Like the strange sea mist in The Incredible Shrinking Man the #stopfoodcrime project is nearly upon us. There will be singing and instruments and solo performers and something resembling a story that has pathos and redemption, and most importantly there will be fucking amazing songs (courtesy Sara Colman- music: yours truly-libretto).
Come and see the play – The Hand That Feeds – in central Birmingham. It will be something! Or else it will be me at the end with a darning needle fending off a marauding spider. Help me!
At the start of the summer I was invited to meet with a local reading group to gather narrative elements for a commissioned short story – organised by Roz Goddard and the West Midlands Readers Network. The group members were lively in their opinions about what made a good short story and I came away with a long list of ‘do nots’ – particularly, do not write about miserable middle-aged men! The no-no list also included: no young women narrators, no child narrators and no sci-fi (among other things).
The narrative prompts were interesting and included an interesting timeframe, a tunnel, a sausage dog, a rubber ring and a goddle house (you can find a definition in David Crystal’s “Disappearing Dictionary” but it’s basically a house that has fallen to abject ruin).
When I took all these things away it felt as if I was in a drawn out version of Whose Line is it Anyway? I didn’t manage to get all the elements into the story but I very much enjoyed the process and the final story is called Devourer of All Things and will appear in the Seven Minute Stories anthology in December.
I’d like to thank the Leamington Reading Group for being so welcoming. They meet regularly in The Fox and Vivian pub at the top of town and I had great fun meeting them and a nail-biting, but ultimately rewarding time reading their story to them.
I will be joining the other commissioned writers, Rob Jefferson-Brown, Dragan Todorovic, Justina Hart and Ruth Gilligan, and Roz, at the Library of Birmingham for a special event where we will read extracts from our stories and discuss the process of writing them. You can come too if you like. Book here for the event and a copy of the anthology.
I am delighted to have been awarded an Arts Council Grant for 2014-2015 to support my current novel. I’m not sure what state the arts would be in without ACE – but there are plenty of relieved and grateful writers scribbling away thanks to this amazing support.
Novel on track. First draft due late October.
The writing is consistently strong and widely varied, reflecting the experiences and styles of an extensive network from all walks and stations of life. A watery theme links several, as though the sea were indeed both metaphorically as well as physically inching inland . . . Simone Weil said that it is not so much what every moment of a human life contains as the way in which each of its moments is connected. This book offers an insight into how Midland writers, in this instance over thirty years, create and develop a sense of solidarity within both an area and a discipline.
The dots join up and make a gorgeous whole – well worth reading and emulating. Siân Miles in BookOxygen
I’ve been attending the Tindal Street Fiction Group for several years and this October, 2013, sees the launch of the group’s 30-year celebration anthology, The Sea in Birmingham. My story – Mr Spider – is one of twenty-two stories from established authors and emerging writers who are all past or present members of TSFG. The collection has been edited by Julia Bell and Gaynor Arnold and you can find information about the other contributors (including Amanda Smyth, Gaynor Arnold, Alan Beard and Mick Scully) on the TSFG website and pre-order a copy of the anthology from Amazon.
The launch takes place on October 12th 2013 at the new Birmingham Library and the event will be part of the Birmingham Literature Festival. You can book free tickets for the event here.
Here’s what some other people have said about the collection:
A vivid evocation of place, a cast of richly imagined characters and stories that stay with you. This is The Sea in Birmingham and it’s full of pearls. – Catherine O’Flynn
This selection of 22 stories set in or around Birmingham – inventive, muscular, painful, witty, surprising, various – has the feel of the city but the scale of the times. – David Edgar
A collection of fine stories that wander the familiar streets of the West Midlands, revealing intimate lives with passionate prose. These writers brought me back home. – Cathy Galvin
Here are some pictures from the launch:
Today I was at The Holbourne Museum giving a talk about Online Writing at the Bath Literature Festival. The museum is a beautiful venue and I spent an hour and half with the good writers and bloggers of the South West discussing social media, online profiles and getting your work noticed. As promised I have uploaded the slides as a pdf (5mb)… online-writing
I also mentioned various platforms that students, teachers and writers can use when creating online projects. Here’s a list:
- Googlemaps. Here’s an example of how Penguin Books commissioned authors to use Googlemaps to tell a story
- Storify – aggregate social media projects into a coherent narrative
- Xtranormal – create characters and get them to speak the dialogue you write for them
- Google story builder – simple fun text-based character builder
- Memoryminer – this costs to use but you can use the trial version initially
- Storybird – aimed more at children’s writing
- And here’s a list of free sites to inspire younger writers
Thanks to everyone at the festival for a wonderful day.
Here’s an article I wrote several years ago for Mslexia. It’s appeared online so I guess it’s OK to link to it here. The article discusses the pros and cons of using ‘real life’ experiences in fiction.
Wow – I’m delighted to report that The Game is Altered is runner-up in Sci-Fi Now 2012 Book of the Year.
I’m in illustrious company, too. Topping the list of five best novels is Empire State by Adam Christopher. Next comes The Game is Altered, followed by Red Country – Joe Abercrombie (3), The Great North Road – Peter F. Hamilton (4), and Intrusion – Ken MacLeod (5).
This is what they said:
The Game Is Altered is a beautiful, energetically written collection of fiercely contemporary ideas, neatly packaged like an MTV indent into a post-cyberpunk soap opera of a boy looking for love and escape in a vast, immersive MMO.
Sums it up I guess. Anyway, a welcome fillip after a quiet year. Thank you Sc-Fi Now.
In other news I’ve had a story published in the autumn edition of Under the Radar. The story is called The Donkey and has nothing whatsoever to do with Christmas.
Issue 10 features:
Poems by Liz Berry, Geraldine Clarkson, Bob Cooper, Jude Cowan Montague, Dill Darling, Carrie Etter, Mark Goodwin, Sonia Hendy-Isaac, Nigel Hutchinson, Sarah Jackson, Sarah James, Crystal Jeans, Emma Lee, Melissa Lee-Houghton, Matt Merritt, Fiona Moore, DA Prince, Jonathan Taylor, Alana Tomlin, Christian Ward and Charles Wilkinson.
Short Stories by Helen Cross, Mez Packer 🙂, John McGhee and Hilaire.