Songs for the Elephant Man


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My story, Electricity, will be published shortly as part of this wonderful anthology from Mantle Lane Press.

It’s a excellent title for the collection as all the stories are about or misfits. However, thanks to Matt Berry’s Year of the Rabbit on Channel 4 I can now only ever see the Elephant Man as a camp thespian on the make.

Submerged in the West Midlands


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You have two chances to hear me read from my latest book, Submerged, next week.

First up is City Voices in Wolverhampton. It all starts at 7:30 at The Lighthouse a few minutes walk from the train and bus stations. City Voices is one of the Midlands’ finest spoken word evenings and never fails to delight with its range and quality of work on offer. I will be selling books.

Secondly, will be the official Birmingham launch of Submerged, and it’s going to be a corker, but don’t just take my word for it check out the line-up here.

Once a Tory….

A very poignant and fitting short story from Yasmin Ali. It’s brief but manages to nail the current turbulence in British politics. It’s well worth reading.

Scritti Politti

She’d put it down to getting older, or perhaps it was the slow process of adjusting to being on her own? Whatever it was, it was deeply unsettling. 

The garden gate swung shut with a familiar click as Julie stepped out into the lane.  There had been a time when she might have driven into the village. She’d done a lot of driving in the last few years. In some ways it had been a lot like being a young mother again, with a helpless, dependent human to bundle into the car, his eyes somehow pleading, even as his face was blank. Since Ronnie’s death there had been relief, even a guilty feeling of transgression, in leaving the car on the drive, and walking.

He’d been the oldest Young Conservative in the local association when she’d first joined. Joining the YCs had been her mother’s suggestion. ‘You’ll meet…

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Submerged Book Launch

The keen eyed of you have noticed that Submerged is now out. That means you can go down to your local bookshop, check out the Mantle Lane online store, or search your favourite online retailer and get yourselves a copy.

Those of you who are more outgoing can meet me and some bloody excellent writers for an evening of stories and booze when we launch Submerged on May 15th at The Birmingham Whisky Club.

We’d all love to see you there.

The flyer says it all, but I can’t stress enough how great the other writers are and how wonderful an evening it promises to be. If you like fiction you’re in for a real treat.

A gentle stroll from the Jewellery Quarter train and tram station.

The Birmingham Whiskey Club, 76 Vyse St, Birmingham B18 6HA.


There are easy train and tram links to the Jewellery Quarter station from which we are a few minutes walking distance away.


You can also walk from the city centre, which will take you approximately 20-30 minutes.

By bus

The following buses stop in the Jewellery Quarter: 16, 60, 87, 8c, 276 & 9.


There is on street pay & display parking available which is free from 6pm. Or the Jewellery Quarter parking garage is a short distance from us if that is your preference.


This is a quick, bitter-sweet post.

Sweet because my second book, Submerged, is being launchged tomorrow, and bitter because I can’t be there.

Submerged is being launched by Mantle Lane Press at States of Independence in Leicester tomorrow. For full details about the event and all the other create book related events happening tomorrow check out the website here.

I will be in London, marching to stop the madness that is Brexit.



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My latest short book, submerged, is due to be released in early March and I’ve just had a look at some of artist and illustrator Jessamy Hawke’s initial ideas.

These, as you can see, are rough sketches, but Jessamy’s finished work is rather wonderful. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished cover.

You can check out her work including book covers, illustrations, and comissions at her website here.

I Wish I Was A Mountain.

Last night, I read at SOLOFest in Coventry and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I read Twenty Miles South from my Night Swimming collection, and it went down very well. It was great to finally meet Andrew Fletcher, and Chris O’Connell. Andrew organised SOLOFest, and Chris put the open mic slots together. It was also a real pleasure to meet Sinead Brady and Jackie Armstrong two talented Coventry writer/performers.

However, the best part of the night for me was Toby Thompson’s I Wish I Was A Mountain.

What would you wish for?

Toby’s story was based upon Faldum, a Hermann Hesse fairy tale. Toby used turntables to play mellow jazz, cassette tapes for birdsong, an array of wooden houses that opened out to reveal candles and elephants, as well as a piano that he played refrains upon often along with the jazz records. These inventive props were great, but the real magic came from Toby’s delivery which was full of energy and wonder. The performance posed the question – What would you do if you were happy? How would you be if you had everything you wanted? I’m not sure how long the performance lasted, but I could’ve watched him all night.

I’ll certainly be looking out for future performances from Toby and you should too.



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My first reading of this year will be at SOLO Fest in Coventry at the Warwick Arts Centre at 18:00. I was picked for one of the open mic slots before the main performances and will be reading a short story from my Night Swimming collection. Many of us are feeling a bit, Mick Hucknall, these days, so you’ll be pleased to hear that the open mic slots are free to attend if money is indeed too tight to mention. But what is SOLO Fest? The Warwick Arts Centre says:

SOLO Fest is a four day festival that showcases three captivating theatre shows by solo performers. Audiences have the opportunity to see two shows each evening, along with FREE pop-up performances by local artists, and post-show gossip events.

One person shows depend on the combination of imaginative writing with skilled and versatile performance and stagecraft. Despite there only being one person on stage, the best solo shows can transport you far from the theatre into another world.

We have handpicked three of the best solo shows in the UK today, by top young artists Keisha Thompson, Tatty Hennessy and Toby Thompson.”

That all sounds pretty awesome to me.

I’ll be going to both performances that evening, I Wish I Was A Mountain, and A Hundred Words For Snow, and hanging around for the post show gossip. I’ll even have some books on me if you fancy buying a copy. Please come up and say hello – I won’t bite.

Click on this link to check out the full line-up on the Warwick Arts Centre website.

Reading at Country Voices


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This coming Saturday, the 15th of December, I will be reading at Country Voices, the Meadow Inn, Ironbridge, Shropshire. I’ve a twenty-minute slot so I’m hoping to read a short story in its entirety. At the moment, I’m thinking of reading Joyce’s Garden which sounds quite idyllic but isn’t. Joyce’s garden is yet to find a home, but I’m really pleased with it, and hopefully, the crowd will be too as I’m bringing some books to sell – when I find where I’ve hidden them.

If you’re lucky I may even smile. No promises.

The Meadow Inn looks lovely, I’ve never been, but the photos are excellent, and it looks over the river Severn in Ironbridge. Look, here’s a picture montage followed by a map.

The Aerial view should be handy for those of you who are parachuting in. 
Dead easy to get to.

If you do make the journey please say hello and buy a book. Did I mention I’ll be selling books?

You don’t need to jump into the River Severn to fully appreciate this book.

Paranoid Android


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I read an article the other day on a site called Quartz at Work, yeah, I’d never heard of it either; the post was: Five things to do when you have too many ideas and never finish anything. My paranoid android kicked in – that’s you – and I gave it a read.

The post was reasonably interesting and quoted some research linked to choice and how having too much choice can lead us into making no choices – hey, isn’t greater choice the one thing we all seek according to slavering capitalists everywhere? – well, it appears that too much choice is bad for you.

It’s all shit!

This rang a bell with me. I remember when I was a child, way back in the desolate wastes of the pre-internet age. Days would drag on forever, especially in the school holidays as both of my parents were out at work, and I’d find myself gazing into space daydreaming. I rattle on at my children now about how great it is to be bored, about how a lack of stimulus can lead to exciting ideas and force them into being creative and inventive. Back then, I would spend hours re-reading comics or copying the artwork, writing and drawing my own stories, or, more often than not, just making them up in my head. I look back at that time now and see it as a melting pot of ideas and productivity.

So what went wrong? Choice. We have far too much choice. If you’ve ever sat scrolling through Netflix trying to find something to watch you’ll know exactly what I mean. Choice leads to anxiety – if I watch this, I won’t be able to watch that, and what about these? I can’t watch all of them. Aarrgh! It’s the same with ideas. I should be finishing my novel, but this short story has just popped into my head, and then there’s that other short story I haven’t finished yet, and the comic strip I meant to start, as well as the audio fiction, and… You get the idea.

The five steps! Wow, if I just take these five steps, I’ll become a productive genius. I’ll defeat the paranoid android and bask in the glow of completed projects and adoration. Who knows? Maybe you will, but it can’t hurt to try.

Step One. Create mini-deadlines. Tasks that you have to complete that day. Instead of looking at the enormity of what you have to do – shit, I have to re-write 80000 words from the third person into the first person, and cut out the subplot with the octopus! Focus on the small blocks that make up the whole. This way you cut out the paranoid android that buzzes in your head – shit, there’s so much to do; you’ll never finish it all – and you focus on the smaller, achievable task. Hell, and if you’re a list person, you get to tick it off, cross it out, highlight it in red, whatever floats your boat. Something else you need to be aware of with step one is Parkinson’s Law – “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” I’ve found, that whenever I have less time to do something I get more done. To negate Parkinson’s Law, estimate how long the task will take and then cut your time in half. Scary huh? Give it a try.

Step Four. Develop the habit of finishing. Neil Gaiman talks about this a lot. Make a conscious decision to be a finisher and get stuff done. I have many projects that are outstanding at the moment, and new ones that keep starting up, but I’m working hard to get them done. In the past, I started a lot of things that were never finished. The paranoid android would kick in, and I’d begin to doubt whether they were any good. I wouldn’t say I’m past that yet, but I’m working on it.

Wait a minute. You said five steps, but you’ve only mentioned steps one and four. Why? You’re internet savvy. You’ve seen a smidgen of all the crap that’s out there. I’m an adult. I read the article and thought steps one and four made sense and that the others were just contradictory padding, so I left them out. Feel free to track the piece down and draw your conclusions.  

Keep writing. Keep finishing.