One time when I was a kid of fourteen or fifteen, sitting in Ellen Wiley’s
front room I found an old pack of cards in a drawer, and I opened the pack and told her, ‘The thirteenth card will be the Ace of Spades, the death card.’
I began to deal them out one by one.
The thirteenth card was the Ace of Spades.
Ellen freaked out. In fact, I think she began
hitting me. She knew it was no trick, knew I had no skills as a cardsharp, no sleight of hand (still don’t) and she was more than a little spooked.
But for me it was the moment when I peeled that
card from the deck, number thirteen, and saw what it was, that wow feeling, knowing this was never going to happen again. I wasn’t freaked out by it, something was confirmed to me.
Not that I was special or had magic powers or anything, the opposite really, just that certain knowledge that life is neutral, that the gods are fickle, and that Ellen Wiley could punch really hard when she was scared.
What I aim for when I write is that you come across a story like you might come across an old toy in the loft, or a ten pound note just lying in the road; just that feeling you get then.
A small, unexpected gift.
I try to create a resonance that is still humming in your head a week later. Sometimes I write proper stories, with plots and all, but mainly I just want to create an emotion, a mood.
Ever since my cat Starlight ran away with a bunch of Polish builders the house has been pet-free. Well yesterday I went and got a dog, a border terrier. He’s a bit of a rescue dog, the owner wasn’t badly using him, but he was kept in a small wire kennel and had never been out of the back garden. The woman who showed him to me didn’t even know his name.Which is now, officially, Angus.
Turns out he’s very friendly, is scared of TV and washing machines, doesn’t understand the concept of a ‘toy’ or a bed and blanket, is terrified of other dogs but loves people.
About four or five years ago, a film-maker I was in touch with was going to make a short movie of one of my stories, she was working mainly in advertising and had plans to move into straight movie-making. But then she had a really tough family situation to deal with and had to put her film-making on hold, and since then we’ve just about lost touch.Lately though I’ve been thinking about contacting her again, so tonight I sent her an MS copy of the gods. It’s a long shot but I’m hoping she’ll maybe read through it.
I love her work, she has a really cool, icy style and I’d love to see what she could do with one of my stories.
If I could scrape the lies from the page, what was left would be the truth, I guess.Wyeth said that winter reveals the bone structure of a landscape. In my short stories I’m always trying to reveal the bone structure of being here, now.