My first collection of short fiction has just been published by the attentive, energetic, good-humoured and independent press, Quentin Wilson Publishing —under their Litteratura [fine writing] imprint.
The title story was prompted by a tumult of competing responses I felt when I first saw Sharon Singer’s painting, ‘Wanderlust’, an eerie yet also wry work that still draws me in, and that invites multiple stories to leap from it even now. Where is that little figure trotting off to, so vulnerable and determined, so burdened by baggage, yet still unbowed? Is that an oxygen tank on her back, or is it a pet, in the space travel equivalent of a baby carrier pack? And if it is a pet, is there another kind of animal altogether in the travel crate in her left hand? How does she expect to survive out there, on the blasted sands and in the deepening shadows?
We were lucky enough to get permission to reproduce the painting on the cover: and in fact having that permission granted meant that I changed the collection’s title. Originally, I thought the wild mayhem of the story ‘Party Games’ might be a good umbrella for the works gathered here. There are several weird encounters at parties in the collection; but ‘The Pink Jumpsuit’ is a piece that has a tangle of cross-currents, a mixture of moods, memories and imagination, so I think it’s the best road-sign for the area the stories cover.
The subjects explored in the stories range from confidence tricksters to compulsive liars; bad relationships; the comic disasters of children’s birthday parties; body image, anorexia, misogyny, pregnancy, parenthood, miscarriage, genetic experiments; the weird metamorphosis of fantasy hardening into reality; the mysteries of identity that might also be the arcane territory of laboratory experiments.
Several of the stories share the speculative atmosphere of Sharon Singer’s painting – though I think my main interests are in the psychology of character, rather than the technicalities of how the astonishing findings and possibilities of science might unfurl. Although as a reader I’m gripped and fascinated by those, too; in my writing I always centre on the people involved. This might be one of the things that is causing me delivery pangs with the novel I’m rewriting: I need to harden up on the science, and spend less time on the protagonist’s interior overthinking! But … that’s another book altogether.
The Pink Jumpsuit is in bookstores now, or available for online order at Nationwide Book Distributors, in the link here: