Tag Archives: fantasy

Lockdown Fiction: Flotsam

This story comes from Clan Destine Press’s 1 June writing prompt.

Flotsam

‘It’s not really umber, is it?’

Didi, pressed closed to Galatea’s side, ceased peering at the sea to blink her bemusement at her new companion.

‘Sorry?’

‘The umber ella. It’s not umber. Perhaps like raw umber, but more like bone. And white, of course.’ Galatea’s dark eyes were open wide as she considered the pretty damask canopy over her head. The sunlight streamed through the thinner white fabric of the pattern, dappling Galatea’s milk-white skin prettily.

Alabaster skin, thought Didi, and an hysterical giggle bubbled up. She almost asked how Galatea knew what to call damask fabric, since the Middle Eastern weavers who first created it came long after Galatea’s time, but honestly, that was the very least of the questions that arose from Galatea’s presence.

Didi decided to stick to the basics. ‘It’s not an umber ella. It’s an umbrella, or more exactly, a parasol.’ The Greeks had parasols 4000 years ago. It should be a no-brainer. ‘Parasols are for the sun, umbrellas for the rain.’

Galatea absorbed this clarification about the not-umber, bone-and-white coloured parasol. She flicked at the little strip of cloth that wound about the body of it when closed.

‘I don’t like this piece,’ she said. ‘You should cut it off.’

Didi side-eyed the fastener, then Galatea, then looked back out to the horizon.

‘Why don’t you like it?’

‘It looks like the bindings that held me prisoner beneath the sea.’

‘It only binds the parasol so it doesn’t flop around the place when it’s closed. It’s useful.’

Galatea scowled. ‘Polyphemus found it useful in his jealousy to bind and keep me, so that I may only partially live and not breathe and watch the world from underneath the waves.’

‘Well, Polyphemus was a creeper and he’s not here, and you are, so sucks to be him and you win, so do you think we can decide what we’re going to do now?’

‘Do?’

‘I know you’re a nymph and marble statue and a myth come to life, so maybe you’ve had some experience with this shit, but it’s all new to me. I’m just a cannery worker and I’m not even that any more since they closed the factory. All those goddamned men in charge pushing the fish stocks to nothing, foreclosing on the mortgages, setting us all up to fail. I’m unemployed, I’m homeless, and I’m desperate. All I’ve got in the world is my car, my clothes, this bloody parasol because it belonged to my gran, and fuck-all skills. I’m nobody.’ The weight of all her losses pressed Didi down, made her shrink, made her small. She remembered the disdain of the bank manager refusing to negotiate a new payment plan; not a shred of pity or kindness in him.

Galatea gazed at Didi as though she were mad. ‘You rescued me.’

‘I found you.’

‘You unbound me. Thank you.’

‘You’re very welcome,’ Didi replied. ‘But I still don’t know what to do next.’

The nymph who had been a statue who had been bound and trapped and hidden in the ocean depths until time, tide, erosion and seismic activity had washed her ashore at Didi’s feet – this Galatea of myth and unexpected reality bent to kiss Didi’s cheek.

Galatea slipped her soft, slender, white fingers between Didi’s brown ones. ‘Let us hold hands,’ she said, ‘and be friends.’

Didi looked at their entwined fingers and squeezed. Galatea’s hand was warm and small in hers. ‘I’d like that.’

Galatea’s beautiful face broke into a smile that was wholly human. No longer marble, flushed pale pink now with the sea air, one of her canine teeth a little crooked. She was lovely. Lovelier than the statue could ever be.

‘And then we shall find a purpose we can share,’ Galatea declared, ‘and never again be imprisoned or discarded by men who wish to keep all good things to themselves.’

‘Smash the patriarchy,’ muttered Didi in agreement.

Galatea’s next grin was less human and it caught at Didi’s heart, made it grow with hope and fire.

‘How do we begin?’ asked Galatea eagerly.

‘Do you mind if we take your bindings with us?’ Didi asked.

‘You mean to use them on our enemies? Then yes!’

‘Great. Let’s visit the bank.’

Review: The Atlas of Monsters and Ghosts by Federica Magrin and Laura Brenlla

I loved the idea of a kids’ book charting the location of monster stories around the world – it’s in part what I look for in a destination!

The Atlas of Monsters and Ghosts by LonelyPlanetKids.com is a gorgeous looking book, with Laura Brenlla’s fabulous Tiki-esque style (which reminds me a bit of Shag’s art). It’s an atlas, so the large maps of continents and regions give a cute overview before each section, and an appendix introduces various water monsters of the world as well as a checklist of the ghosts of famous figures, including Anne Boleyn.

The conceit of the whole book is given in the introduction, where Dr Van Helsing welcomes young readers to his version of Monster Hunting 101 on where to find all these creatures and what to do if you encounter them.

Because The Atlas of Monsters and Ghosts is aimed at young readers (9-12 years) the entries are fun and on the silly side. For some readers they might be a little light on, though some better known beasties, like Dracula, have double-age entries with more detail.

The book also places folklore, urban legends and fictional characters all on the same footing without mentioning origins. An entry on Frankenstein’s Monster makes no mention of Mary Shelley any more than the one on King Kong mentions RKO Pictures or creator Merian C Cooper. Actual locations thought to be haunted, like hotels and ghost towns, are noted with the same weight as indigenous folklore. (Having said that, I was amused to see drop bears and bunyips listed with equal weight in the Australian section.)

I don’t know if kids will find that as frustrating as I did – it’s a shame that the origins of these stories aren’t acknowledged, especially for entries that have an individual creator.

Still, The Atlas of Monsters and Ghosts is a charming book and a great starting point for doing some extra googling on folklore, fiction and urban legends before heading for these parts of the world!

Buy The Atlas of Monsters and Ghosts:

Cover Reveal: Grounded

I revealed this cover a week ago to my Patreon supporters, and a few days later to my newsletter subscribers. Now for my blog readers – ta-da!

This is the gorgeous cover for my upcoming spec fic romance, Grounded, featuring Benedick Sasaki, one of the story’s love interests.

The blurb

In a world where flight is life, will two grounded people find other ways to fly?

When Benedick Sasaki’s wings are wounded in the line of duty, the former policeman doesn’t know if he has a place in a world where he can no longer fly.

Then he meets Clementine Torres, an artist born without wings and a vocal advocate for the flightless who has been subjected to recent hate mail and vandalism ahead of her new exhibition. As Clementine starts to teach Benedick new ways to appreciate the world on the ground, the threats against her art and possibly her life begin to escalate.

To survive, they will need to teach each other that not all beauty is in the air, and that both of them can soar without wings…

The edits have all been completed (my editor was a treat to work with!) and everything is set for Clem and Benedick’s story to come out on 20 March 2019 in ebook form.

Grounded is already available for pre-order at the following sites:

Now out: Grant Me the Carving of My Name

This collection of short stories is now available, raising money for the Scoliosis Association UK and full of wonderful tales of King Richard III.

Yes, that King Richard.

Among the many fantastic stories, Grant Me the Carving of My Name (the title used with permission of the poet who first wrote them, Carole Ann Duffy), are two stories by me – ‘Long Live the King’, a flash fiction about a possible alternative history, and ‘Myth and Man’, where Shakespeare’s Richard meets history’s Richard, at the moment of their making and undoing.

RIII on the radio!

I’m delighted to announce that I will be talking to Lucille Hughes on her Readings and Writings show on Inner FM on Wednesday 5 December.

Listen to 96.5 Inner FM live here.

Grant Me the Carving of My Name

I’m very proud to be included in this collection of stories about Richard III. The subject gives scope to a lot of storytelling approaches – ghost stories and the metaphysical; slices of history from Richard’s first battle or his happier years as Duke of Gloucester; even a little science fiction slips into the mix.

The book’s proceeds go to the excellent cause of Scoliosis Association UK, but it stands on its own merits too, as a series of glimpses into Richard’s true history, the history that was written for him by the victors of Bosworth and the new, kinder histories being invented for him by those trying to create a balance between the two.

Buy Grant Me the Carving of My Name