The Dark Half of the Year

the dark half of the yearHaving recently joined the North Bristol Writers, I found out that, in late 2016, they published an anthology called The Dark Half of the Year.

From the creepiness of Garland’s The Ancestors and Dornan’s Dark Time, to the chilling This is Me by Henney, and just plain weirdness of Meyjes’ The Last Four in the Bar, The Dark Half … is a collection of stories that explores the vastness of the afterlife. It is also eclectic, with Newland’s tragic tale set during the Roman invasion of Britain and Sutton’s futuristic take on the ghost story, keeping the company of scolding grandmothers, vengeful in-laws, and righteous wraiths, alongside Harrison’s spin on Cornish folklore and, of course, the gruesome moral tale provided by Shinn. My favourite story of the anthology, Winternights by Herring, hauls ancient myth into a dystopian future whilst almost revelling in a vivid portrayal of bloodlust, truly making The Dark Half of the Year a celebration of the dead.

The Dark Half of the Year is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Stew Until Tender

tender-sam-guayWith the second draft of Up On Midwinter Hill complete it’s now time to allow the story to stew. Meanwhile, I’ve also had feedback from The Nameless Writing Group for my shape-shifter piece, Hashtag Rewilding, (which has been on the backburner) so I’m pretty much ready to revisit this one.

I reread Rewilding a few nights ago, and it was then that I saw the wonderful illustration (opposite) by Sam Guay entitled, Tender. I was fascinated by the bark-like background that the woman’s almost misshapen form appears to be morphing into and, in particular, the way her belly has become a woody knot or whorl which may symbolise anxiety or hunger.

I drew parallels in this artwork with Hashtag Rewilding, notably the theme of trust. Whilst the woman in the picture does not seem particularly happy about placing her head in the jaws of a wolf, this mouthing behaviour is very common amongst canines and can be seen as being similar to a hug for a human. Maybe the woman in the picture has a pre-conceived idea about the act, like we all have about something at one point or another. Given the present state of my (Western) society, perhaps we do need to pay a little more attention to how we act and learn to trust our instincts rather than what others tell us.

Hashtag Rewilding, borne from an exchange on the recent sighting of the Hull werewolf, Old Stinker, and the rewilding debate explores what happens when we are both ruled by prejudices and when we are free of them.

With thanks to the artist, Sam Guay, for the kind permission to use her work. Please visit: http://www.samguay.com/

For more information on where to read Hashtag Rewilding, watch this space.

What Is It Really About?

 

The werewolf is used as a trope for many societal issues. Like that particular shapeshifter, I’m discovering that my story, Hashtag Rewilding works on quite a few levels too. Although, this is not a bad thing, I feel that is important to keep a short piece of fiction simple if you want to keep the reader engaged.

In preparation for the first edit, which – rightly or wrongly – I’ve undertook with hardly any downtime, I asked myself what is this story really about. This time around the answer – a clue to which is the title – was found when I asked myself a different question: why did I start to write a serious werewolf story when two weeks before I believed it would be many years before I could write such a thing without it being a spoof.

With that in mind I have begun eliminating any thread that may obscure the true nature of this story; any sentence that does not draw the reader in to hear what is whispered between the lines. I guess I’m editing, aren’t I?

My point here is this: Ask yourself what you’re trying to say before you begin to edit.