Saturday, 26 July 2008

Tennant's agreement

In a effort to make things a little classier round here, Aliya and I have decided to start featuring other writers. Following up on hosting a spot for Fiona Robyn's blogtour, here's a piece of flash fiction from Interzone bod and erstwhile Whisperer of Wickedness Peter Tennant.


The body had gone. The sheets on the bed had been changed and the window opened to let a little air in the room.

Clara patted her hair and looked round to see what else needed attending to.

There was a newspaper poking out of the top of the wastebasket next to the bed.

She picked it up and briefly turned the pages. Mr. Kane had been working on the crossword the day before. Only one clue remained:-

8D: Still sweetly scented by any other name would this stop or start by getting nipped here?

Seven letters, beginning with R.

Clara smiled, and reached for a pen.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Serendipity 10

We made it to multiple figures. Issue 10 has stories by Rhys Hughes, Nik Perring, Damien G Walter and Lena Patten (guess which is a pseudonym).

Friday, 18 July 2008

Dick and Jane and Neil too

Yesterday I received my contributor's copy of A Dick & Jane Primer for Adults. This is a fun/peculiar and extremely dark little collection of stories. As I've previously mentioned, it's exclusive to members of the British Fantasy Society, but if you're interested in getting hold of a copy without membership, it may be worth contacting them. As well as my piece, which if I was feeling self-aggrandizing I'd perhaps describe as a mini-Shakespearean tragedy, but if I was feeling realistic I might go as far as saying it's a crime story, there are some clever stories from Conrad Williams, James Lovegrove, Adam Roberts and Liz Williams, among others. The book's edited by Lavie Tidhar.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Fiona Robyn's blog tour

From here on in, Aliya and I will be hosting regular flash fiction pieces by guest writers. What better way to kick things off than providing a stopping point for Queen of the hyperflash fiction, Fiona Robyn, on her blogtour, which takes place throughout July. Not even Foo Fighters hit the road this hard. More importantly perhaps than the fact she writes perfect gems about being alive is the one that she has a vegetable patch. Surely the title of this blog is proof enough that we like a decent bit of veggie culture. Fiona couldn't agree more with our veggie/writing crossover ethos:

I can't decide whether growing my own vegetables is easy-as-pie or never-ending-excrutiatingly-hard-work. It seems to depend on how often I do the weeding, and if I've just eaten some home-made blackcurrant jam. I also seem to need to learn the hard way. Last year I watered my sweetcorn seedlings on a scorching day. I knew you weren't meant to water plants in the middle of hot Summer days, but I didn't think it would do them THAT much harm. Every single one shriveled and died a painful death.

"Gardening does feel a bit like writing a novel. Little and often is the key. Paying attention to detail. Plucking out bad words/weeds. And most importantly of all, taking pleasure in the process. Getting satisfaction from completely clearing a little corner of nasty weeds. Enjoying the sensation of sliding ripe raspberries from their white cones. Yes - it's good to bite into firm new potatoes dripping in butter - but the journey is just as important... in the same way that noticing my small stones is just as important as writing them down.

Do you think everyone is capable of experiencing those special moments that are recorded by your stones?

Yes, absolutely. I'm more likely to experience those moments when I have a bit of space in my head - doing things more slowly, focussing on one thing at a time - and so I think we can all improve the chances of these moments occuring by doing the same. I still have days that pass in such a whirlwind that I don't notice a single thing properly - but at least writing a small stone gives me a daily prompt!

Here's a question in mock-haiku. It seems appropriate:

What's your favourite
gem? Tell us about it.
Why's it so special?

Hmmm that's like asking a car enthusiast to choose between his cars! I suppose some of them tend to 'strike me' with more force when I read them, such as the stones I've chosen to end each month in the book. They often tend to be shorter. A few examples of these are:

Quarter to nine:

I look and look at the huge full moon

a white rabbit bottom bobs in the beams before dissolving into the dark

blackbird on bare branches, his beak a chip of flame

A chip of flame for a beak. What a great image.

Have you ever experienced that special stone feeling and somebody else has got it too?

When you ask this question I think about two people sitting in deck chairs and watching the sun go down, but even then they'll be looking at their own sunset, through the filter of their own preferences and experiences. So no, I can't remember having shared this feeling with someone else at the time of the 'moment', but I hope that other people may experience a similar feeling when they read a few of the stones - the ones that resonate for them.

Fiona's book Small Stones: A Year of Moments is available now.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Very sporting of them

An unusual subject for the Veggiebox this one, as my greatest sporting achievement was either a long-term spot on the subs bench of the school basketball (we never won a match in three years) or winning a fencing 'tournament' between a dozen people who had only been doing it for six weeks. (It was epee for those interested, obviously the best form of fencing. Foil, we spit on you.) Oh, and I got a yellow belt in Shotokan Karate. Sports Personality of the Year, I know.

I come from a relatively sporting family, if by sport you mean football, but I was the black sheep there as wasn't in to it, wasn't good at it and can't get excited about it.

Men's tennis was good though, eh?

Anyway, the aim of this post is in fact football related, mainly to say well done Aston Villa for being the first premiership (I'm assuming they're in the premiership, by the way) club to forego a two million pound sponsorship deal and have the name and logo of a local hospice adorn their kits in the coming season.

Friday, 4 July 2008

You have been warned

If you live in Norfolk, don't forget to take your library books back. Or there'll be trouble.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

What she said

My response to what people have been responding to:

To do

Go to the park at lunchtime to catch some rays
Get an anniversary card for parents-in-laws
Do some work
Finish revisions on my 'great story' on way home
Watch a bit of tennis in between looking after bubba and missa.

If I were a billionaire
I'd not work. Get some land and maybe chickens for eggs. Perhaps a holiday home in Spain or the southwest. Maybe I could move next door to Aliya in Salisbury. We can swap veggiebox goods.

Chocolate, cake and did I mention chocolate. But high quality chocolate. Green & Blacks, Vahlrona, etc. (Tried the new Seeds of Change stuff but it tastes too much like cooking chocolate.). Oh, and chocolate cake.

3 bad habits
Eating too much chocolate. Eating too much cake. Eating too much chocolate cake.

Five books
The Last Exile, by EV Seymour. One of those free books given out for publicity (see, it works) that you can't give to charity shops as they're not for resale. I won't lend it to any friends as didn't like much (but remember, Ms Seymour, all publicity is good publicity...)

Burning Bright
, Tracy Chevalier. A quirky book much more pleasant than you're expecting when you begin reading it, about a family from Dorset that move to London and work as button- and chair-makers for the circus. It's also about William Blake. Chevalier wrote Girl With A Pearl Earring

Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
. Okay, so it's very surreal and has some interesting concepts, but is my least favourite of the Murakami books I've read. Not sure if the completely forced rendering of the scientist's speech impediment was the fault of Murakami or the translator, though I'm guessing the latter.

The Pregnancy Bible, by a load of doctor types. Surely no explanation needed.

And I've just started Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature, by Linda Lear.

Five jobs
Copy-shop assistant; Dog trainer; cat re-homer; Magazine production manager and unsuccessful writer

Five places
  • Whitechapel, East London, home to Jack the Ripper and the Krays. Very salubrious.
  • South Ockenden, Essex. Not much happens here
  • Calpe, a coastal town in Alicante and the setting of the story Aliya and I are having published in Subtle Edens
  • Selhurst, a charming London suburb within spitting distance of Croydon (note: there is sarcasm inherent in this statement)
  • Somewhere very close to Gatwick airport and one of the best towns in the country if you are looking for a charity shop, a sub-standard barbers or an estate agent. Fortunately I'm not under the flight-path