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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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 video of David Mildon reading my story, The Dungeon Master’s Guide, for the Liars’ League Halloween night is now up on the Liars’ League YouTube channel. David gave a truly legendary performance, and it was quite amazing to hear my words brought to life in that way. It was a whole new experience for me.
The YouTube page also includes links to the other five stories performed on the night. I particularly enjoyed Victoria Finan’s Stawberry Creams, read by Margaret Ashley, and Dan Howarth’s Hide, Go Seek, read by Math Jones, but I thoroughly recommend watching them all. There was some wonderful writing and plenty of scary twists and shocks.
The next Liars’ League event is a Christmas special and takes place on Tuesday 11th December. If you’re in London on the the night, you should definitely go along.
I’m very excited to say that a story of mine will be performed at the Liars’ League Halloween event at The Phoenix in central London on Tuesday 9th October.
The story, The Dungeon Master’s Guide, is about a disgruntled AD&D dungeon master and, along with my CRPG story from last year, is probably the geekiest thing I’ve ever written.
Liars’ League is a monthly reading series I’ve wanted to get a story accepted by for a while. The premise is that writers submit stories and professional actors perform them. It’s a great idea and I can’t wait to hear my story come to life in this way. Previous stories in the series have been broadcast on Radio 4.
Doors are at 7pm and entry costs £5, which is a bargain for a night of six scary Halloween tales! Full details are up on the Liars’ League website.
I have a story out in the first issue of a new lit mag, A Million Ways. The story, titled Everybody’s Waiting, is – perhaps typically – somewhat morbid. You can buy a copy from the mag’s Facebook store.
Thanks to Dan Hancock and the team at A Million Ways. They’ve done a great job putting together a beautiful little magazine, which I know must have been no easy task. You can read more about Dan’s inspiration for the mag in an article he wrote for the Dorset Writers’ Network.