Retreat West : Nothing Is As It Was

retreat__book_logo-small1I 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.

The Long Dark Night of the Soul

SW-Image-3-300x200Early 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.

Four Funerals and a Wedding


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?

Starter Home at Bolton Octagon

I’ve been writing monologues for years, mainly short ones for John Bassett’s ‘Three Minute Wonders’ on the Stroud Fringe. One of these, ‘Starter Home’ has been accepted by the Bolton Octagon for their ‘Best of Bolton’ show on 11th November 2017.BestOfBolton

The first monologues I ever saw were Alan Bennett’s ‘Talking Heads’ back in the 1980s and I have always loved the way he grows the stories and plots almost organically from the characters and their lives.

They are a great way to tell a story, as they allow you to talk around things, leave them unmentioned but not invisible.

Chicken Run

Certificate_StephenConnollyMy first piece of non-fiction will be published in the next issue of DNA Magazine, titled ‘Identity’.

It’s a short piece describing how I had to leave the Republic of South Africa in 1984 after receiving my call up papers to join the South Africa Defence Force.

A Winter Wedding (or, a Cautionary Tale from the writing business)

onehundredvoicesv2In October 2015 my short story ‘A Winter Wedding’ was selected for Stroud Short Stories’ ‘Eerie Evenings’ event where I had the (terrifying) opportunity to read it out in front of a paying audience.

I looked for other places to send the story and found Centum Publishing who were looking for stories for their anthology ‘One Hundred Voices’. Centum give each author a custom 10% discount code for them to use in their social media marketing, so every sale can be tracked back to the individual author to help calculate royalty payments.

Centrum accepted ‘A Winter Wedding’ for their anthology ‘One Hundred Voices Volume 2’ which was published on January 15th 2017 in hardback and paperback. Buying the book in the UK directly from Centrum costs $14.95 (minus 10% author discount) plus a $17 international shipping, a total of $30.45/£25.11, a ludicrous amount for a paperback of short stories from relative unknowns. Fortunately, the book is now available from Amazon at One Hundred Voices for £15.88, it even has four 5 star reviews already!

My own copy has now arrived and my first impressions are not brilliant. The cover is untidy and contains far too many fonts. The printing looks amateurish and comes far too close to the edge of the pages, I guess to fit the maximum number of stories into the smallest number of pages.

My own story contains a typo which seems ludicrous when I emailed them an electronic copy in the first place.

Having read the first half dozen stories I am not impressed by the quality. Packing a hundred new writers into a single anthology makes for an undigestible read: in the age of the eBook wouldn’t it make more sense to publish 10 volumes of 20 authors instead of 2 volumes of 100? Could this be a ploy to ensure that at least 100 people buy each copy?!

It’s always a buzz seeing your work in a real live book and (technically) it counts as a genuine credit, but I can’t recommend Centum to any writer, however desperate they might be to know that their name is in print.

Please don’t rush out to buy this without borrowing my copy first!