Afterwards, when the shock waves had subsided, there were only a few survivors left. In side-turned, velvet-clad seats. They cried until their breath escaped, and their plaintive, mewling noises made the theatre wish it did not have such sturdy walls, that it had not performed its pain-prolonging half-protection, but had simply let the tiny particles roll in and penetrate the oozing, fleshy bodies completely.
Phew, it’s been a busy week all round, but particularly when it comes to short story news, as the beloved folks at Open Pen have just let me know they’d like to publish my flash fiction story On the Last Rebellion. It will be available ONLINE and FREE TO READ this weekend!
You will be able to have a look at it from 9AM ON SUNDAY over on the Open Pen website.
I also thoroughly recommend taking a look at their archives, as they’ve just had their big 20th issue celebrations and there’s a lot going on.
Taking to cyberspace on this cold winter’s day to give a huge shout out to Fictive Dream online literary magazine, who one week today are publishing my short story ‘Proscenium’ as part of Flash Fiction February!
I’m super proud have been selected as an author for this special short story month, and really recommend checking out their website all this month for new great stories every day.
Reading to warm your toes amongst this midwinter chill! x
I’m totally thrilled and excited to say that my latest short story, The Locust Theorem, has just been published by Fairlight Books. It’s online, it’s free to read right here, and is a lovely bit of sci-fi fun to get you through to the weekend.
The story takes about twenty minutes to read and follows Andy Anderson, a struggling geneticist trying to come to terms with the loss of his girlfriend – and if that doesn’t grab you, here’s an excerpt:
The first indication I had that something might be wrong was the day the builders came. They had set up scaffolding outside the hotel and, as Su was passing under it, one of them dropped a knife. It sailed four floors down, point-first, straight towards Su’s face. She looked up just in time for it to hit her. There was a sharp sound, like a blade against granite, before the knife fell to the ground and clattered away across the forecourt. Su was shaken but not hurt, aside from a light red irritation that bloomed in a line down her face.
As some of you may have gathered from social media, I’ve been busy-beeing away running the Hay Festival Twitter feed again this year. What a joy it’s been too: so many insightful, thought-provoking ideas flying around. Amazing to be there to help celebrate 30 years of Hay – I’m totally exhausted and completely inspired!
As well as Twitter, I wrote a summary of the industry news from the first half of the Festival for BookBrunch, and also joined the journalists in the media room to write a few Facebook posts for Hay:
It seems fitting to end my collection of BookBrunch interviews over the last year with this blast of positivity and deep thought from author and philosopher Damon Young.
Thank you so much to BookBrunch (Nick, Neill, David & Tobias in particular) for letting me launch this new column of the magazine over a year ago now, and a huge big shout out to my successor Julie Vuong – do get in touch with her via the BookBrunch website if you’re interesting in being interviewed. I have enjoyed doing these interviews so much and will really miss them – big love to everyone who’s been involved along the way.
So, without further ado: Damon Young on his new book, The Art of Reading.
Young describes The Art of Reading as having three strands: autobiographical, philosophical, and “vaguely” sociological. But it quickly becomes clear that his analysis of reading is going to step outside the box…
Define ‘reading well’
“What I’ve suggested is that the best way to think about ‘reading well’ is that there is no law. It’s not an easy universal principle, you can’t just say, ‘The way to read is like this.’ Our experiences and books are too diverse for that to make sense. We can’t even read the same book in the same way, let alone all the different books.” He cites the Bible. “Love of God’s a perfectly reasonable Christian response to the Bible, sure, but it’s not enough. There are so many different ways to read the Bible, let alone Nietzsche, and Jane Austen, and Henry James… There is no law.”
It’s the time of the month where I round up all the internet’s top publishing stories and stick them in one place on the BookMachine blog for your perusal! Here’s a sneak peek – don’t forget to visit the BookMachine blog for more…
The big news from March in UK publishing is obviously the London Book Fair (LBF). Poland shone at this year’s Market Focus, and the Fair was busier than usual, with six-figure deals struck ahead of time and publishers cheerfully splashing cash as sales rose. This was seen as further evidence of the rise of print, with The Guardian stating that by the end of the month stats showing that print outperformed digital. Yet, despite the recent whopping $65m forward paid for the Obamas’ new book (which hasn’t pleased all and prompted a list of the biggest deals of all time) no single title emerged as this year’s big hitter.
Spoiler alert: This review contains massive plot spoilers about Fahrenheit 451.
In a year when readers seem to be turning to dystopias for sanity, there seemed to be no better time to return to Bradbury’s sometimes overlooked book, Fahrenheit 451.
Named after the alleged temperature at which books burn, the story follows Guy Montag, who lives in a world where books are banned, as they are thought to be the source of discord and unhappiness. As a fireman, it is Montag’s job to burn any books that are found. Yet, unhappy in his marriage and unsatisfied with life, Montag finds the lure of books too much to resist – and once there are books in his house, there is nothing to stop the feared Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department from tracking him down.
Fifty years on from its initial publication, growing post-truth, anti-intellectual sentiments in Western society have given Fahrenheit 451 new relevance, indeed in parts with almost uncanny precognition on Bradbury’s part. Many elements come into play during this book: the frustrating loss that comes with conformism; the borderline madness that comes with rebellion; the senselessness that must, after a certain point of tyranny, accompany political hope. Yet, to me, it is the end which is most pertinent in the current climate.
Over the past few weeks, headlines have been peppered with claims that reading eBooks before bed is bad for your health. A new study, published in the journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), has found that reading light-emitting eBook before sleep can compromise the quality and length of your sleep amongst other things.
Researchers conducted experiments on 12 subjects, who were put into controlled environments before bed for a period of two weeks. Participants were either given a light-emitting (LE) eBook or a print book to read for four hours before sleep. Those reading LE eBooks fell asleep on average 10 minutes later than those reading print, had suppressed levels of the sleep hormone melatonin, slept less deeply and took ‘hours longer’ to wake up in the mornings.
All this can lead to serious health issues: sleep is crucial to maintaining an alert, healthy body and suppressed melatonin production can lead to an increased risk of certain kinds of cancer… [READ MORE]