Debut Dagger Winner 2013
My short stories have been published in a range of British and North American magazines, from Big Pulp to Descant, and short-listed in competitions including Ways With Words, Fish, Coast to Coast and The Academy of Children's Writers. Jerzi, in Grim Tales of Hope, was runner up in The New Writer's annual novella competition and The Journey was chosen by Val McDermid for Britain's Save our Short Story anthology, Endangered Species. Stories based on my work in prisons include The Missing Picture, published in Descant's Fall 2010 issue and Letters Out in carte blanche, issue 12. This got me nominated as a finalist for the 2010 3Macs carte blanche Prize "awarded once a year in recognition of an outstanding submission by a Quebec writer." I didn't win, but it was great to come close. My first proper crime short story, Daddy's Little Girl, was in Big Pulp's Winter 2011 issue, and Loose Connections is in NewCon's Dark Currents anthology, launched at Eastercon. This is a story that wants to grow and the novel version was long-listed (top 20) for the CWA's 2012 Debut Dagger Award. A very different short story, For A Crazy Old Loon Like You, was long-listed for the BBC's Opening Lines competition. Last year, my novel Call Time won the Debut Dagger. Deep joy. To start off 2014, Cracking Up was supposed to be published in Fringework's anthology Strange Fortune (am still watching that space). More successfully, Prick Tease came out in March's The Danforth Review, and my latest story Starred Up is in October's issue of Not One of Us - out now in an American book store probably not near you.
Grim Tales of Hope
Grim Tales of Hope is a collection of six short stories and novellas that an Arts Council-funded website, YouWriteOn, offered to publish for free. Gift horse, mouth, and all that. Inspired by reading too much Walt Disney crap to my daughter, the stories spin off from popular fairy tales to explore what could have happened in another time and place if the characters had taken their fates a little more firmly into their own hands. No competition for Angela Carter, but a deeply satisfying revenge on Walt.
Extract from Hogan & Gabi
After a couple of hours, as they were approaching the boma, the trail skirted a clearing that had been hacked out of the trees. Through the branches Gabi could see a large round hut, roofed with banana leaves, next to a small, neatly kept garden. Behind it was a solitary flame tree, its short trunk and wide branches supporting what might have been a tree house. As they passed, a woman came out of the hut to see what made the noise and Gabi recognised her majestic features and the proud tilt of her head. She was tall too, something the photo hadn't shown, and dressed simply in an orange and black kitenge. Their gazes met, a timeless moment where they sized each other up, eyes frank and curious, then Antoine pulled at Gabi's rope and she staggered and turned to watch her footing. When she looked back, the witch was gone.
Extract from Pénélope
Pénélope was so immersed in what she was doing that she didn't hear the tap on the window. It came again, louder, and she jerked upright, heart-pounding, to stare out into the blackness beyond. She was on the second floor. The tap came again, and with it the flutter of white like a ghost or, she told herself firmly, a hand. Staring hard she walked to the window, took a deep breath - and opened it.
"You took your time," a voice greeted her. "Bouge-toi. T'es dans mes jambes."
She stood back as a tall, flexible figure folded his way through the small opening. As he was straightening up she said in English.
"What do you think you're doing?"
The man ignored her and leant back out the window, his fingers fumbling at something out of sight. Then, with a quiet "ah-ha," he began to pull in some thin string, tied to thick cord, that was tied in turn, if his increased effort was anything to go by, to something heavy.
He stopped for a moment to flick his hair out of his eyes and said, in English as good as hers; "Well don't just stand there, tabernac - give me a hand."
If you don't have enough to read you can buy Grim Tales of Hope from Amazon (adjust your tax bill accordingly) and Barnes & Noble - or contact me directly.