Putting the PEN into PENGUIN, etc

Marcus Speh’s writing blog has an arresting premise: This is a site for stranded penguins, not people. Our goal is to write 1,000 stories and then auction the entire site off for 1,000,000,000 dollars which will be used to preserve the world’s penguin population — please submit your own photos to be accompanied by original flash fiction.

Never one to deny a penguin, I submitted a photo and waited to see what story it would inspire – on 12th of  May, its prosey counterpart had appeared on the site. Nice.

Speh has created a number of interesting online writing communities (including kaffe in katmandu and his personal blog ‘nothing to flawnt’); he seems a real advocate of collaborative virtual spaces and the up-poppery of short stories, with an enviable amount of energy and talent – definitely one to make space for in your Bookmarks folder.



The small article on Dr. Watson’s wife Mary Morstan has been put up on For Books’ Sake in the section dedicated to introducing readers’ favourite characters. The article skips along fairly swiftly and is heavily indebted to Leslie S.Klinger’s The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes – if you’re into Victorian ephemera, Arthur Conan Doyle or the strange, ludicrous and fascinating scholastical energies that go into all things Holmesian I really recommend this 3 volume edition of the stories wings a way to your bookshelves.



Earlier this month the online (and occasional) print journal Notes From the Underground ran a short story competition: write a fewer-than-800-words piece to complement a specific photograph. The deadline was tight and the prize pretty tempting – picture and winning story would be combined and exhibited with other commissioned pieces at the Saatchi & Saatchi gallery at the end of May.

I didn’t scoop the top spot but NFTU were kind enough to name-check my effort when they announced the results: please do read about the competition and the deserved-winner Philip James Maughan’s entry here: it’s weird but stimulating to be able to directly compare and contrast responses to a set image. I’ll be attending the exhibition’s launch on Thursday and will be sobbing bitterly into the more absorbant pieces of art interested to see how the projects look pasted up on the walls.



Search Terms


Yesterday I managed to get my mitts on Chemical Imbalances Vol. 7, the most recent from this STARTLING JANGLE OF A JOURNAL. This issue breaks the format of previous incarnations by presenting itself as a two-hander, the essay of a single writer complemented by hand-decorated jackets from artist Francesca Banchelli. If you like the sound of new work from Matt Lomas alongside the words ‘bespoke’, ‘parchment’ and ‘liverspots’, I do encourage you to nab a copy – fruits of a limited print-run are avaliable at Eastside Books on Brick Lane, Donlon Books by London Fields, Big Green Book Shop on Turnpike Lane or Kennington’s mighty Doghouse.

I’ve been lucky enough to sneak a few pieces into previous issues of Chemical Imbalances, one of which I have reworked for a Choose Your Own Adventure-style short story designed for online browsing. It seemed sort of suitable. Complete with hypertext and hidden links, please do ((have a gander)). Hrroop.



A link to my recent review of BalletBoyz’ theTALENT for Pi Magazine.

(NB: I hope the placement of that apostrophe causes only the mildest of anxiety disorders)

'BalletBoyz: Mr. Tumnus gets his swag on'




Yesterday I met for a workshop with ShadowStage – the UK’s only professional company dedicated to contemporary shadow theatre. Taking place near Green Park in a blacked-out basement, the company comprised of director Leon Conrad, performers Paula and Natasha and puppetmaker Scott (and his marionette Mr. Gao). Within the first hour all involved were rolling silently on the floor with adapted torches, flicking irises and thumbing pools of light. In sum: there are worse ways to spend a morning.

In the afternoon we experimented adapting my story ‘Hang-Ups’ for a short film featuring shadow theatre techniques. The possibilities afforded by the cast shadows – the silhouettes of coiled wire, giant telephone receivers blending with the human form where perspective folded into itself in strangely liquid surges – helped enliven parts of the piece that I had previously considered a little weak and brought pace and emphasis to points that lagged. Thanks to the company’s know-how and inventiveness, just by using paper, lamps and our bodies I think we have the makings of something that’ll deliver delicacy and clout in good measure without my home phone suffering too much in the process.

With a couple more workshops still to go, I’m excited to see what more I can learn about this kind of stagecraft and the whole process of juicing text into physical (let alone lambent) productions. More to come on this project soon, I hope.


UPDATE:  some photos and videos of the workshop here and here.

FURTHER UPDATE: Confirmation from Odeon Wimbledon has come in regarding the ‘Hang Ups’ project, so all being well the installation is confirmed to be staged in October – ‘rrah.

Confirmation from Odeon Wimbledon also in – installation for Hang Ups confirmed for October, so keen to make this happen.



WLTM, geese
Wednesday saw the launch of Would Like To Meet, an anthology of new work from graduates of Royal Holloway’s Creative Writing MA programme. Preti Taneja, Hermione Pakenham, Gordon Weetman, Ayndrilla Singharay and Rebecca Prestwood all contributed pieces, with Declan Ryan and Annabel Banks helping to get the evening off its feet and into the night.

I had submitted two short stories while my sister Catherine supplied the illustrations (ensuring all merrymaking and hobnobbery was tinged with that gentle but insistent air of interWelsh creative mafia competitiveness); with readings, CUPCAKES INDIVIDUALLY ICED IN ACCORDANCE WITH OUR BRAND-IDENTITY and wine, it was a fine send-off for a reet enjoyable anthology. Thanks to all who came.