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Surrey New Writers Festival

Slide from Surrey New Writers Festival
At the weekend, I joined a lively group of writers in Guildford at the Surrey New Writers Festival at G-Live, organised by the School of Literature and Languages at the University of Surrey. The mix of discussion panels and workshops made for some insightful debates, including; literary start-ups, creating and nurturing a support network, writing for TV and Film, a panel of agents, publishers and editors as well as a lunch time workshop delivered by writing coach and author, Melissa Addey. There was also a poetry stage going on throughout the day with readings from special guest poets.

It was a great opportunity to network with local writers and chat with students and staff from the University, who invited me along to do a reading at the evening launch of the Stag Hill Literary Journal. As a contributor to the inaugural issue, I was honoured to read an extract from my short story, Habitat, an near-future SciFi story, which appears in the journal. Stag Hill Literary JournalYou can follow the future of the journal on their facebook page here, where you can get a copy of Issue One, read the online version or send in your own submissions. Thank you to M.E. Rolle and the editorial team for the opportunity to network and share my work with a wider audience.





City of Bones







The road to nowhere;
a road of indistinct nature
that baffles and bemuses.
A creature of comfort,
a black hole in the middle
of a City of Bones.
The clouds open up
beneath my dogged stride
darting through
sheets of purple rain.
The ground beneath me rumbles
and a great crack sunders the earth.
I ride through the darkened skies
on the creature’s black-winged back.
Ruby eyes illuminate the space,
burning leaves, baking the tarmac.
And oh, how the city groans.

En route to somewhere else

LPSApprehensive about my day,
but books break the boredom and
chatter gives up its secrets.
Coffee fuels the adrenaline;
excited hardly cuts it –
green-eyed and go, go, go…
Irritated by the hoards,
orange and yellow destinations lure me
and people put the place into focus.
Perfume clouds me in waves, while
pastries smell better than they taste.
Red is the colour of rage with
traffic fumes, noxious and nasty.
Trains are going somewhere, while
the tannoy speaks a language of travel.
This is a place I pass through en route to somewhere else.

“The Hamadryad” – Slippy Realism – by Frances Gow









I met him on the tube in the tunnel between Kentish Town and Archway.

The lights dimmed with their flawless flickering,

illuminating the ghost of his smile, in yellow lamplight.

A figure in the window, the dreamer wanders.

The smell of fetid fruit hung ripe in the air as the other passengers sat,

slack-backed with telescopic hearts, dull eyes of slithering killers.

A snorkel splutter splintered the silence, and my heart slammed into my ribcage.

Was it fearlessness or foolishness that made me say,

‘What the fuck are you doing here?’

He smiled all the while, eyes boring a hole through my soul.

The train jerked into motion, lights exploded into being and the passengers stared at me;

the eccentric lone woman, talking to an empty space outside the window.

Sailing Away









I sail alone with no sails at all.
A million voices chattering down
with the talk-talk of rag events
like written rogues of runaway bones
and players to porcelain poly perspex.
Makes no sense to me at all,
reverse the words, shake it up
in atomic deconstruction,
hoping to emerge in the right order.
His sail ship is docked in port,
waves slapping the wood,
air that tastes of salt fish and seaweed,
screeching seabirds calling to warn
and the thunk-thunk of footsteps on wood,
as he stops in front of me and sighs.
‘You could have called,’ he says,
retrieving a golden pocket watch
and handing me a Nokia to the future.

How to Brew up a Glass of London Hooch

vladtobehereWelcome to the Bloodletter’s Arms for our annual seasonal celebrations. Tonight I’d like to introduce you to our speciality house tipple, which has been fermented in oak coffins for the discerning taste of our gothic clientele. It’s red, bubbly and bursting with the taste of iron girders. We call this one, ‘Vlad to be here’. I propose a toast to you all, to an eternity of indifference and alternate reality. Here is my secret recipe.

(WARNING: This is not for the faint-hearted; children should not try this at home without adult supervision.)

  1. Take partially germinated human blood and mix with eggs to make a frothy mush. This process converts the human form into dust, which is used to re-group into a new species.
  2. The new species is drawn off once the dust is spent and boiled in a vat over an open fire.
  3. Separate new life form from the fire and cool in a blood bag labelled, ‘handle with care’.
  4. Water is then added to convert the life form into something you might not want to take home to meet the parents.
  5. It smells like a chundering traction gurney and spews heat like hell’s fire from the underground that fuels London.
  6. Suck it up quick before you gag and preferably not within sight of anyone in their right mind.
  7. Twelve hours later, your skull splits open and peels you from the inside out.

Some people feel slightly nauseous, but once this process is complete you’ll feel perfectly normal.

Postcard from Edgware Road









Edgware Road is long like a leverleech
and has chilly feet and jelly wellies.
They do this thing called shopping where
they barter for exchangeables like trappings.
My food is a short stubby cyber plug
which tastes of smorgbord.
They have exploding drinks here, so you
have to be quick lest you end up wet and thirsty.
My bed has air-conditioning and foldaway
flaps that don’t cover my strattlebean.
Sometimes we eat in the big yellow ‘M’,
but not before sundown.
They scrape the dirt from their eaters with mint,
but when I tried, my human ran away.
I followed, but a big red ship tried to run me down.
Good thing I had my warblers on.


Silence. Whispers. Echoes in his head.

An abandoned kindergarten at Dalston Junction. All Hallows Eve. How apt.

Frederick, former teacher, now turned vampire hunter,

snapped the rusted chain with his bolt cutters and the gate screeched open.

Had to find her. Had to stop the menace, the cat-calling, for her mother’s sake, at least.

And there she was, small, shy, sly and bitten by evil itself.

Her gaunt, hollow cheeks sucked in at the sight of him

and her marbled veins pulsed with hunger. She smiled,

revealing a neat row of pointed teeth.

Unblinking eyes looked him up and down with dispassion.

Her puff-sleeved pinafore and high heeled boots belied her tender years,

but not the speed with which she shot out to meet Frederick,

leaving a trail of vapour in her wake.

Her touch was stone cold and froze his skin on point of contact,

‘till he screamed like he was set on fire.

With a gentle touch she leaned in to rest her teeth on his neck.

Her breath was like polo mints with a hint of ginger and a sub-layer of decay.

She buzzed like a humming bird; did she have wings now?

Or was that the venom taking effect on his consciousness?

Lulled to a sinking sleep, he slipped into her arms and fell,

drowning in her steely embrace.

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