Building work

I had another story performed at the amazing Liars’ League this month. How To Build Your Dreamhouse was read by Paul Clarke for the ‘Hopes & Fears’ night on Tuesday 13th December. It was a great night, with four brilliant stories read alongside mine. I particularly enjoyed EP Henderson’s A Cranium for Christmas, which had such a strong voice, and Mark Barlex’s Trimmings, which I would recommend everyone watches just before Christmas dinner…

This will be my only publication in what has been, in terms of both writing and submitting, not a great year. The reasons for this are numerous, but hopefully 2023 will see more progress.

I did also have a story, Brexitland, longlisted for the Exeter Story Prize earlier this month, which is encouraging. Hopefully, that story may see publication next year if I can find a home for it.



I’m finally getting round to updating this site after a lengthy absence. I had two more stories out last year after my last post, both with the lovely people at Liars’ League. Certain Promises, Certain Threats was performed brilliantly by Oli Yellop for the Order & Chaos night in June, and Christmas Special was brought to the life by the fantastic Patsy Prince for the Family & Friends night in December.

I also had a story, Angerland, long-listed for the Bristol Short Story Prize.

The dark is rising

I have a new story up at Bandit Fiction. It’s an apocalyptic tale about the world running out of light and people having to stay at home all the time because it’s too dangerous to go out. Needless to say, given current events, it feels very apt. It’s called The Darkening and you can read it here.

I was very impressed with the editing my story received from the Bandit team. It made a big difference to the quality of the final version.

I was also pleased to find out that another story of mine, The Visitants, was ‘highly commended’ by the 2020 Exeter Short Story Prize and on the shortlist of three for the Trisha Ashley Award. The search for a home for this story continues, but this is very encouraging, so hopefully it will be out in the world soon.

Festive falsehoods

I had a story performed at this year’s Liars’ League Christmas event, which took place on 8th December at the Nag’s Head in Covent Garden. I was, unfortunately, unable to attend but it looks like much socially distanced literary fun was had by all. My story, Last Christmas, was performed by the amazing Tony Bell, who also read my previous story for Liars’ League, Frozen Futures, in June last year. You can watch the video above. I’d thoroughly recommend watching the other four stories from the night too, in particular An Irish Christmas by David McGrath and Lookin Up by Emma Grae, both of which were superb.

Umbrella academy

A story of mine, The Black Hole of Westminster, was published in the latest competition collection from Retreat West, titled How to Hold an Umbrella, in September. Things being as they are, the launch night was held over Zoom, and having read the collection there is a distinct dystopian trend running through many of the pieces (including my own). I particularly enjoyed Emma Hutton’s contributions (Sal and My Kind) and those of Jason Jackson (On the Death of a Friend and Mess of Love), but there were many other writers and stories I could pick out.

This year hasn’t been a great one in terms of writing or publishing, particularly when you consider the first draft of The Black Hole of Westminster was written in 2016. I am nevertheless grateful to have had a piece published in another superb collection. Hopefully, 2021 will be a little easier for all of us.

Feeling Seen

I have a new story up on the website of the esteemed Litro magazine. ‘I See You‘ was inspired by Google Glass and Instagram influencers.

I last had a story (‘Make Me British‘) in the ‘Britishness’ issue of Litro back in 2016, and since then the magazine has launched a US edition as well as its very own literary agency. I’m very grateful for this latest publication, sitting as it does alongside some of the fantastic talent Litro showcases on the site.

Shock treatment

The first page of 'Like a Dog' in the Future Shock anthology

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the launch party for Future Shock, the anthology of the winning stories from the 2018 Retreat West short story competition.

I made the shortlist for this earlier in the year and, as a result, I have a story in the book alongside nine others and ten pieces of flash fiction. My story, Like a Dog, was inspired by Kafka’s The Trial – being a sort of tongue-in-cheek update of the novel for the social media age.

The event featured readings from several of the winners. Joanna Campbell read her story, Will You Go Out Tonight?, a hugely impressive piece that was clearly a worthy winner in the short story category. Alexis Wolfe also read part of her story, The Stutter, which hooked me right away and made me eager to read the rest of it.

On the flash side, Sherry Morris read her funny and touching Sticking Point, about a young boy’s love for Magnum PI, which took third place in the category. The brother of second-place flash winner Fiona Mackintosh also read her story Old Woman Cooking Eggs, Diego Velazquez 1618 in her stead. This one was a real sensory feast and I’m looking forward to reading it again.

Thanks to all at Retreat West for the wine, cake and company, and for selecting my story for the anthology, which marks my first appearance in a book.

An ebook version is available from the Retreat West website, while the print edition can be bought from Amazon.

Infinite best

The Liars’ League ‘Infinity & Beyond’ night last Tuesday was a suitably epic affair, with five superb stories and five amazing performances. Tony Bell did a fantastic job with my story, Frozen Futures, elevating every word, and the video is now up on YouTube.

Each of the other four stories was very different, showing just how widely a theme can be interpreted. Wan Shinfah’s London 2025, read by Cliff Chapman, was an expertly timed and controlled story about time-travel disaster tourism. Proxima Centauri, written by Oliver Parkes and read by Greg Page, about the clone crew of an interstellar colony ship, was the most traditionally sci-fi tale and built up slowly to a devastating climax. Alice Franklin’s How to be an Astronaut, read by Gloria Saunders, was a fun meditation on dead-end jobs and childhood dreams, while The Martlet, read by Lois Tucker and written by Abigail Lee, was an elegiac tale about a woman haunted by recurring visions of a heraldic bird, referencing Bede’s description of life as being like a bird flying briefly through the noise and light of a mead hall before disappearing once again into the dark beyond.

The Future

I’ve had another story accepted by Liars’ League! Frozen Futures will be performed by one of the League’s retinue of amazing actors at their sci-fi night on Tuesday 11 June. There will be four other stories on the night, promising a mix of “deep space, time-travel tourism, cryogenics gone wrong, vanishing clones, astronautical ambitions and a terrifying game of Murder in the Dark”.

The event will take place at The Phoenix on Cavendish Square in London, with doors at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. I cannot resist posting another link to David Mildon’s reading of my dungeon master story for the Liars’ League Trick & Treat night last year, which was beyond-words-amazing. Should be a great night.

Elsewhere, the Retreat West 2018 short fiction anthology will be launched at a special party in Reading in September. The collection will be titled Future Shock, after one of the stories inside, and will include my Kafka-inspired entry, Like a Dog. This will be the first time I will have a story in an anthology, so I am really excited about it.

Every dog

I found out this afternoon that I’ve been shortlisted for the Retreat West short story competition, a piece of news perfectly placed to brighten up ‘Blue Monday‘. My story, Like a Dog, will appear along with nine other short pieces and 10 flash fictions in the 2019 anthology. There is also a final round of the competition to decide first, second and third places, which will be judged by Paul McVeigh. Results on this are due in February, but to be honest getting into the anthology is such a great start to 2019 that I already feel like a winner. Cash prize would be highly welcome, though.

The full shortlist for the competition can be seen on the Retreat West blog page.