‘write about the desert’, my brain said

inspiration is strange. One day, quite recently, a story arrived in my head almost fully formed – a thing that rarely happens to me, and a joy when it does. And that story was set in the Mojave desert in California.

I have never been to California, much less the desert. I have never been to any desert. The closest I can claim is that I’ve been to Camber Sands a few times, and my grandad used to try to convince me that any film ever set in the desert was actually filmed in Camber Sands.

So the story arrives fully formed, but you have to dissect it in order to make it work on paper. There is, as yet, no computer program to transfer an entire idea into words, so inspiration – a cheerfully fickle thing – sits by and watches as you research precipitation in Death Valley, the logistics of living off the grid in the desert, what the Mojave smells and sounds like. Because of course, I don’t have a bloody clue.

And then, when all of this is done and I sit down to finally engage with the actual story? My writing brain deserts me. No pun intended. The fully-formed, exciting, beautiful story I dreamed up is a couple of stilted sentences and a hundred attempts at writing the perfect opening.

I still have no idea what the Mojave smells like.

What I’m Up To Right Now

There’s an interview with me and the marvellous V.H. Leslie over at Grey Dog Tales for Women in Horror Month – it’s such an honour to be approached (and recommended by Nina Allan! There’s a boost for the ego.)

My short story ‘Obsidian’ was published in January as part of NewCon Press’ 10-year anniversary celebrations – the anthology is called ‘Obsidian: A Decade Of Horror Stories By Women’, and it features short stories from such illustrious names as Sarah Pinborough, Tanith Lee and Alison Littlewood for the first time in ebook format. And then there’s me, providing an original story written especially for the anthology. I’m particularly proud of this one as I got to explore Finnish folklore and culture, a subject I have a growing interest in.

And after a bit of a delay, Ten: Thou Shalt Not is finally ready for publication, so that’s another of my short stories ready to go out into the wild.