The story behind ‘Twitch’

In December 2013, London’s Dazed magazine launched a competition calling for short stories ‘based on surveillance culture’. I’d long been a fan of the magazine, and was drawn to the theme, so thought I’d give it a whirl. I wanted to look at online surveillance, privacy and metadata, and concerns around the trails and traces we deposit in online spaces. The first few sentences of a story came to me quickly, and I was off. I found it easy and fun to explore on the page the liberating, if at-times anxious, aspects of online experiences, and of adult chat platforms … Continue reading The story behind ‘Twitch’

The story behind ‘The Ministry Man’

I grew up in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain, where the government pursued and actively encouraged intolerance and hostility towards same-sex attraction. A culmination of the Tories’ damaging agenda was Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, which forbade local authorities from promoting homosexuality, or from teaching its acceptability in maintained schools. The clause wasn’t repealed until 2000 in Scotland and 2003 in England and Wales. In such an environment, sexual attraction is so stigmatised that it can feel ‘wrong’ and even dangerous. Imagine something as simple and innocent as a teenage crush being laced with fear. There may be no role … Continue reading The story behind ‘The Ministry Man’

The story behind ‘Their Cruel Routines’

There are two mother-son relationships within ‘Their Cruel Routines’, the opening story in Broken Rules and Other Stories: that between the fictional mother and her adult son, and that between my own mother and myself. The latter was the spark or inspiration for the story. A few years ago, I went to stay with my mother at her house in the north of England to help look after her while she was unwell. I would be there for some months, so I set up a work station at the kitchen table, where I was able to write each day. It … Continue reading The story behind ‘Their Cruel Routines’