Wednesday 18 June 2014

Bear With Me

If you follow me on Twitter you've probably already heard this, but I'm very pleased to announce that the latest volume of The Fiction Desk has gone on sale. There Was Once a Place is volume seven of the short fiction journal and features my story, The Guy in the Bear Suit.

I've liked the look of The Fiction Desk anthologies for a long time so I was very pleased when my story bagged a runner-up spot in their annual flash fiction competition and so earned a place in the new collection. Online and magazine publication's great, but there's something about being in a proper book that can't be beaten - particularly one that's as well curated and interesting at TFD.

The Guy in the Bear Suit is an odd little tale that grew out of me considering how sinister those character costumes in theme parks are once you're too old to simply accept them as cartoon characters who've strayed off the TV into real life. There's something unsettling about them never speaking, or the way they can stand right in front of you / follow you around without you having any idea who's under all that fur and foam. And with that in mind, I began to think, well - what there was something inside much worse than just some random, over-attentive stranger...?

There Was Once a Place will be the third Fiction Desk anthology I've read. So far it's excellent. Next up I plan to return to the beginning of the series with volume one, Various Authors, which can be downloaded for Kindle and ebook readers (or the relevant tablet / PC apps, of course) free of charge from the TFD website. The other volumes can of course be ordered online or sourced from your friendly neighbourhood bookshop.

Tuesday 3 June 2014

The Dead Go Live, Magazine Dies

My excuse this time for neglecting my blog is that I was away for a big chunk of May, on a Californian road trip that included driving through a fair bit of desert. It struck me that I might be able to get a photo of some actual tumbleweed, which I could have posted to the blog as a hilarious reference to how sparse my updates have been of late. It turned out that tumbleweed isn't as common as TV would have you believe. So no side-splitting photo of not much happening, then. Sorry.

Fortunately I returned from my travels to find issue 118 of The New Writer had arrived. This was exciting because it contains the winning stories from the 2013 Prose & Poetry Prizes. One of these (the winner of the microfiction category) is my story, So the Dead Rose from the Grave. I wrote about the inspiration and the clash of ideas from which the story emerged a blog post or two ago. It's always good to see a story in print. I'm not sure why they've used my full name, though - I only use that on passport applications and the like these days.

I was thrilled with the comments the judge (the novelist and Jane Austen enthusiast, Rebecca Smith) made, praising the story's "humour and elegiac tone" and calling the writing "poised and elegant". I particularly liked the fact she felt the ending worked well, as I find the ending the hardest part of a story to get right, and I'd had a good feeling about that one when I sent it off all those months ago.

Sadly, it turns out issue 118 will be the last New Writer. Editor Guy Pringle has found there wasn't a big enough subscriber base to keep the magazine going, and has decided to shut it down. This is a real pity, as I think The New Writer was beautifully put together and offered something a bit different from the two high street mainstays, Writers' Forum and Writing Magazine. As a recent subscriber I'd been enjoying TNW and I'll be very sorry to see it go.

If there's a silver lining to this development, it's that Guy and his team have decided to make the final edition of the magazine available for free, online. You can read it in full via Scribd, HERESo the Dead... shuffles into view on page 35 of the digital edition. In the past you would have had to buy the competition anthology to read the prize-winning works, so it's nice to think my story and the others have a chance at catching a (hopefully) bigger audience.