Summertime, by Vanessa Lafaye

Summertime, by Vanessa Lafaye

Summertime. The year is 1935. In the small community of Heron Key, preparations are underway for the annual Fourth of July celebrations: a barbecue on the beach, followed by a firework display. It’s an event for everyone because, even though the coloureds must stay on their own side of the beach, ‘no one could partition the sky when those fireworks went up.’ Missy, a young coloured woman who works for a white family, is looking forward to the evening. As she bathes the baby in her care, and sits out the heat and oppression of the humid Florida afternoon, Missy thinks about her neighbours and her employers, and dreams of feeling cool again. But when she leaves the baby for a moment to run inside and swipe a piece of ice from the refrigerator,...

Curious Tales and Poor Souls’ Light

Curious Tales and Poor Souls’ Light

  And so, as promised, here is a sneaky preview into the new Curious Tales anthology. Last year it was The Longest Night, a collection looking back to the stories of MR James. This year we have Poor Souls’ Light, which takes as its starting point the unsettlingly Gothic tales of Robert Aickman. For those of you who have not previously enjoyed their walks on the darker side of Christmas, Curious Tales is a publishing collective founded by Jenn Ashworth and Richard Hirst and including writers Emma Jane Unsworth, Alison Moore and Tom Fletcher, and the artist Beth Ward. Joined this year by guest writers M John Harrison and Johnny Mains, they tap into the Victorian tradition of telling ghostly stories around the fire as the year approaches its shortest day....

The Art of Kozu, by James Edgecombe

The Art of Kozu, by James Edgecombe

I’m really pleased this week to be reviewing The Art of Kozu, which won the MMU Novella Award earlier this year.* And, after that has whetted your appetite,  there’s also an interview with the author, Jamie Edgecombe. Author interviews are always good to read, but this especially makes a great companion piece to the review, and gave me so many insights into the narrative. A novella may be a short book when compared to the novel but, certainly in this case, it also provides more to think about, digest and unravel than any of your doorstops. Even whilst I was putting this up on the blog, I kept thinking of more questions I wanted to ask, more details I wished I’d squeezed into the review. Seriously, read the review, read the interview and then GO...

Anna Wharton: How to pitch an article the short and snappy way

Anna Wharton: How to pitch an article the short and snappy way

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Anna Wharton aboard. I first met Anna when she emailed to ask if I could answer a few questions about living on a boat, for an article about dream homes. Of course I said yes – I’ll talk for hours to anyone about boat life – but warned, in exchange, that I might send a few questions her way as well. As a journalist, features editor and now freelance writer, she seemed like the perfect person to give us freelance-article-writing-wannabes the inside track. And I was right.   Anna, could you give us a brief outline of your career path, and tell us a little bit about what you’re doing now? I started out, like many journalists, on my local newspaper. Back then it was a pretty big operation, with 14...

Robert Graham: When You Were A Mod, I Was A Rocker

Robert Graham: When You Were A Mod, I Was A Rocker

It’s great to be a writer in Manchester at the moment. There are just so many talented people working in the area. The Manchester Literature Festival may be coming to an end, having showcased more local writers than ever, but all year you can find quality spoken word events around every corner. Speaking of which, the ninth Chorlton Book Festival is about to kick off. With all the featured guests having Chorlton connections, this ‘makes the M21 arguably the City’s most literary suburb.’ Well, I’ll leave you to argue about that one. But, as a trailblazer event, this Saturday sees the launch of a new collection of short stories with a difference. Robert Graham grew up in Belfast and now lives in Manchester. When You Were a Mod, I Was a...

An Interview with Hannah Kent, and a Launch in a Hole in the Ground

An Interview with Hannah Kent, and a Launch in a Hole in the Ground

I wouldn’t usually go all the way to London for a book launch. Granted, two hours on the train is hardly the same as coming over from, say, Australia. Hannah Kent is here from Australia and the launch is for her first novel Burial Rites (set in 19th century Iceland), both involving a great deal more travel than the 10.22 from Manchester Piccadilly. There’s a lot of buzz around Burial Rites, though, and the invitation said the entrance to the event was through a smallish tunnel, and not to accept if you suffered from claustrophobia or a bad back. How could I resist that? Yep, this is the door. I’m at the Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe. This door will take me down a hole in the ground. Why, exactly? It’s the end of August, following the...