Great news the other day: I finished (at last!) my first piece of fiction since I submitted my brain-shredding PhD. The idea occurred to me about 4 weeks post-PhD but then it took me about 7 weeks to finally get everything on paper and then edited and polished (none of which could have been done without Lisa Hannett cheerleading and critting from the sidelines).
I sent it off to the lovely Simon Marshall-Jones at Spectral Press coz we’d talked about me doing a story for his chapbook series (which has featured, so far, Gary McMahon, Cate Gardner, Paul Finch and Gary Fry). And he gave me the fastest acceptance I’ve ever had! The story is called “Home and Hearth” and will be out in June of 2014.
Caroline held the door open, listening to the keys make that gentle clink-clank as they hung from the lock. He pushed past her and she could smell the peculiar odour he gave off now: puberty and a state institution. As he crossed the threshold, his too-small shoes leaving mud on the new welcome mat (she’d thrown out the one exhorting a universal power to ‘Bless this mess’), the house seemed to sigh.
Then again, maybe it was her, but she couldn’t remember the air leaving her lungs.
Then again it might have been the heating system as it puffed out warmth.
‘Coke?’ she asked, following him along the long hallway. ‘Or hot chocolate? Chips? Marshmallows? I baked your favourite biscuits. They’re not hot but I can warm them in the microwave. There’s a cake, too. Banana. Or … or … what would you like?’
She knew she was overcompensating, had schooled herself not to during the weeks and months, but he was back in the house not five minutes and already she was failing. She reached out and touched his face.
It was a mistake. The feeling against her palm, the slight sweatiness, the burgeoning pimples beneath the skin, combined to make her shudder. She hoped he didn’t notice
‘It’s fine, Mum. I’m going to my room.’
Other issues to look forward to will be from Robert Shearman, Thana Niveau, Mark West and Simon Kurt Unsworth – to name but a few!