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A Second Pushcart nomination – fanning self

Yes, I woke to the pretty incredible news that another of my stories from On The Edges Of Vision has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize!

It’s “To String” from the Cobalt Review’s Fall issue.

 

To take a special holiday to visit the place where they were last seen.
To take a bus and then a train, the green countryside blipping past, the
technology of an earlier era but no less miraculous.
To arrive at the station, the only person standing on the platform under a
yellowing sky.
To see likewise the yellow fields of rapeseed swaying in a breeze your arms
do not register.
To feel in your nerves the storm hunching below the horizon.

 

Read More…

 

Here are the other stories nominated by Cobalt:

 

Parable of Pillow Talk with a Chupacabra” by Joe Jimenez (web special)
The House that Ruth Built” by Liz Dolan (Baseball issue)
Dodger Blues” by Nikki Thompson (Baseball issue)
Class Trip” by D Watkins (Spring 2014)
Box Score #41” by Colin Rafferty (Baseball issue)

 

(more to read over your coffee and tea today)

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Impossible dimensions

Today the builders working on my upstairs (and sideways) neighbours’ house cut a wire and blew a fuse in our flat. I spoke to them about it, and the damp seeping in – they briefly looked it over, and said they thought it was from the other side of the building, and not the shared part of the roof. And then we discussed the strange dimensions of the house. Upstairs is a concrete roof, they said, discovered under floorboards. Strange to have so thick a wall above a dwelling, was the message. Our part of the building is half submerged, with a low, subterranean window in the kitchen, but access on street level on the other side. It was a puzzle they said. I told them the place used to be a coach house, but I don’t think that full explains why things are as they are.

 

Perhaps I’m on alert to strange dimensions after reading Through the Woods, a graphic novel by Emily Carroll (see glimpses of her style here). Full of sinuous lines  - of speech, of landscape, warping black and red, the colours of dark pine and violence – it is precisely the book for the now, for the place D and I live, the strange old coach house at the dark part of the cobbled lane, by the small, strangulated woods. Across the street there is even the ruin of a cottage (it seems) built into the back boundary wall of the much newer fancy Park Circus tenements that turn to face the view on the other side. Brrr.

 

Today was good for reading – I also finished Among the Dead by Becca Jensen (brief review on Goodreads) which is not at all of dead things, because it is about literature, and the life that flows through it, long after the writers of it are gone into the river.

 

What else, what else?

 

More books, I hope. I’m working too on a new project, a novella-type thing with interlinked stories, of nightmares, surreal and unnerving. So far: a swallowing wall, crystal teeth,  taking an acid bath for an audience, marrying a ghost, a giant in a bookshop and a monstrous bothy.  I like the early days. I find writing the easiest thing in the world, like day dreaming. It’s the editing and the organising – ie. the making sharp and clear and enjoyable for other people to read – that is the hard part. Putting that off into the distance for now, like a spectre, pushing it out where the light doesn’t reach (though tomorrow it will).

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Pushcart nomination!

A story from On The Edges Of Vision has been nominated for the 2016 Pushcart Prize!

‘The Mistress of the House on the Machair” appeared in Wyvern Lit’s Haunted issue. You can read it here.

 

A black line along the floor where the rolling pin fell and cracked the tiles. The servant boy stares at it awhile, breathless. Behind him, the breathing, curtained windows look out on the endless sandy meadow of buttercups and daisies, the phenomenon known as the machair. The servant boy in his smurched apron washes his hands but does not pick up the rolling pin to place it somewhere safe. He abhors its slippage. Why had he been holding it anyway? There’s no pastry needing rolling. Bread’s in the airing cupboard. Her ladyship the ghost isn’t conscious this early. The hearth, as it has to be, is dusted. Everything beyond that is yellow-white machair and a strange, echoing pain ringing about his heart.

 

Read More…

 

Also nominated by Wyvern Lit and for your perusal -

 

 

 

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‘Singing with the Wolf’

My piece on the 1955 film The Night of the Hunter is live in the Noir November issue of Bright Wall/Dark Room. To read, you’ll have to be a subscriber – $2/month or $20/year. For that you’ll get access to some excellent personal reflection on film from loads of different writers. Maybe have a think about it?

 

If nothing else watch The Night of the Hunter because it’s a brilliant noirish fairytale, perfect for dark days indoors.

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‘Monstirs and Flash’ on the QFP Blog

Morning here from a dark room, with winter beginning to nip at the air. I have been busy with my friend C, up from London for a visit – together with D we pushed through heavy rain for coffee, an art gallery and a punk beer bar , we pushed through the crisp cold to walk across the town past groups of excited fan girls trying to spot pop stars in town for some MTV awards, and inside away from the weather made tiny crafts and watched Sharknado and science documentaries (to even each other out). She’s off home now, and I hope very much to see her again next year when I go down to London for readings from On The Edges Of Vision (this at the moment a vague concept yet to be organised). However! And perhaps of interest! On the Queen’s Ferry Press blog I write about the naming and monstrous influences behind this forthcoming collection:

 

All monsters represent some fear, some disgust, bafflement: we are worried by our bodies, by the possibilities of other bodies. We worry about the fluidity of our identities and our flesh. We’re all sliding around trying to find our balance, and at the same time watching what the other dancers on the floor are doing.  

 

Read More…

 

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AHS: Murder House essay on The Female Gaze

My Hallowe’en flavoured essay on the battiest of tv shows is now ALIVE (sorry) on The Female Gaze:

 

American Horror Story is a gaudy, gory, hugely flawed mishmash of an anthology series, with each season set in a closed-system locale. It has been from the beginning intent on raiding the larder of pop culture horror and filling these particular closed systems – house, asylum, witchy school, and now freak show – to bursting with scenes that are by turns (and sometimes at the same time) cheesy, repellent, spooky and moving. A mostly-brilliant cast then elevates the lot to something transcendent. It is like nothing else, and like everything else – and it will not let go of your throat (which then, you can imagine, makes a kind of rubber-duck noise as it is squeezed).

READ MORE (if you dare…)

 

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‘The Plantation Loop’

The Canadian artist and photographer Karen McRae recently contacted me with a brilliant idea – she had taken a series of eerie pictures of trees, wrapped against the winter frost, and would I like to create a piece of writing in response. I said yes immediately – I loved the imagery, the strangeness of seeing these warped, bound forms against a barren landscape. The result was ‘The Plantation Loop’, which you can read on her excellent blog, next to her images. Read/view here.

 

I hope they pair well, and are appropriately creepy for this thin moment of the year.

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