Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Second place in 100 word story mini-comp

Rather chuffed that my short story came second amongst the finalists of the 100 word story comp judged by Jeffrey Archer.

Literary agency Curtis Browne published the top five stories online and you can read all about it here.

And here it is:

The Zoo of Extinct Animals
‘Eight hours straight. Best sleep I’ve ever had,’ said Phil.
‘The dodo didn’t squawk its head off?’ said Mike.
Phil shrugged, as they shuffled past the quagga cage. Nearby, the sabre-toothed tiger roared. Mike threw it its meat.
When they reached the aviary they both fell silent.
‘You forgot to feed him, didn’t you?’
‘Extinct again,’ said Phil, in a suspiciously cheerful tone. ‘Ever think some creatures are just meant to die out?’
‘Shut up, Phil,’ said Mike, stuffing the dead dodo into a bag.
Meanwhile, back in the lab, ‘new’ old life was forming.
Sara-Mae Tuson

Friday, 30 November 2012

My story in Overheard a Salt anthology

I'm catching up on my non-posting bad behaviour now. 

I recently had a story called 'Ill Angels Haunt Me' published in the marvellous Salt anthology, 'Overheard: Stories to Read Aloud,' edited by Jonathan Taylor. 
A wonderful writer himself, (his book 'Entertaining Strangers' has just come out) Jonathan managed to get an amazing collection of talent together, including writers like Salman Rushdie, Hanif Kureishi, Ian McEwan, Blake Morrison and Louis De Bernières, along with other personal favourites of mine like Vanessa Gebbie, Jane Holland and Gemma Seltzer. 

Here's a bit about the book: 
'From village storytellers to nineteenth-century serialisations, from pub anecdotes to dramatic monologues, storytelling is an enduring art form. This collection of short stories reconnects storytelling with its oral and performative roots. There are stories here for performance, stories which play with sound, stories which dramatise conflicting voices, and stories which are musical in style. 
Because of the way these stories speak from the page, it doesn't matter whether or not they are actually read out loud. Rather, these are stories which might equally be ‘performed’ on the reader’s mental stage, heard in the reader’s mind’s-ear. 
There is a burgeoning culture in the U.K. and beyond of oral story-telling and prose writers performing their work live, a culture which has developed out of the popularity of poetry in performance. There are numerous collections and anthologies which aim to capture the energy of performance poetry on the page. There is, though, no comparable literature for stories in performance – making this collection unique.
In order to demonstrate the huge diversity of possible performance styles in prose, the collection mingles flash fiction with more sustained stories, genre fiction with realism, experimental pieces with oral storytelling. Contributors are similarly varied in their styles, backgrounds, experience and genres, and include Salman Rushdie, Hanif Kureishi, Ian McEwan, Blake Morrison, Louis De Bernières, Adele Parks, Kate Pullinger, Adam Roberts, Michelene Wandor, Vanessa Gebbie, Judith Allnatt, Jo Baker, David Belbin, Panos Karnezis, Jane Holland, Gemma Seltzer, Ailsa Cox and Will Buckingham.'

A shameless plug I know, but I'm really chuffed to be included.

100 word story being judged by Jeffrey Archer!

It's been ridiculously long since I posted anything. What with 3 freelance editorial jobs at the same time, plus the novel-writing course I'm doing at Curtis Browne Literary agency, it's been pretty manic.

Squeezing writing in has been really tricky. So being set a finite task by Lord Archer when he came in to speak to us, was good fun.

He'd been commissioned to write a 100 word (including title) story by Reader's Digest, and last year he'd asked the other course members to write one, so we were set the same task.

It's a great challenge for a writer, as you can't have any extraneous words whatsoever, so its a good exercise in cutting back the flab. I wrote mine on the train coming back from the session, and it was like a Jenga puzzle, trying to get it down to exactly 100 words!

There are a lot of hugely talented writers on the course, so I was very honoured to have my bit of flash fiction chosen as one of the four stories to be judged by Lord Archer. The winner will be published on the Curtis Browne website, but to be honest making it to the top four amongst such great work is pretty exciting in itself.


My story is called 'The zoo of extinct animals'. Here's a doodle of a saber-toothed tiger I drew, although I can't promise that it is anthropologically accurate.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Haliburton V - Literary Festival with a Canadian flavour

I'll be performing at this intriguingly named Canadian Literary festival run by writer John Stiles and his fellow alumnae of University of King’s College in Halifax. The two, writer John Stiles and Chris MacNeil, started the London Chapter of the Haliburton Society in 2006 and have created the event to celebrate the literary links between the two countries.

John's work is as idiosyncratic as his personality and I'm really looking forward to seeing him perform. I  published several of his flash fiction pieces in both The London Magazine and Trespass, in which he created enticing and vivid miniature universes, spurts of genius which combine humour and a biting intellect with each story.

He’s written novels and poetry too: Taking The Stairs, The Insolent Boy, Creamsicle Stick Shivs and Scouts are Cancelled: The Annapolis Valley Poems (Insomniac Press, Toronto, Canada).

And according to his biog he’s even dabbled in filmmaking: ‘Recently featured as one of twenty New Canadian poets in New American Writing (Oink! Press, CA. USA). Filmmaker behind 'the whatever' a rock doc featuring Corb Lund of Corb Lund and the Hurtin Albertans.’

You can read his blog here:

Haliburton V Literary Festival

I hope some of you will be able to make it, despite the po-faced warnings about travel!
As we celebrate the greatest sports event this year, the London Chapter of North America's oldest literary society, The Haliburton Society, invites the best local wits and verbal talents to three days of verbal Olympics in East London:

With a mixture of Canadian and British writers such as:
Todd Swift, Gabriella Apicella, Patrick Woodcock, John Stiles, Catherine Brogan, Fiona Curran, Dante Micheaux, Grim Chip (and myself! ) amongst others, the event promises to be a welcome break from the sport.

Reading and Gig!

I'll be reading some of my poems and short fiction on Wed 1 August, and then my band Scarlet Starlings ( will be performing alongside the brilliant Elvina & I  ( on Friday 3 August.
*Update - one of the stories I'm reading is being published by Elbow Room, plus I'm going to be performing it as a comedy sketch later this year. Several non family members have assured me that its amusing!

Leytonstone Library - 6 Church Lane, E11 1HG

Wednesday 1 August


The event will run from 6-10 pm in the old hall at Leytonstone Library (Leytonstone Tube on Central Line) and will go on from Wed 1st Aug to Friday 3rd Aug. A website will soon be up at

Price: £3

Monday, 28 May 2012

'The Golden Note' - my story published in Emerging Light anthology - download it for free from Amazon today!

I was recently lucky enough to have a short story of mine published by Pen Works Media as part of their Emerging Light series:
'The Emerging Light Series was created to give the opportunity to young aspiring writers to get their short stories published. We encourage writers from any background throughout the world to submit their stories, and those who are selected will be offered a professional contract, approved by The writers’ Guild, where they will receive a percentage of each of the book’s sales.'

It's a great opportunity for writers to get published online, in a format that is now easily accessible for readers. To listen to company director Jody Medland discussing the EL series click here
And for today and tomorrow, it's FREE to buy on Amazon

Unusually for an anthology series, Medland weaves the stories together by providing an over-arching narrative in between each piece, in this case an engrossing battle scenario in which each soldier has a story which has led them to the war zone. With great contributions from writers Jodie Cassinelli, Benjamin Britworth, Susan Bradfield, Alasdair MacAulay, J. Lloyd Storey, River J. Young, Saira Viola and Nathaniel Williams, it's an explosive and entertaining read.  

About my story 

Based on an old story, the seeds of the idea for a modern retelling were sown years ago. I've long been fascinated by folk tales and myth, particularly those with an underlying sense of  the supernatural. I read The Cruel Sister in an old compendium of ghost stories my parents had, part of a Reader's Digest-esque series which included Fairies, Knights, Witches and Wizards and many other fantasical subjects infinitely fascinating to my child self. The books were beautifully illustrated, using classical art work by famous painters as well as modern pieces inspired by the stories themselves. This is where I first learnt about doppelgangers, and the horror genre as a whole, and after reading the story the effects were such that I did my best not to get on my own sister's nerves for months afterwards!  

Mayday Stories, The Emerging Light Series
Chapter Seven: Jason: The Golden Note 

Jason is a musician who falls hard for Julia, a golden-haired marine biologist with a hint of sadness in her eyes. Although he senses in her some nameless fear, he can't reconcile it with the utter peace he feels when they're together. When he meets Desiree, Julia's sister, he is shocked by the passion she reveals for him from the moment they meet. 
When tragedy strikes, he and Desiree are flung together, and she manipulates her way into Jason's bed. But was Julia murdered by her jealous sister? 

To find out how Jason solves the mystery and the dramatic way in which he reveals her killer, click the link below to download the book onto your Kindle, smart or android phones - it's totally free! 

If you read the stories and LIKE them, do write a review to let us know what you think.

To like the book click here for the Facebookfan page.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Are you sitting Comfortably: a performance of my story

White Rabbit Productions are back with another of their fabulous Are you sitting comfortably? events. Giving writers the opportunity to submit their work, the two actors Bernadette Russell and compadre in crime Gareth Brierly read their own and selected stories based on a theme. This Saturday, the theme is Hero's and Villains (one of my favourites). 

The events are always great fun with a Mad Hatter-esque feel, as the company decorates the venue, wear costumes and feed the audience free cakes and sweets. There is music and visuals, and the actors give the reading of the stories themselves (certainly in my case!) a professional feel. As a writer, its a treat to sit back and have someone else interpret and present the story you've written. In my story, 'Beyond Fake,' the main protagonist is a big, hairy wrestler, which makes it hard for me to read convincingly.

I'd definitely recommend it as a great night out.

Are you sitting comfortably?  
Saturday, 26th May at 7:30


Clerk and Well Pub
156 Clerkenwell Road
EC1R 5DU  
Tickets £3/£4

Box office 07956 621968 or book online
White Rabbit

"fantastic alternative fun" Time Out
"storytelling made supremely sexy" Latest 7 ****
" enchanted night" Total Theatre  ****

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Beautifully illustrated video - Neko Case

There's a great blog, Biblioklept which turns up all kinds of literary and musical ephemera. This video by Neko Case being an example.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Performing at Paragram Friday 13 April

I'm lucky enough to be performing with Agnes Meadows (who recently co-edited the Gothic issue with me - at Paragram, a Chertsey based event, tomorrow.

Paragram is run by Sally Blackmore, a wonderful poet and writer who has been running the event since last November. 
Writers are encouraged to submit work to her, and, apart from the possibilty of performing your work might have a chance of being included in one of their anthologies. See the Paragram website for more information.

Here is an article published by Writing Magazine about the event:

Spotlight on Paragram

Here are more details:

When?  Friday 13 April between 7.30 and 9.30pm 
Where? The Chertsey Bookshop (95-99 Guildford Street, Chertsey, Surrey, KT16 9AS Tel:            01932 565495) .

We are lucky to have persuaded Agnes Meadows, internationally renowned poet and founder of Loose Muse to read from her collection and to answer questions about her writing.
How much? Tickets are £3 each, available from, from the bookshop or at the door on the night.
Other performers include: Me, Jill Taylor, John Notley, Sandra Curtin, Greg Freeman and Sue Judd.
Remember there is a new open mic ( 5 minutes per reader  hopefully) part to the evening. Anyone wanting to book a slot to read in advance should contact me by email – - to avoid disappointment.
This promises to be even better than our very successful launch in November last year so see you there…

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Funny women: Fanny Brice

Writing a humorous blog ( has made me reflect on the misconceptions around funny women. It seems as though there are always people very keen to make out that women 'just aren't as funny as men,' despite much evidence to the contrary (Tina Fey anyone?).

So today I want to celebrate on one of my favourite funny women who I discovered indirectly through Barbara Streisand's amazing performance in Funny Girl, Fanny Brice.

These two clips show her fearlessness and virtuosity, as well as being damn amusing.

It's gorgeous to be graceful

I wouldn't buy a ting  


Wednesday, 4 April 2012


The artwork above is by our amazing cover artist, Alex Gross. Have a look at some of his brilliant surreal images here: 

So excited for tonight's launch - especially because we'll be having the wonderful Jean Claude Mad Hero playing for us as well.
This video doesn't do him justice - the man deserves a proper stage!

Remember to wear something Gothic if you are coming along.
See below for details.
When? April 4
Where? L’Osteria Wine Bar, which is attached to the L’Osteria Restaurant at 57 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8PP
What time? 7:30pm

We're launching the 'Gothic' issue of New Trespass with the help of our brilliant contributors including: Richard Tyrone Jones, Collin Kelly, Izzy White Sarah Reilly, Dzifa Benson, Joel Toledo, Katrina Naomi, Lorraine Clarke, Maria Gregoria, Nick Field, Sue Johns as well as our inimitable guest ed. Agnes Meadows.

See you there!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Upcoming gigs for the Scarlet Starlings

It seems that gigs, like men, according to Wendy Cope, are like buses. ('You wait for about a year/ And as soon as one approaches your stop/ Two or three others appear' - from Bloody men by Wendy Cope)

We have 2 great gigs coming up in April if you'd like to drop by (we're very folky at the moment with plenty of mandolin so if you like your Fleet Foxes mixed in with a bit of Bowie you might like us).
We're so not-awful that BBC introducing played our song 'Ransom' t'other week.
To hear more of our stuff go to or

The Underbelly - Monday April 2
Where? 11 Hoxton Square, N1 6NU. It is about a three minute walk from Old
Street Tube Station and is situated on the corner of Hoxton Square just off Old Street.
What time? 8pm-8:30pm
There are loads of other great bands on as well including:
Metro Paradiso
Feral Sun
Scenic Life
With Talitha still globe trotting around (sigh...we miss her!) we have our lovely Saffa cousin stepping in with a bit of flute and some keys...Emily!
We hope to see all of our friends there so if you can make it come up and have a beer with us.
Plus its free, so more money for gin & tonics.

Then as the 16th of April is my birthday we'll be ringing it in with a gig on: 
Sunday 15 April at Dusk till Dawn (opposite Archway tube)  

Friday, 23 March 2012

Launch of the Gothic issue of New Trespass

We're launching the 'Gothic' issue of New Trespass with the help of our brilliant contributors including: Collin Kelly, Izzy White Sarah Reilly, Dzifa Benson, Joel Toledo, Katrina Naomi, Lorraine Clarke, Maria Gregoria, Nick Field, Sue Johns as well as our inimitable guest ed. Agnes Meadows.

Poetry, short fiction and blood red wine! Dress code is (of course) Gothic, so be sure and whip out the velvet corsets and top hats!

Here's a taster of the issue which is due out shortly (will be available from

Where?  L’Osteria Wine Bar, which is attached to the L’Osteria Restaurant at 57 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8PP 

What time? 7:30pm
The Gothic issue

This issue has been an opportunity to delve delightfully into the dark side. With Gothic mania over recent years embracing teen angst (Twilight et al) and vamps being a little overexposed, guest editor (the marvellous Agnes Meadows) and I, decided to eschew all things fanged. Instead we’ve got gargoyles, the Cross Bones cemetery, fertility dolls from artist Lorraine Clarke as well as interviews with authors like Nicholas Royle, whose new book First Novel will be out early next year.

Elsewhere, poet Richard Tyrone Jones gives us an extract from his bittersweet and hilarious play in which he talks about his near-death experience due to heart disease. One of our favourite (and very Gothic) photographers Iza Gonzalez has taken the pictures for our gorgeous photo story, as well as the Sexuality piece on Japanese Rope Bondage, a practice that is both disturbing and strangely compelling, as you’ll see from the pictures.

Ex-psychologist and now writer Guy Mankowski writes about the dark side of the psyche and his new novel, while our cover artist the immensely talented Alex Gross gives a new slant to the idea of Gothic, with his eerie Victorian picture cards, re-imagining the unknown figures as super-heroes. 
There is, of course, much more to indulge in with poetry, art and more interviews with the likes of Mario Petrucci, Joni Deehan, Merlin Evans, John Constable, Izzy White, Deborah Mo, Sarah Reilly, Joel Toledo, Sue Johns, Katrina Naomi, Nick Field, Collin Kelley and Maria Gregoria.

I'd love to see some of my internetty friends, although the venue is smallish so get there early if you want to grab a

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Celebrating women: literary heroines

It's National Women's Day today, so it's great to have a chance to celebrate women writers who've inspired me. One of my all time literary heroines is George Eliot. I still re-read her novels and find new layers of meaning, subtleties and nuance. She, and others like Austen and the Bronte's, is a writer I'll always return to.

“To be a poet is to have a soul so quick to discern, that no shade of quality escapes it, and so quick to feel, that discernment is but a hand playing with finely-ordered variety on the chords of emotion--a soul in which knowledge passes instantaneously into feeling, and feeling flashes back as a new organ of knowledge.”
― George Eliot, Middlemarch

Loose Muse is an event which takes place every second Wednesday of the month at London's Poetry Cafe. Having recently got some funding from the Arts Council, organiser Agnes Meadows has started an anthology series to showcase the work of some of the female writers who've performed there.

"It's not about excluding men, who are always welcome. It's more about giving female voices a chance to shine, particularly those who've never performed or been published," Agnes said.

The recent anthology launch featured writers like Katrina Naomi, Dzifa Benson, Patricia Foster as well as previously unpublished writers.

Held at the Whitechapel Gallery in Aldgate East, the evening was a warm and inclusive affair with some cracking performances.

I might put a video up of me reading my poem 'Paper Hearts' later, if I can get it off Mike, who turned up to support me despite being high in painkillers (medicating himself after a cycling accident left him with a wrenched arm).

Perhaps the old adage 'the pen is mightier than the sword' is more true for us, and certainly was for our predecessors, than it has ever been for men.
So, to all you creative women out there - use it! You just might have a Middlemarch or a Wuthering Heights in you.

“If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.”
― George Eliot, Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life

Here are some pictures of the Loose Muse event.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

BBC Radio playing our song!

The fabulous Stevan Bennett who produces Gary Crowley's London Calling radio show has chosen Scarlet Starling's song, 'Beckons' to play tonight between 7:30-8pm!!

Catch it here:

If you want to get an early listen of these or other songs check out the band page:

Feeling a frisson of pure joy plus the sun has come out. A good day!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Naked there any excuse?

Max Wallis by Annabel Williams

Yes, if it's for charity.
Actually I quite like this idea by Victoria Bennett of Wild Woman Press. As a bid to raise awareness for Type 1 diabetes, a disease her three-year-old son Django has been diagnosed with, she and her team have put together a calendar of naked male poets by female photographers such as Naomi Woddis (an excellent poet herself), Annabel Williams and others. Apart from the er...tastefully shot nudes, there are poems by the likes of Wendy Cope, Pascale Petit, Eva Salzman, Penelope Shuttle and many more.

A great present for any poetry loving lady (or man, depending on their inclinations!) and its for a good cause as well.                                                                                                                                                                 


Image by Annabel Williams of poet Ian MacMillan for 'The Naked Muse' calendar, Wild Woman Press.