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Dalliances and Happenings

What a tick-tock, wheely-whizzing, turnabout summer we’re having; it’s equal parts all over the place and nowhere at all. But things are a-happening and its high time I scuttled back through it all and gathered some of my recent updates and highlights together under one roof.

Spiderseed has been out for nearly six months now, can you believe it, and I recently got back some lovely footage from the launch, which I’ll be sprucing up and sticking on YouTube soon hopefully. I’ve been a-chatting about the book and my other endeavours on various lovely interviews, including with student newspaper Mancunion, on North Manchester FM’s Hannah’s Bookshelf (where I also selected my ‘Apocalypse Books’), and a particularly lovely chat with poet-pal Andy N for his Spoken Label series. I’m starting to detect cross-over in these formal conversations I have with people; discussions on the nature of ‘flash fiction’, the inevitable question of influences, my predilection for animal themes (just wait until the next collection…), and the conjunction between writing and performing.

This latter was a particular focus in the long-form interview with theatre activist and playwright Mark Reid for his Rudiment essays, a discussion which continued on into some very interesting textual ruminations on the nature of structure and content in my work, which kicked my old brain matter back into gear. Mark is a very astute critic I think. I also had a most excellent talk with old friend Dan Carpenter for his delightful Paperchain Podcast. Recorded back in March when Spiderseed was still freshly hatched, we had a lovely pre-Brexit chat about all sorts of cheeriness, the delights of early Spring twittering in our voices. I also debuted a new story, ’Mothering’, written especially for the podcast based on the theme of “That’s What She Said” set by previous guest Ella Chappell (hence the paperchain. My prompt for the next guest is: “Moveable Feast”). I’ve discovered I really do enjoy being interviewed and, once lead, I can witter on about writing and performing until all our tongues fall out from lack of sustenance. If you’re reading this and want to interview me, just throw me an email! I’ve got a great answer to ‘so where do you get your ideas from?’, I promise.

Speaking of podcasts, top fool-friend Fat Roland has gone and started himself a most amusing one about meeting people called, appropriately enough, Hey Fat Roland. It ties in with his Edinburgh Fringe show and is, already, a hot pod for your ear bods. And still going from strength to strength, make sure you keep a-listening to Rob Cutforth’s End of All Things, if only for Rob’s stupendous post-Brexit rants. The latest ep. features the North West’s grand dame superstar Jenn Ashworth talking on Canal St about her latest book Fell. Hot pod, ear bods.

While I’m throwing around things I love by people I love, I have to draw your fleeting attentions to the gargantuan efforts of brother Rick and his monthly electronica EPs. He started in February and has released a five or four track EP every month since then. Each one is bloody brilliant, I PROMISE YOU. Take this track ‘Cold Feet’ from The Soothsayer’s Fear as a primer then plug your skulls into all the rest:

Bro Rick is also one third of excellent post-punk/finger folk band Rocketship Forest who are rumoured, mostly by me, to be the next Radiohead. They've got a massive gig coming up on the 20th August at Gullivers in Manchester where, if you are lucky, you hear the thumping live versions of the tracks from their hotly anticipated new EP Fingerthief . Curious title eh? Heard it somewhere before have you? Hmm, maybe.

In story news, my tiny tale ‘Wakes Week’, about a pair of siblings enjoying some time off during the Industrial Revolution, was featured inside the pages of the National Flash Fiction Day anthology A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed, alongside some other brilliant flash fic writers including Jonathan Pinnock, Sal Page, Sarah Hilary, Nik Perring, Calum Kerr, and the aforementioned Fat Roland with his beautifully bizarro tale about a sad panda.

Speaking of animals, I had a bit of whinge about the opening of the new Cat Cafe here in Manchesterland for The Skinny, spitting forth my furies on the topic. I got a bit of sweary bantz back from the sorts of folk who don't like to face hard truths, and a bunch of comments accusing me of being fact-less on tiny points which somehow means the whole argument crumbles. Fact is: one cat cafe leads to another and the more we have, the worst it gets for the cats. Anyway, don't set me off. Just stay away from animal cafes, please.

Animals are still very much the flavour of the months for my new works, which I’ve been slowly punting out of myself over the summer, whensoever I’ve managed to find the time. I can now add Cockroach, Snake and Guinea Pig to my menagerie and I’m feeling incredibly close to closing the doors of the ark. Just one last look around to make sure everyone is as comfy as can be, and then it might finally be time to set sail for Collection Island again. Exciting, right?

In the more immediate meantime, Speak Easy is back after a brief hiatus with a new look, a new placebook on the Facebook, and an Autumn/Winter season booked in (see dates below) and ready to go. Same drill as ever: 5 minute slots for all, first-timers particularly encouraged, and no headliner egos. So whip out your diaries and stick in our new dates for our living room live literature, and sign up to read why not? Nothing stopping you is there? In other performance news, I’ll be on stage at the Stretford Public Hall on the 18th September for the Stretford Public Assembly, and I’ll be blabbing little fictions at an RSPCA cabaret event on Oct 1st in Chorlton. Plenty to be getting on with then.

There’s also something else on the horizon. Something colossal. Too big and bright and frightening to look at right now. I’ll get back to you on that one. I’ll get back to you very soon.

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