Whilst many stories will have to be retained for submission reasons and rights, from time to time I will put up shorts and similar here, normally when the granted publication rights have expired. They are, of course, still under copyright and rights are still held by me, so I would appreciate it if they weren’t copied anywhere else, but do feel free to contact me if you want to do something with them.
Beyond Reasonable Doubt
This is the story that won the inaugural Orwell Society Dystopian Short Fiction Prize for 2014 (see their news feed for any more recent news as the website has undergone a number of alterations recently). There are hiccoughs here and there and further polishing that could be done, I now think, but a lot of the original story was removed to take it down to the word limit.
Subsequently two other students at BCU went on to be shortlisted for the competition in 2015 – Siren Knight (on twitter as @SirenKn1ght) and, as mentioned on the Orwell Society page, Helena Hoar. I’d love to think that a tradition would be established and BCU students would regularly appear as I believe the competition is a really good one for students. Unfortunately, whilst the story was published in the Orwell Society’s journal, an oversight meant it was never published online. I feel a little let down, but at least it means it can be published here. 🙂
The Sun Must Rise
The original version of this story was long listed for the James White Award early in 2015 and has been altered slightly during the editing process, the ending changed (there were several). As ever, I would want to go back and amend it, alter it or reshape it, again, but I think it is worth seeing it for what it is: a step, a story I had to get down to clear out the creative junk. It used the same mcharacters as Beyond Reasonable Doubt though may be seen to be based in a slightly different universe.
From an re-editing perspective, for here, and even after numerous proofs, checks and submissions, I found far too many semi-colons and exclamation marks: funny how they creep in. It also contains four ‘seemed’, a word which I know is sometimes frowned upon but can be difficult to replace when a character is assuming something about another’s attitude. Commercially, I suspect it is too retro for modern SF. It is dark, from a different dystopian future to Beyond Reasonable Doubt and tells a simple story playing with an idea I had thirty years ago.
Time for Rachel Bride
Sometimes a story has to be written. Whilst this was entered for a few competitions, I was warned by one reader that elderly/care home stories are in vogue at the moment and need to be different or outstanding. Whilst this may not have been the latter (else it would have been placed – be honest!) it was one based on my experiences with carehomes from the perspective of a relative and as an undertaker – different, in other words. It also sprang from a memory I held of a very special person, C.L.E.M, now gone, but whose who’s birthday came up on my phone and I fell to remembering her. Merge everything together and I had to put it down on paper to clear out working space in my head.
I fall asleep
This was an experiment, an attempt at an animal PoV I tried a few years back. It has now probably been overworked due to shifting word lengths for the comps in which it was entered. As a result, it is probably now sprinkled with errors and juddery structure.
Animal PoV stories are fairly common in comps, and sometimes dreaded by judges. However, I was trying to write one where the animal – a cat – was something more, a reincarnation of an Egyptian priestess or lady that felt it was much more than it was. However, it was terminally ill and we look at something that pet owners hate: having to put down your cat. It was intended that the trail of clues about a confused cat/human identity (rather than anthropomorphism) was not so difficult it could not be appreciated, nor too easy that it destroyed the incarnated soul’s illusion. That possibly failed when one reader totally missed the fact it was a cat but thought it was an Egyptian priestess.
This started of as multiple variations of flash fiction, from 250 to 500 words. It was entered into a couple of flash competitions but to no avail. This instance is the sub-500 word version as the lesson learnt was that a story has its own length – and in this case probably a bit longer than 500 words.
Available only as a page on this blog.
The Soul Destroyer
An experimental homage to Louise Tett’s depictions of the decay due to Alzheimer’s and dementia and also to my stepmother and mother-in-law, both of whom died from complications due to the diseases. Whilst the breakdown of understanding (if you read it through) is demonstrated, I feel it lacks as much impact as it could because of its lack of physicality compared with Louise’s intricate work. Nonetheless, it was a worthwhile experiment.
Available only as a page on this blog holding the image.