Monster" almost made my top three.

Before the final reveal I also want to mention three books I proofread this year for Angry Robot. I usually don't include 'work' books in my listing (in some instances it would be unprofessional to do so), but "The Destructives" by Matthew de Abaitua was a great SF book, and being published next year are the inventive "A Perfect Machine" by Brett Savory and the brilliant "A Man Of Shadows" by Jeff Noon (a book I wish I'd written). All well-worth seeking out.

As usual, I'm going to base my top three from my Goodreads review. This is very straightforward for 2016 as only three books received 5/5 and putting them in order feels quite natural. So, without further ado, here they are:

In reverse order:

"Sleep Has His House" by Anna Kavan

Kavan must be one of my favourite female writers and her work is always challenging and often difficult with flashes of brilliance. She nearly made my top three last year with "A Scarcity Of Love", but has cracked it with this book which tells a tale of a woman withdrawing from daylight existence and living only at night. These states are metaphorical, however, and semi-autobiographical chapter introductions are then fully-fleshed as surrealist counterparts within each chapter as a whole. It's an inventive, intriguing, and engaging synthesis of memoir and experimentation.

"Where Furnaces Burn" by Joel Lane

I love Joel's writing and this (World Fantasy Award winning) collection of supernatural police stories is simply superb. Incisive dialogue, intelligent phrasing, weirdly believable scenarios, these all make for a dark, troublesome, realistic read and because the same protagonist features throughout the cumulative continuity of his journey really adds to the overall experience.

And the winner is:

"The Mahé Circle" by Georges Simenon

I really love Simenon's pared down style and am generally finding his non-Maigret novels even more exciting. This short novel is a brilliantly told tale of obsession leading to destruction, and easily makes for my best read of 2016.


I watched the following in 2016:

Goodbye To Language
Henry and June
The Holy Mountain
Wake Wood
Ace In The Hole
The Hateful Eight
The American
The Box
Robot and Frank
End Of The Century: The Story Of The Ramones
High Fidelity
Memoirs of a Geisha
Lost Highway
The Misfits
Le Mepris
Bus Stop
Funny Games
Last Year In Marienbad
Bande A Part
The Conformist
Magic In The Moonlight
Anna Karenina
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
Altered States
Wild At Heart
The Lobster
Body Heat
King of the Zombies
Gone Girl
Bad Lieutenant
We Are Still Here
The Book Thief
Fading Gigolo
The Borderlands
The Wind Rises
Catch Me Daddy
The Grand Budapest Hotel
East of Eden
The Collector
Bullet Ballet
The Exterminating Angel
The Exterminating Angel
The Babadook
Blue Ruin
Don’t Come Knocking
In Darkness
Stalag 17
Vanilla Sky
Gone Baby Gone
There Will Be Blood
Three Colours: Blue
Three Colours: White
The Club
White Dog
Three Colours: Red
Betty Blue
The Man Who Knew Too Much
The Wicker Man
The Last Detail
The Battleship Potemkin
The Graduate
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
The Diaboliques
The Talented Mr Ripley
Eastern Promises
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
The Boys From Brazil
Séance On A Wet Afternoon
Grand Piano
A History Of Violence
Cast A Dark Shadow
The Wages Of Fear
Black Narcissus
Pretty Persuasion
These Three
I Know Where I’m Going!
Come And See
The Exterminating Angel
Welcome To New York
Schultze Gets The Blues
Johnny Guitar
The Passionate Friends
The Blue Room
Farewell My Lovely
Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?
The King Of Marvin Gardens
Switchblade Sisters
The Lady Vanishes
Mr and Mrs Smith
Lupe Under The Sun
Samaritan Girl
Where The Sidewalk Ends
Wuthering Heights
Days of Heaven
Little Foxes
Natural Born Killers
All Night Long
Beat Girl
The Nun
Tokyo Fist
Saturday Night Sunday Morning
Build My Gallows High
Turtles Can Fly
48 HRS.
Single White Female
The Station Agent
A Taste Of Honey
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
Artificial Paradises
JLG/JLG - Self-Portrait In December

That's 144 movies this year, an increase from 116 in 2015 and 47 in 2014 (movie watching increases as child care decreases!) Of course, this makes the list much more difficult to narrow down to my top three, and unlike books I don't have a site equivalent to Goodreads with which to guide my memory.

As usual, however, I'm discounting movies I've previously seen. Luis Bunuel's "The Exterminating Angel" appears three times in my list because I watched it for research for a book I've written about the film which will be published in 2017 by Rooster Republic Press. It also knocks out gems such as "Close Encounters of The Third Kind" (equally as powerful as when I first saw it almost thirty years ago), the "Three Colours" trilogy (the ending of the third movie utterly destroys me cinematically), "The Wicker Man" (just as terrifying), "Come and See" (emotionally devastating), "Videodrome" (perfect Cronenberg), and Godard's "Le Mepris" which we were lucky to see on the big screen this year and is one of my favourite films of all time.

Those movies which were just awful are easy to chronicle, and this unfortunately includes Tarantino's "The Hateful Eight" which was dross from (almost) start to finish, "The Lobster" (which I really wanted to love but just hit all the wrong notes for me), "Grand Piano" (one of the most ridiculous films I've ever seen), and "Natural Born Killers" (tedious, indulgent, unnecessary).

This leaves us with some great movies. I thoroughly enjoyed both "Stalag 17" and "A Taste of Honey", both of which mixed brilliant characterisation with pathos and humour, "Days of Heaven" (a subtle, moving movie), "Blue Ruin" (compelling modern noir), and "A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night" (perfectly pitched Iranian horror). Very special mentions must go to "The American" (very surprised by this George Clooney flick which I thought almost perfectly understated), "Funny Games" (which came so close to my top three - the brief section where the scene plays out in reverse was utterly brilliant), "Triangle" (flawless horror with perfectly sustained logic), "The Holy Mountain" (genius Jodorowsky with some wonderful imagery/ideas, which fails only for being overlong in parts), "Build My Gallows High" (unbeatable noir) and British horror "The Borderlands" (the ending of which continues to unsettle me and play on my mind).

I get the feeling that another day might produce marginally different results, but - today - here are my top three movies I saw for the first time in 2016.
Again, in reverse order:

"Coherence" (2013) - James Ward Byrkit

From a seemingly slow start where all the puzzle pieces are overlaid this SF movie slowly unravels both its own plot and viewer expectations. Essentially, an alternate reality movie where for a brief period all realities are infinitely accessible, it thankfully never becomes too clever for its own good and maintains its inner logic for perfect satisfaction. The ending - perhaps - could be different. But then maybe there were different endings in other realities.

"There Will Be Blood" (2007) - Paul Thomas Anderson 

On the face of it a simple tale about an oil man's quest for wealth over and above all other considerations, this lengthy movie never drags and is gripping throughout right through to the inevitable - almost farcical - conclusion.

And the winner is...

"Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?" (1966) - William Klein

I almost didn't watch this movie when it appeared on Mubi because neither the film's title nor the plot satirizing the fashion world particularly appealed, however I'm glad that I did. Proving the maxim that 'it ain't what you do but the way that you do it' from the very first scene, I was utterly delighted by the sheer inventiveness, charm, French New Wave vibe, and off-kilter sensations that the movie has in spades. It's fair to say I found myself frequently gasping, rolling in ecstasy, and smiling throughout this film. It's a little known gem which deserves a loving audience.
So that's it. Looking forward to reading and watching more in 2017!

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

My Writing Year 2016

As has become annual I thought I'd do a quick blog post as to my literary achievements during 2016.

I've had three books published this year. First was the long awaited (changed publishers so many times!) collection of short stories I co-wrote with Allen Ashley, Slow Motion Wars, from theEXAGGERATEDpress. Des Lewis reviewed it extensively and favourably, here (NB: all typos mentioned in the review have subsequently been fixed). Next up, my SF/F/H novella, The Greens, from Snowbooks (another change of publisher). Author, Kaaron Warren, was kind enough to blurb it as a vivid exploration of how the past affects the present. Andrew Hook provides an evocative, emotional read, with a final scene that will stay with you for a long time. And finally my fifth short story collection, Human Maps, was published at the end of the year by the wonderful Eibonvale Press. This collection brings together twenty-one previously published stories and I'm looking forward to feedback and reviews.

I wrote twelve short stories this year: "White Matter", "Blanche", "The Girl With The Horizontal Walk", "A Pageant Of Clouds", "The Smell Of Petroleum", "The Marble Orchard", "The Jayne Mansfield Nuclear Project", "Tokyo In Rain", "Fantôme", "The Six Cloud Thousand", "The Easy Flirtations", and "Sarcoline".

I sold twelve short stories: "The Al Pacino Appreciation Society" to Crimewave, "Somntuta" to Lighthouse, "White Matter" to Ghost Highway, "A Life In Plastic" (reprint) to Dark In The Day, "The Marble Orchard" to Ten Tall Tales, "Blanche" to Something Remains, "Beyond Each Blue Horizon" (reprint) to Do Something, "Making Friends With Fold-Out Flaps" to an anthology I am unable to name at present, "Clusterfuck" to Ambit, and the following three stories to Great Jones Street: ("Sarcoline", "Blood For Your Mother" and "Vole Mountain" - the latter two being reprints).

The following ten stories were published this year: "Somntuta" in Lighthouse, "The Day My Heart Stood Still" in Postscripts #36/37, "Beyond Each Blue Horizon" in Do Something, "A Life In Plastic" in Dark In The Day, "White Matter" in Ghost Highway, "Blanche" in Something Remains, "The Marble Orchard" in Ten Tall Tales, and "Sarcoline", "Blood For Your Mother" and "Vole Mountain" all over at Great Jones Street.

I also had an article, "Writing The Short Story: Character, Scene, Conflict", appear in the BSFA magazine, Focus. And I wrote and sold a non-fiction book, "Bunuel's The Exterminating Angel: a personal analysis", to Rooster Republic Press for publication in 2017. My sixth collection of short stories, "Frequencies Of Existence", should also appear from a publisher I'm not yet allowed to name for publication in 2018. And I have edited "Elasticity", an Elastic Press retrospective, which should appear from NewCon Press sometime in 2017.

Also this year I continued assisting my partner in her publishing venture Salò Press, where we published the anthology, A Galaxy Of Starfish edited by Sophie Essex, and a poetry collection, The Plural Space by Matthew Mahaney.

I have a handful of stories awaiting publication that were originally accepted in 2014(!)/2015/2016, and my next main project is a collection of themed stories, tentatively titled "Candescent Blooms", of which four stories out of a probable twelve have been written. A few novels are also under consideration by various agents/publishers, although I'm not writing a novel at this moment in time.

I guess that's not a bad year!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016


My short story, "Sarcoline", has just been published over at Great Jones Street and as usual I'm blogging a few words about how the story came into being for those who might be interested. Beware, there might be spoilers.

A few words first about Great Jones Street. This is an App which describes itself as the Netflix of fiction and serves as a depository specifically for short stories. It is a great paying market, so not only are they passionate about the short story from the reader's perspective, but also from the writers. And the App itself is free, so pop along to their site and download it. "Sarcoline" is an original piece of fiction, however you will also find a couple of reprints from myself there too: "Blood For Your Mother" and "Vole Mountain".

Onto the story itself. "Sarcoline" is one of a series of stories I'm writing at the moment which I hope will form part of a new collection regarding Hollywood celebrity deaths of the 1920s through to the 1980s. These stories are told from the viewpoints of the celebrity at the exact moment of their (usually) tragic deaths - the results being kind of alternate autobiographies, fragments of memory, death assimilations, where fact and fiction intertwine as their souls vacate their bodies. In this instance, the story is based on the life and death of the actress, Grace Kelly. The word sarcoline means flesh-coloured, and I felt it resonated with Grace in a way which I could use.

Here's an excerpt:

In her room at the Barbizon Hotel for Women she lays diagonally across the bed. The tape recorder squeaks on rewind. She simultaneously presses record and play. Speaks: fairytales tell imaginary stories. Me, I'm a living person. I exist. On the bed beside her lies the script for Strindberg's The Father. She reaches for a pencil and taps it against her teeth. Her legs extend upwards, crossed at the ankle. Within a coffee cup, dregs congeal. This scene is lit by the non-Technicolor glow of her bedside lamp, its shade muted yellow as the beam.

Finally, I wrote the entirety of "Sarcoline" whilst listening to the song, "Sweeter Than You", by Dr John Cooper Clarke and Hugh Cornwell on repeat.