My short story Two Days from the Diary of an Office Worker Struggling to Lead a Moral Life in the Twenty-First Century is featured in the first volume of Chase the Moon Magazine this month. Hard copies can be purchased through Amazon UK or Amazon US, depending on your preference, or you can receive a free random sample story from the magazine by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject ‘free story’…
…or if you want a peak, you can just let me know.
With it’s strange layout spanning over three pages (in less than 400 words) I am hugely appreciative and impressed that the good people at Valve Journal deemed to publish my prose-poem / lyrical-essay / whatever-I-don’t-know piece, A Swimmer’s Guide to the Front Crawl, in their third issue. The piece sprang from an exercise that gradually spiralled out of control and from there into it’s own thing entirely, and though I’ve always felt that it would work better performed than on paper I have yet to gather enough courage to perform it anywhere.
The publication of Valve 03 was doubly exciting for me as it was the first time that I was published on paper rather than online or in a web magazine, and so technically it was the first time my name had been in print, so to speak. Even though it should be obvious that web distributed magazine have the capability of reaching a far larger audience, there is something rewarding and intimate about holding a physical object that contains your work, deemed acceptable enough to be committed to paper by The Ones Doing The Selecting, and I fear I bathed perhaps a little too much in its glory as I told everyone down at the pub:
“They’re actually PRINTING this one!!!”
To which they asked, “Are they paying you?”
To which I said:
And walked off to get another drink.
During my time at Glasgow University I was lucky enough that From Glasgow to Saturn, the Glasgow University creative writing magazine, was willing to publish two of my stories, The Drunk in issue 28 and Hammond in issue 30. Both are extremely dear to me (as is the magazine) as this was the first time I ever got anything published anywhere. Both are probably an example of me trying to find my own voice by borrowing from the voices of a multitude of authors that I admire. Both include a murder, as many first stories do. Killing someone is just such a brilliant way of fooling the reader into thinking that what happens in the story actually matters. Without a murder these stories would just be a series of events dictated in the first person. It took me a while to build up the courage to see if I could make readers care about the characters without killing (or at least threatening to kill) at least one of them. Some days I still have my doubts.
During my MA at Glasgow University I submitted a story to my friend A.R. Kahler’s anthology Tentacles and Ventricles, along with a few of the other writer’s in our group. The collection sprung from a pub conversation where Alex came up with the title, and decided it was too good not to be used for something. My own story, Mr. Testo Punishes the Ocean, was an interesting experience for me, though I feel looking back at it that I was perhaps trying too hard borrow a style that wasn’t necessarily mine, and some of the depictions of the village and the children I might change now, while almost all of the names of the characters make me cringe when I read them now. It feels good to know that I can’t do so, because the story is already out there somewhere. That’s the beauty of getting stuff published.