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!

The Garden of Earthly Delights (again!)

‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ was originally performed at the New Venture Theatre Brighton in July 2015 (see here). I’ve been planning to record it as a radio piece for some time, as I wanted to add to the storytelling with some intriguing sounds/effects that just weren’t possible on stage.

Every piece generates its own challenges, this time it was recording live (and outside) at the mercy of passing cars, as well as making a believable station announcer. You’d be amazed at how many people have loaded station announcements up to YouTube!

Thanks to my excellent cast Jamie, Hannah and Gemma for being such fun to work with.

It’s New Year’s Eve and Joe is desperate to make his first ever trip to London. When he meets Anna on the station platform there’s an immediate spark of attraction. But when Zoe appears, a battle of wills develops between her and Anna about where Joe should spend the evening. What will Joe decide to do, and just who are Anna and Zoe anyway?

Joe – Jamie Ruther
Anna – Hannah Casey
Zoe – Gemma Dewe
Writer – Stephen Connolly

The Gasman Cometh – Salisbury Fringe ‘Rough Cuts’

My short play ‘The Gasman Cometh’ was chosen by the Salisbury Fringe for a script-in-hand performance on Sunday 2nd October as part of the ‘Rough Cuts’ event. Frida was played by Kelly Strickland, Andrew by Mike Prior, director Pete Talman. They did a superb job (after only 3 rehearsals) and were a pleasure to watch! I recorded the play and it has now been loaded to SoundCloud.

Andrew and Frida meet by chance at the Crematorium, each recently widowed, each there for their spouse’s service. But they have met before… in the most horrendous of circumstances. Can they keep their respective families apart long enough for their services to take place?

Sometimes, the one person you least wanted to meet is the only person you can talk to.

In the original version, the truth of the dead peoples’ relationship only becomes clear at the very end. After sharing the script with Gloucester Scriptorium, the main suggestion was that this relationship should be revealed right at the beginning, making the story about the need to deal with a terrible coincidence, giving it more focus and tension.

Kelly Strickland (Frida) and Mike Prior (Andrew)

Talking Objects at Gloucester Life Museum

I have been a member of Jarek Adam’s Gloucester Scriptorium since 2014.

The Scriptorium’s latest project is the ‘Talking Objects’ which was launched last Saturday, 24th September at the Gloucester Life Museum. The brief was to find an item in the museum and write a short monologue based on it:

A series of recorded monologues that give voices to objects from the Gloucester Life Museum and let them tell their utterly fascinating stories. Some of the pieces have a grain of truth to them, some are utterly fantastic, but they all bring to life objects from Gloucester’s past that the Scriptorium writers discovered at the museum.

The monologues are all now available on the Scriptorium web site.

Gloucester Life Museum’s 2012 memorabilia, the Keyring on the right

I decided to write about one of the museum’s most recent items, a Keyring from the 2012 Olympic Games. I was fascinated with the idea of creating the viewpoint of something with almost no history (the keyring was never sold and is still in its original wrapper) placed amongst items which have so much history. How could it cope, and could it think up a way to address the problem, deal with its situation?

It was a fun piece to write for a number of reasons – a strict 2-3 minute length forces you to keep things brief, to focus on essentials – and was beautifully performed (both live on the day and on the recording) by the amazing Chloe of Midnight Storytellers!

Chloe of Midnight Storytellers



‘The Gasman Cometh’ at Salisbury Fringe Rough Cuts

My script has been selected for the Salisbury Fringe ‘Rough Cuts’ evening in October, where it will be performed ‘script in hand’ – the actors will have rehearsed it but not memorised it.

The Gasman Cometh is a dark comedy, telling the story of Andrew and Frida who meet at a Crematorium. Each is there to bid farewell to their respective late spouse, but Andrew’s wife’s service has been delayed. They recognise each other from a previous meeting… in the hospital morgue, where they discovered their late spouses died during an illicit rendezvous from Carbon Monoxide fumes from a faulty motel gas heater. Andrew is desperate to keep Frida’s presence from his grieving and already scandalised family as Frida is still furious about losing her husband. Can he stop her from making a scene until he can get his family through their service?