If you’ve subscribed to my newsletter, you might have already had a chance to read The Garden of Eleven, the flash fiction piece I submitted to the final Hampshire Writers’ Society competition of their 2017-2018 season. That piece went on to take first place, and it’s now going on to be broadcast on Hospital Radio Basingstoke: one of the top five hospital radio stations in the UK.
If you’d like to have a listen online, it’ll be on sometime between 15:00 and 16:00 UK time on Wednesday 22nd of August 2018 (ie. coming up soon!). But time zones are difficult, so if you don’t know when that is for you, keep an eye on my Twitter feed: I’ll try and squawk about it an hour or so in advance.
I think this is the first time something of mine has gone out as audio like this, but we’re hoping it could become a regular thing for HWS – with the winning competition entry being broadcast every month.
Last week I was at Feral Vector for a full three days during which I navigated the grim future of the Business Wasteland (during one of the events), became a superpowered horticultural student of Jeff Goldblum (during another of the events) and was forced to repeatedly fend off some uncharacteristically friendly moles (for real – it was super weird).
That was a great opportunity to meet some of the people I largely know from online, but if you’re more local then you might like to check out these other events closer to home:
DIY Southampton: TODAY! (9/6/18)
This was probably the highlight of the things I went to last year, and it’s happening again! For the seventh time. (Clearly I was kind of late to jump on this particular bandwagon.) What makes this one so great is that it combines tables of work by local artists, authors and artisans with a huge range of performances spread across two stages. I’ll be on the cafe stage myself at 16:50 for a live reading of Ultraviolent Unicorn Deathmatch of Destiny. The event as a whole will be running 13:00-20:00 at Planet Sounds, Southampton. Continue reading
The following was an entry for the Hampshire Writers’ Society’s December 2016 competition – “introduce a new comics character” – in which it took 3rd place. You’ll find the judge’s response at the end of the post.
Mild mannered jobseeker John Johnson by day, by night Capt. Captain “Redundancy” Redundancy is a superhero whose superpower is redundancy! Wherever there is crime and somebody is already dealing with it, Captain Redundancy will be there, his sidekick Tautology Boy by his side.
A dark and brooding figurehead of justice, Captain Redundancy spends his nights staring out over the city he is sworn to stare out over. As a symbol of his calling as a hero, he wears a pair of underpants over his tights in addition to the usual pair worn underneath. The outer pair are redunderpants. They are red. Captain Redundancy wears red redunderpants.
John Johnson gained his powers after a bite from a radioactive mosquito caused him to stumble into the path of a chemical truck full of vacuum cleaner cleaner. Following this workplace accident—which granted him the incredible powers of redundancy—he was made redundant. Having accepted Tautology Boy as his sidekick, Captain Redundancy’s sidekick became Tautology Boy. Tautology Boy’s powers of tautology are a natural and direct consequence of being Tautology Boy, whose power is tautology.
Villains across the city fear Captain Redundancy, for by the time they see him it is already too late: the arrival of his dreaded carmobile guarantees that some other superhero has doubtless foiled their plans already. Captain Redundancy will never respond to a crime unless his presence is completely redundant, and thus—in doing pretty much nothing of any consequence himself—he is a beacon of hope in dark times: not the hero the city needs, but the hero it doesn’t.
Also Tautology Boy is there too.
Catherine Wild: It has not gone unnoticed that this submission seeks to parody the comic hero concept and indeed this competition itself, which I found to be quite refreshing. That said, the character is effective, as is his side kick Tautology Boy. The submission itself is very dry and errs on the side of metafiction.
I’ve got two fairly big events coming up next week, so if you’re anywhere near Winchester then do check this out. The first is the Hampshire Writers’ Society Gala Evening (Tuesday June 13th, 6pm in the Stripe Building of the University of Winchester), where I’ll be setting up with my books as part of the Members’ Book Fair. If you’ve been following since I posted about the event last year or the year before, you’ll probably have some idea what that’ll be like, but the speakers at the Society are different every month and this time around I think they’ve got some especially good people on board. One of the speakers is Claire Fuller, who I’ve mentioned on this blog on a few occasions already, and the other is Erwin James, a columnist for the Guardian.
If you check out this writeup of last year’s event, you’ll notice I mentioned that the other authors there really seemed to have put a lot into their displays and that it was all very professional. Well, I’ve stepped up my game this time around with some lovely swag! Continue reading
It’s taken me a little longer than I’d hoped to write about the Alresford Literary Festival and Hampshire Writers’ Society Book Fair, largely because I attended the Winchester Writers’ Festival immediately afterwards and was all set up to run Flash Fiction Day immediately after that. June has been absolutely crammed full of good stuff, but it has made it rather difficult to find the time to write about any of it.
I’ve now attended three book fairs in total, having started with one held by the Hampshire Writers’ Society last year, and though I’m hardly an expert at this sort of thing, I’ve noticed enough similarities between all three events that I feel as though it’s worth considering them all as a bundle rather than trying to get into what happened at each one. So far they’ve been much the same, which is great because I always seem to get a lot out of them. Continue reading
The Hampshire Writers’ Society Book Fair is coming up on the 14th of June. That’s this Tuesday!
I mentioned this in a recent blog post that focused mostly on the Alresford Literary Festival, but the Hampshire Writers’ event was such a success last year that I think it’s worth giving it a post all to itself. If you’re in the Winchester area, I’d really recommend going: there are a lot of authors who’ll be turning up. The place to be is the Stripe Building at the University of Winchester (on Sparkford Road): it starts at 6.
If you can’t make it, I’ll be aiming to write all about the event (and the Alresford festival) here. However, the Winchester Writers’ Festival is now less than a week away as well, so I can’t say for sure exactly when I’ll get around to it: June is a very busy month, and naturally I don’t expect July to leave me much more time!
Tuesday evening marked two firsts for me: the first book fair I’ve taken my work to, and the first meeting of the Hampshire Writers’ Society I’ve been able to attend. Both were well worthwhile.
The overall experience setting up and sitting behind the table was uncannily familiar after bringing jewellery to so many craft fairs last year, but at the same time it was amazing to be at an event that was all about books. Though I wasn’t the only author there with an anthology, people seemed very interested in flash fiction and the Flash Fiction Month challenge. I think part of that might be down to the table display: the bold colour scheme for the FFM series really jumps out, while the more muted orange-red for Face of Glass kind of blends in. Given that Face of Glass is a serious prehistoric fantasy novel while my flash fiction collections tend to involve naked breakdancing wizards and foxes on drugs, I figure that’s acceptable, but when you get a chance to meet readers in person it’s the sort of thing you notice.
Thinking about cover design, this seems like a good time to mention that I was quite impressed by the paperbacks on the table next to me. Shadows in Sunshine, the book advertised on the banner in the image above, is Richard V Frankland‘s most recent instalment in the Vaughan Thrillers series. What immediately caught me was how nicely the covers tied all the books together:
Laid out as thumbnails, there’s just enough to connect them: the author’s name, a face-on animal photo, and white/yellow text. What you don’t see here is that each of the paperbacks has the eye of the animal at the top of the spine. It’s the sort of thing I think would look really good on the shelf.
All in all, it was a great evening. The organisers had already been doing a lot to get the books out there in the run-up to it, and I noticed a huge increase in the number of people downloading the free flash fiction anthologies. In that respect, the event was also interesting because the availability of the free downloads (and the ₤1 CD version) didn’t discourage people from buying the paperbacks. That’s something I’ve noticed online—indeed, the recent Immerse or Die review of Bionic Punchline is of the paperback version—but it seems particularly significant when people can pick up a leaflet or pay for a book. Paperbacks are a great format to have available, even if your ebook is free.
Though a clash with my MA course had stopped me turning up to any earlier Hampshire Writers’ meetings, I was surprised to find that I’d already bumped into quite a few people there at various readings and author events at the university. HWS doesn’t meet again until September, unfortunately, but I look forward to being able to get involved more often when things get going again. Also, there’s a good chance I’ll see quite a few members at the Winchester Writers’ Festival, which is coming up in exactly one week. Between that, Flash Fiction Day, and Flash Fiction Month, it looks as though I’m in for a fun several weeks!
With the Hampshire Writers’ Society Gala Evening just a week away, my table space is more or less sorted. I’ve got multiple copies of all my paperbacks, with the Flash Fiction Month anthologies all lined up on one display and all the Face of Glass copies on another. You wouldn’t think that hours of experience selling handmade jewellery or shelving videogames would ever help with preparation for a literary event, but actually putting these displays together felt like a little of both!
In addition to the paperbacks, I’ve also assembled some new discs. The Face of Glass CDs aren’t actually new: I tend to have them on hand at craft events. However, most of the ones here are freshly assembled as my original batch had been whittled down to the last two.
These Face of Glass discs contain both the ebook itself in multiple formats, and audio recordings of The Three Tales from the novel. I’ve now assembled a desktop computer that makes burning the discs considerably simpler, and (though a somewhat smaller investment) I’ve got a set of scalpels and a cutting mat that make for some very neat case inserts.
The process of putting together these ebook CDs is now straightforward enough that I’ve also brought out a very small number of Flash Fiction Month discs. The ebooks are still free to download, but I figure that for anybody who wants a token physical version the disc could be a fun option. The colour scheme of the covers looks pretty good laid out this way, and the clear clamshell cases do a good job of showing it off.
I’ve still got a few more bits and bobs I’d like to sort out, but with the books on hand and the discs put together, I think the display is just about ready to go. I’m even planning to bring along a couple of chunks of raw obsidian to place alongside Face of Glass, since it’s always interesting to be able to connect the imaginary world of a book to something more tangible. I had the larger of the two stones on hand most of the time I was first writing Face of Glass, and though most of the actual research into Stone Age cultures came through books, museums or the internet, having that one bit of black glass to hand was useful too. It’s a fascinating material, both beautiful and practical, and seen in person it’s not hard to imagine why it developed ritual significance.
If you’re interested in turning up, the Gala Evening starts at 6pm on the 9th of June, in the Stripe Building at the University of Winchester. Further information is available on the Hampshire Writers’ Society events page. Their website also lists all the authors who’ll be at the members’ Book Fair alongside me.
The Hampshire Writers’ Society is hosting a Published Writers’ Book fair at their Gala Evening on the 9th of June. I will be there along with my books, and so will all these people, who I’d really recommend checking out. Claire Fuller recently came to speak at Winchester University (where she studied herself), and her debut novel, Our Endless Numbered Days, was even more recently shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott prize. Lady Antonia Fraser will also be speaking that evening, so all in all it looks to be quite the event.
If anybody’s near Winchester and wants to come along, it starts at 6pm in the Stripe Building at the University of Winchester. Entry is free to members and students, £5 for guests. For any other information, have a look at the Society’s handy events page. I’m particularly looking forward to this, since despite having been a member for almost a year this’ll be the first time I’ll be able to actually meet up with the society. So far it’s always clashed with my MA course!
If you’re not near Winchester or can’t make it that day, I’m also hoping to meet up with people in a less literal fashion on June 22nd: Flash Fiction Day! Just one month to go, so if you’re interested in joining me for some furious flash fiction writing, do speak up and get involved.