A quick post to let you know that my latest short story is now available in print.
‘The Women Who Swapped Their Baby for Salad’ is a Rapunzel/Sleeping Beauty modern mashed-up fairytale with all of that foggy brain and lack of appetite for life that comes with anaemia. There’s green salad, thorny roses, a good fairy, a witch, a drop of blood and lots of sleeping.
You can find it in Small Good Things, which is an anthology of short stories published by Dahlia Books. Click here to buy it.
If you are really quick then you can still grab a ticket for the booklaunch, which is tomorrow. It’s the ‘A Brief Pause’ showcase: developing your practice‘. session. I won’t be reading, but will be there. Click here for tickets. Kathy Fish workshops are like gold. There is literally a lottery for her longer courses, they are so over-subscribed.
I never much liked the Disnification of fairy tales. That’s not true actually, I despise sanitised versions of stereotyped lives. I prefer the Company of Wolves-style tales of girls and women who lead interesting lives and stray from the path. The ones where they do something daring and dangerous to have a real reason to be saved! The only dressing-up costume that I ever wanted when I was little, was the one that Snow White wore, as she had dark hair, like me. One of my favourite fairy tale princess/matriarch/fierce females is a singer/songwriter/knitting pattern designer called TinyOwlKnits and of course the actor Eva Green, but that goes without saying.
The books that inspired me and continue to, include the following.
(Where is my copy of ‘The Bloody Chamber’ by Angela Carter when I need it?)
Just a quick one. (A new story is on its way later this week soon) But first…
Remember last year when I said that I’d written a story called ‘Say When’ and it was included in a charity anthology called ‘No Good Deed’? Well, ‘No Good Deed’ is on the shortlist for best anthology in the Saboteur Awards 2020!
Please could I trouble you to spare a few moments and do me a massive favour and vote for ‘No Good Deed’ in the ‘best anthology’ section? If you haven’t already read it, then you’re in for a real treat. The kindle version is a bargain at £2.99, and the paperback is £8.99.
Brexit had been temporarily banished and Halloween was still too far away to think about. I felt like a comedian given their first 10-minute slot. I spent ages that morning, wringing my hands, choosing which 8-minute segment to read from my story, ‘May Settle in Transit’. I couldn’t do the bit about gentrification, nor the bit about a different coffee shop. They didn’t feel right.
When I had settled on the most perfect chunk of prose, I read it out loud, recorded it, listened back, recorded it again, slowing my speech down, once more with feeling, enunciated, realised I hated the sound of my own voice and accent, tried not to fidget, remembered to smile, made notes in the book, and then did it again. I think I recorded it about 8 times in total. I wanted to take my time and not rush through to get it over with. I knew I would regret it if I did that. I kept telling myself that this was all practice for when I do my own book tour for my own novel. It’s little steps towards a future goal.
To get me into the zone, I tried listening to Eminem, like Obama used to before he went on stage, but the ‘Villains’ album by Queens of the Stone Age did the trick brilliantly. I went out for a pizza and large glass of Malbec with my super-positive friend for distraction, gossip and support, and continued to practice my deep breathing to calm my nerves.
It had been almost 30 years, since I had spoken in public (with the advance knowledge that I was expected to speak) and reading aloud something I had written heightened the nerves. Why does knowing beforehand make the fear greater? That time around, I was a singer in a local band, and I now have no idea how the 16-year-old me ever did it. I suppose acting in school plays were still fresh in my mind.
As a local sweet shop got a mention in my story, I bought “a quarter of spice” (100g of boiled sweets – rhubarb and custards) for the audience to pass around. That morning’s practice helped me to pace myself, and I looked up at the audience every few seconds, how I’ve seen professional public speakers do. To stop myself being overwhelmed, I bought myself time by handing over my business card to anyone who spoke to me. A “thank you” and a smile covered my panic.
My friend said it didn’t look like I was nervous, but I felt it. I think it’s obvious from my social media names I am well aware how my social anxiety manifests itself as uncontrollable babbling.
(Not actually giant cards, but mini play food)
It felt strange to read out something that was written a year ago, but now may be the first time someone else has heard it. It was great to meet some of the other contributors and hear their stories. I still have the original flyer seeking contributions.
Jon organised loads of events around Leicestershire to promote the book during the annual Leicester Literary Festival, ‘Everybody’s Reading’, culminating with this one at De Montfort University, Leicester on 25th February 2020.
You can buy a copy of the anthology, “An Attempt At Exhausting a Place in Leicester” here
When I first started this blog, I obviously didn’t have much content to share, so I created a page of quotes I like, called ‘these things I know’, and this one was the first on that list. Fate eh?
So, I now know the London village I want to move to when I win the lottery or have a best seller. I won’t get much change from a million quid though.
I did a recce via Parson’s Green tube to get my bearings a few weeks ago and had a little nosy around Nomad Books. This little indie bookshop has a wonderful vibe. It’s not just the big name bookshops that get the big names. Anthony Horowitz had his launch here this very week! Their massive children’s section is a great place to hold a book launch.
This was the first time most of us had even seen the book, let along held it, so it was quite a special evening. I wasn’t doing a reading (thank goodness) and my head is still buzzing trying to remember names to faces I know from social media, to bookmark their websites. I could get used to this little world of super-supportive writers, editors, and proofreaders!