So here we are, two and a bit days away from publication of my first short story collection, Famished. Here she is: https://www.influxpress.com/famished You can order from here or any good bookshop or online at you know where but I’d love it if you gave your local independent bookshop a boost or the press itself.
So, Famished is about food. Ordinary food and peculiar food – or rather, peculiar meals and combinations and a strange atmosphere at table. It is also about feasts, grand consumption, being consumed and embraces eating and being eaten in literal and figurative terms. It is gruesome, pretty, ornate (hopefully not too much so for your taste) and potentially a bit shocking. There is nothing here about disordered eating (although the notion of mortality, danger and food is explored in one story, but food is really only the conduit to a longer meditation on safety and lack of it). There is plenty about disordered psychology, unhealthy and unexplored family tension and spite and, more broadly, trauma. However, even there, I have written about what ingredients and food receptacles may give one, when freshly imagined and regarded, as if for the first time; that is how we get from a preserving jar in one story to a flight from the scabrous relatives and their ghosts who so cruelly gaslit. We fill the jar with something else. My experience of coping with long and complex trauma and then dealing with its aftermath is that everything is laden with memory; with a cruel nostalgia that spits at you, even in domestic objects which perhaps you have inherited or been gifted. The answer: spit back and fill that jar with something else.
What will you find in this book? Not in order…and how about playing story snap? Decide which is which when you read the book
How a cult is built on sherbet with a mint-toothed high priestess
How a jar, beautiful but thrumming with judgement and awful memory is filled with sweetness
Why you should not patronise your elders with soft and seasonal buns
However courteous and sexy the vampire, he’s still going to eat you
Why pride might eat you; or rather why apparently inanimate objects might (ra ha ha…)
If you were at a luscious feast that you could never leave, how would that be?
Why is tripe so scary and how about pickled eggs bobbing in a big jar in a damp old larder, huh?
Why would a cherry on a trifle wink at you – and not in a good way?
How you kill people bloodlessly with seaside rock
What shame is. What is your shame? What have restraint or lack of propriety got to do with sex? What has food provenance got to do with coercive control? (I cover a few topics in that one.)
Judgmental mothers and the revenge of melted chocolate and a pickled egg in a bag of salt and vinegar
King Henry was said to have died from a surfeit of lampreys. Well. Lampreys were not amused.
A horrible demented sweetie shop that is not really there
Remember that monsters, beautiful, gracious, are (hungrily, thirstily) all around you
Scared of dolls? If not, you might be. Scared of grace and exquisite manners? That too. Don’t be fooled
Why sandwiches can be fatal and how cucumber is fatal
How do you put souls and bad inanimates into pies?
The key influences in this book are my past and ongoing exploration of some of that, trauma (about which I will write in more detail) and my reading, particularly of Southern Gothic and also Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and Shirley Jackson; ALL Shirley Jackson. There are Southern and Welsh elements here, recurring characters and some of those characters have occurred in my other work.
I am so looking forward to reading adventures with you.