Friday, 10 October 2014

The Opaque District

Recently my short story, "The Opaque District", appeared in Horror Uncut, a collection of austerity stories published by Grey Friar Press. As with previous posts I've decided to explain the background to the story for those interested to know. Beware, there may be spoilers if you haven't read the piece.

I originally became aware of the anthology via correspondence with one of the editors, Joel Lane, who asked me to take part when we were discussing his possible contribution to an anthology I was editing, "punkPunk!". As many readers of this blog will know, Joel died unexpectedly in November 2013 (I wrote about this here), but the anthology continued through the co-editor, Tom Johnstone. The theme of the anthology was austerity and horror, how the two can combine, interplay, react. Tom has written a detailed background to the gestation of the anthology within the book, so I won't go into too much detail here. The other contributors include Joel Lane, Simon Bestwick, Priya Sharma, John Llewellyn Probert, Stephen Hampton, Gary McMahon, Anna Taborska, John Howard, Laura Lauro, Stephen Bacon, David Williams, Rosanne Rabinowitz, John Forth, David Turnbell, Alison Littlewood, and Thana Nirveau - so this is an anthology well-worth picking up.

My story stemmed - as they often do - from the title. I can't remember where it originated from, but "The Opaque District" was looking for a story for some time. Perhaps strangely, perhaps not, it reminded me of Joel's story, "The Lost District", and when I was approached for a piece for Horror Uncut it leapt out at me as the perfect title for the piece. My idea was that the financial breakdown had become so complete that there were now queues to join the queues, that society had broken so totally that the nature of human relationships had mutated in that we could barely speak to one another, and that a mythical land might exist where none of it had ever happened. Weaving into this some psychosis (Cotard's delusion, where an individual increasingly believes they do not exist - perfect for this piece), I ended up with a reality/unreality story where wish fulfillment battles austerity and the only possible escape is through fantasy. I personally think it's an odd little piece, and I hope that you like it.

Finally, I wrote the entirety of the story listening to Jay Malinowski's "Bright Lights and Bruises" on repeat.

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