Here’s a story of mine, in the fantastic Hobart:
It is very much par the normal course of events to find yourself lying sheathed in an almost translucent blue-and-silver shawl on a patch of ochre dirt land, stroking the ground a little, early of a June morning. So it was with Simão. You may guess he had been drinking; sure he had. There were pinkish orchids in the trees above and glossy bromeliads bending wet and clutching each branch a bird or two with an intellectual and mocking eye.
In the history of human adventure this was all quite meek. Battles have been fought on frozen rivers in which everyone was naked and the squelched and various wounds steamed mightily and the blood froze like a red carpet under the players. At other times let’s be clear whole families were lost as city streets were renamed by a single pen stroke, or under a cracked glass were rerouted into a subterranean channel. Even once it is rumoured that an astronaut vanished from the international space station, though its doors are kept firmly snibbed even in the finest weather.
As you can probably tell, the piece is inspired by Calvino. I’ve been reading his work lately, and keep thinking how I need to swoop up everything he ever did.
Currently: I am heading to London soon for a showcase of Scottish writing, then to Italy for a retreat, where I hope to get a slew of work done. It’s been slow here, on that front. But Spring is coming, and writing always gets into gear then.
Over the course of a few months, I was interviewed for Splice. You can now read the whole thing, if you’d like here.
Helen McClory is a prolific writer of flash fiction and short stories, as well as a novelist and an advocate for overlooked works of literature. In reviewing her two story collections for Splice, Daniel Davis Wood called McClory a “distinctive” writer who “survey[s] the stuff of folklore and mythology and weav[es] it into serious fiction with vivid imagery and poetic flair”. Throughout the summer of 2018, following the publication of her most recent collection, Mayhem & Death, Helen McClory generously set aside time to talk to Splice about her work, her interest in different literary forms, and her plans for the future
Wood also reviewed both On the Edges of Vision and Mayhem & Death here.
One of my pieces, “It Seemed Impossible it Could Ever Begin” was one Fictive Dream’s September Slam flashes.
Another apocalyptic story of mine, “A Quiet, Important Thing”, is up on Minor Literatures.
The muscles of the poplar trees beat about, and the warm night is full of calls, or there is worn-hour haze, but invisible so in a darkness like this, a rain green darkness, and feet follow unseen feet across uncertain ways, between high and waving grass, spatters of mud on legs, boards, slipped shoes and sighs, until at last a light…
read the full flash/prose poem here.
(my portrait by Chris Close at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, taken by D.)
Thank you to everyone who came along to events I was speaking at and to the organisers – Blackwell’s Edinburgh, the wonderful (as always) EIBF, and Amnesty International. Back to quietly writing things.
Here’s a story from Mayhem & Death in Books From Scotland’s Festival edition:
‘A room can have disorder or stains in it. But this room does not, will not. All is in order, now. Let’s take one last look, one long breath in and out. A room in a story cannot be a haunted room, unless the writer puts the ghosts in there, or the suggestion of ghosts into it.’
read the full thing here.
Small sidenote: If you’ve read Mayhem & Death and have opinions on it, please consider leaving a review somewhere to help others make up their mind on whether or not to take a chance on it. If you have a Goodreads account the book can be found here.
(my books for sale at the EIBF bookshop)
A few places to see me reading this week:
Tomorrow, at Blackwell’s Writers at the Fringe (Blackwell’s Edinburgh), from 6pm, with Jonathan Whitelaw, Sam McColl, Noelle Harrison and Robert J Harris (free!). Tickets here.
Friday, at the Edinburgh International Book Festival (Writer’s Retreat), 6.30pm, with the excellent Camilla Grudova (£8/£6). Tickets here.
Saturday, at the Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series at the Edinburgh International Book Festival (Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre), with Roxanne Bouchard, Gina Miller, and Gunnar Staalesen (free) tickets available in box office on the day.
At the first two I’ll be reading from recently published Mayhem & Death– at the Blackwell’s I’ll be reading a story in that collection dedicated to my father. In the third, I’m reading the words of an activist silenced in Edrogan’s Turkey.
Here’s an interview with me on writing, darkness, little fish and knife fighting in the afterlife:
You’re now published by one of the most exciting indie presses around, 404 Ink – how do you think the rise of micro presses like this have changed the literary landscape, and what has it meant for you as a writer?
I think small presses have made it possible for the literary scene to be more diverse than it would otherwise be – they are like little rockpools carved out by hand, full of life…
read the full thing here
A kind, sharp review of Mayhem & Death appeared on the Never Imitate blog:
Deep within the bowels of her carefully chosen words, reflections of the ordinary are made dark, lonely, threatening. However inspiring the view on the surface of an individual’s life may be, under McClory’s piercing gaze its desolate depths are revealed.
This is, the reviewer says, a good thing. Read the rest here.