Greetings, and happy New Year!
This year I’m not doing a year-long course in Creative Writing. Of course, when I drive past Hagley Park near the hospital I think of the wonderful things that I’ve learnt in the course, I consider doing it again. But I’m quite confident that while I have learned a great many things, doing the course again would probably turn into a crutch, for me anyway, and I think I could learn more by freeing up that Saturday morning for my own writing. I’m quite confident I can do a great many things if I only allow myself to – and I have a lot of great notes, handouts and fine examples of short stories and excellent works of fiction that have been suggested on the course. This year I’m going to publish several short stories, and a great many pieces of flash fiction.
After Christmas I read a fair bit on a family trip around the South Island, while taking a rest from driving, and in the evenings. Here are a few works that I’d really recommend (mostly, but not all new):
the lobsters run free, being a collection of top entrants in 2017 of the Bath Flash Fiction award. I have really enjoyed reading the pieces of local Christchurch writers Nod Ghosh ‘The Cool Box’ (a great story which relates what thoughts and images rush through a person’s head) and Frankie McMillan’s ‘Reading the Signs’ (a story which brings a tear to one’s eye and which also, I believe, was included in ‘Best Small Fictions’), but I’ve also read a few other excellent pieces, including Emily Devane’s ‘The Hand That Wields the Priest’, Rose McDonagh’s ‘Pony’, and Amanda O’Callahan’s ‘Tying the Boats’. I’m still working my way through the book. I read flash very slowly, and then read the works again, but these works are ones to savour. I think that anyone interested in flash fiction should buy themselves a copy, to read the few pieces that I have mentioned, and the others that I have yet to.
Hasty for the Dark, by Adam L. G. Nevill. A dark and rich collection of horror fiction. I would also advise the reader to enjoy these stories slowly and carefully too, provided they can deal with dark stories of madness, evil and despair. I’d advise those easily disturbed or those taking tiny little steps into an interest in horror to stay well away though, as they might not survive the exposure to these stories, which range from cults and nightmares coming too close to home, to epic world-ending Lovecraftian disasters. I’d really recommend this collection for readers of dark fantasy and horror who like to be challenged and brought to thoughts of dark dread and emptiness (Don’t say I didn’t warn you. You’ll be staring vacantly out at the night after some of these). Excellent.
The Book Club, by Alan Baxter. This well-paced novella is at times mystery, at times cosmic horror, but thrilling throughout. I don’t want to describe the story too much, but it describes what the male protagonist’s wife does after his wife doesn’t return from her book club, and realistic presents someone in shock and grief along with the reaction of other characters (including police officers) to his behaviour. I was really impressed by the way the writer kept my attention right from the opening lines to the end of the novel and with his believable characters.
The Graveyard Book (full cast audiobook), by Neil Gaiman. At just under 8 hours, this is an excellent way to spend a long drive in the car. This is a full cast audiobook, so it’s like listening to an old radio play, with many terrific actors and voice actors participating. I guess it could be described as a coming-of-age story of a boy who is forced to live in a graveyard with ghosts and other supernatural denizens after his family is murdered. Despite the grim plot, there’s a lot of humour and exciting and fantastic incidents in the book, which make it suitable for anyone from 8 up who likes a good story. If you like this, I’d suggest you buy the book, or if you like the book, get this. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
Well, those are just some of the things that I’ve read recently that I’ve enjoyed. I’ll try to make my blog a much more regular event in this coming year, and I’ll be sharing my thoughts on other writing that I do in future too.
Oh and while I was engaged in all this reading, my flash piece ‘These Scars’ was published in the wonderful December issue of Flash Frontier. I’m now back from my holiday and can jump about and point excitedly at this link: http://www.flash-frontier.com/december-2017-1000-words/ Hope you enjoy it, and the other stories in the issue.
Bye for now, and have an exciting and productive 2018!