Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The postman is a creep: an explanation


A huge welcome to readers of Every Day Fiction. I'm assuming you've made it here today after reading my story The postman is a creep; which was published over there this morning. I hope you enjoyed it.

However, even if you did enjoy enjoy it, the story isn't exactly breakfast reading and you are probably thinking something along the lines of.... 'what?' I thought I'd offer you this post to explain a few things.

The story is an experiment of sorts. I blogged about it shortly after halloween. I was in a particularly haunting kind of mood and decided to work on my own horror tale. I said at the time that I wanted to work on providing a 'slow drip feed of information' and I think the postman works on that level. At the beginning of the story you know next to nothing about this figure or more importantly, about the people of the town. That slowly changes over the course of the piece until we discover the truth in the final few paragraphs. It's a classic horror scenario and hopefully I've used it effectively.

The other important horror trope I tried to incorporate was a fear of the unknown. My postman was invented whilst walking to work one morning. It was cold and dark and the postmen were picking their way along the streets of London. Every road I turned down, there were more of them. And I saw these postman which such startling regularity that they began to appear strange. It was like repeating a word over and over again. The postman quite simply became - odd. So I worked on the physical description of my postman that evening. In an earlier draft of the story this section came about half way through, but whilst editing I decided it was far more sinister to open the story with it. My thinking behind it was to throw the reader in at the deep end and hope I didn't drown them.

So there you have it - my reasoning behind what is quite possibly the strangest thing I've ever written.

I genuinely hope you enjoyed it. And if not... well, why not check out some of my other stuff.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Lovers' Lies published! (and other stories)

It's a book. I am in it. It is officially published today.

Later today I am going to saunter into a bookshop and pick up a copy of Lovers' Lies. I will probably have a huge smile on my face and creep out whoever sells it to me - but that's ok. I'm allowed to do that. I have a story in there.

Lovers' Lies is published today through Arachne Press, a relatively new publisher of anything exciting. This book is created as an antidote to Valentines Day. It is a book designed expressly for romantic cynics and cynical romantics. As such - my story feels right at home amongst the pages.

Undeniable proof

I'm in good company too. My advance copy has already been picked apart and devoured over the course of the last week. The stories cover a broad spectrum and whilst none are typically 'love stories' they all deal with the L-word in some way. As it says in the blurb... 'Strange Journeys and Stranger Destinations' await you. A full list of the authors can be found here:

Also - I've had two submission acceptances so far this year, both for brand new stories.
One will be appearing on the excellent Every Day Fiction in the next few months, and the other over at Apocrypha and Abstractions in April.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Lovers' Lies

Good news everybody!

I have recently found out that I will have a story included in Arachne Press' second collaberation with Liar's League. It has been almost two years now since the lovely Sarah Le Favre read my story at a Liars League event. You can see that video here.

The story, entitled Games I've played and the people I've played them with will be included in the forthcoming publication Lovers' Lies, due in bookstores early next year.

I have very recently purchased a copy of the first collaboration, and it is excellent. I'm thrilled to be a part of this and will have more details shortly.

In the meantime you can read more about the first book (London Lies) here, or just buy one from your nearest (awesome) bookshop.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Hallowe'en is behind us but horror never leaves

The creepiest night of the year has come and gone. The pumpkins can be left out to rot and the broomsticks can go back in the cupboards again. I hope everyone had a fantastic Halloween. I certainly did (if you're curious I went to see The Horror! The Horror! at Wiltons and it was both deliciously dark and intensely funny.) I've always loved Halloween, and it excites me that each year it gets bigger and bigger in the UK. By the time I'm ready to settle in the suburbs I'm hoping that we will have reached full throttle on the 31st October. I'm talking about houses decorated like this:

But this is a blog about books and writing, so let me get to the point. I've always loved horror writing. I spent my very early reading years with my nose stuck in anything I could find from the Point Horror collection, and later I would devour Stephen King novels like they were After Eight mints. This, substituted with my childhood love of the Twilight Zone and infamous video nasties (Sam Raimi, I'm looking at you) makes for a somewhat warped mind in adult life. So it's with no small suprise that I've found myself re-visiting the greatest of all horror writing: the Short Story.

I've read recently (sorry - no idea where) that all stories are horror stories at heart. There is always that twisted knot of conflict to drive the action, and that action always horror at it's heart. In simple terms a love story takes it's horror from the fear of being alone (or with the wrong person) and other types of stories work in similar ways. There is always a darkness. With no danger, conflict or fear then there is no reason to urge any characters forwards. I thought that was an interesting idea, and I agree with it for the most part but those are not the stories I have been reading. I have been reading those traditional horror stories that play on our universal fear of the dark and our tendency to run from what we know is coming.

The short story has a long and lucrative relationship with the horror genre. The masters of the craft use the shorter length to keep things from the audience. It's very much all about what you are not told that make things creepy; whether this is a twist in the tale like in Amborse Bierce's An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge (fine that - read it!) or the grandeous and forever veiled Cthulu Mythos from Lovecraft's stories. It works. It scares because it isn't known.

This rediscovered love of the short horror tale has, inevitable I guess, led me to start working on my own horror stories. It's not something I've done before and I'm loving it. There is an endless amount of fun to be had in that slow drip of information, that relishing of the darkness and those long cold fingers on the back of your neck.

My first effort 'The postman is a creep' is currently pending acceptance / rejection at a couple of journals so I'll keep you up to date on that.

On the meantime there's plenty of horror out there to get your demonic fangs into. here's a few to get you started...

The Damned Thing - Ambrose Piece
The Rats in the Walls - HP Lovecraft
The Deamon Lover - Shirley Jackson
Ligeia - Edgar Allen Poe

Monday, 1 October 2012

A summer of books: chronicled

So the summer is definitely over. In fact the dull grey (light?) that it leaking in through my window suggests that it has been over for a while. But before we let it go completely and before we greet the autumn with it's pumpkin soups and Halloween masks I would like to say a brief farewell to this, most fantastic of summers.

Living in the capital has never felt quite so urgent and exciting as it did over the last few months. I've loved every second of both the Olympic and Paralympic games. I've been to the stadium, I've seen the athletes, I've eaten the customary sponsorship McDonald's. On top of all that I have been to Rome, I've started a new job, I've trekked for four days across the coast of Southern England and I've read a lot.

Reading is essential for me. I think it's essential for everyone. Last year I spent a lot of my free time writing stories and working on my novel, and whilst I'm still keeping a hand in with that, I've really decided to take a break from the output and enjoy the fine art of absorption. Yes, I've been sponging up novels and stories all summer.

“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” 
― Stephen King

Good old Stephen. He knows what he is talking about. And so do a lot of other people. Its universally accepted that good writing stems from good reading. I'm not sure about the latter having to be 'good' exactly. I'll read anything. 

Here's a chronicle of my summer reading:

The Museum of love - Steve Weiner
Great House - Nicole Krauss
Of Love and Other Demons - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Bullet Park - John Cheever
The Long Walk - Stephen King
Under the Dome - Stephen King
Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegurt
The Call of Cthulu and other Weird Stories - H.P Lovecraft
The Murders at Rue Morgue - Edgar Allen Poe
Sound - T.M Wolf

All of them are wonderful but a special mention to Mr Weiner. I've never felt so utterly disorientated or physically ill whilst reading a novel. It makes Naked Lunch look like a absolute picnic.

So what will I be reading in the autumn? I don't know. I just stumble upon things. 
But how about you? Anything interesting on the literary horizon?  Any thoughts on the books above? Let me know and we will have a chat. There's nothing better than a good chat after a reading a book.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Creating A Timetable

They paid him to drive empty buses. He was the man they called if they were planning a new route. They sent him to a hundred different depots where he would collect a thousand different buses; always different colours, and always with different locations above the windscreens. To him each bus was the same empty giant with pungent smelling seats lined up like teeth at his back.

Three times a day he would drive the bus wherever they told him. At each red dot on his map he would stop and take the exact time. He opened the bus doors and imagined the people clomping up the stairs with heaving shopping bags. He allowed time to sell each of them a ticket. He added up all the stops. The hands of a clock forever revolved in his head. He scribbled digits on dog eared spreadsheets that they gave him each morning.

In the evenings he returned. The men at their desks would click their pens and chew over his data.

This happened once at a bus stop. A woman spoke to him with one foot in the bus doorway. “I’ve been here hours,” she said. “Let me on. What do you mean you’re not scheduled? Let me on.” He calmed the woman. He showed her the spreadsheets. He smoothed things over. Only, when he pulled away he looked at her in his mirror and he thought, I should have offered her a lift. His foot stroked the brake so that the metal frames of the seats chattered behind him, but he kept driving.
At his funeral his grandchildren will remember him as the man with the pencil behind his ear. He was the old man with big ideas and scraps of paper falling from his trouser pockets whenever he sat down. Sometimes he would take one of those scraps of paper and smooth it out on his thigh. This is when he wasn’t telling them stories or showing them his photographs. He would take the scrap of paper and write something on it. Then he would put it away.

This happened once; years after his retirement. His wife saw him returning from the shops with a bag full of post-it notes. She never said anything. He liked to write things down. Later, when she came across the receipt, she slipped it into the bin and never said a word.

At his wake his grandchildren will find their way to his study. They will divide up the magnificent oil paintings he has made for them. The study will smell of pine and tobacco. They will open a desk drawer, expecting to find paint brushes but instead they will find a thousand folded squares of paper. They will open one and see that he has scrawled a series of numbers there. They will spend the next hour digging through the drawer full of numbers and they will wonder why he did this. They will work out that the numbers are times and then they will wonder at the significance of each time. 2:03, 7:36, 8:59, 3:14, 7:00, 12:01, 12:02, 1:48, 6:32. They will ask their grandmother, who will smile at them and never say a word.


The first National Flash Fiction Day is fast approaching! If you don't know about it then educate yourself here

There are events up and down the country to commemorate the day as well as an anthology release. I'm particulaly excited by the anthology as it includes a story by a friend of mine, Emma as well as one by Tania Hershman. I don't know Tania but her story 48 Dogs, which I first read in February has become one of my favourite online flashes. Go ahead, read it - tell me it doesn't break your heart.

I've been writing flash fiction for as long as I've been writing. I remember trying to write a novel at the age of twelve. It had twenty eight chapters but would probably be filed under flash fiction if anyone were to categorise it. I'll have to try and find it somewhere the next time I'm lost in the loft, but I'm sure teh total word count came it at under 1,000.

Anyway - I have a few stories scheduled to appear both in print and online over the next few months. I will alert you all when they are up but until then, here is a little flash fiction for you.

Enjoy 16th May.