Tag Archives: Fiction

Autumn Soft // Books from Scotland

‘I want you to love me, if I’m being honest. That’s why I start so gently, in the garden, in the present tense.’

There’s an excerpt from the opening chapters of Bitterhall up on the Books from Scotland website:

I am on the swing in the garden, under the oak bough, late August night, a couple of beers tipped over beside me in the short mossy grass and my heart is a neat bundle of sticks in love with the dead and the unreachable. Up in the house a single light shines; first floor, the bedroom, my bedroom, so it looks like there’s somebody up there.

Read the whole thing here!

And then if you’re keen to see more, preorder the book with a ticket to the launch on the first of April here.

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For Hallowe’en: ‘The Difficulty of Writing a Horror Story Set in Maine’ in Hobart


A new story up in Hobart today, fit for Hallowe’en feelings:

You winced, went shuffling out onto the deck in your pyjamas, overcoat, beanie hat, gloves. The plaster over your nose from the scratches. The ones on your arms, you had just washed and left to heal in the air. Leaves from the maple that overhung the long yard lay like damp clawed hands on the boards. The machine was making you coffee inside. Or, you hoped it would be, or else the thrumming was something else. 

Read the full piece here

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Mineral Vegetable Animal on Atticus Review

I am mineral—begun or began again in the breach position inside of a stone. That’s the way she tells it. Amethyst anima. I run my hands over the tablecloth—smooth purple, stretched yellow stars—and nod politely, as if I agree. On a high shelf, there’s Our Lady of Shrugs. A silver bangle slides down the psychic’s wrist to join twelve others. And I get out my money. Well then, thank you. I’ll think about all of this. Her dog, small shaggy creature with no lips with which to cover its teeth, lifts its head indifferently as I go off into the day.

Read more here

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I’m delighted and awed to have had one of my stories selected for the inaugural Best of British and Irish Flash Fiction 2018-2019. The full list is here and I am going to be spending my mornings before work catching up on the stories I managed to miss, over tea. That’s my recommendation to you (although, you can choose any time of the day that suits).

My story is You’ll Meet Me There, one of my apocalyptic fictions from last year. I’m working on a collection now that I have a few pieces. Another of the apocalyptic fictions is in the Best of British Fantasy 2018 anthology. You can buy a copy via the link – and there are SO many brilliant authors in there.

Other news: I will be teaching Creative Writing part-time at Glasgow University this coming academic year and I am thrilled and terrified. I will be spending the next weeks not only planning for the course, but ALSO going to Italy to teach on the very first Write Toscana writing retreat in the hills of Tuscany. If you’re interested, we’ll be running retreats next year too, and you can get in touch to register interest through the link.

I also have writing news that I’m bursting to share but that will have to wait until the bubbles reach the surface.

Phew. Autumn is really ramping up. And yes, it’s already Autumn here, with a cool wind blowing and the leaves skittering at the fringes of the rangy flowerbeds. I hope my work can keep me busy as we take that descent into the darkness of the year’s end. I’m holding my little candle of these recent joys close to my chest.

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“Some Day My Prince Will Come and Chew Me in His Giant Maw” on Vestal Review

I was spooning lakewater with my hand when the nostrils broke the surface. I’ll dream of it all my days—horror from unwanted closeness. The bubbling sounds as from below the little-eyed slimy grey head came rushing up, and the wide-slung jaw with juts of teeth the shape and thickness of bananas. The guide kicked the motor, we fell into our seats, and when I could turn to look back, there was only ripple to see of it. Only the soupy lake under the beautiful egrets, noon.

Read the full flash fiction, alongside the other stories in this edition of Vestal Review here.

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Il Uomo Morto on Jellyfish Review

I’ve a new story up on Jellyfish Review today:

The direct view of the valley from where we stay used to be of the knuckles of the foothills and the higher, snow-draggled peaks behind them. Once there were villages in those foothills, terracotta-roofed, strung out like spiderwebs and glittering in the sun. And closer: rows of vines and pale cocoa-coloured fields freshly turned, and ivy-wrapped trees, the delicate, reaching blue limbs of pines, olive trees showing their silver leaves, the ample woodpile stacked on the other side of the road.

Read more here


The story was written while on a residency in a beautiful house in the hills of Tuscany, and this September between the 14th-21st, I’ll be teaching a low-stress writing retreat called Write Toscana in the same place – hopefully with stunning view still very much attached. It’s mostly going to be about the enjoyment of place and the freedom to experiment in your writing (and to eat delicious local food) If you are interested in coming along – more details in the link above, and here. I’d love to see you.

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See Me 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.

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The Unsung Letter No. 37

This week, a book about gender upheaval, sung out by Anya Johanna DeNiro –


…a novella that shakes the rust off the machinery of post-apocalyptic contagion tropes, and brings to life something startlingly new about gender, about friendship, and most importantly the stories trans women tell each other to stay alive.


Read more here.

Now, when I was putting links into the draft to send out, the author’s website wasn’t loading, so I had to use another link (to Bookdepository) so that at least there was one option. In case you would like to support them directly (and why wouldn’t you?) you can hop over to their website and purchase the book there, handy for digital downloads (and having a pay-what-you-want arrangement. Bonus). Check it out here.

Sign up to The Unsung Letter for a weekly missive, written by a different book lover each time, singing the praises of an undersung work by a living author.

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The Unsung Letter No. 7

Here’s a taste of this week’s letter, written by David J. Loehr:


I grew up in a house filled with books, raised by two English majors, one of whom taught at the college level for years. And while other children might have had fairy tales for bedtime stories, I always requested stories from my mother’s years as a professor—they weren’t all academic stories, but they were all funny.


If The Unsung Letter isn’t yet coming to your inbox, you can sign up here for weekly recommendations of an under-beloved livign writer, written by a different book enthusiast each time!

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Current Obsessions in Fiction

What I’d like to read right now, what I’m working my way towards in my own writing, what lingers like incense (happy Easter, by the way, to those who celebrate):



hills of grass on and on without end and a puddle here or there reflecting a giant blue sky

diners, motels, petrol stations in the middle of the desert staffed by one person who will not meet your gaze

the mountains were there is a solitary hut above the treeline

constellations when they are considered by small groups of people on the dark face of the earth

ill-defined wrongness and wrongdoing and buttoned lips

islands and their specific, haunted geography

big fat lazy rivers of the kind Scotland is too small to possess

found lines of poetry in spam emails

witches and their fashions and self-forged legends

books which change on contact

forests as impossibly large, engulfing settings for stories (I need more of these)(especially ones which note the way the light shifts and falls, and birdsong, and cracking twigs)

old houses, naturally, with infinite-dimensions of basements and attics and pantries and dairies and outbuildings

little villages in the mesas were all the inhabitance practice a particular craft handed down from one generation to the next

dream logic that is not pure message

graveyards, like shores – with a little mist on them, and great depths

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