So I won the Moth Short Story Prize…

“Mark Haddon has chosen Owen Booth’s Frankenstein’s Monster is Drunk, and the Sheep Have All Jumped the Fences as the winner of The Moth Short Story Prize 2020, for which Booth will receive €3,000.

“This felt like a winner from the very first sentence – ‘They’d dug him out of the glacier in 1946, pulled him out of the crevasse where he’d crawled after his Hollywood career had given up the ghost.’ The language is confident. The idea is unexpected, eccentric and entertaining. And I could sense, already, the generosity which would underpin the whole story,” said Haddon…”

Read the story in The Irish Times

I’m thinking of you again tonight Vin Diesel

I’m thinking of you again tonight Vin Diesel, as I consider my dwindling options in a French seaside town, and the seagulls won’t let me sleep. The seagulls and everything else.

Vin, the Fast and Furious franchise has made you rich, with the eight films in the series having earned a combined worldwide gross of over $5 billion, but you didn’t appear in this summer’s spin-off Hobbs and Shaw, which was headlined by your F&F co-stars Jason Statham and Dwayne The Rock Johnson.

Vin is true about the feud between you and The Rock? Did you really refuse to play any scenes together during the filming of Fast and Furious 8: The Fate of the Furious?

Vin are you happy? Continue reading “I’m thinking of you again tonight Vin Diesel”

What We’re Teaching Our Sons #362: Martians

[Re-published in honour of Mars Rover Opportunity – rest in peace little friend!]

We’re teaching our sons about Martians.

For the last few weeks a group of lonely billionaires have been all over the news talking about their plans to populate the Red Planet. They’re auditioning for brave and clever and able-bodied young men and women to help them build dynamic new low-tax civilisations on Mars and across the asteroid belt.

In return they’re promising adventure and excitement and the potential for heroic deaths.

Naturally, our sons are intrigued. For as long as they can remember they’ve been following the adventures of the unmanned Curiosity and Opportunity rovers as they roam the planet’s dusty surface. Those brave robots seem almost like family members.

“Can we go to Mars?” our sons ask us. Continue reading “What We’re Teaching Our Sons #362: Martians”

The Bodies

The bodies filled the streets, and people stopped and stared. There were bodies everywhere. They were all going about their business, just like that.

You were there somewhere, walking around.

Some of the bodies were considered remarkable. Some of the bodies were considered obscene. Some of the bodies were considered too big, or too small, or too old.

Some of the bodies were not considered at all. Continue reading “The Bodies”

The Top Ten Books I Should Have Written in 2018

Some I nearly finished writing, some I abandoned before I’d even started work, all would have probably been terrible, but these are The Top Ten Books I Should Have Written in 2018…

1. The Terrifying Horse

A dark, neo-gothic horror/romance set in a haunted North Yorkshire Moors village at the turn of the century. And there’s a ghostly horse, or similar.

2. Something Something Landscape Algorithm

Accidentally William Gibson-esq/Thomas Pynchon-ish waste of my and everyone else’s time.

3.Tiny Dioramas

A psychogeographical survey/walkthrough of classic model railway layouts (I still think this could work). Continue reading “The Top Ten Books I Should Have Written in 2018”

24 Rules for Writing Short Stories

Based on my years of experience in the writing game, I’ve come up with a list of 24 essential rules for creating short stories that will engage, entertain and enthral. Feel free to use them when inventing your own stories!

1. A good short story should not contain a single wasted word. The reader should feel confident that the writer is in complete control of the story at all times. There should be no mystery, no element of chance in the writing of a short story. A short story is not a journey of discovery.

2. In the short story, setting is everything. Appropriate settings for short stories include mountain tops, haunted council estates, low Earth orbit, enchanted forests, 1980s job centres, France, protest marches, swingers’ parties, alternate dimensions, a summer evening in the writer’s youth, The American West, radio newsrooms, and World War 2.

3. Avoid boring your reader. Consider breaking up long paragraphs with dialogue, or descriptions of the weather. If the scene you are writing doesn’t contain dialogue or weather, think about changing the location and adding extra characters. Or have someone go outside and start talking to themselves.

4. Always start a scene in the middle of the action. Or better yet, after the action has already finished.

5. Dogs and birds are not good subjects for short stories. If you are determined to write about dogs or birds, consider poetry or the novella format. Horses, on the other hand, almost always improve a short story. Continue reading “24 Rules for Writing Short Stories”

Vin Diesel’s Sleeves

I woke up this morning worrying about Vin Diesel’s sleeves

again, and what they mean and where they went

and why he doesn’t just wear vests like his Fast and Furious co-star

The Rock does – if getting his guns out is what this is all about –

 

instead of those weird, slightly ill-fitting military shirts with the sleeves

deliberately torn off that have become his trademark

in the multi-billion-dollar car-based action franchise,

and which make him look not unlike a 1970s binman

Continue reading “Vin Diesel’s Sleeves”