Out Now: Death Rattle – a Flash Fiction

My flash fiction story Death Rattle is featured in the just-released The Brighton Prize 2017!

Last year I wrote and entered a flash-fiction story to Rattle Tales, a Brighton-based writing collective, for an evening of readings they were hosting.  My story, Death Rattle, was selected! And I got to read it live in Brighton to an audience of rattle-waving writing enthusiasts.

It was a great night. It was wonderful to see how other writers performed the stories they had written, and the audience questions that followed each story were often illuminating.  It’s notoriously difficult for writers to take their craft to the stage, and I was excited by the opportunity.  Sadly, the 2018 Rattle Tales night falls a little close to my wedding day, so I’ve refrained from submitting to it!

I wrote Death Rattle to be read out loud and tried to emphasise sound throughout the story.  I also tried to avoid certain tongue-twisting combinations of words that I might struggle with on the night!  I’m really proud of the finished tale. I think for such a short piece of writing it tells a much larger story than it first appears.

I’d love for you to check out the The Brighton Prize anthology; not only to read my submission but also check out the stories from the writers I shared a stage with last June as well as the acclaimed tales that were selected The Brighton Prize – the short story competition run by Rattle Tales. And if you liked Death Rattle, why not try some of my other writings?

Happy reading!

How to Cure Writer’s Block

Earlier this year I went through a bit of a dry spell on the writing front.  I took about a month off my usual routine due to some heavy targets in my day job and found myself unable to get off the ground again with any kind of writing.  I’d start, stumble, fumble for words and grind to halt once more.

Diagnosis: Writer’s Block

I found although I was making time to write, and even knew what I wanted to write, the words weren’t quite flowing.  It wasn’t that I didn’t have the ideas, or the motivation, or even time to write, it was just that I was really having to push to get anything down, and I wasn’t enjoying it.  This, for me, is writer’s block:  an inconvenient affliction that prevents you from writing despite your best intentions.  But good news – I managed to recuperate with a few simple steps.  Here’s what set me on the road to recovery perhaps it could be of some help to you too. Read More

On Folk Horror

Folk horror is something of a retrospective tag for a brand of (mostly British) horror.  Although it is mostly affiliated with a clawful of early 70s horror films, it was 2010 before British screenwriter and horror aficionado Mark Gatiss popularised the term in referring to a trifecta of films with an emphasis on witchcraft, superstition and the British landscape.  The term has gained notoriety since then. Many modern writers, filmmakers and musicians have made a conscious effort to tap its rich aesthetic.  I’m one of those writers.

Folk horror really speaks to me.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in a small English village. Maybe it’s because I love nothing more than strolling through the countryside and letting my imagination run wild.  But I find rural English horror pleases me on a good few levels, and I enjoyed throwing my own hat in the ring with my most recent book Harvest House.  Here are some of my thoughts on why I like folk horror. Why I find it horrifying. And there are some signposts to exploring folk horror for yourselves too.

Witchfinder General, The Blood on Satan’s Claw and The Wicker Man share a preoccupation with British folklore, superstition, the landscape and evil.
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How to Talk to Musicians at Open Mic

I stopped by my favourite pub a few weeks ago for an after-work pint or two.  Halfway through a glass of Downland’s I noticed all the new arrivals turning up with guitars.  Some customers had ukuleles and one had a banjo.  Halfway through my third pint I had my first go on a cajon.  I loved it.  Now I want a cajon*.

I’ve been to a few open mic nights since, chipping in on a borrowed cajon and sometimes on full drum kit.  It’s good fun; you get to meet like-minded people and see some proper talent.  But there are some rules to stick to if you fancy giving open mic a go.  Here’s a useful guide on…

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Why I Won’t Be Watching American Gods

I first read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods in my late teens.  It was winter time and I fitted it in between college classes and bus stops and it struck such a chord with me.  The book is full to bursting with rich imagination, and images from that first reading that have stuck with me ever since.  Which is why I won’t be watching the new TV adaptation of the book.

Books aren’t necessarily better

I’m not the kind of person to say the book is always better than the film (although it often is).  In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say I think The Shining is a better film than it was a book, despite Stephen King being one of my favourite authors.  But books and films and television series are different media and connect with you in different ways.  Obviously, screen adaptations are more visual.  A book can throw pages of description at you but it still relies on its reader interpreting that information and forming an image from it.  If it’s on a screen, well, that’s the image that will wind up in your mind’s eye.

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