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Darkness

I’m delighted to welcome the author Tim Taylor to the blog. Tim has been a friend of mine for several years. His blog is full of his brilliant short stories and poems. Today, he’s here to tell us about something a bit different. Over to you, Tim.

Hello Miriam, thank you very much for hosting me today.

I’d like to talk about a new anthology of speculative fiction that I’ve been involved in. Darkness, published by Twisted Fate Publishing on 10 October, is a mix of sci-fi, fantasy and horror, by a group of previously published writers who have come together to make a book in aid of the mental health charity, MIND. All the stories relate to the theme of darkness, in many different literal and metaphorical ways.

The book is available on Amazon (via this link) for £9.99 in paperback or £3.99 on Kindle. All profits go to MIND. One of my two stories in the anthology is the first outing in print for a long-term sci-fi project I’ve been working at, on and off, for quite a while, in parallel with other writing. It involves a human community on a distant planet, ruled by a theocracy which diverts the resources of society towards the needs of its God. The people have lost their technology, and their history has been rewritten. However, as my story, Delving, explores, adventurous individuals may find bits of both in the ruins of ancient cities. Here is a short excerpt:

At last, they reached a tall wooden fence. It was twice the height of a man: Peiku wondered how they were going to get over it. But Ravakinu showed no inclination to do so, instead slowly following the fence to the left. At length they came upon a large bush. Ravakinu crouched down and motioned for the others to do so as well. The pale light illuminated his face once again.

“This is where we cross,” he whispered. “We can get under the fence here. Any second thoughts? It’s not too late to go back. If you get caught out here, it’s a breach of curfew and a slap on the wrist. Beyond the fence is forbidden ground. Get caught there and you are in major trouble. The Guardians are within their rights to execute anybody they find delving in the Old City, and sometimes they do. People I knew have died there.”

He looked pointedly at Peiku. “Still sure you want to go in?”

Peiku was not sure at all, but when he looked over at Vahe, her face had an uncharacteristic expression of grim determination. He couldn’t back out now.

“I’m sure.”

“OK.” Ravakinu pulled aside some foliage to reveal a small space under the fence. It hardly seemed big enough to get through. “I’ll go first and make sure the coast is clear. Peiku, wait a few seconds and then follow me. Vahe, you go last and do a final check that we’re not being followed.”

He turned to Peiku. “You go through feet first. It’s tight, but you’re skinnier than me so you should be okay. Watch me. There’s another bush on the other side, so it’s a bit tricky getting out, but I’ll help you.” Ravakinu lay on the ground and put his feet through the hole. First pushing with his hands against the earth and then pulling upon the planks of the fence itself, he eased himself through. There was a rustle of branches on the far side, then silence. Peiku looked at Vahe. She nodded. He lay down and tried to copy what Ravakinu had done. He put his feet through the hole and found that his legs slipped through easily enough as he pushed against the ground. He could feel branches on the other side of the fence. Now his hips were beneath the fence and his body was hard against the ground. He pushed again and moved another few centimetres. But his clothing was snagged on the fence – he was stuck! He fumbled with the cloth, trying to pull it free, but that seemed to make things worse. Remembering what Ravakinu had done, he grabbed the bottom of the fence and tried to lever himself through, but to no avail. The hard wood was pressing down on his chest, biting into his ribs with every breath. He was trapped!

Many thanks once again for hosting me, Miriam!

Ooh, what a cliffhanger to end on! Thank you, Tim.

Tim (T. E.) Taylor grew up near Leek in Staffordshire and now lives in Meltham, West Yorkshire, at the opposite end of the Peak District, with his wife Rosa and 14 guitars. Having previously been a civil servant, he now divides his time between creative writing, academic research and teaching Ethics part-time at Leeds University.

Tim’s first two novels: Zeus of Ithome, which retells the real-life struggle of the ancient Messenian People to free themselves from Sparta; and Revolution Day, about an ageing dictator clinging on to power, were published by Crooked Cat. His first poetry collection, Sea Without a Shore, was published in 2019 by Maytree Press. Tim is currently working on a science fiction project.

Connect with Tim on his website, blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Categories
Books Letters from Elsewhere Social anxiety

Letters from Elsewhere: John

Letters from Elsewhere

Today, there’s a letter and two announcements for you.

The letter comes from John, who is Martin’s boss in Bournemouth, UK. John has popped over from the pages of my novel, Cultivating a Fuji. It’s 1976, shortly before the start of the novel.

The announcements follow the letter.

Dear Martin,

I’m at my wits’ end. I’ve tried other ways to no avail, and now I’m resorting to a letter. At the very least, I can now be sure you’ll understand how I feel about this matter. But I’m hoping for much more. I’m hoping you’ll write back with an explanation, and that you’ll give me hope to believe things will gradually change. I promise I won’t show your reply to anyone, if you don’t want me to.

You know, I’m sure, how much I appreciate your work – how much we all do. We all know you do the work of ten other programmers, and we’re always confident you’ll complete all your tasks on time and with extreme efficiency.

But employment in an office doesn’t end with producing output. There is always a social aspect to it. We expect all employees to interact sometimes, as this adds to the convivial atmosphere in the office.

I would have thought that you, too, would welcome more interaction. No one can work all the time without a break. Instead of spending your breaks hunched over your desk, you could be having a word with your colleagues. It doesn’t have to be anything deep – just a little something to break the ice and ease the tension.

I don’t know anything about your past life. Exam results don’t tell me much. I suspect something happened to make you so quiet. Maybe a lot of things happened. If you want to tell me about them, I’m here to listen. You can do it by letter, if you prefer. I repeat my promise: I won’t tell anyone what you confide in me.

But please, please do respond in some fashion. I’ve tried many different paths to reach you – not because I’m nosy, but because I really, really want to help. Because I’m sure you’d be much happier if you opened up a bit. If this doesn’t work, I don’t know what else to try. I genuinely want to help you, but I can’t think of any other way.

Yours,
         John

More information about Cultivating a Fuji and about its author (me) is available by clicking the tabs at the top, as well as at the Amazon link in Announcement 1 below.

Cultivating a FujiAnnouncement 1

Cultivating a Fuji (the Kindle version) is completely free this weekend. Do download it from Amazon while you can. I hope you enjoy reading it. That was my main intention in writing the story. I also hoped you’d think about the story after reading it not so that you feel uncomfortable, but so that you’d consider changing your behaviour in the future. Because, probably, everyone knows someone like Martin.

Announcement 2

I’ve been waiting for a long time to be able to make this announcement. I have a short story in the two-volume anthology, Dark London, that will be published by Darkstroke this summer. All royalties from this anthology will go to London-focused charities. I’m very excited about this, delighted to find myself in this amazing lineup of authors and looking forward to the publication.

Dark London Authors