At this festive time of year, why not buy an ideal stocking-filler sized collection of my short stories.
It’s been out since earlier this year but the first story, Gluten Tolerant, is seasonally themed. It’s filled with aromas of baking stollen that waft through the chilly air that precedes a Bermondsey snowfall. Meanwhile things get a lot hotter in the artisan bakery overnight.
In addition to the title story there’s six other short stories of mine that have been selected and performed by Liars’ League, the award-winning spoken word evening.
A Bermondsey baker whose dough isn’t the only thing to rise one snowy evening
An intern’s impromptu elevator pitch for the most calamitous disaster movie ever
The misadventures of a yummy mummy with a dating app
DIY adult movie-making in IKEA featuring a selfie-stick
Naked photography in a hipster’s Shoreditch loft kitchen
The petrol-headed rage of a spurned, knife-wielding opera singer
Lovesick rapping from the dock by a guilt-ridden, Premier League hard-man.
This volume collects the texts of the 10-15 minute stories that were memorably read by actors at the award spoken-word evenings in London, Leicester and Hong Kong.
Even better, buy a copy for yourself. It’ll be the ideal companion to sneak away with after Christmas dinner to avoid the relatives re-establishing battle lines over Brexit after the truce over Brussels sprouts. With seven stories at no more than two thousand words, it’ll help the Christmas pudding go down smoothly.
Gluten Tolerant won’t cost you a load of dough, it’s available at a mere £3.99 for the paperback and £1.99 on Kindle at Amazon here.
I have another winning story at Liars’ League London.
It’s called Gluten Tolerant and will be read on 11th December at the Albany, Great Portland Street by the wonderful actor, Amy Neilson Smith. I went to the rehearsal on Sunday night and I’m sure she’s going to nail it brilliantly. It appears to be the first story on so arrive early if you want to hear it.
Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. Being the Christmas event it’s going to be a very jolly occasion. Please come along if you’re in the area — but if you’re not able to make it then there should be a video posted fairly soon.
And if you’d rather read the words, the story is now available on the Liars’ League website — here. And there’s a podcast too, which you can also find on the LL website.
The story on the website is the edited version of the story, as close to the performed version as I can remember. One of the great things about having a story read at Liars League is the opportunity to attend the rehearsal in which the actor and also the Liars organisers contribute their thoughts on the story. Everything’s very democratic and the author isn’t obliged to accept any changes but I’ve found that everything that’s been suggested as an edit in my stories has always been for the better. Not that huge alterations are made but it’s an unusual and very valuable opportunity to get a reader’s (or listener’s) perspective on a story.
I was very fortunate that Lois was able to read my story. I felt confident that she really understood the tone of the story and the character of Ellie, the narrator and protagonist — she really looked the part too — and even apparently lives not too far from Stoke Newington (watch, read or listen to the story and you’ll understand). It’s a brilliant (and addictive) experience to listen to words that you’ve written hold the attention of an audience and also produce more than the odd laugh and I’m very grateful for Lois’s professional skill in allowing me that privilege.
Speaking of addiction, this is my third Liars League London story and the fifth overall but it’s certainly not a case of everything that I submit to Liars League being selected — far from it. Apart from a lucky streak with my first couple there have been many short stories I’ve sent in that haven’t made the cut. I like to think that’s because I tend to write them at the last minute and may have run out of time to finesse the ones that fell by the wayside but, in truth, it’s probably down to the excellent standard of the stories submitted by other writers.
I was told that the number of submissions for February’s Clean and Dirty theme was particularly high and, as evidence, the other stories read out on the night were all extremely good. These were: Coming Clean by Sherry Morris, Zoe versus Zita by Michael Button, Saving Face by Emma O’Brien, Gloves by Elisabeth Simon and The Marriage Inspector by Niall Boyce. They can all be found on the Liars League website and I highly recommend them.
My story was last to be performed on the night and it was unnerving to listen to the stories preceding mine. I was paranoid whether it would hold its own against what the audience had already enjoyed. Hopefully, in no small part due to Lois’s performance, it went down well.
As the venue, the Phoenix in Cavendish Square, was packed out with punters who’d paid for their £5 worth — with literally standing room only — I hoped they’d feel like they’d got their money’s worth at the end of the night. For this sort of event it was a very respectable sized audience. It’s a venue used by many well-known stand-up comedians — the likes of Russell Howard and Holly Walsh were playing the venue at the end of February as part of the Phoenix Phringe.
Another brilliant aspect to having a story read at Liars’ League is the way the Liars promote the performance on social media — both before the reading and afterwards when the videos and website are updated.
I’ve taken a few screenshots of the tweets and Facebook posts that have very inventively promoted my story and, if I can be forgiven indulging myself, I’ve added some into this post.
I particularly like the Tweet below, which I’ll resist repeating in the main post because I don’t want to receive even more spam.
As can hopefully be divined by the tone of the tweets, the story is a very post-ironic, tongue-in-cheek description of a couple revitalising their relationship through homage to a particular genre of 1970’s film-making (and making a few nods to its more modern and ubiquitous re-invention). When I started writing the story I asked my Facebook friends for inspiration on the genre (which is euphemistically referred to as featuring ‘soft-focus sex kittens’ in the story — not to be confused with internet cat memes). My friend Jon, who came along to the reading, pointed me in the direction of this classic Grolsch ad Fortunately my timeline didn’t become any more polluted. I have very upstanding friends.
Despite the tweet above, when I re-read the story I was surprised that despite its depiction of rather graphic situations, the writing itself is not explicit at all — nothing that would remotely interest the Bad Sex Award. Anything lurid is all in the reader’s imagination — and in the case of the performance given an expertly knowing wink from Lois’s reading. As she comments on Facebook…PHWOOOAAAARRR…
I have another short story being read at Liars’ League London. Titled Selfie Stick, it’s part of their Clean and Dirty pre-Valentine’s themed event for February 2016 (guess which of the two it tends towards).
The evening starts at 7.30pm downstairs at the Phoenix, Cavendish Square, London — near Oxford Circus tube and close to John Lewis.
I believe it’s going to be read by an actor called Lois Tucker. I found myself mentioned in her tweet (pictured below). ‘Fruity’ and ‘SAUCY’ is her verdict!
No more spoilers — all will be revealed on Tuesday on the night itself. There should be a video, transcript and podcast to follow provided by those nice folks at the Liars League.
Please come along and join me for what’s always a great evening — only £5 on the door. There are five other stories to enjoy — the website teaser sounds intriguing.
My short story, The Good Knife, was performed on 23rd February as part of Liars’ League Hong Kong Hunter and Prey themed evening. The story was read by actor Bhavini Ravel.
Please do watch and enjoy Bhavini’s performance in the video below – she delivers the story with drama and suspenseful timing and does a great job of getting into the character of the narrator. It was a shame to have missed through being in stuck in the UK — unfortunately a return plane ticket isn’t part of the deal but it’s a great feeling nevertheless to know your work is being enjoyed half way round the world.
The video lasts just under 10 minutes (1,200 words) it comes in a little shorter than the other videos posted from Liars’ League London last year (Do You Dare Me To Cross the Line?and Elevator Pitch.) The sound is a bit indistinct in places but the story’s still audible.
The Good Knife is my fourth story to be read by one of the Liars’ League franchises (I had another read in Leicester in September) and slightly different in tone – being a story of revenge and abandonment although it still has a little of the humour of the London stories (well, the audience laughs in the places I hoped they would, anyway).
As far as I can tell, the text of The Good Knife isn’t on the Liars’ League Hong Kong website (the video is on their Facebook and YouTube pages) but should you want to read the text then watch this space over the next few days for some news about how you might do so.
I’m very surprised and delighted to have had another short story selected for Liars’ League London. It’s for the May theme of ‘Beginnings and Ends’ and the reading takes place on Tuesday 13th May at the Phoenix near Oxford Circus. The show starts at 7.30pm.
I went to the rehearsal last night and met the actress, Sarah Feathers, who’ll be reading the story, which is called Elevator Pitch. Sarah was fantastic in the read-through and I think she’ll put on a brilliant and entertaining performance.
Please come along — there’s another four great stories on the bill, which will satisfy all tastes, and there’s also the famous book quiz during the interval. It’s also a very social event with lots of like-minded literary fans enjoying the readings.
Details are on the Liars League website. (By the way, the pub serves food at the table during the performance so you can eat while listening if you like).
I’m thrilled and very excited that a short story of mine (called Do You Dare Me To Cross The Line) has been selected as one of the Liars’ League’s winning entries for their March reading event.
It takes place on Tuesday this week (11th March) at 7.30pm at the Phoenix pub at 37, Cavendish Square, London, near Oxford Circus. There are five stories in the reading and, with a common theme of Truth or Dare, all promise to be extremely entertaining. Please do come along (it’s £5 on the door), listen to some excellent readings and say hello to me. Full details are here on the Liars’ League London website.
For those who aren’t familiar with Liars’ League, it’s a collaboration between authors and actors — a mutually beneficial arrangement which gives each the chance to showcase their skills by making use of the talent of the other. So professional actors bring their training and experience in performing, while the authors provide new and original writing.
Liars’ League is a prestigious and well-known fixture in the London literary circuit (and has associated events elsewhere in the world and the UK). (I was contacted before I’d had chance to email anyone with the news by Emily Pedder, who runs City University’s The Novel Studio course — whose predecessor course I took in 2009/10. One of my fellow graduates described the Liars’ League as ‘really famous’.) I found, via their website, that Katy Darby, who’s organising this month’s event, spoke about the short story as a form on Radio 4’s The World Tonight at the end of last year — pretty authoritative I’d say.
I first encountered the Liars’ League about a year ago when I attended the Writers and Artists’ Yearbook short story competition awards at the Bloomsbury Institute, where the top three prizewinning entries were given readings by members of the League’s company of actors.
Videos of all the performances and texts of the stories are published after each event on the Liars’ League website and I’ll post a link from this blog as soon as Tuesday’s become available.
While I’m relieved it’s not me standing up and reading out loud, I’m still starting to feel nervous about how an audience will respond to the story: will it grab their attention; will they pick up on any hints or clues; will they laugh in the right places? (FYI, if you’re planning on being in the audience there are bits that are deliberately meant to be funny!) They’re the kind of questions about your reader’s response that you wonder about as a fiction writer but you rarely have the opportunity to discover the answers first hand.
By contrast, one of an actor’s core skills is to thrive on live interaction with an audience and to exploit their experience in delivering the material. And having attended the rehearsal for Liars’ League in London last night I’m sure my story’s in excellent hands. It’s being read by actor Alex Woodhall whose interpretation of the story and phrasing of the narrative and dialogue provided a captivating and enthralling perspective.
I was also impressed and flattered by how Katy Darby and the rest of the Liars’ League editorial team perfectly grasped the underlying dynamics between the characters and suggested small but perceptive changes to improve the impact of the story. I’ll say no more because the proof will be on the evening itself and in the subsequent video.
I’ll blog later about the evening’s experience but, despite the nervousness, I’m looking forward to it hugely. I know a number of friends (some of whom have been mentioned on the blog) have said they’ll try to get along and I’d love anyone else to come along who might enjoy a great night of literary entertainment.