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 The clause wasn’t repealed until 2000 in Scotland and 2003 in England and Wales.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

Reminder: Australian Short Story Festival 2021

Only a week to go till this year’s Australian Short Story Festival kicks off in Adelaide. It’s an in-person event, though it’s now been confirmed that some participants, myself included, will have to attend via Zoom because of current border restrictions. If you’re going to be in Adelaide from Friday 5 to Sunday 7 November, why not get hold of a ticket and pop along. It’s a really interesting line up of sessions and workshops. I’m taking part in ‘Masculinity’ on Saturday, and ‘Writing the Family’ on Sunday. Might see you there. Program info here, ticketing here. For a full … Continue reading Reminder: Australian Short Story Festival 2021

‘How to Maintain a Thriving Writers Group’

I re-blogged a post from the Elwood Writers site yesterday, and the links in the preview of the original post got corrupted in the reblogging. I’ve no idea why. Maybe Elwood Writers could investigate. Anyway, I like a nice clean post so thought I’d try a different approach. Here goes: I’ve written the October guest post for the blog on Lee Kofman’s website. ‘How to Maintain a Thriving Writers Group’ is online now at The Writing Life. According to Elwood Writers, the post ‘offers practical tips to anyone thinking of starting a group, or for those who want to inject … Continue reading ‘How to Maintain a Thriving Writers Group’