"In my experience of writing – and of life – the frenzy of dreams and that of form always go together." Iosi Havilio
August 2015
Rachel Elliott: Breaking the silence

Rachel Elliott: Breaking the silence

Psychotherapist and writer Rachel Elliot’s spirited debut novel Whispers Through a Megaphone joins together the broken lives of a quiet woman who’s been living in the shadow of her abusive mother and a timid mental health specialist who runs off into the woods when he realises his wife no longer loves him. In Miriam Delaney, Ralph Swoon...
A broken wing

A broken wing

When, towards the end of her life, Edith Wharton named her five personal favourite works among her fiction, one short novel featured on the list: Summer. Published in 1917, Summer was the most important work the writer produced during the years of the First World War. Despite Wharton’s own judgement, however, Summer has never found...
Nature, faith and horror

Nature, faith and horror

I’ve always been drawn to wild, lonely places. It might have something to do with the summer holidays I had as a child – never a hotel in Benidorm or Tenerife, but camping in Keswick or Wharfedale. We weren’t a family that lobstered on sun loungers; our days were spent circumnavigating a lake or scrambling...
53 ways to improve your short stories

53 ways to improve your short stories

The author of We Don’t Know What We’re Doing has thought quite a bit about how best to approach writing short fiction. We asked him to compile a list of do’s and don’ts and suggested reading that might help practitioners at any stage of their craft. 1. Read Flannery O’Connor. Now. 2. All characters think...
Peter's house

Peter’s house

It is dawn when I wake. I have slept more soundly than I did in the hotel. There is a spider on my leg. I kick it off and wipe my face in case there are more. I feel dirt wiped onto my face, and dampness. I grit my teeth and there is dirt in...
The big W

The big W

Creative writing courses have taken something of a beating in the press of late. Their proliferation is probably one of the main reasons for this, but it is also symptom of their success. I’m not ashamed to say that I became a writer through creative writing groups. They have offered support and inspiration. They have...
Something better change

Something better change

The opening shots of guitarist Ivan Kral’s documentary Dancing Barefoot are a series of home-movie clips from New Year’s Eve 1975 at the legendary nightclub CBGB. Over the brooding vamp of the Patti Smith Group’s cover of ‘Gloria’, Kral treats us to overexposed black-and-white shots of New York’s punk-rock royalty, ringing in the New Year...
Young vanish

Young vanish

Standing in my garden, smoking too quickly and slightly drunk, it came to me that I should write to you. It’s funny how certain smells can make a person nostalgic – just cigarette smoke and night time made me think of you. Those smells don’t remind me of you, exactly, because nothing really does (and...
Animal tales

Animal tales

From well-known and treasured stories including Aesop’s Fables, Black Beauty and The Tale of Peter Rabbit, to writers such as Michel de Montaigne, Anton Chekhov and T.S. Eliot, storytellers have used animals not only to capture the imagination of readers, but to deliver powerful and revealing messages about what it means to be human. Animal...
Even the losers

Even the losers

Here’s a little thought experiment for you: imagine you’re sitting at a bar, flanked by two strangers. On your left, a fortyish New Jerseyite orders round after round, which he downs in hefty swigs while examining the sloppy, bloodstained bandages wrapped around his left hand. Catching you staring, with a grin he launches into the...