Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Merry Christmas!

Thank you everyone for your amazing support. Wishing you love and peace and a bulging stocking ( :
I've included a tenuously festive, but very short story below . . .

Happy Christmas!!!

At the end of the meal

“So - Tim’s decided he’s gay!” says Heather.

She’s breathless; her cheeks pink, her eyes flashing silver, but she winces when her desert spoon scrapes across the bowl.

It’s the end of the meal. We’ve dispensed with her Thai chicken and the seasonal small talk and general gossip. We’ve downed two bottles of Pinot and it’s that time of the evening, the time for flushed skin and glittering eyes. For revelations, truth and ice cream.

It’s the moment when we connect, when we reconnect, at last. It always happens and though we never say it, I think we both understand that this is why we still go on meeting the way we do, why we continue the ritual of a meal in her big, warm family kitchen when I’m back in town each Christmas. It’s why we still describe one another as best friends, though we rarely meet for the rest of the whole long year.

“Tim!” I say, though it takes me a moment to remember who he is. He’s her son of course. Her son, how could I have forgotten? It’s the wine, I think, making me drift. I’m too easily distracted by my thoughts, too busy looking at Heather’s things, at all the greetings cards and tinsel, at the new cracks spreading around her eyes and the way her lipstick has worn off . . .

And, through the window, snow is falling the way it does in films and dreams, a steady heartbreaking dance of night and light. I lift my fingers to my own lips to check that my similar rosy smile is still in place.

“How old is Tim now?” I ask.
“Sixteen!” she says and lifts her hands, her eyebrows.
“Sixteen,” I echo. “Christ.”

And I know that she thinks I’m exclaiming over the way the years have rushed by, how it only seems like yesterday that I was a bridesmaid at her wedding, that she was matron of honour at mine . . . but what I’m actually thinking is sixteen.

It’s the age we were when we went on our school skiing trip to France. When she was the pretty one, the graceful one, the girl who flew down the slopes and skated perfect figure-of-eights on the sparkling rink. While I spent much of that week flat on my back, against the ice.

More snow, I think, my eyes moving between the window and her talking, eating, lipstick-less mouth. Her teeth part, and I watch the ice-cream slipping slowly between them, but I’m the one shivers. I’m suddenly remembering how freezing it was in those chalets, so cold that even after she climbed into my bunk, we couldn’t get warm enough. We were never warm enough. Her hands on my back - I can feel them still - were as cool and smooth as metal . . .

“We thought it was just a phase,” she’s saying. “But then I caught them! Actually kissing! And under the mistletoe of all places!”

She laughs, perhaps a little too loudly, with her head thrown back, showing me the pale curve of her throat, the point of her chin. And though her hair has a lot of grey in it, even some white, I think how it still falls in exactly the same heavy way. Like cloth, I think. Like winter water.
She’s still the pretty one.

“They just looked so funny,” she says. “So strange. Two boys, holding one another like that, hardly more than children. And they looked so alike! It was as if Tim was kissing himself, his own reflection . . .”

I down my wine quickly and lean across, trying my best to keep hold of her tin-foil eyes.
“Have you ever . . .” I begin, “would you ever . . .”

But I can’t do it. Whatever I was going to say, I can’t say it. It’s too hot in here suddenly; it’s suffocating. I glance down at my bowl instead, at the peaks and spreading pools of untouched vanilla, and at my own spoon, turning over in my hand. The silver jumps as it catches the light. For a second it’s blinding, and in that second, she reaches over and takes it from me.

And I feel the creak, and then the avalanche, as she lifts it to her mouth.

m xx

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Exclusively Independent

Judges have chosen 'How We Were Lost' as one of the first titles to be featured in the new 'Exclusively Independent ' scheme.

'Exclusively Independent' is an Arts Council funded initiative aiming to bring independent publishers and bookshops together.

Congratulations to the six other selected writers (including the fabulous Shanta Everington). Each of our novels will be freshly promoted across a range of independent bookshops, beginning initially in London.

And just in time for Christmas too.
: )

Monday, 8 December 2008

Learning How To Read

So I did it!

Amidst the snowy-white dazzle of stage lights and the surprise of a microphone that I had to stand so close to that it was almost inside my mouth – I did it! And I wasn’t (quite) as frightened as I thought I would be. In fact, I left Nottingham’s Royal Centre feeling happy and relieved and very grateful.

In addition to the support of those close to me (thank you), and some excellent, practical and generous advice from the very talented Annie Clarkson on her Myspace blog, I was fortunately able to participate in a small reading workshop beforehand with director, Daniel Buckroyd. His enthusiasm and insights were helpful and inspiring and, aside from encouraging me to embody the personality of my narrator with more confidence, he asked the pertinent questions (far more eloquently and concisely than I am asking them here) -

Why is your character compelled to tell this story?

What is it about this story that your audience will connect with?

Simple but essential questions to ponder while writing, I think, as much as reading.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

'Word of Mouth'

My (previously blogged about) short story 'The Insect Room' is to be included in Nottingham Writers Studio's 'Word of Mouth' reading event, to take place at the Len Maynard Suite at Nottingham's Royal Centre, at 7.15pm on the 3rd December.

The other writers participating are Matt Hurst, Ian Charles Douglas, Roberta Dewa, Nigel Smith and David Sandhu.

If anybody's interested in attending, tickets are priced at £4.00 (which includes a complimentary glass of wine or juice - what a bargain!) and are on sale now from the Royal Centre Box Office (telephone: 0115 989 5555).

I've been lucky to have had my work brought to life by actresses before at 'Word of Mouth' events, but this is the first time I'll be reading there myself.
I'm very excited (and quite a big bit scared)

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Trapped in Chapter Nine

Everything had seemed to be flowing along quite happily with my current novel when, three weeks ago, I started writing Chapter Nine.

At the beginning, I thought that it was still going well; I knew what needed to happen and how my characters might react. It was almost there – it just wasn’t quite right . . .

As the days wore (slowly) on, I began to spend more time rearranging and deleting than writing anything new. By the second week, I wasn’t simply questioning my characters and each of their stories, and the novel as a whole - I was wondering how I ever imagined that I could write in the first place. I could hardly read my own shopping lists and even my strongest coffee didn’t help.

Everything around me had solidified into a kind of muddy sludge.

This insecurity was accompanied by a sense of deja vu, as I realised that I’d become swamped at exactly the same first-draft chapter-nine point with both my previous novels. Unfortunately this knowledge didn’t help.

But I kept writing. And deleting. And rewriting. And somehow (I don’t really know how) emerged, gasping, on the other side.

Now half term has happened and I’ve spent the past few days dealing with play dough and missing gloves and pumpkin mush and hardly writing anything at all. I still can’t read my shopping lists - but I can’t wait to return to my novel.

Perhaps I need my chapter nines. They force me to step back and take a fresh look at my current story, and at my writing and motivation more generally. Or perhaps I need them simply to remind myself that I still love it.

Or perhaps I’m just insane.

Monday, 20 October 2008

'The Insect Room'

. . . Prompted by the 'Bugs' theme in the current issue of 'Mslexia', I've posted my own recent bug short story on to my website -

Here's how it begins:

The Insect Room

I still dream of ‘The Insect Room’, of visiting the museum, with my father. It isn’t far away, despite the years. Sometimes it’s right there, waiting, when I close my eyes. A secret place, inside me.

Outside, it was always raining – at least, that’s how it seems when I look back. I remember a pewter rain-light at the window and a constant, muffled tapping. Wet footsteps squeaking on the parquet floor, and a damp smell drifting from the walls . . . Knowing that it was time, I’d slip my hand out of my father’s coat pocket. I would go wandering through ‘The Insect Room’ alone.

Please click here if you'd like to read on . . .

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Mslexia Mention . . .

Hurray to writing magazine Mslexia for celebrating Flame Books in the ‘Independent Press’ feature of their current issue. Aside from releasing How We Were Lost, Flame also publish the very talented Shanta Everington and Anne Brooke, along with many other fabulous writers.

Here’s how Crista Ermiya from Mslexia described my debut novel:

How We Were Lost by Megan Taylor is written from the point of view of a teenage girl, 14-year-old Janie. This is a dark, compelling novel, with some superficial similarities to Jill Dawson’s Watch Me Disappear . . . The language is seductive and draws the reader into Janie’s complicated world, which features a pregnant older teenage sister, an absent mother and a neurotic aunt. As Janie’s life collides with the public drama being played out over the hunt for two missing girls, the reader is forced to reconsider the line between childhood and adulthood.’

I’m rather chuffed ( :

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Ghost Stories

While my latest novel, 'Before the Light' sits to one side simmering, before I decide what still needs tightening or rewriting (yet again), or whether it might finally be done (if a book can ever really finally be done) I seem to have started something new.

This very newest novel will be a ghost story (the clue was in the title), or at least, a kind of ghost story. And I am loving it, especially since it has given me a wonderful excuse to revisit some favourites this summer - The Turn of the Screw, The Haunting of Hill House, Rebecca, The Woman in Black, Beloved . . .

Ever since I was a child, I've had a thing for spooky stories, but not for just those in books. I loved all those fireside/sleepover tales too, the ones about hitchikers who vanish and people missing heads. One of my fondest kid-memories is of holing up in an airing cupboard with my sister and some friends and sharing stories. And how we all jumped out together screaming when the gory ending was revealed. Once more, I realise that I'm refusing to grow up, but if you have any recommendations or favourite tales I'd really like to hear them . . .

In other things, after receiving a few enquiries, I've been thinking about beginning another interactive blog story. Please let me know if you'd like to get involved ( :

And, finally! Huge congratulations to fabulous Caroline Smailes whose incredible new novel Black Boxes is about to take the world by storm!

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Words and Pictures

Earlier this year, I responded to a request by MMU photography student Danielle Ridyard, who was looking for writers to take part in her degree project. Writers were asked to create a brief poem or prose piece inspired by her striking images of ‘found objects’ - things and fragments of things that she’d discovered around the apartment block where she lives. I was intrigued by the idea – even more so, when my image arrived and I had no idea what it might be. But very quickly, I saw that it could embody so many different ideas and images, and before I knew it, a (tiny) story had emerged.
Danielle’s degree show apparently went splendidly and last week, a beautifully presented booklet appeared through my letterbox; it was my little story, entitled ‘Tooth’. I feel very grateful to have played a part in Danielle’s project. She’s intending to sell work from her exhibition (including ‘Tooth’) at the Annual Artist Book Fair at Manchester Metropolitan University this November.

So I’ve been thinking about photographs.
When I wrote ‘How We Were Lost’, my pc was surrounded by old seaside holiday snaps. During ‘Before the Light’, I’ve referred to pictures we’ve taken when out walking in the Peak District. I’ve also pored over ‘Twilight: Photography in the Magic Hour’ for its wonderfully atmospheric images.
However, none of these pictures are described directly in my stories - but (as with Danielle’s photo), they’ve often provided a starting point, from which ideas and feelings, and other images could grow.
For me, so much about writing seems to be about making and remaking vivid pictures.

In other picture-related news, the fabulous Nikki Pinder, responsible for ‘How We Were Lost’s stunning cover art, is taking part in a joint art exhibition at the Islington Arts Centre. The exhibition runs from August 8th to September 5th. Check it out, if you can . . .

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Writing - Things that sometimes Don't Help

Very strong coffee
Reading fabulous novels
Plane journeys
Two big glasses of wine
Staring out of the window
Talking to friends
The first page of a brand new notebook
Daydreaming generally
My cat

Monday, 21 July 2008

Writing - Things that sometimes Help

Along with walking . . .

Very strong coffee
Reading fabulous novels
Plane journeys
Two big glasses of wine
Staring out of the window
Talking to friends
The first page of a brand new notebook
Daydreaming generally
My cat

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Walking and Writing

If I get stuck with my writing, even briefly, or if I'm about to begin a new story, chapter or scene, I like to go for a walk. A thinking walk.

Most of the time when I'm walking, a story will seem to simply unfold. Something loosens between the footsteps and the daydreaming. I'll hear voices or picture a scene where before I was only wondering. Often, these ideas will feel as if they've arrived from nowhere, or from out of the trees, or from the sky. Or even from the tarmac. It's a bit like magic.

In Nottingham, one of my favourite places to walk is Wollaton Park, especially early in the morning when only the crows and the deer are about. When I'm back in London, it's Greenwich Park (I really like parks) because my childhood is very powerfully there. Sometimes it feels as if my small, secret writing self is waiting for me, ready to help, in Greenwich Park's rose garden, or by the ducks.

I know I'm not alone on this one. In her essay Walking into the Story the fabulous Helen Dunmore explores the subject far more eloquently than I ever could. While in The Faith of a Writer the amazingly prolific and generally amazing Joyce Carol Oates confesses that walking doesn't work so well for her. She runs instead.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

More about Stories

I'm still thinking about short stories, about how they're often neglected and about how truly stunning they can be.

For me, Katherine Mansfield's 'The Garden Party' is a perfect, enduring classic, while Clare Wigfall's 'The Loudest Sound and Nothing' blew me away last year. Other collections I've loved include Salinger's 'For Esme - with Love and Squalor', Nicholas Royle's 'Mortality', Atwood's 'Bluebeard's Egg' and a huge amount of Ellen Gilchrist's fiction . . .

There are several short story champions around at the moment. Salt publishing have recently launched their dynamic Story Bank , which I'll definitely be investigating, while I'm currently reading Laura Solomon's dark and lively collection 'Alternative Medicine' (published by the ever-supportive and innovative Flame Books). For further excellent general short story information, visit, where among other things, you can find Raymond Carver's brilliant essay, 'Principles of a Story'.

I would love to hear about the short stories you've enjoyed . . .

In other news -

I'm July's 'Guest Writer' on John Holding's great new Fictionfest website! If you visit the site you can read my (guess what?! another short story!) 'On the Island'.

Plus! The book I nominated, 'Monkey Beach', Eden Robinson's beautiful, layered debut novel has been included on Gary Smailes' excellent 'One Book' site.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Our blog story 'The Cabin' is now complete!

Our completed blog story, ‘The Cabin’ (thank you eli!) has now been posted on my website ( Please click
to read it whole!

A giant, heartfelt THANK YOU to everybody who took part, especially (in no particular order):

Chris (on Myspace)
Long Discarded Photo
eli Regan
chris (on blogspot)
michael thricksos
lady x
angela h
dan c

You’re all brilliant!!!!!

A big cheers to you readers out there too (-: and special thanks to Caroline Smailes, Anne-Claire Lubec and Sean Wood for their incredible additional support.

I would be very interested to hear people’s thoughts on the story, and on taking part, whether as writers or readers.

Personally, I have been overwhelmed by everyone’s creativity. Since the first post and then throughout, there have been so many great stories behind and within and beyond this too, each one crying out to be told. Such imagination and variety. The marvellous c-ray has even transformed some of her posts into poetry. You can read them on her myspace blog If anybody else out there has taken their own stories further, I’d love to hear from you.

The whole experience, for me, has been amazing – very intense and rather crazy (a bit like the story itself!) I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity and inventiveness of the responses, constantly surprised, and kicked out of my comfort zone. But, most of all, I’ve had a lot of fun.

(massive thanks again!)
Megan x

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Blog Story - Post 14


I couldn’t open my eyes. I could feel soft earth beneath my head, the cold sheet of snow beneath my outstretched hand. I pulled it toward me and felt my face. My eyes were covered with something. Pick, pick, pick with my broken fingernails.

While I picked, I listened. I could hear the wind outside and the creak of snow and burdened wood. There was a heaviness in my chest and I could hear the others breathing.

And the smell was everywhere. Sharp and cold like money. I couldn’t swallow. My mouth was dry, my lips cracked. I peeled thin strips of mucus from my eyes and opened one of them to harsh blue light.

There was a new sound. An old sound, half-remembered. A soft popping like snow melting under sunlight, uncovering bodies preserved in amber ice. Still the hurgh, hurgh of breathing.

All at once, my eyes were focused.

Soft earth became a hospital bed. Hurgh, hurgh and a breathing tube stopped my swallows. Melting snow was the soft beep of a heart monitor and my eyes – the one I had left – covered with burn dressings.

And the clink of handcuffs linked my wrist to the metal bed.

by Leatherdykeuk on blogspot

The End

Hey! We did it - thank you so much everyone!
But, as Columbo might say, there's just one more thing . . . Before I can load the whole story on to my website, you may have noticed that we're missing a title.

2 more days, as few words as you like - ALL suggestions welcome

Friday, 13 June 2008

Blog Story - Posts 12 and 13


I felt like the trees; confined and lost in time. Nothing made sense. Why were we driving back? Jed had said they’d lost me at the gas station. Although my fall could have affected my memory, I was convinced I’d been running to save them. Jed with his drunken rages. Theresa with her sense of retribution. And Ben, helpless and sleepy, unaware of being caught in their stupid mess.

I needed to open a window. I needed to get out of this sweaty, whisky reeking car. Theresa’s hand suddenly crept over my own, as if she’d read my thoughts.

‘Please don’t go’ she whispered. Something in the fragility of her tone made me trust her.

I glanced at my hand again. I was trying frantically to remember who had placed that wedding ring on me.

The humming birds were gathered in evening song, and despite my body aching, I wanted desperately to be outside with them; to be free from this sense of anguish.

I suddenly looked over at Theresa’s hands. They were both free from adornment. I caught those sneering eyes in the wing mirror, and instantly knew it was Jed who had placed that band on my finger.

By eli regan, on blogspot


A sharp, involuntary smile hooked my mouth. It was the same smile that twitched across my sister’s face, quick and cold, like the flash of a knife. Everything was confused. Theresa or me, and Jed’s intentions - I had no idea how we had come to this. Or how it all might end.

In my arms, Ben stirred and began to grizzle. He burrowed closer and I felt a new warmth flowering through my clothes. I thought of the cabin, and of the clearing. That spread of snow as clean as milk. Or a bright, new page, just waiting.

I shifted awkwardly, lifting the baby. “Take him,” I said.

My sister’s grin deepened. She shook her head, but eventually opened her arms and reluctantly reclaimed him. Eyes rolling.

In the driver’s seat, Jed chuckled. “Hey girl,” he said. “You’ve lost the plot.”

But I wasn’t listening. I couldn’t do this anymore. My fist was already on the handle. The door flew open.

The road swept by, thick and glittering like the rush and flood of melt-water. I didn’t wait for them to stop me. Within seconds, I was out.

Your turn . . .

Please end our blog story!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Blog Story - Posts 10 and 11


I put my weight against the warm car bonnet and tried to clear the stars from my eyes. The woman in the back leant forward to speak, pushing waves of patterns past my vision in her wake.

“Sis are you ok? We lost you back at the gas station. Jed honey give her a hand.”

The click of the car door quivers through warm metal to my hands. I stare at the woman through the weaving patterns and catch her profile in the light. Familiar but not my sister.

“Theresa are you ok?” Said the man. I look to the woman and then back to him, he is staring at me.

The patterns clear and I see my face reflected in the rear window. But the window is down. I lower myself to look in the wing mirror, touching Theresa's lines, I see her soul in my eyes. A sonic wave of nausea moves through me, balance lost as Jed places me in the back of the car.

“We best get moving if we're going to make the cabin before it snows”. The man starts the engine.

The woman takes my arm and whispers, “This is what you wanted isn't it? Or did you expect to keep yourself too?”

By michael thricksos, on blogspot


The worn leather squeaked as if welcoming me home. The car smelt the same, of petrol and apple cores and liquorice cigarette papers, but it was my hands that frightened me the most. Such familiar hands, with their carefully shaped nails. That thin gold wedding band.

When she passed me the baby, I marvelled at the ease in which those fingers claimed him. As if they were more a part of him than me. Ben was sunk into his blanket, his small lips sucking even as he dreamed. I drew him close, but his dense, curled heat couldn’t touch me. Nothing could.

Without glancing up, I felt the woman’s eyes on me, but it was Jed who spoke.

“Of course,” he said, “we won’t go to the cabin right away. There’s the campsite to find first. There’s so much to come.”

A full bottle of whisky was wedged into the back seat between us, amidst a scattering of playing cards. A pair of sevens lay face up.

I leant my forehead on the clammy window as we started to drive. Stripped of their snow, the trees looked raw and vulnerable and very black.

Your turn . . .

Monday, 9 June 2008

Blog Story - Posts 8 and 9


I wasn’t fooling anybody – she must have noticed the way I looked at him sometimes. The way I’d always outstay my welcome.

The way I wanted, desperately, to feel just a fraction of the things she felt. The disgusting, drunken passion of course - but also the accusations and recriminations and, maybe, even the fear.

Because wasn’t it better to row and fight and love and hate somebody than to feel nothing at all?

Nothing real.

Yet when he finally touched me that evening I had recoiled – repulsed by my own desire and what it might undo inside me.

Again, I began to run. Away from them, away from the cabin.

Then, all of a sudden, I was flying. For a moment no part of me touched the ground – an empty, weightless feeling cut short by thudding pain as my body connected with the earth once more and I plummeted down the steep wooded bank.

I’m not sure how long I was unconscious. It felt like less than an instant - but the blood had caked slightly by the time I lifted my face from the tarmac.

By hedgehog, on blogspot


I must have sat up too fast. The world went reeling. I gripped my head, trying to hold everything together.

The road was bare and straight, a slick, black line that seemed to run on forever in both directions. The forest rose dizzyingly on either side, monochrome walls of trees and snow, unravelling gradually to grey. My chin was sticky, and the money taste was back, lining my throat, but I was numb. Hardly daring to hope.

I touched the tarmac again, my fingers shaking. The road was cold and real. I felt the engine before I heard it. A small, quivering life beneath my palm.

Somehow, I managed to stand as the car approached. The trees rippled and whispered. The white sky pressed closer. I staggered forwards, waving my arms. I was keenly aware of every brittle movement and yet everything was happening at a distance, as if to someone else.

The car, small and blue and battered, slowed and then pulled over. The tarmac twinkled between us, laden with stars. Stumbling across them, I caught the ruddy health of the driver’s bearded features. And then I saw the woman with a baby in the back.

Your turn . . .

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Blog Story - Posts 6 and 7


Jed’s laughter in the tent as he pulled another royal flush against the pair of sevens in my hand, his whisky-breath harsh as he insisted on helping me take my t-shirt off. His eyes narrow and cunning as he stared at my breasts swelling beneath a tight sports bra.

Theresa just looked uncomfortable, her body still swollen from the birth of her son. Who drags their wife on a camping trip a week after she’s given birth? Jed, that’s who. I’d come to help my sister out, maybe protect her and little Ben from Jed’s drunken rages.

Maybe if I’d been stronger he wouldn’t have pawed at me. I wish I hadn’t pushed him so hard. Drunk, he’d knocked over the heater and the old tent had gone up in a blaze of glory. Hellfire in the frozen north.

I wish he’d died. I wish he hadn’t got drunk. I wish he’d let Theresa stay at home.

More than anything, I wish I’d never pushed him.

I stopped running and stood bent at the waist with my hands on my knees. The pain from my ankle tore into my stamina, but if I rested now I’d never get back up.

By leatherdykeuk on blogspot


But the exhaustion held me, dimming the glow of the ground and sketching cobwebs across my hands, before my face. I felt as if I’d been running for days, for weeks. I thought of that first escape, how the trees had seemed to dance before us, the clunk of the torch batteries, and the scent of ashes as we flew.

At first, the empty hunting shack had seemed like salvation. Even as the snow went on falling, a static that would go on and on, that would eventually seem to creep inside us too, as maddening and relentless as the baby’s thinning cries.

I rocked heavily on my heels, reliving that morning in the cabin when Theresa had reached for me, sitting up abruptly in her sleeping bag to catch hold of my ankle as I crept across the boards.

With a startling clarity, I could still feel the knowing press of her fingernails. I remembered the tug of her gaze, and how despite everything, we were suddenly kids again. Children with secrets. Briefly, her grip had tightened.

She understood as well as I did that Jed wasn’t the only one to blame.

Your turn . . .

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Blog Story - Posts 4 and 5


The pull of the thaw was compelling me to step forwards, out, away. I wanted to breathe the fresh wet air, to be shrouded by sky. To leave behind staleness, cold, fear and most of all, hunger.

I forced myself to turn. Jed’s eyes were hollowed in his bearded face. His nose scaled and raw. The bruise on his head was still a lurid purple. Now he was trying to sit up. His breath rasped out of his throat.

“Wait” he said, “please wait.”

He was shaking the sleeping bag next to him. I heard Theresa moan and the cry of her hungry baby. I knew I should feel pleased she had made it through the night, but now there were four of us. I could make it alone, but with injured Jed and exhausted Theresa, with her new baby son? But if I left them, I knew they’d be dead by the time I returned.

I was half out into the cool wetness. Everything glistened. Clean. Fresh.

I was facing a new fear – the fear of living with myself if I left them now.

“I’ll be back” I said, without looking at them.

By angela h, on Blogspot


I walked out.

And I kept walking, though the snow was packed tight, dragging at me, and the pain was back. Yet everywhere, the world went on melting, dazzling. The wind slid softly through the trees and the sound of falling water became a pattering, as of tiny, hidden feet. I watched a bird rise from the branches and scratch a russet line across the sky. The day shouldn’t have been so beautiful . . .

I was determined I wouldn’t turn back. I wouldn’t even glance over my shoulder, not once. I tasted rotting wood beneath the sweet, hard tang of ice.

When the trees stepped closer and the snow began to thin a little, and to darken beneath my boots, I made my strides longer, faster. I broke into a clumsy jog, and then a run.

I let the branches whip at me, I welcomed the brief turn of my ankle against a frozen log - but it was no good. The thought of them kept pace with me. All that had happened was right there, in my tangled breath and jolting steps. There was no out-running it. The memories pressed in on me, bright and close.

Your turn . . .

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Blog Story - Posts 2 and 3


It hurt. Screaming pain at the brightness. Open and close the lids, screw up my eyes. Wait until the pupils shrink to pin points to accommodate the glare. Barely move the muscles, my body so stiff, so cold, beyond cold. I turned my head slightly. Saw the humped bodies of Jed and Theresa, huddled into their sleeping bags. I couldn’t tell if they were breathing, still alive. It was all too quiet.

Apart from the popping, the clicking. What on earth was it? The sound was so familiar and yet in the emptiness of my mind I couldn’t make the association, couldn’t forge the pathway into the past, spark the connection. Plop. Plop. Ah! Slowly, agonisingly, a word or two swims up. A tap? No. There were no taps. Painfully I moved my head again, forcing my skull across the fabric, which pulled the tangles in my hair and dragged at my scalp.

I could just bring the window into my line of vision. From where I lay on the floor I saw only whiteness, the unchanging, unshadowed glare of snow. But an infinitesimal glimmer of movement. Then another, and another. A drip. It was a drip. Thaw.

By Chris, on blogspot


Before I knew what was happening, I was on my feet, breathing out small ghosts, wheeling and stumbling, narrowly missing the roof beams overhead. Suddenly the pain was someone else’s, even the grind of my calf muscles, the weight of my skull. Far away, the floorboards groaned, but I took no notice, as I paid no attention to the stiff, dark mound of the others. I didn’t pause to check on them, but kept shuffling towards the door. It was easy.

We had been there for so long.

My fingers trembled against the freezing latch. Thaw – briefly, I let myself imagine it, with my cheek resting against the fur of tiny splinters in the wood. Then I pushed, and pushed again. The door opened, slowly, dismissively, as if the cabin had simply shrugged.

And I was nothing before the world outside.

Nothing before the vast, soft emptiness and the scent of winter like blood and stones. Yet everywhere was glistening; water was falling from the roof and trees, a beautiful ticking like so many quiet, uneven heartbeats. I lifted my arms -

And a voice came scratching from the must and shadows piled behind me.
“Wait,” Jed said. “Come back.”

Your turn . . .

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Let the Blog Story begin!


When I woke, I couldn’t open my eyes. They were stuck together and I had to pick at them with my broken fingernails. Pick, pick, pick, slow and patient, until they came unglued.

While I picked, I listened. I could hear the wind whining from outside the hill cabin, and the creak of snow and burdened wood. There was a heaving in my chest too, but I couldn’t hear the others’ breathing anymore and I didn’t like that. I didn’t trust it.

And the smell was still everywhere, a sharp, cold odour, like zips, like money. A whole mouthful of grubby coins. I didn’t want to swallow, but I couldn’t help it. My throat was rough and dry; my lips were cracked. I scrubbed at my face more vigorously, wiped my knuckles over my mouth, but the air went on clinging to me. A second skin of dirt and ice.

Then there was a new sound. I thought that it came from somewhere behind me, but I couldn’t be certain. A soft popping, no louder than the crack of a pulled knuckle.

All at once, my eyes were open.

For a moment, I saw nothing but pale blue light.

Your turn . . .

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Blog Story Rules

Before we begin (on Sunday), a few rough rules:

Please continue the story directly from my last blogged piece.
Although less is fine, please don’t write any more than 200 words.
Please don’t end the story (not till the final post, anyway).
Please don’t write anything obscene or offensive - although dark and disturbing is usually fine by me. (As is funny. And heartbreaking. And action-packed. And quiet. And mostly anything you like really.)
Please don’t be personally offended if your piece is not selected, I won’t necessarily be judging on ‘quality’ (whatever that subjective term implies), but choosing the 200 words I’ll feel that I can best respond to – or perhaps that will challenge me (and our story) the most.
Please play.
And keep playing.

It could be fun. (-:

This blog will be running concurrently on
(though you only need to submit on one (-;)
Along with my own piece, I will include the selected post on each blog space . . .

I hope this is making sense. I wonder if our story will?

Friday, 16 May 2008

The Blog Idea

200 words every 2 days for 2 weeks

Can we create a compelling short story together?

To begin 1st June 2008!

I thought I’d like to begin a new short story. An interactive story.

Would you like to play?

The idea is this:

On 1st June 2008, I will post 200 words, the opening to a brand new experimental short story, which I hope that you will continue by providing the next 200 words. After 2 days (3rd June), I’ll read the responses and choose just one to carry on from with my next 200 words. Then it will be your turn again. And so on.

At the end of 2 weeks, we should have written approximately 2, 800 words between us. And who knows where we’ll have ended up.

Perhaps we’ll have a complete, and even compelling, short story.

Perhaps we’ll have something else entirely . . .

However it emerges, I promise to publish the whole, joined together piece on my website

Can't wait to see where this will take me. I hope that you'll come too.