Thursday 20 October 2016

A Time Lord For Change

An exciting adventure with drabbles
All the anticipation for "A Time Lord For Change" is getting terribly exciting! It must be about two years now since I heard that actor, writer and all-round good egg Cliff Chapman​ was putting together a book with one drabble (100-word short story) for every single televised episode of Doctor Who.

In 2014, Cliff and I both spent a fair amount of time posting drabbles on, a flash-fiction site, so I was keen to be involved. I got in early, bagged Caves of Androzani and Survival (as the two stories I'd seen most recently), and retired to the pub with my pen and a notebook.

It goes without saying that 100 words is not a lot. By the time I'd had two pints, I'd written what I thought were two extremely short scenes, only to find out when I typed them up later that they were both almost double the required length. Editing drabbles is an exercise in wild ruthlessness, where you find yourself having to prune away not just the fluff, but genuinely good stuff, in an attempt to reach the bare bones of your story.

When I first read over my two edited drabbles, I wept for lost gags and description. Then the second time, I chuckled at both of them. So I submitted them to Cliff, along with a bio, and waited.

And waited.

I 'm used to small press books taking a while to come out. Three years is my record, for a FW book, and not one I'm particularly happy about. It's almost always the cover that's to blame. But in this case the delay was down to... mission creep. The list of authors grew ever more world-class. As if condensing 50 years of TV into 100 word chunks wasn't ambitious enough, Cliff expanded the brief to take in many of the spin-off media. He found the perfect publisher, Chinbeard Books. And then the celebs began to show up.

Andrew Cartmel, Sylvester McCoy's script editor. Terry Molloy, aka 80s Davros. I approached my friend Jane Sherwin, who memorably played Lady Jennifer Buckingham in The War Games in 1969. Finally, Colin Baker, the 6th Doctor himself, was announced as participating. I don't know how Cliff pulled off some of these contributions. I don't know how many drabbles there are in the finished book. Really, I don't know much at all, except that Cliff masterminded an insane logistical exercise, pulling together many dozens of writers, and hundreds of stories, in what must surely be the most ambitious Doctor Who short story collection of all time.

It's been a long road to publication, and there have even been surprises this year, such as Jo Grant / Iris Wildthyme actress Katy Manning joining the fold. In a year when we've had no televised Doctor Who to keep us out of mischief, I think A Time Lord For Change is going to raise an awful lot of money for charity, and I'm incredibly proud to have played my own small part in it.

Monday 3 October 2016

Bite-Sized Stories: Never Throw Anything Away

Another anthology. I used to drink in a
 bar called The Anthologist. Just saying.
Bite-Sized Stories is the first in a proposed series of flash fiction anthologies from George Donnelly. It's now free to download on Amazon Kindle, as well as from most other major e-book vendors.

With twenty-five authors contributing stories across a wide range of genres, from horror and science-fiction to romance and literary, there's something for most readers in this collection.

My own story, The Poet In The Park, was first written in late 1999, or early 2000. It was definitely written while I was studying Philosophy in Bordeaux, and the park in the story was inspired by Bordeaux's Town Hall gardens (Les Jardins de la Mairie), where I'd sit with a good book and a chocolate milkshake whenever I needed to shake a hangover. Which, being 21 and living in the wine capital of the world, was pretty frequently, if I'm being completely honest.

It's a story which I think is pretty clearly written by a hungover 21 year old studying Philosophy in Bordeaux, but people who have read the copy in my top drawer over the past sixteen years have tended to like it, so I was more than happy to rework the old tale for this collection. It's a story about all of us, really, about the way we see ourselves as the hero in the stories of our own lives, and how others perceive us. There's a crumb of philosophy from post-structuralist Jacques Derrida in there, who believed that all communication took place in the fundamental absence of the recipient.

I've become a lot more interested in snarky cat detectives, superhero fairy tales and haunted photocopiers since those days.

33 Flash Fiction Stories for Life's Stolen Moments

From a creepypasta horror farm to a bullish love tale and from the bloody metal deck of the ESSArclight to superhero octopus food trucks, you can transform your shortest stolen moments into utter delights with this diverse collection of 33 flash fiction stories.

Commuting to work? Grabbing a quick coffee? Each story tells a complete tale in but a few short minutes with the added promise of a lifelong introduction to new indie writers.

You never know, you might just find your next favorite author.

This collection, the first in the Flash Flood series, is a special selection of master works with a variety of genres and voices guaranteed to keep you engaged. Sign up now (see inside the book) for future flash fiction anthologies themed for Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day, May the 4th and Independence Day.

If this tickles your interest, get clicking on this link: Bite-Sized Stories.

There are at least three more anthologies with my stuff still to come out this year. Next up will be either A Time Lord For Change or Summer's End. Watch this space!