Friday, 22 March 2013

Flash Fiction: Immortality

"I am a painter," Mr Archer would say. And they would laugh and ask how much to do their living room. Always. Sometimes, if he was hard up, or bored, or just to shock them, he would give them a price and do the work if they agreed. Sometimes. But most times he was busy trying to become immortal. Picasso, Rembrandt, Da Vinci... All different, but they all had one thing in common; their names would never be forgotten. And he wanted the name Archer to be added to that list.

Of course, there were a few others things that they had in common, and one of these was that they were actually good at what they did. Mr Archer, sadly, was not. But that did not deter him. It didn't bother him at all.

He painted his friends' wall and he painted his fresh canvases and time marched on.

One day, a hot, summery day full of promise and hope, where the air smelled of sunshine and the world was good, Mr Archer began to feel that walls and canvases were not enough. He needed a bigger platform to showcase his work; people were simply not noticing what he was doing. Not the right people, anyway. He gathered together his house painting brushes and his artists' oils and went for a wander, to see what he could do. To see what he could paint.

He walked into town and looked at the large buildings, the hotels, the schools, the hospital, but they weren't big enough and he dismissed them. He needed more. He knew exactly where to go. The cliffs. The cliffs were a big enough space for him. And he knew just what he would paint as well. He could see it perfectly in his head. The town, the county, the country, the world would see it, and finally they would know him.

Mr Archer, as secure as he was in his own talent, had no knowledge of cliffs. Looking down from the edge it seemed easy enough. There were footholds and ledges all the way down. He could do it. Only... he couldn't. Not really. Although he tried. And he got some of the way. And he even managed to put paint on the cliff face. Just a little bit.

No one ever discovered just what Mr Archer had wanted to depict in that lonely, dangerous place. Some thought it was a portrait, some a landscape. Of course, no one could ever be proven right (or wrong), but that didn't stop the town from creating an annual contest for people to guess what Mr Archer's creation was. The Archer Prize was highly sought after, and to win it was to be lanuded for a whole year, until the next contest. There was a cup. There were names engraved on it.

And Mr Archer finally got his wish; his name would forever be known. What he hadn't realised was that he had to be dead before he could be immortal.

©Lisamarie Lamb 2013

Friday, 8 March 2013

World Book Day 2013: 7th March

Yesterday was World Book Day 2013; a celebration of children's reading, books, and authors. Every year, millions of book tokens are given away to under 18s so that they can come together to enjoy the act of browsing for books, buying them, and enjoying them at home. 

This year, the sixteenth year that World Book Day has run, over £14 million worth of tokens were sent out in the UK. That's a lot of new readers, and a lot of children being able to indulge in their passion for reading. 

The vouchers can be used to buy one of eight specially selected books, or they can be exchanged for a £1 discount on a different book of their choice. 

The selected books are:

So, which one would you go for? Leave a comment with your choice and your reason, and one name picked at random will receive a signed (by me) copy of the Brazen Snake Cold Feet anthology. My story, Miles to Go, is just one of the short stories included.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Writing Horror - Screaming in the Dark

It seems an odd thing to do, to write horror. When there is a wealth of genres out there, when I could be writing about perfect love or fantastic dragons or gun-toting cowboys, why choose to create the most terrifying, the most soul-shredding, the most unwelcome?

My answer is a simple one: because I like it. I like horror.

I like to read it, I like to watch it, I like to think about it, and I like to write it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t.

As to why I like it, that’s a more complicated question, with a different kind of answer.

As a child, I was scared. A lot. Most of the time. Not that I wasn’t a happy child, with a normal family and normal surroundings and normal friends. I was. Perfectly normal. But I was also perfectly scared. There was a seeping, creeping horror that hovered around me, enveloped me, and at night I would scrunch my eyes shut and hide beneath the covers in the hope that whatever it was wouldn’t see me because I couldn’t see it.

And there was, as far I can tell, as far as I can remember, no reason for it. Nothing that particularly stands out as being that one specific moment in which something happened – something ghostly and ghoulish and downright petrifying – that haunted me for the rest of my days.

I was a normal girl, but a strange one.

Being alone was bad. I hated it. These days I crave a bit of solitude, but then, when that fear stole over me, I only wanted to be around people. It’s just that sometimes, there were no people to be around. And so I created some. I reached the age of twelve and simply decided that I needed constant, immediate access to someone.

But who? And how?

I started to go to bed and instead of cowering under the covers I moulded myself heroes and heroines, safe houses and refuges. I began to make up stories. These stories became my talisman, protecting me from the real evil by pretending about it. It seemed to me that nothing in the real world could possibly be as frightening as the world I was creating in my head, and so my heroes were slain, horribly. My heroines were kidnapped and tortured. My safe houses and refuges were pillaged by monsters and demons and ghosts.

And because I’d made it all up, just me, by myself, it wasn’t so scary after all. I enjoyed it. And I began to write my stories down. I began to read other people’s stories. I began to watch the films. Because it was all safe. It was all made up.

I’ve been doing that ever since.

Just don’t ask me to read or watch any ‘true’ horror stories.

They keep me up at night.