A Light In The Gloom: Part 1.

Bee swam down further into the gloom. The dark water was no problem though, her eyes easily adjusting. She had seen the fading light glint off something in the muck below. She wound her slight form down, her powerful tail propelling her though the water with a grace unmatched. She shooed away a greedy tench and ran her webbed fingers through the silt. Bee was small for one of the Folk but despite that she had been afforded the honour of being invited to the next Great Assembly. Her mother was very proud, imagine if a member of the Roach Tribe were the next Maid, such a thing was unheard of. Her brothers had teased her something awful but she could tell they were proud of her, brothers just had a funny way of showing it. Her fingers found something cold, a shiny ring pull. Dropping it into the pouch at her side she swam back up, the depths held larger fish than a fat tench, a full grown pike would think nothing of taking a bite out of her. Before she would break the surface she stopped to examine the content of her pouch. Three ring pulls, a few pieces of water turned glass of green and brown and a handful of bottle tops. Bee had decided to make a necklace for the Maid, to thank her for the invitation, even if she was not the next Maid it was still a great honour to be invited. Pressing on through the high growing reeds she startled a small school of bleak, the little silver fish scattered in every direction.

“Sorry,” she called as she continued towards home. Home for one of the Folk was the tribe they belonged to, there were many tribes that Bee knew of, some were always moving along the canals and rivers others stayed in one area. The Folk of the Open Waters held no tribes, or so Bee had heard from her mother, she had never seen one herself. Bee was part of the Roach Tribe, a small tribe but one of the oldest. For the most part they were farmers, though a few become errants, travelling folk without a tribe to come back too. An errant would help any tribe they came across, but would never be able to call it their own. Errants lived a life of travel and adventure. Her brothers Butterbur and Bogbean were training to become errants, learning all they could before they would leave. Her mother spoke very little of it, but would always sigh heavily whenever either of them brought it up and they would quickly fall silent. Bee thought such a life to be wonderful.

Winding her way through the water she was careful not to startle anymore schools and to avoid the human lines that dangled from the banks. She had once sat with her brothers watching a human pull fish after fish from the water only to return them shortly after. The fish were most confused by this turn of events, what an earth could the humans be doing if they were not eating the fish. The complexities and mysteries of humans were lost on her, they were strange folk better left alone, she had seen the dangers of getting tangled in the lines they cast. Still, it was fun to cut the lines and swim away with the little coloured sticks tied to them, they made for pretty headdresses. Bee was looking for more shiny items when the two large forms of her brothers swam out of the darkness. Butterbur was longer but Bogbean was heavier, both of them had fathers dark stripes and pointy spines.

“There you are,” Bogbean called, he waved her over.

“We have go, theres trouble,” said Butterbur grabbing her wrist. Bee pulled free and swam back, her brothers had played tricks like this on her before. They had once bound her in weeds and left her tied to the underside of a barge, a kind of human vessel. Mother had not been pleased.

“Bee, were not playing,” said Bogbean, “there’s trouble with Heron Tribe.” The Heron Tribe were the Roach Tribes closest neighbours, though they didn’t farm Starwort like the Roach Tribe. The Heron Tribe were almost all warriors. The warrior tribes of the Folk would patrol the waterways and deal with any threats that may put the Folk in danger. Most warrior tribes were under the control of the Maid herself, but Heron Tribe remained independent, independent and troublesome. They would bully smaller tribes into sharing food and resources or let the larger predators of the waterways into their territory. The Roach Tribe had been sharing the Starwort with Heron Tribe for a long time, and it was much more work for them. Trouble with the Heron Tribe wasn’t uncommon, but for her brothers to come fetch her like this, it must be serious. Bee nodded and fell in line with her brothers who led her through the tangles of weeds and larger human debris and back to the farm. Father was waiting at the hollowed out bank they called home, wringing his tail in worry. He beamed at them as they approached and quickly hustled all three inside. Mother was nowhere to be seen. Their hollow was simple, like most Folk dwellings, it was round and tall, with only four rooms. The centre room was were mother prepared meals and it had a large stone table big enough for the whole family to gather round. The walls were lined with glitterbells, a small green plant that gave off a soft glow that lit the inside of the hollow.

“Where’s Da, Bogbean said the Herons are up to no good again?” She asked her father. Her father bustled about the hollow setting food for each of them and fussing as only he could.

“I’m sure it’s all just a misunderstanding,” He assured her, “your mother has gone to see what’s going on.” That was all he would say on the matter. Bee knew better than to press her father, the women of the Folk ruled each family, if her mother had decided to see what was going on then that was an end to the matter. Butterbur and Bogbean gulped their food down quickly and left the hollow with only a quick goodbye. It wasn’t fair that they got to go off on their own. She edged close to the door whilst her fathers back was turned preparing more food. “No you don’t Bee,” came her fathers voice. Bee turned back to see her father still facing away from her.

“But it’s not fair, they get to go off and do what they like,” She protested swishing her tail in anger.

“Don’t you dare flair your tail at me young lady,” her father warned without turning, “Your brothers are big enough and ugly enough to take care of themselves, you are not.”

“But I am, I was invited to the assembly,” she pointed out. Her father turned and smiled at her. Bee was one of only five youngsters invited to The Assembly, an event which would determine a new Maid, the Guiding Chief of the Folk. Roach Tribe had never had a member become a Maid, it was a very high honour to even be invited.

“Now don’t you go getting too big for your fins. You were invited, and we are all so very proud of you, the whole Tribe,” he placed a hand on either side of Bees’ face and scrunched it up, “but if there is trouble out there I don’t want you to be any part of it.” That was the end of the discussion. Bee pouted and settled down to sulk in the corner. Emptying the items from her pouch she began to order them along a thin length of line. She was sure the Maid would have much finer pieces, but she did not have one from Roach Tribe.

Bee woke with the necklace still in her hands, she must have fallen asleep still making it. The glitterbells were bright and water outside the hollow was so dark that even one of the Folk would have trouble seeing through it. Her father and mother were in the middle of the hollow talking in harsh whispers. She decided to stay quiet, pretending to be asleep, grown ups had a habit of not talking about the important things in front of children. Sleep still fogged her mind but Bee could make out her mother’s worried tone, something about a beast in the water meadow and not enough food to go around. Her father was wringing his tail again.

“But to attack us!” he said in a louder voice. Her mother shushed her father and looked in her direction, it was a long moment before she was satisfied she was asleep.

“They drove the others out of the last meadow, set up guards to stop us getting back in,” she said, “When I got there, well, you know how Deadnettle can be. We were lucky to get away with a few bruises.” So the Heron Tribe had run them off their own farms and attacked them. Everyone knew they were bunch of bullies but they had never attacked another tribe before.

“What about the other meadow, did you find out what was in there?” her father asked. Mother shook his head.

“No, but if the Herons can’t take care of it then it has to be something big, not just a swarm of grindylows or a wayward kelpie.” Bee watched her through half closed eyes as she leaned in closer to her father, she had to hold her breath to hear her. “With only one meadow there wont be enough food for both tribes. Me and few others are going back tomorrow, and either they’re leaving, or we are.” She turned towards her and Bee closed her eyes, her mother lifted her effortlessly into her arms. “I want you to take Bee to the Assembly tomorrow as planned. If things go bad, I want you and her as far away from here as possible. It wouldn’t hurt to let the Maid know what Heron Tribe are up to either.”

Her mother laid her down gently in her bed of reeds and left her appearing to be sound asleep. So there was something in one of the meadows, something that scared even the Heron Tribe. Bee would find out what this creature was, a Maid after all was trusted to resolve the issues of her people. When her father would come to wake her he would find Bee’s bed empty and his daughter nowhere to be seen.



BLOG: THM article.

A short while ago I got the opportunity to try my hand at writing an article for a magazine. My friend John Kelly started his own publication called ToyHero Magazine (https://toyh3ro.wixsite.com/toyheromag) The article in question swang wildly away from any kind of review or test and instead fell to how my toys as a child inspired my imagination. John has been kind enough to let me post that article here.

It’s a tense moment on the bridge of the Enterprise, Captain Picard gives the order for Data to scan the surface of the planet. The Captain orders the Borg and Worf to prepare to beam down (that’s right, I had a friendly borg crew member first, in your face Voyager!) Data’s console beeps, it appears they are orbiting a planet populated by a giant cat-like race of people, they call themselves the Thundercats.

If you can’t tell I grew up in the late 80’s and early 90’s fed on a diet of Saturday morning cartoons and reruns of popular 80’s shows like Thundercats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers to name a few. Before cartoons had their own dedicated channels we had to make do with early Saturdays and a small slot after school. I can vividly remember sitting in my Nans’ living room watching Turtles on the DJ Kat Show or Spider-Man and X-men on Live and Kicking. Star Trek was there too, nurturing an early love of sci-fi and exploration along with short lived shows like Space Precinct. The great thing about these shows, and most of the cartoons that provide a flashback into my childhood, was that they came with a host of figures and toys.

I remember getting my first Power Ranger figure (Jason the red ranger) and I was thrilled with just how articulated with how it was. Ball and socket joints on action figures were not very common, and how could you hope to replicate the high-flying martial arts action of the Power Rangers with a figure whose arms merely went up and down. It was a revelation for me. My cousin chewed his head shortly after I got him, he went through life with teeth marks and a slightly squashed head. I love my cousin but to this day I’m still a little bitter about that. There were many times I gave myself a sore throat by imitating voices such as Mumm-Ra or making the noise a Transformer does when it transforms (it took me a lot longer than it does on the show.)

Besides the happy nerdiness of pouring over long forgotten toys I also could not pass up the opportunity to try my hand at a different style of writing. I saw what John was doing with ToyHero Magazine (THM) and it got me thinking about how truly appreciative I am of the toys I loved as a child. All the imaginative scenarios they let me play out, such as the bridge crew of the Enterprise stumbling across Thundera or the Skeleton Warriors vs The Ghostbusters. It seemed such an interesting concept to me, after all we have magazines for every other walk of life, clothes, movies and video games spring to mind. Why not one to appreciate the things, that for many of us, helped build our creativity.

I work in toy retail, so it is encouraging to see more of this kind of publication. Geek culture and the toys it spawns has never been larger, or more accepted. Throughout the northwest we now have toy fairs and cons on a regular basis, places for toy enthusiasts, artists and cosplayers to get together and bond over our mutual love of the fandoms out there. There are lines for children to enjoy as well as more delicate (and pricier) items that are designed for the collectors out there.

 There was a rich culture of cartoons and shows that spawned line after line of action figures. Street sharks, Ghostbusters, James Bond Junior, Batman (both the films and the amazing animated series), Conan, Pirates of Dark Water, the list goes on. Most of these toys expanded well beyond the range of the shows, with side characters and a whole host of accessories that only came in toy form. Batman the Animated Series Toys by Kenner produced no less than eight different batman figures, each with a unique colour scheme and gadget I don’t recall ever seeing in the series. My uncle gave me a box of original star wars figures, dozens of them (which I sadly treated roughly as a child) and I was amazed that there were figures for even the smallest of character roles (looking at you Gonk Droid)

Figures and play-sets were a way for me to expand my imagination as a child, we lived on a busy road so many of my days were spent indoors. The bridge crew of the enterprise would encounter a strange planet filled with giant cat-like people, or a robot that turned into a car would be battling with bike riding mice from mars. I was free to add or remove any character I wanted into my own little narratives. If I wanted Batman to show up in Spider-man, he would,  and for good measure the Turtles and He-Man would make an appearance too. I would create serial stories with these toys, often picking up where I last left off the next time I played with them. Looking back on it, this is probably the first instance of me creating my own stories, something that is now my passion.

I just had to take the time and opportunity to express my appreciation and love for the toys of my childhood and the creativity that they inspired and a quick apology to all of the army men I buried in the garden, your sacrifice was not in vain boys.


Nothing rang quite so unpleasant for her as the sound of footsteps upon the floor. There was a comfort in the silence, a reliability that she could depend on and burrow into. The sound echoed down the hallway, racing to and fro creating a chorus of sound, a mask, hiding the number of people approaching. One, it was always one. Few people ever set foot at this depth and fewer still willingly. Brisk and light. They were the footsteps of authority, of power, of one who was accustomed to a certain deference in life. Arrogance in the heel. These were not the usual footsteps. Within the cell she shivered and pulled the tattered remains of the blanket closer as the bright lights outside flashed on. Her hopes for just another uneventful day in the care and hospitality of the penal institution were dashed. The footsteps stopped outside the cell, there was nowhere else for them to go.

“Where’s Derek?” she asked in her parched voice. It didn’t echo like the footsteps.

“Sadly Mr Mason passed in the early hours of this morning,” there was no trace of warmth or sorrow. “I am to be your new liaison” said a prim voice, he smelled of lavender and camphor, a distinctive cologne indeed. She mouthed the word liaison to herself, that was a new one.

“I remember his first shift with me, he was sweating like a dog in a kebab shop, he was handsome though in a boyish sort of way,” she shifted but remained lying on the cot, “Good man Derek.” A small sniff from the newcomer.
“So I am told. Age however has its way of defeating even the greatest among us,” she ignored his unspoken accusation.

“Always going on about his missus, Barb-”

“The board has deemed that given your…status, nourishment shall be provided on a bi-weekly basis with the exception of water to be given every two days,” a small ruffle of paper, “forcibly if necessary.”

“-from what he told me it was as sound a name as there was ever given. She had a sharp tongue see, but Derek had a thick skin. Never shy of a bit of banter was Derek-”

“I do however hold such measures as too lenient.” It seemed the newcomer had a sharp tongue of his own.

“-all my insults were just like water off a duck’s back for that man,” the scratch of pen on paper. Always paper and folders with these people, always policy and regulation. She found it all to be far too clinical, at least Derek had some passion.

“It seems you will miss Mr Mason” said the paper man.

“I don’t like having things shoved in my mouth, words least of all,” She sat keeping her back to the light and the newcomer “Shall we at least try to get off on the right foot?”

“You will find that I am not a man to be taken lightly,” he paused for what she assumed must be dramatic effect “Nor am I to be crossed,” he let the threat linger in the air. Cute.

“And he comes out of the gate swinging,” she smiled going to the small desk at the back of her cell. “I imagine everything you know about me has come out of some file somewhere,” moving a small pile of her own paper she found what she was looking for. “Subject displays violent tendencies, subject does not interact well with others, subject does not respond well to authority figures,” turning into the blinding lights she slipped the small card through one of the spaces in the bars. “I’m not a model prisoner,” she waited until she felt him take it and then sat back on the cot, “But it seems some folk like me.” A heartbeat passed and the sound of tearing card filled the space between them. She nodded to herself and kept her hands relaxed on her knees, no point in being sent to The Tank for a card. It was just piece of card.
“You are an aberration,” spat Papers. True enough she supposed, true enough.
“One of a kind,” she said with a brevity she didn’t feel. The remains of the card floated back into her cell, she ignored them.
“Ignorant too,” he noted, pen scratching at paper.

“You got a name or should I just make one up for you?” she turned trying to get a better look at her new tormentor, but the lights outside the cell obscured his features, casting him only as a living silhouette. One arm held a ream of papers whilst the other adjusted the spectacles on his face.

“You may address me as Mr Highdale,” he replied.

“May I? That is awful gracious of yourself Papers,” she rolled to face the wall, ready to be done with the conversation.

“Water every three days,” the pen made a note. Check out the brass set on Papers. She sat up again.
“I’ve suffered your kind before,” the paper man said nothing. “I tell you what kiddo, go and find yourself a bloke who isn’t shy of doing a little knife work. This place should be full of them,” she stood suddenly making a stabbing motion “Test that way, shiv the freak,” her thin arms grasped the bars, “And then fucking feed me. It’s quicker for the both of us,” she slumped back down pulling the blanket tighter and made herself as comfortable as she could. “Or don’t. Run your little tests and experiments. When you and these bars are nothing but dust I will let myself out. Don’t worry Papers, I’ll be sure to turn the lights off before I leave.” She yawned loudly.

“You sound very confident of that,” she could tell he was smiling.

“And you’re an idiot if you think it will play out otherwise. Send my condolences to Barb though, tell her I’m sorry but it doesn’t look like I will be able to make the funeral. Good man Derek, good man.” The pen scratched briefly once more and the lights went out leaving her with dancing after effects in the dark. The footsteps, if anything, were much more confident in leaving. Her fingers found a scrap of card, Rasputin, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Derek and Barbara. She let it fall back to the floor forgotten. Just a card, she had time.

The Goblin Circus: An Excerpt.

It’s been quiet on here for a while, but I have been very busy. There is a bunch of content I’m working on both for the site and for somethings that are still in the pipeline. I wanted to share with you a snippet of what I’ve been working on. Enjoy.

William could hear such a ruckus outside, down past the bottom of the garden. It was an immense rhythmic chorus, THUMP THUMP, RATTLE RATTLE, THUMP THUMP, RATTLE RATTLE. It was coming from the cobbled alley behind his house. THUMP THUMP, RATTLE RATTLE, THUMP THUMP, RATTLE RATTLE. Mrs Thomlinson had settled herself in front of the television and was happily grumbling at the chat show informing her how to coomrdinate her outfits. William knew from experience she would not move from the settee for quite some time. Whenever she agreed to look after him, William ended up looking after himself. Before long William could no longer contain himself and was pulling a dining room chair through the kitchen to the back door. Climbing onto it he wrestled the bolt at the top of the door free and was out and racing towards the gates at the end of the garden. The big double gates looked out onto the cobbled alley where the noise was coming from. He found the spy hole he had made earlier that summer and peered into the alley.
THUMP THUMP, RATTLE RATTLE, but now William could hear a chittering noise above everything else, one low chittering followed by a high pitched chittering, almost like two people talking. The narrow view of the alley was blank, the damp cobbled stones and the gates of the garden opposite. The noise was so loud now that Williams body began to rumble along with it.
“H…hello,” he called out, “who’s there?”
The noise ceased at once. William stood very still, he even held his breath. Pressing himself closer to the gate he tried to get a closer look at the alley. To the very far right, just at the edge of his vision he something large, a wooden wheel. It was attached to something large he couldn’t quite make out, a carriage perhaps. The sudden quiet was almost as unnerving as the noise.

He let out a long, low breath as quietly as he could. The chittering returned, the pattern the same as before, one low and measured out and the other high pitched and fast. A large orange eye suddenly filled the vision of the peep hole, a most inhuman eye. He stepped back quickly his young heart racing and very thankful for the stout wooden gates between him and the things in the alley.
“Hello, I know you’re out there,” said a voice William recognised as his own.
“Amazing,” a low voice rasped, “the boything knows we’re here.”
“Nonsense, manthings can’t see us,” said a second high pitched voice.
“And yet it seems this one can. Roland, why don’t you take a peek over and have a look, there’s a good fellow.”
Leaves appeared over the top of the gate, long green oak leaves on thin twigs followed by a large grey boulder. THUMP THUMP, two more large grey boulders, no William realised, not boulders but hands, large rock hands covered in patches of green moss. The hands gripped the gates and the first large boulder rose higher and higher. It was not a boulder but in fact the giant head of the immense stone creature. The thing was massive, it must have been almost as tall as Williams house if it stood upright instead of hunching over the gate. It had a broad square jaw, a large rocky nose and two brilliant gemmed eyes the colour of the summer sky. The creature spotted William and gave a small surprised grunt. William did the only thing his body was capable of, he screamed. The rock creature paused for one moment and then it followed suit letting out the loudest rumble William had ever heard. Its hands came up to cover its eyes and it stumbled back into the alley, its footfalls shaking the ground as it went.

“Oh well now you’ve gone and done it,” said the high pitched voice.
“It isn’t my fault Roland is afraid of everything new,” replied the low voice.
“But you know how he gets.”
“Oh all right, I’ll fix this,” said the low voice.
William realised he had stopped screaming and was listening very intently to what was happening on the other side of the gate.
“Hello, you in there, boything?” called the voice, “I do so apologise for startling you, but would you be so kind as to pop outside for a moment so Little Roland can see there is nothing to be afraid of.”
“That thing is afraid of me?” breathed William
“Oh yes, Little Roland is still quite young and he is a little jumpy,” the voice sounded rather sincere, “of course most young Hill Trolls are a little more outgoing.” William jammed a finger in his ear, he could have sworn he heard him say Hill Troll.

His curiosity got the better of him and he quickly unlatched the gate, lifting it so it wouldn’t stick as it sometimes did and stuck his head out into the alley. He was totally unprepared for the sight that greeted him. There in the cobbled alley stood two quite remarkable, wholly inhuman creatures.

They were both rather short, the tallest being the same height as William. The smaller one was rather squat and round with gangly arms and legs. Its skin was dark green and looked tough, it had a bulbous nose and large orange eyes that twinkled with a mischief matched by its toothy grin. Large ears protruded from beneath a tattered top hat that paired with a suit of much repair. Long fingers with well kept nails held a black walking cane topped with a small crystal dragon.
“Its a small boything. Most remarkable,” it grinned wider revealing double rows of sharp white teeth. The taller one that stood behind had a much more unkempt appearance. It had wild orange hair that stuck out at all angles and it wore very dirty overalls. Its eyes were small and dark, its nose long and pointed. Its long fingers ended in long dirty nails.
“I can see that,” it hissed. The small one offered a hand to William.
“My name is Obadiah Ghogg, business Goblin and entrepreneur.” William shook the offered hand and was surprised that something so small could be so strong or he would have been if the word Goblin wasn’t bouncing around his head.
“Don’t mind Horace uh-”
“Ah, William,” Obadiah said softly as if the name were strange on his tongue, “well William, don’t you mind Horace one bit, grumpy fellow but he keeps things moving like a well oiled machine.” Behind Obadiah Horace merely grunted. Obadiah ignored him and kept his attention firmly on William “Truth be told we are both astounded that you can see and hear us at all, most manthings senses are not that sharp, are they Horace?”
“No boss, never met a gifted manthing myself. Heard of ‘em of course but…” he trailed off
“But never in our days did we think to meet one ourselves,” Obadiah finished.
“Don’t know ‘bout you boss but I think its other senses are a bit dimmed, seems a bit dull don’t it,” hissed Horace.
“Quite,” whispered the short Goblin. William realised he was standing with his mouth agape like some kind of landed fish.
“S…sorry,” he managed to stammer.
“Oh my dear boything it is not to me that you must make apologies, but to dear Roland. You gave him quite a fright, he is young and rather skittish you understand.”

William nodded dumbly as Obadiah led him up the cobbled alley to a large faded orange and green carriage. It had faded red lettering that read ‘Ogally Ghoggs Cirque Du Smele’ Behind the carriage, which was tiny in comparison, was the giant Hill Troll Little Roland, hands gripping the top of the carriage and peering nose first at William.
“Mista Ghogg,” it said in what William assumed was a whisper but made the carriage rattle, “I doesn’t like it, it scare me.” Little Roland pointed an accusing finger toward William. Obadiah was petting Roland reassuringly on one giant moss speckled arm.
“Easy Roland,” he said in tender tones, “it’s just a boything called William.”
“Willium” it repeated looking at him with massive sapphire eyes.
“Thats it, William was just shocked to see you.”
“But I didn’t do nuffin,” Roland rumbled
“I know my dear fellow, but just as you have never seen a boything, William has never seen a Hill Troll, even one as small as you. Be brave my boy.”
“Rollund brave,” the Troll assured as it lumbered forward, Williams body rattled with every enourmous footstep. Roland towered over him, “Willum,” it beamed, “boyfing.”
“Thats a good fellow, now can I persuade you to carry on, after all the show must go on,” encouraged Obadiah
“Show,” agreed Roland, “I is liking shows,” he rumbled as he returned to behind the carriage and hefted a huge rucksack onto his back
“Atta boy Roland, atta boy,” said Obadiah.

“Bout time,” sneered Horace, “this delay will cost us Obadiah so I hope your curiosity is sated.” Roland, who was now in front of the carriage waiting, poked Horace in the chest with one huge finger causing the lanky goblin to fall flat on his behind.
“Not Obadiah, Mr Ghogg,” he warned. Obadiah rushed between the two.
“Now now, no fighting you two, tonight’s show is far too important.” The little Goblin was waving his free arm and cane around trying to stop his two employees scuffling.
“What show?” asked William. Obadiah turned at once, his attention on WIlliam, a smile split his green face.
“My dear boything, I’ve been waiting for you ask.” Flinging his arms out wide he shouted “Ogally Ghoggs Cirque Du Smele, finest circus in the all the realm. Its been in the family for a thousand years. See amazing feats of strength and dexterity preformed by the juggling Hill Troll. Death defying aerial acrobatics by the Vivell sisters and see the mysterious Shade, Magic Extraordinaire pull a car from a sea shell and turn a tortoise fury.” He paused and gave William an appraising look “Come and see for yourself, I would love a manthings critique on the show, a fresh perspective.” Behind Obadiah Horace wrinkled his nose in disgust. William knew his Mother would be very displeased indeed if she returned home to find him gone.
“What does Roland juggle?” he asked
“Oh he juggles all kinds my boy, his best act is juggling three of those big grey things, what are they called…” Obadiah was having trouble finding the right word
“Dustbins” William supplied
“No, elephants” smiled Obadiah. Well thought William, that settled it, he was going to the Goblin Circus.


Blog: Hidden Meanings.

We have all been in an English lesson where the teacher is trying to tech us the deeper meanings of what the author meant. Writing has helped people voice their concerns and issues with society for centuries. Personal perspectives on war, regime change, atrocities and hopeful movements. Animal Farm was one of the first allegorical books I remember analysing, before that I simply read for the enjoyment of it. I still do, but I almost didn’t.

In study, being analytical of works is key to being able to convey that you understand the underpinnings of the story, the themes. However, in my own experience, having an analytical eye almost ruined reading for me. I could not pick up a book without looking for the authors deeper meanings, without deconstructing sentences and word choice, narrative voices and points of view. It ruined the immersion of the story, which to me is paramount. It can be argued that these works are for the purpose of conveying a very specific message, that is after all what allegory is for. I do feel though that we sometimes confuse allegory with applicability.

The distinction between allegory and applicability can sometimes be a muddied one. Animal Farm is an allegorical novella about the Russian Revolution of 1917, C.S Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia books are another example of allegory in fiction and yet Tolkien’s work, by his own admission, is not. He did not see The Lord of the Rings as an allegorical work for war and the industry it creates. It would however be absurd to say such things did not colour his work.

The distinction between allegory and applicability is that allegory is usually a one for one substitution. Allegory is a device employed by the author to further their message and point. Applicability however is something that the reader brings with them when they read. Applicability is an extension of the readers own experiences and knowledge. It is finding something within the work that we can connect with, perhaps something we have had experience with.

Some stories are just that. Stories. No hidden meanings, no agenda or message to be discovered. Personally when I write, if I say it was cold, its because it was cold. There is no deeper meaning attached that, the cold is not symbolism for depression or loneliness. It’s just cold. I have no interest in trying to foist upon the reader a hidden agenda, but my work is coloured by the world around me and my own experiences. I am only interested in trying to create great stories. If you find something in them that resonates with you, that is fantastic, but they are simply stories.


The wind was bitter and pulled at his coat. Colin turned his shoulder to it and tried to think about anything other than how tired he was. He bent his knees and performed the short impatient dance that seemed to be universal to those waiting for public transport.

It is far to early-

Down at the far end of the road he saw a bus wearing the right colours pull into view. It was hard to tell if it was the bus he had been waiting for, the numbers still to far distant and his eyesight at the ripe old age of thirty was not what it used to be. The green and cream bus trundled up the road, proudly displaying its route, it was the correct one after all. Rolling to a stop much further behind him than was convenient, Colin did an awkward almost jog to the door which hissed open. Colin was not one to move at a brisk pace.

Built for comfort, not speed-

Behind the wheel sat an all too cheery young man who didn’t look old enough to be let out without supervision, let alone drive.

“Good Morning,” he called happily.

How about you just shut your fucking mouth sunshine and drive the damn bus before Old Col pokes holes in your tires.

That was harsh even by Colin’s standards, not to mention unlikely and impractical. He fumbled with his pass.

That was a bit mean-

No, people shouldn’t be so bloody chipper this early in the morning-

How can you be such a grouch-

I’m you, you pleb, it’s not like this is new news, anyway stop talking to yourself you weirdo. Anyway, I’m off the clock, my customer service personality doesn’t come for free you know.

At this point Colin realises he has been holding his pass for a few seconds too long and the young driver looks a little unsure. He could have said something, a simple hello would have sufficed, or the ever British “Sorry.” Instead he gave the young man a deadpan look of disinterest he had perfected over the years and looked for a seat on the empty bus. He noted four windows were open, that should be enough to circulate the air of public transport out. Avoiding the seat near the emergency door, honestly who wants that kind of responsibility, he chose the seat just before the back step and took out his travel mug. He had almost perfected the art of drinking a hot liquid on a road that seemed designed to test the limits of modern suspension, almost.

Don’t spill it on yourself today-

Shut up, you’re not my real ladder!-

How many times, you can’t use inside jokes when your using your inner monologue-

Sorry Mr Thought Police-

You really are a child-

I know you are, said you are but what am I-

Sometimes, when left alone with his own thoughts, without any kind of supervision or boundary, Colin did wonder if he was in fact sane. He assumed others did the same, but there was always a nagging worry at the back of his mind.

How sure can you really be that others talk to themselves like you do? After all, you have some…expansive conversations with yourself-

Exactly, myself, I know I’m me, I know your me. It isn’t as if there are different people in here.. It’s just like the worst game of Devils Advocate ever played. 

The bus rumbles violently over the road, almost spilling the hot tea, it seems that the young, chipper driver fancied himself a rally driver.



I know right!-

You really need to watch your language though-

What are you my fucking mum?

Blog: Bashing Your Head Against The Block.

Some days you just sit and write. You know what you want to say and it flows easily. Some days you wake up at 4 am and scramble for a notepad, a scrap of paper and a pen, your phones memo app, anything will do so long as you manage to get that thought down. There are days when we spend only an hour in front of the keyboard, a quick splurge and were done. Other days we weasel the words out over the course of the day.

Then there are days when it’s difficult. The days when the words don’t come easily. The dreaded “writers block.” You can call it what you want, the fact is it sucks. Sometimes we just don’t know how to translate what is in our heads to paper, or we discover what we thought was a sound concept actually has a pretty large flaw in it.

There are hundreds of blogs concerning writers block and the cures and remedies for it, but much like the oft touted rules for writing nothing works for everybody.

When I find myself unable to write, be it in a satisfactory manner or even at all in some cases, the first thing I do is a change of scenery. I move from the desktop and take up the laptop or notepad. I’ve found a change of scenery can really help the creative process. If that doesn’t work I always have another project in the works. In this case I write to fit my mood, and chose something I can pour into. There are however times where you can almost justify bashing your head against the keyboard in the hopes that it will come out making sense on the screen.

If it comes to that then I find it best to just not force it. Go for a walk or make a brew or have a conversation with someone. Just don’t write. Almost all writing advice will tell you to write, and then write some more and then tie that all up with some writing. It doesn’t work like that, not for everyone. Yes it can be frustrating but we all have our ruts, it is okay to just leave it alone for a while.

How do you deal with writer’s block?