Thursday, 25 July 2013

National Flash Fiction Day Competition

Since I started writing this blog I have been keeping an eye on the viewing stats and by a long way the most popular posts have been the creative writing pieces. So with that in mind I am posting the story I entered into the National Flash Fiction Day Competition in May. I didn't win this competition but that was no big surprise as I didn't even know about it until 2 hours before the submission deadline so it really is flash fiction - written in a flash and therefore not the best entry I could have submitted. I haven't made any changes to it, in fact I haven't even read it since I wrote it so you are seeing it warts and all.

I wrote this on a day I heard a news story about a baby being found down a drain in China and it kept bouncing around in my head. It isn't the first story of this type I have heard and is unlikely to be the last but it still stuck with me all day until I wrote this little story and shook it out of my brain.

If you are interested in seeing the winning entries they can be found here special issue of Flash Frontier with the top stories from National Flash Fiction Day, worth a look if you have the time.


How Do You Fit A Baby Down The Toilet?

Baby won't stop crying so I turn the TV up to block out her sobs. A girl in China has flushed her newborn down the toilet, didn't even know she had given birth or so she says. I sure as hell knew I was giving birth. Is it possible to have your lifeblood slip out of your body unnoticed?

Laundry shuffles to and fro, meals are half started, the bawling doesn't falter. There are moments of calm when we settle on cushions and the sucking begins, feeding exhausts us and we nod off in blissful harmony making the nipple pop out. The unpugged gap fills with a bellow so we try repeatedly, in, out, in, out, until it sticks. Surely flushing a baby down the toilet would block it?

I carry her around until my arms go numb and finally we have a bit of peace. I put her down so the blood can circulate around my arms - she hitches in her breath, we are back on the merry-go-round. Wouldn't you notice the blood and wonder if you were dying?

We stutter through the chaotic routine, nappies, feeds, housework, catnaps. Constantly moving from one chore to the next yet never achieving anything memorable. Are the sewer pipes bigger over there, just right for stuffing with babies?

Daddy arrives home wrapped in the freshness of the outside world. My voice is hoarse through lack of use but his is well lubricated with the chatter of grown ups so he speaks first.

 "Hi honey, how was your day?"

" The usual, yours?"

" Nothing special, and how's our little princess?"

"Just nodded off, she's such a sweetie."

And just how do you do you fit a baby down the toilet anyway?

Friday, 5 July 2013

My Personal Ranking of The Novels of Stephen King

I have wanted to do a personal ranking of Stephen Kings novels for sometime now and have finally got around to doing it. This is not an original idea of course and if you look around on the internet you will find more, none of them the same as mine however.

I have not included the books written under the pseudonym Richard Bachman (despite not being able to rank 'Thinner', one of my very favourite Stephen King books), collections of novellas and short stories, ( I have counted 'Hearts In Atlantis' as a collection), any non fiction works, e-publications, collaborations and The Dark Tower Series - they are a world apart from the novels. I have also omitted 'From A Buick 8', 'Joyland' and 'Dr Sleep' (this has my name on it for Xmas) which I haven't yet read but plan on doing so and will then add them to the rankings.

Stephen King's writing isn't for everyone but a lot of people haven't even tried his books for various reasons, mostly the stories are all viewed as horrors (which they aren't, well not the blood and guts type you may be expecting) and put some readers off but by far the most popular reason for not giving one a go is snobbery - any popular author is viewed as rubbish by many and Stephen King is obviously incredibly popular and by the book snobs reasoning the books must therefore be incredibly badly written. Not so as Stephen Fry commented on his BBC programme 'Planet Word' so if that doesn't satisfy even the most discerning of book hounds I don't know what will.

With these preconceptions in mind I have underlined the books that I think are most likely to appeal to new King readers - why not give one a crack?

The Stand - because this is the undisputed masterpiece and almost wiping out the human race is my favourite type of story

Dolores Claiborne - the strongest characterisation in all King's works, that's just my opinion of course, I read this in one sitting the first time and nearly fried my eyes

The Green Mile (originally published in six parts: The Two Dead Girls, The Mouse on the Mile, Coffey's Hands, The Bad Death of Eduard Delacroix, Night  Journey, and Coffey on the Mile) - anyone who has seen the film will know this is just a damn good story. I first read this story when it came out in monthly instalments and it just about killed me having to wait a month for the next book, now of course I have them all and can read it all in one go - heaven

Misery - this really could happen, something similar probably has, that makes this book very creepy

It - a glorious epic celebrating childhood

The Tommyknockers  - who doesn't love an alien invasion yarn? Don't let that put you off though - just like all these books it is really about people

Cell  - Zombies, a road trip, a race against time and a plethora of characters, you gotta love it

Firestarter - revenge is always a goodie

The Dead Zone - special powers, an evil baddie and a moral dilemma, a golden oldie

Carrie  - where it all began, Carrie will always have a special place on my bookshelf

Rose Madder - total girl power

Insomnia - grey power this time!

Bag of Bones - we all like a ghost story, especially with a Kingly spin on it

Pet Sematary - damn scary, I still have mental images but it's just too good not to read

The Shining  - a famous film but as usual there is so much more in the book, I can't wait to read 'Dr Sleep' which solves the 'what happened next' question

The Eyes of the Dragon - a beautiful book, an old time fairy tale

Christine - the first King film I ever saw but again the book has more depth and scared me big time

11/22/63 - intricate storytelling, very clever

Dreamcatcher - friendship, aliens, a race to save the world - what fun!

Needful Things - a reminder that we all have secrets, some of them very unsavoury

Duma Key - big, low key story - sorry about the pun but if the word fits....

Salem's Lot - the only book on this list I could only read once - it gave me serious nightmares - well played Mr King (of course I was a lot younger then, I'm sure I would be ok now)

Cujo - just plain good reading, this story doesn't hang about

Under the Dome - the implosion of an isolated town is always a joy

Cycle of the Werewolf  - another fairy tale with fabulous illustrations

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon - just go with it and see where it takes you, I think there are different ways to view this one

Gerald's Game  - mind games, they mess with your head, but I guess that's the idea

Lisey's Story -  the story of a marriage and yet more girl power - never a bad thing

Desperation  - I have to be in the mood for this one but when I am it really worms it's way into my brain

So there it is, my personal ranking for now, no doubt it will change over time but it has definitely inspired me to do some re reading of old favourites, I think I will leave Salem's Lot until last though, just to be on the safe side .