Archive for November, 2010

A short post about shorts

Posted: November 30, 2010 in Fiction

A brief missive, a note to say that I have a short story in Colin Harvey’s latest anthology, Dark Spires, a collection the loose theme of which is ‘Hardy’s Wessex’ – all the stories therein are set in or around this fictional county. My story, ‘Outside’ takes place in a thinly disguised Swindon. It’s a horror. Aren’t I flexible?

You can get Dark Spires in e and paper formats at Wizards Tower Press.

You may have noticed that some of my short stories have come off this site. That’s because they’ve gone over to Angry Robot’s Short Story Store, where you can buy them for a minimal fee to read on your new-fangled electronic space books from tomorrow. Don’t grumble, you had your chance to read them for nowt.

In further news, I finished my redrafting of Richards & Klein: Reality 36 a couple of days ago. Man, that was stressful. But it’s much better now. Really good, even, if I say so myself. You can read it next August. Oh, the tension, you poor things!

That is all. Further communiques will be forthcoming.

Kill the Pig

Posted: November 14, 2010 in Fiction, Random wifflings
Tags: , ,

My pig was killed two weeks ago; it was not a surprise, I was complicit in its murder. Bits of it and/or its compatriots are now in my fridge and freezer, including (for a space) six wine bottles full of blood, a massive liver and a heart. It was all really rather gruesome.

Actual blood in my actual fridge, packaged in used wine bottles, as if I were some sad goth Nosferatu wannabe.

Not as gruesome, however, as the creation of your own black pudding. Using a recipe from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, that smiling, shaggy-haired death of swine, I created a dozen black pudding sausages. The process, executed the day after pigmageddon, turned my kitchen into something that looked like a set from Dexter. Twelve blood sausages were my prize, but HFW’s ingredient quantities are so vast that I only used half of my mixture. The rest I buried in a hole in the garden, at night, wind howling, blood-smeared and guilty like a killer.

Still, it all tastes yummy.

I did want to go and see the animal killed, not for ghoulish reasons, but because I think it only moral to see where my meat comes from. What right have I otherwise to eat flesh, if I cannot handle the death connected with it? Sadly (or perhaps not), the stunner they use to knock the animals out was broken, and they had to wait for a new part. My fellow pig keepers returned for the slaughter later in the day, I could not, I had Benny to look after.

The abattoir was a small, local affair in Frome, threatened with closure due to redevelopment. The staff were all old, one guy there a venerable 77 years of age, the equipment wearing out (hence the delay). I felt like I was witnessing something passing, and not just the lives of four pigs.

Actually dealing with the blood and grue of animal death makes you realise how sanitised our lives are, even our fiction. I shall try to incorporate the stench of killing in my works. Blood really does get everywhere. Were the staff of CSI to spray luminol round my kitchen right now, it would light up like a slaughterman’s Christmas Tree. for days I had drying bits of brine-pickled meat in the loft, hanging from hooks in my attic. There are still two massive hams packed in salt up there. It’s all a bit Clive Barker body horror round here, as Jes Bickham put it to me,  only uncle Frank was just a pig, and won’t be coming back, except as sandwich filling.

 

The place of death.

My poor brother Tristan, visiting last week, was rather overwhelmed by his half of the pig. We did well though, with the processing. Homebrew beer helped.

This is part of the reason why I have not posted for a fortnight. I’ve been so busy, and cramming my writing work into what crevices the universe provides. Many things went awry, baths, freezers, children stropping, dogs peeing, parents’ cars breaking down on Brean beach when they visited this weekend. I’m working part-time at SFX, for a while, and that’s eaten into my novelling hours. But, when you’re freelance, one likes the money. And it’s a blessed relief being in an office full of adults and being able to concentrate on something for more than twenty seconds without demands for juice or tank engines being bellowed magisterially.

On to writing, despite many interruptions, mainly those of operation Pork Chop, I have made it nearly all the way through the first redrafting of Reality 36, shaving over 14000 words in the process. It is a good, clean feeling, chopping words, although it can become something of a gleeful frenzy, but the book reads so much the better for it. There were and are issues, naturally, I have a new chapter to write, for starters, but  I think I’ll write about those in a comprehensive breakdown of the writing experience soon, after I’m done with my read through and second edit.  Something uncluttered by random, wandering reminiscences as clog this post as surely as the fat of my pig’s blood pudding is clogging my arteries. That’s what people want, at least, that’s what I want when I visit other sites, but it don’t happen here guv’nor, nope.