My short story ‘Squeak’ about an alternative dimension a young woman is thrown into one Halloween, has been published on Litro. Read it here.
Months of hard work and liaising with over 60 artists and writers in the ‘Assemblance of Judicious Heretics’ project has paid off – as the exhibition I co-curate with Barry is now up in Rochester Library, Kent, and we held a fantastically well-attended (70+ audience) launch event on 20 October 2016, where some of the writers read their poems and stories. A musical interlude was provided by Didi Bergman and Rew Oates who had set lyrics from Shakespeare’s plays to music.
This year’s theme is Shakespeare. The word limit was 500 words so that we could display the art alongside the words for the first time. My story was inspired by a quote by George Bernard Shaw “Hamlet’s experience simply could not have happened to a plumber.” Well, actually, I think it could… so here is my version of Hamlet 2016.
Three months since we put him in the ground, I’ve quit my philosophy degree to take over the family business. Uncle Claude would have sold it. The town council is all he bothers with… and my mother, she interests him muchly.
Here on the roof, the stars are bright; clear and frosty. I wish I’d paid more attention the times Dad brought me up here to look at the stars, hefting the heavy telescope through the dormer. He could name all the constellations.
“Whatever you might be when you grow up, boy, even just a plumber, don’t think you can’t experience the bigger things in life just as powerfully as anybody else.”
My mum shacked up with my uncle almost as soon as she was out of widow’s weeds – can’t say I’m happy about that, but I can’t say anything to her, so I’ll bide my time and wait till Claude slips up. Which he will; the cream faced loon.
I can’t believe she did it: Claude always had his eye on her. When she was younger, my mother was the woman they all wanted to be with, but it was Dad, a lowly apprentice at her Pa’s plumbing, heating and engineering firm that she finally chose. Claude, his older brother, had higher aspirations; Politics at university. Maybe the two brothers were always both in love with flirty Gerty. Maybe they tossed a coin for her like in a cheap story.
So my when my mate, Marc, called me up and said he’d seen my dad floating in the air above our house, I told him to do one! He swore he wasn’t pulling my plonker, so now here we are, me and Marc, freezing cold, looking at the stars. It would be romantic, if he were a girl, or if I was gay. But he’s not and I’m not, so we are just shivering, waiting for the spectre of my old man. He passes me his hipflask.
I think how nice it would be if Philly was up here, not him. Ophelia O’Hallorahan, the girl I have been in love with from age six. Philly didn’t want to go to university like me, didn’t do very well in her A-levels, so she stayed, working in the local where we supped our first pint aged 14.
Then, oh my God, angels and ministers of grace defend us! It’s my father. Floating above the eaves, see-through, eyes burning with hatred and anger. I push my friend aside, I climb out onto the tiles. Marc screams at me ‘You shall not go’, but I am already face-to-face with this shade. The eyes recognise me and no longer rage and broil, but look sad, insubstantial. Lonely.
I ask it ‘why’? Its response, and what it bids me to do, chills me more than the cold night air: “I am thy father’s spirit. If thou didst ever thy dear father love, revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.”
I will bide my time and do as it asks…
(© Sam Hall, 2016)
All the rest of the text entries in the exhibition can be read online in the new Wordsmithery magazine: Confluence.
My short story ‘The Space Between Us’ has been published on Alphabet Soup. The story is written from three points of view and tells the story of three characters who are linked by a terrible accident. The editors said about the story: “The writing is consistently beautiful, the characters interestingly developed, and the voices clear”.
Alphabet Soup is a blog dedicated to showcasing short stories, and publishes a new story each week.
This month I have been neglecting Tweeting and blogging as I am attempting the craziness that is NANOWRIMO – National Novel Writing Month – where brave, foolhardy, sleep-deprived and simply ace writers let go of their inner editor and just pour out a 50,000 word novel in a month.
I thought I’d give it a go.
I didn’t bother to do any outline or synopsis, I came up with the title and a rough idea (written in a couple of lines) about what it was going to be about – but didn’t do any more planning than that. Quite different from my usual style.
I got off to a flying start. 2,000 words a day seemed to work OK for the first week, but now we’re into week 3 the wordcount has fallen desperately behind. I need to write about 10,000 words today in order to catch up. I always thought I was quite a fast writer but I don’t think I can manage 10K a day.
The trouble is – it’s incredibly hard to switch my editor off, so I do keep going back and correcting things. Plus my novel, ‘The Incredible Mind of Evelyn Vera Hawkins’, has gone off on some historical tangents that mean I have to get myself on Google researching aspects of the story constantly. This is the problem with having the Nazis in your novel. You need to get the facts straight. The only answer to catch up is to get up a couple of hours earlier, I did it today, but let’s see how the rest of the week goes.
I’ve written the last chapter of it, like JK Rowling did with Harry Potter, so I know where it’s going. I have a few plot points and am sticking the completed chapter titles on post it notes on my wall as a go along, as I saw Will Self do something like this on an interview. It’s just getting there that is taking some work…
Still, I’m amazed at the story that is growing quite holistically. Think Indiana Jones meets Tombraider and throw in some Greek gods and a bit of magic and you have something that is turning out to be really not the sort of book that I thought I’d ever write. So we shall see how this turns out… And now I’ll stop procrastinating, make a cup of tea and write some more!