Rise – Flash Fiction

Submitted to a Flash Fiction friendly. 100 words, taking the phrase “secret invention” and the image above as inspiration.

—————–

I awake to a clamour of glass smashing against stone. Hurried footsteps recede to silence, as rusty hinges squeal goodbyes. My head pounds as I open my eyes. Outside, an unseen torrent rumbles, amplifying the pain in my brain.

Sitting up, slowly, the smell of decay raises visions of illness – a blood-spattered bedpan haunts my periphery.

I survived?

I raise a grubby, skeletal hand to my temple, and notice my clothes thick with mud. My skin is cold, like a corpse. The pain in my head squirms – I pluck a soft, wriggling creature from my ear.

It’s alive.

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The Songs My Destination – how music can supercharge our stories

If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like you to start playing this tune as you read this post (headphones recommended):

Has it started? – Then I’ll begin…

The music

The pace of this song is slow. It’s a sombre track, concealing a brooding baseline that thumps quietly in the background, like the rhythmic beating heart of a gigantic whale.

Do you hear that? 

Echoes and reverberation give a glimpse of vast spaces, through which you begin to drift, floating on its waves, as high-pitched piano keys tease a simple melody from the spaces in between.

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Followers, favourites & frantic defilement – weary writers on Twitter

I’ve been trying to build up my Twitter followers this week, in the hope that if I ever finish this book and get it out there, I’ll have a conveniently amassed audience to whom I can promote it.

That’s the idea, anyway.

I also just enjoy using Twitter. Interacting with fellow writers, sub-editors, journalists and professional piss-takers is a lot of fun. It’s all witty quips in brash brevity – a skill in itself.

Even on a purely psychological level, the favourites/retweets aspect is like gaining experience points in a weird social RPG. Each arbitrary milestone you reach for the number of followers you accrue feels like leveling up.

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Having a domestic with the first draft – editing is a bitch

Editing that first draft is an act of mutilation – it’s messy, emotional and unforgiving.

But that’s because I write like a maniac – without forethought or planning. I just do a mind-puke over the page like I’ve been on some boozy ideas binge.

Now I have to sift through this literary vomit and pick out the chunks that might still contain some nutritional value. It’s horrid.

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Notes from the 60s – my Mum’s take on Graham Greene

Four shillings
Printed in 1969

I’m reading Graham Greene’s The Heart Of The Matter at the moment. It’s not exactly inspiring anything towards my ethereal steampunk fantasy, but Greene’s one of my brother’s favourite writers, so I wanted to see what the fuss was about.

It’s the kind of thing that was probably on my Uni literature course that I neglected to read because I was too busy farting about.

I found it on my parents’ bookshelf a few weeks ago – a yellowing Penguin classic print from 1969 nestled among its peers, all bought by my Mum while she was at university.

The price on the back cover says United Kingdom 20p / 4 shillings. That was probably about 50 quid in today’s money.

The story’s about a middle-aged Englishman in West Africa during WWII, whose love for two women, and his attempts to keep them both happy, lead him to disaster.

It’s good, but what I’m enjoying most are the little notes scrawled in the margin by my 19-year-old mum-to-be. They’re few and far between, but I love coming accross them.

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A world-building Rift

I experienced an Oculus Rift the other day. It was sensational – in a sense.

I’d never worn a virtual reality headset. I lowered myself into a bolted-together driving seat, complete with plastic steering wheel with gear paddles, a wobbly shift stick and a full complement of pedals at my feet. The room I was in was a small, dimly lit box-room office, and my friends stood behind me as I lowered the headset over my eyes.

Suddenly, I was sat in a Ferrari in the pit lane at Silverstone. Hands that were slightly too small to be mine gripped a pixelated steering wheel in front of me with a functioning dashboard behind it. I looked to my right and saw my rear view mirror, my friends ominously absent in its reflection, despite the sound of their merriment at my apparent open-mouthed glee.

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Focus – the nemesis of the Chaos Draft

It took me the best part of a decade to write the first draft of my book. That’s a long, freaking time.

In 10 years, a lot has changed, not least me. I’m a very different person to the borderline-alcoholic, early-20s buffoon that started scribbling down a scene on the tube. Now I’m a moderately sensible 30-something borderline-alcoholic, with a new-found love of reading.

As I’ve changed, my characters have changed, my plot has been twisted and my world has been turned upside down. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end – but their relation to each other is warped, as though light refracts through each Act.

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Good-Pai! Pai Pai Thailand! Pai!

I’m sorry gang, but I’m just not a terribly big fan of Thailand.

Monks in Chiang Mai
So intense

Yes, Thailand has my favourite food – spicy, zest-filled freshness bursting with flavour – and arguably some of the best island beaches, lapped by crystal waters teeming with aquatic life. That is certainly true.

And on occasion it holds a natural beauty that is hard to replicate. For instance, you might snap a shot of three young monks looking at a double rainbow, for instance. Pure, travelling gold.

Alas, I’m afraid to say Thailand has been overrun by a scourge that affects nearly every corner of its land: namely, twats.

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Skeleton Crew – Stephen King – [Book Review]

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Stephen King, and I realised that none of them are based on his actual written work.

On the one hand there’s the obvious quality of films like Misery, The Shining, Stand By Me, or The Shawshank Redemption – on the other, there’s dross of unfathomable quantity, including It, Secret Window, The Lawnmower Man, The Mangler, Maximum Overdrive and innumerable TV movies.

To compound things, when I first moved to London my housemates happened upon a Stephen King TV series, called Nightmares & Dreamscapes. The episode in question was called Crouch End, and it had us in stitches throughout.

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Hoi An, Danang and Hue too hot

Hue Imperial Citadel promenade
Hot muthas

Despite its wealth of historical monuments and glorious vistas, central Vietnam in May is an act of self-flagellating masochism.

But let me begin this account from the beginning, with everyone’s favourite travelling trope – a crazy bus story.

We took a sleeper bus from Dalat round the mountains down to Danang, with the rain pounding the windows and the night sky lit by lightning, like an epileptic’s nightmare.

During the night, the bus came to a halt on a twisting mountain road. Up ahead, vehicle floods lit a rabble of people inspecting some obstacle in the way. I needed to stretch my legs so I got out to have a nose at what was going on.

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