In the immediate aftermath of orgasm you are surprised to find that you’ve shrunk down to the size of a pin and fallen into her vagina. You land, ankle-deep, and gasp upright, the last tremors of your climax still shivering your skin. The vast muscular walls of her heave above you, ribbed and glistening like the roof of a mouth.
My short story “Depths” appears in the most recent issue of the Canadian literary zine (Paranthetical). The zine is available both online and in print, and is produced by Words (On) Pages, an organisation that aims to work with emerging writers. As well as running the zine they provide editorial and design services, run a blog and host regular events. You can find out more about what they do here.
“Depths” was written several years ago, but it’s taken until now to find a publisher. It’s one of my favourite stories, and (Paranthetical) is an excellent little magazine, so I’m really happy to have found a home for it there. I’d thoroughly recommend picking up a copy of the zine if you can – it costs only eight pounds from their Etsy shop.
It’s shadows on the wall of a cave, it is. Nothing that happens is really real. Just neurons firing in the soft butter of our brains. So why not change things? He leans across the table, his pint glass slopping beer onto the already-swimming surface. He stabs his finger into the wood. Why not change things?
My very short story “A Trick Of The Mind” appears on the website of The Fake Press, a project set up by undergraduate students at the University of East Anglia, where I’m currently working towards a PhD. The website aims to bring together a community of the writers and readers that surround UEA, and to create a platform for students. Although it’s relatively new there are already some really interesting pieces to read. Take a look at Nina Ward’s poem “I Am Tired Of Hearing Others Fucking“, or the very short story “Lines Written After A Dream” by Henry Williams.
It was incredible, really, the way he lost everything – that the plane which carried Fin’s mother and father should fall with such precision onto the car that contained his wife and child. Fin could not believe it at first, when the policeman came for him at work.
Each year the UEA publishes a series of anthologies featuring the work of students graduating from the various Creative Writing MA programmes. My work appears in the 2014 edition of the prose anthology, details of which can be found here. It features the work of all thirty-one students on the course, as well as a foreword by Anjali Joseph and an introduction by Henry Sutton and Jean McNeil.
“Friends” is a story about a man who suffers an unfortunate series of accidents. It was written during my first year at the UEA, and as such seemed an appropriate contribution. The anthologies were launched on October 14th 2014, with a reading at the Drama Studio on the University of East Anglia campus.
I’m currently still a student at the UEA, now on the Creative Writing PhD programme.
The Millenium Bug was hungry again; Skylark could feel it in her stomach. They were linked, the Bug and the girl. Last night’s shopping sat still-bagged on the table. Quietly, she took food from there: bread, tinned peaches and other things she knew it liked to eat. Her parents were in the living room, arguing, TV turned up loud to mask the sound. She hated them. They were like pet dogs – big, unwieldy, useless. They thought she was asleep.
My short story “2001” has been published in the horror-themed October issue of Litro. The story is about a young girl who can see something which she believes in the Millennium Bug. I was twelve years old around the time of the new millennium, and remember being distinctly terrified that the world would end at midnight on December 31st 1999. Fortunately it didn’t, but the memory of that fear eventually lead to this story.
Litro began several years ago as a free magazine distributed on the London Underground – a literary alternative to the range of free newspapers that were on offer. It has grown from there into a monthly magazine, a book club and a boutique literary agency. You can still pick it up from a variety of bookshops around London, and you can also become a member to get full access to everything Litro-related.
His bag lay on the seat beside him, stuffed with clothes, school books and his ancient laptop computer – the only things he’d had time to pack. It was more than likely, he reflected glumly, that everything he’d left behind would by now have been burned and trampled by the mob.
My short story “The Baxters Go To Norwich” has been published on the City Of Stories website, as part of a twelve-week project designed to raise the profile of Norwich as a literary city. As you might guess from the story’s title, it’s set in Norwich, and was written specifically for the City Of Stories project. It was a fun experience to write something a to a brief – although I feel the end result is somewhat different from my usual work, I’m still quite pleased with it. Do have a look at the other articles and stories on the site while you’re visiting.
Against her better judgement, she married the magician. He was a sweet man and she was dedicated to him. During the wedding ceremony he made fragrant rose petals rain from the ceiling of the chapel. That first night, as they lay in bed together, he conjured silk scarves from nowhere, and made fireworks explode from his fingertips.
My very short story “The Magician” has won second place in the annual Flash Fiction Competition run by Creative Writing Matters. The overall competition was won by David Andrews for his excellent story “Harvest” – you can read both stories online, and also see a list of shortlisted entrants, and a blog post from one of the judges. Creative Writing Matters runs a series of yearly competitions, as well as organizing workshops, courses, mentoring and a manuscript appraisal service.
The story is one of a number of 250-word or less stories that I have been writing for a project that will begin next year. It was inspired – somewhat obliquely – by an episode of The IT Crowd.
My short story “Dumb Creatures” has been published in the Ink, Sweat & Tears webzine. Ink, Sweat & Tears was started in 2007, and is now edited by Helen Ivory. It publishes poetry, prose and artwork online on a daily basis – its entire archive is available to read for free. It also funds a pamphlet competition and a poetry-writing scholarship at the University of East Anglia each year.
“Dumb Creatures” first appeared several years ago on the Volume Blog. It’s a brief story about a man who kills penguins, which I wrote while I lived in Stoke-on-Trent. Although it might seem otherwise, I actually quite like penguins.
There is food down there. Blue plastic bins filled with rice and flour and barley. Tins of dehydrated milk, powdered egg. Jars of jam and marmalade that glow slightly in the pale light that filters in through the vent. The stuff is stacked along the wall in labelled compartments. Organised, ready and waiting for the day when the world above will end.
My very short story “The Cellar” has been published in volume ten of Riptide. It is a story about a man who is very well-prepared for terrible things that might happen.
The theme of this particular volume, “The Suburbs”, is explored in poetry, fiction and life-writing, with a foreword written by children’s novelist and poet Michael Rosen. Reassuringly solid printed copies of Riptide can be purchased from the website, or from selected bookstores. This issue was launched on June 20th at the University of Essex.
My work has appeared in Riptide once before. In 2009 my story “Teeth” was published in volume four of the journal.
There are rooms here that I’ve never seen before. Quiet rooms, layered with dust. At the back of the house we find a second staircase that winds upwards in a tight spiral. We wander through bedrooms, endless bedrooms and bathrooms and offices. All are imperiously neat, echoingly empty.
My short story “The House Of My Grandfather” has been performed at a Liars’ League event in London. You can read the text of the story online, or watch a video of it being read by Cliff Chapman at a Liars’ League event which took place in London at the start of June. The story is about a newly-engaged couple who go to visit a relative, but have trouble finding him within his house.
Liars’ League is a monthly event with outposts in several cities around the world. It recently won the “Best Spoken Word Night” Saboteur Award. You can find out about forthcoming events via the Liars’ League website.
Another of my stories “The Pilot’s Wife” was performed at a previous event in 2013. There’s even a video of the reading from that occasion.
It’s hard for a girl. You wouldn’t understand. It’s not like being fat where you can do something about it. Even when you’re short you can wear heels. I feel like a giant sometimes, like a big clumsy giant. Everybody looks. Everybody sees. Boys don’t like it. I don’t like it. When we’re in bed together I feel like I’m too big for them, like there’s too much of me and they’re going to get lost somehow, disappear and leave me alone again.
My very short story “Big Bones” appears in the first ever issue of MISO Magazine, a bi-annual literary magazine that publishes the work of current students and recent graduates of university Creative Writing courses. You can read more about it, and purchase a copy of the issue on MISO‘s website www.miso.riversideinnovationcentre.co.uk.
I’m currently a student on the prose MA course and the University of East Anglia. I’m in the second year of a part time course, and will be graduating this summer. This issue of MISO also features the work of one of my fellow students Julianne Pachico.
You’re parked in the drive in a car full of chickens. You’re holding one against your belly, cradling it, the dead thing, the feathers clayed in shit, pucker-skinned and bloody. Through the windscreen it looks as if you’re crying for an armful of laundry. I wait shivering in my gown and slippers, then tap on the glass. You start. You let me in. The car smells the way farms do in summer. Those things clucking and scratching in the back.
My short story “Decade” has been published in the latest issue of Ambit, which can be purchased from the Ambit website. It is a story told in reverse about a couple forced apart by their ideals – I wrote it shortly after I gave up on the idea that I was destined to be a veterinary surgeon. It’s one of the oldest stories I’ve written, but I’m still very pleased with it, and thrilled to have it appear in a magazine like Ambit.
I was fortunate enough to be able to read from the story at an event in London. There I met Martyn Crucefix, Kita Shantiris and Stuart Snelson, who were also reading their work from the magazine. You can find out about future Ambit events on the website, where you can also purchase a copy of the magazine from their shop.
Gillam is being divorced. Gillam’s wife is in the garden smoking. Gillam is packing his clothes into a suitcase.
Gillam takes the suitcase downstairs, bumping every step. He hammers on the window and when his wife turns around he points at the door to tell her he’s leaving.
“You’re a fucking whore,” he says. “You’re a whore, you’re a whore, you’re a whore.”
“Fuck you,” says Gillam’s wife, and spits on the glass.
My short story “A Good Life” appears online on the website of Fleeting. It is a story about a man getting divorced and taking drugs.
Fleeting is an editing house and literary consultancy, who offer advice and other services to writers of literary fiction. As well as this they also publish online a series of short stories and interviews, including this excellent story by Diana McCaulay.
You can find an archive of other stories and interviews, as well as more about what Fleeting do, on their website.
Laitka must be bathed every month with a sponge and warm water. Soft soap if she needs it. She gets tacky with all the fluids that dirty her, and her clothes may stick. If they stick the patterns from the fabric will write themselves on her skin. I have never let this happen.
My very short story “Laitka” appears in the latest issue of little literary magazine Brittle Star. “Laitka” is about a man caring for his significant other, and was inspired by this documentary.
Brittle Star is now on its thirty-third issue. My work has appeared there once before in 2007, when they published my very short story “Sticking A Needle Through Your Finger“. Since then the magazine has been redesigned, and is now a digest-sized paperback containing stories, poems, columns, reviews and interviews. You can find out more about Brittle Star, purchase a copy of the magazine, or enter their inaugural poetry competition by visiting their website www.brittlestar.org.uk.
Cora was the first to dose, then me and Lloyd. Ben still has the belt around his arm. I point at it. “You should take that off.” He stops laughing and looks at it and I try to explain. “Take it off before your arm comes off.” But this makes us laugh again and Ben’s head rolls back against the windowsill and he doesn’t care.
My short story “Dark” has been published in the last ever issue of Skive Magazine. It’s a very short body horror piece about drugs and eyeballs. In previous years I’ve had two other – similarly dark – pieces appear in Skive: “Toronto” and “Bad Dream, The Day Before Quitting My Job“.
Skive has a been publishing for ten years – an impressive length of time when many literary magazines have such brief lifespans. The final issue features the work of over a hundred previous contributors, and can be purchased online or in print from the magazine’s website.
My short story “Men Of The Waste” was recently shortlisted for the 2013 Bristol Short Story Prize. Although I didn’t win, the story now appears in the competition anthology, which you can read more about on the Bristol Short Story Prize website. The winner of the prize was Paul McMichael, for his story “The House On St John’s Avenue”. In total there are twenty stories in the anthology, which is available both in print and as an eBook. The 2014 Bristol Short Story Prize is now open for entries.
When I turned thirty, everyone started killing themselves. My neighbour slit his wrists in the bathtub, leaving behind a wife, two children, a pet Labrador and a half-finished scale model of the RMS Titanic. Then a secretary from work (I never knew her name) was found in the basement, hung with an extension cord, and there was sorrow there, and hushed talk in the cafeteria, and a whip-round for a wreath.
My short story “Mid-Life” has been published in digital magazine The South Circular. The story is about strange dreams and multiple concurrent suicides. You can download a copy of the issue and read it for just three Euros.
The South Circular describes itself as a “quarterly e-journal of short stories designed to be portable and downloaded directly to your reading device“. My story appears in issue seven, which has a rather haunting cover image by Philip White.
It won’t stop raining. The river fills and spills over, laps up the field like the sea eating a beach. Brackish brown. We watch it with concern, one eye on our picnics and one on the encroaching wet. Nobody gets up to move. It may still turn out a good day yet.
A very short piece of my writing titled “Three Dreams” appears in the latest issue of .Cent Magazine. This magazine / website publishes an eclectic mix of art, writing, fashion, design, architecture and several other things besides. The theme of the issue was “Cornucopia”, with my piece appearing as part of the “Overflow” section.
I’ve enjoyed browsing through .Cent just for the variety it offers, and the creative ways in which the various themes are interpreted. The digital magazine is pretty interesting too – there’s a sense of discovery as you navigate your way through it.
Around the waste there is Grundy and the clown and the man who comes to fish. The man who comes to fish wears a faded brown body warmer, and pitches his line at the very edge of the scum pond. Grundy watches him, from a distance. Watches as he wrestles the flippering silver bodies from the water and smacks them dead against a rock. Why, Grundy wonders, do the fish keep coming and biting at the line? Don’t they smell the blood?
My short story “Men Of The Waste” is one of twenty stories that have been shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize. The winning story will be revealed at an awards ceremony on October 19th 2013, and all the stories will appear in a competition anthology.
“Men Of The Waste” is a short story that I worked on during my first year at UEA. It’s about a man who lives on a patch of wasteground in the middle of the city, and his vicious war with the council workers who come to redevelop the land.
The Bristol Short Story Prize was founded in 2007 by the editors of the Bristol Review Of Books, and is now in its seventh year. You can read more about the competition on the website www.bristolprize.co.uk.
There are cars and there are children. They play together in the road. The children climb on the shiny bodies of the cars, leap from roof to roof, tap at windows with the backs of their heads, nuzzle bumpers, crawl beneath wheels to hide.
My very short prose piece “Cars And Children” appears in the anthology 23 Small Good Things, which was published by a student on the MA Prose course at the University of East Anglia, where I’m currently studying. The book collects the flash fiction of twenty prose writers and three poets. There was a limited print run, but the PDF version is freely available online. You can read more about the project and download it at www.newwriting.net.
Gravity started reversing. It happened slowly, in increments day by day. At first you’d hang for just a second longer than usual at the apex of a jump. Feathers and dust and the broken nibs of pencils refused point-blank to fall. Water wobbled slowly from the tap like golden syrup. I thought it was fun when I found that I could jump from the top of the stairs and drift gently down through the air like a seed.
My very short, surreal story “Gravity” has been published in the “Imagination” issue of poetry and illustration magazine Popshot. The magazine is available in print from www.popshotpopshot.com, where you can also read a short online sample (which includes my piece) from the issue.
My work has appeared in Popshot once before, in the “Love” themed issue in 2012. It’s a literary magazine I always enjoy reading, both for the writing and the wonderful illustrations.