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, HERE. So 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.
Despite having avoided all things zombie up to this point in my life, I have to admit to enjoying that, Dan.
I agree about the ending - neat, cyclical and with a taunting hint of unease.
Many thanks for braving the zombies, Helen! I'm glad you enjoyed the story.
Ooooo - I didn't know we could view the story for free. I'll start touting it around. Very sad to see New Writer go - it was one of the good ones.
There's a French TV series, The Returned, I've recently bought but not yet watched about the dead returning to their homes and the problems that causes. This excellent piece put me in mind of it.
Thanks, Karen, much appreciated.
Thank you, Perry - I saw The Returned last year. The early episodes are fantastic, and although the series loses its way a little towards the end it's a very interesting take on the whole dead-coming-back idea.
Similarly, BBC3's 'In the Flesh' does great things with the zombie genre - imagining a world where the undead have been treated and medicated and can return, in some ways, to their previous lives. It's more about prejudice and the mentality of the mob than about flesh-eating horrors. Both series are a cut above the ones that simply work on cheap shocks and gore.
Very well done, Dan. Really elegant writing I thought. And I've heard those sighs a few times since I read it. Great year for you this far. Yeah!
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