Flash Fiction: Creeper

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At first, the changes were subtle: a framed photograph moved to a different shelf, a favourite pair of socks missing, the coffee finished when we thought we had another packet. It was always when we were sleeping, and we slept deeply.

One morning the cat was hiding under the sofa, the orange juice was gone, and the cupboard door was ajar when we were sure we’d closed it. It was a mess in there, but eventually we found the loose board behind the top shelf. We stared into the dark tunnel beyond; neither of us prepared to go first.

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This is a 100-word story inspired by the photograph above, this week supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields who also looks after all of us Friday Fictioneers. Click here to join in or here to read stories by other writers.

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If you’re thinking about Christmas, I have an offer you might be interested in: Buy a copy of either Our Endless Numbered Days or Swimming Lessons for someone (or yourself) and I’ll post you a personalised card for free. Click here for more information.

Flash Fiction: 318a South Dubuque Street

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At 3:17am August 12, firefighters responded to a fire at Barney’s Pub and Grill. The crew gained entry to the apartment above and rescued one adult male, one adult female and a child. They were transported to Iowa Hospital but pronounced dead on arrival.

The fire was extinguished after thirty minutes. Sixteen fire department personnel were on scene. The cause remains under investigation.

She kept the clipping in her purse amongst the bills and receipts for years, like some keep photographs of their loved ones. Eventually she lost the wallet and the piece of paper with it. Then, she mourned.

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This is a 100-word piece of flash fiction inspired by the photo above (this week supplied by J. Hardy Carroll). Friday Fictioneers is hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Click here to join in, or here to read more stories by other writers.

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If you’re already thinking about Christmas, I have an offer you might be interested in. If you buy a copy of either of my books for someone (or yourself), I’ll send you a personalised card for free. Click here for more information.

Personalised cards for Christmas

Picture by Malilauzie on Instagram - approved to use

I can’t start thinking about Christmas until two family birthdays are out of the way, which means it is all a bit of a rush during the second half of December. But if you’re a Christmas planner you might like to know about a little free gift I’m offering to people who buy one or more of my books for Christmas.

Emphemera 1If you buy a copy of Swimming Lessons, or Our Endless Numbered Days for someone this Christmas drop me a message, and I’ll post you a personalised and signed card for you to include with the book. And if you’re buying Swimming Lessons, since it’s about things that people leave behind in books, I’ll also send you a piece of ephemera to include as well.

This offer is available worldwide, and won’t cost you thing (apart from the cost of the book of course, which you will need to buy yourself either online or from your local book shop). I’m happy to include cards for each book you buy, and of course, you can buy it for yourself.

So if you’d like me to post you a signed card, contact me here with which book, or books you’re buying, the name of the recipient, and your postal address.

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Flash Fiction: The North Face

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‘Four seconds. It’s quick, man. Four seconds and you bleed out. All over.’

But he doesn’t think about that, doesn’t think about anything. An empty head, and being the right amount of psyched. No rope, just a bag of chalk. His only thought: the next move of foot or hand. He’s traversing into a parallel crack system across a flat exposed plane when his foot slips, his fingers clutch and for a moment he hangs. And then he’s in the void, arms spread to greet the trees two thousand feet below.

‘Four seconds, man. It’s a lifetime.’

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This is a 100-word flash fiction story inspired by the picture above (this week supplied by Marie Gail Stafford). Click here to read pieces by other writers, and here to join in. I did quite a bit of research on climbing free solo and Alex Honnold for this piece. Frightening stuff. I’m definitely not a climber.

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If any readers happen to be in Hong Kong this weekend, I’ll be at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival on Saturday 11th November at 1pm, speaking about Swimming Lessons. It would be great to see you there.

 

Flash Fiction: Minky

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They make quite a collection when they’re together on the mantelpiece. I dust them every day, very carefully; I don’t want any more accidents. One little nudge, and whoops, china and ash all over the carpet. It’s the devil to vacuum out. Happened to my brother Alastair just the other day. But I never could stand him. Sometimes I like to rearrange them: Dad beside Jeremy – couldn’t abide each other in life, or Agnes next to Peggy. I wonder who will tire first of that incessant chatter? But little Minky, my darling pussy cat, she’s always at the front.  Continue reading

Flash Fiction: Water

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I told them I saw her, under the water, hair swaying, eyes blinking. They brought the horse and cart, and Lewin stood on the back with a pitchfork, stabbing the lake, while all the village watched. It made me laugh, to see how they believed my joke. But the nag reared up and Lewin fell. There was screaming but no one jumped in to save him. We was all too afeared.

After that they wouldn’t use the water. Not even warmed. There was terrible thirst and then hunger. They ate the nag. Soon I think, they will eat me too.  

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This is a Friday Fictioneer story, inspired by the picture above, this week provided by Roger Bultot. FF is hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, who posts a picture online every week, and writer around the world write a 100-word story inspired by it. Click here to read stories by other writers, or here to join in.

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Click here to read a bit more about me and my books.

Flash Fiction: Graft

FF Tree

Her mother told Mary she wasn’t hers just before she died. Blurted out the words like some sort of confession. Learning it though, suddenly made her whole life – all those sixty-five years – make sense.

Her grandson posted information on a few adoption search websites, but she knew it was hopeless, searching for birth parents who would be in their nineties, if they were even alive.

A few months later she received a newspaper cutting through the post. Anonymous, no note. Creased and faded as though kept for years: Police Still Searching for Child Abducted from Playground.

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This is a Friday Fictioneers story. Write a 100-word story inspired by the picture above (this week supplied by Sandra Crook) and share. Click here to read more or join in.

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It’s been a few months since I’ve written a Friday Fictioneer story, but I have been writing. My third book, Bitter Orange, will be published in early 2019. Click here to read more.

Third Novel: Bitter Orange

The Grange

I’m delighted that my third novel, Bitter Orange, will be published in early 2019, by Fig Tree / Penguin in the UK and Commonwealth, Tin House in the US, and House of Anansi in Canada.

Here’s a little taster of what it’s about:

Frances Jellico is dying and remembering the summer of 1969, when she was commissioned to survey the follies in the garden of Lyntons – a decrepit and almost derelict country house. There, living in the attic for a month or so, she meets Cara and Peter who are staying in the rooms below hers. As Frances falls under her new friends’ spell and she learns their stories, the house offers up its own secrets, until her life is changed forever.

Lyntons is inspired by The Grange (the house in the picture above), in Hampshire, a fascinating Greek Revival style house, managed by English Heritage.

Flash Fiction: Pillow

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I found it in the bath. I hadn’t put it there, I was sure. I hadn’t been in the bathroom since the morning, and I was alone in the house. Anyway, who puts a pillow in the bath? I bent to pick it up, and saw a grey hair curled across the cotton. Not mine, I was sure. It repelled me, like extracting a long hair from a mouthful of food. And yet it was my pillow – missing from my bed. I left it there. Every night I washed at the sink and laid my head on a rolled-up cardigan.

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This is a 100-word flash fiction story inspired by the photo above. I know it seems a long way from the picture to my story, but to keep it to 100 words I had to chop out all the bits about sunlight and windows. The picture this week is supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, our Friday Fictioneers host. Click here to join in, or here to read other people’s.

Other Friday Fictioneers might like to know that I had the pleasure of meeting a long-standing fellow FF, Neil MacDonald a couple of weeks ago. It’s the first time I’ve met another FF in real life since we’re all scattered across the globe. I can attest that he’s as lovely in person as he is on the screen.

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Do you look at an author’s photograph before you read the book? You’re not alone.