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‘The Winter Child’ by Jo Mazelis

The boy never goes outside so his skin is as pale as the moon. Beside him on the sofa, two cats are curled, one purring and rubbing its rasping tongue against his hand, its fur warm and soft, while the other is stiff and dead. The boy strokes each cat in turn. He makes no…


‘Pasterka’ by Dan Coxon

Outside The Goat’s Head he stops and spits, the ball of phlegm steaming on the frosted pavement. The bouncer eyeballs him, so Henryk pushes his tongue out between yellowed teeth. Raises a dirty middle finger, the nail cracked and bloody. A blackness swells around his heart. This is the true meaning of Christmas: drink, maybe…


‘The Woman Who Shagged Christmas’ by Camillus John

Being always so goose-pimpled, luminous and hush-hush-hushy-it’ll-be-grand, she could make him cry at the drop of an eyelash. And all because Father Apollo had spat into her mouth at choir practice once, when she was a teenager. But he couldn’t say anything to Mrs. Phelan, or Cassandra, as she liked him to call her, not…


‘The Two Parties’ by Gary Raymond

An unseasonal mist hung at eye-level. “Black cabs are everywhere now,” you said, Staring vapidly at the one before us at the traffic lights. “Not just London, and I’m not Sure how I feel about that. One of the many corruptions of Globalisation.” With a curve of the neck, a roll of the eyes. “Do…

On writing ‘A Dog Called Orgreave’ | Craig Austin

Any mention of the 84/85 miners’ is unavoidably evocative of a time and a place that did not deal in shades of grey. I may only have been a child at the time but that didn’t mean that I was unaware of the inky ‘NUM’ inscriptions that increasingly peppered the school-bags of the older kids on the bus into town; three fat initials that jostled for attention with equally fervent homages to The Smiths and The Bunnymen; a khaki collegiate collage of faith and unquestioning devotion. For adults and teenagers alike it was a period that sought to define which…

On Writing ‘CartWheeling’ | Jay Merill

I am just starting to write a whole collection of stories set in a mythic space which I’m calling The Botanical Gardens and I’m delighted by the response so far: Acceptance of ‘CartWheeling’ by The Lonely Crowd and the second story by Unthank Books for Unthology 10. Existential and moral issues are the themes which seem to be prevalent and it is gratifying to feel that I’m writing about questions people may find interesting. And I so much enjoyed writing ‘CartWheeling’ as it expressed something I really wanted to say about choice, decision and resolution. How do you choose between…


On writing ‘Black-Eyed Susan’ | Rachel Trezise

I’m not entirely sure when I became interested in boxing. If it happened because of Rocky IV or because stories about boxing and boxers are inevitable in the Rhondda Valley, in South Wales, or maybe anywhere that’s predominantly working class. But since a fairly early age boxing and boxing stories were there in the way that oxygen was.


How I Wrote ‘Leftovers’

I think that a lot of the horror of life, sometimes, is realising what a tiny part of the world you are; that moment of knowing, after a few years, that you won’t matter. There’s nothing like an animal to make you realise that. Buildings go up, people fall down, and it’s all just background noise.


On Poetry & Prophecy

I’m currently working towards a second poetry collection, which will revolve around ideas of prophecy. Of course, there is an ancient connection between poetry and prophecy, which goes back, via the Book of Revelations, to pre-Christian, pagan documents. Enuma Anu Enlil (When the Gods Anu and Enlil …) is a case in point: it dates back well over three thousand years to the ancient Babylonian empire, and consists of a large number of tablets, on which astrological observations and omens are carved.


On writing ‘JOHN’

‘The purpose of fiction is to transfigure the quotidian!’ was a disappointed friend’s response to reading my story, ‘JOHN’. The friend was upset by the repetitions, erratic chronology and the protagonists’ mundane existence; they felt I was reinforcing a sense of isolation and entrapment, when writing should be an escape from these states. You can’t excite everyone. As Vonnegut put it: ‘Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia’.


On Writing ‘Rubbish’

Alix Nathan You know those questions people tend to ask of fiction.  Did it actually happen?  Is it the writer’s story?  In the case of ‘Rubbish’, no, it didn’t, no, it’s not.  I’ve never slept with a man researching liver fluke in sheep, never given into the particular temptation the story describes. Never quite.  I…