Monday 20 December 2021

Possible final designs for "Nanny Knows Best"

 Finally got the provisional final designs through from Alexi K .  Just got to get it all cleared by the publisher and we should all be set.

Personally, I'm really happy with it. Love the NHS iconography - I suspect that will have an air of sinister horror in years to come that is suitably fitting for a collection of absurdist/Bizarro horror fiction.

Tuesday 14 December 2021

New Story published at "Going Postal"


The publication of "Like The Bird in the Tree" over at Going Postal is a bit of a mixed bag, coming as it does on the very day that Vaccine (soon to become "Freedom") Passports were voted in.  Originally intended as a satire of the Smoking Ban, it has sat on my computer for years (along with many of the other State of the Nation stories), waiting to be edited.  Sadly, my editing process is notoriously slow anyway as I like to pretty much forget the story before returning to it with fresh eyes.  I then do this several times, each "sweep" hopefully improving and polishing the story as I go.  Sadly this process is so time-consuming it seems that the world has caught up with me.  Indeed, when reality surpasses a dystopia you imagined only a handful of years ago, you know the world has gone truly insane.  

That said, on re-reading the story it became apparent how prophetic it was, from the use of lying media to conduct psy-ops on the public, to the malign influence of MSM and Big Tech, to the gullibility of the majority who accept what they are told without question, their morality becoming victim to their new programming from above.  Indeed, much of State of the Nation, originally intended as satire on the various aspects of British life is now quaintly out of date and now only really of value as a memento mori of the last 15 years or so, as we saw what was coming but did nothing to stop it.  It is depressing that as we march relentlessly toward the fetid swamps of globalist social credit scores and the like, a collection of "dark, satirical dystopian stories" is now just a reminder of a better, freer time.  Worse, they are something that we can look towards with envy.

Enough, now.  Please read, "Like the Bird in the Tree" at Going Postal.

Monday 6 December 2021

More promo images / Wallpapers for "Nanny Knows Best"

 Courtesy of Alexi K, here are a few more promo images / wallpaper designs for Nanny Knows Best.  Final cover still in the works.

Monday 29 November 2021

Preliminary / Draft Cover and Poster designs for "Nanny Knows Best."

 Courtesy of artist and designer Alexi K comes a few preliminary draft cover designs for Nanny Knows Best.

And also some rough ideas for promo posters....

And other assorted branding.....

Tuesday 26 October 2021

Reading at "42" - 26th October 2021


Just attended 42, Worcester's genre fiction spoken word event.  The Halloween Special is always one of my favourite 42s, but even though some people were dressed up as witches and so on, it didn't quite have the same feel as when it is in person and there are suitably spooky decorations spotted about.  Some great stories and poems tonight, some spooky and spectral in the traditional Halloween sense and some more intimate and toying with more personal horrors.  I was completely off-theme of course, as I wanted to run "Porno Park" past an audience, as it is the only story in my upcoming collection that hasn't been published elsewhere.

It went down really well, both in online comments and afterwards (luckily I was the last performer before the break so there was plenty of time for feedback).

Performing online is certainly handy as I am more likely to go after a long day at work.  And a record of the reactions and feedback is also nice to have.  That said, I do miss standing on stage and hearing a live audience reaction as you read.  Hopefully we will get back to those sorts of evenings soon.

Thursday 7 October 2021

Collection Update and New story (exclusive to here)

Just heard from Hybrid Sequence Media, the publisher of my second Collection, Gimp World, that they are currently pulling a cover together for it for a provisonal March release.  As I was going through the manuscript I saw that I have now completed what could be called my "pandemic trilogy;" stories all written in and inspired by the pandemic.  Now, I admit I find the whole "inspired by the pandemic" thing rather tiresome, when most such stories are realist in nature and focus on feelings of loneliness or isolation or fear of the invisible virus, and so on.  Thankfully, seeing the world through a genre lens, it is possible to just see patterns that trigger bizarro-style trains of thought that lead to absurd tales only nominally related to the pandemic, even if somewhat inspired by them.

The first of these stories was "Gimp World" itself, published by Horror Sleaze Trash.

The second was "Porno Park" published at the same place.

The third is "Scoby Snacks".  I haven't yet started hawking it around for publication as yet, but as it is in the Gimp World collection, I thought I would publish it here, as an exclusive.

So here we go - enjoy!




Scoby Snacks





“It’s great for the gut micro-biome” is something that Rob had never thought anyone would say to him, partly because he didn’t know what a micro-biome was and partly because prior to meeting Natalie he would never have found himself in a hipster emporium buying things that were good for the gut micro-biome.

The guy behind the counter handed him a sealed plastic bag, an artificial amniotic sac, within which a white mass slipped between his fingers.   Rob peered at its featureless form before turning back to the assistant.  “And you just put it in green tea and sugar and that’s it, yeah?”

“Yep, “the assistant said, his waxed moustache vibrating like a tuning fork as he spoke.  “The scoby eats the sugar then converts it into beneficial bacteria.  And when it’s done fermenting your green tea, not only will your scoby have grown, but there will also be a baby scoby there which you can use to make your next batch of kombucha.”

Rob had always liked the sound of getting anything for free, even before he had met Natalie and his interests had changed from beer and football to kundalini yoga, chakra opening and environmentalism.  Funnily enough, all of which were her interests.

So it was that Rob found himself whizzing back from Camden on his electric scooter, in his backpack a glass demijohn, a bag of sugar, a box of organic matcha green tea-leaves and some steriliser.



It could never be said that Rob bore responsibility well.  However, this time he was determined that he would prove something to himself and, more importantly, to Natalie.  He placed the scoby into the sickly-sweet brew and gently tapped on the glass as it settled within, as if expecting a response.  As the days passed, he got into the habit of inspecting his slimy new ward, as it day by day slowly, but noticeably grew, developing glutinous tendrils which reached out for sustenance from the furthest reaches of the jar until one day he saw it; another baby scoby growing from the mother.  And while Rob posted pictures of the scoby on the ‘gram with joking, self-deprecating messages like “I’m going to be a grandfather!”, truth be told he did, for the first time in his life, actually feel a sense of responsibility for the oleaginous blob of fungus growing in his kitchen, perhaps even a bond. 

After bottling up his brew, Rob was left with the decision on what to do with his now two distinct scobies.  He was relieved to find from various websites that he would not need to part with his original scoby, so he decided to use it again for his second batch, reluctantly giving away the offspring to a friend of Natalie’s, surprising himself when he found himself asking her how it was whenever she popped round for a chakral cleansing or burning bowl ceremony.

And so it went on, month after month, batch after batch, brew after brew until, finally even Rob realised that his original scoby, now several times its original size but looking distinctly worn-out and jaded, probably needed to be replaced. 

Reluctantly, regretfully, he picked up his scoby and, needing both hands to manage its slippery weight, threw it in the bin.

Rob didn’t think any more of it until he woke the next day and stumbled, still half asleep, into his kitchen and literally tripped over it.  The scoby had now quadrupled in size and was the size of a medium-sized dog.  What it was doing on the floor next to the bin, he didn’t know, but he could only assume that it had consumed the contents– various types of fruit pulp from Natalies’s juicer and other organic vegan scraps – and then climbed out, either in a bid for freedom or in search of more food.  Taking a fresh bin bag from under the kitchen sink, Rob placed the scoby in it, the bag barely big enough to cover the whole thing, and then struggled down the stairs from his flat with it in both arms, before finally heaving it into the wheelie bin. 

The next day, as Rob opened the front door to get to work, he saw the scoby seemingly waiting for him on the front step.  It was now almost waist high at its central point, its sides spreading out in a circle almost four feet in diameter, its edges climbing up the walls of the porch.

What the Hell do I do now? He thought.  I can’t just leave it here?

Eventually he decided it was easier to just drag the thing down the alleyway at the end of the road and then just dump it in the mucky waters of the Thames.  And true, while the scoby was heavier than expected – he estimated it at 3 or 400 lbs now – and it was also slimy and slippery to the touch, by finding an old rusty pick axe in the derelict shed that was hidden in the undergrowth at the end of the communal garden, Rob was able to bury the pick deep into the scoby’s quivering mass and pull it, in sharp, energetic jerks to the edge of the river before, groaning with the effort, hoiking it in, pick axe and all.

And as the weeks passed, Rob did not think of the scoby again, too busy was he navigating the traffic on his e-scooter, whizzing past the hundreds of missing cat and lost dog flyers posted on the lampposts to work, like Xerox leaves blooming on metal trees.  He would be partially aware of local news reports on TV expressing confusion about the vanishing homeless population but he was too focused now on trying to read GreenPeace newsletters on his phone as Natalie had now apparently developed a passion for biodiversity and fighting climate change so he felt it would keep him in her knickers if he could be similarly well-informed.  So as she whined about diminishing species in the Amazon, dwindling numbers of tigers in India and fish populations in the Channel suddenly plummeting to the point that the whole body of water now seemed barren and lifeless apart from a foam of beneficial bacteria that washed up on the coasts in greater amounts every day, he would tut, and shake his head in disbelief and exhale sharply, while not really paying too much attention.

That was until one day Natalie called him through to the living room, where she was stood rigidly in front of the TV, her hands clasped to her mouth in disbelief.  “L...Look at this!” she said finally, gesturing to the BBC News report on the screen, a banner “Mystery Mass in Channel moving towards U.S.” ticker-taping across the image of what appeared to be a slimy white island, some half a mile across, drifting against the waves, a tiny pick axe embedded in its centre.  It was undeniably his scoby and, as disinterested as he actually was in environmental matters, even Rob felt a twinge of guilt as the scoby slowly made its way across the Atlantic, doubling in size every day, as it consumed mega-tonnes of bio-matter to fuel its growth.

Indeed, as time went by it became clear that the scoby itself had stopped moving but was now instead just accumulating mass at such a rate that its mere growth meant that its outer edges moved hundreds of miles outwards – towards Greenland, Europe and the East Coast of the States - the Scoby now an expanding fungal continent in a diminishing kombucha ocean.  The American military tried bombing it, but even their heaviest ordnance did no damage and was as futile as trying to destroy an island by throwing pebbles at it.

But then the reports from China started to come in. 

Terrifying footage posted on Twitter of coastal cities collapsing into the sea, clouds of sea-water, rubble, dust and pre-biotic foam.  Grainy cell-phone images of masses of people being plucked from seafronts by mesophylic tendrils, of whole cities locking themselves away in fear, screaming their terror into the night skies.  Initially, such footage was dismissed as CCP propaganda but soon it became clear what was happening on the other side of the world.  An uber kefir – a kefir kaiju if you will –was rapidly expanding across the Pacific, consuming all in its path as it gained mass at an incalculable rate.  Panicked discussion then moved on to what would end life on Earth first – the kombucha or the kefir – the entire planet girding its loins for the clash of the two pro-biotic titans as their respective masses swelled to envelop the globe.


Still, whether it was his ADHD or he had been vaping too much Moroccan hash, but by this point Rob had long-since lost interest.  

Besides, sea water was delicious now and was outstanding for the gut microbiome. 

And for Rob, who had always liked a freebie, that was very much a win.

Tuesday 13 July 2021

Second short story collection accepted for publication!

At last!

Finally, some good news!

Have just found out that my second short story collection, a collection of all my flash and shorter fiction to date, has been accepted for publication by Hybrid Sequence Media.  Provisionally titled Gimp World - Collected Flash 2021, the collection is slated for early Spring 2022 release and has the following contents:

Nanny Knows Best – Prologue                                        – originally published in The Wild Word
A Fresh Perspective                                                            - originally published in Bizarro Central
The Man in the Street                                                        - originally published in decomP
Genuine Photo                                                                    - originally published in A Cache of Flashes
(Shortlisted for the 2016 Worcestershire Literary Festival Flash Fiction Competition).
The Chaotic Butterfly                                                        - originally published in Bizarro Central
MWC ISO RL                                                                      - originally published in Wired
(Shortlisted for the 2017 Worcestershire Literary Festival Flash Fiction Competition).
A Cerebral Vacation                                                           - originally published in Trembling with Fear
The Last English Speaker                                                  - originally published in Trembling with Fear
Marks on a Page                                                                 - originally published in Wired
Gimp World                                                                         - originally published in Horror Sleaze Trash
The Creative Game                                                            - originally published in Bizarro Central
BobandJane – A fable in two indistinct parts                 - originally published in Raw Edge
Casanova Jones – A tale of the near future                     - originally published in The Jar Thief
The Girl Within                                                                   - originally published in A Cache of Flashes
The Friend We Made                                                         - originally published in Bizarro Central
HUMOUR-CHIP™                                                           - originally published in The Ginger Collect
The Pub Fight                                                                     - originally published in Bizarro Central
Invisible                                                                                - originally published in Reflex
The Hole in the Wall                                                          - originally published in Cabinet of Heed
AUTHORSOFT™                                                             - originally published in Ellipsis
It                                                                                           - originally published in Planet Prozak
And From the Heads of Babes                                         - originally published in Horror Sleaze Trash
Celebdaq                                                                             - originally published in Trembling with Fear
Nanny Knows Best – Epilogue.                                       - originally published in The Bumper Book of British Bizarro

I'm especially pleased with this as not only is Hybrid Sequence Media a real up-and-comer in the Horror/Bizarro scene with over ten titles published in 2020, but I had originally signed a contract for Gimp World to be published by Nihilism Revised in the Autumn of 2020, but this was cancelled due to the unfortunate ill health of the publisher (who I sincerely hope is recovering and feeling better now....).  Of course, this left me in the situation of needing to find another publisher and I felt that I was supremely lucky to get one deal - would geting a second be pushing my luck?

Thankfully, it appears not!  So, many thanks to Donald Armfield and Hybrid Sequence Media for accepting this one.

More news as it happens.

Wednesday 7 July 2021

Flash Adaptation performed by OMF Theatre broadcast last night.

An adaptation of a short flash piece - "Genuine Photo" - was broadcast by OMF Theatre on Liskeard Radio last night as part of Episode 6 of its second season of Barmy Nonsense.  The episode has now been uploaded to Youtube (see above).  "Genuine Photo" starts at 10:40.

Tuesday 29 June 2021

Reading of new story at "42"


Completed a new story this week called "Scoby Snacks" about a kombucha scoby that continues to expand and grow until it overwhelms the world.  Or something like that.  So as I was fairly happy with it, I decided to debut it at 42, the Worcester Horror and SF Spoken Word night.  42 is still online on Zoom at the moment and while this has its postives (being able to have a drink being one, as is a reduction in nerves, although this has never been a major issue for me) I still much prefer performing live.  That said, one other positive of the online experience is a written record of people's comments rather than just people coming up to you at the end of the night.

I'm pretty happy with "Scoby Snacks" and it is already being sent out for publication.  Still, if the comments are anything to go by, it should go down well.

Friday 11 June 2021

Worcestershire Litfest & Fringe Flash Fiction Slam


Just competed in my first Slam competition at the Worcestershire Litfest & Fringe Flash Fiction Slam.  I knew everyone else who was competing and my initial reaction was "Oh great!"  That said, I managed to work my way through the various rounds until I got the Final and, after the whole thing was done and dusted, I came second.

Overall, a great experience and am looking forward to competing in future spoken word competitons.

Sunday 6 June 2021

Story accepted by "Horror Sleaze Trash."


I have a new story up now at Horror Sleaze Trash.  Another pandemic inspired story, I originally wrote this in while I was on a Kundalini Yoga retreat in Serifos. Unfortunately, I had bad gastritis that would see me hospitalised within 24 hours.  Not a great holiday, as I eventually ended up pulling my own IV out and escaping, Colditz-style past groups of guards patrolling dimly lit corridors in the middle of the night, as the medical care in Athens hospital was so bad.

Still, at least I got this story out of it so, you know.  Silver linings and all that....

Read "Porno Park" here.

Wednesday 12 May 2021

"Genuine Photo" Radio Adaptation date announced


Just heard back from OMF Theatre with confirmation of when the radio adaptation of my flash story "Genuine Photo" (originally published in A Cache of Flashes and which was also shortlisted for the 2016 Worcestershire Literary Festival Flash Fiction Competition) will be broadcast.  It will be broadcast as part of the Barmy Nonsense radio sketch show on Liskeard Radio on 3rd/4th July.  It may also be uploaded onto OMF Theatre's YouTube page at some point after broadcast.

But until then, here is a reading of the story to tide you over..... 😉

Friday 7 May 2021

"Hard Times Happen" anthology now out.


My copy of the Hard Times Happen anthology arrived today.  The publisher states that "this anthology seeks to encourage everyone to be more open about their mental state, to talk, to listen, to change lives." Containing both poetry and prose, the book was published in association with Worcestershire LitFest and Fringe to help raise awareness of mental health issues.

The book doesn't appear to be available on Amazon yet, but it can be bought direct from the publisher, Black Pear Press, for £7.99 + P&P.

Saturday 17 April 2021

"Fragments from a Schizoid Dream" - Reading

A reading of "Fragments from a Schizoid Dream" soon to be published by Black Pear Press in their Hard Times Happen anthology.

Story acceptance by "Hard Times Happen" anthology


I've just had a story accepted for publication in the Hard Times Happen anthology published by Black Pear Press following a competition run by Worcestershire Litfest & Fringe in conjunction with the Time to Change mental health charity.  The theme of the competition was, as the title suggests, "hard times happen" and it was focussed on mental health issues and mental health awareness.

The story, "Fragments from a Schizoid Dream," is technically a flash piece as it is only 280 words long and is a revised excerpt from the short story "Fragments of a Schizoid Dream", which was originally published in the anthology Darkness Rising 3 and was later collected into the collection, Ugly Stories for Beautiful People.  I've always had a soft spot for this particular story as it was the first short story I ever wrote - a tale of a man performing a Turing-style test on an AI to determine if it actually was genuinely intelligent, who then, in true Dickian fashion, starts to see his own reality unravel as he starts to work out that all human intelligence is actually scripted, like a computer programme, and that free will does not exist.  His ultimate fate is to be that he realises there is no free will and so is cursed to live out the rest of his days as a passenger in his own skull, watching the pre-scripted drama that is Life, play out around him.   As this was my first short story, I was very happy with the actual idea and its execution, but I did not have my own voice.  It is, I suppose, a perfect example of juvenilia.  In my youthful arrogance, I instantly started sending it to the leading magazines of the day - Fantasy & Science Fiction, Playboy, Omni and the like, and despite it being a mish-mash of "Philip. K. Dick written in a deliberate copying of Clive Barker style" actually got an expression of interest from Amazing Stories.  I revised it and resubmitted on their instructions, but ultimately did not hear back from them.  In some ways this was not a great start as it just reinforced the youthful delusion that all my work was obviously going to get published by big Pro-markets, as this had very nearly done so even though, at the back of my mind, I knew it was not "genuine" - even though the idea was 100% me, I hadn't yet found my own writing voice.

Thus it sat on my laptop until a few years later when I found myself, 18 months into a stint of teaching English in Barcelona and smoking way too much weed, experiencing a nervous breakdown.  In an attempt to wrest something productive from that time, I rewrote the story from scratch, using the experiences of reality and ego collapse that I was feeling at that time, as a structure for the basic plot.  Pretty much everything that happens in the resulting story was basically a diary of my experiences of that period (minus the talking computer).  Even the scripts of code exploding from people's heads and seeing everyone as automatons came from a skunk experience I had had which later caused flashbacks in Barcelona.  However, while the story was essentially a diary, with the only fictional elements being the talking PC and he character's names, I was really pleased with the end result, for I felt I had finally, finally, found my own unique voice.  

And, of course, when I finally got round to submitting this new and improved masterwork for publication, absolutely no-one wanted it.  Eventually it got published by a very Small Press magazine called Ammonite and then later by the more prestigious, Darkness Rising. But this did give me a sudden dose of reality into the difficulties people normally face in getting work accepted for publication.  

That said, even though I have always considered myself a story-teller rather than a "prose stylist", I was very happy with some of the language that came out from "discovering my voice," to the point where I later had a few excerpts published as haikus (reproduced below) - I can't even remember where now (Purple Patch magazine, maybe?) - and now, two short scenes from the story published in their own right, in Hard Times Happen.  

I will update you when this anthology is finally published.

Fragments I

The dancing people -

Bizarre living photographs

In a pop-out world.

Fragments II

The old woman plays

Solitaire, cold sun arcing

Over her wet bench.

Wednesday 13 January 2021

Another flash adaptation for radio by OMF Theatre


Just heard that I've had another flash story accepted for adaptation by OMF Theatre for Season 2 of Barmy Nonsense to be broadcast on Liskeard Radio.  Season 2 will apparently be broadcast some time around Easter 2021.  The story being adapted is "Genuine Photo" which was first published in A Cache of Flashes and was also shortlisted for the 2016 Worcestershire Literary Festival Flash Fiction Competition (reading below).