Wednesday, 20 January 2016

It's That Time of Year Again!

It’s way over time to get this show on the road again with thoughts on writing, reading, arty stuff and any random thing that takes my fancy.

This season it's been like living in the Twilight Zone with such dim days and SO much rain, not at all Christmassy and horrendous for all those in flooded places. We've needed dry, sunny weather and a Winter that looks normal. The seasons seem to melt into each other now with fewer definable features, somehow carols with snow, ice and frost were beginning to sound oddly misplaced for a lot of us in December. Daffodils flowering, (whatever happened to the snowdrops?), t-shirt temperatures, year round hot cross buns – a particular pet hate – there’s a blurring of time as if someone’s taken a wet brush to it all and merged it together. It’s unsettling, we know this is not how it should be. There’s a deep disjunct and all we’ve ever read, or noticed with our own eyes over time, about how our landscapes shift during the year is being thrown into question. Our collective nature diary isn’t following it’s own history and I for one find this new direction worrying. But at least we've got some respite now with bright, crisp days... proper Winter... brrrrrr!

After the last bauble has been packed away, the remaining crumbs of mince pies digested and the mini-forest of pine needles hoovered up it’s time to get back to paper and pen – whether virtual or actual. A whole slew of lit. mags. across the globe are opening for submission and there’s a new one on the horizon too: The Forge Literary Magazine just launched on 4 Jan. Founded by volunteers of the international online writers’ forum Fiction Forge, of which I am lucky enough to be a member, it has a featured story by the fabulous JANICE GALLOWAY in the first issue, (it’s brilliant by the way), with work from some pretty exciting featured writers – NONA CASPERS – whose story is in issue 2, ROXANNE GAY – up now –, EMMA JANE UNSWORTH and ... KEVIN BARRY (!) – to come in future issues. You can read more about it all on the link above and in the article here ... where two of the editors, my writing companions, chat a bit about it. It’s very exciting and accepted writers actually get paid – hurrah!!! I’m looking forward to my stint as co-editor in the Summer. There’s also a great interview with founding editor JOHN HAGGERTY over at the excellent blog 'damyantiwrites'

We’re an eclectic lot at The Forge and you’ll find some sample stories, from a few of our writers, to give you just a taste of the sort of thing we’re into. So get cracking and send us your best, we’re ready and waiting!

SHORT STORY STARS – tales that shine and dazzle

JELLYFISH by Janice Galloway publ. Freight Books (2015)

Speaking of Janice Galloway I’ve been reading her latest short story anthology ‘JELLYFISH’ and it’s excellent. Full of strong characters and incisive, visceral writing that can take your breath away. There’s a certain fierceness here, an intensity rather than an aggressiveness, and a bold, fearless quality to the writing which I really admire. The title story is a wonderful evocation of the relationship between a mother and son caught on the cusp of change. The child is about to start school and has already begun that strain away from what binds him to his mother as a small boy. He’s taking his first tentative steps to join the ‘big boys’ and his mother’s reflections as he does are so sensitively captured in what I think is a truly moving and elegiac piece.  

The stories vary in length, some such as ‘jellyfish’ are longer, others like ‘that was then, this is now(1)’, nudge towards flash fiction but are no less powerful for that and I found this mix refreshing and well-balanced. It’s a great anthology and I hope it gets the attention it deserves.

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