Masculinity; Writing The Family | ASSF 2021

I participated in two sessions at last year’s Australian Short Story Festival:Masculinity with Wayne Marshall, Barry Lee Thompson and Dominic Carew, on Saturday 6 November 2021.Writing The Family with Barry Lee Thompson and Katherine Tamiko Arguile, on Sunday 7 November 2021. Videos of the sessions are available for a limited time, below: For all the ASSF 2021 videos, visit their YouTube channel, here. Continue reading Masculinity; Writing The Family | ASSF 2021

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 The clause wasn’t repealed until 2000 in Scotland and 2003 in England and Wales.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’

Festival reflections

When I first began sending work to publications and competitions, I realised that something strange happens once a story is submitted. Despite all the time spent honing, refining, getting it just right, almost immediately after hitting ‘submit’, issues and ideas previously hidden become apparent, opening up new and exciting ways to think about the story. This may be to do with distance from the submission process, stepping outside the piece and experiencing it objectively. With a few years under my belt, I’ve acquired a toolbox of resources for tricking my mind into believing a story’s been sent before it actually … Continue reading Festival reflections