Sunday, 20 May 2018

Some thoughts on Mother!


Spoilers ahead.

After watching ‘Mother!’ I realised that I’d forgotten about all the previous Darren Aronofsky films I’d loved (Requiem For A Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler).  Only his two most recent films were fresh in my mind: Black Swan which I thought was interesting but flawed; and Noah, which I couldn’t see the point of at all and had actually decided was Aronofsky filling some kind of contractual obligation.  So, when I sat down to watch ‘Mother!’ - having forgotten what this writer/director is capable of - I wasn’t quite prepared for the affect it would have on me.

Brief plot summary: Jennifer Lawrence plays the adoring wife of a middle-aged blocked poet (Javier Bardem).  They live together in a gorgeous isolated mansion, which she is painstakingly renovating after it was gutted by a fire which consumed the poet’s first wife.  Out of the blue a stranger (Ed Harris) arrives at their door looking for a place to stay.  To the confusion of his wife, the poet tells the stranger to stay in the house as long as he likes after discovering the man’s a fan of his book.  The man is then quickly joined by his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) and the couple’s two quarrelling sons.  The strangers show a general lack of respect – sometimes even outright hostility - to their hosts.  The situation soon escalates to murder, then more people arrive at the house and their disrespect goes unnoticed by the poet until his wife can take no more.  When all the intruders are finally turfed out , the poet at last finds inspiration and with that a renewed passion for his wife.  However, with the publication of his poem and his wife’s pregnancy, strangers, worshippers and fans once again begin arriving at the house and the problems begin again (to put it mildly).

Never having had much interest in religion, I’m afraid I missed most of the Biblical allusions in the film.  Instead, I saw it as an allegory about fame or the quest for fame.  The poet keeps opening up his house to fans so he can bask in their adoration, heedless to the confusion and suffering of the one person who truly loves him.  This quest for fame and adoration suddenly begins to look monstrous and obscene.  Why would the poet hanker after the praise and attention of strangers who continually prove themselves unworthy whilst remaining blind to the efforts of his wife to give him a home, a life, and a family? Viewed like this, I found the film to be genuinely terrifying, and it would make anyone who’s ever chased the approval of strangers (Okay, I’ll raise my hand here) seriously question their motives.

I also couldn’t help but see the film as some kind of comment on our social media age; people opening up their lives to strangers and hankering after likes and comments.  This was most prominent for me in the film’s most disturbing scene.  After the birth of his son, the poet waits for his wife to fall asleep so he can take the baby from her arms and pass it into his crowd of worshippers (this made me think of Michael Jackson dangling his baby son off a balcony for his fans).  The worshippers again prove themselves careless and unworthy and by the time the mother re-awakens the baby is dead, his neck snapped after being passed between many hands.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

The Other Side

A quick short fiction update: My story, The Other Side, about the dangers of the internet, peer pressure, teenage romance, and alternative dimensions, has been published online in Horla: The Home of Intelligent Horror.  My thanks to editor Matthew Rees for accepting this one.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Unwritten Songs

Completing my hat trick of published stories in March is 'Unwritten Songs' which appears in the new issue of Not One of Us Magazine.

'Unwritten Songs' is a story about an almost-rock star who becomes a conduit for a supernatural presence and finds himself with a hit song on his hands.

This is another of my own favourite stories of those I've written, so I'm very happy that it's found a home in Not One of Us.  It was written in June 2016, so I've waited a long time to see it in print!  A huge thank you to editor John Benson for accepting and publishing this story.  The full table of contents for Not One of Us #59 can be found here.

The story was also vaguley inspired by the life and music of this man...


Monday, 19 March 2018

You Will Never Lose Me

Very occasionally stories drop on me out of the blue, and if I'm lucky I've got a pen and paper to hand to jot the idea down before it vanishes again.  This is what happened with my flash fiction 'You Will Never Lose Me' a tale about a knife, a stolen compass, and an unusual method of revenge.  The story has now been published online in Syntax & Salt and can be read for free here.

I'm especially pleased that this issue of Syntax & Salt also contains a story by L.S. Johnson - a writer whose short fiction I've greatly enjoyed over the last few years.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Weirdbook and Wolvers Hill

More reasons to celebrate - my short story 'Wolvers Hill' will appear in the news issue of Weirdbook.  Wolvers Hill is the story of a couple - Fergus and Bisma - whose already strained relationship begins to fray further when they find themselves driving on a road they can't seem to get off, with strange noises in the distance and odd half-glimpsed figures wandering the hard shoulder.

Issue 38 of Weirdbook should be available soon.  My thanks to editor Douglas Draa for selecting my story for inclusion.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Nightscript IV

I'm in a celebratory mood, as a few days ago I was informed that my story 'Visions of the Autumn Country' had made the cut for the forth installment of C.M. Muller's excellent anthology series Nightscript.  Not only that, but I'm going to be sharing a contents page with some truly excellent writers.  See the full table of contents below.  Nightscript Volume IV will be released on October 1st.  I can't wait for this one.




“Sugar Baby” — V.H. Leslie
“There Has Never Been Anyone Here” — J.T. Glover
“The Thing in the Trees” — Joanna Parypinski
“By the Sea” — Steve Rasnic Tem
“A Harvest Fit for Monsters” — L.S. Johnson
“The Monkey Coat” — Daniel Braum
“Seams” — M. Lopes da Silva
“A Gut Full of Coal” — Mathew Allan Garcia
“Crow Woman” — April Steenburgh
“The Dandelion Disorder” — Charles Wilkinson
“Of Marble and Mud” — Farah Rose Smith
“All is There Already, Just Not Seen Yet” — Armel Dagorn
“Half-Girls” — Cate Gardner
“A Different Sunlight” — Jackson Kuhl
“Cinnamon to Taste” — Christi Nogle
“The Strigoaica” — Ross Smeltzer
“Swim Failure” — Jennifer Loring
“Visions of the Autumn Country” — Tim Jeffreys
“Stella Maris” — Elana Gomel
“Rainheads” — Mike Weitz
“My House is Out Where the Lights End” — Kirsty Logan 

Thursday, 11 January 2018

The Green Grass

My first short to be published in 2018 is 'The Green Grass', a science fiction story about an old man from a space-faring civilisation who buys transport on a ship to take him to the unexplored reaches of the galaxy where he has a very particular task to carry out.  I won't give anymore away except to say that the theme for this issue of Unfading Daydream magazine was 'New Beginnings'.

Unfading Daydream Issue 3 can be purchased here.