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Showing posts from October, 2019

Drifting dust and orange daylight: Writing 'Hardrada' (from The Shadow Booth: Vol. 4)

Drifting dust and orange daylight: Writing 'Hardrada' by Ashley Stokes ('Hardrada' appears in The Shadow Booth: Vol. 4, available here.)

‘From the trig point on Ditching Heights, the town was a grey eye open in yellow fields. Beyond its outer suburbs, across the barren countryside, the ancient outlines had again risen. Sunken rooms, burial chambers, mineshafts and underground galleries, long-gone walls and fortifications stood out like the letters of a lost alphabet. The tombs at Rixall glowed under the dead grass near the abandoned railway station. It was here that we’d seen Carter Thatch hazed in drifting dust and orange daylight.’

So begins 'Hardrada', a story of things that flicker in and out of life as hot summer weather drags on and intensifies. Restless England, hazy and baked mad, writhes with ghosts and re-enactments. Men assembled at a trig point agree to share their intelligence with George Nunes, landlord of The Swan with Two Necks and small-town v…

Some thoughts on 'Terminal Teatime' (from The Shadow Booth: Vol. 4)

Some thoughts on 'Terminal Teatime' (from The Shadow Booth: Vol. 4) by Anna Vaught ('Terminal Teatime' appears in The Shadow Booth: Vol. 4, available here.)

‘Oh sweetheart. You don’t need decorum; you’ll be wanting dirt under your fingernails. Because in dirt and tree root integuments under fingernails and just a whiff of fetid stuff, now that is a better place to look. Yes. Dirt is more beautiful than decorum.’

Ah this strange little story. A lot of weird stuff happens, doesn’t it? Here, in this strange little story about a hungry swamp, but also in our daily lives.

It’s all about noticing. People. All our rich peculiarity. Landscape - for it seems to me that landscape has immense mood and character; natural landscape I mean. This is something I am writing about in a new book of magical realism (gone weirder). And, as a kid, I used to find this of intense comfort because my immediate family was so radically dysfunctional but no one else knew. Or saw. Or chose to see…