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.