Wednesday 25 April 2007

If I Believed in Conspiracy Theories?

Again we’ve been without the internet for nearly five days, this time we were also without the telephone, and it has been a nightmare. If I believed in conspiracy theories I’d say they were out to get us (does this make me sound like I’m off my medication?), but I don’t believe in them. I do believe that our telephone provider is incompetent and couldn’t organise the flushing of a toilet.

I do miss the internet when it isn’t there. When I’ve got access without a problem I almost take it for granted, it’s just there and ready for whenever I need it. When it’s not there it’s almost a nightmare, gone are my emails and I can’t access websites I need to. When it’s not there it is like a dark hole has appeared and I can nothing about it. I’m so glad its back.

I don’t have any new publication news; I am still waiting to hear about so many different pieces and approaches I’ve made. It’s the Waiting Game and this is the part I hate the most. I am so much at the mercy of others; will they like my writing, will they publish my piece, will I even get a reply? I know the thrill of publication is great, and wipes away so many bad memories, but this soulless waiting seems to just drag upon my hands.

At the moment I am busy writing two book reviews, of nursing text books, and continuing to work upon my novel. The book reviews are not difficult, they just require me to be concise (something that I’m not always known for), and I do get to keep the books at the end of it. My novel is my pride and joy. It is a fantasy story about a boy who can travel between different worlds, as he searches for his missing mother. I have found myself getting more and more drawn into the plot, characters and worlds of this story; I have also found that a fantasy setting gives me far more freedom to write about subjects that interest me. I can write about the trails of growing-up, being an outsider, trying to find your identity in life and the relationship between and parent and child. I can also fill the story with lesbian and gay characters, and other outsiders. It’s a genre I almost stumbled across and yet I am finding so much freedom in it. This is also my first novel and just finishing it will be a triumph.


Tuesday 17 April 2007

Gay’s The Word.

In summer 1986, on a blisteringly hot day, I paid my first visit to Gay’s The Word bookshop, in Bloomsbury, London. It was like stepping into an Aladdin’s cave of books. Though small, everywhere seemed crammed full of books, every wall was covered in floor to ceiling shelves and every inch of those shelves had books on them. But those books were something else, these were all Lesbian and Gay related books, novels and non-fiction and everything else in between. There were so many books there that I had only ever heard of but had never seen for sale anywhere else before. Back then there was no internet to buy books off, mainstream bookshops didn’t have Lesbian and Gay sections and unless it was a bestseller (which wasn’t often) didn’t even stock Lesbian and Gay titles. Here, at Gay’s The Word, were all those books and magazines I’d had no other access to, books and magazines dealing with so many different aspects of gay life, books and magazines that were my education into gay life.

That first time I visited them I was only on a day trip down to London, I would return to Liverpool and an almost desert of gay literature. When I did move down to London, shortly later, I became a regular visitor to Gay’s The Word. It was my source of so much information and were I could buy so many books I couldn’t find anywhere else.

Times have changed and so have our book buying habits, we buy far more books from the internet, and that has had an effect on Gay’s The Word. Now, due to rising rents, Gay’s The Word faces a financial crisis, they could actually close. We need to support this bookshop because if we lose it, we lose it for good and such a wonderful resource has gone forever.

What can we do?

Well, buy something from it. Gay’s The Word still has an amazing stock, many books that are so difficult to get anywhere else. You do not have to go to Bloomsbury, they sell a lot online or over the telephone.

They have also introduced a scheme were by you can buy a shelf in the shop, thereby actually sponsoring Gay’s The Word.

There’s so much we can do to stop the closure of this wonderful shop.

More details can be found at the website:


Monday 16 April 2007

Another Blast From The Past.

Last year I had a short story, Things You See in the Dark, published in Chroma #4, Spring-Summer 2006. Chroma is Britain’s leading Lesbian and Gay Literary magazine, it’s one of Britain’s few Lesbian and Gay Literary magazines. It was a privilege to get one of my stories in it. I wrote Things You See in the Dark especially for them. I saw that they were looking for pieces for an edition themed around the cinema, I’d had the idea for Things You See in the Dark for ages, so over a mad weekend I just sat down and wrote it. The story is about a man growing up in suburban Liverpool and the influences the portrayal of gay men in films has upon him; firstly the negative and homophobia images from Hollywood films, then the moment of revelation when he sees a positive and honest portrayal of a gay relationship – in the film My Beautiful Laundrette. I sent it off to Chroma and then thought little of it. With writing there’s far more rejection, or total silence from publication I submit work to, then anything so I try not to get my hopes up – beyond that point is madness.

When they said they wanted to publish Things You See in the Dark I was over the moon, a literary magazine of their standard actually wanted to publish something I’d written, it was amazing. Shaun Levin, Chroma’s editor, worked with me to re-write Things You See in the Dark and to knock it into shape. That was also something new to me. Prior to this I’d had so little feedback from editors, mostly it was just them telling me my writing wasn’t their “style” or wasn’t what they were looking for – without any indication how I could write something that they were looking for. Shaun was a great support, helping me to rein back my tendency to over-write and to get to the heart of the story. Good editors are worth their weight in gold and can so help a writer make their work shine; it’s such a shame that I’ve met so few of them so far.

Chroma had a launch for that issue and followed it with several readings to promote it. I read from my story at both the launch and at a reading in one of London’s largest bookshops. I’d never read from my own work like that before, at a public event were people had come only to hear authors reading. I’ve taken teaching session to all sizes of groups, I’ve given speeches on more then one occasion, often to large audiences, and I was never so nervous as when I read at those two Chroma events. Suddenly I was there, in front of all those people, and reading something that I had written, all my own work. It was scary and exciting at the same time, when it was over it was so humbling because those people there had been listening to my words.

At the end of the day, I’m still very proud of Things You See in the Dark, as a story it works well and I like what it has to say for itself, that films have a great power behind them, especially their negative images.

Link to this edition of Chroma:[1]/4514793029?version=long


Wednesday 11 April 2007

Breaking My Silence.

I haven’t posted anything for weeks now and that has simply been because of our move. We had the usual chaos that comes with moving home, we’re living out of hundreds of boxes, we’re still having large problems finding things (we’re playing the guessing game of “Now Which Box Could It Be In?”) and we’re painfully short of furniture (this is what happens when you move from a flat to a house). The worse problem was that we had no internet for so long. It seemed that a “block” was put on our telephone line stopping us getting internet access; they said that this “block” was because the people who lived here before us had cancelled their internet connect and the “block” was while their connect was cancelled – strangest thing was this was going to takes weeks to be removed until I threaten the telephone company with complaints and the “block” was removed in five minutes. This “block” was a nightmare, I didn’t realise how much I use the internet until it wasn’t available. Well, now we’re finally connected and I’m back in the 21st Century.

Our new home means that I now have an office to write in (well one corner of the front bedroom), which at the moment I share with a lot of boxes. Since we moved here my writing has been really invigorated, I’m certainly writing more, so hopefully I’ll have more news about pieces I’ve had or will have published. It’s certainly a pleasure to have somewhere were I can simply come and write.

Recently I had a flash fiction short story (a short story under 1,000 words) published on Gay Flash Fiction online journal ( It is called Those Moments and is about a man (the narrator) at his father’s funeral and looking back at his relationship with his father, their relationship right at the end of the father’s life. It’s one of my usual happy little tails. It also deals with a theme I have always been interested in, the relationship between fathers and sons. It seems such a basic and natural relationship, yet it is often such a difficult and complex one.

Unfortunately I can’t give a direct link to Those Moments, because of the way the website has been created all the pages have the same web address. If you to Gay Flash Fiction, click on the link to Stories then the link to Those Moments is listed there.