American Dream

We’ve just emailed our latest short story, The Ferryman, to Dark Recesses magazine. It was originally a 17oo word story for Writing Magazine’s ‘Last train’ short story competition, but surprise, surprise, it didn’t win. Might still have been short listed (talons crossed). No doubt if we ever win a Writing Magazine story competition, hell will explode from sheer shock and spew forth its demons on the world. Apologies in advance. So we lengthened The Ferryman to 4ooo words and thought we’d try the magazine market instead. Now we just have to wait 16 weeks to hear if they want to buy it. Is there any other profession where you do all the hard work then have to wait three+ months to find out whether you’ll be paid for your efforts? And it’s not like they pay you by the hour. It’s well below minimum wage, but that’s the price we pay to be published. It’s only the tiny minority that can command six figure advances, while the rest of us have to be content with 1-5 cents per word and the thrill of seeing our work in print. But then six figure salaries isn’t why we do this. If we wanted that, we’d get a job in banking (except we hate maths) or something equally dull and undeserving of such a high salary. We do it not for the money, but to silence the Muse that plagues us, to satisfy the burning desire to write that surges through our veins and because let’s face it, it’s a lot more fun than living in the real world. We’re still waiting to hear back about stories we sent off in January and February. So far, our aim to have 12 pieces of work published this year looks a bit ambitious. It’s now month 3 and…nothing. But at least we’re on track to have sent off 52 pieces of work – one for every week of the year. Our total count so far is 20.

At the moment we’re reading Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Graveyard Book’ and Tonya Hurley’s ‘Ghostgirl’. Having never read an award winning book, we thought Neil Gaiman’s would be a good place to start – it has a graveyard, what more could you want? It’s a very interesting, intriguing book. We would’ve loved it as kids, as we don’t remember there being any books set in graveyards when we were young. God, don’t we sound old? Bod makes a good hero and Silas is a great mysterious guardian, the kind of guy you’d like to have watching your back. Is he a vampire? One of the best details is how whenever Bod passes a grave of someone, it gives their epitaph. It just adds to the book’s difference, which is always a good thing. Tonya Hurley’s ‘Ghostgirl’ to sum up in one word – hilarious. We knew from the blurb it would be, as you learn that the ghost girl of the story, Charlotte, chokes to death on a gummy bear. Blurbs are usually unreliable, hooks to draw you in then betray you in the worst possible way, but we’re not disappointed with ‘Ghostgirl.’ The narrative is ingeniously funny, Charlotte is a perfectly frustrated geek who wants to be popular, which leads to plenty of brilliant disasters, the most notable one being her undignified demise at the hands of a red gummy bear. Another good thing about the book is the other heroine, Scarlet, a Goth who Charlotte befriends after her death. It’s nice to see a Goth who isn’t portrayed as a world-hating, suicide-inviting 2D stereotype (not that we’re biased). Scarlet is funny, confident and ballsy. It’s also good that the gorgeous jock hero (Charlotte’s object of desire and the reason she’s refusing to accept being dead) sees Scarlet for what she is and likes her, despite the risk to his social status. He also dumps her spiteful, self-obsessed, cheerleading sister for her. We all know this doesn’t happen in real life, but at least it happens somewhere. In real life, the gorgeous popular boys aren’t throwing longing glances at the outcasts, they’re throwing stones.