I wrote the short stories while I was staying in a lymphedema clinic (you can read about this horrible illness in another book I've got for sale on Amazon - amazon.com/Lymphedema-Living-disease-ebook/dp/B007JZT16S/ref=sr_1_8). I tried to write a story every day and then, in the evening, would read them out to my wife when she phoned up to see how I was getting on.
Anyway, I'd like to tell you about the stories themselves.A good education
is a period piece and it draws on my own direct personal experience of bullying in an English public school. With its dark and sinister passageways, constant bullying, and sadistic teachers, such a place would not be somewhere I'd ever send a child (although I recognise that times have now changed). Hobson's choice
centres around my lifelong interest in how seemingly small and insignificant events can become major forks in our passage through life. It's a chilling and dark story which I personally consider to be among the strongest that I've ever written. I hope my readers find it thought-provoking.
I wrote Dear John
as a cautionary account aimed at those who are busy making plans that rely upon the good intentions of others. No-one, no matter how close they are to you, will ever have exactly the same agenda as you. So, be warned.
It is said the present is the key to the past and the future and I've come to subscribe to this point of view. I firmly believe that our emotions, desires and propensity to commit acts of both good and evil, are largely unchanged in tens of thousands of years, and if our species survives that long, will be the same as they are now thousands of years hence. The technology may change but the end user and all their imperfections will not.
My two Sci-Fi stories - Lucky charm
and The return of the Centaurus
- both reflect this reasoning and I have steered away from describing fantastical gadgetry in favour of a study of how humans might cope in the situations that the technology gives rise to.
Although a staunch scientist and confirmed non-believer in such things, I do love a good ghost story, and I remember the eager anticipation I had for the BBC's 'Ghost story for Christmas'. This was always a production based on one of the eerie tales written by the talented M R James. An enduring smile, The racing line, Seeing is believing
as well as A good education
all have a supernatural air about them.
Spaghetti westerns were the success story of my childhood and Sergio Leone created some vile 'bad guys' who you knew would meet suitably unpleasant ends. The bad guy being the one with a black hat (in a metaphorical sense if not a literal one) has since been done to death and something more subtle is required for the modern reader. I've derived great pleasure from dreaming up some bad guys of my own and then finding alternative endings to the 'grand finale shoot out'. Both Every one a winner
and Moving up
deal with greed and what it can make people do, while Last orders, Seeing is believing
and A day at the beach
look at other dark facets of the human psyche.
The logical consequences of the lynch mobs which gather outside some high profile criminal trials has always troubled me. The "Hang 'em high" brigade usually want to string up the defendant long before the trial has got past the preamble stage but the whole idea of a trial is to establish guilt - something which explains the 'not guilty' option for juries. Punishing the wrong person (as has occasionally been known to happen) is not just wrong in itself, it also sends a dangerous message to the real perpetrator. This is why the making of snap and ill-informed judgements bothers me.
To show what I mean, The watcher
and the much more gentle, Lost
are warnings to those who would be hasty in forming such opinions. No walk in the park
is another chip off this block although coming at the idea from a very different angle.
On a different note, The bench
could be a stage play with the whole story being centred around an ordinary park bench. It's an idea I've been throwing around in my head for sometime now and it harks back to the way in which I perceive fate as being a tangled web of probability lines.
So, those are my tales and I hope that you derive as much pleasure from reading them as I have done from writing them. If you have, I hope you'll consider reading my full-length novel, The Road which you can also buy on Amazon - amazon.com/The-Road-ebook/dp/B007TNXZNU/ref=sr_1_6