Posts filed under Inspiration

A launch and a poem for 'White Lies'

White Lies by Jo Gatford

My book is released on Tuesday (1st July) although several friends have been shouting excitedly at me that they've already received their copy. It's all a bit mad. The launch party is next Wednesday (2nd July at Brighton Waterstones from 7.30pm - come along if you're in the area, there will be free booze and nervous reading!) and I'm being interviewed on BBC Sussex radio on the Tuesday (around 4.20 pm) to talk about booky-type things. To say I'm anxious/ecstatic/fluff-brained would be an understatement. This beautiful monster of mine has taken me 6 years and now it's in print - and although selling hundreds of thousands of copies would be frankly marvellous, simply holding my book in my hands as a real, live thing (you have to put your ear really close to hear it breathing) is all I've ever wanted.

So... all is well.

If you've bought, borrowed or stolen a copy, I'm gonna have to ask you to leave me a review somewhere - Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter, on a slip of paper sellotaped to a bus stop, whatever. Ever picked up a book (or clicked one into your virtual basket) because of a really enticing review? It really helps get the word out and encourages more people to take a look, so I would be eternally grateful for your reviews and thoughts - even if you hated it - because readers' opinions are so important to an author's success. (Holy shit I'm an author now...)

This whole marketing spiel wasn't meant to be the point of this post. I actually planned on coming here to post up one of my favourite Dylan Thomas poems. His collection has been sitting neglected on my bookshelf for a long time but I flicked through it today, remembered Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night, and realised that it is the perfect introduction to both central characters in White Lies. I'll just leave it here, and hope it inspires you to read a) more Dylan Thomas, 'cause I love him, and b) my book, to find out how this poem relates to Peter and Matt...


Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

By Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height, Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

BBC Short Story Award Special Mention for Sarah Lewis

So my good writing buddy Sarah Lewis just went and got herself a special mention in this year's BBC Short Story Award. Pretty farkin' awesome and very well deserved. Sarah runs the Brighton Writers Retreat - a procrastination-busting monthly workshop entailing lots of biscuits, lots of words, and gold stars for well-behaved writers. In her own words, the aim is to "stop f***ing about and start writing". Wise woman, indeed. Anyway, you can read her story, Healing the State of Man, here. Beware. It will make you feel stuff.

Posted on October 2, 2013 and filed under Competitions, Inspiration, Short Stories.

Flashin' Slam in Brighton Town

Speaking of spoken flash fiction, I decided to give myself a few extra grey hairs and take part in the Flash Lit Fiction Slam as part of Brighton Digital Festival: a mini literary death match that pitched nine writers against each other (in a most non-competitive and supportive manner) with 300 word flashes. To my intense disappointment there was neither nudity nor actual bodyslamming involved, but nonetheless it was a night full of awesomesauce - witty one-liners, gut-punching plot twists, clever lyricism and a mind-blowing intermission performance by The Organ Grinder's Monkey: [youtube=]

The other authors, in case you feel like a bit of stalking, were:

Brian Bell

Tom Briars (@Tom_Briars)

Wendy Ann Greenhalgh (@storyscavenger)

Kevlin Henney (@KevlinHenney)

Bradford Middleton (@beatnikbraduk)

Marc Nash (@21stCscribe)

Amanda Oosthuizen (@amandaoosty)

Laura Wilkinson (@ScorpioScribble)

The judges were Dave Swann (author and senior lecturer on Creative Writing at the University of Chichester) and Juliet West (novelist, poet and short story writer whose book, Before the Fall, will be released in 2014)


Aided by a large whiskey, I flashed. A story called: They're Talking About Your Cervix Again. And my hands and my knees shook like a hobbit-sized earthquake.

There were stories about murder, piggy-back races, aphasia, more murder, art criticism, shadows, ghosts, flashing (the proper kind) at trains, war zones, and meditation tapes.


The judges decided that they wanted to hear everyone read again which was marvellous because the thought of so many unread tales was unbearable. So off we went again. Stories about bingo and road-kill chickens, ballet shoes and smoking on the beach, bank queues and soul-sucking jobs.

Wendy Ann Greenhalgh

Mine was called Stifled and was actually a misformed poem, stretched out into an angry little flash about skin and speaking and swallowing down the things you're not allowed to say.


The judges cut us down to three finalists (and I was one of them! <happydance>) and we read one last time. Marc Nash wrote about a Geisha's faltering traditions and tools in a changing, war-torn Japan; Wendy Ann Greenhalgh's story was about a woman's longing for a baby and the transformative golden light found in an Italian piazza; my flash was called Compass and followed a journey of a girl to a mother, moved and formed by magnetic forced in the air around her.


...was Marc, and well-deservedly so. He brought three starkly-different stories to the night and delivered them with a style that was gripping, hilarious and disturbing - often at the same time.

Marc Nash

Second place went to Wendy with her lyrical snapshots into the lives of her characters and a voice you could fall in love with.

And so it follows that I would be third, taking home Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing as a prize, and extremely chuffed too.


If the author links above aren't enough, check out the work of Shirley Golden, a slam audience member and finalist in the Flash Lit Fiction Twitter comp. Read the entries and the #flf13 stream here.

Paragraph Planet is another way to get your flash fix by submitting a 75-word paragraph to the daily creative writing website, run by Richard Hearn, one of the FLF organisers. There are also a few more days left of the Geo-Writing competition as part of the Brighton Digital Festival, and Brighton Grit Lit (@brightongritlit) will be returning in December.

You should also follow Amy Riley (@miss_scribbler), Tara Gould (@EthicalBizTara) and Tim Lay (@TimLay) who helped the whole night run smoothly and are generally awesome.

Is that everyone? Is that enough love? In case it's not, I'll leave you with this brilliant unspoken video performance of Marc Nash's story, Just Aphasia Going Through that blew my frickin' mind last night. Enjoy.


Posted on September 27, 2013 and filed under Competitions, Flashes, Inspiration, Reading.

Writers you should read

These guys... THESE GUYS... they're great. You should read their stuff. They're published, unpublished, flashers, novelists, poets and mentalists. There's a web full of writers, but these guys I think are some of the best. I'll be adding to this list with literary magazines, twitter compatriots, writing forum buddies and random writerly people. For now, here are a few from Show Me Your Lits and general web-trawling...

Steven V Ramey - This fine specimen of a writer blogs here about writing, submitting stories and reading the slush pile for Triangulation. You can read some of his work here.

Tammy Hanna, the Heartful Blogger - This woman's writing tortures me in a wonderfully enjoyable way. Soulful, delicate, cutting and unique, her stories should be read again and again.

Martha Williams - This woman's work is just brilliant. I stumbled across one of her flash fiction pieces and I've been addicted ever since.

Kate Alexander-Kirk - Kate only started submitting her short stories recently and already has an impressive roll call of publications. You can read some of them here.

Mark DeMoss - His blog, North Side of the Moon, collects "stories, snippets and stray observations", and beautifully so.

And a final mention for Cezarija Abartis, who doesn't blog, but nonetheless has a grand list of stories published on and offline. Google her, and enjoy the absolute lyricism of her words.

Posted on March 17, 2012 and filed under Inspiration, Reading, Writers' Groups, Writing.