I had never heard of Cli-Fi (short for Climate Change Fiction) before I saw Retreat West’s call for stories based around climate change. The resulting anthology ‘Nothing Is As It Was’, named from a story by Nick Ryle Wright, is being sold to raise funds for the Earth Day Network, and will contain a piece of my own, ‘The Window Box’, an excerpt from an ongoing project, The Fourteenth Duke of Plimsoll.
Plimsoll is a project I have been working on for years. It started off as a novel, although a film outline was shortlisted for the Marza Story Circus prize in 2012. After many changes, I finally wrote a complete film script of the story (titled The Duke of Hope) for my MA in Scriptwriting at Bath Spa University in 2014.
Plimsoll Tower is Humanity’s last refuge. Rising from an immense ocean, it is the last dry land left on Earth. The never ending rain, a result of Climate change, keeps the sea-level rising, forcing the Tower’s occupants to build perpetually upwards with stone quarried from far below the waterline, from beneath the Tower itself. Apart from the few fish that circle the Tower, all food must come from the hutches and window-boxes strapped to the Tower’s external wall.
It’s the kind of project that changes every time I think about it, the biggest problem being that I thought of the situation and the ending before coming up with any real characters. However, over the past few months, having had some fresh ideas, thought up some new characters, situations, I now have a new direction. The first finished part of this is The Window Box, soon to appear in the Retreat West anthology. A good omen for its new direction.
Early in 2017, BBC Radio 4 Producer Paul Dodgson came to Somewhere Else Writers to run a workshop on writing radio drama. For one of the exercises he asked us to write dialog inspired by, or even from the POV of the shoes we happened to be wearing.
I had the good fortune to be wearing some interesting shoes, a pair of Burton desert boots, bought for a £5 as they didn’t match, one of them having been left out in the sun for too long. I gave them completely different characters – Left is laid back and philosophical where Right is anxious and bitter.
The piece worked so well that I decided to complete the story: two shoes going through an existential crisis – perhaps a long dark night of the soul?! Realising they may be reaching the end of their life when one sustains damage, they debate what may happen to them, is there a chance of an afterlife for shoes?
It was great fun to write and Graham Fletcher agreed to play both parts when I recorded it. Before I could finish the mix for Corinium Radio, York-based Off The Rock productions issued a call for radio scripts for their Sound Waves series so I submitted the script for Destiny of Shoes. The script made the shortlist and (I learned this week) has been selected for recording later in the year.
My short story ‘Fairy Tale Ending’ was published in the very first issue of Edinburgh literary magazine Far Off Places back in March 2013. The magazine is now moving to online-only/podcast form of publishing, but for the final print issue they asked all those who had previously been published for contributions. I submitted a short story ‘Four Funerals and a Wedding’ which has been accepted for publication in the final issue, due out in the second half of 2018.
Inspired (obviously!) by the film Four Weddings and a Funeral, Four Funerals tells the story of Jim and his cousin Clare, who meet at a series of family funerals, each several years apart. Will they get together? Whose is the wedding at the end of the tale?