Depressing numbers for short story writers

This article by Chris Power in the Guardian looks at the so-called “renaissance of the short story” that article after article (often in the Guardian itself, ironically I would say if irony wasn’t such a quaint concept):

In 2017, almost 50% more short story collections were sold than in the previous year. It was the best year for short stories since 2010. Booksellers are reporting a surge in popularity for the form, commentators note publishers are buying more collections and issuing them with greater care and enthusiasm; in December the newcomer Kristen Roupenian cut five- and seven-figure deals in the UK and US after her New Yorker story “Cat Person” went viral. 

Alright, sounds great, but Power takes a closer look:

if we aren’t living through a renaissance of the short story, how to explain those booming sales figures? Let’s break them down. Collections by Tom Hanks, one of the world’s biggest film stars, and Jojo Moyes, one of its bestselling authors, represent 22% of that total: £1.3m in sales.

Have a good day.


The Proverb Zoo – a short story collection, out May 2018

I am very truly delighted to say that my short story collection The Proverb Zoo will be published this May in Ireland by The Penny Dreadful Press.  There even was an official announcement and everything, so it’s real.

The book collects fifteen short stories, a good number of which have been published in magazines (in I think something like five different countries!) over the last few year. Those stories vary in length (three of them must be a couple of pages long, while others are definitely on the chunky side) and styles. There are minute miracles, shipwrecks, gameshows, IKEAs, kite-flying, severed legs… now, now*. Enough. I just hope it’s a Zoo you’ll want to visit. Spend time with those beasts.

Exact date of publication is yet to be announced, and for those of you in Ireland,  there WILL be a launch, and you’re all invited.

The Proverb Zoo Cover

*This is my sales pitch. I am new at this.

Quote #18: Charles Baxter

“Daddy?” He feels his elbow being picked at. “Daddy!” His daughter is holding her clarinet as if she is about to hit him with it. Behind her brown-rimmed glasses her eyes are fierce. She looks like a twelve-year-old district attorney with a good case and witnesses. “I was going to practice,” she says.

from “Prowlers”, in A Relative Stranger, by Charles Baxter

I love Charles Baxter. I love Charles Baxter. He’s a master; his short stories are intense little nuclei of goodness. Not all like this previous sentence of mine. He’s good. He’s good – his stories radiate kindness. I can pick up pretty much any of his stories and within a couple of pages I’ll have stopped three or four times to ponder some brilliant, sneaky line.


Strange California: a gold rush story. Kinda.

I have a story in this beautifully illustrated anthology about California and its weird corners, histories and myths, edited by  Jaym Gates and J. Daniel Batt. There’s plenty of great names next to mine on the TOC, and while I can’t comment on all the stories (I haven’t received my copy yet, and am looking forward to getting into it), mine features gold-rush era ghost, has earthquakes, a clonal colony of aspen, a fleet of ships rotting in the Yerba Buena harbour, and hailstorms.

You can get a copy straight from the publisher here, or at the Book Depository here, with free shipping worldwide. (I would usually prefer to give you a link to Wordery, for a website that sells books with free worldwide shipping which ISN’T owned by Amazon, but they don’t seem to have the book at the moment.)



Haunted Futures: new stories by Jeff Noon, Tricia Sullivan and Warren Ellis


My story “Salvation is a one-time offer” has just been published in the brilliant Haunted Futures anthology (Ghostwoods Books, edited by Salomé Jones). I’m very proud of it, first of all because I think it’s a pretty good story, but also for the cast I share pages with: Jeff Noon (his Vurt is brilliant), Tricia Sullivan, Warren Ellis…

So if you’re into reading (about) the future(s), the bad bad wolf species yet unborn, do head to this here virtual shop and get thee an auld buke.



“The Proverb Zoo” in inaugural issue of Geometry

I have a short story, “The Proverb Zoo”, in the brand-new New-Zealand based magazine Geometry. You can read it on line, or buy a gorgeous physical issue for a discounted price on their website, and help a promising new magazine on their way up!

ISSUE ONE – Discounted price!


“Late nights, he comes” in Liminal Stories



I’m a bit late posting this here, but hey, well, ahum. No excuse, really. It’s something I’m really proud of, though, a story that kind of doesn’t follow a traditional timeline, you know, with stuff like time going forward and events happening one after the other and all that stuff.

It’s also a story that features landscape in a big way, and I took great pleasure in casting the Monts d’Arrée, the Brittany mountains I often crossed as a child, and a significant place in Breton mythology.

Another aspect I tried to transcribe in English was the roughness, or round-aboutness, of the French my grand-parents use.

I was very happy with the illustration (by Tracy Durnell),  which brilliantly captures the duality of the story, and its darkness (extra kudos for the research into traditional dress, and the black and white that echos the Gwenn-ha-du, the B&W Breton flag…). This is Liminal Stories’ second issue, and in their short life they have managed to position themselves as a very serious and high-profile speculative fiction magazine. I can only encourage you to read everything they put out!

So have an old read, folks, and let me know what you think.