Things I wrote this year

December! People start asking you annoying questions about whether you’re ready for Christmas, and also, lists appear.

Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash

Here is a list. It’s of things I wrote (or, at least, published) this year, and where you can find them.

Short stories:

“The Last Good Day”, Cossmass Infinities (January 2022) CW: Emotional abuse

As she tramps home, the sky blooms colours. A dust sunset in hothouse reds and pinks, indigo shot through with orange flame. She can’t help but stop and stare, and think that even the apocalypse gives out consolation prizes. A bouquet handed to the aging diva, humanity, as it dodders offstage, voice and memory shot.

This isn’t the end of the world, Dani reminds herself. The stern voice in her head is Haf’s. It just feels like it, enough so that a good day is a rare, startling thing.

“Crane Flies”, Wyldblood Magazine (April 2022)

They scattered the ashes up here, a couple of weeks after the sparsely-attended funeral. Trees wild-armed in the bluster, birds flung like scraps through the air high above, and Pip had to keep angling her body out of the wind to avoid getting a faceful of Auntie Cath. She was blue in the face with swearing by the time they were done, but it felt more final. More the kind of end you’d have imagined for Auntie Cath than the sedate chapel service at the crem, that was for sure. Trust that woman to be a pain in the arse even after her dying day.

“Rose Sickness”, Fusion Fragment (May 2022) CW: Homophobia, non-consensual medical procedures

“What have you heard?” I asked, voice low as I could make it. “Have people been… talking about me?”

Being talked about was a danger Mama had warned me about almost as soon as I could talk. But she and her friends, and their daughters who were designated my friends, talked about people all the time, and those talked about gained a special glamour, an aura of danger and strangeness that set them apart from those doing the talking. Sarah Watson had had an affair with the gardener! Natasha Richards had driven her husband’s car into the swimming-pool, barely escaping with her life before sparking electronics turned the whole thing into a death-trap! They became characters from stories and recognising one of them in the street sent a jolt of adrenaline through me, the way people must feel when they spotted a celebrity.

Perhaps that would explain the way Lena had been looking at me. But she only frowned, as though what I was saying made no sense, and peered more closely at my face. “God, Ang,” she said. “They really messed you up, didn’t they?”

“Hundreds”, Ebb Tides (September 2022) CW: Homophobia, child death

The car lurched, throwing Nia sideways in her seat. A squeal of brakes. Her head bounced off the window and her phone leapt from her hands, landing with a thud somewhere in the footwell.

Laney was breathing hard. Nia touched tentative fingers to her temple, pressing on an incipient bruise. No blood, thankfully. “The fuck just happened?”

Though she looked unhurt, Laney was very still in the driver’s seat. A slight tremor in her fingers as she raised her hand and pointed.

There, at the side of the road. A child’s raincoat, hung over a fencepost by some kindly passer-by, in hope that whoever had lost it would pick it up. Bright sunflower-yellow. The same colour Keeley had been wearing when she vanished.

“A Piece of String”, Gwyllion (October 2022)

When Kel reached the Estate, somebody was already there.

She kept back out of sight, tucked into the clump of bushes around the broken-down hoarding that gave the Estate its name. (TRIAL ESTATE, the remaining part read, in foot-high letters that must once have been a cheerful green. Kel sometimes wondered if this was where they’d brought the thieves and trespassers for sentencing, back before the war.) Motionless among the scratchy branches, Kel watched, the way Mum had taught her when she was small. Never let a stranger see you first. Might be a Tommy. Might just be someone scared and hungry and trying to stay alive, who won’t stop to find out you’re a friendly before they lash out.


Review: The Book of Jem by Carole Hailey, New Welsh Review (subscribers only), January 2022

“Books for Alien Girls: Fiction and Neurodivergence”, New Welsh Review, April 2022

Review: The Burning Bracken by Morgan Davies, New Welsh Review, August 2022

The tides are coming in…

News time, and I promise it’s got nothing to do with the Queen.

First off, Ebb Tides, a mini-anthology of horror stories about those liminal spaces where the ocean meets the shore, is out now. I was genuinely thrilled to be asked to contribute to this, because it features some of the best UK horror has to offer. My story, ‘Hundreds’ is a lovely tale about going on holiday to West Wales. Or something.

Second up: I occasionally write urban/contemporary fantasy under the pseudonym Louise Long, usually with a romantic and/or queer flavour. My latest under that name, “Give Him a Mask”, is about a runaway fairy prince hiding out in 1970s London, and features creepy fae, glam rock, and questionable wardrobe choices.

You’ll find it in He Bears the Cape of Stars, an anthology of masquerade stories from Duck Prints Press. The crowdfunding campaign for the anthology is now finished, but the ebook will, I’m told, be available in October from the Duck Prints shop.

And (last bit of anthology news), currently crowdfunding is Murderbirds!, an anthology of stories all about avian assassins and feathered fiends. It’s a great lineup of authors, and a preview story, “The Delicious Irony of Dino Nuggets” by Z. T. Bright, is free to read now. My contribution, “Sing Me to Sleep”, is a futuristic tale about grief and goldfinches.

If you’d like to support it, and claim one of the many and varied rewards, you know what to do.

And finally, I’ll be at FantasyCon this weekend! You can catch me talking about monsters and religion in SFF, and reading alongside some extremely cool people. If you’re going to be there, come and say hi. Or don’t, up to you.

THE WORD wins the Rubery Book Award!

Just a quick update to let you know that THE WORD has won Book of the Year at the international Rubery Book Award!

The judges described it as “an exciting, well-written and thought-provoking read” that “never preaches, but offers finely tuned social commentary” and “explores themes of national identity, inequality and fear with sensitivity”.

You can see all the category winners and read writeups of the shorlisted books on the awards website here.

And, if you haven’t read it, you can pick up THE WORD at Amazon, Waterstones, or even better, your local indie bookshop.

New writing + Usk Book Haven

The sun’s out, the temperature is finally up out of blanket-over-my-knees territory, and I’ve got a whole lot of writing related stuff to tell you about. Yay?

Thing the first: Usk Literary Hub/Book Haven is a new initiative by Saron Publishers to help local authors promote their work. It’s based at Sprokwobbles cafe in Usk and will be launching next Friday, May 20th, from 6-9 PM. If you’re in the area, you can pop along to say hi, pick up a copy of The Word, or chat to other local authors.

Thing the second: I’ve got a story in Issue #8 of Wyldblood Magazine, which came out last month. “Crane Flies” is about loss, killer bugs, and why you should always listen to weird old ladies. You can pick up a copy here.

September, and the grass in the top meadow is thick with crane flies. Pip dislodges them with every step and they drift into the air, limbs gangling, to swoop and flit at apparent random, threatening to dive-bomb her face or tangle in her hair.

She remembers hearing, once, that they were the most poisonous creatures on the planet, but they couldn’t harm you because they didn’t have mouths to bite with. Auntie Cath said that was a load of old bollocks, but then Auntie Cath was always full of it.

I also wrote an article for New Welsh Review about writing and neurodivergence, which is available to read for free on the website.

As a young reader, I devoured books about mad girls.

Fiction and memoir; all kinds of disorders. Girl, Interrupted and Prozac Nation; Wasted and Life-Size; The Bell Jar and In and Out of the Goldfish Bowl. There was something in all those books that spoke to the trauma of (cis) female adolescence, of coming of age in a body marked as an object of desire or disgust – but there was more than that.

Plus, keep an eye out for new stories coming up in the next issue of Fusion Fragment and the upcoming mini-anthology Ebb Tides, and one from my alter ego, Louise Long, in a collection of masquerade stories from Duck Prints Press.

…And I’m done. Phew!

Ask Me Anything, and a new story!

Hey, just a quick update with a couple of things from me!

Thing the first: Tomorrow — that’s January 13th — I’ll be doing an Ask Me Anything on the Reddit fantasy forum, r/fantasy. New Welsh Rarebyte have kindly agreed to give away 10 ebook copies of The Word to commenters, so here’s your chance to grab one if you haven’t read it. And if you have, here’s your chance to find out my brownie recipe/favourite Spice Girl/maybe even something writing-related, who knows?

Thing the second: My new story, “The Last Good Day”, is out now in Issue #7 of Cossmass Infinities. It’s about living through the apocalypse while going through a quieter, personal one of your own. It’s one of my favourite things I’ve ever written, and Cossmass is a beautiful magazine, well worth picking up in hardcopy.

Let her in… let her in!

Image by by Rhŷn Williams on Wikimedia. Licence.

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda! Since it’s New Year’s Eve, I’ve decided to make my Mari Lwyd story, “Grey Mary”, available to read for free on Patreon.

I’m also going to be posting exclusive flash-or-slightly-longer fiction at the end of every month going into 2022, which you can read for one human pound a month. If you enjoy my writing and would like to support your friendly local specfic-monkey, sign up, maybe?

It’s that time of year again…

…when the writers crawl out of our caves and blow our trumpets like we’re our own mums. Yes, that means it’s time for an awards eligibility post!

Photo by Sara Cohen on Unsplash

Here’s what I published this year.

The Word, adult SF novel (New Welsh Rarebyte)

I follow Jonno inside, like I follow him everywhere, and secure the door behind us. Then I wedge a kitchen chair under the handle to be sure. The activity helps, keeps me from listening too anxiously to the quiet, and I roam from room to room closing curtains, filling our water bottles, assessing the furniture for what might be most effectively stacked against the doors. Jonno stands at the kitchen table, leaning forward on flat palms, motionless. When I open my mouth to ask if he’s planning on helping me out anytime soon, he holds up a hand for silence.

“Listen,” he says. “They’re coming.”

It’s a distant, mechanical rumble. Could be any kind of heavy machinery, from this far away.

We both know better. And as it approaches, moment by moment, even my reluctant ears detect the high, thin wail of feedback from a cliff-face of speakers, the anticipatory crackle of enough amplifiers to blow open your skull.

“Thawing”, short story, Wyldblood Magazine Issue 1 (Jan 2021)

The ice princess watched over us from her plinth in the city square, crystalline, inviolate, and perfect.

The first time I saw her, I was a child, tugging restlessly at my father’s hand as we waited for Mother to finish up her business in the city. The day had dragged on longer than expected, forcing him to spend money on hot tea and handcakes from the vendors who lined the square. My ears were cold and I was tired of walking, grizzling and complaining endlessly—until the clouds parted and allowed through a pale beam of winter sun that glittered on her face. I stopped, transfixed, and Father hoisted me into his arms, glad of the distraction. “Did I tell you the story of Princess Eira?” he said. “No? Well, it’s about time I did.”

Obviously, I’d love you to buy a copy and support the magazine, but I know a lot of us are counting the pennies at this time of year. You can also read “Thawing” by signing up for my newsletter here!

“Diamonds and Pearls”, short story, Fireside (Feb 2021)

Diamonds are two a penny, but everybody wants them anyway.

At first, Osian thinks it’s because they hurt. Every time he speaks a new word in the common tongue and a diamond comes up, it feels like dying, like its hard angles will tear his throat open. Something you have to suffer for like that, you hold on to. You want to believe it’s worth something.

“Osteography”, short story, Cossmass Infinities (May 2021)

Our messenger speeds out of town with the first grey of dawn, and in the evening, Shardon sends us his bones.

His sister empties them onto my table in dry-eyed silence. They’re clean and golden-brown as though stained by years underground, a burnished shine beneath the alien head of the operating light.

“You’re sure it’s him?” I ask.

She fingers an old callus, a slight overlap of fractured ends. “What bone is this?”

“The radius,” I say. Her face stays blank. “In the forearm. This would have been just above the wrist.”

“He broke it when we were children. Fell out of a tree.”

“Bluebell Song”, short story, Luna Station Quarterly (Sep 2021)

Old Woman Achan goes out to the woods before dawn and sits amid the undergrowth and fills her ears with the song of the bluebells. To a stranger it would look like a pleasure-jaunt, and an ill-advised one too, but Achan chooses her place carefully. She listens with intent. When she closes her eyes, she imagines she hears the bluebells move, craning their bright heads toward her. Of course, when she opens them again, nothing has changed. The flowers hang delicate as raindrops from their stems. Looking at them, Achan thinks a single touch might send them tumbling to the ground. Each petal curls back neatly from the mouth of the flower, leaving them open in endless song.

Happy book birthday to me!

THE WORD is finally here!

Yes, it’s October 28th, which means my first book is finally out in the world! I’m very excited, and a little terrified.

There’s still time to book tickets for the online launch, which takes place at 8 PM tonight — and of course, THE WORD is available from all good bookshops (and Amazon) now.

The Word is out THIS WEEK!

Well, that happened fast.

Just over three years ago, I saw a call for entries for the New Welsh Writing Awards that perfectly suited an idea that had been percolating in the back of my mind for a while — a first draft that hadn’t quite worked, given new meaning through a science fiction setting. Problem was, there were only two weeks until the deadline, so I wrote the whole thing in a red-misted haze, emailed a friend to make sure it made sense, and sent it to face the tender mercies of the judges.

Then, it won.

Now it’s a full-length novel, coming out this Thursday, October 28th!

According to today’s Western Mail Weekend Magazine, it’s “an unsettling book that works beautifully on many levels … a great adventure story with survival and rebellion at its heart.”

But you want to make up your own mind, right? You can pre-order a copy from the usual suspects, and if you come to the online launch in partnership with Griffin Books on Thursday, the cost of the ticket is redeemable against a copy of the book from Griffin.

Hope to see you there!

“Osteography” out now in Cossmass Infinities

Our messenger speeds out of town with the first grey of dawn, and in the evening, Shardon sends us his bones.

I wrote “Osteography” late last year, and took an online course on osteoarcheology to get it right, which is probably the most research I’ve ever done for a short story. It’s a little bit SF, a little bit creepy, and I’m very proud of it.

If you’d like to read it, it’s out now in Issue #5 of Cossmass Infinities, and you can pick up a copy here.

It’s a really stellar lineup of authors, plus look at that gorgeous cover art! I hope you enjoy it.