Friday 26 September 2014


I'm not really a fan of horror, and I particularly don't like zombie material, with the inevitable exception of Shaun of the Dead (and Cockneys vs Zombies, which you really should see if you haven't already). I think this is partly because of the low quality of quite a lot of the horror writing I've read, and partly because I'm a bit squeamish.

As a writer, though, I often find myself drawn to stuff I don't much like, possibly in an attempt to understand why I don't like it. So quite a bit of my work ends up riffing on horror tropes, whether that's the suburban slashers of Throwing Up With the Joneses, the off-kilter body horror of Gluttony, or the pure weirdness of the short story I'm currently working on, Someone Who'll Watch Under Me.

This has led to me producing no fewer than three zombie stories over the last couple of years. No one is more surprised about this than I am. Even more strangely, while one of them is a 500 word piece of flash fiction, the other two are currently novella length, with the potential to expand easily to full length books.

Strangest still, the longest of these might yet become a series, as inspiration struck on my walk to work the other day for a second adventure.

Whenever I sit down to write a story that deals with familiar tropes, I try to put some sort some sort of spin on it which is, well, perhaps not original, but I hope at least a little unexpected. I think I've found a couple of ways to do that with my approaches to zombies.

Time will tell.

In other news, it seems likely that there will be some new fiction from me in a long-awaited anthology very shortly. You read it here first.

Tuesday 16 September 2014

On Works In Progress

Once again, a month has slipped past since my last post. I'm really not sure where the time goes.

All the stuff I'd finished last month is still bubbling along, but I wrote a new short story for a competition over at the ever-shiny

I've also had my attention drawn to a new anthology, whose theme fits almost perfectly with a short story I'm already writing. As with the Costa competition entry and the Cult of Me short fiction contest, I don't rate my chances, but it's a perfect opportunity to give me a bit of a push to get the story completed.

And that's the problem with being an aspiring writer, in a nutshell. I find that writing breeds ideas for more writing. If I've been contracted to write something, I knuckle down and get on with it, making a note of any other ideas somewhere else. When I'm writing spec stuff, or producing material to self-publish, however, there's no particular reason to prioritise the development of one idea over any other. I tend to float around, doing a few hundred words here, editing a bit there, on any one of half a dozen different projects.

At the moment I have, in no particular order, three half-written short stories, two novellas and a half dozen vague ideas in a notebook. There are also a few short stories that I've started and then abandoned. I might go back to them later, who knows?

The result of this approach is that it takes a lot longer to finish everything. I'm not just messing about, I do serious work on these projects, but I rarely seem to stick around long enough to finally complete anything.

I've usually got at least a couple of short stories that are just a solid evening's work away from being finished. But I need a bit of a push to actually do that solid evening's work. Finding out about a relevant competition, or anthology market, preferably with an imminent deadline, well, that usually does it nicely.

I salute anyone that can stick to one project and see it through to completion without deviation...