Bourbon Penn and Endless Art

 

Issue nine of Bourbon Penn is now available either to buy, or read free online, and I’m in good company with my story about an alternative future in which a new use is found for arts graduates. Endless Art flowed directly out of my own experience as a Theatre Studies graduate, I think. Even though I write creatively every day, there’s always that nagging sensation that I’m not exactly saving the world.

Or maybe I am.

Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one – Stella Adler

Words and Museums

 

Here’s a new short story of mine called ‘White Cards’ up at Vending Machine Press. It’s set in some of my favourite London museums. If you like it, give it a Tweet or a mention on Facebook for me.

Thanks.

 

Anton Walbrook, MGM, and other stuff

It’s been a busy January. I’ve made a start on a new novel and have finished the edits for the fantasy horror novel that Dog Horn Publishing are going to publish this year. It’s called Skein Island. Hopefully I’ll have a cover to show off soon.

I’ve also been writing a few articles, including one about the most wonderful actor, Anton Walbrook, and another about MGM’s compilation films of the 1970s, That’s Entertainment! It’s a great feeling to write about classic film that is slowly being forgotten in the hope of bringing a few new people to the joy of a creepy black and white thriller, or one of the first technicolour extravaganzas.

February will see a few short stories of mine popping up in places such as Bourbon Penn and Vending Machine Press. Also the Smokelong Best Of… Anthology is due out at the end of the month, and my piece of flash fiction Lydia Before has made it into the finished book.

I’ll put up links and tweet about it as the stories hit the internet, but right now I’ll sign off with a picture of Anton Walbrook with a brilliant moustache. Any excuse, really.

Archers-Blimp-Duel-AntonWalbrook.jpg

 

Dreaming (Tigers and Screaming)

‘Glum Dreams‘, my short story of musicals, dream-stealing, detective novels and a moon made of cheese is now up at Three-Lobed Burning Eye to make my writing year complete.

Have a great Christmas – see you in 2014!

Cheret, Jules - Les Miserables

Cheret, Jules – Les Miserables (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Linked and Linkless

Perihelion is running another of my short stories this month, entitled ‘Linkless’. It’s a science fiction tale of a person who’s unable to get along with new technology, particularly as it means she might be the butt of a million online jokes that she can’t access.

It’s been a great writing year for me, with a lot of effort going into my articles for film website Den of Geek, so I thought I’d list my five favourite articles that I wrote for them:

1. Looking at how the emotion of fear gets treated cinematically in Top Ten 1958 Films About Fear That Aren’t Vertigo

2. Getting the opportunity to write about some of my favourite films in Remembering Claude Rains

3. Looking at a well-worn trope with What it Means When People Play Chess in the Movies

4. Zoinks! It’s the Top Ten Scooby Doo Movies…

5. Writing about my childhood crush in Robert Redford Movies About Alienation.

2014 awaits, but there should be another short story of mine coming before January. And in the new year I’ll hopefully have some details to share about my new novel. But for now, here’s to more mince pies and Christmas carolling. Enjoy.

Comet ISON Perihelion Passage Animated GIF

Comet ISON Perihelion Passage Animated GIF (Photo credit: sjrankin)

Rare Treats

The multi-cultural Christmas market – a high point of the town’s calendar, a gathering of jolly, jocular people who share a love of brass band music and ostrich burgers. Right now the band is playing Jingle Bells, and the townsfolk move between the wooden stalls, bouncing along with the tune.

 

The smells are sharp, sweet, and seasonal: gingerbread houses, icing and spice, mulled wine and chestnuts, and the star-shaped mince pies that are the speciality of the Mayor’s wife. Jostling from the traditional toy stall, where there are painted nutcrackers and matryoshka dolls, to the incense-heavy curtained delights of the Celtic mishmash with dreamcatchers on the side, it’s a rich old squeeze of a Christmas. You might want pudding, pie, or panettone; all are available. How about holly, ivy, ice sculptures, or strudel? Or perhaps the pickled breeding organs of a Tchacloanda, which are stacked in glass jars over by the public toilets? You know, the only stall that nobody wants to get too close to, barely lit, looked after by a cloaked figure in the santa hat, who waits, unmoving, for anyone to approach.

 

The stallholder sighs, and huddles further into her cloak as the locals take a wide path around her. She never thought it would be this hard to launch her own business. In her determination to be successful she has gone further and further out of her way, looking for fresh interest. But perhaps, she’s now thinking, it was a mistake to assume that a multi-cultural Christmas market on this planet would be open to her particular brand of merchandise.

 

‘Hello,’ says a little voice.

 

She leans over the counter and sees a small person.

 

‘Hello,’ she says. ‘Are you still growing, or do you have a genetic disorder?’

 

‘Still growing,’ says the small person, who is wearing a hat with a bobble on the top. It looks much more interesting than the Santa hat.

 

‘Want to swap hats?’

 

‘Okay,’ says the small person. They trade.

 

‘Are you having fun?’

 

‘Yeah,’ says the small person.

 

There isn’t a lot more to say, but the small person stares at her, and doesn’t go away.

 

‘What?’

 

The small person shrugs.

 

‘Do you want to buy a pickled breeding organ from a Tchacloanda?’

 

‘Got no money.’

 

She sighs. ‘It’s okay. I’d kind of chalked today up as a disaster, materially speaking, anyway.’ She takes one of her jars, and carefully passes it over the counter into his hands. In the clear liquid floats a star-shaped organ, emitting a gentle golden glow.

 

‘What do I do with it?’

 

‘Thirty minutes in the oven, gas mark four.’

 

‘Okay.’

 

The small person walks away, trying to hold the jar straight.

 

The stallholder decides to call it a day. She hopes the rare treat in the jar is appreciated by the small person and its family. In a recent poll, the Tchacloanda’s breeding organs, pickled of course, was named as the most delicious taste in the known universe, as long as it is eaten before the pickling solution starts to degrade and the radioactive properties of the Tchacloanda kick up a gear. There are whole planets that have had their inhabitants mutated by that mistake.

 

She hopes it doesn’t happen to this planet. The Christmas market is so pretty, and she might even try a star-shaped mince pie before she heads for home. They smell wonderful.

 

English: Cologne Christmas market lit up durin...

English: Cologne Christmas market lit up during the evening (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Words, Recorded at Per Contra

 

I have a new story up at the Fall issue of Per Contra.   Words, Recorded is the story of a woman who records her thoughts as a song, and posts them online. But she isn’t prepared for how others might interpret and make use of those thoughts. 

Image

There’s no particular reason for the photo. I just thought you might want something visual that’s not too abysmal. 

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