Saturday, 18 October 2014

Sex! Death! Squid!

BristolCon happenings!

First, a quick catch-up: The Kraken Rises! Fringe event a few weeks back went well, with readings from Scott Lewis, Piotr Świetlik, Ian Millsted, Rosie Oliver and me. I managed to pull off a monopolylogue of my story, #KrakenEvent. What I had initially thought would be near impossible turned out to be a lot of fun, so I hope to read this story out again at some point in future.

I'm also on the programme for BristolCon (Saturday 25th October). What am I doing? Sex and Death! Sorry, that should be Sex or Death?, a panel that asks (and hopes to answer — or at least have fun trying) the question of which is more fun to write, which is more challenging to write and the way in which they are portrayed. A quick look through my own short stories suggests that, while both are common themes, with a cumulative death toll of over 14 billion people (and one cat) and only a couple of stories that come close to describing sexual acts directly, I suspect the answer isn't going to be a long time coming (sic).

What else am I doing? Flash, a-ah! This time the exclamation mark is deserved and included in the title. I'm running a short session in the evening on — you guessed it — flash fiction:
Flash, a-ah! 
At under a thousand words — sometimes under a hundred — flash fiction is the fiction of brevity, the fiction of immediacy, the fiction everyone can have a go at. Doesn't matter whether you write tweets or epic fantasy doorstops, flash is for everyone of us. Come along, find out, try your hand.
During the rest of the day I plan to catch sessions, talk to people, drink coffee.

On the Friday night before the con there is also a "guerilla readings" edition of BristolCon Fringe. It's worth going to, whether to read or to listen. Its format will be similar to the one in August — namely open mic and with a hard five-minute limit on your reading — so a lot of brevity, a lot of fun and much mirth whenever a story crashes the alarmed time limit. If I were able to go I would probably read "AutoKnowMe", a 200-worder recently published by 365 tomorrows. But I will be in transit on Friday evening so you'll just have to read it yourself and imagine it's live and it's me.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

By the Numbers

Last Saturday afternoon was spent at the Foyles Books Are My Bag event, organised by Southville Writers and Bristol Women Writers. The line-up changed a bit from the one originally advertised, but the basic structure of readings was the same, with two rounds of poetry, two rounds of flash, plus a round of longer fiction and also one of non-fiction, with coffee and conversation in between. There were some great readings and it was also great to read — in a bookshop, after all, the walls and furnishings are particularly sympathetic to the written word.

For whatever reason — nothing that I planned and nothing that comes to mind — I ended up choosing stories with intentionally precise word counts:  "In Love and Debt""First Date, Last Date""I Think I Get It""A Higher Calling" and "Authenticity". That's two drabbles (100 words), a dribble and a half (75 words) and two drouble-plus-dribbles (250 words, and yes a 200-worder is a drouble and a 50-worder is a dribble, but apart from the coined compound usage in this blog I'm not aware of a name for a 250-worder). Having introduced the idea of names for certain exact word counts, I ended up giving a disclaimer before my last story reading that not all flash was defined like this!

It was then my turn to sit back and be entertained by some of Bristol and Jamaica's finest over at the Watershed, picking up a bite to eat at Falafel King en route.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

What's Going On and What's Gone

Coming up this Saturday is the free Books Are My Bag event at Foyles in Bristol. During the afternoon and early evening there will be readings, talks, workshops and coffee. The event is being organised by Southville Writers and Bristol Women Writers and features Ali Bacon, Jean Burnett, Judy Darley, Mike Manson, Nina Milton, Amy Morse, Jo Reed, Shirley Wright, me and others. Given the nature of the space, I guess I'd better choose the flashes I read with a more sensitive eye than usual — sexual themes and strong language may not be appreciated by regular shoppers and their children!

Straight after that I'll be hightailing it over to the Watershed for the Bristol Festival of Literature's Speakeasy event.

But in the midst of all this literary and spoken-word revelry, a farewell: Acoustic Night Bristol at Halo has called it a day. The open mic nights were well run and the sound and lighting were great, and performers were always photographed and offered a recording of their performances. Although I only had the opportunity to read there twice (this year and last), I will miss the possibility that there could have been a next year.