I haven’t updated New Lexicons in a while, mainly due to the fact that on top of all my other responsibilities I now have a full time job at Unsung Stories as an editorial assistant. This does mean I don’t have to teach bored teenagers their prepositions and proper nouns any longer in a dreary part of Cricklewood. This is a good thing.
Firstly, I have a few stories and other pieces of prose writing forthcoming in the next few months:
My story ‘Greenteeth’, a tale of canal boating, water spirits and the housing crisis in London, is being published by the esteemed horror/dark fantasy magazine Black Static, something that I am immensely pleased about. In addressing a lot of the unease currently being felt in the capital, adhering to strict realism hasn’t been doing the job, and this story was an attempt to write a genuine piece of contemporary weird fiction (in the line of personal heroes like Robert Aickman). I’m very happy it’s found an appropriate home. If you are aware of David Southwell’s Hookland project, this story is also a part of that shared fictional universe – immense fun to write.
After writing this, I took a long boat trip with my friends Jay and Kim, from Essex back to Tottenham lock, drinking lager and listening to Rancid. It was brilliant and is serving as the basis of a new piece of long prose fiction I'm working on. Britain's canals basically beg to be written about. Dunlin Press are publishing an illustrated anthology focusing on British wading birds and I’m really pleased that my piece of creative non-fiction prose, ‘Icon’ is featuring in it. I have a real interest and passion for birds and ornithology, and so to be given the chance to write about that in an interesting literary way has been great. ‘Icon’ is about the avocet, anti-tank cubes at RSPB Minsmere, the Oare marshes in Kent and how birds can, to some people, really mean something. My friend and landscape punk co-conspirator David Southwell also has a couple of pieces in the anthology, so you should definitely pick up a copy for that reason alone.
For their second issue, The Short Anthology commissioned me to write a piece in response to a set of photographs from the Black Forest in Germany. It was flattering to be asked. The story I came up with, ‘Breakdown’, draws directly on my father’s experience of breaking down in a lorry in the Black Forest in midwinter, sometime in the 1980s, and nearly freezing to death overnight, mixed in with my fascination with Germanic stories like Hansel & Gretel and the demonic Christmas figure, Krampus. It’s the perfect festive read. The anthology should be out fairly soon (I think).
The excellent Cardiff based journal, The Lonely Crowd, are publishing my folkoric story ‘Ren’ in their third issue. I’ve already written a piece of flash for their website (‘Wooden Spoons' that you can read here) so to be in the print edition is fantastic. ‘Ren’ is a piece I wrote over a year ago, a personal favourite and something I’ve read onstage a number of times, but until this point had failed to find a home. The story is directly inspired by listening to variants of the song ‘Reynardine/Reynard the Fox’ (especially this one by Drcarlsonalbion), and the railway arches in Hackney Downs where Influx Press used to have our office.
I interviewed Rob Cowen, author of the brilliant piece of place writing Common Ground, for Unofficial Britain and you can read the whole thing here
.I did a walk from Stratford Westfield through the Wick Woods and along the River Lea at the end of August with Paul Scraton, the editor of Elsewhere Journal (a must for any place writing fans) following in the footsteps of Gareth E.Rees’ Marshland. Paul did a brief write-up of that walk here
.And finally, I have been longlisted for the London Short Story Prize. Even to be considered feels great and is a spur to keep on writing this stuff.
I’ve also been working as editor on the forthcoming Influx Press title, Place Waste Dissent by Paul Hawkins, a text/image collage in the vein of Laura Oldfield Ford’s Savage Messiah.
The book draws directly on Paul’s experiences as a squatter on Claremont Road, east London, in the mid 1990s during the No M11 link road campaign. It’s an essential piece of London writing documenting a crucial bit of protest culture. It’s out November and you can order it here.
We’ll be doing an event to tie in with an exhibition of the art in the book at The Arts House in Stokes Croft, Bristol, on November 21st and launching the book in London at Brick Lane Bookshop on December 5th. Watch out for a London exhibition and more events in the new year.
In April 2016, I’m very pleased to say that I’ll be heading up to Liverpool with David Southwell to take part in the ‘Spirits ofPlace’ symposium. I’m really looking forward to this as sharing the bill are filmmaker Adam Scovell (who runs the excellent Celluloid Wicker Man blog and writes fantastically about landscape and folk horror on film), Dee Dee Chainey, who runs Folklore Thursday, and the horror writer Ramsey Campbell whom I have a great respect for; read his short story ‘The Brood’ and you’ll see what I mean. It’s all organised by the comics writer John Reppion, and frankly I can’t wait.
And finally, a couple of weeks ago I saw one of my favourite ever punk bands, Oi Polloi, played a free reclaim the beach gig on the banks of the Thames. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had in a long time. For a flavour watch the video below: