The Digger’s Tale

My story, The Digger’s Tale, has been published at Unofficial Britain.

Unofficial Britain is a great site dedicated to ‘unusual perspectives on the landscape of the British Isles, exploring the urban, the rural and those spaces in between.’ You can read stories and articles there, and I’d also recommend spending some time with the soundscapes.

The story was something that started scratching at me after I read Gary Budden’s Baleen – it was something about the way we treat dead bodies, and how they disrupt space. It was meant to be weirder, and first person, but it seems that death, as Gary says, has its own energy.

The garages are real (but not the ones in the picture), and I did use to play in the rec (though, thanks to vertigo, I wasn’t so carefree on the climbing frame) and walk those fields as a child. As far as I know they’re still standing, and haven’t been stained in the way I describe. But the diggers will come for it all at some point.

Nine Night

John died last night. A heart attack and complications from surgery had kept him down for months. He grew pale at the end, his dark skin bleaching in the English winter. I wanted to count the gaps in his stained teeth that he always showed with that giant grin. The kind of man who forgot it’s an unforgiving city.

The kids were screaming in the basketball court, dominating the space with the shivering crash of railings and the inestimable joys of half term. It looked like another party to me.

Strangers milled in the corridors of my block, seemingly listless. I found the mood hard to read and the dour face staring at my sweaty shirt, the empty bin in my hands, didn’t fit. But I was tired from the gym, paid it no mind. The night before, our sofa shivered with heavy bass and barely muffled laughter was inescapable. Our space had been disrupted. Just a mid-week party thrown by people on different schedules, that coloured the nine night to come.

I lifted my tired legs up the stairs, once back in my flat set to stretching muscles. Our overhead light cast shadows, darker shades, and I heard my wife gasp. The note said nine night, all welcome.

Why do I think I can recognise death, even now after we became so well acquainted? Its English cousin is more severe than this. Vol-au-vonts and restraint over bammy and celebration. I’ve endured its passing over the course of years. Outside, the children play until long past midnight.

Forthcoming story in Bourbon Penn

I’m very happy to say that one of my stories, ‘The Road Knows When a Journey is Over’ will be published in a forthcoming issue of Bourbon Penn. The story is set immediately after the apocalypse and deals with things like grief, loss and survivor guilt.

It’s an older piece of mine, but one that has been through several edits. It’s one of the ones I feel particularly close to, in fact, so it’s really good to know it’s found a good home.

I’ll post the publication date and how to read it as soon as I know.

Egoism and the Hero’s Journey

I blame Ursula Le Guin.

I read The Dispossessed recently and, aside from the obvious depths I found around exploring unconventional political philosophy, the conflicts between home and self and the morality of knowledge, I was struck by a particularly technical aspect of the writing.

So I had a go at hammering it out over at the Unsung blog. And spare a thought for poor old Shevek.

What cyberpunk was and what it will be

‘The spectacle [of cyberpunk] only becomes more refined and integrated with our lives as time goes by. It is still alarming that the most prophetic of dystopias was also the most ludicrous: the kitsch consumerism, corporate corruption, metropolitan bankruptcy and technological sheen of RoboCop (1987). There is no longer a delay between tragedy and farce, as Marx once conceived.’

Read the full article.

Hackney Gothic

New ideas brewing here; this time the world outside my window, askance. Something about Hackney sits strange on me. It’s not just the weird moments, which abound for those inclined to look. It’s more than gentrification, the way affluence rubs against absence. Change is on the horizon, but in a predictable form.

It’s the things that have always been here. That bounty of the world’s cuisines and mythologies living like ships in the night. When opening doors in my block reveals church on Sunday, jum’ah on Friday, voodoo practitioners any day and the timeless disinterest of us, the godless. Architecture functioning as the archaeology of taste. A city where no-one agrees what it means to be romantic.

One man’s melting pot is another’s syncretic haze.

Of signatures and agents

I am all spectacularly delighted to announce that my novel, Of Falls and Angela, is now represented by Leslie Gardner at Artellus.

2016, it seems, will be a year of exciting things. It’s barely two weeks old and I’m already squandering my year’s allowance of exclamation marks. You get four a year, remember. Watch this wanton extravagance:

I’VE GOT AN AGENT!!!!

Data Riker Picard carThat’s me committed to 12 months of modest expression. Totally worth it.

We’ve been working together on the manuscript for a while now and it’s feeling much, much stronger for it. Editing is arguably a game of diminishing returns on effort, with the final improvements being disproportionately hard to achieve. I’m talking about the fine-tuning here, the polish and sheen, when you nail that alchemical something – the last few per cent. And working with Leslie has made those last steps possible. I’ve been asked more astute and complex-to-answer questions about my writing in the last few months than ever before. I love it.

So here’s to 2016, and I’ll let you know any more exciting developments as soon as I can.