Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Clive's Requiem

A .38-sized hole bled life. Sunk in a crimson puddle, Clive looked up at the lawman who’d felled him.

"Was it worth it, sonny?” The cop said.

Through pain and blood loss, Clive thought about it.

Thought about Colt barrels thrust in rent-a-cop faces, bags packed tight with green rolls, civilians crouching in balaclava-induced terror. Thought about breakneck getaways down back roads, a life of hot credit cards and shitty motel rooms. Paradise, USA.

Thought about HER, with all that fiery beauty, beside him every step of the way. With HER, that insurmountable rush from daylight bank snatches never ended.

Back from a score, blood pounding, they’d keep the high going. Strip off bulletproof vests and bandoliers, shirts and underwear, then spreading legs and letting tongues wander. He'd trace dollar signs on her clit, SHE whispering every statute they’d broken with filthy abandon. His cock rifle-hard, HER cunt bank vault-tight, the illicit euphoria of armed robbery extended into an orgasmic hereafter. Twin flames, fucking each other raw beside stacks of The Man’s cash.

And this cop had stopped to shoot Clive, meaning SHE probably got away.

Between bloodstained teeth, Clive gurgled, “Worth every fuck...”

The cop assumed Clive died mid-sentence.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Of Dragons and Helicopters: Fantasy and Metaphor

I recently read a military fantasy novel called "Of Bone and Thunder," in which soldiers from a powerful nation called the Kingdom are sent to a jungle to hunt down and destroy an elusive peasant insurgency.

There's plenty of supernatural elements - for example, and the Kingdom uses dragons as transportation and to attack the insurgents, much like our modern military uses helicopters. But despite the high fantasy trappings, for most of the novel's protagonists it's about trying to survive a bitter, pointless war, slogging through humid jungles to chase an invisible enemy.

It's a well-written novel, with sharp, descriptive prose that quickly sweeps the reader along with it. The writer is adept at putting the reader in the boots of Kingdom soldiers, making us feel every detail of their world – the sleep loss, the heat, the dull tedium.

But despite strong writing, I couldn’t really get into this novel. Why? Because it's not a fantasy novel at all - it's a Vietnam War novel.

And I don’t mean that metaphorically – "Of Bone and Thunder" has dragons instead of helicopters and crossbows instead of rifles, but that's about as deep as the changes run.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Coming Together: Among the Stars

The Coming Together anthology, "Among the Stars," is a collection of erotic short fiction with a sci-fi theme. As with all Coming Together anthologies, profits go to charity - in this case, to the International Still's Disease Foundation.

I'm proud to say that I'm in this anthology, with a story called "Sense-Think-Act". I think it's one of my better stories, one that strikes a good balance between thoughtful science fiction and steamy sensuality.

Lynn Townsend, the fabulous editor of this antho, has blogged about it here. You can purchase the anthology from these retailers:

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Flash Cricket

The story in my last post, “Last Shot,” was written in response to a challenge to write a 500-word story using twenty specific words a particular order. This type of challenge is apparently called "Flash Cricket," because you have to bowl and field words. Like in cricket, I suppose - I don't know, sports metaphors are usually lost on me. (The site that coined the term is here)

These are fun – they force you think on your feet, to write without preconceived ideas and fit it all into the short space provided by flash fiction. I can thoroughly recommend an exercise like this for any writers who are in-between bigger projects or just looking to try something different.

For those who are interested, below are the words that "Last Shot" was written from:


Saturday, 22 November 2014

Last Shot

The fifth of whiskey was empty. Mikey looked at the bottle despairingly, trying to ignore the reams of paperwork on the desk beneath.

Investment portfolios showing red. Tax bills with steep fines. Court subpoenas.

Half a million down the sinkhole, and worse yet to come.

He stood up and put his coat on. He wanted to go out, but where? Maybe Tossolini’s, but Mikey knew his favourite chef wasn’t working tonight. Dooley’s Bar, then.

Mikey left the building. The walk made his feet ache in protest, but it was only a minute away. He caught his reflection in a window – unshaven, tie loosened, fresh grey streaks running through his cowlick. Such unkemptness would’ve made him an apostate among his fellow Finance District slicksters, but lately he’d been depressed and borderline insomniac, and appearance was the last thing he cared about.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

H. G. Wells’ “The Land Ironclads” – Speculative Fiction done right

What makes a story exceptional? When I’m between writing projects, I’m going to post occasional essays about some of my favourite pieces of writing. This will be fun, partly because it gives me an excuse to re-read some great stories, but also because it’s useful and constructive – both as a reader and writer – to think about what makes a work of writing truly memorable.

Right now, I want to look at what I consider to be a quintessential piece of speculative fiction: H. G. Well’s “The Land Ironclads,” which you can read online here.

Plot summary: Two unnamed countries are at war, one attacking, the other defending. The conflict is at a stalemate – “Since the first brisk movements after the declaration of war things had gone slower and slower, until it seemed as though the whole machine of events must have run down” – and the defenders are happily waiting their enemy out. But the attackers bring in a new weapon – massive, armoured land vehicles, that can easily traverse the trenches. These so-called Land Ironclads push through the front lines and essentially win the war for the attackers.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Ten Days of Writing - Day 9

I jumped into Leone Ross' Ten Days of Writing challenge half-way, so it's kind of fitting that I didn't quite make it to the end. I did Day 9 but was just too busy to pull something together for Day 10. I really wish it was something I'd been in on from the beginning, but such is life.

Leone's full list of challenges are here. I might go back through these and attempt a few of them - some are really intriguing (particularly the word loop one).

The challenge for Day 9 was to write 250 words about a moment of either pain or ecstasy. I chose the latter. It's not my best bit of writing (heck, I couldn't even come up with a title) but half the point of these exercises is to see where our limits are and what we can do with different ideas. Story begins after the picture...