What better way to put all my angst into short stories. Born in a commuter belt city called Reading and like many a middle or upper class child of such times I was shunted off to an all-male boarding school aged eight, away from my parents for periods of up to twelve weeks at a time. In such an institutions, where I was to rest until my seventeenth year, there was no getting away from the cruel jibes hurled at me from taunting tormentors. My refuge was the arts room, where I started to find some kind of redemption from the stark Dickensian surroundings, whose aim was nurture the army officers, businessmen, and gentry that dominate the class ridden world I was born into. The seeds were sown, I was an outsider, Happier times were to follow, I went to art school, where I attempted to exorcize my time spent at school. At eighteen I turned my back on a parentally enforced weekly visit to church and my head was filled with a range of nonconformist ideas. While at my first Art college through a friend I met a writer called Rupert Thomson, who was at the time in the process of writing his first book “Dreams of leaving”. He was a bit older than myself, me being fresh out of school, but his personality and wit resonated and despite losing contact with him, I always read his latest published books with not only great expectation and unabashed admiration, but also a fascination for a person I had really looked up to, his sentences always tight, shooting arrows that always hit the mark. My yearning to be creative stayed strong and diversified, from my twenties through to my thirties and forties I made electronic music, doing concerts, in front ecstasy infused crowds, at a point I was making videos and short films. When the age of the internet arrived I was really able translate my creative endeavors into something really tangible. To earn a living I have worked as a teacher. I moved to Austria where upon I thought I would try writing. It is sure that my writing at that time was rough and rugged and without direction. I dived into a story about immortality, the story remains vegetating on some dusty floppy disk. Then tried short stories for children with illustrations to go with them. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-forties that my writing took shape. I was at this point living in Paris, France. I spotted an advert for short stories. The magazine happened to be called Rat Mort (dead rat) I sent off a short story, in the hope it would match the seemingly dark world the magazine seemed to embroiled in. I got no answer. Not put off I sent two more stories. Finally I got an answer. It seemed the magazine editor was a busy man, a man prone to travelling. It seemed my first story really hit the right note with him. His name was Alan Clark. He had a flat in the Montmartre area of Paris, where he seemed known to all, especially those who frequented his favorite drinking haunts. He offered me many words of encouragement. I was writing stories that were coming into my head at regular intervals, as if a monster had suddenly awakened. I was writing them on scraps of paper, less I would forget them, while I travelled on the Paris metro, going about my teaching work with staid business types. I had found a format for writing that worked, as well as a hunger to write about the demons of my past that still haunted me. Moving closer to present times, the desire to put together an anthology seemed to resonate in my mind. The Flight of Destiny evolved slowly. Many trans-Atlantic exchanges between myself and two editors seemingly far away. This evolution took my writing to a new level and the stories more depth and resonance.
2019 will forever be remembered as the year the world stood still – most of us were at home, locked down due to the coronavirus pandemic, but key workers were still out there protecting us, feeding us and keeping us safe. It was a strange time, when we were all alone but somehow it was the most connected many of us have ever been. Many of us used this time to create – either for fun or to cope – and that’s how this collection was born. Writers, poets, photographers, artists all came together to create this anthology of art inspired by our shared crisis to raise money for the Marie Curie nurses who helped some of the most vulnerable to survive and continue to do so.
Buy your copy of Together Behind Four Walls from Goldcrest Books £11.99 click the link below
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My Thoughts….. Together Behind Four Walls is a collection of short stories, poems and images by writers, artists and poets who decided to express their feelings about left during the Covid 19 pandemic. What I liked about this book was that you got to read about people’s different experiences and feelings. This book really makes you think about what we have all been experiencing and how differently we have been affected. The proceeds from sales of this book are going to Marie Curie nurses who continued their fantastic work during this hard time.
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Ray Clark contributed a short story called Ranger Man to Together Behind Four Walls
Tell everybody a little about yourself. In a nutshell, I am an award winning Yorkshire born author whose first big break came in 1998 with the publication of Manitou Man: The World of Graham Masterton (a biographical account of Masterton’s work), which was nominated for both the World and British Fantasy Awards. Since then, my writing career has been quite varied with publications covering short story collections, horror novels, stand-alone cross genre novels, and the highly acclaimed IMP series: gritty, crime fiction novels featuring detectives Gardener and Reilly, set in the West Yorkshire city of Leeds. Over the last forty years I have also spent considerable time in the music industry working both in the UK and Europe as a guitar vocalist and with a number of bands. These days I divide my time between writing books and working live on the music scene, and helping to raise money for the OPA, a charity I feel quite close to.
Was your creativity affected in any way during the lockdown? Did being lockdown make you feel inspired or deflated? I don’t think lockdown bothered me a great deal, particularly my creativity. What it did do was give me more time to write, because I couldn’t sing anywhere, apart from in the shower.
Was it therapeutic doing creative work during lockdown? I suppose, in a way, it was. It took your mind away from what was happening in the outside world. Perhaps one of the biggest advanatges of being a writer is the isolation needed to produce your work, which seemed perfect for the Covid pendemic.
How did you occupy your time? Mostly writing, but I still rehearsed musically because I love music so much. I watched more films. I love watching films.
What was the main thinking behind your work submitted to Together Behind Four Walls ? What inspired me to write Ranger Man was some of the horrendous stories I heard during the pandemic. I had my eyes opened to the selfishness of some people: the panic buyers in particular. I honestly believed humanity was better than that. So my story centered on the fact that you reap what you sew.
What inspires most of your work ? I think it’s mostly down to reading other people’s work, and realizing how good it is. There are a number of authors who continually raise the bar with everything they write: Peter James, Phillip Margolin, Peter Lovesey, Val McDermid, and Nigel McCreery come to mind. Those people inspire to do better with my work.
Do you have any favourite stories , from all the stories you have written? I think that would have to be The Lord of Misrule, which was a story about a man who was obsessed with computer games. He figured there wasn’t a game anywhere in the world that he couldn’t beat, until he met The Lord of Misrule, and ended up inside the game – playing for real.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote or one of the first? I do. It was a science fiction story about an alien invasion called Quest. It was loosely based on an old episode of The Outer Limits. You can find it in one of my short story collections: A Devil’s Dozen.
Do you ever think of stories before going to sleep or just after waking up? I try not to, but it’s not always possible. There have been nights when I had to get up, go downstairs and write the idea on some paper before I lost it.
Do you hand write stories or go directly on to your computer? Always straight on the to the computer. I find it much easier to edit them that was as well.
Do you ever give up on stories you have started? I haven’t done so far. There have been stories when I’ve taken a short break from them, until my head worked out where it should go. I really believe you should not try to force the story. If you cannot work it out, walk away and do something else. Your mind will keep working on it, and the answer will come to you out of the blue, perhaps when you least expect it. That’s how it works for me. Do your stories ever have strong messages? I’m not sure they do, perhaps not deliberately. As I mentioned earlier, reaping what you sew is possibly one of the most popular themes I have used. By and large, what I love doing most is simply writing a story that I like, in the hopes that others will.
If you had to write a piece of writing about yourself, how would it start? People often ask me, what the hell goes on inside your head?
Do you do any other creative activities? I am a musician. I have worked live on the music circuit as a guitar/vocalist for over forty years, which is probably something I enjoy as much as writing. You’ll find me working the East Coast Hotels most weekends.
Buy Together Behind Four Walls a book for a great cause
Looking for a good read whilst also supporting a very worth charity? Together Behind Four Walls Compiled by Francis H Powell With the sudden arrival of Covid 19 and the introduction of a lockdown, many people might have wondered how they would spend their time. Writers, poets, and artists decided to express their feelings in […]
With the sudden arrival of Covid 19 and the introduction of a lockdown, many people might have wondered how they would spend their time.
Writers, poets and artists decided to express their feelings in words and pictures during this turbulent period. From humour to deep thoughts Together Behind Four Walls captures the many facets of the human spirit during the pandemic.
Proceeds from the book will go to Marie Curie nurses who continued their great work during this crisis.
The book includes some well known contributors including:
Wendy Cope: among other accolades, the author of five collections of adult poetry, a judge of the 2007 Man Booker Prize, and was voted the listeners’ choice in a BBC Radio 4 poll to succeed Ted Hughes as Poet Laureate in 1998.
Lynne Reid Banks: is a British author of books for children and adults. She has written forty-five books, including the best-selling children’s novel The Indian in the Cupboard, which has sold over 10 million copies and has been successfully adapted for film.
Roger Robinson: a celebrated writer, musician, and performer, who has won the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Ondaatje Prize.
Peter Finch: an author, historian, poet, and former Chief Executive of First Academi, the Welsh National Literature Promotion Agency and Society of Writers.
John Hegley: a performance poet, comedian musician and songwriter, who was the presenter of the Border Television series “Word of Mouth”, and has appeared on Never Mind the Buzzcocks.
Arthur Smith: an alternative comedian, presenter and writer, who famously turned down a lifetime achievement award in 2005 from the Perrier Award organisers, and won the Panel Prize at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2007.
Neal Zetter: a comedy performance poet, children’s author, and entertainer. He has nearly 30 years of experience performing in locations such as West End comedy clubs and the Royal Festival Hall. He uses the writing and/or performing of poetry to develop literacy, self-expression, confidence, creativity and presentation skills.
Sally Kindberg: a contemporary award-winning Swedish artist, living in London. Sally kindly donated two original drawings for this campaign.
The book also includes other contributors from round the world.
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