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Growing Chestnuts / Dave Wakely

This sub-text of violence and hostility runs throughout the story, from the blood-red of the pomegranate juice staining neighbours’ hand as they share a meal in a garden to the conker dust that gets into eyes like “shrapnel from an exploding shell.” The language of war arrives in the story before the bullet, just as the other-ing rhetoric of conflict and difference arrives in communities before fists and bullets. Even the jocularity comes with a threat: “The way Adrijan hugged him and laughed, spilling his wine, I thought he’d break my father’s ribs.”

On Writing ‘The Mansion House’ / Elaine Canning

The interplay between the real and fantastical as a conduit for self-discovery is something which I explore within the broader parameters of my writing. In Carlos’ case, this is encapsulated in his encounter with the old man of the mansion house and his subsequent undertaking of three challenges; challenges fused with a darker side of his day to day reality and the unreal, with three doors, three sightings of his sister and the transformation of the three adults who care for him.

ON ANECDOTES AND HUMAN SOUP / Madeleine D’Arcy

An anecdote, in itself, is not enough to create a work of fiction. However, I disagree with the fictional Uncle Sima. For me, anecdotes are jumping off points, thought-provoking fodder and inspiration for my work. Of course, an anecdote has to be twisted and turned, stretched, recalibrated, reinterpreted  and wrought into a piece of fiction that works. What I am always trying to achieve is a story that has resonance, subtext, emotional heft, significance of some kind; an insight into why people are the way they are and why they do the things they do. My fiction is mostly realistic and character-driven, so the anecdotes and throw away lines I hear on a bus or a train or in the supermarket or the pub are essential and without them, I don’t have a stepping-off point that leads me into something else.

The Settlement / P. J. Morris

Last December the former Managing Editor of Wales Arts Review, P. J. Morris, tragically and unexpectedly passed away. In addition to being an important cultural force in Wales, Morris was also an accomplished playwright and emerging fiction writer of outstanding ability. Here we publish online a short story first published in The Lonely Crowd, Issue…

Writing Bathsheba / Tracey Rhys

Tracey Rhys on the impetus for her four Bathsheba poems in Issue Twelve. There has only been one dream in my life that I have ever written about, although I’ve often woken up convinced that I’d dreamt the best plot ever, only to realise … well, it was a bit shit really. This one was…