Music To Write To…

A little over six weeks ago Arterial Bloom was released into the world. Reviews for the book have been kind so far and I am proud of the story I have in the anthology.

However, long before Dog (Does Not) Eat Dog found a home, when the story wasn’t much more than an idea, I opened a note on my phone and started tinkering with the opening line. I was listening to music, to drown out the noise of the office I worked in at the time, and as I wrote one piece stood out.

The piece was Abandon Window by Jon Hopkins. It became something I listened to every time I sat down to work on the story. It was a way in, a way back to the beach. There was something in it that resonated with the story I was trying to write. The music starts as a melancholic piano piece but becomes something more as an ambient soundscape swells beneath the notes. I thought it might be the Everstorm, raging above the ocean. Give it a listen below.

Now whenever I sit down to try and write, I need music. Something to help me lose myself in the world of words. Below I’ve shared some of the go-to pieces from my favourite film and TV scores.

Apokalypse – Dark

Ben Frost composed the Dark score and it is perfect for the bleak, time travel story at the heart of this Netflix series. This is a favourite piece of mine, full of quiet, building menace.

Campfire – Monsters

The Monsters score by Jon Hopkins is quiet, contemplative and full of atmosphere. The film might not be for everyone, but the music is great.

Waves Crashing on Distant Shores of Time – San Junipero

San Junipero is my favourite, and objectively the best, episode of Black Mirror. I love it. The episode has an amazing soundtrack, but it also has a brilliant, dreamlike score from Clint Mansell.

Welcome to Lunar Industries – Moon

Another score by Clint Mansell. Moon is an amazing film which doesn’t seem to get enough love. The building tension in this piece is useful for those moments in your writing when things are heading towards their final, inevitable conclusion.

She Remembers – The Leftovers

I haven’t seen the TV show but I’ve heard good things. I did however stumble upon the score on a Max Richter playlist and found this melancholic gem.

On The Nature Of Daylight – Into The Forest

This has appeared in a few places, but I first heard it in Into The Forest. I loved Max Richter’s soundtrack and I think this piece in particular is beautiful. A bonus – the music video features the brilliant Elizabeth Moss.

Motion Picture Soundtrack – Westworld

The Vitamin String Quartet are responsible for this instrumental version of the Radiohead song and it is a lovely, truly affecting piece.

That’s it.

Let me know what you have on your writing playlist.

And, if you’ve made it this far, I hope you’ve found something to add to your own playlist. If not, then I hope you’ve at least enjoyed some of them, and I haven’t left you feeling too down on this dreary, Sunday afternoon.

Why I Wrote ‘Dog (Does Not) Eat Dog’

The release of Arterial Bloom from Crystal Lake Publishing is now less than three weeks away, so I thought I would talk a little about what inspired my story, Dog (Does Not) Eat Dog.

Everyone of us has experienced, or will experience, an increasingly toxic friendship. The piece is an attempt to explore this.

Friendships, like any kind of relationship, require maintenance and if you neglect them they deteriorate. It was that deterioration – what drives it and what happens as a result – I wanted to focus on.

This story concerns two old friends reflecting on their friendship at the end of everything. The empty, apocalyptic setting provided a great canvas to push my ideas into the extreme.

Also, the coastline on which this story is set is real. I have walked on the sand and stood in the ocean. It’s only a few miles from the place I grew up. But I’ve moved away now and I don’t see that shore so often.

It seemed only fitting that a story about old friends should unfold close to my old hometown.

Arterial Bloom is due for release on the 3rd of April and you can pre order from Amazon by clicking here. You know what to do.

Thanks for reading.

Every dog has its day…

I’ve been excited about this for some time and – now that it has been revealed on Mercedes M. Yardley’s blog – I can finally share the news.

My story, Dog (Does Not) Eat Dog, will be appearing in Arterial Bloom.

The anthology will be published by Crystal Lake Publishing and is edited by Mercedes M. Yardley. It is due for release in March 2020.

There will be sixteen stories in total and the names revealed so far are incredible. It is amazing and humbling to have my work appear alongside theirs. Check out out a tiny teaser of Dog (Does Not) Eat Dog, and the other stories, over at Mercedes blog.

Also, there is this wonderful cover art from Todd Kelsing.

I can’t wait to share more about the story once the book is out. Until then…

Stories I Loved…

I spent most of 2019 reading short stories and thought it would be a good idea to list some of my favourites as we head into a new decade. However, before looking at my offerings I wanted to point you in the direction of two writers I often turn to for a wealth of story recommendations.

First up, I need to point to James Everington’s blog, which offers an annual list of short stories he enjoyed in the previous year. Here are his lists for 2018 and 2019. Make sure to take a look – they put mine to shame.

Secondly is Maria Haskins. Maria offers monthly reviews of stories she enjoyed in her Short Fiction Roundup and it is well worth your time.

Now, here is my list. Note: not all of the stories listed below were published in 2019 – but this was the year I read them.

If nothing else this list proves I’m woefully far behind in my reading, but I hope you still find something amongst these to enjoy…

The Story So Far…

Beginnings are difficult and, having just created this site, I’m still figuring out exactly what I want from it. So to begin I thought I would look to the past.

Back in February of this year I was lucky enough to have a short story featured on The Other Stories podcast as part of their ‘Haunted Hotel’ series.

Dissolution is about a young couple who take shelter from the rain in a coastal hotel on the Isle of Skye, only to discover something far worse within. Click on the image below to listen.

The Other Stories from Hawk and Cleaver do some great work. Take a look at some of their other podcasts here.

For those interested, the bay on which this story opens is real.

As is the hotel.

Enjoy your stay.