Monday, 16 January 2017

Five of my favourite short stories read in 2016

In lieu of some kind of year end list (and coming a bit late anyway) I thought I'd just list here five great speculative short stories that I read last year.

1. For Two Songs by Rebecca Lloyd
The final story in Rebecca Lloyd's 'Ragman and other Family Curses' from Egaeus Press, this is a creepy and original story revolving around sibling rivalry and the Victorian practice of taking portraits of the dead.  One of the best subtle creepy shorts I've read for awhile.

2. Vacui Magia by L.S. Johnson
A poignant tale of yearning and loss, beautifully told by L.S. Johnson in the style of an instruction manual, here a witch endeavours to give her fading mother the grandchild she always wished for by some rather unconventional means.

This haunting tale is also the title story from Johnson's excellent debut collection of stories.

3. Honey Moon by D.P.Watt
From the collection 'Almost Insentient, Almost Divine' from Undertow Books, and for me the standout and the most conventional story in the book. This is the tale of a young couple honeymooning in a borrowed cottage where their initial reticence towards each other is eventually overtaken by pagan forces. I have to be honest and say that I found this book a bit of a trial, perhaps because Watt's tales are better read and mulled over one at a time rather than as a collection, but this story certainly leaps off the page.

4. Roadkill by Robert Shearman
After a disastrous attempt at conducting an affair, a woman on the way home with her lover runs over a kind of bat-rabbit thing which may or may not represent love.  A story everyone can relate to (?).

5. Magritte's Secret Agent by Tanith Lee
A peculiar slant on the mermaid tale by the late, great Tanith Lee.  This takes it's inspiration from Magritte's painting of a stranded merman with the head of a fish and legs of a man (rather than the other way around).  The story tells of a shop worker who becomes enamoured of a beautiful but unresponsive young man in a wheelchair, and the efforts she eventually makes to set him free.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Hopeless Games by Golden Death Music

I'd like to write a review of the album Form and Truth Frequency by the ultra-talented Michael Ramey aka Golden Death Music once I've fully ingested it.  In the meantime, here for your enjoyment is my current favourite tune from the album: Hopeless Games.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Outliers of Speculative Fiction Vol.2

L.A. Little has put together a new volume of Outliers of Speculative Fiction for 2016 (my story No Other appeared in the 2015 edition).  L.A. is committed not only to finding quality speculative fiction to fill these books, but also to discovering new and exciting voices working within the field. So I'm especially thrilled to have had my own short The House on No Man's Land. included among what is sure to be a great line-up of stories.

The House on No Man's Land is a story about getting older and the compromises we all make along the way.  Some of those dreams and aspirations we clung to when we were young are never achieved, and maybe that's OK.  Right?

The book is available from Amazon UK and US.

I know I'm biased, but I'm sure it's well worth a look.

Monday, 5 December 2016

New short story available: The Broad Lands

My short story The Broad Lands appears in the new issue of Under The Bed magazine.  This story is special to me as it was the first in a new batch of stories I started writing at the end of last year when I got some time back after my oldest daughter started school.  It's an old fashioned ghost story about a man who buys his dream home only to find there is another presence vying for ownership.  It's also a small doff of the cap to one of my favourite writers: D.H. Lawrence.

The magazine is available here.

Monday, 17 October 2016

New discoveries in short fiction: Stephen O'Connor

As I've said in a previous post, reading short fiction is a great way to discover new writers, but it's not often that I find something that goes straight to my sweet spot.  Lately I've taken to reading back issues of Conjunctions magazine (if this publication actually defines itself as a 'magazine' as in reality it's a pretty hefty paperback book running to 400 odd pages).  The good folk at Conjunctions appear to favour a type of short fiction that greatly appeals to me (let's call it literary weirdness for want of a better title).  In one issue I came across a story about a boy with an over-sized head called 'The Man in the Moon' by Stephen O'Connor.  I enjoyed this story so much (just the right balance of pathos, humour and weirdness) I picked up O'Connor's collection, Here Comes Another Lesson, a book of stories populated by outsiders, the lonely and the lost.   I was also surprised and delighted to discover that this writer and I had shared a TOC in the book Ghosts: Revenge from JWK Publishing (atleast I'm assuming it's the same Stephen O'Connor).  Being published in a book alongside another writer you admire is a huge thrill for saddo's like me.

The story that really sealed the deal for me though - not found in O'Connor's collection - was 'Next To Nothing' (from Conjunctions #60).  'Next To Nothing' is the tale of two sisters whose intelligence and pragmatism makes them outsiders in their own community.  When a Hurricane approaches, this pragmatic attitude to life is put to the test.  Highly recommended.

If you like reading about outsiders and the ostracised, I recommend reading some of O'Connor's work. Next To Nothing' can be found on the author's website here.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Another Shore - a new collection of stories.

My new collection of short stories, Another Shore, is finally available to buy in paperback and for kindle.  This book brings together nine previously published short stories and eight that are original to this collection.  Included are two novelettes: The Wilds, which was chosen earlier this year for inclusion in the Dark Little Dreams book from Bad Dream Entertainment; and The Foundering, a kind of science fiction love story about a man looking to take a break from his life and actually finding a completely new way of looking at life.  There are also stories of vengeful ghosts, lonely changelings, baby-stealing fairies, apocalypse survivors, and magical rabbits.

That's right, magical rabbits.

Available from Amazon UK and US.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Singular Irregularity Anthology

<500, the short story I wrote with Martin Greaves, gets a third outing this month in Singular Irregularity - an anthology of time travel gone terribly wrong edited by Kimber Grey.  Just look at that great cover from Thyc Graphics.