There Once Was a Place

I’ve just heard from the good people over at The Fiction Desk that my copy of the anthology, There Once Was a Place – which contains my story, Loss Angina – will be with me soon. And that means it’ll be shipping to those who’ve preordered soon too. If you’ve not and you’d like to, head over here. It’s available as an eBook too, if that’s your preferred format.

 

And to give you a little teaser, here’s the beginning of my story…

“A couple of months after Jude left the man shaved off his lips. Won’t be needing these anymore, he said to himself, standing before the bathroom mirror, razor in hand, the tap dripping.”

 

 

My Baby Shot Me Down

Delighted to welcome the delightful Laura Wilkinson to the blog today. She has a story in the My Baby Shot Me Down anthology – ‘poetry and prose by women writers.’

 

So, without further ado, let’s cheer on the girls!

 

Blurred lines – after the bad news here’s the good

The stats on the coverage of work by female writers in the mainstream media can make for depressing reading. Whilst more women than men write (and read) fiction there is still a tendency within the industry to overlook their work.

But, thankfully, it’s not all bad news. There are plenty of blokes out there – like Nik here – who are cheering the girls on. Founder of new publisher Blinding Books, Richard Penny, is another. Blinding Books has just released an anthology of prose and poetry by women writers: My Baby Shot Me Down.

Ten years ago, when I was editor of writing and reading ‘girlie’ project – hagsharlotsheroines.com – I met Tony Cook and encountered ABCtales. Back then, I wasn’t a fiction writer; I was a voracious reader, a copywriter and sometime journalist. ABCtales was three years old, launched in September 2000 by John Bird (The Big Issue), along with Gordon Roddick (TheResized cover image Body Shop) and Tony (Chairman of Red Pepper and co-owner of the award winning independent TV production company Praxis Films). The idea then, as now, was to offer a forum where writers could share their work, critique their peers and grow their talent. It was, and is, brilliant, so when I began to tentatively pen my own stories in 2007 it was natural for me to post my work on the site. After all, I’d been a member, enjoying others’ work, for years.

It was at an ABCtales event in London that I met Richard. I’d admired his work on the site, as he had mine, and we stayed in touch. In email dialogue last year he mentioned his ambition to publish an all-female anthology. Intrigued, I asked why. He’d been bowled over by the exceptional work posted by authors on ABCtales, he said, and quickly realised that the best work on offer came predominantly from women. I was delighted when he asked if he could include a couple of my stories in the anthology that went on to become My Baby Shot Me Down.

 

Having said all this, it’s important to say that the anthology isn’t meant to be read exclusively by women. There’s enough action, suspense and humour to appeal to all. After all, the work was selected by a bloke. You can ask Nik what he thinks too; he has a review copy!

Thanks for having me over again, Nik, and good luck with your latest, the super lovely, utterly gorgelicious Beautiful Words. I love it, and know others will too.

 

About Laura

Laura is a writer, reader, wife and mother to ginger boys. After hedonistic years in Manchester and London, she moved to Brighton. As well as writing fiction, she works as an editor for literary consultancy, Cornerstones.

Laura has published short stories in magazines, digital media and anthologies, and three novels, with another scheduled for publication this year. Public Battles, Private Wars, (Accent Press)is the story of a young miner’s wife in 1984; of friends and rivals; loving and fighting, and being the best you can be. Two of Laura’s short stories appear in My Baby Shot Me Down, an anthology of work by women writers published by Blinding Books on 29 April 2014. For more information, visit: laura-wilkinson.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @ScorpioScribble.

And this is her eye

one eye

About My Baby Shot Me Down

Ten new women writers showcase an exceptional collection of poetry and prose in My Baby Shot Me Down. An incendiary blend of cerebral and visceral, this anthology presents a broadened view of the personal, political and social spectra. The unsettling beauty of the language is rendered sharp and transgressive, shot through with high-calibre comedy. Expect full-bodied and full-blooded. Grey areas of the gender-jungle and identity are explored alongside matters of love, family, relationships and sex, making for stark writing that is vital, refreshing and life-affirming.

Available at all good bookshops – online and off. Here’s one link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Baby-Shot-Me-Down/dp/0956781136/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399835940&sr=1-1&keywords=my+baby+shot+me+down

 

No Exit – Dan Holloway

It’s with great pleasure that I welcome the brilliant Dan Holloway here. Dan’s an author, journalist, poet, and all round good egg. His latest book, No Exit (published by Pankhearst Singles on May 5th), sounds rather good. Here’s the man himself to talk about it…

 

A room with no windows

 

It’s something we all fantasise about, alone at night in an empty bedroom as the clock ticks relentlessly towards another dawn and the misery it brings.

 

A room with no windows. No consequences.

 

And yet something that surprised me when I ran a regular interview column that contained the question “Which would you rather – dinner with the person you most admire or 5 minutes alone in a room with no windows with a person of your 019 Dan Hollowaychoice” was that pretty much everyone opted for the former.

 

It made me wonder what was going on. Are we really that benevolent and forgiving a society? Are we afraid of being found out by those we want to like us? Or are we afraid of going to a part of ourselves we would rather keep in that unlit part of the night?

 

Those are essentially the questions I set out to explore in No Exit, at the centre of which is just such a room. A room where torture and killing can take place without consequence at the hands of the most normal members of society. I wanted to avoid the Dexter-style easy moral compass. The victims in No Exit don’t have to be (though one of them is) mass murderers or paedophiles. They can be the people who make yours and my lives miserable every day. People who also have a good side. People who are fathers and mothers and lovers and even philanthropists. But who are also the ones who make the vulnerable reach for the razorblade.

05 - No Exit v2

There are three complicating factors in this scenario that I don’t want to begin to answer, but which I am hoping to use to ask provocative, uncomfortable questions. Questions I want readers to ask themselves in the name of honesty.

 

The first has to do with subjectivity. It’s the bullet the likes of Dexter always seek to dodge in the name of moral simplicity. I want this person dead. Those they love may want them alive, may even be willing to die for them. What right do I possibly have to claim that my position is more important than theirs? But also, what right do they have to claim theirs takes more priority over mine? Do we really believe in the sanctity of life in a godless world? Really? Or is it that we believe in the sanctity of the wishes of those who do not make us uncomfortable, those at the centre of the moral bell curve? And if so, what kind of implied violence does that do to those who outlie?

 

The second centres on the issue of blame. As a society we are getting used to the idea that in order for something to be condemned and stopped, the perpetrator does not have to have intended harm. This was a cornerstone of the MacPherson report following the Met’s mishandling of the Stephen Lawrence investigation – prejudice is in the eye of the person against whom it happens, not in the intention of the perpetrator. As our thinking about sexism, racism, sexuality and privilege in general gets more nuanced, it is something that is becoming more widely accepted – “I didn’t mean…” is neither a defence nor a vouchsafer of immunity from criticism. “The fact is you did…” has become the marker. And the debate is moving online, to take in those who troll for giggles and a relief for boredom rather than malice against a person. What is the truly appropriate way to treat these people?

 

Finally, the most difficult question of all, one which has its roots for me back in studying the doctrine of utilitarianism, the notion that we should promote the greatest happiness for the greatest number. Is this a principle that, as well as promoting the things that makes life good, can seek the eradication of those things, those people, that cause misery?

 

I am not proposing answers. And I’m certainly not proposing readers reach their own conclusions and set out on a vigilante spree (though, of course, my intention may be irrelevant…). What I am wanting to do is for readers to ask the question. I want people to feel deeply uncomfortable about they way in which the scenarios in the story are presented and to ask themselves why they feel that discomfort. I want to start a debate that’s not cut off at the root with a quick “you can’t go there.”

 

Because we do go there, in the pre-dawn darkness. And maybe it would be healthier for society as a whole if we were allowed to go there in the light.

 

 

No Exit is published by Pankhearst Singles on May 5th.

 

I am Judging This Flash Competition

First off, here’s the brilliant Sue Guiney’s review of Beautiful Words. I love (and feel really rather relieved) that people like it. That they get it. That makes me happy.

 

She begins:

“Nik Perring is an incredibly creative and innovative writer whose work I’ve been following for years now. I first wrote about him here when I discussed his collection of short stories called Not So Perfect. At that time I wrote:

Not So Perfect is a masterclass in flash fiction. Each story is a small gem and I found myself sitting and staring into space in amazement after each one.

Well, now it has happened again as I read his latest collection, Beautiful Words.” Read the rest here.

 

*

 

And I am judging a flash fiction competition for my publisher. Simply send in 4 – 8 flashes of under 1000 words by May 22nd and you could win your stories as a book, for sale on amazon and Roastbook’s site, with 50 free copies for you. CLICK HERE for all the details. And get scribbling – I’m really looking forward to your entries. Go to it, folks!

Winners

On Friday I emailed the winners of my Beautiful Words competition. I ended up picking them at random, mostly because pretty much all of the entries would have been worthy winners, so that felt like the fairest thing to do. A huge thanks to everyone who took part – there were far more than I’d expected and that’s a brilliant thing because it shows just how much people like words. You are all, very definitely, my kind of people.

(And I’ll remind you that you can still be in with a chance of winning a copy by telling me what would be in your ideal bookshop.)

And the winners are:

Kit

‘Ecclesiastical’ – which carries for me a hint of something fantastical, and ‘eccles’ cakes eaten after Sunday Service and in a dimly lit church hall and eaten off a grand china plate; and ‘don’t drop the crumbs on the floor’, my mam scolded me before I ever did. And the minister ruffled my hair into un-neatness, which I didn’t like, and he laughed a hearty laugh loud as the word of God, and his breath was like dragon’s breath, and his hands were heavy as wet towels on my head. And my mam said I should feel blessed for the attention he showed me.

 

Tara Laskowski

Apocalyptic is fun to say. So is rubbish. Go ahead say it. “That’s rubbish.” Makes you feel crotchety and entitled.

 

Jo Burnett

Verisimilitude. Or susurration. I like the way they roll off the tongue

 

Jocelyn Hayes

Macaroon, because I could never say it correctly. It always came out ‘racamoon’.

 

Danuta Kean

Elbow. It’s such a lovely word. Say it again and again and it sounds lie something exotic and lovely. I also like sarcophagus.

 

Loree Westron Bumbershoot. Ah, yes, why. Mostly, I just like the sound of it. It’s easy to pronounce, but it sounds a little bit rude. I also like that it refers to something most people have, but is a word few would be familiar with today.

 

Your books will be in the post just as soon as my envelopes have arrived.

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