Sunday, 28 October 2012

An experiment in twitter fiction

Very early on in my #fridayflash career, I wrote a story entirely told in tweets, based on the idea that if you looked at someone's timeline you are effectively reading the story backwards. The result which you can see here, had mixed responses. Some people felt I'd been a little too obscure with what had happened, others that it was very hard to read a story that way. I took the helpful critique and left it for a while till my good friends at Blank Media announced they were looking for submissions for a booklet to accompany their art exhibition "Inside". I re-jigged my Miss Piggy story, mocking up a twitter page to give  a bit more information about the other characters, who else she was following and what pictures she had recently posted. I was delighted that my story was selected (the first time I'd been paid!) and I floated the idea with the exhibition organisers that we could consider doing it live. They felt that was an interesting idea, but too much to organise, but ever since, I've been itching to do something similar.

It was on my game plan for next year, but the announcement of the first twitter fiction festival seemed to good an opportunity to miss. The festival takes place from 28th November to 2nd December. Submissions are required by 15th November.

So my proposal is this:

I will create a Miss Piggy like character  on twitter (I think the realmisspiggy is alas, now taken!).  You can be involved in two ways.

If you want to get involved as a writer, you can create your own character to interact with mine. In the two weeks before the festival we will speak to each other on twitter building up a network of relationships and discussions. Every now and then my character will be referring to her son in disparaging terms (as she did in the original story). Something will happen at some point during the festival which affects them both. Your characters can either be sympathetic or appalled at my character's response. I'd also like someone to play the part of the son who can give an alternative point of view.

If you want to get involved as a reader - you can be yourself, follow all the characters and interact as and when you wish.

We'll draw it to a conclusion on the Sunday & I'll then try and reproduce it on a specially created blog if it isn't too crazily out of control.

It's quite possible the twitter festival will reject the submission, so if it does and people are still interested, I'll find a good time for us all to do it next year as I'd originally planned.

Please feel free to invent your own characters, here's a little bit I came up with on characters for the story.

jollyjenny2 Jenny Hastings

I’m a kid at heart, up for all sorts of jolly japes…

laser_light Bob Morgan

DJ by night, Rock God by day, I follow the music wherever…

2nd_handman Harold Steptoe

Obsessive fan of all things Steptoe, handyman in my…

  So far we have two writers interested and two signed up.  If you are  interested please DM me your email on twitter and I'll sign you up.   Here's to an interesting experiment!

Friday, 26 October 2012

After she has gone

He stands at the door watching her taxi depart, the red brake lights blinking as the driver slows at the bend. And then the car disappears round the corner taking her towards Lincoln Road, the High Street to a life beyond him. From the conversation they have just had,  the life they have led, the people they have become he knows she won't be coming back. Not tonight. Not ever. Yet still he stands there, braving the November night in his "T" shirt, in the useless hope that perhaps she will stop the cab, turn around and give them one more chance. He waits and waits, till the goosepimples are perpendicular on his arms, and the cold is causing his teeth to chatter. Only when his whole body is shaking does he admit defeat, close the door and return to the living room.

The room is warm, but he still needs to pull a jumper on, march about and drink a cup of tea before he has totally defrosted. The lounge is filled with the detritus of their ending, the half eaten spaghetti bolognese, the bin full of tissues, the dirty coffee cups. There is at least this satisfaction to take from her departure, he won't have to clear up before bedtime. If it weren't for Jenny, he wouldn't have to clear up ever again. Jenny, his stomach lurches. What can he possibly say to Jenny that will make this right? Mummy has to go away with work for a while? Mummy has so many things she needs her own house? Mummy has a new friend she needs to spend some time with? All statements that will need to be made in a kind softening-the-blow voice in order to hide the truth that Mummy is a total bitch and she just doesn't love us enough to stay here.

There is a yell from upstairs. For a moment he has the fanciful notion that his emotions have entered his daughter's dreams, that her cry is a direct response to his thoughts. But when he enters the room and sees her in familiar pose, eyes glazed, body rigid, he recognises the night terrors.  "Get it away from me, get it away from me," she screams seeing some unimaginable horror. It is a relief to know that this is something he can handle. That all he needs to do is sit here, hold her hand, talk soothingly, till the fright and panic dissipate. As he watches her body begin to relax, her eyes close, her breathing to slow he helps her lie back down on the pillow. Soon she is sleeping peacefully, as if nothing has happened. In the morning she won't even remember she woke. He waits for a couple more minutes to be absolutely sure, before tiptoeing out of her room.

He picks up a random box set from the shelf. West Wing, that will do.  He settles in front of the TV and immerses himself in the problems of the Bartlett administration; a panacea to see him through the night - to delay the nightmare that is tomorrow.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Plug of the Month - A Merry Little Christmas by Julia Williams

Yes folks - she's done it again. My lovely twin has another novel out. Published tomorrow,  A Merry Little Christmas is a return to the inhabitants of Hope Christmas who enchanted us in Last Christmas. Marianne and Gabriel, now married, are contending with twins and the continuing clash with Steven's mother Eve. Catherine and Noel, having moved to Hope Christmas for a saner family life, find themselves grappling with teenagers and a mother with dementia. Whilst Pippa and Dan, have the toughest fight of their lives as they battle to keep their daughter's respite care service open. As usual, Julia weaves three stories effortlessly, as her characters cope with the demands of making marriage work in a tough and sometimes cold world. Christmas is coming, but with all the difficulties life is throwing them will it be merry for everyone?

Friday, 5 October 2012

The moves you make

"It's Sunday night, and your listening to Allen Greene's Sunday Smoochers. First up - it's  Gary...Who's your dedication for Gary?"
"Tell us about Annie."
"She's gorgeous. She has long brown hair, deep green eyes, I love her to bits."
"And where did you meet her?"
"At Leeds University, at the Freshers Ball. I saw her across the dancefloor and couldn't stop watching her..."
"So, it was love at first sight?"
"Exactly.I told her she belonged to me, and that was it."
"Aaah. That's the kind of smooching story we like on this  what do you want to me to play Gary?"
"For my wonderful Annie, for ten glorious years - The Police and Every Breath You Take...Cos, Annie, every single day, I'll be watching you."
"Great choice,thanks Gary, Police coming right up..."

Annie takes in a deep breath and fights back an urge to run to the door. It's locked as always, and the curtains are drawn. He can't get in. She's made sure he never get in. But...How did he know? How did he fucking know what radio station she listened to? That she'd be listening tonight? Was he hacking into her air waves? Was that even possible? She turns off the radio and hurtles it across the room. Every move she makes...That's another simple pleasure he's ruined.

She runs into her bedroom, and dives under the cover, as if the embrace of the duvet can fight off the cold that is seeping through her bones. She knows from bitter experience that she'll hardly sleep tonight. If she does, her dreams will be filled with his face gazing at her..

Every move she makes, every step she takes - he'll be watching her.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

National Poetry Day

It's National Poetry Day. So here's a very personal poem:

(for Chris)

You were half a world away, planning
peaceful revolutions. You lunched at
breakfast, slept at tea, woke as I fell
asleep. My wheels turned on daily
journeys, willing your return.

A two week sentence separated us
the day I got a puncture. I made
vows for this: still, revolution is hard.
There was no time to fix the bike –
without you, life gets complicated