Short Story Anthology Launch

Here is a blog post about short story writer Paul Toolan. I was drawn to his anthology because of the subject matter, ageing and dementia. We all grow old and with it subjected to illnesses and lapses in memory. Paul uses these themes to conjure up twelve tales to tackle this often sensitive subject.

Please read on and learn some great insight into how the author gets his inspiration.

The characters in this collection are looking back into the half-shaded landscapes of memory. (5)

‘Where do your stories come from?’

 If only I received royalties every time a reader asks me this!

Here, there and everywhere is the true but unhelpful answer. In ‘A View from Memory Hill’, there’s a story called Old Man, Young Pub that was triggered by seeing…an old man in a young pub!

I was at the Brighton Festival [Brighton, England – I used to live there] with old friends/fellow retirees. We dropped in to a wonderful, low-ceilinged pub called The Basketmakers, whose decor has barely been touched since it opened. I remember thinking we were the oldest people there, among many young and lively folk, some dressed in the trendiest fashion, some so far ahead they were next year.

It was a hot day, but as I looked around I spotted an old gentleman in a tweed jacket and tie, standing at the bar, quietly sipping his pint. All around him, bright young things were loud and full of energy. They squatted on bar stools, but no-one offered a seat to the old guy, and his legs could have used one. I wondered about his silent thoughts.

His anonymity, mine too, amongst this colourful crowd threw up a name: Smith. With the conscious germ of a story now in my head, I called him Frank Smith in hope he would eventually be frank enough to tell some sort of tale. I never spoke to this old man, but later when I sat at my keyboard, I spoke to Frank Smith, or he to me. I really don’t know which came first.

What I had was a character and a setting. No plot, no events, no history. Yet. But Frank Smith travelled with me, later in the Arts Festival, to a shabby-chic little theatre where, on hard seats, we watched a trio of skilled actors on a bare, dark stage. Magically, they brought to life some of Damon Runyan’s New York Prohibition stories.

Shortly after, inside that inexplicable swirl called a writer’s head, two separate experiences merged. Frank Smith went to his local pub; and he went to see a play. To keep the story structure tight, I made the theatre a blacked-out room at his pub, and had him go out of sheer boredom. Frank would have liked the Damon Runyan stories, but there’s insufficient conflict in what characters enjoy. I needed to change the play, to find one that Frank Smith liked less, that triggered something of his history, his demons or regrets.

On my bookshelves I have ‘Samuel Beckett: The Complete Dramatic Works’. I browsed through it. ‘Krapp’s Last Tape’ seemed ideal. It featured an old man’s memories, recalled with the aid of an old reel-to-reel tape recorder. Krapp is a drinker too, which resonated with Frank. While flicking through, I revisited ‘Rockaby’, a short Beckett play featuring an old woman in a rocking chair, remembering her past. Within moments, Frank Smith had a wife.

A day or two later, I named her Lucy. Then killed her off. The story would have become a novel if I hadn’t, and I wanted to balance Frank’s ageing memories – of Lucy and others – with voices of youth. So along came the young woman who ushers the audience to their seats in ‘the long thin dark theatre’ where Krapp’s Last Tape is performed. Her surprise that Frank turned up at all, among so many young people, releases the demons that rumbled as Frank watched the play. Short stories need a moment of realisation or change, and the clash between her enthusiasm for the play’s use of the past and Frank’s disturbed memories provided this.

‘We’ve all been something,’ was all he managed to say. ‘Known someone.’

The story might have ended there, but because the theme of age and youth was well-established I felt more could be done. I went back to the keyboard and jiggled the plot, making Frank inadvertently upset the ‘woman in black’, so her young hopes and dreams could quietly confront his regrets.

“In the half-dark, she looked squarely at him, black T-shirt and jeans appraising jacket and tie. A slight twitch flickered her lips. He thought there might be tears.

‘We all have dreams,’ she said, in the quietest voice he’d ever heard. ‘I’d rather dream than drift, any day.’ She pressed her lips together to control the twitch, but it continued. ‘What’s wrong with having dreams?’ she asked.”

This exchange then allowed a more positive development in Frank, making for a more satisfying conclusion [in my view, anyway, but I’d love to hear yours too].

So, a chance observation in a pub, a visit to a play, a book on a shelf, some musings and experiments at the keyboard – and before too long there’s a character’s voice, a felt situation, and a set of realisations. If it was as easy as I’ve made it sound…

I drop in to a pub maybe once week. I’m wondering if I should go more often. Pubs are full of people, and where there are people, there are stories.

a view from memory hill

You can find A View from the Memory Hill here:  smarturl.it/avwm

 

Paul Toolan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WANT SOME FREE SCARY BOOKS FOR HALLOWEEN?

What makes your flesh crawl?

Spiders?

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flies?

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Creepy crawlies?

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If you enjoy a good scare then this Scare-alicious collection of YA tales will give you the chills. As the spooky season approaches wouldn’t it be gruesomely fun to have some creepy reads? If you like horror, eerie, sinister and strange, then this selection of books and stories are for you. Plus they are all FREE!!!

You will have to sign up to the author’s newsletter to get them, but hey, would that be so bad? Who knows you may just find a new author to follow.

My novelette Changeling Fog part of The Song of Forgetfulness Sci-fi/dystopian series, is there for you to enjoy.

So, why not click on the  link below to get your gnarled fingers on some truly spine-tingling reads.

https://books.bookfunnel.com/scarealiciousya

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If you want more strange and  weird stories, check out my anthologies:

Glimmer: myBook.to/Glimmer

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Crow Bones:  myBook.to/CrowBones

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Happy Halloween!!

Amazon’s Hall of Spinning Knives

Indie authors beware!

David Gaughran

Phoenix Sullivan is well-known in the indie community – I’ve known her myself since 2009 or 2010 and consider her a close friend.

Aside from being exceptionally generous with her time and knowledge, tirelessly sharing her insights on marketing and algorithms, Phoenix is also well known as a vocal campaigner against scammers and cheaters – particularly on the current big issues of book stuffing and clickfarming.

And now she is being targeted.

Phoenix made a box set free for a few days at the very start of October, advertising on Freebooksy, KND/BookGorilla, and Digital Book Today – all legitimate sites – and there was no other promotion involved with this title. No BookBub CPM ads, no Facebook campaign, no tweets, no newsletter swaps, no mailing lists.

On the third day of her free run, Phoenix’s box set was rank-stripped by Amazon, a punishment normally reserved for those who have used…

View original post 1,566 more words

Creative use of language in novels.

A Slight update to this blog from a few years ago.

Nikki McDonagh - author and photographer

Nadsat, Newspeak and Bubchat

 

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I have been reading mostly science fiction books lately, and I have begun to question why a lot of writers choose not to modify the language they use to create a sense of another time and place. It seems that in the future, vocabulary will remain the same and people will talk to each other exactly the way they do now. Which doesn’t really make sense, does it? The spoken and written word has changed over the years, and most authors have reflected this in their works: from Shakespeare to Bronte, Dickens to Faulkner, and James Joyce to Irvine Welsh.

I overheard a conversation between three teenage girls. I texted a snippet of what they were saying to my friend, who has a fifteen year old, and she said that they were talking about a boy that two of them found attractive, but one of…

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Is Cli-fi the new, hot genre?

Hey everyone, there’s a new, exciting genre in town – Cli-fi.  Or – Climate change novels.

It seems I’ve been putting my Song of Forgetfulness Sci-fi/Dystopian series in the wrong category.

According to an article in The Guardian, the genre has been around for some time, possibly as early as 2003 with Margaret Atwood’s  The Year of the Flood and Oryx and Crake. 

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Also, Ian McEwan’s novel Solar, is cli-fiso clearly not that new. You can read the full article here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/may/31/global-warning-rise-cli-fi

Having looked up some Cli-fi, I think the genre is a little vague and saturated by all sorts of dystopian, sc-fi, YA, romance…in short, a lot of authors seem to be using the term quite loosely. Which is a good thing, especially with a sub genre that isn’t too well known. Perhaps now is the time to promote this category to raise awareness of global warming and the fragility of our beautiful planet.

cli-fi

Until I read about Cli-fi in a post by Lisa Rowan, I’d never heard of it. Stupid me!  I mean all of my books in The Song Forgetfulness series deal with climate change and the effects it has on future generations as they struggle to survive in a hostile world. As well as a host of other things too numerous to mention here. Kind of exactly the definition of this ‘new’ genre.  Well, now I know.

You can read Lisa’s article here:  https://thewritelife.com/climate-fiction/?utm_source=The+Write+Life&utm_campaign=48836be01b-main_list_11_6_13_11_5_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ae07a22b59-48836be01b-106451265&mc_cid=48836be01b&mc_eid=126bf35b6a

Right, I ‘m off to Amazon to change my subheading and a category or two.

 If you want to have a look at my work and decide if it is indeed – Cli-fi – check out my new release – The Chronicles of Mayer, prologue to the series mentioned above.

http://myBook.to/ChroniclesMayer

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Let’s start reading more Cli-fi folks!

Wishing you all a safe day, especially those people having to deal with Hurricane Harvey.

Can cats and chickens become friends – part two.

In my previous post, you can see it here:

https://nicolajmcdonagh.wordpress.com/…/can-cats-and-chick…/

I talked about my cat Kimi and how she has bonded with our new hens.

kimi hen 4

I also mentioned that the chickens are kept away from our other cats, who aren’t as easy going as Kimi. Well, one of our feline friends got sight of our poultry for the first time and had a rather strange reaction.

storm yawn sideways

Mind you, if I were the size of Storm, the cat above, I would be a little frightened by these rather large birds with their massive feet and intense gaze.

gabriel

xena

Just as well they have separate gardens to hang out in. Calypso and her brother, Rasky, have a more relaxed approached to these big birds.

Calypso 1Rasky copy

On another note, my bee garden is a success. It looks so pretty and is attracting all kinds of bees and other fertilising insects. It is also kept well away from the marauding chickens.

cornflower-bee

bee garden 2

bee garden

Buck-buckaww folks!

Can cats and chickens become friends?

We recently acquired four hens.

hens trees

hens napping

They are lovely creatures, making cute clucking sounds and pottering about the garden, they love nothing more than to dig, eat, lay eggs, follow us around and, oh yes, hang out with our cat Kimi.

kimi hen 2

Now, we have several other cats, who live in a separate enclosed garden well away from our nearly flightless fowl, and we would never allow them near  these vulnerable birds. But Kimi? Well, she is different. Everyone likes Kimi.

Kimi is unique. She loves other creatures, especially other cats – except for Katya.

 

katya table

They have a pact. ‘I don’t bother you, you don’t bother me and we’ll get on just fine.’

We were tentatively sure that Kimi would be okay with the hens. She had a stroke a couple of years ago and still can’t get around all that well. She is also deaf and at thirteen, is getting a little bit old, so we didn’t envisage her pouncing on our birds.

kimi

 

What we didn’t expect was how the chickens reacted to her.

kimi hen 7   kimi hen 4

kimi hen 5

As you can see, they seem quite smitten.

I guess the answer to my question is, yes, cats and chickens can get along. It all depends on the cat.

kimi trixie