Friday, June 25, 2010



My complimentary copy of the new Gray Friar Press anthology, Where the Heart is, arrived today. In fact it arrived several days ago but I didn't get the chance to pick it up until now because my mailing address isn't the same as my home address. To plug this anthology I took two photos that treat the anthology title as if it's a question that needs answering rather than a statement that doesn't. I tend to do things like that, I don't know why. An anthology of stories set in the home towns of British writers is a fine book to purchase and own; I would like to see its guiding concept extended to include the countries and cities of the European Union.

My contribution to that anthology is 8 years old, but I have been writing lots of short stories recently. Ideas keep coming and just won't stop. Indeed I feel that my brain is on the verge of overload. Unintentionally I have also started writing a new novel called The Young Dictator. Exactly when I'll find the time to return to The Pilgrim's Regress and Ditto & Likewise, my two abandoned books from 2008, is anyone's guess. Not this summer, that's for sure!

One of the stories I am currently working on is called 'Discrepancy' and it seeks to justify and rectify all the mistakes in all my other stories. This is a simpler and more creative solution than revising those earlier stories. 'Discrepancy' will also nip in the bud any mistakes that might crop up in future stories. By 'mistakes' I actually mean one specific problem: the fact that I have invented a large cast of recurring characters operating over large spans of time and space and that some of those characters have ended up being in more than one place at the same moment or even dying more than once in different circumstances. Clearly there is a consistency issue...

My solution is to arrange for all my characters to possess at least one puppet double, so that any discrepancies can be explained away by saying, "There are incidents in different stories that contradict each other? Ah no, one incident happened to the real character, the other incident to the puppet double." I have already utilised this escape clause openly in some tales but now I plan to extend it clandestinely to all my characters in all my tales. Certainly I will be no more aware than the reader which characters are puppets at any given time, but that's fine, I can live with that lack of knowledge. Let's just say: as a default setting they will always be the real characters until someone raises an objection by pointing out a discrepancy: only at that stage will they retroactively and conveniently become puppets.

It might be argued that my "solution" is contrived in the extreme. Indeed it is! But my attitude to the oft-invoked 'suspension of disbelief' mantra isn't the same as that of most other writers. It is closer in spirit to the attitude expressed by the great B.S. Johnson in the final part of his Albert Angelo novel. All fiction is fibs. Long live pure and unadulterated contrivance!

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